Unlike their acoustic siblings, you need more equipment to get started as a beginner on electric guitar. Beyond the guitar itself, you’ll need a small amplifier and a cord to connect to it. A strap, picks and gig bag are also helpful.
You could buy all these items individually but the point of these packages is to help your beginner get going in one fell swoop without killing your pocketbook. Plus, with summer ticking by fast—though any time is a fine time to get started—the sooner your beginner gets going, the sooner they’re playing.
I picked these three beginner electric guitar packages for several reasons.
1. Only people who have bought and used the packages get to rate them. You get no slick sales talk, the numbers (and comments) speak for themselves.
2. Packages are less expensive than buying a la carte. And I’ve picked packages that will give your beginner a real instrument that will encourage them, not discourage them because it’s poorly made, doesn’t work or physically hurts to play.
3. As with people, electric guitars come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike acoustics, electrics have thinner bodies which make getting your hands into position a bit easier. That said, you should pay attention to the length of the neck. Players with shorter arms or smaller hands may struggle with a full-size instrument; players with longer arms or bigger hands may feel “pinched in” playing on a shorter neck.
I’ll also repeat my pitch for investing in lessons with a reputable teacher that your beginner respects and likes. Learning to play requires coordination of eyes, ears, arms, hands and even legs. A teacher can help a new player adjust to the challenges they face more quickly and keep it fun so they keep on playing. And that’s the point.
Okay, let’s bring on the packages.
This package starts with the Stratocaster, the guitar made famous by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and is still beloved today. It has three pickups, a five-way pickup selector switch and controls over volume and tone. The neck has 21 frets and the dual cutaways give you access to the upper frets. You also get die-cast tuners to help stay in tune.
The Fender Frontman 10G is a nice little solid state amp that converts 10 watts into 8 ohms—plenty of power for a beginner. You can play aloud through a 6 inch Fender speaker (or use the headphone jack for private sessions) with 2-band EQ (so you can change your sound.) There’s even an input for a CD, tape or drum machine so you can play along with your favorite bands or even record. And then there’s the classic Fender look.
You also get a cable, electronic tuner, strap, instructional DVD and gig bag. In other words, you’re good to go.
14 reviewers gave this Squire Affinity Stratocaster package a high rating of 4.9 stars noting it was fun to play, had a good feel and solid electronics with good tone.
Some folks noticed “fret buzz” and that can be a sign that the guitar needs a slight adjustment. Guitars are made of wood and can dry out (shrink) or swell up (expand) in dry or humid conditions. The truss rod allows you to create relief in the neck to stop the buzzing but if you don’t know what this means better leave it to a guitar shop or luthier to help you.
Les Paul invented the electric guitar and played almost literally until he died at 94.
This Guitar style that bears his name is just as famous and beloved as the Stratocaster. Players as diverse as Slash, Jimmy Page, Bob Marley and Les himself have played Les Pauls.
This version is called a Special II with a Mahogany body and neck in a slim “D” profile with a Rosewood fingerboard and 22 frets with the shortest neck of the three guitars reviewed here. It has two humbucker pickups, a 3-way selector switch and volume and tone controls.
The Les Paul has a single cutaway but most players access high frets from below so you’re good there. The tuners are covered with a 14:1 ratio to give you extra control in dialing in the pitch.
The Electar-10 amp delivers 10 watts with overdrive. It also gives 2-band EQ that lets you shape your tone. You also get inputs for headphones so you can play in private, plus a jack to connect to an MP3 or CD so you can play along.
The pack includes a cable, strap, picks, clip-on tuner, free online lessons and a gig bag.
23 reviewers gave the Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack a high rating on 4.7 stars noting it was fun to play and had good feel, tone and pickup. In the link, you can see and hear this guitar being played. Look for the video.
3. Rogue Rocketeer Electric Guitar Pack $149.99
The Rogue brings a lot of bang for the least buck.
It features a double cutaway body made of Paulownia, an ultra thin Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard and 22 frets. The Rogue combines two single coil pickups in the neck and middle with a humbucking pickup in the bridge. The 5-way selector switch and volume and tone controls deliver a great mix of sonic options.
The Rogue 10 amp packs 10 watts of power with volume, gain, treble and bass control, plus a power boost select button. it comes with a single input plus a headphone jack.
Rounding out this Pack are a guitar cord, strap, picks and a gig bag.
53 reviewers gave the Rogue Rocketeer Pack a fine rating of 4.3 stars, saying it had a a good feel, was fun to play and had a good tone.
Some folks noted fret buzz (see my comments above) and a few mentioned craftsmanship issues. You do get what you pay for and 4.3 stars out of 5 for 53 people is pretty darn good.