Music technology has come a long way since the invention of the electric guitar, but incredibly, many of the best electric guitars have remained virtually unchanged since their initial introduction way back in the 1950s.
So what qualifies a guitar to be considered as one of the best? We’d say it has to have amazing sound, feel, playability, reliability, and of course, design. We live in a fantastic time where technology and new manufacturing practices have made it possible to get a fantastic guitar without breaking the bank, but if you do want to splash out, the sky’s the limit.
There are plenty of great electric guitars out there, and they run the gamut from modern instruments from more boutique brands, to classic models that have been popular for decades. Besides your personal preference, there are a few important factors to consider when shopping for the best electric guitar for you.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be showing you the best electric guitars available today. During the review, we focused on tone, playability, feel, and response. All the guitars were tested on the same PRS Archon 50 amp, just to keep everything consistent.
No matter the budget you’re working with, or the style of music you play, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect guitar for you in this roundup – you don’t want to miss this!
- Best Electric Guitars: Our Top Picks
- Best Electric Guitars: Individual Reviews
- How to Choose the Best Electric Guitar For You
- Final Thoughts on the Best Electric Guitars
Best Electric Guitars: Our Top Picks
The PRS SE Silver Sky is our Top Pick. This guitar is the result of two years of work between John Mayer and PRS. With the aim of creating a Strat-style guitar that combined the best of vintage models with modern appointments, this instrument offers fantastic tone and feel at a good price.
The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe is our best budget choice. A terrific choice for beginners and cost conscious intermediate players alike, this guitar offers a strong humbucker tone in a timeless Tele style, while remaining a truly affordable instrument.
If you are looking for outstanding quality in every sense, and are willing to spend the money, take a look at our Editor’s Choice, the Gibson SG Standard. This legendary guitar is a great choice for dedicated guitarists who want a wonderful instrument that is also lightweight.
Best Electric Guitars: Individual Reviews
A fantastic collaboration between Paul Reed Smith and John Mayer.
The Silver Sky is one of the most popular guitars in PRS' history. It has remained such a hot item that they still fly off the shelves as soon as a new batch hits music stores. This guitar is the result of John Mayer's preferences as well as Paul Reed Smith's vision, and with the SE edition, you can get a more affordable version of this instrument.
The PRS SE Silver Sky reflects the efforts of John Mayer and PRS to build a Stratocaster for the modern player. It features plenty of the aspects that we all love from vintage strats, and combines them with modern playability and other current features.
The first thing that stood out to us about this guitar was just how good it felt compared to a similarly priced Stratocaster. As expected, it delivered fantastic playability, largely thanks to its modern neck carve combined with a more modern 8.5″ radius.
Our test model was one of the new 2023 guitars, and came with a maple neck and fingerboard (previous versions were only available with rosewood). We felt that the SE Silver Sky gave us what we love about the vintage feel and response, but also allowed us to play more comfortably by slightly flattening the radius.
The other aspect of this guitar that nicely blended tradition with a modern outlook was the tone that we got from the three 635JM single coil pickups. While these deliver genuine single coil tone twang with an early-’60s Strat’s flavor, these pickups shaved off the shrillness of the high frequencies, which is a common occurrence on vintage instruments.
Besides, these pickups gave us a higher signal-to-noise ratio and responded great with our distortion pedals. This resulted in a tone that felt fatter than the average single coil guitar, while remaining very articulate. We got a great sound for rock, blues, and even modern jazz.
The tuning and intonation on this PRS SE also were incredibly stable, thanks to the modern 2-point steel tremolo system, and quality PRS tuning machines. The hardware in general was all extremely high quality, and the fretwork was absolutely flawless.
Verdict: The PRS SE Silver Sky offers an ideal blend of tradition and modern appointments. With fantastic tone and great playability, this is a comfortable guitar that delivers enhanced single coil tone, and a great choice for guitarists that want a modern take on the most popular electric guitar model ever made.
- Superior playability
- Gentler single coil tone
- Fair price
- Plastic tuning keys don’t feel premium
- May turn off Strat purists
An affordable Tele style guitar for beginners.
Squier is renowned for producing affordable copies of Fender instruments, but retaining the main tonal and playability qualities. This guitar is a great choice for beginners that want a Tele with humbuckers but at an affordable price.
The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe delivered an authentic Telecaster Deluxe feel with a rounder and more powerful humbucker tone, while remaining a very affordable instrument.
It had a lightweight poplar body that helps keep the weight and price down. The styling of the body was indistinguishable from the iconic ‘70s Tele deluxe models, and we found ourselves genuinely surprised with the quality of its fit and finish. The hardware was all good, the tuning stability was rock solid.
Considering the low cost, the playability on this Squier Tele was superb. It had a “C” shaped maple neck that was fast, and genuinely comfortable to play on. The neck and fretboard were both maple, and the 21 medium jumbo frets were really well finished, with no sharps, and perfectly level crowns.
We started our battery of tests with the bridge pickup. We got a punchy saturation with the help of some of our distortion pedals, getting a tone that was rounder but still mid-forward, which was great for rock and blues.
On the other hand, the neck pickup gave us a warmer tone that sounded good both distorted and clean. Besides the obvious genres of rock, blues, and pop, we even liked the neck pickup for a bit of straight-ahead jazz when played clean, and for fusion with a bit of overdrive. Both the neck and bridge pickup are Fender Designed Ceramic Humbuckers, and did a great job of offering great Tele tone on a budget.
Verdict: The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe offers an authentic Tele feel and playability with a rounder humbucker tone on both the neck and bridge positions. This Tele copy is a great choice for students on a budget, particularly if they like Teles or Fender-type guitars with a higher output.
- Built under Fender's Umbrella
- Warm humbucking tone
- Poplar body lacks sustain
- Neck finishing was a little rough
A legendary guitar that delivers fantastic tone and feel.
The SG is among the most iconic guitar models in history. It is known for offering a muscular humbucker tone as well as delivering a comfortable playing experience. With a lightweight body that weighs only 7 lbs 1 oz, this SG Standard is an excellent choice for serious players that play rock, blues, or even jazz and want a superior and classic instrument.
The Gibson SG Standard is one of the most legendary guitars for rock and blues guitarists and continues to be a sought-after model. It had a solid mahogany body, with a solid mahogany neck, and a menacing look that remains timeless.
Its neck had a SlimTaper profile, and was topped with 22 medium PLEK’d frets.The fretboard itself was rosewood, and being a Standard, came with binding. The fret edges were nibbed under the binding, which gave it a super smooth feel from top to bottom.
We went to work on the neck humbucker, by dialing in some high gain distortion. The 490R humbucker on this position provided us with a powerful but very clear tone, great for power chords and leads with fantastic response and sustain. Played clean, we got a rounder tone that was great for playing rhythms in several genres, as well as some single note lines.
Moving on to the 490T bridge humbucker, we got a mid-forward and punchy tone when distorted. With the tone knob rolled way up, we got that fantastic Angus Young sound, penetrating and with nice articulation. With the tone rolled back a bit, we got more of a late-period PAF humbucker flavor, great for modern blues and fusion.
The playability on this SG was genuinely fantastic. The factory setup was literally perfect, thanks in large part to the PLEK treatment it received at the Gibson Factory. The action was nice and low, with no buzz or choke out, and the neck relief was just right.
Additional features like the aluminum Nashville Tune-o-matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece and Grover Rotomatic tuners were also fantastic. These gave us great tuning and intonation across the entire neck, making this guitar a superior choice for discerning musicians.
Verdict: This Gibson SG Standard is a wonderful option that delivers a superior tone and feel for players looking for a high end guitar. With a resonant and lightweight mahogany body, this guitar is still relevant today and can be used with styles as varied as rock, blues, and jazz.
- US Made
- PLEK treatment
- Classic design
- Quite expensive
- Some may find it to be too light weight
A gorgeous guitar with a fast neck.
The LTD H-200 from ESP is a terrific choice for players that like to fly on the neck, and at the same time have a guitar with great tone and a beautiful design. This guitar is great for high-gain styles like metal, as well as other styles that require fast playing, like fusion.
The ESP LTD H-200 FM was built with a mahogany body, topped with a gorgeous flamed maple top on a see-through finish. The body had an ergonomic design that gave it both a modern look and feel, with curved edges and contours that gave us increased comfort for our picking arm and hand.
Our initial impression of this ESP LTD was fantastic, we really loved how it felt. Playability on this guitar was excellent, and we enjoyed the feel of the maple neck with its roasted jatoba fingerboard. It had a thin U neck profile that was slick and super fast, so we were able to fly up and down the fretboard on this guitar, comfortably performing everything from riffs to fast passages and licks.
The tones that we got from the LTD H-200 were also fantastic. It had two ESP-designed humbuckers and push-pull coil-splitting, which gave us a variety of options for our sound. The bridge humbucker gave us a muscular tone, with tons of punch for riffs and chords when distorted, and good sustain for leads and single note runs. This was where we stayed for high-gain distortion.
On the other hand, the neck pickup had a rounder and darker tone. This humbucker sounded great on clean as well as when distorted, with nice clarity and definition. We liked it for rock with a more obscure tonal quality, and even for blues.
With the coil splitting active, we got some nice single coil tones, which definitely increased the versatility factor. Having said that, we’d recommend looking for a guitar with dedicated single coil pickups if those are the primary tones you’re looking for.
The tuning stability and intonation on this guitar were also good. It had a hardtail bridge and quality LTD tuners, which definitely contributed to the overall reliability. The factory setup was great, too, with a well set action and an arrow straight neck.
Verdict: The ESP LTD H-200 FM is a wonderful option for players who are mostly interested in rock, metal, and other high-gain genres. This guitar is truly gorgeous and gives the user a muscular tone and fantastic playability on a fast neck with fantastic reliability.
- Beautiful aesthetics
- Fast Neck
- Not appropriate for styles other than metal and rock
- No trem system
A fantastic semi-hollow body guitar for the modern player.
The Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth is the result of a collaboration between this legendary company and the Austin-based blues-rock musician. With an affordable price, this guitar is Wolfe's spin on her original Epiphone Sheraton and comes with fat tone and great playability for rock and blues guitarists.
The Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth featured layered maple construction, and a stylish overall look. It had the classic Epiphone Casino body style with mouse ear horns, and unique appointments like its aged matte polyurethane finish, and contemporary Trini Lopez-style diamond F-holes.
Being semi hollow, we immediately felt the deep resonance, even when played acoustically. The substantial center block did a great job at enhancing sustain, and we found no issues with feedback, either.
We loved how the ’60s SlimTaper “C” profile neck felt in our hand. It’s one of Epiphone’s slimmest profiles, and it was incredibly comfortable. The fretboard was made with Indian laurel, which isn’t our favorite wood – it was a little dry out of the box, something laurel frequently suffers from, but with some conditioner it really came to life.
Regarding tone, the Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth gave us wonderful rock and blues sounds that were gritty when distorted and pristine while on clean. With two Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers, the sound of this guitar was definitely rooted in tradition but with a solid dose of modern edge.
Additional features like a Rock-solid Tune-o-matic bridge and LockTone Stop Bar tailpiece gave us great tuning consistency. We also loved the Premium Grover Rotomatic tuners as well as the Graph Tech Nut. Intonation was accurate from top to bottom, and the factory setup was excellent.
Verdict: The Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth is a great choice for tradition-rooted tone and playability but for the modern player. This guitar excels for rock and blues players, as it provides honest tones and fantastic playability, as well as good tuning and intonation.
- Traditional grip
- Modernly voiced pickups
- Outstanding looks
- Bulky body
- Dry laurel fretboard
A great blend of quality and affordability.
Guitars from the Pacifica line are among the most popular instruments that Yamaha offers. With fantastic guitar models for beginners and more experienced players alike, the PAC112VM is an optimal choice for the former featuring a Strat type shape and similar versatility.
The Yamaha PAC112VM Pacifica had an alder body, and was finished in a fantastic flat gray color. It had an SSH pickup configuration, which gave us the versatility of having single coils in the neck and middle positions, which are arguably the best places to have them, and a powerful humbucker at the bridge.
We started right at the bridge position and got a punchy tone that was great for power chords as well as leads. This pickup is a custom Yamaha ceramic Alnico V humbucker, and we found that it responded well to different levels of saturation from our pedals. From a warm overdrive that was nice for blues all the way to penetrating high-gain metal tones, this pickup delivered a tight, balanced and focused tone.
We then moved on to the middle position, a Yamaha Alnico V single coil. Here we got a snappy tone that sounded great clean and with a bit of overdrive. We felt that this pickup did not do very well with high gain distortion, as it sounded a bit muddy. We did like how position four sounded clean – it gave us the classic quack favored by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer.
The neck pickup gave us a rounder tone that was especially good played clean and with some overdrive. Also a Yamaha Alnico V single coil, we liked the neck pickup for blues, light rock, and also for beginners that want to play some jazz.
The playability of this guitar was fantastic, and we think that will translate well for beginners. We felt that it was easy to finger chords, and minor pentatonic scales all across the neck. It had a C-shaped maple neck and a maple fingerboard that felt great. The 13.75″ radius and 25.5″ scale length are also appropriate for any beginner looking for an easy playing guitar that they can learn the fundamentals on, without struggling, then easily translate those skills to something like a Fender Strat when it’s time to upgrade.
Verdict: The Yamaha PAC112VM Pacifica features a light alder body and offers variety, quality, and affordability for the beginner. With a comfortable neck and responsive fretboard, this Strat copy feels good to play, the HSS pickup configuration (all custom-made by Yamaha) makes it a versatile guitar instrument.
- Responsive maple neck
- Middle pickup is not clear with high gain distortion
- Two-knob system is a bit limiting
Superior quality and feel.
Strandberg has set the bar for what a truly effective guitar is by providing instruments that excel in playability and tone. The NX 6 features several of the main components of Strandberg's high-level guitars but at a lower price, and is a great choice for guitarists that want to make the most of their movements on the fretboard.
The Strandberg Boden NX 6 came with an American basswood body, finished with a beautiful flame maple veneer to give it its stylish looks. With a double-cut design for effortless access to higher frets, this guitar was made for outstanding playability and tone.
We started our tests on the bridge pickup, a Strandberg OEM 6 Humbucker. We got fantastic sustain and a balanced tone when distorted, and a pristine clean with great frequency response. This pickup is quite versatile and can be a good choice for rock, blues, pop and more.
The neck pickup gave us a very articulate and warm tone that also had a lot of clarity and definition. In clean, we loved how this pickup sounded for singer-songwriter songs, and for playing jazz standards. With overdrive and distortion, we got a darker quality that was fantastic for rock and blues, as well as fusion.
The playability of this guitar is second to none. We loved the feel of the quartersawn maple neck and fingerboard, as we got a great and sensitive response. The NX6 came with optimized ergonomics, which greatly aided playability once we got used to it. A unique aspect of this guitar was the Multi-scale fingerboard (25″ to 25.5″) which gave us fantastic intonation and allowed for easier bends. Of course this kind of setup really isn’t suitable for less experienced players, but if you take guitar seriously, and you’re looking for something special, we think this is the one for you.
Overall build quality was amazing, and the fit and finish were superb. Restringing does take some getting used to on guitars like this, although once you get the hang of it, the stability is amazing.
Verdict: The Strandberg Boden NX 6 delivers great sound, and superior playability, thanks to its fast and innovative neck. With an ergonomic design made specifically to maximize finger and hand movement, this guitar is a great choice for guitarists that play fast or want ultimate comfort when performing.
- Incredible playability
- Fantastic tone
- balanced body
- Unusual features may take a while to get used to
- Not beginner friendly
How to Choose the Best Electric Guitar For You
When buying the best electric guitar for you, there are several important considerations to keep in mind to ensure you make the right choice. We share the most important below.
Arguably, the most crucial aspect of any guitar is how it feels to play. And what feels good is largely dependent on what you like and what you don’t like. That said, it’s important to consider the neck shape, fretboard material, weight of the instrument, and more. A comfortable guitar will allow you to play for longer periods without discomfort or fatigue.
The sound of an electric guitar is influenced by various factors, including the type of wood used in its construction and the pickups. In very broad teas, single-coil pickups typically offer a cleaner, brighter sound, while humbuckers provide a thicker, warmer tone. You also have the option of picking a guitar that employs both single coils and humbuckers.
Setting a budget is a great place to start for effectively narrowing down your choices. There are excellent options available at various price points, so knowing your budget is key. Keep in mind that now more than ever, there are great guitars made for a lot less money than before, thanks to the advancement of technology.
Final Thoughts on the Best Electric Guitars
The best electric guitars offer great playability and tone, as well as other features that will vary from guitarist to guitarist. There are plenty of great electric guitars out there, and in this article, we’ve given you seven of the best options.
To recap our choices, the PRS SE Silver Sky was our Top Pick. This guitar blends some features from vintage Strat models with modern appointments, in order to offer a great instrument for the modern guitarist.
The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe was our Best Budget Choice. An excellent option for beginners, this guitar delivers a powerful humbucker tone and true Fender playability on an inexpensive Tele copy.
If you are after superior quality and performance and are willing to spend the money, take a look at our Editor’s Choice, the Gibson SG Standard. This iconic guitar is a superb choice for discerning guitarists, offering timeless looks, amazing build quality, and great tone.