When buying your first electric guitar, you do not just walk into a guitar shop and place an order on any guitar that you find. For one, that is cumbersome. Second, you could end up with a guitar that is too noisy, or a guitar that does not last long. Hence, you have to think about what you need to achieve first before buying any of the guitars you find online or in a brick and mortar guitar shop.
Before you buy any electric guitar, remember that these guitars are not too audible on their own. You, therefore, have to budget for an amp. The amp acts as a sound amplifier and as a monitor during a live performance. You also need a cable to connect the guitar to the amp.
In this market, you will find a range of electric guitars from different manufacturers. All of them come with different designs, shapes, and prices. Therefore, you have to do proper research if you want a guitar that will satisfy your musical needs as a musician.
When it comes to budget:
Let’s assume that you have a budget of $500. In this range, you can find hundreds of high-quality guitars. And choosing the best one for your needs and money can be somewhat of a problem.
For this reason, we searched for the best electric guitar models in this price range. We are going to highlight ten in this article.
Let’s jump right into it.
Top 10 Best Electric Guitars Under 500 Reviews
1. PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 Electric Guitar – Best for the Money
On top of our list is the fantastic PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 Electric Guitar. If you want a durable guitar, then this is what you should buy.
Right out of the box, you get a guitar with a mahogany body with a volume and tone controls, a three-way switch, and the neck and bridge humbuckers. Note that the tone control has a coil tap feature.
The guitar also features a thin maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard with bird inlays. Its fretboard features 24 frets; hence, adequate room for your solos and rhythms.
If you are the kind that loves sustain, then this guitar provides that. You also offer good sound on your chain since the guitar offers bright tones and rich sounds across the fretboard.
The guitar remains in tune, which is a plus for many guitarists.
We also noticed that the humbuckers are not as noisy.
The PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 electric guitar is ideal for all players of all skill levels. It is an excellent guitar for beginners and professionals. Note also that the guitar fits into any chain rig comfortably.
2. Epiphone 1961 G-400 Pro Electric Guitar – Best Buy
The Epiphone 1961 G-400 Pro Electric Guitar is the best buy option on our list. Numerous reviewers recommend this guitar to musicians because of its amazing qualities.
What we loved about this guitar is that it features a vintage look. Nevertheless, the construction used on the entire guitar is superb and modern.
Both the neck and the body are mahogany, and each provides a satin finish. The body features neck and bridge Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO 4-wire humbucker pickups, which also have coil-split features. The guitar has a LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge and a stop bar tailpiece for intonation, which many guitars of its caliber lack.
The neck is slim, features a D slim Taper neck, and comes with a 22-fret fingerboard with trapezoid inlays.
Although it comes with a vintage look, nothing beats the sound that this guitar produces on the clean and other effects. Users congratulate the brand on coming up with a model that you can play out of the box and always stay on tune.
On the body, you have four tone and volume controls; hence, it boosts each frequency in your mix.
The Epiphone guitar is a model that you can use on and off the stage. Its appealing nature makes it a suitable fit for professionals and beginners. Also, the instrument adapts to any playing style, which is why it is our best buy on this list.
3. Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar (Best Budget buy)
For musicians who are on a budget, finding a guitar that fits your needs is difficult. However, we found something that is within the 200-dollar range that you are going to love.
Primarily, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II guitar does not look like an affordable guitar. It comes with a super reliable construction that will guarantee durability.
The mahogany body features an appealing vintage sunburst, which takes you back to the 60s. On it, you have neck and bridge 700T Humbucker pickups, a bridge with a stop bar tailpiece, a volume and tone control, and a three-way toggle switch.
The neck is also mahogany and comes with a comfortable and smooth feel. Its fingerboard features 22 frets and has dot inlays to make movement easy for beginners.
Although you might find it as small, this guitar sounds so good. We tested everything on this guitar, and the first we noticed is that the humbucker pickups don’t hum. The sound is clean, and the excellent intonation eliminates buzz sounds and dead frets.
The Epiphone Les Paul Special II fits comfortably with any chain rig, and it does not lose its tune.
The Epiphone Les Paul Special II has a smaller body, but the sound that it produces is what professionals would love. Beginners should be lucky enough to own one of these guitars because it trains their musical ear. The other good thing about it is that you can use it for different genres.
4. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Telecaster Electric Guitar
If you want a guitar that you are going to play for years, then the Fender Classic Vibe Telecaster Electric Guitar is what you need in your guitar arsenal.
While it might not be a modern Squier, this Telecaster is fantastic on the body construction. It comes with a pine body that features a gloss polyester finish, vintage strings-thru-body bridge, three brass barrel saddles, chrome volume and tone controls, and a three-position toggle switch.
Its neck comes with a modern C shaped maple neck and a maple fingerboard. The fingerboard is smooth and has medium jumbo frets for fluid movement across the fretboard.
When asked to choose between Telecasters and Stratocasters, many musicians would go for telecasters. The Classic Vibe comes with a vintage appeal, but the sound remains modern.
It also comes with two single-coil Tele Pickups and has AlNico 3 Magnets. Generally, the sound is astounding, the pickups do not hiss, and intonation on the fretboard remains true.
The Classic Vibe is a preference for many musicians because you can use it on and off the stage. Once you buy this guitar, be sure that you are going to use it for years, and perfects your skill from the word go.
5. Yamaha RevStar RS420 Eletcric Guitar
The Yamaha RevStar RS420 belongs to the RS series, and it’s an improvement of the RS320.
The Yamaha RevStar RS420 electric guitar comes with robust features that guarantee durability and resilience. Its body is nato and comes with a maple top. The body also has a contoured back for comfort while playing.
On the body, you will find Alnico V magnet and German silver baseplate humbucker pickups, a Tone-O-Matic bridge with a stop bar tailpiece for intonation, a volume and tone control, and a three-way toggle switch.
The nato neck has a slim profile, a rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and 22 frets. At the headstock, you will find diecast tuners with a 3+3 arrangement.
Yamaha did a fantastic job when it came it sound. The humbucker pickups pickup each signal with precision without adding any dirt or hiss to it. We also noticed that the intonation is uncompromised, which is a characteristic that most guitars in its price range lack.
Note that the tone has a coil-split feature on the tone control. This attribute provides a dry sound, which brings out the brightness of each tone.
The Yamaha RevStar RS420 inspires you to practice for hours. For beginners, this is also a considerable investment because the electric guitar is easy to play, and since it has a small body, it is comfortable to carry it on your shoulders when you are on stage.
6. Ibanez Artcore AS73 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
The Ibanez Artcore AS73 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar is an excellent instrument for musicians who want a professional-looking guitar at an affordable price. We checked it out, and this was what you’ll get out of the box.
Generally, if you are familiar with semi-hollow guitars, you already know that most of them cost much more than 500 dollars, at least. The Artcore AS73 features a semi-hollow maple body with a vintage sunburst color. Regardless of this, the body is slim and smaller; hence, very comfortable to play.
The body also has a neck and bridge ACH humbuckers, which are vintage pickups, a three-way toggle switch, two volume controls, two tone controls, ART1 Bridge, and a stop bar tailpiece for an easy way to change strings.
The mahogany neck is also slim and features a rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets. The fretboard has trapezoid inlays, which give the guitar that jazzy and professional vibe.
Generally, whenever you see any semi-hollow body knows that the guitar will sound fantastic. The gain on this instrument is superb since it has two volume controls. Also, the tone controls on this guitar provides those bright tones and sustain.
Semi-hollow guitars are known for jazz and blues musicians. But that does not mean that it cannot play other genres. Beginners will enjoy this guitar since it has a small body and learning to use it is simple and straightforward.
7. Ibanez Steve Vai JEMJRSP Electric Guitar
Nowadays, it isn’t easy to find a signature guitar that is below 500 dollars. But the Ibanez Steve Vai JEMJRSP electric guitar is one that you are going to love.
Primarily, the guitar features a mahogany body. It has a yellow color finish on it, which makes it look attractive. Another recognizable feature is the “monkey grip” handle for sustain.
The body also comes with one single-coil in the middle and two humbucker pickups on the neck and bridge positions. It also has a double-locking tremolo bridge, a volume and tone controls, a five-way tonal control switch, and a double-locking tremolo.
Its neck is slim and features a jatoba fretboard with a tree of life inlay. Also, the matching headstock comes with diecast tuners and an Ibanez logo on it.
The guitar provides an affordable way for a guitarist to achieve different tonal variations. First, we have the tremolo, which sounds excellent, the whammy bar that keeps your guitar in tune, unlike most of the guitars in this price range, and the three pickups for different tonal variations. Therefore, there’s no need for a coil-split feature.
We tested this guitar, and we loved how bright it sounds.
The Ibanez Steve Vai JEMJRSP is light and comfortable to use on different occasions. And as much as this guitar is ideal for different genres, we think that the guitar suits guitarists who are into rock and musicians who love to shred.
8. Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H YNS Solid-Body Electric Guitar
If you love simple guitars, you should be able to enjoy the Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H YNS Solid-Body Electric Guitar. We tested it, and we thought it was nice to include it in our list.
Most guitars under 500 have a complex design structure. But such designs are ideal for intermediate and seasoned players.
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H YNS comes with a solid alder body, Alnico V P-90, and Alnico V Humbucker Pickups, a stop tail bridge, volume and tone chrome controls, and a three-way toggle switch. Also, the body comes with a cutaway design to make the frets at the furthest end accessible.
For the neck, Yamaha used maple to construct it. They also used rosewood fingerboard, which has 22 jumbo frets. The headstock comes with diecast tuners.
Right off the box, this guitar provides the dry signals that your chain rig needs. Each tone is clear from the word go. We also noticed that the frets feature superb intonation from the first fret to the twenty-second one.
Another sound feature that players will love is that the humbuckers are silent. You won’t hear any hiss sounds when playing.
Yamaha is a reputable brand when it comes to producing high-quality guitars. In our opinion, this is not a fail. We tested every inch of it, and we loved that the manufacturer had the beginner in mind. Nonetheless, experts will enjoy adding this guitar to their rig since it offers professional sound qualities.
9. Squier by Fender Vintage Modified ’72 Thinline Telecaster Electric Guitar
In our number nine spot is the Fender Vintage Modified ’72 Thinline electric guitar, which most guitarists would like to have in their arsenal.
The guitar is one that brings both modern and vintage elements in one guitar. It comes with a semi-hollow ash body, which has an f-style sound hole at the top. The body also has a natural sunburst finish added to it.
Other notable attributes on the body include neck and bridge wide range humbucker pickups, six-saddle string-through-body Bridge, chrome volume and tone controls, and a three-way toggle switch.
The slim neck features a satin finish on the smooth wood to facilitate flawless movement across the fretboard, and a 9.5-inch fingerboard with 21 medium jumbo frets.
Telecasters are known for their unique sound qualities. The Fender Vintage Modified ’72 Thinline is no different.
With the wide range humbucker pickups, the guitar provides bright tones regardless of your position on the neck and the string. We also noticed that the intonation is fantastic, and solos are going to be more fun, especially when bending the notes.
The Fender Vintage Modified ’72 Thinline is a considerable investment for people who want a telecaster that offers comfort on stage and practicing. Beginners will enjoy playing this instrument, mainly since it provides tonal qualities that most electric guitars within its price range fail to offer.
10. ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar
Guitarists who are a bit versatile in terms of the number of genres they can play will always look for an instrument that provides versatility. That is why we choose to review the ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar.
Most of the time, manufacturers will compromise construction if they want to come up with a light guitar. The ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar is different in terms of structure.
It comes with a mahogany body and a maple top. On the body, you’ll find two passive humbucker pickups on the neck and bridge position, stop tail, and tune Matic Bridge, volume, volume-tone, and tone controls, which has a coil-split function. The three-way toggle switch sits at the top of the body, which is unique.
The neck is mahogany and comes with a jatoba fingerboard, which has up to 22 frets. Note also, the neck has u-shape and is smooth.
The ESP LTD EC-256FM Electric Guitar, although it sounds great, comes with two humbucking pickups, which could be darker tone-wise. However, the coil-split feature brings out the brightness that these humbuckers lack.
Both qualities are vital for different situations and songwriting purposes. Apart from that, its tone is superb, stays in tune, and is ready to play out of the box.
The electric guitar is an ideal instrument for any beginner. On the other hand, this is also a superb addition to your music arsenal if you are a seasoned player. Therefore, the guitar will adapt to any playing style despite its size.
Best Electric Guitars Under 500 Buying Guide
So, let’s say you want to learn how to play the guitar professionally, and do you want to break the bank buying an expensive guitar. What should you do in that case?
In our opinion, investing in a premium electric guitar is a good idea. But if you are using it for practicing, and not bigtime performances, an electric guitar within the 500-dollar range is what you should consider buying.
How do you select the best electric guitar out of the numerous options available in the market?
What style of music do you want to play?
Manufacturers understand the aspect of producing guitars that fit a particular set of musicians. That’s why when you are buying any guitar, whether electric or acoustic, the salesperson may ask you want kind of style do you want to play.
For instance, if you desire to be a blues guitarist, then any semi-hollow guitar would suit the purpose. However, for a metal player, the range on semi-hollow guitars would be too small for you. Going for an electric guitar for rock aesthetics and extended range is what you should buy. And trust me, there’s a vast range of guitar for rock players in this range.
Electric guitar type to buy
You’ll hear the salesperson mention certain guitar types such as Stratocasters, Telecasters, and semi-hollow electric guitars. Both Stratocasters and telecasters depend on the electronics only to produce the sound. On the other hand, a semi-hollow guitar has F-shaped holes on the body, which work together with the electronics to affect the overall tone of the guitar.
Another thing: if you are a lead guitarist, and you would like to major on metal rock, look for a guitar with an extended range for extra room for your solos. If you are a blues guitarist, this may not really matter, since you’ll play a mix of rhythm and solos.
How the electronics function?
Obviously, you’ll need to test the sound. And one thing you’ll have to examine is how the electronics function.
Electric guitars have two types of pickups, active and passive pickups. Both are different in that active pickups rely on a battery to boost the amp, while passive pickups don’t need any batteries.
Also, manufacturers typically manufacture two types of pickups. The first one is a single-coil, and the other is the humbucker. Both are excellent choices. Note, however, humbucker pickups tend to be very loud and produce humming, which you need to learn to configure as a musician.
You also need to consider the pickup arrangement. Most strats use single-coil pickups on the bridge, middle, and neck position. Telecasters use two wide range single-coil pickups, but telecasters provide clear signals than strats, according to most musicians.
Tone shaping options
As a musician, you need to know how you want to sound right of the bat. So, depending on your needs, choose a guitar that suits you.
Most electric guitars in the 500$ price range will come with a volume, several tone knobs, and a toggle switch. The toggle switch helps the player alter the pickup position depending on what kind of sound they would like to achieve.
Some brands, such as the Epiphone, also include a coil-tap option on one of the tone control knobs. They also offer extra tone-shaping options on the pickups, such that you can use several at the same time.
The electric guitar’s construction
Many beginners may not consider this option. But in our experience, elite players are very sensitive when choosing an electric guitar that’s easy to play, and one that’s not.
So, ensure that you know the quality of materials used to make the guitar, the finish on the neck, the headstock, the tuning machines, and the fretboard material.
Note: as much as the finish on the neck is vital for the guitar’s appeal, it affects the comfort of the guitar, and the ease of transitioning across the fretboard and neck.
As a beginner or intermediate player, you may not have the equipment necessary to start jamming. Therefore, you can save money by buying an electric guitar with all the accessories you require. That includes an amp, strap, tuner, and guitar picks. But make sure that the guitar is quality.
You should also go for a guitar that’s ready to play out of the box. If the guitar needs upgrades, you may have to spend more money on these adjustments.
Last But Not Least…
The right electronic guitar on your hands should inspire you to play and practice more. Hence, you have to really consider the kind of guitar you should buy before making any investments.
Also, make sure that you buy an electronic guitar that you are comfortable to use. If you have tiny hands, buy a guitar that will be easy to play and comfortable to use.
From the list above, we noticed that selecting the best guitars was a task. And so, we’ve made it easy for you. Note, however, as we were listing the above ten guitars, each had its strength and weaknesses. Therefore, while buying, make sure to notice the strengths and weaknesses to avoid purchasing a guitar that doesn’t sound the way you desire.
Also, it is essential to understand that guitars within the 500-dollar range are quality guitar. They are not for beginners only. Hence, you can use such a guitar even when you go up the skill level or even during live performances.
Finally, although all the guitars listed above the best electric guitars under 500, our top pick is Epiphone 1961 G-400 Pro Electric Guitar. The guitar comes at a reasonable price, and since it has a durable construction, you will play it for years. It can also adapt to different playing styles.