Eleven Guitars for a Budget
This topic came up in a recent brainstorming session here at Guitar-Muse, and I wondered what you guys were buying. Here is a list, compiled from several sources and in order of popularity:
Epiphone Les Paul 100
The Epiphone Les Paul 100. This is the cheapest way to get an almost genuine Les Paul. This baby has a bolt-on neck so the traditional sustain just can’t be there. I have not played this but the look is good, and for only $249, it’s a hard deal to pass by.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard (Plus, Pro and Plus Top – $399 – $499). The Standard is just that, a copy of the Gibson LP standards of old. The Pro has the Pro humbuckers w/the split coil wiring, and the Plus Top has the features of the Pro with a Flamed Maple top.
Gibson Les Paul Junior
The Gibson Les Paul Junior (Special – $699 -$799). First introduced in 1954 with a single P-90 pickup in the bridge position, the Jr. has been a favorite of rockers and garage bands for almost 60 years now. In its Special configuration, the Jr. is upgraded to humbuckers for increased sustain and more tonal possibilities.
Fender Standard Stratocaster
The Fender Standard Stratocaster with Maple neck ($499). This is the Made in Mexico Strat that plays so well, it’s hard to tell it from the American Strats. Strat looks, Strat sound, Strat feel… oh yeah, it’s a Strat.
Gretsch G5120 Electromatic
The Gretsch G5120 Electromatic ($699). This is no surprise to me. I just played one of these and was surprised by how good it really is. This Gretsch is made in Korea, but rumor has it that they are better than the old Gretsches. It’s certainly a good player and sounds super close to a Gibson ES-335, with a Bigsby tail.
Squier Bullet Stratocaster
The Squier Bullet Stratocaster ($129). This is another one that doesn’t surprise me. The Bullet has a basswood body, making it less expensive to produce, and Fender is passing the reduced cost along to us. Will it sound like my MIA Strat? Well, no, but it’s a very nice starter guitar that won’t break the bank.
Esp LTD EC-401 & EC-1000
The ESP LTD EC-401 and EC-1000 ($699 & $799). Yeah, I know, the EC-1000 is over $750 but I’ll bet you can get a $50 discount if you try. These two guitars showed up on multiple lists so I couldn’t pass them up. I have not played either one, but they must be descent as you guys seem to like them.
PRS SE Santana & Tremonti
The PRS SE Santana and Tremonti ($709 & $545). These two guitars are quite dissimilar but the way they appeared in the searches convinced me to put them in. The Santana SE is a double cutaway with Fender style trem and single volume and tone pots while the single cutaway Tremonti SE is a more traditional dual tone and volume hard tail, ala Les Paul. I haven’t played either of these but, there’re from PRS… need I say more?
Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III
The Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III ($699 -$749). This is the exterior of a traditional LP brought into the 21st Century with gadgets like an onboard tuner, NanoMag acoustic pickup and a USB output to hook to your computer. You also get a free download of Guitar Rig Software when you buy one of these. You can even plug in the humbuckers and the NanoMag into separate amps (there are two output jacks) and sound like an electric and acoustic playing together. Wow. I will be playing one of these soon.
Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus
The Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus ($599). This LP is a little more traditional than #9 but still has those little upgrades that make you smile. The Tribute starts out as a ’57 LP with all the traditional goodies, SlimTaper neck, Maple top and ’57 modified PAF humbuckers. Each coil of each pickup is brought out so the push-pull pots can select series or parallel wiring for different tones. A very pretty LP. I’ll be playing one of these, too.
Fender Deluxe Players Stratocaster
The Fender Deluxe Players Stratocaster ($645). This Strat has gold plated hardware, a 12″ neck radius, tortoise shell pickguard , and vintage Noiseless pickups. It also has a push button switch for 7 different pickup combinations. It is a revision of the “Super Strat”, introduced in 2004. I’m not fond of the looks but you guys seem to like it.
Guitars that deserve an honorable mention are, the Epiphone ES-339 Pro ($399), the Epiphone Wildkat Royale ($349), the Fender Black top Tele HH ($499) and the Ibanez ART 100 ($299). These guitars just missed hitting the list but are still pretty popular favorites. I’m surprised the Epi “Dot” wasn’t anywhere near the list.