12 Best Electric Guitars Under $500 | Guide | 2022

Best Electric Guitars Under 500 Dollars

For anyone on a tight budget that is interested in an electric guitar, the assumption is that the quality is just going to be too poor to enjoy playing. Best electric guitars under $500? Does such a thing exist?

Luckily, there are many being produced today that are of wonderful quality for under 500. And there is normally something for everyone in this price range.

In fact, the quality of some of these models is so good, that the look, feel and tone would almost have you convinced that you were playing something in a much higher price range. These are more than just cheap electric guitars!

Best Electric Guitars Under 500 Dollars

To truly be inspired, a guitar must have the right characteristics to fit each unique individual. So to help with the daunting search of finding the right one, we have narrowed down the best electric guitar available today for you! You will find that we have broken them down into three categories:

  • Top Picks
  • Budget Choices
  • Bundle Options

So on that note, let’s have a look at what we feel are the best electric guitars under $500 on the market right now!

Best Electric Guitars Under 500: Top Picks

Our top pick was the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster HSS. It’s a great, well-rounded guitar with versatile tone for many different music types and that classic stratocaster look. It’s also light and comfortable, which is great for beginners.

The rest of these guitars on the list also have incredible value for the money. These are models that are quite generous for what these manufacturers are asking. They are guitars that are on the top end of the price point and cover a wide range of music styles.

Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster HSS

squier classic vibe 70s stratocaster

Specifications:

  • Body: poplar
  • Frets: 21
  • Scale Length: 25.5″
  • Pickups: Alnico HSS
  • Bridge: Tremolo
  • Squier Warranty: 2 years

Reasons To Buy:

The Squier classic vibe 70s Stratocaster is a great guitar and our top pick for anyone looking for an electric guitar under 500 dollars.

This guitar is closer to the top end of the budget, but it’s well worth the money. The guitar is built well and was quite light, even compared to some more expensive Fender guitars. This made it easy to get comfortable with, and will be very beneficial to anyone just learning to hold a guitar for the first time.

It has a great neck, good hardware and a tone that you wouldn’t expect from a guitar at this price. However, Squier has been making some good guitars which have even rivaled some of the Fender stuff.

I also really like the 70s headstock on the guitar, which was quite large but had that vintage look. The guitar also had vintage tuners which were good quality and worked well.

Reasons To Avoid:

The only issue I found with this guitar, and the series itself, is that there are not a lot of colors available in the HSS models.

Play Ability

The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster has a maple slim C shaped neck that was very comfortable and well finished. I found it was easy to move around the neck without any annoying sticky finish. Access to the upper frets was easy thanks to the cutaways in the body.

Because the guitar was so light, it made it real easy to play either on a strip hanging from my shoulder, or sitting in my lap. Overall, I was quite happy with how well this guitar felt and played.

Sounds

For this guitar, I used the Vox AC30 amplifier and got some great sounds. Because this guitar comes with 2 single coil pickups and one humbucker, you can get all sorts of different sounds. It’s very easy to get bright single coil tones, but then switch to the humbucker and thicken things up.

First up in my test was to see what kind of clean tones I could get. With the bridge and middle pickups selected, I was presently surprised and just how good they sounded. The neck was bright and full, adding in the middle added that extra airiness which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Switching to the humbucker alone added some incredible snarl and brightness to the sound. The added output from this pickup really gave it some bite and the added hum canceling was great.

Adding some overdrive and gain from the amplifier got me into some great vintage rock tones no matter where I had it set. The nice thing about having the humbucker in the bridge is that the guitar can also do hard rock and even metal tones if you have the right amp. It’s a very versatile guitar, which is why it’s our top pick.

PROS:

  • Quality Construction
  • Lots of Versatility
  • Comfortable Neck
  • Vintage Looks
  • HSS Pickup Configuration
  • Light Guitar

CONS:

  • More Color Options Would Be Nice

Schecter Omen Elite 6

Schecter Omen Elite 6

Specifications:

  • Body: mahogany
  • Frets: 24 jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5″
  • Pickups: Schecter Heretic HH
  • Bridge: Fixed Schecter
  • Schecter Warranty: 1 year

Reasons To Buy:

One of the best metal guitars for the price point. Schecter has upper their offerings in this great looking and sounding model.

Schecters new metal machine in the Omen line up is a good value. Not only does the guitar look great, but it comes with some quality hardware. Their new pickups modeled after the Apocalypse units are a real articulate and crushing pair.

The settings from the 5 way switch provide tons of different sounds, which is very versatile. The feel of the guitar is spot on and is very inspiring. There are a couple of different bridge offerings and 3 colors to choose from with some beautiful finishes.

Reasons To Avoid:

My only complaint is that the color can be pretty dark when the lighting is low. In order to really see the cherry burst color, the lighting in the room has to be bright.

Also, if you’re not a hard rock or metal player, this guitar may be a bit too high in output.

Play Ability

The Omen Elite 6 comes with a slim C neck profile that is very comfortable and easy to play. It’s a great neck to use for fast playing and fits most hands. The action was set up just right, making it easy to press on the strings. The double cutaway design made it easy to get at the upper frets.

Sounds

I used the Revv Generator MK3 amplifier as it has a wide range of tonal options. First thing I noticed is that the Omen Elite was pretty quiet, even on aggressive channels. These are hot pickups, and so this was nice. There was no hum or buzz present in the signal when I stopped playing.

The clean sounds from the guitar were full and lush. The settings on the amp were at noon and even still the guitar had a great tone. Crunch sounds were pretty good, this is after all a metal guitar, not vintage tones, but it pulled it off quite well. This is all because of the handy 5-way switching Schecter has designed the guitar to use.

Next up was the high gain metal tests. This is where this guitar shines as it has a throaty mid-range punch, plenty of low end and a good treble response. It was not dark to our ears, but was able to cut through well. Those looking for a good chug guitar will find it here.

Thanks to the slim C neck profile, it was easy to get great solo tones as well as rhythm. An awesome sounding guitar!

PROS

  • Good Construction
  • Articulate Sound
  • Easy to play neck shape
  • Great looking Guitar
  • High output Pickups
  • Many colors and options

CONS

  • Finish looks too dark under low light.

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 50s

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 50s

Specifications:

  • Body: Pine
  • Frets: 21 narrow
  • Scale Length: 25.5″
  • Pickups: Alnico Single Coils
  • Bridge: Vintage 3 saddle
  • Squier Warranty: 2 year

Reasons To Buy:

The gorgeous Squier classic vibe telecaster 50s is an instantly recognizable guitar! The vintage vibe and great tone of this model make it an awesome addition to your collection!

The Squier Classic Vibe telecaster is all vintage and will amaze you with its pine body, maple neck, 25.5 inch scale length and very musical pickups. The telecaster is also available in other colors and finishes, as well as a left-handed version for you lefties!

The Squier Classic Vibe telecaster is nothing short of amazing for the price. It fits many genres of music and is one guitar you must have in your collection.

Reasons To Avoid:

I was not totally sold on the tuners, as they felt kind of low quality and the nut could have been cut better. But it was still very playable and a great bargain!

Play Ability

It’s hard not to love a Telecaster with the C neck profile and vintage feel. I found that this version of the Tele was a direct representation on some more expensive guitars. The neck was set right, making it easy to play this Squier version, and it delivered.

The Telecaster is loved because of the way it feels, and this one was right on point. This one is about 7.5 lbs and so was not too heavy but very sturdy.

Sounds

When played through a Marshall JCM800 amplifier, the Squier classic vibe had all the clean headroom it needed to produce that great telecaster spank sound I have come to love about them. It really made me feel as though I was playing a more expensive guitar. The pickups in this thing are quite good.

Now, a more expensive Telecaster will come with better pickups for sure, but this is surprisingly good I must say.

When I plugged it into the Vox AC30, the vintage crunch tone was awesome! It was warm, full and had a great low to mid-gain vibe going on. When you dig in, the guitar responded perfectly! This is a working man’s Telecaster, and I’m super impressed.

PROS

  • Quality hardware and material
  • Sound rivals more expensive guitars
  • Fun to play
  • Vintage looks and feels great
  • Well known brand

CONS

  • Some have complained that the action was high until properly set up

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50s

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50s

Specifications:

  • Body: Pine
  • Frets: 21, narrow tall
  • Scale Length: 25.5 inch
  • Pickups: Alnico Single Coils
  • Bridge: Vintage Tremolo
  • Warranty: 2 year

Reasons To Buy:

Vintage vibe to the max! This Stratocaster has some unique touches but is stock full of features that modern guitar players demand! Anyone who owns one has nothing but good things to say!

Another amazing vintage style, this time in a stratocaster! This historic design has a pine body, gloss polyester finish, a “C” style maple neck with a 25.5 inch scale length and vintage style single coil pick-ups.

It’s also available in different colors/finishes, and a left-handed model also exists. The Stratocaster is a guitar every player should own. Now it’s affordable enough to have in your collection.

I did find that the tuners and bridge were a bit on the low quality side for my liking. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but they do feel a bit cheap when compared to the other guitars on this list.

Reasons To Avoid:

The quality of the hardware has been a complaint to some people. I didn’t find the hardware to be terrible, it’s not high quality, but I have used worse. At this price, I found the hardware to be decent.

Play Ability

Squier was also able to pull off a great Stratocaster model that sounds and feels like a more expensive guitar. This guitar plays like an American-made Stratocaster and feels great. The neck is a C profile but to me felt a bit smoother for some reason, but whatever it was, playing it was a treat!

The guitar came set up very well which is what I like to see as this way we can give a proper review on it in its best form. Some people have complained about the action, but ours was mint. Great action, easy to use, I don’t have any complaints about play ability. And the frets were very smooth and done real well.

Sounds

According to Squier, this guitar comes with 3 Fender designed pickups, and I would have to confirm that this is indeed true. When put up against an American made Stratocaster, the Squier was so close in terms of sound quality! Just a bit noisier.

Through the Fender Blues junior amplifier, it sounded beautiful! Nice clean Stratocaster tones that I was surprised to hear. I used a boost to drive the amp a bit and was able to get vintage strat tones with little to no effort. This is a great price for such an awesome guitar!

PROS

  • Quality hardware and materials
  • Sounds Great
  • Fun and Easy to Play
  • Vintage Look
  • Designed by a professional Manufacturer

CONS

  • Some have complained about the action being high. set up required

Epiphone Coronet Reissue

Epiphone Coronet Reissue

Specifications:

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Frets: 22, medium jumbo
  • Scale Length: 24.7″
  • Pickups: P-90 Pro Dogear
  • Bridge: lightning Bar
  • Epiphone Warranty: 1 Years

Reasons To Buy:

Epiphone’s new Coronet Reissue of one of their first big guitars is a great jam! This rock machine with a single P-90 is a ton of fun.

The Coronet is one of Epiphone’s first original electrics. This guitar was a popular model when released in 1958. The Reissue supports all the great features like the double cut away, glued in neck and single P-90 pick up.

This is a rock and roll machine, and the pick-ups output is perfect and articulate. If you are looking for a P-90 model, this is the one for your collection as the quality is amazing for the price! The large frets on a thin neck made it easy to play.

I also found the hardware to be pretty good quality, but it’s a pretty simple guitar over all.

Reasons To Avoid:

My only complaint is that the guitar is neck heavy which kind of made in uncomfortable, but it’s very light.

PROS

  • Solid Construction
  • Glued In Neck
  • Single P-90 Guitar
  • Reissue Vintage Look
  • Great Rock Tones

CONS

  • A Bit Neck Heavy But Not Bad

ESP LTD EC-256

ESP LTD EC-256

Specifications:

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Frets: 21, extra jumbo
  • Scale Length: 24.75″
  • Pickups: ESP LH-150 Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Tune-o-Matic
  • ESP Warranty: 1 Year

Reasons To Buy:

Unbeatable value from ESP with this killer rock-ready electric! ESP’s Eclipse body style with cutaway gives amazing sustain and playing freedom!

The ESP LTD EC-256 comes in a few different colors on its very light and slim mahogany body. Just a killer-looking guitar with a 3 piece mahogany neck, roasted jatoba fingerboard, 24.75-inch scale, and 2 ESP designed humbucker pick-ups.

The EC-256 offers a push-pull coil split configuration for single and humbucker tones and a set neck for excellent articulation and long-lasting sustain! A seriously great guitar at an excellent price!

Reasons To Avoid:

I found that the pickups were a bit dark and lost some clarity when the gain on the amp was turned up high. I was able to dial it out with the EQ on the amp, but this was a bit more apparent than some other guitars. Not a dealbreaker, they still sound real throaty and good!

PROS

  • Build Hardware and Materials
  • Excellent Pick-up configuration
  • Easy to play cut-away
  • Great look and sound
  • Designed by a well known brand.

CONS

  • Some have complained that the action was high. set up possibly required
  • Stock strings may need to be replaced with better quality

Schecter Omen Extreme 6

Schecter Omen Extreme 6

Specifications:

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Frets: 24, extra jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5″
  • Pickups: Schecter Diamond Plus Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Tune-o-Matic
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Reasons To Buy:

The Schecter omen extreme 6 is a modern guitar with great electronics and hardware.

The Omen Extreme can be obtained in a few different colors, all feature the great mahogany body with carved quilted maple top. The maple neck features 24 jumbo frets and the strings are loaded through the bridge.

This electric is made in Indonesia but is a well crafted guitar, features double cut-away, coil tap pick-up system and is an easy to play neck. A nice score from Schecter for a great price!

PROS

  • Build quality and hardware
  • Sounds good
  • Nice neck, easy to play
  • Stays in tune
  • Designed by an experienced and well known brand

CONS

  • May need a set-up out of the box
  • Fret buzz a common occurence, can fix with a set up

Best Electric Guitars Under $500: Budget Picks

Our Budget picks have a smaller price tag but still offer great quality. A lot of these are cheaper because manufacturers are able to make changes to their production techniques. Sometimes even a wood selection helps enable them to produce great guitars with a lower cost. What we find is that the hardware and play ability are still decent despite the price.

Let’s take a look!

Ibanez GRX70QA

Ibanez GRX70QATEB

The Ibanez GRX70QA is part of the GIO line of versatile guitars. This line from Ibanez is made in China and has been since 2011. Anyone that has played or owns one will tell you, this is one playable instrument for the price!

The Body

The body on the GRX70QA is made of solid polar with a double cut away shape. It’s a decently light guitar with a beautiful quilted maple veneer. The shape and weight make it easy to play and is quite comfortable and decently balanced.

The Neck

You will find a bolt on neck made from maple featuring an “All Access Neck Joint”. This joint in conjunction with the 4 bolts create a rigid experience. The neck is thin compared to a lot of the other guitars we have featured and has a width of 1.65 inches.

The tuners are of decent quality for this price point and do a great job of keeping the guitar in tune. We also find a plastic nut which is to be expected here.

The neck features 22 medium-sized frets and a scale length of 25.5 inches. The frets were well-dressed and did not feel sharp along the edges of the neck. The scale length also allows for decent down tuning if that is your desire. Overall, a nice neck and easy to play, even for smaller hands.

Hardware

The GRX70QA comes with 3 “Infinity” pick-ups. These are Ibanez pick-ups made in China featuring ceramic magnets. You will find one single coil and 2 humbuckers in an “HSH” configuration. Also found here is a 5 way pickup selector switch, allowing you to obtain many sounds.

In addition to the electronics, there is a volume and tone control near the pickup selector to assist in getting great sounds quickly. They feel good and are easy to use.

The guitar also features a tremolo arm and bridge featuring individual saddles. This is great when intonation issues arise and make it easy to fine tune. The tremolo system works good and stays in tune.

Sounds and Verdict

The guitar has some great sounds for this price! The sound is crisp in the highs and well-rounded in the mid-range and low end. Thanks to the 5 way selector switch, it’s capable of many sounds from Stratocaster Style to Les Paul rock.

I was quite surprised at how well this guitar stays in tune, which with a budget model can be a concern. In the end, it offers something for every player and is a great way to get started if that is where you are at. I highly recommend it!


Squier by Fender – Bullet Mustang

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang

The Body

Made of solid basswood and featuring a double cutaway body, the Bullet mustang is light and comfortable. Our test subject was Imperial blue and was a great looking guitar with that classic mustang vibe!

The Neck

The neck on the Mustang is a “C” shaped maple neck with a 24-inch scale length. I found it to be fairly common with another neck of the same radius and was very easy to play. It’s a bolt-on neck, but is fastened well and feels very rigid. You will only find 22 Medium frets here, making this a short-scale guitar, but it’s fun and easy to play!

Hardware

The guitar features die-cast tuners which do a great job of keeping it in tune. On the opposite end, there is a 6 saddle hard tail bridge. It’s no wonder the unit keeps in tune so well with a tried and true design concept.

The two humbucker pickups on this guitar are your standard units, but they sound great! The sound is rich and full throughout the frequency spectrum. It’s an incredible rock machine to say the least and is comparable to some more expensive models!

Sounds and Verdict

As a fan of the 90s rock scene, the Fender Mustang was always a favorite. This recreation by Squier at this price point is nothing short of amazing and is so much more than a budget electric guitar!

Overall, the sounds from it are awesome and the build quality rivals that of more expensive guitars. It’s an incredible unit if you are getting started and if not, I would suggest you own one for the collection!


Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster

Squier affinity stratocaster

The Body

The body of the Squier Affinity Stratocaster is made from poplar and is solid as one would expect. There are a number of different colors that they come in, from surf green to white. The body is quite light and has good detail and contours for such an inexpensive guitar.

The Neck

The neck is made of maple neck with a C profile and a 25.5 inch scale length. It’s a standard Stratocaster neck as one would expect and felt just as good in my hand as any other and was nice and straight. Squier makes some good guitars for the price point, granted they are made overseas. There are 21 medium jumbo frets on the Indian laurel Fingerboard and a synthetic nut.

Hardware

The hardware is quite good, and I was pretty impressed. I did have to make a quick adjustment to the bridge as I had a bit of fret buzz, but it was nice and easy. The bridge is a 2 point tremolo with block saddles that made it easy to set the string height. The tuners were also pretty decent and were easy to turn and held the tuning well. Even the electric guitar strings it came with were good.

The guitar I tested had three single coils that were ceramic and sounded pretty good. It’s quite amazing that you can get a great sound from a cheaper guitar like this one. There are a few other models that come with an HSS pickup configuration for a few extra dollars.

Sounds and Verdict

This was an all Stratocaster tone, and a decent one at that. I’m a fan of this guitar style for clean, bright tones, and I was pleasantly surprised by this guitar. Apparently Squier has upgraded these pickups and I must say they did a good job. The combination of the two-tone knobs and the one master volume, you can get many great sounds.

Now they don’t sound like a Fender Player Series guitar, but for a beginner just getting started, you can get some great Stratocaster tones that will inspire you to practice for sure!


Best Electric Guitars Under 500: Bundle Picks

Our Bundle picks are focused on players who are just getting started. These bundles include in most cases an amplifier, strap and guitar plus accessories. No matter who you are, I suggest you look into bundles to get going. This will help you learn how to pair equipment instead of just guessing. I remember how hard it was to know what gear to piece together!

Take a look!

Squier by Fender: Short Scale Stratocaster

Squier by Fender - Short Scale Stratocaster

This short scale stratocaster is one of the best guitars to get started with. The 24″ scale length is 1.5″ shorter than a standard sized stratocaster making it easier to play. It’s light, well-balanced and stays in tune.

The single coil pickups and volume and tone controls are great for that twangy Stratocaster sound. It’s one of the best ways to get into Fender guitars and is super affordable.

The amplifier is a Squier design that comes with the ability to play along to backing tracks and use headphones. It sounds good and will help you stay inspired to practice.

The included tuner, cable, picks and strap is an all-in-one package that will get you started and last you years to come. Truly wish these types of things were available when I was getting started!


LyxPro Electric Guitar Starter Kit

LyxPro Electric Guitar Starter Kit

The LyxPro electric guitar kit is also of great value and deserves attention here. The instrument is a Stratocaster style with a full-scale neck. It’s made of quality materials and sounds great! This kit can be used by players looking to upgrade with an all-in-one solution.

The included amplifier is 20 watts and features an aux input as well as a headphone jack. It sounds great and can get quite loud if you are looking to use it for small performances.

The included accessories are all you will need to play and maintain your new rig. This is a very popular bundle among new players and has been well received with new players.


How To Choose An Electric Guitar

Once you have decided on your budget, there are a few things to consider when selecting an electric. All the guitars on our list are great for anyone, and so in this case you need to consider your music type.

Once you have started to learn and can play songs, your guitar is going to need to be able to perform them. In this case, once you have an amp, you will want to choose the one with the right sound.

So if you are going after a high gain sound, then you might not want to choose a stratocaster. Something with humbucker pick-ups would be better.

What is Your Electric Guitar Selection Process?

There are many things we consider when suggesting a guitar. Sure, it’s easy to just grab a cheap one, but do you really know what you are getting? With some of the world’s best builders offering great quality for less, you have to be careful what you buy.

Why buy a cheap guitar that lets you down when you can buy one that will provide a good experience? The price tag on so many of them are the same, but the quality is not.

This is why we chose the models we did for our best electric guitars under 500 dollars list.

Not only are they affordable, but the quality is incredible, and the sound is great! You will want something that sounds great with your distortion pedals or amplifiers. Our selection process also takes into consideration warranty and availability.

Why These Manufacturers?

We have roamed the NAMM show floors many times, the vast array of electric guitars lined up are almost spanning to the ceiling!

This makes the choice a difficult one indeed. Many of the manufacturers producing electrics have been at it for many years and are masters of their craft.

So we decided to visit some of the more well known builders to see what they have available.

These will be guitars that are also readily available in most shops and online retailers, so that it’s also a lot easier to get your hands on one.

There are many boutique builders, but the wait times and custom orders will be a bit much if your budget is in the under $500 range.  We spent a considerable amount of time sifting through a lot of their offerings to come up with this article.

Is It Ok To Buy A Cheap Electric Guitar?

Yes, there has never been a better time to buy a cheap electric guitar! Manufacturers have gotten so good at building them overseas that they rival some more expensive models. It’s important to stick with well known brands when buying something cheap of course as they have worked out the kinks.

Just make sure to buy the right guitar for your music style and interests, and the experience will be pretty good. It’s easy to get started as a beginner because the budget guitars are quite inspiring and sound good. They are also built pretty tough and can handle some rough treatment.

What Else Do I Need?

An electric guitar is optimal with an amplifier. But if you are starting, an amplifier is not necessary right away. It’s not very loud when playing without an amp, but it can still be heard.

And at first it might be best to learn how to play a few chords, maybe even a song, before amplifying the instrument.

But it can also be a benefit to have an amplifier and a few other items even when starting out. This will mean that your budget will need to be larger. But most guitar amps would pair with our suggested guitar models nicely.

Conclusion

With the electric guitars I have selected for our list, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. They each do something different and fit into different genres of music. At some point in your playing journey, you will play all of them.

But if you are just getting started, you want to pick the best budget electric guitars that fit your current music interests.

This way, once you get more comfortable with the guitar you choose, you will be able to get the sounds you want from it as you progress. If you don’t use an amp right away, you will eventually. So make sure to pick the one that fits your interests.

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