Contrary to popular belief, blowing your budget out of the water buying a brand new electric guitar is not the best move in becoming a guitar player. This usually puts a ton of pressure on the newer player to play well right away, which never happens.
The key to buying an electric guitar is finding one that fits you, specifically. All that matters is that you can practice comfortably anywhere, play with anyone and feel comfortable.
Don’t let the price tag scare you off, but don’t sort by highest price on the internet, either. Here, we start a comprehensive list of the best electric guitars for fewer than 500 dollars.
Table of Contents
Gibson USA M2
Yes, you read that right. A Gibson USA-made guitar on a list of electric guitars for under $500 is now available. This guitar joins a new line of Gibson guitars, the S Series. The S-Series aims to be more value conscious to the working class players. This is a bare-bones release of the most popular guitars in history. The M2 borrows visuals from both the Les Paul and Melody Maker. The M2 forms a hybrid of recognizable style. It has a solid mahogany body attached to a mahogany neck. The one-piece rosewood fret board adds to the visual continuity. The stock pickups are Gibson Pro-Bucker Humbuckers. The M2 is made for beginners and advanced players alike. If all you’ve ever wanted is to play and own a Gibson, this new series might be your avenue in. They are a legendary company with historic craftsmanship; the M2 will be no exception.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
As we discussed in the last article, the Epiphone Les Paul is the go-to first option for a lot of upcoming artists. It is an affordable, aesthetic instrument with all the bells and whistles the original Gibson Les Paul is known for. Although there are premium, customized models that will find their way over $500, the standard model will always be right around your price point. China produces the Epiphone Les Paul, along with most electronics and consumer products sold in America today. We encourage you not to put stock in the name on the head stock and buy a guitar that’s comfortable to you. The Epiphone Les Paul has a mahogany body and neck. The fret board is rosewood accented with trapezoid inlay. This is a durable guitar you can take to every practice, small show, big show and jam session. You’ll keep coming back to its ability to get the exact sound you want.
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster
This Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster stays true to its Fender family. This Strat comes with an Alder body, a 21-fret maple neck and fingerboard. The Squier line originally came out in 1982, as a new line of recognizable guitars for the value-conscious player. These guitars are extremely well made for the price point. They come in multiple different color ways to suit your individual style. The Stratocaster is the most iconic guitar in music history. Everyone has their own take on how to play it and how to customize it. This is a great option to learn and grow with as a player. For under $200, you can’t find a better guitar for the price.
This is an awesome looking guitar. In clean midnight black or metallic gold, you will be sure to have the best looking guitar of the bunch. Originally sold for $579, they are now being sold for less than $400 dollars! The single cutaway style is akin to the Les Paul but the design also has an edge to it. This guitar is modeled after the ESP Eclipse, which runs about $1600. The EC 256 has stock ESP Humbucking pickups and a sustain-friendly neck that will last a lifetime. This guitar is perfect for those who want a little style in their instrument, while maintaining a sensible budget. The cons of this guitar are in the tail end of the craftsmanship. There is a concern with a little fret buzz and a possible wonky bridge pickup. Be sure to test your instrument when it arrives and take advantage of your supplier’s return policy.
Epiphone G-400 PRO
A fun fact for any guitar nerd, the Gibson SG was originally intended to be the successor to the popular Les Paul model. Any Gibson SG from ’61-’69 is almost identical to the Les Paul. Made famous in its own right by players such as Angus Young or Derek Trucks, the SG has a brand all its own. It comes standard with a wide fret board to help you nail those tricky solos. A double-cutaway shape gives it those metal horns on either side. This guitar is meant for rock. The body and neck are mahogany with a rosewood fret board and trapezoid fret inlays. This guitar has stellar reviews online, saying this guitar changes the long-held belief that Epiphone is the inferior product to Gibson. It is a great all-around guitar for recording, jamming, practice and live shows. The reviewers tend to love the low action and easy playability. The negatives for this SG are few and far between, if any. The list price for an Epiphone SG is under $400.
This Ibanez is a hair under our budget of $500, with most prices being right against the upper limit. This is an incredible achievement in guitar craftsmanship. Ibanez prides itself in being the most player-friendly guitar brand on the market. The S series is no exception. This guitar is lightweight with low action and built to ramp up your skills. It comes with a mahogany body, maple neck and a rosewood fret board. For added fun, the S520 equips an Edge-Zero II Tremolo Bridge and a whammy bar. It has jumbo size frets and an extra wide neck to increase playing precision and comfort. The cons listed online are fret buzz and muted notes. Based on other reviewers, these minor issues are case-by-case structural damage to some individual’s guitars.
Schecter Demon 6
This guitar is built for those who want to go fast. The Schecter Demon 6 is a visually striking guitar with the best color ways available in the market. It starts screaming the second you take it out of the case from looks alone. Stock model has a basswood body, maple neck and rosewood fret board with Gothic Cross inlays. If you’re into Death metal, thrash or other heavier stuff, this is the guitar for you. The Demon 6 is available all over the web for under $400. The parts are produced in Indonesia but your guitar will be set up in the heart of rock, Los Angeles CA. Reviewers love the dual Seymour Duncan HB-105 Active Humbuckers, inspired by the classic AHB-1 Blackout pickups. This guitar will fit both your style and your budget, you won’t regret picking this one up.
This Epiphone Dot should make any guitar player nostalgic for the 12-bar blues. Now you can put on some B.B. and just play along. This semi-hollow body comes with two Humbuckers and a 3-way pickup switch. The Dot covers a wide array of tones, from stinging lead lines to crunchy rhythm playing. The design is a maple body, mahogany neck with a rosewood fret board. This guitar’s sound and design will make waves in appearance and the music. Hollow-bodies aren’t as popular nowadays, but don’t count them out yet. Many reviewers online are adamant this is the best guitar you can get at this price point. This guitar’s resonance carries a tune like no other. This is a big, loud and graceful instrument that could be yours for under $450.
Jackson Adrian Smith SDX
The Jackson guitar is famous for being a metalhead’s best friend. From the legendary Randy Rhoads to Scott Ian, Jackson always had their mind on heavy metal guitar. Adrian Smith was the guitar player for a little English band named Iron Maiden. Maiden is a groundbreaking group in the heavy metal scene and Adrian’s signature guitar is no different. The Adrian Smith SDX is an affordable model of the rocker’s signature guitar. The original model goes for 2 grand, while this SDX model goes for just under $500. The stock model comes with a basswood body, maple neck and a rosewood fret board. This guitar comes standard with a Floyd-Rose Tremolo Bridge and 22 Jumbo frets for all your metal needs. This guitar has a classic Jackson feel that has brought so many guitarists to the next level.
G&L ASAT Classic Ash Body Electric Guitar
G&L Guitar company represents the last word and testament of legendary guitar maker Leo Fender. Leo Fender founded a last brand of guitars that are seldom known, even in guitar player circles. G&L pride themselves on being the rock star guitar for the working-class musician. The ASAT equips two Alnico pick-ups. It has all the tone you expect from a Telly. The warmth, sustain and crispness are all there for hundreds of dollars less. This guitar is highly regarded by reviewers. If you order it from an online retailer, expect some set-up time. Keep in mind, any customization after your buy could void your warranty with your retailer, even the tuners and minutia. This telecaster is available for under $500.00
G&L Tribute Legacy
After his sale of Fender and stint with Music Man, Leo Fender put the last years of his craft into G&L. This is G&L’s take on the classic Stratocaster. The body consists of basswood, the neck is maple and the fret board is available in either rosewood or maple. The G&L Stratocaster enlists 22 jumbo size frets for comfortable finger placement. Leo Fender designed the dual fulcrum bridge enforcing the Alnico pickups. The pick-up switch has 5 settings between pickups. This is a great guitar to add to your collection and the last project of an icon in this industry. It is available for under $500.