In most cases, electric guitars are pretty expensive toys. Even if you don’t necessarily need a professional piece of instrument that costs thousands of dollars, most guitarists will say that you need several hundreds of dollars for a decent instrument anyway. It’s hard to say whether this is an absolute truth or not, but the fact is that there are plenty of very affordable guitars that can actually serve you pretty well. That’s why we’ve decided to make a list of best electric guitars under $100.
Why Should You Buy a Guitar under $100?
Most guitar players would probably say that buying such instruments is a complete waste of money. However, most of these guitar players didn’t try too many cheap guitars. On the other side, we did and we think that there is a nice number of instruments that actually sound and work pretty decent.
These instruments can be much more than a decoration on your wall. Of course, you won’t get any spectacular sound quality with these, but most of them are actually quite playable. Besides playability, they look great and could be a good deal, not just for beginners, but for more experienced players as well.
What to Look on Electric Guitars Under $100?
Obviously, you shouldn’t expect too much from a guitar at this price. Still, there are some things you should check when buying such an instrument that can make a huge difference. For example, you should check things like guitar type and construction, wood type, bridge type, pickups, tuners and, most importantly, the neck.
Guitar Type and Construction
Whether you like Strats or LP-type guitars more, you won’t have much of a choice if you want to buy some of the best electric guitars under $100. Things are pretty simple here – bolt-on neck guitars are cheaper and simpler to make, so pretty much all guitars in this price range feature such design. Such a layout is typical for Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. On the other side, Les Paul and similar guitars feature a so-called set-in neck and they usually cost more. They are also much harder to repair. So, if you prefer set-in neck guitars and want to shop cheap, you won’t find any luck. This is the compromise you will have to make.
Obviously, you won’t get mahogany or swamp ash in these cheap guitars, but you don’t have to buy something that’s made from plywood either. So, make sure to check specs and see details about the guitar’s body. A good instrument in this price range usually features a body made from basswood, which is an affordable but good-sounding wood. When it comes to neck and fretboard, maple and rosewood are a pretty common thing even in this price range.
Bridge and Tuners
Even if you find a tremolo bridge essential, our advice is to stay away from it in this price range. Tremolo bridges on guitars in this price range feature poor quality and all you’re going to get from them are headaches. Therefore, stick with fixed bridges. You will get much better sustain and, most importantly, you won’t be bothering that much with tuning. Speaking of tuning, tuner machines are another critical part of these guitars and another reason to avoid tremolo bridges.
If we consider that an average set of quality pickups usually costs more than 100$, it’s obvious that you won’t get any spectacular sound quality from these guitars. You will get some “no-name” pickups, but even they can sound okay with a proper setup. On the other side, a variety of pickup configurations in this price range is surprisingly big, so you will easily find a combination that works best for you.
A guitar neck is probably the most important thing to check when buying a guitar in this price range. Not only that you need a neck shape that feels most comfortable to you, but you also have to check if the neck is straight and if the frets are polished well-enough. These things are critical if you want to avoid all those annoying string buzzes.
What Are Guitars Under $100 Good For?
Obviously, you won’t use such a guitar for live performance, studio recording, or any other professional purpose. On the other side, such a guitar could be a good choice for beginners or those who see guitar playing as a hobby. After all, these guitars look as good as those that cost thousands of dollars, so even if you don’t plan to play them too much, they would be a great thing to hang on a wall.
How About Downsides?
Given the price tag, these guitars have a lot of downsides as well. The overall quality definitely isn’t on a high level and the first thing that comes to mind is sound quality. Pickups on such guitars are usually very bad and you can’t count on any spectacular sound. Also, the quality of the hardware is low, so you can be sure that frets will be worn out pretty quickly, as well as saddles. Furthermore, these are cheap and mass-production guitars, so there isn’t enough time for final touches. Many surfaces will be rough and unfinished. Simply, if you buy a cheap guitar, you will have to learn to live with these things.
Best Electric Guitars under $100:
1. Rise by Sawtooth Electric Guitar Pack
This guitar looks very nice but works even better. It features pretty much all the necessary features we’ve just discussed. First of all, a great benefit is that you get a real piece of a basswood body, while the neck is completely made of maple. Also, you may count on a fixed bridge, decent tuners and a convenient two-pot knob section.
When it comes to the neck design, you may count on a typical bolt-on layout. Most reviewers liked the overall quality of this instrument. The only drawback would be the pickup configuration, as this model comes with just a single humbucker, so you shouldn’t expect spectacular tonal diversity.
This guitar already sounds like a good deal, but things will become even more impressive after you realize that several more things are included in this price. The whole package also includes a small practice amp, strap, cable, picks and more.
- Complete beginner’s package
- Basswood body
- Decent finish and final touch
- Just a single humbucker
2. Peavy Rockmaster Captain America
This is definitely one of the most interesting products on our list of best electric guitars under $100. Obviously, its strongest point is the styling. A classic strat shape comes with cool-looking graphics from the famous Marvel comics, so we can say that this Peavey guitar definitely stands out.
When it comes to base design characteristics, things are less exotic and we are actually talking about a pretty decent piece, which comes with a basswood body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard. This guitar also features a single humbucker, located in the bridge position.
Tuners are good enough to deal with your bendings and a good thing to know is that the bridge is fixed. The neck features some kind of a modern C-shape and it feels pretty comfortable. Frets are brushed pretty well and everything seems to be on its place. Besides the single humbucker pickup configuration, another complaint goes to the fact that the guitar doesn’t come with any accessory.
- Gorgeous finish
- Comfortable and playable neck
- Decent tuners
- Lack of tonal diversity
- No other items included in the price
3. Crescent Tele Style Starter Kit
If you are more a Tele guy, this is a great way to get a Telecaster at a super-affordable price. The guitar combines the legendary body style with a Strat-like headstock and this combination actually looks pretty cool, especially in this nice natural finish. Of course, there is a typical Tele-style bridge, controls and a couple of single coils.
Impressive visual characteristics aren’t the only great thing about this guitar. According to the manufacturer, both body and neck are made from maple, while the fingerboard is made from rosewood. The maple body is a particularly interesting thing here and means two things. First, this guitar sounds very bright. Second, it is solid as a rock.
Several more cool items are included in this package. You may count on typical beginner’s accessories, such as picks, strings, guitar strap, cable and a gigbag. Moreover, you also get a guitar tuner, which will be very useful for beginners.
- A really nice-looking guitar
- Comfortable neck
- Lots of accessories
- Guitar tuner is also included
- Not the best tunning machines
- Maple body might be too much for some
4. ZENY Electric Guitar Pack
Although the price tag goes a little bit over $100, we have to put this product on the list, as it is definitely one of the best values for the price you can find these days. The overall layout is pretty typical. This is a Strat-like guitar, with three single-coils and a tremolo bridge. Also, you may count on a basswood body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard.
Besides the guitar, this bundle includes everything a beginner player needs. You get a small practice amp, another set of strings, a couple of picks, guitar strap, cable and gigbag, as well as a couple of hex keys for the truss rod and bridge settings.
A long list of items isn’t the only reason why this product stands out. This guitar also features a pretty good overall quality, with fit and finish that is on par with some more expensive guitars. All in all, an additional amount of money is definitely worth spending in this case.
- Whole bundle included in the package
- Very good overall quality
- Good ergonomic and neck comfort
- Great value for money
- Typically low hardware quality for this price range
5. Ibanez GRX20ZBKN
For the end of our list of best electric guitars under $100, we’ve decided to add a guitar that is notably more expensive but if your budget isn’t strictly limited to 100 dollars and you can go around 50% over this sum, this is definitely something you should consider. The Ibanez GRX20ZBKN is one of the best guitars for the money.
First of all, the final touches on this guitar are much better compared to all other models on the list. After all, you get one of the most renowned names in the business written on the headstock. Moreover, you may count on a genuine RG look, which is one of the most iconic models in the history of electric guitars.
One of the most important things we should mention is that this guitar features an alder body, which is a notable upgrade compared to other guitars on the list that mostly use basswood. Also, there is a HH combination of Ibanez-designed pickups, as well as super-thin and fast maple neck. Of course, you won’t get a floyd rose in this case, but a classic tremolo does a great job as well.
- Premium name on the headstock
- Genuine RG look
- Very good build quality
- Fast and comfortable neck
- Costs notably more than 100$
- Two more frets would be great
Best Electric Guitars Under $100 – Summary
As you can see, there are some pretty decent pieces of instruments that can be found for about $100. Of course, they are not perfect but if you’re looking for something that would be your first guitar, or you need a cheap axe for recreational bedroom performances, these models can do a pretty decent job. They are comfortable to play, sound relatively decent and definitely look amazing.
So, if you’re looking for a great value for money in this price range, a model like ZENY Electric Guitar Pack definitely deserves to be shortlisted, as it comes as a whole package. If you’re looking just for a guitar, our advice would be to go for something with higher quality. In our opinion, some affordable Ibanez model like GRX20ZBKN is definitely worth extra money.
This would be our list of best electric guitars under $100. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to write in the comment section.