Best Electric Guitars Under $200 for 2016



Les Paul Special


Vintage Modified '51


Affinity Strat HSS




And the Winner Is...

There are a lot of things to consider when buying your first guitar or a guitar for your kid. You don't want to spend a lot of money but you want to get the best quality. Each guitar has special features that suit it to different styles of music as well. In these reviews I took all of these things into consideration so that you can get the best value from a guitar under $200. Quite honestly, having built my own electric guitars and bought thousands of dollars worth of them this year, I'm very impressed with all of these choices but 2 of them really stick out as clear winners.

* The star ratings are a combination of my feelings about these products and general consensus of people who bought them.

1. Fender Squier Affinity Stratocaster HHS

The Squier Affinity Strat features a HSS (humbucker, single coil, single coil) pickup configuration.  That along with Fender's consistent quality gives this guitar versatility to play any genre of music.  It features a rosewood neck with medium jumbo frets which is comfortable for small to large sized hands. One of my personal favorite features is the large 1960's style headstock. 

Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS Features

  • Alder body with gloss polyurethane finish
  • Maple neck with 9.5 in radius maple fingerboard with 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 Single-Coil Pickups and 1 Humbucking Pickup
  • Synchronous Tremolo Bridge
  • Master volume with 2 tone controls with 5 position pickup selector switch

I am a serious guitarist (rock, country, blues). I bought this, sight unseen and unplayed, axe for a cheap summer camp guitar for my kid (who normally plays a Fender American made standard Tele, not a summer camp guitar). I didn't expect much for $200, just a workable axe that would play in tune and with good action and ok tone.

Top Review

2. Squier Vintage Modified '51, 2-Tone Sunburst

The Squier Vintage Modified '51 Telecaster is an interesting delightful guitar. I love that it includes a humbucker pickup on the bridge. That alone gives this guitar versatility that a normal Tele wouldn't have. Just one look at the Vintage Modified  '51 and you're hooked. It's a beautiful guitar and Fender has done a fantastic job with this entire series. If you have $400 you should buy this and the Squier Affinity Strat.

Squier Vintage Modified '51 Tele Features

  • Tonal versatility of HS pickup configuration
  • Rotary pickup selector and a push/pull coil tap
  • Maple satin finished C-shaped neck, 9; 5 fretboard radius
  • 21 Medium jumbo frets
  • Hybrid Strat body shape, tele headstock and '51 style pickguard make this guitar as individual as your playing

This review takes in to consideration the fact that this is intended to be an entry level guitar. Anything that performs at it's price level or for it's intended purpose in a flawless manner is a 4 start in my opinion. Anything that exceeds those expectations is a 5 star, and this is definitely a 5 star product.

Top Review

3. Epiphone Les Paul Special

The Les Paul has a been a staple in rock music for decades. The Epiphone Les Paul Special does not disappoint for those wanting to get that classic Les Paul sound. Keep in mind this guitar is less than $150! You get a lot of guitar for the price.  This guitar comes with P-90 pickups. Epiphone is the "cheaper" Gibson alternative but that doesn't mean a sacrifice in quality.

Epiphone Les Paul Special Features

  • P90R and P90T Pickups
  • Rosewood Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Gloss Worn Black
  • 22 medium frets

I have to say that this guitar is without a doubt the one of the best I have ever owned. I have 11 guitars and have been playing for over 50 years. I can't believe it was only $150.00. The P-90 pickups have an amazing sound, much better than any single coiled I have ever heard. The finish is great, the neck is dead on straight, good tuners, and very easy to play. I've ordered a second to set as a slide and I am retiring my tele from that duty. I would highly recommend this guitar to anyone. Bravo Epiphone, Bravo Gibson Corp.

Top Review

4. Ibanez GRX70QATBB

Any time I see an Ibanez guitar I instantly think Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Andy Timmons and Paul Gilbert. All shredders. Ibanez is synonymous with guitar shredders that make the guitar scream and play fast. This guitar priced to get into a high speed guitar. It comes with a tremolo but not locking tuners so if you plan on doing a lot of dive bombing with the whammy then you should probably pick a higher priced model. 

Ibanez GRX70QATBB Features

  • Humbucker, Single Coil, Humbucker Pickup Configuration
  • Poplar body with quilted art grain top
  • GRX Maple Neck with Rosewood fingerboard
  • Pearl dot inlays
  • 22 medium frets

My son is 10 and recently began guitar lessons. He loves this guitar. Very easy to handle and stays in tune. His instructor said this is a good quality guitar.

Top Review

Awesome guitar love the colors the sound and feel but note the design on the guitar is transparent it's not like how you see in the pic but in sunlight it looks amazing whammy bar is nice but guitar goes outta tune once the bar is used but it's a great guitar

Top Review

4. Epiphone SG-Special w/ KillPotTM

The Gibson SG was made famous by Angus Young of AC/DC and is a great alternative to the super heavy Gibson Les Paul. This Epiphone version of the SG has had some mix reviews. You either love it or you don't. I love that it includes 2 humbucker pickups. I like the light weight as well. For under $180 you can get a cool look and great sounding guitar.

Epiphone SG-Special Features

  • 2 Humbucker Pickup Configuration
  • Lam Alder/Maple Body
  • Maple Neck with Rosewood fingerboard
  • Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • 22 medium frets
  • Classic SG sound

New Epiphone technical breakthroughs such as the ProBucker pickup, series parallel switching, built-in KillSwitch pots, the Shadow NanoFlex and NanoMag pickup systems, and premier acoustic/electric guitars with the eSonic preamp have brought the historic name to a new generation.

Even with everything stock, it sounds and plays great, and holds its tune well. The bueaty of this guitar is its price. For less than $200, you can have an SG styled guitar that sounds and plays great. Plus, due to the low price and bolt-on neck, it's a great project guitar. Nobody wants to drill on a $2000 authentic Gibson SG Standard, but drilling and soldering with this $170 beauty is no sweat.

Top Review


Did you buy a new electric guitar under $200 that you think should be on the list? Leave a comment below.

About the author

Craig Kelley

Hi, I'm Craig and I write most of the stuff on this website. Feel free to catch up with me on Twitter. You can learn more about me on my site here and listen to my music here.