Best Electric Guitar Under $1500 In 2020

With $1500, you’re finally in mid-level and premium range.  Collector’s items, signature guitar models, and high-end features are plenty. 

If you’re perusing this market, it’s likely not your first-time buy and you’re not a beginner electric guitar player.  You should know what you want, how much you want to spend, and what sound you’re after.  To record, perform live, and make some actual dough with your skills, these guitars will look, play, and sound the part. 

With a healthy budget to spend, you can play like the high rollers do with little to no risk.  Here are the guitars that get it done. 

Contents Show

Snapshot: Top 9 Electric Guitars Under $1500

  1. Schecter Hellraiser C-7 FRS Review
  2. ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett Signature Review
  3. EVH Striped Series 5150 Review
  4. Dean Stealth Floyd FM Review
  5. Schecter Banshee Elite-7 FR S Review
  6. Dean V Dave Mustaine Review
  7. Fender Richie Kotzen Signature Telecaster Review
  8. Ibanez LGB30 George Benson Signature Hollow Body Review
  9. Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro Mod Review

The Best Electric Guitars Under $1500

While there are more expensive guitars yet, you still don’t drop $1500 on a guitar every day.  The big kahuna brands know this, and that’s why you’ll see custom features, signature models, and the best electronics and hardware available at this price point. 

Intermediate and advanced players are spending in this ballpark either for professional recording, performing live with, or it may just be that one-time splurge that will forever be their most expensive pride and joy guitar. 

As you can imagine, there’s a wide variety of guitars styles and pickup configurations available, but the guitars in this lineup will offer inspiration for your next buy and have been bought and rated by the masses. 

The trick in filtering through the dense market is knowing what you want out of your guitar to avoid buyer’s remorse and/or modifications.  Do you have specific brands you want to stick with?  Looking for killer pups already installed on the guitar?  Are you after a tremolo bridge with a 2-way whammy with a locking nut and maybe some locking tuners?  Not sure if you want a semi-hollow or hollow-body guitar?

Muse over each of these guitars and get inspired.  It’s how you’ll make the most of your buy! 

1. Schecter Hellraiser C-7 FRS Review

Schecter Hellraiser FRS

This guitar at all its price points is a hell of a popular model.  You may recognize the same Black Cherry finish and Hellraiser appointments from our C-1 model featured in our Under $1000 lineup.  It may have a similar appearance, but they’re vastly different.  If you’re a skilled player and you consider yourself a metal head, spend the extra on the C-7 and welcome the upgrades. 

Body & Neck

It’s a Super Strat body with double cutaways and this model has a longer scale length of 26.5”.  Tone woods and construction is the same across the board from a Mahogany body to a Quilted Maple arched top and a set-in, 3-piece Mahogany neck with a Rosewood fretboard with Abalone Gothic Cross inlays.  An Abalone multi-ply binding surrounds the body and the headstock. 

The neck on the C-7 has a Thin C shape that works extremely well with the flat 16” fingerboard radius – obviously features made for fast shredding.  There are 24 X Jumbo frets with a wider width at the nut of 47.6 mm due to the 7th string. 

Electronics & Hardware

The Black Chrome finish is the only hardware feature that is shared between the cheaper Hellraisers and this more expensive model.  The differences start with the bridge where you have a Floyd Rose that continues with a Floyd Rose locking nut and Grover tuners. 

The electronics couldn’t be any more different than other models with its preamp system that includes a 3-way system for Fundamental, Mix, and Harmonic modes when you’ve engaged the Sustainiac pickup positioned at the neck. 

The other pickup is an active EMG 81-7.  Both pickups are matched with Volume, Tone, and Intensity pots and a 3-way blade switch. 

Sound

The sound is truly what sets this guitar apart from the rest.  You can achieve any tonal range and sonic effect you’re after with the versatility of the pickups, and the Sustainiac modes allow long-lasting delay, harmonic edge, aggressive crunch, and more.  While this guitar makes an excellent platform for metal-heads, it’s truly capable of singing out clean and overdriven tones you need for any style and genre of music.  With full and thick lows and singing highs, this will forever be your trusty guitar. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany/Quilted Maple
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: EMG 81-7/Sustainiac
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose 1000 Series

Life-changing pups.  Incredible sound.  Epitome of a Hellraiser. 

Final Thoughts on the Schecter Hellraiser C-7 FRS

Amazing quality and tonally versatile.  It’s not a guitar for a beginner player because it’s been made with appointments and an extra string for the big boys.  If you’ve got some skills under your belt, you must have this guitar in your arsenal.  It’ll change your life. 

2. ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett Signature Review

ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett Signature

If Metallica is the kind of group your garage band is inspired by, then you must know about the Kirk Hammett guitar.  It’s not the luthier hand-crafted KH-2 that costs more than twice the price, but it’s the affordable copy with legit appointments that’ll get you out of the garage and on stage. 

Body & Neck

The KH-602 has an attractive Purple Sparkle finish on a Super Strat body with double cutaways for access to all 24 X Jumbo frets on the Pau Ferro fingerboard.  The body is made from Alder and has a 3-piece Maple neck with a neck-through construction – excellent feature expected in this price range for ultimate strength and resonance.  Of course, you must have the skull-and-bones inlays!

It has all the standard specs you expect to see such as a 25.5” scale length, 42 mm nut width, 305 mm fingerboard radius, and an extra-thin, U-shaped neck for making rapid runs up and down the fretboard. 

Electronics & Hardware

You have ESP’s LTD tuners on the headstock, a Floyd Rose 1000 bridge with locking nut, and active EMG Bone Breaker pickups on the top.  Each pickup has its own volume pots, a shared tone pot, and can be accessed with a 3-way blade switch.  Installed strings are D’Addario extra light 120s, and this buy also comes with a case! 

Sound

You might be expecting overwhelming crunch and grit, but you may be surprised with how well of a clean sound you can get from these active pups.  Exceptional note articulation is incredibly distinctive and is perfect for solos and leads.  Crisp, bright, and clean are definite sounds of the Kirk guitar.  But, when you want to pump out rhythm beats, you’ll have warm and smooth-rounded tone to complete the sonic impact that the band brings to the stage. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Pickups: EMG Bone Breaker
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose 1000 Series

Epic appeal.  Stage-worthy finish.  Metal sound. 

Final Thoughts on the ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett

It’s a hell of a guitar Kirk style.  He even put his signature on the headstock, so everything is legit.  With bone breaking and crushing leads or smooth rhythm at the tips of your fingers, you can do anything with this epic monster. 

3. EVH Striped Series 5150 Review

EVH Striped Series 5150

Eddie may have been floored when he realized the world wanted a copy of his wickedly striped guitar, but then again, it should come as no surprise that Eddie is worth copying.  It’s his 5150 with his very own stamp of approval. 

Body & Neck

Just like the original, this copy is made with a Basswood body, bolt-on Quartersawn Maple neck, and a Maple fretboard.  The hand-rubbed satin urethane neck has an EVH modified C shape profile with a 12-16” compound radius fingerboard for fast playing of all 22 jumbo frets.  The headstock also mimics the original with its hockey stick shape.

The scale length is 25.5”, the nut width is 42.8 mm, and simple black dot inlays line the fretboard. 

Electronics & Hardware

Iconic for this 5150 is the use of a single humbucker at the bridge.  This model sports a custom-designed EVH Wolfgang Humbucker that’s directly mounted to the body of the guitar.  It’s paired with a single, low-friction volume 500K pot with what we suspect is a linear pot for even tapering of volume for smooth control and swells.  It’s also wired with a treble bleed circuit, so those higher frequencies are never out of reach.  With only one humbucker on board, there’s no need for a pickup switch. 

Other EVH gear is still to be seen with the EVH-Branded Gotoh tuners, and of course, the EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo with the EVH D-Tuna.  Yep, drop down to D tuning and back in a split second and dive bomb both ways!

Sound

How can you get Eddie Van Halen sound?  Get an Eddie Van Halen guitar.  It might only have one humbucker, but don’t underestimate its power.  It’s an excellent guitar for playing both clean and overdriven.  Played clean, the sound is bright and chippy, and notes are articulate and lively.  With some crunch in rhythm mode, notes are still well-defined and there’s excellent sustain.  Played for leads, you have plenty of output while still being able to pick out those notes and shred the neck.  Pair the 5150 with an awesome amp and you’ll have nothing but awesome sound. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: EVH Wolfgang Humbucker
  • Bridge: EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo w/D Tuna

Wickedly awesome.  Note-defined sound.  Fast to play.

Final Thoughts on the EVH Striped Series 5150

The EVH guitar isn’t just a guitar for modern metal or hard rock, it can handle the tunes and tones of all sub-genres of rock played clean and overdriven.  It’s a guitar that has the looks that belongs on stage. 

4. Dean Stealth Floyd FM Review

Dean Stealth Floyd FM

With sharp corners and pointy ends, this Stealth Floyd FM Dime Slime guitar has Dean’s iconic and classic body shape.  It certainly stands out and may seem to be an odd choice of guitar at first, but if you really want to sound like Dimebag Darrell, you must do it Dime Slime way. 

Body & Neck

As an all-mahogany guitar, you can be promised warmth and resonance.  The fretboard is made from Ebony and has 22 frets on board with Pearloid Dime Stealth inlays with the razor blade at the 12th fret.  The stunning visual of the guitar goes far beyond its finish as it has a Flame Maple flat top with beveled edges.  Unseen to the eye in just pictures, the guitar has a V shaped neck with a set-in construction, and its odd shape actually spreads the weight of the guitar so that the left hand comes up closer to the chest making it easier to play, and of course, shred. 

It has a shorter scale length of 24.75”, a fingerboard radius of 14”, and a 43 mm width at the nut.  Its wicked headstock shape is designed to have radical string angles that helps with resonance and tuning stability. 

Electronics & Hardware

All the hardware is finished in black which is a wise choice against the visually busy Dime Slime finish.  You have Grover tuners, a Floyd Rose 1000 (Korean) bridge with an R3 locking nut.  As for pickups, a Seymour Duncan SH-13 DimeBucker sits at the bridge while a DMT Series DimeTime humbucker sits at the neck.  The pups share a tone control and they each have their own volume pots. 

Sound

Making rapid leads on this guitar is a given, and with the choice of pups, you can do it clean and with high-gain without losing character and full-throated sound.  The neck pickup is dark brings out each note.  You can hear the power it has just waiting to be tapped.  The Seymour Duncan Dimebucker has just the right kind of balance to push your saturation and distortion to the limits without it getting muddy and confusing.  Massive tone and metal aggressiveness with hot output keeps it tight in the low end, scoops the mids, and brings cutting edginess to those highs.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany/Flame Maple
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan SH-13 Dimebucker/DMT DimeTime Humbucker
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose 1000 Locking Tremolo

Killer look.  Killer sound.  Massive tone.

Final Thoughts on the Dean Stealth Floyd FM

If you want to play like Darrell, you have no excuse not to be able to.  With Dean having Dimebag in their Signature arsenal, you can have the guitar specs and pickups that he sets himself. 

5. Schecter Banshee Elite-7 FR S Review

Schecter Banshee Elite-7 FR S

Incredible and beautiful guitar – that wraps up the Schecter Banshee.  But, do you want the deets on a guitar that has infinite delay, a more natural look, and mind-blowing tone?  Of course, you do. 

Body & Neck

Schecter has always delivered on superb, up-scale guitars at fantastic price points, but the Banshee Elite-7 truly earns a standing ovation.  While the metal stylings of a guitar are still there with its double cutaways, ultra-thin C neck, and 12-16” compound radius fretboard, this Banshee opts for a more natural gloss natural finish that shows off all the grains of a flat top Flamed Maple top – gorgeous. 

The body is made from Swamp Ash and the neck is made from Maple and Walnut that has a multi-ply binding, and it also includes carbon fiber reinforcements for extra strength and a straight neck with a neck-through construction. 

Every part of its build is top notch, and Schecter shows off what their production facility in Korea can do.  It has an extra long scale length of 27”, longer nut width of 47.6 mm, and 24 X Jumbo stainless steel frets.  Even the inlays sport a unique design with Mother of Pearl with brass circles in both the offset and reverse order.  Side dot inlays glow in the dark with black circles so you can easily see where you’re at while on stage under the spotlight. 

Electronics & Hardware

With as much attention to detail on the build quality, you should be excited to see what dressings the Banshee has.  There are Grover tuners with a 3+4 headstock to cater to that extra string and a Floyd Rose 1500 Series bridge and locking nut. 

Immediately you can see that Sustainiac pickup at the neck that comes paired with a 2-way Sustainiac on/off switch and a 3-way Sustainiac Mode switch that allows the system to kick into Fundamental, Mix, and Harmonic modes.  That Sustainiac pickup is what allows endless sustain and is worth every penny. 

The other humbucker is an American-made Schecter USA SuperCharger Mach 7 humbucker – sounds more like a truck engine to me; powerful, roaring, and hot.  The controls for the pickups include shared volume and tone pots and an intensity pot for the Sustainiac.

Sound

The sound is about as versatile as it’s ever going to get for an electric guitar.  The incredible color palette not only comes from the pickups but from the choice of tonewoods and hardware, too.  While you can bet it sounds amazing with articulate note definition and melt-your-face-off crunch when played with distortion, it also plays elegantly clean with warm and bright tones.  The endless sustain makes for memorable leads and solos. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Swamp Ash/Flamed Maple
  • Neck Material: Maple/Walnut
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Pickups: Schecter USA SuperCharger Mach 7/Sustainiac
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose 1500 Series

Best build quality.  Best sound.  Best guitar – ever! 

Final Thoughts on the Schecter Banshee Elite-7 FR S

This is what high-end looks like at the best possible price point, ever.  To make any mods on this guitar would be a crime.  Super reliable hardware, ultra-playability, premium build quality, and unparalleled sound.  This is what you can look forward to if you can snatch up the Banshee right now. 

6. Dean V Dave Mustaine Review

Dean V Dave Mustaine

This is the Korean-made model, not the USA-made one.  To get the American-made V Dave Mustaine, you’ll have to up the budget almost four times.  But, the copy is an excellent option, too, and you’ll get a hardshell case included in the buy. 

Body & Neck

Classic V body shape and classic Dave appointments.  You have an eye-catching Rust in Peace graphic for the finish that is every bit edgy and rockin’ as the guitar sounds.  Made with a Mahogany body, Mahogany neck, and Ebony fretboard, the guitar is going to pump out warm and resonant tone. 

The set-in neck was designed to Dave’s specs that leans towards a very specific D-shape profile.  Within the 24 medium frets, the Pearloid inlays were also custom designed by him.  You have a 25.5” scale length, 16” fretboard radius, and a PPS (Polyphenylene Sulfide) nut with a standard width of 43 mm. 

Electronics & Hardware

Keeping in line with simplicity and increased sustain, there’s a TOM and string-thru-body bridge system.  Mini Grover tuners don the headstock in the 6-inline style, and black hardware with dome controls wrap it up.  There’s also a set of Cleartone Mustaine Studio Set strings onboard (9-52 gauges). 

Seymour Duncan Live Wire humbuckers are also named after the rock star.  They have their own volume controls and share a tone pot that are separated by the interesting placement of the 3-way toggle switch. 

Sound

High gain and ferocious intensity is one way to explain the Live Wire pickups.  If you’re familiar with the Seymour Duncan JB and Jazz pickups, then you’d describe the Live Wires as those on steroids.  You have clarity, warmth, and smooth tone with a pronounced upper mid-range that’s as hot as it can get for active pickups. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Dave Mustaine Live Wire
  • Bridge: TOM

Fast neck.  Ferocious sound.  V style guitar. 

Final Thoughts on the Dean V Dave Mustaine

It’s a guitar for metal made with ultimate sustain and fierce tone.  It’s hot and fast for riffing and shredding like it’s nobody’s business.  Make the V style Rust in Peace guitar your business, and the crowd will demand an encore every time. 

7. Fender Richie Kotzen Signature Telecaster Review

Fender Richie Kotzen Signature Telecaster

Once only available in Japan, the Kotzen Tele is now available to the world.  While this model may seem just like a regular, ol’ Tele, don’t let appearances fool you.  This is anything but a standard Telecaster and everything that only a Kotzen guitar can offer. 

Body & Neck

The Ash body has a laminate Flame Maple top with a deep single cutaway.  The large C shape profile on the Maple neck may seem intimidating, but the 12” fingerboard radius really does lend itself to both chording and bending those strings with lightning-fast speed with solid comfort.  The Maple fretboard features 22 jumbo frets with Abalone dot inlays, and it has a 25.5” scale length and a 42 mm nut width. 

Electronics & Hardware

All the hardware is finished in gold – a classy touch against the Sunburst finish.  You have Gotoh tuners, a 6-saddle string-through-body Telecaster bridge system with block steel saddles.  You can also see the 1-ply Cream pickguard in the traditional Tele shape, but it’s the circuitry and electronics that stray from the conventional.  

Interestingly, you have DiMarzio pickups with a Chopper T at the bridge and Twang King at the neck.  You have a shared volume knob and 3-way switch blade but no tone pot.  Instead, the pickups are wired with a 2-way Series/Parallel Rotary Switch.  Being able to switch between Series or Parallel wiring can certainly change the sound and add more brightness or even more output to your tunes. 

Sound

Just like Richie’s style, the sound palette is versatile.  The Twang King is a single-coil pickup that can get some dirty grind but can also play clean with clarity with some work on the volume knob.  The Chopper T humbucker has the bladed design and isn’t as hot as you would think it to be.  But, it definitely gives some full-throated punch to the mids and gives off some fat lows while retaining clarity.  With the rotary switch, you can push those mids and boost your volume with gain to push your amp to the extreme.  With jazz, blues, country, and tons of rock tone, there ain’t nothin’ you can’t do on this Tele. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Ash
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: DiMarzio & Chopper T
  • Bridge: Hardtail Bridge

  Not your everyday Telecaster.  Every bit Fender. 

Final Thoughts on the Fender Richie Kotzen Signature Telecaster

This guitar is far beyond the standard Telecaster for the brand.  With versatile tones, specs made for multiple playing styles, and features made for dynamic sonic impact, it lives up to the Kotzen standard. 

8. Ibanez LGB30 George Benson Signature Hollow Body Review

Ibanez LGB30 George Benson Signature Hollowbody

When Ibanez seems to be synonymous with metal shredders in the industry, it’s hard not to be surprised to find a soulful hollow body guitar that’s as gorgeous in aesthetics as it is in sound.  With George Benson in their Artist arsenal, Ibanez has the ammo to pull off an affordable copy of their LGB300. 

Body & Neck

What does LGB stand for?  Why, Little George Benson, of course.  This model has a Natural finish showing off a Spruce top with Flamed Maple back and sides.  The 3-piece, set-in neck is made from Nyatoh and Maple woods and is capped with a bound Ebony fretboard that features acrylic and Abalone split block inlays. 

The scale length is 24.7” with 20 medium frets and a 12” fingerboard radius – great for grabbing those chord progressions to pull of soulful blues rhythm. 

Electronics & Hardware

You have a Gibraltar Artist Bridge with an LGB30 tailpiece.  The bridge incorporates a low-profile aluminum frame with zinc saddles.  The tailpiece mounting posts are height adjustable and hold ball-end strings in place. 

All the hardware is finished in Gold, there’s a bone nut, and all the volume and tone pots have SureGrip III knobs that move with precision and won’t slip out of your fingertips even when they’re sweaty.  Super 58 humbuckers are accessible with the 3-way pickup switch on the upper bout of the guitar body.

Sound

Jazzers will quickly recognize these humbuckers for their warm, distinctive, bluesy tone.  They’re low-output pickups, but they play sweetly with tonal character, lots of highs, and warm clarity.  They can also be poppy, airy, and bouncy in the neck position while the bridge pickup thins and cleans up nicely for leads and solos.  With some twang, a little rock, and whole lotta jazz and blues, you can swing your way back into the heyday of funk and rhythm. 

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Laminate Flamed Maple/Spruce
  • Neck Material: Nyatoh/Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Pickups: Super 58 Humbuckers
  • Bridge: Gibraltar Artist w/Gibraltar tailpiece

Sweet sounding.  Soul-filled.  Do-all guitar. 

Final Thoughts on the Ibanez LGB30 George Benson Signature Hollow Body

It’s a beautiful and elegant guitar that has nailed it in terms of achieving blues and jazz tones.  It’s a signature model priced affordably, and you can’t deny that it evokes the likes of Gibson’s more expensive ES-175.  Making the buy even sweeter, the Little George Benson f-hole hollow body comes with a hardshell case. 

9. Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro Mod Review

Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro Mod

If you know anything about Torch, then you’d understand why this Charvel guitar has a gruesome Blood and Skull graphic.  With splattered blood, fierce features, and an intimidating aura, this metal ax makes a statement. 

Body & Neck

You have a classic combo of tonewoods from the Alder body to the Quartersawn Maple neck and Maple fretboard.  Built for speed and high playability, the fingerboard has a compound radius of 12-16” and a speed shape neck with rolled fingerboard edges.  The double cutaway San Dimas Style 1 body shape comes with a Licensed Fender Stratocaster headstock. 

The scale length is 25.5” with 22 jumbo frets, and it has a nut width of 42.86 mm. 

Electronics & Hardware

Much like Eddie Van Halen’s Striped Series 5150, it features a single humbucker with a volume pot – that’s it.  The humbucker of choice is a Seymour Duncan Custom Design Warren DeMartini.  For the bridge, the Charvel guitar has a Floyd Rose Original Double Locking 2-Point Tremolo and the brand puts their own chrome, die-cast machine heads on the ax. 

Sound

The Custom Warren DeMartini humbucker is the RTM (Rattus Tonus Maximus) model, and it offers full-throttle, edgy, and raw tone.  It’s hot, powerful, and is often seen as the feisty version of the JB with smooth EQ curves, a tight low-end, and strong mid-range.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Custom Warren DeMartini RTM
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose Original Double Locking 2-Point Tremolo

Great tonewoods.  Custom pickup.  Raw appeal.

Final Thoughts on the Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro Mod

It’s a guitar made for leads with Torch’s sound and style.  With speed appointments, furious sound, and “Ratt ‘n roll” tone, you’re now stage-ready to bang heads and make the cats scatter. 

 

Get More For Less In The Under $1500 Budget

With $1000 for an electric guitar, you can cover all the basics that are needed for a quality guitar from tonewood selections to neck construction and fingerboard specs.  With $1500, you can see a quality upgrade in hardware and electronics.  There aren’t any stock pieces here as guitars are customized, designed by the artist, and meticulous attention to detail has been put into the pickup combos and configurations. 

This all amounts to a market full of a variety of styles and features to choose from.  Player preference is now king.  You get to choose to what you want to see.  You get to be over fastidious about the specifics.  After all, this might be your first and last big-ticket item for a while.  Make it count! 

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.