Table of Contents
- Getting You The Most Electric Guitar For The Money!
- Why Spend So Much On A Nice Guitar?
- Is It Better To Buy A New Or A Used Guitar?
- The 2017 Comprehensive Review Roundup
- 1. Paul Reed Smith Custom 24
- 2. The Les Paul Black Beauty 3
- 3. Fender American Special
- 4. Godin 5th Avenue
- 5. Schecter Damien
If you are willing to spend around $1000 on an electric guitar, then you are actually pretty serious about your passion.
Most guitarists go a long way in their hobby without ever spending more than a few hundred dollars on their guitar and kit.
Granted, they never practice enough to warrant the larger investment, but then they’ve also have experienced the rewarding satisfaction of playing a truly nice instrument.
Getting You The Most Electric Guitar For The Money!
Because you’re looking to spend more money than the average hobby guitarist, you want to do your research and make sure that you don’t take advice from just any old blog. In the world today there are so many options and so much information, that just digging into one forum can consume a great deal of time and effort. At this stage of the game, you’re much further along than most other players and bloggers.
Despite what many people think, having a grand to drop on a kit will not buy you as much instrument as you may have hoped. These electric guitars can get quite expensive, and with every price jump, you are buying better pickups, better wood, better tuning, and overall higher quality construction.
The instruments you see onstage at a rock concert, for example, can easily run in the tens of thousands of dollars. However, your favorite rock artists also started off on cheap options — probably cheaper than what you’re looking at right now.
Pick a choice off of our list, and you will be that much further down the road to “fame and fortune”. We realize that our visitors will each be seeking a slightly different style. Because of that, I try to highlight which style of playing each model will be best suited for. And I realize you may disagree with this list. That’s Ok! I just designed this list as a guide to help make your shopping process a little bit easier.
Why Spend So Much On A Nice Guitar?
If you are already an avid player — as I suspect you are — you probably recognize the difference in quality that comes with its price tag.
However, for those shopping for their first guitar, we should probably dive into this just a little bit.
Guitars are specialized instruments. It is difficult to get a nice musical sound out of plywood. So, you’ve got to start with nicer, more expensive wood to get a better resonance. The same thing goes for the pickups, the tuning pegs, etc, etc. More money buys you harder metals, better craftsmanship and so forth. (Sure, some countries are doing an incredible job eeking noise out of junk. Ironically, most cheap guitars sound worse than these “junk” creations)
Is It Better To Buy A New Or A Used Guitar?
This question has been asked over and over. You can often get an incredible deal on used gear. However, you really need to know what you to look for. Electric guitars often have a rough life.
You need to check the pickups to make sure they work and don’t distort the sound. Also, make sure that they pick up both the low and high notes, and don’t “buzz” or cut off at the extreme ranges. Check the tuning pegs for stripped pegs and to make sure it can hold a tune. You also need to look for the overall “soundness” of the guitar: look for looseness in the neck, looseness of the hand guard, etc.
Basically, you want to make sure that they haven’t fried the pickups or are trying to hide some serious flaw that is going to show up the first time you show off your “new” guitar.
To help you with your purchasing decision, I have gone through some of the top-selling, high-end models currently available online. Hopefully, this list will help guide you to your own, personalized sound.
The 2017 Comprehensive Review Roundup
1. Paul Reed Smith Custom 24
I’ll be honest. This guitar is making it to the top of the list because some of my favorite bands love the brand.
PRS is one of those brands that bands go out and beg to promote. And that guitarists, can’t get enough of.
The sound produced by the Custom 24 is surprisingly and pleasantly comparable to many of the higher-end models.
When played on its own acoustically, it has a much bigger and fuller tone than expected and when plugged into an amp the sound really does become truly amazing. The neck pick up produces a very clean and crisp range for an instrument in its price category.
Although it is not really ideal for a heavier metal sound, with some tweaking to the amp settings it can effectively achieve a decent metal effect and of course, by changing out the humbucker you can get any sound you want.
There is no doubt that this guitar, when put into the hands of a skilled player, could surely shred. It has very versatile pickups and the rock and softer metal ranges can be achieved very comfortably by anyone wishing to do so.
The fretboard on this beauty feels really great and has low and easy action. There is a small amount of tuning instability, initially, that can be resolved by replacing the stock nut and you might even want to upgrade to locking tuners down the road.
As you well know, one of the most annoying things to have happen on stage is to go out of tune in the middle of a set and to be left fiddling with it.
Fortunately, this durable piece of art does hold tune very well and is not easily affected even by the tremolo bar which has a nice smooth finish. The truss rod is easily adjusted to get rid of any small amount of fret buzz that might be initially present on the lower strings, and overall it has a great set up right out of the box.
Twenty-four frets and great neck profile makes for ease of playing as it is not too thin and not too wide. It also has a very natural feeling length to the neck.
As far as looks are concerned, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking critter. The beveled top and the bird inlays in the frets give it a look that is truly pleasing to the eye.
Whether you are opening for Seether or playing covers in your basement, the Custom 24 is gonna’ impress.
2. The Les Paul Black Beauty 3
This guitar is extremely versatile and can achieve everything from softer sounds such as blues and jazz to ones more satisfying to those who prefer heavier tones of death metal.
The pickups are so simple and easy to adjust. One thing that keeps this choice from being able to satisfy every possible need for a musician is the fact that its tone is not quite clean and bright enough to lend itself very well to recording. It really does its best job on live performances. Beyond that, the only other complaint with this guitar is the finicky G string.
But then, who plays with stock strings?
Having said that, the look, feel and sound of this beautiful instrument is every bit as good as others three and four times its price, even compared to some of the more expensive — and revered — Gibson’s.
The slim- tapered neck profile and the “fretless” rosewood fingerboard (referring to how low the action is) make for wonderfully easy playability and the action is also easily adjustable to suit individual needs. Even after heavy use, it holds tune wonderfully.
The stunning piano black finish and gold hardware make for a very impressive and much more expensive looking instrument, lending itself perfectly to the term “tuxedo guitar” as it was originally designed to be the perfect onstage accessory to the slick and forever classic stage wear.
This guitar, in typical Les Paul fashion, is compact, dense and heavy, weighing in at about 10 lbs, making a comfortable and durable leather strap a good investment if your arms aren’t quite up to the task. On the upside, the weightiness adds an impressive and wonderful amount of sustain.
3. Fender American Special
Great price for a guitar whose play and feel is very similar in quality to options in the well above $1000 range.
It is well made and has an extremely solid and comfortable feel to it.
The Texas pick ups give it a legit classic 60’s Fender sound (with added warmth compared to the more modern sound produced by standard strats) and packs a lot more volume and punch than other standard strats.
The smooth, fast neck making it easy to fly over the jumbo frets for impressive soloing.
The weight is really just about right at about 10 lbs, and although a bit heavier than, say, an ash strat, the sturdiness provides a clearer timbre and great sustain you just don’t get with lighter guitars.
Overall, it really does play like a dream.
The grease bucket tone circuit on this piece is a fun touch as it allows for playing and muddling around with tone whenever the mood strikes, rather than sounding like an on-off tone switch the way most other strats do. The vibrato produced by the tremolo has that artistic trill you want.
It really does give a beautiful sound.
Having said that, it is not designed to handle like a Floyd Rose so don’t expect to be able to go crazy. Dive bombing does tend to knock it out of tune.
But, I really like the modern C shape and the jumbo frets are great for string bending and it shreds wonderfully.
As far as looks go, this piece is truly a beauty and so well made. To start with, the body on this Special is composed of two or three alder pieces rather than multiple blocks with veneer top and bottom like the 90’s models used to be. It’s what sets it apart from “standard” strats.
The 70’s style headstock with logo seems to be something that people either love to love or love to hate. It’s really just a matter of taste preference, probably much determined by whether or not it provides a nostalgia factor for the player. There’s not really any difference in the body finish between the standard and the special but that changes when you get to the neck. Where the standards have a gloss finish on the maple boards and the headstock, the special has a matte finish on both front and back. It’s a great contrast that makes it a work of art.
4. Godin 5th Avenue
Godin is the kind of manufacturer that is known to surprise us from time to time. Their 5th Avenue CW is definitely a very pleasant surprise as it brings some of that vintage sound in a very refined package. Semi-hollow or hollow electric guitars are a niche category of instruments that is dominated by several big brands like Gibson. With that said, Godin stepped up and put their spin on the whole idea of a hollow electric guitar. The result is impressive, to say the least.
This beauty sports that signature arched top semi-hollow shape that we are used to. However, it’s somewhat more robust compared to the popular models of this type. The wood used for the entire body is Canadian Wild Cherry. This choice of wood is not all that unusual for Godin, as it can be found on a number of their guitars. You will find the characteristic f-holes, floating pickguard, and adjustable bridge that many guitars of this type sport.
In terms of electronics, Godin went with two Kingpin P90 single-coil pickups. These are controlled by a single volume knob and a single tone knob. The three-way toggle switch allows you to choose which pickup you’re going to use and is reminiscent of the Gibson standard design. This configuration of pickups is just perfect for blues or jazz.
When it comes to sound, Godin 5th Avenue CW falls within a very narrow category shared with other semi-hollow and hollow electric guitars. The tone of these is very specific and somewhat gentle. Compared to regular electric guitars like PRS Custom 24 or similar, this model comes across as warmer and more tamed instrument. Single coil pickups installed on this model can get you well-rounded cleans that have the clarity and accuracy. In terms of overdrive, you probably don’t want to go too far. A decent tube amp overdrive will push this semi-hollow right into that fuzzy blues territory.
The fact that the instrument is hollow means that it has a unique tone color. Canadian Wild Cherry resonates with much warmth that is definitely noticeable when you start experimenting with sound. It is not a very versatile guitar, but then again you won’t be purchasing a hollowbody to play metal. The application of this type of guitars is well defined. Although several factors about this instrument make it stand out from the rest, we are very glad to say that the top-notch sound is the 5th Avenue’s most memorable feature.
Godin once again delivers a quality instrument made in North America by some of the best luthiers in the business. And just like many of their other models. this one comes at a price that makes it more than competitive. The selection of materials and components fits so well together, giving you a nicely balanced performance that many jazz players will appreciate. Godin 5th Avenue CW is just and awesome instrument all around. If you are looking for a good semi-hollow or hollow guitar, but can’t afford to get a Gibson, this Godin is a great choice.
5. Schecter Damien
For the last spot, I’m coming back to Schechter.
And I get it. When you’re naming classically gorgeous, fiercely shreddable guitars, Schecter may not be on the tip of your tongue…but it should be.
And, for those who have tried the Schecter Damien Special, it is.
This 24-fret electric model is beautifully built, sporting a double cutaway maple body, mahogany back, and rosewood fretboard. It’s versatile, too, managing to be accessible for the beginning rocker and sleek enough to suit the seasoned professional at the same time.
This instrument is built with high gain playing in mind, equipped with EMG active 81/85 pickups that make it especially ideal for metal playing. Distorted channels bring notes through with an earthy, thrumming tone that gives a dark, full-bodied feel.
While the clean channel can certainly hold up to some more mellow applications, it is limited in this area of performance. Serious jazz, classic rock, and pop musicians will probably not find this particular instrument well-suited to their needs. However, the devoted metal guitarist with a desire to dabble will find ample room to experiment with vibrant, ringing high notes; decent, bassy low notes; and a good chordal blend.
The Damien is a good size, solid without being too heavy for comfort. It has a great feel and is fun to play. The low action neck is incredibly slick and makes fast riffs and intense fretting a breeze. It has a reputation for keeping its tune exceptionally well, holding up to even aggressive jam sessions. In fact, many owners say their kit arrived ready to play, right out of the box.
It’s worth noting that Schecter has a long standing reputation in the music industry for producing guitars with great electronics and superior sound. They build instruments with thicker necks than some of their competitors, which can take some getting used to. But once musicians make the adjustment, they often find they prefer the sonic result to other pieces in their collection.
All things considered, this is a versatile option that musicians love for everything from jamming and practice to recording and live gigs. It would be ideal for any metal musician–beginner or guru–looking for a rock star sound on a garage band budget.