Similar to our post on the best acoustic guitars for any level of guitarist, we thought it would be a good idea to do this for electric guitars. Choosing the right guitar can be difficult, and we want to help make it a little easier for you.
So here are the top three guitars under $500, under $1,000, under $1,500, and under $2,000. In each section, we’ll give you an idea of what to expect of guitars in each price range.
$500 And Under
If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably want to start out with one of these guitars. Not that you don’t deserve a more expensive guitar -- you do. But when you’re just starting out, you can learn on any guitar then progress from there.
And just because a guitar costs more doesn’t mean it will sound better. It comes down to the how much effort the luthiers put into the instrument.
Even though this is the lowest price point, you’ll still see trusted names in the guitar world. Here are three safe bets to check out:
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
With the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, you get the classic sound of a Les Paul at a more affordable price. The standout feature of this guitar is the LockTune Tune-O-Matic bridge and the stopbar tailpiece, which allow you to get more sustain.
The Ibanez RG450DX is a good choice if you’re a shredder -- a speedster. Because of the three-piece Wizard III neck, Ibanez built this with fast-fingered guitarists in mind. Plus, the two humbucker pickups give it a diverse tone.
Yamaha Pacifica 112V
With a classically designed body, the Yamaha Pacifica 112V will be a comfortable play. And the five-way H-S-S pickup switch allows you customize the tone you want using the Alnico V humbucker.
$1,000 And Under
As you get better at guitar and become more of an advanced-intermediate player, you may want to save up and spend a little more. Amd once you can afford to spend more than $500, you can get some pretty nice guitars.
But at the same time, the decision making becomes more difficult. Deciding on the right guitar may take more time.
So to help you spend less time researching the best guitars for under $1,000, here are the top three in this price range based on user reviews:
The Fender Standard Strat is on the lower end of this category, coming in around $600. But you still get that coveted Fender tone, thanks to the three high-mass bridge blocks. And with the body design, it’s comfy whether you’re standing or sitting.
Schecter Hellraiser C-1
The Schecter Hellraiser is built for shredders, with a cutaway and jumbo frets. And the active EMG 81TW and 89 pickups give you a tone perfect for face melting.
Okay, fancy words aside, this is a 5-star guitar, but you will pay for it at just under $1,000.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
This is a beautiful-looking guitar -- and it’s also a beautiful-sounding guitar. Ever since the first Les Paul Custom in 1954, Epiphone has been improving their models. The Epiphone Les Paul Custom PRO has ProBucker 2 and ProBucker 3 humbucker passive pickups, giving you the tone that’s worth the $600+ you’ll spend.
$1,500 And Under
Okay, so for this amount of money, you’re probably an advanced guitarist with some extra money. And, unfortunately, this is when choosing a guitar gets really difficult.
It’s easy to get taken by the look of a guitar, thinking that that’s what makes it good. Don’t fall for it. Looks do not equal quality.
We tried to dig through all the noise and find the three electric guitars that are quality-made while also aesthetically beautiful:
The Gibson SG is just a smooth instrument. Your fingers will glide across the frets with ease, and the bright tones coming out of your amp will make you think, “This was totally worth $1,100.” Oh, and it looks awesome.
Fender American Professional Stratocaster
You could argue that the Stratocaster is by far the most trusted and loved electric guitar. It’s been around for a while, and the American Professional Stratocaster is a modernized version of the original. So you get the classic design with an updated (and better?) sound.
PRS S2 Custom 24
Using the original maple top and mahogany back design, the PRS S2 Custom 24 combines the classic body shape with new beautiful tones. And the 85/15 "S" pickups and a three-way switch allows you to customize your tone.
$2,000 And Under
If you’re looking to spend between $1,500 and $2,000 on a guitar, you must mean business. And that’s perfect, because the guitars you’ll find in this price range are for the expert guitarists. We’re talking professional studio players, touring musicians, and undiscovered bedroom guitar heroes.
This is when the quality jumps from “This is a sweet guitar” to “This might be the best guitar I’ve ever played!”
Once you go above $2,000, most of the guitars are pretty similar in terms of quality. But for axes under $2,000, here are three solid choices:
- D'Angelico EX-DC Standard
- Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster
- Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’
D'Angelico EX-DC Standard
Semi-hollow guitars not only look cool and old-fashioned, but they sound cool and old-fashioned. So the D'Angelico EX-DC Standard is what you might call a “modern classic” electric guitar. It’s playable, and the humbucker pickups provide clean tones with wide range.
Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster
Anything with Eric Clapton’s name must be good, and the Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster is no exception. You can just picture Slowhand himself making this instrument weep, pulling crying tones out of it.
Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’
The JEM series is one of Ibanez’s most popular series, and the JEM77WDP is the most loved in that series. The tone from this guitar is warm and thick, thanks to this solid mahogany body and rosewood top. Plus, the two Dark Matter 2 humbucker pickups help.
How To Choose The Right Guitar
When it comes to getting the right guitar for you, it’s best to play the guitar first, if possible. That’s why visiting your local guitar or music shop to first play the guitar you’re interested in is a smart idea.
On the other hand, if money isn’t something you’re worried about, then you probably won’t need to go to a brick-and-mortar store -- none of the high-end, pricier guitars will let you down. They all cost more for good reason.