Sometimes you have been playing a cheap guitar for a while and it feels like it’s time for an upgrade. Sometimes your budget has become slightly larger and you’re on the market for something a little bit better. Sometimes you see one of your favorite guitarists playing something absolutely gorgeous and you think, “I want a guitar that is more like that one.” Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to start looking at better quality, slightly more expensive guitars.
What you get out of a guitar that you buy is, on occasion, proportional to the amount of money to have to spend on that guitar. It is not always true of course, and it is possible to get a truly great guitar for only a few hundred dollars. When you start to look, however, at guitars in a higher price-range, you will begin to see that for just a little more you can get a lot more quality and features. Here are the best electric guitars under 1000 dollars.
|Fender American Special Stratocaster||Ibanez S770PB||ESP LTD EC Series EC-1000||Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro||Schecter Hellraiser C-1||Gibson SGJ|
|Back and sides: Alder||Back and sides: Mahogany||Back and sides: Mahogany||Back and sides: Solid mahogany||Back and sides: Mahogany||Back and sides: Mahogany|
|Fingerboard: Maple||Fingerboard: Rosewood||Fingerboard: Rosewood||Fingerboard: Rosewood||Fingerboard: Rosewood||Fingerboard: Rosewood|
|Top: Alder||Top: Mahogany||Top: Flamed Maple||Top: maple veneer||Top: Quilted Maple||Top: Mahogany|
Fender American Special Stratocaster
The Fender American Special Stratocaster is an iconic American-made guitar. Like many Fender Strats, it features three single coil pickups, an alder body, a maple neck and fretboard, and a tremolo. This particular Stratocaster has jumbo frets.
Fender Strats are known for their versatility. This guitar has great clean tones, ranging from warm to glassy to piercing, but it also takes distortion very well. Its tone is defined, indicative of its single-coil pickups, but it can be very warm, particularly when its tone knob is rolled down a little.
This guitar is well suited to most styles of music. It is an iconic electric blues guitar as well as a classic rock guitar, but it is perfectly at home in pop or modern jazz-fusion. Some of the tones it produces are great for country picking. Overall, it is hard to go wrong with an American Special Strat.
Ibanez electric guitars are in a lot of ways the workhorses of modern rock guitar. They are versatile, have good electronics, have great, fast necks, and their pickups are generally hot enough to meet the needs of even the heaviest players.
This particular Ibanez features two hot humbuckers (one in the neck position and one in the bridge position), one single coil pickup (in the middle position), a mahogany body with a poplar top, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. It also comes standard with a floating tremolo.
The tone of this guitar is, though heavy, rather warm due to its mahogany and rosewood construction. It takes distortion very well – it can really scream – and in many ways it is a guitar made for shredders. The floating tremolo makes it capable of producing dramatic vibrato and ‘dive bomb’ effects. In general, this is a great rock guitar.
ESP LTD EC-1000
ESP is another well-known rock guitar brand and the LTD EC-1000 is its best electric guitar under 1000 dollars. Many of the great modern rock guitarists play ESP guitars, in part for their high outputs and fast necks, and in part for their durability and quality construction.
The ESP LTD EC-1000 is modeled after the Gibson Les Paul, and has many of its features in an updated, modern guitar. Its big, heavy body is made of mahogany, as is its neck, and it has a maple top and a rosewood fretboard. It features two high-output Seymour Duncan humbuckers, and comes standard with two volume knobs, one tone knob, and a three-way pickup selector.
This guitar screams rock. It is big and heavy, and so is its sound. While capable of producing great warm clean tones, it shines when it is cranked and distorted. It is an ideal choice for players looking to make some noise.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
This is another guitar modeled after the Gibson Les Paul. This time, however, it is made by Gibson’s subsidiary, Epiphone. The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro is truer to the Gibson Les Paul than the ESP LTD EC-1000 is, which means it is decidedly less modern and markedly more traditional. This is the closest thing to a Gibson Les Paul you can get without actually buying a Gibson Les Paul.
This guitar features a big, solid mahogany body with a maple top, a mahogany neck, and a rosewood fretboard. It comes standard with two PAF-style humbuckers and has two volume knobs, two tone knobs, and a three-way pickup selector.
This guitar sounds and feels very much like traditional Gibson Les Pauls. Its construction is nearly identical, and its pickups are meant to replicate the sound of vintage humbuckers. It has a big, warm sound that is great both clean and overdriven. It can sing, squeal, and scream. This guitar is suited mostly to rock playing (from classic to modern), but its clean tones are pleasant enough to be at home in blues or even some jazz.
Schecter Hellraiser C-1
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a shredder’s guitar if ever there was one. It is loud, fast, and lives up to its name. It features a mahogany body with deep cutaways (for easier access to the high frets), a mahogany neck, a rosewood fretboard, and two active humbucking pickups. It has two volume knobs, one tone knob, a three-way pickup selector, and a fixed, tune-o-matic bridge.
This guitar’s sound is big and heavy. Its active humbuckers put out a lot of volume, and can really drive an overdriven amp. It is a guitar that is really designed to be in front of a distortion pedal. Its clean tones are just fine, but it shines when it is screaming.
The neck of the Hellraiser is fast and easy, and it is capable of having very low action. This makes it ideal for shredders, who generally want to be able to play very fast. Overall, it is hard to find a better guitar for modern rock and metal.
The Gibson SGJ is Gibson’s affordable version of the SG, an iconic rock guitar. Like the SG, the SGJ is a gritty, high-output guitar capable of truly inspired rock tones.
The SGJ features a thin, light mahogany body, a maple neck, a rosewood fretboard, and two classic humbuckers. It has two volume knobs, two tone knobs, and a three-way pickup selector. Like many SG-style guitars, it has a fixed bridge.
The sound of the SGJ is piercing and heavy. It is capable of really cutting through a mix. It takes distortion extremely well; in many ways, it is hard to imagine this guitar not being played distorted. It is well suited to rock, heavy blues, and metal. Overall, the SGJ is a great guitar at a surprisingly affordable price.
Why Invest in a Higher-priced Guitar?
With so many guitars costing only a few hundred dollars, it might seem frivolous to spend almost $1,000. But with instruments, you often get what you pay for. Of course, there are guitars that are prohibitively expensive for what seems like very little reason, and even guitars in the $500-1,000 price range cost as much as they do for reasons that may not be important to you. It is still true, however, that spending a little more money can get you a lot more guitar.
When you buy one of the guitars on this list, what you’re paying for is quality. What you are getting is a truly professional-grade instrument. An instrument that is capable of feeling like and sounding like the instruments you see on your television and hear on the radio. An instrument that will grow with you. An instrument you can have forever. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a great guitar in your hands and the knowledge that what you’re holding is the same kind of thing your heroes hold in their hands. Great guitars connect you to your music in deep, profound ways. And yes, great guitars cost a little bit more.
What to Expect from an Electric Guitar Under $1,000
So what are the things that the extra money is buying? What should you expect from a guitar costing nearly $1,000? Here are a few of the most important things:
- Tone: The sound of a solid body electric guitar comes primarily from the wood that it is made of and the pickups that sit in that wood. High-quality guitars are built, generally, from high-quality woods, which, put simply, makes them sound better. They will sound richer, more harmonically complex, than cheaper guitars. The pickups on more expensive guitars are also higher quality, and that also makes them sound better. There are many different good pickups, and they will sound many different ways, but in general better pickups will make the guitar sound better.
- Feel: Good guitars feel better, full stop. They feel like they’ve been better constructed (because they have been), and their necks are faster and easier to play. It is easier to bend the strings, and it is easier to set the action lower (if that’s what you like). Overall, more expensive guitars are easier to play.
- Quality parts: An electric guitar that costs a little more will have all of the bells and whistles. Its pickups will be, in general, of a higher quality, its electronics will be better, its bridge will be more reliable, and its tuners will be smoother to operate and will hold its tuning better. Overall, a better guitar means better parts.
The bottom line is this: spending a little bit of extra money can get you a lot more guitar, if you know what guitars to look at. The guitars on this list represent some of the best that the electric guitar industry has to offer, from classic designs to modern ones. Whatever your favorite flavor, these guitars will serve you well and can help take your playing to the next level. The best electric guitars under 1000 dollars are more than just the best instruments under a certain price; they are some of the best guitars, period.