Top Rated Expensive Electric Guitars That Money Can Buy!

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Last Updated: Feb-27-2017
To start 2017, we have updated this list to feature some of the most up-to-date premium guitars on the market today. Some of the older, out-of-production models were removed, and replaced with guitars more relevant to 2017, including the excellent Gibson USA SG Standard HP 2017 and the super-premium ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte.
Here are the best of the best. Guitars built without any limitations. These are instruments that are without peers. If you are here to get ideas for your next purchase or to just do a little day dreaming there is plenty to enjoy. If you want to take a look at a wider range of guitars in different price ranges, then take a look at the electric guitars list here. Otherwise let’s get this list started.

The 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $1500:

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Electric Guitar
Summary
Rating
preview
PRS S2 Custom 24
Beautifully Streamlined Custom 24 PRS that is anything but ordinary.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Fender American Standard Telecaster
A legendary guitar given modern updates while staying true to its roots.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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ESP E-II Eclipse
ESP’s modern classic that is ready to rock your world.
5 Stars
Total of 5
Gibson Flying V Pro 2016 T
Gibson Flying V Pro 2016 T
A premium American-made Gibson Flying V with classic style and upgraded components.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Fender American Standard Stratocaster
A player’s instrument that only adds to the legacy of the Strat.
5 Stars
Total of 5

PRS S2 Custom 24

preview

Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:5 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

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.


Fender American Standard Telecaster

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Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The Telecaster is about as American as baseball, hotdogs, and…well you know the rest. The American Standard Telecaster is another classic iteration of Leo’s original design. It features bent-steel saddles, stamped-brass bridge plate, alnico V pickups, and strings-through-body design. Every element of the guitar is designed to give better resonance and sustain from the 5-screw mounted bridge plate to the thinner finish. The pickups give plenty of tone choices from classic to more contemporary sounds. The finest feature has to be the maple neck. The fingerboard edges are hand-rolled and it has a satin finish giving it a very fast feel. This is another great addition to the long line of Telecasters.


ESP E-II Eclipse

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

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.


Gibson Flying V Pro 2016 T

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Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

Gibson’s awesome American-made Flying V Pro 2016 T packs an array of upgraded features and playability into a model with traditional values. It sports an instantly recognizable solid mahogany V-shaped body, with excellent access to all 22 frets of the thick rosewood fretboard, that sits upon the glued-in Slim Taper mahogany neck. It’s voiced by two powerful pickups, with a ’57 Classic humbucker and BurstBucker 3 humbucker, providing aggression, warmth and substantial output. As we mention in our full review, you’ll also find solid components for great control, tuning stability, and sustain, including a chrome-plated tune-o-matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece, Mini Grover locking tuners, two individual volume control knobs and a master tone control. This is a premium guitar for serious classic rock and heavy metal shredders!


Fender American Standard Stratocaster

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Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The Stratocaster is world famous, and the Fender American Standard Stratocaster is world class. It has an alder body and a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The traditional bridge has a block that is infused with copper to give the tone a boost. The three custom shop Fat 50s single coil pickups are also a tonal upgrade. They give you that original sound with updated wiring that helps with bass response. The hand rolled edges of the neck make it a wonderful guitar to play. It has plenty of the Strat quack with added contemporary bark. This is a player’s instrument that adds to the legacy of the Stratocaster.


The 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $2000:

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Electric Guitar
Summary
Rating
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ESP E-II FRX
Equal parts of ferociousness and beauty in one awesome package.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster
An icon with a sonic upgrade for the 21st Century.
5 Stars
Total of 5
Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017
Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017
Superb new Les Paul from Gibson – powerful, versatile, and built to rock.
5 Stars
Total of 5
Gibson Memphis ES 339
Gibson Memphis ES-339 Semi hollow
100% American, 100% Cool, 100% Classic, all in one semi-hollow shell.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Godin LGXT Solid Body 3-Voice Electric Guitar
An electric, acoustic, and synth, all in one exquisite package.
5 Stars
Total of 5

ESP E-II FRX

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Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:5 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

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.


Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster

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Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:5 Stars

The Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster looks like the other guitars of the range, and you might think of it as just another Strat, but you’d be wrong. First off there is a major upgrade in the pickups with the N3 noiseless pickups that give you the classic sound with none of the hum. There is also the added S-1 switching system that allows for even more pickup combinations than ever before. On top of that there is the compound radius neck, locking tuners, and added mass to the tremolo block for better sustain. The body is made of alder and the neck is maple with a beveled neck heel. This is not your grandpa’s Strat.


Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017

Gibson USA Les Paul Studio T 2017

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Gibson’s newest American-made Les Paul is already turning into a classic. While there’s no huge improvements over the 2016 model, the Les Paul Studio 2017 T looks awesome, plays like butter, and sounds like a true Les Paul should. With a familiar single-cutaway body, the guitar sports a Grade-A maple top and solid mahogany body with Gibson’s ultra-modern weight relief. It features a set mahogany Slim Taper neck, a rosewood fretboard, and 22 medium frets. You get two powerful humbuckers – a 490R at the neck and a 498T at the bridge – as well as coil-splitting on both pickups, for huge tonal versatility. It sounds awesome, and is versatile enough to cope with pretty much any music style – as we mention in our full review.


Gibson Memphis ES-339 Semi hollow

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Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

For those that want a semi-hollow body guitar without the all the girth of a 335, then the Memphis ES-339 Semi Hollow is the guitar for you. The tone may be a bit tighter, but you would be hard pressed to tell the two instruments apart in a blind listening test. The ES-339 has Burst Bucker 1 & 2 pickups for a vintage PAF tone. The capacitors have been changed in the tone control with reduced treble cut for a harmonically rich tone. The body is made of maple/poplar/maple with a maple neck that has a rosewood fingerboard. This is a semi-hollow that is not afraid to get dirty, and still has a sweet sound when all cleaned up.


Godin LGXT Solid Body 3-Voice Electric Guitar

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Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

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.


The 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $5000:

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Electric Guitar
Summary
Rating
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Gretsch G6128T-TVP Power Jet
A really outstanding modified version of Gretsch’s classic Duo Jet.
5 Stars
Total of 5
Gibson USA SG Standard HP 2017
Gibson USA SG Standard HP 2017
An upgraded premium SG with modern playability and classic SG attitude.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature
The man, the myth, the legend encapsulated in one guitar.
5 Stars
Total of 5
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Gibson Les Paul Custom
Perfecting the 50s classic for the modern player and collector.
5 Stars
Total of 5
ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte
ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte
Huge metal sound and quality components make this signature model an exciting prospect.
5 Stars
Total of 5

Gretsch G6128T-TVP Power Jet

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

Gretsch’s G6128T-TVP Power Jet is a classic from the early days of rock and roll. The Power Jet expands upon the Duo Jet, vastly enhancing it from every angle. It has two TV Jones Power’Tron humbucking pickups. The controls include volumes for each pickup, master volume, three-position master tone switch, and three-position pickup selector. The hardware includes locking Gotoh tuners, Bigsby B3C vibrato tailpiece, and pinned Adjusto-Matic bridge. The chambered body is made of mahogany with an arched maple top. The mahogany neck has an ebony fingerboard with elegant thumbnail inlays. The top is further dressed up with a silver pickguard with the Gretsch name emblazoned on it. The Power Jet has classic tone for days.


Gibson USA SG Standard HP 2017

Gibson USA SG Standard HP 2017

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

With classic SG looks, premium components, and superb playability, Gibson’s USA SG Standard HP 2017 is a real jaw-dropper. With three highly-glossed finishes to choose from, this mahogany-bodied model has all the style points you’d expect from an SG, as well as a very playable Slim Taper mahogany neck, with a fatter ‘soloists neck width’ and Fast-Access heel. As we mention in our full review, the 2017 SG features two awesome humbuckers – a Classic ‘57 and a Classic ‘57 Plus – offering true Gibson tone, with huge output and plenty of growl. The guitar also includes chrome knurled UFO control knobs, Gibson’s awesome G-Force auto-tuning system, a chrome aluminum tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar, not to mention a host of premium accessories including an aluminum hard case.


Ibanez JEM7V Steve Vai Signature

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

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.


Gibson Les Paul Custom

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

This is the fabled Gibson Les Paul Custom. I don’t think I need to say anymore, but I will. Today’s Custom is based on the amazing mid-1950’s Les Paul. The mahogany body has a hand carved maple top. The neck is also mahogany with a Richlite fingerboard with pearl block inlays. It has the traditional two humbucker pickup configuration. In the bridge is the 498T, which is a high output pickup. The neck has the 490R, which is based off the original PAF. There are several color options, but nothing quite tops the black with gold hardware. The tone is classic Gibson that we all know and love. Check it out.


ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte

ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte – Premium Signature Shredder

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.1 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

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 Round Up

This is it! A great list with great guitars. Couldn’t include all we had in mind, but this is still a good start. We’ve run the gambit of classically inspired models to more modern entries. Plenty to check out and find what works best for you.

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.