Just like the Strat, the Tele is also available in a variety of Squier models for beginners, including Bullet, Affinity, and Thinline. The latter is what is called a “semi-hollow” guitar, meaning its body has a chamber that allows air to resonate acoustically, providing a more naturally rounded sound that is popular with jazz players and blues, and a visually distinctive F-hole on the surface of the guitar. (Fully hollow-body guitars, which historically predate solid-body models like the Tele, sound even richer acoustically, but can cause unwanted feedback when amplified at high volumes.)
Generally speaking, artist signature guitar models are expensive. Mascis’ signature Jazzmaster is more expensive than the more affordable Squier models, but the fact that it’s a Squier and can be had for much less than a grand is remarkable. Fender previously made a high-end Mascis signature model, but the guitarist eventually switched to his beginner brand to make the instrument more accessible. “I wanted it to be cheaper,” he says.
Mascis uses them himself on tour, and they’re modeled after the Jazzmasters he’s been playing since the early days of Dinosaur Jr., with modifications to the bridge, frets, and standard pickups. So if you’re looking to emulate his frayed melody and high-intensity solos, they’re worth checking out.
Another iconic electric guitar is the Gibson Les Paul, designed for the country-jazz virtuoso and electric guitar pioneer of the same name. Jimmy Page frequently played Les Pauls in Led Zeppelin, as did Slash in Guns N’ Roses, June Millington in Fanny and Bob Marley on stage with the Wailers. These days you’ll often see them in the hands of harder rock players, in part because of their dual humbucking pickups. The humbuckers, which have two magnetic coils, were originally designed to limit the amp noise that standard single-coil pickups can produce – hence their name – but they have the advantage of a thicker and heavier guitar, ideal for crisp distortion.
Basically, Epiphone is to Gibson what Squier is to Fender, producing more affordable versions of flagship models. But Epiphones tend to be a bit more expensive than Squiers. If you’re interested in the Les Paul look but not the price, you might consider the Les Paul Junior, a stripped-down model that was originally marketed for beginners but has become a favorite of many professional guitarists, especially in the punk world, including Mick Jones of The Clash, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements. It has a single P90 pickup, which produces an idiosyncratically warm yet cutting sound.
Les Pauls are heavy guitars, both in terms of the sounds they produce and the weight on your back when you play them. If you want an equally substantial sound in a lighter package, consider an SG, another classic Gibson/Epiphone model whose devilish beauty and dual-humbucking power made it a favorite of AC/DC’s Angus Young. , Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Nancy Wilson of Heart. , and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Like the Les Paul, the Epiphone SG is also available in a more affordable P90-equipped model.
For the most part, Ibanez guitars are designed specifically with the punishing tones of metal and high-speed fretwork in mind. Their popular RG Series is like a Stratocaster’s meaner cousin, reinforcing the classic design with a harder body shape, high-output humbuckers, a thin neck for easier shredding, and a full two-octave fingerboard. (Fender Strats and many other classical guitar models offer a slightly smaller note-per-string range.) Ibanez offers several budget-conscious RG options given the GRG designation, including the GRG131DX and the 7-string GRG7221M .
Another twist on the basic Stratocaster look, the Yamaha Pacifica consistently tops polls for the best guitars for beginners. If you don’t mind a slightly less rock’n’roll brand, you might find you like it even better than a Squier Strat. Along with Yamaha’s ever-reliable build quality, it also offers a twist on the traditional Strat pickup setup, with a humbucker in the bridge position, offering an even wider variety of tones.