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Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Justin Thomas

Author: Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover.

Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music.

Whenever Santiago is not pouring all that experience and love for the instrument into articles, you can find him playing live shows supporting his music and poetry books as “Sandel”. If he’s not doing either of those, you can also find him gigging with his band, “San Juan”, writing, reading, or enjoying the Sun.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).


The moment you make the decision to buy your first (or second, or third) electric guitar, you realize that options are virtually endless.

Yes, there’s an ocean of models, brands, specs, and options to choose from. That’s the epic “where do I start?” moment we all go through. Worry not, though, you’re in the right place to learn everything you need to make an informed decision and get the most out of every penny invested.

Looking to buy a beginner guitarist the perfect gift? Check out our “Best Gifts for Guitar Players

Quick Answer: How Much Electric Guitars Cost?

There’s an electric guitar for every player (or soon-to-be). Entry-level, beginner-oriented guitars can range from $100 to roughly $500. The $500 to $1600 price range is for intermediate players and semi-professionals. Finally, above $1600 (all the way to $6M), you can find professional, vintage, and collectible instruments.

Find out our answer to the age old question. Do expensive guitars sound better?

That was the sneak peek at the cataract of information coming your way. If you’re serious about guitar playing, your next ax is on this article.

Let’s go!

full Electric Guitar Cost rundown

Beginner Level & Cheap Electric Guitars – $130-199

photo displays looks of the 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $200

Electric guitars under $200” is a very tight business niche to look for your next ax. Yes, in this price range, guitar manufacturers fight their hardest for every buck. Moreover, some companies offer you what we call a “guitar pack” including, mostly, everything you need to get started.

What Can You Expect at This Price Point?

Entry-level guitars are guitar companies’ efforts to pack all the quality possible with an affordable price tag. Therefore, here we can find outsourced guitar manufacturing (Asian made, mostly), replicas, and cheaper versions of timeless classics.

  • Laminated bodies – Most guitars in this price range are made of several small pieces of different wood glued together. This affects tone, sustain, and resonance.
  • Generic pickups and hardware – Hardware (tuners, bridge, pots) and pickups are the departments where entry-level guitars receive the biggest budget cut. Yes, you can expect generic, mass-produced brand-less parts and accessories.
  • Outsourced manufacturing and alternative brands – At this price point, you can expect big brands (think Gibson and Fender) to outsource their production to Asia using alternative brands (think Epiphone and Squier).

Laminated Bodies on electric guitars? “Back in 2015 when I was working for the Fender dealer in Buenos Aires, we put a black light to the body of a Squier Affinity and counted six parts. Moreover, even some of the Mexican guitars are made with two slabs glued in the middle. Here’s a little more info on that with some pictures. “

Santiago Motto

Here are my favorite picks for $130-200:

*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

GuitarBody StylePickupsPriceCheck Todays Price
EASTROCK 39-inch Full-Size Electric Guitar KitStratocasterHSS – 1 Eastrock Humbucker & 2 Eastrock Single-CoilsUnder $180Amazon*
Squier Sonic Mustang HHMustangHH – 2 Squier Humbucker$199SweetwaterThomann
Jackson JS Series RR Minion JS1XFlying VHH – 2
Jackson High-Output Humbucker
$189SweetwaterThomann
Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA Read The Full ReviewModern StratocasterHH – 2
Jackson High-Output Humbucker
$199SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez Gio GRX70QA Read The Full ReviewModern StratocasterHSH – Infinity R (H) bridge pickup, Infinity RS (S) middle pickup, Infinity R (H) neck pickup$199SweetwaterThomann
Squier Bullet Strat HTStratocasterSSS- 3 x Standard Strat Single-coil$199SweetwaterThomann
Squier Sonic TelecasterTelecasterSS – 2 x Squier Ceramic Tele Single-coil$199SweetwaterThomann
Epiphone SG Special Satin E1SGHH – 650R Ceramic-8 Humbucker
& 700T Ceramic-8 Humbucker
$199SweetwaterThomann
Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1Les PaulHH – 650R Humbucker
& 700T Humbucker
$199Sweetwater

Note that these prices can vary from time to time.


Budget & Low Mid-Range Electric Guitars – $200-399

Although at this price guitar packs are still available, this category packs what we call “the top edge” of the entry-level category. Here, bigger brands can fit some of the qualities that make them the most sought-after guitars in the world.

What Can You Expect at This Price Point?

With this price category, we’re duplicating the budget we used to begin this guitar rundown. Does this mean we can expect guitars to sound twice as good? Well, here’s what you can expect from these affordable guitars.

  • Laminated bodies – Although we’ve moved up in the budget, it’s very rare to find guitars made of a single piece of wood. This includes hollow and semi-hollow guitars.
  • Amps in bundle – An electric guitar needs an amp to be more fun; therefore, you’re going to have to buy one sooner or later. In this price range, you can expect certain bundles to include an amplifier.
  • High value – Even though these guitars are not professional-level instruments, you can still expect to find durable and good-sounding electric guitars that offer high value for the money
  • Bigger variety – Within the first price range, we listed guitars that are mass-produced and appeal to the general audience. Here, we can expect guitars to be more specific like metal-oriented Jackson Flying Vs and rockabilly-friendly hollow-body Gretsch guitars.

Here are my favorite picks for $200-400:

GuitarBody StylePickupsPriceCheck Todays Price
Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica – Read The Full ReviewModern StratocasterHSS – 1 x Alnico Humbucker 2 x Alnico Single-coil$309SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez RG421PBIbanez RG421PBHH – 2 x Quantum Ceramic Humbucker$399SweetwaterThomann
Gretsch G2420 StreamlinerSingle-Cut HollowbodyHH – 2 x Broad’Tron BT-2S Humbucker$399Sweetwater
Epiphone Les Paul Studio E1Les PaulHH – 650R Zebra Ceramic Humbucker & 700T Zebra Ceramic Humbucker$269SweetwaterThomann
Jackson Rhoads JS32TFlying VHH – 2 x Jackson High-output Humbucker$329SweetwaterThomann
Jackson Dinky JS32Q DKA – Cheap Electric Guitar With Floyd RoseModern StratocasterHH – 2 x Jackson High-output Humbucker$399SweetwaterThomann
Squier Affinity Series Telecaster DeluxeTelecasterHH – 2 x Fender Ceramic Humbucker$279SweetwaterThomann
Squier Affinity Stratocaster Essentials Bundle – More Great Electric Guitar Packs HereStratocasterSSS – 3 x Squier Ceramic Single-coil$289SweetwaterThomann
Squier Sonic Telecaster Electric Guitar and Fender Amp BundleTelecasterSS – 2 x Squier Ceramic Tele Single-coil$309Sweetwater

Intermediate Level & Mid-Range Electric Guitars – $400-999

This is the price range that allows for some luxury and guitar brands to start showing their true colors. Yes, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great entry-level guitars but in this price range, things start getting more serious with specific guitars, specs, shapes, and colors.

What Can You Expect at This Price Point?

Although there’s a big difference between a $500 and a $900 guitar, all the axes we chose for this category are the best you can purchase in this tight, competitive niche. Let’s see what some of the characteristics you can expect from these guitars are.

  • Factory accessories – Let’s accept it; we all love freebies! Well, in this price range, you can expect factory accessories such as dedicated gig bags.
  • Outsourced original brands – This is the price range in which big guitar brands like Fender, PRS, or even Charvel label their guitars with their own logo. That being said, production is still mostly outsourced to Mexico or Asia.
  • Stage-ready instruments – Although you can overhaul virtually any guitar to make it stage-ready, instruments in this category are made to take you from amateur to star. For example, you can watch Jared James Nichols explain he played 308 dates touring the world with a single guitar that fits this price range.

Here are my favorite picks for $400-900:

GuitarBody StylePickupsPriceCheck Todays Price
Gretsch G5420T-140Single-Cut HollowbodyHH – 2 x FT-5E Filter’Tron Humbucker$899SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez Standard RGD7521PBModern StratocasterHH – 2 x DiMarzio PAF7 Humbucker$899SweetwaterThomann
Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS20Revstar Double-CutHH – VH5n Alnico V Humbucker
& VH5b Alnico V Humbucker
$799SweetwaterThomann
Epiphone Les Paul Standard ’60sLes PulHH – ProBucker-2 Humbuckerm& ProBucker-3 Humbucker$899SweetwaterThomann
D’Angelico Premier DCDouble-Cut Semi-hollowbodyHH – Seymour Duncan Designed HB-102N Humbucker & Seymour Duncan Designed HB-101B Humbucker$899SweetwaterThomann
PRS SE Silver SkyStratocasterSSS – 3 x PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil$849SweetwaterThomann
PRS SE Custom 24PRS Double-CutHH – 2x PRS 85/15 “S” Humbucker$949SweetwaterThomann
Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1Modern StratocasterHH – Seymour Duncan SH1N ’59 Humbucker & Seymour Duncan JB TB4 Humbucker$999SweetwaterThomann
Fender Player StratocasterStratocasterSSS – 3 x Player Series Alnico V Strat Single-coil$849SweetwaterThomann

Advanced Level & High Mid-Range Electric Guitars – $1000-1600

If you are, for example, a proficient or professional acoustic player and need an electric to match your acoustic rig, this is the category you should be looking at. Yes, in this price range, you’ll find guitars that, with proper care, can accompany you for a lifetime. 

What Can You Expect at This Price Point?

This is the perfect price point for big brands to present their flagship models and bestsellers. For example, most “Standard” versions of classics and best-selling models by the biggest names in the industry have a representative in this category.

  • More case candy and accessories – The expression itself says it: “case candy” refers to the freebies, gifts, and cool stuff you find inside a guitar’s case upon purchase. In this price category, expect hardshell cases and case candy.
  • Made in USA tags – Some of the big brands in the world introduce, in this price range, the models that took them to worldwide fame. For example, the Performer Series by Fender (former American Standard) and the S2 series by PRS.
  • Top-notch accessories and hardware – Hardware is, perhaps, the biggest indicator of a price category. In this price range, you can expect branded pickups (Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, EMG, etc.) and top-notch hardware including original tremolos, locking tuners, and CTS pots.

Here are my favorite picks for $900-1600:

GuitarBody StylePickupsPriceCheck Todays Price
Guild Starfire IV 12-ST – 12 StringDouble-Cut Semi-hollowbodyHH – 2 x LB-1 Little Bucker Humbucker$1499Sweetwater
ESP LTD James Hetfield Iron CrossLes PaulHH – 2 x EMG JH Set Humbucker$1599SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez Steve Vai Signature JEM77Modern StratocasterHSH – 1 x DiMarzio Evolution Single-Coil
& 2 x DiMarzio Gravity Storm Humbucker
$1599SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez John Scofield Signature JSM10Double-Cut
Semi-hollowbody
HH – 2 x Super 58 Alnico Humbucker$1199SweetwaterThomann
Gretsch G5191Single-Cut HollowbodyHH – 2 x “Blacktop” Filter’Tron Humbucker$1599SweetwaterThomann
Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2Modern StratocasterHH – Seymour Duncan 59 SH-1 Humbucker
& Seymour Duncan JB TB-4 Humbucker
$1299Sweetwater
Gibson SG Standard TributeSGHH – 490R Humbucker & 490T Humbucker$1299SweetwaterThomann
Fender American Performer StratocasterStratocasterHSS – 1 x Performer DoubleTap Humbucker & 2 x Yosemite Strat Single-coil$1449SweetwaterThomann
PRS S2 Satin Standard 22PRS Double-CutHH – 58/15 “S” Bass Humbucker
& 58/15 “S” Treble Humbucker
$1449Sweetwater

Premium & High-End Electric Guitars – $1600-

There is no top value for guitars in this price range, therefore, we can talk about those guitars designed to grow the reputation of the big names in guitar, sparing no expenses. What do I mean by that? Well, this is the category that allows brands to give it all and use their best craftsmen and the best materials to create the best-sounding instruments on the planet.

What Can You Expect at This Price Point?

At this price point, you can expect instruments that are ready to take over the world by sounding as good as the brand can make them sound. Also, you can expect original parts (like Floyd Rose Tremolos), exotic woods, amazing tones, and perfect craftsmanship.

  • Premium tonewoods – Tonewoods are, perhaps, the most important ingredient when manufacturing an electric guitar. In this price range, you can come across flame maple, original rosewood, mahogany, koa, ebony, and other precious, sought-after woods in the market.
  • Custom Shop pieces – Guitar companies have created, in the past two decades, smaller shops inside their bigger operations to make guitar dreams come true. So, in this price range, you can find the finest craftsmen in the world working with premium woods and accessories to create one-of-a-kind and top-notch instruments. Here’s a sneak peek at Fender’s and Gibson’s.
  • Innovation in tone – Brands like Ibanez, Gibson, Fender, and PRS to name a few, utilize this price range to offer specific tone innovations to their customers. This was, for example, one of the biggest criticisms of the Gibson brand during the innovating period they went through with their Les Paul Standard model for decades. Finally, a great example of continuous innovation is Steve Vai’s signature guitar which has been the research laboratory for many of Ibanez’s groundbreaking innovations for the past two decades.

Here are my favorite picks for $1600:

GuitarBody StylePickupsPriceCheck Todays Price
Ibanez Pat Metheny Signature PM200Single-Cut Hollowbody1 Silent 58 Humbucker$3599SweetwaterThomann
Gretsch G6136T-59GE Vintage Select 1959 FalconSingle-Cut HollowbodyHH – 2 x TV Jones Classic Humbucker$3999SweetwaterThomann
Jackson USA Signature Phil Collen PC1Modern StratocasterHSSustainer – Jackson PC1 Sustainer Driver
& DiMarzio HS-2 DP116 Single-coil
& DiMarzio DP-152-F Humbucker
$4899SweetwaterThomann
Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature JS2GDJoe Satriani SignatureHHH – 2 x DiMarzio Satch Track Humbucker & 1 x DiMarzio FRED Humbucker$5799SweetwaterThomann
PRS Silver Sky (John Mayer)Modern StratocasterSSS – 3 x 635JM Single-coil$2749SweetwaterThomann
Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60sLes PaulHH – 2 x Gibson 60s Burstbucker Humbucker$2999SweetwaterThomann
Fender American Vintage II 1961 StratocasterStratocasterSSS – 3 x Pure Vintage ’61 Single-coil Strat$2099SweetwaterThomann
Epiphone USA CasinoDouble-Cut HollowbodySS – 2 x Gibson USA P-90 Dogear Single-coil$3499SweetwaterThomann
PRS Custom 24PRS Double-CutHH – 85/15 Bass Humbucker
& 85/15 Treble Humbucker
$5320SweetwaterThomann

What Makes-Up Electric Guitars Price?

Now that we’ve seen some of the different guitars that can fit in these price ranges, it’s time to address what weight each of these aspects of an electric guitar has in the instrument’s final price.

Tonewoods

displays mahogany wood and reveals how it can affect the sound of electric guitar
Mahogany is a really popular wood in metal-oriented electric guitars.

Tonewoods are the main element to think of guitar’s looks, weight, and acoustic sound. Yes, the way wood vibrates and the specific tones it can create make your instrument’s tonal palette. For example, an ash body and a mahogany body will sound very different, even when carved to the same shape.

Nowadays, classic tonewoods are scarce, hence their price has gone up. On the other hand, some woods like basswood and poplar are cheap and that’äs why they are frequently used in cheap electric guitars.

It should be noted that woods have a minimal impact on the sound of an electric guitar when it’s plugged in. Pickups, strings, nuts, and bridges have a bigger impact on the sound of an electric guitar. Learn more about electric guitar tonewoods here and learn how pickups work here.

Manufacturing Facility 

Most of us know that when a guitar has a label that says, “Made in China” or another Asian country (except Japan), quality and price should be lower than when it says, “Made in the USA”, for example.

Well, the manufacturing facility involves salaries, training time, expertise, manufacturing tools, and tradition. So, when you pay extra for a USA-made guitar, you’re also paying for the experience and expertise of the manufacturer’s staff. This should result in a better-sounding, more reliable instrument.

Manufacturing techniques

displays Gibson Guitar Factory Memphis

Let’s take Gibson as an example here. Maybe you already know, but Gibson has been investing heavily in PLEK machines since the early 2000s. Nowadays, every Gibson guitar goes through one of these machines which make the most perfect fretboards possible. On the other hand, if you buy an Epiphone, you don’t get such treatment. This difference is part of what makes the price between Epiphones and Gibsons very different.

The same applies to other manufacturers as well, some have invested more heavily in the equipment, workers, or in research and this can affect the final price of a guitar.

Finish

Painting a guitar with polyurethane or nitrocellulose can make a world of difference in playing experience and looks. 

While nitrocellulose is thinner and tends to chip off easier, it also allows the guitar wood and tone to breathe. Moreover, besides being more expensive, and difficult to apply, nitrocellulose is also more fragile and changes colors with time. Despite all of that, most high-end guitars are painted using nitrocellulose. Doing it with polyurethane would be a move toward killing the guitar’s natural tone. 

Find nitro-finish friendly guitar stands here.

On the other side of the spectrum, in the case you are playing a laminated guitar, it’ll probably have a polyurethane finish since the wood underneath isn’t particularly resonant or musical. Plus, it’s cheaper from a manufacturer’s point of view because it’s applied and dries faster.

This difference also adds to the final price of the guitar.

Hardware & Accessories

displays a Hardtail bridge
Bridge affects the price of an electric guitar.

Finally, a category that makes much of a guitar’s price is hardware and accessories. 

To begin with, pickups make a big difference in electric guitars because they color tone, define gain, and can generate all kinds of sweet or awful noises.

Also, accessories such as

  • pots,
  • tuners,
  • nut,
  • bridge,
  • frets,
  • and even strap pin buttons affect the price of an electric guitar.

Yes, it’s not the same to buy a noisy Squier Stratocaster with a laminated body and generic parts as a Fender American Professional with noiseless pickups, locking tuners, and premium electronics.

These add up to the guitar’s final price.


FAQ

How Much Do Custom-Build Electric Guitars Cost?

Custom-built electric guitars need to be an add-up of all the parts chosen for the project plus the manufacturing cost. For example, you can have a pine-and-maple Stratocaster built or a mahogany-and-flame-maple Les Paul built, and prices will be very different regardless of who’s the builder.

Usually, custom-built guitars are top-end instruments and belong to our highest-price category +$1600).

How Much Does a Good Electric Guitar Cost?

A good electric guitar that can take you around the world and back can be found close to the $500 – $900 category. Moreover, a good electric guitar in that price range can easily become a lifelong companion.

Do Cheap Electric Guitar Sound Bad?

Cheap electric guitars sound bad only when compared to high-end instruments. This is important to bear in mind because an absolute beginner will have a blast learning and playing with a $200 guitar that would hurt my ears and fingers after playing guitar for almost three decades.

So, yes, cheap electric guitars tend to sound bad and be unreliable, but only if you’ve played more expensive ones.

Is it Worth It to Buy a Cheap Electric Guitar?

Whatever gets you playing is worth buying. This means that, if you have the budget for the cheapest Squier Telecaster but that means starting today instead of saving another year to buy a real Fender, I say go for it.

Furthermore, you’ll only learn to appreciate and get pleasure from playing a high-end instrument when you work your way to that category by playing entry-level guitars for a while. 

Are Cheap Electric Guitars Harder to Play?

The answer to this question is yes because the final setup, quality of the accessories (such as tuners), and the drying of the wood (which translates into tuning stability) make up the guitar’s price. Therefore, more affordable, cheaper guitars tend to be harder to play out of the box.

How Can You Make a Cheap Electric Guitar Sound Better?

There are plenty of ways to do so, my top 4 are these:
-Replace the factory pickups.
-Change the bridge saddles.
-Get good strings.
-Have it professionally set up.

Those four steps will make your guitar sound and play better.

How Much Does an Electric Guitar with An Amp Cost?

You can find bundles and packages offering an amp with a guitar and some accessories in our $200 to $400 category. If you buy them separately, you’ll spend a little more, but it shouldn’t be over $500 for an entry-level combo.

Do Hollow-body Guitars Cost More Than Solid-body Electric Guitars?

Hollow-body guitars require a different manufacturing process than solid-body guitars do. This has two effects:

-On one hand, the manual aspect of the manufacturing process for hollow and semi-hollow body guitars makes them more expensive. 
-On the other hand, most hollow and semi-hollow body guitars are made with laminated maple, which is much more affordable than, let’s say, a slab of mahogany.

While it’s true that you can’t buy a hollow-body guitar in the cheapest category, you can find high-end solid and hollow-body guitars at similar price points.

How Much Should Beginners Pay for an Electric Guitar?

Beginners will find plenty of good options under $400.

Is it OK to Buy an Expensive Electric Guitar as a Beginner?

Although playing an expensive guitar is always a pleasure and they sound and play better than entry-level ones, you need to have a trained set of ears and hands to really enjoy that difference. In other words, you can buy an expensive guitar to get started, but you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve played entry-level guitars before.

Do Electric Guitars Hold Their Value?

Let me answer this question by saying that the Holy Grail of guitars is a solid body we all know as the ’59 Les Paul. Those can go for 6 or 7 figures, depending on their state. But beyond that, the most expensive guitars ever sold are all from the golden era of guitar manufacturing, the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s. Those are great years to make an investment.

Finally, a caveat; guitars only hold their value if they were manufactured to last (not entry-level instruments). It’s like wine, good wine is more expensive as time goes by but cheap wine gets even cheaper with time. 


Conclusion

There’s a guitar model with a price tag for each guitarist or soon-to-be guitarist. Yes, the number of options in each price range is mesmerizing, to say the least. 

We went the extra mile and found the best electric guitars in each price range so you can make an informed decision regardless of your budget.

If you’re serious about playing guitar, your next guitar is on our list.

Happy (electric guitar) playing!


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Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Pure Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover. Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music. You can connect with Santiago on LinkedIn or just email him.
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