8 Best Electric Guitars Under $300

Think you can’t get a good Les Paul, Strat or Tele on a budget? Think again! Welcome to the wonderful world of budget guitars.

Let’s face it – if you had an unlimited stream of cash, you wouldn’t be on this page. So whether you are an experienced guitarist looking for something decent to travel with (instead of your $1,500 American Strat), or a complete beginner looking for a reliable first axe, the good news is that there are some excellent budget guitars on the market that beg the question – ‘how do they make them so cheap?’

In our easy-to-follow comparison chart below, we have collated the best budget guitars available – highlighting the different models, their ratings, and links to more in-depth reviews. Make sure to check out our guide to budget guitars underneath the chart for tips on buying a great budget axe that suits your style.

Top 10 Best Electric Guitars Under $300

PRODUCT

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PRODUCT

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AR RATING 79/100

  • One of the most iconic guitars in this price range.
  • Great ergonomics mostly thanks to the Wizard III neck.

AR RATING 78/100

  • A timeless, classic aesthetic done right.
  • Impressive finish for a lower mid range guitar.

AR RATING 77/100

  • Great build quality with a lot of attention to details.
  • Pretty robust hardware that works consistently.
  • A really well designed and executed Strat model.
  • Great sound thanks to Duncan designed single coils.

AR RATING 77/100

  • A rock solid performance with plenty of headroom.
  • Comfortable body which simply feels good in hands.

AR RATING 76/100

  • One of the most classic guitar designs ever made.
  • Good build quality and attention to detail.

AR RATING 76/100

  • One of the most consistent mid range guitars out there.
  • A great variety of color schemes and finishes.

AR RATING 76/100

  • That classic Les Paul body shape.
  • Great build quality with an even better finish by ESP.

AR RATING 75/100

  • A semi hollow design on a budget which actually works.
  • Good build quality and choice of materials by Oscar Schmidt.
  • A truly unique design which you don't see every day.
  • Good build quality all things considered.

AR RATING 79/100

Decent mid range guitars don't get much better than the Ibanez RG Series RG421. This ax is borderline legendary despite its simple design and somewhat rugged aesthetics. The reasons for this are many, but it mostly has to do with how good it sounds. For the price, you'll hardly find something that is considerably better. That much is for sure.

It comes packed with great hardware and electronics, which have proven to be quite great if you are into metal. The super fact wizard III neck also helps with that. In other words, this guitar is the absolute shredder. Since this is a fairly established model, Ibanez has spent a lot of time ironing out whatever flaws there might've been.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most iconic guitars in this price range.
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    Great ergonomics mostly thanks to the Wizard III neck.
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    Mahogany body combined with hot humbuckers is a great combo.
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    Hardware that does a good job at key retention.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Might look too bland for some users.

AR RATING 77/100

Epiphone has definitely evolved from its original form back in the day. No longer are they just a source of cheap Gibson lookalikes. No, they have transcended that stage and became a name of their own. When it comes to the most popular Epiphone models, you will rarely find one that beats Epiphone Les Paul 100, especially in heritage sunburst.

What makes this guitar so great is the fact that it sounds very close to the model it was based on. It's scary how close Epiphone is getting to that baseline Les Paul sound, all while still being cheap enough for the masses to own. If you're looking for authenticity, its mahogany body with a maple top definitely inspires confidence.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A timeless, classic aesthetic done right.
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    Impressive finish for a lower mid range guitar.
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    Great electronics based on 700T humbuckers.
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    Overall sound that is eerily close to the actual Gibson.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Lacks a few details you'd expect in this price range.

AR RATING 77/100

Schecter started out as a parts company only to involve in one of the giants of the guitar industry. Their budget guitars are about as close as you can get to a metal oriented beginner guitar. Schecter C-6 Plus is one step above that. It's still fairly affordable, but it packs a much heavier punch as well as better aesthetics.

The pickups on this bad boy belong to Schecter's Diamond series. These are passive humbuckers but they are fairly hot all things considered. That combined with a very fast neck make this thing a proper metal axe. If you are looking for a true workhorse capable of wrangling high gain distortion, chances are you won't find too many similar guitars.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality with a lot of attention to details.
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    Pretty robust hardware that works consistently.
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    One of the hottest sets of pickups in this category.
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    Overall great sound for distortion packed signals.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    C-6 Plus is somewhat biased towards a harder sound.

AR RATING 77/100

At this point you are probably wondering why would you pay this kind of money for a Squier. In reality, Squire by Fender Deluxe Stratocaster is on a whole different level of awesome compared to the average Bullet model. In other words, there are plenty of reasons why you should definitely check this thing out. Lets cover some of them.

For starters, this thing is fairly close to an actual Strat in terms of build quality and attention to detail. Compared to your usual Strat copies, there is just so much going on here when you take a closer look. On top of that you have Seymour Duncan designed single coils which sound much better than most in this range.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A really well designed and executed Strat model.
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    Great sound thanks to Duncan designed single coils.
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    Aesthetics which are on par with the original.
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    A truly impressive attention to detail.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Stock strings are just not good enough.

AR RATING 77/100

It doesn't take long to notice that Yamaha Revstar RS320 is different from most other guitars on the market. This is mostly because it features a body shape that pretty much unique to Yamaha. Aesthetics aside, this ax is one of the best balanced models you can get. The combination of comfort, performance and price is too good to ignore.

The electronics inside the RS320 are fairly powerful without a doubt. However, they are not brutish. This is a guitar that can take you into mellow Delta blues, or heavy metal without skipping a heartbeat. That makes it great for those who are still figuring out what genre they prefer. With all that said, it takes some getting used to.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A rock solid performance with plenty of headroom.
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    Comfortable body which simply feels good in hands.
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    A set of hot output humbuckers that pack a punch.
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    Great hardware selection which works pretty well.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Not the most attractive thing out there.

AR RATING 76/100

Flying V is a legendary design which was popular back in the '80s. There were a few different brands who pulled it off right, one of them being Dean. Dean is also a brand that is doing the most work to keep the Flying V alive. You can figure out that much from their models such as the Dean VX.

This is one of their more basic guitars, but one that brings exactly the kind of performance you'd expect from this design. Dean went with an all black finish which was paired with all black hardware. All things considered, that's a simple yet very stylish combination. If you're looking for a V style guitar on a budget, this is it.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most classic guitar designs ever made.
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    Good build quality and attention to detail.
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    Very good sound coming from Dean's in-house made humbuckers.
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    Really attractive aesthetics which work great.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Could use a proper setup job on arrival.

AR RATING 76/100

Whether or you are a fan of Jackson guitars or not, there is no denying that their lower mid range models are great. Jackson JS32 Dinky is a pure classic. This guitar has been around for a while, evolving through various iterations. While the aesthetics have changed over time, these still feel the same and have that familiar, powerful sound.

The one we are looking at today comes in all white, which makes it quite a stunner compared to what you usual see in this price range. With all black hardware which includes a Floyd type bridge, you're in for a real treat. The only thing to consider is that you don't want to mess with that bridge too much.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most consistent mid range guitars out there.
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    A great variety of color schemes and finishes.
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    Rock solid performance and comfortable ergonomics.
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    A Floyd Rose type tremolo bridge with a locking nut.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The bridge isn't all that friendly to beginners.

AR RATING 76/100

Les Paul body shape is one of the most copied designs in the guitar worlds right after the famous Stratocaster. With that said, there are only a few brands which are recognized as worthy of using this design. ESP is one. ESP LTD EC100AT is an awesome guitar which merges the aesthetics of a Les Paul and heavy, powerful tone.

The finish of the guitar gives it a very modern look which fits well with its tone profile. However, one of the best things about this particular model is the fact that it works great with more relaxed genres of music as well. All things considered EC100AT brings a lot of bang for your buck. It's an awesome intermediate model.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    That classic Les Paul body shape.
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    Great build quality with an even better finish by ESP.
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    Aggressive but balanced performance profile.
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    Reliable and consistent hardware which holds key very well.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    This guitar deserves better strings than the stock ones.

AR RATING 75/100

Current market for electric guitar is very saturated. However, despite the abundance of options, underdog brands such as Oscar Schmidt are managing to break through. It takes a good design and performance to do this, which is exactly what Oscar Schmidt OE30 brings to the table. Here's the thing, though. OE30 is a semi hollow electric guitar and it rocks.

Semi hollows weren't a common sight in this particular segment of the market. With that said, they are slowly gaining in popularity. Oscar Schmidt did an extremely good job with this one, especially if you're measuring its quality by the amount of that vintage vibe it has. It's no Gibson or Gretsch, but it brings you into that ball park.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A semi hollow design on a budget which actually works.
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    Good build quality and choice of materials by Oscar Schmidt.
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    Classic, vintage tone that brings the semi hollow vibe.
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    Hardware which isn't too difficult to setup and maintain.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    It needs a proper setup job out of the box.

AR RATING 75/100

Guitars have a number of dimensions to them. If we go past the obvious sound, quality and prestige dimensions, we run into looks. A guitar can be a bland musical instrument or an expression of your style. One issue here is that most guitars look alike. We say most because there are models such as Dean Cadix CBK Cadillac X.

To say that this is an exotic looking guitar would be an understatement. It is represents a combination of a standard Les Paul body shape and what appears to be a portion of Dean's ML. In terms of sound, it's quite a solid performer. There's enough girth in there to push metal with ease although it works well with cleans.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A truly unique design which you don't see every day.
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    Good build quality all things considered.
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    Packs a really good punch for the price.
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    Fairly good hardware capable of key retention.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Might be too exotic for most.

As you’ve seen from our chart, it’s surprisingly easy to find a reliable performer that looks and sounds like a guitar twice its price. These days you can demand a lot more from a budget guitar – good body woods, versatile pickups, and even some extras like a kill pot or single coil tapping.

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what style of guitar and music you prefer. One with a fixed bridge or a tremolo system? Humbuckers or single-coil pickups? If you are an aspiring metalhead, ESP’s aggressive looking and sounding F-10 will undoubtedly suit you more than the similarly priced Squier Affinity Telecaster. When you know your style, narrowing down your ideal model will be easier, although it doesn’t help that the versatility of guitars these days means you can pretty much play any style on any guitar and get it sounding half-decent.

You’ll find most guitars in the budget bracket will be made from basswood, which is the cheapest solid wood out there that is also dominant in the lower-level budget electric guitars. Regardless of your ability, don’t bother with a plywood body – basswood should be the minimum any guitarist aims for. However, you can also find a few alder bodied budget models, including Yamaha’s excellent PAC112V, which can provide a slightly brighter sound to your playing.

On guitars in this price range expect to find basic, no-name pickups – you’re not going to see EMGs or Seymour Duncans on a guitar around the $200 mark. However the budget pickups you will find can be very versatile; offering clarity and warmth when played clear, and an aggressive, meaty sound when played with distortion. Besides, if you don’t like the pickups, you can always upgrade.

Country Of Origin

All budget guitars in this range will more than likely be made in China, Korea or Indonesia, coming off a factory line. Sadly, if you want something crafted in America, you need to look towards the $1000 mark. But the craftsmanship on a factory model can actually be pretty good. Yes, the paintwork won’t always be flawless and you may get some sharp fret edges, but they are not going to fall apart during your first chord.

But if it’s a possibility, it’s worth having a look at guitars in a slightly higher price bracket, if only to sound out what you could get if you increased your budget. For example Epiphone’s SG Special ($179) and it’s bigger brother, the SG G-400 ($349), are very similar in classic SG style. However, spending the extra $150 or so will give you stronger pickups, additional tone and volume controls, more robust tuners, traditional inlays, coil-tapping, and generally improved craftsmanship. It also gives you a better platform should you wish to upgrade components at a later stage. So it always pays to compare higher priced instruments in the long run.

Regardless of the price, no guitar should be purchased on a whim. Even if you can’t physically pick it up and play it, always make sure you know what it sounds like before you buy it – read our reviews, watch videos, find out how it feels, what it will perform like, and whether it is worth it.

What Is The Right Amplifier for a $300 Electric Guitar?

Remember with an electric guitar sound, the actual guitar is only half of it – the amp will also play an important factor in the sound. And chances are – if you are on a budget when it comes to buying the actual guitar – you will also have limited funds for an amp. So no Marshall stacks for you. But this is a good thing. You’re not really going to want to play a $200 guitar through a $1,500 amp.

What amp you look at will depend on your aspirations. Are you a complete beginner? If so you probably only need a practice amp. You won’t go far wrong with a budget Blackstar ID: Core Stereo Combo – retailing at about $130 – which is 10 watts, easy to use, and loud enough for a bedroom (you won’t even turn it up half way) or jamming with friends. You also save cash on pedals, with built-in modeling allowing loads of effects. Of course, if your budget stretches you may want to look at something more powerful – especially if you are looking towards a future on the stage.

Guitar Packs Or Just Electric Guitar?

On the subjects of amps, another advantage of falling into the ‘beginner’ price range is the packages you can get. If you can increase your budget – or put your guitar and amp budgets together – you can find some great-value packages, including a guitar, amp and accessories. The most basic kits actually start under $100 – for example Davidson Guitars offer a solid wood electric guitar, a 10 watt amp (with clean and distortion capabilities), a strap, lead, plectrums, and a pitch-pipe for $99. Unbelievable value.

However the actual guitar you are getting will be of little worth when you start playing more than basic chords. A more respectable package is the Squier Affinity Tele Pack, which offers a Tele with authentic looks and tone, and a Fender Frontman 15G amp with two channels, and a host of accessories for $254. For a beginner, you literally can’t go wrong with a package like this.

Are Used Guitars Worth Considering?

Finally, you could also consider a second-hand guitar. While you aren’t getting the joy of having something fresh out of the box – and you don’t know who has played and/or abused it in the past – buying second-hand is a way to guarantee good value for under $300. For around the same price of an entry-level Epiphone LP-100 (around $280) you can get a second-hand Epiphone Les Paul Standard, which is an all round step up, and a guitar that will give you plenty of room to grow. Just be careful when purchasing a used guitar – it could be on sale for a reason. Dented frets? Cracked neck? Faulty wiring? Make sure you know what you are purchasing, as repairs may cost more than the guitar itself!

However you could get lucky and find a near-perfect $500 electric guitar on sale for half the price simply because the owner realized he didn’t fancy guitar after all.

Whatever style or condition guitar you go for, we live in an age where 300 dollars will get you a lot of guitar for your money. Don’t be a brand snob – look at Epiphone, Yamaha, and Squier, who all produce a knock-out guitar on a budget. You’re not going to be getting hand-crafted, American made, active pickups, and custom paintjobs. But you will be getting a guitar that will serve you well for the first few years of your guitar-playing life.

To Wrap It Up

As you can see from our chart and the above tips, there is a huge range of great electric guitar reviews. If you are a smart shopper you can compare and judge the best guitar for your playing style. Also make sure to have a look at our comparisons of guitars in a slightly higher price range, as splashing out a little extra can sometimes get you a whole lot more. While you’re here, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter for regular updates on guitar news, reviews and tips.

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The appropriate research can do wonders if done properly. We are here to help you and save your time and money at the same time. In our website you will see our personal recommendations based on our knowledge and extensive research. What we base our rating using the product details and customer feedback.