So you want to learn electric guitar huh? Let’s see if I can get you started…
This article lists a number of quality beginner guitars that are still reasonably priced and should give you a solid introduction to your new hobby. As a good rule of thumb, if you stick with big name brands it is hard to go too far wrong. If you are buying for a child or would prefer a smaller guitar, check out my post on 3/4 sized left handed guitars.
As a beginner there really isn’t a lot you need to ponder over. Seriously. Types of woods used, number of frets, type of tuners – these are really non-issues for now. Just buy something (preferably from the list below) that you like the looks of and dive in. But just before we start looking at the guitars, there are a couple of things you might like to consider…
Single-Coil vs Humbucker Pickups
Single-Coil – Check out the image at the bottom of this article. Notice the slimmer looking pickups on the 3rd and 4th guitars? Those are single-coils. As you can probably guess from the name, these pickups are made using a single coil of wire. Typically they produce a bright, lively tone with low to moderate output. A traditional single-coil pickup does not have the ability to reject noise or hum from being picked up along with the vibration from the string. This may mean that you notice a subtle humming noise when playing, however this is a small trade-off to gain the sought after tones which only single-coils can produce.
Humbuckers – These are so called because of their ability to ‘buck the hum’, unlike single-coil designs. The Gibson Les Paul in the image above features humbuckers. They typically have a fatter sound and higher output than single-coil pickups and are therefore a little more suited to overdriven styles of playing. Although that’s not to say that they can’t handle cleaner tones as well – they just won’t be quite as bright and jangly sounding as a single-coil.
I would suggest that for your first guitar, it really doesn’t matter too much what you pick. That is, unless you want to rip out some high gain metal as soon as possible. You sir, need humbuckers!
Scale length is defined as the distance between where the strings contact the nut and where they contact the bridge, i.e. the length of the string that will vibrate to produce a sound. Typically there are two common scale lengths - 24 3/4 inches and 25 1/2 inches. For the most part, most Gibson style guitars (1 and 5 in the image below) will utilise the shorter 24 3/4 inch length, while Fender style guitars (2, 3 & 4 below) will generally use 25 1/2 inches.
All other things being equal, a longer scale length will result in increased string tension. This will give a slightly brighter sound with a tighter bottom end. The added tension will also make it slightly more difficult to bend strings. Shorter scale lengths will give a thicker, chunky lower end and make string bending a little easier.
If you have smaller hands you may prefer to start with a 24 3/4 inch guitar such as a Les Paul or SG type due to the slightly shorter stretches required. Otherwise, don’t worry about it too much for now.
Enough talk! Let’s see the guitars!
Complete Packages Under $200
Although I don’t generally recommend beginner packages, sometimes it just has to be done if you are on a tight budget. A cheap guitar is better than no guitar! If you look carefully you should be able to find a full starter kit for as little as $100. The big name brands don’t really offer left handed starter kits, but your local store may be able to put together a special bundle for you if you ask nicely.
- Various Left Handed Beginner Packages – link
- Sawtooth Beginner Packages – link
- SX Beginner Packages – link
Popular Left Handed Guitars Under $200
- ESP Ltd M-10 – link
- Jay Turser 300 – link
- Squier Affinity Stratocaster – link
- Squier Affinity Telecaster – link
- Stagg S300 – black or sunburst
Popular Left Handed Guitars Under $300
- Agile AL Series Guitars – link link2
- ESP Ltd EC-50 – link
- ESP Ltd F-50 – link
- ESP Ltd M-50 – link
- Ibanez GRG120 – link
- Ibanez GRX70 – link
- Jackson JS22L – link
- Oscar Schmidt Delta King Semi Hollow – link
- Squier Standard Stratocaster – antique burst or black
- Stagg G300 – link
- Yamaha Pacifica 112 – link
Popular Left Handed Guitars Under $400
- Epiphone G-400 Pro – link
- ESP Ltd EC-256FM – link
- Schecter Omen 6 – link
- Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster – link
- Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster – link
- Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster – link
Popular Left Handed Guitars Under $500
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard – link link2
- Fender Standard Stratocaster – link
- Fender Standard Telecaster – link
- Ibanez RG450 – link
- Vintage V100 Lemon Drop – link
Any one of these will make a great starter guitar, but obviously if you are willing to drop a little more coin then things can only get better! As a beginner left handed guitarist the choice isn’t exactly overwhelming, but don’t worry, things get much better later on.
In my personal opinion, the best ‘bang for your buck’ guitars on this list are the Squier Classic Vibes. I have two of them myself and cannot recommend them enough – if your budget allows for it, these 3 should be high on your list of potentials.
Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Amps
Part Six : Effects
Part Seven : Accessories
Part Eight : Lessons