I used to provide multiple suggestions for guitar-related gear.
I’d write articles like: “Here are the 5 Best Electric Guitars”.
I’m not doing that any more.
If you’re not sure which guitar to buy, go to a music store and try a bunch of different ones out.
But if you just want to get an electric guitar that’s easy to play: buy a Yamaha Pacifica.
Best Guitar for under 500 Dollars
The Yamaha Pacifica is the best guitar for under $500.
It’s also the easiest guitar to play.
When you’re first learning how to play the guitar, one of the hardest things is dealing with guitar finger pain.
It’s a big issue… and one that most people don’t think about before buying a guitar (which is probably why the article on finger pain is still one of the most popular on this site).
One of the ways to help address finger pain, is to address the action on the neck of your guitar.
The action is basically the distance from the strings to the fretboard.
In other words: how much you have to press down on the strings.
Cheap guitars often have very high action.
This just means your fingers have more work to do.
If you’re an experienced guitar player… no problem.
If you’re a beginner guitar player… you’re entering a world of finger pain.
The overall consensus is that that the Yamaha Pacifica has a nice low action.
Better yet: they consistently come from the factory shipped this way.
This means you probably won’t have to take it to a guitar store to get it set up.
Another reason that I think the Pacific is easy to play: it has a thin neck.
Some people like this, others don’t.
I think a thin neck makes it easier to learn to play (especially for beginners).
Having a thin neck means that that you have more room to maneuver your fingers. This means that a lot of those stretches that can be tough on thicker necks are more easily accomplished.
In other words: Chords will be easier to play. That should be the biggest selling point of all.
I used to recommend Fender Stratocasters for easy-to-play beginner guitars.
While I love my Strat, it’s a little more expensive and less versatile (I can’t believe I’m saying that).
The Pacifica comes with a humbucker pickup installed in the bridge, and two additional single coil pickups.
Basically, this means that you have a wide range of sounds to choose from. Better yet, when you have a wide range of sounds – you can play a wide range of styles.
Versatility is key when you’re just getting started.
You can learn several different styles as a beginner.
As you advance, you become more knowledgable about what types of music you like, and what types of guitars are used to play your favorite music.
At that point, you can progress into more specific guitar styles.
Guitar Teacher Approved
Take what you want from online reviews…. I like that I’m not alone in recommending this guitar 🙂
The Cheaper Option
For a cheaper (but still pretty good option), buy a Fender Squier.
They’re cheap and still pretty good.
Be careful though: The action is probably super high and the electronics aren’t the best.
You can replace the electronics in the future.
You can get the guitar set up at a local guitar shop.
Also, you could probably score a used Squier for $50 on Craigslist if you’re patient.
(Side note: if you’re interested in buying a used guitar, check out this guide)
But honestly, if you’re going to pay $70 to get your guitar set up (plus the cost of replacement pickups), I’d probably just get a Pacifica instead.
Good luck! Let me know in the comments below if you agree/disagree!
(Jake Posko does in-home and online guitar lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org).