The best electric guitars under £1000
9th Jun 2010 | 11:46
The best electric guitars under £1000
Following The best electric guitars under £300 as voted for by MusicRadar’s axe-loving, GAS-infected community, we’ve upped the price range and the lust factor significantly. Ladies and gentlemen, here are finest electric guitars under £1000 in the world today.
Thanks for all your nominations. The results include an eclectic mix of classics from Fender, Gibson, Ibanez and PRS, pointy metal axes from the likes of Dean and Washburn, something British-made from Gordon-Smith and an eye-watering fluorescent Charvel in the mix too. In short, there’s a guitar here to suit every player and every style.
If you have a budget of up to £1000 (even if you haven’t, many of these instruments can be found for closer to the £500 mark on the street) be sure to click through the following pages and read the reviews before shelling out. Spent wisely, £1000 can buy you a killer axe that will give you years of pleasure.
So, in alphabetical order, we’ll kick off our relentlessly drool-worthy collection with a guitar that wouldn't look out of place accompanied by a top hat and a bottle of Jack...
First up: BC Rich Mockingbird ST
BC Rich Mockingbird ST
“On the odd occasion when Slash is removed from his Les Paul, he grabs a BC Rich Mockingbird and for good reason: 24 frets; Floyd Rose; chunky neck; and when the thick roar of the Mafia Humbuckers hits you it feels like a knuckle-duster.”
FULL REVIEW: BC Rich Mockingbird ST
“I have a Michael Kelly Vex deluxe and a BC Rich Mockingbird ST. The BC Rich was in tune when I took it out of the box, I have gigged this guitar and still not needed to slacken the locking nut to tune it despite using the Floyd Rose extensively - so stable!
"The Rockfield pickups give it an old SG kind of sound, nowt wrong with that! These two have to be top contenders, both supremely playable and different! You can keep your Paul Reed Smiths and the huge price tags, these ARE better!" (From Jimbo via email, thanks)
Charvel San Dimas Style 1
"After some false starts and rare custom versions, the Charvel name is back for everyone with a fantastic finish, ultra-comfortable neck and rocking sounds. And at a price that's certainly not out of reach."
FULL REVIEW: Charvel San Dimas Style 1
BUY: Charvel San Dimas Style 1 is currently available from Thomann
"Probably a Charvel So Cal or Charvel San Dimas Style 1 2H." (Thanks, Briar30)
"Charvel San Dimas Style 1 offers something a bit different - and it absolutely rocks!" (From Chris via email, thanks)
Dean Razorback Cemetery Gates
“Covering the whole expanse of the body’s front face and chock full of subtle elements and hidden signs, it doesn’t just say metal but screams it from the rooftops. The guitar has a massive yet strident tone that’s more versatile than we’d assumed before plugging in, and that soft ‘V’-profile neck will always have a firm place in our hearts.”
BUY: Dean Razorback Cemetery Gates is currently available from Thomann
"Dean Razorback. Obviously they won't suit everyone's taste but if you like pointy guitars I'd have to recommend one." (From Simon via email, thanks)
"For hard rock and metal i'll vote for the Dean Razorback Cemetery Gates." (From Brian via email, thanks)
BUY: Dean Razorback Cemetery Gates currently available from GuitarGuitar
Epiphone 'Inspired By' John Lennon Casino
“A sub-£1000 hollowbody with US upgrades, wonderful vintage Casino aesthetics and sound, plus an affiliation with its most famous user. What's not to like?”
FULL REVIEW: Epiphone ‘Inspired By’ John Lennon Casino
"If you're a Beatles nut like me, I guarantee you will love Epi's 'Inspired By' Casino. It's not gimmicky, though, just really nicely finished with beautiful sounds." (From Jules via email, thanks)
Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-II
"A lightweight, modern player’s Les Paul with huge versatility and a real identity of its own. If you want a hybrid but are priced out of the ‘super guitar’ market, look no further."
FULL REVIEW: Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-II
"My Les Paul Ultra II has never let me down. No, it's not a Gibson, but in my opinion it's better than many lower end Gibson LPs by a mile (I've played a few in my time)." (From Dave via email, thanks)
"Epi Les Paul Ultra." (Thanks, Mark)
Next: ESP LTD EC-1000VB
ESP LTD EC-1000VB
"At £899, the EC-1000VB is fantastic value. The vintage styling is subtle and classy, while the EMGs perform very well, never overdoing things unless required to do so. In addition, the matt finish makes this a real player."
FULL REVIEW: ESP LTD EC-1000VB
"Any of ESP's LTD series guitars deserve a mention here. Something a bit different from the standard." (Thanks, Tim)
"ESP LTD EC-1000 - there are a few options to choose from, all amazing." (Thanks, Rich, we've gone for the VB)
Fender American Special Series
"Aimed at the gap in the market between the American Standard and the Highway One ranges, these American Specials succeed with value and tone in abundance. Wonderful necks, great sounds and a perfect price/quality compromise…"
"Fender American Special Stratocaster. The Tele is nice too, but I went for the Strat for its versatility. I used to own a Highway One model but the Special blows it away." (From Rob via email, thanks)
"Fender American Special range come in at under a grand. If US-made Fenders are important to you I'd easily recommend one of them." (Thanks, Mark)
Fender American Standard Series
"The original Fender American Standard (introduced in 1986) and the later American Series guitars (unveiled in 2000) were always about no-nonsense gigability. The 2008-released American Standards are no different. The Tele is a great performer, especially for modern rhythm styles while the Strat is a pro-standard, modern gigging machine."
“Can't go wrong with a Standard American Strat.” (Thanks, DClewes)
“US Standard Telecaster for sheer versatility with great tone, a fine neck and flawless finish.” (Thanks, andrewrg)
"Fender American Standard Telecaster. Plays great, looks great and sounds great!" (From Adrien via Facebook, thanks)
“As an American Strat owner I'd have to recommend that.” (thanks, bbcoz)
“Fantastic guitar, a genuine improvement on the previous model, and new case… wow!” (Thanks, MATTRIX)
“It's a great new spin on a classic.” (Thanks, tentacle)
Fender Classic Player Series
“To run your hands over a Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt guitar is an almost religious experience, and the idea behind the Classic Player Series was to try and bring some of this magic to the mid-price market. In fact, the tone, vibe and feel of these Mexican-made guitars are so good we’d recommend a Classic Player, even if you can afford the Custom equivalent!”
FULL REVIEW: Fender Classic Player '50s Stratocaster
FULL REVIEW: Fender Classic Player '60s Stratocaster
FULL REVIEW: Fender Classic Player Baja Telecaster
FULL REVIEW: Fender Classic Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe
“Classic Player ‘60s Strat simply for the very friendly neck and fabulous Custom Shop '69 pickups.” (Thanks, andrewrg)
“In the Strat realm, Fender Classic Player '50s Stratocaster - easy playabilty, great pickups, maple board with two-tone sunburst is just so damn good looking.” (From Gordon via email, thanks)
“…any of the Classic Player range of Strats are excellent value for money.” (thanks, bbcoz)
“The Classic Player ‘50s is a really fantastic guitar - the 'V' neck is very comfortable, nice finishing, and I love those vintage tuners. And most importantly, it sounds superb... you've got to own one.” (Thanks, marxx987)
“The Classic Player ‘60s is the first Strat of many which have passed through my hands that I can honestly say I can truly get on with. The neck is a great shape and the flatter radius board and big frets make for a very slinky playing experience.” (Thanks, andrewrg)
“I love my Baja Tele. Great sounds and sustain to make Orville Gibson weep. No doubt due to it's tree-trunk-thick neck. Brilliant contrasting pickups that compliment each other in all but the out of phase settings. Heavy as a truck on your big toe guitar that feels solid enough to survive the apocalypse.” (Thanks, nickredstrat)
“The Baja Tele is an awesome guitar for the money. The neck is fantastic. 10/10.” (Thanks, Fenderfreak)
“Brilliantly built, awesome semi-glazed neck, excellent width of neck, S-1 switch gives it a total of 6 different sounds, clean sound is brilliant - vibrant, snappy. I play indie music and it is excellent for it, cant rave about the Baja Tele any more.” (Thanks, sam.)
Next: Fender Road Worn Series
Fender Road Worn Series
"Vintage Fenders have to be among the most lusted after instruments for any guitar player. So these Mexican Relics with authentic looks, feel and vibe; balanced vintage-y tones and improved playability for a third of the price really are no-brainers. Take your pick…"
"Fender Road Worn ‘50s Stratocaster – sound, look, feel, authenticity, all amazing. Best $950 I have ever spent!” (From Blake via email, thanks)
“I can't explain how natural the guitar feels. I've never played a true vintage Strat so I can't compare but this guitar feels vintage and she sounds hot. I find myself ripping blues riffs and jamming out to tunes I grew up with. My guess is that with the hotter pickups, the five-way switching and the fact that I can play this guitar without fear of damaging an investment, make this a better guitar than the one it’s modelled after. Its appearance is so convincing that I find myself wondering how a specific chip or scratch came about as if were actually 40 something years old!” (Thanks, shupe13)
"I love the Road Worn Series because they look cool as hell and they play amazingly for Mexican-made models. Get one!" (Thanks, Steve)
G&L Tribute Series ASAT Classic Bluesboy Semi-Hollow
"Tribute may be G&L’s Far Eastern ‘budget’ range, but don’t be fooled into thinking that there is any shortage of quality. In terms of build and performance, this modern thinline Tele-style electric is a real gem."
“The G&L Tribute ASAT Special Semi-Hollow. The tone is amazing for the price. It looks absolutely beautiful and it is extremely light. Stays in tune… it’s a diamond in the rough in today’s guitar market. Check one out if you can! I am very pleased to say that I've had mine for a year and half and I’m still in love with it.” (Thanks, delizio37, we’ve gone for the Classic Bluesboy)
"+1 for G&L Guitars." (Thanks, Mick)
Next: Gibson Les Paul Junior
Gibson Les Paul Junior
"The Les Paul Junior more than captures the vibe of the real thing. With a great neck shape, good weight and gutsy, if somewhat brasher than the original, P-90 performance. If you’re into raw rock power, whatever the genre, it’s a great and affordable place to kick off."
"Couldn't see any votes for the humble Les Paul Junior so here's mine: they're great! Reliable and not too expensive. Great for gigging. (From Peter via email, thanks)
Next: Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Les Paul Studio
“A no-thrills LP, adopted by plenty of aspiring stars with a longing for a genuine Gibson, but unable to afford a Les Paul Standard. With features including a carved maple top, solid mahogany back and Gibson humbuckers, it’s obvious why the Studio has remained a fantastic, affordable alternative.”
“I'll plump for my Gibson Les Paul Studio. It's a genuine Gibson that sings without the bling!” (Thanks, Pinky_Floyd)
"Another vote for the LP Studio. Fantastic guitars." (Thanks, Ben)
Next: Gibson SG Special
Gibson SG Special
"A USA-made Gibson that excels in every department and - considering the attainable price - has to be a worthy contender for any serious guitarist. Superb playability, amazing sounds and beautifully finished. It’s also available in myriad finishes, including the none-more-black Gothic II model."
FULL REVIEW: Gibson SG Special Gothic II
"What, no love for Gibson SG? The SG Special comes in under budget and is a cracking axe for loads of different styles." (From Tristian via email, thanks)
Next: Gordon-Smith GS2
"The GS2 boasts a slim double cutaway body, mahogany neck, 22-fret rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and GSG coil-split humbuckers. If you want an affordable, British-made, versatile electric with character in spades, look no further."
“Let's have a shout for Gordon-Smith guitars – British-made, hand-crafted and usually in this price range. Something with a bit more character than a lot of the mass-produced stuff we get for a similar price.” (Thanks, AJM)
"Gordon-Smith GS2 for best sub-£1000 guitar." (From Julian via Facebook, thanks)
“Gordon-Smith GS2. Silky smooth and so tonally versatile. A snip at under £600.” (Thanks, mctoot)
“+1 for Gordon-Smith.” (Thanks, SynySter_SlaSh)
“Another vote for Gordon-Smith guitars. All of their guitars are great but my personal favourite is the Graduate Thinline.” (Thanks, relic245, we’re sticking with the GS2, though)
Next: Ibanez JS100
"Joe Satriani’s hugely popular signature line of Ibanez electrics are touted as ‘an extension of his playing’. And with good reason: the neck and bridge coil taps, low profile Edge III vibrato and tilted plate neck joint on the JS100 mean you can look and sound like Satch without necessarily sharing the same shred chops."
"Ibanez JS100." (Thanks, Will)
Next: Ibanez RG1550M Prestige
Ibanez RG1550M Prestige
"The ultra thin, ultra flat Wizard neck and V7, S1 and V8 (neck, middle and bridge) pickup combination make the Japanese-made RG1550M Prestige a metaller's dream. Also available in 7- and 8-string versions, of course…"
“The Ibanez RG350EX is quite cheap and very, VERY nice. I've owned one for about a year and a half now so I know they're great guitars.” (Thanks, BucketheadRules, we’ve gone for the RG1550M Prestige)
"... or the Ibanez RG1550M Prestige." (Thanks, Will)
PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow
"PRS’s SE Custom Semi-Hollow instantly gives you classy PRS looks with masses of vibe and fabulous build quality, all in a compact package that’s a sniff under £700 and much cheaper on the street. Here’s a guitar that might feel like a solidbody but really works like a good semi. This isn’t an easy feat to achieve, but it’s proof that PRS’s SE line is about more than just building affordable versions of its USA guitars - this one is unique."
“PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow, sounds amazing, so light, this one is really top quality… £429 you can't go wrong.” (Thanks, jc_x_c)
“PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow soapbars.” (Thanks, ddlooping)
“PRS and Parker make the most classy high end guitars, with such good tone and playability. They're very versatile too, not sticking to one particular genre.” (Thanks, Calvinios)
Next: PRS SE Singlecut Korina
PRS SE Singlecut Korina
"The Korina is a highly affordable PRS that recalls the resonance and life of guitars from yesteryear at a snip of the price of a US model. But it's not just the price that's attractive: not only is this a finely made, simple guitar that's light in weight and highly resonant but, plugged in, it will change your opinion of supposed 'low-end' guitars."
FULL REVIEW: PRS SE Singlecut Korina
"PRS SE Singlecut Korina. I love this guitar!" (Thanks, Phil)
"Anything from the PRS SE range. (Thanks, James, we've gone for the Singlecut Korina)
BUY: PRS SE Singlecut Korina currently available from Thomann
Schecter C-1 Classic
"Schecter is another familiar name that has its roots in the custom-building guitar scene of '70s California. However, the company prides itself on quality without the custom price tag, and the C-1 Classic is no exception: mahogany body, quilted maple top and a pair of Seymour Duncan pickups (JB bridge, ’59 neck) make it a solid and satisfying investment."
"The Schecter C1 Classic for greatest electric guitar." (From @05wa1d via Twitter, thanks)
“Schecter guitars in general e.g. C-1 Classic £799.” (Thanks, djsaysauce)
Next: Washburn WV40V Pro E
Washburn WV40V Pro E
"We really have to raise our collective hats to Washburn’s WV40V. Not only does it look amazing, it’s capable of magnificent tone. And let’s not forget that, for just £689, you get an original Floyd Rose and a shaped gigbag - value for sure. Okay, so you can’t really play it in a seated position, but you’ll soon forget about that when you plug it in."
"If you're looking for Floyd Rose power I'd go for the Washburn WV40V Pro E. Just look at it!" (Thanks, Gian, we are!)
Yamaha SA503 Troy Van Leeuwen Signature
"The SA503 Troy Van Leeuwen Signature is an ES-335-inspired semi-acoustic, and is one of the most retro-looking, 'quirky' instruments that Yamaha has produced in some years. A tidily-made guitar - albeit a damn heavy one - that feels robust, sounds very good and has serious stage work written all over it."
FULL REVIEW: Yamaha SA503 Troy Van Leeuwen Signature
"Yamaha Troy Van Leeuan Signature. Yamaha make some great guitars but this is my favourite. Better than my old Epiphone 335, too." (From Tom via email, thanks)
Liked this? Now read: 22 badass electric guitars under £400
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