Top Rated Expensive Electric Guitars That Money Can Buy!

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Last Updated: Mar-23-2018
It was all-change when it came to refreshing this article of elite guitars! We made many amendments to our chart, which meant removing several dated models including a couple of Gibsons that were no longer in production. We’ve added a big list including the striking Dean MAB1 Speed of Light, Fender’s American Professional Stratocaster, as well as two Fender signature models – the Eric Clapton Stratocaster and James Burton Telecaster. On that note there are another two signature models in the Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature “Woody” and Ernie Ball Music Man’s John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy, while the classic Epiphone Elitist 1965 Casino completed the lineup.

Looking for the best of the best? You’ve found them! The guitars on this page are the high-end, the premium, the elite. You get the idea – they are pretty much the best electric guitars you can buy.

Sure, they are expensive, but they surpass all expectations. They certainly aren’t guitars that you buy every day. Dropping up to five grand on a single axe isn’t usually something most of us do that often, so you want to ensure you’re making the right choice.

We’ve sifted the market and selected from a wide range of prices and styles to give you some inspiration ahead of your next purchase. Whether you are stretching into the $1000+ market for the first time or buying your tenth $5000 guitar (and if that’s the case, can we borrow some cash?), you’re guaranteed to find something on this chart that will appeal.

The 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $1500:

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Dean MAB1 Speed of Light Dean MAB1 Speed of Light

Total of 4.83/5  

A high-end performer, perfect for high-speed metal!

+ - Fender American Professional Stratocaster Fender American Professional Stratocaster

Total of 4.85/5  

Fender’s new American Professional Series improves the iconic Strat.

+ - Fender 2017 Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Fender 2017 Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe

Total of 4.77/5  

A powerful modern Telecaster made using rescued mahogany.

+ - PRS S2 Custom 24 PRS S2 Custom 24

Total of 4.86/5  

Beautifully Streamlined Custom 24 PRS that is anything but ordinary.

+ - ESP E-II Eclipse ESP E-II Eclipse

Total of 4.82/5  

ESP’s modern classic that is ready to rock your world.

Dean MAB1 Speed of Light

Dean MAB1 Speed of Light

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You don’t have to be a diehard fan of Michael Angelo Batio to appreciate his awesome MAB1 signature axe from Dean – it’s stunning in both style and sound. Featuring a striking custom Speed of Light graphic, the well-beveled ‘Batio’ body is made of solid alder and features a sensational bolt-on maple neck with an ultra slim profile and 24-fret ebony fretboard, which has been made to the same specifications requested by MAB. It’s loaded with some top-notch hardware to deliver the powerful but articulate metal sound MAB is known for – namely two EMG active humbuckers and a matching EMG single-coil in the middle for huge versatility. We love this guitar, as we demonstrate in the full MAB1 review.

Fender American Professional Stratocaster

Fender American Professional Stratocaster

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Fender have managed to make subtle improvements on the 30-year-old Standard Series by introducing the new American Professional series – and it’s very impressive. The American Professional Stratocaster retains the design that made the Strat an icon, but with some new features that improve its sound and playability. These include the maple neck with the new ‘Deep C’ profile, offering a playing experience with increased comfort, as we highlight in the full review. You’ll also find three new V-Mod single-coil pickups which use different variations of alnico to specifically voice the position it sits at. Throw in improved frets, nut and an awesome case, and this is one expensive guitar that shows great value!

Fender 2017 Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe

Fender 2017 Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe

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The humble Telecaster has always been a versatile performer, but this new 2017 Limited Edition American Professional Telecaster Deluxe is another level! One of its most notable features is the use of Honduran mahogany – recovered from the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch – that’s been crafted into the timeless Tele body shape. It also features a mahogany neck with Fender’s new ‘Deep C’ profile, and a rosewood fretboard with 22 narrow tall frets. It looks great and performs just as well in the sound department thanks to the two ShawBucker humbuckers at the bridge and neck, offering a little more power and aggression, leading to one versatile Tele! Check out more on this modern American Professional Telecaster in the full review.

PRS S2 Custom 24

PRS S2 Custom 24

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The S2 series is the streamlined version of the PRS core models. The differences between the Custom 24 and the S2 Custom 24 are a simplified bevel carve to the body, the maple top is more like the CE bolt-on models, and only one choice of neck carve. Also, the finish, locking tuners, and pickups are unique to the S2 series. The tremolo is the same model that has been on the SEs for more than a decade. The tonal variety of this guitar is impressive with a push/pull coil split on the tone knob, 3-way blade switch, and volume knob. This makes for a less expensive guitar that is both beautiful to behold and to play.

ESP E-II Eclipse

ESP E-II Eclipse

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The E-II Eclipse by ESP has a classic look with just enough modern tweaks to catch the eye. The honey burst finish is amazing and really shows off the flame in the maple top. The body and neck are mahogany to help give it a warm sound with plenty of sustain. It has two volumes, tone, and 3-way switch to control the two Seymour Duncan pickups (a ’59 in the neck and JB in the bridge). The locking tuners are by Gotoh as is the bridge and TOM. Schaller strap locks come standard so you won’t have to worry about dropping this beauty while rocking out on stage. This is a premium guitar that would be anybody’s go to axe.

The 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $2000:

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster

Total of 4.85/5  

A versatile Strat that can help you sound like Slowhand!

+ - Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’ Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’

Total of 4.85/5  

An aesthetic and aural treat from Steve Vai and Ibanez.

+ - Godin LGXT 3-Voice Solid Body Godin LGXT 3-Voice Solid Body

Total of 4.92/5  

An electric, acoustic, and synth, all in one exquisite package.

+ - Fender James Burton Telecaster Fender James Burton Telecaster

Total of 4.83/5  

An American-made guitar fit for a Telecaster master!

+ - ESP E-II FRX ESP E-II FRX

Total of 4.94/5  

Equal parts of ferociousness and beauty in one awesome package.

Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster

Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster

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Eric Clapton – undoubtedly one of the most iconic names in the history of rock and blues guitar. So, it makes sense that his high-end Fender signature model – the Eric Clapton Stratocaster – is such a winner. While it’s pretty pricey, it shows great value due to the playability and tone on offer. This comes mainly thanks to the trio of Fender Vintage Noiseless single-coils, which are versatile enough on their own, but then throw in some advanced tone controls (a Treble Bass Expander and active mid-boost control) and you really have an instrument on another level. The design and build are also top-notch, with a solid alder body, a bolt-on soft V-shaped maple neck and 22 vintage-style frets. There’s more on this beautiful performer in the full review.

Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’

Ibanez JEM77WDP Steve Vai Signature ‘Woody’

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One of two Steve Vai signature models on this list, although the Ibanez JEM77WDP is the considerably cheaper. Still, it’s a high-end model with premium features that make it a serious purchase for any gigging rock player. Nicknamed Woody, the JEM77WDP features a Superstrat body made from solid mahogany with a walnut top. The detailing across this guitar is second-to-none with a distinctive wooden pickguard and matching headstock, Tree of Life fretboard inlay, and custom covers for the pickups – not forgetting the classic monkey grip! On the subject of electronics, these are all DiMarzio Dark Matter 2 pickups in a H-S-H configuration, offering a powerful but well-rounded tone with good warmth. There’s more on this exceptional specimen in the full Ibanez JEM77WDP review.

Godin LGXT 3-Voice Solid Body

Godin LGXT 3-Voice Solid Body

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The Godin LGXT is three guitars in one. You can see this in the three different output jacks; one for the magnetic picks, one for the bridge transducer, and one for the synth controller. The magnetics are Seymour Duncan Custom Humbuckers. The transducer pickup has separate volume, treble, midrange, and bass controls. There are two three-way mini switches to harness the many functions of the LGXT. The first switches works with the 13-pin output and switches between Acoustic/Electric, Acoustic/Electric/Synth, and Synth only output. The other duplicates the function of the S1/S2 switch of the Roland GK pickup. The guitar itself has a unique body design and is made from silver leaf maple. The neck is mahogany with an ebony fingerboard.

Fender James Burton Telecaster

Fender James Burton Telecaster

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While Fender’s James Burton Telecaster doesn’t guarantee you’ll sound exactly like the ‘Master of the Telecaster’, it certainly gives you the opportunity to try. This is primarily down to the trio of specially-designed single-coil pickups and the versatile controls that mean pretty much any style of music is catered for – from ZZ Top and Elvis, to James Burton himself! As we highlight in the full review of the James Burton Telecaster, this American-made guitar is a real looker. Check out its custom paisley flames paint job and the gold-plated hardware! The vintage U-shaped maple neck is also very good and gives a solid feel in the hands. Even for the considerable price tag, this one feels like good value from Fender.

ESP E-II FRX

ESP E-II FRX

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It is hard to call such a fierce looking guitar gorgeous, but ESP’s E-II FRX is. The contoured body is amazing to look at and very comfortable to play. The body is made of mahogany with a flame maple top. The set through three piece maple neck allows for easy access to all 24-frets. It has EMG 89 and 89R pickups, which can be heavy or sweet depending on what you want. Plus they are tap-able so you can get those single coil sounds out of a humbucker. It has easy access to the battery compartment for the active electronics. Add the Floyd Rose Original whammy bar and you have a shred machine.

The 4 Best Electric Guitars Under $5000:

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy

Total of 4.95/5  

Surely one of the finest guitars ever made.

+ - Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature

Total of 5.00/5  

The man, the myth, the legend encapsulated in one guitar.

+ - Epiphone Elitist 1965 Casino Epiphone Elitist 1965 Casino

Total of 4.88/5  

Epiphone revive the sixties legend made famous by The Beatles!

+ - ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte

Total of 4.48/5  

Huge metal sound and quality components make this signature model an exciting prospect.

Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy

Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy

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The epic collaboration between Ernie Ball Music Man and John Petrucci has resulted in the Majesty Monarchy, which is undoubtedly one of the best guitars in the world today. In several finish options, it sports a distinctive double-cutaway body made of African mahogany with a maple top, while it features an absolutely gorgeous 24-fret mahogany neck that ‘gets out of the way’ and really lets you play. Hardware is second-to-none, with a pair of DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy humbuckers in addition to a piezo pickup at the bridge, all combining for a huge tonal range – from thick, tight and aggressive output to rich acoustic tones. It’s pretty much perfect – and for the huge price we’d expect nothing less. Be sure to check out the full review!

Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature

Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature

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The JEM7V Steve Vai Signature model is as distinctive as the guitarist who both inspired and help to design it. It has an alder body with a five piece walnut/maple neck. The fingerboard is rosewood and has the intricate Tree of Life inlay. The DiMarzio pickups are Evolutions in an HSH configuration. The humbuckers can be coil tapped through the 5-way switch giving plenty on tonal options. The whammy bar is Ibanez’s own Edge design that stays in tune nicely no matter how many dive bombs you do. The monkey grip is instantly recognizable and a nice bit of fun in a very serious tone machine. Another nice touch is the 21-24 frets are scalloped. This is a six-string masterpiece.

Epiphone Elitist 1965 Casino

Epiphone Elitist 1965 Casino

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Hang on – an Epiphone? In this premium range? Are you crazy?! Not at all – spend five minutes with the Elitist 1965 Casino and you’ll understand. Made in Epiphone’s Elitist factory in Japan, this well-crafted model shows off the same 1960s style that made it famous when used by The Beatles, among many others. This archtop, with a 24.75” scale length, features a body made from three-ply laminated maple, with a high-gloss Vintage Sunburst finish, along with a 22-fret mahogany set neck. Epiphone use Gibson humbuckers to add huge plugged-in tone to this beautiful model, with a USA P-90R (bridge) and USA P-90T (neck), along with simple controls. Hardware is excellent too – as we mention in the full Elitist 1965 Casino review.

ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte

ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte

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Metallica’s James Hetfield knows a things or two about metal, and a thing or two about guitars – which is why his Signature Snakebyte from ESP is so exciting. Pretty much everything was designed by Hetfield, including the Explorer-influenced solid mahogany body and the thin U-shaped mahogany set neck, which features an ebony fretboard, 22 extra jumbo frets, and an awesome snake inlay. The hardware also shines, with a TonePros locking tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, and Sperzel locking tuners providing great tuning stability. The Signature Snakebyte is loaded with active EMG 60 and 81 humbuckers – the custom JH ‘Het Set’ – which roar with aggression, and offer a huge output. Awesome. Check out our full review.

The Final Word

There we have it – a chart of some of the best guitars on the market, ranging from classic vintage archtops to all-out premium metal machines. Our suggestion: if you can afford any of them, go for it!

This list is not for everyone, but it is still nice to dream sometimes. If you are looking for your first electric guitar, we can show you some good examples. There are some great options to go for under 1000 dollars, in case you want to spend a little less. Whatever your needs are we have the lists and reviews for you.

Of course, this list isn’t for everyone. If you are looking for your first electric guitar, you’ve definitely come to the wrong page – instead, check out our chart of the best beginner guitars. If the prices on this page are a bit too eye watering, try our chart on the best guitars under $1000 instead. Take your time with your decision and good luck!


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