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5 Best Electric Guitars Under $200 (I Tested Them All)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Finding a good axe with a limited budget isn’t that easy. But you know what? It’s actually possible.

In this article, I’m going to show you five best electric guitars under $200. I tested ALL of these models and all photos and sound demos below are mine.

This is a totally subjective list, so there’s a chance that other guitarists may disagree with my choices. But I actually liked all of these guitars, which you’ll see in my video reviews.

Let’s start with a list and then we’ll move to the demo of each model.

5 Best Electric Guitars Under $200 – List

ModelSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Squier Sonic TelecasterAmazonThomann
Harley Benton ST-62Thomann
Donner DST-152Amazon
Harley Benton JA-60Thomann
Squier Sonic MustangAmazonThomann

Squier Sonic Telecaster

squier sonic telecaster one of the best electric guitars under $200

Let’s dive into something cool – the Squier Sonic Telecaster. Picture this: you’re on stage, lights down low, and in your hands? A guitar that’s as bold as your dreams. That’s the Sonic Telecaster for you, shining in Butterscotch Blonde. Here’s the lowdown on why this guitar should be your next pick:

  • Body? Poplar. Translation: It’s light, so your shoulders won’t hate you after a three-hour jam, but it still punches out the tunes like a heavyweight.
  • Neck and Fingerboard: All maple. This means smooth slides and fast action. Your fingers will be flying.
  • Looks? With a single-layer black pickguard against that butterscotch, it’s a classic with a twist.
  • Sounds? Those 2 ceramic single coils are gonna give you clarity and punch, whether you’re riffing through rock, blues, or anything in-between.
  • Feel? With a 9.5″ radius and narrow tall frets, it’s comfy for all hand sizes. Bend those strings without a fight.
frets of squier sonic telecaster

Who Is It For? If you’re about making music that turns heads, from garage bands to gig nights, the Sonic Telecaster is your weapon of choice. Perfect for beginners wanting a serious start or seasoned players looking for that Tele twang without breaking the bank.

Check Out My Sound Demo! Don’t just take my word for it. Grab your headphones and click on my sound demo link below. Hear the Sonic Telecaster in action and imagine the tracks you could lay down with it.

Harley Benton ST-62 Vintage Series

photo of harley benton st-62

Alright, gearheads and guitar lovers, feast your eyes on the Harley Benton ST-62 Vintage Series! This isn’t just any guitar; it’s a time machine with strings, taking you back to the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll, but with a twist that fits right into today’s music scene. Why is this beauty a must-have? Let’s break it down:

  • Body: Basswood. It’s like the secret sauce for that warm, rich tone that fills up a room without weighing you down.
  • Neck: Canadian maple, caramelized. Ever heard a guitar neck sing? You’re about to. Plus, it’s sturdy and looks insanely cool.
  • The Look: Vintage white with a chrome hardware finish. It’s like the coolest car at the show, but you can play it.
  • The Sound: Those 3 Roswell STA Alnico-5 Vintage single coils? They’re the real deal for anyone chasing authentic, vintage tones with a modern edge. Clean or gritty, this guitar handles it all.
  • Playability: A C-shaped neck and a 12″ radius mean your hand fits around this guitar like it was made for you. Plus, 22 frets give you all the space you need to express yourself.

Who Is It For? If you’re all about blending the old with the new, making music that feels timeless yet fresh, the Harley Benton ST-62 is calling your name. It’s perfect for players who respect the classics but aren’t afraid to push boundaries.

Check Out My Sound Demo! Curious how this vintage-modern hybrid sounds in action? Hit up my sound demo link and let your ears be the judge. Whether you’re into blues, rock, indie, or anything that needs a soulful edge, this guitar’s got you.

Donner DST-152

donner dst-152 closeup photo

Introducing the Donner DST-152, a guitar that’s all about getting you plugged in and playing without fuss or hefty price tags. This isn’t just a guitar; it’s a full starter kit designed to make your entry into the world of music as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Here’s the scoop on why the DST-152 stands out:

  • Build Quality: Solidbody poplar construction paired with a bolt-on maple neck. This combo ensures a robust feel and a bright, clear tone, making it perfect for a variety of musical styles.
  • Complete Package: The DST-152 comes loaded with everything you need: a gig bag, picks, a portable amp, a cable, a tuner, extra strings, and a strap. It’s the ultimate set-up for beginners or anyone needing a practice kit on the go.
  • Versatile Sound: Thanks to its unique pickup configuration (a humbucker at the bridge and two single-coils in the middle and neck positions), this guitar offers a wide range of tones. From heavy distortion to jangly cleans, it’s equipped to handle it all.
  • Playability: A C-shaped neck profile and 22 frets make for an exceptionally comfortable playing experience, suitable for various hand sizes and playing styles.
  • Tuning Stability: Vintage-styled sealed tuners not only add to the guitar’s aesthetic but also ensure your tuning remains stable, letting you focus on playing, not constantly retuning.

Who Is It For? The Donner DST-152 is a dream come true for beginners looking for an affordable yet comprehensive package to start their musical journey. It’s also a great choice for more experienced players in need of a reliable backup or practice guitar that comes with all the necessary accessories.

back of donner dst-152 best electric guitar under $2000

Check Out My Sound Demo! Experience the Donner DST-152 in action through my sound demo link. Discover the depth and versatility it brings to the table, and imagine the endless musical possibilities it offers, right out of the box.

Harley Benton JA-60

Dive into the world of smooth, creamy tones with the Harley Benton JA-60, a guitar that combines the best of vintage aesthetics with contemporary playability. Here’s what makes the JA-60 a standout choice for guitarists:

  • Body and Neck: Crafted from basswood with a bolt-on, caramelised Canadian maple neck, the JA-60 offers a comfortable playing experience and a tonal foundation that’s both warm and resonant.
  • Vintage Styling: With its matched headstock and Olympic White finish, this guitar screams retro charm. It’s not just about looks; it’s about making a statement.
  • Pickups: Two Roswell vintage-style Alnico-5 JM single coils deliver that sought-after jangle and warmth, perfect for genres that demand expressive and nuanced playing.
  • Hardware: Deluxe chrome hardware, including a fixed bridge and Kluson-style machine heads, not only complements the guitar’s vintage vibe but also ensures tuning stability and reliability.
  • Playability: A “C” neck profile and 21 frets facilitate fast playing and easy access to higher notes, making the JA-60 as comfortable as it is stylish.

Who Is It For? The Harley Benton JA-60 is ideal for players who are drawn to the sounds and styles of the past but demand the reliability and playability of modern instruments. Whether you’re into indie, blues, surf, or rock, this guitar will serve your creative pursuits with flair.

Check Out My Sound Demo! Curious to hear the JA-60 in action? Click through to my sound demo and let the guitar’s rich, vibrant tones inspire your next musical creation. It’s a testament to how vintage vibes can meet modern demands with stunning results.

Squier Sonic Mustang

squier sonic mustang review

The Squier Sonic Mustang is a dynamo in a compact package, offering guitarists a unique blend of playability, tone, and style. Here’s why this guitar deserves a spot in your arsenal:

  • Construction: With its poplar body and maple neck and fingerboard, the Sonic Mustang delivers a punchy, clear tone that can cut through in any mix. The shorter scale length (24″) makes it super comfortable for players of all sizes.
  • Color and Design: Dressed in a bold Torino Red with a single-layer white pickguard, this guitar is designed to stand out both visually and sonically.
  • Pickups: Equipped with two ceramic single coils, the Sonic Mustang offers a range of sounds from bright and snappy to warm and mellow, perfect for a variety of musical genres.
  • Hardware: The 6-saddle top-load hardtail bridge ensures stable tuning and intonation, while the enclosed die-cast tuners keep everything locked in place.
  • Playability: The combination of a 9.5″ fretboard radius and 21 narrow tall frets allows for effortless bending and playing comfort across all registers.
headstock of squier sonic mustang

Who Is It For? The Squier Sonic Mustang is a fantastic choice for players looking for a versatile, easy-to-play guitar that doesn’t sacrifice tone for size. It’s especially great for younger players or those with smaller hands, thanks to its shorter scale length.

Check Out My Sound Demo! Experience the unique charm and versatility of the Squier Sonic Mustang by checking out my sound demo. Whether you’re laying down tracks in the studio or rocking out on stage, this guitar proves that great things come in small packages.

Which One Would I Recommend Most?

my experience

Choosing the perfect beginner guitar is like picking your favorite song – it’s tough! Each of these five options has its own unique charm.

Looking for affordability and classic Fender vibes? Squier guitars are your jam! They’re the iconic brand’s more budget-friendly sibling, offering that legendary sound without breaking the bank. The Squier Sonic Telecaster and Mustang are especially cool choices, putting a modern twist on the classic Fender tone.

More interested in incredible quality and unbeatable value? Look no further than Harley Benton! This brand proves you don’t have to spend a fortune for a great guitar. The ST-62 and JA-60 are perfect examples, offering fantastic sound and playability at a surprisingly affordable price.

Just starting out? The Donner DST-152 is your best friend. It’s not just a guitar; it’s a complete starter pack with everything you need to start playing right away. No need to worry about buying extra accessories – Donner has you covered!

So, which one should you choose? It really depends on your musical taste and needs.

Want bright, cutting tones for indie or alt rock? The Squier Sonic Mustang is your winner. Its unique sound and smooth playability are hard to top.

Need more versatility? Go for a Squier Telecaster with its classic twang and wide range of sounds, or the Strat-inspired Harley Benton ST-62 for its dynamic range and expressive potential.

Each of these guitars is fantastic in its own way, making the choice a fun and exciting challenge!

FAQ: Best Guitars Under $200

What makes a guitar “good” for beginners?

A good beginner guitar is easy to play, stays in tune, and fits within your budget. It should have a comfortable neck and action low enough to not cause frustration while learning. Durability and decent sound quality are also key.

How important is the guitar’s body material?

The guitar’s body material affects its tone and sustain. For example, poplar and basswood are common in budget guitars and offer a balanced tone. The material choice can influence the warmth, brightness, and overall sound character.

Can cheap guitars really sound good?

Yes, affordable guitars can sound great, especially with advancements in manufacturing. While they may not match the nuanced tones of high-end models, they offer impressive quality for their price, making them suitable for beginners and experienced players alike.

What should I look for in a budget guitar’s pickups?

Look for pickups that offer a versatile range of tones. Single-coil pickups typically provide a brighter, clearer sound, while humbuckers offer warmth and noise reduction. Consider the music you want to play when choosing.

Is a tremolo bridge a good feature for a beginner’s guitar?

A tremolo bridge can be fun for experimenting with vibrato effects. However, it can also complicate tuning stability for beginners. If you’re just starting, you might prioritize ease of use and tuning stability over a tremolo.

How do I know if a guitar’s neck is comfortable for me?

Neck comfort is subjective and depends on hand size and personal preference. Generally, a “C” shaped neck is a good starting point for beginners due to its versatility. Test different guitars to find what feels best for you.

Can I upgrade parts of a budget guitar later on?

Yes, many players upgrade parts like pickups, tuners, and bridges to improve the sound and playability of budget guitars. This can be a cost-effective way to enhance your instrument over time.

Are there specific brands that excel in making budget guitars?

Several brands are well-regarded for their budget models, including Squier, Harley Benton, and Donner. These companies offer a good balance of quality and affordability, making them popular choices among beginners and budget-conscious players.

What’s the difference between a cheap guitar and an expensive one?

The main differences lie in materials, craftsmanship, and hardware quality. Expensive guitars often use higher-grade woods, have more meticulous construction, and feature better-quality components, which contribute to superior sound and playability.

Do I need to set up a new guitar, or can I play it right out of the box?

While some budget guitars are playable right out of the box, a professional setup can significantly improve playability and comfort. It’s often worth the investment to ensure your guitar plays its best.

How does the scale length affect a guitar’s playability?

Scale length influences the spacing between frets and the string tension. Shorter scale lengths, like on the Squier Sonic Mustang, offer easier playability for beginners or players with smaller hands, due to lower string tension and closer fret spacing.

Why do some guitars come with accessories, and others do not?

Guitars that come with accessories are often designed as starter packs for beginners, providing everything needed to start playing immediately. Other guitars might not include accessories, focusing on delivering higher quality or specific features for the instrument itself.

Final Thoughts

Diving into the world of guitars under $200 has been a thrilling ride, showcasing that quality doesn’t always have to drain your wallet. We’ve explored everything from the Squier’s legendary sound to Harley Benton’s incredible value and the all-encompassing Donner DST-152 kit, proving that great instruments come in affordable packages.

The key takeaway from our journey? The right guitar isn’t about the price tag; it’s about how it feels in your hands, suits your musical journey, and inspires you to keep playing. Whether you’re strumming your first chord or laying down tracks in the studio, there’s a guitar out there that’s perfect for you in this budget-friendly range. It’s about the connection you feel when you pick it up and the excitement of where it can take your music.

Music is a journey, and the right guitar is your companion on that adventure. It’s not just about the notes you play, but the stories you tell and the emotions you share. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, remember that the essence of music lies in expression, not the cost of your instrument.

For those eager to dive deeper into the world of guitars, whether it’s to find your first guitar or add another to your collection, check out my channel, Best Guitars Now. Let’s continue to explore, learn, and celebrate the music together. I can’t wait to see where your guitar journey takes you next. Join the community and keep the strings vibrating!