The Best Electric Guitars Under $500 - Solidbody

The Highest Rated Electric Guitars Under $500

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The $200 to $500 price range is where most guitarists get their first "proper" guitar, and it usually becomes the main instrument that will grow with them as they transition from practicing to performing. Manufacturers know this, and is the reason why most guitars in this price segment offer more quality per dollar spent.

Here we feature the best rated solid body electric guitars in this competitive price segment, based on the most recent reviews and ratings data up to August of 2022. This edition takes into account current market pricing, removing guitars that have increased in price over the $500 ceiling over the last year.

To help you narrow down your choices, the guide is divided into sections based on pickup configurations that include: SS, HH, P-90, Mixed HSS, Mixed HSH, and there's a special section for those that use unique pickup combinations. It is our hope that this guide can help you find your first (or next) serious axe.

The Best Electric Guitars Under $500

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Pickup Type: Single Coil

Ibanez AZES31 (SSS)

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Ibanez AZES31 - Vermilion Red

Cons

  • Smaller scale than typical strats
  • Needs setup from the factory

Pros

  • Greater than the sum of its parts
  • Comfortable fixed bridge
  • Great neck profile
  • Vintage sounding ceramic pickups

If you're not familiar with the nomenclature of Ibanez guitars, it usually refers to the body shape first (In this case the AZ), followed by a sub-class for the body shape ("ES" for essential). The Essentials line was designed in tandem with Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Tomo Fujita. The goal was to make an affordable electric guitar that a student can learn on without compromising function, playability and tone. It is intended to be a line of instruments that "grows" with the student.

The scale length is a PRS-like 25" scale, which is a departure from the typical 25.5" scale lengths of the typical "S" type guitar. I deduce that this was meant to give younger players an easier time adapting to the guitar strings' tension. The body itself is slightly smaller and thinner than your average Strat. In essence, the guitar reminds me of how Fender Mustangs were positioned as a student line with their thinner body and shorter scale. The shorter scale also encourages easier chording for fast changes. It also allows for thicker strings to get a beefier tone without sacrificing playability.

The neck profile is a C shape which was uncommon for Ibanez Strat and Superstrat style guitars until the AZ series was introduced. The 10" radius Jatoba fretboard is home to 22 medium frets which feel slightly more substantial than other medium frets I've tried. The fretwork on my unit was finished well with no sharp edges. I was able to set it up to my standard 1.2mm action with no fret buzz. As is the nature with guitars at this price, it is best to have your guitar professionally set up for you if you don't have the time to learn how.

Ibanez AZES31 Bridge
A closer look at the bridge shows that the grub screws don't jut out of the saddles unlike vintage style saddles. While Strat purists would argue against this, the AZES31 wasn't designed to appeal to them and this is a very welcome change to the 6 saddle style.

It had a very uncommon feature for Strat type guitars: It was a hardtail. The hardtail bridge has no protruding grub screws, which is not something a vintage purist would approve of. However, it's a great design choice if you're just starting out on guitar and want a comfy bridge to rest your hand on, or if have shied away from vintage style S type guitars because of how the grub screws have the potential to injure you (which has happened to me several times across different guitars!).

The AZES31 is an incredible guitar for rhythmic guitar playing. The pickups have ceramic magnets but somehow sound and feel less modern and more vintage. This makes it perfect for muted chucking and tight clean interludes. With a little bit of gain, the pickups take on a lot of attitude thanks to their output. The tone reminds me of a more muscular mid-60s Strat because of the midrange push as opposed to glassier late 50's and early 60's examples and scooped late 60's sounds. The pickups don't have the harmonic complexity or clarity of vintage and aftermarket examples but that's not what it aims to be. Because of the output versus vintage pickups, the noise floor is a bit lower which helps people who are still figuring out what they want to play to be able to crank the gain up a bit from time to time. I've recorded some samples that you can listen to in my Extended Ibanez AZES31 Review.

Ibanez AZES31 Toggle
The mini-toggle enables alternate pickup configurations including neck-middle series, bridge-middle series and bridge-neck telecaster style configurations.

Other features include a toggle switch that puts the bridge/middle or neck/middle pickups in series to simulate a humbucker as well as a proprietary one piece output jack design to avoid lost nuts and loose cables.

The AZES31 is an example of a guitar designed around a purpose and target. It's not meant to be the greatest tone machine and it doesn't pretend to be. It's more of an instrument that gets out of the way of growth for new players and provides experienced players like me a fun little guitar to be inspired by.

Specifications

  • Body: Poplar
  • Finish: Vermillion, Ivory
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle F106 fixed bridge w/ Comfort round Steel saddles
  • Pickups: SSS (Triple Singlecoil)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Fingerboard: Jatoba
  • Fingerboard Radius: 10"
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 42mm
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Series/Parallel alter sw.
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position Blade

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearank Raphael Pulgar 93/100
Lone Phantom Editor 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster (SS)

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$420
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s (SS) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Solidbody Electric Guitar Under $500.

Cons

  • Minor neck and setup imperfections
  • Non-traditional tonewood

Pros

  • Vintage look with modern playability
  • Good Tele twang tone
  • Viable gigging guitar
  • Lightweight body

The Fender Broadcaster, later renamed to Telecaster, is considered as the first commercially successful solidbody electric guitar - and now, decades later, the Telecaster is as in-demand as ever.

The Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s continues this legacy with its combination of vintage features and modern reliability, at a more accessible price point. The design of this guitar follows vintage designs closely, from its single-cutaway body, to the neck and headstock shape, down to hardware configuration.

But to keep the price affordable Fender utilized more affordable material and efficient production methods. The body is crafted from pine wood, which may not appeal to purists, but is good enough to get the look right, and more importantly, it gets the job done. This type of wood is also lighter, which makes for a more comfortable playing feel.

To meet the demands of today's guitarists, this one has a modern C neck profile, and a flatter 9.5" fingerboard radius over the 7.2" that's seen on vintage specimens. This results in easier playability, compared to other Teles with thicker necks.

Giving this guitar its voice are vintage sounding Alnico III magnet pickups, and they do the vintage twang tone justice without the usual hefty price tag expected from premium Telecasters.

As expected, build quality and setup are not as good as more expensive models, but it is more than capable of being a gigging guitar. Thankfully, minor neck and setup imperfections are not deal breakers and can be fixed.

If you're in the market for a reasonably priced Telecaster, then the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s should definitely be the first model for you to seriously consider.

Specifications

  • Body: Pine
  • Finish: Butterscotch Blonde (pictured), Vintage Blonde, Natural, 3-Color Sunburst
  • Bridge: 3-barrel Bridge
  • Pickups: (SS) Custom Vintage-Style Alnico III Single-coil Tele
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on "C" shape)
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5”
  • Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.65”
  • Controls: 1-volume, 1-tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way blade pickup switch

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Bside Talks Guitar 94/100
YouTube Elmo Karjalainen 86/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The video below puts the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s into its paces:

Pickup Type: P-90

Epiphone Les Paul Junior 2020 (P)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$429
Epiphone Les Paul Junior 2020 (P) Tobacco Sunburst 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated P-90 Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Epiphone Les Paul Special TV.

Cons

  • Limited single pickup configuration
  • Not for those who prefer slim necks

Pros

  • Streamlined design
  • No frills single pickup configuration
  • Rock friendly aesthetics
  • Vintage style chunky neck

What started out as an affordable stripped down student version of the Les Paul, went on to become a distinct model with its own many variations. The Epiphone Les Paul Junior 2020 is their current iteration, made to be affordable while incorporating modern and cost effective materials and production.

Like the original Gibson Les Paul Junior, it features the same simple configuration, with just a mahogany singlecutaway body, without the arched top and usual blings found on expensive Les Pauls. This streamlined look is appealing to fans of rock music, and is a big factor in the popularity of the Les Paul Junior design.

Its streamlined aesthetics is matched by its simple single pickup setup, with just one P-90 pickup in the bridge position. This limits the sonic options you can get, but the good side of this is that it teaches you to utilize the volume and tone knob to vary the tone.

The neck is made from mahogany, with a vintage '50s style chunky profile that can be good or bad depending on your playing feel preference. Other features include having a GraphTech NuBone nut, and Lightning Bar Wrap-Around tailpiece.

The Epiphone Les Paul Junior 2020 gives us a more affordable alternative to the iconic Gibson LP Jr. Get this if you want a no-frills rock guitar.

Specifications

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Tobacco Burst
  • Bridge: Lightning Bar Wrap Around
  • Pickups: P-90
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.692”
  • Controls: Volem and tone
  • Pickup Selector: N/A

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube The Trogly's Guitar Show 88/100
YouTube Landon Bailey 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow (PP)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Epiphone Les Paul Special (PP) TV Yellow - 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated P-90 Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Epiphone Les Paul Junior.

Cons

  • Not for those who prefer slim necks
  • Too bright colored for those used to dark finish

Pros

  • Gritty P-90 tone fit for rock music
  • Vintage style TV Yellow finish
  • Good build quality
  • Good sonic versatility with two P-90s

The Epiphone Les Paul Special is a modern take on a classic instrument from the '50s, combining latest guitar design and building technology with old school looks. At its core are two P-90 Pro Soap Bar single-coil pickups that give it a gritty midrange rich tone that works well for rock and similar styles of music. Speaking of being a rock instrument, its grit can be too much for musical styles that require clean tone.

The body is crafted from mahogany, shaped into the familiar single-cutaway LP shape but with a flat top. The neck is also crafted from mahogany, topped by a 12" radius 22-fret fingerboard. It has a thicker neck profile similar to older instruments, but it may not appeal to those who are used to thinner necks.

Modern implements include having a Graph Tech nut and CTS electronics which improve the lifespan and taper of the potentiometers.

It comes with a "TV Yellow" finish, which is inspired by the old yellow wooden cabinets that old TVs were placed inside of back in the day. Build quality is quite good, giving this guitar aesthetics, tuning stability and a playing feel above its price range. This is the reason why the Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow was back-ordered for a while, but it's available again now as I write this.

There's a reason why more and more people are lining up to get the Epiphone Les Paul Special TV Yellow, check it out if you're looking for an affordable P-90 equipped LP.

Specifications

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: TV Yellow
  • Bridge: Lightning Bar Wrap Around
  • Pickups: (PP) 2 x P-90 PRO Soap Bar Single-coil
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.693”
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-Way Switch

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube intheblues 90/100
YouTube The Guitaristas 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Pickup Type: Humbucker

Gretsch G5426 Jet Club (HH)

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Gretsch G5426 Jet Club Silver (FF) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Humbucker Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Epiphone Les Paul Classic Worn.

Cons

  • Needs tweaking to tame excess highs

Pros

  • Eye catching silver finish
  • Gretsch retro style aesthetics
  • Trebly Gretsch tone
  • Familiar playability

While Gretsch is well known for their distinct looking hollowbody guitars, but they do have a lineup of solidbody electric guitars that are doing very well in the market. The G5426 Jet Club Silver exemplifies what Gretsch is all about, applying their distinct retro style on a solid body and making them unmistakably their own.

This one features a single cutaway chambered basswood body that makes the guitar lighter. The body is joined to an arched maple top which has a nice silver finish. This sparkly silver finish is really eye-catching in person, and makes the instrument look more premium than it actually is. Even non-musicians appreciate its overall aesthetics.

It comes with dual humbucking pickups that are tweaked to give it a trebly and gritty, rockabilly-friendly tone that's expected from Gretsch guitars. Its treble focused tone may not appeal to those who are into fat and warm sounds, but the highs can be tamed via the tone knob.

It has a rosewood fingerboard on top of a maple neck, both of which follow traditional specs for comfortable and familiar playability. For better control over intonation, Gretsch equipped the G526 with an Adjusto-Matic bridge.

If you're looking for a visually striking solidbody electric guitar with that familiar Gretsch tone, then this is for you.

Specifications

  • Body: Chambered Basswood with Maple Top
  • Finish: Silver
  • Bridge: Adjusto-Matic Bridge with Stop Tailpiece
  • Pickups: Humbuckers
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 24.6”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.6875”
  • Controls: 1-volume, 1-tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way Pickup Selector

Hands On Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Neil Martin 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Epiphone Les Paul Classic Worn 2020 (HH)

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Epiphone Les Paul Classic Worn (HH) 2020 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Humbucker Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Gretsch G5426.

Cons

  • Minor cosmetic flaws
  • Split-coil tone is a bit thin sounding

Pros

  • Vintage appeal with worn finish
  • Complete Les Paul look with arched maple top
  • Versatile dual humbucker with split-coil setup
  • Good playability

The Epiphone Les Paul Classic Worn is a recent iteration of the iconic LP, combining vintage appeal with modern split-coil functionality. As the label suggests, it has a distinct worn finish that mimics the thinner aged finish found in old vintage instruments.

It has a mahogany body that follows traditional Les Paul designs, complete with an arched maple on top. Epiphone got the old school look and vibe right, and did so at a very accessible price point.

The neck is crafted from maple, and topped by a 22-fret fingerboard. Interestingly, it comes with a thinner SlimTaper profile which strays from what you'd expect from vintage LPs but his thinner profile combined with the smooth feel of the neck gives it a more relaxed modern feel that contrasts its classic appeal.

It draws its tone from two Alnico Classic PRO pickups, which does not stray from the fat and full sound of regular humbuckers, only this one allows for more flexibility via coil-split functionality. Engaging coil-split is done via push-pull volume knobs, the resulting sound is a bit thin and cannot replace actual single coils, but it is decent and workable.

Other noteworthy features include the use of Grover Rotomatic 18:1 tuners and GraphTech nut. All these features add up to make this guitar substantially better in terms of features than the typical affordable Les Paul.

At this price point, don't expect this to have perfect craftsmanship, thankfully, cosmetic flaws are minimum, if not unnoticeable.

If you're looking for an affordable alternative to the iconic Les Paul that has a distinct vintage vibe, then this is for you.

Specifications

  • Body: Mahogany with Maple Top
  • Finish: Worn Ebony, Worn Purple, Worn Metallic Gold, Worn Heritage Cherry Sunburst,
  • Bridge: LockTone ABR Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece
  • Pickups: (HH) Alnico Classic PRO Humbucker
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.692”
  • Controls: 2 x Volume (Push-Pull Coil Split), 2 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-Way Switch

Hands On Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Trogly's Guitar Show Editor 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Pickup Type: Mixed HSS

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J (HSS)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J (HSS) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated HSS Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V.

Cons

  • Minor tuning instability
  • Limited to one tone knob

Pros

  • Student-friendly playability
  • Versatile HSS pickup configuration
  • Good build quality
  • Streamlined controls

The PAC112J is from Yamaha's Pacifica line of electric guitars that are obviously inspired by the Stratocaster. This one even use alder wood for the body, much like classic strats.

It features a double cutaway body, and sports a c-shaped strat style neck made from maple with a rosewood fingerboard. And while it looks similar to Strats, it's not a straight copy, it has minor differences in terms of body shape, and it has a playing feel that's quite comfortable. These seemingly minor differences add up to a substantially more student-friendly instrument.

What truly sets it apart from regular Strats is its HSS pickup configuration, which gives it a bit more oomph in the bridge position.

Build quality is quite good for the price, the look and overall feel of the instrument is not cheap at all, and it does so while retaining an affordable price tag. Note that the tuners are not as stable as more expensive guitars, but they get the job done much like other guitars in this price range.

Still, the Pacifica PAC112J upholds Yamaha's reputation for student friendly quality, hard to go wrong with this one particularly as your first electric guitar.

Features

  • Body: Alder
  • Finish: Black (pictured), also comes in Lake Blue, Natural, Old Violin Sunburst
  • Bridge: Vintage Tremolo
  • Pickups: 2 x Yamaha Ceramic Single Coil, Yamaha Ceramic Humbucker
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25 1/2" (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 13.75" (350 mm)
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.614"
  • Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine MGR/bladerunner 100/100
YouTube John Nathan Cordy 90/100
The Blogging Musician Adam Harkus 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Here is a good review and demonstration of the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J:

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V (HSS)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$310
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V (HSS) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated HSS Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar from $200 to $500 along with the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J.

Cons

  • Not for fans of traditional Strats

Pros

  • HSS with split-coil control
  • Alnico V pickups
  • Good build quality
  • Great value for the price

The PAC112V is part of Yamaha's Pacifica line of electric guitars, it is basically a modified Strat / Superstrat style guitar marketed for students of the instrument. While it is very similar to the more affordable PAC112J, it features upgraded electronics, including Alnico V pickups, which I find results in improved response and fuller tone.

Another important distinction is the humbucker pickup with coil-splitting, providing improved tone flexibility. With it, you have the option between humbucker and single coil bridge pickup tones. These features together with good overall build quality makes this quite a steal for the price.

On the flipside, these extra features will not appeal to fans of traditional strats.

At its core is its double cutaway alder body, with more room on the lower cutaway for reaching the highest notes. The neck is crafted from maple, and topped by a rosewood fingerboard, with a C-shape profile that's familiar and beginner friendly.

If you're looking for a versatile guitar for shred and rock, then do check out the Yamaha PAC112V.

Specifications

  • Body: Alder
  • Finish: Natural, Violin Burst, Black, Red Raspberry, Silver, Sonic Blue
  • Bridge: Vintage Style Tremolo with Block Saddles
  • Pickups: Two Alnico V Singlecoils (Neck, Middle), One Alnico V Humbucker (Bridge)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 13.75”
  • Frets: 22 Medium
  • Nut Width: 1.614”
  • Controls: 1-master volume, 1-master tone (push/pull coil-split), 5-way blade pickup switch
  • Pickup Selector: 5-way toggle switch

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine igoig 100/100
Guitar World Chris Corfield 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Pickup Type: Mixed HSH

Ibanez RG470MB (HSH)

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$450
Ibanez RG470MB (HSH) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar

Cons

  • Complex setup due to locking nut and trem
  • Not for those who prefer classic style guitars

Pros

  • Versatile HSH configuration
  • Good quality locking nut and tremolo
  • Shred-friendly wizard neck profile
  • Unique looking finish

The RG series started out as a streamlined affordable version of the Steve Vai Jem, but it ended up joining the Jem as the two main models that put Ibanez on the map. Up to this day, the RG continues to be their most popular guitar line, thanks to highly rated guitars like the RG470MB which are accessibly priced.

It retains the HSH (Humbucker - Singlecoil - Humbucker) pickup configuration, which was popularized by the original Jem. The hot output of the two humbuckers give the neck and bridge positions better compatibility with distortion effects. It also comes with the latest version of Ibanez' popular Wizard neck, which is a low action shred-friendly profile.

Other noteworthy features include double locking tremolo, locking nut, and it comes with a unique looking Autumn Fade Metallic finish. Hardware quality is better than what you'd normally see in similarly priced guitars. Locking tremolo and nut allow for techniques like vibrato and dive bombs, but they are a bit more complex to setup.

If you're into shred or if you're looking for a versatile HSH guitar, then this should be high on your list.

Specifications

  • Body: Meranti
  • Finish: Autumn Fade Metallic
  • Bridge: Double Locking Tremolo
  • Pickups: (HSH) 2 x Quantum Bucker, 1 x Quantum Singlecoil
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.7”
  • Frets: 24 Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.692”
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-way Blade Switch

Hands On Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Mic Sustianevo 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Pickup Type: Other

Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club (FP)

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club (FP) 6 String Solidbody Electric Guitar

Cons

  • Some will want to shave off excess highs
  • Not as visually flashy as other Gretsch

Pros

  • Genuine Gretsch chime and growl
  • Broad'tron + P90 Pickups
  • Good playability
  • Streamlined aesthetics

The G2215-90 is part of Gretsch's Streamliner line of affordable electric guitars. And as the name implies, cosmetic appointments are streamlined, which is a departure from the usual flamboyant styles of Gretsch guitars.

Thankfully, its hardware is not streamlined, rather it has a special pickup combination - a Broad'Tron (FilterTron style) humbucker at the bridge and a P-90 soapbar in the neck position. The bridge pickup is meant to provide the distinct high-end zing expected from Gretsch, while the neck pickup offers a fat and growling contrast. The pickups are mounted on a nato body that follows Gretsch' Jet Club singlecutaway shape.

The neck is also crafted from nato and bolted on to the body. It has a thin U profile and features a 22-fret fingerboard. While the shape is a bit different, it is comfortable and easy on the hands.

Wrapping up its features is a compensated wrap-around bridge with ridges that help intonation.

Note that the trebly tone of Gretsch is not for everyone, but it can be versatile with the help of tone and EQ adjustments.

The Gretsch G2215-P90 is a great sounding guitar for anyone who wants to try and experiment with non-conventional pickup configurations.

Specifications

  • Body: Nato
  • Finish: Mint Metallic, Single Barrel Stain, Sahara Metallic
  • Bridge: Anchored Compensated Wrap-around
  • Pickups: (FP) Broad'Tron Filtertron Bridge, P-90 Soap Bar Neck
  • Neck: Nato
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.6875”
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way Toggle Switch

Hands On Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Guitarist 90/100
Guitar World Dave Burrluck 90/100
MusicRadar Editor 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying a Solidbody Electric Guitar

Pickup Configuration

Much of how an electric guitar sounds like is dictated by the type of pickups used. The most common pickups you'll find on electric guitars are Humbucking (double coil) and Single Coil pickups. Single Coil pickups tend to emphasize the upper frequencies, while Humbuckers have a rounder tone with more of the low-end. In addition to their expected characteristics, the position of the pickups and the way they are combined also affect the resulting sound. FilterTron is another popular pickup type that is available in this price range, it is a staple pickup of Gretsch guitars and is a big part of their sound, which is described as a cross between a singlecoil and humbucker pickup. Shape and size-wise, filtertrons are similar to humbuckers, but they have different dimensions. The P-90 pickup is a singlecoil pickup developed by Gibson that usually comes in the same shape and size as humbuckers. It continues to gain traction in the market because of its distinct grit and growl.

There are a few more pickup variations, but we've left them out because they are not as popular in this price range. If you're not sure which one to get, you can look at the configuration used by your favorite guitarists.

Here are some pickup configurations that can be found in the sub $500 price range:

  • SSS - Guitars with three single coils, as seen on traditional Stratocasters.
  • SS - Guitars with two single coils, as seen on Telecasters.
  • HH - Guitars with two humbuckers as seen on Les Pauls, SGs, Super Strats, Flying Vs, and more...
  • FF - Guitars with two Filter’Trons, most commonly found on Gretsch guitars but can also be found on some Fender guitars - you can learn more in this article by James M Brill for Reverb.
  • HSS - Guitars with two single-coils and a humbucker in the bridge position, as seen on some modern Stratocasters and Superstrats.
  • HSH - Guitars with two humbuckers for the bridge and neck position, and a single coil for the middle position, as seen on Super Strats and Custom Les Pauls.
  • PP - Guitars with two P-90s for the bridge and neck position, can be usually seen on some SGs, and Les Pauls.
  • HP - Guitars with a Humbucker for the bridge and P90 for the neck position, this usually seen in custom models, but some manufacturers like G&L have incorporated this in affordable mass produced models.
  • FP - Guitars with a FilterTron for the bridge and P90 for the neck position, this usually seen in custom models, and are sometimes used by Gretsch in their entry-level to mid-tier models.

In addition to the above configurations, technology has made it possible for humbuckers to sound like single coil pickups via "coil tapping", allowing for flexible tone options that were not possible with older guitars.

Playability

This is where the neck specifications come into play - which when neglected can result to unpleasant playing experience for both students and advanced players. We've listed the four most important specs to consider below, along with a quick overview of how they affect playability.
  • Scale Length - the distance where-in the strings are stretched, from the nut to the bridge saddle. Physics dictate that the longer the scale length is, the more tension is required to get strings in tune. This is the reason why some players prefer the "slack" feel of a Les Paul with its 24.75" scale length, while others want the biting attack of the tighter strings on a 25.5" Scale Length Telecaster.
  • Nut Width - dictates the space between strings at the nut, those with smaller hands will appreciate smaller nut widths (1.65"), while others who prefer more room for their fingers will want the opposite.
  • Fingerboard Radius - without going too technical, this specification describes how flat or round the fingerboard is. Generally speaking, the flatter the radius, the lower the string action can be, which means easier single-note playing and bending. On the other hand, rounder fingerboards follow the natural shape of the fretting hand so are more chord friendly. Some players prefer the feel of vintage Fender guitars with 7.25" radius, while others want slightly flatter ones at 9.5". Those who are into shred and modern rock usually go for flatter radius that range from 12" to 16". Compound radius fingerboards try to give players the best of both worlds, by making the fingerboard flatter as you go up the neck, where you usually do your noodling.
  • Neck Profile - describes the shape of the back of the neck. Together with the fingerboard radius and neck finish, it dictates the overall feel of the neck. Flat radius guitars are usually complemented by wide thin neck profiles, while rounder fingerboards come with U or C shape necks. Again, this is more a matter of preference than being right or wrong.

Bridge

This price range is where bridge hardware quality begins to improve over cheaper models, from the usual tune-o-matic style bridges to a licensed Floyd Rose bridge system that allow for tricks like note dives and pull ups. While having a fancy tremolo bar system maybe a good thing, there are a few downsides, including tuning instability (Floyd Rose systems are better at preventing this), inconvenient string changes, and longer learning curve for its operation and maintenance. Flating type tremolo bars are also usually paired with locking nuts, to help alleviate tuning related issues. The choice is up to you whether to go for simplistic tune-o-matic bridge setups or the more complex floating bridge ones.

Body Shape and Finish

The guitar's shape and finish can spell the difference between a boring and an inspiring instrument, so better get one that looks great and feels comfortable to you. Guitar players are drawn to the style of instruments that their heroes play, so they are your best starting point, but don't be afraid to look at other styles.

Decades after they were first released, the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Les Paul and SG are still the most prominent solidbody guitar shapes. While there are other more eccentric shapes meant for rock and metal, most of what guitar builders produce today are either inspired by, or a direct clone of these guitars.

Electric Guitars Under $500 Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on August 9, 2022.

The goal of this guide is to find the best solidbody electric guitars that you can readily buy in the $200 to $500 price range. And to keep this guide focused, we decided to filter for highly rated solidbody 6-string electric guitars that are widely available from major online US retailers. With these criteria in place, we ended up with 38 guitars on our short-list for closer examination (see them in the database). We then gathered and analyzed over 8,600 reviews, ratings and forum discussions, including the most recent ones up to August 2022.

All these data were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm, which resulted in rating scores out of 100 that closely represent how actual owners, users and experts feel about the guitars. We used these ratings to cut down the list to just the very best, separated into pickup type used - Singlecoil, P-90, Humbucker, HHS, HSH, and a section for those with alternative pickup combinations. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

My personal favorite in this price range are electric guitars from Squier and Gretsch, they provide good balance of playability, sound quality and visual appeal. I have actually helped some of my students buy their first proper guitars from these two brands. Having good quality instruments impact students in a big way, so I make it a point to give advice.

Contributors

Raphael Pulgar: Ibanez AZES31 Review
Jason Horton: Product research, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the G&L Tribute Fallout, Ibanez RG470DX, Gretsch G5426, Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster, Squier Classic Vibe '50s Stratocaster, Epiphone Les Paul Classic Worn, Epiphone Les Paul Special, Gretsch G2215-P90 and Epiphone SG Standard '61.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers, except for the Ibanez AZES31 Bridge and Toggle photos that were taken by the author of that review.

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