So you want to shred without all the lettuce. You want to strum without losing all your Benjamins. You want an electric guitar without spending loads of money…is what these metaphors mean. Probably over-explaining it now. If you’re looking for an affordable electric guitar that doesn’t sacrifice quality, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at ten notable electric guitars for under $500.
While there’s still 9 more guitars to talk about on this list, you really can’t go wrong with stopping here, at the Les Paul Standard. This guitar is one of the most sought-after electrics in its price range. If you’ve ever played a Les Paul Epiphone before, you know what we’re talking about. Besides being a legendary guitar invented by the artist, inventor, and guitarist, Les Paul, this guitar also has what it takes to be legit, such as ProBucker-2™ and ProBucker-3™ pickups with coil-tapping. You can find this guitar for literally one dollar under $500 at most stores.
Since 1996, ESP’s subsidiary LTD has been creating quality guitars at very affordable prices. The EC-256, for example, is a great guitar if you’re looking to spend around $400. With extra-jumbo frets and a thin-U neck, this guitar is super comfortable to play. These guitars are known for their reliability and excellent build quality. And with a lightweight body, they make for great gigging guitars.
If you’re looking for a decent guitar at a super affordable price, look no further. This Ibanez features Powersound Pickups as well as 5-way switching to give you a variety of tones and styles. With a contoured body, it’s super easy to get comfortable while shredding away on this puppy. If your music styles fall in line with hard rock or country, then this is the guitar for you!
Get used to people staring when you bust out this guitar. Its thinner mahogany body with satin finish delivers killer sounds while also being ridiculously pleasing to the eye. When it comes to tonal diversity, this guitar hits it out of the park. With Super Rock II pickups, you’ll be able to shred crunchy riffs while also being able to switch the pickup to single-coil mode to get those beautiful, clear, resonant tones. To spare you some technical mumbo jumbo, Schecters have hardware that promises to keep your guitar in tune longer, which is always a plus! Grab a Schecter Stealth for just under $500.
The Dean Custom falls right in the middle-range for guitars under $500. For around $350, this guitar has some great perks such as the Floyd Rose locking tremolo. The beauty of the Floyd Rose is in its ability to keep the guitar in tune even during crazy changes in pitch. Greats like Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen are just a few notable artists to rock out using the Floyd Rose. With a carved flamed maple top and a lightweight basswood back, this guitar has the looks, the sound, and the ability to keep rocking in tune no matter what you throw at it.
A perfect jammer or learner guitar, the Yamaha Pacifica is a super inexpensive electric guitar option. While you really shouldn’t use this electric to tour or play live, you can still hook it up to an amp and shred to your heart’s content. With a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, this guitar actually has a great look to it while also providing for a comfortable neck and fast action. Expect to pay under $200 for this super-affordable, super-shreddable guitar.
We’re bookending this article with two Epiphone guitars. Why? Because Les Paul was the man. And G-400 Pro was actually a successor Les Paul model from ’61 to ’68, making this guitar a true icon of rock, power, and endless sustain. With a mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard, this guitar has the looks and, with Alnico Classic Pro humbucking pickups, the tonal quality is excellent.
Perfect as a first guitar or the last guitar you’ll ever need, the PRS SE Standard Electric Guitar faithfully recreates the foundational design of the custom 24, PRS’s flagship model, with all-mahogany body construction. This affordable electric guitar features classic PRS appointments, including a 24-fret maple neck, rosewood fretboard with bird inlays, 85/15 “S” pickups, and the PRS patented molded tremolo, resulting in a guitar that handles well and sounds as good plugged straight into an amp as it does run through a pedal board. The SE standard 24 is a modern instrument with a powerful voice for players who demand a rock-solid, reliable guitar. As PRS puts it, “with so many aspiring players struggling to stick with guitar past the first year, we knew we wanted to deliver an affordable quality Guitar that players didn’t have to fight. We want the guitar to inspire you to play; it can’t be something you have to worry about staying in tune or simply working right. So while the SE Standards are our first foray into the below $500 price point, that doesn’t mean we compromised on tone, versatility, playability, or reliability. We’re very proud to offer these guitars to the world.”
The G&L Legacy blends contemporary refinements from the Leo Fender-designed S-500 and Comanche models with classic Alnico V pickups. If your holy grail is faithful Alnico single-coil tone with modern refinements and superb craftsmanship, the Legacy makes for an excellent choice thanks to the work of Paul Gagon, G&L VP Engineering. Gagon found his inspiration reviewing original prints stored in Leo’s private laboratory at G&L, but that was just the start. Gagon tirelessly analyzed many examples of what were considered holy grail guitars, spending time out on the shop floor talking to builders still working in the pickup department since the 1950s, all on a quest to discover where the real mojo was – and wasn’t. What he learned from the builders matched his own engineering analysis. Gagon’s persistence paid off as the Legacy garnered rave reviews from both players and magazines like Guitar Player and Guitar World.
There’s an old proverb that goes, “If you can’t afford a Fender Strat, get a Fender Standard Strat.” We can’t agree more. This is the guitar company that changed the world of electric guitar, so you can’t go wrong with any Fender. But, if you have the money, go with the Standard over the Squire as that’s truly a beginner guitar. The Standard has features such as three single-coil pickups, synchronized tremolo with high-mass bridge block, and a ‘70s-style headstock logo. While some sites are selling this guitar close to $400, it’s more commonly found just under $500.
So there you have it. Ten electric guitars under $500. And we know you have a few more great electrics in mind, so please let us know! Also, don’t forget to check out: the 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500!
By John Lombard