Best Electric Guitars Under 500

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In this article, we’ll discuss the best electric guitars under 500, with various price points to accommodate different budgets. We do all of our reviews in-depth and detail so you can make an informed decision on your purchase. 

Updated 03/17/22 to reflect latest models available from Fender and PRS

The electric guitar is a great instrument for both practicing and playing, but the expense of a high-quality one can rapidly put most players out of their price range. Most people will tell you that if you want a fantastic guitar, you have to pay a lot of money, but you don’t have to if you know what guitars to consider and make an informed decision. To assist you, we’ve compiled this list of the top electric guitars under $500.

Different pricing points were considered when selecting these instruments, and they were then sorted according to class winners and best manufacturers. We’ve made an effort to maintain consistency in terms of design and build quality, so you can see that even budget-friendly guitars can have excellent sound and play ability. It is our goal that this information will assist you in finding the proper instrument for your needs!

People who are obsessed with instruments will attempt to tell you otherwise, but the music comes from your performance, not your instrument, so ignore them. It’s all too easy to lose sight of what’s really important.

So if you’re looking for a good electric guitar under $500 (and even under $300), this guide will hopefully help. In it, we’ll discuss various models from different manufacturers and give our verdict on each one.

Best Electric Guitars Under $500

We have grouped the guitars as best Overall, best Budget and then picked a winner for different pickup configurations and body styles. All of the guitars on the list are great quality, have great playability and will be a versatile guitar.

Need to learn more about choosing guitars, read How to Choose the Best Electric Guitar for Beginners.

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 Electric Guitar – Best Overall

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24

Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best Overall

The amazing PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 Electric Guitar is at the top of our wish list.. It’s best to get this guitar if you’re looking for a long-lasting instrument.

The reason behind why the PRS SE Standard 24 is our top pick for the best electric guitars under 500 is explained below.

It comes with a mahogany body, a three-way switch, volume and tone controls, and humbuckers on both the neck and the bridge, so you can start playing right away! Take note of the coil tap feature on the tone control.

It has a slender maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and bird inlay on the headstock. It has a 24-fret fretboard, so you’ll have plenty of room for solos and rhythms.

The Tremolo system is a  work of art.  If you’re a fan of long-lasting tone, this guitar is for you. Since the guitar has a wide range of rich and brilliant tones across its fretboard, you also provide good sound quality on your chain.

Having a guitar that stays in tune is a big bonus for many musicians.  The humbuckers have also been quieted down.

Everyone can benefit from playing the PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 electric guitar. Whether you’re a novice or a professional, this guitar is a wonderful choice. Also, keep in mind that the guitar is easily integrated into any chain setup.

Below are a few key takeaways, or pros if you will of this PRS SE

  • Fretboard in rosewood
  • Affordable price for the quality
  • Great body style that is comfortable sitting or standing
  • It’s attractive wuth the bird inlays.
  • Features Tremolo with a PRS-patent
  • The Humbuckers are able to produce quality clean and distorted tones

Scheter Omen-6 Electric Guitar – Best Value For the Money

Schecter OMEN-6 6-String Electric Guitar

Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best Value For the Money

An excellent guitar to consider buying is the Scheter Omen-6 Electric Guitar, which is one of our top picks here. This guitar is highly regarded by players and guitar reviewers alike for the exceptional value it offers.

The Omen-6 is an excellent value for the money, as well as a sturdy construction. It’s without a doubt one of the most cost-effective electric guitars on the market. Scheter goods are recognized for being extremely cost-effective, and Omen 6 is no exception. It comes in black, white, and walnut satin finishes. The fretboard is smooth and the neck is thin, so you won’t feel tired playing it for hours on end.

The clean and various effects sounds of this instrument are unmatched at this price point. A model that can be played out of the box and always stay in tune is so nice to see in a guitar in this price range.

All-inclusive versatility and one of the best electric guitars under 500.

This Schecter is not limited to one music style and is actually pretty versatile. With the Omen 6, you’ll have a guitar that you can take with you everywhere you go. Professionals and beginners alike will find it appealing because of its user-friendly nature. In addition, the instrument may be played in a variety of ways, making it our top pick.

Some key takeaways are:

Astonishing tone
Appearance and finish is great
Good tuners and stays in tune
Excellent value for the money

Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Stratocaster (SSS) – Best Budget Stratocaster

Squier Classic Vibe 50's Stratocaster

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best Budget Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster is unquestionably one of the most instantly recognizable guitars in the world today, having been used by Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, Eric Johnson, and many others. There are a wide variety of variations available, as well as a variety of ways other manufacturers have adapted the design for their own purposes.

The double-cutaway form of the Strat may be seen in a number other guitars on this list, a testament to the guitar’s enduring appeal.

Stratocasters from the 1950s inspired this model, which features an alder body and maple neck with classic specs, including as a 25.5″ scale length and “C”-shaped profile neck. The fingerboard radius has been re-calibrated to 9.5″ to fit the needs of today’s players.

An alnico III magnet is used in each pickup, which is hand-wound to provide a sound that is reminiscent of historical instruments.

The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’50s (CV Strat ’50s) is often considered to be the best value for money on the guitar industry. It’s built to last, has a vintage vibe, and sounds like a real classic Fender guitar. Its sheen and quack convinced even players who had previously played more expensive Fender Stratocasters to take it on the road with them.

As much as I like this guitar, some users have expressed dissatisfaction with the tuners and the finish due to perceived quality flaws. 

Squier Classic Vibe Strat vs. Fender Player Strat

At this price point, I’ve previously recommended the Fender Classic Vibe Stratocaster. Some intermediate-level guitars from Fender have seen a price increase throughout the years. The Standard Series has been replaced by the Player Series.

The American Standard Stratocaster is the basis for the Players Series Strat, which is a more affordable version of the original. The Player Series Fenders, like the Standards before them, are manufactured in Mexico and are referred to as Mexican Strats or MIM Strats. The general specifications of MIM Strats are the same as those of American-made Strats, however some of the appointments on the latter have been raised a notch.

While the Player Stratocaster is a great option if you have the cash to burn, I think the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster is a better fit for the purposes of this review because it is priced at less than $500 less. If your heart is set on a Player strat but your wallet says no, check the pre-owned market. Here are the latest listings on eBay.

Squier by Fender 50’s Telecaster – Best Budget Telecaster

Squier by Fender 50's Telecaster

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best Budget Telecaster

As the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar, the Fender Broadcaster (later renamed the Telecaster) is still in high demand decades after its first release.

This history is carried on by the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s, which combines classic elements with current reliability. This guitar’s single-cutaway body, maple neck, and Alnico III magnet pickups all bear a strong resemblance to antique designs.

Rather than using the heavier mahogany of previous models, Fender chose lightweight pine for the body and a modern C neck profile, as well as a flatter 9.5″ fingerboard radius.

Hundreds of guitarists have praised the guitar’s ability to recreate the sound and feel of a vintage guitar at a fraction of the price. Popular features included a slimmer neck and a twangy tone that pleased many customers. It’s evident that the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s isn’t your typical practice guitar.

In terms of the guitar’s polish and fretwork, there are a few people who have brought up small flaws. Some players said they needed to make minor tweaks to the guitar’s setup after receiving it, but the majority still gave it excellent marks for overall quality.

I found the bridge pickup one of the few weak spots. You can improve the tone and playability of this guitar have been substantially enhanced by replacing out the bridge pickup.

Gretsch Guitars G5425 ELECTROMATIC – Best P90 Guitar under $500

Gretsch G5425 Electromatic

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best P90 Guitar under $500

This electric guitar has a retro vibe, is easy to play, and is a wonderful value for the money. This is a frequently asked question, so let’s go deeper into it, regardless of your budget.

Gretsch G5425 Jet Club appears to be an ordinary electric guitar at first glance. However, when you dig more into its aspects, you begin to notice some intriguing characteristics. When you consider how little it costs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much it has to offer.

Chambered basswood encases an arched maple top on this bad boy. That lustrous polyester treatment preserves it at the same time as giving the design an extra layer of sheen. With its maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, there are no rough edges or uneven spots that could make the instrument difficult to play.

With 22 medium jumbo frets and Pearloid Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays, the fretboard is finished. A standard measurement for this fella is 24.6 inches in scale length.

To be completely honest, the G5425 Jet Club has pleasantly pleased me in the electronic department as well. Gretsch managed to mix high-quality electronics into an inexpensive design, which I didn’t expect. Neck and bridge pickups are Gretsch dual-coil humbuckers. Controls for Master Volume and Master Tone are also included. A three-way switch lets you choose between three different pickup configurations: bridge, bridge + neck, and neck. That, my friend, is the greatest compliment I can think of. You won’t have to do anything with G5425’s electronics.

Need an amp to go with your guitar, see our Best Low Watt Tube Amps.

The G5425 is a great guitar for its price, with a strong Gretsch body and no-nonsense gear. For jazz and blues-inspired music, it’s a terrific choice, but when distortion is applied, the humbuckers really come into their own. Side note: the chambering makes the unplugged resonance shockingly loud, making this an excellent practice guitar for the wee hours of the night.

ESP LTD EC-256 – Best Humbucker Guitar Under $500 – Tie

ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Tie: Best Humbucker Guitar Under $500

Because I was unable to settle on a favorite among our top humbucker guitars, we were forced to share the honors. After the Best Overall winner and the Best Value winners, these are the following winners (The PRS 24 features humbuckers as does the Schechter Omen-6).

One of the most beautiful single-cutaway electric guitars ever made by ESP, the Eclipse is priced at $500. However the LTD-line, ESP’s workingman’s the EC series, has several excellent ESP Eclipse reinterpretations. The EC-256 is a well-built guitar that carries the attitude and sound of the Eclipse’s original model.

Guitarists who can play a variety of genres will constantly hunt for an instrument that can accommodate their needs. The ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar was chosen because of this as it is so versitile for a variety of musical styles.

In order to produce a lightweight guitar, most manufacturers will make compromises on the structure. When it comes to the design of the guitar, the ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar stands out.

The body is made of mahogany, while the top is made of maple. Neck and bridge pickups are both passive humbuckers, as are the stop tail and Tune Matic Bridge, as well as volume and tone controls that have a coil split. In a first, the three-way toggle switch rests atop the body, which is unusual.

The neck is made of mahogany, and the fingerboard is made of jatoba and features up to 22 frets. The neck has a u-shape and is sleek, as you can see.

The ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar has two humbucking pickups, which could give it a deeper sound, but it still sounds amazing. This humbucker’s lack of radiance is made up for by the coil-split function giving tons of tonal possibilities.

Various situations and songwriting aims require different traits. On top of all that, the guitar has a fantastic tone that stays in tune, and it comes with a tuner.

Looking for a great effects pedal, make sure you first understand the Difference between Overdrive vs Distortion Pedals

A beginner’s electric guitar can’t get any easier than this. For experienced musicians, this is a wonderful addition to their repertoire. As a result, despite its diminutive size, the guitar can accommodate a wide range of playing styles.

Epiphone Les Paul Classic – Best Humbucker Guitar Under $500 – Tie

Epiphone Les Paul Classic
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The Epiphone Les Paul Classic comes in at number two on this list. ‘ At first inspection, this guitar resembles its more expensive Gibson big brother almost to an exact degree. The reason for this is that Epiphone is owned by Gibson, and only Epiphone can make Les Pauls to Gibson’s specs.

The Epiphone and Gibson versions of the Les Paul have a few minor changes. In addition to the distinctive headstock shape, Epiphone guitars are lighter and thinner than its competitors. T It’s not only cosmetics and tonewoods that make the difference. The Epiphone Epiphone just about captures the Gibson Les Paul sound that has become a rock ‘n’ roll legend.

However, you must ask yourself: Is the $2,000 price difference in sound quality worth it? I

Tonewood is a mahogany body with a carved maple top, a mahogany SlimTaper D-profile neck, and an Indian Laurel 22-fret fingerboard following the structure of their 2020 series.

With its body and neck binding, pearloid trapezoid inlays, and attractive gloss finish possibilities, this one doesn’t let up on the style department either.

This Epiphone guitar boasts Alnico Pro pickups. These pickups aren’t nearly as good as the ProBuckers on the Standard, but they’re still good. The GraphTech nut, CTS electronics pots, coil-splitting, and phase switching are some of the more recent additions. The pickup-specific push-pull volume and tone knobs regulate the coil splitting and phase switching functions.

Even those who are fastidious had difficulty finding fault with the construction quality and tone of the Epiphone Les Paul Classic.

Gretsch Streamliner Center Block – Best Semi or Hollow Body

Gretsch Streamliner Center Block

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best Semi or Hollow Body

During the last few years, Gretsch has released a slew of new guitars on the market. While some players like an acoustic sound, others prefer the ability to crank up the volume and/or distortion without worrying about feedback issues.

To that purpose, the G2627T has a semi-hollow maple body with a spruce center block that runs the length of the body to support the top while preventing terrible howling. The shiny black exterior was accented with white binding and gold hardware, giving the test model a refined look.

It was the combination of a Bigsby tailpiece and cat’s-eye sound holes that gave this guitar a vintage Gretsch vibe. This guitar has a mahogany-sounding nato neck and a rosewood-looking laurel fingerboard made from sustainably sourced materials.

U-shaped neck profile, medium jumbo frets and 12-inch radius made for excellent playability with no buzzing or fretting out, and a comfortable action level with no buzzing or fretting out. Three Broad’Tron humbucking pickups, Gretsch’s most powerful, are included in the G2627T, which is billed as a rock beast.

As a result, the pickups are substantially enhanced in the lower registers. If you’re looking for a twang machine, this may be a drawback, but it’s a benefit in high-gain circumstances.

Because of this, I was able to drop them far enough away from the strings to boost their clarity while also moving them away from my plucking hand. Some rich, rootsy, but slightly dark tones could be found from both the Supro Comet and the Fender Blues Junior.

Gretsch is currently bringing the slicing solos of Neil Young and the chunky rock rhythms of Billy Duffy and Malcom Young to the forefront of the guitar market. For those who are interested in the G2627emphasis T’s on the former, it may still be worth a look.

It’s worth noting that if you’re in the market for hollow body and run across a used Epiphone Casino in your price range, don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. You can thank us later!

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V – Best HSS Configuration

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best HSS Configuration

This guitar is part of Yamaha’s Pacifica range of electric guitars, and it’s designed for students of the instrument. It’s a modified Strat/Superstrat style guitar.

At its heart is a double cutaway alder body with additional room for the highest notes on its lower cutaway.

The maple neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard and has a familiar C-shape profile that’s great for beginners.

All three pickups in the neck and bridge positions are single-coil pickups with coil-splitting capabilities.

For such a low price, many people are astonished by the guitar’s musical versatility, especially given its price point. Furthermore, the Yamaha PAC112V has received several compliments from long-time guitar owners, demonstrating the guitar’s reliability and longevity, and increasing the value you receive from the instrument.

What is the different between SSS and HSS Pickup configurations?

When it comes to the bridge position, HSS guitars use humbuckers, while SSS instruments employ single coil pickups. Humbucker bridge pickups sound fuller and less susceptible to feedback than single-coil pickups, which are brighter. It is widely accepted that HSS guitars are more flexible than SSS guitars. 

A third common configuration is HSH, which features a humbucker in the bridge and neck with a single coil sandwiched in between. The  Ibanez RG470DX is probably my favorite HSH configured guitar under $500.

Ibanez RG470DX

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Best HSH Configuration

Additional Guitars Under $500 to Consider

 Not in love with any of our top picks, don’t worry, there are more options for you to consider to choose from!

Schecter C-6 Plus

Schecter C-6 Plus

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as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Honorable Mention

This guitar is a joy to play. It was just as described and well-protected in its packaging. To my delight, it plays and sounds fantastic once the tuning has been done. If you’re just beginning your musical journey, this is a great guitar for you. I think it’s a fantastic product and I strongly suggest it.

In terms of fit and finish, they’re usually excellent, and you’ll discover options and features that are uncommon for instruments in this price range. Several Schecter guitar models are based on the “C-style” body form, including their flagship, the C-1.

It’s a stunning design for a guitar body, and when combined with the high-quality materials and craftsmanship used by Schecter, the results can be stunning.

Schecter guitars, in my opinion, are probably the finest medium-budget instruments out there. Check out there entire line-up on their website.

Guild Guitars Starfire I DC Semi-Hollow Body

Guild Guitars Starfire I DC Semi-Hollow Body

Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Honorable Mention

A mahogany center block is used in the Starfire I DC’s semi-hollow design to eliminate feedback and produce a clearer, more articulate tone. With a semi-hollow body, this guitar retains the airy, clear tone you’d expect.

Vintage Walnut, Pelham Blue and Emerald Green variants have gracefully arched maple tops instead of mahogany ones; the Cherry Starfire I DC features an arched mahogany top. In addition to the 24-3/4″ scale length and “U” neck contour, the 18th fret neck-to-body joint allows for easy access to the higher frets.

The premium Guild Vintage 18 tuners with an 18:1 gear ratio and a Tune-o-matic bridge ensure that the strings can be easily accessed and tuned. Push-pull coil splitting enables for single-coil tones from either pickup, while the HB-2 Alnico II humbuckers provide a rich, vintage sound.

Jackson Adrian Smith SDX

Jackson X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDXQ Electric Guitar

Amazon.com
as of September 20, 2022 6:50 pm

Honorable Mention

Charvel’s San Dimas strat inspired Adrian Smith, one of Iron Maiden’s guitarists, to create his own trademark model Jackson guitar. The SDX Model, a less expensive alternative to Smith’s American-made Jackson masterpiece, bears his name as well.

Signature-model guitars aren’t normally something I’d consider buying. In the absence of Les Pauls, that is. A Floyd Rose-equipped super-Strat-style guitar with a powerful humbucker for around $500 fills a gap in the market for musicians. It’s great!

For the body, Floyd Rose Special tremolo and Jackson pickups in a H/S/S arrangement are used, along with a basswood neck and maple neck with rosewood fingerboard.

When it comes to metal, this guitar is an excellent choice for those who enjoy ’80s glam rock. The San Dimas design is one we’d want to see more of for those of us who miss the ’80s a little more than we should.

Conclusion

The task of selecting the best guitars was evident from the list above. As a result, we’ve made it as simple as possible for you to do so. As we listed the 10 guitars above, keep in mind that each had its own set of positive and negative attributes. In order to prevent acquiring a guitar that does not sound as good as you want, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses before making a purchase.

Also, keep in mind that guitars priced around $500 are usually high-quality instruments. They aren’t just for novices. As a result, you can use this guitar even if you advance your skill level or play in front of an audience.

FAQ

How do cheap guitars differ from expensive guitars?

The best cheap guitars use the same tonewoods as their more expensive counterparts. Poplar, basswood, and mahogany are typical materials used in the construction of guitars. The building processes used to make these guitars vary widely. Entry-level guitars can be manufactured from numerous pieces of wood, although higher-end guitars are more likely to be made from one or two.

These guitars, of course, will have lower-quality components and hardware. As a result of the enormous progress made in quality control, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find an entry-level guitar with a horrible set of pickups or poor hardware; the majority of guitars available today are of a respectable standard.

At the lower end of the price spectrum, we do occasionally see a problem. It’s possible that this is the result of cost-cutting measures. These elements aren’t likely to be a problem for a novice. Not to suggest that you can’t find good deals at the lower price points, but it pays to shop around and test out many models before making a purchase.

Should I spend more than $500/£500?

It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on a guitar anymore. If you’re seeking for a high-quality instrument at a reasonable price, there are plenty of possibilities available.

While $500/£500 may seem like a lot of money for a guitar, it’s actually a bargain if you can afford to go a little higher. It’s possible to get into Fender’s famed brand for less than $500/£500 if you buy a Mexican-made Stratocaster or Telecaster model from Fender.

Where Are Budget Guitars Made?

The majority of intermediate-level guitars are manufactured in nations where labor prices are lower. Exceptions exist, though. Fender’s mid-priced guitars are generally built in Mexico, while many Epiphone models come from China.

In order to keep costs down and provide consumers with a cheap product, manufacturers have taken this proactive step. What’s more important, though, is whether or not it affects quality.

Since they are more expensive, guitars made in places like China and India are generally considered to be of worse quality. However, this does not imply that cheap guitars are inherently inferior, nor does it imply that every pricey guitar made in the United States is superior.

To put it another way, each instrument must be evaluated on its own merits.

I used to care a lot about where a guitar was made. However, my mindset is gradually altering to the point where I don’t give a damn. In addition to my Mexican Fender HSS Strat, I’m a big fan of Epiphone instruments made in Asia. No matter where it comes from, a good guitar is a good instrument.

Should You Expect to Replace Pickups and Hardware?

The independence that comes with a high-quality, low-cost guitar is one of the best aspects. Almost anything you wish to create can be built on top of these solid pillars. There are countless ways to customize a guitar, like installing a new type of pickup or changing the caps, pots, bridges, tuners, and more.

A guitar that costs a fraction of what a more costly model costs could end up being far superior to the more expensive model in the long run.

If you want to, you can, but do you really need to? Even entry-level guitars have improved tremendously in the last ten years, and now they’re ready to play right out of the box. When it comes to guitars, Epiphone has taken a lot of effort to improve the quality of their pickups, hardware, and electronics.

A word of advice: if you’re looking to buy a $500 electric guitar, don’t buy it assuming you’ll have to tweak a lot of things to make it playable. Yes, more expensive guitars have higher-quality parts, but most intermediate-level guitars have everything you need to perform in a band, record, and sound amazing.

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Hi, I am Dan your host here at Sound Check Music Blog. I have been a guitar player for the last 35 years. Although I no longer get to play live shows I am still active in the recording industry. I look forward to sharing with you some great gear reviews.