The Best Electric Guitar Under 500: Recommendations and Reviews

By Monica | Guitar

Dec 12
best electric guitar under 500

The prices of guitars may change over time. Sometimes, the shift could happen instantly and dramatically. Therefore, those guitars that have been included here might not be excluded tomorrow or the next year due to the sudden spike in their cost. Nonetheless, this is just a disclaimer that I want to emphasize, in case some of you might complain.

But why do electric guitars do have a volatile pricing? Well, the answer is simple: it is all about competition. When top contenders like Fender, Gibson, and Epiphone would battle each other, you can expect that the prices of their products would be haggled down to the maximum. This is the reason why we can see high-quality and professional guitars on the lower end of the price spectrum.

But what is the best electric guitar under 500? And why it has to be $500 anyways? If you are a serious guitar player, you would eventually realize that settling on entry-grade units won't bring out the best in your capabilities. Meanwhile, guitars that are within this price range are considered ergonomic and functional already. You can take them anywhere you want, whether it is a simple practice in the studio or a live performance on the stage.

Regardless of your preferences, you can always expect something unique in this price category. You can spot brand new electric guitars here with compelling aesthetics and sound production. You can always assure that their pickups have been revamped, too.

I have listed some of the best guitars that fall under this price range. I have tested their general playability to make sure that they can make the cut. Among the myriad of electric guitars on this category, the following can be considered as the cream of the crop!

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Best Electric Guitar Under $500

Epiphone has a lot to flaunt when it comes to electric guitars. This is one brand that any guitar players would love to have in their playroom. I have featured countless guitars from Epiphone, and none of them seems to fail my ears. That's the reason why the brand is my first stop when choosing a playable and functional electric guitar under $500. And once more, they didn't fail me at all.

I present to you the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar. The latter is a well-engineered guitar that can produce profound and articulate sounds without dropping any flaws at all. The sheer force that it can generate can shock and mesmerize even the pros in the industry. In short, it is a revered electric guitar. The tonal characteristic that it has is vast and versatile. Meanwhile, its sustain is extremely responsive and relentless.

The sounding of this electric guitar is due to its pure mahogany construction. Even the neck is made from the tonewood, too. It can scream and soothe, depending on your needs. With this kind of construction, it is pretty hard to believe that the guitar is playing in this price category. But since it is here, you just have to grab the chance to seize it.

Of course, the tonal prowess of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar is due to the presence of the Alnico Classic humbuckers. If you have a "know-how" to the world of pickups, you should realize already how good the Alnico Classic is. The aesthetics of the guitar is not lagging behind as well.


Pros:

  • Stop-bar tailpiece and Tune-o-Matic bridge for unbelievable sustains
  • Mahogany body and neck for impressive sounding
  • Ultra responsive performance
  • Full sounding instrument, thanks to its humbuckers
  • Aesthetically appealing guitar

Cons:

  • No drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
ENS-EBCH1 Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD Electric Guitar, Ebony
  • Classic Les Paul with Mahogany Body and Maple Veneer Top
  • Epiphone Alnico Classic Humbuckers
  • Grover Machine Heads
  • 1960's SlimTaper D Profile Neck

Deciding between the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and the Fender Modern Player Tele Plus Electric Guitar is actually a brain-killer. I am not joking about that. After all, we are talking about Fender here. It is not a brand that you can just simply shrug around. Aside from their reputable name, the performance of their guitars is beyond satisfying.

For instance, the Fender Modern Player Tele Plus Electric Guitar exhibits a tonal versatility that you can only find on professional instruments. Specifically, this one is patterned from the previous guitars that have been released by Fender. Its Modern Player Telecaster Plus HSS humbucker is considered among their top opuses. In fact, even if you place it together with the rest of Telecasters triple pickup models, the former would still stand out. It comes with a coil-split switch that you can use to access its humbucking bridge pickup.

As a result, the sound generation of this instrument is boosted to the maximum. Regardless of the setup, you can expect that the tone that it has will never suck. The articulation and sound clarity are present, too. You can always distinguish the notes and chords that you are playing, which in turn, allows you to stand out in the mix.

Meanwhile, the construction of this electric guitar emanates quality and finesse. It comes with a fretboard and neck constructed from maple tonewood. It also features 22 jumbo frets for a full sound production. Meanwhile, the ergonomics of the Fender Modern Player are also great. The ply pickguards and the dome control knobs tell you that the guitar is very to use.


Pros:

  • Impressive selection of electronics and hardware
  • Decent sustains and responsive sound production
  • Frequency range is dynamic
  • Features five-way pickup switching
  • Articulation and sound quality are on-point

Cons:

  • Cranking its volume to the maximum releases feedback
  • Bridge pickup is not that solid

Let's take a look at this product...

Fender Modern Player Tele Plus Electric Guitar, Honey Burst, Maple Fretboard
  • With a humbucking bridge pickup, Strat middle pickup, and Tele single-coil neck pickup, this model offers a ton of useable tones.
  • With a 9.5" radius and 22 jumbo frets, this model is built to play fast.
  • 5-way switching, plus a coil splitting mini-toggle for the humbucking pickup allows for easy access to a huge range of sounds.

For those who just want to spend less (even if they can really max their expenditures to $500), this one is the best option for you. The Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar is a decent choice for those who want to have an exceptionally impressive guitar minus the cost. Well, I can say that its construction is not as great as the first two electric guitars that I mentioned. But heck, this one can rock!

Both of the Ibanez GRX and GRG have the same playability and ergonomics. Therefore, none of you should conclude that the GRG guitars are better than the other because that doesn't make sense at all. Moreover, I have noticed that the setup of the Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar has certain nuances with some of Ibanez' high-end guitars (such as the AT10RP).

The quality of this instrument is primarily attributed to its construction. The poplar body with quilted maple art grain of this electric guitar proves that it can deliver the right sounds that you need. Meanwhile, the fretboard is crafted out of rosewood, with a series of fashionable white dot inlays. Meanwhile, its neck is the iconic GRX maple. Thus, you can guarantee that this one is very comfortable to play and handle.

Take note that the Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar features the Infinity Series pickups. With them around, you can ensure that the sound of this instrument would elevate your performance. This just proves that a good-sounding guitar does not always come with an expensive price tag.


Pros:

  • One of the most affordable electric guitars today
  • Infinity Series neck, middle, and bridge pickups
  • Reliable sound responsiveness
  • Surprisingly good selection of tonewoods
  • Playable and comfortable electric guitar

Cons:

  • Its low A and E strings produce noticeable noises
  • Requires multiple adjustments every time you use it

Let's take a look at this product...

Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar - Transparent Blue Burst
  • GRX Maple Neck
  • Poplar Body/ Quilted Art Grain Top
  • Medium frets
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Pearl Dot Inlay

If you want to push your budget to the maximum, then the Silvertone Classic 1478 BK Electric Guitar should be on the top of your list. And I think that your interest will surge more if you learn the fact that this one is the revival of the original Silvertone Classic 1478, which has been released in 1963. That legend has helped in molding the music industry today. Many think that it died on the market. But fortunately, Silvertone didn't let it take place.

When playing this guitar, you can immediately sense its expressiveness. This is an electric guitar that can perfectly emulate the soul of rock artists. Moreover, its articulation and tonal characteristics prove that this one is not a flimsy imitation at all. Its body is made from mahogany, which features a double cutaway. With this design, the guitar can release extra deep tones without compromising the high ends.

Meanwhile, the guitar also features an authentic Bigsby tremolo. It is accompanied by an ultra-sturdy steel bridge. These two components provide the Silvertone Classic 1478 BK Electric Guitar with a flawless intonation. It is far better than the old tremolo mechanism and rosewood bridge that the original Silvertone Classic has.

Of course, the fullness of its sound can also be attributed to its two single-coil pickups. But despite this, the lead of this electric guitar was not compromised. It is snarling and can shed the walls of your studio. Compared to the old Silvertone Classic, the neck profile of the Silvertone Classic 1478 BK has been drastically improved for enhanced sustains.


Pros:

  • Extremely balanced frequency rangeIntonation and articulation are smooth and faultless
  • Responsive and extra-long sustains
  • Better playability than the original Silvertone Classic
  • Perfect for live performances and gigs

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

Silvertone Classic 1478 BK Electric Guitar, Gloss black
  • Vintage vibe with a great playing neck
  • Bigsby Trem System
  • Tune-O-matic bridge lets you play in tune

Even if you are still a beginner, your options should not be restricted and curtailed. The market is still teeming with some good options that you can try. One of these is the ESP MH-50 Electric Guitar. This one will make you remember the ESP Horizon and ESP M Series. Specifically, the carved top is replicated from the Horizon electric guitars. Meanwhile, its sharpness of its in-line headstock is copied from the iconic M electric guitar series.

Considering the price that it has, you can always consider the ESP MH-50 Electric Guitar a deal-sealer already. It has a solid performance and construction, which can fit the needs of any guitar players. More surprisingly, this guitar is using the ever-famous Floyd Rose Special bridge. With this component alone, the intonation of the guitar will always be smooth and fluid.

Furthermore, the ESP MH-50 Electric Guitar is powered by two LH-150 humbucking pickups. Of course, there are some patented components that were made by ESP to ensure that the vocal force of the guitar would never be lacking. You can also expect that its construction is crafted with precision and control. From the maple neck down to its basswood body, everything about this guitar is selected by professionals. It is the very fact that made this beginner-friendly guitar powerful and downright pleasing to the ears.


Pros:

  • Well-made hardware and body
  • Sustains are long and clear
  • Comes with a set of powerful humbuckers
  • Aesthetically appealing electric guitar
  • Simple and straightforward layout

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

ESP MH-50 Electric Guitar, Black
  • The MH50 BLK has a Basswood Body with a Maple Neck and Rosewood Fingerboard
  • This guitar comes equipped with a Floyd Rose Special Bridge and Locking Nut
  • It has a Bolt-On Neck Construction and a 25.5" Scale with 24 Extra Jumbo Frets and a Thin-U Neck Contour
  • The pickups are passive ESP Designed LH-150B(b) & LH-150N(n)
  • The controls are Vol/Tone with a Toggle Switch

The Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012 Electric Guitar is another route that anyone can take if they are not yet ready to spend big for a rig. For its value alone, I can say that the Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012 is already great. Tone-wise and playability, it is hard to beat this guitar for its price. If they can include some minor improvements here (like humbucker upgrades and tonewood selection), the price of this guitar would certainly skyrocket.

I have known the Pacifica series since the early 90s. The company crafted it after the following the inspiration given by the blooming music scene in California. The genres back then are varied. Therefore, the guitar itself was made to be versatile, yet individualistic. Its functionality enables many players to play immediately the guitar is on their hands. It can work for various genres and music styles, which is one of its main selling points.

Despite being an entry-level guitar, this one features great adjustability. The Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012 allows multiple configurations its pickups to change its tonal characteristic. You can modify it to create heavy and wild distortions. You could also switch back to the clean and almost serenading sounds.


Pros:

  • Features Agathis body and maple bolt-on neck
  • Comes with a vintage tremolo
  • Five-position pickup switch
  • Compatible with tackling various genres
  • Sound versatility is great

Cons:

  • Volume is not that loud and compelling
  • Comfort factor needs improvement

Let's take a look at this product...

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC12 Electric Guitar; Black
  • Agathis Body
  • Maple Bolt-On Neck
  • Sonokeling Fingerboard
  • Vintage Tremelo
  • 5 Position Switch

Do you want a comfortable guitar that you can rock on freely? If your answer is a big yes, the Epiphone Goth Les Paul Studio is an excellent option. This one is the brother of the Epiphone that I have featured earlier on. The same with its counterpart, the Epiphone Goth Les Paul Studio features a vast frequency range that can accommodate any genres. It is a flexible instrument that can grasp any sound character that you want.

This electric guitar features different sets of Alnico Classic Plus humbucker pickups. Therefore, the power and presence that it has would never be drowned wherever you are playing. The mahogany body that it has further improved its tonal prowess. Even if you don't crank its volume knob to the maximum, the Epiphone Goth will always sound full.

Aside from its overall performance, the Epiphone Goth Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar is known to be friendly to any guitar players. Your hands would get blistered with this one. It has the right proportions that can fit medium-sized players. The rosewood fretboard is gentle to your palms and fingers, too. Even beginners won't have any trouble with this electric guitar.

Of course, the hardware and electronics of this electric guitar are professionally made, as well. You can expect that it won't fail you on suddenly. Instead, it will remain responsive and functional even if you abuse it only a daily basis. It a tough piece of equipment that remains gentle to guitar players.


Pros:

  • Fine selection of electronic components and hardware
  • Naturally loud guitar
  • Distinct and clear sound production
  • Responsive and extremely long sustains
  • Requires minimal configurations

Cons:

  • :It is much focused on the mid and low ends

Let's take a look at this product...

Epiphone Goth Les Paul STUDIO Electric Guitar (w/ KillPot)
  • Mahogany body
  • Alnico Classic Plus Humbucker pickups
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 24.75 scale
  • Alnico Classic Plus(TM) Humbucker pickups

Tips on Buying Electric Guitars (Of All Kind)

On this part, I want to be honest and straightforward with you. Regardless of your spending capacity, there is still one general rule when buying guitars and any other musical instrument. That commandment is very simple: you have to try the guitar first hand.

Some people think that a guitar is already good once it is in a decent price range. Of course, I can already consider this is a safe assumption. But if you are a seasoned player, you won't settle for these figures alone. After all, you are looking for a guitar that is playable and comfortable at the same time.

The guitars that I have listed here are all great. But they won't mean a thing if you can't test them by yourself. This urgency requires you to go to your local guitar stores and find the guitar model that you are looking for. The sad thing about doing this is that the store itself might not contain enough stocks for you explore. It will render you reeling and sad.

The best thing that you can do here is looking for the video reviews about the guitars that I have listed here (or any guitars that you have in mind). In this way, you can know their actual sound and form when they are being played. By coursing through these performances, you can able deduce if the guitar suits your playing style and preferences.

Brand New or Used?

Should you get a brand new or used guitar? Well, that is a question that I would like to answer myself. Honestly, both of these guitars pose advantages. A brand new guitar is great because it is still in its top form. You wouldn't have to worry about damages since you are the first one who is going to smash it. Moreover, the warranty is still fresh and hot. You can return it once it doesn't tick your preferences at all.

Meanwhile, the advantage of getting a used guitar is plainly straightforward: it is cheap. For example, the prices of those guitars that I have featured here can still be haggled down if they are sold as refurbished. But there are dangers that you should avoid here. Since they are used, it means that most of their parts are not in their top shape already.

Use an amp and test the second-hand guitar. In this way, you can have a clear grasp of the performance of its electronics. If it fails your expectations, just return it. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Of course, I would discourage you to go to thrift stores. Most of them can't be trusted. Instead, trust on reliable sites and online retailers. They will give ease your doubts.

What Should You Look for an Electric Guitar

Not all guitars function the same. Not all of them will suit your requirements, preferences, and playing style. Therefore, a good guitar for you might be a bad choice for your friend. Don't get hurt if they would comment something negative about your instrument because they are just expressing their inclinations.

All guitars have different styles and influences. Manufacturers created them in response to a particular demand or trend. For instance, vintage guitars are loved by many, especially die-hard Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones fan. But modern players can't relate to the special nuance of these vintage classics. People are different, right?

If you are dealing with guitars in the price range of $500, the brand doesn't matter anymore. That's a cold hard fact that you have to accept. If you are a beginner, it is normal that you crave for an authentic Gibson, Fender, or Epiphone. But if you are at this price level already, everything is leveled. Their qualities can match one another, regardless of their reputation. Even some guitars from Kramer and Schecter can already compete.

When it comes to tonewood, I guess that our preferences vary. But don't always be too snobbish to instruments that cost less than $200. If their tonewood is made out of basswood or mahogany, you can expect something good from them already. Of course, the tonewood can affect the tonal characteristic of your instrument. But on the other hand, that's not the only factor that is playing on the scene. The pickups, hardware, and other electronics can change the playing field.

Pickups are important as well. On the price range $500 or up, what you can usually get are electric guitars with passive humbuckers. They are great for either practice purposes or gigging. If you want to emulate something that is metal or rock, choose a guitar with two humbuckers.

Final Verdict

The best electric guitar under 500 can already satisfy the preferences and needs of any guitar players. Since your options are pretty varied, choosing will not come as an ordeal for you. As long as you know what you are looking for, there is no need for you to get confused.

All of the guitars that I have featured here have their respective ergonomics to flaunt. But if you are looking for something full and powerful, you should try the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar. It is a recommended unit for metal freaks because of its insanely good humbuckers. Meanwhile, the guitars Fender Modern Player Tele Plus and Silvertone Classic 1478 BK provide extreme versatility to their users.

So which of these guitars do you like? Do you know any guitars that are within this price category that is worth mentioning here? Tell me in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!