So you’re comfortable with the fundamentals and are ready to hop onto the next stage. And by that, we mean spring for a new guitar that doesn’t scream, “I’m a beginner.”
In this list of the best electric guitars under $1,000, we’ve focused on three qualities: instruments that are geared towards a certain style of playing, have high-quality or after-market components, and are more responsive and nuanced.
An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound can be shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities, often making it quite different than an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and “overdrive”; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.
- 1 1.Fender Vintera 50s Stratocaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 2 2.Sterling by Music Man JP160 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 3 3.Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 4 4.Jackson X Series Marty Friedman MF-1 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 4.0.1 The Marty Friedman MF-1 is an axe that’s effortlessly cool. With its sleek monochrome palette and razor-sharp single-cut body, it’s difficult to take a bad photo of the MF-1. It comes as no surprise then that aesthetics were a major concern for Marty Friedman when he was developing the MF-1 with Jackson.
- 5 5.Reverend Jetstream 390 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 6 6.Fender Jim Root Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 7 FAQs
- 7.1 Should I learn on an electric guitar or acoustic?
- 7.2 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
- 7.3 What strings do I need?
- 7.4 Electric Guitar Strings
- 7.5 Acoustic Guitar Strings
- 7.6 Do I need other equipment to get started?
- 7.7 How is a guitar tuned?
- 7.8 What’s the difference between barre chords and open chords?
- 7.9 Are my fingers supposed to hurt?
- 7.10 How do I get the most out of my practice time?
- 7.11 What’s the most common beginner’s pitfall?
1.Fender Vintera 50s Stratocaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
Fender’s much-talked about Vintera series for 2019 offers tremendous value for the quality it delivers. So it’s no surprise that the ’50s Stratocaster is only one of three Vintera guitars that have made this list. But first, let’s take a look at why this S-type is a serious contender when it comes to the best electric guitars under $1,000.
The ’50s Stratocaster is one of our favourite Strats at the moment simply because it just oozes old-school cool. From its three vintage-style 50s Strat single-coil pickups to its period-correct Soft V neck profile to its vintage-leaning frets and tremolo system, this guitar looks, sounds and feels the part.
Where tone is concerned, the ’50s Stratocaster delivers a tremendously forward lead tone in the neck. Switching over to bridge, however, will give you brighter and twangier tones. Combine these with a six-point vintage-leaning tremolo and you have a rock ’n’ roll-ready axe that’ll only set you back $900.
2.Sterling by Music Man JP160 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
If you’re done learning the scales and are looking for a Super Strat to start shredding, the Sterling by Music Man JP160 might just be your best bet. Designed in collaboration with guitar god John Petrucci himself, best electric guitar under 1000 will fulfil your need for speed. Look elsewhere though, if high-octane riffs are not your thing.
The most notable design feature on the guitar is the forearm scoop on the mahogany body. We don’t need to tell you that shredding takes hours upon hours of practice – this ergonomic design will make that slightly more bearable. The fast roasted hard maple neck and 16-inch-radius rosewood fingerboard are also geared for blistering fretwork.
For electronics, the JP160 best electric guitar under 1000 features a pair of hot humbuckers that sound great whether clean or distorted. A volume and tone knob and a three-way pup selector govern the guitar’s sound, so dialling in your desired setting won’t take very long. There’s also an active boost, attached to the volume control, that offers an additional 12 dB of gain.
3.Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
If you can’t be dissuaded to try anything other than a Telecaster, then your best electric guitar under $1,000 is the Fender Vintera 50s Telecaster. Arguably the best instrument in the Vintera line-up, this best electric guitar under 1000 is a no-nonsense, vintage-leaning Tele with a superb neck.
Honing in on our favourite feature, the U-shaped maple neck – with 7.25-inch-radius fretboard – feels big, but not uncomfortably so. The shape is particularly suited to those who play with their thumbs over the top. The neck is also well-lacquered, so there’s no “stickiness”, and it blends gorgeously into the headstock.
Plugging the 50s Tele in, you’ll find the pickups deliver nothing short of pristine clarity. The constantly criticised Telecaster neck pickup excels here, delivering excellent articulation and decay. This best electric guitar under 1000 is not all chime, though. Stomping on a Tube Screamer will show you it’s equally adept at raunch. We’ll concede that the three-saddle bridge isn’t great for intonation, but for day-to-day usage, it’ll be just fine.
4.Jackson X Series Marty Friedman MF-1 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
The Marty Friedman MF-1 is an axe that’s effortlessly cool. With its sleek monochrome palette and razor-sharp single-cut body, it’s difficult to take a bad photo of the MF-1. It comes as no surprise then that aesthetics were a major concern for Marty Friedman when he was developing the MF-1 with Jackson.
Why? “Think about it: you take hundreds, if not thousands of pictures with it every year, so you want it to be something that looks good on your particular body and playing posture,” he told us in an interview. And we can’t argue. But it just so happens that the MF-1 is not just a looker – It plays brilliantly too.
This best electric guitar under 1000 has body which is made from nato, which provides similar tonal qualities to mahogany. It has a slimmer body than an LP and its lower horn is significantly carved for superb upper-fret access. In terms of tone, the passive EMGs may not appease the gain hounds, but it plays very well with effects and excels at a wide range of hard rock styles. The MF-1 also has a surprisingly versatile clean tone, with a dynamic response that’s not too far off from that of a Strat neck pup.
5.Reverend Jetstream 390 Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
If you’re considering a rock ’n’ roll offset guitar that isn’t a Fender, the Reverend Jetstream 390 is for you. Besides its drop-dead gorgeous retro style, the South Korea-made instrument sounds and feels fantastic. It’s great for anything from blues to surf rock, and is a solid upgrade from a beginner guitar.
Three proprietary P-90s – all alnico V pickups – are the primary elements that deliver the guitar’s brawny tone. The bridge model is slightly overwound, making it thicker and hotter than a vintage-spec’ed P-90. And the neck and middle units offer more clarity and ‘open-ness’ than your average P-90. A five-way selector switch gives you a wide palette of options, too.
The Wilkinson WVS50 IIK tremolo system best electric guitar under 1000 featured on the guitar is a great tool to learn how to use the bar. It’s a sensitive, smooth trem that’s designed to work with the pin-lock tuners and boneite nut to keep your best electric guitar under 1000 in tune while you whammy away.
Other highlights on the Jetstream 390 include: an exceedingly comfortable roasted maple neck with a 12-inch-radius maple/blackwood fretboard (depending on the finish), a solid korina body, and Reverend’s iconic Bass Contour knob. Even details such as the string tree and output jack have been carefully adjusted and improved upon. Not bad at all for a best electric guitar under $1,000.
6.Fender Jim Root Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
This signature guitar is made in collaboration with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root, and it isn’t at all like your average Tele. Fender has managed to turn a twangy rock/country best electric guitar under 1000 into a devilish axe that revels in molten metal.
We know: this clocks in at about $1,200. But the Jim Root Telecaster represents a big step up from, say, a Squier. The extra $200 gets you superb pickups, solid hardware and an all-round unique axe. Consider this the black sheep of the Tele family. It’s built for heavy tones, droning sustains and even some shredding, as Slipknot’s #4 will tell you.
The stars of this MIM Tele are its two active EMG humbuckers: a 60 at the neck and 81 at the bridge. These are tight, high-output pickups that shine when fed into a high-gain amp or through drive pedals. That said, the pickups are still capable of pristine, articulate cleans. And with only a single volume control and three-way selector, the guitar is as simple as they come.
Other metal-leaning specs on this axe include a mahogany body, maple neck and a 12-inch-radius ebony fingerboard. A string-through-body hardtail bridge, Fender deluxe locking tuners and that killer monochrome aesthetic round out the other notable appointments that make this guitar well worth its price tag.
Should I learn on an electric guitar or acoustic?
It all depends on your personal preference and the type of music you want to play. Electric and acoustic guitars both have unique advantages.
Best Electric Guitar Under 1000
have thinner strings and therefore are a great choice for beginners because they require less hand strength. Players with small hands might also prefer an electric for its slimmer neck, which warrants an easier grip and shorter reach.
Learning on an acoustic guitar, conversely, can often be a less costly investment because it doesn’t require additional equipment. It can also ease a future transition into electric guitar because a player’s hands will already be acclimated to heavy acoustic strings.
If you are set on an best electric guitar under 1000, Fender offers affordable guitar amplifiers at a variety of price points. Most are not only portable, but also easy to operate, making dialing in settings quite simple for newbies.
What strings do I need?
You’ll want to begin with a lighter string gauge. Lighter, thinner strings produce less tension, and for that reason are generally easier for beginners to work with. We recommend using a set of strings with a gauge of .009 inches to .042 inches, or .010 inches to .046 inches (known informally as “nines” or “10s”) for electric players. If you’re learning on an acoustic, look for a gauge of .011 inches to .052 inches (known as 11s) .
Different string materials also have unique benefits, including the tone they produce. Here’s a quick guide to buying guitar strings:
Electric Guitar Strings
Nickel strings: Clear and articulate; a versatile choice for rock, blues and jazz players
Stainless steel strings: Bright and less prone to wear; good for hard rock and metal
Acoustic Guitar Strings
80/20 Bronze: Bright and more metallic
Phosphor bronze: Dark, warm and mellow; a great choice for strummers.
Do I need other equipment to get started?
Yes. The right equipment can make all the difference in improving your technique and your tone. As you mature as a player, you can surround yourself with other tone-shaping accessories such as effects pedals, slides, etc.
But for now, here are the absolute essentials:
Nothing is as vibrant–or confusing–as the sheer volume of pick shapes, sizes, thicknesses and materials offered at a music store. As you become more familiar with your best electric guitar under 1000 you may find yourself trying out a number of picks to better accommodate your playing style. But generally speaking, plastic picks are a popular choice for their flexibility and grip. We recommend sticking to a standard size and shape, like the Fender Celluloid Pick, as a good starting point. Not to mention, the classic celluloid pick is an industry standard among many players.
As far as thickness goes, opt for a pick of medium thickness (between .73 mm–.88 mm), as it will guarantee you a solid grip without being too overwhelming to hold.
A strap is essential for stabilizing your instrument, especially if you intend to play standing up. Again, the variety of products you’ll encounter here is vast, and whatever material or design you choose is left to your discretion. However, as a beginner, comfort should be your ultimate priority. Choosing a strap that’s at least 2 inches in width, with additional padding (usually called neoprene), will help to prevent shoulder and neck pain.
Keep in mind that while electric guitars typically have two endpins on which you can attach your strap, acoustic guitars normally do not. You’ll need to purchase a strap button to secure the strap to your headstock. You can also use a shoelace or piece of string of equal density.
A cable can break your tone as quickly as it can make it, so opt for an instrument cable that’s shorter than 18.6 feet and features reinforced ends for minimal handling noise and signal loss.
You’ll be able to tune your best electric guitar under 1000 far more quickly and accurately with an electronic tuner or pitch pipe. Try a chromatic tuner, which allows you to tune in any key. Clip-on tuners, which attach to the headstock of your instrument and tune through the vibration of your strings, are a great choice for beginners because they’re portable, visible and very easy to use. And the Fender Tune app is a great tool, too, offering several tunings right on your mobile device.
How is a guitar tuned?
A guitar can be tuned a number of ways depending on the style of music being played, but for beginners, we’ll focus on basic standard tuning. If you are using a tuner with an LED display, make sure the needle is properly centered. Adjust your tuning machines accordingly if your sound falls flat or sharp.
When speaking in guitar terms, each string is numbered accordingly. The first string is the lightest string on the instrument — the one closest to the floor — whereas your sixth string is the heaviest. Beginning at the sixth string and progressing upward, the key for each string is as follows: E-A-D-G-B-E.
What’s the difference between barre chords and open chords?
You’ll start hearing both of these terms a lot as you develop your practice. Barre chords are produced by using your index finger to “fret” all six strings at once as you strum. Different chords are formed by forming different patterns with your other three fingers as you hold down the other six strings. Because a barre chord can be played in any key, you can also change keys quickly by simply moving your hand up and down the neck. New players may find it difficult to play barre chords initially because they require more hand strength and stretching.
Open chords, as the name suggests, do not require each string to be fretted, therefore leaving them “open” when strummed. As you progress as a player or develop your songwriting skills, you may opt for one over the other due to its sound. But by supplementing your play with both types of chords — especially in settings with multiple guitars — you’ll generate more full, complex and multidimensional tone.
Are my fingers supposed to hurt?
Yes, but don’t be discouraged. As a beginner, you’ll eventually improve your muscle strength in your playing arm and form calluses on your fretting hand. And yes, that dull pain and discomfort does come with the territory. Those aches are short-lived, especially if you continue to practice regularly, which is key to alleviating pain.
There are some ways to push through the pain like a pro. Again, lighter strings can help, as will lowering your string action (the distance between the fingerboard and the strings. A quick fix by a professional will shorten the amount of pressure you’ll need to exert as you press down.
How do I get the most out of my practice time?
The more you put into practicing your instrument, the more you’ll get out of it. Regular guitar practice is critical to improving your ability, even for those who are “naturals.” What’s more important, however, is proper practice. Keeping your technique in check will prevent you from forming bad habits that may sometimes take years to break.
Good posture, proper hand positioning and preventative stretching should always be considered. While it is normal to experience discomfort during your first few months of play, be mindful of tension and unnatural bending in your fingers and wrists.
Remember to take breaks. Great guitar playing doesn’t necessarily come from hours upon hours of excruciating practice. Quality is just as important as quantity. A refreshing breather every 20 minutes will keep your mind clear and enthusiasm piqued.
What’s the most common beginner’s pitfall?
Many beginners assume that technique and ability will come to them overnight. It’s this misnomer that leads to frustration and, sometimes, giving up your instrument altogether. Learning music is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a gradual learning experience that requires patience, time and true comprehension of concepts.
Racing through scales and scrutinizing every note is not what makes this craft enjoyable. Let your passion lead you. Learn at your own pace. Keep your abashed curiosity alive throughout the process. And above all else … just have fun.
Looking for more guitar knowledge? Check out our ultimate guide to your best electric guitar under 1000 and if you’re ready to learn guitar, sign up for a free trial to Fender Play.