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Top Beginner Guitars for Under £200

Let’s face it choosing your first guitar is very tough.  There is so much to consider, should you choose acoustic or electric, what body shape do you like, single coil or humbucker pick-ups the list goes on.  Therefore to make things a bit easier we have picked out our 5 top beginner guitars for under £200.

But before we go onto our top 5 beginner guitars here are some things to consider before making a purchase.

  1. Choose your budget wisely.  Don’t always buy the cheapest guitar you can find, they are cheap for a reason.
  2. Do some research before you go out to buy.  What music do you want to play on your guitar.  If you are a thrash fan there is no point buying an acoustic guitar.
  3. If you have decided on a guitar that you like research the price.  You may find it cheaper on-line.
  4. Make sure you try out the guitar that you like before buying.  There is nothing worse than parting with your hard earned cash only to find the guitar of your dreams is actually the guitar of your nightmares.  If you have found your guitar cheaper on-line than in your local guitar shop, tell the owner, they may match the on-line price.  If they don’t it is worth considering buying on-line.
  5. Don’t spend a lot of money on your first guitar after all you might not enjoy actually learning how to play it.  In my experience you can pick up some great value beginner guitars for under £200 which play well and look great.
  6. Beginner guitars are usually at the cheaper end of the market, that does not mean they should be unplayable.  Expect the instrument to be functional but not to have any fancy extras.  The wood used for construction and the electrics will be cheaper but they should all work properly and not detract from your enjoyment of playing the guitar.
  7. If you know someone who plays the guitar then take them with you when you go to choose your guitar.  Their knowledge, experience and advice will prove to be invaluable.

So what our my top 5 Beginner Guitars for under £200?

Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster

Squier Affinity Stratocaster

Squier Affinity Stratocaster a great value beginners guitar.

First up is the Squier Affinity Stratocaster.  At this point I have to admit to a certain bias.  My first guitar was a Squier Stratocaster and to this day I regret parting company with it as it was an absolutely great guitar.  It played well, sounded better and looked the business this was oh so much more than a beginner guitar.  However, me being the duffus that I am, I traded it in for a much poorer quality super strat with a locking tremolo.

Squier guitars are produced by Fender and, as such, have a pedigree which should give you a great playing guitar for your money.  Both Fender and Gibson use alternative brands for their entry level guitars.  The idea is that they don’t compromise the quality of their high end guitars but allow beginners the opportunity to cut their teeth on a basic version.  I guess the hope is that once exposed to a particular guitar there is a certain level of brand loyalty.  Thus when it comes to up-grading the guitarist up-grades to a more expensive version of the guitar that they started on.

Squier’s beginner guitars are the Bullet and Affinity series and although the Bullet is an ok guitar, if you have the money, it is well worth going for the slightly more expensive Affinity series Stratocaster.  The guitar itself is a basic, but very good, stratocaster.  The body is made from a nice piece of alder and the bolt on neck is maple with 21 medium jumbo frets.  The typical Stratocaster pick-up layout of three single coil pick-ups accessed through a 5 way pick-up selector are good and give a great tonal range.  Bear in mind the electrics are often where manufacturers save money on cheaper guitars, but that said these standard single coil pick-ups are fine and will allow you to play around with your sound.  All in all when it comes to beginner guitars the Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster is hard to beat.  It normally retails at £215 but you can pick it up through Gear 4 Music for £164 so nicely slips under our £200 threshold.

Buy the Affinity Series Strat for £164

Yamaha Pacifica 012

Yamaha Pacifica 012 Electric Guitar

Yamaha Pacifica 012 electric guitar

If you are looking for a Strat style guitar but want something a little bit more turbo charged then the Yamaha Pacifica 012 could be the guitar for you and certainly earns its spot on our top 5 beginner guitars list.

Yamaha are a company that always seem to be able to manufacture brilliant things and they really do make a wide range of things from musical instruments to motor bikes.  Focusing on their guitars Yamaha have gained a reputation for making high quality but affordable guitars and this is all summed up in their Pacifica guitar range.

The Pacifica guitar range was originally designed in the 1990s at Yamaha’s California custom-shop by Rich Lasner, working with guitar builder Leo Knapp. The guitars were initially intended by Lasner and Knapp as a test project.  However, Yamaha Japan chose to mass produce the instruments and many of us are grateful that they took that decision.

The Yamaha Pacifica 012 is the entry level model in the range and therefore does not have some of the more refined features, such as Seymour Duncan pick-ups, of the more expensive models.  However, that does not detract from the quality or playability of the guitar.  The Pacifica 012 is based on the stratocaster shape and has a body made from Agathis, a cheaper hardwood often used in the construction of budget guitars.  The bolt on neck is made from maple with a 22 fret Rosewood fingerboard.  The normal strat pick-up layout has been changed from 3 single coils to two single coils and a humbucker in the bridge position for the Pacifica 012.  This really provides great flexibility and expands the tonal output of the guitar.  From clean tones through to down and dirty distortion the Pacifica 012 more than holds its own.  The build quality, playability and sound of this guitar is not often found in an instrument at this price point.  If you like the idea of a Strat but want a bit more tonal flexibility then the Yamaha Pacifica is a great guitar.  The Yamaha Pacifica 012 represents excellent value as it normally retails at £178 but you can buy it through Gear 4 Music for an amazing £158.

Buy the Yamaha Pacifica 012 for £158

Epiphone Les Paul Special II

Epiphone Les Paul Special II

Epiphone Les Paul Special II. The perfect beginners guitar?

Moving away from the Stratocaster style guitar our next helping in the top 5 beginner guitars list is the Epiphone Les Paul Special II.

It could be argued that the guitar playing world can be split into two camps, Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul.  Some guitarists love the Strat, others love the Les Paul but if you are like me then you love both.  This list of beginner guitars would not be complete without a Les Paul and Epiphone, the cheaper little brother of Gibson, make some excellent and affordable versions of this classic guitar.  My personal favourite is the Epiphone Les Paul Special II.  Built around the lines of the classic Gibson Les Paul, this is a stripped down version with none of the frills but all of the attitude.  The body is made from Basswood and the bolt on neck is mahogany with a 22 fret rosewood fingerboard.  The guitar features the Epiphone 700T and 650R humbuckers which give a fantastic tone both clean and distorted.  There is a tone and volume switch for each pick-up giving the guitarist real fine control of the sound and the pick-ups are accessed through the standard three way toggle switch.  The guitar comes in a range of finishes but the vintage sunburst really does look the business.  If you are looking for the Les Paul sound but can’t afford the Gibson price tag then this could be the best of the beginner guitars on our list.  At just £119 we also think that the Epiphone Les Paul Special II is the best value of the beginner guitars.

Buy the Epiphone Les Paul Special II for £119

BC Rich ASM One

BC Rich ASM One

The BC Rich ASM One is a great entry level super strat.

This would not be a very good list if we didn’t include a super strat somewhere as one of our top beginner guitars.  So it was a real difficult choice as there are some really great super strats on the market and choosing our favourite for inclusion on the beginner guitars list was quite difficult.  For example this year we have reviewed the Ibanez GSA60, the Yamaha RGX 121Z and the BC Rich ASM One.  All are great guitars and could have made it onto this list of great beginner guitars as they all offer you a turbo charged guitar playing experience for well under £200.  However, for me my over all favourite would have to be the BC Rich ASM One as it is just such a fun guitar to play.

If you love your music loud and fast then you should be no stranger to BC Rich.  They have made their name over the year by making great guitars for some of the biggest names in rock and metal music.  The BC Rich ASM One is one of their tamer models but is also designed as an entry level super strat style guitar.  The body is made from basswood and the neck is maple with a 24 fret rosewood fretboard.  Being a BC Rich guitar the neck is designed for speed which should keep the masters of shred happy.  The guitar is fitted with a vintage tremolo unit which is relatively stable and suitable for some minor whammy bar action but anything more will throw the guitar out of tune.  In terms of electrics the BC Rich ASM one comes armed with two BDSM humbucker pick-ups.  BDSM stands for Broad Dynamic Sonically Matched. Which simply means that the pickup is designed to reproduce a wide range of frequencies accurately this represents the broad dynamic part of the acronym. The BDSM pick-ups are then tested and matched in pairs (Neck and Bridge) by their inherent individual and signature tonal and output characteristics to give a solidly balanced tone so are sonically matched.  This gives the BC Rich ASM One a great sound which really comes into its own when you turn up the amp and crank out the distorted tones.  For the money these are hands down the best pick-ups on a guitar at this price.  If you are looking for a great playing and sounding super strat style guitar then I don’t think you can get any better than the BC Rich ASM One.  In terms of price the BC Rich ASM One normally retails for £239 but if you buy it through Gear 4 Music you can pick it up for £199 meaning it just fits into this beginner guitars for under £200 list.

Buy the BC Rich ASM One for £199

Epiphone SG G-310

Epiphone SG G-310

The Epiphone SG, the quintessential rock guitar?

Our final guitar on the top 5 list of beginner guitars for under £200 is the Epiphone SG G-310.  Now I never used to like the Gibson SG, in my eyes it just didn’t look great, yes I am that shallow!  But my eyes were opened and I became converted when I tried out a friends Epiphone SG.  The SG is a really great guitar, doesn’t look great but blimey it plays well.

You could view the Gibson SG as the quintessential rock guitar when you see that rock legends such as Angus Young of AC/DC and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath both play one.  Therefore if you want a rock staple but can’t afford the Gibson version then try the Epiphone SG G-310.  The guitar is made from a solid piece of alder and the bolt on neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard.  The electrics are much like the Les Paul in that you have two humbuckers, a 3 way toggle switch and individual tone and volume controls for each pick-up.  This is a guitar which is designed to be basic and plays all the better because of it.  At just £179 The Epiphone SG G-310 represents an excellent value beginner guitar.

Buy the Epiphone SG G-310 for £179

So there you have it our top 5 list of beginner guitars for under £200.  I am sure you will disagree with some of our choices but we think any of the guitars on this list would prove and ideal purchase for a beginner looking to buy their first guitar.

Let us know what you think and perhaps help other beginners.  Which guitar on our list of beginner guitars for under £200 would you buy?  If you don’t see your favourite on our list of beginner guitars what would you have put on the list?

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