Best Electric Guitar Under $1000 In 2020

Are you looking for a studio worthy guitar? 

Eager to get playing on stage with a ripped machine? 

With $1000 to splurge, you have your pickings of the mid-range market with guitars that have premium features, the best build quality, and brand-name reputation behind them.

There’s quite the variety of guitars in this lineup, so be sure to check out the ones that speak to you.  Whether it’s a semi-hollow, jazz guitar or a shredding machine, there’s bound to be a guitar that will magnetize you.  Here’s what a whopping grand can look like on a guitar!   

Snapshot: Top 10 Electric Guitars Under $1000

  1. Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 Review
  2. Dean ML 79 Floyd Rose Review
  3. ESP LTD EC-401 Review
  4. Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Review
  5. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review
  6. Fender Alternate Reality Meteora Review
  7. Fender Player Stratocaster Review
  8. EVH Wolfgang Standard Review
  9. Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3 Review
  10. PRS SE Custom 24 Review

The Best Electric Guitars Under $1000

It’s no easy choice to spend a whole thousand dollars in one go on a single instrument.  Do you know what brands you prefer, what style of guitar you’re after, and what playing styles you want to maximize? 

If you’re a skilled player, you’re equipped with the know-how of identifying guitar features you’re after from the pickups to the hardware and the body specs and style.  But, those new to the instrument may not have a clue where to start beyond the aesthetic appeal.

Even though the guitars in this market can make excellent, long-lasting instruments for the beginner player, it’s highly recommended to start off with a cheaper electric guitar such as those in our best under $500 roundup. That way you can discover what features you like and what you’d like to see on your next guitar. 

However, intermediate and advanced players will appreciate the quality in these guitars.  While modifications may still be in order on some models, there are plenty of guitars that are great as-is. 

When spending this amount of cash on a guitar, you may want to think about other gear that will help you sound like a professional.  Perhaps, you may want to upgrade from a solid-state amp to a tube amp or Marshall stacks – just something to think about while you finalize the budget if professional playing is in the near future. 

Without further ado, let’s get to the many great options we have in store for you!

1. Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 Review

Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1

Charvel – a long-time, worship-worthy brand that shredders have looked to for their muscle-car guitars.  If rock and metal is your kind of style, look no further, this is the guitar for you. 

Body & Neck

The San Dimas style body shape has double cutaways to access all 22 jumbo frets on the bolt-on, graphite reinforced Maple neck shaped with speed and comfort in mind with its rolled fingerboard edges.  Speaking of the fingerboard, it’s made from Maple, and it has a 12-16” compound radius that shredders will maximize.

The body is made from Alder, it has the Snow White finish, and a scale length of 25.5”. 

Electronics & Hardware

There are no cutting corners when it comes to hardware.  Your hard-earned bucks are put to good use with Charvel-branded die-cast tuners, Seymour Duncan pickups, a Licensed Fender Stratocaster 6-inline headstock, and a Charvel neck plate. 

While all the hardware is finished in chrome, the pickups feature a two-tone color scheme, and as a side note, you’ll notice the lack of a pickguard as the pickups are mounted right on the top of the body.  Finishing up the hardware is a Floyd Rose 1000 Series Double Locking Tremolo.  You can use the whammy, be ensured tuning is stable at the bridge and the nut, and dive bomb like the greats. 

Sound

Seymour Duncan – a pickup brand that is often the first choice for many players.  Sitting at the bridge is the JB TB-4 made with an Alnico V magnet with hot coils that provide sonic mid-range attack, clear-cutting low-end, and rich highs.  The 59 SH-1n pickup at the bridge is everything vintage, versatile, clear, full, and bright with scooped mids. 

With a No-Load Tone pot, you won’t lose any of the high trebles you need to riff and lead, and splitting coils with the volume knob will further increase your opportunity to explore virtually any tonal range you need for jazz, blues, rock, and metal. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan JB TB-4/59 SH-1n
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose 1000 Series Double Locking Tremolo

Excellent hardware.  Excellent sound.  Excellent quality.

Final Thoughts on the Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1

Excellent as-is.  There’s no need to mod anything on this guitar as every appointment has been carefully selected to create a beast.  Stage-worthy, recording-worthy, sound-worthy – one of the best guitars at this price point yet. 

 

2. Dean ML 79 Floyd Rose Review

Dean ML 79

Déjà vu?  Yeah, it sorta looks like the one I featured in the Best Electric Guitars Under $300.  It may look the part upon first glance, but it sure isn’t the same guitar.  Here’s what you get when you spend more for this model. 

Body & Neck

Does its unique body shape give you flashbacks to the disco past?  It should.  The odd shape provides tone and sustain advantages over a conventional LP, Strat, or Tele shape.  The headstock extends string length while maintaining a 24.75” scale length.  The sharp, angled machine heads actually increase guitar resonance.  The cheaper model sports cheaper tonewoods while this one has a Mahogany body, a Flame Maple top, Mahogany neck, and Pau Ferro fingerboard. 

A 1-ply cream binding outlines the body and extends over the neck.  The fingerboard radius is 12” – versatile enough to pull off all playing styles, and of course, the Trans Brazilia finish is quickly recognizeable between the two models. 

Electronics & Hardware

We see an upgrade in the tuners from standard die-cast on the cheaper MLX to Grover tuners on the ML 79.  As its model name makes obvious, this model has the Floyd Rose bridge, the R3 model to be exact, complete with a locking nut.  We’ve got a lot going on in terms of color schemes here with Speed Gold 2x volume and 1x tone knobs, chrome hardware, and Zebra two-tone DMT Design humbuckers. 

Sound

The pickups may be a point of replacement for picky players, but they do sound great for stock Dean humbuckers.  What you get is a great punch on the low-end with definite mid-range attack.  The tonal range really is versatile enough to pull of any genre you think you can dish out.  It plays clean articulately and clearly, and it plays distorted with scream, squeal, and bite. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany/Flame Maple
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Pickups: DMT Design
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose R3

Sharp aesthetics.  Overall quality.  Everyday guitar. 

Final Thoughts on the Dean ML 79 Floyd Rose

If you want the whammy bar, upgrade in tonewoods and hardware, and the funky color schemes, this is the Dean guitar within your budget.  It looks badass, has versatile sound, and it’s a great, general-use guitar for everyday playing of many music genres and playing styles. 

3. ESP LTD EC-401 Review

ESP LTD EC-401

This guitar is highly praised within the guitar community.  Maybe because it has active pickups.  Maybe it’s because it has a dark, blacked-out appeal, or maybe it’s because it’s well-built and long-lasting.  It’s all the above. 

Body & Neck

It has a recognizable Les Paul look with its single cutaway, 3+3 headstock, and 24.75” scale length.  It’s an all-mahogany guitar with the fingerboard having been made from Pau Ferro.  You can distinctively see the body and neck binding accented against the Black finish.  An iconic symbol for the brand, the fretboard features their pearloid flag inlays.  24 XJ frets sit on the fretboard, and it has almost a full 14” fingerboard radius. 

Electronics & Hardware

All the hardware is in black.  I like the blacked-out look.  Active EMG pickups make up the electronics with a 60 at the neck and an 81 at the bridge.  The pickups have their own volume controls with a shared tone control.  Select which pickup you want to use with the 3-way toggle switch. 

A TOM (Tune-O-Matic) bridge with a tailpiece keeps things simple for the non-tremolo user.  A molded nut sits at the top, and the 3-piece neck has a thin U shape that you’ll find comfortable against the palm while making runs down the neck. 

Sound

Having active pickups, you know this guitar is going to fry brains.  The pickups are hot, powerful, and dark.  Pumped through a quality amp or stacks, you’ll see how well you can scramble a person’s insides. 

The 81/60 combo has been a long-time winner as they pump out intense highs, fluid sustain, full tone, and distinctive note definition needed for single-note solos. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Pickups: EMG 81/60
  • Bridge: TOM w/tailpiece

Active pickups.  Dark demeanor.  Devilish performance. 

Final Thoughts on the ESP LTD EC-401

You’re not left wanting with this guitar, unless you’re a dive-bomber.  If you value high output pickups with intimidating sound, an ESP should be at the top of your list. 

4. Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Review

Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe

If Ragnar Lothbrok could play, I’d bet he’d approve of the Viking style Hagstrom guitar.  It’s strong, demands authority, and it has an intimidating presence.  Are you Viking enough to handle its power? 

Body & Neck

It’s a semi-hollow guitar made with a wooden block running down the center of the body to reduce feedback issues.  It’s made with ply Flamed Maple with a contoured top as is usual for a semi-hollow guitar.  The Canadian Hard Maple set-neck comes with Hagstrom’s patented H-Expander truss rod that allows for extremely low action, long-lasting sustain, and of course, incredible neck strength. 

The fingerboard is made from Hagstrom’s favorite Resinator composite wood that reduces tonal dead spots along the fretboard.  With a radius of 15”, it makes an excellent shred machine especially paired with the thin neck.  The scale length is 24.75”, there are 22 medium jumbo frets onboard, and it’s classy looking with its body and neck binding. 

Electronics & Hardware

Hagstrom goes the extra mile with confidence in their hardware equipping the Tremar Viking with their very own designs.  Extremely precise 18:1 ratio tuners sit at the 3+3 Hagstrom headstock with a GraphTech Black Tusq nut as their neighbor. 

Hagstrom HJ-50 humbuckers can be accessed with the 3-way toggle switch and shaped with their very own dedicated volume and tone pots.  I have to say that the Hagstrom Tremar Vibrato is sexy as hell, but you’ll find out how good those Hagstrom tuners are since you have a TOM bridge. 

Sound

There’s unsurpassed note definition absolutely evident when played clean and dirty.  In overdrive, it sounds exceptional with boosted mids, fat lows, and cutting tone.  The bridge pickup played with distortion is sexy as you riff and shred to work that neck with singing highs that don’t get muddy in the mix.  Played clean, it sounds beautiful and elegant.  The sound this guitar can pump out is suitable for every music genre. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Ply Flamed Maple
  • Neck Material: Canadian Hard Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Resinator Composite
  • Pickups: Hagstrom HJ-50
  • Bridge: Long-Travel TOM w/Hagstrom Tremar Vibrato

High-quality brand.  High-quality sound.  High-quality guitar.

Final Thoughts on the Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe

Beautiful.  This guitar is worth the price.  It’s a gorgeous and smooth instrument to play, the sound is magic to the ears, and attention to quality is unparalleled.  An excellent choice for all those looking for a semi-hollow guitar. 

 

5. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Review

Schecter Hellraiser C-1

Schecter proves how well Korean-made guitars can be.  The Hellraiser is by far one of the most recognized guitars of the brand and amongst the masses.  Play like a demon and raise Hell at the same time. 

Body & Neck

What do you think about the Black Cherry color?  It it’s not quite your style, take heed of what it’s made from.  The guitar has an arched Quilted Maple top on a Mahogany body with a 3-piece set-in Mahogany neck and Rosewood fingerboard with 24 X Jumbo frets and Gothic Cross inlays. 

The body has an Abalone multi-ply binding, a thin C neck shape that pairs excellently with the 14” fingerboard radius, and a 25.5” scale length. 

Electronics & Hardware

There’s a GraphTech XL Black Tusq nut has a width of 42 mm.  A TonePros T3BT TOM bridge holds those strings in place while they terminate with the string-thru-body design.  Schecter doesn’t throw on any old tuners on this stunning guitar as the install their very own Locking Tuners with 19:1 gear ratio tuners. 

Active EMG pickups make up the electronics with a 3-way blade switch and are paired with their own volume pots with coil splitting while they share a tone pot.

Sound

As you can tell, this guitar provides endless opportunities to explore a wide tonal range.  With coil tapping, preamp systems, and an 81 TW humbucker at the bridge and an 89R at neck, you could raise the dead. 

Fat tone.  Aggressive.  Punchy and crunchy.  While it’s clearly a shredding, metal guitar, the pickups are designed with color for every style of music.  It’s extremely versatile and powerful, not thin and muddy, and when played clean, it’s bell-like and chimey. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany/Quilted Maple
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: EMG 81 TW/89R
  • Bridge: TonePros T3BT TOM

Hell-raising sound.  All-round tone.  Fantastic quality.

Final Thoughts on the Schecter Hellraiser C-1

The Hellraiser is everything you expect it to be – demanding, hot, and yet, surprisingly versatile.  There’s a lot going on in this shredder, but if you have the skills to make use of it all, you’re a match made in Hell. 

 

6. Fender Alternate Reality Meteora Review

Fender Alternate Reality Meteora

As a fairly new guitar to the market from a renown brand, it’s not surprising to see it’s already raked in a favorable ranking.  The Meteora is part of the Alternate Reality series and has some interesting design points to take note of. 

Body & Neck

Fender says this off slant body shape is where “motion meets balance.”  It’s space-agey and you can bet it’s incredibly comfortable to wield standing or sitting.  The Surf Green color is retro and pairs well with the extended pickguard and Jazzmaster-like body. 

We see classic Fender appointments with Alder, Maple, and Pau Ferro tonewoods and a 6-inline Fender headstock.  The fingerboard has a 9.5” radius, a 25.5” scale length, and 22 medium jumbo frets.

Electronics & Hardware

You have a synthetic bone nut, a 3-ply pickguard, and nickel/chrome finish on all the hardware.  An Adjusto-Matic bridge with string-thru-body sits at the lower bout alongside two volume pots and a shared tone pot with coil splitting and a 3-way blade switch.  The Player Series Alnico 2 Humbucking pickups give this guitar a vintage, ‘70s vibe. 

Sound

There’s a lot of opportunity to shape and tweak tone for the sound you’re after with bright treble attack, warm, classic, and vintage tones as its dominant sonic personality.  Between the Alder body, increased resonance and sustain from the bridge system, and with coil splitting and a high-gain amp, there’s plenty of output, note articulation, and aggressive punch for when you need it.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Pickups: Player Series Alnico 2 Humbucking
  • Bridge: Adjusto-Matic

Wide tonal range.  Great tonewoods.  Classic Fender appointments. 

Final Thoughts on the Fender Alternate Reality Meteora

The Meteora combines classic Fender appointments and bundles them all into one build.  It was designed as a limited run series, but it seems it may be catching on.  With a build quality and an exceptionally wide tonal range, it could be your all-purpose guitar good enough for live playing. 

7. Fender Player Stratocaster Review

Fender Player Stratocaster

If you’ve always wanted a genuine Stratocaster, the Player Series offers a modern upgrade at a reasonable price point.  Available in many different colors, the model we’re focusing on is the Polar White with the Maple fingerboard. 

Body & Neck

The Stratocaster is everything Fender – Modern C shape neck, double cutaways, a 25.5” scale length, a 9.5” fingerboard radius are expected.  However, the Player Series includes an extra fret taking the Strat spec of 21 frets to 22 medium jumbo frets. 

The Polar White model is available with either a Maple or Pau Ferro fingerboard.  The Silver is available only with the Pau Ferro, and all other finishes come with a Maple fingerboard. 

Electronics & Hardware

Here is where you can combine vintage style pickups with tremolo effects.  The Player Series Alnico 5 Strat Single Coils sit in the S-S-S configuration and are accessed with a 5-way switch blade.  They share a Master Volume pot while one Tone pot runs the neck and middle single-coils and the other Tone pot runs the bridge single-coil. 

The bridge is a 2-point Synchronized Tremolo with bent saddles – a modern upgrade from the original six pivots of vintage designs.  A synthetic nut, standard cast/sealed tuners, 3-ply pickguard, and nickel/chrome finish completes hardware. 

Sound

A very convenient feature to further shape sound is the tone control for the bridge not typically seen on a traditional Strat.  The pickups are classic and vintage sounding versus other pickups that try to hide lack of tone with being too hot.  Noticeable tones are warm, full, and bright. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: Player Series Alnico 5 Stratocaster Single-Coils
  • Bridge: 2-point Synchronized Tremolo w/bent saddles

Fantastic price.  Fender sound.  Classic Strat.

Final Thoughts on the Fender Player Stratocaster

It’s not an original Strat, but it sure can achieve original Strat sound.  With modern appointments, it’s player friendly and allows you to extend the sonic range all at a great price point. 

 

8. EVH Wolfgang Standard Review

EVH Wolfgang Standard

Eddie’s guitars have been long admired by rock guitarists, and the Wolfgang Standard is your ticket into the revered brand.  At a working man’s price point, you must get your hands on an EVH. 

Body & Neck

The Transparent Purple Burst finish sits on top of a Quilt Maple top on a Basswood body.  While there are double cutaways, the cut has been designed to provide more forearm comfort to make playing easier.  The Wolfgang Backshape neck is fast to work and is especially so with the compound fingerboard radius of 12-16” that has rolled edges. 

Other body specs to note is its 25.5” scale length, 22 jumbo frets, oiled neck finish, EVH Wolfgang headstock, and nut width of 41.3 mm. 

Electronics & Hardware

The noticeable feature is the EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Special Locking Tremolo.  It has an R2 locking nut and is paired with EVH-Branded tuning machines.  All the hardware is finished in Black Chrome, but the screws and masked-off natural body binding provide a highlight against the edgy and dark aesthetics. 

The EVH Wolfgang Humbuckers are mounted directly to the body to increase delayed sustain and are matched with 500K volume with treble bleed and tone pots with Black Speed dome-style knobs that are precise and smooth. 

Sound

Eddie Van Halen sound.  That’s it. 

Hit that neck pickup through a clean channel and you can pump out jazzy tones all night long.  Make use of the switch blade and kick up the gain and distortion and you have that punch, grit, and grind to shred and whammy like the rock star legend. 

The pickups are hot, but they really shine in the mids and highs with warm and mellow tones but also with sparkly ringing when you’re after clean rock and jazz tunes. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: EVH Wolfgang Humbuckers
  • Bridge: EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Special Locking Tremolo

Premium features.  Thundering presence.  Impressive sound. 

Final Thoughts on the EVH Wolfgang Special

With the Wolfgang, you can get EVH sound at a fraction of the cost.  No one is swapping out these pickups.  While the body may have a feel of being a cross between a Strat and a Les Paul, the Wolfgang really is its own creation.  It’s the sound that will blow you away.

9. Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3 Review

Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3

“Dressed to Kill” as Epiphone says.  The Les Paul Black Beauty 3 is an Ebony finish guitar with gold appointments made to be paired with a tuxedo for stage performances.  Designed after the high-ranking hit of the gold top Les Paul, the Black Beauty is classy, snazzy, and elegant. 

Body & Neck

As a Les Paul, it has an all-mahogany build with a single cutaway, 24.75” scale length, and 22 medium jumbo frets with a 12” fingerboard radius.  You can pick out the 3+3 Les Paul signature headstock with split diamond abalone inlays and 5-layer binding.  The neck has 1-layer binding, has a SlimTaper D shape, and is set into the body for increased resonance.  The body also features a 7-layer binding. 

Electronics & Hardware

The “3” comes from the three Epiphone Alnico Classic Humbuckers with one sitting in the middle position – a modern appointment for the Les Paul.  To access them, you have a 3-way switch toggle, but volume and tone controls for only the neck and bridge humbuckers. 

A LockTone TOM with StopBar Tailpiece make up the bridge system, Grover 16:1 tuners sit on the headstock, and all the gold hardware gives it high-class appeal.  The large, white number reference control knobs sort of look out of place on this guitar – like white socks with a black tuxedo and shoes. 

Sound

This guitar is certainly made to shine in orchestral jazz and blues tones.  Of course, with Alnico 5 humbuckers, you can certainly dirty up the sound and achieve some hard rock and tweak for more crunch with a high-gain amp.

With the mahogany body and set-in mahogany neck, resonant warm tones will come through.  However, with no ability to split the coils or shape the tonal range of the middle humbucker, it is somewhat limited. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Epiphone Alnico Classic
  • Bridge: LockTone TOM w/Stopbar Tailpiece

Ritzy aesthetic.  Gorgeous sound.  Great price!

Final Thoughts on the Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3

This Les Paul, like all Les Pauls, has an upscale flair about it.  You don’t have to be a posh player to make work of this guitar, as it can be made to push the distortion limits in class or ring out classic cleans. 

10. PRS SE Custom 24 Review

PRS SE Custom 24

New to the market is the latest version of the SE Custom 24, the Whale Blue model.  A guitar made for all styles of the playing; this SE will replace your current collection of guitars as your all-purpose, go-to ax. 

Body & Neck

It has a Strat style body shape with beveled double cutaways and a 25” scale length.  With 24 frets, you have more room to work that neck and it forces the bridge pickup closer to the bridge system to reach those trebles for bright and high attacks. 

The back is made from Mahogany since it features a beveled Maple top with a gorgeous Flame Maple veneer.  The neck is made from Maple and has a wide thin shape that should be comfortable for all hand sizes to work it.  The headstock has the 3+3 design and has Paul Reed Smith’s signature with a Custom print on it. 

Electronics & Hardware

PRS puts their own hardware onboard starting with their designed tuners and molded, patented tremolo bridge, so you can make use of that whammy bar for rapid pitch changes during your leads.  However, with no locking mechanisms in place, you may want to keep an eye on those tuners. 

The 85/15 “S” pickups have a two-tone color scheme and its coils can be split with the push/pull Tone control.  Select between the pickups or engage both with the 3-way switch blade. 

Sound

The pickups offer some good bass presence, although, they’re not as hot as some would like them to be.  They could be worth an upgrade in the near future, but they would most likely roar with the right stacks to bring out their character.  Played clean, they may sound a little thin and weak, but overdriven, they seem to be in their element. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany/Maple w/Flame Maple Veneer
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: 85/15 S Humbuckers
  • Bridge: PRS Patented Tremolo, Molded

Beautiful finish.  PRS appointments.  Classy-looking hardware. 

Final Thoughts on the PRS SE Custom 24

It’s a gorgeous guitar that from the finish to the tonewoods, although some hardware upgrades could be a viable consideration for hardcore dive bombers.  As is, this guitar is beautifully designed to be an all-purpose instrument that can achieve jazz and rock tones with ease. 

Find An Electric Guitar For You Under $1000

The market is truly yours when you have a grand to spend.  The multitude of available guitars will provide a variety of features and guitar appointments that you’re looking for from coil tapping to tremolo bridges, locking tuners, and active pickups.  But, too many choices can overwhelm you.  Our lineup consists of the best guitar choices you can find for the money. 

While being brand specific is the best way to go if you’re after a certain sound and look, you can always consider stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something different if you’re looking to expand your style.  With many brand-name guitars in this price range, the pickings are yours. 

Further Reading:
About Evie | Owner & Editor of MagicInstruments.com

For me, music really is a form of magic. It has the ability to transport you to another time and place with just a few soft notes, drifting on the wind. It can invoke joy, excitement, sadness and even fear. Music can strengthen communities and bridge cultural differences. Our lives are truly enriched by the music entwined within them and I look forward to helping make your musical journey a magical one.