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Best Electric Guitars Under $1,000 in 2022: Our Picks From Fender, Epiphone, Gretsch, PRS And More

Two PRS SE Custom 24 guitars next an amp
(Image credit: Future)

So, you’re looking to buy a new guitar, but you want to keep to a budget – fear not, we’ve scoured the market and selected what we think are the best electric guitars under $1,000 right now. Whether you’re playing blues, rock, country, jazz, or anything else, these guitars will serve you well on the road, in the studio, or just at home. 

$1,000 can buy you a lot of guitar these days. All the options on this list are good guitars – some are way below the $1k price point, and others are right at the top end of this price bracket. For this kind of money, you can expect some great-sounding guitars; some will be simple and old-school, whereas others have a few tricks up their sleeves. You won’t see a great many US-built guitars under $1,000, but that’s not to say that these guitars won’t be built well. We’re seeing some incredibly high-quality instruments come out of the Far East and Mexico at the moment.

You can get a great workhorse guitar for under $1,000. There are certainly some incredible high-end instruments out there that you can spend thousands on, but our pick of the best electric guitars under $1k showcases some amazing options for both beginners and pros alike.

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Our top picks

The best electric guitar under $1000? It’s a tough one, but if you’re going down the humbucker route, then the Epiphone 1959 Les Paul (opens in new tab) takes our top spot. Fitted with a pair of Gibson USA pickups, it recreates the hallowed Burst sound as best as possible under a grand, plus it comes with a good quality hard case included in the price. 

If you’re more into single coils, then our favorite pick under the $1,000 price point might be a little controversial – it’s the PRS SE Silver Sky (opens in new tab). “Why not pick a Strat?” You may ask – well, the Player Strats are great, no doubt, but the SE Silver Sky just has a little something else. The Vintera Strats are also superb, but in this scenario, they’re over budget. The craftsmanship of the PRS SEs is really good; combine this with the sorts of sounds we’re used to hearing from a Strat-style guitar, refine them a little in typical PRS fashion, and you’re about there. What’s not to love?

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Product guide

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard

(Image credit: Epiphone )
The best electric guitar under $1000 for that hallowed Burst-era tone

Specifications

Launch price: $849/£749
Made In: China
Body: Mahogany with Maple Cap
Neck: Mahogany, Set
Scale: 24.76”
Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
Pickups: Gibson USA Burstbucker 2 & 3
Neck Profile: ’50s Vintage
Finish: Aged Dark Burst, Aged Dark Cherry Burst
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
High-end pickups
+
Classic Les Paul sound
+
Comes with hard case
+
A lot for your money

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing

This represents the first collaboration between Epiphone and the Gibson Custom Shop, and it truly is one of the best electric guitars under $1,000. Aside from its incredible looks, this Epiphone Les Paul features a pair of Gibson USA Burstbucker 2 & 3s that do a superb job of recreating that hallowed late-’50s Burst-era tone. Other specs include CTS pots, Mallory caps and ’50s-era wiring. 

In true Les Paul fashion, a solid mahogany body sits underneath a maple cap offering plenty of sustain, and a nice snappy attack. There’s also the fairly chunky but comfortable ’59 neck profile that so many players love, plus it comes shipped in a good quality hard case.

There’s a lot of magic in these Gibson pickups, and the build quality coming out of the Epiphone factory at the moment is very, very good. This is the closest you can get to those holy grail, late ’50s Les Pauls without dropping some serious cash.  

Read the full Epiphone 1959 Les Paul review

Best electric guitars under $1,000: PRS SE Silver Sky

(Image credit: PRS)
John Mayer’s recent SE signature model out-Strats a Strat

Specifications

Launch price: $849/£895
Made In: Indonesia
Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: 635JM “S”
Neck Profile: 635JM
Finish: Dragon Fruit, Ever Green, Moon White, Stone Blue
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Five great pickup positions
+
Classic design
+
Feels more expensive than it is

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited color choice
-
The birds and headstock aren’t for everyone

The Strat that isn’t a Strat recently received the SE treatment from PRS, making it more affordable for a wider audience. They’ve managed to do this without greatly reducing the overall quality or performance of the instrument. Whilst the sound and look of the SE Silver Sky is hardly groundbreaking, there is something different about it. 

All five pickup positions are nicely balanced and all very usable – there’s nothing harsh about the bridge position, and the neck pickup is lovely, deep and rich. It sounds, and indeed feels like a more expensive guitar. Whilst the guitar is made in Indonesia, as opposed to the US like the previous Silver Skys, it still features the classic Paul Reed Smith workmanship that we’ve all come to know and love. Right out of the box (well, gigbag), this thing plays great and we know it will continue to do so, year on year. 

Whilst the PRS Silver Sky is only a few years old and essentially just a reworked Strat, it has become a guitar in its own right, and the SE version looks set to continue that. Is it one of the best electric guitars under $1,000? John Mayer and his band certainly seem to think so! 

Read the full PRS SE Silver Sky review

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

3. Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster

A Telecaster, and then some…

Specifications

Launch price: $999/£799
Made In: Mexico
Body: Alder
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Rosewood/Maple
Pickups: Vintage Noiseless
Neck Profile: Modern C
Finish: Daphne Blue, White Blonde, Sunburst
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Superbly versatile
+
Noiseless pickups
+
Iconic body shape

Reasons to avoid

-
If you play heavier styles

This is a really well spec’d-out three pickup Telecaster that offers up all the classic Tele tones, and more. It’s fitted with pair of Vintage Noiseless Tele pickups in the bridge and neck position. These do exactly what you’d expect; from bright and twangy to mellow and smooth. However, in the middle of these you’ve also got a Vintage Noiseless Strat pickup, as well as a five-way pickup selector that works in the same way as a Strat. 

This is a really versatile guitar, and it’s nice to have those classic Tele tones, but also be able to switch to something a little more choppy for funk rhythms, or something more glassy for bluesy lead lines. Also, with these being Noiseless pickups, you don’t have to worry about unwanted hum or hiss. It’s right up towards the top end of our budget, but it’s worth it.

Best electric guitar under $1,000: Gretsch Electromatic G5420

(Image credit: Gretsch)

4. Gretsch Electromatic G5420

The best electric guitar under $1,000 for that classic Gretsch sound

Specifications

Launch price: $799/£729
Made In: Mexico
Body: Alder
Neck: Maple, Set
Scale: 24.6”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: Black Top Filter'Tron
Neck Profile: Standard U
Finish: Aspen Green, Candy Apple Red, Fairlane Blue, Orange Stain
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Chunky, warm tones
+
Great pickups
+
Stylish

Reasons to avoid

-
May feed back with the gain cranked

Gretsch makes some of the best looking guitars in the business, but they also sound killer too. The fully hollow body makes it really resonant and helps deliver a warm, full-bodied tone, and the BlackTop Filter’Tron pickups add some chime and sparkle to the top end. Whether you’re playing blues, jazz, rockabilly or rock, the Gretsch G5420 really is one of the best electric guitars under $1,000. 

The guitar is visually striking too – it comes in some incredible finishes, the body is nice and big, and the Bigsby tailpiece and arm adds a nice little touch of class. This style of guitar has been around for decades now, and, after playing one, you’ll discover why!

Best electric guitar under $1,000: Ibanez AS93FM

(Image credit: Ibanez )

5. Ibanez AS93FM

Jazz, blues, rock and more for well under $1,000

Specifications

Launch price: $699/£559
Made In: Indonesia
Body: Maple
Neck: 3pc Nyatoh/Maple, Set
Scale: 24.72”
Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
Pickups: Super 58s
Neck Profile: Ibanez
Finish: Antique Yellow Sunburst, Violin Sunburst, Transparent Cherry
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Feels very premium
+
Detailed, vintage-voiced pickups
+
Nice size
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for those seeking a solid guitar 

The perfect electric guitar under $1,000 for blues, jazz and rock. Whilst Ibanez are well known for their high-performance rock and metal guitars, they also excel when it comes to hollow and semi-hollow instruments. This guitar’s semi-hollow construction makes for a resonant instrument with plenty of sustain.

The Ibanez AS93FM comes with a pair of sweet-sounding, vintage-voiced Super 58 humbuckers. Whether you’re dialling back on the tone knob for mellow jazz tones, or you’re pushing that bridge humbucker through an overdriven tube amp, you’ll hear some detailed tones, with a nice attack, deep bass, and a rich top end. Good quality hardware helps the guitar stay and play in tune, plus it helps resonance. It looks really classy and it’s sometimes surprising that it comes in at way under $1,000.

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH

(Image credit: Charvel)

6. Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH

One of the best super-Strat style guitars out there for under a grand

Specifications

Launch price: $999/£799
Made In: Mexico
Body: Alder
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Seymour Duncan Distortion TB-6/SH-6N
Neck Profile: Speed Neck
Finish: Grey, Satin Orange Blaze, Black, Vintage White
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Seymour Duncan pickups
+
Coil split option
+
Superb playability

Reasons to avoid

-
High output pickups too much for some
-
Floyd Rose makes restrings trickier

There are some great choices when it comes to super Strats at the moment, but none outperform the Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal at under $1,000. Shredders and rock guitarists will love this, but it’s by no means a one-trick pony. It’s actually super versatile. 

A pair of fairly high output Seymour Duncan humbuckers offer a tight bass response, along with a sweet top end. Dial back on the volume knob though, and they will clean up – though that’s probably not what you’re getting this guitar for. The volume knob also works as a push/pull switch activating a coil split giving you single-coil sounds – this really isn’t just a shredder’s guitar!

They look great, and they’re made well, plus that slim neck profile is incredibly comfortable, for rhythm and lead work. The Floyd Rose trem system might not be for everyone, but if that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll love it.

Best electric guitars under $1,000: PRS SE Custom 24

(Image credit: PRS)

7. PRS SE Custom 24

Paul Reed Smith’s quintessential SE electric guitar, coming in at under $1,000

Specifications

Launch price: $999/£829
Made In: Indonesia
Body: Mahogany, Maple Cap
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: 85/15 'S'
Neck Profile: Wide Thin
Finish: Black Gold Burst, Bonni Pink, Faded Blue Burst
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Superb build quality
+
Great pickups
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Bird inlays not for everyone

The classics are classic for a reason. The Custom 24 has established itself as a major player in the world of guitars, alongside the likes of the Fender Strat and the Gibson Les Paul. This latest PRS SE Custom 24 features a pair of 85/15 ’S’ humbuckers, based on their US-made counterparts. These are ideal for rock, blues, jazz and loads more. However, if you need more tones at your disposal, the tone knob also acts as a coil-split function so you can get more single-coil like tones, making this a really versatile instrument. 

We’ve become so used to PRS’s great craftsmanship and superb playability, and the SE Custom 24 is no exception. It’s a joy to play, regardless of what style of player you are. Whether you’re a gigging musician, bedroom guitarist or producer who needs a reliable ‘do-it-all’ guitar, then this has you covered. Absolutely one of the best electric guitars under $1,000.

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Strat

(Image credit: Fender)

8. Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Strat

An affordable take on the legendary ’60s pre-CBS Strat

Specifications

Launch price: $459/£319
Made In: Indonesia
Body: Nyatoh
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
Neck Profile: C Shape
Finish: Sunburst, Lake Placid Blue, Candy Apple Red
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Classic Strat tones
+
Affordable
+
Good build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Not quite as good as a Fender…

The entire Classic Vibe range from Squier offers amazing value for money, but we’ve picked out the ’60s Strat as being one of the best guitars under $1,000 for its playability, looks and sound. You don’t quite get the same note definition and frequency range as you would with some more expensive models, but this guitar gives all the classic Strat tones for not a lot of money. 

The Classic Vibes are built to a good standard – these will act as great instruments on the road, or just at home. Vintage pre-CBS Strats are serious money, and Custom Shops and American Originals are well over our $1,000 limit. This sits comfortably under $500 – half of our budget here, and it’s a whole lot of fun to play.

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Revstar Standard RSS02T:

(Image credit: Yamaha )

9. Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T

Twin P-90s, great build quality, versatile electronics and some incredible finishes, all under $1k

Specifications

Launch price: $799/£649
Made In: Indonesia
Body: Chambered Mahogany, Maple Cap
Neck: 3pc Mahogany, Set
Scale: 24.75”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: VP5n/b Alnico V Single-coil
Neck Profile: Revstar
Finish: Swift Blue, Sunset Burst, Black, Hot Merlot
Left-handed?: Humbucker version only

Reasons to buy

+
Great pickups
+
Versatile electronics
+
Beautiful finishes

Reasons to avoid

-
Almost too perfect...

Yamaha are one of the biggest names in the world of musical instruments. They introduced the Revstar range a few years ago and recently overhauled it. The Revstar RSS02T is a stunning guitar fitted with two P-90 pickups that will dish out bright, upper-mid rich, bitey tones, and smooth, full and warm sounds in equal measure. P-90s are versatile pickups, and this guitar is one of the best ways of showcasing this. 

The Revstar RSS02T also has a passive boost built-in that gives you the sound of slightly hotter, overwound pickups, as well as a five-way pickup selector, as opposed to three like you might expect.

Whilst this might be a fairly new design, the guitar looks classy and timeless. It also has a few modern tricks up its sleeve, with a mahogany and carbon neck for extra stability. The mahogany body has also been strategically routed out so it’s lighter, but you still get plenty of sustain and resonance. 

Best electric guitars under $1,000: Buying advice

Close up of the PRS SE Silver Sky

(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the best electric guitar under $1,000 for you

If you’re in a position where you can spend up to $1,000 on a new guitar, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best one for the money, that will serve the purpose you need it for. There are some really good choices, from well-known brands, including Fender, Epiphone, Gretsch, Ibanez and more. When making the choice between them, there are some key considerations you can make to ensure that you end up with the right instrument for you.

What type of pickups you’d like is a good place to start. Many players have a preference when it comes to humbuckers, single coils and P-90s. Each have their own tonal characteristics that render them more suitable to individual playing styles and types of music than others.

There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, humbuckers tend to sound a little warmer and thicker, with a touch more output, and single coils brighter, thinner and crisper with a lower output. P-90s are still essentially single coil pickups, with a slightly altered design that has an impact on their sound – sonically, they’re usually punchier, with more mid-range bite than a regular single coil. What is right for you largely boils down to personal preference. Within blues, rock and jazz, you’ll find a range of different pickups used.

Some modern guitars fitted with humbuckers allow you to tap, or split the coils, giving you more single coil-like tones. This can be especially useful if you want an array of tones all from one guitar.

Consider the construction of the guitar

The construction of the guitar can also have an effect on how it sounds. Bolt-on necks, as opposed to set necks, can lend the guitar a snappier and more articulate sound – they’re also easier to replace should you need to do so. Set necks, which are glued into the body, can help with a warmer and fuller tone, with more sustain. 

Hollowbody electric guitars usually mean more resonance, which is great for some players. Bear in mind though, if you’re cranking the gain quite high, then these are more prone to feedback. A middle ground would be a semi-hollow bodied guitar, that has a solid block running through the middle.

Follow the feel

How the guitar feels to play is another big factor in choosing the best sub $1k guitar for you, and a lot of this is in the neck profile. Nowadays, modern guitars tend to cater to a variety of playing styles, with neck profiles that are neither too thick, nor too thin, however they’re certainly not all the same. Thinner necks can lend themselves nicely to speedy, shreddier players, especially if they’re combined with a flat fingerboard radius. Thicker neck profiles fill out the fretting hand a bit more, though for most people, that doesn’t hinder them from playing in any particular way.

Read more on how we test gear and service at Guitar Player.

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar Player, Guitar World, MusicRadar and Reverb, specializing in electric and acoustic guitars bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.