Playing instruments or even just learning to play them make for a great escape from the ever-chaotic world we live in, and the electric guitar is one of the easier instruments to learn with all the resources available on the internet, especially since physical classes can still be quite a challenge to some people.
However, the prices of electric guitars can range anywhere from a hundred dollars to a couple thousand, making it difficult to pick one right off the bat especially when they all come with different kinds of necks, hardware, and shapes.
But really, how much does an electric guitar cost?
This article will serve as your guide to finding just the right market price/worth of an electric guitar, as well as what to look for in them when you find one that you think suits you and the type of electric guitar you need to learn to play or simply just upgrade one.
Types of Electric Guitars
Arguably, there are too many kinds of electric guitars with different kinds of specs that seem fancy and of high quality, but then again, choosing an electric guitar based on how fancy its parts and hardware sound does not spell wise consumerism.
In this article, we will be discussing five types of electric guitars, namely: electric guitar starter kits, beginner guitars, intermediate guitars, advanced guitars, and professional guitars, though the last four may already be part of any guitar kit that a store sells you.
Choosing the right electric guitar type based on your needs and wants will definitely help ease the learning curve, as going with an advanced electric guitar while still learning to even play one can be quite daunting.
Not only does choosing the right type help with easing the learning curve, but also with just how long you can keep playing the guitar, as durability is a key aspect when buying any instrument, especially when it breaks and you take a pause from your learning due to the unfortunate event.
What You’re Paying For
This may come as a shock to you, especially to those who aren’t so well-versed with consumerism, but what you’re paying for in an electric guitar (and any other product, really) is not just for the guitar itself, but other factors like demand and supply as well.
However, for this article, you will only be taking into consideration four main factors that affect the quality, and therefore, price of an electric guitar, which are construction, hardware, pickups, and setup.
All of these factors come together to make up your future-beloved instrument, which is necessary to know as, like mentioned previously, they determine the quality and price of the type of guitar you should get.
One thing you have to take careful consideration of is the construction of the electric guitar, specifically where and how it was constructed as well as the quality of the construction itself, as you wouldn’t want a guitar that falls apart the moment you take it out of the packaging, would you?
The most commonplace for the construction of guitars can be somewhere in Asia, like China or India, as American brands often seek these external services due to their cheaper cost of labor, which might also be a reason why some build qualities are better than most.
Knowing how it was constructed is not really that important, but it can explain why the guitar you receive upon delivery would have some scratches in certain areas.
Both of the considerations for the construction of an electric guitar mentioned above determine construction quality, specifically the attention to detail that goes into such guitars.
Hardware in this case refers to the materials used or the materials in your electric guitar that helps determine the sound, as well as the durability, of your electric guitar.
The body, neck, fretboard, and finish of your guitar will help determine how comfortable it will be to play your electric guitar, as guitars made from low-quality materials and poor construction are bound to provide an unpleasant experience when you first try to play your guitar.
These kinds of details are more noticeable after you’ve actually tried handling an even more expensive and high-quality guitar, as cheaper electric guitars tend to have rougher fretboards, ugly finishes, and extremely lightweight materials that immediately break after a small amount of pressure.
Brands and manufacturers will often give you a list of the kinds of materials used in the production of the electric guitar, so check it out before you hit that “Add to Cart” button only to regret it later.
To put it simply, the pickups on your electric guitar are the little knobs that attach them to the body of the guitar and are responsible for turning sound into electrical signals so you can hear your guitar play through an amplifier, speaker, or headphones.
The quality of the sound of your guitar will be greatly affected by the quality of the pickups it uses, as bad pickups on a nicely-built electric guitar with high-quality materials will still produce bad sound, even through the speakers.
Although it is possible to swap out the pickups that come stock with the electric guitar you’re planning to buy, this is only ideal in certain situations, which will be best explained later on as it depends more on the type of electric guitar you wish to purchase.
There are also different kinds of pickups for different kinds of playstyles, but that’s a discussion for another article as it deserves to be expounded on as well.
The setup of your electric guitar refers to the way it comes delivered to your own home, which can simply be assembled or disassembled, depending on the details that the manufacturer will provide you with when you check out on the product, so also do take careful note of that, as well as any other disclaimer the seller website provides regarding the product and transaction fees.
If it comes as a disassembled instrument, then you might find it better to have a professional luthier set it up for you, as not having any prior experience with setting up a guitar can lead to you damaging the parts, rendering them completely unusable, and depending on the manufacturer’s terms and conditions, probably non-refundable.
If it comes pre-assembled, then you’re in luck – all that’s left to do now is tune the guitar and make sure that the way it was set up was not done haphazardly, so you avoid damaging both the guitar and yourself when you give it a test run.
Electric Guitar Starter Kits
The one type of electric guitars absolute beginners can consider is the electric guitar starter kits, which is essentially like a bundle of different kinds of products that aim to help ease the burden of having to buy separate products that come in different shipping times and compatibility.
Believe it or not, only certain amplifiers work with a certain type, brand, or even just pickups of an electric guitar, which can then be quite the hassle and daunting for complete beginners to mix and match different kinds of guitars and parts online, which is the sole purpose of the existence of guitar starter kits.
Essentially, these electric guitar starter kits can come with different products matched for each other, and may come with anything between a beginner, intermediate, or advanced electric guitar matched with a compatible amplifier and other components.
Included in the kits can be – but is not always assured – guitar picks, cables, spare wires, spare electric guitar pickups, and other components that you might need as a beginner to get a deeper dive into the wondrous world of electric guitars.
However, you do need to be extremely wary of cheaper electric guitar kits, as these can be bundled up with substandard electric guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, or other gig components you need, which is not only bad for the short term when it comes to sound and comfort, but in the long term as well when it comes to durability.
One good sign that a manufacturer cares about the products you’re getting from their website is when they provide you with an interface or questionnaire as to the kind of guitar you want to get, and from there you can pick out the different components to make your own kit at a discounted price!
Right off the bat, beginner electric guitars can cost anywhere from 150 USD to 350 USD, which is already a good price point given that you’d already be using better materials than those offered at less than a hundred dollars, which often have a lot of issues when it comes to shipping, size, or even the product itself (in short: a scam).
Many electric guitar brands and manufacturers are aware that not all of their customers are already well-versed with the products they offer, which is why they also have electric guitars that are completely easy and comfortable for beginner guitarists and rockstars to use and learn from.
One more thing you should note about beginner electric guitars is the brand that made them, and do take the advice from a lot of professionals to never shy away from those made by big brands, as electric guitars made by big-time manufacturers like Yamaha, Fender, and Epiphone are created with only quality and comfort of experience in mind.
Of course, if you think you might not have enough time to learn such an instrument in the most part of your day, then you’d most likely want to avoid the expensive ones, as you wouldn’t just want them to sit around collecting dust and depreciating when you don’t have time for them.
What to Look For
You can’t get a cheaper electric guitar expecting them to sound and feel just like the most expensive professional electric guitar, as those are made from only the finest resources in the market, so now we’ll be discussing what you can expect from a beginner guitar based on the factors we mentioned above:
In terms of construction, most beginner guitars will be outsourced, which means the brands ask factories like those in China and India to produce the electric guitar for them, which often leads to questionable quality control over the products.
Since it would be too expensive for these brands to ship good materials to external countries, the hardware is mostly likely coming from the same external countries themselves, so don’t expect too much.
When it comes to pickups and the setup, expect that these aren’t the best as well, but don’t think about replacing the pickups just yet, because it might just be a waste of money if you’re thinking of buying an upgrade or just going straight to intermediate guitars.
If the high-end beginner electric guitars often have a market price of 300 to 350 USD, then expect intermediate electric guitars’ price range to start from there, with a cap often at 750 USD, which is now closer to most truly high-quality and high-end electric guitars from big brands.
Intermediate guitars are great for those who’ve already had experience and know how to play an electric guitar modestly, or simply those looking to break out of their shell and upgrade from beginner guitars or outdated electric guitar kits to explore new potentials in their guitar or exploring better and newer gear.
Do note that the already-worrying price range is meant for those who are really dedicated to playing their electric guitars, as, just like high-end beginner guitars, you wouldn’t let a 400 dollar investment just lie around and become of lesser value without even using it yourself.
Expect that intermediate electric guitars are going to feel much better than beginner electric guitars, but not nearly as good as professional guitars, as these are now made with much better materials and have been paid more attention to in the manufacturing process, hence the hefty price range of 350 USD to 750 USD.
So, even if you’re just a beginner who is sure to be a dedicated electric guitar player, you should consider spending (or saving) a bit more cash to get a high-quality electric guitar that will last you for years.
What to Look For
Though the countries of production might still be the same as beginner guitars, they are not necessarily built in the same factories, as the build quality will be noticeably better and clearly pay attention to more details than those for beginner electric guitars.
When it comes to hardware, you will be able to notice that the woodworks of intermediate guitars, especially those in the upper percentile of the price range, are going to be much more familiar, like cedar, maple, or sometimes even ashwood, all of which are well-known wood for a reason: good quality.
Advanced guitars have a much smaller price range difference than intermediate guitars, as they can range anywhere from 750 USD to 1000 USD (250 USD difference), as compared to the 400 USD difference in intermediate guitars.
While advanced electric guitars are great for players of any skill level, they are much more meant for those who are serious about playing the electric guitar and looking to make a profit out of it, such as those in small or big-time bands, or even solo guitarists just looking to earn some income while doing what they love.
What to Look For
Typically, electric guitars made in this price range are no longer made in countries that provide cheaper labor, like China and Indonesia, but those offering quality labor for a much higher price, like Korea or Japan.
These countries are well-known for their careful attention to detail, making only good quality guitars with barely any (or none at all) noticeable quality control failures, especially when they use only high-quality materials when it comes to wood and pickups.
These kinds of electric guitars are made for those collectors, or simply those in professional or up-and-coming bands, as they come in a whopping price range of 1000 USD to 5000 USD.
The mouth-gaping price range is – in part – thanks to where the construction of the guitar occurred, not including the systematic way of the manufacturers to come up with innovations like (but not only) improving sound quality and durability while still keeping the guitar design premium, comfortable, and easy to handle.
What to Look For
When buying professional electric guitars, pay attention to any patented components like guitar pickups, strings, and more than the manufacturer may use, as these often play a key role in the price of electric guitars in this price range.
These guitars are also often made in factories located in top-tier manufacturing countries, like Japan, Germany, and even America, where quality control is extremely stringent, ensuring that the products you receive are very noticeably better than entry-level beginner guitars and electric guitar starter kits.
The length of this article breaking down the price ranges of electric guitars alone can be quite scary, which is probably why you’re here right, to look for a summary?
Well, what you do have to take note of when buying an electric guitar in price ranges meant for either beginner, intermediate, advanced, or professional are the details regarding their construction, hardware or materials, pickups used, and the setup.
Only electric guitars of high quality deserve to be in a price range above the thousands, which will most often use patented components from the manufacturing brand, so pay close attention to the parts the manufacturer lists down in the product details.
What are you waiting for? Start exploring the different kinds of guitars now and see what would suit you best!