Cheap-ish electric guitar recommendations?

I used to play guitar (albeit never to a virtuoso standard) and still have an acoustic kicking about but quite keen to get an electric guitar mainly to mess about creating loops and textures to manipulate using delays, reverbs and granular FX. My 9 year old son has also expressed an interest in learning the guitar and he may get some use out of it too.

My experience is that cheap guitars are cheap for a reason, horrible intonation issues and never stay in tune, sound crap etc. Anyone have any recommendations for something relatively cheap, but not nasty? Could maybe go as high as £200 but preferably cheaper as I’d need an amp too.

I think Gumtree will offer you better bang for your buck when you narrow the choice down.

Best say what you’re after tone/layout wise I guess … tele / strat / Les Paul / semi etc - narrow it down further

I heard the yamaha pacifica have a very good bang to buck ratio. It’s not what you asked for, but… If you got an octatrack I’d recommend a acoustic guitar with active pickup. I mess around with mine directly from guitar to its input. Not the best quality tonally but a lot of fun. Haven’t touched my main guitar (nik Huber) for quiet some time


What about the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II that you can pick up brand new from Amazon for just £145? I haven’t bought one yet, but it’s on my wishlist for getting back into guitar. Reviews have been good, demos sound nice too. I have little experience with guitars though, just throwing the option out there!

+1 for a (Mexican) Fender Strat

Don’t want to hijack the post but I am in the same boat. But looking for my first E Bass guitar in the cheapier regions of the market.

Maybe you skip the amp and use an irig interface for the ipad. (if you habe one) cheap and sufficient to start with

Yamaha makes very good electric guitars and basses. Especially in the lower price brackets, you’ll get much better quality from them than from the more traditional brands, both in terms of build, reliability, as well as the type of materials they use.

Instead of a small amp (which pretty much all sound shit), I would recommend something like a Palmer Pocket Amp 2 or a Tech21 SansAmp. This will give you much better sound combined with your monitor of hi-fi speakers, and you can use it as great DI box for whatever you want to record into.

I’d recommend against active pickups; these tend to be noisy in the lower price brackets.

EDIT: If you’re planning to only record into your computer, and not into hardware like the OT or a looper pedal, then you could also consider the Apogee JAM.

If you have a Mac and/or an iPhone or iPad, then you already have access to a whole bunch of excellently modelled amp simulations and pedal effects inside Garageband to get started with! :slight_smile:


id also recommend a used guitar, you will get a lot more value.
I prefer to buy used as I like the feel of a broken in guitar.
as much as I like a single coil guitar, for your setup id go with a humbucker pickup guitar.
epiphone is a good recommendation.
as for the guy not playing the nik Huber - is it for sale?!

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where are you based? id be happy to sniff round gumtree in your area.

Thanks for all replies so far.

I’m in Dundee, Scotland.

Good idea re irig /ipad but would be good for son to have always accessible amp.

on the first page is an epiphone sg special with a vox amp for 300, maybe you can get down to 275, that’s a good deal if the guitar is in decent shape. check the specs of the amp to see if it has a line out.
there is also a 2008 epiphone les paul, 300. more than you want to spend but again maybe you can make an offer.
definitely go play them if its local, listen for scratchy sounds when you turn the knobs, look along the fretboard to see the strings are running correctly.

Haha, no I’ll never part with my krautster ii. Best instrument I ever bought. “not playing” is not exactly right but the immediacy of my acoustic guitar is something I really like.


hold the phone - theres a '78 Ibanez les paul copy (performer series) on page 2 of gumtree.
275. id go check that out. my first guitar (in Glasgow '91) was a used early 80s Ibanez les paul copy which weighed a tonne and sounded fantastic. 150 quid at the time.

btw - I’m fond of Dundee - I was the architect on the alliance trust HQ on marketgait, the black zinc with the LED display. all my fault.

people rave about those guitars - don’t see them round hong kong

Don’t go for cheap … as you already say … there are reasons and you named some of them.

We need a stable tuning, a good playability, and finally a good sound. Making an electric guitar deliver all of this takes good design, good components, and good craftsmanship. Most of the cost for mechanical and electro-mechanical instruments are in the labour. Manufacturing in low-cost countries can lower the cost.

There are some options, which are not expensive, but good.

  • Fender Mexico series
  • Epiphone (various models)
  • Ibanez

I would say from 300€ to 500€ there should be many good guitars. But I would not search below 250 €. Even a non-virtuoso should get a guitar, which is easy to work with and not some crap, which is hard to play.


final one that stands out on gumtree ( and I agree with above post re fender mexico, they can be excellent guitars if you get the right one) - as such there is a MIM (Made in Mexico) Telecaster for 300 on gumtree near you. id say that or the 78 Ibanez. tele might be safer option.

I have been very impressed by the higher end squier models, especially if you can do a basic setup on them yourself. It’s worth learning to do this yourself anyway to keep them playing well, and you can get the kit you need to do so for less than a tenner, youtube tells you all and it’s not hard to do on an electric. Check out the squier vintage modified and classic vibe guitars on ebay, I have found them very well made and great value for money, and they can go pretty cheap. If you go for a short scale like the Jaguar then it may be slightly easier for your son to play.

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one of these would cover lots of your needs (emulated line out) and keep the neighbours happy - even if you outgrow it and need to get a proper amp, this’ll still have uses - always rave reviews

ps: this looks sweet and everything just about within budget

Just a note from another father … give your son a good instrument only.

The easiest way to get a young musician to give up early is, to let him/her start on a cheap instrument. It’s difficult enough to learn all those new things on a good instrument, but to overcome the shortcomings of a bad made instrument takes supernatural motivation, particularly for a kid.

When our kids asked for making music, we gave them decent instruments, well, without all of those bells and whistles, but easy to play and having a good sound. They had fun and this lasts up today, okay, the follow up instruments have been more expensive … :wink: