Say you’ve already bought your first guitar and you love it. You’ve gone from string names to open chords to barre chords and diminished chords. You’re picking up songs left and right. You’ve been practicing off and on for many hours at a time while splitting time at school or your day job. Now you’ve decided you want to move on up in the guitar world.
$1,500 is an ideal amount to spend on a guitar. This budget gets you a high-quality, premium guitar that even non-players will appreciate. There are a lot of great options on this list, so let's cut to the chase. We'll explore all genres and styles of play. Thus far in this series, we’ve approached guitar buying from a complete beginner’s standpoint, whereas now we’re talking serious purchases. You already have a skill set. You already know what music you want to play so we'll narrow things down a little more.
Without further ado, here are the best electric guitars available for under $1,500.
Gibson Flying V
The Flying V is one of the most unmistakable instruments in the history of music. The 2018 Flying V is a modern version of this classic rock guitar. It's built of mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard featuring mother of pearl inlay. The neck pickup is a Burstbucker 2 and the bridge pickup is a Burstbucker 3. You'll find Grover tuners, and 22 medium frets on the Flying V.
The Flying V has been a style choice of Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Davies and Albert King. See more guitarists that made the Flying V Famous. It’s a lightweight guitar and the cutaway V-body type gives you room to comfortably operate. The V shape allows for serious maneuverability while you are cranking out riffs. That being said, this guitar isn't for everybody. You either love that shape or hate it. Reviewers typically love this guitar, rating it 5 stars in most categories. Looking at online retailers, it appears the wine red color way tends to be less expensive than the ebony.
Here is a rad video review by an awesome youtuber PDX Guitar Freak.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Within our $1,500 budget, we can deep dive into some of the most revered guitars in the industry. The PRS is a guitar brand that everyone knows of for good reason. Paul Reed Smith guitars have incredible playability and an eye-catching aesthetic. The PRS S2 has a contoured body with an added wide fat neck for maximum fret availability. You'll find 24 frets as well. The S2 body is mahogany, the neck is maple and fingerboard is rosewood accented with the classic bird in flight insignia.
The PRS S2 is one of the most versatile guitars available. The coil tapping feature allows you to select single or humbucker tones from each pickup position. If I was only going to own one guitar (God forbid) it would likely be a PRS with coil tapping. Check out the video below to get an idea of the variety of tones you can get from this guitar. Just tell your wife it's like buying 2 guitars for the price of one!
This guitar can usually be found for under $1500.
Dean Michael Angelo Batio Speed of Light Electric Guitar
This guitar is an eye-catching marvel. It's designed for speed and spec’d by one of the most professional shredders around, Michael Angelo Batio. It's neck is thin, rounded, and has jumbo frets. The Speed of Light build is an alder body, maple neck and ebony fingerboard. The guitar is loud before you even plug it in. The pickups are EMGs, The SOL has a Floyd Rose Original Tremolo and Grover tuners. Reviewers say pictures available on the internet don’t do the design justice, it looks that good. The action is low and smooth. The hardware is perfect for a wide range of hard-rock tones.
The EMG pickups in this guitar are the EMG85 in the neck position, the EMG SA in the middle, and the EMG 81 in the bridge. The controls consist of a volume, tone and a 5 way blade switch. This guitar is made in South Korea.
See the man himself shred this guitar in the video below!
This guitar is usually available for under $1,300.
Fender American Professional Stratocaster
Ever since the Fender Stratocaster's creation in the 1950’s, it has been a mainstay in the world of premium electric guitars. The American Professional is the new flagship instrument for Fender. It's a classic Stratocaster that has been modernized to stay with the times. Fender altered the neck to give it a deep C-shape. The neck starts out thin and gets thicker as you go up the neck. It's a tapered neck that is very comfortable to play.
The neck and fret board are crafted from maple. Reviewers note this guitar has beautiful vintage tones in a more modernized style. Chances are if you’re a somewhat experienced guitar player, you have messed around with a Strat. The only negative on this particular model is the taller frets, which only one reviewer said was a deal breaker for him. This guitar is available for under $1,400
This strat has the new V-mod pickups. They use a combination of alnico to get the most sound possible out of each string. The result is a strong sound. If you are a humbucker player, Fender also makes this stratocaster in HH and HSS pickup configurations for more versatility. Check out the video below for an amazing breakdown of this guitar by Wayne Shepherd in all 3 pickup configurations.
If you want the strat look with some more modern shredder features, check out the recently release Tom Morello Strat.
Fender Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Shawbucker
Like the previous Stratocaster, this Telecaster has been modernized for a new generation of guitar players. Some players never pick up another guitar after buying a Tele. The body is made of alder with a maple neck and fingerboard. This new Telecaster has Shawbucker pickups, which gives a little more crunch and depth to the tones. Fender made sure to keep the vintage tones that we all love with a newer, sleeker body for better playability.
The neck profile is the modern deep C shape. This guitar has two treble bleed knobs that allow you to keep the high end clarity while reducing the volume. The narrow tall frets make those string bends easy to do while also giving just a touch more space between the frets for forming chords.
The sound on this guitar is much fatter than a traditional Telecaster thanks to the Shawbucker pickups. This guitar is available for under $1,350. Check out the video below to hear the range of sounds this guitar can cover.
Gibson Les Paul Tribute
Along with the Tele and Strat, The Les Paul is a guitar that just won’t go away. It has stood the test of time. When you have figureheads such as Slash and Jimmy Page playing your instrument, it’s fair to say people will always seek out a vintage Les Paul model. Gibson crafted this guitar with vintage Gibson tonewoods for the perfect, warm and fuzzy tone. The neck is made of mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. This is an American made guitar well under our budget, usually coming in at under $1,200. Though the HP version will run you over $1500. Reviewers have stated this guitar brings everything you expect out of a premium Gibson.
This guitar feels heavy in your hands, which some people love and some people can't stand. I personally prefer the feel of a heavy quality American made LP. The Les Paul Tribute also has 22 medium frets, PAF inspired pickups, and a slimtaper neck.
Check out this video to hear it's sound, and bonus points if you can figure out what is going on when they show the player switching pickups.
Ibanez Prestige RG652AHMFX Electric Guitar Nebula Green Burst
This eye-catching Ibanez needs to be heard. The tonality and playability of this guitar will push you right to the front of any mix. Well affordable in terms of our budget, the Ibanez Prestige comes in at under $1,300. The neck is a slender 5-piece maple and walnut composite Super Wizard neck. This guitar can match any tone with between DiMarzio Tone Zone and AirNorton Humbuckers. This guitar demands to be played hard. The bridge is a Gibraltar Standard II. It holds the sustain of any note you play while keeping every string in tune through the farthest of bends.
Guild Starfire V Semi-Hollowbody
As the first HollowBody on our list, the Guild Starfire V is a guitar that will be the "cherry on top" to your individual style. This instrument has grace in both appearance and tone. The Guild V has a thinline body for manageable playing and twin “Little Bucker” pickups. It’s perfect for blues, rock, folk and roots music. The body consists of all mahogany with a soft-C cutaway shape. The reviews are through the roof, with such comments as “Dream Guitar” and “Plays like a dream. Sounds as good as it looks.” High Praise from your fellow internet players makes this sound like a good deal. The Guild Starfire V is availabe for under $1,200.
Gretsch Guitars G5191 Tim Armstrong
A modern HollowBody for the modern age, this Tim Armstrong Signature Gretsch is a beast. It has a black top maple body accented with gold pickup, tailpiece and volume knobs. The style and tone will blend in with any genre of music you can think of from punk to bluegrass. Tim Armstrong is an absolute punk legend through the legacy of Rancid. He is an avid Gretsch player and is known for his raunchy, in your face tone. This guitar is the perfect combo of classic and mean. It certainly has a certain look about it, which you can either play with or against, depending on your style.
Fender Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster Electric Guitar
To finish of this list of immaculate instruments, we’ll touch on two extremely popular, well-reviewed signature instruments from the greatest guitar players on earth. Ritchie Blackmore is the composer behind everyone’s first learned riff, Deep Purple's “Smoke on the Water”. After a lengthy career, his signature model has to go the distance. The tonewoods are typical Stratocaster with an alder body and a maple neck. The fingerboard is made of rosewood with unique scalloped frets for better note control. The neck pickup is a Seymour Duncan SSL-4 single-coil. The back pickup is a reverse-wound Seymour Duncan SSL-4 pickup. This beautiful Olympic White Stratocaster is available for under $1,300.
Fender Telecaster Richie Kotzen
Richie Kotzen is an incredible musician. He has been around for decades, always creating some of the best guitar playing in the modern age. For Richie, he needs a guitar that can simply do it all. This telecaster is what Fender came up with. It looks amazing with a flame top sunburst on an ash body, DiMarzio Twang King neck and Chopper T. pickups. The body has a larger C-shape cutaway for maximum comfort on the high frets. Reviewers state this is the most underrated telecaster on the market. It can do absolutely anything you put it to. Richie Kotzen’s signature Telecaster is available for under $1,500.
John Page Classic Ashburn
Just as much a piece of art as it is an instrument, The John Page Ashburn has been a best-seller. Master builder John Page created an ergonomic guitar that can handle any tone with comfort. The body type looks similar to a Fender or any other electric with a bolt-on neck. The guitar is slightly contoured for extra comfort while hitting every single fret.
In the words of John Page, "I was shooting for a richer, more complex tone. The neck interaction with the body is critical in achieving this complexity, as are the material choices and electronics. Fluid lines, rich and chimey tones, effortless playability and fretboard access."
The classic Ashburn is built with a classic alder body, maple neck and either a maple or rosewood fingerboard. Reviewers love the signature John Page Bloodline Pickups. This guitar is available for under $1,200 at most retailers.
Hypothetically buying expensive electric guitars is a great pastime. In this list we covered the premium models of the most legendary guitars around. I fully encourage you to expand on the instruments in this list, scour the internet for more reviews. We didn’t pick the most popular or the best-selling all the time, just the models that are incredibly highly-reviewed amongst our peers. Everyone has a different style and it’s not always unanimous what the best guitar is. That’s a decision only you can make. Happy Shopping!