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Fret Not – The Best Guitar Buys For Any Budget

by | Gear Reviews

Buying your first guitar is a right of passage for any musician looking to take up the craft as a serious career or pastime. However, many people are under the impression that you need significant capital to purchase a decent guitar of your own. While some guitars will put a heavy dent into your life savings, there is also a wide range of affordable and playable guitars on the market. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the finest guitars available today based on their price points. These will range from affordable entry-level models to more advanced and lavish designs for experienced (or eccentric) players.

Entry-Level Guitars

These guitars are made to be super affordable and accessible to the general public. Advanced players will probably not invest in a guitar at this tier, although there are some exceptions. Jack White of the White Stripes famously played the same cheap plastic Airline Res-O for his career ten years. Anyone looking to learn the ropes on guitar or is on a tight budget can use these guitars.

Squier Strat HSS by Fender

Squier has been a highly praised subsidiary of Fender for quite some time. They specialize in remanufacturing specific Fender designs at a lower cost and distributing them at an affordable price. The HSS Strat is a tribute to a combination of popular Fender models. The double-cutaway body is made of lightweight Alder wood cheaper than regular guitar woods like maple or rosewood. The abbreviation in the model name stands for Heavy Strat Sound and refers to the five-way switch system used to toggle between two single-coil pickups and a humbucker at the bridge. The single coils still provide the signature Strat tone, and even though this guitar doesn’t quite reach the standard of its predecessor, it gets pretty close, at a fraction of the price.

Jackson SL3X Soloist

Jackson is another Fender subsidiary (which is a bit of a hallmark on Fender guitars’ reliability). Where Squier focuses on crafting cheaper Fender remakes, Jackson chooses to create vastly different designs from their mother company. The SL3X is modeled on the popular Dinky guitar ( another entry-level model) but features a few extra bells and whistles. The guitar comes complete with 24 frets on a highly playable neck designed for lead guitar fluidity. The bridge also features a signature Floyd Rose Tremolo, a long-revered feature on many popular Jackson builds. The SLX3 is a slightly more expensive entry-level guitar but still comes with a reachable price tag. The guitar is well suited to the more technical styles of music like heavy metal or jazz-fusion.

Mid-Tier Models

Middle-tier guitar models will feature costlier materials than entry-level guitars, although they should be relatively affordable to most aspiring players. You may be a beginner player looking to upgrade their current guitar, or perhaps you’re buying a guitar to invest in a new project. If so, mid-tier guitars will be a reasonable investment for you on your musical journey.

PRS SE Custom 24

PRS has always been the darling of the guitar world, thanks mainly to their consistent quality craftsmanship. The Custom 24 is a perfect example of their manufacturing prowess and is a trendy choice amongst guitarists looking to step up their playing. The maple neck hosts a 24 fret rosewood fretboard that is easy to navigate regardless of your playing level. 2 signature Custom PRS Humbucker pickups adorn the rich mahogany body and give this guitar a thick, meaty tone. This tone is further enunciated by the hardy solid body build that is still surprisingly lightweight for most players. The SE Custom sounds at home in lively music styles such as hard rock, punk, or blues genres.

Gretsch G2622 Streamliner

The Streamliner has been hailed as one of the finest new builds of the post-Millenium era. This semi-hollow body design follows a long line of similar builds from Gretsch’s history, and the company has seemed to manage to build a near-perfect model at a very reasonable price point. This model features a Nato wood neck, and the body is made using laminated maple for added durability. The Streamliner carries a center block at the core of its body for added resonance, and two Broad-Tron pickups provide a crisp, clear tone to players. Semi-hollow bodies shine when used in a gentle music setting, and even though this guitar can be cranked to high heaven, it best serves its purpose in styles like jazz, folk, or neo-soul.

Top Of The Range

The last guitars on our list are for those players that are looking to splash some cash. These guitars are the more luxurious models. While they may not be necessary purchases in the pursuit of musical perfection, they add a lot of value to your experience in music as a whole. These guitars are great for musicians looking for a lifelong investment and who want to use legendary status to achieve the same thing for themselves.

Gibson Les-Paul Standard

The Les-Paul Standard is one of the poster children of guitar music alongside the Fender Stratocaster. While some may debate its credibility, there are enough famous players and brilliant albums to back its playability and tonal quality. This guitar’s searing signature tone comes from twin PAF-like Burstbucker pickups onboard the maple top of a mahogany body. The neck is made up of rosewood and features a ridiculously low profile for optimum lead and riff playing. While this guitar is notably heavier than other guitar builds, the tone is irreplaceable, and once you invest in a Les-Paul, you’ll struggle to find a reason to upgrade or seek a replacement.

Fender Telecaster

The Telecaster is the often-overlooked younger sibling of the American Stratocaster. Both guitars share similar price ranges depending on the specific model. Still, the Telecaster’s praises are seldom sung, and most serious; experienced players recommend owning at least one Telecaster if you’re looking to build a collection. Most Telecasters are built using maple necks that are supremely comfortable and feature the same signature pickups for a classic vintage-style tone. If you’re a professional player looking for a sturdy, diverse instrument for touring or recording, you’d be hard-pressed to find a build as reliable as a Telecaster.

Final Thoughts

There is no such thing as the perfect guitar, and that’s part of what makes the world of guitar crafting and trading so fascinating. Luthiers pour precious hours into every build, and price points are a reliable indication of the amount of effort and attention to detail that has gone into a guitar’s build. When it comes to buying the best guitar for you, try to assess whether the money you’re spending on the buy justifies the amount of time you’re going to spend on the instrument. There’s no point in buying the best guitar on the market if it’s just for display purposes. After all, these marvelous contraptions are designed primarily for play. Thanks for reading our piece on the best guitar buys for any budget.

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