The Best Electric Guitars Under $500

These are the best budget friendly electric guitars starting from just $110. Not only will you sound good playing these – you’ll look good too!


This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Electric Guitars stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

Thanks to computer aided design and modernized factories around the world with precision engineering equipment you can now get budget guitars at a level of quality not possible a couple of decades ago, and our updated recommendations below reflect that.

Here are our best recommendations broken down into two price brackets:

1. Best Under $200

2. Best Under $500

The Best Electric Guitars Under $200

This table shows you all of the guitars we recommend – scroll down below to read our extended reviews for each one.

Image Link to Sweetwater Overview Link to Details
Squier Bullet Strat HSS

Squier Bullet Strat HSS

Squier are owned by Fender and it was Leo Fender himself with the help of Freddie Tavares who originally designed the famous Stratocaster back in 1954. Now the Strat is available in various price brackets, with this one being the most versatile entry level version. See our detailed review below
Epiphone Les Paul Express

Epiphone Les Paul Express

The second most popular and certainly the most iconic guitar design is the Les Paul. The ‘Express’ version by Epiphone is another great entry level guitar and the only Les Paul with dual Humbucker pickups. See our detailed review below
Ibanez GRG121DX

Ibanez GRG121DX

The Ibanez GRG121DX has the same fast and low action neck that Ibanez is known for making it easy to play with little stress on your fingers. The Metallic Gray Sunburst finish on the top looks fantastic. See our full GRG121DX review below

The Best Electric Guitars Under $500

Ibanez RG450DX

Ibanez RG450DX

The RG450DX is the epitome of Ibanez, featuring hot rod looks and specs. Its striking appearance are matched by its sleek playability and tonal versatility. The “Wizard III” neck is considered by many as the most comfortable neck profile in the world. See our extended RG450DX review below
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s

With the Squier CV (Classic Vibe) Tele, you are getting a premium looking vintage style guitar that for a great bargain. It follows after the most iconic Tele look, available in either butterscotch blonde finish as shown in the picture, or in vintage blonde. And it’s not just about the look because it reproduces the classic Tele twang while keeping the price relatively low. See our Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s review below
PRS SE Santana Standard

PRS SE Santana Standard

Paul Reed Smith designs beautiful guitars with fantastic playability and this same design is applied to their affordable SE Standard line. The PRS SE Santana Standard makes the company’s most popular signature guitar more accessible without compromising design and quality. It also comes in Antique White and Vintage Cherry finishes. See our extended review below
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster '60s

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’60s

The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’60s embodies the classic Strat features including 3 Standard Strat single-coil pickups but at a more affordable price point when compared to the American Standard line. True to its name, this guitar follows after existing vintage ’60s era Strats with period correct specs and a stylish 3-tone sunburst finish, reminiscent of SRV’s popular “Number One” Guitar. See our full review below

Squier Bullet Strat HSS

Squier Bullet Strat

Because of its familiar look, easy playability and sonic versatility, the Strat remains the easiest pick for both beginners and experienced players. Thankfully, Squier by Fender offers the very affordable Bullet Strat HSS, making the Stratocaster accessible to budget conscious players and students.

While it may not have the same components as the more expensive versions, it does have build and sound quality that many, including us, find commendable. It has a basswood double cutaway body, a bolt-on maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, and features the versatile SSH pickup configuration, which features two single coils in the neck and middle position, and a hotter humbucker on the bridge position. It even has a 5-position pickup switch and tremolo bridge, which completes the guitar’s authentic Strat feel and look.

Because of cost restrictions, the pickups are not as great sounding as the more expensive models, but they get the job done. For its price, this guitar really is a sweet deal and highly recommended.

You can get the latest Squier Bullet Strat price and customer reviews at

Epiphone Les Paul Express

Epiphone Les Paul Express

Thanks to the rivalry of Gibson and Fender, the quality and value for money of guitars in the entry level market is getting better and better. As expected the popular Les Paul is well represented in this price range, with the Epiphone Les Paul Express being among the most popular.

This affordable electric guitar is a bare bones cost-efficient version of the Les Paul that stays true to the original design while retaining a ridiculously affordable price tag. It features a mahogany body carved into the familiar single cutaway body shape with stripped down cosmetics, an important distinction is the use of hard maple for the neck instead of mahogany, to help get the price to where the company wants it to be. Other features include dual humbuckers, 14:1 ratio die-cast tuners, and a fixed bridge with string through body design.

With the Les Paul Express, you now have a budget friendly version of the guitar that many Jimmy Page, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde and many more use.

You can get the latest Epiphone Les Paul Express price and customer reviews at

Ibanez GRG121DX

Ibanez GRG121DX

Ibanez has the ability to mass produce impressive guitars that cost less than equally spec’ed guitars from other manufacturers, and their efforts keep their competitors on their toes, with the end result being more quality per dollar. The GRG121DX is the typical Ibanez, featuring great playability and sound with uncompromising cosmetics, all at a very accessible price point.

This guitar has a basswood body contoured into the familiar superstrat double cutaway shape. The bolt-on maple neck is carved into the crowd favorite slim and fast profile, offering virtually the same easy playability as their more expensive models. Ibanez also went all out with the pickups on this one, featuring high output HH dual humbucker pickup configuration that allows for tried and tested rock and metal friendly tones.

This instrument is a great steal for its price and is a safe pick if you’re into rock music and not sure what to buy.

You can get the latest Ibanez GRG121DX price and customer reviews at

Ibanez RG450DX

Ibanez RG450DX

The RG450DX showcases what Ibanez is very good at, that is providing quality shred machines at insanely affordable price points. This guitar is part of the company’s “RG” line which is well received by experienced players and students alike, thanks mostly to its super smooth playability. The RG450DX is one of the line’s more popular models because of the value that it offers.

The edgy double cutaway body of this guitar is crafted from mahogany, available in various eye catching finish colors that are normally not available from other builders. But it’s not just about the looks because it comes equipped with HSH configuration pickups that will easily handle conventional guitar roles be it lead or rhythm parts. More importantly, this affordable guitar features virtually the same smooth and fast playability, made possible by the 3-piece maple Wizard III neck which makes this guitar play much like, if not better than, other more expensive models.

With its versatile tone and great playability, the RG450DX is highly recommended for future guitar heroes who want to improve their technique.

You can get the latest Ibanez RG450DX price and customer reviews at

You can get the latest Epiphone Les Paul Standard price and customer reviews at

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s

Squier CV Tele '50s

Fender’s affordable sub-brand, Squier, continues to dominate the entry to mid-tier guitar market with their impressive balance of quality, cosmetics and affordability. And of the many guitars in this sub-line, the Classic Vibe (CV) series have been getting a lot of positive feedback, of which the CV Tele ’50s model is among the most popular. With this guitar, you are getting an instrument that is meant to look, sound and play like a vintage Telecaster, at a very reasonable price.

At first glance, the Squier CV Tele ’50s offers boutique-like quality at a more modest price, complete with the classic single-cutaway look and distinct Telecaster style pickguard. It has a 21-fret maple neck with traditional specs that include 25.5″ scale length, 1.65″ nut width, C-shape profile, and 9.5″ fingerboard radius. This guitar comes equipped with two custom voiced Alnico III single-coil Tele pickups, that give this instrument a surprisingly good sound.

Be it for country, blues or even pop, this tasty looking Telecaster will give you more than your money’s worth.

You can get the latest Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s price and customer reviews at

PRS SE Santana Standard

PRS SE Santana Standard

The SE Standard Series is PRS’ recently released entry level line, featuring instruments that are even more affordable than their SE line. Since the PRS Santana helped the company build their reputation when they were starting, it is only fitting they came out with an SE Standard version this signature guitar.

This guitar is designed to be affordable without compromising the brand’s quality standards, giving beginners and cash strapped players the chance to own a real PRS Santana guitar for less than $500. As expected, the company stripped it down to the essentials, removing the fancy maple top and finish options of the original while still retaining the same arched double cutaway shape. Thankfully, the set neck design is retained but the neck itself is shorter with a 24.5″ scale length, making it even more ideal for students and beginners.

Finally, the PRS SE Standard Santana comes with PRS designed 245 humbuckers that reproduce the sweet and smooth tone that was popularized by Carlos Santana. This guitar is a true standout entry in this price bracket.

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’60s

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster '60s

If familiar playability and versatility is what your looking for, then the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’60s is your best bet. It is a great budget friendly reproduction of Stratocasters from the ’60s, complete with similar look, feel and tone.

Like the acclaimed US made version, this Strat follows the tried and true formula of having an alder body and bolt-on maple neck. It follows the specs of the original, having a scale length 25.5″ and 1.65″ nut width, and it has three single coil pickups that follow the original’s versatile SSS pickup configuration. Reviews are consistent in saying that this affordable Strat exceeds what you’d expect from an instrument of its price point, even the slightly hotter pickups have the bluesy grit that original vintage specimens have.

The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster ’60s is highly recommended if you’re looking for a Strat in this price range.

Thank you to Sweetwater for their sponsorship and providing the full specifications for the guitars above where possible.

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9 thoughts on “The Best Electric Guitars Under $500”

  1. Fender Japan
    Barry Sanford

    The Aerodyne Stratocasters made in Japan are far and away better sounding and better build quality than American Strats that cost 3 to 4 times the price. I got mine for $489.00. Stop the shill for Fender and Gibson.

  2. Typical, all Fenders & Gibsons. How about some love for ESP? Gotta say, love my ESP LTD M-103FM. Can’t beat it for under $350(picked mine up new for under $270). Granted, this is an under $500 list, but ESP needs some love here also.

  3. This list is bogus. It's

    This list is bogus.
    It’s alwasy fender and gibson listed.
    I have hagstrom guitars which blow away the playability of either of those brands…

    1. Hagstrom definitely make

      Hagstrom definitely make some great guitars.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t think they made any electrics that sell for less than $500 – which is why they weren’t considered for this roundup.

      1. Hagstrom pricing

        The Ultra Swede Flame goes for 499.99 on musiciansfriend so it fits if you consider 1 cent under to be “under” 500 $ 😉
        They are indeed great guitars!

  4. You people should all take a

    You people should all take a look at the Agile AL 2000 and 3000 series guitars. The list of standard tone woods alone should put them on the list! But combine build quality that matches or exceeds that of the Japanese and Korean built Epiphone Les Pauls from a few years back,(now a cult classic and for good reason quality, big name hardware, D’ Adario, Grover18:1 tuners, Tusq nuts with string saver saddles on the bridge, full triple bindings, set neck or neck through, choice of regular, slim or wide necks, real tone woods wide choice of finishes and better tone, it is THE clear choice over the Chinese made Epiphones! Try one yourself and you will see from the first note you won’t need much convincing! In my opinion it’s embarrassing how superior these guitars truly are to the Epiphones. The Epiphone advantage? You walk into any music store and try one or ten out. The Agile advantage, more and more young new bands have them on STAGE with them! And as with the Elitist Epiphone L.P.’s, for good reason

  5. Electric Guitars

    Oh wow these guitars are just so good! I loved each and every one of them! In fact, I was planning to give a gift to my younger brother and your blog has solved my issues ;).. Thanks for sharing mate!

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