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In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Electric Guitars
  2. Electric Guitar Review
  3. Best Electric Guitars

Electric Guitars Buying Guide

Who hasn't ventured into a guitar store and picked up the shiniest guitar to give it a strum, picturing themselves on a stage? The availability of cheap electric guitars at stores like Walmart and Radio Shack has pulled more and more buyers into the electric guitars market, but this development has prompted an explosion of unauthorized copies and poorly-built instruments. While there are many cheap electric guitars selling for less than $200, most of these guitars are short on performance and high on looks.

One of the best pieces of advice about buying a guitar is to try avoiding buying one that's sold in a cardboard box.

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While there are many good cheap electric guitar packs you can purchase with an amplifier and stand, they often include guitars that shouldn't be sold for more than $50. If you insist on going the cheap electric guitar package route, one worth looking at is the Epiphone G-310 SG and All Access Amp pack (starting at $350), which features a decent starter guitar with amp, tuner, cable, and headphones. There are many good deals for cheap electric guitars like this one out there, but pay close attention to the guitar itself. If it's too good a deal, it's probably a bad buy long term.

Another good piece of advice: Go to a guitar store and play -- if you buy online be sure of the model and the source. Parents, this means you should take your child to the store and see which cheap electric guitar the child is most comfortable playing. Another reason to buy at the store is that many guitars need to be tuned, even when brand new. Guitar stores often will do a "set up" for a modest price -- usually between $40 to $75 -- and it makes all the difference when playing; if a store offers to do this for free, this is a vendor you want to do business with.

Review continues below

Finally, it's important to know that all the prices in our buying guide are list prices. But the great thing about buying a cheap electric guitar is that you don't have to pay list; this is a market where negotiated prices are the norm, so haggle away. And again, try and avoid purchasing online unless you find a deal that a local retailer can't beat.

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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Best Cheap Electric Guitars

Ibanez ARX320 Artist
Gold Medal

Ibanez ARX320 Artist

The Ibanez ARX320 features a mahogany body, rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, and dual humbucker pickups. Users and experts agree that it's an excellent value and provides a good range of tones for any style of music. The finish is impressive and it's a sturdy guitar that will last through years of play.

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Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plain Top
Gold Medal

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plain Top

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plain Top has been a favorite among players looking to get that Les Paul sound without the price tag. With a maple body, mahogany neck, dual humbucker pickups, and solid glued neck joint, this guitar is as close as you can get to a real Les Paul. Users agree that the guitar's tone is superb and it's an excellent instrument for beginners.

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Good Cheap Electric Guitars

Fender Standard Telecaster
Gold Medal

Fender Standard Telecaster

The Fender Standard Telecaster is a solidly-built guitar, featuring a maple fretboard, alder body, and two single-coil pickups. The Telecaster is a favorite of country artists, but many users say it's quite versatile. They also say the guitar usually needs some tweaking to bring out its best, but it's sturdy and can take a beating without losing tone.

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Epiphone G-400 SG
Gold Medal

Epiphone G-400 SG

The Epiphone G-400 SG is a Gibson-authorized version of its classic SG '62, a standard in rock music. This model features a mahogany body and neck, two humbuckers, and a rosewood fretboard; the neck is a bit heavy for the body, so it may slip down on its strap. Users aren't wild about the stock pickups, complaining they can sound a bit muddy.

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Epiphone LP Junior Special Electric Guitar
Gold Medal

Epiphone LP Junior Special Electric Guitar

The Epiphone LP Junior Special Electric Guitar features one humbucker pickup and a stopbar tailpiece. It's made of tonewood, provides decent resonance and sustain, and is quite light. Users complain that it frequently goes out of tune, although it suits kids and beginners because it's cheap and easy to play.

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Don't Bother

Squier by Fender Bullet Stratocaster

The Squier by Fender Bullet Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar with Tremolo is an improvement on the old Squier Bullets, which were black-balled by many users and experts for being poorly built. Squier went back to the drawing board, added a tremolo bar and made the body of basswood, but many players don't like the build on this new model either. The pickups are said to buzz frequently, and many units are "set up" incorrectly (the placement of the strings isn't optimized to the form of the guitar), although it's hard to predict how the wood and strings will interact over time.

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Fender Starcaster Strat

The Fender Starcaster Strat is a version of the Stratocaster that's shunned by many users and experts. With a synchronous tremolo bridge, rosewood fretboard, and a humbucker and two single coil pickups, it would seem to be just another inexpensive Strat. But users complain of problems with the pickups, and many guitars have issues with buzzing frets because the neck can't handle its intonation. Users also gripe about the frets being too sharp to play for extended periods.

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