The essential new electric guitars you need to play in 2024

Gear Expo electrics
(Image credit: Fender)

GEAR EXPO 2024: This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best for the electric guitar. We've got news of all the big launches rounded up here, including the best releases from this year's NAMM show and some other rumoured big news happening later in 2024.

Top of our news pile, though, is the Fender Strat's 70th anniversary, and the company is not holding back with its celebrations.

But we've also got big releases from Squier, Vox, ESP and many more in this huge new electric guitar round up. Time to dive right in…

70th Anniversary Fender Strats

The Fender Stratocaster is turning 70, and Fender has some big things planned for the iconic guitar. There are two 70th Anniversary models: a Nebula Noir coloured Player model, and a USA-made Flame Maple top American Profession II. We're also getting standard spec Player and Pro II models in 2024, with a Two-Colour Sunburst finish.

Fender Strat

(Image credit: Fender)

Those models aside, the 70th Anniversary Player Stratocaster is the one to watch, balancing great looks with a timeless feel and the price and specs are pretty decent considering it's a special edition. It will retail for $999.99/ £959/€1,099/$1,299AUD/¥165,000.

The Nebula Noir model also boasts great specs, with a good mix of contemporary and vintage. We get a modern “C”-profile maple neck, 9.5” radius rosewood fingerboard, Pure Vintage ‘59 Single-Coil Strat pickups, 2-point tremolo and Classic Gear tuners. 

Fender Strat

(Image credit: Fender)

The 70th Anniversary American Professional II Stratocaster ($1,999.99/£2,169/ €2,499/$3,699AUD/¥330,000) is more expensive but boasts greater specs and looks stunning with its Comet Burst and flame maple top. The pickups are 70th Anniversary V-Mod II single-coils, while the neck is a deep C-shape with rolled fingerboard edges and boasts the Fender named 'Super-Natural' satin finish. 

A sculpted neck heel improves upper fret access and the model also features Deluxe locking tuners and an upgraded 2-point tremolo with a cold-rolled steel block to aid 'sustain, clarity and high-end sparkle'. 

The 70th Anniversary Strats are on sale now, and there is more info at the Fender website.

Vox APC-1

The new Vox APC-1 is a guitar with a built-in speaker and 33 built-in rhythm patterns. We know what you're thinking, but APC-1 is no toy. There's a quality Tectonic audio wide-directional speaker and passive radiator which Vox says delivers “superior sound quality”. The guitar also has chorus, tremolo, delay and reverb effects to give you more sonic flexibility. 

Vox APC-1 guitar

(Image credit: Vox)

The 33 rhythm patterns cover 11 genres including R&B, metal, rock, pop and jazz and both these and the analogue circuit amp utilise Vox’s Mini Go digital modelling technology.

Price details are still to be announced, but the APC-1 will be coming to a store near you in July and available in orange, blue and red. There's more on the Vox website.

Vox APC-1 guitar

(Image credit: Vox)

Our top 6 of the many ESP Guitar launches

NAMM was certainly a great show for ESP Guitars, with the Japanese brand launching dozens of new electric guitars (plus basses and acoustics), a lot of which are specifically aimed at metal. So which are the best? We've narrowed it down to six…

ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva

ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

First up is a signature model for the long-time ESP endorsee, Bill Kelliher. The Royal Shiva features the recognisable double-cut silhouette and Silver Silverburst finish, and is one of the most-anticipated ESP releases of recent years.

Royal Shiva is certainly influenced by Kelliher's nine-string custom First Act, but reworked with the traditional complement of six-strings. We first saw it back in 2021 when Kelliher launched his STL ToneHub guitar plugins package, when he described it as  “thick”, and twice as heavy as his signature Sparrowhawk. 

ESP LTD Bill Kelliher Royal Shiva

(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

That Silver Silverburst finish is on the front and back of the guitar, and the body is solid mahogany with a maple cap, plus a three-piece mahogany neck with a U shape profile and 25" scale length. The block inlays on the Macassar ebony fingerboard certainly add a custom vibe.   

Royal Shiva also features a pair of Kelliher’s signature MojoTone Hell Bender humbuckers, and coil-splits are accessed by a push/pull function on both volume and tone pots, with locking LTD tuners to keep everything solid.

ESP LTD XJ-1 HT in Blast Black

ESP LTD XJ-1 HT in Blast Black (Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Our next ESP choice is the return of the LTD XJ-1 HT, an offset guitar in an in-vogue sandblasted Blast Black finish, showing all the grain in the swamp ash body. It’s a single pickup guitar with a simple Hipshot hardtail bridge. But while going for the Fishman Fluence Open Core Classic humbucker it delivers three distinct voices: contemporary humbucker; hot-rodded dynamic humbucker; and overwound single-coil. 

That last one gives you a hot soup offset sound that you'll want to pair up with a fuzz pedal. Also on the LTD XJ-1 HT, you get 22 stainless steel frets, large block inlays on a Macassar ebony fingerboard, and a 25.5” scale length and bolt-on maple neck.

ESP LTD Gary Holt GH SV-200

(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Next up, ESP's Gary Holt GH SV-200 signature guitar is easily the most metal guitar in the 2024 lineup. It features a twist on the SV V-shape made famous by the late Children Of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho, with black with red accents, and red pickup covers on  EMG pickups. 

The EMG 89R neck bucker is reversed with a split-coil function. At the bridge we have an EMG 81, and both are direct mount. Scale length is 24.75”. GH SV-200 has a solid mahogany body, and mahogany neck-through build. As this is ESP/LTD and speed is key, the neck has a Thin U profile as standard. There's also a double-locking Floyd Rose 1000 for all those thrash solos that this will no doubt be used for.

Stainless steel frets and an ebony fingerboard finish the specs and the GH SV-200 signature guitar retails £2,449 btw, including a hard-shell guitar case.


(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

The LTD EC-01FT “flat top” might well be one of the 2024 ESP highlights, and aimed at players who appreciate a minimalist guitar design. It's available in Black, Vintage Burst, and Olympic White finishes, all without any body binding. It has a neck-through build, and a sculpted heel for extra upper-fret access.

It also features the debut appearance of the Seymour Duncan Custom 14 humbucker, a custom-wound exclusive for ESP/LTD, and is designed to be versatile. ESP says it covers everything from “clean, chimey intros to sizzling rock, classic metal, and hardcore tones… and the most crushing modern chugging and articulate, angular rhythm lines you ever hoped for”. 

The LTD EC-01FT costs $/£1,109 street, so is well priced for both serious amateur and jobbing player. A cheaper EC-201FT model is very similar but has a set-neck and ESP LH-150B humbucker, and retails for just $500.

ESP LTD SN-1007HT Baritone

(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

No ESP/LTD roundup is complete without a Superstrat, and this launch doesn't disappoint. There's the SN-1007HT baritone guitar, also featuring the swamp ash grain showing through the body's finish. It seems to has everything for the progressive metal player: a 7-string guitar with a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers, a Floyd Rose 1000SE vibrato, a Charcoal Burst finish and quilted maple top.

ESP LTD M-1001

(Image credit: ESP Guitars)

Finally, it's the minimalistic M-1001, an S-style finished in Charcoal Metallic Satin with gold hardware. A single Fishman Fluence Modern bridge humbucker delivers a pair of voicings, and there's a Floyd Rose 1000 Series vibrato for the whammy bar pyro.

Three from Squier

Squier Classic Vibe guitars

(Image credit: Fender)

Squier has announced four new limited editions for its Classic Vibe line, which we're big fans of. They're arriving in Spring and here are the details of the three electrics.


(Image credit: Fender)

The first is the Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Stratocaster HSS. It has a Fender-designed HSS pickup configuration that should scream versatility. It has the appealing Fender combination of a C-shaped neck profile and 9.5”-radius Indian laurel fingerboard, with narrow tall frets. 

You also get nickel-plated hardware, a vintage- style gloss neck, '60s headstock markings and a matching headstock. There's a vintage tremolo system and the poplar wood body. You can get it in Sienna Sunburst or Lake Placid Blue finishes.

Expected prices are $449.99 / £409.99 / €469.99 / $949 AUD, ¥67,100 JPY. 

Squier Classic Vibe

(Image credit: Fender)

Next is the Classic Vibe ‘60s Custom Telecaster in Satin Dakota Red, with a double-bound body and parchment pickguard. It also features a C-shaped neck profile with 9.5”-radius maple fingerboard and narrow-tall frets. It has a vintage-style Telecaster bridge with barrel saddles and a string-through-body design. The pickups are a pair of single-coil Fender-designed alnico. Prices are $429.99 / £429.99 / €489.99 / $899 AUD / ¥61,600 JPY.

Squier Classic Vibe

(Image credit: Fender)

Finally, we have the Classic Vibe '60s Telecaster SH with its optional Black or Sherwood Green (above) finishes. There's a Fender-designed humbucker and single-coil combo with scope for upgrading later if you wish (we find a PAF-sized third party Wide Range humbucker works a treat in the neck). Neck specs are the same as the other six-string models with an Indian laurel 'board. 

Prices are $449.99 / £409.99 / €469.99 / $949 / ¥74,800 JPy. 

There's more information about all the models at

Guild Polara ranges

Guild Polara NAMM 2024 new models

(Image credit: Guild)

Many believe that the Guild Polara – famously played by Soundgarden's Kim Thayil – is one of the great unsung electric guitars. At this year's NAMM show,  the range was bolstered by eight models.

Guild Polara in Voltage Yellow

(Image credit: Guild)

The Standard or 'base level' Polara is available in Blue Steel, Phantom Green, and Voltage Yellow (above). It has a mahogany body and a 24.75” scale length. There's a vintage soft U profile neck, 12.5” fingerboard radius, a string-through-body, and it comes with Guild HB-2 humbuckers. There are volume and tone controls, and more scaled down hardware, with a tune-o-matic bridge but no tailpiece. 

The street price is around £519/$549 and it is available now.

Guild Polara Deluxe in Cherry Red

(Image credit: Guild)

The new Deluxe Polaras are available in classic Cherry Red (above) and Vintage Sunburst finishes. They feature bound rosewood fingerboards and pearloid block fingerboard inlays. There's also a tune-o-matic bridge and compensated stopbar tailpiece plus a dual volume and dual tone control setup. 

The Deluxe models are available now and street for £649/$699 street.

Guild Kim Thayil Polara in Vintage White

(Image credit: Guild)

Also included in the new additions is a new Vintage White version of Thayil’s signature guitar which adds to the Guild USA Artist Edition S-100 Polara (£6,599/$6,999) and more affordable Newark St Collection (£849/$899) announced last September, and is the same price as the latter model. 

Finally there's a blacked out Night Edition Polara which is a stripped-down single-pickup version for £499/$549.

Get more info on all of these models from Guild Guitars.

PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin

The SE CE 24 Standard Satin is the most affordable PRS electric guitar yet, costing just £449 / $499. It is available in Turquoise, Charcoal, and Vintage Cherry finishes, with a solid mahogany body (and a PRS shallow violin carve on top), a bolt-on maple neck, and a pair of 85/15 “S” humbucking pickups. These are hooked up to a coil-split for single-coil snap via the tone pot. 

PRS says of the price: “The price implies that it is probably a great beginner guitar – it is. But, I imagine for some it also implies that it is lacking in some way – it is not. This guitar is full of all the attention to detail we have infused into the SE Series: the neck, pickups, playability, and vibe are pure PRS. 

“Also, the new satin finish makes a very lively guitar because it is so thin, but it is also incredibly durable, so it can withstand a bit of abuse. This is a quintessential player’s guitar.”

PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin

(Image credit: PRS Guitars)

As the name implies, you get 24 nickel frets, and there are bird inlays but obviously the biggest draw is the price – PRS guitars are not supposed to be this cheap. 

It might be a stripped back design and build but there seem to be few shortcuts – indeed PRS has stuck with rosewood for the SE CE 24 Standard Satin, rather than opting for cheaper alternatives like Indian laurel and pau ferro. Finally there's a moulded PRS-patented tremolo. .

And we'll say it again: that's $499. For more info, head over to PRS Guitars.

PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin

(Image credit: PRS Guitars)

Epiphone Inspired By Gibson Custom Shop Firebird V

Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom 1963 Firebird I

(Image credit: Epiphone)

The 1963 Firebird I and V are Epiphone and the Gibson Custom Shop’s latest collaborations. They might be made at Epiphone's Chinese facility but they have Gibson's USA touches through and through, with US electric guitar pickups being the headlines in a top-end spec list. 

Both models include a Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker, with the 1963 Firebird V having a pair at the neck and bridge, and the Firebird I a single pickup at the bridge. These are also the same pickups found on a Gibson Murphy Lab Firebird.

Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom 1963 Firebird I

(Image credit: Epiphone)

On both models you get CTS pots, Mallory capacitors, a Switchcraft three-way pickup selector (on the dual-pickup V model) and Switchcraft output jack.

They also share the reverse headstock design and come with banjo-style Kluson tuners. They’ have Indian laurel fingerboards with a 12” radius, a 24.75” scale length, and a neck profile listed as “1963 Firebird” so are demanding comparison with an original vintage model to see how they size up.

Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom 1963 Firebird V

(Image credit: Epiphone)

There are some big differences between models besides the pickup configuration mentioned above, with different hardware options and fingerboard inlays. The Firebird I has dot inlays, while the V has MOP trapezoids. Also the Firebird I has a Wraparound Lightning Bar bridge, and the V has an Epiphone ABR bridge and Maestro vibrola.

Firebird I comes in Heather Poly, Silver Mist and Inverness Green finishes, and the Firebird V is in Frost Blue and Ember Red.They both have a hard-shell guitar case, and the details – pickguards stamped with the Firebird logo, and historic-accurate three strap buttons – will please vintage fans.

The Inspired By Gibson Custom Shop 1963 Firebird I and Firebird V are £1,349 / $1,699 street and out now. There are more details at Epiphone's website.

Looking for more great new gear? Get all our round-up, news, features, tutorials, tips and more at our Gear Expo hub page.

Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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