Upping The Ante: Top 10 Best Electric Guitars That You Can Buy For Under $1000! Detailed Reviews And Recommendations!

If you can show me a thousand bucks, I can show you a thousand awesome electric guitars! In fact you probably don’t even need that much cash to find an excellent guitar that will make you fall in love.
The $1000 mark is probably the biggest amount the majority of players will ever spend on a guitar. Yes – you could go all out and splurge $5000 on a custom model – but so could anyone. If you have the money, go for it. But for under $1000 you can get an axe of very similar quality with very little room for being ripped off.

Take a look at our comparison chart below and you’ll see the best guitars for under $1000, along with their individual ratings and links to our in-depth reviews. After the chart we share some tips to make the buying process easier, including what you can expect from a guitar in this price range and what kind of amps could go with it.

Top Rated Electric Guitars Within The $1000 Price Tag

Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series – Not Just A Pretty Face!

A great looking guitar from Ibanez that is matched in hardware and performance. A glossy black or ivory painted mahogany body had a symmetrical double cutaway design, offering easy access to the neck. This is a really rigid, three-piece maple set neck with ebony fretboard and 22 treated frets. Two Super 80 "Flying Finger" embossed humbuckers at the neck and bridge team up with two Tri-Sound switches and various tone controls to offer a huge, varied sound for many styles. There's an abundance of tone, warmth and sustain, as well as comfort and that 'wow factor' thanks to the design. Superb!

2 Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?

Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?

This affordable Epiphone version of B.B. King's precious guitar Lucille is a brilliant blues performer – crammed with features, offering unrivaled versatility. The beautiful double cutaway ebony body is made from laminated maple, with a hand-set C-shaped maple neck with a 24.75” scale – featuring a rosewood fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets. There are two Epiphone-designed Classic Alnico passive humbuckers, a three-way selector switch, four volume/tone control knobs, two output jacks, and a six-position VariTone switch which delivers a huge array of classic blues sounds. Lucille also features Epiphone's LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge with a TP-6 fine-tuning stopbar tailpiece – combined with Grover tuners this allows for very precise and tuning.

3 Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T – Affordable Vintage Class

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T – Affordable Vintage Class

An affordable, solid and gorgeous Gibson, brand new for 2016. They have created this 2016 T with a snazzy vintage look and quality satin paint job. The classic Les Paul single cutaway has a carved maple top with mahogany back and a modern weight relief, meaning it's solid but light enough to play for hours. The mahogany neck features a rounded '59 profile and historical nut width of 1 11/16", with a rosewood fretboard and a TekToid nut. The two Burstbucker Pro pickups, combined with the tone wood, provide a bright, clear sound with long sustain and excellent resonance. Little expense has been spared on an affordable guitar that really performs.

4 ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune – Always In Tune

ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune – Always In Tune

This sleek but solid ESP LTD EC-1000 is a dream for all guitarists. Why? It never goes out of tune! This is down to the simple-but-smart EverTune mechanical bridge, which locks each string at a constant tension, keeping it consistently in tune – no matter what you throw at it (or where you throw it!). The single-cutaway body is made from mahogany with a maple top. It features a thin U-shaped set mahogany neck with a 24-3/4" scale, and a rosewood fretboard with 22 extra jumbo frets. The two EGM active humbuckers offer a snarling, aggressive tone, that's perfect for rockers. A good price for a good piece of kit.

5 Gibson SG Special 2016 T – Genuine Gibson Rocking!

Gibson SG Special 2016 T – Genuine Gibson Rocking!

This beautiful American-made SG Special from Gibson is all new for 2016, and is a guitar built to rock. It features an asymmetrical double cutaway mahogany body with comfortable beveling. The guitar has a set mahogany neck with a 1-11/16" nut width, and a thick hand-oiled rosewood fretboard with 22 fret and block inlays. Two Gibson-made alnico mini humbuckers provide a versatile sound – great character and perfect for any style, from blues to classic rock. It's slim, fast and lightweight, but retains the resonance you'd expect from a Gibson. A well-made guitar and, for under $800, an excellent purchase if you can't afford a Standard.

6 Jackson Rhoads RRXMG Review – Sounds As Good As It Looks

Jackson Rhoads RRXMG Review – Sounds As Good As It Looks

The Jackson Rhoads RRXMG is a killer metal guitar at an affordable price. The sharp, asymmetrical design is distinctive, whatever finish you go for. The basswood body has a 25.5” scale length and through-body neck construction for added stability. The compound radius maple neck has a rosewood fretboard, 24 jumbo frets, and pearloid sharkfin inlays. It's built for metal and speed, and two active EMG humbuckers offer huge output, catching every single shred of your leads. With a three-way pickup selector switch, three control knobs (volume, volume, tone), and a Floyd Rose Special bridge for added tuning security, this is a robust and reliable performance guitar, perfect for metalheads.

7 Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review – Stunning Metal Performer

Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review – Stunning Metal Performer

Schecter's Hellraiser C-1 has rock at its core and is a beautiful guitar in both looks and performance. The double cutaway mahogany body has an arched top, and a sturdy three-piece mahogany neck with a 25.5” scale length. With a rosewood fretboard, 24 extra jumbo frets, and lovely abalone Gothic crosses, this is a joy to play. For $800 the C-1 offers plenty of features, with two active EMG humbuckers, producing a full and aggressive rock sound. Throw in coil-tapping on both pickups, a TonePros Tune-o-matic bridge and string-through body, and Schecter's 19:1 locking tuners, and you have a great axe well worth the money.

8 Fender American Special Stratocaster – Affordable American Classic

Fender American Special Stratocaster – Affordable American Classic

A superb looking and affordable Made in America Strat. A high-glossed alder body offers good resonance, while its contours and 'belly cut' make it very comfortable to play. The body gives way to a bolt-on maple neck with a modern C-shape, a 9.5" radius maple fretboard and 22 jumbo frets. As for electronics this American Special has Fender's Greasebucket Tone Circuit, and three Texas Special Single-Coil Strat pickups which produce a luxurious, warm vintage-style tone. Throw in a vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge and whammy bar, large 70's style headstock, and a padded gig bag, and you have a pretty affordable package which is built to last.

9 PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom – Tremonti Signature On A Budget

PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom – Tremonti Signature On A Budget

Here we have a very affordable version of Mark Tremonti's signature SE model from PRS, that performs very well for heavy rockers – in particular fans of Creed or Alter Bridge. The single cutaway mahogany body with a flame maple top has a wide but thin maple neck, with a 25” scale rosewood fretboard and 22 frets. The neck also features unique bird inlays which add class to an already great looking guitar. As for pickups, this model features two SE 245 humbuckers at the neck and bridge, which give a powerful and aggressive tone, perfect for lead or rhythm. The PRS designed floating tremolo bridge with Trem-Up Rout is a nice premium touch to this awesome guitar.

10 Fender American Special Telecaster – Your First Real American

Fender American Special Telecaster – Your First Real American

An affordable American-made Tele that is built to last and offers plenty of versatility. With a single cutaway alder body, the bolt-on satin-finished maple neck is quick and comfortable to get around. It has a 25.5” scale, with a 9.5" radius maple fretboard, and 22 jumbo frets with black dot inlays. The vintage look is complemented by a vintage sound, courtesy of the two Fender-designed Texas Special single-coil pickups, and a retro fixed bridge with three vintage-style brass barrel saddles. Along with Fender's Greasebucket Tone Circuit, the pickups allow for many different styles – from rock and punk to blues and funk! A great all rounder at a price that works.

Tips, Tricks, Guidelines And More

These days you can get a lot of guitar for your money. We saw it with the guitars in our under $300 and under $500 comparisons. But by extending your budget to $1000 you can get a real cracker – something that feels like it should be twice the price and will probably last you a lifetime.

Great Expectations

With such a considerable amount of money, you have the right to expect great quality from your manufacturer – flawless finishes, outstanding electronics, tons of tone, and a huge choice of designs. Makers like Ibanez, ESP, Schecter, Yamaha, Epiphone, and PRS all really perform in this price bracket, and you will also find genuine Gibsons and Fenders along the way.

You will notice brand name pickups like Seymour Duncan, EMG and DiMarzio come as standard on many models, as will active pickups – offering you the volume, versatility, and tone you wouldn’t be able to get on a simple budget guitar.

Features and finishes are also heavily upgraded compared to the guitars in lower price ranges, and you’ll find some nifty finishing touches – such as pre-aging (giving your brand new guitar a very vintage look), insane graphics, a variety of woods, and matching headstock colors/artwork.

You will also find guitars with features that make practicing, performing or recording all the more comfortable – like locking tuners, fret-edge treatments, and string saver saddles. Or how about ESP’s EC-1000 Evertune with an incredible EverTune bridge that keeps the guitar in tune whatever the conditions – a seriously cool feature!

Some good news for all you patriots out there – you will finally start to see some real made in America models. Fender’s American Special Stratocaster and American Special Telecaster, both at bang on $1000, are the first authentic American offerings from the iconic manufacturer. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the higher end, you can also get some pretty great Canadian-made guitars in this price range from Godin. However, don’t turn your nose up at made in Mexico models – some of these guitars can really shine while keeping the prices low.

Signature Models

Want to play your favorite guitarist’s signature axe? Chances are you’ll find it – or at least a more affordable version of it – in this price bracket.

For example, Mark Tremonti’s Custom PRS TRCGB SE is on the market for about $700 – a beautiful guitar in both looks and performance, and perfect for Creed fans and metalheads alike. Admirers of the ‘King of the Blues’ B.B. King, can get their hands on his beloved Lucille – with its gorgeous vintage design and jaw-dropping versatility for a similar price.

Meanwhile Queen fans have the opportunity to own their own version of Brian May’s instantly recognizable big bodied axe for the reasonable sum of $850. Then there’s a personal favorite of mine – the Ibanez NDM3, which is the signature model of the Offspring’s bespectacled guitarist Noodles. Yours for $699.

Of course, all these carry extra price tags due to the names that adorn the headstocks – if you are a big fan of B.B., May, or Noodles, these are clearly ideal guitars for you. But if you don’t really care either way, you will find that a non-signature model will probably offer you more.

Amped Up

To be honest, a $1000 guitar is likely to sound pretty good on even the most basic of combo amps – it’ll probably sound pretty good with no amp at all (but where’s the fun in that?). However, it won’t hurt to look at upgrading your amp, and maybe spend that little bit more for a truly epic sound.

What amp you choose will depend on your ambitions for the guitar. If you are playing in your house, or having a quiet jam with a couple of friends, you won’t go far wrong with something like Yamaha’s THR10X ($299), which is small, but sports great retro style, a big sound, excellent distortion, and an array of built-in effects.

However, if the stage is calling, you’ll need something more powerful. How about the Blackstar ID:CORE 40W Combo, which has huge, stage-worthy output, a ton of effects, and a convenient foot-switch for under $250. Or if you’re into valves (and who isn’t?), double your budget for a Marshall DSL40C Combo, which is all-valve, has massive sound, lots of overdrive, and a two-way foot-switch for $699. Sorted.

Buying Used

Need to have it new? No problem – as you have seen, there is value out there. But if you aren’t too concerned that another guitarist has had his hands over your beautiful guitar before you, it’s well worth considering a used guitar in this price range, where you can unearth some real gems.

As you’d expect, there are advantages and disadvantages of buying used, so in this price range it’s well worth spending the extra time to look properly and not dive straight in to the first ‘bargain’ you see.

Is the finish flawless? Everyone can cope with a few light scratches, but if there are some heavy dents it may be one to avoid – refinishing a guitar can be as expensive as the guitar itself and will also lower its resale value considerably.

Cracks along the neck are also crucial to spot, and then avoid. And how are the frets looking? It can cost around $400 to replace the frets, which is probably around half the cost of the guitar itself. Finally make sure to test the guitar first (which can be impossible when buying online), to see if it actually works and how it sounds.

Repairing a guitar can be very costly, so you must weigh up the saving to the potential repair bill. However, if you find one that is good to go – usually from an overenthusiastic beginner, who overspent and underplayed – chances are you will have a great bargain.

The Conclusion:

With a grand in your back pocket, you can probably buy 90% of the world’s guitars. And you wouldn’t need to spend any more to find a beautiful workhorse of a guitar – one that would probably last you a lifetime. While you’re here, it’s worth checking out what you could get for a lot less in our comparison of the best guitars under $500 – buying in this price range opens the door to even more bargains! And make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the hottest guitar news, tips and opinion.

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