The Best Electric Guitars Under $1000
With improved technology and stiff market competition, the $1000 price range has become the sweet spot for finding great guitars with the best value.
Many of these guitars have tone, features and specifications that rival more expensive models, with some aesthetics trimmed down to reduce the cost. So you are basically getting the same sound without going over your budget! Since there are a lot of viable workhorse instruments in this bracket, there should be a good instrument for every playing style imaginable.
We have selected the best of them here based on their tone, versatility, style, user feedback and value for money. These guitars should make it easier for you to pick out the right tool to get your art honed and your music heard.
With its iconic looks, vintage vibe and upgraded pickups, the American Standard Stratocaster is a truly powerful workhorse instrument. It helped establish rock icons by helping them create some of the best guitar music available - including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson John Mayer and many more. The Stratocaster continues to be the play-it-safe choice for musicians that require a versatile instrument for various musical genres - you simply can never go wrong with the Strat.
The latest incarnation of Fender's best selling electric guitar now features improved vintage feel, aged plastic parts and Fender Custom Shop Fat 50's pickups. The single-coil pickups now come straight from the company's high-end models, giving the American Standard Strat the flexibility and voicing that were previously only found on expensive Custom Shop made Fender instruments.
Everything great about the classic design is retained, including a maple neck and fretboard with medium jumbo frets carved into a modern C shape neck that is very convenient to play on.
Other refinements like its thinner undercoating finish, two-point synchronized tremolo helps improve your overall sound and playing experience. Although the regular price of the latest version can sometimes exceed one grand, you can get one for just under $1000 if you don't mind waiting for discounts or going for "blemished" models that have minor finish flaws - which would be easy to justify especially since custom relic look is in! Manufacturer: Fender | Retail Price: $999.95 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
If you want to play-it-all with your one grand, then heed our advice and get the Godin xTSA. A true jack-of-all-trades, it bears three "voices" - electric, acoustic and synth - giving you an amazing array of sounds that you will not find elsewhere in this price range. The competition did come close, but the overall value and versatility of the Godin xTSA makes it the best bang per buck guitar in this price range.
Although not as hyped as other big name brands, Godin is respected in the industry for pushing the boundaries, creating some of the most versatile instruments in the planet. The xTSA is a prime example of Godin's design strategy, they packed it with all possible features while still retaining a reasonable price tag.
The electric voice of the xTSA comes from its versatile HSH pickup configuration, while RMX transducer saddles provide convincing acoustic tones. Note that you can even blend the electric and acoustic "voice" to further expand your tonal palette. Finally, the guitar is synth ready, with built-in 13-pin connector for accessing synth sounds! Because of its popularity, the xTSA can sometimes go for over $1000, still we feel that this impressively versatile instrument is a worthy investment, perfect for guitarists that play anything and everything. Manufacturer: Godin Guitars | Retail Price: $1,195.00 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com.
The 2014 Gibson LPM is a full-featured Les Paul that has surprisingly fallen into this price range. Thanks to new model releases, the company has reduced the price tag of the 2014 Les Paul M version to just under $840, giving us budget conscious players the chance to own a true Gibson Les Paul with modern specs and the same build quality as other US made LPs.
This guitar is virtually the same as the more expensive Les Pauls that big name guitarists like Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Page, Gary Moore and others use, only this one has bare aesthetics. Its mahogany back, carved maple top and glued in mahogany neck are all built to the same standards as the more premium models, while its raw appearance gives it a no-nonsense rock & roll vibe and makes it an ideal project guitar for customizations.
The 2014 Les Paul M comes with two Gibson's '61 Zebra humbucking pickups in the neck and bridge positions. These humbuckers are known for their dynamic rock tones, excellent for high gain riffs and lead work. But what makes the LPM even more special is the MinETune automatic mechanical tuner, this "robot tuner" is installed discretely on the the back of the headstock where it will automatically tune your strings for you. This is a an amazing deal, especially if you've been wanting to own a Gibson Les Paul, well until supply lasts. Manufacturer: Gibson | Retail Price: $833 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
The Gretsch G5620T-CB Electromatic Center-Block is an elegant thinline electric guitar that sits comfortably below the 1000 dollar mark. Its vintage appeal and tone, along with its Bigsby vibrato functionality makes it a standout from among the instruments in this price bracket, and as expected from Gretsch, this guitar does not take aesthetic embellishments lightly. It comes with a great looking arched maple on top of its semi-hollow maple body, and has a bunch of pearloid thumb inlays positioned to guide your fingers through the guitar's 22 medium jumbo fret rosewood fretboard.
The G5620T is currently available in three finishes - black, rosa red and green. All of which comes with the same feature set, the most notable being the distinctive thin semi-hollow with center block body. And I just have to say that this guitar looks really good, now wonder talents as diverse as Brian Setzer, George Harrison, Duane Eddy and Chet Atkins all fell in love with the design.
The Bisgby B70 tailpiece further enhances the guitar's vintage vibe, while at the same time provides extra expressive control over your notes. To get that genuine Gretsch sound, the guitar is equipped with a Black Top Filter'Tron pickup on the bridge and a Dual-Coil SUPER HiLo'Tron on the neck position, both of which sound really great for the price and are already very well received by many guitar players. This is highly recommended if you want a non-conventional head-turner instrument. Manufacturer: Gretsch Guitars | Retail Price: $850 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
ESP's LTD line is known for producing quality affordable instruments that are built for speed, and the EC-1000 series is their best example. Without going over one grand, you get looks, playability and tone that is on par with more expensive models. This guitar is basically a single-cutaway guitar designed for rock and metal music, and it comes in multiple variants with different finishes, pickups and hardware options.
Reviews of this guitar are unanimous (and we agree) in saying that the quality of this instrument is way beyond its price tag. It follows the stereotypical shred machine design - mahogany body and neck along with a pair of active humbucking pickups, which for the see thru black finish is the EMG 81/60 set. The build quality of this instrument is a testament to why so many of today's modern rock, metal and progressive players support the brand, including Michael Paget, Stephen Carpenter, Kirk Hammet, George Lynch and many more.
The classic shape of the guitar contrasts the modern hardware and upgraded aesthetics that ESP decided to use on the ES-1000 Line. For this particular finish, the guitar comes equipped with a Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut, to make it even more shred friendly. Other hardware features include ESP locking tuners, abalone flag inlays, Rosewood fingerboard, beautiful bindings and a flamed maple top - pretty impressive features that are not normally found on instruments in this price range! The ESP LTD EC-1000 will truly let you shred in style. Manufacturer: ESP Guitars | Retail Price: $949 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
Schecter C-1 Hellraiser is a shred monster that has impressed guitar players world over. Its top notch craftsmanship and high-gain friendly configuration continues to win over unsuspecting guitarists, turning them into Hellraiser guitar zombies. As the name implies, this instrument is definitely not for the weak hearted, nor is it for ballad and pop players - it is designed to conjure metal tones that will satisfy hardcore rockers.
It has the typical super-strat shaped body and super fast playability that metal players prefer, the body is made of mahogany and features an extended cutaway for easier to access the upper frets. It has a sturdy 3-piece mahogany neck topped by a rosewood fretboard. The 24 extra jumbo frets are marked by gothic cross inlays that matches the overall look of the instruments.
To ensure that it will give you all the high-gain juice that you need, Schecter equipped the Hellraiser C1 with EMG active 81TW/89 active pickups. These pickups are no classic humbuckers, rather it provides some of the grittiest sound you'll ever hear, fine tuned to work well with overdriven tones for low low-end riffs and ear piercing solos. Other premium hardware include thru-body design TonePros TOM bridge and Schecter locking tuners. With bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Black Label Society supporting them, we can expect reliable shred machines from Schecter. Manufacturer: Schecter Guitar Research | Retail Price: $799 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro makes the tuxedo look that Les Paul himself suggested more accessible for us mortals with limited resources. It faithfully reproduces the original Gibson Les Paul Custom's solid-black and antique white finish with gold hardware combination - only this one has the Epiphone logo on the headstock. Although the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro will not have the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail as its uber-expensive Gibson counterpart, it gets close when it comes to style and functionality, and it is easily the more practical choice for guitar players that work within realistic budgets.
As expected this guitar's main wood of choice is mahogany, following the tried and tested single cutaway formula that uses mahogany for the body, carved mahogany for the top and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard.
Following Gibson and Epiphone's current push for coil tapping technology, this guitar comes with ProBucker pickups and coil-tapping circuitry, adding extra tones to the guitar's already impressive basic tones. Aside from sounding and playing good, this dressed up rocker comes with impressive aesthetic features like gold hardware, double binding all over, Locktone bridge and Grover tuners. This great bang per buck instrument will afford your one grand enough savings to buy a great amp! Manufacturer: Epiphone | Retail Price: $549 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
The Classic Player Jaguar Special HH is another standout instrument from Fender that is available in this price range. It has the same distinct offset shape and killer looks, similar to vintage Jags that were used by big name artists like Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth, but more importantly, this particular version comes with a reasonable price tag.
This guitar has Fender's traditional pairing of alder body and maple neck. What gives the guitar its edgy tonality however, is its two Enforcer humbucking pickups with split-coil capability. It even has independent Humbucking/Single-Coil Blend control for the two pickups, allowing for a wide variety of tones. You can basically get both classic single coil, and modern humbucker tones with just this one guitar, and as expected it works great for rock and grunge music.
This guitar also comes with improved playability thanks to its adjusto-matic bridge with vintage-style floating tremolo tailpiece and tremolo lock button. This allows for a more comfortable string action and improved tuning stability. If you are looking for a stylish and versatile instrument that's neither a Strat or LP clone, then you won't be disappointed with this one. Manufacturer: Fender | Retail Price: $900 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
The Gibson SG '60s Tribute is based on the SG design that was prominent in what we now call classic rock. It gives you a taste of the rock guitar tone that dominated the '60s era, featuring period correct specs and aesthetics. This is the same era when the first SG was introduced, which was initially also called a Les Paul. More importantly, you can get this US Made Gibson guitar for quite a bargain!
This guitar retains the most prominent feature of the SG, which is its sharp double cutaway design that provides great upper-fret access. The body is made of solid mahogany and paired with a mahogany neck that is carved to a '60s era profile. This neck profile is highly favored by rock players because of its familiar feel and playability.
Trapezoid inlays are used as fret markers across its 24-fret rosewood fingerboard. Controls and electronics are kept straightforward and simple, allowing you combine or select either of the two Burstbucker pickups, which closely emulate the sound and behavior of vintage PAF pickups. The pickups come chrome covers to give it an elegant look that matches the guitar's elegant appeal. Now you can emulate Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi or Angus Young's classic tones and rock star poses without breaking your budget. Manufacturer: Gibson | Retail Price: $850 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
Manufacturers tend to mix features around until they find ones that appeal to fickle players, one successful example of this is the 1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline, turning a familiar solidbody into a semi-hollow and equipping it with dual humbuckers. The Tele Thinline went on to be used by a diverse range of artists the include Roy Buchanan, Johnny Lang, Mike Einziger and James Valentine just to name a few.
The Fender 72 Telecaster Thinline is an authentic replication of the original instrument that caught many players by surprise. It follows the original specifications down to the smallest details including the 7.25" radius fingerboard, single f-hole accent, vintage '70s Fender F stamped tuning machines, 6-saddle string-thru-body bridge and its unique pickguard design.
At the core of the guitar however is a semi-hollow ash body that comes in the shape of the ever familiar Telecaster. The guitar comes with two Fender Wide Range humbucking pickups that gives it a voice that is unique to the Tele Thinline, able to handle anything from soft plucking to high-gain riffs. Manufacturer: Fender | Retail Price: $900 | Get the latest price & reviews at Zzounds.com
Eastwood Airline Map
Here at GuitarSite, we are fans of fresh and distinct looking instruments, although we love big name and iconic guitars, we do get tired of looking at rehashed variations of popular guitar designs. For this reason we included the Eastwood Airline Map on this list, we want to give you a more personable and unique alternative to conventional looking instruments.
Although it looks fresh, the Eastwood Airline Map is actually a tribute to the National Newport guitar made back in the early '60s. It is an ode to an era where guitar manufacturers were more open to experimenting with new designs. Since original MAP Res-O-Glass models are now rare and highly valued, the Eastwood Airline Map makes for a viable and affordable alternative to the rare and sought after vintage instrument.
The sound of this guitar is as exotic as its appearance, thanks to its tone chambered mahogany body and its two alnico Hot-10 humbuckers. Other features that both look and work great include Grover tuners, Bigsby tremolo and a bound maple neck. With its retro vibe and impressive hardware, the Airline Map is definitely a great deal. Manufacturer: Eastwood Guitars | Retail Price: $879
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