The 12 best electric guitars under $/£1,000: our pick of the best guitars for beginners and experts

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Finding the best electric guitar for you is a very personal choice - there are countless shapes and sizes to choose from, all of which suit different musical genres and goals. Here, we've recommended a host of instruments across several key price points, which cover all the bases.

Ahead, you'll find a selection of the most highly rated instruments from our rigorous reviews, ensuring that whichever one you pick, it will provide years of faithful service and great tone.

For roughly $/£1,000 you can buy a brand-new instrument built for life on the road that will see you through hundreds of gigs and recording sessions.

Given the continually increasing quality of manufacture around the globe, there's a whole world of well-appointed designs now available outside of the high-end market.

From big-body Gretsch semi-hollows to bells-and-whistles Fenders and PRSes, plus hot-rodded Charvels and Ibanez electrics, there's a guitar for every player among this wide-ranging assortment.

No matter what kind of music you play, or what you want to hear from your gear, we've got you covered: these electric guitars are sure to hit the mark.

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1. Fender Deluxe Series Roadhouse Stratocaster

The best-sounding, most playable Strat under a grand

Launch price: $799 / £679 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25.5" | Fingerboard: Maple/pau ferro (dependent on finish) | Frets: 22 | Pickups: 3x Vintage Noiseless Single-Coil Strat | Controls: Volume, 6-position V6 rotary tone switch, tone, 5-way pickup selector | Hardware: 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo, Deluxe locking tuners | Left-handed: No | Finish: Olympic White, Mystic Ice Blue, Classic Copper & 3-Color Sunburst

Noiseless pickups
Comfortable 305mm fingerboard radius
Included gigbag could be better
A few similar sounds from the V6 preamp

Fender has shown the spec sheets of its popular Mexican-built Deluxe Series Roadhouse Stratocaster model some love to create a reboot that comes seriously well appointed. The upgraded model features an alder body and bolt-on maple neck, with the option of maple and rosewood fingerboard, finished with satin polyurethane. Keep sniffing around and you'll find other features like the 'Modern C' neck profile, 22 narrow/tall frets, a contoured neck heel, synthetic bone top nut and a set of locking tuners with vintage-look buttons. While the previous editions of the Roadhouse and came with a 241mm (9.5-inch) fingerboard radius, the new model packs a flatter 305mm (12-inch) camber. Yes, the same radius as a Gibson Les Paul, making for easier string bends and lower action. The new Roadhouse features three Vintage Noiseless (1st generation) single coil-sized humbuckers wired to a five-way pickup selector blade switch, and master volume and tone controls. Lurking between the volume and tone knobs is the V6 preamp control, a six-position rotary switch that gives you access to a series of tweaked single-coil tones. Plugging in the Roadhouse reveals a slew of classic Strat tones. The pickups exploit the natural tone and woodiness of the guitar, while the Noiseless aspect lives up to their vow of silence, making them indispensable in a recording situation. As a result, bar metal, this is the best Fender electric guitar for just about all scenarios.

Read the full review: Fender Deluxe Series Roadhouse Stratocaster

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2. PRS SE Custom 24

The mid-priced, Korean-made, do-it-all solidbody

Launch price: $779 / £849 | Body: Mahogany with maple top | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 24 | Pickups: 2x 85/15 'S' humbuckers | Controls: Volume, tone (with push-pull coil-split), 3-way selector | Hardware: PRS vibrato, PRS SE tuners | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Fire Red Burst, Tobacco Sunburst, Trampas Green, Whale Blue

Great range of tones
Partial coil-splits
Excellent vibrato
More affordable version of PRS's classic solidbody
PRS's maple/birds aesthetic isn't to everyone's taste
Slight tackiness to the neck finish
Price increase for 2018

The PRS SE range has offered solid, well-built, great-sounding guitars for years now, and the PRS SE Custom 24 2018 is a perfect example. This Korean-built mass of maple, mahogany and rosewood is a classy-looking guitar. It’s a wonderful instrument to play too - PRS's expertise making eye-wateringly expensive guitars is evident from the moment you pick it up. The bridge, for example, has a noticeably low profile. This makes palm-muting a much more pleasant experience, especially if you’re used to chugging away on a Floyd Rose-style bridge. A lot has been made of the SE Custom’s pickups; 2017 models added Korean-made versions of the 85/15 pups used on the more expensive American Core line, dubbed “the perfect pickup” by Paul Reed Smith himself. Largely, they live up to that promise; the bridge pickup is capable of some serious chunky metal tones, which retain definition and clarity even at absurd levels of gain. Spend some time with the SE Custom 24 and you’ll come to realise that there is no stereotype that fits. And therein lies its beauty. It’s not a guitar or a brand that concerns itself with cultivating a popular image; PRS has always favoured more obvious metrics like quality manufacturing, great sounds and classic looks.

Read the full review: PRS SE Custom 24

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3. Yamaha Revstar 502T

A retro-vibed double-cut 'star

Launch price: $649 / £565 | Body: Mahogany with maple cap | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Pickups: 2x YGD-designed V5 Alnico soapbar single coils | Controls: Volume, tone (with push-pull 'Dry Switch' high-pass filter), 3-way selector | Hardware: Tune-o-matic bridge, aluminium tailpiece | Left-handed: No | Finish: Bowden Green, Black

Beautiful build
Old-school P-90 tones
Dry Switch versatility
Crisp playability
Fairly weighty
The contemporary look won't be for everyone

The 502T was the original design that kick-started Yamaha's Revstar range of double-cuts, which recall the Japanese guitar giant's revered SG instruments. It features an all-mahogany construction (with a thin 5mm maple cap), with belly and ribcage contours. The 502T and its sibling, the 502 (without the tailpiece and with a hand-rubbed satin top and headface), both use Yamaha-designed soapbar P-90 single coils with a medium-hot output, and like all the models, have a simple three-way selector switch, master volume and tone. Pull up the tone control, however, and you voice that Dry Switch - basically a passive high-pass filter that thins out the sound a little. It adds surprising versatility to the biting-hot single-coil sound of the soapbars and easily kicks out a classic, punkier rock tonality or just-as-cool old-school jazzy, bluesy soulful pop tones.

Read the full review: Yamaha Revstar 502T review

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4. Fender Classic Player Baja '60s Telecaster

A hugely versatile take on Fender's classic solidbody

Launch price: $799 / £826 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25.5" | Fingerboard: Pau ferro (rosewood reviewed) | Frets: 21 | Pickups: American Vintage '58 Single-Coil Tele, American Vintage '52 Single-Coil Tele | Controls: Volume (with S-1 Switch), tone | Hardware: 3-saddle American Vintage strings-through-body bridge | Left-handed: No | Finish: Faded Sonic Blue, 3-Color Sunburst

Smooth, high-end sounds
Clever pickup selection
Wide range of sounds
Not one for Tele traditionalists

It's the neat switching that makes this very classic-looking Tele act a little differently. All the standard Tele pickup selections - bridge, bridge and middle (in parallel) and neck - are in place, but it's a four-way switch, as opposed to the standard three-way; the additional selection provides us with both pickups in series for a bigger, louder and more humbucker-like 'secret' sound. The volume control has the S1 push switch in the top of the control knob: pushed down, the parallel and series-combined pickup selections are out-of- phase, giving three additional sounds over the standard Tele. The Baja sticks relatively close, of course, to the classic 60s Tele recipe. The rosewood 'board and alder body just seem to give that lovely smoothness to the high end that will make it less ear-wearing, especially if you're swapping over from an older-style humbucking Gibson. The standard mix is typically classic, wider than a Strat's but still nicely textured; the neck pickup here sounds a little fuller than some older readers or vintage Fender electric guitar owners will remember.

Read the full review: Fender Classic Player Baja '60s Telecaster

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5. PRS S2 Standard Singlecut Satin

The most affordable USA-made PRS is a stripped-back rock machine

Launch price: $1,049 / £999 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Pickups: 2x #7 humbuckers | Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone (with push-pull coil-splits) | Hardware: PRS adjustable stoptail bridge, PRS low mass locking tuners | Left-handed: No | Finish: McCarty Tobacco Burst, Vintage Cherry, Charcoal

PRS's American build at a solid price point
Great range of tones
Doesn't capture the 'classic' single-cut visual vibe

Okay, so it's a little over the $1,000 price tag, but this PRS seriously delivers. The specs for this stripped-back Singlecut are identical to PRS's gloss Standards; the difference is in the paint - or, rather, the lack of it. Instead of that faster S2 gloss, here we have a nitrocellulose satin finish that doesn't bother with grain filler - you can easily see the body wood's grain and feel it on the neck - for a thinner finish, which will wear and age the harder you play it. Plus, thin finishes don't choke any vibrations or resonance. Along with the dot-only fingerboard inlays, this Satin Singlecut looks very workmanlike, but the build and parts still deliver the goods. The body is one-piece mahogany, the neck three-piece. The bridge is the USA Stoptail, the locking tuners, like the pickups, made in Korea to PRS specs. The pattern regular neck is a nice mainstream handful, and setup and intonation are, as ever, top-drawer. Mahogany guitars can be dark-sounding and here, yes, there's a throaty midrange focus, but a clean-edged ring and resonance that provides clarity and punch, much like the pickups that nail an almost P-90-ish sizzle and classic-rock poke. The four-control layout means there's plenty of adjustment, and the coil-splits on the tone controls add authentic single-coil cut. Clean, low, medium or high-gain, this one's a banker: the most rock-out, resonant blue-collar PRS we've ever played, and that's why it's one of the best electric guitars, especially at this price point.

Read the full review: PRS S2 Standard Singlecut Satin

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6. Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollow Body

A hollowbody for rock 'n' roll and rockabilly fans on a budget

Launch price: $949 / £709 | Body: 5-ply maple, hollow | Neck: Maple | Scale: 24.6" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Pickups: 2x Blacktop Filter'Tron humbuckers | Controls: Neck volume, bridge volume, tone, 3-way selector | Hardware: Bigsby vibrato, Adjusto-Matic with secured rosewood base | Left-handed: Yes, without Bigsby: G5420LH | Finish: Fairlane Blue, Orange Stain, Aspen Green

Great colour
Plenty of Gretsch style and sound
Good build and slinky playability
Be prepared to tweak the pickup heights
A wider-spaced bridge pickup would be nice

Part of Gretsch's mid-range Electromatic line, the single-cut G5420T is based on the classic 6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body - the 'generic' Gretsch we all drew in our school books. It features a new-to-Gretsch colour, Fairlane Blue, which is a deep metallic blue, as well as a Bigsby vibrato and Blacktop Filter'Tron pickups. There are plenty of shades from the slightly damped, muted response with the pickup volumes and tone pulled back, to the thinner, brighter and twangier voices with the master volume rolled back and the pickup volumes full on. It's true that this would not be our first choice as the only guitar we took to a jam or function-band gig - but for a whole host of older-genre styles, from the obvious rock 'n' roll and rockabilly through to much rootsier swampier voices that love a little 'hair' or outright grunt and grunge, it's one of the best electric guitars out there.

Read the full review: Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollow Body

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7. Ibanez RG550

One of the best shred guitars of all time returns

Launch price: $999 / £899 | Body: Basswood | Neck: 5-piece maple/walnut | Scale: 25.5" | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 24 | Pickups: Ibanez V8 humbucker (bridge), S1 single coil (middle), V7 neck humbucker | Controls: Volume, tone, 5-way selector | Hardware: Edge locking vibrato | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Desert Sun Yellow, Road Flare Red, Purple Neon, White

Tonally versatile
Astoundingly speedy playability
A faithful reboot of one of shred's most iconic guitars
Not for players who prefer thicker necks
The finishes won't be for everyone!

Introduced in 1987 and discontinued in 1994, the Ibanez RG550 remains the childhood sweetheart of many players. Designed as a mass-appeal version of Steve Vai’s famous JEM777 model, it had character in abundance. For this reboot, Ibanez has skilfully managed to extract the very essence of what was so popular about the original RG550 and piece it back together in a way that enhances its legacy. The Japanese-made 2018 vintage is, essentially, a masterclass in everything that is good about shred and metal guitars. The neck feels lithe - your hand glides, rather than simply moving - while the Edge vibrato is rock-solid and the overall craftsmanship is exemplary. Tonally, the RG550 covers a lot of bases. It always did, despite its pointy appearance, meaning you could comfortably stray into all kinds of genres without too much fuss. The US-designed V7 bridge humbucker delivers the razor-sharp riff platform you’d hope it would, while the V8 neck ’pup offers a hint of compression at higher gain settings, which levels lead lines nicely. It is, in the best way possible, everything you remembered from the original, and that makes it one of the best shred guitars available today.

Read the full review: Ibanez RG550 review

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8. Cort Manson MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature

The Muse frontman's signature model punches well above its price tag

Launch price: $599 / £500 | Body: Basswood | Neck: Hard maple | Scale: 25.5" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Manson Design bridge humbucker, Manson Design neck single coil | Controls: Volume, tone, 3-way selector switch | Hardware: Two-piece bridge and tailpiece, staggered height locking machineheads | Left-handed: Yes: MBC-1LH | Finish: Matt Black

Manson pickups and tones at a fraction of the price
Great design touches
Superb tool for gain-y rock sounds
More than a signature model
Limited finish options
Muse fans hoping for built-in effects will be disappointed

At £499, the MBC-1 is designed to hit a completely different price point to the Muse genius's full-fat Manson models, and although still designed by both Matt and Hugh, it's made in Indonesia by guitar-making giant Cort. Price aside, a quick strum lets you know this is a Manson through and through: it rings like a bell, the sort of acoustic response you'd expect from a quality guitar, but not always at this price. In style, the MBC-1 is a pretty accurate repro of the instruments used by Matt. That big upper shoulder won't be to everyone's taste, but in playing position, it's not only lightweight (3.52kg) but with forearm and ribcage contours, it fits like a glove. And the bolt-on maple neck feels superb, too, with a deep C profile and sloping shoulders that tell your hand it's thinner in depth than it actually is. Unusual at this price, too, is the compound radius fingerboard, which flattens out as you move up the neck; with tidy jumbo - but not over-tall - frets, it's a fast, fluid player, as well, which makes it one of the best electric guitars for hard-rock players. Pickup-wise, we have a fairly hot Alnico-powered humbucker at the bridge and a single coil at the neck. Along with a master volume, tone and three-way pickup selector, the upper shoulder also holds a kill button for stutter effects.

Read the full review: Cort Manson MBC-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature

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9. Guild Starfire II

Heritage, class and quality from this mid-priced hollowbody jazz guitar

Launch price: $849 / £715 | Body: Laminated mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Pickups: 2x LB-1 humbuckers | Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way selector switch | Hardware: Guild Tune-O-Matic bridge, Grover Sta-Tite open-gear tuners | Left-handed: No | Finish: Natural

Superb pickups
Great choice for jazz players
Comfortable hollowbody playability
Feedback can be a problem
Not one for heavier styles

The Newark St Collection recalls some of Guild's classic '50s and '60s guitars, but builds them in Korea. The Starfire range - introduced in 1960 - was hugely successful, attracting players such as Duane Eddy and George Benson, not to mention Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Lightin' Hopkins and Robert Lockwood Jr. The Starfire II is a 419mm (16.5-inch) wide hollow body with a thinline depth (48mm at the rim) and single 'Florentine' cutaway. While it doesn't have a full centre block, there is a large-ish block that connects top to back and is used to mount the tune-o-matic-style bridge and stud tailpiece - it's not vintage-specific, but should add a little more solidity and sustain to the sound. The control setup is pure Gibson with no master volume, but while the knobs may look the part, it's the LH-1 'Little Bucker' pickups that not only recall the original Guild units in appearance but capture the 'halfway between a single coil and a full-sized humbucker' tonality that give this its major calling card. They sound superb, adding clarity to the hollowbody frame that's just as applicable for old-style jazz as it is rootsy, alt-rock crunch and gain. Okay, it is mostly hollow, so feedback can be an issue, but get it right, hit a clean boost into the front-end of a Fender-style amp and the thing damn near takes off. Glorious.

Read the full review: Guild Starfire II review

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10. Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH FR

One of the best mid-priced SuperStrats out there

Launch price: $899 / £709 | Body: Alder | Neck: 2-piece maple with graphite reinforcement | Scale: 25.5" | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Direct Mount Seymour Duncan JB humbucker, Direct Mount Seymour Duncan '59 Zebra humbucker | Controls: Volume with push/pull coil-split, No-Load tone, 3-way selector | Hardware: Floyd Rose FRT-O2000 double-locking vibrato | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Rocket Red, Neon Pink, Matte Blue Frost, Satin Black, Snow White

Superb, speedy playability
Shred-ready tones
Faithful SuperStrat vibe
Doesn't clean up as well as other coil-splittable guitars
Not one for players of non-heavy music

The So-Cal defines the 'SuperStrat' concept as originally nailed by Eddie Van Halen in the late 70s. That classic body shape, the Floyd Rose double-locking vibrato, the slim maple bolt-on neck with its compound radius and fat frets... It all adds up to one of the best electric guitars for shred. The Charvel's thick single-ply scratchplate comes loaded with a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers, a TB-6 Distortion in the bridge position and a SH-6N Distortion at the neck. These are wired through a volume control with push/pull action to split the pickups' coils, the aforementioned No-Load tone pot and a three-way pickup selector blade switch. In the full-on, non-coil-split setting, the switch gives you three options: bridge 'bucker, the inner coils of both pickups and the neck unit solo. Lift the volume knob and you engage the coil-split mode. Now you get an additional tonal trifecta: the bridge humbucker's outer coil, both pickups' outer coils, and the neck's outer coil. Granted, the So-Cal doesn't clean up quite as sweetly as the other models in this line-up, but who cares? If you're looking for a brutal-sounding guitar with flawless playability and unshakable tuning then you won't be able to wipe the grin off your face.

Read the full review: Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH FR

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11. Wylde Audio Odin

Zakk Wylde's hard-rock and metal-focused LP-alike

Launch price: $999 / £999 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Maple | Scale: 24.6" | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 22 | Pickups: EMG 81 humbucker, EMG 85 humbucker | Controls: Bridge volume, neck volume, tone | Hardware: Tune-o-matic locking bridge, string-through-body bridge, Grover machineheads | Left-handed: Yes (Grail Bullseye finish only) | Finish: Death Claw Molasses, Grail Crimson Gold Buzz Saw, Grail Genesis Bullseye, Grail Gangrene Bullseye

Great playability
Classic EMG humbucker tones
Primarily suited to high-gain sounds
Divisive appearance

The Odin is a cool twist on Zakk Wylde's beloved Gibson Les Paul format. It's also the only Wylde model you can play sitting down. That's a good thing, 'cos this guitar is so addictive you might lose track of how long you've been playing. It's that neck that's got us hooked. In common with the rest of the Wylde bunch, the Odin has a fat-profile neck, like something you'd find on a pre-'59 Gibson Les Paul. It's made from three pieces of maple and that, along with its substantial girth, makes the neck feel rigid. That's great news for tuning stability and tone. The active EMG 81 bridge unit is a metal staple, stuffed with ceramic magnets for powerful output and sustain, and the razor-sharp response that you need with high-gain distortion. The 85 neck 'bucker is a bottomless pit of low-end, but in typical EMG style doesn't sound muddy when you kick in the dirt. The fat neck and bright attack of the Odin's ebony fingerboard propel riffs and licks through your amp. If metal is your gain, this is one of the best electric guitars for you.

Read the full review: Wylde Audio Odin

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12. Fender Offset Series Duo-Sonic HS

An easy-to-play, short-scale model with a host of tones

Launch price: $499 / £509 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple | Scale: 24" | Fingerboard: Pau ferro | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Duo-Sonic humbucker, Duo-Sonic single coil | Controls: Volume, tone (with push-pull coil-split on humbucker), 3-way selector | Hardware: Hardtail bridge | Left-handed: No | Finish: Surf Pearl, Daphne Blue, Canary Diamond, Black

Effortless playability
Short scale length is great for beginners
Versatile tones
Some players may prefer a longer scale

The Duo-Sonic is a short-scale student model that has become highly prized for its excellent playability and tone, making it one of the best electric guitars for beginner guitarists with cash to spare. This updated model - with its slab alder body, flawless in sparkly Surf Green - features the classic offset Fender waist that gives the series its name. The three-ply white/black/white scratchplate also plays host to a chrome-tipped three-position pickup selector switch and knurled (aka easy-grip) volume and tone knobs servicing two pickups, a neck single coil plus a bridge humbucker. The latter is also coil-splittable via the push/pull tone knob. We've encountered guitars at more than twice the price that don't play anywhere near as well as this thing does. Oh, and it doesn't matter what size your hands are. If we had to use a song to describe the tonal range of the bridge pickup, we'll have Smells Like Teen Spirit, please. A clean setting here echoes the clattering rhythm voice of the song's intro while a fuzz box unleashes a racket not unlike the heavy sound Kurt craved. If it sounds like we're typecasting this guitar then rest assured the Duo-Sonic is versatile enough to handle country picking, surf, indie, classic rock, whatever. Plus, the neck pickup warms things up perfectly for clean or dirty blues lead or jazz chords.

Read the full review: Fender Offset Series Duo-Sonic HS

For more buying choices, try these…

The best budget electric guitars under £500/$650

The best high-end electric guitars under £2,000/$2,600

The best top-end guitars over £2,000/$2,700

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