Comparing The Top 10 Electric Guitars Under $1000

The-Best-Electric-Guitars-Under-1000-600x268Last Updated Nov-10-2016. If you can afford to spend around a thousand bucks on a guitar, you’d better prepare to become the envy of your pals, as your generous budget allows you to choose from a staggering level of quality.

Whether you have your eye on a genuine American Strat, a one-of-a-kind body design, or the signature axe from your favorite shredder, that $1000 pretty much guarantees you’ll find a guitar you love, and one that will last a lifetime.

Naturally there are a few duds out there, but providing you are clever you’ll be able to find something that rivals even those guitars sold in the $2000 range.

In the chart below we have highlighted some of the guitars that offer the best value for money in this price range.

The Best 10 Electric Guitars That You Can Get Under $1000:

Image
Electric Guitar
Summary
Rating
Fender American Special Stratocaster 300
Fender American Special Stratocaster
A special Stratocaster at an excellent price.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Gibson Les Paul Junior 300
Gibson LPG 2015
Classic design, awesome hardware, great guitar.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Fender American Special Telecaster
Fender American Special Telecaster
An authentic Fender Tele – a steal at the price.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine Angel of Deth 300
Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine AoD
Mega looks and performance for the extroverted shredder.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Schecter C-1 Hellraiser
Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Schecter add a true metal masterpiece to the collection.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe
ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe
An excellent all-round rocker from ESP.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Ibanez S770PB 300
Ibanez S770PB

Unique natural look with an abundance of sound quality.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
A “tuxedo guitar" that’s dressed to kill – with a sound to match.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Kramer SM-1 300
Kramer SM-1
A good looking guitar that deserves respect.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Gibson SGJ
Gibson SGJ
Gibson’s sexy and iconic performer.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5

Fender American Special Stratocaster

Fender American Special Stratocaster 300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:4.6 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

While others try to replicate its looks and sound, there’s nothing quite like holding a real Fender Stratocaster. Squier and Made in Mexico Strats are both fine guitars in their own price ranges, but a real American Strat – which consistently features in our definitive electric guitar charts – for under a grand is a purchase you’d never regret. With a solid alder body and classic contoured shape, this Strat features a very playable bolt-on maple neck with 22 jumbo frets. The sleek looks are matched entirely by its versatile sound. The three Texas Special single-coil pickups offer a plethora of tones for clean or distorted playing, making it perfect for country to rock, and anything in-between. This masterpiece (reviewed in full here) is well worth the price tag.


Gibson Les Paul Junior 2015

Gibson Les Paul Junior 300

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

Prefer a Les Paul to a Strat? You’re in luck as this price range gives you the chance to own a genuine American Gibson Les Paul, which marries classic style with modern state-of-the-art components. There’s a beautifully finished mahogany body cut to the iconic Les Paul shape, with a slim mahogany neck and thick rosewood fretboard – lots of playability and sustain on offer. The hardware is superb, with a simple but highly-effective single P–90 Dogear Alnico Slug pickup, along with extras like the Gibson G Force auto-tuning system, an adjustable nut, and a golden hardshell case. The attention to detail is second-to-none and is well worth the cash. Make sure to check out our full review of this excellent guitar.


Fender American Special Telecaster

Fender American Special Telecaster

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a real American Telecaster, then that dream could be coming true – especially as its under $1000! This hugely versatile American Special Tele – reviewed in full here – has an alder body, with a lovely modern C-shaped maple neck, and maple fretboard with 22 jumbo frets making this a pleasure to play. This Tele features two Texas Special single-coil pickups; well balanced with grit and warmth at the bridge, and full meaty tones at the neck. Coupled with a traditional 3-saddle vintage-style bridge and solid tone controls, this will appeal to any guitarist looking for that classic Tele style, sound and versatility.


Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine Angel of Deth

Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine Angel of Deth 300

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Together, Dean and Dave Mustaine are renown for making awesome shredding machines, with distinctive designs and solid playability. And this Angel of Deth is no exception. There’s a custom blood-spattered angel-winged mahogany body, with a D-shaped mahogany neck. The Flying V shape offers unhindered access to all 24 frets of the ebony fingerboard, making it perfect for aggressive lead players. The two active Seymour Duncan Live Wire pickups at the neck and bridge makes the output a force to be reckoned with, while distorted playing is aggressive but clear. These pickups will push your amp to its limits. Add Grover tuners, a TonePros bridge and an included hardshell case, and this is one mean guitar. Check out the full Angel of Deth review for our breakdown of the beast.


Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Schecter C-1 Hellraiser

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Don’t be fooled by this guitar’s gorgeous looks – it’s a true metal monster. Shechter have a gift for making guitars that marry beauty and performance and this Hellraiser C-1 is proof. Available in four dark colours, there’s a double cutaway mahogany body with an arched top, giving way to a three-piece mahogany set neck with rosewood fretboard. With two active EMG pickups this guitar has a massive output with clarity, tone and aggression in equal measure. Coupled with the fact that you can turn these into bright single-coils at the push of a button, the versatility of this axe is plain to see. Grover tuners and a TonePros tune-o-matic style bridge ensure excellent tuning stability. Make sure to check out the full Shechter C1 review of this beauty.


ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe

ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

While ESP may not share the iconic status that Gibson or Fender enjoy, their guitars can certainly hold their own when it comes to quality in a competitive market. And as we found out when reviewing the EC-1000 Deluxe it’s a beautiful high-end performer, and one that would appeal to any rock-inclined guitarist. Aside from the head-turning dark looks – thanks to its Les Paul-style mahogany body with flamed maple top – it sounds awesome. There are EMG 81 and EMG 60 active humbuckers at the bridge and neck respectively, giving big sound with lots of bite. It’s lovely to play, with a fast mahogany neck and 24 jumbo frets, along with great tuning stability thanks to locking tuners and TonePros locking tune-o-matic bridge.


Ibanez S770PB

Ibanez S770PB 300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

It’s instantly apparent that Ibanez have spared no expense in crafting this beautiful guitar, with an eye-catching natural wood body, carved from a solid piece of mahogany. Ibanez have also added their excellent Wizard III maple neck with 24 jumbo frets, so getting up and down the rosewood fretboard is a dream. As we outline in our full review of the Ibanez S770PB, it’s very versatile, and suited to the musician who wants solid performance to match the looks. With two Ibanez Quantum pickups (HSH), there is no end to the kind of sounds this beauty can produce. And with the Edge-Zero II tremolo bridge, playing is comfortable and tuning is solid. Perfect for the stage, and a steal at the price.


Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.5 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

You may question what an Epiphone – usually found in the budget section – is doing on a list full of prestigious names. But with their Les Paul Custom Pro it can genuinely rival most of the guitars on this page, and once again shows Epiphone can offer amazing value and quality. Not forgetting the special looks – a Les Paul shaped mahogany body with a sleek ‘tuxedo’ finish of ebony or white, and gold hardware, make this one classy model. The aesthetics are matched by the sound and playability. Two ProBucker humbuckers with coil-splitting give it high-end versatility, while components like a LockTone bridge and StopBar tailpiece finish off this stunning guitar nicely. Make sure to check out our full review of the Les Paul Custom Pro.


Kramer SM-1

Kramer SM-1 300

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

With the SM-1, Kramer have produced another awesome guitar, packed with hi-end components and looks to die for. The contoured double-cutaway body feels wonderful to hold, especially with the high-gloss finish. The mahogany ‘through neck’ is fast to get up and down, and offers huge sustain, while the distinctive Kramer headstock and historic Kramer inlays add the finishing touch. Edgy but sexy. The pickups are fantastic and hugely versatile – a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker at the bridge (with coiltapping capabilities) along with a pair of Seymour Duncan Cool Rails single-coils at the middle and neck positions, offering wide-ranging tones. With a Floyd Rose tremolo, this guitar is a shredders dream. Take a look at the full review of the Kramer SM1 for more on this excellent axe.


Gibson SGJ

Gibson SGJ

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

This modern classic is one sexy guitar. There’s a gorgeous double-cutaway mahogany body cut to the iconic SG shape, and finished in natural matte satin – understated but very eye-catching. A 50’s slim profile maple neck with rosewood fretboard is easy on the fingers, and feels great to play. The SGJ comes loaded with two ’61-style Zebra humbuckers at the neck and bridge position, which provide the guitar with a good array of vintage tones. With funky non-slip volume and tone controls, along with a classic tune-o-matic bridge and vintage tuners, this SGJ is worth every penny! Everything you need to know is detailed in our Gibson SGJ review.


Gretsch G5420T Electromatic® Hollow Body

Gretsch G5420T 300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Instantly recognizable as a Gretsch, the G5420T (as you’ll read in our full review) is a powerful and playable instrument, that’s capable of capturing the heart of any guitarist – hollow bodied enthusiast or not. It features a single-cutaway 5-ply maple body, a maple neck and rosewood fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets. The two Blacktop Filter’Tron humbuckers at the bridge and neck make light work of creating punchy vintage tones with plenty of twang, while the Bigsby B60 tailpiece is a joy to use. The G5420T is a guitar that combines electric and acoustic tones in one wonderful instrument, and emulates classic hollow body guitars from the 60’s. Perfect fit for jazz, blues, country and soft rock styles at a very good price.


A New Era For The Electric Guitar!

As we’ve seen, high-tech electronics and quality hardware are available to every guitar manufacturer these days, which allows them to pump their models full of premium components at much lower prices than before. So $1000 really will go a long way, getting you something that perhaps feels like it should be a lot more.

What You Should be Looking For in a Guitar Under $1000

As the price of the instrument goes up, so too does the quality of woods, components, design and hardware.

In other articles I’ve discussed how body woods should never be a deciding factor, as in this day and age some cheaper woods (such as basswood and alder) can be found in very expensive signature models. However, if you do hold certain tone woods in high regard you’ll be pleased to see an increase in woods such as mahogany and maple used in bodies, while you’ll also find different neck and fretboard materials such as ebony used more frequently.

Depending on your style, you have a wider range of pickups on offer in this price bracket – including brand names (such as Seymour Duncan) instead of more generic manufacturer-made pickups. You’ll also find the arrival of active pickups, which can produce explosive sounds and have a huge output, which are perfect for the heavier rockers and metal players.

Prefer a little jazz to death metal? Fear not! This price range also gives you a great choice of guitars offering smoother looks and sounds, including retro-inspired designs and vintage-style components, as well as hollow bodied guitars (make sure to check out our top hollow bodied guitar chart).

Giant names such as Fender and Gibson have some spectacular offerings in this under $1000 category, but don’t bypass Ibanez, Dean, Kramer, Schecter and even the traditionally budget manufacturers like Epiphone, who all have some serious contenders at prices their rivals will struggle to match.

You’re Not A Beginner… Are You?

Chances are, if you’re shopping around in this price range you aren’t a beginner. Who would spend $1000 on something they can’t even play – aside from an eccentric millionaire who wants to attach it to the wall in their games room? So let’s assume you are at least playing guitar to an intermediate standard, or know beyond doubt that guitar is the instrument for you.

This new purchase may be your second, third or fourth guitar, which is great because now you know what you like – and what you don’t. You’re unlikely to care for an American Special Telecaster if you’re a die-hard shredder, just as you won’t be particularly fussed on Dean’s spectacular Angel of Deth model if jazz is more your thing. Think about what it is you want to achieve with this new guitar, as it will go a long way to helping you decide which model to settle on.

If you are a beginner and want to have something premium to learn on, then don’t let me stop you. However it’s not necessary to spend so much on what would essentially be a learning platform. You can find some excellent guitars that will suit you perfectly in a lower price range.

New or Used?

A great question, and one I’m sure you’ve asked yourself many times.

As with any purchase, buying new gives you peace of mind when it comes to quality – especially when you’re parting with so much cash. If you spot a crack or the pickup is loose, chances are the guitar store or online retailer will repair or replace it for you – no questions asked. Buying new is also great if you change your mind, as most offer a cooling off period.

Buying a used guitar in this $1000 price range is more risky, but with risk often comes reward. You could find a sensational guitar at a fraction of the price, just because it’s been played with. Or you could even find yourself a rare out-of-production model that will grow with value.

If you do choose the used route, ensure you stick to a reputable online retailer like Amazon or a trusted guitar store, who can explain their returns policy to you before you purchase. Always test the guitar for as long as possible, especially through an amp (your own amp if possible). Good luck!

Comments

  1. Eric theman says:

    LAY OFF THE ROCK BROTHER! I’ve played or owned all these guitars but the Kramer and the best under a grand is the jackson! Soloist or dinky #1 esp #2 schecter #3. Anyone reading this..try the jacksons and you will understand.

    • Hello buddies…Please suggest me a guitar which covers hard rock or Metal beautifully, having great sustain of sound. I don’t play or listen too loud like heavy or death metal. Please consider my taste while you reply.
      I can spend 1000$ for it. Thanks in advance.

      • Look at an Ibanez RG – several models around, so bound to find something you like especially with that budget! Fast necks, good pickups and modern rock style.

  2. Great selection, but I prefer the ltd ec401vf or ec400vf over the ec1000. Dollar for dollar the 400s are so much more guitar for the $. Seymour duncan 59 neck jb bridge Grover tuners earvana nut. Plus you can find em used for $300. If you are in the market for a les paul style guitar the ec401vf or 400 are best bang for the buck. Prs se 245 is another great one too. The epi which I have 1 in tradition pro is a decent guitar but not worth paying $700 when the ltd 400 series is so much more for so much less. Just my 2 cents.

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