If you are looking for the best cheap electric guitars under $200, you’ve come to the right place. Here, I’ll give you 10 products that demonstrate great playability and sound even at an entry-level price point. The list includes the cheaper counterpart of Fender and Gibson, the Squier and Epiphone, respectively, along with Yamaha, Jackson, ESP and more.
Picking just 10 products in the sea of cheap electric guitars is quite hard and challenging. I had to run several comparisons to trim the list and have the final 10. And, good thing I have created a guideline — simple buying guide — which I will share with you within this article.
Top 10 Best Cheap Electric Guitars Under $200
Squier Affinity Stratocaster SSS
Even at this price point, Squier promises solid sound and style on its Squier Affinity Stratocaster SSS. It has a combination of classic features, sonic flexibility, and authentic Fender sound. That’s why this Strat is one of the most sought-after rock ‘n’ roll favorites.
It’s a solid-body with satin-finished C-shaped neck giving you that natural playability and feel for any playing style. It comes with three single-coil pickups that are specially re-engineered to replicate the legendary sounds of the original Fender Strat. From the small detailing, hardware to the vintage-style Synchronized Tremolo bridge you’ll pump up your performance with this Strat.
- Has smooth neck, very playable
- Low action with no dead spots or fret buzz
- Intonation was accurate out of the box
- Tuners aren’t that good enough
- Fret edges are rough, need smoothening
- Tremolo bar seem cheap and not secure in place
The power of its trio of versatile pickups will bring your career to the top. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012 is a cheap electric guitar and the best under $200.
It’s packed with a humbucker on the bridge and two single coils in the middle and neck. The former accommodates rock and heavy players, while the latter to gets all kinds of clean tones.
It’s made of Agathis body, so you can find it lightweight, perfect for beginners to practice and gig with. It also features a smooth C-shaped maple neck and rosewood fretboard for a smooth and more comfortable playing experience. With the tremolo bridge and Yamaha sealed tuners, you are confident that the PAC012 will remain in tune.
- Quality construction, Yamaha craftsmanship
- Frets are all leveled and smooth
- Tuners do their job well to keep the guitar in tune
- Requires setup out of the box
- Some users complained about buzzing on the E-string
- Doesn’t have features onboard
Sterling By MusicMan AX3S
If you want to reproduce some classics using an electric guitar, you might need the Sterling by MusicMan AX3S. If you trace its roots, you’ll know that it’s a descendant of the Music Man Axis and its single-cutaway was very popular in the early 90s. It has basswood body, maple neck, and Jatoba fretboard, giving you the best tonewoods for its price.
This model of Music Man Axis is equipped with a dual humbucker pickup configuration, 5-way switching, volume control, and tone control to give this guitar tonal versatility. The vintage-style tremolo bridge has an area where you can rest your palm while playing. Its solid saddles keep the string height and the intonation stable.
- Asymmetrical neck is perfect to access the frets
- Sounds good with deep rich clear tones
- Feels solid and doesn’t look like less than $200
- Some users aren’t satisfied with the humbuckers
- Tremolo bar didn’t work at all
ESP LTD EC-10
A gorgeous-looking electric guitar doesn’t need to be expensive. That’s proven to us by the ESP LTD EC-10.
It has a well-contoured basswood body for a well-balanced guitar so you can play it well whether seated or standing. It also has a smooth and thin U-shaped maple neck to easily hold the fretboard and get the chords right without a problem. The cutaway helps you reach the scales all over the fretboard.
Designed for players at any level, this guitar has two ESP designed LH-100 pickups (neck and bridge) that are perfect for anyone. It has 24.75-inch scale length, spanning through its 24-fret rosewood fretboard. It has a Tune-o-Matic bridge and Stopbar Tailpiece that provide a wonder intonation of the guitar.
- Knobs, tuners and the switch are all in good condition
- Neck is good and thin, for fast action
- Good weight, feels solid with amazing pickups
- Intonation is great, but there’s a slight buzz
- Some discoloration and finish issues on the fretboard
If you like the nasty sound of a Les Paul, but can’t afford to by the original Gibson Les Paul, you’re given a cheaper alternative. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II is a smaller and more lightweight version of the original LP, but it’s only priced under $200. This cheap electric guitar is the best because of the two open-coil humbucking pickups onboard.
It has a mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fretboard. It gives you a little freedom on the choice of tones with the 3-way switching, two volume, and two tone controls. If you need a go-to guitar that can deliver the famous Les Paul sound, have this one.
- You can have the promised Gibson Les Paul tone
- Very easy to play and has a solid build quality
- Unbelievable sound output, given its price
- Need to smoothen the fret edges a bit
- Plastic nut isn’t good for heavier strings
- Simple controls might be limiting for some
Experience the speed and fury of a Jackson guitar on the amazingly affordable Jackson JS22 Dinky. It’s made of an arched basswood body, maple speed neck, and fat-fretted 12-inch-16-inch compound-radius rosewood fretboard. All these give you ultimate playability and aggressive tonality.
To help you achieve Jackson’s sonic revolution, it’s equipped with a pair of custom-built ceramic-magnet high-output humbuckers. These provide a lot of punch and serious bite when you plug it into your favorite amp. Since it’s made of basswood, it’s lightweight and fairly resonant.
- Two-point tremolo tailpiece gives more potential
- Rock and roll design with plenty of features
- Action is low with stable tuning
- Limited versatility
- Tremolo seems cheap
You’ll ultimately find the best electric guitar under $200 with a cheap Squier Affinity Telecaster. It’s offered at a modest price, but loaded with premium features even professional musicians won’t snub. It’s a solid-body guitar with a modern C-shaped neck profile to give you easy access to the 21-fret fretboard.
Designed to be the best instrument in the market for budding guitarists, this is equipped with two single-coil Telecaster pickups to help you achieve the iconic Tele tone. The top-loaded bridge provides stable tuning, at the same time ease of changing the strings. From top to bottom, from the hardware to the tonewood used, this Tele is just amazing.
- Outstanding value with true Tele tone
- Smooth playing neck, very comfortable
- Great intonation and won’t require any adjustment
- Rough fret edges that need sanding
- Cheap build, you might want to upgrade the pickups
- Switch is flimsy
ESP LTD Viper-10
For the love of metal, ESP offers us its double-cut ESP LTD Viper-10 at a fairly affordable price. The sleek style gives players at any level the comfort and aesthetics of an electric guitar that can scream. It’s made of basswood body with bolt-on thin maple neck and 24-fret fretboard.
For great sounds favored by metal and hard rock players, ESP armed the Viper-10 with two of its proprietary LH-100 humbucking pickups. With ESP tuners and Tune-o-Matic bridge, you’ll have a guitar that stays in tune even for aggressive shredding.
- Slimmer neck, very easy to play
- Has plenty of power from its solid body
- Pickups are twangy and the guitar stays in tune
- Has sharp fret edges that need sanding
- Lacks attention to detail
- Some fret buzzes on 14th and 15th fret of the low E-string
Designed by Fender, but it’s offered under Squier to give its fans an affordable alternative. The Squier Bullet Mustang HH is a cheap electric guitar under $200, yet best in style, versatility, and sound. It’s a true powerhouse with a pair of humbucking pickups and 3-way switching.
It’s designed to be lightweight and thin, featuring an easy-to-play C-shaped neck profile and a shorter scale length of 24-inch. With this thin body, it’s comfortable to play, especially for beginners. The sealed die-cast tuners and the string-through-body hardtail bridge gives tuning stability to the guitar.
- Short-scale guitar is perfect for beginners
- Comfortable neck profile and fretboard
- Lightweight body, but still resonant
- You might need to upgrade the pickups
- It may sound like an inexpensive guitar
- Doesn’t stay in tune for long
Dean Vendetta XM
Wanting to get an all-around guitar, but you are having a shoestring budget? Don’t worry Dean Vendetta XM is a good electric guitar that can accommodate you, whether you play funk or punk, metal or blues, etc. It has a thin Paulownia body with a bolt-on slim neck for utmost comfort while you play.
The vendetta beauty is supplemented with dual Dean humbuckers, a three-way toggle and volume and tone controls to help you shape the sound you want to achieve. It has a Tune-o-Matic bridge with string-through-body design that gives tuning stability and sustain. It has Dean die-cast tuning machines for ease of tuning.
- Lightweight and very comfortable on the shoulders when standing
- Versatile, can play a wide range of music styles
- Beginner-friendly and feels soft to use
- Doesn’t have much sonic guts as high-end models
- It can easily go out of tune
Factors to Consider When Buying Cheap Electric Guitars Under $200
With the $200 budget, the competition in the market favors you. Though this budget limits you to get more bells and whistles from a more expensive electric guitar, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent one. Here are a few things you need to consider to be able to get the best among the cheapest.
First Commandment, Know Your Style
You should know your style. No matter how many people recommend the best guitar, if it doesn’t fit your style, you’ll never find it great. Certain music styles require an instrument that fits them, including rock, blues, jazz, punk and of course, metal.
For the above-mentioned genres, you should have a versatile guitar with a comfortable neck. To get your ultimate gear is to choose one from your favorite guitarist and determine what guitar he has. Of course, they may use expensive gear, but you will always find cheaper alternatives that still deliver the same sound.
Check the Neck
Cheaper guitars usually have some flaws and quality control issues as most of them are mass-produced. So, the most critical part that you’ll check is the neck. The neck may not affect the sound much, but it will affect your comfort while you play the guitar.
If the neck is straight, you’re good to go to the next consideration. But, if the neck has curves or bends, it’ll be hard for you to play it. You need a professional to set it up and that will entail costs in addition to the price of the guitar.
Check the String Action
Are the strings very high from the fretboard? You have to check it using the ruler. Take note that with electric guitar, it should be low, not very low to create fret buzz, but just enough for easy surfing on the fretboard.
The first string should have 1/64-inch and the sixth string should have 1/32-inch height on the first fret. Likewise, the first string should have 5/64-inch and the sixth string should have 7/64-inch height on the 12th fret. If yours have too high or too low from these figures, you need to make adjustments, which could incur costs, again.
Try Before You Buy
It’s still an advantage for you to go to your local store and play the guitar that you think is the one for you. Some players search online and if they found a guitar with reviews, they’ll visit the local stores play it themselves. If they’ll find it excellent and if they find a great deal in the local store, they buy it there, otherwise, they’ll order it online.
Aside from these guitars, this YouTube video will introduce you to different guitars in the market, plus some useful tips and comprehensive explanations. Since you are eyeing for an electric guitar, you’ll get bonus information on amps, pedals and more.
High price usually promises high-quality guitars, so it’s kind of frightening when picking the best one on the opposite side of the spectrum. However, we should be very thankful to Squier, Epiphone, Yamaha, and the rest of the guitar companies that offer affordable guitars even under $200. So, for this roundup article, I’m very confident to pass on to you my gratitude for having Squier Affinity Stratocaster SSS.
Though I had a lot of best bets in the list, the Squier is my ultimate best cheap electric guitar under $200. Indeed, you don’t get a perfect guitar at this price, but you can get a decent one. It gives you the playability you need, plus the authentic Fender sound — those two matters the most.
And, to put more weight to my choice, the Squier is the only electric guitar in this list that’s ‘almost’ properly setup out of the box. The intonation was spot-on — all you need to do is tweak the tuners to your desired tuning. Such a nice guitar for its price and the best among the cheapest.
Get the Squier Affinity Stratocaster SSS here