If you are reading this, then you most definitely love guitars, I know I do! I haven’t stopped buying guitars ever since I got my first one, and as I got more experienced and my techniques developed, more expensive models started catching my eye. I have seen that there is no limit on this topic, guitar prices can go as high as a luxury sports car if you can afford it.
Today I will talk about guitars around the $1000, while still being under that price. Electric guitars in that price are excellently built and are considered premium models and sometimes special edition models. Some of them are specialty tools that are appropriate for distinct styles and some are more versatile models, with different tonewoods, electronics, hardware looks and what not! One thing they have in common is quality and durability, these guitars will certainly last you a lifetime, and going higher than this price is only recommended for professionals and collectionists, as there are little differences between guitars around the $1000 price and over it.
Now I’ll try to showcase you a range of excellent options for guitars under the $1000 price. I will list different brands with different body types, tonewoods, and pickups, to give you some variety, idea, and inspiration about what you should look out for.
The Top 7 Electric Guitars Under $1000
7. Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster
If you have followed my articles you know that I am a big fan of Stratocasters. Since the first model in the series that was released in the 1950s, the company has not stopped producing it. Well as the saying goes, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it! I have a reissued special edition Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster here, with the vintage-looking Strat double-cutaway body, amazing sound, great build quality, and a price of under $900. Let’s take a closer look at this gem!
When I first took this guitar out of the box I felt like I was in a time machine, just wow! This gorgeous guitar has the classic Stratocaster double-cutaway shape and body while adding some vintage elements to enhance the look. For starters, it sports an alder tonewood body with a polyester finish, that comes in different paint jobs such as Daphne Blue, Fiesta Red, Two-color Sunburst, and my personal favorite Surf Green that gives away some fresh vibes. One of the biggest selling points of this guitar is the impressive maple neck with a soft V-shape and gloss urethane finish that makes it extremely playable. On top of it, you will find the vintage maple fretboard with also vintage styled 21 frets. On the body, you will also find a white 8-hole pickguard that was present in the original Stratocaster.
The electronics of this guitar are also vintage-styled and sound pretty vintage too. There are three single-coil pickups located at the bridge, middle, and neck, these are connected to the 5-way pickup selector switch, master volume knob, neck pickup tone control, and middle pickup tone control knobs.
I was very impressed with the sound of the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster, with its true distinctive Strat sound, providing amazing clarity and sharpness. A great tool for classic rock and blues fans.
6. Fender American Special Telecaster
The first Telecaster guitar was designed by Leo Fender himself, and saw the light of day as the Broadcaster in 1950, a year later it was marketed as the Fender Telecaster, and since then it is one of the most iconic electric guitars that has shaped the history of music. The Fender American Special Telecaster is a special American edition of this guitar, one of the most premium editions from Fender. For the price of right under $1000, I think this is a bargain.
Like a proper Telecaster, this model uses alder tonewood as well, a feature that Fender has refused to change since its first introduction, and rightly so. If you have heard about Telecasters before, then I do not need to tell you about the classic single-cutaway body shape of this masterpiece.
It is covered in a three-tone sunburst urethane finish, it is connected to a beautiful and sleek maple neck that is very light, has a 9.5-inch radius board with a C-shape and a satin finish to make it extremely playable. It features a maple fretboard with 22 jumbo frets, simply breathtaking. I mean if it wasn’t perfect Jimmy Page wouldn’t record the Stairway to Heaven solo on this guitar.
Electronics wise the Fender American Special Telecaster is equipped with two Texas Special Tele single-coil pickups located on the neck and the bridge. This layout is controlled by the three-way pickup selector switch, a master tone control and master volume control, all these are connected to the Fender’s Greasebucket tone circuit.
This is one of the most versatile guitars on the market, capable of producing bright and clear tones, but can get mellow and dark with tons of gain and distortion. I couldn’t stop playing my favorite Led Zeppelin tunes (the entire discography) and I will buy one personally. If you want more information about it, make sure you read our full Fender American Special Telecaster review.
5. D’Angelico Premier SS
Without turning this into a guitar history lesson, I would like to touch on the heritage and excellence of the D’Angelico Premier SS. The company has made the best high-end premium guitars dedicated for jazzist in the golden era of jazz music, since then it produces only premium models that are pure art, sound perfect and this model here since it is produced in Asia it has a more affordable price, compared to other D’Angelico’s priced over $10,000.
Despite being built in Asia, the D’Angelico Premier SS delivers excellent quality at an amazingly low price.
It is essentially a Thinline semi-hollow body guitar with a single-cutaway and a classic center block. It has the classic f-holes, but you can also order it without them. It is 1.75-inches deep and has an arched body that is built from maple laminate.
On its beautiful maple neck, it features a 25-inch scale length, other than that you will find single-ply bindings on the headstock, neck, back, and top. Furthermore, it has tons of gorgeous details, that I will touch on in my full review of the D’Angelico Premier SS.
With its speedy C-neck that influences fast playing and the pickups, the versatile D’Angelico Premier SS is not reminiscent of the original models that were designed solely for jazz. This guitar features two excellent D’Angelico humbucking pickups that each have a volume and tone control knobs and the three-way pickup selector switch.
Moreover, you can find a Tune-o-Matic bridge, black speed knobs, and Chrome Rototmatic stairstep tuning machines.
As mentioned in our D’Angelico Premier SS review, It is impressively playable and can provide amazing versatility for various genres. I enjoyed playing rock n roll thanks to its dynamic tone provided by its semi-hollow body and passive pickups.
If you value a classic and are a more advanced guitarist, the D’Angelico Premier SS is a perfect choice.
4. Yamaha RevStar RS502T
I always felt like Yamaha guitars were always underrated and under-appreciated. The Yamaha RevStar RS502T is an excellent guitar coming in at under $1000 price, without making compromises to the quality, design, sound, and versatility.
As the other Yamaha RevStar that was featured in my list about electric guitars under $500, the RS502T provides amazing value for its price and if you haven’t had a Yamaha yet, you’ll constantly ask yourself why haven’t I tried earlier.
Looking at the design of the Yamaha RevStar RS502T, we can see that it has drawn inspiration from the classic cafe racer style motorcycles that have risen to prominence in the 1950s, and are now coming back with a bang, just like this amazing guitar.
It features a mahogany tonewood body that has a maple top, and a mahogany neck that is set in the body. The design has a glossy finish and comes in various paint jobs you can choose from.
Further on, this beautiful neck has a scale length of 24.75-inches with a radius of 13.75-inches at its thickest point. It features a rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets with dot inlays.
The Yamaha RevStar RS502T is equipped with two P90 single-coil pickups that provide an amazing balance between the tonality of the humbuckers and single-coil pickups, the tonality of this guitar is excellent and very iconic. They are connected to three-way blade pickup selector switch, a master volume knob, and a master tone knob with a push/pull Dry switch with EQ engager for a sonic blast.
The sound coming out of the Yamaha RevStar RS502T was very expressive, and the tonal range that you can explore with this guitar is simply endless. It delivers excellent distortion and sustains, plus it can get pretty clear and very warm as well.
One of the tonally expressive guitars on the market.
3. Gibson SG Faded
Nobody can argue that the Gibson SG is the ultimate rock n roll icon since its appearance on Santana’s hands at Woodstock. The Nashville made Gibson SG Faded is the modern recreation of this timeless guitar, with amazing tonality, the great neck that allows plenty of playability, and a special Plek’d perfect fretboard. It looks perfect and feels perfect in hand as well with its lightweight body and effortless playability.
From a design standpoint, the Gibson SG Faded has the same look as the original Gibson SG with a horned double-cutaway body that gives access to the high-notes.
This masterpiece features a mahogany body, that provides excellent sustain and is connected to a maple neck with a slim taper profile. It has a 24.75-inch scale length and has a rosewood fretboard with 22 medium cryogenically treated frets, plus the acrylic dot inlays. Overall, this guitar looks fantastic, and has a perfect build quality, meaning that it will last a lifetime.
In the electronics department, the Gibson SG Faded is equipped with a 490R humbucker at the neck and a 490T humbucker at the bridge, to provide an excellent vintage tone. The pickups are connected to the three-way pickup switch, 2 volume knobs for each pickup, and 2 tone knobs for each pickup as well. The hardware consists of an aluminum bridge and tailpiece with vintage keystone tuning machines and nickel plating.
The pickups deliver a classic and vintage style tone with little more increase in the upper mids. They are very responsive and I found them capable of providing excellent clean sound. I played some mellow jazz and even some heavy metal to give it a try, I was particularly impressed with jazz tones.
If you want a timeless SG under the $1000 price, can’t go wrong with the Gibson SG Faded. We talk about the electronics of this guitar in the full review of the Gibson SG Faded, so make sure you check that out to learn more about it.
2. Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550
We are big fans of the Ibanez RG series here at GuitarSquid because they provide the excellent heavy metal looks and sounds better than any other guitar manufacturer. The Genesis Collection RG550 is a special edition guitar priced just under the $1000 price with excellent RG looks, thin and ultra playable neck, a classic tremolo bridge and great pickup selection. Can’t go wrong with this 80s classic.
First introduced in 1987 the Ibanez RG550 was the dream guitar of many young players offering futuristic and clear cut looks that couldn’t be found on other brands. The Genesis Collection adds some modern features to the classic design to make it even more dream-like. It has the classic double-cutaway body shape of the Genesis RG, with basswood used as a tonewood on the body, it is covered with gloss polyurethane and comes at different paint-jobs depending on your preference. It has an ultra-thin neck with the Super Wizard shape, that is constructed with a combination of maple and walnut over five pieces. The fretboard is made from maple and features 24 jumbo frets.
Electronics wise the Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 is equipped with an advanced layout consisting of V7 humbucker at the neck, an S1 single-coil at the middle and a V8 humbucking pickup at the bridge position. They are connected to a five-way pickup selector switch, a master volume knob, and a master tone knob. It features a very attractive set of black hardware, that enhances the heavy metal vibes and performance.
As expected the Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 provides excellent heavy metal and hard rock tones with mighty distortion and lengthy sustain. But its array of pickups provide very versatile tones that can be used in various genres, and thorough testing I was extremely impressed as it could even play mellow jazz excellently.
A true gem under the $1000 price.
1. Guild S-200 T-Bird
Next up is an interesting guitar that is not so popular and very odd-looking. It is not for everyone, however, if you learn to appreciate the looks and sounds of it, you’ll have a blast with the Guild S-200 T-Bird. It originally went in production in 1963 but was cut just five years later, making it one of the rarest cult pieces in guitar circles.
In recent years, the company has produced the same model with modern features making it an excellent guitar under the $1000 price.
The strangest thing about this guitar is its body shape, that looks like a crossover between the Fender Jaguar and the Gibson SG. This unique sort of a double-cutaway shape that is very asymmetrical gives this guitar the edge over the standard Strats and Les Pauls. The Guild S-200 T-Bird utilizes mahogany as a tonewood and combined with the mahogany neck it provides excellent sustain.
The neck has a modern C-shape for playability and on top of it, you’ll find a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and block inlays. The headstock of this guitar is asymmetrical as well, having a distinct look to it. As I told you it is not for anyone, but I like its build quality and finish.
The Guild S-200 T-Bird in the electronics department is equipped with two LB-1 humbucking pickups that have a similar tone to the pickups used in the legacy model. You will find tons of controls in this guitar that provide excellent versatility, such as the volume and tone control knobs, switching between rhythm and lead modes, and the ability to engage a capacitor.
This may look very complicated at first but once you get used to them you will find that they provide excellent versatility.
What To Look For In An Electric Guitar
Yes, you may have a relaxed budget, but you can’t go around splashing your money at the first guitar you see. Also, I suppose you can play the guitar by now because I wouldn’t go spending that amount of money in a thing that I still can’t use. There are certain things that you should look out for when checking an electric guitar under $1000. You should specifically look out for tonewoods, pickup and pickup layout, hardware, playability and versatility, and looks, because let’s face it, you can’t play a guitar that you don’t like the looks of. After talking about these factors, I will try to provide some excellent examples of such guitars.
The tonewood is one of the most important parts of the guitar, as it will have a direct effect on its durability, quality, and sound. However, it should not be the sole factor when buying a guitar, as we have seen excellent premium guitars using more affordable tonewoods such as alder and basswood, that portray exemplary qualities. Although I would prefer usage of maple, mahogany, and ebony due to their durability.
Pickups are generally the biggest factor of the sound output of your electric guitar. They generally are available in three tastes, single-coil, humbucker, and P90 pickups.
Single coil pickups use just a single magnet and are most likely found on Fender guitars. They generally have a very versatile sound, but they tend to have a brighter and sharper tone overall. They perform well in various genres, especially surf and country music. However, they can’t output a great level of distortion.
Simply explained humbuckers are two single-coil pickups working in unison. They are designed to, as their name implies, to buck the humming sound of the single-coil pickups. They have a warmer tone in comparison, and are excellent for jazz and hard rock, but are also pretty versatile and sound good in different genres, except country and surf.
P90s land right in the middle of the two aforementioned pickup types, they have a higher output than single-coils but lower than a humbucker, making them pretty versatile tools, and I would say they are better suited for blues and rock music. The best of both worlds.
Hardware depicts some qualities of the guitar, such as stability and the ability to stay in tune. While you should look out for them, most of the guitars in this price range are already equipped at least with decent hardware, if not superb.
Playability and Versatility
These two factors should not be overlooked, especially playability, even if you are an experienced guitarist by now. With various neck shapes and thicknesses, you should look for slim necks preferably with satin finishes for playability and accessibility to all the notes. Versatility depends on your preferred genre, for example, if you are in a band and generally play one or two similar genres of music this won’t be an issue. However, if you are a session musician that needs to play different genres with different styles, or just want a tool you can shred to different music styles, then you should lookout for a more versatile guitar.
This is one of the most important factors for me. If a guitar is not good looking even it is equipped with the best pickups, it won’t do the trick. It is about the feeling because the electric guitar is a personal instrument and you should choose one to your heart’s content, especially if you plan to spend around $1000. Choose a guitar that corresponds to your personality, and as you already have seen, every guitarist has their distinct playing style that you can’t imitate.
I hope that this article has helped you clear out some clouds about how to approach buying a guitar around the $1000 mark. If you decided to buy one of the options that I provided, then I am really happy to have been helpful in your journey. But whatever you do choose a guitar that you love the way it feels, it is all about the experience, it is not about specifications and performances, pick a guitar you will have fun playing and won’t stop. Also, after you buy your guitar in that price range, be ready for your envious friends, because you really can’t go wrong around that price. Until next time, rock on!