13 Best Cheap Electric Guitars For Under $500 2024

Best Cheap Guitars Under $500

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There likely isn’t a guitarist who isn’t guilty of swooning over high-priced guitars. These luxurious guitars seem to be the apple of every guitarist’s eye.

Unfortunately, such luxuries are not always the most logical or rational purchase a guitarist could make. But that doesn’t mean a very playable guitar can’t be found on a serious budget.

Here are some of the best cheap electric guitars you can currently find for under $500.

Yamaha PAC012DLX – Best Overall

Yamaha PAC012DLX

Looking for the most value for your money? Guitarists have spent the last few years raving about the Yamaha Pacifica series.

These guitars are noted for an extreme degree of playability at an affordable price. The Yamaha PAC012DLX (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) is a prime example.

This guitar has a familiar double-cutaway Stratocaster-style build, with a body made of Agathis. You can get this guitar in a number of color options, including:

  • Old violin sunburst
  • Black
  • Metallic blue
  • Metallic red

The PAC012DLX’s neck is crafted from Maple and has a C-shape contour with a 25.5” scale length. Rosewood is used for the fretboard, which has a 13.75” radius and 22 frets outlined by dot inlays.

For pickups, the PAC012DLX is stocked with a trio of Yamaha Ceramic single-coil pickups. A master volume knob, master tone knob, and a 5-way switch are provided for tonal control.

You’ll be able to dial in those iconic duck quacks and spanky tones without any problem on this guitar. The tone, alone, is a great reason for this guitar being the best overall.

As you might expect to find on an S-style guitar, the PAC012DLX is equipped with a vintage tremolo system. Adding vibrato and slight dive bombs will be a cinch to perform and can provide an extra degree of expression.

Other hardware on the PAC012DLX include:

  • Urea nut
  • Sealed tuners

Overall, the PAC012DLX is a great bargain for the amount of guitar you receive. Any beginner guitarist would be extremely fortunate to have such a guitar to be able to learn with.

This is essentially a budget Stratocaster with modifications made for the modern player. Plus, it’s lightweight with better craftsmanship than other guitars at this price.

Item Weight: 10.5 pounds

Package Dimensions: 43 x 18 x 5 inches

Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster – Best Premium

Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster

Have a bit extra to spend? Why not consider a true classic guitar for your collection?

The Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) is well worth its price. Squier has really outdone themselves with the production and quality of this guitar.

Essentially, with this option, you get a guitar built with inspiration taken from the original Telecaster production models. Some liberties have been taken to accommodate the modern player, of course.

For the most part, you’ll find this to be almost entirely vintage spec. Details such as the number of frets, pickups, and color have all been given special attention.

The Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster features a body made from Pine with a gloss polyurethane finish. You can opt to get this guitar in the classic colors of:

  • Butterscotch blonde
  • White blonde

Maple is used for the neck, which features a C-shape contour and a 25.5” scale length. The fretboard is also Maple, with a 9.5” radius and 21 frets outlined by dot inlays.

For pickups, the Classic Vibe ‘50s Telecaster is stocked with a pair of Alnico single-coil pickups designed by Fender.

All of your classic Telecaster tones will be easily found here. A volume and tone knob, as well as a 3-way switch, make good use of these pickups.

This Telecaster even has a vintage-style ashtray bridge with a 3-saddle design. Each saddle is made of chrome.

Other hardware on this guitar include:

  • Vintage-style tuners
  • Bone nut

Overall, this guitar is definitely built to perform, and no doubt could handle the stage without problems. Plus, it’s still quite affordable for most despite being the highest-priced guitar on this list.

Item Weight: 11 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44.5 x 15 x 4 inches

Jackson JS22 DKA – Best Budget

Jackson JS22 DKA

On a tighter budget and looking for something with a little bit of an edge? Definitely do not pass up the Jackson JS22 DKA (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater).

Despite being extremely affordable, it has features more commonly seen on higher-priced guitars. Those with aspirations in heavy music styles will especially love this offering from Jackson.

The JS22 DKA has a double-cutaway design with a body crafted from Poplar. You can get this guitar in a number of color options, including:

  • Metallic blue
  • Natural oil
  • Satin black

Maple is used in crafting the JS22 DKA’s neck, which has Jackson’s “Speed” contour and a 25.5” scale length. The fretboard is crafted from Amaranth with a 12”-16” compound radius and 24 frets.

Just the fact that there is a 2-octave range here will make any shredder delight with joy. Having a compound radius ensures the guitar is at optimum playability at any fret location.

For pickups, the JS22 DKA is stocked with a pair of Jackson High-Output humbuckers. These are certain to deliver that jolt of growling power you desire.

To control your tone, this guitar comes with a master volume and tone knob, as well as a 3-way switch.

What’s even better is that this guitar comes with a 2-point fulcrum tremolo system. Vibrato and dive bombs will be on the table without too much of an issue here.

Other hardware on this guitar include:

  • Black plastic nut
  • Sealed die-cast tuners

Overall, the JS22 DKA is an excellent value for the price. It also has some amazing aesthetics, no doubt aided by the Sharktooth fretboard inlays.

Item Weight: 10 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44 x 16 x 6 inches

Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazzmaster

Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazzmaster

The Jazzmaster is one of the most iconic offset guitar styles ever created. Unfortunately, a Jazzmaster built according to tradition is fairly hard to come by.

However, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazzmaster (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) provides affordable access to these guitars. In fact, it’s one of the few built according to traditional spec, without any modifications as seen with Fender’s lineup.

Some modern upgrades have been included, but nothing to take away from the true Jazzmaster design.

This guitar’s body is made of Poplar and has a gloss polyurethane finish. It comes in a number of classic Jazzmaster colors, including

  • 3-color sunburst
  • Olympic white
  • Sonic blue

Maple is used for the neck, which has a standard C-shape contour and a 25.5” scale length. Indian Laurel is used for the fretboard, which has a 9.5” radius with 21 frets outlined by Pearloid dot inlays.

For electronics, this Jazzmaster is stocked with a pair of Alnico single-coil pickups designed by Fender. As is tradition, this specific guitar includes both the lead circuit and the iconic rhythm circuit.

The rhythm circuit, activated by a thumb switch, is neck position only and has a bit of a warmer tone. Adjustable wheels are included for volume and tone control for this specific circuit.

However, with the lead circuit, you get a 3-way switch and a volume and tone knob. 

You might start to sense just how versatile a Jazzmaster can really be considering all of the tonal options available.

This model is stocked with a non-locking floating vibrato with a vintage-style 6-string saddle bridge. That classic Jazzmaster warble expression is yours for the taking.

Other hardware on this guitar include:

  • Bone nut
  • Vintage-style tuners

Item Weight: 11 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44.5 x 15 x 4 inches

Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Stratocaster

Squier Classic Vibe ‘70s Stratocaster

Stratocasters are no doubt some of the most influential and revolutionary guitars ever created. It remains a very popular guitar with no sign of the guitar’s allure showing hints of anything different.

Many Stratocasters can fetch a pretty penny depending on the model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one. In fact, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘70s Stratocaster (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) is the perfect budget option.

The Classic Vibe ‘70s Stratocaster features a body made of Poplar with a gloss finish. You can get this guitar in several legendary colors, including:

  • Black
  • Natural
  • Olympic white
  • Sonic blue

As you might expect, the neck is crafted from Maple to have a 25.5” scale length and a C-shape contour. The fretboard is made of Indian Laurel and has a 9.5” radius with 21 frets outlined by dot inlays.

For electronics, this Stratocaster is stocked with a trio of Alnico single-coil pickups designed by Fender. A 5-way switch, as well as a volume and 2 tone knobs, are provided for tonal control.

All of those iconic Stratocaster sounds that you know and love will be easy to find here. These pickups actually perform quite well for a budget guitar.

Another hallmark Stratocaster staple is featured here with the vintage-style synchronized tremolo system. You’ll be able to add vibrato and dive bombs with ease here.

Other hardware featured on the Classic Vibe ‘70s Stratocaster include:

  • Bone nut
  • Vintage-style tuners

Definitely give this a consideration if you have an affinity for Stratocaster guitars. It’s incredibly rare to find such an authentic Stratocaster at this kind of affordable price.

Item Weight: 10 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44.5 x 15 x 4 inches

Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

In search of a unique Fender-style guitar that isn’t quite as common out in the wild world of music performance? You’re definitely going to want to check out the Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater).

This guitar is essentially an offset guitar with a semi-hollow construction. Its body is crafted from laminated Maple with a center block made of Alder.

You’ll find that this guitar not only packs a sonic punch but is quite easy on the eyes, too. A number of color options are available, including:

  • 3-tone sunburst
  • Natural
  • Walnut

Maple is used for the neck, which has a 25.5” scale length and a standard C-shape contour. You’ll notice that this guitar has a unique headstock unlike anything else found on Fender-style guitars.

The fretboard is also made of Maple to have a 9.5” radius with 22 frets outlined by black dot inlays. No doubt, this will feel very familiar to play if you’re accustomed to other Fender-style guitars.

For electronics, the Classic Vibe Starcaster is stocked with a pair of Fender Wide Range humbucker pickups. These will provide more output and tonal character than your traditional humbuckers.

A 3-way switch, as well as a pair of volume and tone knobs, are provided for tone control. 

For hardware, the Classic Vibe Starcaster features:

  • Bone nut
  • Vintage-style tuners
  • Adjusto-matic bridge
  • Anchored tailpiece

This guitar boasts a pure aesthetic from its classic colors to its iconic f-shaped soundholes.

Fender is not traditionally known for semi-hollow guitars, and this Squier reproduction is an excellent take. Be sure to search this out if you want a piece of the history for your own collection.

Item Weight: 11 pounds

Package Dimensions: 47 x 20 x 5 inches

Ibanez Artcore AS73

Ibanez Artcore AS73

Over the last 15 years, Ibanez has really outdone themselves with the Artcore series. These guitars are known for their affordability and their deep, rich tones.

The Ibanez Artcore AS73 (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) is an excellent guitar for its price. Many feel that it rivals guitars traditionally priced at professional price levels.

In fact, the AS73 has been winning praise and admiration from guitarists for both its build quality and sonic capabilities. You can’t go wrong with this guitar if you’re looking for a semi-hollowbody.

This specific model features a body crafted completely of Linden with a gloss polyurethane finish. A number of attractive color options are offered with the AS73, including:

  • Olive metallic
  • Prussian blue metallic
  • Tobacco brown
  • Transparent cherry red

Nyatoh is used to craft the AS73’s neck, which has a 24.7” scale length neck and a thin contour. This neck is connected to the body via a set neck joint for increased sustain and accessibility. 

The fretboard is made of Walnut and has a 12” radius. There are 22 frets here, which are outlined by attractive acrylic block inlays.

For electronics, the AS73 is stocked with a pair of Classic Elite Ceramic humbucker pickups. A pair of volume and tone knobs, as well as a 3-way switch, are provided for tone control.

This guitar can certainly fit the bill for just about any style of music, especially jazz and rock. Some seriously classic tones live inside of this affordable guitar.

For hardware, the AS73 features:

  • Gibraltar Performer bridge
  • Quik Change III tailpiece
  • Plastic nut
  • Die-cast tuners

It truly seems as if Ibanez did not cut corners with this guitar. It is beautiful both sonically and aesthetically.

Item Weight: 13.23 pounds

Package Dimensions: 45 x 18 x 8 inches

Ibanez S561

Ibanez S561

Ibanez is perhaps best known for their guitars oriented toward technical shred players. The company certainly goes above and beyond to provide playable shred guitars at every price point.

An excellent example of this is the Ibanez S561 (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater). This guitar would seem as if it is built for higher budgets, making this an excellent value.

The S561 features a familiar double-cutaway body design and is crafted from Meranti with a satin polyurethane finish. You have the option of 2 different colors with this model, including:

  • Pink gold metallic matte
  • Seafoam green matte

Maple is used for the neck, which has a 25.5” scale length and Ibanez’s iconic Wizard III neck contour. Make no mistake about it, this guitar is certainly built for speed.

Rosewood is used for the S561’s fretboard, which has a 15.75” radius and 24 frets. Offset white dot inlays are provided toward the edge of the fretboard for a sleek, discreet design. 

You’ll have quite a number of different tonal options on tap with the S561 thanks to its pickup configuration. This features a pair of Quantum single-coil pickups (neck, middle), and a Quantum humbucker (bridge).

A 5-way switch, master volume, and tone knob are all provided to make the most of this pickup configuration. You can be sure this guitar chugs and sings like it is its occupation.

Other hardware on the S561 include:

  • ABS nut
  • F106 bridge
  • 6-string saddle
  • Sealed tuners

If you’re shredding on a budget, be sure to try this guitar out in a shop. You’ll likely become enamored with the value it provides at such an affordable cost.

Item Weight: 10 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44 x 16 x 6 inches

Jackson King V JS32

Jackson King V JS32

The V-shaped guitar will forever be an iconic guitar shape that only the brave and bold are willing to play. Some of the most accomplished guitarists have played these guitars to critical success.

You’re not out of luck if you’re on a serious budget but need a V to shred with. If this sounds familiar, consider the Jackson King V JS32 (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater).

The King V JS32 features a body made of Poplar, lending itself to a very light and comfortable fit. There’s a wide range of color options for this guitar, including:

  • Gloss black
  • Black with white bevels
  • White with black bevels
  • Matte army drab

You can be sure that no matter the color choice, the guitar will look as if it’s dressed to kill.

The neck is crafted from one solid piece of Maple and features Jackson’s signature “Speed” contour. This neck has a standard scale length of 25.5”.

Amaranth is used for the fretboard, which features a compound 12”-16” compound radius. There are 24 frets here, outlined by attractive Pearloid Sharkfin inlays which greatly add to the guitar’s overall aesthetic. 

For electronics, the JS32 is stocked with a pair of High-Output humbuckers designed by Jackson. These are sure to deliver that lightning in a bottle needed for aggressive, carnal tones.

A 3-way switch is provided for pickup selection. Knobs for both volume and tone are also included for tonal control.

It gets even better because this guitar is stocked with a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo. Days of dive-bombs without tuning instability are going to be on tap here.

For tuners, the JS32 is equipped with sealed die-cast tuners designed by Jackson.

Item Weight: 16 pounds

Package Dimensions: 51 x 23.2 x 5.2 inches

Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster

Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster

Want an attractive Stratocaster without breaking the bank? The Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater) is your ticket.

There was a time when the Affinity Series was widely regarded as the worst guitars money could buy. That has certainly changed in a dramatic way, gaining a reputation as some of the best guitars for beginners.

The Affinity Series Stratocaster has a body made of poplar with a gloss polyurethane finish. Two attractive color options are included here, including:

  • Black burst
  • Sienna sunburst

Maple is featured for both the neck and fretboard, which features that familiar C-shape feel. Sporting a 25.5” scale length, a 9.5” radius, and 21 frets, this is a pretty standard Stratocaster.

For electronics, this model boasts a pair of Ceramic single-coil pickups (neck, middle) and a Ceramic humbucker (bridge). No doubt you will have a wide variety of classic Stratocaster tones here.

To aid in your tone, a 5-way switch, a volume knob, and a pair of tone knobs are also provided.

No Strat would be complete with a tremolo. This one features a 2-point synchronized tremolo for all of your whammy needs.

Other hardware featured include:

  • Synthetic bone nut
  • Sealed die-cast tuners

While it might not have the same craftsmanship as the top-tier Strats, this essentially contains the same ingredients. A beginner or guitar mod freak will find this to be a worthwhile platform.

For an extremely low price, you get a standard Stratocaster with rare color options not found on most Strats. You really can’t beat that!

Item Weight: 10 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44 x 15 x 4 inches

Ibanez Gio GRG121DX

Ibanez Gio GRG121DX

Need a budget shred guitar that doesn’t compromise on playability or price? You’ll want to consider the Ibanez Gio GRG121DX (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater).

This is a guitar that’s built for beginners in which intermediate players could easily find a daily player.

The body is crafted from Poplar with a gloss polyurethane finish. A couple of classic color options are available, including:

  • Metallic gray sunburst
  • Walnut flat

Maple is used for the GRG121DX’s neck, which has a 25.5” scale length neck. This neck has a contour designed to provide accessible speed and comfort for about any player.

The fretboard is made from Purpleheart with a 15.75” radius and 24 frets outlined by Sharktooth inlays. You can be sure these Sharktooth inlays are the perfect touch to this designated shredder.

A pair of IBZ-6 Ceramic humbuckers are featured on the GRG121DX to provide a range of versatile tones. Single knobs are provided for volume and tone control in addition to a 5-way pickup switch.

For hardware, the GRG121DX features:

  • Plastic nut
  • F106 fixed bridge
  • Closed-gear tuners

Overall, this is a solid budget shredder that will certainly get the job done without any problems. There aren’t many owners to be found that don’t fully enjoy what this guitar has to offer.

At this price, you’re getting an incredible deal for a guitar. This is a true testament to Ibanez’s willingness and ability to provide quality instruments at lower prices.

Item Weight: 8.12 pounds

Package Dimensions: 41.5 x 17.5 x 3.7 inches

Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1

Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1

Who can deny the legendary status of the Les Paul? Unfortunately, these guitars tend to run outside the range of most budgets.

With the Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1 (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater), you can get one quite affordably. Of course, this is a budget model and is built somewhat differently than the Gibson variety.

The Les Paul Special Satin E1 features a body made of Poplar and comes in 3 iconic colors, including:

  • Cherry sunburst
  • Vintage sunburst
  • Ebony

Mahogany is used for the neck, which features a classic ‘60s SlimTaper D contour and a 24.75” scale length. Rosewood is used for the fretboard, which has a 14” radius and 22 frets.

For pickups, this Les Paul is stocked with a pair of humbuckers, with a 650R (neck) and a 700T (bridge). A volume and tone knob is provided, along with a 3-way switch, for tonal control.

Other hardware on the Les Paul Special Satin E1 include:

  • PVC nut
  • Closed-gear tuners
  • Tune-O-Matic bridge 
  • Stopbar tailpiece

Overall, this is a decent budget Les Paul that is perfect for lovers of this type of guitar. It’s perfect for the beginner to learn on and makes a great instrument to have around the house.

Item Weight: 6.61 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44 x 18 x 8 inches

Epiphone SG Special VE

Epiphone SG Special VE

Like the Les Paul, the SG has a certain type of appeal and coolness factor that is hard to deny. With the Epiphone SG Special VE (see price on Amazon or Sweetwater), you can acquire one without breaking the bank.

This SG is given a worn look to replicate the look of vintage guitars. Its body is made of Poplar and comes in the classic Ebony and Cherry color options.

The Okoume neck has a 24.75” scale length with a classic ‘60s SlimTaper D contour shape. Rosewood is used for the fretboard, which has a 14” radius and 22 frets.

Unlike the Gibson variety, the SG Special VE has a bolt-on neck. Despite this, it still offers that same unique SG experience.

A pair of Ceramic-8 humbuckers are featured with this model, including:

  • 650R at the neck position
  • 700T at the bridge position

For tonal control, Epiphone has provided a volume and tone knob as well as a 3-way switch.

Other hardware featured on the SG Special VE include:

  • Graph Tech NuBone nut
  • Closed-gear tuners
  • Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • Stopbar tailpiece

Get your hands on this guitar and you’ll be serving up tones with attitude. Plus, it's an excellent beginner guitar that performs quite well.

At this price, it’s hard to pass up this SG if you’ve always loved the guitar’s iconic body style.

Item Weight: 6.61 pounds

Package Dimensions: 44.02 x 17.01 x 7.99 inches

What To Look For In A Guitar Under $500?

When looking to buy a guitar for under $500, it can be easy to be conflicted by the many options available. Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone who’s been playing a while, everyone experiences this feeling.

There is no need to fear, as doing the proper research is going to help you immensely in your decision. Keep the following points in mind and you’re sure to end up with a guitar that’s right for you.

Guitar Style

When buying a guitar, you need to take personal stock and inventory on your own personal feelings. Which types of guitars are you most drawn towards?

Inevitably, you’ll likely be looking at these styles of guitars when buying a guitar. The problem lies in the fact that there are many variations of the same style.

As a whole, there tend to be guitars in the following shapes:

  • Les Paul style
  • Telecaster style
  • Stratocaster style
  • Hollowbody
  • Semi-hollowbody
  • Flying V

Of course, there are certainly many examples of guitars that fall outside of the aforementioned categories. However, for the most part, guitars do tend to draw inspiration from these body styles.

Every manufacturer has its own unique take on these iconic body shapes. Take your time to research what is included with each guitar.

You might find more beneficial features on a guitar that isn’t made by its original, traditional manufacturer. Of course, if you’re a purist, then by all means research guitars from the original manufacturers.

Some of the things you might find different include pickups and different color choices. The guitar bodies themselves might have a subtle variation that makes all of the difference in your world of decisions.

Ultimately, you should aim for a guitar that allows you to become the guitarist you wish to be. Settle for nothing less than that.

Build Quality

Buying a guitar in this price range certainly doesn’t guarantee a guitar of premium build quality. You’ve likely heard horror stories of guitars in this price range that have played horribly.

Reasonably, this can incite a bit of fear into anyone who values their hard-earned money. Nobody wants to experience this type of buyer’s remorse, no matter what the object purchased might be.

How does one avoid this when buying a guitar? The answer is quite simple.

You need to go and try these different guitars out for yourself. By gaining firsthand experience, you can inspect the guitar yourself to see if it meets your standards.

Of course, if you’ve never played before, it can be difficult to discern exactly what you should be looking for. Fortunately, there are only a few simple things that you need to pay attention to.

Neck Playability

One of the biggest areas of concern lies in the craftsmanship of the neck. How does the neck feel and play in your hands?

Does the back of the neck have a sticky lacquer, or does it feel silky smooth? Is the neck thick and beefy, too slim, or have any edges that aren’t comfortable in your hand?

Only you can answer these types of questions for yourself. Each guitarist has their own preferences, and you, too, will develop your own.

Along with the neck, you will want to pay attention to the frets, particularly at the ends. If they feel sharp or if you have any buzzing or fretting out, a little work will be necessary.

Do keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for guitars in this range to need a little bit of work. Many shops will ensure the guitar is set up before you take it home.

However, in any event, you can always take the guitar to a shop for a basic maintenance setup. This is a fairly inexpensive job and should be a routine event at least once or twice a year.

Cosmetic Quality

Cosmetics are an important aspect of any guitar. Some guitarists care about cosmetics to an extreme amount while others could care less.

However, the cosmetic condition of a guitar is what gives a guitar its own unique character. Take care to visually inspect each guitar before you make a purchase.

By taking the time to do this, you may discover some hidden red flags. You might find that the guitar has cracks in crucial locations.

Depending on the location, a crack might not hurt anything. Most stores will offer you a discount if you are still considering the purchase of the guitar.

However, if the cracks should appear around the nut, headstock, or neck area, be wary. These types of cracks will likely only get larger as the guitar ages and string vibration is experienced.

Similarly, dings are a very common thing to be found on guitars. These generally happen with normal play, but it can be quite jarring to find on a brand new guitar.

Again, stores will likely offer a discount if you do decide to purchase the guitar. In these cases, a ding or two likely isn’t hurting anything.


Relating back to the style of guitar, each body type tends to have its traditional type of pickups. These are what help to give each guitar its iconic and recognizable sound.

Wonder why you can immediately pick out a Stratocaster from a recording? The answer lies in the fact that it uses single-coil pickups.

While that is just one example, the reality is that there are many pickups available to choose from. Generally, they can be categorized as:

  • Single-coil
  • Humbucker

The humbucker pickup generally tends to be straightforward, although they do come in active and passive varieties. Active pickups usually require battery power, but produce much louder output.

Those of you looking to play heavier styles of music may want to seek out active pickups exclusively. These will give your tone that extra edge that is often demanded in such styles of music.

You could think of passive pickups as your general pickup found in a guitar. Generally, if the guitar specs do not explicitly state that the pickup is active, it is usually a passive pickup.

The single-coil has a few variations. These could include the:

  • P90
  • Lipstick pickup
  • Jazzmaster pickup

Even within each family of pickup, there is a wide range of different pickups available. Each manufacturer has a multitude of offerings that are designed to provide specific tonal aspects.

For the most part, a brand new guitar will come stocked with whatever it comes with from the factory. Despite being stock pickups, many of these are more than capable of doing what you wish. 

Some guitars do offer models with different pickup configurations. You can easily find models with both single-coil and humbucker pickups.

This essentially allows you to reap the benefits of both. Coil-splitters also provide a similar benefit.

Your Plans As A Guitarist

Another thing you need to take stock of is what your own personal plans are regarding playing the guitar. Guitarists will buy cheap guitars for a multitude of different reasons.

Yes, budget guitar models are not limited to absolute beginners. Some guitarists love cheap models because of the opportunity they can provide them.

Do you want to have a massive arsenal of different tones to work with? Budget models can help you build your collection quite quickly.

Similarly, if you’re interested in guitar modifications, these budget guitars are ideal. You can essentially save some money and use the saved money for the purchase of upgraded components.

One of the most frequently upgraded components is the guitar’s pickups. Slapping in some different pickups can make a guitar sound completely different.

Keeping your plans in mind will help you when considering the next point to pay special attention to.


Because you are exclusively looking for guitars under $500, your budget is pretty well defined. Fortunately, there are some excellent guitars in this range that any guitarist would be happy to play.

But should you buy on the low end or high end of the price range?

If you’re a complete beginner, it might make sense to buy a guitar as cheaply as possible. You won’t be out too much money if you should decide not to stick with the instrument.

However, if you’ve been playing for a while, feel free to look at the higher range of this budget criteria. You’ll likely end up with a guitar that you could gig with on a semi-professional basis without any issue.

In fact, it’s becoming more and more common to see famous musicians playing budget instruments. One of the more recent sightings is Andy Timmons (from The Police) playing a Squier Telecaster.

Do keep in mind that there are other ways that you can acquire a guitar for under $500. Perhaps the best way is to search the used market.

There are always guitarists selling guitars, some of which seem as if they have never been played. These guitars usually sell much cheaper than what the list price would be for a new guitar.

In some instances, you could find a guitar that is generally priced in a much more expensive price range. But, because it’s used, it could very well become a reasonable purchase within your budget.

The inspection process is much the same, though you will want to pay extra attention to cosmetics. If the guitar looks like it has been taken care of, it likely was.

Don’t be afraid to explore your options. It is, after all, your hard-earned money, so get the most value possible.

Best Brands For Cheap Electric Guitars Under $500

If you’re still feeling apprehensive about purchasing a guitar, understand that it is a normal and valid feeling. This kind of decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if the cost is a heavy expense for your personal finances.

In some instances, it can help to take a look at some of the best brands in the price range. These companies have an established reputation for producing quality guitars under $500.


Squier is a sister company of Fender that was actually created to deter guitarists from buying counterfeit Fender guitars. Essentially, Squier guitars are produced according to Fender specs and offered at a discounted price.

Guitarists absolutely love these guitars, and affordability isn’t the only reason. These guitars provide those keen on modifications with a worthwhile platform.


Ibanez is a Japanese company that originally began as an importer of classical guitars. Eventually, the company adopted the name of a guitar builder and began to produce their own guitars.

Today, Ibanez guitars are massively popular amongst guitarists of all types and genres. These guitars are noteworthy for providing a high degree of craftsmanship at any budget level.

Top Cheap Electric Guitars For Under $500, Final Thoughts

Make sure you take the time to try each of these guitars out for yourself before buying. Playing and trying things out is one of the most fun and enjoyable aspects of buying new gear.

The wide world of guitars is waiting for you to discover what it has to offer. Even guitars under $500 can be well worth anyone’s time.

Soon enough, you’ll have a new trusty sidekick that you wouldn’t trade for the world.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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