Best Electric Guitars Under $500 – Complete Round-up 2021

| Last Updated: December 26, 2021

It’s exciting to shop for a new guitar, especially an electric guitar. These instruments are easily some of the most attractive choices out there, and there’s nothing as cool as an electric guitar.

However, finding an affordable electric guitar that won’t fall apart can be quite tricky.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of affordable, high-quality guitars.

Can You Find a Quality Electric Guitar for Under $500?

It certainly is possible to find a quality electric guitar that will sound awesome without taking out a loan from some shady-looking men who communicate in grunts. As long as you know what to look for and keep an eye on the kind of reviews a product receives, you can find a guitar that will have you jamming for years without spending more than $500 for it. 

Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster

There are many manufacturers who know a budding musician doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on a guitar, so they offer electric guitars that will keep you working on your skills while keeping some money in your back pocket at the same time.

What Should I Look for When Buying an Electric Guitar?

When you are going to buy a guitar, it is important that you know what you should be looking for, lest you end up with an instrument that you don’t really want.

Tone and Sound

You should know about the different sounds you get from different guitars, whether they are electric, acoustic, or somewhere in between (electric-acoustic). Think about the music you want to make and choose your guitar based on that.


Make sure you know your size and compare it to the guitar’s size. You want to be sure that the size of the guitar is suitable for you, that the neck isn’t too long, and that it’s not too heavy for you.


Buying an electric guitar, even one that costs less than $500, is still an investment, and you should be sure that you want to spend the money on something that won’t bore you later. Are you dedicated to using the instrument you’re going to buy? Learning to master the electric guitar takes time. It will certainly not happen overnight or even within the first few months. It will take years to sound like all those guitarists you look up to.

Comparison Chart of the Best Electric Guitars Under $500

  • Best electric guitar under $500 overall
  • 2 single-coil pickups that can put forth amazing tone
  • Bridge design makes it easy to change strings and tune them
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  • Effortless playability
  • One of the fastest-playing necks to be found in the guitar world
  • Two Quantum humbuckers and one Quantum single-coil pickup with five-way switching
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  • Best for the money
  • Offers great tonal versatility
  • Good volume and tone controls, as well as a 5-way toggle switch
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  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Equipped with a D'Angelico preamp and pickup system
  • Slim C-shaped neck provides maximum playability no matter who is playing
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  • Lightweight, attractive, and splendid
  • C-shaped neck with maple fingerboard
  • Custom vintage-style single-coil pick-ups
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Review of the Best Electric Guitars Under $500

Here, we will look at the top five contenders when it comes to affordable, quality electric guitars that musicians often mention in conversation. We will compare them to each other and you will likely find the instrument you’ve been looking for.

Best Overall:
Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster


  • Decent fret height
  • Great sound and performance for enjoyable playing
  • Filled with many professional features to choose from
  • C-shaped neck makes it comfortable to use for anyone
  • Great choice for beginners and intermediate guitar players
  • Can be used by both left-handed and right-handed players


  • Not suited to live performances
  • Tone knobs don’t offer incremental effects
  • Pickup hums are weaker than with the classic Fender

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers of this guitar are very impressed, especially since it offers such a quality experience at a really affordable price. They find that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you will be able to enjoy playing on the Fender Squier. It’s easy to plug in and play, as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With this guitar, you will be able to enjoy great intonation and sound. The guitar is a quality, well-built, and durable instrument that is comfortable and has a smooth neck. It is a no-nonsense, great guitar.

Who Will Use This Most

The Squier is great for anyone, really. If you are just starting out and getting to know all the joys (and pains) of playing on an electric guitar, you will love this item. It is a comfortable and smooth way to get to know the world of guitar playing.

Bottom Line

Anyone who is looking for a superb guitar from a well-known manufacturer that will not cost the price of your rent will certainly find this guitar most amazing. It is an all-rounder that has a great balance between price and quality.

Ibanez JEMJRWH Steve Vai Signature 6-String Electric Guitar

Ibanez JEMJRWH Steve Vai Signature 6-String Electric Guitar - White


  • Fun to play
  • Satisfying tone
  • Solid electronics
  • Impressive pickup
  • Offers a really good feel while playing


  • Annoying fret buzz
  • Occasional flat sound
  • Lacking in craftsmanship

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who have bought this guitar have been satisfied with the tone they got from it. They were very happy with how effortless playability is with the Ibanez. They have found, however, that tuning is necessary when taking it out of the box - not really something to despair about.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The tonal aggression you get with this guitar is very well-suited to rock music, and the defined sound it produces is really impressive. You can juggle lead guitar and rhythm leads effortlessly and will find the flexibility of the guitar very pleasing.

Who Will Use This Most

Guitar players who want to find a guitar with which they can make lightning-fast movements will be very impressed with this guitar. Thanks to the design of the neck and how slim it is, the movements you can make on this model are pretty impressive.

Bottom Line

Although the fret wire and neck slickness have been mentioned as a bit problematic by some guitar players, the Ibanez is an overall great buy. You will be hard-pressed to find another model that offers such quick-playing abilities and easy-to-use vibes as this guitar does.

Best for the Money:
Sterling By Music Man Albert Lee HH

Sterling By MusicMan 6 String Sterling by Music Man Albert Lee HH AL40 Electric Guitar in Daphne Blue, (AL40-DBL-R1)


  • Easy to use
  • Stays in tune pretty well
  • Good out-of-phase tones
  • Impressive tone and clarity
  • Easy to modify and easy to afford
  • Very comfortable due to neck shape and finish


  • Occasional fret buzz
  • Questionable craftsmanship
  • Uneven bridge for some purchases

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers have found that the guitar sounds great when playing lead lines under a bit of mild overdrive. Thanks to its five-way pickup selector, you get great tonal variety from humbucking sounds to tones. In general, only praise comes in for this guitar.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a signature model and it comes with a unique offset design in a retro Daphne Blue finish and tortoiseshell pickguard. If looks matter to you, look no further, because this guitar is gorgeous. It has a mahogany body and the neck is made of maple. The fretboard is crafted from Jatoba, and the guitar has uniquely designed humbuckers.

Who Will Use This Most

This guitar is so versatile that it is not limited to just one set of guitar players. Beginners and professionals, blues, rock, and even country players will love the versatility of the Sterling. It’s a good fit for anyone who loves making music on the guitar.

Bottom Line

If you have been searching for a guitar that is affordable but doesn’t look, feel, and sound as if it was made from cardboard, you will really love the Sterling. It is loved by those who use it and admired by those who can’t.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $500:
D'Angelico Premier Niagara Acoustic-Electric Guitar

D'Angelico Premier Niagra Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Natural Spruce


  • Amazing tone
  • Great for taking along on road travels
  • Exceptional comfort, thanks to the neck’s shape
  • Impressive volume considering the guitar’s size
  • Includes an onboard tuner for a better experience
  • Well-suited for the stage, as well as the family campfire


  • No feedback filter
  • Can be considered too small by some guitar players
  • Lesser-known brand could make guitarists wary of using it

What Recent Buyers Report

Despite being a fairly little-known brand these days (it was big back in the 1950s), D'Angelico guitars are mostly reliable, and users report that the guitar is great - it is affordable and sounds nice. It’s a pleasure to play, as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The tuner that is added to the guitar is a great selling point for many guitarists, especially since this model is really affordable. You will find great sound quality for the guitar, as well, which is great, given its size.

Who Will Use This Most

Guitar players who want a guitar that gives smooth and clear sound without the size of most average guitars will love this little guy. It may be small, but it packs a punch. The D'Angelico guitar looks nice as well, which is a bonus.

Bottom Line

The bottom line with this little electric-acoustic guitar is that it is a great buy. It offers seriously impressive sounds and tones that you sometimes can’t even find in bigger and more expensive guitars. It is very comfortable and lightweight, and great for taking on road trips.

Editor's Pick:
Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Telecaster

Fender Squier Classic Vibe 60's Telecaster Thinline - Maple Fingerboard - Custom Beginner Electric Guitar, Natural (0374067521) with Bundle - Tuner, Strings, Picks, Cable & Cloth


  • Fully lacquered back
  • Very well-made neck
  • Manufactured to last longer
  • Impressively thick pickguard
  • High-quality wood used to make the neck


  • No newer cutaway on the body
  • May be too heavy for some users
  • Less than impressive quality for some players

What Recent Buyers Report

Although there are some cons to this guitar, it seems that most guitar users can’t really find fault with it - in general, people really love this item, primarily because of the beautiful high-quality wooden neck and the fully lacquered back that has been made to last.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The way people gush about this guitar must mean that it is really good. Given that fact, it really stands out among other similar guitars. It is lightweight yet still very durable and solid. The tone and timbre are something that almost everyone who has heard or played this guitar enjoys.

Who Will Use This Most

Guitar players who are passionate about guitars will love this model. It looks and sounds great, and is a favorite with collectors, despite being newly made. It looks like a good old classic relic. No matter whether you are a professional or a beginner, this guitar is going to be a great choice.

Bottom Line

If you think you want a guitar that is very attractive, sounds really nice, and is affordable, this guitar will be perfect for you. The single-coil pickups have a beautiful and warm sound, and the well-made neck will last you for many years to come.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?

You should not neglect to keep in mind that, when you buy a guitar, it all comes down to what YOU need and what you will be doing with it. 


If you are looking for a guitar that will make you look cooler just by holding it in your hand, you will have to take a good look at the aesthetics of the guitar - does it stand out to you?

Size and Weight

As mentioned before, you should be sure that a guitar will not be too heavy for you and that the neck won’t be too long. This will greatly influence not only how comfortable you feel while holding the guitar, but how well you play, as well.


The whole point here is to keep in mind that you are looking for a guitar that won’t break the bank, so you will have to closely watch the guitar’s price. Also, consider shopping around before making your final choice. You might just stumble upon a sale and save a couple of bucks.


It is recommended that you check out customer reviews before swiping your card or forking out that cash - you can learn a lot about a guitar from what other players think about it.


In the end, the guitar that you will end up buying, whether for you, a friend, or a loved one, will come down to whether it ticks all the right boxes for you. You have been given a lot of information with this guide and should be able to make an informed decision.

People Also Ask

Sometimes it is better to ask a question and feel a little silly than it is to not ask and end up regretting it later. There are many questions that get asked when it comes to buying affordable electric guitars. Let's look at two very common ones:

What is the Difference Between a Cheap Guitar and an Expensive Guitar?

In general, the thing that separates a cheap guitar from a pricier one is the materials it was made from. Cheaper options are made from cheaper wood, and the lacquer and finishes used in the manufacturing are cheaper, resulting in fewer costs and more affordability.

Should a Beginner Buy an Expensive Guitar?

It’s best to start off with a cheaper guitar. At first, you are very enthusiastic, but as you learn more, you realize how much you don’t yet know. This can sometimes dissuade even the most excited learner. If you decide to cease studying the guitar, you would have wasted more money if you bought an expensive model rather than a cheaper one.

Hi there, my name is Craig. I took over Gear Savvy in mid-2019 and have had a blast writing content about music ever since. My role here is to steer the ship and ensure readers have the best information available for learning a thing or two. When I’m not working on content, I’m a husband and a dad. I enjoy spending time with my family, playing guitar, or messing around in my woodshop.