6 Lightest Electric Guitars that Play & Sound Great!

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

They might not look like it to the average person, but electric guitars aren’t light instruments. They are essentially solid pieces of wood glued together, and wood can get quite heavy.

As guitarists, we understand all too well what it feels like to have a guitar strapped around our neck, sometimes for hours on end. Luckily, because of how guitars are made with different shapes, sizes, and woods, some weigh less than others.

Lightweight guitars are excellent for a variety of reasons, mainly that they don’t destroy our backs while playing.

Here is a selection of six of the best lightweight guitars available today.

6 Lightest Electric Guitars

1. Gibson SG Standard

The Gibson SG is a classic guitar. It is probably most associated with Angus Young of AC/DC.

The SG is a fantastic guitar for a vintage rock sound. But it can just as easily pull off a heavier sound, as proven by the father of metal, Tony Iommi.

SGs are known for their punchy, raw sound. They also have a very snappy sound, making them quite easy to control.

The addition of a volume and tone knob for both pickups is also a great feature that I really appreciate. It allows for even more control over the tone of the guitar.

This is especially useful when you are using both pickups together. You can easily blend the volume and tone of both pickups to be perfect.

Or you can set each pickup independently. Then, when switching between them, you don’t have to adjust the volume and tone again.

The SG does sound quite good clean, but it really shines when being played through distortion. The SG actually has a much thicker sound than you would expect from such a smaller, lighter guitar.

It is the heaviest guitar on this list, which helps to give it its heavier sound. While it is the heaviest, at just over 7lbs, it is still very lightweight and extremely comfortable.

Since this is a Gibson, it is on the more expensive side. This is definitely more of an intermediate to advanced guitar.

But you are paying for an excellent sounding, well-built guitar. The SG is a true classic, and a genuinely fantastic guitar.


2. Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Tele Thinline

Another classic guitar, the Telecaster is renowned for its excellent sound and playability. The Classic Vibe ‘60s might say Squier on the headstock instead of Fender, but don’t let that fool you.

The Squier version comes quite close to the Fender version in terms of sound and quality, but without the price tag. Squier hasn’t taken any shortcuts when building this guitar.

Playing the Squier feels just about the same as playing a Fender Tele. You probably wouldn’t even notice the difference unless you compare them side by side.

This is the Thinline version, as well. Telecasters are already fairly lightweight, but the Thinline comes in at under 7lbs.

This is also a semi-hollowbody guitar. That means that the sound is also a bit different from a standard Tele.

It still has a nice amount of brightness, but the bottom-end is certainly more prominent. The sound is a bit more rounded and definitely fuller than a standard Tele.

This gives the Thinline Tele an incredible clean sound. It is a very smooth, somewhat warm tone.

It still sounds good with some gain added, as well. I wouldn’t push the gain too far with this guitar. It doesn’t sound too bad on higher levels of gain, but you are getting a much better tone with a light gain.

The best way to describe it would be to say that the Thinline has more of a bluesy sound, and the standard Tele is more country.

Overall, if you are looking for something for lighter rock, blues, and jazz, the Squier Thinline Tele is a fantastic guitar.


3. PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo

PRS guitars are well-made and much loved among guitarists from every genre of music. Their SE II Piezo is meant to be a more affordable version of their core range of guitars.

Since this is a hollowbody guitar, the clean is just incredible. The tone overall is very full and rounded, but being a hollowbody gives the guitar extra resonance that really amplifies the tone.

Combined with the piezo pickups, the clean tone is truly exceptional. While not entirely acoustic, I think it is close enough to be considered ‘acoustic’.

But what is really surprising is how equally fantastic the PRS sounds with distortion. Solidbody PRS guitars are well-known for how good they sound with distortion.

I was expecting the hollowbody to sound good, but not that it would be on par with a solidbody. It really feels like PRS has tried to make an all-rounder guitar, and they certainly succeeded.

This guitar can easily slip into any genre of music. Everything from jazz to hard rock sounds amazing.

As for playability, it is just as smooth and easy to play as you would expect from a PRS guitar. The bridge is also super easy to adjust, something which I appreciate since the action was a bit high out of the box.

Even though it is a hollowbody guitar, it isn’t much lighter than the other guitars on this list. It comes in at just under 7lbs. This isn’t too surprising since both the body and neck are made from mahogany.


4. Danelectro ‘59M NOS+

Danelectro might not be as familiar of a name as Fender or Gibson, but they have been making almost as long. Their ‘59M NOS+ is an excellent tribute to one of their oldest and best models.

This guitar has quite a unique sound. The best way to describe it is that it sits somewhere between a Strat and a Les Paul.

It isn’t quite as bright as a Star, and not as aggressive as a Les Paul. I would probably describe it as a very alternative, grungy type of sound.

The clean sound is also interesting. It is almost a very neutral clean tone.

It isn’t too bright or too warm. I think this actually makes the clean sound great for simple accompaniment. The clean tone is great for just filling out a band’s sound, or for accompanying vocals.

The ‘59M sounds best with the pickup selector in the middle section. In other words, with both pickups active.

This seems to be the sweet spot. The guitar’s tone is very full and vibrant with both pickups being used instead of just the neck or bridge pickup on their own.

My favorite part of the ‘59M is certainly its design. It has an almost retro design. I can’t help but think of surf rock when I look at the ‘59M.

The only issue I have with this guitar is the cutaway. It is a bit awkward trying to reach the 21st fret.

Weight-wise, the ‘59M is on par with the other guitars on this list, coming in at just under 7lbs.


5. Epiphone Casino Coupe

If you want to know how good the Epiphone Casino is, it was one of John Lennon’s regular guitars.

That really tells you all you need to know about this guitar. If you are after a classic, lighter rock sound, this is the perfect guitar.

The Casino Coupe has a very sweet, warm bluesy tone, especially on the neck pickup. On the bridge pickup, you are getting more of a jangly, lead tone.

The P90 pickups on this guitar also make it more than capable of handling higher levels of gain. Pushing the gain makes these pickups growl.

As for the design of the Casino Coupe, it sticks fairly close to the original. It has a very vintage design, with that same elevated pickguard and old-school bridge and tailpiece.

I would have liked a more modern bridge design, since there is no adjusting the action with this bridge. Playability was still very good, but being able to lower the action just a little bit would have made it great.

One great improvement over the original Casino is with the body. The body on the Casino Coupe is a bit slimmer than the original. This makes it a bit more comfortable to play, since many players feel that the original is a bit unwieldy.

The Casino Coupe is also a bit lighter. The one I played was just under 6lbs, making for a lovely, lightweight experience when playing while standing.

The Epiphone Casino Coupe is an excellent guitar, and a fantastic tribute to the original Casino.


6. Strandberg Boden Prog NX 6

One of the newer brands, Strandberg has quickly made a name for themselves among guitarists. They are most notable for their smaller bodies and headstockless designs.

Their NX6 is the newest version of their original Boden guitar. Strandberg have basically taken a winning formula and improved upon it.

The compact design of Strandberg guitars make them fantastic for carrying around since they have fewer parts that can be damaged. They are also extremely lightweight.

The NX6 I tested weighed just over 4.5lbs. This makes it probably the lightest electric guitars I have ever played, and probably one of the lightest guitars overall.

But just because this guitar is smaller and lighter, doesn’t mean that it is lacking in tone. Strandberg guitars are actually known for their rather surprising tone.

The NX6 is a very versatile guitar. Clean tones are warm and colorful, while high levels of distortion are a breeze. This guitar, and any other Strandberg, can handle any genre or style you through at it.

The compact design of Strandberg guitars does take a bit getting used to. You don’t have to change the way you play or position yourself, but the lack of a headstock and missing tail of the body is something that you have to wrap your head around.

And, unfortunately, not everything about the NX6 is small. This guitar is certainly up there in terms of price, and the most expensive one on this list.

You are paying for an incredible guitar, but this does mean that the NX6 will be out of reach of many guitarists.


What Does the Average Guitar Weigh?

The average guitar will usually weigh around 8lbs. They can go up to around 10lbs, but this isn’t too common for 6-string guitars.

A guitar is considered ‘light’ when it weighs between 6 – 7lbs. This is the average for lightweight guitars, but that can weigh as little as 4lbs.

Travel guitars like the Traveler Ultra-Light can weight even less, coming in at under 3lbs. But these are, of course, not really meant for anything other than playing by a campfire.

Which Body Type Is the Lightest?

As you might have noticed, the body type of the guitar doesn’t really determine how much it weighs. Hollowbodies will usually be lighter than solidbodies, but as the Strandberg NX6 shows, solidbodies can be super light.

The weight of the guitar is going to depend mostly on the wood used to make the guitar. Rosewood, for example, is one of the heaviest woods used for guitars, while basswood is the lightest.

So, a guitar made with rosewood will naturally be much heavier than a guitar made with basswood. The size of the guitar, neck, and headstock will obviously also have an effect on the weight.

The larger the body, etc, the more material needed to build the guitar. This will then lead to a heavier guitar.

Do Lighter Guitars Sound Worse?

Fortunately, the weight of a guitar has no real effect on its tone. This is especially true for electric guitars.

You can have a super light guitar, but with the right pickups it can sound just as big as a guitar twice its size. Since you are also going to play through an amp, you won’t be able to really ‘hear’ the size of the guitar.

So, you don’t have to take the weight of a guitar into consideration when it comes to tone.

What Are the Advantages of a Light Guitar?

I would say there are two advantages to having a lighter guitar.

The first is for younger players. A heavier guitar might be uncomfortable for kids, especially if they are only starting out.

A heavy guitar might throw them off balance while standing, or the neck might constantly sag, which can make playing difficult.

The second advantage is for players with back problems. If you suffer from back issues, playing with a lighter guitar can help to alleviate problems and prevent worsening problems.

If you are concerned with developing back problems later in life, you can also play with a lighter guitar. Of course, this is only really an issue if you play several shows a week and you spend a lot of time playing standing.

There is also the advantage that a lighter guitar is easier to carry around. But you usually only carry it a short distance to and from a stage or rehearsal space, and is more of an issue if you are regularly touring.

Conclusion

Light weight guitars are fantastic. They make for a much more comfortable playing experience for many guitarists.

They also don’t lose any tonal quality at the expense of a lower weight. So, you never have to worry about losing out on sound just to have a better playing experience.

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About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

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