The solid-body electric guitar is almost synonymous with modern popular music. It’s been the main instrument of rock music for more than six decades and continues to be among the most popular instruments.
Thanks to mass production, electric guitars are now affordable and the go-to instruments of those trying to get into the music scene, surpassed perhaps only by the acoustic guitar.
Probably the best way to get started would be to go for a guitar pack or bundle. These often include a combo amplifier, shoulder strap, pick, tuner, spare strings, and other cool accessories and extras.
7 Best Electric Guitar Starter Packs – Start Jamming Today
Here are my favorite beginner electric guitar packages and kits.
Table of Contents
- 7 Best Electric Guitar Starter Packs – Start Jamming Today
- Key Things to Consider
As its name suggests, this Epiphone package is built around the Les Paul Special-II LTD. The guitar is a standard fare Epiphone LP equipped with a classic Les Paul-shaped body and a bolt-on neck, both of okoume wood.
The Les Paul II Special has a 22-fret fingerboard with a short 24-3/4” scale, making it a good choice for beginners with smaller hands. On the other hand, the dual humbucker pickups (Epiphone 700T in the bridge and 650R in the neck) has good sustain for the price range and work well for heavier tones.
The build quality seemed pretty solid to me. The fit and finish appeared to be of a decent quality as well. Even the frets were well finished. My nephew bought it around 2 years ago, and so far the guitar has held up quite well.
The 10W amp is a standard 2-channel, 1-speaker model with only a bass and a treble knob in the equalizer section. While it won’t blow the roof off the house unlike a more powerful Les Paul centric amp, it will provide more than enough decibels for practicing in the bedroom. Also included are a set of three picks, a guitar cable, clip-on tuner, a guitar strap, and a basic gig bag.
The gig bag could've been better, though. The guitar fits very tightly inside the bag, so a slightly longer bag would've been more appropriate.
Another potential downside is the weight. As you probably know already, the Les Paul style of guitars aren't really known for being the lightest guitars around. Even though we've got a budget version, it's still not among the lightest beginner guitars.
The amp isn't that great, either. For an absolute beginner it'll serve its purpose, but it's going to fall short for even intermediate players with its sub-par tonal customization options and tinny distortion.
For this reason, I'd recommend those with a slightly higher budget to just buy the guitar separately along with a better amp that's suitable for a Les Paul. Get something that already has some basic effects like reverb and delay, so that you don't have to shell out extra for pedals.
This Squier Package starts off with the Affinity Stratocaster HSS. The guitar’s got a three-pickup setup with the stock Squier humbucker in the bridge position. The body is made of alder as opposed to basswood (read about the key differences), the wood of choice in the majority of Squier electric guitars.
The maple neck sports the C profile and the laurel fingerboard has 21 medium jumbo frets and dot inlays. I've personal had no issues with the neck and fretboard and found them to be buttery smooth. But there are some complaints online about the quality of finish of the fretboard and overall quality-control.
In the tone section, the aforementioned humbucker and two single-coil pickups in the H-S-S configuration offer a good balance between the chiming Strat neck tone and the treble-rich grit of the Standard-series bridge humbucker. Arguably, humbucker/single/single is the most versatile pickups combo on a stock Stratocaster, allowing the player to fully explore their musical interests.
The guitar's paint quality was good for a budget guitar, as there was no chipping or discoloration after 6 months of regular usage. The guitar that I received (and I assume it's the same with every unit) was made in Indonesia, which sounds better than something that's made in China.
The amp is the 15W Fender Frontman 15G with one speaker and two channels – clean and distortion. The bass, middle, and treble knobs comprise of the shared equalizer section. There are no onboard effects. Sound-wise, this sturdy little amp won’t suffice for a club gig, but it is more than enough for bedroom or garage practice sessions.
The guitar produces great clean sounds and decent overdriven tones as well, but only when using the bridge pickup, as expected. Although there's some humming when you use either of the single-coil pickups on their own, and especially in the clean channel. This isn't surprising since the 'humbucker' pickups got their name from the ability to cancel out this annoying hum itself! Also, these single-coils aren't premium noiseless models either, so it's not shocking.
The package also includes a slightly padded gig bag, shoulder strap, tuner, a set of picks, 10 feet cable, and 3 months of online lessons.
The guitar came in a totally detuned condition, so if you don't already know how to tune a guitar, you should learn it upfront, otherwise as a beginner you won't be able to start playing it as soon as it arrives. You can either use the bundled tuner, or one of many smartphone apps that will let you tune a guitar pretty accurately without using dedicated tuners.
I didn't have any problems with the default action of the guitar (the space between the strings and the fretboard, which was just about right. I tried lowering it further just out of curiosity, but it resulted in fret buzz, so I reverted to the original string height. It was quite playable out of the box, and you won't have to press the strings too hard even when playing 1st-2nd fret chords.
Centered on the super-affordable Pacifica 012 guitar, the Yamaha starter pack is loaded with accessories and extras that a beginner might need to start learning guitar. The guitar is a 22-fret model with a standard 25-1/2” scale and passive electronics. The pickups are laid out in the H-S-S configuration with a volume and a tone knob.
The humbucker pickup in the bridge position is a nice addition, as it allows the player to include hard rock in the repertoire. When it comes to playability, the Pacifica 012 is balanced and comfortable to hold. The neck is in between the ultra-thin Ibanez Wizard and the classic Fender C shapes.
The included amp is a 10W single-speaker unit with drive and clean channels. The channels share the same bass, mid, and treble knobs. There are no onboard effects. The package also includes a set of three picks, polyester guitar strap, a spare set of strings, digital tuner, and instructional DVD.
One thing I have to mention is that I had some difficulties with getting all the strings perfectly in tune when I first got it. The high strings would go out of tune when I tried perfecting the tuning of the lower strings. In the end, it was only 90% there, and I just started playing.
The issue was completely resolved only when I replaced the stock strings with a new set of D'Addario EXL's. When I compared them side by side, the low strings (especially the low E) of the stock set seemed thinner than usual (thinner than .09), so maybe that was what was causing the issue.
The guitar itself has got exceptional build quality for the price, and sounds good enough to be played even on stage. You just need to pair it with a better amp to unlock its full potential.
The highly affordable LyxPro Electric Guitar Complete Beginner Starter Pack starts with a Stratocaster-shaped guitar and a 20W amplifier. The guitar has a solid body with a tummy cut in the back and a bolt-on Canadian maple neck with a 22-fret fingerboard. The frets are nicely finished and the action is good.
The pickups, while not exactly the Fender Vintage Noiseless, are more than capable for a beginner guitar. Like all affordable single-coil pickups, they do have some hum. However, they also deliver a decent tone in combination with the five-position lever switch and classic Stratocaster control knobs.
The pickups are in an S-S-S configuration, though, which limits its versatility and makes it less than ideal for rock and other heavier genres that require the bite of humbuckers.
The 20W AGL-20 amplifier is equipped with a single speaker and two channels. The shared equalizer has bass and treble knobs, while the gain and volume knobs complete the control unit. The AGL-20 is a bit more powerful than your average starter pack amplifier, so be careful with the volume knob.
I personally dislike the appearance of the black tuners on the bright head. They look a bit cheap. Chrome-finished tuners like on Fender / Squier guitars give a much more subtle / sophisticated vibe.
The Sawtooth kit comes with a Telecaster-shaped guitar. It has a sycamore slab body, a bolt-on maple neck, and a 21-fret maple fingerboard.
True to the Telecaster concept, the ST-ET guitar has a slanted single-coil in the bridge position and a Lipstick single-coil in the neck position. However, these pickups give somewhat less twang and have a more neutral tone than what you’d expect from a Tele-style axe. Then again, you get what you pay for. And you can't expect much better from a Tele clone.
The amplifier is a stock Sawtooth unit with one speaker and clean and distortion channels. The channels share the equalizer and the volume knob, while the distortion channel has its own gain knob. There are no onboard effects.
The package also includes a set of picks, gig bag, guitar cord, guitar stand, shoulder strap, clip-on guitar tuner, and online lessons. The ChromaCast gig bag is of high-quality, and exceeded my expectations.
In conclusion, I wouldn't recommend this at all for seasoned guitar players. It's only good for beginners considering the amount of things you get for the price. After some minor adjustments (mainly the action) it sounds decent enough.
Like numerous starter packs, the Donner guitar kit is based on a Stratocaster-inspired guitar (Fender owns the Stratocaster trademark). The basswood body is combined with a bolt-on maple neck, making the DST-1S a lightweight guitar with good sustain. The neck sports a comfortable, modern contour.
The pickup combo is a humbucker in the bridge position and a pair of single-coils in the middle and neck positions. True to its Fender heritage, the DST-1S also has a five-position pickup switch, one volume, and two tone controls.
The bridge is a six-point synchronized tremolo. Sound-wise, the DST-1S can deliver everything from the classic Strat jangle to a hard rock growl, thanks to the H-S-S pickups.
The amplifier is probably the Achilles’ heel of this otherwise well-rounded package. It is a minuscule 3W unit with a single speaker. It does have two channels – dirty and clean, though players who like to crank the volume might find it lacking in power. It feels a bit underwhelming for even bedroom practice.
This one is built around a short-scale Strat guitar, which has a solid and thin poplar body and a bolt-on maple neck with an intermediate contour. However, instead of 21, the Strat has only 20 frets thanks to its 24” scale. That’s ¾” shorter than the standard Gibson scale (24-3/4”) and a whole 1-1/2” shorter than full-sized Stratocasters.
As for the pickups, Fender has opted for a trio of Squier Stratocaster single-coils. They’re combined with a 5-position lever switch and a reduced set of control knobs – only master volume and master tone.
The tone of this little Strat is somewhat akin to what you can get out of a full-sized Squier Bullet Strat with three single coil pickups, but with a bit more treble due to the shorter scale.
It has the typical disadvantages that all S-S-S strats have, which is its limited versatility. You also have to deal with the annoying humming of the budget single-coil pickups.
The amp is the standard Squier Frontman 10G single-speaker unit. It has two channels with a shared equalizer section of a bass and a treble knob, doing away with the mid. The sound quality isn’t recording standard by any stretch, but it’s more than sufficient for practicing riffs and melodies. Distortion isn't the best on this cheap amp, though.
The package also includes a beginner DVD, a free trial to Fender Play, three guitar picks, a shoulder strap, and a guitar tuner. It is primarily intended for players of shorter stature and children.
Key Things to Consider
Of course, the most important piece of every electric guitar starter kit is her majesty the guitar. We’ll briefly discuss below some of the key features to pay attention to when selecting your first guitar.
Most beginner starter kits and packs come with a guitar fashioned after the Telecaster, Stratocaster, or Les Paul. You may also find Explorer, SG, and V-shaped models.
Materials-wise, poplar and basswood are the most popular choices because they’re very affordable and easy to work with. The former is slightly on the bright side and close to alder (Fender’s favorite wood), while the latter is on the warmer side of the spectrum.
That being said, you might also find a wide range of cheap tonewood for the body, such as okoume and agathis, as well as alder.
Most of these guitars come with a maple neck. It is cheap, relatively easy to work with, and by far the sturdiest of all conventional tonewoods.
However, you should pay attention to the shape of the neck. Traditionally, Les Paul, Tele, and Stratocaster all have far chunkier neck profiles than modern guitars. However, some contemporary players actually prefer them over the paper-thin Ibanez and Jackson profiles.
Most commonly, the fingerboard would have 21 or 22 frets. Some budget models like the Jackson JS12 Dinky and some Ibanez GIO series of guitars have 24 frets, though it’s more of an exception to the rule. Short-scale models might only have 20 frets. Rosewood and maple are the most common materials.
Another thing to consider is the scale length, the distance between the string nut and the bridge. There are two standard scale lengths: 25-1/2” and 24-3/4”. PRS is the only major manufacturer that uses 25”.
For beginners, the 24-3/4” scale is better suited for players who have smaller hands and adolescents. The 25-1/2”-scale would be more suitable for adults. Of course, these are general guidelines that may not apply to you. If you are wrestling with a 24-3/4” model, you might want to switch to a 24” or even a 23” scale.
These guitars can have a range of possible pickup configurations. The most common ones are two single-coils, three single-coils, two humbuckers, and a humbucker and two single-coils.
Telecaster clones are routinely equipped with a pair of single-coil pickups, standard-sized at the bridge and smaller at the neck. These single-coil pickups are best for country, reggae, ska, and other types of music with a twangy guitar sound. Pop and pop-rock can sound good on single-coil guitars as well.
The three single-coil set can accommodate a wider range of styles, especially if it’s combined with a 5-position pickup switch. In such a setup, positions 2 and 4 would have two pickups working at the same time, thus somewhat imitating a humbucker sound.
Humbucker/single/single combo is for players who want to play a combination of hard rock and mellower stuff. The bridge pickup can handle aggressive riffs, while the middle and neck singles melodies and solos.
Finally, the two-humbucker combo is best suited for heavier blues, rock, and hard rock. Owing to the fact that the humbuckers on these guitars are not nearly as powerful as those on more expensive guitar, you’ll be fine playing country, pop, and soft rock.
The combo amplifier is the second-most important piece of equipment in an electric guitar starter kit. In the budget range, you will most likely get a one-speaker 10 to 15W amp, which is compact enough, and yet not as powerless as a portable mini amp.
It should have clean and distortion/drive channels that share the same equalizer (two or three knobs). Bass and treble are mandatory, the midrange knob is optional. The clean channels will have independent volume, while the distortion channel will also have the gain/drive knob.
Many of today’s amps come with 3.5mm headphone outs so that you can plug in and listen on your headphones, as well as auxiliary inputs where you can hook up a CD player or another source device for jamming along with your favorite tracks.
You should also pay attention to the accessories that come with the guitar and amp. They might include the following.
- All starter kits should come with a basic shoulder strap. It’s usually polyester and non-padded and nothing to write home about in terms of comfort.
- Of course, you’re going to need a tuner for your guitar. Many of them support alternative tunings and are rather precise.
- You will get at least one pick with your beginner set. 3-5 is the most common number, consisting of picks of different stiffness and thickness to let you experiment and find your style.
- Virtually all beginner sets will include a set of spare strings. Most commonly 9-gauge sets.
- The instrument cable is an essential accessory and therefore all packs come with one. Usually, it is a 6-10’ cable with two straight plugs.
- Gig bag. Basic gig bags are included in all starter packs. Some manufacturers may offer a lightly padded bag in a bid to increase the value of a starter pack.
It is never too early or too late to start playing music and an electric guitar starter pack is as convenient as anything out there. These kits are simple to hook up and there are tons of online resources where you can learn the chords, riffs, and solos of your favorite tunes.
When buying a starter kit for yourself or your child, make sure the guitar and amp are of good quality and they play and sound good. Also, you might want to make sure that the kit contains a gig bag, picks, extra strings, shoulder strap, and guitar cable.