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What is an important factor about buying an inexpensive electric guitar? The track record. Few are willing to pull the trigger on a guitar with no reviews or on a generic, no-name brand for 300 bucks. It’s three Benjamin Franklins! We don’t blame you.
That’s why our lineup consists of only tried-and-true axes from well-known, respected brands that are worth it.
The top electric guitars in this price range are the best of the entry-level market. We’ll highlight the good, and we’ll be upfront about any of the possible drawbacks. After all, a guitar can only be as good as a player who’s willing to make the most of it.
We also go a step further into explaining guitar features, what to avoid, and tips on modification if you’re eager to give your axe a punch of personality!
QUICK ANSWER: 6 Best Electric Guitars Under $300
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V Review
- Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Review
- Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe Review
- Epiphone Les Paul Special II Review
- Epiphone SG Special Review
- Dean Custom Zone Review
Our 6 Top Electric Guitars Under $300
|Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Epiphone Les Paul Special II||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Epiphone SG Special||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Dean Custom Zone||VIEW ON AMAZON|
$300 Electric Guitar Reviews
Having around $200-$300 to spend on an electric guitar seems like an odd budget as you’re still on entry-level ground. So, who would want to buy a guitar in this price range?
Beginners can expect somewhat of a quality jump from budget guitars for the extra hundred bucks they’re willing to put down. Even though these are still entry-level, they’re designed with a few more perks to keep a learner interested in developing skills and pleased with what they hear. But, to be frank, if the learner loses interest, it’s still a solid guitar that can be resold, passed on to a sibling, gifted to a friend, or can be used as a statement décor piece without guilt of overspending.
Plus, the basic platform of a $300 electric guitar leaves room for improvement which can absolutely be a good thing. Players with more experience can improve and customize a stock guitar to build a worthy, knock-around axe that could prove to be a trusted backup on stage.
So, this price range really is suited for every kind of player of varying skills. The silver lining in having a tight budget allows for ultimate buyer satisfaction and room for customization.
Here are the guitars that made the cut!
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V Review
- Solid Alder Body
- Maple Bolt-On Neck
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Vintage Tremelo with block saddles
- 5 Position Switch with coil tap
The Pacifica series has multiple lines from entry-level to high-end, and the 100 series is the most affordable without compromise. The PAC112V is the class-leading model of the lot.
- Alnico magnets
- 5-way pickup blade
- Coil tap
- Double cutaway
- Quality control issues
Are you after that Super Strat look and feel? You don’t have to turn to Squier to get that. The Yamaha Pacifica guitar is well-suited for the job, and it even offers some quality features that adds value to the buy.
The guitar has deep, double cutaways for fast and quick access to all the frets. It has a maple set-neck and rosewood fretboard like that of the other Pacificas in the 100 series. However, this model has an Alder body versus the possible use of nato and Agathis on the PAC012.
Many other features are seen on this model that is shared with the others such as the 22 medium frets, Urea nut, 25.5″ scale length, and die-cast tuning heads. It also shares the same S-S-H pickup configuration, but this model has more.
The pickups are made with Alnico V magnets, and it has a coil tap feature with the push/pull control. It simplifies things with the use of two controls: one volume and one tone. It maintains the same 5-way pickup selector blade that may get in the way when using the tremolo due to its location. And yes, you can use a tremolo with this since it has a vintage style tremolo bridge with a block saddle. However, it’s wise to take care with it since it can affect intonation, but the bridge allows for adjustments of individual strings.
However, you should be aware that there are some quality control issues regarding loose components. Setting aside money for a professional setup will get it roaring like a monster. It’s not the best of the entry-level market, but it does have some nice features that are hard to find in this price range.
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Review
- Solidbody Electric Guitar with Chambered Basswood Body
- 2 Humbucking Pickups - Black
- Rosewood Fingerboard
The Electromatic Jet Club series of guitars have shared features that includes arched maple tops, bolt-on maple necks, rosewood fretboards, and basswood bodies. It has all the right features of entry-level done right.
- Jet body shape
- Gretsch humbuckers
- 3-way pickup switch
- G-Arrow control knobs
- Laminated top
The Electromatic guitars provide an affordable option to get yourself a Gretsch guitar as a first-time buy. This model has the Black gloss polyester finish with all-chrome hardware and a shiny, pearloid Gretsch pickguard that is standard for the series. It has the Jet body shape that has a single cutaway.
The arched maple top is laminate, but it helps to shave the cost and will hold up through wear and tear. The basswood body has a walnut stain on the back and sides and with the white body binding, it accents the two-tone look. The neck also has binding that ends at the nut as frets are nicely dressed.
The guitar has a 24.6″ scale length, 22 medium jumbo frets, and pearloid Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays. The headstock also matches the body with its Jet design, and on this model, it features the Electromatic logo. The Jet Club G5220 model costs a little more, but it ditches the Electromatic logo on the headstock.
As for pickups, the G5425 has an H-H system with Gretsch’s very own Dual-Coil Humbuckers. It has a 3-way toggle switch on the upper bout of the body that is a popular location for many players. It has one Master Volume and one Tone Control with G-Arrow knobs that are seen on other Jets.
The humbuckers eliminate the hum, and are pretty good for stock pickups. After all, they are Gretsch pickups. They sound rich and deep, and are a definite upgrade from tinny-sounding alternatives on cheaper axes.
It will need setting up out of the box to intonate and lower the action, but that should be expected of all guitars regardless of price. If you’ve always wanted a Gretsch but couldn’t afford one, you now have no excuse to go without.
Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe Review
- Basswood Body with Maple Neck
- Tune-O-Matic Bridge with String-thru Body
- Schechter Diamond Plus Pickups
- Rosewood Fret board
- Graphite Nut
The C-6 has minimalist appeal that gives off a classy vibe. It may be due to its stain black finish, omission of logos and white lettering, lack of a pickguard, and matching black humbuckers. We likey – very much.
- Satin finish
- Minimalist appeal
- Flat top with bevel edge
- Diamond Plus pickups
- Quality control
The guitar is made in Indonesia, and some models with faulty parts make it through quality control. However, the brand is highly respected and is quick to get you a replacement if you’re one of the rare ones to get a faulty guitar.
The C-6 is the first guitar that claimed its place in the Schecter Diamond series. To avoid dissatisfaction with the finish, you should know it’s a not a high-gloss polyurethane that gives it shine. Instead, it has a satin finish which many players like for its unobtrusive appeal – we’re certainly fans.
Cutbacks were made to the guitar to ensure it stays affordable. It lacks body and neck binding; however, the neck has smooth fret ends, and the body has a beveled edge that adds dimension. It has the usuals that includes basswood body, bolt-on maple neck, and rosewood fretboard with pearloid dot inlays. Nice touches include the graphite nut, thin C neck profile, and the 24 Narrow X-Jumbo frets.
The pickups are Schecter’s Diamond Plus humbuckers outfitted with a 3-way selector switch and two, knurled metal control knobs. You can crank up metal or play it clean, and it’ll cut through and play hot to get past the learning stage. It has a Tune-O-Matic with string-through-body-bridge.
All in all, the C-6 has basic features that is great for a beginner player. We like the simple appeal and the overall, well-done build. This is about as cheap as it’s going to get from a quality brand like Schecter – it’s worth it.
Epiphone Les Paul Special II Review
- Mahogany body
- 700T Humbucker pickups
- Rosewood fretboard
- 24.75 Scale
Epiphone has tons of Les Paul designs, but the Special II is priced at a benchmark that anyone can afford. Getting a workhorse guitar that a beginner player can get started on is the only way to buy right from the get-go.
- SlimTaper D neck
- Nickel hardware
- May need to upgrade machine heads
The machine heads are stock, and some have had problems with them being seated correctly affecting tuning. Upgrade them if you wish, but definitely replace the strings!
The Ebony finish is the Choice option for many buyers. What’s not to like about the classic, black color that pairs well with everything? Of course, there are sunburst models, but the Ebony takes the cake for the masses.
As a Les Paul inspired guitar, it has the single cutaway with a curvaceous bout and 24.75″ scale length. It has Epiphone’s ’60s SlimTaper D profile neck that’s a little wider and yet playable for beginner players.
As the best Epiphone electric guitar under 300, it features Okoume tonewoods for the body and bolt-on neck. Tonally, you can compare it to mahogany, and it even has a natural, reddish tint to it. However, Okoume is lighter in weight which is another bonus feature geared towards beginners.
Instead of a chrome finish on hardware, the Special II guitar has nickel. You may need to polish it up over time, but the tarnish it develops could add a vintage appeal – it’s up to you. The Epiphone has a Tune-O-Matic bridge often seen on cheaper guitars, but it’s paired with a stopbar instead of a string-through-body style making it easier to change strings.
Electronically, the Special II is equipped with humbuckers with Epiphone’s 650R for the neck and 700T for the bridge, and as expected, they have 500K pots. They pickups are hot, but they produce sustain without sounding muddy and they don’t go overboard on the trebles as some humbuckers can overcompensate on the high end.
However, more experienced players tend to swap out the pickups, especially if they have upgrades in stock lying around. It has a 3-way selector switch to go between the neck, bridge, or a combo of both pickups, and it has single volume and tone controls – it’s all you need. Isn’t that true of Epiphone? They’re all you need!
Epiphone SG Special Review
- Body & Neck: Mahogany; Color: Cherry Red
- Neck Profile: SlimTaper “D”; Scale length: 24.75 Inch
- Fingerboard: “dot” inlays; Tuners: Premium 14:1
- Neck Joint: Bolt-on w/tapered heel, 4-bolt recessed
- Strings: D’Addario 10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46; Tailpiece: StopBar & Hardware: Nickel
Talk about getting more bang for your buck! The SG Special now has a new feature we’ll tell you all about.
- SG model
- Kill pot
- LockTone bridge
- Quality control issues
For an inexpensive guitar, it’s a good buy. There are some quality issues from fretboard damage to loose screws. For this price range, you shouldn’t be seeing these build issues, but a decent setup will set you straight. Besides, proper setup should be done on every guitar, but this one might need a little more attention.
The SG guitar has some revamped features such as the replacement of P90 pickups to humbuckers, a lightweight build, and shallow horns for a double cutaway instead of the original single cutaway of the Les Paul.
It has a killer Cherry finish on a mahogany body with an Okoume neck. The neck is bolted into the body with 4-bolt recessed system. It has the ’60s style SlimTaper D profile, and industry-standard dot inlays on a 22 fret rosewood fretboard.
The electronics are: 650R humbucker for the neck and a 700T humbucker for the bridge. They’re hot, hum-free, and open coil to achieve authentic rock and clean tones. However, many players do not shy away from switching these out down the road.
The key feature is the Kill Pot to kill the pickup signal during use. You can achieve the staccato effect like Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Pete Townsend are known to do, but you won’t have to abuse your 3-way toggle switch to achieve the effect. The kill pot is integrated into the tone control and it springs back up after each tap.
You’ll love the versatility of this guitar and its carefully selected features. There’s a lot of room for modification if you choose to upgrade, but as a quality guitar to learn on, the SG Special is a solid buy.
Dean Custom Zone Review
- Mahogany Top
- Bolt-On Neck
- Maple Fingerboard
- Black Hardware
- Mahogany Body
Whoa! We needed to throw in a guitar that is the polar opposite of the common black or sunburst finish we are accustomed to in this range. What better way to throw you off than with the Dean Custom Zone guitar?
- Florescent Green
- Black hardware
- Quality build
- Just okay hardware
First off, the Czone body electric guitar will need a setup before you start playing. Intonation, new strings, and adjusting the action will be required. Fortunately, the fret ends come nicely filed which is usually overlooked on cheaper guitars, so for around 200 bucks, it’s a winning feature.
The Custom Zone is a looker, if you’re into bright, showy, and ostentatious, but at least it’s done well. Although it resembles a highlighter, the black hardware tones it down some. The flat top is nothing fancy, but it’s made from mahogany as is the bolted-on neck.
The fretboard is made from maple and is painted in the same florescent green polyurethane finish as the body and is scratch and abrasion proof.
No – it’s not a kid’s toy. It’s a full-size, 25.5″ scale length guitar with 22 jumbo frets. It’s a show stopping guitar for sure, but can the hardware handle the demands of live performances? Sadly, no.
This Dean guitar has DMT Design humbuckers that do their job, but perhaps not as well-rounded as its competition in the same price range. It can provide a punch with clear notes, and it can gain some distinct color and flavor if you’re using quality pedals and/or amp.
The hardware is nothing to write home about. It has stock die-cast tuners, Dome Black controls knobs for volume and tone, a 3-way pickup selector blade, and a vintage tremolo bridge. By the way, no whammy bar is included in the buy. You’ll want to change out the tuners if you plan on using a tremolo.
Although it’s a no-fuss guitar, it has the looks to attract buyers. It definitely leaves room for hardware improvements, but that’ll only make the guitar even better. Go crazy and modify it with the money you’ll save on this cheap axe!
What to Look for in an Electric Guitar Under $300
What are the goals you want to achieve with your guitar? Are you planning on taking the stage by storm? Strictly learning and practicing on this guitar? You can certainly land a better than average axe in this price range to start out with as quality will have a lot to do with how long you stick with it.
However, as a stage worthy guitar, it may require some parts upgrades and modifying to achieve the sound and effects you may want to emphasize on stage. But, how do you know what to look for? We explain electric guitar features for the newbs so they can have a leg-up when buying and sorting through available models.
$300 is still three hundred bucks. No matter which way you look at it, it’s still a lot of money. Unfortunately, this price range misses the mark of mid-range quality. It’s not always a bad thing as a basic model may be all you’re after as quality is usually a brand specific guarantee.
Beginners will appreciate the improvements in these models versus a $100 electric guitar. However, those with more guitar experience may feel strapped with the options. Instead of seeing your budget as restrictive, see it as a starting point. As time goes on and skills develop, you can invest a little more, one step at a time, to upgrade components, your amp, and other gear. Before you know it, you’ll have a decked-out axe that couldn’t be bought for the value it now has.
There will always be those that compare much pricier guitars and say, “spend a little more.”. Finding exactly what you want on a guitar is a subjective and costly business most of the time. Instead, appreciate what you can get for $300 and make the most of it. We bet that it will be well-used for trips out with the buds, messing around with in the garage, and for quiet, practice sessions alone.
If you know what you want to use your guitar for, it’ll help you decide from the get-go if $300 is enough to get you what you need.
Some guitars in this price range will come as a complete kit in the form of starter packages. They’re geared towards beginner players and help you save money upfront. You must note that bundle packages are often equipped with inexpensive, mass-produced guitars with cheap gear.
If it’s the accessories you’re really after, you can spend less and look at the lineup we have geared towards beginners for the best electric guitar packages.
However, with a wad of 300 bucks, we recommend putting it directly into quality where the entirety of the cost is invested solely into the guitar – no accessories included. Work some OT or do some yard work to earn the extra bucks needed to buy an upgrade on better strings, pedal tuners, or a high-quality amp.
Electric Guitar Body Types
There are solid body, hollow, and semi-hollow guitars. However, solid bodies are the most common and preferred type for a beginner learning to play the guitar. They’re also inexpensive and allow for multiple types of colors and finishes.
The body shape refers to the size, cutaways, and of course, the shape of the guitar. You can have single, double, and shallow cutaways that allow access to all the frets.
You’ll see the terms Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul a lot, and you may get easily confused. They’re terms specific to brands that implies a certain style of guitar. Some brands are authorized to use such a term, and others are not, but you don’t have to be too fussy about this aspect in this price range. Each brand will use their own terms that may have similar features on all guitars across the board. Your job is to recognize the specs and features and determine if it’s a good fit for you regardless of if it has a brand-specific name or not.
You’ll see single coil and humbucker pickups in this price range. Single coil pickups have a single wire that wraps around a magnet. It does produce a humming sound as it picks up magnetic interference when plugged in. However, it provides warm and high frequencies that some players may be after.
Humbuckers essentially buck the hum that single coil pickups are known for. They have two wires wrapped in opposite order and polarity to cancel it out. Although they’re known to be darker in color, they can be wired to keep high frequencies and boom on the basses.
A pickup selector switch will determine how you use these pickups. You can switch between the neck and the bridge pickup or use a combo of both. This can be especially versatile when you have a combination of single coil and humbucker pickups on a guitar as you can play around with the tonal range of both.
However, coil splitting allows a player to “split the coils” on a humbucker so you can achieve the sound of a single coil without actually having a single coil pickup on board. This is a feature rarely seen in this price range, but you’ll see them being introduced in electric guitars under $500.
For under 300 bucks, you’re probably not too concerned about pots and resistance. If you’re an experienced player, you’ll know that you can switch these out easily and modify with treble bleed circuits and upgrade with audio taper pots over linear taper pots.
For the beginner, the control knobs govern the volume and tone of the pickups. The basic setup is one volume control and one tone control with a 3-way pickup selector switch. The selector switch controls which pickup you want to use, and the control knobs will change the setting for that pickup.
In the next price range, you’ll start seeing 4 control knobs where dual humbucker or single coil pickups have their own controls.
The knobs should provide defining rotations, be seated without any play, and should have a good grip to them for easy control.
Many electric guitars will be made from basswood and nato, and you’ll even start seeing some mahogany body guitars. These are all good woods, often seen in the entry-level market, and they’ll hold up throughout the years of practice and abuse.
The neck is often made from maple and will be bolted into the guitar body. This provides strength and easy repairs and replacements. They will often sport beginner-friendly profiles that refers to the shape of the back of the neck where you wrap your hand around it.
C and U are the common shapes you’ll see here and can be modified per manufacturer with slimming, thinning, and tapered profiles to make it more comfortable, faster, and easier to hold and play.
However, because guitars in this price range are still entry-level, there will always be a few that make it past quality control with issues ranging from loose parts, finish blemishes, and sub-par hardware.
While many downrate a guitar for having to get it setup, it’s not really a drawback in and of itself. Proper setup should always be expected. This includes installing new strings, intonating the guitar, and adjusting the action.
Practice VS Performance Guitars
To be seen and heard on stage is a big deal. No one wants to suck or be the victim of unpleasant squealing and static. Can a $300 guitar make it to the stage? With modifications – yes. Of course, it means dumping more money into the guitar, but many experienced players may already have a stockpile of extra parts that they can upgrade their stock model with. Gear quality also plays a major role in how good you can sound. A new cable and high-quality amp can make all the difference.
With that said, many guitars in this price range are at the top end for beginner quality but are still unworthy to hit the stage as-is. This is fine, too. Sticking with the beginning curves of learning to play the guitar is easier to be done when you have a quality guitar to do it on. It’s the number one reason to spend slightly more than settle for a cheap guitar.
Another point to consider is the amount of use your guitar will see. Many veteran guitarists are unwilling to take their $1000+ electric guitar out of the case and on the road. This is where an affordable, good electric guitar in this price ranges comes into play. It sounds good enough to play in public, you won’t have to worry about it getting dinged here and there, and it’s not your expensive guitar that should never be exposed to extreme temperature changes, salty air, and weather.
$300: Better Than Good Enough
There are decent axes out there in this price range. You’ve just gotta look for them. Staying brand specific will get you a long way and staying in tune to quality reviews will help guide you. But, you’ll be far better off identifying the right guitar for you if you know what you’re looking for by understanding what the features are and what the specs mean.
Learning to play the guitar is more than just learning chords and how to slide. Know your pickups, neck shapes, and hardware, so you can judge whether it’s worth modifying or if you’ll be happy with it as-is.
$200-$300 gets you a guitar that is better than just good enough. You deserve better than just good enough. So, go ahead – splurge. You’ll reap the rewards of an epic monster that can hold its own played dirty or clean.