Upping The Ante: Top 10 Best Electric Guitars That You Can Buy For Under $1000! Detailed Reviews And Recommendations!

IMAGEPRODUCT NAMEDRIVER SIZEAMP WALLTAGEPORTRatingCheck Price
Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series

Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series

AudioRumble rating 93/100

Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop

Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop

AudioRumble rating 90/100

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T

AudioRumble rating 89/100

ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

AudioRumble rating 88/100

Gibson SG Special 2016 T

Gibson SG Special 2016 T

AudioRumble rating 99/100

If you can show me a thousand bucks, I can show you a thousand awesome electric guitars! In fact you probably don’t even need that much cash to find an excellent guitar that will make you fall in love.
The $1000 mark is probably the biggest amount the majority of players will ever spend on a guitar. Yes – you could go all out and splurge $5000 on a custom model – but so could anyone. If you have the money, go for it. But for under $1000 you can get an axe of very similar quality with very little room for being ripped off.

Take a look at our comparison chart below and you’ll see the best guitars for under $1000, along with their individual ratings and links to our in-depth reviews. After the chart we share some tips to make the buying process easier, including what you can expect from a guitar in this price range and what kind of amps could go with it.

Top Rated Electric Guitars Within The $1000 Price Tag

Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series

4.65 Stars
  • Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series Review – Not Just A Pretty Face!
  • Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series Review – Not Just A Pretty Face!
  • Ibanez AR620 Artist Expressionist Series Review – Not Just A Pretty Face!

AudioRumble rating 93/100

A great looking guitar from Ibanez that is matched in hardware and performance. This is a really rigid, three-piece maple set neck with ebony fretboard and 22 treated frets. There's an abundance of tone, warmth and sustain, as well as comfort and that 'wow factor' thanks to the design. Superb!

  • Classy design – just wonderful.

  • So versatile, with Tri-Sound switches and pickup selectors.

  • The neck is comfortable and a joy to play.

  • It comes with its own hard-shell case as standard.

  • High gloss finish on the black version will attract lots of fingermarks.

Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop

4.5 Stars
  • Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?
  • Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?
  • Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?

AudioRumble rating 90/100

This affordable version of B.B. King's precious guitar Lucille is a brilliant blues performer – crammed with features, offering unrivaled versatility. The beautiful double cutaway ebony body is made from laminated maple, with a hand-set C-shaped maple neck. Lucille also features Epiphone's LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge with a TP-6 fine-tuning stopbar tailpiece.

  • Beautiful looking guitar with iconic design.

  • Wonderful craftsmanship and great finish.

  • Packed with features that offer a huge variety of tones.

  • Excellent tuning stability, with Grover tuners and TP-6 stopbar.

  • Quite big and heavy to hold.

  • It doesn’t come with a case or gig bag.

Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T

4.45 Stars
  • Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T Review – Affordable Vintage Class
  • Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T Review – Affordable Vintage Class
  • Gibson Les Paul Studio Faded 2016 T Review – Affordable Vintage Class

AudioRumble rating 89/100

An affordable, solid and gorgeous Gibson, brand new for 2016. They have created this 2016 T with a snazzy vintage look and quality satin paint job. The classic Les Paul single cutaway has a carved maple top with mahogany back and a modern weight relief, meaning it's solid but light enough to play for hours.

  • Beautiful looks and vintage finish.

  • Packed with pro features.

  • Great Burstbucker Pro pickups.

  • Comes with a padded gig bag.

  • The satin paintwork can attract unwanted fingermarks.

ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

4.4 Stars
  • ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune Review – Always In Tune
  • ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune Review – Always In Tune
  • ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune Review – Always In Tune

AudioRumble rating 88/100

This sleek but solid ESP LTD EC-1000 is a dream for all guitarists. Why? It never goes out of tune! This is down to the simple-but-smart EverTune mechanical bridge, which locks each string at a constant tension, keeping it consistently in tune – no matter what you throw at it (or where you throw it!).

  • It won’t go out of tune – no matter how hard you try!

  • The finish is flawless.

  • Great sound quality from the humbuckers.

  • Good fun to play for hours.

  • It can be a tricky tuning system to get used to initial.

  • There’s no whammy bar!

Gibson SG Special 2016 T

4.95 Stars
  • Gibson SG Special 2016 T Review – Genuine Gibson Rocking!
  • Gibson SG Special 2016 T Review – Genuine Gibson Rocking!
  • Gibson SG Special 2016 T Review – Genuine Gibson Rocking!

AudioRumble rating 99/100

This beautiful American-made SG Special from Gibson is all new for 2016, and is a guitar built to rock. It features an asymmetrical double cutaway mahogany body with comfortable beveling. It's slim, fast and lightweight, but retains the resonance you'd expect from a Gibson. A well-made guitar and, an excellent purchase if you can't afford a Standard.

  • Slim and light, but sturdy and durable.

  • Made in America, with craftsmanship that shows.

  • Classic looks and excellent finish.

  • Small but versatile pickups.

  • The neck is actually quite thick, which won’t suit everyone.

  • No tremolo, which is a shame as it’s a rocking guitar.

Jackson Rhoads RRXMG

4.4 Stars
  • Jackson Rhoads RRXMG Review – Sounds As Good As It Looks
  • Jackson Rhoads RRXMG Review – Sounds As Good As It Looks
  • Jackson Rhoads RRXMG Review – Sounds As Good As It Looks

AudioRumble rating 88/100

The Jackson Rhoads RRXMG is a killer metal guitar at an affordable price. The sharp, asymmetrical design is distinctive, whatever finish you go for. With a three-way pickup selector switch, three control knobs (volume, volume, tone), and a Floyd Rose Special bridge for added tuning security, this is a robust and reliable performance guitar, perfect for metalheads.

  • Eye-popping distinctive style.

  • Superb active humbuckers, perfect for shredding.

  • Great tuning stability.

  • Feels robust and reliable.

  • The case is sold separately.

  • Not particularly comfortable to use sitting down.

Schecter Hellraiser C-1

4.4 Stars
  • Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review – Stunning Metal Performer
  • Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review – Stunning Metal Performer
  • Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review – Stunning Metal Performer

AudioRumble rating 88/100

Schecter's Hellraiser C-1 has rock at its core and is a beautiful guitar in both looks and performance. The double cutaway mahogany body has an arched top, and a sturdy three-piece mahogany neck with a 25.5” scale length. The C-1 offers plenty of features, with two active EMG humbuckers, producing a full and aggressive rock sound.

  • Premium looks and attention to detail.

  • Awesome active humbuckers from EMG.

  • Great tuning stability.

  • Big metal sound, but versatile enough for any style.

  • You may expect a gig bag for the price.

Fender American Special Stratocaster

4.35 Stars
  • Fender American Special Stratocaster Review – Affordable American Classic
  • Fender American Special Stratocaster Review – Affordable American Classic
  • Fender American Special Stratocaster Review – Affordable American Classic

AudioRumble rating 87/100

A superb looking and affordable Made in America Strat. A high-glossed alder body offers good resonance, while its contours and 'belly cut' make it very comfortable to play. The body gives way to a bolt-on maple neck with a modern C-shape, a 9.5" radius maple fretboard and 22 jumbo frets.

  • Affordable Made in America Strat.

  • A good price for the sound quality.

  • Great looking model and flawless finish.

  • Comes with a good quality gig bag and Fender’s Limited Lifetime Warranty.

  • Strings can stick a little towards the higher frets.

  • The large headstock won’t appeal to everyone.

  • For an extra $300 you can get an American Standard.

PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom

4.3 Stars
  • PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom Review – Tremonti Signature On A Budget
  • PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom Review – Tremonti Signature On A Budget
  • PRS TRCGB SE Mark Tremonti Custom Review – Tremonti Signature On A Budget

AudioRumble rating 86/100

Here we have a very affordable version of Mark Tremonti's signature SE model from PRS, that performs very well for heavy rockers – in particular fans of Creed or Alter Bridge. The single cutaway mahogany body with a flame maple top has a wide but thin maple neck, with a 25” scale rosewood fretboard and 22 frets.

  • Lovely looks and a few nice finishing touches.

  • A very affordable signature model.

  • Great rock sound.

  • Premium bridge.

  • There are better guitars for the price.

  • Controls don’t offer a huge amount of versatility.

Fender American Special Telecaster

4.15 Stars
  • Fender American Special Telecaster Review – Your First Real American
  • Fender American Special Telecaster Review – Your First Real American
  • Fender American Special Telecaster Review – Your First Real American

AudioRumble rating 83/100

An affordable American-made Tele that is built to last and offers plenty of versatility. With a single cutaway alder body, the bolt-on satin-finished maple neck is quick and comfortable to get around. Along with Fender's Greasebucket Tone Circuit, the pickups allow for many different styles – from rock and punk to blues and funk! A great all rounder at a price that works.

  • A very affordable American-made Tele.

  • Solid guitar and great craftsmanship.

  • Versatile sound, capable of handling any style.

  • Comes with a deluxe gig bag.

  • The classic three-saddle bridge won’t please everyone.

  • For an extra $300 you can get a premium American Standard Tele.

Tips, Tricks, Guidelines And More

These days you can get a lot of guitar for your money. We saw it with the guitars in our under $300 and under $500 comparisons. But by extending your budget to $1000 you can get a real cracker – something that feels like it should be twice the price and will probably last you a lifetime.

Great Expectations

With such a considerable amount of money, you have the right to expect great quality from your manufacturer – flawless finishes, outstanding electronics, tons of tone, and a huge choice of designs. Makers like Ibanez, ESP, Schecter, Yamaha, Epiphone, and PRS all really perform in this price bracket, and you will also find genuine Gibsons and Fenders along the way.

You will notice brand name pickups like Seymour Duncan, EMG and DiMarzio come as standard on many models, as will active pickups – offering you the volume, versatility, and tone you wouldn’t be able to get on a simple budget guitar.

Features and finishes are also heavily upgraded compared to the guitars in lower price ranges, and you’ll find some nifty finishing touches – such as pre-aging (giving your brand new guitar a very vintage look), insane graphics, a variety of woods, and matching headstock colors/artwork.

You will also find guitars with features that make practicing, performing or recording all the more comfortable – like locking tuners, fret-edge treatments, and string saver saddles. Or how about ESP’s EC-1000 Evertune with an incredible EverTune bridge that keeps the guitar in tune whatever the conditions – a seriously cool feature!

Some good news for all you patriots out there – you will finally start to see some real made in America models. Fender’s American Special Stratocaster and American Special Telecaster, both at bang on $1000, are the first authentic American offerings from the iconic manufacturer. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the higher end, you can also get some pretty great Canadian-made guitars in this price range from Godin. However, don’t turn your nose up at made in Mexico models – some of these guitars can really shine while keeping the prices low.

Signature Models

Want to play your favorite guitarist’s signature axe? Chances are you’ll find it – or at least a more affordable version of it – in this price bracket.

For example, Mark Tremonti’s Custom PRS TRCGB SE is on the market for about $700 – a beautiful guitar in both looks and performance, and perfect for Creed fans and metalheads alike. Admirers of the ‘King of the Blues’ B.B. King, can get their hands on his beloved Lucille – with its gorgeous vintage design and jaw-dropping versatility for a similar price.

Meanwhile Queen fans have the opportunity to own their own version of Brian May’s instantly recognizable big bodied axe for the reasonable sum of $850. Then there’s a personal favorite of mine – the Ibanez NDM3, which is the signature model of the Offspring’s bespectacled guitarist Noodles. Yours for $699.

Of course, all these carry extra price tags due to the names that adorn the headstocks – if you are a big fan of B.B., May, or Noodles, these are clearly ideal guitars for you. But if you don’t really care either way, you will find that a non-signature model will probably offer you more.

Amped Up

To be honest, a $1000 guitar is likely to sound pretty good on even the most basic of combo amps – it’ll probably sound pretty good with no amp at all (but where’s the fun in that?). However, it won’t hurt to look at upgrading your amp, and maybe spend that little bit more for a truly epic sound.

What amp you choose will depend on your ambitions for the guitar. If you are playing in your house, or having a quiet jam with a couple of friends, you won’t go far wrong with something like Yamaha’s THR10X ($299), which is small, but sports great retro style, a big sound, excellent distortion, and an array of built-in effects.

However, if the stage is calling, you’ll need something more powerful. How about the Blackstar ID:CORE 40W Combo, which has huge, stage-worthy output, a ton of effects, and a convenient foot-switch for under $250. Or if you’re into valves (and who isn’t?), double your budget for a Marshall DSL40C Combo, which is all-valve, has massive sound, lots of overdrive, and a two-way foot-switch for $699. Sorted.

Buying Used

Need to have it new? No problem – as you have seen, there is value out there. But if you aren’t too concerned that another guitarist has had his hands over your beautiful guitar before you, it’s well worth considering a used guitar in this price range, where you can unearth some real gems.

As you’d expect, there are advantages and disadvantages of buying used, so in this price range it’s well worth spending the extra time to look properly and not dive straight in to the first ‘bargain’ you see.

Is the finish flawless? Everyone can cope with a few light scratches, but if there are some heavy dents it may be one to avoid – refinishing a guitar can be as expensive as the guitar itself and will also lower its resale value considerably.

Cracks along the neck are also crucial to spot, and then avoid. And how are the frets looking? It can cost around $400 to replace the frets, which is probably around half the cost of the guitar itself. Finally make sure to test the guitar first (which can be impossible when buying online), to see if it actually works and how it sounds.

Repairing a guitar can be very costly, so you must weigh up the saving to the potential repair bill. However, if you find one that is good to go – usually from an overenthusiastic beginner, who overspent and underplayed – chances are you will have a great bargain.

The Conclusion:

With a grand in your back pocket, you can probably buy 90% of the world’s guitars. And you wouldn’t need to spend any more to find a beautiful workhorse of a guitar – one that would probably last you a lifetime. While you’re here, it’s worth checking out what you could get for a lot less in our comparison of the best guitars under $500 – buying in this price range opens the door to even more bargains! And make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the hottest guitar news, tips and opinion.

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