The Best Electric Guitars For Playing in Church

The Best Electric Guitars For Playing in Church

When you play praise and worship music, you want to sound your best and give your all to elevating the congregation in joyous celebration.

You want to be able to stay grounded in the holy moment without worrying about your tone and tuning and your cramping hands.

You don’t need a multi-thousand dollar guitar to keep up with the rest of your rocking praise band, but it’s important that you have a reliable axe that isn’t going to slip out of tune mid-song or be so uncomfortable to play that you’re praying for salvation by the start of the second verse.

Our Recommendation

For under $500, my favorite guitar in this category is the Fender Offset Series Mustang, offering a Strat/Tele fusion tone in a vintage style body, nothing too flashy but all you need for clean, crisp chords and silky smooth solos. It trumps the Epiphone SG Special, whose strong tonal characteristics are somewhat diminished by the unreliability of the Epiphone electronics.

Overall, the number one contender on this list is the PRS SE Custom 24, in which its solid maple/mahogany construction, dual humbuckers, and sturdy tremolo are capable of a huge range of tonal variations, from soft and sweet rhythms to incredible sustain-filled solo work.

Whatever your budget, here you can find an ideal choice of the best electric guitar for worship and all other areas of your life that demand pristine performances.

The 7 Top-Rated Electric Guitars for Worship Music – Overview

#7 Epiphone SG Special Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Mahogany
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Indian Laurel
  • Electronics – 650R Humbucker neck pickup and 700T Humbucker T bridge pickup

Pros

  • Affordable SG model based on the Gibson original
  • Punchy tones for powerful performances
  • SlimTaper “D” neck profile for speedy riffage

Cons

  • Ground wire can become loose with major bumps and bangs
  • All mahogany muddiness inhibits crisp chords

Review

Although this is the lowest ranked guitar on this list, I’ve seen the Epiphone SG Special in the hands of several worship band guitarists, from my own church band in high school years, to my friend’s current praise band in a West Virginia megachurch, to worship services at Christian rock festivals and live-streamed praise music across the U.S.

I first fell in love with SG models after seeing School of Rock, and since then it’s remained one of my favorite electric guitars. It’s not so much something you want to use to highlight your group’s rhythm section, but when utilized correctly, in can add an immense amount of oomph and power to your band’s pre-chorus buildups.

Outside its rhythm capabilities, the SG Special is a great guitar for high end licks, with the top frets never singing shrill but rather soaring in like the precision strike of a skydiving raptor. Want to learn to get the most out of this guitar by soloing like a pro? Check out our how-to solo guide here.

The main drawback of all Epiphone electric guitars is the hastily configured electronics; a lot of the time they just don’t hold up, leaving you with the issue of crackles and pops when you turn the tone knobs, and at worst totally disabling your pickups. It’s not a problem without a fix, but you’ll need to factor in the need for electronics repairs to the overall cost of this guitar.

Nonetheless, if you’re a player on a tight budget, the Epiphone SG Special is one of the best options available to get you rocking without draining your savings.

#6 Ibanez S 521 Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Meranti
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Jatoba
  • Electronics – Dual Quantum humbuckers

Pros

  • Super fast, thin Wizard III neck
  • Light meranti body reduces player fatigue
  • Quantum humbuckers emphasize bass response, pumping up the low and mid range tones

Cons

  • Nontraditional body and fingerboard woods
  • Susceptible to feedback due to light body construction
  • Lacks tone controls for separate pickups

Review

Ibanez has been one of my favorite brands since I started playing guitar, in part because I’m a huge Steve Vai fan, but mostly because their guitars are just so fast and fun to play.

The Ibanez S521 is versatile enough to perform in nearly every genre, but for worship music specifically you’ll be delighted with its treble heavy rhythm capabilities. With a bit of chorus effect on a clean tone, open chords on the S521 sing like a choir of angels.

Unless you’re in a really unusually rockish praise band, you probably won’t be doing a ton of shredding, but if the opportunity does arise, there’s no better neck to rage away on than those made Ibanez. The Wizard III neck on the S521 is sleek, slim, super fast design made with sturdy maple, great for quick riffs or comfortable chord work in any genre.

Without being too biased, I’ll mention that I like my guitars a bit on the heavier side — something to do with the denser wood imbuing a sense of higher quality. In this regard, I’m not a huge fan of the light meranti body of this Ibanez. But if you’re a smaller-framed guitarist or just someone who doesn’t want several kilos of wood weighing down your shoulders for hours at a time, you’ll find the S521 light enough to reduce fatigue yet solid enough to feel like a perfectly reliable axe. You can learn to further reduce playing fatigue with these handy tips.

#5 Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Thinline Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Soft Maple
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Maple
  • Electronics – Dual Fender Wide Rang Humbuckers

Pros

  • Semi hollow maple body delivers beautiful full-bodied chords
  • All maple construction for crisp rhythms and funky leads
  • Dual humbuckers for crunch when you need it

Cons

  • Cheap tuning machines that can cause tuning slippage
  • Desperately needs a setup

Review

In the Under $500 range, it was hard choosing the number one spot between this Telecaster Thinline and the guitar that ultimately claimed the win. To be fair, it was really a tie.

The Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Thinline is an amazing guitar for worship music, especially if your role in the group is the main rhythm guitarist. Its semi-hollow body sings out chords with perfect clarity and depth, sounding almost more like an extra bright acoustic than an electric guitar.

Whether your group focuses on mellow tunes or upbeat praise pop, the all maple Thinline Tele shines with a prominent voice in all playing styles. Based on Fender’s vintage 1972 Thinline model, Squier keeps it real with the lightweight body, dual humbuckers for added sonic depth, and retro style headstock and bridge. You can read about the interesting history and evolution of the Telecaster in this article by Fender.

This guitar is great for any genre ranging from totally clean sonnets to slightly dirty punk praise and has a pretty solid sound from the low to high end.

My only complaint is with the tuning machines, which can really use an upgrade. However, they’re not necessarily a deal-breaker, and if you’re feeling up to the task, changing them out yourself can add an important and useful repair skill to your guitarist toolbox.

#4 Fender Offset Series Mustang Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Alder
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Maple
  • Electronics – Dual Mustang single coil pickups

Pros

  • Crisp leads and fat rhythms in a solidly constructed rocker
  • Comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile for hours of fatigue-free playing
  • Fender Mustang single coil pickups for true sonic superiority

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side for smaller players
  • Unusual offset body shape might be unattractive for more conventional guitarists

Review

Fender’s Mustangs are maybe more well-known as bass guitars, but that doesn’t keep the Offset Mustang electric from being one of the finest instruments you can find for under $500.

Your congregation will find nothing to bemoan in its classic Fender tone, which in the Offset Mustang falls beautifully in the middle between a Strat and Telecaster sound.

The only guitar under $500 on this list without humbucker pickups, this Fender Offset Mustang is perfect for clean rhythm work and joyful lead riffs. Its solid alder body keeps it feedback free and reduces the buzz you’d expect to encounter from dual single-coils.

The Offset Mustang was originally introduced as a short-scale beginners guitar, but over the years has come to be known as a great instrument for anyone looking for crisp tones with a comfortable playing range.

There are no major problems with this guitar at all. It’s surprisingly affordable, and can suit your needs as a guitarist both in your church performances and anywhere else the music takes you.

#3 Fender Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Alder
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Maple
  • Electronics – 3x Vintage Noiseless Single-Coil Strat pickups

Pros

  • 3 single coil pickups with
  • Super versatile tone controls including 6-way rotary switch with onboard preamp
  • Stable-tuning tremolo bridge for funky bends and squeals

Cons

  • Synthetic bone nut decreases sonic performance

Review

You might be thinking, “Geez, another Fender?” I almost am too, but for the best electric guitars for worship music they’re truly hard to beat.

That’s because Fender’s have long been known for their brightness and clarity and amazing rhythm attributes. Fender has long been one of the leading guitar manufacturers, and when you get above the $500 price point, you really start to see the scope of their quality.

The Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster is one of the most tonally versatile guitars I’ve seen. You can play this electric through the cheapest most basic amp and still be amazed by the range of tones you can get just with a flick of a switch and a turn of a knob.

There are three single coil pickups in the Deluxe Roadhouse, which might leave you worried about undue buzz during quieter moments. But, with the special Vintage Noiseless Fender design, they stay quiet even when you’re silently waiting through a bassline to kick in to the mix with your part.

It’s a great guitar all around, ready to rock out with clean to distorted rhythms or tear through the noise with high-vibe leads.

#2 Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Mahogany with AAA Flame Maple Top
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Pau Ferro
  • Electronics – ProBucker-2 humbucker in the neck position and ProBucker-3 humbucker in the bridge position

Pros

  • Coil-tapping feature for versatile tones
  • True-to-form Gibson LP remake
  • Beautiful Flame Maple top

Cons

  • Tone can be a bit muddy

Review

This is one of my favorite guitars period. There aren’t many electrics available at such an affordable price with even a fraction of the quality of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro.

It barely breaks the under $500 price range, being the lowest-priced guitar in our under $1000 category, but it’s a top contender for the best guitar on this entire list.

For worship music, you’ll love the rhythms you can crank out with this Epi LP’s emphasis on the low and mid-ranges. It might not be the best guitar for bright poppy progressions due to mahogany’s inherent muddy warmth, but it fits well in the mix of any size praise group.

The coil tapping mechanism gives you a huge amount of control over your tone, essentially allowing you to turn your dual humbuckers into single coil pickups, which can help if you need to bring your brightness up a bit.

If this guitar has grabbed your attention like it did mine, you can take a look at our in-depth review of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro here.

#1 PRS SE Custom 24 Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Body – Mahogany with Beveled Maple and Flame Maple Top
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – PRS 85/15 “S” dual humbuckers
  • Pros

    • An affordable entry from PRS —  top quality at a relatively low price
    • Wide-thin neck profile for chord gripping power
    • High quality humbucking pickups with push/pull tone control and 3-way selector switch

    Cons

    • None!

    Review

    Paul Reed Smith guitars don’t get a lot of mention on our site, though they certainly deserve the top-rank in a lot of reviews, with an impressive list of artists who favor the brand.

    This Custom 24 is from PRS’s more affordable SE line, a high quality range of models at a price that won’t leave you wallowing in debt.

    The PRS SE Custom 24 can do everything, from crystal-clear rhythmic opens, to crunchy distorted power chords, to soaring solo melodies, all with a tuning-stable tremolo bar for added fun.

    It’s a super solid guitar, and you can feel the quality the moment it hits your hands. The neck is wide enough for strong chording but slim enough through the curve for lighting fast solos.

    With the 3-way selector switch and tone controls for both pickups, you can adjust your voice to fit anywhere your prasie band needs you, whether that’s adding subtle bass power to clean progressions or kicking into overdrive for the bridge that brings it all home.

    I can’t find a single problem with this guitar, and if it fits in your budget, I’ve got to recommend it for the best electric guitar for worship you can get your hands on.

    The Final Word

    As I always say, you’ve got to search within your means for the best guitar for your needs, and I’ve tried to make this list fairly wide-ranging in terms of price while maintaining a standard of quality fit for live performances.

    Any of these guitars will be fine for your worship music as long as you play from the heart, no matter if you choose the lowest priced Epiphone or the built-for-pros PRS.

    Stay true to yourself and your faith and your congregation will be happy to have you on stage.

    Blessings to you and your music!

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