10 Best Electric Guitars Under $500 in 2021 (Review)
Looking for a brand-new electric guitar that you can use to shred your way to superstardom?
Electric guitars can be quite pricey. Fortunately, in recent years, the guitar market has become very competitive, meaning you can now get not just a new guitar, but an awesome one for less than $500.
Today, we’ll be looking at the best electric guitars under $500 in 2021 as well as what to look for in a guitar. By the end of our review, you’ll have no trouble picking the best one to take your music career or hobby to the next level.
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The Best Electric Guitars Under $500
1. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Electric Guitar
Looking to get your first electric guitar? The Squier by Fender Classic Vibe is one of the best beginner electric guitars that you can get for less than $500. That said, the comfort and sound of this guitar also work well for pro guitarists.
Its label says it’s made in China, but make no mistake that this is a reliable guitar and an All-American classic. The body of the Classic Vibe is reminiscent of the ’60s—but Squier Classic Vibe isn’t just about that 60s sound.
It also comes with a variety of modern features to take your guitar playing to the next level. For instance, it has three custom vintage-style single-coil pickups that create warm, beautiful tones.
It’s this unique tone that makes the Squier Classic Vibe a top choice when looking through electric guitars for playing country or pop music. If you have the skills, you can also shred out a hard rock number on this beautiful instrument.
The custom pole on the Classic Vibe delivers a better string-to-string balance while sturdy 9.5-inch radius maple neck ensures that you stay comfortable, regardless of how long you’ve been playing.
Simply put, the price point, build quality, and versatility of the Squier Classic Vibe make it a great vintage guitar for newbies and longtime guitarists who are looking to jam.
2. Squier by Fender Affinity Series Electric Guitar
The Squier by Fender Affinity Series is one of the cheaper electric guitars that you can get without worrying about compromising on quality. In fact, it’s the most affordable option on our list.
With its low price point, the Fender Affinity Series delivers excellent value—these electric guitars have a sleek design and impressive sound. This model comes nine colors with eye-catching finishes to match your unique style.
The guitar also comes with an authentic Fender tone and impressive sonic flexibility that lets you create your own special style of rock ‘n’ roll. If you want a top-notch electric guitar without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with the Squier by Fender Affinity Series.
3. ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar
The ESP LTD EC-256 is an entry-level guitar that’s capable of amazing things. The first thing we love about it is how good it looks in black. If black is not your thing, though, you can also get it with a flamed maple top with a translucent finish, such as See Thru Green, Dark Brown Sunburst, and more.
The EC-256’s second best feature is how great it sounds as a blues guitar, rock guitar, and more. That’s thanks to its jumbo frets, which make playing and sustaining tone much easier since you don’t have to press as hard on the strings to get the sound you want.
Its Tune-o-Matic Bridge, flatter fretboard radius, thin U-shaped neck, and pair of humbucking pickups also add to the versatility of this guitar. For durability, the EC-256 comes with a solid mahogany wood body and neck.
In summary, the EC-256 is one of the most impressive electric guitars you can get for under $500. It even comes with features you’d generally only find in higher-priced guitars, like its set-neck construction, extra-jumbo frets, and headstock binding.
4. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V
In the guitar world, Yamaha is known for its exciting electric guitars, and the Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V is no different. Guitar players revere it for its performance, versatility, and individuality. We are especially fond of its ability to hit high notes, thanks to its roomy lower cutaway.
Its neck is maple, while its fingerboard is rosewood. Whether you’re a first-timer with an electric guitar or a pro, you’ll be comfortable with the PAC112V’s C-shape profile. And with its single-coil pickups and bridge humbucker, you’ll have an easier time playing tunes and styles from various music genres.
Looking for an affordable electric guitar that you can use to play classic rock, blues, and other tunes?
The PAC112V is a reliable option that’ll deliver beautiful tunes for years to come.
5. Ibanez AS53TKF
When it comes to looks, the Ibanez AS53TKF is hard to ignore. This beautiful poplar wood electric guitar has six strings and a shapely body to carry it. That poplar body also features beautiful artwork that’ll make you look like a real stunner when stringing tunes for an audience.
It’s not just its looks that places the Ibanez AS53TKF on our list of the best electric guitars under $500, either. There’s its durability, as well, thanks to its sturdy real-wood construction. Plus, it delivers incredible sound output with minimal white noise.
The Ibanez AS53TKF is suitable for solid body guitarists who want to play more classic vibe tunes. It’s also suitable for country, jazz, rock, blues, and acoustic players who are ready to go electric.
In spite of its many impressive qualities, this guitar remains shockingly affordable. If you want a gorgeous and affordable, yet durable guitar that delivers warm and incredibly rich sounds, you should consider the AS53TKF.
6. Ibanez 6 String GRX20ZBKN
The Ibanez 6 String Solid-Body Electric guitar looks and sounds like an electric guitar for rockers.
Its lean and sleek body is made with resonant basswood with dark hardcore graphics. Aside from looking good, the MAB4 has a body shape that fits snugly into your hands and lets you enjoy every minute of playing. It also has classic pearl block inlays that facilitate the smooth fingering of its strings.
Sadly, this guitar is only suitable for right-handed guitarists, which means lefties are out of luck. When it comes to sound, there is an HSH pattern with three DMT pickups for a variety of tones.
7. PRS SE Custom 24 Electric Guitar
The PRS SE Custom 24 Electric Guitar is a budget-friendly electric guitar that’s more versatile than most in this price bracket. Depending on your skillset, you’ll have no trouble using this instrument to play metal, the blues, rock, and more.
A lot of its versatility comes from its 85/15 “S” bridge humbucker and coil-split pickups that deliver clear ‘hi-fi’ sounds.
For convenience, there are 24 frets on a slim 10-inch fretboard radius and 25-inch scale length. Combine this with the guitar’s molded tremolo, and you have a unique looking and sounding six-string instrument that delivers great tones, versatility, and playability.
8. Ibanez RG450DX RG Series
Do you want to rock and roll? You need an electric guitar that lets you shred and shred fast. That’s exactly what the Ibanez RG450DX RG Series offers with its three-piece Wizard III single-coil neck and two humbucker pickups. Instead of medium jumbo frets, you get full jumbo frets for maximum shredding.
Aside from its performance and super-resonant sound, the look of the Ibanez RG450DX RG Series is also admirable. Its mahogany body is a rich starlight blue that’ll catch the attention of your audience and shock the competition when they hear how much it costs.
9. Schecter Omen Extreme-6 Electric Guitar
The Schecter Omen Extreme-6 Electric is a remarkable electric guitar—that’s the result of careful engineering. You’ll first notice this in the gentle curves and contours of its body, which are made to fit perfectly into your arms.
Then there’s the custom hardware made with unique materials to deliver the best performance possible. That includes Yamaha’s Dry Switch that delivers the versatility of a coil-split, but with a more satisfying tone.
When it comes to looks, the Revstar is no slacker—its aesthetics look as good as the guitar sounds. You can get it in one of four unique colors with a glossy finish to match your style.
Altogether, the Revstar is a budget-friendly electric guitar with luxury looks and features.
10. JS Series Dinky Arch Top
The JS Series Dinky Arch Top is an affordable seven-string electric guitar with a durable body, beautiful look, comfortable handling, and great pickups.
Its simple yet attractive body consists of a basswood body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard to deliver superb clarity and a powerful tone when you strum its strings. Another advantage of the hardwood neck is that it won’t warp easily, meaning you can expect to enjoy your C750X for years.
If you intend to use your guitar frequently, the C750X will require tuning every week or so if you don’t want to have stability issues. It’s not ideal, but it’s not a deal-breaker either. As for controls, you get one knob for adjusting the volume, another for tone, and a small lever for pickup configuration, making this guitar both user-friendly and enjoyable.
5 Key Things to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Guitar Under $500
Spending $500 on a new guitar is a big investment that has to be worth your while. For that to happen, you have to pick a product with the right features to meet your needs and match your unique playing abilities.
To help with this, here are the most important guitar features to look out for when shopping for top electric guitars under $500:
Makers of lower priced guitars often use lower quality materials in the manufacturing process. It enables them to cut the cost of production and make a profit. However, such electric guitars are often less reliable and durable.
If you want a good quality guitar that doesn’t exceed your budget, you must first look at the type of material the guitar is made with. The best quality guitars under $500 are typically made with materials like alder, poplar, paulownia, or basswood. More expensive models may use materials like mahogany, basswood, swamp ash, or pine.
Some models combine different materials for a guitar’s neck and bridge, such as a mahogany neck and rosewood body or pine body.
In addition to durability, a guitar’s material also affects its sound. For instance, mahogany guitars have warmer tones, while basswood and alder guitars have more balanced tones. In light of this, be sure to go for an electric guitar whose material can deliver the level durability and the type of sound you want.
The right guitar body for you will depend on your unique preferences and needs. There’s also the issue of body type. You can usually find an electric guitar in one of these three body types:
- Hollow: Hollow body electric guitars aren’t common. Guitars that have this design can generate bright sounds that are similar to that of an acoustic guitar. They also have a great bass response, which makes them suitable for playing jazz.
- Semi-hollow: This type of guitar uses amplification to support its small soundbox. This aspect allows you to control the level of sound that comes from the guitar, making it a versatile musical instrument.
- Solid-body: Guitars under this category don’t have a soundbox. Instead, they rely on electric pickup systems for collecting string vibrations. Solid-body guitars are an ideal choice if you want a guitar that can play at very high volumes and amplify without feedback problems. Because there’s no need for a soundbox, you can find this type of guitar in a wide range of sizes and types.
Right or Lefty Compatibility
Are you right or left-handed? An electric guitar for lefties won’t be of much use to you if you are right-handed. Unless you are ambidextrous, be sure to verify that the electric guitar you choose is compatible with your dominant arm before buying.
The easier an electric guitar is to play, the more fun you can have with it, especially if you are a newbie. It’ll take less effort to play classic rock, blues, or any other type of music you may have in mind.
Generally, compared to acoustic guitars, electric guitars are much easier to play and place less stress on your fingers. Guitars that are easier to play will have their strings as close to the fretboard as possible. Larger frets, such as extra-jumbo frets, also increase the playability of a guitar.
For even higher levels of playability, go for an electric guitar that offers easy access to master volume and tone controls.
Would you prefer a glossy black guitar or a cherry sunburst six-string with a satin finish?
While the look of a guitar won’t affect its quality of sound, it will affect how good you feel while you are playing it. How gnarly your guitar looks in your arms can also help excite and win over your audience.
That said, the way a guitar sounds is more important than how it looks. As such, be sure to never compromise the quality or functionality of a guitar for looks.
Is the Quality of Sound Sufficient from Electric Guitars Under $500?
Gone are the days when an electric guitar that sounds awesome had to cost a fortune. Now, you can get an awesome sounding guitar with $500 or less, as you’ve seen already in our electric guitars under $500 review.
That’s because guitar manufacturers have found ways to reduce the cost of production without compromising on quality. Sure, more expensive guitars will still have more features than a guitar that’s under $500, but for most guitarists, especially newbies, these extra features aren’t necessary.
As long as you know the exact features you need from an electric guitar to make the type of music you want, you’ll have no trouble finding an option under $500 that’s perfect for you.
What is the Average Lifespan of a Lower Budget Guitar?
This might surprise you, but a good quality lower budget electric guitar, like some of the ones on our list, can last for as long as a high-end one.
Why? The answer is in the materials low budget guitars are now being made with. With lower budget guitars using more durable materials like mahogany, rosewood, basswood, and so on, you can find a low-budget electric guitar that can easily last for twenty to thirty years or more.
However, as with any guitar, how well you use and maintain a low budget electric guitar will greatly affect its lifespan.
Should I be Budgeting to Spend more than $500 on my Guitar?
Higher-end guitars aren’t expensive simply because they are luxury items. They also offer more features for increased playability and better sound output. Some are even so durable that they can last for a lifetime, as long as you properly care for them.
If you are a professional performer, a collector, or you simply need those extra features that you can only get from more expensive electric guitars, sure you can budget more money for one.
If you are on a budget or just learning how to rock an electric guitar, you are probably better off going with one of the electric guitars under $500 on our list.