If you’re searching for a cheap electric guitar that won’t disappoint you, you’ve come to the right place.
Today we review the best electric guitars under $500/£500.
We’ll introduce you to the most popular electric guitars that offer great playability and tone, and that can fit any level and budget.
Without further ado, here are the best electric guitars that you can buy without breaking the bank.
1. Epiphone Les Paul SL – Overall best electric guitar under $500/£500
The Epiphone Les Paul SL is one of the cheapest electric guitars on this list – it can be found for less than $200!
But don’t let the price fool you; this popular budget guitar is definitely worth checking out.
Epiphone is a trusted brand widely known for making reliable budget-friendly guitars, and the Les Paul SL is one of the best electric guitars under $500 they have to offer.
It has a poplar body and mahogany neck, along with Epiphone 650SCR Ceramic Single-Coil and 700SCT Ceramic Single-Coil pickups which are, by the way, really good for this price range.
The Epiphone Les Paul SL is lightweight and easy to play, so it’s a great choice for beginners.
It looks good too, with many finish options to choose from, including Ebony, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Pacific Blue, Sunset Yellow, Turquoise, and Vintage Sunburst.
2. Schecter Demon-6 – Best for hard rock and metal
Schecter Demon-6 is hands down one of the best electric guitars you can buy for less than $500.
It’s simple but capable of producing a powerful sound.
It also has good build quality, featuring a maple neck and basswood body.
And with the Crimson Red Burst finish, the Schecter Demon-6 is one of those guitars that stand out from the crowd.
On top of that, it provides incredible high-gain tones and great tuning stability.
And thanks to its Duncan Designed HB-105B humbucker (bridge) and HB-105N (neck) pickups, it’s a great guitar for metal solos.
3. Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Thinline – Best for vintage feel
It’s not easy to find a high-quality electric guitar under $500 – but Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Thinline is proof that it’s not impossible.
This popular electric features a slim, comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile, which makes it suitable for beginners.
But this is far from a simple entry-level electric – the Telecaster Thinline is capable of producing a powerful sound that fits any style.
It has a resonant maple semi-hollow body and amazing Fender-designed Wide Range humbucking pickups.
It looks stunning as well, with its nickel-plated hardware and a vintage-tint gloss neck finish which gives it a vintage look.
All in all, the Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Thinline is a premium electric guitar – but luckily, it’s reasonably priced.
4. Sterling by Music Man Cutlass CT30 – Excellent build quality
The Sterling by Music Man Cutlass CT30 is inspired by vintage electric guitars, but it’s made with modern adornments.
It still has that vintage vibe though, especially if you opt for a vintage finish – it’s available in Mint Green, Vintage Sunburst, Vintage Cream, and Stealth Black.
In any case, this cool electric guitar has excellent build quality, featuring a poplar body and hard maple neck.
It also features an HSS pickup configuration with 5-way switching, vintage style tremolo, and an oversized 4+2 headstock.
Due to its satin neck, it’s also very easy to play.
So if you’re looking for an electric guitar with a recognizable, timeless sound, the Sterling by Music Man Cutlass CT30 will provide you with exactly that for an affordable price.
5. Yamaha Revstar RSE20 – Best stylish guitar
If you’re searching for a low-priced electric guitar that will help you stand out from the crowd, we recommend the Yamaha Revstar Element RSE20.
This eye-catching electric looks really special, and there are several colors to choose from, so you can opt for the model that suits your style.
The Revstar Element RSE20 also has a fantastic playing neck, so it’s very comfortable to play.
It comes with two YGD-designed VH3-covered humbuckers, so you don’t have to worry about proper volume.
And thanks to its 5-way selector switch and the Revstar’s high-pass “Dry” switch, it provides endless tonal possibilities.
The Yamaha Revstar Element RSE20 is a dream come true for any guitar player on a budget.
6. Squier Affinity Stratocaster FMT HSS – Best for versatility
When it comes to the top electric guitars under $500, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster FMT HSS is hard to overlook.
First of all, this beautiful guitar delivers a legendary design and tone.
It has a thin and lightweight body with an attractive flame maple top and a slim and comfortable C-shaped neck profile.
On top of that, it features a Squier humbucking bridge pickup and single-coil neck pickup for incredible sonic variety.
That said, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster FMT HSS fits any style and genre – as well as any wallet.
Considering how much electric guitars normally cost, this beauty is a bargain.
7. Epiphone Coronet – Guitar with long-standing reputation
The Coronet is another Epiphone guitar we highly recommend.
It was first introduced in 1958, which makes it one of Epiphone’s first original solid-body electric guitar designs.
It’s also one of the Epiphone’s most successful guitars.
The latest version features the symmetrical double-cutaway mahogany body with a single Epiphone PRO P-90 Dogear pickup and ivory button tuning machines.
It also comes with a glued-in mahogany neck with a medium C profile as well as a mahogany body that provides warmth.
The Coronet’s hardware configuration is rather minimalistic and straight to the point, but it’s everything you need to have a great playing experience.
Considering the price, the Coronet is a truly amazing guitar.
8. Ibanez S521 – Best lightweight guitar
Ibanez is another trustworthy guitar brand that makes affordable electric guitars.
Their S521 has a maple neck and Meranti body, and it’s incredibly lightweight.
But it’s also very sturdy and playable.
The Quantum pickups provide accelerated bass response ideal for high-speed staccato riffing with crushing mid-range and precise high-end articulation.
The fretboard is very smooth – it’s a two-octave fretboard with 24 jumbo frets.
Regarding appearance, you’ll get a beautiful, classic Ibanez look that’s hard to beat.
9. Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H – Best for flexibility
With the Yamaha Pacifica PAC311H, you’ll get a brilliant electric guitar for less than $500.
Thanks to its solid wood construction (alder body and maple neck), the PAC311H produces a wonderful tone.
It’s also durable, and it looks visually pleasing.
On top of that, it features custom-wound pickups and high-grade hardware.
Moreover, it comes with locking tuners, providing tuning stability and the possibility to change strings a lot faster and easier.
It’s a very versatile and convenient guitar for sure, suitable for all levels and styles.
All things considered, it’s no wonder that Yamaha makes best-selling electric guitars – they’re well-made and playable, and you can get them even if you’re on a budget.
10. Silvertone Classic 1478 – Best for retro vibes
We have one more suggestion for you: the amazing Silvertone Classic 1478.
It has the classic body shape and vintage pickups, so it screams retro – but with a modern twist.
It has a curvy asymmetrical double-cutaway body shape with a 24-inch scale length.
And thanks to its C-shape solid wood neck, it’s very comfortable and easy to play.
It also features vintage-style tuning machines and dual single-coil pickups that are designed by Silverstone itself.
All in all, if you want a reliable electric guitar with true retro vibes, Silvertone Classic 1478 is a guitar for you.
Features to Look For in an Electric Guitar Under $500/£500
Buying a cheap electric guitar can be tricky because you need to make sure you buy a quality instrument that will help you improve your skills and musicality, without having to worry about any lousy components.
Fortunately, most guitars in the market come with decent hardware and components, and they’re made of quality materials.
Therefore, it’s possible to find a good electric guitar, even if you’re on a budget.
But how are you supposed to choose the best electric guitar under 500?
First of all, try to look for trustworthy brands like Epiphone, Yamaha, and Ibanez.
Some popular guitar brands don’t offer cheap models, but many of them created the guitar series that you can get at an affordable price, without losing the quality and ‘DNA’ of their original models.
Furthermore, try to think about your goals – what do you intend to use the guitar for?
Do you want to use it primarily for your guitar lessons or do you want to perform live?
If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to narrow down your search.
What Guitar Body Shape Should I Choose?
There are generally two main categories of electric guitars to choose from, single-cutaway and double-cutaway guitars.
A single-cutaway guitar sounds warmer and fuller, and it’s usually 4-5 lbs heavier than a double-cut guitar.
For instance, the Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul are the most popular single-cut guitars.
Double-cut guitars will provide you with better upper fret access, and they tend to be lighter and more comfortable.
The number of cutaways on an electric guitar also has an effect on the overall tone, but if you’re a beginner, you probably won’t hear such a huge difference.
Nevertheless, the shape of the electric guitar will determine how you feel while you’re playing it, so make sure you find a comfortable guitar that fits you well.
Neck Profile Types
The neck profile will affect your playing experience as well.
Generally, the term neck profile refers to the shape of the back of a guitar neck in cross-section.
The C-shaped neck profile is one of the most common neck profiles – C-shaped necks have a comfortable oval profile that works well for most playing styles.
The ‘C’ neck profile is also suitable for beginners.
The V-shaped neck comes in two popular versions – a more rounded “soft” V, and a more pointed “hard” V, often used in classical instruments too.
The third popular neck shape is the U-shaped neck profile – it’s chunky and rounded, and it’s ideal for players with larger hands.
There isn’t one shape that’s better than the other – it’s a matter of personal preference and playing comfort.
Guitar Pickup Types
Another thing you should consider when buying an electric guitar is the type of guitar pickup it has.
A guitar pickup is a device that turns the vibrations of guitar strings into electrical signals and therefore allows the sound of your guitar to be processed and played through a speaker.
Single coils and humbuckers are the most commonly used guitar pickups.
Single coil pickups are the first electric pickups to be invented, and they’re still the most popular choice.
They’re known for their sharp tone and clarity, but they have more feedback than humbucker pickups, and that’s why many rock and metal guitar players tend to avoid them.
Humbucker pickups have less feedback, and they generally produce a thicker, warmer, and bigger output.
They use two magnet coils wound in reverse to one another, so it’s possible to cancel out the hums.
Epiphone also created mini humbuckers that produce a smaller amount of signal compared to humbuckers.
By the way, some electric guitars feature a mixture of single coils and humbucker pickups, which is a great solution as well.
Piezo pickups work in a slightly different way as they are located inside the bridge of the guitar and pick up the vibrations of the string and guitar.
Piezo pickups are popular in acoustic guitars, but they’re sometimes used with electric guitars in order to create a more acoustic sound.
What Is the Best Wood for Electric Guitars?
Another element that affects the overall tone, sound, and quality of the electric guitar is the type of wood.
The wood used to make a guitar also determines the weight of the guitar.
Generally, the denser the wood, the better sustain an instrument will have.
Some of the woods used to make electric guitars include well-seasoned hardwoods like maple, walnut, ash, alder, and mahogany for the solid body.
Mahogany is a warm, resonant tonewood, and it’s often used by Gibson.
Some manufacturers combine it with a brighter wood such as maple to bring out higher-range frequencies.
Fender often uses alder, a timber that provides an even frequency response, and for a smaller number of instruments they use ash.
Basswood is another popular choice because it’s easily sourced; it’s a cheaper option, but it has a nice warm and resonant tone.
How to Take Care of Your Electric Guitar – Essential Tips
Whether you want to buy an affordable electric guitar under $500 or a pricey premium-quality guitar, you need to take proper care of your instrument.
If you want your electric guitar to serve you well for many years to come, you should keep in mind the following tips:
- Wipe the strings after you play
- Wash your hands before practice
- Keep your guitar in the case
- Keep your guitar away from moisture
- Tuck your cable when using a strap
- Keep it clean (you can wipe the neck and body of the guitar with a cotton t-shirt)
Best Electric Guitars Under $500/£500 – Final Thoughts
There are many great electric guitars you can buy for less than $500, and we hope our reviews helped you find the perfect model for you.
All the guitars we overviewed today are well-made and widely used, even though they’re low in price.
Therefore, buy the guitar that suits you best, find good guitar lessons, and start your exciting guitar-learning journey!