Electric guitars are undoubtedly one of the most exciting instruments to play. Not only can it rock an entire stadium with enthusiasm and energy, but it also possesses the power to swing one’s emotions with blues and rhythm. However, these do not come cheap.
Therefore we took up the challenge of finding 10 best electric guitars under 500. Our goal is to help you simplify your choices and assist you in buying a guitar that best meets your preferences.
We compiled this list after going through tons of reviews, videos, blogs, and testing numerous models ourselves. So if you are interested in improving your skills more than bragging about expensive gear, you are sure to find a guitar in our list, which is all that you are looking for.
What you need to know before buying an electric guitar:
When it comes to buying electric guitars, the sheer number of options and features can be quite confusing.
Knowing the meaning of a few key terms will help clear the air and make an informed decision. Hence we have put together a mini-dictionary to guide you in this process.
1 – Body type
The first term to be aware of is body type. In general, there are 3 basic types of electric guitar body styles:
Solid – This is the most common type of electric guitar and is usually made of a solid slab of wood. However, they do not produce as much resonance as their counterparts, but they are less prone to feedback when the volume level is high. These are ideal for playing blues, jazz, and country.
Hollow– Such electric guitars are resonant and keep intact the woody sound of an acoustic guitar, but they are susceptible to feedback. These are a perfect choice for playing folk as well as jazz and country.
Semi-hollow– This combines the best features of the above 2 variants. It maintains the resonance and is also less prone to feedback. These are good for playing Rock & roll and blues.
2 – Neck design.
The next term to understand is the neck design, as it impacts comfort and playability. In this there are 3 types:
Bolt-on- Such a design is most often found on solid-body guitars. It is easy to install and repair as the neck is usually attached to the body using a few bolts. This neck construction gives less resonance and overall sustain compared to others
Set-neck- In this type of design, the neck is glued to the body. Though it is easy to install, repairing it is a challenge as the glue must be carefully removed. This is more stable and gives better resonance and sustain to the guitar.
Neck-through-body- This kind of design is mostly found on expensive guitars. The neck is an integral part of the body and runs through the end of the guitar. It is very stable and gives the best resonance and sustain when played.
Apart from the body and neck design, the next key term is pickups. This has a profound effect on the sound produced by the guitar.
Single-coil pickup– It is the most basic pickup design and features in many under 500 electric guitars. It produces a bright and crisp sound. However, these are prone to magnetic interference and humming.
Humbucker pickups– these were designed to overcome the hum. They usually have a louder, thicker, and a more powerful tone when compared to single-coils.
Piezo pickups- These are crystalline sensors that are embedded in the saddle of an electric guitar. They depend on mechanical vibration instead of magnets to convert the sound from vibrating strings into an electric current. They are mostly used to generate the tone of an acoustic guitar.
In-depth product reviews of 10 best electric guitars under 500
Here we present 10 of the best electric guitars under 500 that have excellent playability and fantastic tone.
#1 Yamaha RevStar RS420
This model, released in 2015, is said to be inspired by Tokyo and London’s vintage street-racing motorbikes. Thanks to the exceptional Yamaha craftsmanship, every detail of this electric guitar has been designed to showcase its unique personality.
This dual-cutaway, gloss finished, solid body masterpiece is made using the strong and cost-effective Nato wood. The set- neck is also made using Nato while the top is built using maple wood.
The made in Indonesia electric guitar has 2 YGD alnico V humbuckers (VH3 models), which are custom-wound for the Revstar series. It also features the Yamaha-exclusive: dry switch, which divides the coils without producing a hum. It also helps to cut the low frequencies.
The body of the guitar has a deep belly cut, a newly designed neck joint, and a hidden forearm contour. These features provide exceptional comfort while playing. It is also a versatile guitar that supports several styles of music such as jazz, blues, modern rock, and even pop.
The rosewood fingerboard has a13.75-inches radius with 22 medium jumbo frets. It has a scale length of 24.75-inches. Chrome tuners, stop bar tailpiece, and Tune-o-Matic bridge are the other components that make it a decent guitar to buy for under 500.
- The contour designed body offers excellent comfort.
- Fitted with customized and unique hardware.
- It has a superior build quality.
- Can be used to play various music styles
- The gig bag costs additional money.
The Yamaha RevStar RS420 is a great choice to consider if you are looking for an electric guitar that balances style and performance.
#2 Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster
Up next on our list is an electric guitar inspired by the 1950s-era Telecaster Models. It offers a premium look and feel without burning holes in one’s pocket. It has an alder body with a glossy vintage-tint finish and a one-piece maple neck.
It is fitted with 2 single-coil pickups with Alnico III magnets, which give bright and warm tones when set up correctly. Apart from this, it features a 3-way position switch that offers more versatility and master tone and master volume controls. A Telecaster bridge is also provided at the bottom.
It has a slim “C”-shaped neck profile that makes it comfortable to play for long hours. The maple fingerboard has a 9.5-inches radius with 21 narrow-tall frets. It has a scale length of 25.5-inches.
The nickel hardware and vintage-style tuning machines provide a smooth and solid tuning stability. The single-coils and vintage bridge make it ideal for people who want to play country, classic rock, blues, jazz, and other lighter stuff.
- Produces the authentic Fender tone.
- It has durable nickel-plated hardware.
- Features a string-through-body design that gives optimal resonance.
- A player-friendly guitar at a reasonable cost.
- Difficult to change the strings of the vintage style tuners.
Overall, this is a traditional and simplistic guitar, which is pretty easy to play for beginners. As it costs below 500, it is worth the investment, especially if you want an outstanding guitar with a retro look and tone.
#3 Epiphone Les Paul Standard
This guitar is the perfect alternative for people who cannot afford the expensive original Gibson Les Paul. It offers an almost identical feel and performance but at a more reasonable price. It is therefore considered as the gold standard by many beginner guitar players.
The body of this electric guitar is made of mahogany and has a treated maple top. It features a glued-in maple design neck with a superior quality rosewood fingerboard, which is 23-inches in radius and has 21 medium frets. It has a scale length of 24.75-inches.
The slim and lightweight body offers seamless movement across frets and strings. This guitar is ideal for people with medium to small hands. It is also more suited for playing heavy metal and blues.
It is fitted with 2 Alnico humbucker, which gives excellent sound and tone. These can be controlled by the 2 volume knobs and 2 tone control knobs.
The hardware is similar to the Gibson guitars and contains a sturdy Tune-o-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece. This provides more sustain and makes it easier to change the strings.
- Control knobs make it easier to adjust the tone and volume.
- It has well-finished die-cast tuners and a sturdy bridge.
- The set neck provides improved playability and feel.
- The adequate string length helps beginners to learn the notes quickly.
- It may not be suitable for people with large palms or long fingers.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is a well balanced electric guitar. If you plan on buying the original Gibson someday, this is a great practice guitar for the meantime.
#4 PRS SE Standard 24
The popularity of Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitars has grown exponentially in a short amount of time. The primary reason for this is the sheer quality of their guitars.
Although well known for their expensive instruments, they have also ventured into budget-friendly price ranges with the introduction of the SE Standard range.
PRS SE Standard 24 is the budget version of PRS’s flagship instrument, Custom 24. Apart from their almost identical looks, Standard 24 is a versatile, well crafted, and affordable electric guitar.
It can handle multiple genres of music, such as ambient, shoegaze, rock, metal, and blues. The use of more cost-effective materials has helped to reduce the cost but not its features.
It has a 24-fret mahogany set-neck, a PRS-patented tremolo, and rosewood fingerboard with bird inlays. The scale length is 25 inches. The remarkable clarity and tonal range of this guitar are due to the 85/15 “S” humbucking pickups that have coil-splitting capabilities.
It also features push/pull tone control, volume control, and a 3-way pickup switch, which will take your performance to a different level.
- Double-cut electric guitar with an all-mahogany body.
- It comes with a reliable and durable headstock.
- Scores high on playability and appeal.
- The 24-fret rosewood fingerboard is easily accessible
- Requires minor set up adjustments once taken out of the box.
We can conclude that the PRS SE Custom 24 is an absolute steal at its current list price of under 500. Don’t forget to look out for the company’s iconic logo and Paul Reed Smith’s signature to ensure it is an original piece.
#5 Schecter Demon-6
The Schecter Demon-6 is an electric guitar designed for metal and metal alone. It embodies all the aggressive characteristics of a guitar that is ready to unleash its fury.
It is armed with dual Duncan designed HB-105 active humbuckers as well as a super-smooth wenge fretboard. The body of the guitar is carved from basswood, and it has a maple wood top.
It is heavily countered with neat sculpting on both treble and bass sides of the cutaways. The bolt-on, C shaped thin maple wood neck has a satin finish. The aged crème binding around the body of the guitar provides a layer of protection and adds to its visual appeal.
The guitar makes use of industrial-grade black chrome hardware with a string-through-body Tune-O-Matic and burled volume and tone knobs.
The rosewood fingerboard has a 14-inch radius with 24 extra-jumbo frets. It has a scale length of 25.5-inches. It is powered by a 9-volt battery that can be easily accessed through a clip on the back of the instrument.
- Perfectly suited for aggressive playing.
- Good set up even when taken straight out of the box.
- It has a beautiful design and a well-crafted finish.
- Manufactured by a well-known brand.
- Some users have complained about experiencing fret buzz.
The Schecter Demon-6 is one of the most influential and playable electric guitars available on the market that sells at a price of less than 500. If you like playing heavy metal or thrash, this is a good option for you to consider.
#6 Squier Vintage Modified ’72 Telecaster Thinline
This is a modernized version of the classic Telecaster Thinline. It has the look and sound of a Fender and the price range of a Squier. Its semi-hollow ash body with gloss polyester finish lends the right amount of warmth and resonance.
Additionally, it can also produce a low-level tone for acoustic playing due to the semi-hollow design.
This electric guitar has a maple wood neck as well as a maple wood fingerboard. It is equipped with a fretboard that is suitably optimized for playability and versatility.
It is fitted with wide range humbucking pickups that help produce thick, warm, and highly detailed sounds minus the unwanted buzz and hum.
Its string-through-body bridge assists prolonged vibrations, and its 6 individual saddles allow players to precisely adjust each string for accurate intonation. It has a 9.5 inches fingerboard radius and 21 medium jumbo frets.
It has a scale length of 25.5-inches. It is equipped with 2 control knobs and a 3-position blade switch.
It produces a mildly hazy midrange tone that is well suited for playing alternative rock and Indie genres of music.
- The ‘C’ shaped neck offers excellent comfort and playability
- It has an original barrel switch tip
- It offers rock-solid tuning and intonation.
- The stylish F-shaped soundhole provides a full sound.
- The case is sold separately
If you want a guitar that is great for distorted power chords and fingerpicking, you can give this a go. Watch this video (1) to see what you can do with this instrument.
#7 Danelectro ’59XT
This is a semi-acoustic 12 string guitar produced by the legendary manufacturer Danelectro.
It has a retro-cool style and matching tones. It is lightweight as it has a laminated semi-hollow or chambered body. The bolt-on neck is made using maple wood and has a satin finish. It has a rosewood fingerboard of 7.25 inches radius and 21 frets. It has a scale length of 25 inches.
This electric guitar produces a signature, jangly midrange tone. However, when a pair of lipstick single-coil passive pickups is plugged into it, the guitar delivers a fantastic vintage tone. It is fitted with a 3-way pickup selector, volume and tone controls.
The guitar has an adjustable saddle bridge. This allows players to set the intonation to their liking. It is an excellent guitar for playing punk, old-school rock, and other jangly genres.
Another highlight of this guitar is its sensitive and smooth Wilkinson tremolo system, which permits warped pitch changes and deep dives.
The design of the guitar is well thought out. It has 6 strings anchoring behind the bridge and six strings passing through the body. The strings then travel to a well-machined aluminum nut and later on to separate adjustable machine heads.
- It has vintage-inspired looks.
- Fabulous build quality.
- Ideal for contemporary and retro tones.
- It is not as versatile as other guitars in the under 500 price range.
The Danelectro 59XT is a beautiful instrument that simply oozes vintage class. It is a stunning guitar for the modest price tag.
#8 Ibanez JEM JR Steve Vai Signature
When Steve Vai joined hands with Ibanez in 1987, little did he know about the lasting impression his signature model guitar would make. Today, the JEM is an iconic guitar immediately associated with the legendary guitarist.
Well known for its unique look and innovative design, its popularity can be gauged by the fact that it is the most counterfeited model in the world.
To make the JEM guitars available to a wider fan base, Ibanez released the JEM JR series. These provide people the opportunity to own a JEM without breaking a bank. It features a solid mahogany body fixed to a Wizard III maple neck.
The JEMJR has many of the JEMs distinguishing features such as the Tree of Life inlay, H/S/H pickup configuration, a dual locking tremolo system, and the legendary Monkey grip handle and Lion’s Claw tremolo cavity.
It has a jatoba fingerboard with a radius of 15.75 inches and jumbo frets. It has a scale length of 25.5 inches.
For tonal tenacity, 2 quantum humbuckers and 1 quantum single-coil pickup with 5-way switching are provided in the guitar. It is suitable for playing hard rock and metal. It has been the favorite guitar for shredders for many years.
- Sophisticated good looks
- Ideal for beginners and shredders
- It has a very fast neck, two-octave range, and a flat fretboard radius
- It does not have the best pick up in the given price range.
Beginners can take advantage of this excellent guitar to start their musical journey. It gives superior sound and tones. Therefore it can be used for practicing and stage performances.
#9 Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H
Although not as sought after as other brands such as Gibson or Fender, Yamaha does command huge respect for its popular Pacifica series. It features a range of quality guitars that surprisingly defy their price point.
Yamaha guitars are known for their outstanding playability and great tone. The PAC311H loaded with amazing features does justice to its brand name. It has been constructed, keeping in mind various genres and playing styles.
It has solid tonewood construction, custom-wound Alnico V pickup, and a coil-split on the bridge humbucker. All these features help produce a great tone and performance.
The high-quality hardware consisting of locking Grover tuners and a 6-saddle hardtail bridge provide stability and pro-level response and feel.
It is crafted using solid alder and looks beautiful in its natural yellow-stained finish. It is also available in vintage white, metallic red, and black varieties that equally impress. This guitar is most likely to appeal to blues enthusiasts and classic rockers.
The guitar has a curvaceous, well-defined Strat-style double-cutaway shape. It has a rosewood fingerboard with a radius of 13.78 inches and 22 vintage-style frets. It has a scale length of 25.5 inches. It also comes with volume control and a 3-way pickup selector switch.
- Good quality components
- Versatile vintage sound
- Premium style and playability
- It does not have the loudest of outputs.
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H is one of the top-rated budget guitars available in the market today. It is a bit less expensive than most other electric guitars and is a good option if you are short on pennies. Check this demo (3) for more insights into its capabilities.
#10 Schecter OMEN-6
Finally, on the list is the Schecter OMEN-6. With Schecter’s reputation of making the right quality instruments at reasonable prices, the OMEN-6 has an excellent finish, high-quality electronics and hardware, and pretty bindings.
The C-shaped body is constructed using basswood, which is thick and resonant. To complement the body and reduce the cost, the Schecter OMEN-6 has a bolt-on maple neck. This is in contrast to the other models that have set necks.
However, this modification has worked in favor of OMEN-6 as it produces brighter and snappier sounds.
It has a rosewood fingerboard and features 24 frets and Pearloid Gothic inlays. It has a radius of 14-inches and a scale length of 25.5-inches. This promotes fast action.
One can observe that the scale length is about a couple of inches higher than the standard electric guitar. This facilitates easier access to higher frets. The OMEN-6 is more geared towards rock; however, it can also branch out to different styles like jazz and blues.
The electronics consist of a 3-way switch and individual tone and volume knobs. The setup and tuning continue to remain solid even after aggressive playing and note bending.
- Designed keeping the lefties in mind.
- The thin C-neck improves playability.
- Offers good sustain compared to other similarly priced electric guitars
- Consists of awesome electronics and pickups
- It is a tad heavier than the others.
OMEN-6 is a fantastic low-cost electric guitar. This Schecter is just for you if you are a leftie who is into heavy metal and searching for the perfect shredding guitar. Check this video (4) to watch a demo of this guitar.
Choosing the best electric guitars under 500 can be quite a daunting task. Apart from the many well-crafted options, several fragile and cheap ones are not even worth the low price. We strongly recommend staying clear of those options.
Through this article, we have narrowed down your search to only the 10 best electric guitars under 500. We hope that it is now easier for you to find the perfect match for your musical aspirations.
Finally, it is time to reveal our top pick, and we choose the Yamaha RevStar RS420.
While buying an electric guitar on a tight budget, it is necessary to look for a smooth neck and fast play action coupled with good pickups. RevStar RS420 offers all these and more.
Additionally, to make the owner stage ready, it also has an impressive design with sharp curves and contours that provide exceptional comfort.
One of the primary reasons we recommend RevStar RS420 is that it is a solid body and a set-neck masterpiece that not only scores high on comfort but also playability.s Also, the guitar is equipped with customized hardware and electronics.
Leaving aside the fact that it draws inspiration from street-racing motorbikes of Tokyo and London, it is a Yamaha! The brand is well recognized and is known for producing quality products. And, the Yamaha RevStar RS420 is no exception to that.
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide:
Although we have reached the end of the article, you may still have a few questions lingering in your mind. In this section, we will try to address a few frequently asked questions:
What to look out for in an electric guitar that falls under 500?
The first thing you must check is the scores of online reviews available on the product. This is especially needed when buying pocket-friendly electric guitars as few companies like to cut corners.
The next thing to keep an eye out for is the design. Check the descriptions provided thoroughly as it will give you an idea about its features and performance. Based on this information, you can choose a guitar that best suits your needs.
Finally, you must also check the wood that is used to construct the guitar. The choice of wood plays a significant role in how the output is delivered.
Which under 500 electric guitar is suitable for live performances?
Fender is known to make some of the best electric guitars for live performances. So the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster is the right choice. The look of the electric guitar itself sets the tone even before you start playing. It is easy to hook up and navigate the strings. The guitar produces a soothing rich output that draws the crowd’s attention to your music.
This choice is widely supported by many guitar enthusiasts who have good knowledge about electric guitar brands. People also appreciate the quality of the guitar offered for the price range as it does not break down in a year or two
Can you change the pickups and hardware?
Yes, you can, and this is one of the significant advantages of buying a below 500 electric guitar. It gives you the freedom to choose. The high quality, affordable guitars can be seen as a foundation on which you can create the instrument of your dreams.
You can change the bridges, caps, tuners, pots, and just about anything you want. At the end of it, you will end up with a much better guitar at a fraction of the cost.
However, it is essential to exercise caution, as most electric guitars are already fitted with the right hardware, electronics, and pickups. Therefore change the parts only if it is worth the effort and final result.
What type of electric guitar is the easiest to play?
A solid-body electric guitar is relatively easy to play compared to hollow or semi-hollow body guitars. The main benefit of such a guitar is that it is quite easy to control it when played in front of an amplifier.
As a result, you are unlikely to experience squealing feedback, which can be quite an annoyance. Also, such guitars are more comfortable to hold than the hollow body models, which are usually bigger.
Additionally, the price of the guitar also has a role in playability. Usually, as the cost goes higher, the comfort and playability also increase.
What is difference between a beginner and an advanced electric guitar?
There are notable differences between the two:
The first difference is the weight. Beginner guitars are generally more lightweight than the advanced versions. This is because freshers will be more comfortable handling the lightweight body while trying to learn the chords.
The second difference is the hardware. An advanced guitar is usually fitted with excessive features such as a wide range of pickups, individual volume and tone controls, two humbuckers with coil-splitting capabilities, etc. However, the beginner guitars have fewer controls and features.
The final difference is the bridge. Beginner guitars usually feature a fixed bridge, whereas the advanced versions have variable tremolo bridges.
Do electric guitars need an amplifier?
This is a personal choice. No law states that it is mandatory to use an amplifier with an electric guitar. If you do not have the budget for it, you can easily cut it out. You can continue to “dry practice” and still be able to listen to yourself playing, albeit very faintly.
Despite this being OK, we still suggest investing in an amplifier along with buying an electric guitar. This is because practicing without an amplifier will force you to practice aggressively just to make yourself heard.
This is not ideal. Moreover, you also miss out on response and feedback on your playing skills by not using an amplifier.
What are some of the essential accessories of an electric guitar?
Below is a shortlist of some of the essential accessories of an electric guitar:
Guitar Tuner – A digital tuner is more suitable for beginners.
Guitar picks – While few players choose not to use it, it is highly recommended to use picks when playing an electric guitar.
Guitar strap – Buy a good quality strap that lets you focus on your playing instead of worrying about the guitar crashing on the floor.
Gigbag – Even though slightly more pricey, it is better to invest in a hard case than the normal ones.
Other essentials – Apart from the one listed above, you will need a guitar stand, a few additional strings, and guitar cleaning materials.
How long does it take to learn to play an electric guitar?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the practice and dedication of the student. But for starters, one cannot expect to go from zero to playing like the legend Jimi Hendrix in a short amount of time.
So while you can learn to play a couple of chords in a few hours, mastering the instrument can take much longer. Although, the one good thing about learning to play the guitar is that it is more about practice than pure talent. So keep trying!
Hope you enjoyed reading the article. Do leave your valuable feedback in the comment section, and good luck with your electric guitar shopping!