In this day and age, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality – so, it’s possible to find a good-quality electric guitar you can buy for less than $300.
But you also need to be careful, as there are some cheap models that you should avoid at all costs.
To help you find a reliable guitar, we compiled a list of the best electric guitars under $300.
Whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced beginner who wants to save some money, you’ll come across something that meets your needs here.
1. Squier Affinity Stratocaster – Overall best electric guitar under $300/£300
It has a playable neck profile so it’s a great choice for beginners.
It has a versatile pickup configuration, so it fits any style or genre.
However, there are probably better options for metal players.
In terms of hardware, it features a 2-point synchronized tremolo with block saddles and sealed die-cast tuners with split shafts.
The Squier Affinity Stratocaster is generally well-built and durable, even though it’s made of poplar which is usually used for cheaper models.
2. Epiphone Les Paul SL – Best for beginners
The Epiphone Les Paul SL is a very cheap electric guitar that can be found for less than $200.
Despite its suspiciously low price, this model is worth checking out, especially if you’re a beginner.
It’s incredibly lightweight and easy to play.
It has a poplar body and mahogany neck, along with Epiphone 650SCR Ceramic Single-Coil and 700SCT Ceramic Single-Coil pickups which are, by the way, really good for this price range.
After all, Epiphone is known for making budget-friendly electric guitars for beginners as well as more experienced players.
And their Les Paul SL is hands down one of the best budget options you can find.
3. Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II – Best for hard rock and blues
Another low-priced Epiphone guitar you should check out is the Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II.
The ‘AFD’, of course, stands for ‘Appetite for Destruction’.
That said, it’s fair to conclude that this guitar is ideal for players who prefer hard rock.
With two Epiphone Ceramic Plus and Zebra-coil pickups, the Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II provides great power and volume.
It also comes with Master Volume, Master Tone, and a 3-way Epiphone toggle switch.
In terms of playability, it has a fast-playing neck, and it’s a SlimTaper ‘D’ profile.
All things considered, the Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II is one of the best guitars you can buy for less than $300 and an ideal choice for those who like hard rock and blues.
4. Ibanez Gio GRG121DX – Best for metal
And if you’re looking for an affordable electric guitar for metal, the Ibanez Gio GRG121DX should be on your shortlist.
With this eye-catching guitar, you’ll get great value for money.
The Gio GRG121DX has an Okoume body and maple neck, and you can choose between Walnut Flat and Black Flat finish.
It features powerful humbuckers, so it’s the perfect guitar for metalheads.
But the Gio GRG121DX is versatile enough to fit other styles as well.
It also looks quite elegant considering the genre it’s usually associated with.
Either way, the Ibanez Gio GRG121DX won’t disappoint you.
5. Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica – Best for versatility
The Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica is another great option for anyone searching for top electric guitars under $300.
It comes with a Yamaha ceramic humbucker and two Yamaha ceramic single-coil pickups.
In terms of hardware, it has Vintage Tremolo and Yamaha Sealed Tuners.
It also looks good, and it’s available in dark blue metallic, black, and red metallic finish.
But one of the best things about the Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica is its versatility – it can handle any style and genre.
Also, the combination of a relatively thin ‘C’ shaped neck profile and flatter radius fretboard is ideal for fast playing.
6. Jackson JS32 Dinky – Distinctive appearance
The Jackson JS32 Dinky is a popular electric guitar that has plenty to offer, even though it’s low-priced.
It has a poplar body and maple neck, and it features two Jackson High-Output Humbucking pickups.
It’s also equipped with 2-Point Fulcrum Tremolo and Jackson Sealed Die-Cast Tuning Machines.
And if you prefer a distinct look, even better – JS32 Dinky is available in metallic blue, natural, satin black, and snow white.
Considering the price range, this is a really good option for beginners as well as more experienced players.
7. Ibanez RG421 – Best for playability
Although it’s not as colorful as the Jackson JS32 Dinky, the Ibanez RG421 will turn heads as well.
It’s a beautiful guitar that looks more expensive than it actually is.
It has a thin, flat, and fast Wizard neck for excellent playability.
It features a two-octave 24-fret fretboard for a wide tonal range.
Also, the Quantum pickups provide an accelerated bass response for exceptionally fast tracking of high-speed staccato riffing with crushing mid-range and precise high-end articulation.
One thing is for sure: if you’re looking for a good electric for a smaller price, the Ibanez RG421 won’t let you down.
8. Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster – Great value for money
Well, who could resist this pink electric guitar?
First of all, you can buy it for less than $300 – but you’ll get a fantastic instrument.
This is also a perfect introduction to offset guitars, and Fender made sure it fits every wallet.
The Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster features a maple neck with a ‘C’ profile and 21 medium jumbo frets on an Indian Laurel fretboard for a smooth playing feel.
The humbucking pickups deliver a colorful, unique tone, and when you add a fuzz or drive to your signal chain, you’ll get an elevated tone.
All in all, if you want an electric guitar that will make you stand out from the crowd, the Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster is a guitar for you.
9. Jackson Monarkh SC JS22 – Best for comfort
The Jackson Monarkh SC JS22 offers incredible comfort and playability, and it’s a great choice for beginners on a budget.
It’s a fast-playing LP-style guitar with Jackson High-Output Humbucking pickups and Jackson TOM-style adjustable with anchored tailpiece hardware.
Tuners probably aren’t the best, but the pickups are amazing, and the fast-playing neck will allow you to play anything you want – at the speed you need.
All in all, the Jackson Monarkh SC JS22 is a popular budget electric guitar for many reasons, and it’s definitely worth exploring.
10. Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Electric Guitar – Best for Gretsch sound
We don’t have to make a special introduction for Gretsch.
If you’re fond of Gretsch guitars but you don’t want to spend a fortune on your next guitar, we suggest you check out the G5425 Electromatic Jet Club.
It has a single-cutaway chambered basswood body with an arched maple top providing the iconic Gretsch sound.
It has fantastic pickups and it provides great stability and sonic power.
Plus, it looks good – simple but attractive.
When it comes to the best electric guitars that won’t break the bank, the Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Electric Guitar is certainly worthy of consideration.
How to Choose the Best Cheap Electric Guitar
If you’re just starting out with your guitar lessons, you don’t have to spend a fortune on your first guitar.
But even if you have some experience and you want to find a good budget electric guitar, there are plenty of models to choose from.
In any case, to determine what kind of electric guitar you need, you have to think about your goals and priorities.
Each guitar has its own characteristics and highlights, so you need to buy the model that suits you best.
When buying a cheap electric guitar, it would be smart to opt for a reputable guitar brand.
Some cheap electric guitars provide poor quality, and they’re really not worth checking out.
Even if you spend less money, you don’t want to spend it on an instrument that won’t serve you well.
Therefore, try to look for trustworthy brands like Epiphone, Yamaha, and Ibanez.
Some popular guitar brands don’t offer cheap models, but many of them created the guitar series that you can get at an affordable price, without losing the quality and ‘DNA’ of their original models.
Furthermore, try to think about your goals – what do you intend to use the guitar for?
Do you want to use it primarily for your guitar lessons or do you want to perform live?
Once you determine what type of electric guitar you really need, it will be easier for you to begin your search and find the perfect instrument for you.
What to Expect from an Electric Guitar Under $300
As you already know, more money means better quality.
If you spend thousands of dollars on a new guitar, you’ll get a top-quality instrument with brilliant construction and tone that will last you for many years to come.
However, the best cheap electric guitars are usually made of similar tonewoods as their more expensive counterparts.
The construction methods are different for expensive and lower-priced electric guitars though.
The bodies of cheaper electric guitars are often made of multiple pieces of wood, unlike high-end guitars that are usually made of one or two pieces of quality wood.
But the good news is, you probably won’t come across guitars with lousy hardware and sets of pickups – most of the guitars in the market offer decent quality components.
Guitar Body Shapes
There are all kinds of affordable electric guitars you can buy, but there are generally two main categories of electric guitars to choose from: single-cutaway and double-cutaway guitars.
A single-cutaway guitar sounds warmer and fuller, and it’s usually 4-5 lbs heavier than a double-cut guitar.
Double-cut guitars, on the other hand, will provide you with better upper fret access, and they tend to be lighter and more comfortable.
The number of cutaways on an electric guitar also has an effect on the overall tone, but not significantly.
However, the shape of the electric guitar will determine how you feel while you’re playing it; so, make sure you find a comfortable guitar that fits you well.
Neck profile refers to the shape of the back of a guitar neck in cross-section, and this can affect your playing experience as well.
However, there isn’t one shape that’s better than the other – it’s a matter of personal preference and playing comfort.
The C-shaped neck profile is one of the most common neck profiles – C-shaped necks have a comfortable oval profile that works well for most playing styles.
The ‘C’ neck profile is also suitable for beginners.
The V-shaped neck comes in two popular versions – a more rounded “soft” V, and a more pointed “hard” V, often used in classical instruments too.
The third popular neck shape is the U-shaped neck profile – it’s chunky and rounded, and it’s ideal for players with larger hands.
Another thing you should consider when buying an electric guitar under $300 is the type of guitar pickup.
In essence, a guitar pickup is a device that turns the vibrations of guitar strings into electrical signals and therefore allows the sound of your guitar to be processed and played through a speaker.
Single coils and humbuckers are the most commonly used guitar pickups.
Single-coil pickups are the first electric pickups to be invented, and they’re still the most popular choice.
They’re known for their sharp tone and clarity, but they have more feedback than humbucker pickups.
Humbucker pickups have less feedback, and they generally produce a thicker, warmer, and bigger output.
They use two magnet coils wound in reverse to one another, so it’s possible to cancel out the hums.
Some electric guitars feature a mixture of single coils and humbucker pickups, and that’s a good solution as well.
Piezo pickups work in a slightly different way as they are located inside the bridge of the guitar and pick up the vibrations of the string and guitar.
Piezo pickups are popular in acoustic guitars, but they’re sometimes used with electric guitars in order to create a more acoustic sound.
What Is the Best Wood for Electric Guitars?
Another element that affects the overall tone, sound, and quality of the electric guitar is the type of wood used to make it.
The wood used to make a guitar also determines the weight of the guitar and, therefore, the overall playing experience.
Generally, the denser the wood, the better sustain an instrument will have.
Therefore, some of the woods used to make electric guitars include well-seasoned hardwoods like maple, walnut, ash, alder, and mahogany for the solid body.
Mahogany is a warm, resonant tonewood, and some manufacturers combine it with a brighter wood such as maple to bring out higher-range frequencies.
Fender often uses alder, a timber that provides an even frequency response, and for a smaller number of instruments they use ash.
Basswood is another popular choice because it’s easily sourced; it’s a cheaper option, but it has a nice warm and resonant tone.
Many cheap electric guitars also have poplar bodies – this is not a bad substitute, it’s durable and lightweight, but it tends to be softer, and compared to alder, it doesn’t have a nice grain.
Best Electric Guitars Under $300/£300 – Final Thoughts
As you can see, it’s possible to find a good electric guitar for less than $300.
Some of the guitars we mentioned today are suspiciously cheap, but they actually offer great value for money.
You just need to opt for a trusted brand and a model that meets your needs.
Either way, we hope our reviews helped you find the best electric guitar for you as well as inspired you to continue your guitar-learning journey right away!