The Best Electric Guitars Under $500 (Ultimate Guide 2023)

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Looking for the best electric guitar under $500? We’ve reviewed the top 10 models on the market to help you find the perfect one for your needs. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we have something for everyone. Read our ultimate guide to find the best electric guitar for you today!

 

1. Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster

VERSATILE AND AFFORDABLE

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2. Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster

TWANGY ROCKABILLY

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3. Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar

UNIQUE TONAL RANGE

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4. Epiphone Les Paul Classic

WARM AND VERSATILE

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5. Epiphone SG Standard 61

AGGRESSIVE AND LIGHTWEIGHT

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6. Ibanez RG450DX                    

HIGH-PERFORMANCE SHREDDER

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1. Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster

VERSATILE AND AFFORDABLE

Crafted with C-shaped neck.Alnico pickups deliver classic Strat sound.
Vintage-style tremolo system for smooth bends and vibrato.Variety of finishes to suit.
Picture by Squier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • The Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster is a stunning budget electric guitar that ticks all the right boxes for both beginners and experienced players. Here are four key pros that make it a top choice:

    First and foremost, the craftsmanship of this guitar is impeccable. The C-shaped maple neck provides a comfortable playing experience for all players, regardless of their hand size. Pair that with the smooth rosewood fingerboard, and you have a recipe for great playability and comfort.

    Secondly, the Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster is equipped with alnico single-coil pickups that deliver that iconic Stratocaster sound. Known for their bright and clear tones, these pickups are versatile enough to handle a wide range of genres from blues to rock to jazz. Whether you want crisp cleans or gritty overdrives, this guitar has you covered.

    This guitar is also equipped with a vintage-style tremolo system, allowing for smooth bends and expressive vibrato. The tremolo arm is responsive, giving you the freedom to add flair and character to your playing style. The Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster truly excels in producing those shimmering, dream-like tones.

    Lastly, the range of finishes available for this guitar is simply outstanding. Whether you prefer more traditional colors like sonic blue and sunburst, or desire something more unique like Olympic white or fiesta red, the Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster has something to suit every taste and style.

    The Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster has garnered highly positive reviews from reputable publications such as Guitar World, MusicRadar, and Guitar Player. Its exceptional value for money makes it an excellent choice for budget-conscious musicians. Furthermore, the versatility of the Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster makes it suitable for players of all levels, from beginners trying to find their sound to experienced musicians who appreciate a reliable and high-quality instrument.

    All in all, the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster is an outstanding electric guitar that offers unparalleled quality at an affordable price. It is a versatile instrument that can handle various genres, and it is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning musicians.

CONS

  • Firstly, the pickups are not as high-quality as some other guitars in this price range. The Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster’s pickups are made of alnico magnets, which are good but not the best. Guitars like the Ibanez GRG121DX, in the same price range, have pickups with ceramic magnets, generally considered higher quality.
  • Secondly, the fretboard can be rough on the fingers. Though the maple fretboard is of good quality, it may not be as smooth for some players compared to rosewood fretboards on guitars like the Epiphone Les Paul Special II. Despite these drawbacks, the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster is a great budget option, offering good sound and playability.
  • Finally, the tremolo system sometimes requires fine-tuning, the body finish is thin and vulnerable to scratches, and the neck may be too thick for certain players. Nonetheless, the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster remains a worthy contender for the title of “Best Electric Guitar Under $500”.

2. Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster

TWANGY ROCKABILLY

Vintage design.High-quality materials and construction.
Comfortable to play.Affordable option for budget-minded musicians.
Picture by Squier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

PROS

    • The first pro is the vintage-inspired design and sound. The Classic Vibe Telecaster is modeled after the iconic Fender Telecasters from the 1950s, providing it with a classic, warm, and versatile sound that is perfect for a wide range of genres. Whether you’re playing blues, rock, or country, this guitar will deliver the authentic tones you’re looking for.

      Secondly, the Classic Vibe Telecaster boasts high-quality construction. It is meticulously crafted using premium materials and components, including an ash body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard. This not only ensures durability but also guarantees a guitar that will last for many years to come.

      Another advantage of the Classic Vibe Telecaster is its comfortable playability. With a comfortable C-shaped neck profile and medium jumbo frets, this guitar is a pleasure to play for extended periods. The well-designed neck shape and fret size allow for smooth and easy maneuverability across the fretboard, making it a favorite among many guitarists.

      Lastly, the affordability of the Classic Vibe Telecaster is a significant positive aspect. Among Telecasters on the market, it stands as one of the most reasonably priced options. With a price tag around $400, it offers incredible value for the money, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious musicians.

      In conclusion, the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster is an outstanding option for electric guitars under $500. It captures the vintage-inspired design and sound, showcases high-quality construction, provides comfortable playability, and does it all at an affordable price point. Whether you’re a beginner, a gigging musician, or a seasoned player, this guitar is sure to impress.

CONS

  • The pickups on the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster may not be as versatile as those on some competitors. While expected at this price point, they may not deliver the same quality clean or overdriven tones.

    The neck of the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster has a slightly thicker C-shaped profile, which may be less comfortable for players with smaller hands compared to slimmer necks found on other guitars.

    This guitar is great value for the price, offering classic Telecaster tone and playability, ideal for beginners or budget-conscious players. However, limitations such as pickup quality and neck thickness should be considered.

    Alternatives under $500 include the vintage-inspired Epiphone Wilshire Deluxe with higher-quality pickups, the Ibanez Artcore AS73 with a warmer, acoustic sound due to its hollow body design, and the Yamaha Pacifica 112V known for its excellent build quality and versatility across genres.

    Ultimately, your best guitar choice depends on your needs and preferences. For a budget-friendly classic Telecaster sound and playability, the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster excels. However, for higher-quality pickups or different body styles, consider exploring the other mentioned guitars.

3. Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar

UNIQUE TONAL RANGE

Vintage-inspired design, high-quality components.High-quality components and construction.
Great value for the price.Versatile sound for various genres.
Picture by Squier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

PROS

  • 1. Vintage-inspired design. The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar has a classic offset body design that was popular in the 1970s. It has a comfortable C-shaped neck and a rosewood fretboard with 21 medium jumbo frets. The guitar also has a pair of single-coil pickups that give it a bright, jangly sound that is perfect for many genres of music.

    2. High-quality components and construction. The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is made with high-quality components, including a comfortable maple neck, a rosewood fretboard, and two single-coil pickups. The guitar is also well-built and should last for many years of playing.

    3. Great value for the price. The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is one of the best electric guitars under $500. It offers a lot of value for the price, with its vintage-inspired design, high-quality components, and comfortable playability.

    4. Versatile sound. The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar has a versatile sound that can be used for many genres of music. The single-coil pickups can be used to produce bright, jangly tones, while the rhythm circuit can be used to create a more compressed and distorted sound.

    Overall, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is a great choice for a budget electric guitar. It has a vintage-inspired design, high-quality components, and a versatile sound. If you are looking for an affordable guitar that can do it all, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is a great option.

    Here are some additional thoughts on how the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar fits in the context of the blog post “The Best Electric Guitars Under $500 (Ultimate Guide 2023)”:

    The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is one of the best-reviewed electric guitars in its price range. It has received high praise from musicians and reviewers alike for its vintage-inspired design, high-quality components, and versatile sound. The guitar is often recommended for players on a budget who want a reliable instrument without breaking the bank.

    In terms of genre versatility, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is a great option. It can handle a wide range of musical styles, including rock, blues, jazz, and country. The bright and jangly tones produced by the single-coil pickups make it ideal for genres like indie rock and surf rock, while the rhythm circuit adds a touch of warmth and distortion, making it suitable for heavier styles as well.

    Whether you’re a beginner searching for your first electric guitar or an experienced player looking for a reliable and affordable option, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar is a top contender. Its combination of vintage-inspired design, high-quality components, and versatile sound make it an excellent choice for any guitarist on a budget.

CONS

  • 1. The bridge can be unstable. The Jaguar’s complex floating bridge can be challenging for beginners to keep in tune and it may slip, causing tuning problems.
    2. The pickups are not the highest quality. While the Jaguar’s two single-coil pickups aim to offer a range of tones, they may not match the versatility or quality of pricier guitars.

    Despite these limitations, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jaguar remains an excellent guitar for its price. It caters to budget-conscious players and beginners seeking a unique sound and versatility. Other considerations include a slightly thick neck, less smooth fretwork, and a finish susceptible to scratches.

4. Epiphone Les Paul Classic

WARM AND VERSATILE

Versatile sound options.Comfortable playability, slim taper.
High-quality build, reliable electronics.Excellent value for the price.
Picture by Epiphone

PROS

  • Versatile sound: The Epiphone Les Paul Classic features a humbucker pickup in both the neck and bridge position, offering a wide range of tones suitable for various genres. Whether you’re playing blues, rock, or metal, this guitar has you covered. Additionally, the bridge pickup’s coil-splitting feature enables you to achieve a brighter, single-coil sound when desired.

    Comfortable playability: With a mahogany body and a slim taper neck, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic is a joy to play for extended periods. Its rosewood fretboard provides a smooth feel and excellent sustain, further enhancing the playing experience.

    High-quality build: This guitar is well-made and feels sturdy in your hands. Its hardware is of high quality, ensuring durability, and the electronics are reliable, guaranteeing consistent sound performance.

    Great value for the price: At its budget-friendly price point, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic offers exceptional value. It encompasses a plethora of features and quality typically associated with more expensive guitars, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced players.

    To further elaborate on these pros:

    Versatile sound: The neck humbucker pickup provides a warm, rich sound ideal for blues and jazz styles. On the other hand, the bridge pickup delivers a brighter and more aggressive tone, perfect for rock and metal genres. With the coil-splitting feature, you can unlock even more tonal possibilities, expanding your musical versatility.

    Comfortable playability: The lightweight and well-balanced mahogany body ensures easy maneuverability, allowing for extended play without discomfort. The slim taper neck accommodates both fingerstyle and strumming techniques, while the fretboard radius facilitates smooth note bending.

    High-quality build: Constructed with high-quality materials and sound craftsmanship, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic boasts a solid and resonant mahogany body combined with a maple top. The nickel-plated steel hardware and reliable electronics further contribute to its overall high-quality build.

    Great value for the price: The Epiphone Les Paul Classic truly offers fantastic value considering its features and quality. It makes an excellent option for guitarist enthusiasts seeking an affordable instrument that doesn’t compromise on performance. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, this guitar will provide you with years of enjoyment.

    In addition to the Epiphone Les Paul Classic, here are some other budget-friendly electric guitars under $500 that you should consider:

    The Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster, which boasts a classic Telecaster sound and feel, perfect for blues, country, and rock genres.

    The Epiphone SG Special, with its thin and lightweight body, offers comfort for prolonged playing sessions, making it ideal for rock and blues styles.

    The Yamaha Pacifica 112V is known for its versatility and excellent value. Suitable for beginners and experienced players alike, it covers a wide range of playing styles.

    The Ibanez Artcore AS73 features a hollow body design, delivering a warm and rich tone, making it perfect for jazz, blues, and other genres that require a mellower sound.

    The Fender Player Stratocaster, a modern take on the iconic Stratocaster design, offering a comfortable playing experience and a broad spectrum of tones.

    I hope this comprehensive guide helps you in making an informed decision. Happy playing and may you find the perfect guitar for your needs!

CONS

  • Firstly, the pickups may not match those on pricier guitars. This model features two humbucking pickups suitable for most music genres but lacks the clarity and output of higher-end versions.
  • Additionally, the build quality may not measure up to some other guitars in this price range. Its poplar body and mahogany neck are decent for the price, but some players may deem the construction less stable compared to other options. Knowing these limitations is important before purchasing.

5. Epiphone SG Standard 61

AGGRESSIVE AND LIGHTWEIGHT

Lightweight, versatile, durable, great value.Versatile sound for various genres.
Well-made and durable guitar.Great value for the price.
Picture by Epiphone

PROS

  • 1. Comfortable and lightweight body. The SG Standard 61 has a thin, lightweight body that is both comfortable to play and easy to hold for long periods of time. This is especially important for standing players who want to minimize strain and fatigue. The body is also contoured for a comfortable fit, allowing for easy access to the upper frets.

    2. Versatile sound. The SG Standard 61 offers a wide range of tonal options, making it suitable for various genres and playing styles. The combination of a mahogany body, maple neck, and humbucking pickups creates a balanced and versatile sound. It can deliver the warm, rich tones needed for blues and classic rock, as well as the clean, clear tones required for funk and other genres.

    3. Well-made and durable. Epiphone is known for producing high-quality instruments, and the SG Standard 61 is no exception. It is built with solid craftsmanship and designed to withstand the rigors of regular use. The mahogany body and maple neck provide a solid foundation, while the Grover tuners ensure stable and precise tuning for consistent performance.

    4. Great value for the price. The Epiphone SG Standard 61 offers a lot of bang for your buck. It provides the quality, features, and playability of a higher-end guitar at an affordable price. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player on a budget, this guitar offers excellent value and performance.

    If you are in the market for a versatile, well-made, and affordable electric guitar, the Epiphone SG Standard 61 is definitely worth considering. It ticks all the right boxes, from comfort and playability to sound versatility and durability. Whether you are a beginner looking to start your musical journey or a seasoned player in need of a reliable backup guitar, the SG Standard 61 will not disappoint.

CONS

  • The pickups aren’t as high-quality as in some similarly priced guitars, like the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster or Ibanez Artcore AS73. Additionally, the slim taper neck may be too thin for some players accustomed to thicker necks. The Epiphone SG Standard 61 is a solid guitar for its price, with good sound, craftsmanship, and playability. However, if you prioritize top-notch sound and playability, you might want to consider the other guitars listed in the post. These include the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster, Ibanez Artcore AS73, Yamaha Pacifica 120H, Epiphone Les Paul Special II, and Gretsch G5422TG Electromatic Hollow Body. All of these models offer excellent value and sound quality.

6. Ibanez RG450DX

HIGH-PERFORMANCE SHREDDER

Thin, fast, comfortable, versatile neck.High-output pickups for versatile sound.
Durable, solid construction for touring.Versatile sound for all.
Picture by Ibanez

PROS

  • 1. The super comfortable Wizard II neck: The Wizard II neck is a popular neck profile known for its thin and fast design, making it perfect for shred guitar playing. However, it’s also comfortable for chords, allowing you to play any style of music on the RG450DX.

    2. High-output pickups: Equipped with two humbucking pickups and one single-coil pickup, the RG450DX is designed to produce high output and sustain, making it ideal for genres like metal and hard rock. Additionally, these pickups can be adjusted to dial back the output for a more versatile sound.

    3. Durable construction: Crafted with a solid mahogany body and a maple neck, the RG450DX is a highly durable guitar that can withstand the demands of touring and gigging. Its sturdy construction ensures reliability and longevity.

    4. Versatile sound: The combination of high-output pickups and a versatile neck allows the RG450DX to produce a wide range of sounds. Whether you’re into metal, hard rock, blues, or jazz, this guitar can deliver the tone you desire.

    In terms of additional details, the Wizard II neck is thin and fast, constructed from three pieces of maple with a radius of 15.75 inches. This flatter profile facilitates effortless playing of fast passages as well as chords.

    The high-output pickups, specifically designed by Ibanez, offer a lot of output and sustained power, perfect for heavy genres. However, they can also be adjusted for a more diverse range of sounds.

    The durability of the RG450DX is supported by its solid mahogany body, known for its strength and resonance, complemented by the lightweight and durable maple neck.

    Finally, the versatility of the RG450DX shines through its ability to accommodate different styles and genres due to its high-output pickups and adaptable neck.

    Overall, the Ibanez RG450DX is an excellent option for those seeking an electric guitar under $500, featuring a comfortable neck, high-output pickups, durable construction, and versatile sound. However, it’s always recommended to try out the guitar before purchasing to ensure it’s the perfect fit for individual preferences.

    Additionally, there are other notable guitars worth considering in the $500 price range, such as the Yamaha Pacifica 112V known for its exceptional build quality and versatile sound, the Epiphone SG Special celebrated for its classic rock and blues tone, the Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster offering the iconic Tele sound, and the Fender Player Stratocaster providing a modern interpretation of the legendary Stratocaster.

    Remember, personal preference plays a significant role in selecting the right guitar, so be sure to try out various options before making your final decision.

CONS

  • 1. The pickups are not of superior quality. The RG450DX features Quantum pickups, which lie within Ibanez’s budget range. While they aren’t subpar pickups, they do not match up to those found on other guitars mentioned in the blog, such as the Epiphone SG Standard or Yamaha Pacifica 112V.

    2. Some players may find the neck excessively thin. Equipped with a Wizard III neck known for its slim and swift nature, it can be advantageous for certain players. However, individuals with larger hands might perceive the RG450DX neck as uncomfortable while playing.

    Furthermore, there are a couple of other downsides to the Ibanez RG450DX not mentioned in the blog article:

    – It may have quality control (QC) issues, like uneven fret edges or an inadequately set up instrument.
    – It may not be the optimal choice for metal music.

    Overall, the Ibanez RG450DX offers commendable value for its price. Boasting solid craftsmanship and an array of features suitable for various genres, it remains a favorable option. Nevertheless, the pickups and neck fail to achieve top-notch quality, and it may not cater to metal enthusiasts.

    Moreover, here are some alternative guitars worth considering within the under $500 range:

    – Epiphone SG Standard

    – Yamaha Pacifica 112V

    – Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Stratocaster

    – Jackson JS32T Dinky

    – Schecter Demon-6

    It is imperative to personally test different guitars to ensure they align with your requirements before making a purchase.

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