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.
This opens up a rather large selection of instruments that may or may not be a great fit for you.
The truth is, to truly be inspired, the 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!
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 picks are guitars that have incredible value for the dollar. These are models that are quite generous for what these manufacturers are asking. They are units that are on the top end of the price point.
Schecter Omen Elite 6
Schecter Warranty: 1 year
One of the best metal guitars out 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 great 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 unit 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.
Amplifiers Used To Test:
- Revv Generator MK3
The Omen Elite 6 comes with a slim C neck profile that is very comfortable and easy to play. It is 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.
We used the Revv Generator MK3 as it has a wide range of tonal options. First thing we noticed is that the Omen Elite was pretty quiet, even on aggressive channels. These are hot pickups, and so this was nice.
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. A great sounding guitar!
- Good Construction
- Articulate Sound
- Easy to play neck shape
- Great looking Guitar
- High output Pickups
- Many colors and options
- None At this Price
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 50s
Squier Warranty: 2 Years
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.
Amplifiers Used To Test:
- Marshall JCM 800
- Vox AC30
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.
When played through the JCM800, the Squier classic vibe had all the clean headroom it needed to produce that great telecaster spank sound we 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 great! This is a working man’s Telecaster, and I’m super impressed.
- Quality hardware and material
- Sound rivals more expensive guitars
- Fun to play
- Vintage looks and feels great
- Well known brand
- Some have complained that the action was high until properly set up
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50s
Squier Warranty: 2 Years
Vintage vibe to the max! This Stratocaster has some unique touches but is stock full of features 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 an alder body, gloss polyester finish, a “C” style maple neck with a 25.5 inch scale length and vintage style single coil pick-ups.
It is also available in different colors/finishes, and a left-handed model also exists. The Stratocaster is a guitar every player should own. Now it is affordable enough to have in your collection.
Amplifiers Used To Test:
- Fender Blues Jr.
Squier was able to also pull off a great Stratocaster model that sounds and feels like a more expensive guitar. This guitar plays like an American-made Strat 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 we 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, don’t have any complaints about play ability.
According to Squier, this guitar comes with 3 Fender designed pickups, and we 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!
Through the Fender Blues jr. amplifier, it sounded great! 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!
- Quality hardware and materials
- Sounds Great
- Fun and Easy to Play
- Vintage Look
- Designed by a professional Manufacturer
- Some have complained about the action being high. set up required
Epiphone Coronet Reissue
Epiphone Warranty: 1 Years
Epiphones 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 Epiphones 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!
- Solid Construction
- Glued In Neck
- Single P-90 Guitar
- Reissue Vintage Look
- Great Rock Tones
- A Bit Neck Heavy But Not Bad
ESP LTD EC-256
ESP Warranty: 1 Year
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 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 tap configuration for single and humbucking tones and a set neck for excellent articulation and long-lasting sustain! A seriously great guitar at an excellent price!
- Build Hardware and Materials
- Excellent Pick-up configuration
- Easy to play cut-away
- Great look and sound
- Designed by a well known brand.
- 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 Warranty: 1 Year
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 acoustic 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 great score from Schecter for a great price!
- Build quality and hardware
- Sounds good
- Nice neck, easy to play
- Stays in tune
- Designed by an experienced and well known brand
- 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 – Value Picks
Our Value 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 very good despite the price.
Lets take a look!
Value Pick #1 – Ibanez GRX70QA
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 on the GRX70QA is made of solid polar with a double cut away shape. It is 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.
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.
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 pick up selector switch, allowing you to obtain many sounds.
In addition to the electronics, we find 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 great and stays in tune.
Sounds and Conclusion
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 position pick up selector, it is capable of many sounds from Stratocaster Style to Les Paul rock.
We were 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. We highly recommend it!
Value Pick #2 – Squier by Fender – Bullet Mustang
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 on the Mustang is a “C” shaped maple neck with a 24-inch scale length. We found it to be fairly common with another neck of the same radius and was very easy to play. It is 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 is fun and easy to play!
The guitar features die-cast tuners which do a great job of keeping it in tune. On the opposite end, we find a 6 saddle hard tail bridge. It is 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 of great responses throughout the frequencies. It is an incredible rock machine to say the least and is comparable to some more expensive models!
Sounds and Conclusion
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! Overall, the sounds from it are awesome and the build quality rivals that of more expensive guitars. It is an incredible unit if you are getting started and if not, I would suggest you own one for the collection!
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, we 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!
Bundle Pick #1 – 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 is light, well-balanced and stays in tune.
The single coil pickups and volume and tone controls are great for that twangy Stratocaster sound. It is 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!
Bundle Pick #2 – 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 is 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.
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 is 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.
What is Your Electric Guitar Selection Process?
There are many things we consider when suggesting a guitar. Sure, it is 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.
What Should You Look for When Selecting 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 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 is 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 even when starting. This will mean that your budget will need to be larger. But some great guitar amps under $500 would pair with our suggested models nicely.
With the electric guitars we have selected for our list, it is 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 electric guitar that fits your current music interests.
This way, once you get more comfortable with the guitar, 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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