The 10 best new electric guitars of 2021, according to your vote

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There are two competing instincts in electric guitar designs that are forever reflected in our end-of-year polls. 2021 was no different. And no, it’s not the question of single coil versus humbucker, vibrato or hardtail pickups. It is something even more fundamental.

The competing instincts we see divide this year’s new designs into two camps – the modern and the traditional, the pursuit of innovative and performance improvements over the pursuit of authenticity. It’s a compelling phenomenon, but what it means for innovation in the electric guitar is uncertain.

Looking at your Top Ten New Electric Guitars of 2021, just look at the first two places to see a concrete example of this tension. First up, we’ve got a design that harkens back to 1954 but has been quite radically revamped to meet the needs of today’s gamer, with bold features and finishes that belong in that century, not the last.

And yet, in second place, we have the most guitar-dedicated time capsule approach to crafting vintage guitar replicas we’ve seen.

These instruments have been painstakingly aged to give the impression that they were indeed made in the 1950s and are strange lookalikes of his brand’s glorious past. And yet, in their own way, these premium retro editions are as technologically advanced as anything on our shortlist.

Elsewhere, there are superb examples of vintage-inspired instruments that deliver that vibe, feel, and tone, but without the punishing price tags their ancestors might demand.

There are twists on classic recipes. And there are technical innovations that show that electric guitar design will continue to evolve in the coming year. It will probably be the same face of Janus, dividing the difference between vintage and post-80s modernity. But that’s how we like it.

1. Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

The Fender Player Plus Series is a contemporary, forward-looking line that seeks to do for Mexican-made models what the American Ultra does for American models.

Placing pro-grade spec within the budget of the dedicated hobbyist and working professional, the Player Series features low-noise pickups, sculpted neck stubs for better access to upper frets, a flatter 12-inch fingerboard radius and imaginative switching options to deliver a huge range. of tones.

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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Fender Player Plus Stratocaster

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The Stratocaster is a peach. The Strat has always been a versatile instrument, but this expands its tonal palette via a push-pull feature on the tone pot to let you add the neck single-coil pickup to positions one and two on the pickup selector five-way.

And like the other Player Plus models, it arrives with new finishes – Aged Candy Apple Red and 3-Color Sunburst and Olympic Pearl for the traditionalists, with Opal Spark and the red-to-yellow Tequila Sunrise gradient for the iconoclasts. It’s fun, but serious.


2. Gibson Murphy Lab Les Paul Standard

Run by Tom Murphy and operating out of his own secret stronghold with the Gibson Custom Shop, the Murphy Lab is all about recreating Holy Grail guitars that look decades old from the moment you take them out of the case. .

Offered in varying degrees of weathering, from Ultra Light to Ultra Heavy, they’re as close to a vintage Gibson as you can get without the real thing at hand. And for anyone whose ambitions to own a 1959 Les Paul Standard have evaporated in a fiscal reality that demands a six-figure price tag for such an instrument, Murphy Lab Les Pauls are our high hope.

Gibson Murphy Lab Sample

(Image credit: Gibson)

Not only is the weathering process applied to the instrument with realistic dings and marks on the guitar, but the actual nitrocellulose lacquer is weathered before being applied, and like these ancient instruments, each guitar is unique.

No, they’re not cheap, but Gibson has always been an ambitious brand, and for Les Paul super fans, the Murphy Lab model is worth aspiring to.


3. PRS Fiore

The PRS Fiore is a signature guitar from Mark Lettieri, who is exactly the kind of player who might need his electric guitar to cover all the bases. Its HSS format is super versatile. The quality of manufacture is totally at the rendezvous, without fault.

In old money, we’d call it a Superstrat, but it’s the one that fell far from the tree. There’s something unique about its outline, with subtle sculpting making it a classic exercise in contemporary electric guitar ergonomics.

PRS Fiore

(Image credit: PRS Guitars)

The pickups are superbly voiced, with humbucker beef and power sharing some of the character of single coils, and they work well together. PRS offers a suite of switching options in the control circuit. It’s the kind of guitar that will find its way into the homes of many session players.

MusicRadar verdict: An impeccably constructed all-purpose S-style that makes the most of its HSS pickup setup via the most imaginative control circuitry, Mark Lettieri’s signature Fiori sees PRS triumph.

Read more: PRS Fiore Review


4. Fender 75th Anniversary Telecaster

Ah, the Fender Telecaster, the guitar Leo first got, and here we are with a 75th anniversary model that speaks to its enduring appeal. This Tele may have been inspired by the occasion but it doesn’t let the weight of history succumb to its slab-bodied shoulders.

Indeed, it is simply an excellent Telecaster in a commemorative diamond finish, a super classy one-off edition. It’s nice to see this finish picked up on the painted headstock. It’s nice to see a six-saddle bridge too, if only for those whose pedantic intonation worries them.

Fender 75th Anniversary Telecaster

(Image credit: Future/Neil Godwin)

But in the hand, played through a guitar amplifier of your choice, it’s really great fun, with vintage-style American-made single-coil pickups that have a twang that will make your lips curl. It’s a sound rooted in Nashville, but with a bit of overdrive or via a hot amp or fuzz pedal, that high-pitched attitude reaffirms the Tele as a formidable rock ‘n’ roll machine.

Don’t focus too much on the finish. This one is simply Leo’s workhorse, all dressed up in his fancy duds.

MusicRadar verdict: A 75th anniversary Tele that serves to showcase Fender’s unerring ability to keep its most beloved designs relevant and at the forefront of guitar culture, with classic sounds, superb feel and a once in a lifetime plus another finish for the ages.

Read more: Fender 75th Anniversary Telecaster Review


5. Epiphone ES-335

Epiphone’s Inspired By Gibson series has been one of its many triumphs over the past couple of years, but no range bearing that name could be complete without a quality version of the world’s most beloved semi-hollow electric guitar. world.

This ES-335 has all the ambiance and a more than convincing tone. The fit and finish of these Chinese-made Epiphone models is flawless and tidy, and a welcome reminder that the ES-335 can hold its own in any company, covering just about any style.

Epiphone

(Image credit: Epiphone)

Here we have a laminated maple body and mahogany neck, with an Indian laurel fingerboard with dot inlays. The single-fold binding rounds things off nicely. While the Alnico Classic Pro dual humbuckers have a mid output that is dynamic and cleans up nicely when you turn the volume down.

It’s one of the best blues guitars you can buy, but it’s also a great jazz guitar, and there’s enough power in there for classic rock, punk, new-wave… As always, whether it has the Gibson or Nom Epiphone on the headstock, the ES-335 is ready for anything.


6. Charvel DK24 HH HT E

Charvel DK24 HH HT E

(Image credit: Future/Olly Curtis)

MusicRadar verdict: A stripped-down, capable hot-rod that’s as good as it gets in this price range.

Read more: Charvel DK24 HH HT E review


7. Fender Noventa Telecaster

MusicRadar verdict: The Noventa Tele presents a fun and inspiring reimagining of the classic Fender guitar design and just might convert those who think ordinary Tele single coils are too thin for their needs.

Read more: Fender Noventa Series Review

Best Telecasters: Fender Noventa Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

8. Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club

MusicRadar verdict: An entry-level model that doesn’t feel entry-level, this Junior Jet Club is ridiculously fun – super playable with some serious burn-in tones.

Read more: Review of the Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club


9.Cort G300 Pro

MusicRadar verdict: A super-chic operator that’s a cheap date and night out, the G290 Pro is a boutique six-string offensive from a brand that consistently hits all the right notes and is always bubbling. It handles anything you throw at it and has one of the all-time classic pickup combos.

Read more: Cort G300 Pro Review

Cort G300 Pro

(Image credit: Future/Phil Barker)

10. Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern EverTune 6

What do you give to neoclassical electric guitar design that has it all? That’s the enigma, and over the years Jackson has festooned its compact double-cutaway Dinky models with a cornucopia of impressive high-performance features.

Well, in 2021 he outfitted the Dinky with an EverTune bridge, allowing you to shred louder, bigger riffs than ever before, without detuning the guitar. Brilliant.

Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern EverTune 6

(Image credit: Jackson)
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