42 of the best electric guitars under £1,000/$1,500 in the world

What is the best mid-price electric guitar? £1,000 buys you a whole lotta axe. For a grand (or roughly $1,500 US) you can buy a brand-new instrument built for life on the road that will see you through hundreds of gigs and recording sessions.

Browse the gallery to view the full selection and read full reviews of every guitar.

Here we’ve gathered a carefully curated selection of the highest-scoring guitars to hit the mid-price category in the past few years. It’s not all ‘the big two’, either – there’s a whole world of idiosyncratic designs now available outside of the high-end market.

And don’t miss…

33 of the best budget electric guitars in the world today

37 of the best high-end electric guitars under £2,000 in the world today

Fender Deluxe Series Roadhouse Stratocaster

MSRP £679

New for 2016, Fender has shown the spec sheets of its popular Mexican-built Deluxe Series Roadhouse Stratocaster model some love to create a reboot that come seriously well appointed.

The upgraded model features an alder body, sprayed in flawless gloss polyester, and bolt-on maple neck, with the option of maple and rosewood fingerboard, finished with satin polyurethane.

Keep sniffing around and you’ll find other features like the ‘Modern C’ neck profile, 22 narrow/tall frets, a contoured neck heel, synthetic bone top nut and a set of locking tuners with vintage-look buttons.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“While the Roadhouse might suggest an affinity with blues, don’t be fooled. This truly is a guitar for everyone.”

Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH FR

MSRP £709 / $849

This San Dimas echoes the Pro Mod spec sheet – Duncan pickups, neck profile and compound radius, switching arrangement – of the hardtail model, right until you get to the bridge bit itself.

Here, you get a Floyd Rose vibrato with locking top nut, with all the tuning stability and dive-bombing potential that entails. Like the equally Floyd-blessed So-Cal, here the vibrato occupies a recess in the guitar’s top to allow you to pull back its arm. That means you can do those accelerating motorbike impressions everyone with a Floyd did in the 80s.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This is a guitar which very much proves that beauty is way more than skin deep.”

PRS SE Mark Holcomb

MSRP £899 / €966 / $899

Mark Holcomb is one-third of Periphery’s guitar triumvirate and a self-confessed PRS obsessive.

Mark first began working with PRS on his signature model a few years ago and that limited-edition, USA-made model attracted enough attention to be rewarded with its very own SE equivalent, which bears a very similar spec to his pricey American counterpart, right down to Mark’s signature Seymour Duncan pickups.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“If you’re a metal player in the market for a SE Custom 24, or indeed just something that’s not too pointy, then this may well be the right fit for you.”

Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH HT

MSRP £709 / €755 / $849

Like the other two guitars from this line-up (the San Dimas 1 HH FR and the So-Cal), the Pro Mod San Dimas Style 1 HH HT features an alder body, the two-piece bolt-on maple ‘Speed Neck’ with graphite reinforcement and a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers, aka the ‘HH’ in the model name.

Charvel has spec’d the most popular rock pickup partnership of them all: the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB ‘Jazz Blues’ (aka the ‘Jeff Beck’) at the bridge and the Seymour Duncan SH-1 ’59 at the neck.

The ‘HT’ part of the San Dimas’ name signifies that this guitar is a hardtail model, in this instance teamed with a set of Charvel-branded locking tuners.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The looks will probably typecast this guitar, but it’s way more versatile than you might imagine.”

Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster

MSRP £529 / $849

The Nashville Telecaster pays tribute to Leo Fender’s first-born’s dominance of the studio session scene in Music City, Tennessee, with a guitar that promises both classic Tele and Strat sounds.

Beyond the regular alder body and slim C profile bolt-on maple neck you’d expect to find when grappling with a Telecaster, you’ll encounter some interesting upgrades.

The bridge and neck pickups are Tele items, while the middle single coil is a Strat model. All belong to Fender’s Vintage Noiseless range and come wired to a master volume, master tone and a five-way pickup selector blade switch.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Tonally, this great little guitar wears many hats, not just a Stetson.”

Godin Session Custom ’59

MSRP £849

This new Session Custom ’59 is a retro-y looking, Tele-inspired solidbody that adds a Strat vibrato, Gibson-style neck humbucker, and an offset single coil at the bridge. The real clever bit, however, is something called a High-Definition Revoicer – a clever switchable circuit that effectively turns passive pickups into active units.

If not two guitars in one, you effectively have two sets of pickups onboard. If that’s not enough, the five-way lever switch offers the standard dual pickup selections (neck, both and bridge) and adds the single coil of the neck bucker with the bridge unit in series (for a bigger, Danelectro-like sound) or standard parallel. And with a street price well below our quoted sum, which includes a tough gigbag, this is a lot of Canadian- made guitar for the money.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Without doubt, this innovative Godin is one to challenge the big boys.”

Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH FR

MSRP £709 / $899

The So-Cal defines the ‘SuperStrat’ concept as originally nailed by Eddie Van Halen in the late 70s.

That classic body shape, the Floyd Rose double-locking vibrato, the slim maple bolt-on neck with its compound radius and fat frets…

It all adds up to shredder heaven. The guitar’s thick single-ply scratchplate comes loaded with a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers, a TB-6 Distortion in the bridge position and a SH-6N Distortion at the neck. These are wired through a volume control with push/pull action to split the pickups’ coils, the aforementioned No-Load tone pot and a three-way pickup selector blade switch.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This Charvel, as Bill and Ted might say, is most triumphant.”

Guild Starfire II

MSRP £615 / $1010

The Starfire II isn’t a slavish vintage replica and comes without the fingerboard binding of the existing III, no pickguard or case, and just this natural gloss finish. Now, if that whiffs of penny pinching, don’t worry: all the important bits are present and correct, and it costs £184 less.

The Starfire II is a 419mm (16.5-inch) wide hollow body with a thinline depth (48mm at the rim) and single ‘Florentine’ cutaway. While it doesn’t have a full centre block, there is a large-ish block that connects top to back and is used to mount the tune-o-matic-style bridge and stud tailpiece – it’s not vintage-specific, but should add a little more solidity and sustain to the sound.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This guitar is a class act that’s light in weight but balanced on your strap, and with a resonance and vibe that’s heaven-sent.”

Fret-King JJ John Jorgenson

MSRP £799 / €835

With a standard pickup configuration it would have been quite a guitar, but the ‘JJ’ has a few tricks up its sleeve in the form of two ‘ghost’ or dummy coils under the scratchplate that provide hum-cancelling but still retain a true single-coil sound – that was John Jorgenson’s request, because he still wanted the standard single-coil tonality.

You switch between the two via a push-push switch on the tone control. Secondly, we have Trev Wilkinson’s ‘Vari-coil’ control, placed like a master volume on the tip of the lower horn. Typically, this moves from single coil to dual coil, for example, on a humbucker. Here, it only works on the bridge pickup, which is a single coil.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This guitar is the very essence of Fret-King and one, if not the best, we’ve played to date.”

PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Soapbar

MSRP £795 / €999 / $749

The 277 semi is a handsome beast, featuring that classic PRS silhouette with a flame maple veneer. The PRS bridge is a tidy string-through construction that’s not only comfortable on the palm but anchors the guitar with a sense of stability.

The 277 refers to its 27.7-inch scale length, and in terms of playability, it’s easy to get to grips with, as a provider of low-end grunt and rhythm that also waves you on to the top of the fretboard.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The PRS SE 277 is a classy proposition, fantastically playable and looks superb.”

PRS S2 Standard Singlecut Satin

MSRP £999 / €1439 / $1049

Along with the dot-only fingerboard inlays, this Satin Singlecut looks very workmanlike, but the build and parts still deliver the goods. The body is one-piece mahogany, the neck three-piece.

The bridge is the USA Stoptail, the locking tuners, like the pickups, made in Korea to PRS specs. The pattern regular neck is a nice mainstream handful, and setup and intonation are, as ever, top-drawer.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Clean, low, medium or high-gain, this one’s a banker: the most rock-out, resonant blue-collar PRS we’ve ever played.”

Epiphone Gary Clark Jr Blak & Blu Casino

MSRP £649 / $1415

Epiphone clearly knows when it’s on to a winner, as the company has wasted no time producing a signature model, the Gary Clark Jr ‘Blak & Blu’ Casino, which is available in both our featured Bigsby version or with a trapeze tailpiece, which retails at £619.

In its Blueburst hue – a dark blue ‘bursted top with black sides, back and neck – it’s far from traditional, but that suits our man to a tee.

Unlike the other Chinese-made Casinos currently offered by Epiphone, this one comes without a pickguard and with Gibson USA P-90s housed under their metal covers. And, colour aside, there are no signatures to put you off if you don’t like the artist. This is simply a very cool, unusual guitar.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This is one classy package – steeped in heritage, a choice of vibrato or trapeze versions, not to mention aggressive on-the-street pricing, this is a compelling offering.”

Hagstrom Pat Smear Signature Electric

£675 / $1,099

What you get is a mash-up body shape of Foos/Germs man Pat Smear’s HIIN and the modern Hagstrom double-cut, the F200, with a pair of Hagstrom humbuckers (Custom 58s), tone and volume controls for each and three-way switching.

The body is mahogany with a maple cap, there’s a military-grade fixed bridge with roller saddles and each string is anchored by a solid chunk of metal, meaning that we had tons of sustain and zero tuning problems during our test.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Overall, this is one hell of a rock guitar. It feels weighty, has almost over-engineered hardware, and sounds the business.”

BUY: Hagstrom Pat Smear Signature Electric currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music

Washburn Parallaxe PXS20FRTBB

MSRP £829 / $1,694

As well as representing a new chapter in Washburn’s illustrious history, this guitar also provides yet another choice in what is an already crowed part of the market.

This Parallaxe models would suit any hard rock player down to the ground, and we particularly liked the PXS20’s gloss neck finish and Floyd Rose. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Washburn back to the metal fold… where it belongs!

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A genuinely impressive modern guitar, Washburn goes back to its rock and metal roots with gusto.”

BUY: Washburn Parallaxe PXS20FRTBB currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Gear4Music

Ibanez AT10P

MSRP £938 / $1,733

The Ibanez AT10P is an Indonesian-made incarnation of Andy Timmons’ high-end signature AT1000CL and forms part of the Ibanez Premium Series, which centres on the firm’s core rock market with a range of guitars built in East Java.

Because of the traditional-style, vintage-inspired vibrato, the AT10P is noticeably resonant and really could be the modern HSS Strat-alike you’ve always hankered after

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The traditional looks may attract floating Ibanez voters. It sounds great and plays wonderfully well.”

BUY: Ibanez AT10P currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fret-King Black Label Corona GW

MSRP £629 / $1,000

British guitar ace has Geoff Whitehorn has teamed up with Trev Wilkinson’s Fret King brand to produce one of the most sonically flexible signature guitars we’ve ever heard.

We’ve always known that the Corona works – especially this value-laden Black Label version made in Korea – but Geoff and Trev’s clever tweaks have made the GW potentially the hardest-working one yet.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Any guitarist after one instrument for almost any occasion need look no further.”

BUY: Fret-King Black Label Corona GW currently available from:
UK: Gear4Music

Schecter PT

MSRP £599 / $729

The PT is a bit special. It’s a cool concept, fully realised. Taking a vintage-style body and hot-rodding it with some modern firepower is old news these days. But in the ’70s and ’80s, when Pete Townshend was busy commissioning his Schecter guitars, the concept was new and exciting. He may no longer endorse them, but we think it’s still a thrilling package today.

In fact, if you’re looking for a versatile twin-humbucker guitar, inspired by the preferences of one of the greatest rock guitarists and tone freaks of all time, there’s really no substitute.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The PT is a modern classic with great playability and tone, and pickups that can kick your teeth in.”

BUY: Schecter PT currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann
US: Full Compass

LTD EC-1000 EverTune

MSRP £999 / $1,427

The EC-1000ET is an all-mahogany single-cut loaded with an set of EMG 81 and 60 active humbuckers, a comfortably modern neck and a high level of construction quality.

Once your brain deals with what’s happening, the EverTune seems a pretty solid concept, and there’s no doubt it keeps your guitar perfectly in tune once settled in. We’d recommend that absolutely everybody gives it a try!

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“EverTune actually works, increasing the musicality of you and your guitar at a stroke.”

BUY: LTD EC-1000 EverTune currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann
US: Sweetwater

Guild Newark St M-75 Aristocrat

MSRP £929 / $1,425

The M-75 Aristocrat, from Guild’s vintage-appointed Newark St range, is so refined, you’ll want to put on a suit before playing it.

The clean tones could convince you that your suit should be brightly coloured with a wide trouser; the Aristocrat specialises in the sort of clearly enunciated bright-pop and bell-chime tone that would be right at home on Soul Train: 100 per cent jazz, funk and soul. Turning up the gain finds a yowling, chewy rock voice hidden beneath the finery, too

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A great tool for jazz, funk and soul players, the M-75 Aristocrat looks the part, sounds the part – and your back will thank you for it, too!”

BUY: Guild Newark St M-75 Aristocrat currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Epiphone Ltd Ed Lee Malia Les Paul Custom

MSRP £599 / $1,332

As signature models go, Lee Malia’s Les Paul stands out from the metal crowd with ostentatious fretboard inlays and gleaming gold hardware.

However, plug in and any aesthetic preconceptions are negated by the more-than-capable rock and metal sounds produced.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“An extremely well-constructed guitar from a custom shop that’s deserving of serious recognition, especially at this price point.”

BUY: Epiphone Ltd Ed Lee Malia Les Paul Custom currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

PRS S2 Starla

MSRP £1,095 / $1,294

Game-changer is an already over-used phrase, but it seems the most appropriate term to describe this new S2 guitar. Does it feel like the top-flight core line guitars? Yes. Does sound like them? Pretty much. Does it cost a lot less and offer a less opulent, more ‘blue collar’ vibe? Definitely.

The Starla could really widen the appeal of PRS guitars to an audience who might have appreciated the good bits but just couldn’t get on with the style or price. Only time will tell.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Few players won’t enjoy its evocative, classic voice – the guitar that might turn doubters on to PRS.”

BUY: PRS S2 Starla currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fender Classic Player Baja ’60s Telecaster

MSRP £826 / $799

Even if Fender has mucked up the recipes a bit for the Classic Player Bajo ’60s Telecaster, it’s still imbued with Fender DNA.

Designed by the Custom Shop’s top guitar makers, but made in Mexico, there’s an alder body hidden by an opaque polyester finish, and a gloss untinted maple neck with rosewood ‘board. The Baja, in 60s style, has no skunk stripe, and there’s a vintage-style truss rod adjustment at the body end.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Classic 60s-style Tele with extra sounds from the four-way selector and S-1 switch: what’s not to like?”

BUY: Fender Classic Player Baja ’60s Telecaster currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Yamaha Pacifica 611HFM

MSRP £579 / $929

Yamaha’s Pacificas have always ticked the value box, but this guitar adds an air of something more unique and desirable in the classic rock and blues cool of the 611: a good idea, well executed.

We love the 611’s depth of tone: give it a go and see if there’s a budget boutique choice here for you.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Just what the range needed – a wholly versatile, mid-priced Pacifica with great style and tones to match.”

BUY: Yamaha Pacifica 611HFM currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music

Epiphone Slash Rosso Corsa Les Paul

MSRP £679 / $1,665

This is the Epiphone version of a limited-edition Gibson that’s no longer available. Slash is often seen on stage with that guitar, and the Rosso Corsa finish, translating from Italian as ‘racing red’, is exclusive to the RC models.

Strapped on, it’s all you can do to resist automatically adopting a rock pose. Pickups comprise a zebra set of Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II Slash humbuckers that are controlled in the usual manner, and the profile of the neck is based on that of Slash’s main Gibson LP, offering a playable mix of late 50s girth with early 60s width.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“We love the Rosso Corsa Les Paul’s look, vibe and tonal versatility.”

BUY: Epiphone Slash Rosso Corsa Les Paul currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann

Schecter Blackjack ATX Solo-II

MSRP £739 / $1,149

With its blood-red finish, the Schecter Blackjack ATX Solo-II is a deadly single-cut has looks that kill – not to mention playability to die for.

Its Seymour Duncan Blackout humbuckers offer a similarly high output to the Hellraiser Hybrid’s EMGs, but with a brighter, more transparent quality to the clean tones, while the extra high-end helps them to cut through layers of dirt for metal chug and screaming pinches.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“An impressive spec, value for money and a solid build – it all adds up to a seriously playable rock and metal guitar.”

BUY: Schecter Blackjack ATX Solo-II currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fender Road Worn ’60s Stratocaster

MSRP £889 / $1,199

Fender’s much-respected Mexican factory started turning its hand to relic’d finishes in late 2008 and the pre-aged Road Worn range is still delivering.

If the look and feel is old and worn, the sound is a little less specific, which might have vintage guitar forums buzzing but for the majority of players the pickup choice and the overall sounds are eminently useable.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This one has it all – feel and sound, a great neck and firm tonality. A Strat to love and cherish!”

BUY: Fender Road Worn ’60s Stratocaster currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater | Full Compass

PRS SE Bernie Marsden

MSRP £729 / $1,000

An endorsement from ex-Whitesnake tonemeister Bernie Marsden was a big coup for PRS in the earlier half of the decade – particularly considering his original 1958 Gibson Les Paul, aka The Beast, is almost as well known as he is.

If you don’t like bird inlays or those fancy tops you might pass in favour of a classic Les Paul. Yet informed by the past it might be but the PRS SE Bernie Marsden is its own beast and it’s the consistency of build and QC that still impresses after all these years. That, sadly, can’t be said of every company in the world building single-cuts.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“If you like your single-cuts rooted in the fifties, you’ll like this. It may only be subtly different from the 245, but it’s enough.”

BUY: PRS SE Bernie Marsden currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Gretsch G5655T-CB Electromatic

MSRP £958 / $1,249

Straight out of the box, the Jet-style G5655T-CB provoked the kind of reaction in the office usually reserved for a dreamy Custom Shop creation.

This is indicative of how much closer to the ‘real thing’ Gretsch’s Electromatics have come these days in terms of fit, finish and overall vibe.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A new take on the Jet format that’s a compact, retro tone machine with grunt and twang in equal measure.”

BUY: Gretsch G5655T-CB Electromatic currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater | Full Compass

Guild Starfire IV

MSRP £665 / $1,099

Although the Newark St Collection is manufactured in Korea, some 7,000 miles away from the address that gave it its name, a real effort has been made to get these guitars right when it comes to balancing vintage accuracy, the demands of modern players and the need to work to a price.

The Starfire is built to travel further forward through time via Cream, Jimi and beyond into muscular hard rock territory. A very impressive range.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A grand to spend? Put this straight at the top of your double-cut semi shopping list.”

BUY: Guild Starfire IV currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fender Classic Player ’60s Stratocaster

MSRP £499 / $1,099

Fender’s Stock and Custom Teambuilt guitars are pretty special in their own right, but to run your hands over a Masterbuilt guitar is an almost religious experience, and the idea behind the Classic Player Fender Stratocasters is to try and bring some of this magic to the hugely popular mid-price Classic Series.

The ’60s Strat is loaded with a trio of Custom ’69 single-coil pickups that are slightly hotter than average. Texas springs to mind when plugging in the ’60s Strat, as you can revel in the higher output and associated increased aggression within the performance.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The ’60s Classic Player Strat offers top-quality performance and it’s pretty obvious that the magic touch of the Custom Shop masterbuilders has been efficiently transferred.”

BUY: Fender Classic Player ’60s Stratocaster currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Jackson Chris Broderick Pro Series Soloist 6

MSRP £850 / $1,199

Megadeth’s 2008 recruit and axeman extraordinaire Chris Broderick landed his own signature model back in 2012 – but with the Jackson Chris Broderick Soloist 6’s current street prices of over £4k, it’s a case of, ‘Who’s buying?’ Praise the lords of shred, then, for the Pro Series Soloist 6.

Broderick’s latest sig boasts all the key plugged-in specs of his high-end model, with the same DiMarzio pickups and switching options as its big bro, but a quarter of the price.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Whether you like Megadeth or not, this is one seriously impressive metal guitar.”

BUY: Jackson Chris Broderick Pro Series Soloist 6 currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fret-King Black Label Elise ‘JE’

MSRP £849 / $TBC

Essentially the same as the standard Fret-King Elise in terms of its Korean origin and solid-wood construction, this John Etheridge signature impresses, as it’s lighter than the previous Elises we’ve tested.

With its downsized, offset ES-335-meets-mini-archtop vibe, this Fret-King is a superb guitar.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Superbly crafted, with a broad sonic palette to draw from. Beyond the 335 indeed.”

BUY: Fret-King Black Label Elise ‘JE’ currently available from:
UK: Gear4Music

Jackson Pro Series DKA8 Dinky

MSRP £826 / $1,199

Shopping for an eight-string electric is a bit like buying a guard dog. You’re looking for all the same qualities: plenty of bark, more than a little bite and, err, a firm bottom-end. The usual rule applies – always buy from a reputable breeder.

And you don’t get much more reputable than Jackson, whose stock-in-trade is tailor-making electric guitars for musical roughhousing. And the firm has pulled out all the stops when spec’ing the DKA8.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A guitar designed with the post-progressive metaller in mind – it takes the hot-rodded S-type concept to new extremes.”

BUY: Jackson Pro Series DKA8 Dinky currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music

Fender Cabronita Telecaster

MSRP £646 / $975

A Mexican-built replica of the La Cabronita Especial at a much more affordable price point, the Cabronita Tele covers all the same bases as the Custom Shop original: a body of alder or ash, a pair of Gretsch-style Fideli’Tron pickups (replacing the original’s TV Jones ‘buckers), a trimmed scratchplate and a single volume control.

Anyone who’s picked up a Mexican-made Fender in the past couple of years knows that the quality of guitars being produced there is through the roof, and the Cabronita is no different.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Spirited, endlessly playable and extremely difficult to put down, the Cabronita is a Fender unlike any other, and thankfully, one most of us can afford.”

BUY: Fender Cabronita Telecaster currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater | Full Compass

Gibson 2015 Les Paul Studio

MSRP £899 / $2,048

Who’s been mucking about with my Les Paul? Gibson has. 2015’s annual makeover of the Studio is one of the most dramatic we can remember.

However, the more time we spent with this guitar, the more we liked it in general. Love at first sight? No, but it is a grower… so long as you don’t have your ‘vintage-is-best’ blinkers on.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Excellent value, high-quality sounds – including those single-coil voices – these will sell by the truckload.”

BUY: Gibson 2015 Les Paul Studio currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Fender Classic Series ’60s Stratocaster Lacquer

MSRP £994 / $1,259

At 2013’s Frankfurt Musikmesse, Fender announced that it was, for the first time ever, producing guitars with gloss nitrocellulose ‘lacquer’ finishes from its factory in Ensenada, Mexico.

Fender’s regular Classic Series guitars hit a sweet spot of vintage aesthetics and affordable pricing that’s bang-on for people who ‘just want a nice Strat’. Only time will tell how they’ll weather, but we’d venture that we’re looking at the best made, best value, vintage-inspired Strat to come out of Fender since the 60s.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The perfect choice if you can’t stretch to a Fender American Vintage-series instrument. More colours please!”

BUY: Fender Classic Series ’60s Stratocaster Lacquer currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater | Full Compass

Ibanez JSM10

MSRP £849 / $1,466

Funky fusioneer John Scofield played a 1981 Ibanez AS200 for years before the two teamed up and introduced the similar JSM signature guitar to the world in 2001.

As good as the JSM is, costly signature models are out of reach for most guitarists. Thankfully, Ibanez recently introduced a lower-priced version: the JSM10, based on the JSM100.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“It may be endorsed by an iconic jazz-fusion player, but blues-rock guitarists will find much to love here.”

BUY: Ibanez JSM10 currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Schecter Banshee Elite-6

MSRP £939 / $1,449

Although Schecter has been in business for over 30 years, producing models diverse enough as to attract the likes of Pete Townshend and Mark Knopfler, today, it’s synonymous with rock and metal.

Despite only having been introduced in 2013, the Banshee series has begun to establish itself as a port-of-call for the rocker on a budget, with all the hallmarks of a shredder’s workhorse, including an ebony fingerboard, compound radius, hot Seymour Duncan pickups and a wide range of other shred-inspired options.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“One of the best-sounding rock guitars we’ve played.”

Guild Newark St M-75 Aristocrat

MSRP £929 / $1,425

The M-75 Aristocrat, from Guild’s vintage-appointed Newark St range, is so refined, you’ll want to put on a suit before playing it.

You might even consider strapping it on a little higher. But no matter how you wear this vintage single-cut, it’s designed to complement the human condition – spiritually and physically.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A great tool for jazz, funk and soul players, the M-75 Aristocrat looks the part, sounds the part – and your back will thank you for it, too!”

BUY: Guild Newark St M-75 Aristocrat currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music
US: Sweetwater

Godin Core CT P90

MSRP £849 / $1,095

Up to this point, Godin’s three Core models have shared a chambered mahogany slab body with a choice of humbuckers – P-90s or active EMGs –with a 629mm (24.75-inch) scale length and Graph Tech’s impressive ResoMax adjustable wrapover bridge.

This year’s additions keep the same scale and bridge, but the CT (carved top) version not only moves to a much more Gibson Les Paul-like outline, it also adds a glossed maple top that we’d call contoured – the top itself is flat but its edges are chamfered, a little like a Gibson SG.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“It’s a fine guitar to audition some P-90 flavour, especially in rockier settings, but thanks to a great neck pickup and evocative pickup mix, its stylistic potential is much wider.”

BUY: Godin Core CT P90 currently available from:
US: Sweetwater

PRS SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow

MSRP £759 / $729

PRS marked its 30th birthday with a bewildering number of new models. The affordable SE range saw plenty of these – including an SE edition of the Custom 22, and Semi-Hollow version.

While the two guitars are close in spec, the solidbody version features a pair of Tone Furnace humbuckers from the SE Marty Friedman,while the Semi-Hollow features the more traditional ‘original spec’ ‘buckers.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“With classic rock and blues tones in abundance, easy modding and upgrading options, and good playability, this guitar is ready to gig.”

BUY: PRS SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann
US: Sweetwater

Fender Dave Murray Stratocaster

MSRP £749 / $999

Given that he plays lead guitar in Iron Maiden, the world’s biggest heavy metal act, Dave Murray is a relatively unassuming chap.

His first affordable signature model is typical then, of a man happy to let the music do the talking; a signature graces the back of the headstock, but otherwise this is an instrument to impress your own personality upon.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Definitely not just for Maiden fans; think of it as an all-rounder for rock, with a quietly eccentric retro-vibe belying its SuperStrat status.”