Spending a bigger amount of money on an electric guitar can be a fickle and tricky process. You can find the best guitar you’ve ever played for $350 and you can spend $800 for a hunk of junk. The tried and true method is to sort through a million different guitars until you know exactly what you’re looking for. Fortunately for us, there is an amazing community of guitar players who review these products at any reputable online retailer.
This article will delve into how to spend a reasonable sum to purchase a real deal electric guitar. Unless you’re living comfortably or a professional musician, $1000 should be an ideal amount to spend on a brand new instrument.
Here are the best electric guitars for under $1000:
- Gibson Les Paul Faded
- Fender American Special Stratocaster
- Fender American Special Telecaster
- ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe
- Schecter Hellraiser C-1
- Schecter Synyster Gates Standard
- Ibanez Artstar AS153
- Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II
- Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody
- ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett
- Epiphone Ltd Ed
Gibson Les Paul Faded
One of the most iconic electric guitars of all time, the Gibson Les Paul price starts at just under $1000. Occasionally, you can get lucky and find them for $800-$999, brand-new. It's my top pick for the best electric guitar for the money. A Les Paul for under $1000. Say no more.
Name brands can be important as far as quality of the craftsmanship. Gibson is a giant in this industry. Pro players know Gibson for reputable builds straight out of the factory and post-purchase warranty options. If you buy a name-brand Gibson, you will get the instrument you pay for. The Les Paul Faded model comes with a worn, vintage finish, mahogany body and maple neck. The price point is hard to pass up for a Gibson Les Paul. Reviewers gave mixed opinions on the weight relief system of this guitar. The weight relief system is a modern change, giving it a lighter feel than the older, solid body Les Paul Standard.
Fender American Special Stratocaster
If you’ve played for more than a few months, you’re already acquainted with the Fender Stratocaster. In previous articles, we’ve gone through the Squier and G&L Stratocasters. Now, the American Special is the flagship guitar that they’ve all been modeled after, this is the original. It's probably the most versatile electric guitar of all time. In my opinion, it is the best Fender under $1000.
This guitar is the reason why Fender became Fender. With a great look and a versatile tone, there is a reason this has been the best-selling electric guitar for decades. Fender Strats come with an alder body with a maple neck and fret board. They come in many different color ways. Reviewers love the 3 Fender Texas Special Single-coil pickups and the set up upon delivery. This is a guitar any player can’t wait to get their hands on. The American special strat and tele are two of the best American made electric guitars under $1000.
Fender American Special Telecaster
As we’ve previous reviewed, this American Special Telecaster is the real deal. For some players, the look and tone of the telecaster is irresistible and for good reason. There are muted colors in the design but the all the tone is there and then some. It has the standard Fender alder body and with a maple neck and fingerboard. One of the few rare electrics that sound fantastic before it’s even plugged into an amp. If you need a jack-of-all-trades guitar, this guitar has found its way into any genre in rotation.
Reviewers love this guitar as it’s everything a Fender guitar promises to be. A small amount of reviewers have had bad experiences, mostly from their set-up being wrong on arrival. Be mindful of the guitar right of the box and make sure you keep in touch with your sales representative at your chosen retailer.
ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe
ESP has a reputation as being some of the most versatile electric guitars in the game for heavy music. They are typically lightweight with low action. This guitar can reach all possible tones for any genre, depending on what amp you play it out of. The ESP LTD EC-1000 has a mahogany neck and body with a rosewood fret board.
Previous owners cited difficulties with the stock pickups which are either EMGs on the vintage black model or Seymour Duncan JPs on the amber sunburst model. It’s a great looking guitar that will sustain years of heavy playing. There might be a little customization necessary to make it your dream guitar. This guitar can be found for under $900 at most retailers.
Schecter Hellraiser C-1
Now getting to the bolder choices; the Schecter Hellraiser is one of the most bad-ass guitars on the market. The online ratings are through the roof. It comes stock with Grover tuners and Floyd-Rose Tremolo Bridge system, perfect for dive-bombs and whammys. The neck and body are made of mahogany with a full-access cutaway so you can hit every single one of the 24 jumbo frets on the rosewood fingerboard.
This is a visually striking guitar that’s sound holds up in every jam session and concert, no matter the size. Metal-heads and Classic rockers alike just love this guitar. The color ways available are black, white and black cherry. Reviewers say this guitar serves every purpose imaginable; the only limit is what you want to do with it.
Schecter Synyster Gates Standard
This is the signature guitar for one of the most gifted guitarists of this generation. The Schecter Syn Gates Standard makes an impression in design and sound. Initially, the look is all you can think of. The pinstriped mahogany body with a maple neck looks awesome. The rosewood fingerboard has 24 jumbo frets. The inlay is a Deathbat logo, Gothic crosses and the nickname of the Avenged Sevenfold guitarist. The strings have a double-lock system that keeps them in tune no matter how far you want to bend them. This guitar has a price range of $699-$999, keeping it well below our price range. If you’re a fan of A7X or like the look of the guitar, be sure to look into this one.
Ibanez Artstar AS153
Our first Semi-Hollowbody on this premium guitar list is the Ibanez Artstar. This is a beautiful guitar that is reminiscent of the golden age of jazz. This is an extremely unique guitar featuring a bone nut, maple body and ebony fingerboard. The frets are hand-rolled and equipped with the fantastic Super 58 pickups.
Reviewers say that this guitar is butter. It’s easy to play even as a big Semi-Hollowbody. The tone is fantastic for clean classic jazz or gritty blues licks. The Artstar AS153 is available in two color ways currently, an antique yellow sunburst (featured above) and jet blue burst. You will not find a better Hollowbody for this price at a hair under $1000.
Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II
This single-cutaway archtop electric guitar is a piece of art. The Kingpin II is modeled after the guitar players of the 1950's. It has been improved with modern-day sensibilities for the perfect every day instrument. While this guitar may seem tailored to country or rockabilly, it holds its own within multiple different genres. This is why it gets my pick as the best archtop guitar under $1000.
This guitar is unlike anything we have had on the list thus far, with classic F-holes in the body, a floating pickguard and a polished body. This guitar has it a timeless look. It’s made with a Canadian Wild Cherry body, maple neck and a rosewood fret board. As an acoustic, its tone is loud and resonant. As an electric, it’s easy to play and the P-90s pickups make it sing.
Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody
The Gretsch is one of the most beautiful, distinctive guitars on the market. It’s a Hollowbody with major electric capabilities. It's my personal pick for the best hollowbody electric guitar under $1000. It’s got a timeless, single-cutaway maple body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. Gretsch was the axe of choice for superstars like Tom Petty, Chet Atkins and Bo Diddley. If you’re a country, indie or blues fan, this is a perfect fit for you.
Reviewers online are raving about this guitar, some receiving it as a Christmas gift or buying it for themselves. This Gretsch has smooth playability that you’ll be comfortable with right away. The only foreseeable problem is the height of the pickups, which can be intrusive. This guitar is reasonably priced at under $800.
ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett
Another signature guitar from the fantastic ESP brand, this is the Kirk Hammett Signature guitar. As the lead guitarist of a pioneering heavy metal band, Kirk’s personal guitars always need to be top notch. His signature model is no different. Kirk Hammett is the man responsible for some of the best riffs and solos in rock history. This guitar is built for lightning fast lead runs and heavy rhythms.
The ESP LTD Kirk Hammett consists of an alder body, maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. It has 24 extra-jumbo frets for easy playability. To complete the metal look, the fingerboard inlay has pearl skull and bones symbols.
Epiphone Ltd Ed Inspired by "1955" Les Paul Custom
And last but absolutely not least, this guitar was demanding to be included on this list. In previous buying guides, we have outlined how versatile and popular the Epiphone Les Paul is, and for good reason. This is the top-of-the-line as far as Epiphone Les Pauls. This Epi Les Paul is modeled after the incredibly popular “Black Beauty” with a modern kick. This guitar features an ebony body, a maple neck and an ebony fingerboard accented with ivory binding.
In addition, they feature Gibson USA P-90 pickups, which is an incredible feature all on their own. Reviewers are very pleased with this instrument and rightfully so. This guitar is available for well under our budget at below $800. This gives you room to customize this guitar to your heart’s content.
And there we have it. These guitars are a little nicer, a little more quality than our last buying guide. To be honest, any guitar player would gladly play any of these guitars listed. So may not be your cup of tea and that’s alright. As a matter of fact, that’s a good thing. To learn what you like and what you don’t, what kind of guitar will fit and which ones won’t. This is how you end up with a perfect guitar for your style. The guitar doesn’t make the player but it almost always helps them reach new height. Thanks for reading and happy playing!