Best Cheap Electric Guitars 2020

There are many options to choose from when looking for an electric guitar to suit your own personal and music needs. Electric guitars play a wide range of genres of music, and finding an affordable guitar is based on your choice in the guitar. Let not the phrase affordable electric guitar misleading you into thinking that there are no affordable guitars that have a top-notch sound quality and playability. Below is a guide on our 10 best recommended electric guitars that go for under $500 and others for under $1000 that cover every sonic need and all bases.

With this guide, you’ll be able to find a superior quality electric guitar that will not only be a great accessory to your musical needs, but it will also provide you with years of service, and you won’t even need to break the bank.

Features to consider in best budget electric guitars

Your skill set and personal style should be your topmost priority when shopping for a pocket-friendly electric guitar. The choice for your guitar becomes a lot easier once you have outlined these details. Apart from the general feel and sound abilities of the guitar, here are some of the attributes you should look out for when shopping for an affordable guitar.

The guitar body

There are various shapes and sizes of variations of guitar bodies that tickle the fancies of different people. Everyone has a preference for how they would like their guitar to look like and feel like. Here are the 3 notable electric guitar bodies available.

Solid-body

A solid body of an electric guitar doesn’t have a soundbox; therefore, the electric guitar relies entirely on the electric pickup system for it to collect the string vibrations. The best part about this solid body build varies from it having the capability to amplify sonic vibrations to high volumes without having feedback issues. It also allows for different design shapes and is highly responsive to the use of various effects since the body is almost reliant on sound amplification.

Semi-hollow

This body has a unique small sonic box with support for amplification. This body allows you to use the amp and is very much lighter due to its semi-hollow design as compared to the solid bodies. Other people might say they prefer it for its versatility.

Hollow

This electric guitar build is rare than the other builds. The hollow electric guitar generates a sound that is almost, if not similar, to an acoustic guitar. It gives out a richer sound, although at higher volumes, it has feedback issues. The bass response with this body is great, and it is ideal in jazz players.

Playability

Any guitarist will tell you that if you are an amateur, you’d want to start out with a guitar that is easy to play. Most times, electric guitars are easier for beginners than acoustic guitars and are easier on the fingers. Always ensure that you pick a guitar that has the strings that are closer to the fretboard. The measurement of the fretboard and the strings is called “action.” Always ensure that you have the right action when it comes to choosing a guitar.. You’ll need a setup of some kind if the action is off or a tad too high.

Bridge

There are many forms of bridges, but it is advisable to find either a fixed bridge or a tremolo bridge. Tremolo bridges allow you to test the aspects of your guitar from tuning while fixed bridges provide tuning stability.

Pickups

For beginners, a guitar with more than one selector switch is ideal for a quick selection. There are 2 types of pickups, the single-coil, and the humbucker pickups. The single-coil more than often provides shiny bright sounds while humbuckers provide and fuller sounds.

Lefty or righty compatibility

Always ensure that the electric guitar model you’ve picked has a righty or lefty compatibility. Most guitars nowadays offer this compatibility, but it is best to check just to be sure.

Color designs

Color design choices can be influenced by a number of items. Be it your favorite guitarist or a character in a movie who had a cool electric guitar that was bedazzled, go for a look that speaks to you as an individual, and what inspires you. If Prince’s guitar is what inspires you to bring out your inner guitarist, then go for it.

Top 5 best budget electric guitars worth under $500

1. PRS SE Standard

Design Features

The PRS SE Standard is a low key version of the well-loved guitar that was originally made in the USA. It has a classic mahogany neck, and the body is finished in various colors such as tobacco sunset, opaque black as well as the platinum metallic finishing that extends to the back of the neck and has a matching headstock. This guitar has no top frame or quilt. The neck of the guitar, however, has a fretboard with a rosewood finish that is equipped with the detailed PRS SE bird inlays.

Convenient features

The guitar has solid hardware that is in the form of the 2 PRS SE humbucker. The bridge has treble, and its neck is SE vintage bass. The volume controls have a 30- way switch and a coil top that provides single call tones. The SE gig bag that comes with the guitar is beautiful and stylish for the everyday user and is one that you wouldn’t mind showing off. The comfortable shape of the neck and its matching 25″ length scale is remarkable. The contoured lower cutaway makes for easy access to the upper fret.

The chord part and the lead are very comfortable across the range of the guitar. The tuning is also a breeze and stable and is layered with precise intonation and a bridge that is one of the best for an affordable guitar. The flooring setup makes for a smooth tremolo action and trem arm, which is exactly the correct length and height to provide the guitarist with a comfortable play.

Pros
  • The build quality is magnificent
  • You can tune it to different tones
  • The playing experience is comfortable
Cons
  • The price is not as refined as the other more expensive pro models.

Verdict: This product has good value for money, and you’ll not feel like you’ve wasted your money at all. Despite its price, this Standard 24 packs in a big punch arming the player with a practical guitar that is not only comfortable; it also comes with a lot of tones and it is playable in every degree. In fact, it might just be the best guitar starter guitar out there. Anyone looking to start playing the guitar should acquire this model.

2. Yamaha Pacifica Series Pac112V

Design features

Yamaha Pacific 112V has a 3 ply scratchplate material that provides it with an authenticity of sorts as compared to the original Pacific. It does not provide room for fancy details since it bases its main focus on the necessities that a guitar should possess. The build to this guitar is magnificent as it is fitted with an alder body that consists of a maple neck, 22 frets, a 5-way selector switch, and volume and tone controls. It is left-handed oriented, and its finish is satin.

Convenient features

If you compare this model with other high-end ones, then it is sure to fall a little short. However, it ensures that you get an authentic experience of an electric guitar. It has a stable and strong neck, and the modified pickups are easily compatible with other models using the V loaded pickups. The humbucker provides this model with a versatility that is relative to a beginner’s guitar. It is also able to deal with the distortions, and the clarity is good.

Pros
  • Perfect for amateurs
  • Excellent design
  • Versatility
  • Top build quality
Cons
  • The vibrato could use some improvements

Verdict: The Pacifica is perfect for beginners and provides you with long term usage.

3. Squire Vintage Modified 72 Telecaster Thinline

Design features

The Vintage Modified Telecaster is a semi-hollow version guitar. It has a stunning appeal with the sunburst version. The neck is a SLim 21 fret that is C-shaped for easy playing. The pickups have been made accessible with a 3-way switch, and it has volume and tone dials.

Convenient features

The semi-hollow body makes for excellent acoustic tones that give much volume even when the guitar is unplugged. The unplugged output is warm, and it sounds pretty good for an affordable guitar. The total output of this guitar provides a versatility that is not in other models.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Keen attention to details
Cons
  • The gloss finish on the neck might not appeal to everyone’s taste

Verdict: The Squire Vintage Telecaster is a very good guitar. It looks and feels top-notch, putting into consideration its build quality. The semi-hollow body provides melodious tunes that will be having you jamming to wonderful tunes at a budget-friendly price.

4. Epiphone Les Paul

The Epiphone Les Paul has a single-coil and a jack that is mounted in the pickguard as a way to cut on production costs. It also has voice controls and master tones that are a good addition. The rosewood fretboard and the general setup ensure that you get a nice experience when playing this instrument. The bridged and ceramic neckline is surrounded by a custom single-ply pickguard. Aside from that, the SL is fitted with 22 medium frets, a master tone, an adjustable intonated stop bar tailpiece, and a 3-way toggle switch and volume control.

Convenient features

The electromagnetic pickups made out of ceramic provide a good sound. The usability of the tone controls varies across the range. The build has an extensive heft but is at the same time light and tries not to be cumbersome.

Pros
  • Ease in playing
  • It is lightweight
Cons
  • The pickup neck is dark

Verdict: This guitar is a good performer for its low price. The SL is a great deal for a guitar that feels and sounds amazing and has the looks to back it up. The playability is good across the range, and the quality control is also remarkably good for an electric guitar with its price tag.

5. Fender 96 String Bullet Mustang HH

Design features

This attractive guitar comes in an imperial blue and black and has a metallic finish to it. The basswood body of this guitar makes it lightweight to carry, and the 2 humbuckers provide an angular grit in the bridge. It feels rigid thanks to the 6-saddle bridge and the maple neck. The tuners maintain their pitch excellently without a sweat.

Convenient features

The volume and tone dials in this guitar do not wobble, and they are a good assurance of quality. The pickup selector switch is angled to prevent you from knocking it off once you start getting into the groove. The guitar is remarkably thin, and the C-shaped neck is quite comfortable to the touch of the hand. The 24″ length scale is perfect for people with relatively smaller hands and allows for easy play.

Pros
  • The short length scale is perfect for beginners
  • Lightweight body
  • The pricing is incredible
  • The neck and fingerboard are comfortable
Cons
  • As time goes by, the pickups will need to be upgraded.

Verdict: The Fender 6 provides an old school comfort and feel to the guitar and compactness. It is a great choice for a guitar under $150.

Top 5 best budget electric guitars worth under $1000

6. PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Custom 24

Design features

The Paul Reed Smith has a maple cover on a mahogany body and neck with 2 humbuckers that provide a mellow midrange sound. The tuners don’t lock, and they function well with a glossy finish to them. The fretwork and neck are comfortable, and the guitar has 24 frets, which can be accessed easily. The volume and tone controls provide a versatile sound that emanates from these bass and treble pickups.

Convenient features

The bridge to this guitar is extremely low-key, making palm-muting a nice experience. The rosewood, maple, and mahogany provide the guitar with a classy look. The bridge is built to withstand some serious heavy tones and still retain definition and clarity even in absurd rich gain levels. It comes with a gig bag that is stylish. The PRS exudes more obvious factors such as classic looks, top-notch manufacturing, and great sounds.

Pros
  • Has a great range of tones
  • It has a wonderful playing experience
Cons
  • The neck finish is somewhat tacky.

Verdict: This modern classic has a wide range of tones and its playability is quite addictive. Its roadworthy durability makes this guitar an ideal workhorse guitar. It is stylish, classy, and its versatility brings it to a superior quality without weighing down your pockets.

7. Ibanez RG550 Genesis Electric Guitar

Design features

Just like the original, Ibanez RG550 has a thin wizard neck that has been crafted from 5 solid walnut pieces and make for stability to offer a breezy playing experience. The Ibanez has 5-way pickup switch, and its excellent tuning stability can be gotten through the Gotoh machines.

Convenient features

This Japanese made electric guitar has basswood that is lightweight to allow you to play for hours without getting tired. The solid walnut pieces provide it with a rigidity that allows you to play the guitar without worrying that it will warp or other intonation issues. The 2 humbuckers the V7 and V8 offer a great deal of variety for the players and useful tones as well. Tonal versatility is enhanced by the single-coil, which ensures that the guitar can withstand any conditions. It is available in 4 delightful colors: red, the iconic desert yellow, white, and purple.

Pros
  • Versatility in the tone
  • Available reissue of the original iconic guitar
Cons
  • The finish may not fit in well with other people.

8. Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollow Body

Design features

Gretsch G5420T’s body is built from a 5-ply maple that has a glossy finish and a full maple neck. This provides players with warm tones. It has a vintage style tuners machine at the headstock, and the fingerboard has 22 medium jumbo frets with a nice rosewood touch. The hardware is plated with chrome and has 2 F-holes. There are 3 colors available for you to choose from: aspen green, orange satin, Fairline blue. This guitar has 2 blacktop filter humbuckers at the bridge and neck. Both these have their volume controls and a master tone to provide a good sound shaping.

Convenient features

The tailpiece complements the bridge satisfactorily well and for more prolonged sustainability. The craftsmanship in this guitar is evident with the body and neck binding. For players who feel nostalgic about the 50s and 60s sounds, you may take a trip down memory lane with the Black Tron Filter. The pickups in this model might be similar to their high-end counterparts, but the difference comes in with the tone quality and aesthetics. It is easier to control the pickup selector switch, volume knob using the tone knob.

Pros
  • Excellent build
  • Easy playability
  • Beautiful colors
  • Gretsch sound and style
Cons
  • It is a difficult task to adjust the strings and O-Matic bridges.

Verdict: This model just drips the retro appeal, and the design is simply timeless. The Gretsch is ideal for players who are transitioning to hollow guitars and want pop on stage while playing

9. Fender Player Stratocaster

Design features

This guitar provides a wide range of musical tones. The body is sleek and it provides a smooth playability in true Fender fashion. The guitar is equipped with a 2-point vibrato design, a satin neck, and 3 alnico single-coils. The body is older and even though it’s a multi-piece, every piece matches well with the body so that it appears to be one full piece. The body has a glossy finish and has no flaws in the finishing. It is available in 4 colors and has a general 5-way switch. The Fender has 3 knobs for controlling, and one is closest to the ring. This is the master volume control, while the rest are tonal controls.

Convenient features

The guitar comes with a vibrato system that double locks. This ensures that even in aggressive use, the system remains in tune. In case of any needed corrections to the tune, the bridge fine is added to make room for such adjustments. The radius of the fingerboard is flat to ease fretting out, and bending of the C-neck shape of the guitar makes it very comfortable to hold.

Pros
  • Top-notch tones
  • High playability
Cons
  • The tubers are very stiff

Verdict: The neck finish is in satin, and the body has gradual and smooth tones, which are also quite comfortable. The sound quality is excellent, and the colors are stylish. The Fender is sure to attract many new generational players.

10. Fender Classic Player Baja ’60s Telecaster

Fender Classic Player Baja '60s Telecaster

Design features

The Fender Baja has an alder body and a glossy maple neck polyester finish with a rosewood board. The guitar presents the 1950s, 1960s vibe and even throws in the C-shaped neck, which is very comfortable. It has 21 medium frets, a neck single coil, 58 Tele pickups, and 4-way switching and 3 brass saddles.

Convenient features

The alder body gives this 1960s inspired guitar with a smoothness that is only associated with expensive models. The additional 4th sound on the pickup is a great addition. The guitar comes with a gig bag.

Pros
  • Smooth, high-quality sounds
  • Wide range of useful tones
Cons
  • It has a brass bridge

Verdict: The classic Baja is a timeless evolution, and the 3 saddle bridge and string-through body the player with a classic feel. The Fender model comes in 3 colors: candy apple red, sunburst and faded sonic blue.

Things to consider when buying an electric guitar

a) Budget

The price of the guitar is a critical factor that will aid you in deciding the best guitar option. Any quality instrument costs quite a sum of money. As with the above-listed guitars, there are guitars that can fit your budget. You don’t have to dig deeper into your pocket to obtain an electric guitar

b) Purpose of purchasing the guitar

You also need to consider the reason why you are purchasing the guitar in the first place. Is it to learn how to play it, or is it for performing?

c) Bridge

There are many forms of bridges, but it is advisable to find either a fixed bridge or a tremolo bridge. Tremolo bridges allow you to test the aspects of your guitar from tuning while fixed bridges provide tuning stability

d) The person whom you are purchasing it for

If the guitar is for a beginner, you might want to consider the size, sound quality and meets their aspirations and, most importantly, their taste. Find out what kind of guitar they want and who inspires them.

e) Frets

Frets act as note separators to allow the player to play single notes and chords. They are the metal bars that run across the neck. Most guitars have 22 frets while guitars inmcli8ned towards rock usually have 24 frets.

f) Necks

Ensure you select a guitar that has a comfortable neck. You don’t want to get tired mid-session. C shaped necks are usually preferred for comfort, and u shaped necks are usually left for the faster players

g) Pickups

For beginners, a guitar with more than one selector switch is ideal for a quick selection. There are 2 types of pickups, the single-coil, and the humbucker pickups. The single-coil more than often provides shiny bright sounds while humbuckers provide and fuller sounds.

h) Body wood

This might seem like a minor concern and can probably be passed off as irrelevant. However, the tone produced by your guitar heavily relies on the material used to make the guitar and its quality. The very common tonewoods include; alder, basswood, and mahogany.

Different woods produce varied tonal qualities. Mahogany produces warm sounds; basswood produces a balanced tone and swamp ash ahs brighter sounds.

i) The shape of the body

Solid shape guitars are usually the go-to for everyone, however, you can choose to go with either a single or double cutaway shape.

Conclusion

With this guide, you are now in the know about the best affordable electric guitars under $500 and $1000. The electric guitars under $500 most often than not are for amateurs but they still remain to be a great starting point for anyone out there. The high-end guitars over $1000 preset more features to the player and are very durable, unlike their counterparts under $500. Nevertheless, you should stick to your set budget and get the best electric guitar for your selected piece.

As earlier recommended, you should possess rough ideas of what you need in a guitar and make the purchase. Choosing a color and design with your guitar speaks a lot about who you are as a persona and as a guitarist. The biggest disclaimer is that there’s a difference between affordable and cheap; therefore, you should do your research well before deciding to for out money to purchase the guitar. It is always advisable to buy a guitar that’s on the higher limit of your budget and possesses qualities such as good sound quality, superior build quality looks cooler, and, most importantly, can provide you with years of service.

Jeff Day
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