Rock music has always been synonymous with rebellious energy and raw power. At the heart of this genre lies the versatile and indispensable instrument: the electric guitar. From thunderous riffs to intricate solos, a great rock guitar can elevate your sound and help you express your musical vision. However, picking the right guitar for rock can be a daunting task with so many options available.

Electric guitars come in various shapes, styles, and configurations, offering unique tonal characteristics, playability, and aesthetics. Solid body guitars with humbucker pickups are popular among rock musicians, due to their ability to handle high levels of distortion and sustain. Semi-hollow and hollow body guitars, featuring single-coil or P-90 pickups, can also be suitable for rock genres, providing a distinctive, warm tone with smooth overtones.

When choosing the best guitar for rock, it’s crucial to consider factors such as tonewood, pickup configuration, scale length, and hardware quality. Each guitar has its signature sound, and your playing style will also affect the resulting tone. It’s essential to find a guitar with a comfortable neck profile, reliable tuning stability, and a bridge that accommodates your preferred playing and string changing techniques.

After extensive research and hands-on testing, we have identified the top electric guitars perfect for a wide variety of rock styles. In the following sections, you’ll discover our top picks designed to empower you to rock on with confidence and unleash your full potential.

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5 Best Guitars for Rock: Top Picks & Buying Guide

If you’re looking to shred some epic riffs or unleash your inner rockstar, explore our curated list of the best guitars designed for rock music.

Fender Player Stratocaster
4.5

Brian's Take: How can you possibly go wrong with one of the most iconic guitars ever made? The Fender Strat is great for almost any style - it can sound gentle and beautiful or gritty and ferocious. It does everything, has been played by everyone, and in my opinion, has to be part of your collection at some point in your guitar playing career! 

Pros
  • Classic Stratocaster sound
  • High-quality build and materials
  • Versatile for various music styles
Cons
  • Slightly expensive compared to other models
  • Potential cable connection issues
  • May need initial setup adjustments

The Fender Player Stratocaster SSS Electric Guitar is where the authentic Fender sound meets versatility. This guitar, with its polar white maple fingerboard and unmistakable Stratocaster sound, is ready to serve your musical vision. Its ability to handle a wide range of music styles makes it the ideal platform for creating your own sound.

As I picked up this guitar the first time, I immediately felt the craftsmanship behind it. The maple wood fretboard and alder body material contribute to its robust low end, punchy mids, and bell-like high end. Combined with the crystal-clear articulation, the sound produced is perfect for rock music, as well as other genres.

While the guitar is an excellent choice for rock enthusiasts, it does come at a higher price point compared to some other models. However, the quality and versatility it offers can justify the investment. One potential issue I encountered was the cable connection, as it seemed to fit a bit loosely. This could potentially be resolved through careful handling or by using a different cable.

In conclusion, the Fender Player Stratocaster SSS Electric Guitar is an excellent option for those looking to invest in a high-quality guitar with a versatile sound. Keep in mind that you might need to make some initial adjustments to the setup to suit your preferences, but once it’s dialed in, you’ll be rocking out with an iconic Fender sound.


Epiphone Les Paul Classic
4.6

Brian's Take: The Epiphone Les Paul Classic is an affordable, quality option for fans of this popular electric guitar. Rumor has it the body design was inspired by the shape of a woman, and it looks every bit as beautiful. Giants like Slash and Joe Bonamassa reach for Les Pauls when it's their time to shine, and this legendary guitar makes for a great choice for players of any level. Pair it with a Marshall amp and get ready to rock.

Pros
  • Great sound with open-coil Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers
  • Coil-splitting and phase switching features
  • Attractive Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish
Cons
  • Does not come with Grover Rotomatic machine heads as advertised
  • Quality control issues such as neck cracks out of the box
  • Nut may not be properly glued in

With its impressive combination of classic Les Paul style and powerful sound, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic is a superb electric guitar for rock enthusiasts. The open-coil “zebra” Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers provide a powerful, versatile tone that’s perfect for various rock genres, while the coil-splitting and phase switching capabilities offer an extra layer of customization for your playing experience.

However, the guitar has some drawbacks – mostly related to quality control. Several users reported their guitars having neck cracks and improperly glued nuts right out of the box. Additionally, the product description advertises Grover Rotomatic machine heads, but the instrument comes with Wilkinson tuners instead.

Nevertheless, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic (Heritage Cherry Sunburst) remains an outstanding product for its price range. The beautiful Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish gives the guitar a distinct look, making it a stunning addition to any musician’s collection. If you’re willing to address the minor quality control issues, this guitar is a fantastic option for those seeking a versatile, affordable instrument tailored for rock music.


PRS SE Santana
4.5

Brian's Take: After owning two, I've really come to love PRS guitars. I find them to be a very consistent instrument; they hold tune incredibly well, play comfortably, and feel very balanced. The PRS SE Santana is no exception. The best part is that you're getting a lot for what I would consider the intermediate price point. In my opinion, PRS guitars in this price range deliver professional quality, sound, and feel. 

Pros
  • High build quality and attractive design
  • Excellent sound and playability
  • Rich history with Carlos Santana collaboration
Cons
  • Price point may be high for beginners
  • Heavier build might be uncomfortable for some
  • Limited color options

The PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Santana Electric Guitar is a beautifully crafted instrument with a storied history, thanks to the longstanding creative partnership between Carlos Santana and PRS Guitars. The Santana Retro model pays homage to the early “Pre-Factory” guitars, offering a deeper body carve, original style heel, and original headstock shape with nut placement.

When you pick up this electric guitar, you’ll immediately notice its solid and smooth feeling, with a unique neck shape that caters to comfortable playability. The mahogany body and neck, combined with a carved figured maple top and rosewood fretboard, create a well-balanced and resonant tone that is perfect for rock music.

Equipped with PRS patented tremolo bridge, the SE Santana allows you to experiment with various styles and techniques. The 58/15 treble and Santana bass pickups provide a versatile tonal range, which makes playing your favorite rock riffs or leads an enjoyable experience. The guitar’s right-hand orientation and medium string gauge make it accessible for a wide range of players.

Despite its higher price point, the positive attributes of the PRS SE Santana Electric Guitar make it a worthwhile investment for rock music enthusiasts who want a professional-quality instrument. Although the heavier build might not suit everyone and the limited color options may restrict personalization, this guitar still provides outstanding sound quality, playability, and visual appeal. It’s evident when playing this instrument that you’re holding a piece of history created through the collaborative journey shared between Paul Reed Smith and guitar legend Carlos Santana.


Schecter Omen-6
4.5

Brian's Take: My friend owned an Omen-6 that I "borrowed" for years (played gleefully and never reminded him to take it back). My experience with this guitar is that it is one solid piece of wood that feels and sounds powerful and is very well-suited to rock. It feels smooth and balanced, and is quite durable for those of you who are thinking about taking it on the road.

Pros
  • Great sound quality with Schecter Diamond Plus Pickups
  • Comfortable playability with fitted contoured heel
  • Durable and visually appealing design
Cons
  • May require some adjustments out of the box
  • Heavier than some other electric guitars
  • Glossy finish may not be for everyone

The Schecter OMEN-6 is an impressive addition to any rock guitarist’s lineup, boasting a solid build and fantastic sound. The mahogany body, combined with the quilted maple top on the Omen Extreme, lends itself to a rich and full tone, perfect for delivering that powerful rock sound. The Schecter Diamond Plus pickups provide versatility, allowing for both clean and distorted tones to shine through during your performances or practice sessions.

Playing the Schecter OMEN-6, you’ll immediately notice the comfortable fit, thanks to its contoured heel design. This makes it easier to reach the higher frets and enables smoother playing overall. The satin finish on the body adds a touch of elegance to the guitar’s appearance, although it may not suit everyone’s preferences.

Despite its numerous strengths, the Schecter OMEN-6 does come with a few drawbacks. Out of the box, some adjustments may be required to suit individual preferences, such as action height, intonation, and any potential fret buzz. Additionally, the guitar is on the heavier side, which may cause discomfort during lengthy playing sessions for some people.

In conclusion, the Schecter OMEN-6 is a worthwhile investment, offering exceptional sound, comfortable playability, and a sleek design for rock enthusiasts. With some initial adjustments, the guitar can cater to individual preferences, making it adaptable to various playing styles.


Fender Player Telecaster
4.7

Brian's Take: The Fender Player Telecaster is very reasonably priced and after owning a few telecasters, I can faithfully say they are the best sounding guitars I have played. I think it's because the body is as thick as a Church door and Fender has been making them forever. The tone, sustain, and response of these guitars just can't be beat. Bruce Springsteen, Brad Paisley, and Tom Morello all play teles, which should tell you something about the versatility and sonic possibilities of this masterpiece.

Pros
  • Modern C-shaped neck profile
  • Robust alder body with gloss finish
  • Two Player Series single-coil Telecaster pickups
Cons
  • Not ideal for advanced customization
  • Heavier weight compared to some models
  • Limited color options

Just recently, I got my hands on the Fender Limited Edition Player Telecaster Electric Guitar, and it immediately impressed me with its playability and sound quality. True to Fender’s roots, this guitar is perfect for rock music, providing a wide range of tones for any creative musician to explore, while maintaining an authentic Fender edge.

This Telecaster’s Modern C-shaped neck profile is perfect for those who value both comfort and performance. It allows for ease of playing across several genres and styles, without causing strain on your hands. The alder body, complete with an attractive gloss finish, adds a solid yet pleasant weight, giving it a sturdy and reliable feel.

A key part of any guitar’s sound, the Player Series single-coil Telecaster pickups provide an authentic Fender tone, suitable for generating anything from soft whispers to aggressive wails. The string-through-body bridge, equipped with the block-steel saddles, further enhances the punchy tonality, offering crispness and clarity to your playing.

However, if you’re a player who enjoys heavily customizing your guitar, this Telecaster might not be your first choice, as it’s not designed for extensive modification. Additionally, the instrument’s weight, while offering a reliable feel, could be cumbersome for some guitarists, and color options are limited for those seeking a specific aesthetic.

In conclusion, the Fender Limited Edition Player Telecaster Electric Guitar offers a fantastic, versatile sound for rock enthusiasts, with comfortable playability and that iconic Fender flair. While it may not be the most customizable or lightweight option, its performance and authentic tones act as a trusty sidekick to make your musical dreams come alive.

Buying Guide

When choosing the best guitar for rock, it’s essential to consider a few key factors that impact the instrument’s playability, tone, and durability. In this guide, we’ll discuss those features so you can confidently select the instrument that meets your needs and preferences.

Body Type

There are three main types of guitar bodies: solid, semi-hollow, and hollow. Guitars with solid bodies tend to produce a more powerful and distorted sound, making them an ideal choice for rock music. Semi-hollow and hollow body guitars produce a warmer and rounder tone which can be great for certain styles, but may not cut through the mix as well in a rock setting.

Pickups

The pickups, found beneath the guitar strings, significantly influence the sound of your instrument. Generally, there are two types of pickups: single-coil and humbucker.

Single-coil pickups produce a bright, crisp sound with more treble frequencies. They might produce a hum when amplified, especially at high volumes. Humbuckers produce a thicker, warmer tone without the hum, making them more suitable for heavy distortion and other rock styles.

Wood Types

The type of wood used in the guitar’s construction can affect its tone and resonance. Common wood types include:

  • Alder: Balanced tone with good sustain and resonance.
  • Basswood: Light and soft, offering a balanced but warm tone.
  • Mahogany: Provides a rich, warm tone with great sustain.
  • Maple: Bright, clear, and punchy with a pronounced midrange.

Consider the tonal qualities you prefer before choosing a guitar based on its wood type.

Hardware

The guitar’s hardware, such as the bridge, tuners, and nut, play a crucial role in tuning stability and intonation. Better quality hardware will generally equate to better tuning stability and more accurate intonation.

Budget

Guitars are available at various price points. Set a budget for yourself and compare guitars within your price range to get the best value for your money.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the right guitar for rock music. Take your time and consider the aforementioned factors, as they will ultimately help you make the best decision for your playing style and preferences.

To provide you with even more information in order to make the right purchase, I’ve written individual, detailed reviews for each guitar:

Frequently Asked Questions

Which guitars are suitable for both rock and metal?

When it comes to both rock and metal, several guitars stand out, like the Ibanez RG Series, Jackson Soloist or Dinky, and Gibson Flying V. These guitars offer high-gain tonality and stability, especially for aggressive techniques and extended range playing.

Which guitars are ideal for rock music beginners?

Guitar models that are ideal for rock music beginners include the Yamaha Pacifica series, Epiphone Les Paul Studio, and Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster. These options are affordable, well-built, and provide an excellent starting point for those starting in rock guitar.

What are recommended guitars for softer rock styles?

For softer rock styles, recommended guitars include the Taylor T5, Gibson ES-335, and Gretsch G5420T Electromatic. These instruments offer warm, balanced tones and allow for a wide range of expression, making them well-suited for more laid-back rock music.