The 11 best beginner's electric guitars under 500€

If you're just starting to learn to play the electric guitar, you don't want to spend thousands of dollars right away - after all, you'll need an amplifier, too, which costs a lot of money. Besides, the choice can be very difficult, as there are now over 2000 electric guitars on the market. In this article, we have listed the best electric guitars for beginners for every budget to make the choice easier.
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Which beginner electric guitar is right for me?

As a beginner, you should not spend more than 500 Euros on an electric guitar. There are now very good models in this price range that will easily get you through your first gigs and studio recordings.

Below is an overview of the most popular brands of electric guitars for beginners:

  • Harley Benton: This is the house brand of Thomann for electric guitars and e-basses. It is extremely cheap, but with good value for relatively good quality.
  • Squier: A subsidiary of Fender that offers cheaper guitars than Fender, but still very good quality. They are a little more expensive than Harley Benton, but of higher quality.
  • Epiphone: Similar to Squier, Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson, which also offers good quality guitars at a reasonable price. The quality is on the same level as Squier.

If you're looking for an advanced electric guitar, be sure to check out my article on the best electric guitars. And if you need a guitar amp, I also have a detailed article on the best guitar amps for you.

The best electric guitars for beginners under 150€

Harley Benton TE-20HH SBK Standard Series

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Harley Benton TE-20HH SBK Standard Series

Harley Benton is known for its affordable, yet high quality instruments and the TE-20HH SBK is no exception.

The first thing you notice is the attractive matte black finish, which in combination with the classic Telecaster design gives it an elegant and timeless aesthetic. The model is quite solidly built, which you wouldn't necessarily expect at this price.

This beginner electric guitar is equipped with two humbucker pickups that allow for a wide range of sounds. From crisp, clear funk sounds to warm, full and even distorted tones, everything is possible with this guitar. Especially the humbuckers, which are not really common on a Telecaster, make the sound really fat and powerful.

The sound of this guitar is outstanding. It is versatile enough to be used in many genres, from blues to jazz to rock, so all doors are open with this instrument.

The fingerboard is the only weak point of this electric guitar, because it is not polished and only moderately finished. But for 99 Euros you can't expect a perfect guitar. In my opinion it is still worth every cent.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Fat, overtone-rich sound
  • Unbeatable price
What speaks against it?
  • Fingerboard not polished

Price: 99€, Link: Harley Benton TE-20HH SBK Standard Series

Harley Benton ST-20 Standard Series Electric Guitar

Harley Benton ST-20 Standard Series Electric Guitar White
Harley Benton ST-20 Standard Series Electric Guitar White

The Harley Benton ST-20 is a beginner's electric guitar that follows the design principles of the post-1958 Stratocaster models. It is equipped with a three-piece pickguard and a flamed maple fingerboard.

The body of the ST-20 is made of basswood in the classic strat shape and is equipped with a tremolo, just like the original. The maple neck has a modern C-shape with a typical scale length of 648 mm and is equipped with three single-coil pickups with white caps.

When playing, the ST-20 is particularly rich in the highs, but its undistorted sound is a bit muffled and lifeless compared to the real Stratocaster. When playing with more extreme distortion, the ST-20 sounds a bit too sharp in the upper mids and the bass sounds a bit spongy. But that's complaining on a high level and not really a problem for an 89€ guitar.

You could say that this is the best electric guitar for beginners who love the sound and feel of the classic Stratocaster and don't want to spend more than 100 Euros. Of course, at a price of just under 90 Euros, you have to make some compromises, but in return you get a solid model that you will be very happy with for the first few years.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Tremolo
  • Unbeatable price
What speaks against it?
  • Sounds slightly duller than more expensive models

Price: 89€, Link: Harley Benton ST-20 Standard Series

Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic Series

Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic Series
Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic Series

The Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic is an amazingly affordable replica of the famous Gibson Les Paul. It is equipped with P90 ceramic single-coils and conveys a nostalgic vintage feeling. Despite the very reasonable price of less than 150 Euros, the instrument is aesthetically and tonally very appealing.

Unlike traditional mahogany bodies, the body of this model is made of poplar. The top is finished in a striking shade of gold, symbolized by the GT (Gold Top) in the name. The craftsmanship of the guitar is astounding and even a step better than the previous two models, with precisely placed screws and a flawless clear finish.

With a solid weight of 3.6 kg, the SC-450 offers comfortable playability even over long periods of time. Acoustically, the instrument produces a slightly nasal sound at high volume and even string vibration at medium sustain.

The sound of this beginner electric guitar is exactly what you would expect from a Les Paul: full, rich and punchy. The sound is perfect for rock, heavy, punk, etc., but can also sound relatively clean if you don't add any distortion to the guitar amp.

All in all, the Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic Series is a guitar with an excellent price-performance ratio. The build quality, playability and sound are remarkable for the price.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Very beautiful vintage look
  • Full, rich sound
What speaks against it?
  • Nothing

Price: 149€, Link: Harley Benton SC-450 P90 GT Classic Series

The best electric guitars for beginners under 250€

Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Electric Guitar

Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Electric Guitar
Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Electric Guitar

The Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series is a T-style guitar with an excellent price-performance ratio. It follows the traditional design principles of the Telecaster with an ash body and maple neck.

The American ash body is equipped with two Roswell TEA Alnico 5 TE-style single-coil pickups. The strings are routed through the body and fed to the tuners via three pairs of vintage-style tailpieces.

In my opinion, this beginner's electric guitar is very comfortable to play because the C-profile neck fits very well in the hand. The frets are not polished (to save money, of course), but you can do it yourself next time you change the strings.

It produces a clean, clear Telecaster twang sound that is unparalleled in this price range. With a little distortion, it produces a lively, vibrant sound, with the guitar's strength clearly in the clean range. This makes it a great beginner's electric guitar for funk, jazz or reggae.

The Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series is an impressive guitar for just under 150 Euros that has hardly any competition in this price range. It is well made and thanks to the almost perfect factory settings it is ready to play without much adjustment.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Good twang sound
  • Classic Telecaster look
What speaks against it?
  • Frets not polished

Price: 159€, Link: Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series

Harley Benton ST-62DLX VW Vintage Series

Harley Benton ST-62DLX VW Vintage Series
Harley Benton ST-62DLX VW Vintage Series

The guitar features a cream high gloss finish and a shape inspired by the Fender Stratocaster. The body is made of American basswood, which makes the guitar light and easy on the back. The gouge on the back provides a comfortable playing position, whether you are standing or sitting. The guitar is well balanced and has no head heaviness.

The neck of the Harley Benton ST-62DLX is made of maple and has a maple fretboard. The 21 frets are neatly set and inlaid, but the surfaces are not polished enough, which is noticeable when pulling on the strings. This can affect the feel, but as mentioned above, it can be easily polished when changing strings.

The guitar's three Alnico 5 singlecoils come from Roswell. The sound of the guitar is good, but the pickups can't quite capture the good basic sound of the Harley Benton ST-62DLX. There is a lack of midrange and treble, which makes the sound a bit dull. However, this can easily be changed by replacing the pickups with higher quality models, such as these.

With excellent build quality, but a mediocre sound that can easily be improved, this is a very affordable Strat clone. Even if you buy the extra pickups, you've only spent a total of $285 on a Strat copy.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Vintage look
  • Very good build quality
What speaks against it?
  • Sounds slightly duller than more expensive models

Price: 169€, Link: Harley Benton ST-62DLX VW Vintage Series

Harley Benton RB-600BK Classic Series

Harley Benton RB-600BK Classic Series
Harley Benton RB-600BK Classic Series

The Harley Benton RB-600 BK is an affordable semi-acoustic electric guitar that looks and sounds like a classic of the electric guitar world, the Epiphone Casino. It has a semi-hollow mahogany body and a set-in maple neck with laurel fretboard. The guitar has a glossy black finish.

It features two Artec Classic mini humbucker pickups mounted in chrome frames. The electronics are simple, with a three-way switch for individual or combined pickup activation and separate volume and tone controls for each pickup.

This beginner's electric guitar is well balanced and produces a characteristic mid-range and slightly nasal sound typical of semi-acoustic models. The playability is excellent, the neck fits comfortably in the hand and allows easy playing up to the highest registers.

In all three positions of the pickup switch, the guitar delivers a warm, sparkling sound. It also handles the distortion channel of an amp with ease, offering a wide variety of possible sounds with its three pickup positions.

For the price, this beginner electric guitar is impressive and hard to fault. It comes from the factory with high-quality strings, which benefits both the sound and playability. If you are looking for a guitar that reminds you of the famous Casino (John Lennon, Noel Gallagher etc.) both sonically and visually, without having to dig deep into your pocket for it, you should definitely try the Harley Benton RB-600.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Very pleasant to play
  • Warm tones
What speaks against it?
  • Nothing

Price: 249€, Link: Harley Benton RB-600BK Classic Series

Harley Benton DC-600 VI Vintage Series

Harley Benton DC-600 VI Vintage Series
Harley Benton DC-600 VI Vintage Series

This beginner's electric guitar is clearly made for rockers - it is a replica of the famous Gibson SG, Angus Young's favorite guitar, but equipped with an additional pickup for a total of three humbucker pickups. The result is a very powerful and rich sound that is especially suited for extremely distorted genres.

The body is made of okoume and the neck is made of magahoni - which makes it much lighter than a Les Paul, for example. The overall workmanship is very good, not only for the price: it can easily compete with more expensive guitars. With a total of 24 frets, you can play up to 2 octaves per string, and fingering up to the higher registers is no problem.

This beginner electric guitar has a total of 4 controls - 1x volume control per pickup and a general tone control. The combination of the different pickups results in almost infinite sound possibilities.

The Harley Benton DC-600 VI Vintage Series can also be played clean, but it is a shame in my opinion - the three humbuckers want to be distorted. For beginners who play harder genres like rock or heavy, I can really recommend this electric guitar.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • 3x humbucker pickups produce a very overtone-rich sound
  • 24 frets
What speaks against it?
  • The finish could be better

Price: 189€, Link: Harley Benton DC-600 VI Vintage Series

The best electric guitars for beginners under 500€

Squier CV 60s Strat

Squier CV 60s Strat CAR
Squier CV 60s Strat CAR

Now we come to the first electric guitar for beginners from Squier, the cheaper brother of Fender. The quality is a bit better than Harley Benton, but the price is also higher.

The build quality of the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster is remarkable, especially considering the price. The guitar is visually very appealing and the attention to detail is evident, especially in the fret edges and neck finish. The body is made of nato and the bolt-on neck is made of Indian laurel.

It features 21 frets, 3 Fender-designed alnico single coil pickups, a 5-way switch and 3 controls (1 Master Volume, 2 Tone). A high quality tremolo is also built in.

This electric guitar is incredibly versatile: it sounds great both clean and distorted. Clean it sounds bright and crystal clear, which makes it perfect for funk. Distorted it doesn't sound like AC/DC (you need humbuckers for that), but more like Eric Clapton with moderate distortion or Jimi Hendrix with a lot of distortion.

But you can also just use a distortion pedal if you really want distortion for heavy metal - that works too. But if you only play that kind of hard music, I wouldn't recommend this electric guitar, I'd recommend a Les Paul or SG.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Very good Stratocaster sound for the price
  • High quality finishes
  • Stylish design
What speaks against it?
  • Nothing

Price: 399€, Link: Squier CV 60s Strat CAR

Squier CV 50s Tele MN BB

Squier CV 50s Tele MN BB
Squier CV 50s Tele MN BB

The Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster is designed for everyone from beginners to professionals on a budget. It pays homage to the vintage Fender Telecaster - a model that many guitarists appreciate for its tonal characteristics.

Visually, the guitar is a real eye-catcher. The body is made of pine, which is quite appropriate for a Tele from the 1950s. The neck is C-shaped, bolted and made of maple, the fretboard is also maple with 21 frets.

The guitar features a pair of Fender Design Alnico single-coil pickups wound to Fender specifications. It delivers the unmistakable Telecaster "twang" sound of the 50s - just think of the surf music of the 60s or Keith Richards.

The pickup on the neck produces a warm, full and round sound, often described as "mellow" or "smooth". This sound is great for rhythm guitar, jazz and blues. The bridge pickup, on the other hand, produces a brighter, sharper and more penetrating sound, often described as "twangy" or "biting".

This beginner's electric guitar is surprisingly light, especially compared to single or double cut models, which makes it very comfortable to carry. I can recommend it to anyone who likes vintage Rolling Stones-style sounds.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Very good Telecaster sound for the price
  • Very light
What speaks against it?
  • Nothing

Price: 389€, Link: Squier CV 50s Tele MN BB

Epiphone SG Standard Heritage

Epiphone SG Standard Heritage Cherry LH
Epiphone SG Standard Heritage Cherry

The Epiphone SG Standard is a more affordable version of the legendary Gibson SG, offering impressive playability and a powerful, rich and overtone-rich sound. It is equipped with Epiphone Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers, which deliver a dense midrange and tight bass. The guitar has a high gloss finish and is available in three colors.

This beginner's electric guitar has a body and a slim tapered neck, both made of 60's Magahoni, which gives a comfortable feel. It is very well made and comes well adjusted and ready to play out of the box.

A small criticism is that the pickups have a little less treble than you would expect from a Gibson SG - but we are talking about a price difference of 1000€. This can easily be fixed with the amp's equalizer by boosting the treble/presence a bit.

All in all, the Epiphone SG Standard offers a great sound at a reasonable price. It is a good choice for beginners, but also for advanced players looking for an SG without spending a fortune. Especially recommended for harder genres like rock, heavy or punk.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Fat Gibson SG sound for relatively little money
  • High quality finishes
What speaks against it?
  • Compared to the Gibson model, the treble is somewhat lacking in the sound

Price: 489€, Link: Epiphone SG Standard Heritage Cherry

Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow

Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow
Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s is an affordable version of one of the most famous electric guitars in the world, the Gibson Les Paul. It has a mahogany body and neck, Indian rosewood fretboard and is equipped with two P-90 Pro Soap Bar single-coils. The guitar has good factory tuning and clean octave purity, which is to be expected in this price range.

Weighing in at 4.1 kg, it's not the lightest beginner's electric guitar, but that's what single-cut models are known for. Coming from a T or Strat, this guitar feels a bit heavy at first, but you get used to it quickly.

In terms of tone, the Epiphone Les Paul delivers a loud and defined sound with plenty of overtones, both clean and distorted. The guitar responds well to a variety of playing techniques and offers a long, even sustain.

In my opinion, this is a great electric guitar for beginners, especially if you like the hard sound of artists like Slash (Guns 'n' Roses) or Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) - both dedicated Gibson Les Paul players.

What are the arguments in favour?
  • Fat Gibson Les Paul sound for relatively little money
  • High quality finishes
What speaks against it?
  • A bit heavy

Price: 489€, Link: Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow

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