Learning to play an electric guitar can be an exciting experience. You have more variety to the styles of music you can play than if you were to opt for an acoustic for your first guitar. An electric guitar can also be a little easier on the soft fingertips of a beginner than a steel-string acoustic.
It can be a daunting process to choose your first electric guitar. There are a lot of options for the guitars themselves. On top of that, you have to think about what kind of amp you need and accessories to get you started.
Many prominent brands have created bundles so you can just pick them up and get started. However, even within these different bundles, there is a lot of variety. We have created a list of our favorites and written reviews for each to help you decide what is right for you.
There are many dodgy cheap electric guitar bundles on Amazon or other retailers. You should avoid these. You may get lucky and pick up a decent one but there is no real quality control from these brands.
They build these guitars in China, give them a strange brand seal, then ship off to a warehouse to wait for you to buy. This type of manufacturing is great to keep costs down. It doesn’t breed reliability for the final product though.
If you decide you don’t like any of our top picks we recommend still sticking to a reputable brand.
All our picks have an amplifier included with them. Some electric guitar packages don’t include one and they are necessary to practice with. Just be aware of this if you end up shopping outside our recommendations.
If you have a slightly bigger budget we have included a “build your own package” section to this article. Buying separately can be more cost-effective than a pre-made pack when spending over $350. It can also be hard to wrap your head around. Hopefully, this short guide helps.
The packages listed are for adults. You can find our kids' guitar reviews here.
The SS11 was actually my first electric guitar. I gave it away when I had ordered a more expensive guitar online. When my new guitar arrived I regretted getting rid of my Silvertone. It played and sounded much better than my new guitar and many other guitars I have owned since.
You may not have heard of Silvertone before as they are nowhere near as big as Fender or Gibson. However, they are an established brand with quite a large range of guitar models. Their budget-friendly guitars are outstanding for their cost.
This guitar package is my favorite pick for Stratocaster style guitars. They may be one of the cheapest of the reputable brands but they don’t skimp on quality.
The SS11, and the similar SS10, are arguably better than the more expensive Fender Squires. They play smooth, have decent sounding pickups, and look great. The custom-shaped headstock is a nice touch and makes them recognizable.
The difference between the SS10 and SS11 is the fretboard. The SS10 is maple while the SS11 is rosewood. The maple neck will give a slightly brighter tone to your playing. If you aren't into a bright tone go for the SS11.
The only let down for this package is that the included amplifier is of lower quality than some of the more expensive packages. It is still good enough to get you started and has enough volume to jam on your own. It has an AUX-in so you can play along with your favorite tracks or audio lessons too.
There is not much Les Paul about this guitar except for the shape of its body. It uses single-coil pickups so is not well equipped to create that growl you want for your blues or metal songs. It does still sound pretty good on the clean channel or with a little overdrive though.
These guitars play well and are very beginner friendly with their jumbo frets. The slim tapered ‘60s style neck is also kind to newbie’s hands.
Epiphone guitars are the budget versions of Gibson guitars. They obviously aren’t kept to the same standard as guitars that cost thousands of dollars. They are, however, are a trusted entry point throughout the industry.
Being the cheapest of all Epiphone guitars, the SL model is very basic but is fine to get you started. Yet, if you can afford the more expensive Epiphone packs you get better features. Such features include humbucking pickups and a superior amplifier.
The amplifier included is very small and battery operated. It is okay for practicing in your bedroom but you will have to be close to it to get any value out of its sound.
Of our two budget picks the Silvertone is definitely the more versatile rig. It also comes with a better amplifier so you should only go for this one if you are really into its looks.
It would make sense for a Fender guitar to be one of the best Stratocaster style guitar packages. They are the company that pioneered the shape after all.
Squier guitars are the cheaper versions of Fenders. They are surprisingly high quality for the cost. This makes them an excellent entry point into playing guitar.
These guitars have a wide variety of tones at your fingertips. They are perfect for learning to play anything from rock, to jazz, to pop, and everything in between.
These guitars are available in a range of colors. There is sure to be one that matches your taste.
It is hard to ignore the classic Fender styling of these guitars. They look good and will bring a bit of extra flair to any room they call home.
They play great and you will not need to upgrade these guitars in a hurry. The only thing you will need to upgrade to play with a band is the amplifier. It is a decent amp for a package but is a little small for jamming with a drummer.
The amp included is a 10w Fender Frontman. It is of higher quality than the one included with our budget pick. This is the defining feature between the two. The actual guitars are on par, if not a little in favor of the cheaper package.
The guitar included in the package is the Les Paul Special LE II. It is similar in appearance to the SL guitar but has more to offer.
This guitar has humbucking pickups just like a ‘real’ Les Paul. This means it sounds much better on the overdriven channel than the cheaper SL.
If someone like Slash or Jimmy Page that plays a Les Paul inspired you to learn guitar you will get closer to their tone with this guitar.
If you do want a Les Paul guitar this one is an obvious choice over the SL model.
The build of this guitar is alder and maple with a mahogany neck. These are a decent set of tonewoods for a cheap guitar. They have warm characteristics and balance well with the pickups this guitar uses.
The amplifier included is a nice little practice amp. It sounds decent and has a headphone jack to practice in silence if need be. The 3 band EQ will let you fiddle around with the sound of the amplifier. You can also use the tone controls on the guitar to help you find a tone that you are happy with.
If you want to learn heavy riffs you might as well start with a guitar designed for that. Dean is the brand of guitars that many metal artists use such as Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Dean almost exclusively deals in guitars built for metal. You can trust that the CZone guitar included in this package is capable of high gain, high energy, and heavy, music.
The aesthetics of this guitar screams metal. The all-black hardware and paintwork are perfect to take on stage with you when you get to that point. The reverse headstock is also cool and is an inclusion not often seen with budget guitars.
The pickups are for high gain. This means they are good at playing with distortion. They are cheap pickups though so don’t expect them to sound exactly like your favorite artist.
The clean tone from these pickups is not going to be as well rounded as in the Stratocaster guitars. They will still get you by for your practice if you want to play on the clean channel.
The included amplifier is small just like all the other packages. It is fine to practice with but if you plan to get loud while playing your heavy metal you might need to upgrade your amp.
There is nothing wrong with this package. It is actually one of the best. However, it is expensive when you compare it to others. If you plan to spend this much on a guitar package you are better off buying the parts separately.
You may be a big slash fan, or not want to put the effort into deciding which individual guitar and amp you want to buy. If this is the case, this package could be a good choice if you have a decent budget.
The guitar is an upgraded version of the Epiphone Special II we reviewed earlier. It has improved pickups so it will sound better and with less unwanted noise.
The bridge is more reliable so you get trustworthy tuning stability. There is also a built-in Shadow E-Tuner which is way more convenient than a clip-on tuner.
This guitar also has an upgraded appearance when compared to the standard Special II. It has a flame maple top with cherry mahogany back and a bound body. This not only gives a premium look it provides superior tone and sustain.
The included amplifier with this package is the best of all the bundles we have reviewed. It is more powerful at 15w. Most others are 10w. It also looks better and gives more control over your sound.
It really is a nice package if you have the money for it. You should have a look at our build your own options before you make your final choice though.
This is one of the best all-around packages available. It is hands down our favorite of the Les Paul style guitars. It could have been our less than $300 Les Paul pick. At the time of writing, this guitar is under $300 on zZounds and Amazon. It has a street value of closer to $500 though so we excluded it from that category.
This guitar has a flame maple top and is available with two different types of burst paint finishes. This makes the guitar look a lot more premium than many of the other guitar packages. The raised pickguard and 4 stunning control knobs also add to the overall flair of this guitar.
This guitar is a real blues powerhouse but is also capable of covering a range of other genres.
The pickups in this guitar are low noise and capable of many different tones. They sound great and the silver housing for them makes them look the part too.
This guitar has very good tuning stability for a budget guitar. This is thanks to its quality die-cast tuners and tune-o-matic bridge. This type of bridge also makes it easy to change strings. It is handy for adjusting the intonation as a beginner too.
The included amplifier does not do the guitar justice but is fine for practicing.
The guitar will last you a long time if you take care of it. It is tough and also has good enough hardware and playability to keep you from needing an upgrade.
Pre-made packages are convenient. However, you can also make a decent package of your own if you are willing to put the effort in.
It is the amplifier and guitar that are the money drains.
The amplifiers included with packages are no good for jamming with others. It’s better to get a nice amp from the get-go so you never encounter this problem.
It may cost a little extra now but will save you money in the long run as you won’t need to upgrade.
We have included a smaller amp to consider if jamming with others is of no interest to you. It's the same amp included with the Fender packages.
Here are 3 of our favorite budget guitars and amplifiers to build your own starter kit.
Kramer Focus VT-211S - A budget-friendly Stratocaster style guitar with one humbucking pickup. A versatile instrument that plays and sounds awesome.
Jackson JS Series Dinky JS11 - A metal machine that has high output pickups and classic Jackson styling. Available in a range of striking colors.
Ibanez GiO GRX20Z - An adaptable guitar that plays like a much more expensive model. Great for pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Fender Frontman 10G - A small amplifier included in the Fender packages. Perfectly fine for jamming on your own and costs well under $100.
Fender Champion 40 Guitar Combo Amplifier - An amp that is powerful enough to jam along with friends. Classic Fender tone in a fairly priced package.
Boss Katana-50 MkII Guitar Combo Amplifier - This amp can model 5 different amp types. This makes it great for playing a myriad of different styles. It also has enough power to compete with a drummer.
These are usually the cheapest ones the manufacturers produce. They don’t have the best tone and are only powerful enough to practice with at home. This is of course fine for beginners but it means you must upgrade when your skills progress.
Guitars included with starter packages often need setting up. This can cause a huge headache for a beginner if you decide to do this yourself.
It could also be an extra unwanted cost to get a professional to do it.
We recommend avoiding the super-budget and no-name options that you may find online. Our cheapest pick costs around $150 which gets you a decent guitar and an amp.
Guitar packs can get pretty expensive and you get better quality the more you spend. Yet, If you’re looking to lay down $350 or more we think it’s worth considering buying an amp and guitar separately. You will get better bang for your buck this way.
The Katana amp and Kramer guitar from our build your own section will cost around this much. These two will be a better combo than any starter packs.
This depends on what genres of music you intend to play. Have a look at the guitars your favorite artists use. Perhaps you can emulate them.
If you’re an absolute beginner you should be fine with whatever you think looks the best. It is more about getting your fingers to the right place at the right time than the tone when you are starting out.
Our favorite packages are the Silvertone ones. They provide the best quality to cost ratio. There is one available on both ends of the price spectrum for you to choose from. There are also many other viable options. Have a read through all our recommendations if you haven't already.
If you have a bigger budget it is best to avoid the packages altogether and buy separately. This will save you money in the long run.