Top 10 Electric Guitars Under 500 Dollars – Reviews and Recommendations

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Last Updated: Mar-12-2018
Due to a few changes in the sub-$500 market, we removed two harder to find models – the Epiphone Goth Les Paul Studio and the ESP MH-50. These were replaced with the awesome vintage Yamaha RevStar RS420 and the ESP LTD EC-256FM, while we also added a solid workhorse of a guitar in Squier’s Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster.

Thanks to a fiercely competitive market and cheaper production methods, these days having $500 in your pocket gives you a huge range of quality electric guitars to choose from – whatever your style or ambitions.

While we’ve seen excellent guitars for under $300, stretching your budget that little bit further gives you a wider, more serious range to choose from, and pretty much guarantees you will end up with a very good electric guitar.

Whether you’re looking for a genuine Fender, a signature model, jaw-dropping aesthetics, or just something a little different, you can expect a bit more in this price range. Pickup quality drastically improves, as do body woods, tone controls and general playability.

We’ve tried and tested countless guitars and, while some fall short of the mark, there are many that we just couldn’t put down. To help you make the right decision, here are some of our favorites that fall in this price range:

Top 10 Best Electric Guitars Under $500

ImageElectric Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Yamaha RevStar RS420 Yamaha RevStar RS420

Total of 4.88/5  

Yamaha flex their vintage muscles with a real masterpiece.

+ - Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster

Total of 4.70/5  

A real vintage legend with an affordable Squier price tag.

+ - Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Total of 4.64/5  

Style, sound and playability – the complete package.

+ - Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H

Total of 4.64/5  

A solid blues performer from Yamaha, with premium style and playability.

+ - Kramer Striker Custom 211 Kramer Striker Custom 211

Total of 4.48/5  

A solid Striker, with great looks and an awesome sound.

+ - Dean Dave Mustaine Zero “In Deth We Trust” Dean Dave Mustaine Zero “In Deth We Trust”

Total of 4.62/5  

Dave Mustaine stamps his bold style over this edgy guitar!

+ - ESP LTD EC-256FM ESP LTD EC-256FM

Total of 4.73/5  

ESP’s affordable take on the classic Les Paul.

+ - Silvertone Classic 1478 Silvertone Classic 1478

Total of 4.66/5  

A superb reissue of a nostalgic classic, with vintage style and modern playability.

+ - Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster

Total of 4.70/5  

Huge value with this reliable performer from Squier.

+ - Schecter Omen Extreme 6 Schecter Omen Extreme 6

Total of 4.64/5  

The first guitar on any aspiring rockers’ list – beautiful!

Yamaha RevStar RS420

Yamaha RevStar RS420

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When Yamaha are feeling inspired you can guarantee a great guitar will shortly follow. So when the Japanese brand looked to London and Tokyo’s vintage street-racing motorbikes for inspiration, it’s no surprise that the RevStar series was born.

The RS420 is the mid-range version, with gorgeous retro style and superior comfort. With several cool color choices, the RS420 features a well-contoured solid nato body with a maple top and a slim 22-fret nato neck.

As we mention in the full review of the Yamaha RevStar RS420, the specially made humbuckers are excellent for this price, with a fantastic Dry Switch to offer a quality single-coil tone that adds to the versatility. A great purchase for vintage rock enthusiasts.

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster

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The Telecaster was born at the height of rock and roll in the 50s and the Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster (click for review) is a modern tribute to the early Teles.

But it offers more than just classic 50s butterscotch blonde looks (which is reason enough to buy this beauty!), with a solid pine body and maple C-shaped neck and 21 medium-jumbo frets, offering excellent playability.

The two vintage-style single-coil pickups provide enough tone, twang and warmth to keep everyone from beginners to pros satisfied, while a single volume and tone knob keeps things simple. Versatile and well-suited to every style, from rock to pop, jazz to blues.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

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A timeless classic and one that fails to put a foot wrong. Epiphone offer players authentic Gibson Les Paul looks and sound, at a fraction of the price.

Featuring a mahogany body with a flamed maple top there’s plenty of tone on offer, while the mahogany set neck provides the sustain you’d expect from a well-made Les Paul – especially when you combine it with a locking tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece. As for output, there are two Gibson-designed humbuckers at the neck and bridge, to give plenty of grit and substance to your playing.

Whether you’re plucking your first chords (this guitar is also featured in the beginner electric guitars chart) or looking for a solid, reliable guitar capable of taking on stage, Epiphone’s Les Paul Standard is hard to beat.

Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H

Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H

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Yamaha have shown time and again how far they can make a budget go, and the Pacifica 311H is another fine example. With the classic Pacifica double-cutaway body shape, the 311H is made from solid alder, with a reassuringly heavy feel, although remains comfortable to hold and play.

Thereȍs a superb bolt-on maple neck, a rosewood fretboard and 22 medium frets, and some solid hardware including Grover locking tuners and a Yamaha-designed fixed bridge This stylish Pacifica features an Alnico V P-90 at the neck, with an Alnico V open-coil humbucker at the bridge, which has coil-splitting capabilities.

A versatile combo providing a palette of vintage and modern sounds that are perfect for classic rock and blues. We’ve reviewed the Pacifica 311H in full here.

Kramer Striker Custom 211

Kramer Striker Custom 211

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While the name may not be as iconic as some on this list, Kramer sure know how to produce a good guitar – and the Striker Custom 211 is proof if you ever needed it.

With a sleek double-cutaway mahogany body and distinctive pointed headstock, the guitar looks fantastic and plays just as well. It features a thin and fast maple neck, with 24 frets, making it perfect for shredders. It also offers plenty of versatility, with three pickups – a bridge humbucker and two single-coils – a pickup selector switch and a tone control knob.

An awesome clean sound, but it’s through distorted tones that this Striker excels and, combined with the Floyd Rose Tremolo, there’s scope for endless Van Halenesque divebombs.

Dean Dave Mustaine Zero “In Deth We Trust”

Dean Dave Mustaine Zero “In Deth We Trust”

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Got money to burn? This guitar is a little different! There’s no mistaking it for anything other than a Dave Mustaine signature model.

With its winged Zero mahogany body and head-turning custom graphics, the In Deth We Trust is one distinctive guitar. But there’s more to this axe than simply looks – it’s built to shred, with fantastic durability and playability.

There’s an easily accessible D-shaped mahogany set neck offering lots of sustain, while the two DMT Designed humbuckers at the bridge and neck provide a bold sound, perfect for soloing the night away – which is all you’ll want to do on this beauty.

ESP LTD EC-256FM

ESP LTD EC-256FM

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It’s not a Gibson or even an Epiphone – this Les Paul is from ESP’s LTD and shows off the fast playability and edgy design the metal brand is known for. With a unique Lemon Drop finish, the body takes the classic Les Paul shape and tweaks it.

It’s light and comfortable to hold, and the thin U-shaped set neck is a pleasure to get around. The body itself is crafted from solid mahogany, with a great-looking maple veneer on the top. There are 22 easily-accessible extra jumbo frets which give the lead player great string-bending capabilities.

As for hardware, there’s nothing too extraordinary, but the ESP-designed humbuckers are very versatile, especially with coil-splitting. Check out everything you need to know in the full EC-256FM review!

Silvertone Classic 1478

Silvertone Classic 1478

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Searching for some true ’60s nostalgia? This Silvertone Classic 1478 may be just what you are looking for, with retro style and sounds aplenty. Faithfully based on the original 1478 from back in 1963 – albeit with some modern upgrades – this reissue has the familiar asymmetrical double-cutaway mahogany body, with a maple top, a modern C-shaped mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard with 20 nickel-silver frets.

Upgraded hardware includes a fully adjustable chrome bridge, with an authentic Bigsby tremolo tailpiece, as well as sealed chrome vintage-style tuners.

The vintage sound comes from two Silvertone-designed chrome-covered single-coil pickups, which use similar materials to the originals, and offer bright and punchy tones that are versatile for anything from surf rock to blues. Check out our full review for more details.

Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster

Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster

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Squier’s Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster is not an extravagant guitar. However, what it lacks in flair, it makes up for in performance. One of the cheaper models on this sub-$500 chart, it shows off some excellent playability along with classic Fender good looks.

Featuring the large seventies headstock and iconic Stratocaster double-cutaway shape, the body of this replica is made of solid basswood. Onto this a maple neck is bolted, as well as a maple fretboard and 21 frets.

As for electronics, the highlight is the upgraded set of Duncan-Designed single-coil pickups, with simple controls and vintage-appropriate hardware, including a tremolo bridge. There’s more on this reliable performer from Squier in the complete review!

Schecter Omen Extreme 6

Schecter Omen Extreme 6

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Schecter is synonymous with high quality at low prices. And the Omen Extreme 6 is the perfect example of this, with looks, sound and playability at a price everyone can afford.

The guitar is wonderful to hold, with a carved quilted maple top on a mahogany body, and the finish – whatever color you choose – is second-to-none. The bolt-on maple neck is fast to get up and down, while 24 extra jumbo frets allow for easy string-bending.

Two Schecter Diamond Plus alnico humbuckers give a high-output sound that holds clarity when played at the loudest volumes, while the black chrome controls and string-thru bridge finish this guitar nicely. A real premium feel for a great price.

Where to Buy Your Guitar

Buying a new guitar is rarely done on a whim – especially when you’re dropping around $500. And whether it’s your first or twenty-first, you want it to be reliable, comfortable, and look and sound great.

After reading some reviews on this site, narrow down a couple you like, then go and test them out if possible. Head to your local guitar store and see what they have in stock. However, unless it’s a huge store, you may not get to see everything you want. So reading in-depth reviews and watching videos is a good way to learn about and hear your potential new instrument in action.

If you hear something you like, make sure to shop around and find the best price, especially if you’ve tried the guitar in a shop, as online stores like Amazon usually give you better prices. Plus they rarely run out of stock.

Should You Go For Used or New?

Both have their advantages. With a brand new guitar you know you’re the first owner, and probably have a warranty as well as a couple of weeks refund period in case you change your mind.

Buying a used guitar can work out much cheaper, but it comes with some potential pitfalls. To avoid buying something that will fail as soon as you get it home make sure you try it out before parting with your cash – and use an amp to see what the electrics are like. Treat it like you would buying a used car.

If you are going for used, avoid thrift stores or flea markets. Stick to online stores or dedicated-guitar shops that can advise you, and accept returns – especially in this price range.

What You Should be Looking For

There really is no one-size-fits-all answer, as different guitars will appeal to you based on your influences, style and aspirations. I’m not a fan of vintage, so the Danelectro D59 doesn’t really appeal to me (even though it looks pretty cool). On the other hand, Led Zeppelin may well be your idols and that’s the first guitar on your list. Everyone is different.

One thing you shouldn’t care too much about in this price range is the brand. Everyone wants to owns a genuine Fender or Gibson, but struggling to afford one when a Squier or Epiphone provide similar looks and sound quality for half the price, really doesn’t make sense.

As you’ve seen on the list, less known brands like Schecter and Kramer make awesome instruments that a seasoned pro would enjoy playing.

Other things to avoid getting caught up over is the body wood. There can be a little snobbery when it comes to cheaper materials, but these days – when you can buy a premium electric guitar for about $1000 which is made from basswood – it’s a moot point.

The woods do play a part in the overall sound of a guitar, but they should never be the defining factor.

Pickups are also important to consider. These are the voice of the guitar and your style will determine what kind will work best for you. The majority of pickups in this under $500 price range will be passive humbuckers or single-coils, and they’ll do a good job whether practicing, jamming or gigging.

If you’re after a meaty rock sound, choose something with two humbuckers (look towards Dean), but if it’s vintage twang you prefer, the single-coils on the Squire Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster make for a better choice.

Are The Reviewed Guitars For Beginners or Professionals?

Short answer: both! Of course, some of the models that we’ve featured are more newbie friendly than others, but in this price range you’ll find a good mix of guitars available that will suit any level of experience and any style of playing.

Remember that every model we present in our Top 10 Charts will have their own page with a detailed review that gives you the lowdown on its features, along with its pros and cons.

Keep in mind that if you are a beginner, you can start with a more affordable electric guitar – it’s not essential to spend big money from the start, especially as you’ll need to save some cash for an amp and accessories like a cable, picks and strap.

The Final Word

The guitars featured on this list are all excellent and our top choices for the under $500 price range. They offer great value for the money and are sure to keep you playing happily for a long time.

But there are hundreds of others that may suit you better. Whether you’re spending $100 or $2000 on a guitar, you’ll want to make an informed decision. Read as many reviews as you can, watch all the videos, and try out as many guitars as possible. Happy shopping!


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  1. I got a Shecter Omen Extreme – 6 as my first guitar its very good I have encounter problems with it but it was my fault for experimenting it. I do have to say shelters tend to be very high in quality

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