Best Electric Guitar Under $300 – (2020 Reviews)

Are you having trouble deciding between a cheap electric guitar or pushing the budget a little more? 

You’d be surprised with what $300 can get you.  It may be a notch above entry-level quality, but you’ll be happy to know there are brand name guitars in this price range. 

As a beginner player, spending a little bit more will pay off in the long run with guitar longevity and great sound that encourages you to keep at it.  These guitars give the affordable market its legitimate and permanent reputation. 

Snapshot: Top 8 Electric Guitars Under $300

  1. Squier Affinity Telecaster Review
  2. Epiphone SG Special Review
  3. Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Review
  4. Ibanez RG421 Review
  5. Jackson Dinky JS32 Review
  6. Dean MLX TBZ Review
  7. Leo Jaymz Skull Review
  8. Mitchell MD200 Review

The Best Electric Guitar Under $300

This is an excellent price range for all guitar players whether a beginner electric guitarist or advanced.  Those learning the guitar can depend on the few, upgraded perks and build quality of guitars at this price point.  Skilled players can buy a quality guitar that they can modify without spending too much from the get-go on a basic platform.  Everybody wins. 

But, what kind of upgrades can you find in this budget range that you can’t find with a cheap guitar?  You may find coil tapping, set-in necks, Floyd Rose double locking bridges, upgraded pickups, and better overall build quality. 

There’s no need to resort to off-brand guitars in this price range.  Every one of these guitars come from a brand that has been recognized by the masses, of course, some more popular than others.  While you may see your $200-$300 budget as limited, we see it as a doorway to opportunity.  You can certainly make the most of your money with any one of the models in this lineup.  

These are the guitars that won’t disappoint.  These are the guitars that make a statement.  These are the guitars that are worth their salt. 

1. Squier Affinity Telecaster Review

Squier Affinity Telecaster

Squier ranks in as a highly rated brand, so it’s no wonder an Affinity Telecaster makes the lineup.  With traditional appeal and sound, a Tele will make you proud. 

Body & Neck

As you can see, the Squier guitar has the classic appointments of a Tele with its single cutaway, it’s large chrome top-load bridge, and its single coil pickups. 

It has Fender’s favorite tonewoods starting with an Alder body, Maple neck, and Maple fingerboard with a 9.5” radius.  It has a 25.5” scale length, 21 medium jumbo frets, and a C shape neck that’s comfortable and easy for beginners to play. 

Electronics & Hardware

There are two Vintage-Style Single-Coil Tele pickups onboard with the bridge pickup mounted on a slant on the chrome bridge plate.  The 3-way Top Hat Style switch tip allows you to engage the neck pickup, both the neck and bridge pickups, and just the bridge pickup. 

There’s a synthetic bone nut, a 1-ply pickguard that the neck pickup is mounted on, and standard die-cast tuners.  The bridge has block steel saddles with each saddle fully adjustable for intonation, and you can also adjust the height of the strings from the fingerboard. 

Sound

With a slanted bridge single coil pickup on the base plate, you’ll have those trebles and twang that are bright and crispy and will sound especially Tele-like with super clean tones. 

For the price, buyers are impressed by the incredible sound and there is no need for switching out the pickups. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: Vintage-Style Single-Coil Tele
  • Bridge: Top-Load String-Thru-Body w/Block Steel Saddles

Great tonewoods. Tele sound. Vintage style.

Final Thoughts on the Squier Affinity Telecaster

The Telecaster is hard to beat for the price.  It doesn’t get too crazy with modern features, so you can still achieve that classic Tele sound.  With the pickups being great as they are, there’s no need to swap ‘em out later.  Save bucks, maximize sound, and play! 

2. Epiphone SG Special Review

Epiphone SG Special

The Epiphone SG Special is a favorite and timeless guitar.  At a budget-friendly price point, this ax has some killer features you must be made aware of. 

Body & Neck

The SG has an SG body shape, duh, with beveled edges and double cutaways.  Its iconic look alone will earn you brownie points from anyone who knows their stuff and has good taste. 

The body is made from Mahogany that is a good pairing with humbuckers.  The neck is made from Okoume and the fingerboard from Rosewood, although, it’s not been stated specifically, so they may use an alternative depending on alternative Rosewood availability. 

It has a 24.75” scale length, a 12” fingerboard radius that is a great balance between shredding and grabbing chords, and a SlimTaper D neck shape for quick and easy work of the neck.  The SG Special is available in either Cherry or Ebony finishes. 

Electronics & Hardware

Here’s where it gets good.  You have a KillPot switch on this guitar.  For under 300 dollars, you have can hit that KillPot for a crazy stu-stu-stutter effect that kills the pickups.  Just check out BucketHead if you have no idea what this is. 

You have Epiphone humbuckers with a 650R at the neck and a 700T at the bridge.  You have a TOM (Tune-O-Matic) bridge with a stopbar tailpiece, nickel hardware, a 3+3 angled headstock, and nickel tuners.  If you know anything about Gibson, you’ll recognize some classic touches on this guitar. 

Sound

The SG is a versatile platform that can really impress you through a great amp.  The pickups are hot, and you can get some nice, crunchy sound when hitting that overdrive.  As a classic rock guitar, you can pull some character from the pickups while you shred that neck.  Fat lows, warmth, and even a good mid presence allows for a lot of tonal variety. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Okoume
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Epiphone Humbuckers 600R/700T
  • Bridge: TOM w/stopbar

SG look. Rock sound. Right price.

Final Thoughts on the Epiphone SG Special

The SG Special is a great buy.  It’s tonally versatile, has traditional SG appointments, and it’s an affordable classic for the working man’s budget.  As a favorite for many, it might just be your next buy. 

3. Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club Review

Grestch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club

If you’re looking for the ultimate Les Paul style rock guitar without spending Les Paul prices, this Gretsch is it, and you’ll be able to get “That Great Gretsch Sound” while you’re at it. 

Body & Neck

As eluded to, this guitar has a single cutaway with what Gretsch calls the Jet body shape.  It has a 24.6” scale length, a chambered basswood body, and a laminate arched maple top.  This combo makes for exceptional resonance that resonates in Gretsch glory.  Both the body and neck have binding – excellent for this price point. 

It’s a slim guitar with a 1.875” body depth.  There are 22 medium jumbo frets on the Rosewood fretboard on a Maple neck.  The fingerboard radius is a nice 12” that will do you well for chord progressions for blues or for rock shredding. 

Electronics & Hardware

Gretsch puts their own Dual Coil Humbuckers on board that can be shaped with Master Tone and Master Volume controls with their G-arrow knobs.  To engage individual humbuckers or both, a 3-way pickup switch is conveniently located on the upper bout. 

The offset Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays take a back seat to the stand-out, pearloid Gretsch logo pickguard.  An Adjusto-Matic bridge with a stopbar tailpiece keeps things simple since it does away with the Bigsby. 

Sound

While many affordable guitar pickups can sound tinny, the Gretsch humbuckers are the opposite.  They’re rich sounding, deep, and provide fat tone.  The pickups are responsive, hot, and versatile.  You may be surprised how good they sound when you get it, and when you do, we’ll be here to say, “told ya so.” 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood/Laminate Maple
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Grestch Dual Coil Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Adjusto-Matic w/Stopbar Tailpiece

Gretsch look. Gretsch feel. Great Gretsch Sound.

Final Thoughts on the Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club

The G5425 has vintage appeal, and its classic appointments have been done at the absolute lowest possible without compromising on quality.  As one of the most affordable guitars in the market, it ranks in as one of the best in quality and sound.  After all, it’s a Gretsch – great for rock, blues, jazz, and more! 

4. Ibanez RG421 Review

Ibanez RG421

If you can’t tell by its Super Strat body and wicked pointy parts, this guitar is a metal shredder.  If you’re familiar with the Ibanez brand, you may have guessed this already.  For under 300 bucks, does Ibanez get it done right? 

Body & Neck

Keeping costs to a minimum, Ibanez strays from the usual tonewoods of Mahogany and Maple and opts for a Meranti body and a Jatoba fretboard.  However, we still see a Maple neck here which is a great wood for the Wizard III neck shape that’s super thin and fast. 

String spacing is standard with 10.5 mm and so is the width at the nut at 43 mm.  It has a 25.5” scale length, and it has almost a flat 16” fingerboard radius that’s excellent for shredding and making speedy runs. 

Electronics & Hardware

I’m a big fan of black and variations of black hardware, and it’s nice to see the Cosmo Black finish on everything from the bridge to the tuners.  The bridge is a regular fixed bridge, so no whammy kicks here which eliminates the tuning issues from bar use.  The tuners stay in tune for different tunings, and if you’re bending strings, you’ll appreciate the low maintenance. 

Quantum humbuckers with ceramic magnets and a 5-way pickup selector blade allows multiple tonal opportunities including a parallel connected humbucker at the neck in the 2nd position and a single coil from both humbuckers at the 4th position. 

Sound

Quantum humbuckers used to be mounted on the brand’s high-end, Japanese-made guitars.  Nowadays, not so much.  They’re hot and very responsive, so if you riff and lead, these pickups won’t disappoint.  In the 2nd and 4th position, the pickups are glassy and you can manage some jazzy and bluesy tones in there.  In the 1st, 3rd, and 5th positions, you have traditional tones that play clean, full, and rich.  Playing in high gain, the bridge pickup provides tons of bite and crunch but not without note definition so you can strut your stuff. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Meranti
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Jatoba
  • Pickups: Ibanez Quantum Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Fixed bridge

Shredding guitar. Tonal variety. Great price!

Final Thoughts on the Ibanez RG421

The RG421 has everything you need to master some shredding and rockin’ skills.  While the bridge and tonewoods may be so-so, it still has a lot to offer the aspiring shredder.  It’s not just a good guitar for the price, it’s a good guitar full stop. 

5. Jackson Dinky JS32 Review

Jackson JS32

The JS32 is one of Jackson’s new releases to the affordable market, and it’s sexy as hell.  But, you may have come across the Jackson JS22-7 featured as one of the best budget 7-string guitars – ever.  Why is the JS32 worth the extra hundred bucks?  Let’s answer that for you right now. 

Body & Neck

Both guitars are part of the Dinky Series and so they have the Dinky body shape which is that of a Super Strat with super long horns and an arch top.  The first difference lies in the headstock shape with the JS32 having a very sharp and exaggerated 6-inline slant – sexy point 1. 

They’re made from the same tonewoods with a Poplar body, Maple neck, and Amaranth fretboard.  The bolt-on neck is also made with graphite reinforcement with a scarf joint.  The JS32 has a 25.5” scale length, 24 jumbo frets, and a compound fingerboard radius of 12-16” – a shredder’s dream neck with a satin finish for slick movement.  Speaking of the neck, it has classy white binding and Pearloid Sharkfin inlays versus the Piranha Tooth inlays on the JS22 – sexy point 2.

Electronics & Hardware

The JS32 is outfitted with Jackson’s High-Output Humbuckers with a 3-way switch blade.  Another difference from the JS22 is its Floyd Rose Jackson Licensed Double Locking Tremolo bridge, so obviously there’s a locking nut to help with tuning stability.  The JS22 lacks a tremolo bridge, so you can get your whammy bar on with the JS32 – sexy point 3. As is seen, both models feature black hardware with dome style knobs for the Master Tone and Master Volume controls. 

Sound

The pickups are exactly as named, “high output.”  They’re hot and powerful, but they ring out clear, clean, and full.  If you have a trained ear, you’ll notice there’s a stronger mid presence.  Even so, the pickups are pretty balanced, so you’ll be able to move between the neck and bridge ones without too much differentiation, if that’s what you like. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Poplar
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Amaranth
  • Pickups: Jackson High-Output Humbucking
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose Jackson Licensed Double Locking Tremolo

Sexy Appeal. Powerful sound. Jackson Quality.

Final Thoughts on the Jackson Dinky JS32

The JS32 has a lot going for it for the extra hundred bucks.  You have a tremolo double locking bridge, neck binding, and a 6-inline headstock that sets it apart from the JS22.  But, put the total package together with a shredder’s neck, compound fingerboard radius, and hot humbuckers, and you have a guitar that’s ready for the stage. 

6. Dean MLX TBZ Review

Dean MLX TBZ

This guitar certainly has the look that belongs to the ML Series of Dean Guitars.  But, even though it’s hella rockish in design, there are advantages to its pointy angles than just its wicked look.  

Body & Neck

Far from a conventional Les Paul, Strat, or Tele design, this guitar takes its body mass and spreads it out over a large area.  It’s called the ML Body Shape.  You can also see the headstock also caters for extra-long string length with sharp angled tuning posts that’s supposed to improve resonance.  Interestingly, it also pairs extremely well with the V-shaped string-thru-body plate past the bridge. 

Everything else is as expected: 24.75” scale length, 14” fingerboard radius, and 22 jumbo frets.  The flat top guitar is made from Basswood with single ply white binding, the C shape neck from Maple, and the fretboard from Granadillo – more on this tonewood soon. . .

Electronics & Hardware

DMT Design humbuckers with a 3-way pickup switch allow you to shape that hot sound you’ll need to pull of rock tones all day long.  Onboard, it has two volume controls and a single tone control.  There’s a TOM bridge, Grover tuners, and a polymer nut with standard width of 43 mm.  The 14:1 ratio tuners keep tune very well, but then again, there’s no use of whammy to consistently pull it out.  With the nut being plastic, you may want to upgrade this at some future point.  

Sound

With all the angled guitar design points, TOM bridge with string-thru body design, and a denser fretboard tonewood, you can bet this guitar has incredible sustain.  It’s going to provide full sound with strong mids and lows.  Played clean, it’s as expected, but played dirty, it screams with powerful bite. 

As a note on the fretboard material, Granadillo is a harder and denser tonewood than Rosewood, so it’s going to have a chimier and bell-like sparkle to it that also enhances sustain and rings out in clear articulation. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Granadillo
  • Pickups: DMT Design
  • Bridge: TOM

Wicked appeal. Screaming sound. Sharp design.

Final Thoughts on the Dean MLX TBZ

The Trans Brazilia finish on the Dean MLX is an attention-getter.  The wicked shape is eye-catching.  The sound is ear-grabbing.  Dean delivers again and proves they can provide a unique and affordable instrument at every price point.  To make a statement with your music, you need a guitar that looks the part. 

7. Leo Jaymz Skull Review

Leo Jaymz Skull Electric Guitar

Leo Jaymz has made a name for themselves with their showy guitar body stickers.  Extremely popular is the Skull Sticker model with its provocative Confederate Southern flag design with a skull on it.  But, other than its flashy print, does it have the foundational features that makes a guitar sound good? 

Body & Neck

Looking past the flag and skull print, the guitar has a single cutaway with an extremely curvaceous lower bout.  Made from basswood with a hard maple neck and rosewood fretboard, it has tonewoods covered.  There is some confusion that it’s made with a mahogany body, but it seems they only make up 10% of this production line – the rest is basswood.  The body is bound with an ABS 5-ply binding, and the neck is set-in – very nice feature for this price point. 

You have block inlays with 22 frets, a C shape neck, and to confirm its Les Paul lookalike features, it has a 24.75” scale length and a 3+3 headstock. 

Electronics & Hardware

The Leo Jaymz guitar has dual humbuckers with a 3-way switch blade, 2x tone controls, and 2x volume controls.  There is a hardtail bridge with a stopbar tailpiece and Grover tuners that are entry-level for the revered brand. 

Most of the hardware can be upgraded as this guitar is usually bought by intermediates for the graphic display and is then modified to suit player preference. 

Sound

For the price, buyers are happy with the sound.  The humbuckers are decently powerful with warm and thicker than expected tone.  However, with pickup upgrades, you can change sound and increase output to turn this guitar into a screamer. 

As is, it’s often compared to an entry-level Epiphone in sound.  Not bad and better than expected. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Hard Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Dual Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Hardtail w/Stopbar Tailpiece

Great price. Great finish. Great potential.

Final Thoughts on the Leo Jaymz Skull

You may be worried that there’s nothing more to guitar under its flag finish, but Leo Jaymz has the basics covered with an upgrade seen in the neck construction.  If you’re an intermediate player, you’ll jump at the chance to turn this into your very own creation, and if you’re a beginner, you can stand proud to look good and sound good with this affordable guitar. 

8. Mitchell MD200 Review

Mitchell MD200

This White guitar is part of Mitchell’s affordable MD200 series, and it has quite a lot to brag about than its price tag would suggest. 

Body & Neck

You have a double cutaway body with beveled horns to access every one of those 24 tall/narrow medium jumbo frets.  It’s a flat top modern rock style body shape, it has a 3+3 headstock, and a 25.5” scale length. 

It’s made from basswood, has a Rock Maple bolt-on neck, and an Indian Rosewood fretboard.  The fretboard radius is 13.75”, so it’ll be good for many different playing styles you may want to try out.  We give the offset dot inlays two thumbs up for being different. 

Electronics & Hardware

Here’s where things stray from the conventional.  You have a rail-style humbucker at the bridge, and yes, that’s a mini rail-style humbucker at the neck.  Replacing six, individual pole pieces is a rail that always keeps the strings within the magnetic field required to eliminate tonal dropout when you go to bend those strings, and you won’t ever have to worry about string spacing.  However, you won’t be able to adjust each string for response and volume as you must do this as an entire 6-string unit.  The pickups are also parrafin waxed to reduce microphonic feedback. 

Each pickup has their own volume control and a shared Master Tone control with coil splitting.  There’s no room for whammy bars here as it features a TOM bridge with a string-thru-body design.  Standard 14:1 die-cast tuners provide decent tuning, and black nickel hardware provides conformity to the overall aesthetic. 

Sound

With coil tapping and rail-style humbuckers, you can bet there’s going to be more than enough sustain and overall tone.  Even though the mini rail humbucker is small, you shouldn’t underestimate its power and volume.  The sound is chunky, thick, warm, and bright.  There’s a lot of room to shape the tone to your liking, and you’ll never lose volume or tonal consistency when bending strings. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Rock Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian Rosewood
  • Pickups: Mini Rail Humbucker/Rail Humbucker
  • Bridge: TOM w/Stopbar Tailpiece

Excellent features. Excellent price. Excellent guitar.

Final Thoughts on the Mitchell MD200

If you want to stand apart from the crowd, going Mitchell style will get you there.  With coil tap and rail humbuckers for under 300 bucks, this guitar is a must-have.  You’ll be impressed with its sound, fall in love with its very accessible and rock’n body, and you’ll bend and shred with tonal consistency every single time.

The Best Entry-Level Guitars

These guitars definitely give the affordable market a favorable and valid reputation.  Too often, guitar snobs will disregard anything in this price range, but guitar production standards have come a long way over the last decade.  Build quality is better than ever, pickups are constantly being redesigned and improved, and hardware upgrades are made to meet the demands of modern players. 

Stretching the budget a little gives you a whole lot more to put into overall quality and a couple extra features.  It may still be entry-level, but it’s the best of the entry-level market. 

Further Reading:
About Evie | Owner & Editor of MagicInstruments.com

For me, music really is a form of magic. It has the ability to transport you to another time and place with just a few soft notes, drifting on the wind. It can invoke joy, excitement, sadness and even fear. Music can strengthen communities and bridge cultural differences. Our lives are truly enriched by the music entwined within them and I look forward to helping make your musical journey a magical one.