The Top 10 Electric Guitars That You Should Consider Under $1000

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Last Updated: Mar-13-2018
In our latest refresh, we pulled a couple of lesser-found models from our chart, including two 2017 Gibsons and the Kramer SM-1. In their place we added the PRS Mark Holcomb signature, the awesome EVH Striped Series Stratocaster, and the love/hate Guild S-200 T-Bird.

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.

Top 10 Best Electric Guitars Under $1000:

Image Electric Guitar / Rating Summary Check Price
+ - Fender American Special Stratocaster Fender American Special Stratocaster

Total of 4.84/5  

A special Stratocaster at an excellent price.

+ - Fender American Special Telecaster Fender American Special Telecaster

Total of 4.70/5  

An authentic Fender Tele – a steal at the price.

+ - PRS Mark Holcomb SE PRS Mark Holcomb SE

Total of 4.80/5  

Focused tone and insane playability from this Mark Holcomb signature.

+ - Schecter Synyster Gates Custom Schecter Synyster Gates Custom

Total of 4.62/5  

Signature Synyster Gates model from Schecter, offering huge style, tone, and attitude.

+ - Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Total of 4.74/5  

Schecter add a true metal masterpiece to the collection.

+ - ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe

Total of 4.62/5  

An excellent all-round rocker from ESP.

+ - EVH Striped Series Stratocaster EVH Striped Series Stratocaster

Total of 4.75/5  

The essence of Eddie Van Halen in a single Strat.

+ - Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Total of 4.82/5  

A “tuxedo guitar" that’s dressed to kill – with a sound to match.

+ - Guild S-200 T-Bird Guild S-200 T-Bird

Total of 4.77/5  

This faithful Thunderbird replica brings 1963 back to life!

+ - Ibanez Paul Stanley Signature PS120SP Ibanez Paul Stanley Signature PS120SP

Total of 4.50/5  

Extroverted Paul Stanley signature model with a huge sound to match the sparkle.

Fender American Special Stratocaster

Fender American Special Stratocaster

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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.

Fender American Special Telecaster

Fender American Special Telecaster

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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.

PRS Mark Holcomb SE

PRS Mark Holcomb SE

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PRS have a talent for collaborating with artists to create epic signature models – Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, Chris Robertson, and now Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb with the MHHB2 SE. Featuring a familiar SE body made of solid mahogany with a beautiful quilted maple veneer top, the fit and finish of this model feels very high-end, even though it’s a Korean-made guitar. The 24-fret maple neck is a highlight – satin-finished, wide and thin, and hugely playable. Another highlight? The awesome electronics, which come in the form of Seymour Duncan Alpha (neck) and Omega (bridge) humbuckers, with simple controls and coil-splitting. These deliver a focused, modern tone with great output – perfect for so many heavy music styles. There’s more on the MHHB2 SE in the complete review.

Schecter Synyster Gates Custom

Schecter Synyster Gates Custom

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For metal there are few better performers than this menacing guitar from Schecter; the signature model of Avenged Sevenfolds lead guitarist Synyster Gates. From the pinstripe double-cutaway mahogany body emerges a hugely-playable thin C-shaped mahogany set neck with ebony fretboard, 24 extra-jumbo frets, and Schecters Ultra-Access construction to allow unhindered access to the highest of frets. The guitar is voiced by two beefy Seymour Duncan Invader Syn humbuckers at the bridge and neck, which provide a powerful metal output and lots of low end, while retaining the clarity required for solos. Theres also some performance hardware including Grover tuners, a Floyd Rose 1000 Series Tremolo bridge, and a locking nut. Make sure to check out our full review of this awesome Synyster Gates Custom.

Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Schecter Hellraiser C-1

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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

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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.

EVH Striped Series Stratocaster

EVH Striped Series Stratocaster

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If you know anything about music, you’ll instantly know the artist behind this guitar! Eddie Van Halen’s stamp is all over this Striped Series Strat from EVH Guitars. With a choice of three iconic EVH colors, this model features a typical Strat body made from solid basswood. The neck is a beauty, made with quartersawn maple and featuring a compound radius, hand-rubbed finish and 22 jumbo frets for serious playability – as we highlight in the full review. Of course, there’s just one humbucker and a single volume control, but this simplicity is all you need to recreate some screaming EVH tones. Throw in a quality Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo bridge with the EVH D-Tuna device, and you have one awesome guitar for the price.

Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

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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

Guild S-200 T-Bird

Guild S-200 T-Bird

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On first glance this guitar may seem like the wildcard of this list, but when you realize the performance, playability and versatility of this T-Bird, you’ll understand why it’s included in this higher-end chart. The S-200 is a faithful replica of the original Guild Thunderbird, first released in 1963. And there’s plenty of retro-inspired appointments, with LB-1 humbuckers, a fully-adjustable Hagstrom Vintage Tremar bridge, and the cool Guild headstock with open-geared tuners. Of course, Guild are very faithful to the one-of-a-kind asymmetrical body shape, made with solid mahogany, while the mahogany neck is very comfortable to play – as we highlight in the full review. Tonally there is so much scope with the S-200. A fun guitar that’s no novelty item.

Ibanez Paul Stanley Signature PS120SP

Ibanez Paul Stanley Signature PS120SP

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Whether you love KISS or are looking for something a little different, this extroverted Paul Stanley signature PS120SP from Ibanez may be your dream guitar! With a glam rock-inspired sparkly silver Iceman body (made from solid mahogany with a maple top) you get both style and incredible playability, with a fast three-piece mahogany set neck, an ebony fretboard and 22 medium frets, all crafted to Paul Stanleys strict specifications – as we detail in our full review of the PS120SP. Aside from the in-your-face style and slick performance, this signature model sounds awesome, with two Seymour Duncan covered humbuckers –a 59 at the neck position and a powerful Custom 5 at the bridge, that allow for huge classic rock tones and good versatility.

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 In This Price Range

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.

The Final Word

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!


Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. 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.

  3. Guys i m looking for a guitar under 700$. Currently looking at the jackson soloist slx and washburn parallaxe pxs10edlxtbm and idk what to pick really. Anyone who has experienced both or either guitar can lemme know ehat they think and i m open to other good suggestions too. I live in dubai btw and the price range according to dubai is under 2300-2400/aed (dirhams).

  4. I agree with Ollie. The Gibson LP Tribute is more beautiful than the faded and still maintain the under $1000 price tag.

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