TOP ELECTRIC GUITARS UNDER $500
You may not believe it but there are a multitude of advantages in choosing the best electric guitars under 500. Many players don’t want to spend large amounts of money on their hobby and hobbies can quickly become expensive when you begin chasing professional level equipment. So what do you get if you invest $500 into an electric guitar? What’s the BEST ELECTRIC GUITARS UNDER $500 today?
One thing that is for certain about this article is that we’re going to recommend ten fantastic guitars in this price range, and we’re going to give you plenty to think about in terms of accessories and add-ons which will help boost your chances for success as a guitarist.
So let’s check out our recommendations: You’ll find more information at the links included.
1) Squier by Fender J Mascis Signature Series
The Fender J Mascis Jazzmaster is offered with either a maple or rosewood fretboard in an array of colors. It comes standard with pickups designed by Mascis himself, offering two distinct tones. To top it off, there’s only one knob to be found on the entire instrument – which is used for volume control of both pickups at once in various combinations.
The JM can be had for around $499 retail though you might find something cheaper if you’re patient enough to wait for a sale or coupon code. You can expect to pay more if you want it in a specific color other than black with white pickguard because that’s the most popular model. The guitar I tested was brand new, straight from store stock, and didn’t have any blemishes on it whatsoever.
On the body of the guitar, you’ll find a pair of gold Jazzmaster pickups with white covers as well as a normal 3-way pickup selector switch. The JM doesn’t have an active/passive toggle, which is common on most Fender models nowadays. One oddity with these particular pickups is that they’re wired out-of-phase to each other by default, though I presume this was done for a specific reason since swapping them will result in an uncontrollable volume spike later on down the line.
2) Gretsch G2622 Streamliner
I was expecting this to be a completely laminated body guitar because it has a somewhat cheap price tag. However, I was surprised that it is actually made of solid wood (laminated flame/ veneer top) and features a thick cut-away for better access to high registers.
The neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard and the headstock features a similar color combination. It also has inlaid position marks and standard medium jumbo frets, which makes me think it’s quite comfortable to play.
Tune-O-Matic bridge and sealed tuners contribute to tuning stability while die-cast tuners provide accurate tuning. Gretsch Streamliner series use short length necks (24.6″ instead of 25.5″ or longer) which are perfect for performing or recording in the studio.
3) Squier by Fender 50’s Telecaster
It features the standard Tele bridge/tailpiece configuration with a 3-way pickup selector switch and volume/tone knobs. The neck is maple with 21 medium jumbo frets finished in satin urethane to allow for smooth playability. The body is solid Alder finished in polyurethane gloss black. This model comes stock with three Duncan-designed single-coil pickups.
I’ve had this thing for about two years now and to be honest there isn’t too much to say about it. The components really aren’t anything special, but they do the job. What’s interesting is the vintage tinted neck, which adds a little something different to my rather generic-looking black guitar.
The fretboard radius of this thing is enormous, so if you are used to playing on 6 or 7-string guitars with shallower radii you’re in for a treat! Of course, this also means that if you have smaller hands there may be some problems reaching certain frets. Also, each string has its own individual saddle, allowing for excellent string resonance and tone/volume balance between them all.
4) Schecter Omen Extreme-FR
Schecter has been using their own proprietary headstocks for many years now so don’t expect anything fancy there either. The company logo, model name, and serial number are silkscreened onto the body right above where the headstock starts to taper outwards giving that very distinct elongated shape that you typically only see on Schecter guitars. The string tree is placed at about 2 o’clock position on the headstock while tuners are generic Grover clones.
It comes with a single Seymour Duncan ’59 Humbucker at the bridge and a Railhammer T77 single-coil in the middle, which gives you a versatile array of tones to play around with. The controls are pretty basic as well; one volume knob, one tone knob, and a 3-way pickup toggle switch…no special switching here! As far as the body goes, I really like how it was designed because Schecter carved out ample room for upper fret access by keeping curvy cuts on each side of the lower bout. This curvaceous design lines up beautifully with your forearm when your hand is positioned over the top of it while playing seated…unlike some other guitars that have cutaways but are not curved enough to make that comfortable contact.
5) Ibanez Artcore Series AS73G
The Ibanez Artcore Series is a collection of guitars with fully hollow bodies and semi-hollow necks. A great example of this design in the range is the AS73G, finished in gorgeous Vintage Sunburst with gold hardware.
At first glance, it’s hard to tell that its body contains two pieces of plywood, with an arched top and flat back providing flexibility when required. The solid maple block running through the center anchors the whole guitar together – something you might not think about until you see another similar guitar that lacks this feature!
Despite being hollow, it’s surprisingly heavy. However this also means that it has an extremely resonant character to it; plugging in your phone or via the Auxiliary input (which is great to see on a guitar of this price), the notes seem to amplify by themselves.
6) Jackson JS Series Dinky Arch Top JS32 DKA
It was four years ago that I picked up my first ever Jackson guitar. That was to be the start of a long, slow obsession with these heavy metal shred machines. Since then, I’ve owned at least one in every model offered by Jackson in their “entry-level” series. But out of all the guitars in the line, only one has stood out to me as something truly special. There is something about its shape that screams hard rock and roll at me through an amplifier – something that is just too difficult for words to describe. It just looks, feels, and sounds right. And so when it came time for me to expand my own again, I knew exactly what I wanted. I felt that if my experiences with Jackson were to be taken into account, it would be foolish of me not to give this guitar a second look. And so here we are.
At first glance, there does not appear to be anything extraordinary about the DKA, but upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that this guitar is so much more than just your hum-drum run-of-the-mill rehash. The body shape has been stripped of all extra flourishes and features a simple, sleek outline with modern styling. In fact, this new model offers very few updates from the previous JS32T Kelly, which was originally introduced in 2008.
7) G&L Tribute Legacy
G&L has built a solid reputation of making instruments that are on the higher end so when I found out about the G&L tribute series I was intrigued. When I heard there were two models available at my local guitar center, which are the DGT and Legacy, it seemed like a no brainer to finally get an all maple guitar.
The three pickups on this model allow you to have a variety of tones from vintage to modern. And for players who do not want or can’t afford Gibson or Fender prices this is an excellent substitute because they contain many similar characteristics as them such as binding and neck contouring just to name a few.
This all maple beauty comes with a rosewood fretboard, 25.5″ scale, 1 11/16″ nut width, and is made in the USA.
8) Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Stratocaster
The neck is really smooth to play on, it’s a C-shape neck. The guitar feels smooth with the finish on it. One problem with this is that the paint scratches off pretty easily, which doesn’t look good at all for a new guitar. Other than that, the neck feels great and I personally like them to be a little bit thicker, but that’s just me.
The pickups are really good pickups for this price range of guitars. They have quite high output compared to most other Fender Stratocasters from Squier. You also get a lot of tonal variety because you can play around with the tone knob on each pickup which makes it easier to find your own sound by experimenting with different tones. There is only one pick up selector switch instead of five switches as it is on most Strats. You can also change the pickups for other single coils if you want to – I would recommend installing some Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups, but they do cost a bit more than what this guitar costs.
The neck and middle pickup have no tone knob, which means that all your neck and neck/middle tones will be of high output. This isn’t really a big problem though as you will notice that once you start playing it.