Best Electric Guitars of 2021… so far!

2021 has seen a lot of big electric guitar releases from brands including Fender, Gibson and Ibanez. Read Andertons' Top 10 Electric Guitars of 2021 here!

James Hurman

James Hurman

Guitar brands are always finding new ways to tinker with and invent new designs to give us players the best instruments possible. 2021 has been no exception with new flagship releases from Fender, Gibson, Ibanez and many more! We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 electric guitar releases of the year… (so far), to make sure you haven’t missed out on any of the hottest new instruments in 2021.

Fender Player Plus Series

The latest range from Fender’s Ensenada factory in Mexico is the Player Plus series. An upgrade on the Player series, the Player Plus features the all of the most modern and high-end specs, from ‘Noiseless’ pickups to push/pull pickup switching systems, 12” radius fretboards and locking tuners. These changes make for a superior sonic and playing experience for players seeking a performance instrument. It offers many of the same features as the American Ultra series at about half the price!

Everything about these guitars is designed to improve the playing experience; the neck is a thinner “Modern C” shape than the regular player series, and the flatter 12” radius, rather than 9.5”. This combination of features allows for faster playing up and down the neck. As you play, you will notice the super comfortable rolled fingerboard edges, to give the neck a smooth, played in feel.

The Noiseless pickups are a real upgrade from the Player series, as they eliminate the pesky 60-cycle hum that regular single coils produce. This means you can crank up the gain without the uncontrollable noise! They are also voiced a bit hotter to give a fuller and punchier tone than a true single coil.

With locking tuners and a modern two-point tremolo on the Stratocasters, the Player Plus has excellent tuning stability even if you’re fond of big bends and whammy bar action.

The Strats also have the classic SSS or HSS pickup configurations for a thicker, more powerful bridge sound to get those authentic rock tones. The Telecasters also have two different options, with the time-tested SS or Nashville SSS. On the standard SS you have an additional tonal option with a 4-way switch allowing for the pickups to be combined in parallel for the iconic middle position spank, or in series, creating a rich and full sounding humbucker effect.

The Nashville Tele has a plethora of different pickup combinations, using a 5-way switch like a Strat, with a push/pull tone pot which adds the neck pickup in positions 1 and 2, so you can combine the bridge and neck positions, or all 3!

Ibanez Q Series

The 2021 Q Series is Ibanez’s first foray into headless guitars. They are modern instruments for modern players, with ergonomic designs and versatile electronics. Depending on your preferences you can choose between SSS, HSS or HH pickup options. And with a variety of striking colours and finishes, the Q Series is one of the most interesting releases this year. For an even more modern feel, there are also 7-string and slanted fret variants.

The woods have been carefully selected to create a balanced tone, with a Nyatoh body for rich mid-range and tight low-end, and a Roasted Maple neck for brightness and clarity. The neck is a satin-finished “Wizard C” shape, very familiar to Ibanez players for its very thin shape and fast playability.

The pickups are designed in-house by Ibanez for the Q Series, delivering excellent clarity and balance. For additional versatility it also features an innovative “Dyna-MIX9” switching system, which can alter between single coils and humbuckers.

Epiphone Slash Les Paul

Slash – the guitarist perhaps more synonymous with the Les Paul than any other. So when he collaborated with Gibson in 2020 to release his line of signature Les Pauls, it only made sense. Well this year he’s done it again, with a signature line made by Epiphone, bringing his guitars to a more affordable market. The Epiphone Slash Les Pauls boast top end specs and a variety of stunning flamed Maple finishes, from Anaconda Burst to Appetite Burst – modelled after his number one Les Paul. They also come with custom hard cases.

The guitars feature the iconic combination of Mahogany body, AAA flamed Maple cap, and Mahogany neck. It also includes a bound Indian Laurel fretboard, and classic Tune-O-Matic bridge and Stop Bar tailpiece construction for excellent intonation and a true Les Paul tone and feel. This lays the perfect foundation for Slash’s custom specs.

The neck is Slash’s Custom C-Shape, which is thinner that a traditional Les Paul, offering more comfort in hand and faster playability. He has also ensured that his signature guitars feature the highest quality electronics, with premium CTS potentiometers and Orange Drop capacitors for high fidelity sound. The guitars also include the excellent Epiphone Custom ProBucker pickups, which are voiced to emulate the revered PAF pickups of the late 50s. They are slightly overwound to give a little bit more output and grit, for the signature Slash sound.

Chapman ML1 Standard Hybrid

The 80s-inspired Chapman ML1 has added the Hybrid range for 2021, featuring a popular and versatile HSS configuration. They come in a variety of striking colourways and flamed, quilted or burled finishes, with S-style bodies constructed with players in mind. As well as an arm carve and belly carve seen on most S-type guitars, it includes a cutaway heel joint, and contoured lower horn to make upper fret access easier than ever.

The satin-finished Roasted Maple neck with rolled fingerboard edges looks and feels premium, creating a smooth feel for fast playing. Furthermore, Chapman’s proprietary pickups provide all the expressiveness that any player will need. The “Venus Witch Zerø” single-coils are clear, spanky and punchy, while the “Sonorous Zerø” Humbucker offers plenty of output for an aggressive attack to every note!

With Chapman ratio tuners and a modern 2-point tremolo, the ML1 Hybrid is easy to tune, and will stay in tune. At under £500, the ML1 Standard Hybrid is hard to beat for look, feel and tone it its price class!

PRS Fiore Mark Lettieri Signature

3-time Grammy Award winning guitarist Mark Lettieri has collaborated with PRS to build a guitar that can handle any genre. With HSS pickup configuration, a 5-way switch and 2 push / pull pots, there are a plethora of pickup combinations to play with, so you can always find the tone that suits any song. In Lettieri’s own words “All guitarists have a sound in their head … that define[s] their individual voice. To facilitate this process, players need a vibrant, dynamic guitar that becomes a free space in which their personality can unfold.”

The PRS Fiore certainly is a “free space” for guitarists to explore their ideas. From premium construction to excellent pickups, it has everything a guitarist needs. The “Fiore” neck carve is a comfortable medium C shape. Combined with the satin Maple neck and excellent fretwork, the Fiore feels great to play.

The pickups were custom designed by Lettieri and Paul Reed Smith to be excellently balanced and articulate, providing a versatile platform. They are specifically voiced to be balanced between the single coils and the humbucker, so you can seamlessly transition from one sound to another. And if 5 pickup combinations isn’t enough, the bridge humbucker can be set in parallel, putting it out of phase with itself for strat-like in-between position sound. You can also add the neck pickup to the bridge pickup for a tele-esque middle position tone.

Gibson Murphy Lab Collection

In 2021, Gibson opened the Murphy Lab division of their Custom Shop, dedicated to producing relic’d instruments of the highest quality. The Murphy Lab is led by Tom Murphy, a Master Artisan at Gibson, who pioneered their aging techniques.

At the Murphy Lab, they are dedicated to making their guitars look and feel like vintage instruments. Their techniques are kept under lock and key, but they guarantee that every guitar that comes out of the Murphy Lab is built and aged to the finest quality.

If you’re looking for a played in Gibson but don’t have the money or inclination to buy a real vintage guitar, the Murphy lab has you covered, from Flying Vs and Firebirds to iconic Les Pauls and 335s.

There are 4 levels of aging in the Murphy Lab:

  • Ultra Light Aged – Light Lacquer checking and slight hardware aging; imagine a Gibson that has been sat untouched in a case for 60 years.
  • Light Aged – Moderate Lacquer wearing, a few dings and dents on the body, neck and headstock and slight hardware aging. Picture a Gibson that may have played a few gigs but has spent most of the last 60 years as a bedroom or studio guitar.
  • Heavy Aged – More Lacquer checking and dings, with visible playwear on the top, more aged hardware. This replicates a workhorse Gibson guitar that has seen hundred of gigs over the last 60 years.
  • Ultra Heavy Aged – Lacquer checking and finish entirely worn through, with lots of dents and a very worn feeling neck and rusted hardware. This simulates a guitar that has toured the world for decades, being played hard night after night, getting knocked about in transport and adapting to different climates.

Oopegg Supreme Collection Trailbreaker Mark-1

These quirky Japanese instruments are described as “neo-bizarre”. Oopegg‘s guitars certainly live up to that tag with their striking pseudo-retro design, versatile electronics, and modern features. Their design pays homage to many of the ’60s offset guitar designs but with a large dose of their own unique flair.

You can get an incredible range of tones with a three pickup configuration consisting of a P90, a single-coil and a humbucker, so all of your main tones are covered. All of the pickups are hand-wound in the USA to achieve the best tone possible. They are vintage-voiced to produce excellent clarity and character. The switching options allow you to use any combination of pickups together to create some truly unique tones. And the push/pull tone pot reduces the output of the P90 and humbucker to provide more single-coil like tones. It also includes all of the features you’d expect from a premium guitar: Alder body, Rosewood fingerboard, locking tuners, contoured heel joint, bone nut and rolled-steel bridge!

Squier FSR Classic Vibe Series

In collaboration with Chicago Music Exchange, we’ve spec’d out some of our own models from the Squier Classic Vibe range, exclusive to Andertons in Europe. We’ve got Strats, Jaguars and Teles, each with their own colours and specs, all with stunning Fender-designed Alnico pickups for authentic vintage tones. So if you’re looking for an affordable, vintage-inspired guitar that’s just a little bit different, check out our exclusive FSR Classic Vibes!

Fender Acoustasonic Jazzmaster

Following the Acoustasonic Stratocaster and Telecaster, 2021 saw the release of the American Acoustasonic Jazzmaster. So aside from a different shape and some different colours, what’s new? Well… unlike the others, the Jazzmaster is equipped with a humbucker pickup for more output, delivering a thicker tone. It also delivers 10 different unique voices – that’s 4 more than before – ranging from sweet, woody acoustic tones to raging rock!

The Acoustasonic Jazzmaster combines the “Acoustasonic Shawbucker” humbucking pickup, a Fishman under-saddle Piezo, and an internal body sensor pickup to offer an entire spectrum of tones. It also features a mahogany body and spruce top – a time tested combination for an authentic acoustic tone.

Sire Larry Carlton T7

Larry Carlton has collaborated with Sire (a brand who have gained a reputation for exceptional bass guitars) to produce their first range of electric guitars. Amongst that range is the T7, based on the classic T-style design, with some modern features to suit today’s guitarists. Within the T7 range is the regular T7 – very much vintage inspired, and the T7 FM for a more modern adaptation.

The T7 is equipped with all of the standard features: SS configuration, 3-way switch, Vintage ashtray T-Style bridge with compensated brass saddles. It sports Sire’s own “LC Super-T” single coils, which deliver an abundance of twang and bite, with their overwound vintage tone. One modern feature is the locking tuners, allowing for faster string changes and reduced chances of sting slippages, causing them to go out of tune.

The T7 FM contains more modern specs and finishes, with stunning flamed maple veneers. It features a 2-point tremolo system as opposed to the fixed bridge on the S7, and a dual-humbucker configuration to give the instrument more output and sustain for a more powerful sound. The “LC Super-M” Humbuckers deliver a rich, punchy, and expressive sound that accentuate your technical nuances even at higher gain. The S7 FM is also equipped with locking tuners.

Both the S7 and the S7 FM come with a roasted Maple neck and rolled fingerboards for a smooth and comfortable playing experience. And both models are astounding value at approximately £500!

Honourable Mentions

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James Hurman
James Hurman

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