An electric guitar has appeared at the beginning of the XXth century but still stays among the most popular musical instruments worldwide. The reason is the ease of use, numerous ways of upgrade and sound adjustment, multiple styles that can be played, from melodic country to hard rock and heavy metal. All you need to do is grab the best electric guitar under 1000 dollars and go rock the stage!
Here, the questions arise. The electric guitar has evolved through the years acquiring a variety of shapes, hardware specialties, sound tuning technologies. If you’re looking forward to purchasing your first or next electric guitar, check the following parameters to learn what you need:
- Size & weight. Electric guitars can have different body constructions determining their length, width, and weight (you’ll find the more detailed description of body shapes in the “Buyer’s Guide” section). Smaller players would be more comfortable with lightweight and short guitars.
- Sound & style. Depending on the implemented technologies, scale length, pickups type & controls, the guitar can sound soft, spacious and boomy or dry and bright, or something in between. Some guitars always retain their style, while others can play differently, depending on the tonal and output adjustment.
- Technology. While some electric guitars feature only the principal controls for tone / output, others let experiment with different pickups, equalize the performance, and provide non-guitar sound effects (like a piano sound, trumpets, drums, etc.).
Check these options and determine what kind of electric guitar you need. Find the best electric guitars under $1000!
Electric Guitar Under $1000 Reviews
Schecter Hellraiser C-1
Having the high-end tonewood and design, this guitar is well known for its depth and solidity of tone. It could easily be praised as the best electric guitar under 1000 dollars if only its output wouldn’t be so frankly “hard rock”, which wouldn’t fit jazz, blues, or country guitar players.
The guitar is built as a solid piece, with a mahogany body and the top part made of slightly aggressive quilted maple. It has a set neck containing three pieces bound together for its durability and letting the player rave in riffing or jamming freely. It has a jumbo body shape, with all of its 24 frets being easily accessible thanks to the slightly asymmetric upper bout.
The fretboard is made of rosewood, with large gothic crosses for fret markers. This guitar has a fixed TonePros bridge and a tailpiece ensuring the stability of the intonation and long sustain. The strings are secured with the Schecter tuners that feature the locking type construction and a ⅓-inch peg hole. The tuner heads are threaded and have removable knobs.
This model features the active pickups EMG 81tw/89R, providing a strong output both for volume and tone. The dual-mode of these pickups let choose between the humbucker and single-coil type and regulate the sound from the aggressive punchy crunch with a bright treble to softer and richer harmonics with more warmth of tone. Versatility and high-quality rock sound make the Schecter Hellraiser C-1 one of the top electric guitars under $1000.
- Very low hum level.
- The action is set precisely for heavy metal crunches.
- Abalone binding makes the guitar contour sharp.
- Scale length is big (25.5 inches), mightn’t fit players with small hands.
- Requires a lot of tweaking with pickups, could be an issue for the beginner.
Video Schecter Hellraiser C-1
With a long history starting back in 1954, the Stratocaster guitar is still considered one of the best electric guitars under $1000. The modern guitar retains the characteristic style of its ancestor while producing clear and harmonic-rich sound with every pluck on the strings.
The top and back parts of this stylish white guitar are made of polyurethane, which sets a contrast to the maple neck and alder headstock. The fingerboard contains 22 frets having good width for both small- and big-handed players. Overall, the guitar sits comfortably both in the lap and on forearms while standing, thanks to the middle neck length and width and ergonomic shape of the head.
The three passive pickups used on this guitar are single-coil type providing a variety of sonic characteristics. The sound is well balanced, with the precisely drawn mids, clear highs, and rich bass. The pickups are very responsive producing a punchy and full-bodied sound even at the slightest pluck on the strings.
The pickup switch has five positions letting the player experiment fully, except for the all-three pickups being activated at once. This lets vary the output from the dry metallic treble to mellow yet dynamic bass for jazz and rock-n-roll.
The tuners, as in the original 1954s model, are ranged in one askew line and feature the open-type mechanism. The tuner pegs in this electric guitar under $1000 are solid thick metal and have slightly cornered shape for quick manipulating. Strings stay in tune for long and provide high-quality sustain.
- Alder body provides a solid backup for rocking lows.
- The neck has a concave shape providing access to the highest frets.
- Tremolo has 2 mounting points minimizing friction and providing sufficient vibrato.
- Sharp nut edges.
- Needs time and effort to tune and eliminate the fret buzz.
Video Fender Stratocaster
Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster
Created as the contribution to rock legend Jimi Hendrix, this guitar has a unique design and sonic performance. It imitates the characteristic Hendrix passages and could easily become the best electric guitar under 1000 dollars. Still, this guitar could be difficult to play for beginners, due to the reverse location of all the main elements.
The alder body of this Strat guitar makes a solid resonant base for its full and high-pitched sound. The neck is made of maple and has a C-shape making it comfortable to hold in hands. Each of 21 frets of the maple-made fingerboard is easily accessible even by small-handed people, thanks to the radius type of fretboard; and bends and quick passages aren’t an issue on this guitar.
All three passive pickups (American Vintage 65 model of single-coil type) are also reversed creating the specific Hendrix-style pitch. The pickup near the bridge is installed in the angled position letting the highs open up while the mids and lows sound concentrated and punchy.
The “flipped over” headstock makes the string length and tension differ from the standard Stratocaster setup offering more space for the vibrato and making the bass tight and dense. The bridge has a 6-point saddle that provides high-frequency vibrato and allows high-frequency control. The play can vary from the squeaky strums to the piercing overdriven passages that make a visit card of Jimi Hendrix style.
With the legend guitarist signature on the back of the headstock, this guitar will certainly stay for long among the best electric guitars under $1000.
- Flat fretboard enables highly dynamic passages.
- Solid bass sustain.
- Jimi Hendrix logo is engraved on the neck plate.
- Tuning takes time to get used to due to the reverse location of machine heads.
- Rather heavy (13 lbs).
Video Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster
Dean ML 79
This star-shaped cutaway guitar doesn’t just amaze with its unique shape and looks but possesses the individual sound signature as well. Providing great genre versatility, the Dean ML 79 would be the best electric guitar under 1000 dollars. Yet, at the moderate size (6 x 18 x 50 inches), it’s quite heavy (14 lbs), which might be a deal-breaker for standing musicians in the long run.
The body and neck of this guitar are built of mahogany providing a solid base for concentrated rich mids, punchy bass, and clean high-pitched highs. The fretboard is rosewood enabling quick finger movement along and providing additional depth to the midrange. It has 22 jumbo frets easily accessible from any side. The developed hardware lets play multiple music styles on this guitar including blues, jazz, rock-n-roll, pop, rock, hard rock, etc. While it might lack some distorted “hairy” sound for heavy metal crunches, it brings a lot of attack and dynamics into each style.
The guitar is equipped with two humbucker pickups located close to the fretboard and the bridge. They are controlled with the volume (separate knobs) and tone (one shared tone control) dials, as well as three-way toggles. The sound is clear while having a lot of solidity and concentration about it.
The headstock has the split shape making the unique design feature of this guitar. It’s equipped with high-quality Grover tuning pegs providing high sensitivity and stable positioning.
- The Floyd Rose bridge is tremolo-type equipped with the locking nut.
- The flame maple top ensures the unique sonic signature, especially in complex compositions.
- The dual-action “zebra” pickups control the tone precisely offering a highly balanced sound at the highest pitch.
- Action is too low out of the box; it requires setup.
- The abalone fret markers are a bit dim.
Video Dean ML 79
Another guitar dedicated to the legendary rock guitarist, the EVH Stratocaster features high-quality material and the premium hardware while having the inimitable design reminding of its prototype — the Frankenstein guitar played by Eddie Van Halen back in the 1970s. The design and features of EVH Strat have been worked out by Van Halen himself, and that alone puts this guitar among the best electric guitars under $1000.
The body, neck, and headstock of the EVH are performed in the Stratocaster style, with basswood guitar body and usual for Strats maple neck. This design brings a good weight (10.45 lbs) and balance to the guitar ensuring player’s convenience at any type of play.
The basswood brings a lot of resonance to the sound; reflecting rather soft in the lows, it provides full, concentrated mids. Highs are well-pitched and airy, with precise intonation. The overall tone of this guitar tends to the warmer side, while it’s equally capable of producing some thrashing crunch and good attack.
The fretboard is made of maple and features 22 frets of jumbo style. The fingerboard is hand-rubbed to ensure optimal fingers movement along the frets. The black dot fret markers outline the respective odd frets making a contrast to the light-colored fretboard and neck.
The hardware of this electric guitar represents a humbucker located near the bridge. There’s also a single control on the top of the guitar regulating tone and volume. The locking tremolo system allows playing bends or vibrato quickly regulating the pitch efficiently and creating the hard rock riff effect.
- The D-Tuna wedge lets raise the tonality to E-tuning.
- The Floyd Rose system lets do the maintenance without removing the strings.
- Original striped finish pattern.
- Fret edges are shorter than the neck width.
- Tuning heads aren’t aligned straight.
ESP LTD EC-1000
The full pack of features, premium build, and design make this guitar one of the top electric guitars under $1000. Its stylish cutaway body with white and gold-plated hardware elements, a unique neck construction type, and unusual shape of tuning heads make it stand out on any stage.
The body of this guitar is made from mahogany covered with the glossy black finish. So is the neck consisting of three pieces and offering additional flexibility at speedy play. The neck is connected to the body in a set-thru mode ensuring high stability of construction.
The fretboard is made from rosewood featuring natural oiliness and resulting in an ample balanced sound. It’s easy to work your way up to its 24 frets, thanks to the cutaway upper bout shape and the absence of the heel.
The TonePros locking bridge implemented on this guitar secures the sustain and tuning additionally providing a multi-harmonic burst out of each plucking at the strings. The signal is transferred to guitar in full detail and clarity, with the solid bass, expansive mids, and pitchy treble. The overall sound is very lively, with fast and accurate transitions and clear extreme frequencies.
The ESP LTD-EC-1000 features unique design elements, while the overall shape and features look much like the 1950s Les Paul guitars. The headstock has a wavelike upper part and gold-plated tuning mechanisms. The fingerboard is equipped with differently shaped abalone figures standing for fret markers, with the guitar name on the 12th fret.
- Locking machine heads hold the tune and provide good sustain.
- Active pickups bring multiple setting possibilities and powerful output.
- Full-contour binding, including the body, neck, and headstock.
- Tight input jack makes it hard to connect.
- The tone knob feels non-reliable.
Video ESP LTD EC-1000
If you’re looking for a branded guitar full of premium hardware and featuring some original engineering and design decision, this Gretsch model is the one to be on your search list. It combines sturdy build and highly balanced voice characteristic for the more expensive guitars.
The hollow body type of this guitar is compensated with the laminated maple top making its contribution in a particularly clean sound. The nato neck is covered with the rosewood fingerboard featuring twenty-two frets of medium jumbo size. The fretboard has a radius shape that, together with the cutaway design of the guitar body, makes the high frets easily accessible.
The unique feature of this guitar makes two humbucker pickups based on the BroadTron technology. It provides the high-class output and produces a powerful surging sound. The frequencies’ balance is of high quality, with the confident lows, deep multi-harmonic mids, and very clean bright highs. It fits for both fast melodic performance of the rock-n-roll composition, strumming the country tunes, and gritty metal.
The bridge construction is Adjusto-Matic type complemented with the whammy block. The bridge is made of solid rosewood and ensures the tuning stability of the strings. So does the firm synthetic bone nut. The control panel is versatile including the separate volume control for each pickup mode, mode toggle, master tone knob, and shared volume control. The 2420T definitely makes the best value electric guitar under $1000. Still, its volume range isn’t that high so that you’ll need a powerful amp to play this guitar on a gig.
- Stylish retro-looking control knobs.
- Full-width pearloid fret markers can be spotted at a glance.
- Tone bars go in parallel additionally strengthening the top part.
- Lacks a particular Gretsch biting tone.
- Nut edges are sharp.
Video Gretsch G2420T
Fender Alternate Reality
This modern-looking electric guitar under $1000 features multiple technologies and good ergonomics. While it’s quite versatile and capable of both melodic rock ballads and hard thrash riffing, its character is best revealed in fast classic and hard rock compositions.
The alder body of this guitar sets out solid support for bass and lower mids that flow and snap confidently, with the palpable power. The neck is made of roasted maple and provides a striking contrast with the body. It’s covered with the pau ferro fingerboard performed in the C-shape and featuring the 9.5-inch radius. There are 22 frets of medium-jumbo type of the fretboard, and the scale length of this guitar makes less than 24.75 inches. This makes it equally comfortable for playing by people with big and small hands.
The bridge on this model is Adjusto-Matic type allowing quick transition to differently pitched tone. The tailpiece is fixed, providing a rigid base for tense springs. The guitar supports very good sustain, with the concentrated and punchy primary sound.
The pickups are Atomic humbucking ones at the bridge and the single-coil pickup at the neck. The latter isn’t as powerful while producing the punchy attack and balanced sound. Meanwhile, the Atomic humbucker is all about the raw power; it provides a high-class output and brings a lot of grittiness and weight into the sound.
The controls board features the pickup toggle switch, the single volume knob, and tone control for both pickups.
- Bending produces a high-quality clean pitch.
- Three-position pickup toggle switch.
- Sealed durable tuning pegs.
- No vibrato arm.
- No inscriptions on or near the control switches and dials.
The unique point of this offer is a full kit including all types of maintenance and storage appliances required, with the quality electric guitar under $1000. The complementary items make a set of reserve strings, a capo, assortment of multi-colored plastic picks, digital tuner, over-the-shoulder strap, connection cable, solid hard case, and video lessons, as well as a three-month free trial for guitar playing.
The Stratocaster guitar coming with the kit has the typical shape of Fender guitars, with slight asymmetry in the upper bout. The body is made of alder supporting the dense precisely imaged sound with a clean frequency response. The guitar produces a lot of attack and dynamics while keeping the signal clean within the large frequency range. Its three pickups are single-coil type belonging to Player Series by Fender. They produce the animated and balanced output, which reminds of the classic Strat sound.
The guitar is easy to play and hold due to the C-shaped neck and classic Strat-type head. The finish of both body and neck is smooth and glossy but non-slippery. The fretboard consists of 22 frets and has a 9.5-inch radius enabling the fast jamming on the strings for quick dynamic compositions.
The tuning heads are located in the usual Fender way, in one row on the left part of the headstock. They are sealed open-type mechanisms with high stability allowing to keep the strings tuned even at the raving jam sessions.
- Large bolted “authentication” plate at the heel.
- The 2-point whammy bar brings immediate pitch rise with a steady signal.
- The 3-ply white pickguard is in contrast to the black finish of the body.
- Tuning heads are somewhat stiff.
- Supplied amp cord is thin and of poor quality.
Yamaha Pacifica PAC611HFM
“Universal” could be the second name of this versatile electric guitar. It boasts solid build, diverse sonic properties, exquisite design, and middle-level price. Conceived as the guitar for heavy kind of blues and rock, it acquired reliable hardware for different kinds of music and playing techniques.
The guitar has a solid alder body with a bright amber finish. The headstock is also alder and quite narrow, performed in the Stratocaster type of tuner placement. The tuners are Grover, with the open type of tuner’s mechanism. The neck is made of maple with a tinted finish and black rosewood fingerboard.
There are two pickups of different types on this guitar. The Seymour Duncan SP90-1 is located at the neck and Custom 5 Trembucker at the bridge. There is a toggle selector to choose between pickup position and the additional turning on / off switch that allows splitting the humbucker signal.
Depending on the pickups activated, the Pacifica guitar can produce various types of sound. It produces confidently and lively both high- and low-end frequencies and sounds penetrating in blues compositions. With the only neck pickup active, the sound flows with power and warmth, accentuated low end. With the humbucker fully in charge, the music becomes treble-oriented, with bright highs and good rhythm, while still featuring some of the vintage warmth.
The bridge implemented in this model is a hardtail, with the reliable fixing of the string. The strings can be played in a classical, rock, bent way, preserving the tension and high-quality sound. So need a versatile guitar? Check this one of the top electric guitars under $1000.
- Rich tonality choice, high consistency to the tone.
- The Graph Tech bone nut supports and secures strings firmly preserving intonation.
- Premium build and assembly quality.
- The tone knob feels a bit loose.
- Fret edges are tad sharp.
What to Expect in a Guitar Under $1000?
More often, the higher the quality of a guitar, the more it costs. Paying more, you usually can count on more woods in the construction, more reliable assembly quality, more sophisticated hardware, more powerful output, and more unusual and attractive design.
However, the current market competition is quite high, and most manufacturers are prompted to decrease the price and make different offer in order to attract clients.
Thus, with the range of price hovering below $1000, you can count on the following features:
- Multiple pickups. In some models, the active pickup mode can be present. And these can be well-known names (like Seymour Duncan).
- Tonal versatility. Guitars in this range can offer sturdy build and hardware to produce warmer jazz, blues music, or crunchy heavy metal shreds.
- Quality noise-free sound with good sustain.
- Solid wood guitar body.
The guitar body shape impacts the sound it produces, the overall performance, and the player’s comfort.
By construction type, there are following guitar types present:
- Solid / hard body type. These guitars are usually made from solid wood and, therefore, are heavier than other types. Still, they ensure the solid rocky bass and dry treble and are often used in heavier rock styles, such as punk rock, hard rock, etc. As there is no sound chamber, the amplifier takes all the load for conveying the signal; that’s why such models usually require more powerful amplifiers and active pickups.
- Hollow body. These guitars look much alike to acoustic models. They have a hollow chamber inside the body creating resonance, and thus, require less powerful amplifiers than solid body models. These guitars are often used for playing jazz and alike softer styles.
- Semi-hollow. This is the combination of the two previous types, the guitar has some chamber inside, which features additional solid blocks. The sound produced by such guitars usually has high clarity and open character. These guitars require smaller amplifier than hard-bodied ones and are used to play folk, country, pop, and similar styles.
- Acoustic (or accompaniment) electric guitar. This is a combination of acoustic and electric types of guitar. Though the sound of such a guitar is usually less rich and powerful than in the single-type acoustic or electric guitar, such guitar can be played both through the amplifier or without it. Makes a good travel and second guitar option.
Which Bridge Is the Best for You?
When picking an electric guitar, consider the following factors regarding its bridge:
- Location. See that the bridge is located conveniently on the guitar top. It shouldn’t come in a way while playing both occasional strums or improvisations. Too high a bridge could also cut the scale length resulting in the ordinary hollow sound.
- Type. There are various types of bridges and the saddle positions, as well as the hold of the strings. The adjustable bridge allows more versatility with regard to the scale length and the openness of the treble. For the string hold, check not only the grip on the strings but also the way the strings are released and put into the bridge.
- Whammy bar. In some models, the bridge has a vibrato arm aka a whammy bar. This appliance lets regulate the bending of the strings and raise the pitch of the instrument.
For electric guitars with the price range below $1000, different pickup models can be present (active / passive, single / double coil / humbuckers). Active pickups produce a more powerful output but also tend to catch more hum. Single coil pickups are installed for higher sound clarity, while humbuckers produce more harsh yet juicy sound.
The choice of the pickup is more a matter of personal preference. However, if you’re planning to install another pickup, consider the cost of the pickup, as it makes a considerable part of the guitar’s price. In this case, purchasing a less expensive guitar with good build could be an option.
Hi everyone! I’m Thomas Moody, also known as Guitarzan.