Best Guitar Under $300

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You’re on a budget but still want a quality guitar, right? I’m glad you’re here. This guide’s going to dish out the lowdown on the best guitars under $300 bucks.

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We’ll get into acoustic and electric options and dissect their features. Let’s kick-start your musical journey without burning a hole in your pocket.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the top brands featured here, check out my list of best electric guitar brands.

Brogan’s Quick Take

The best guitar under $300 is the Ibanez GRG121SP GIO, especially for rock and metal genres. It offers quality and performance without breaking the bank, making it a great choice for those seeking a budget-friendly yet high-quality instrument.

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5 Best Electric Guitars Under $300: Top Picks

You’re about to enter into a comprehensive discussion on some of the best electric guitars under $300.

We’ll cover the Ibanez GRG121SP GIO, a powerhouse in its price range.

The Squier Affinity Stratocaster and Telecaster both offer classic tones and excellent playability.

And the Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT and SG Special VE each have an array of unique features and iconic designs.

It’s important to remember that while each model has its strengths, your choice should ultimately align with your unique playing style and musical preferences.

1. Ibanez GRG121SP GIO Electric Guitar

Ibanez GRG121SP GIO from zZounds

The Ibanez GRG121SP GIO Electric Guitar is my top pick for the best guitar under $300. You might have expected a Strat shape or maybe a Les Paul, but I grew up learning hard rock and metal riffs, so I love the sharp super-Strat shape of this guitar.

Its high-quality build and impressive performance make it hard to beat. This guitar is specifically designed for hard rock, with a double cutaway body that allows for easy access to the upper frets. Its humbucking pickups deliver a thick and powerful tone, making it perfect for rock and metal genres.

Here are some key features to consider:

  • The basswood body provides rich midrange tones, adding depth to your sound.
  • The guitar also has impressive tuning stability, ensuring accurate pitch at all times.
  • With its high-quality construction and finish, the Ibanez GRG121SP offers a comfortable playing experience that will inspire you to play for hours.
  • It looks sick in all black and metal as hell.

2. Squier Affinity Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Squier Affinity Stratocaster from zZounds

Now we get to the Squier Affinity Stratocaster Electric Guitar. A version of this was actually my first electric guitar I had growing up. This Stratocaster SSS (three single-coil pickups) is a fantastic choice for beginners or anyone on a budget.

The poplar body is thin and lightweight, providing a comfortable playing experience. The maple fretboard and C-shaped neck profile add to its ease of playability. And you can’t get any more classic than the three single-coil pickups for that spanky tone.

Key features of the Squier Affinity Stratocaster Electric Guitar include:

  • Three single coil pickups and an HSS pickup for a variety of tones
  • Volume and tone controls for sound customization
  • A pickup selector switch to quickly change between tones
  • A tremolo system for pitch bending effects
  • A classic Stratocaster body shape with a glossy finish

You’ll appreciate the quality and value of this guitar, making it one of the best under $300.

3. Squier Affinity Telecaster Electric Guitar

Squier Affinity Telecaster from zZounds

We’ve got another Squier Affinity here, the Squier Affinity Telecaster, a worthy member of the Fender lineage with its lightweight body and comfortable neck profile.

This Telecaster electric guitar stands out with its single coil bridge pickup that delivers that classic Tele tone. If you fancy learning some chicken pickin’ or want to play around with a slide, you can’t go wrong with a Tele. It can even handle jazz tone with the neck pickup.

The body and neck are designed for comfort and playability, while the volume and tone controls provide a range of sound customization.

Here are some key features:

  • Slim, comfortable C-shaped neck with a 9.5′ fretboard radius
  • Lightweight, double cutaway body for easy access to the higher frets
  • Quality bridge pickup for authentic Telecaster tones
  • Sealed die cast tuners ensure your guitar stays in tune
  • Standard Telecaster scale length for a familiar feel

The Squier Affinity Telecaster offers exceptional value without compromising on quality.

4. Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT Electric Guitar

Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT from zZounds

If you’re a fan of Led Zeppelin’s lead-filled riffs, take a look at the Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT. This guitar carries the classic Les Paul style with a lighter, slimmer all-Mahogany body.

The Les Paul Studio LT brings the unmistakable tone and looks of the iconic Les Paul at an incredibly affordable price.

The mahogany body and neck give the guitar a rich, warm tone. The satin finish not only looks sleek but also enhances the resonance of the body. Equipped with ceramic humbuckers for a hotter, punchier tone. A toggle switch for effortless pickup switching and a master tone control.

5. Epiphone SG Special VE Electric Guitar

Epiphone SG Special VE from zZounds

You might have gathered Epiphone is a great budget guitar brand as we jump to another instrument, the Epiphone SG Special VE.

Not only is this one of the best guitars under $300, but the shape and blacked-out look can conjure up anything from classic rock riffs to modern blistering black metal.

This model sports a classic SG design with a Poplar body and Mahogany veneer, and a bolt-on Mahogany neck sporting a 1960s SlimTaper D profile. It comes in various finishes to suit your style, but I love the black-on-black look.

Key features of this guitar include:

  • Open Coil Humbuckers with Ceramic Magnets
  • A pickup configuration of 650R in the rhythm position and a hotter 700T in the lead
  • A fixed bridge with a LockTone Tune-o-matic system

The Epiphone SG Special VE is a great choice for a high performing, budget-friendly guitar.

5 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300

In your quest for the perfect guitar under $300, you’ve likely come across a wide array of brands and models, each with their own unique features and selling points. We’re going to delve into the details of five standout options:

  1. Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar
  2. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor Flat Top Acoustic Guitar
  3. Schecter Deluxe Acoustic Guitar
  4. Yamaha APX-600 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  5. Ibanez AAD50CE Artwood Advanced Acoustic-Electric Guitar

1. Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar

Epiphone DR-100 from zZounds

You’re going to love the quality and affordability of the Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar. It’s crafted with a mahogany body and select spruce top for excellent tone and projection.

As one of the best acoustic guitars, it offers a distinctive, rich sound that’s perfect for beginners learning to play guitar.

With the Epiphone DR-100, you get:

  • A mahogany body and rosewood fretboard for a rich and balancing sound
  • A comfortable neck profile, ideal for beginners
  • Sturdy construction that can withstand rigorous practice sessions
  • An affordable price, making it one of the best beginner guitar models
  • A gig bag for easy transportation

This model stands out among acoustic guitars, offering the same level of quality as the pricier Epiphone Les Paul. You’re not just buying a guitar, you’re getting value for your money.

2. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor Flat Top Acoustic Guitar

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor Flat Top from zZounds

Shifting gears, let’s take a look at the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor Flat Top, an affordable acoustic that’s got a real vintage charm.

This best guitar contender brings the past to the present with a lower price tag that’s hard to ignore. It’s one of the top picks among budget electric guitars, perfect for various playing styles.

Here’s why you should check it out:

  • Authentic 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s throwback design
  • Agathis top, back, and sides for a bright sound
  • Compact size, ideal for players with small frames
  • Part of Gretsch’s Roots collection, showcasing the brand’s heritage
  • Attractive white binding and secure rosewood bridge

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor Flat Top Acoustic Guitar is the best budget option that doesn’t compromise on style or sound.

3. Schecter Deluxe Acoustic Guitar

Schecter Deluxe Acoustic from zZounds

Moving on from the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Parlor, let’s dive into the world of Schecter and their Deluxe Acoustic Guitar. It’s an undoubted gem among the best guitars under $300.

Known for its high-quality construction, this solid body guitar is a dream for any classic rock enthusiast. With a sleek satin finish and a rigorous factory hand setup, it stands out even among the Squier by Fender models like the Squier Affinity Series Telecaster and Squier Affinity Stratocaster.

Key features to note:

  • DoveTail Set-Neck construction for a smooth performance
  • Mahogany body and Spruce top for a rich sound
  • Thin C neck shape, perfect for fast playing styles
  • 22 medium frets on a Rosewood fretboard
  • Schecter tuners and Black Chrome hardware

Whether plugged into guitar amps or played acoustically, the Schecter Deluxe provides a truly immersive experience.

4. Yamaha APX-600 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Yamaha APX-600 from zZounds

Now let’s get into the features of the Yamaha APX-600, an acoustic-electric guitar that’s praised for its comfort, sound, and easy upper-fret access.

  • It has a spruce and a locally sourced tonewood neck, giving it a rich sound.
  • The rosewood fingerboard, coupled with medium jumbo frets, allows for smooth playability.
  • A tone control feature provides you with a wide range of sound customization.
  • The guitar’s easy top-fret access is reminiscent of the Affinity series’ playability, making it a top choice for many.

You’re bound to appreciate the APX-600’s unique blend of comfort, sound, and access.

5. Ibanez AAD50CE Artwood Advanced Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ibanez AAD50CE from zZounds

Wrapping up my picks for the best guitars under $300 is the Ibanez AAD50CE Artwood Advanced Acoustic-Electric.

This great guitar is designed to deliver a powerful sound and wide dynamic range. It’s perfect for intermediate players on a tight budget who crave the fast playing and higher quality of pricier models like the Ibanez RG.

  • Grand Dreadnought body type for a powerful sound
  • Solid Sitka Spruce top for shimmering highs
  • A functional tapered headstock for enhanced tuning stability
  • Ibanez T-bar Undersaddle pickup for accurate sound translation

Despite its affordability, it rivals more expensive guitars, especially within rock and metal genres. All these features ensure the Ibanez AAD50CE Artwood Advanced is an excellent choice for those seeking quality and performance without breaking the bank.

Understanding the Basics of a Budget Guitar

A guitarist playing a Jazzmaster style guitar with a small amp in a blank room.

Before you choose your guitar, it’s essential that you understand the basics of its structure and function.

You might be looking for the best guitar under $300, an affordable price for a beginner guitar. When playing guitar, it’s crucial to have an instrument that suits your needs.

Brands like Yamaha and Fender offer entry-level options within this price range. Yamaha’s FG800, for instance, is a budget guitar with quality sound, great for beginners. Fender, on the other hand, offers the Bullet Stratocaster, a quality instrument with great playability for guitar playing enthusiasts.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade, it’s crucial to consider the guitar’s features in your decision. With the right research, you’ll find a quality instrument that fits your budget.

What To Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar

When you’re in the market for a new instrument, there are some key factors you’ll need to consider. The best electric guitar for you might not be the most expensive one. The best acoustic guitars often balance quality and price point. Budget guitars can offer great playability and decent build quality. Don’t let the term ‘budget’ fool you, some of the best guitars under $300 are fantastic for enhancing your playing experience.

Investigate guitar features carefully. Consider the build quality, as it can greatly influence the sound and longevity of the instrument. The best guitar for you should feel comfortable and enhance your playing style, whether it’s an electric or acoustic guitar. Remember, a quality guitar doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s all about finding the right balance for you.

Features to Look for in Top Electric Guitars

Here are a few things to look for when shopping for guitars in this price range.

Brand Reputation

Brand reputation is crucial when choosing a budget guitar for several reasons:

  1. Quality: Reputable brands are known for their consistent quality. They have established standards and processes to ensure each product meets their quality expectations. This is especially important for budget guitars, as you want to get the best quality for your money.
  2. Durability: Established brands often use better materials and construction techniques, which result in more durable guitars. This means your budget guitar will last longer and withstand more wear and tear.
  3. Sound: Brands with a good reputation typically produce guitars with better sound quality. They have the experience and expertise to design guitars that produce great sound, even at a lower price point.
  4. Resale Value: If you decide to upgrade or sell your guitar in the future, a well-known brand will likely have a higher resale value.
  5. Customer Support: Reputable brands typically offer better customer support, including warranties, repair services, and helpful resources for beginners.
  6. Trust: Buying from a reputable brand gives you peace of mind that you’re getting a product from a company that stands behind its products.

Therefore, choosing a budget guitar from a reputable brand increases the chances of getting a high-quality, durable, good-sounding instrument with good customer support and resale value.

Avoid Gibberish Brands

At all costs, avoid getting a guitar under $300 from a brand you can’t pronounce on Amazon. You know what I mean. Something like Ktaxon or Muscab (these are real brands). These no-name brands all make bottom-of-the-barrel instruments in the same factories overseas. I’m not against buying from companies that manufacture outside the U.S., but make sure it’s a legitimate brand like Epiphone, Ibanez, or Squier.

Online Guitar Reviews

Check reviews of the instruments you’re considering. A low price isn’t the only thing to seek out. Even cheap guitars should have quality pickups for good tonal versatility. If you’re shopping from a popular brand, chances are people have already reviewed that model. They can let you know if the entry level guitar is worth it or not.

Playing Experience

When shopping for a budget guitar, there are certain features you’ll want to pay attention to that can change the sound, playability and comfort. The Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster features a solid maple top and a hardtail bridge. This ensures both tonal clarity and tuning stability.

Similarly, the Squier Bullet Mustang HH is a perfect starter guitar for rock and even heavy metal. It has high output and jumbo frets that make it ideal for this genre.

On the other hand, the Affinity Series Telecaster is loved for its bright, punchy tone. It offers a different sound compared to the Stratocaster and Mustang HH.

Another top contender is the Jackson Dinky. Its standout feature is the compound-radius fingerboard. This provides exceptional playability and makes it a popular choice among guitarists.

All of these models offer great value for money without compromising on quality or performance. So, choose wisely based on your musical preference and playing style.

How to Maintain Your Guitar to Last Longer

Maintaining a guitar involves a few steps to ensure it remains in good condition and produces the best sound quality. Here’s a guide on how to maintain a guitar:

  • Regular Cleaning: Always wipe down your guitar after each use. Sweat and dust can damage the guitar’s finish and reduce its lifespan. Use a dry, soft cloth for the body, and a slightly damp cloth for the strings.
  • Correct Storage: When not in use, store your guitar in a case to protect it from dust and moisture. If possible, avoid extreme temperature changes as they can warp the wood.
  • String Care: Change the strings regularly. The frequency depends on how often you play, but a general rule is every three months. Always tune your strings before you play.
  • Fretboard Maintenance: Clean the fretboard every time you change the strings. You can use special fretboard oil to clean and condition it. This prevents it from drying out and cracking.
  • Regular Checkups: Regularly check the guitar for any cracks, warping, or other damage. If you notice anything unusual, take it to a professional for repair.
  • Humidity Control: Guitars are made of wood, and thus can be affected by humidity levels. Too much humidity can cause the wood to swell and warp, while too little can cause it to dry out and crack. Aim to keep your guitar in a room with a relative humidity level of 45-55%.
  • Truss Rod Adjustment: The truss rod is a metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck and helps to keep it straight. If the neck starts to bow, the truss rod may need to be adjusted. This is a delicate task and is best left to professionals or experienced guitar players.
  • Regular Use: The best way to maintain a guitar is to play it regularly. This keeps the guitar in good working order and helps you to notice any changes or problems.
  • Cleaning Electronics: If your guitar has electronic components, such as pickups or controls, these should be cleaned regularly with a can of compressed air to remove dust and debris.
  • Avoid Damage: Be careful with your guitar. Avoid dropping it or knocking it against hard surfaces. Treat it with care to prevent any unnecessary damage.

Remember, regular maintenance will enhance the performance of your guitar and extend its lifespan. It’s always worth investing a little time in taking care of your instrument.

Comparing the Best Electric and Acoustic Guitar Brands on a Budget

Top brands for budget instruments include Epiphone, Ibanez, Squier, Yamaha, and Harley Benton.

  • Epiphone: Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson Guitars and offers more budget-friendly versions of many Gibson models. The sound and build quality are usually pretty good for the price, but some players may find the quality control to be inconsistent. Notable models include the Les Paul and SG.
  • Ibanez: Ibanez guitars are known for their sleek designs and versatility. They offer an array of budget guitars that are particularly popular among rock and metal players. Their GIO series is well-regarded for providing good value for money.
  • Squier: Squier is a subsidiary of Fender and offers affordable versions of Fender models. Their guitars are generally reliable with a good sound and feel. The Classic Vibe and Contemporary series are particularly praised for their quality at a low price point.
  • Yamaha: Yamaha is known for producing quality instruments across all price ranges. Their budget guitars, specifically the Pacifica series, are often recommended for beginners due to their playability, sound, and durability.
  • Harley Benton: Harley Benton is a brand sold by Thomann, the largest online instrument retailer in Europe. They offer a wide range of budget-friendly guitars. While the quality can be hit or miss, many players feel that they offer excellent value for money, especially for beginners.

Overall, the best brand for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It may be beneficial to try out a few models from each brand to see which one you like the most.

Where to Purchase the Best Budget Guitar Under $300

Guitar Center’s online shop is an excellent place to start. They’ve got a wide variety of brands, such as Yamaha, Epiphone, and Squier, all under $300. Check out the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II, known for its superior sound and comfortable playability.

Another option is Sweetwater. They’re renowned for their quality control and customer service. The Ibanez GRX20Z, available here, is praised for its fast neck and powerful pickups, perfect for rock enthusiasts.

Don’t overlook Amazon. On the site you can find the Yamaha FG800, a superb acoustic guitar with solid Sitka spruce top for a rich, natural sound. Take time to read buyer reviews for additional insight and make a well-informed purchase.

My personal favorite place to shop is zZounds. The company has a good selection and it offers a no-credit-check no-interest payment plan on many instruments (I’ve used it a few times myself).

You’re on your way to owning a quality guitar that won’t drain your wallet.

Best Guitar Under $300: Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! You don’t need to break the bank to own a quality guitar.

With careful consideration and understanding of key features, you can find the best guitar under $300 that suits your needs.

Remember, the brand isn’t everything; it’s how the guitar feels and sounds to you.

Don’t forget to maintain it properly for longevity.

Further Reading