If you’ve been taking guitar lessons for a while now and you’re thinking about buying a new guitar, keep reading!
Today we review the best electric guitar for intermediate-level players who are ready to step up their game.
There are many popular intermediate guitars in the market, so we decided to take a closer look and see which models live up to their reputation.
Here comes our verdict and our top picks for best intermediate electric guitars.
1. Fender Player Plus Stratocaster – Overall best intermediate electric guitar
Fender is one of the best guitar brands known for producing high-quality electric guitars for all levels and budgets.
Their Stratocaster guitars are hands down one of the most popular guitars, and Fender’s Player Plus Series is a great choice for intermediate players.
The Fender Player Plus Stratocaster is made of quality tonewoods like alder and maple, and it’s available in several finishes, including 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic Pearl, Sienna Sunburst, Aged Candy, and Opal Spark.
It has a distinctive Strat voice, but it’s a mid-priced Player Plus option, so it won’t break the bank.
Also, in this HSS offering, the pickups have been replaced with a set of noiseless single coils and a Wide-range-looking bridge humbucker.
Plus, the fingerboard radius is updated to 12″ as opposed to the original 9.5″.
All in all, if you’re an experienced beginner who wants to upgrade your instrument, The Fender Player Plus Stratocaster might be a great option for you.
2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard – Best for Les Paul sound
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard guitars are the top choice for guitar players of all levels – from beginners to touring musicians.
But this popular model is probably best-suitable for intermediate players.
It comes in both the ’50s and ’60s configurations.
In any case, you’ll get a well-built guitar featuring solid mahogany with a maple top.
The guitar also features Epiphone ProBucker pickups, which have much more character and clarity than the Alnico Classic pickups.
There are many improvements in terms of electronics and hardware.
That said, if you’re looking for a modern intermediate-level electric inspired by classics, you can’t go wrong with the Epiphone Les Paul Standard.
3. PRS SE Standard 24 – Best for versatility
The PRS SE Standard 24 is popular among intermediate guitar players because of its comfortable double-cutaway body design and affordable price (for an intermediate guitar).
This model could also be categorized as a premium beginner electric guitar since it’s a go-to guitar for many newcomers who want to invest in their first guitar.
But that just means that the PRS SE Standard 24 is easy and comfortable to play, and that’s very true thanks to its wide-thin neck and distinctive PRS neck joint design.
The pickups are PRS-designed humbuckers controlled via a 3-way switch and one each of volume and tone control.
In terms of hardware, it features a PRS-designed tremolo and locking tuners.
The quality materials include mahogany and maple.
All things considered, the PRS SE Standard 24 has a well-deserved place on the list of the top intermediate-level electric guitars.
4. Fender Player Telecaster – Best for gigging
The Player Series is another great option for intermediate players.
The Fender Player Telecaster features an alder body with a beautiful finish.
It has a modern C-neck shape and a thinner nut width so it fits players with smaller hands.
It’s generally very comfortable to play, but it’s also not a classic entry-level guitar, so it’s a great choice for experienced beginners.
In terms of sound, it’s simply amazing, and it’s very versatile, offering a variety of tones.
Plus, it’s quite durable, so you can use it for gigging.
It’s everything you need from a good electric guitar for intermediate players.
5. ESP LTD EC-401 – Best under $1000
The ESP LTD EC-401 is one of the top intermediate electric guitars you can buy for less than $1000.
It’s ideal for intermediate guitar players as well as professional musicians.
You can choose from different pickups: an EMG 81/60 pickup set (for a modern metal sound) and a set of DiMarzio humbuckers (for a traditional sound).
There are also several finishes to choose from.
In any case, you’ll get a beautiful electric guitar capable of producing powerful volume.
It’s also very comfortable, featuring a set-neck design for comfortable, fast access to the higher frets.
It has a mahogany body, 3 pc. mahogany neck, and Macassar ebony fingerboard – it’s built to last.
All in all, the ESP LTD EC-401 is a top choice for ambitious players looking for a reasonably priced intermediate guitar.
6. Epiphone G-400 PRO – Best for SG sound
Fans of SG have a chance to get that iconic sound without spending a fortune.
Many rock, hard rock, and metal guitarists used the original SG and made it a classic.
But with the affordable Epiphone G-400 PRO, you’ll get amazing value for money.
It’s an ideal guitar for gigging musicians on a budget and intermediate players who want to get a high-quality instrument without breaking the bank.
The G-400 PRO features Alnico Classic PRO pickups and push/pull coil-tapping.
It has a Neck Profile SlimTaper “D” and a mahogany body.
All of these features are amazing considering the price range – therefore, if you’re looking for a good intermediate-level guitar, the Epiphone G-400 PRO should be on your shortlist.
7. Ibanez RG450DX – Best for hard rock and metal
Ibanez is a trusted guitar brand known for making top-notch electric guitars for all levels.
The RG450DX is a great choice for intermediate players and it will certainly help you improve your guitar skills and musicality.
Its maple neck provides stability and bright tonal character, and the Jatoba fretboard produces a rich mid-range with a crisp high end.
The RG450DX also features Quantum pickups for accelerated bass response.
Furthermore, the thin, flat, and fast Wizard neck provides excellent playability, featuring a two-octave 24-fret fretboard for a wide tonal range.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best Ibanez guitars for intermediate players.
8. PRS SE Custom 24 – Best PRS guitar
When it comes to the top intermediate electric guitars you can buy for less than $1000, the PRS SE Custom 24 is a safe choice.
This is PRS’s flagship guitar, and it’s versatile enough to fit any style and genre, from country and blues to rock.
It’s made of quality materials like mahogany and flame maple veneer.
Good-quality materials make this guitar very durable and sturdy, so it’s an ideal guitar for the road.
The sound it produces is simply wonderful, providing a well-balanced tone, big sustain, and stability on the vibrato.
Plus, it looks stunning, and you can choose from different finishes, including Charcoal Burst, Sapphire, and Vintage Sunburst.
All in all, if you’re looking for a well-made electric guitar for intermediate learners, you can’t go wrong with the PRS SE Custom 24.
9. Gretsch G5420T Electromatic – Best hollow-body single-cut
If you’re a fan of Gretsch guitars, we suggest you check out the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic.
It comes fitted with a Bigsby vibrato unit and three humbucker pickups.
It has great sonic power and capability to produce a beautiful sound.
And with the master volume control with a treble bleed circuit, separate volume knobs for the neck and bridge pickups, a master tone knob, and a three-way pickup toggle switch, it offers a wide range of tones.
On top of that, it looks stunning, featuring a double cutaway maple body, gold plexi pickguard, gold pickup bezels, and a unique, elegant finish.
If you want to buy an electric guitar that will make you stand out from the crowd, the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic is a guitar for you.
10. Jackson SLX Soloist – Best for metal
The Jackson SLX Soloist has been around for decades, and it’s still a go-to choice for many guitar players.
If you’re taking guitar lessons and you’ve reached an intermediate level, the Soloist might be the perfect upgrade for your beginner guitar.
Jackson is, after all, one of the best metal guitar brands in the world of guitars.
It’s equipped with Duncan Design humbuckers, and it’s capable of producing some serious volume.
It features a poplar body (one of the disadvantages), a through-body maple neck with graphite reinforcement, and a tilt-back scarf joint headstock.
Overall, the Soloist offers excellent playability and tonal versatility, and it’s a good choice for intermediate metal guitar players.
How to Choose the Best Intermediate Electric Guitar For You
Since there are so many great electric guitars you can buy, choosing the best intermediate electric guitar for you can be challenging.
However, you’re not a beginner anymore, and you know how electric guitars work.
More importantly, you know what works for you.
Each electric guitar comes with its own characteristics, including tone, build quality, shape, appearance, and electronics.
Although you’re probably familiar with the process of buying an electric guitar, let us remind you of some important things to factor in.
First of all, you should make sure the guitar is made of quality materials.
The guitar’s body shape also affects the playing experience, and you need to find a guitar that feels comfortable to play.
The appearance is another factor – some players prefer distinctive, colorful guitars and others are fond of classic, vintage electric guitars.
Also, some guitars are suitable for beginners and others are designed with professional guitar players in mind.
As an intermediate player, you should look for intermediate-level electric guitars.
But you can also find something more advanced in case you feel like you’re ready for it.
High-quality guitars will serve you well for a long time, so if you want to spend a bit more, you can search for a guitar for intermediate as well as advanced players.
Either way, you can also think about what you intend to use it for – do you want to improve your guitar skills and have a reliable instrument to practice with, or do you want to buy a workhorse guitar that will accompany you on your upcoming tour?
It all depends on your priorities and goals.
If you know exactly what you’re looking for, it will be easier for you to make a choice.
What Guitar Body Shape Should I Choose?
There are all kinds of electric guitars available in the market, but there are generally two main categories of electric guitars: 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.
The Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul are the most popular single-cut guitars.
Double-cut guitars 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 we’re not talking about a huge difference.
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.
What About Neck Profile?
The type of neck profile is another thing you should factor in when checking out the best intermediate electric guitar.
And there actually 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.
Faster players tend to opt for thin necks, and rock players usually go for thicker necks.
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.
There are many different pickup types to choose from, so if you want to upgrade and buy a good intermediate electric guitar, you should choose the type of pickup that suits you best.
As you probably know, single coils and humbuckers are the most popular 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.
However, single coils have more feedback than humbucker pickups, and that’s why many rock and metal guitar players tend to avoid them.
On the other hand, 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.
Epiphone also created mini humbuckers that produce a smaller amount of signal compared to humbuckers.
Some electric guitars feature a mixture of single coils and humbucker pickups, which is a great solution as well.
Piezo pickups work in a slightly different way – they are located inside the bridge of the guitar and pick up the vibrations of the string and guitar.
Therefore, 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 Intermediate Electric Guitars?
Fortunately, most intermediate electric guitars are made of quality materials.
Generally, the type of wood the guitar is made of affects the overall tone.
And the denser the wood, the better sustain an instrument will have.
That said, 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.
How Much Do Intermediate Electric Guitars Cost?
Intermediate guitars are produced with better hardware and materials than beginner guitars.
Therefore, they typically cost between $400 to $1000.
You can generally find a beginner electric guitar for $300 (or less), so spending $600 on an intermediate-level guitar seems fair.
On the other hand, if you want to buy a more advanced premium-quality electric guitar, you’ll have to spend a bit more; high-end electric guitars can cost more than $1000.
But if you’re a beginner with some experience and you want to upgrade your instrument, getting a decent electric guitar in this intermediate-level price range is a good idea.
Best Intermediate Electric Guitars – Final Thoughts
Intermediate electric guitars are made with better quality components than beginner guitars, and they generally provide stability, tonal versatility, and a comfortable playing experience.
All the best intermediate guitars we reviewed today are widely used by musicians around the world.
So, you just need to find a model that fits your style and budget.
Once you buy the guitar that suits you best, you can continue your guitar-learning journey and shred your way up to advanced levels.