Top 10 Guitars Under $1,000
This blog is a resource for musicians. We usually focus on online things, but today’s focus is offline. Here are Headliners’ Top 10 Guitars. Shout out to Mike Greene for creating this list.
Words By Mike Greene
1. Gibson Les Paul Studio (select finishes) [$799.00 - $1319.00]
Simply put, this is the best buy for under $1000. Equipped with all of the signature Les Paul features, the Les Paul Studio carries the classy and comfortable body design, as well as a super-playable neck/fretboard combination, and its two-humbucker pickup system allows for a wide variety of sounds, supporting everything from heavy metal to blues to jazz. Overall, the Gibson Les Paul studio is not far off in quality from the more expensive Les Paul models and brings everything to the table that any guitarist could want: style, comfort, and true versatility.
2. Fender American Special Stratocaster [$799.99]
Next to the Gibson Les Paul, the Fender Stratocaster is regarded as the electric guitar. While the majority of Fender’s manufacturing takes place in Mexico, most experienced players are drawn to the their American-made products. Constructed with better materials and crafted with a more precise eye for detail than its Mexican counterpart, the Fender American Special Stratocaster offers the classic Strat design and sound that changed the face of music in the 20th Century.From screaming rock solos to crystal clean rhythm tones to gritty blues licks to smooth jazz lines, this guitar is perfect for any player of any style or ability.
3. Gibson Les Paul Studio 1960s Tribute [$849.00]
Gibson recently unveiled their new Les Paul 1960s tribute model and, needless to say, it looks stunning. Taking pride in its classic Gibson construction, this guitar keeps a clean look with its cream pickguard and toggle switch and pearl inlays. The P-90 pickups add a particularly interesting and authentic dimension to the guitar as modern trends suggest a return to the vintage style and sound, and with this meaningful throwback feature, I wouldn’t be surprised if more guitarists turned to the 1960s Tribute as their weapon of choice. At just $849.00, this guitar is sure to give the $2000+ Les Pauls a run for their money.
4. Fender American Special Telecaster [$699.99]
It seems like the Fender Telecaster has always been the Robin to the Batman that is the Stratocaster. Favored mostly by country and pop-rock guitarists, the Telecaster is known for it’s twangy tones and signature neck pickup, but is often considered less versatile than the Strat. The American Special Telecaster, however, takes its age-old design and signature sound to a new level with superior, American construction with regard to materials and features, specifically the inclusion of the Texas Special single-coil pickup at the bridge. While American Standard Telecasters run at over $1000, the addition of the Texas Special pickup adds a new skill set to an already-equipped and American-made Telecaster without cleaning out your wallet, making it an even better buy for guitarists of all genres.
5. Gretsch G5120 Electromatic Hollowbody [$699.99]
Designed and built primarily for jazz and blues players, the Gretsch G5120 sports all of their classic hollowbody features without breaking the bank. From the oversize body and headstock to the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, this guitar has everything anyone could want out of a hollowbody. The Gretsch Dual-Coil humbuckers allow for scorching and twangy lead tones at the bridge position to clean and warm jazz at the neck, making for one of the most interesting arsenals of sounds that any electric guitar could offer. On the surface, the cream pickguard and body trim give the G5120 a smooth and classy look to match its maple body, and at around $700, this guitar forces any player to consider why they would pay more for a Gretsch.
6. ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000 [$729.00 - $799.00]
Metal-heads rejoice! Founded in the 1970s in Tokyo, Japan, ESP Guitars has made its mark in the world of heavy metal with its jagged body and headstock designs and chug-happy pickups. The LTD puts a sharp twist on the classic, single-cut Les Paul body design and keeps things modern with see-thru finishes and eye-popping abalone inlays and trim. Its heavy-duty hardware, bridge, and tailpiece allow for ease in playing in dropped tunings, and two active EMG pickups work to maximize gain and crunch from heavy riffs to scorching solos. At under $800, this is the go-to guitar for serious metal players looking for a tight and modern look and sound.
7. PRS SE Custom 24 [$664.00]
While Paul Reed Smith guitars are most widely recognized for their stunning artistry, top-notch construction, and eye-popping price tags, their SE series has been turning heads for some time now, with the Custom 24 leading the pack. Its long and thin neck allow for easy movement across, up, and down the fretboard, and the pearloid bird inlays give it a signature PRS look. The double humbucker set-up supports a considerable amount of low-end and heaviness– while still allowing for a wide range of tones– but you won’t find many guys with these outside the hard rock world. If you love the luxurious and shred-tastic sensibility of Paul Reed Smith but don’t have $2500 to spend, this is the guitar for you!
8. Epiphone Sheraton II [$599.00]
Before being bought out by Gibson in 1957, Epiphone was its main rival in the archtop market, and the Sheraton II is a perfect testament to its dedication to making well-designed, versatile, and affordable guitars. With the Sheraton II, Epiphone has taken all of the key features of their original archtop and hollowbody models and put together a guitar that nods at its predecessors while still meeting the needs of the modern player. The semi-hollow body construction, two-humbucker pickup configuration, and separate tone and volume controls allow for a plethora of tones, and its f-holes and block inlays make it stunning on stage, especially at $599.
9. Schecter Extreme Omen 6 Special [$399.00]
Like ESP, Schecter has been generally favored by hard rock guitarists over the last 30 years, but has proved itself as a producer of affordable, great-sounding, and versatile electric guitars. The Omen 6 features an easy-to-play Strat-style double-cutaway body and a long 24-fret neck for plenty of reach up to the highest notes and sturdiness on low power chords. The inclusion of two EMG active humbuckers are sure to please modern rockers while also allowing for plenty of experimentation and dynamics. Overall, the Omen 6 is a sleek and simple guitar that sounds and plays great, and is definitely a best buy for its already-affordable price range.
10. Fender Standard Stratocaster [$499.99]
What more is there to say? Since 1954, the Fender Stratocaster has been arguably the most recognizable electric guitar out there. Made in Mexico, the Standard Stratocaster carries all of the classic features, from the 3 single-coil pickups to the 5-way toggle switch to the 21-fret maple neck. While more experienced players would be likely to elect an American-made or more tricked-out Strat, this guitar is perfect for guitar players who are just starting to get serious.