The increasing competition of brands and deals has made a lot of electric guitars very affordable. For serious guitarists, you can actually get the best electric guitars under $500. And, in this article, I will reveal to you 10 guitars that I played and proved to be the best bargain for this price.
However, at this price point, you should also be wary. You might pick up a guitar which is overpriced and lacks the important features you need. So, just stick to this list for you to get useful ideas and information.
Additionally, I will provide a simple checklist on how to choose electric guitars under $500. It’s not a sophisticated list, but something that can guide you, especially for beginners.
Even though you’re looking for the best deals, you should start right through this list.
Top 10 Best Electric Guitars Under $500
- Yamaha RevStar RS420
- Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster
- PRS SE Standard 24
- Ibanez RG450DX RG Series
- Schecter OMEN-6
- ESP LTD EC-256FM
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard
- Silvertone Classic 1478
- Ibanez Steve Vai JEMJRSP
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H
Inspired by London and Tokyo street-racing motorbikes, Yamaha RevStar RS420 offers a balance between performance and style. With decades of experience, this particular model is carefully engineered to bring out the best in the guitar and the best in you, as a musician. From the design, colors to the contours and curves, Yamaha just offers you a holy grail.
It has contoured body with Nato body and Maple top, plus a neck joint design for easier access to the upper frets. This guitar is very reliable to give a wide variety of tonality, thanks to the custom-wound YGD pickups. It features Yamaha’s proprietary Dry Switch that gives more tonal versatility giving clear and punchy tones without humming noise.
- Extremely playable and comfortable
- Has great build quality with stunning appeal
- Flexible guitars and can play various music styles
- There some minor issues with the paint
- Some users find this guitar to be heavy
A Tele with a gorgeous Vintage Blonde-finished body is hard to overlook. The Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster offers a premium look and feel, but not on the price. It’s made of pine body with a glossy polyurethane finish, one-piece maple neck, and 9.5-inch maple fretboard.
Check Out: Best Telecasters for the Money
It’s loaded with two single-coil pickups with Alnico III magnets which are capable of giving clear and warm tones with proper setup on this Tele. This also offers that distinctive Tele tone to give clarity no matter how you play the guitar. It comes with a master volume and master tone controls, plus a three-way position switch giving you more versatility.
- Comes with a durable and reliable headstock
- You’ll get a balanced sound
- Plays well and a good guitar for the money
- Pickguard seems cheap
- Pickups are good enough, but they are noisy
- Vintage-style tuners are a pain when changing strings
The best electric guitar under $500 should be made playable and durable. You get these and more from the all-mahogany PRS SE Standard electric guitar. PRS tried to recreate the foundational design of the flagship PRS custom 24, but giving it a fairly affordable price tag.
With that, you can see classic features and appointments like the 24-fret maple neck and rosewood fretboard which is decorated with bird inlays. This model has the 85/15 “S” pickups, and the PRS patented molded tremolo so you can extract great sounds when you plug it on your amp. A rock-solid guitar with volume, push/pull tone control and three-way pickup switch, this will bring your performance to a whole new level.
- Offers the true PRS playability
- Great tone with better clarity and sustain
- Action is very low so your fingers won’t hurt at all
- Tremolo and tuners seem clanky, though they work fine
- Need adjustments and better setup out of the box
- Tone knob isn’t that great
The first few guitars on the list are on the heavier side. So, if you want something lightweight, but still has the balance and resonance that you need, get an Ibanez RG450DX RG Series electric guitar. It’s made of mahogany body, three-piece Wizard III neck and bound rosewood fretboard with shark tooth inlays.
Get to play the style that you want, even if it needs ultrafast playing and shredding. This is why the Wizard III neck is on this guitar to provide comfort and supplements the mahogany body as you do your thing. It comes with two humbuckers, plus a single-coil pickup in the middle, giving you more flexibility and tonal diversity.
- Easy to play because of its neck shape
- Stunning aesthetics, you can’t tell that it’s a cheap guitar
- Careful choice of tonewoods to achieve great sound
- Single-coil pickup is quieter than the humbuckers
- Not so versatile in terms of options
- Beginners may find this guitar hard to tune
Who doesn’t want to have a guitar that can produce wonderful sounds that please the ear? We all want that, right? That’s why we recommend Schecter OMEN-6.
It’s made of basswood body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard. The fretboard is smooth and the neck profile supports hours of playing without feeling stressed. A 24-fret guitar, yet it’s not difficult to access the upper frets because of the cutaway.
Schecter Diamond Plus pickups are very reliable to give you some punch while staying versatile. This is also because of the volume, tone and pickup switch that can be easily accessed and tweaked.
- Recommended for metal, although it can be used for other styles, too
- Has great value for the money given its features
- Balanced guitar and plays nicely
- Needs a pro to set it up before it can be played
- It’s heavy like most of the guitars on this list
- Frets still need minor sanding and smoothing
It’s a top-notch guitar that includes some of the most enticing and exciting features, ESP LTD EC-256FM is one of my best under $500. This electric guitar provides major performance like pricier models. It has flamed maple top, comfortable mahogany body with three-piece neck and Rosewood fretboard.
You can see ESP LH-150 bridge and neck humbuckers that give you a wide range of sonic output — from clean tones to serious distortion. The stylish cutaway allows you to access the upper registers of this 22-fret fretboard with ease. The push/pull tone pot for coil-splitting allows cutting through the mix clearly, while the three-way pickup selector switch offers up to six pickup settings.
Read: ESP Ltd EC-256FM Review
- Thin neck makes it easy to handle
- Durable guitar with great overall performance
- Versatile guitar playable by any players — newbie to pro
- Some inconsistencies with pickup and bridge sounds
- It’s not a lightweight guitar if you are looking for one
If you are seeking to achieve a Gibson Les Paul signature sound, but can’t afford the original guitar, get the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. It’s crafted with mahogany body to give you the resonance you need. Plus, it’s loaded with Epiphone Classic Alnico humbuckers to give you warm sound output.
With the set-neck construction and slim-taper profile of the neck, not only will you achieve the Les Paul’s signature sound, but the feel and playability, as well. To complement all these, it comes with neck and body binding, in addition to the trapezoid inlays. The LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge and Stopbar tailpiece may take time to familiarize, but it’ll help you achieve better sustain.
- Accessible and easy to adjust volume and tone knobs
- Set-neck gives the nice string to body resonance
- Sturdy bridge and well-finished die-cast tuners
- Very high action out of the box
- Not versatile, especially for those styles with crisp tones
- With the Stopbar tailpiece, it takes time to master changing the strings
In need of inspiration to play like rock icons? The Silvertone Classic 1478 gives you classic sounds and playability at under $500. As the best electric guitar from Silvertone, it strives to have a unique character to be able to pull out the best out of every player.
It offers offset double-cutaway body which is made of solid mahogany, maple neck, and a “C” shape neck mahogany neck that offers vintage vibe. It comes with an original Bigsby® tremolo and adjustable steel bridge for accurate intonation and better attack. The two Vintage single-coil pickups do their job well in reproducing a wide range of vintage tones.
- Vintage design is pretty cool
- Beginner-friendly with decent sound output
- Volume control is very close to the picking area
- Some players said it’s a bit expensive for its features
Steve Vai is a legendary musician and the Ibanez Steve Vai JEMJRSP electric guitar is all you need to be like him. The good news is, this is the most affordable Steve Vai signature guitar.
It’s a solid-body guitar made of mahogany body, maple neck, and Jatoba fretboard. It’s equipped with two humbuckers, a single-coil pickup, and a double-locking tremolo.
The neck is fast and smooth, very easy to play, while the tremolo keeps the guitar in perfect tune. While the clean tones from the pickups are excellent, getting wonderful dirty tones is even better. Hence, an upgrade of the pickups might be necessary.
- High-quality guitar with reliable hardware
- Impressive looks and expressive playability
- Pickups are good to replicate Steve Vai’s sounds from DiMarzio pickups
- Pickups are fine, but you might need to upgrade
- Action needs a little adjustment
If you are looking for the best electric guitar under $500 that has the best value for your money, you just found one from Yamaha. The Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H is both playable and sounds great. Not only that, it has great looks, feel and versatility, allowing you to express your individuality in your performance.
Made of alder solid-body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard, this guitar promises versatility to play any music genre you want. Alnico V P-90 & Alnico V Humbucker pickups give you unique character whether you’re trying to pull out clean tones or distorted tones. The high-grade hardware, quality pickups, and solid construction give you uncompromised performance.
- Wood finish is beautiful
- Guitar feels great and plays well
- Neck and tuners are among the strengths of this guitar
- Might need some adjustments
How to Choose the Best Electric Guitars Under $500
The list could go on and on, and your confusion will bring you nowhere if you don’t come up with personal criteria for your next electric guitar. Yet, you have taken one step closer to sealing the deal after you’ve defined your budget and set for the best electric guitars under $500. Now, I will give you an idea of the other things to consider when choosing your next shredder.
The choice of the body type will determine the kind of sound you’ll get from the guitar. Hence, you should familiarize yourself with the difference between solid-body, hollow-body, and semi-hollow-body.
Solid-body is the most common body type you’ll see in electric guitars. If you’ve read through the product descriptions, you’ve noticed I have included a few solid-body guitars.These guitars don’t have much resonance as hollow-body models, but they provide more sustain and less feedback. These are great for rock, blues, and country.
Lastly, you have the semi-hollow-body guitars that keep the resonance of the hollow-body, while getting the longer sustain and less feedback of the solid-body. This body type is perfect for those who want to play blues and Rock & roll.
You should know that the neck is an important part of the guitar. It impacts playability and comfort as you play. In general, there are three types of neck construction — bolt-on, set-neck, and neck-through-body.
Bolt-on neck is the most common neck construction for solid-body guitars. Some users use bolts to attach the neck to the guitar body — easier installation and repair.
The set-in neck simply means the neck is glued to the body — this is easy to install, but kind of hard to repair as you need to detach the glue. The set-though neck can be found in some expensive models. This type of neck may run through to the body towards the end of the guitar — an integral part of the body.
The pickups are also a consideration, but since guitarists usually upgrade stock pickups to better ones, I’ll proceed to the switch and controls in an electric guitar. Usually, you’ll find the volume and tone controls, along with the pickup selector switch. At this price point, you’ll get a pickup switch that allows you to access various pickup combinations during your performance.
Although with the budget under $500 you’ll get a decent electric guitar, sometimes it has some flaws. This YouTube video focuses on three of the things you should focus on — budget, feel and sound. It also emphasizes on picking your guitar (especially if it’s your first) in the store, rather than online for the sole reason that you can try it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, especially the buying guide that I carefully crafted to be of help to anyone. At this point, the moment that you’ve all been waiting for has finally come — my recommendation. And, I can proudly say that for any skill level, the Yamaha RevStar RS420 is the best electric guitar under $500.
In an electric guitar, you’ve got to have a good smooth neck and good action for fast play, coupled with good, if not the best, pickups to get the sound you want. All these and more are in the RevStar RS420. And to make you stage-ready, it has a stunning design with very defined curves and contours that you want to hold it forever.
Apart from the fact that it was inspired by street-racing motorbikes in London and Tokyo, it’s a Yamaha. This Japanese company has stood for decades proving excellence with all its products. And, the RevStar RS420 is no exception to that.