Finding decent beginners’ entry level electric guitar is not as easy as it looks. As a matter of fact, it is probably harder than finding a top tier model that fits you. The main issue with entry level guitars is the fact that you are getting a compromise of some kind.
Manufacturers are racing to find a way that will allow them to produce these guitars at a lower cost, which in turn makes them cheaper to buy. Because of this, there are some things you should definitely consider before making a final choice. Let's discuss some of the most important factors.
Defining Your Budget
Being new to any hobby means that you are probably not going to be looking for the most expensive gear. At this point, you haven't really had much experience with guitars and it's questionable if this is something you will want to get heavily involved with at all. Because of that, sinking a whole lot of money into your first guitar comes across as a very risky move.
One good thing to know is that these days even the cheaper electric guitars are made pretty decent. That wasn't always the case, as older generations probably remember. You don't have to have an extremely large budget in order to find a solid first guitar, that is simply a fact.
Electronics - Single Coils or Humbuckers?
The shape and body style of the guitar shouldn't really be a factor. The right thing to do here is to get whatever you find attractive. However, electronics are something that requires a careful approach. You have the choice of either going with single coils or humbuckers. Former is better for jazz, blues and similar genres of music, while humbuckers are better for heavier stuff.
One thing to keep in mind here is that cheaper humbuckers will always be better than cheaper single coils. The reason for this is the inherent nature of single coil pickups. Coil buzz is one side effect of single coil design which even the cutting edge models deal with. The whole issue is only amplified with cheaper pickups of this kind. For that reason, it might be better to go with humbuckers right from the start.
However, it just so happens that one of the most popular and honestly the best starter guitars is a copy of a Stratocaster. The name of the model is Fender Squier Affinity Stratocaster and it represents the best bang for the buck. Squier's Strats were a staple of entry level segment for a long time, but this latest iteration is on a whole different level.
In case you want to take a high road and go down the humbucker path, Epiphone Les Paul Express is always going to be a great option. It's a Les Paul its most basic format, but this thing still brings plenty of heat where necessary. Those who are more attracted to metal will have to dish out a bit more money if they want a metal entry-level axe. Schecter C 6 Deluxe is a perfect example of what this type of guitar looks like.
How To Make Your Entry Level Guitar Sound Better
At one point you might notice that your entry level guitar just doesn't cut it anymore. There are basically two things you can do in order to solve this problem. You can either upgrade your existing one, or you can get a better model. Today we are going to talk about the option number one.
The very first 'upgrade' that will instantly enhance the performance of your guitar is taking it to a shop and getting a proper setup. Any electric guitar is only as good as the sum of its components. However, those components also need to be setup the right way if you want to experience the best possible performance they have to offer.
Taking your guitar down to the shop for some tune up will take care of this. A properly set up guitar will have perfect intonation, a perfect distance of the pickups from the strings, and so on. This is also the cheapest type of upgrade you can do to enhance the tone of your entry level guitar.
In case that is not enough, you can decide to swap out the pickups for something beefier. Thankfully, today you can find a whole variety of great electronics which come at reasonably affordable prices. Not so long ago, swapping pickups meant a whole lot of soldering and similar work. Modern pickup packages come with plug-and-play type connectors which allow you to complete the whole process in less than an hour.
Are These Upgrades Worth It?
Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. The biggest issue here is that the tone of a guitar is not only dictated by the set of pickups you have on it. Tonewood, build quality and hardware also play a significant role. Even so, some entry level guitars can benefit from a pickup swap.
If there is one thing you should take away from this piece, it is that entry level guitars are pretty capable these days. If you avoid unknown brands and stick to reputable models, chances are you will be able to use that guitar for many years before it finally hits a performance ceiling. The most important criteria to use when making this decision is to get something you are attracted to. Following this very simple step will make sure that you come back to that guitar every day.
If it excites you, chances are you will want to spend time playing it and learning various techniques. On the other hand, if you get something that you personally don’t find attractive, your playing time will reduce to a bare minimum. Models we have mentioned above are by far some of the best entry- level electric guitars on the market at the moment. No matter which one of them you get, you will find it to be an awesome value for the money.