With so much competition in producing top-quality electric guitars, it’s a lot easier nowadays to find the best electric guitar under $500. You can expect professional playability and features on guitars offered at a price point that’s still welcoming to beginners. With such a huge selection, you’ll be able to find a solid body that exactly matches the style you’re going for.

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Epiphone Les Paul Standard
  • Classic Les Paul with Mahogany Body and Maple Veneer Top
  • Epiphone Alnico Classic Humbuckers
  • Grover Machine Heads
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Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ‘50s
  • 9.5 fingerboard radius with 21 medium jumbo frets for easy clean bending
  • 3 Custom vintage style single-coil Strat pickups with staggered, Alnico 3 magnet pole
  • A modern 'C' shaped neck for comfortable fretting.
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Ibanez S521
  • Solidbody Electric Guitar with Mahogany Body
  • 2 Humbucking Pickups - Ocean Fade Metallic
  • Jatoba Fingerboard
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Yamaha RevStar RS420
  • Alnico V Magnet and German silver baseplate for powerful, open tone
  • VH3 vintage output humbucker
  • Solid Nato Body with Maple top
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Jackson King V JS32T
  • Poplar Body
  • 25.5" scale 1-Piece maple neck w/24 fret amaranth fingerboard
  • Dual Jackson High-Output Humbucking pickups
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If you’re thinking of getting a guitar for the first time, or if you only have a limited budget to add a new piece to your repertoire, check out our favorites below to give you a good idea of what it takes to be picked for best electric guitar under $500.

What To Look For In The Under $500 Price Range

The best electric guitar under $500 range bridges the gap between budget guitars priced under $300 and the more premium electric guitars that cost up to $1,000 and more. Previously, the instruments offered in this price range only had beginner-level features and average build quality, which meant that they’d only be middling upgrades at best, but that’s not the case anymore. You can now guarantee yourself an excellent electric guitar at this range thanks to reduced production costs and continuously improving standards.

While brand does matter even when it comes to the best electric guitar under $500, you shouldn’t tick off the ones you don’t recognize because authentic Gibsons, Fenders, and the like are all in a higher price range. More importantly, a lot of brands have diversified their product lines to offer impressive guitars that even long-time musicians would love. That said, some will pick their first guitars simply because it’s what their idols played, or at least close enough to it, and that’s fine, too, as long as you’re getting good value out of your budget.

Two components that deserve special mention at this point are the guitar’s body wood and pickups. While the type of wood used for the body does affect the sound of the finished instrument, it’s not as significant as some might suggest. Guitar makers have shown time and time again that you can make excellent models out of less expensive materials.

Pickups are another matter, as they act as the voice of the electric guitar itself. Your personal style and sound will tell you which type will give you what you’re looking for. At this price, you’ll typically find single-coils and passive humbuckers that will serve you well whether you’re trying to learn on your first guitar, advancing your skills, or already performing. In general, dual humbuckers will provide meaty tones if you skew towards rock, whereas single coils can produce vintage-style tunes.

At this price point, you can afford to be more selective in terms of features, materials, and specs. Expect better playability, pickup quality, tone controls, and body construction. Moreover, there are a lot of models here with unique characteristics that should match your preferences, whether in style, tone, or aesthetics, which should help you narrow down your choices significantly.

Each item below that we added to our picks for best electric guitar under $500 has that something extra to make it stand out among the rest.

Our Picks For Best Guitar Under $500

It wasn’t easy trimming this list down to ten, as there are so many great guitars to choose from, but we made sure to make it as varied as possible to showcase what you can get in this price range. There’s a healthy mix of guitars here that will appeal to both beginners and professionals, so your skill level shouldn’t limit your selection.

However, if you’re an absolute beginner, you might also want to start with something even cheaper, maybe under $300, to get your feet wet first and learn the basics. This way, you’d still have enough left for other essentials like an amp, cables, picks, straps, and other accessories. That said, there are actually great guitars under $300 that made it to this list, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Without further ado, here are our top ten picks for best electric guitar under $500.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

There are perhaps no other rock ‘n roll guitars more iconic than the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster. If getting an authentic Gibson is out of the question budget-wise, Epiphone’s Les Paul Standard can deliver its signature warm sound without wrecking your bank account.

With a veneer maple top over its solid mahogany body, along with a tapered mahogany set neck and rosewood fretboard, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard looks and feels just like a classic Gibson. More importantly, it sounds like one, too, thanks to the Alnico Classic humbuckers placed at its bridge and neck providing loads of substance and warmth. You’ll get that thick, creamy tone with almost unlimited sustain that only Les Pauls can deliver.

You can’t go wrong picking up this Les Paul Standard from Epiphone for your first guitar, as its fast action and solid build makes learning how to play easier. Plus, you’d even be proud to show it off onstage when you can finally rock your heart out. It should be an automatic inclusion in any list about the best electric guitar under $500.

Highlights

  • Fingerboard inlays and body and neck bindings give it the classic Les Paul look
  • Solid mahogany body and set neck enables excellent resonance and sustain
  • Features Alnico Classic humbucker pickups, Tune-O-Matic bridge, and stopbar tailpiece
Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Classic Les Paul with Mahogany Body and Maple Veneer Top. Epiphone Alnico Classic Humbuckers. Grover Machine Heads.

 

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ‘50s

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ‘50s

Speaking of the legendary Fender Stratocaster, this list will also be incomplete without an excellent Strat recommendation, and we chose the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s for its unmistakable clear tone. That’s right, you can get Fender’s iconic flagship guitar for under $400, which is a definite steal!

Featuring the traditional alder body and maple fretboard, the Classic Vibe ‘50s delivers pure dulcet sounds and impressive sustain. You can easily transition from rock to funk to pop courtesy of the triple single-coil Alnico III custom pickups that produce warm tones with fantastic response. Playing lead or rhythm on its modern C-shaped neck feels smooth, which itself looks particularly beautiful with its aged gloss.

The classic synchronized tremolo bridge does a veritable job of keeping the strings in tune and will give you all the twang you need. Don’t be surprised to find yourself playing this axe for hours once you’ve discovered its power and charm. Clearly, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s is one of the best wallet-friendly Strats you can get today.

Highlights

  • High-end Stratocaster sound that’s finally affordable
  • Vintage-style single-coil pickups and tremolo bridge
  • Comes in Natural, Vintage Blonde, Butterscotch Blonde, 2-Color Sunburst, 3-Color Sunburst, and Sherwood Metallic Green finishes
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ‘50s

9.5 fingerboard radius with 21 medium jumbo frets for easy clean bending. 3 Custom vintage style single-coil Strat pickups with staggered, Alnico 3 magnet pole pieces.

 

Ibanez S521

Ibanez S521

Continuing the renowned brand’s long-running S Series, the Ibanez S521 has all the hallmarks Ibanez is known for. Its lightweight mahogany body sculpted into the signature Ibanez shape feels leaner and stronger than heavier guitars, while its thin and flat Wizard III maple neck contains a two-octave fretboard built for speed and wider range.

You’ll get eloquent high-end tones and powerful midrange sounds from Quantum pickups that also enable faster bass responsiveness. Expect a tremendous amount of playability and sustain whether you’re riffing at high tempo or shredding with the whammy.

It’s easy to mistake the S521 for a model in a more expensive price range, thanks to its beautiful lines and elegant finish. Classic Ibanez aesthetics combined with a silky-smooth fretboard and sturdy tremolo bridge make this a fitting recommendation for rock and metal enthusiasts.

Highlights

  • Robust build with understated sophistication throughout its design
  • Flat rosewood fingerboard and fast maple neck enable smooth gliding across 24 jumbo frets
  • Comes in Ocean Fade Metallic, Natural Sunburst, and Blackberry Sunburst finishes
Ibanez S521

Solidbody Electric Guitar with Mahogany Body. 2 Humbucking Pickups - Ocean Fade Metallic.

 

Yamaha RevStar RS420

Yamaha RevStar RS420

If you find the sleek curves and subtle finish of the Yamaha RS420 simply elegant, well that’s because Yamaha’s RevStar series of electric guitars was heavily influenced by Japanese and British racing motorcycles during the 1960s. Underneath its minimalist retro exterior is enough power to do classic rock tracks justice.

You’ll find that handling the RS420 feels comfortable, and the contours of its maple-topped solid nato body and slim nato neck allows the highest of its 22 frets to be within easy reach. Adding value to this midrange model are custom humbuckers featuring an exclusive Dry Switch that enhances the clarity and breadth of its single-coil sounds.

Fans of classic rock ‘n roll will love the distinct punchiness behind this guitar. Plus, you can count on its durability, given that it’s backed by more than 50 years of trusted engineering and guitar craftsmanship.

Highlights

  • Elegantly contoured nato body makes it comfortable and stylish
  • Versatile tones courtesy of exclusive Dry Switch feature
  • Comes in Black Steel, Factory Blue, Fired Red, and Maya Gold finishes
Yamaha RevStar RS420

Alnico V Magnet and German silver baseplate for powerful, open tone. VH3 vintage output humbucker. Solid Nato Body with Maple top.

 

Jackson King V JS32T

Jackson King V JS32T

If you can’t tell by its shape alone, the Jackson King V JS32T is indeed meant for the metal crowd. It’s one of the best value buys a new electric guitar player can get, as aside from being under $300, its compound fingerboard radius of 12 to 16 inches makes both chords and solo riffs easy to play.

The sharp V shape only preempts the aggressive tones this lean and mean axe roars out. Its reinforced graphite maple neck is bolted on a string-through poplar body for added stability and extra sustain. Whether you’re shredding or riffing, you’ll get rich, heavy sound from its dual high-output Jackson humbuckers.

Note that the King V’s design makes it a bit difficult to play while sitting, in which case it’s advised to consider less striking models. With its attention-grabbing design, affordable price, and easy-to-play features, the Jackson King V JS32T will make for an impressive guitar to take to your first performances.

Highlights

  • Distinctive V shape promises tons of sonic aggression
  • Amaranth fretboard with shark-fin pearloid inlays
  • Comes in Gloss Black or Ferrari Red finishes
Jackson King V JS32T

Poplar Body. 25.5" scale 1-Piece maple neck w/24 fret amaranth fingerboard. Dual Jackson High-Output Humbucking pickups.

 

PRS SE Standard 24

PRS SE Standard 24

Prior to 2001, Paul Reed Smith only offered expensive high-end electric guitars. With the release of the SE Standard series, even novice players can now access the brand’s rich heritage. Designed after the flagship Custom 24, the PRS SE Standard 24 is the latest in this long line of premium guitars made affordable.

What makes the Standard 24 an excellent choice, especially for beginners, is its versatility. All of its features allow for any style or genre to sound great, making it perfect if you’re still in the process of discovery and experimentation. Its all-mahogany body and 24-fret maple neck feels solid and handles well, while its 85/15 coil-split “S” pickups create expressive solo tones and amazing vibrato.

You’ll find everything you’d want in a Paul Reed Smith electric guitar in the Standard 24. With a super-smooth tremolo and classic PRS bird inlays flying across its fretboard, you’ll truly get heaps of bang for your buck.

Highlights

  • Coil-split humbuckers enable a wide range of sounds and styles
  • Maple neck with signature bird inlays is the thinnest designed by PRS
  • Comes in lovely Tobacco Sunburst, Vintage Cherry, and Translucent Blue finishes
PRS SE Standard 24

Body wood: mahogany. Neck wood: Maple. Fretboard wood: rosewood.

 

ESP LTD EC-256FM

ESP LTD EC-256FM

Beneath the ESP LTD EC-256FM’s classic Les Paul exterior finished in refreshing hues is a distinctly modern electric guitar that will sound great playing anything, from hard rock and classic rock to blues, fusion, and even metal.

ESP brings its trademark quality to more affordable price ranges through the LTD brand, of which the EC-256FM makes an outstanding example. Its single-cut mahogany body with flamed maple top feels solid and comfortable without being too overbearing. The 22 extra jumbo frets on its rosewood fingerboard, along with its robust set-neck construction, offers superb playability and breakneck speed.

The ESP-designed LH-150 humbuckers are truly versatile pickups that remain flexible with a push-pull tone-knob for coil-splitting, along with individual volume controls. You probably wouldn’t expect such amazing sound from an axe at this price range, but ESP’s excellent craftsmanship really proves its mettle here.

With killer looks and even deadlier tones, the ESP LTD EC-256FM will give you maximum bang for your buck, and you’ll find it hard to put down once you get your hands on it.

Highlights

  • Single-cutaway mahogany body with maple veneer on top
  • Deep belly cut at the neck and flat fingerboard with extra jumbo frets
  • Comes in gorgeous Cobalt Blue, Lemon Drop, Dark Brown Sunburst, and See Thru Purple Sunburst finishes
ESP LTD EC-256FM

An affordable and popular guitar with many similarites to some of the most highly-regarded guitars in history. Features a comfortable Mahogany body and 3 pc. neck.

 

Danelectro ’59XT

Danelectro ’59XT

The Danelectro ‘59XT can be somewhat of an eccentric yet familiar choice, as it’s an upgraded version of the Doublecut Shorthorn model that Jimmy Page made an instant classic of back in 1959. Now featuring a pair of coil-split lipstick tube pickups at the bridge and a single coil P-90 humbucker at the neck, this beast can roar in style.

Its semi-hollow composite body might raise the eyebrows of certain purists, but they can’t deny that the midrange tones it produces sound smooth and rich. With its slightly offset humbuckers adding grittiness to its dynamic tone, as well as its Wilkinson tremolo system enabling fluid pitch shifts and dives, the ‘59XT will sound great for genres like punk, old-school rock, and even new wave.

Beginners will appreciate how large and fast the 21 frets on its comfortable maple neck are, while more advanced guitar players can trust the vintage Wilkinson tremolo design to stay in tune, even with aggressive strumming. If you want an electric guitar with a retro vibe and lots of power, there’s no better value than the Danelectro ‘59XT.

Highlights

  • Vintage design enhances coolness factor and overall value
  • Masonite body with rosewood fingerboard and maple neck
  • High-output P-90 and dual lipstick humbuckers balance each other
Danelectro ’59XT

High output single coil in neck. Lipstick Humbucker pair in bridge. Coil tap the Humbucker pair with a pull on the tone knob. Our XT adds the Wilkinson tremolo.

 

Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT

Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT

The Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT looks pricier than it actually is, as its solid-body mahogany and black walnut fretboard simply looks stunning. You’ll have to see the paint work on it yourself to truly appreciate its construction and finish, which, by the way, is currently handled by Fender to ensure top quality.

Choosing between this Gretsch model and a Les Paul will be more difficult than you think. Two Broad’Tron humbucking pickups provide fast response, ensuring precise articulation while playing lead, as well as bringing heavier edges to metal tones. So, whether you want a delicate instrument that can create clean and subtle notes or a brawny axe that doesn’t lack heft, this Gretsch Electromatic will perform admirably.

With low tension and low action, a double dose of responsive pickups, and fiendishly good looks, the G5220 will make an excellent single-cut choice.

Highlights

  • Laminated maple top on a single-cut mahogany solid-body
  • Dual black top Broad’Tron humbuckers and anchored adjustomatic bridge
  • Coming in Dark Cherry Metallic, Casino Gold, and Black finishes
Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT

Solidbody Electric Guitar with Mahogany Body. 2 Humbucking Pickups - Dark Cherry Metallic. Walnut Fingerboard.

 

Schecter Omen-6

Schecter Omen-6

Schecter made a name for itself by offering top quality instruments at affordable prices. You only need to ask the delighted owners of the Omen-6 to confirm the well-regarded trust they’ve built with their brand.

The carved maple top on its basswood body, along with the bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, gives off sophisticated simplicity while being easy on the arms. Clean lines encompass its contours, and the satin finish and inlays look terrific, so it’s easy on the eyes, too.

Sound-wise, the two Schecter Diamond Plus Alnico pickups produce a unique tone that remains clear and thick, even with the volume settings cranked up. Tonal output is balanced just right; you can go from clean tones to scorching leads with little distortion to get in the way.

Both beginners and advanced guitar players will get amazing value with the Schecter Omen-6, thanks to its robust build, stellar hardware, and premium sound.

Highlights

  • String-through basswood body with Tune-o-Matic bridge improves sustain
  • Schecter Diamond Plus humbuckers enable mellow to wild tones
  • Comes in Black, Vintage White, and Walnut Satin finishes
Schecter Omen-6

The Omen-6 features a Basswood Body with a bolt-on Maple Neck. Rosewood fret board. Schecter Diamond Plus Pickups.

 

Finding The Best Guitar Under $500 For You

Whether you’re buying your first electric or adding to your already sizable collection, you wouldn’t want to just pluck one out of the shop and drop half a grand without carefully reviewing the candidates for the best electric guitar under $500.

All the electric guitars included in this list are guaranteed to give top value for your money. The price range actually covers a wide selection of entry-level pieces, as well as budget versions of highly desirable axes from top brands. This means that regardless of your level of experience and skill, these guitars aren’t strictly limited to beginners or seasoned players. 

What we’d recommend is going through this list to see which ones catch your eye and then heading out to a local music shop to check whether they have them. You might not get lucky with smaller stores with limited inventory, but you’ll get a chance to try models out for yourself and listen to how they sound. You’ll also be able to physically experience how they feel strapped to your body and how their necks and fretboards glide under your fingers.

If that doesn’t pan out, you can also watch demos and reviews on YouTube to get a better idea of which best electric guitar under $500 to go for. It won’t really be the same because videos can only go so far in illustrating a guitar’s capabilities, but it’s a lot better than nothing.

Once you’ve gotten your heart settled on “the one,” it’s time to price shop, as it’s easy to get better deals on online stores these days. We suggest avoiding used guitars at this price range unless they allow returns, as dealing with hidden defects like faulty hardware is something you really don’t want to have to trouble yourself with.

With some persistence and an open mind, you can soon find the best electric guitar under $500 that meets exactly the style and sound you want. When you can’t seem to put down your new axe, and you just want to keep on playing, you’ll know that you’ve succeeded.

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Robert Smith
Robert is a guitarist who holds a bachelor's degree in music issued by the Manhattan School of Music. With several years of hands-on experience, he’s now deeply interested in teaching his knowledge and insights with everyone.

Hard work was necessary to create Trusic.com. As an old-school musician, Robert wasn’t knowledgeable in HTML, CSS, Analytics, front/back-end code, and more. It took him time to create a plan and form a team of musicians who could write solid, well-made articles for all audiences interested in musical instruments.

Now Trusic.com is alive and the whole team is hoping to provide readers with insightful material to choose the most convenient instruments and instrument accessories for beginners or even advanced level students.