1 - ESP/LTD Left Handed LViper256SWLH Viper-256 Double Cutaway Electric Guitar- Set Neck Construction with Roasted Jatoba Fretboard
The left handed ESP/LTD Viper 256 features a hard-rocking off-set double-cut Mahogany body with ESP Designed LH-150 humbuckers that pack an impressive tonal punch! With a strong and stable 3-piece Mahogany neck and a Roasted Jatoba fingerboard with a 13.78" fretboard radius, you’ll have nothing standing between you and the music you’ve always dreamed of creating!
The LTD Viper 256 has a distinctive offset double cut body, with horns styled like a classic SG with set neck construction that makes it incredibly resonant and easy to play at the upper register of the fretboard. For under $500 you can really enjoy the total package with this new Viper: classic offset styling with a modern feel and an incredible tonal punch!
2 - D’Angelico Premier Atlantic - Duncan Designed Pickups With Coil Splitting
Known as the ‘Stradivarius of Little Italy,’ master luthier John D’Angelico hand crafted some of the finest instruments known to the world of Jazz guitar in the 1930‘s and 40‘s, and today his namesake guitar company is carrying the torch into the world of ultra modern solid body electrics. The D’Angelico Premier Atlantic is a competitively priced solid body with classic styling and modern electronics that give it a look, feel and sound that modern guitar players love.
Featuring a single cutaway body with a satin-smooth maple neck, set-neck construction, and an ultra modern sculpted neck joint, the D’Angelico Premier Atlantic delivers silky smooth playability, while its Seymour Duncan designed humbucker pickups deliver a range of tones that give the Atlantic a sonic versatility that is virtually unchallenged in its price range.
This sonic versatility comes from its advanced electronics. Featuring push/pull pots on both of its tone knobs, the Premier Atlantic delivers a broad range of tones, from full on humbucker roar to bright and spanky single coil tones. But it doesn’t stop there. In most guitars with push/pull coil splitting, there is a loss of volume when splitting a humbucker to a single coil, but in the D’Angelico this doesn’t happen. Thanks to a phantom coil and some other electronic wizardry the coil-split single coil tones maintain the same volume as the humbucker tones.
You can also use the independent volume knobs on each pickup to blend coil-split tones with full humbucker tones, creating uniquely modern sounds that never go muddy on the low end and maintain an incredible amount of clarity. Priced at under $700, the D’Angelico Premier Atlantic has all of the sonic versatility of guitars more than twice the price. D'Angelico also offers Duncan Designed pickups with coil splitting on their Brighton and Premier SD models, both of which are competitively priced as well, coming in at under $800!
3 - Sterling by Music Man Luke LK100 - Roasted Maple Neck
Roasted maple necks have become some of the most popular premium features available and have become a staple of competitively priced guitars industry wide. This is because roasting choice pieces of maple removes moisture content, sugars and other impurities from the wood, making it stronger, more resilient when exposed to changes in temperature and humidity, and also gives it a beautiful caramel color.
Removing moisture from the wood also makes the wood more stable. Roasted maple necks do not even require a finish. They have a natural caramel color that is absolutely beautiful and they can be sanded to a soft, silky satin finish that is an absolute joy to play. One competitively priced guitar that offers an incredible roasted maple neck is the Sterling by Music Man Steve Lukather signature guitar known simply as ‘The Luke.’
Sterling by Music Man is known for its on-spec models of classic Music Man instruments, and the LK100 ‘Luke’ Steve Lukather Signature guitar is no exception. Modeled after the Music Man Steve Lukather Signature Luke Model, the Sterling by Music Man LK100 offers a plethora of premium features at a truly competitive price point.
The roasted maple neck with Rosewood fretboard is a thing of beauty. The Luke’s roasted Hard Maple neck features a smooth, buttery satin finish that looks vintage and feels silky smooth. The V-shaped neck profile is narrow and solid, easy to navigate and a joy to play.
The Luke also has high end electronic features to offer, including Music Man-spec humbucker pickups with a push/push 9V, 12dB boost switch on the volume pot that allows you to intensify the already rich humbucker tone for lead playing with a simple push of a knob. Using this active boost in combination with the 5-way pickup selector switch gives you a wide array of tones to choose from, making the Luke an extremely versatile guitar.
The Sterling by Music Man Luke LK100 offers a ton of value at a price point around $650! Definitely worth a closer look if you are looking to the most premium features from a competitively priced guitar.
4 - Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 - High End Pickups PRS 85/15 Pickups & Coil Splitting
Finding a guitar with a really good set of pickups for under a grand was once an all but impossible task, but today that is no longer the case - in fact, PRS makes them for under $500! The Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 combines the body design of the PRS flagship guitar, with an all-mahogany body and a set of classic PRS appointments resulting in is an affordable guitar with a powerful voice for players who demand a rock-solid reliability from their instruments.
The powerful sound of the SE Standard 24 comes from its unique combination of quality tonewoods and superior electronics. The 85/15 "S" humbucker pickups in the bridge and neck positions are based on the PRS pickups designed in 1985 and reissued in 2015 which have been listed among the most important advances in pickup design in history by Guitar Player Magazine for their combination of high output with an incredible amount of clarity and brilliance.
The controls include a volume control with a push-pull tone pot for coil splitting capabilities and a 3-way pickup selector switch that allows you to blend tones with ease. The SE Standard 24 also features high end hardware such as a PRS designed molded tremolo system with a bone nut and PRS designed tuners for stable intonation and rock-solid tuning.
Coming in at under $500, the PRS SE Standard 24 delivers the sound and playability of a much more expensive guitar at a very affordable price point!
5 - Sterling by Music Man JP60 - Premium Finish Options and Next Level Playability
Premium finishes have, until recently, usually been offered only in limited edition or custom-shop level guitars which meant that getting an incredible finish like the iconic Mystic Dream finish on this Sterling by Music Man JP60, modeled after the Music Man John Petrucci JP6 Signature Mystic Dream guitar, was bound to cost you twice as much as your average guitar, if not more.
Today, that is no longer the case. With the JP60 in either a Stealth Black or gorgeous Mystic Dream finish, Sterling by Music Man now brings premium aesthetic appointments and incredible playability together at an amazing price point that guitar players at all experience levels are sure to appreciate.
The new Sterling by Music Man JP60 is designed with a special ‘contoured forearm scoop’ that gives you completely unfettered access to the highest register of the fretboard. When you combine this with the premium Mystic Dream finish (which our photos can’t really do justice), silky smooth, ultra fast neck and a floating modern tremolo system with locking tuners, the result is a premium quality guitar that delivers killer tone and amazing performance, for musicians who are always pushing themselves to the limit.
Coming in at under $600 (with an additional up-charge for the Mystic Dream Finish), the Sterling by Music man JP60 really delivers a ton of value and is definitely worth taking a closer look at.
It really is a great time to be a guitar player! With brands like D’Angelico, PRS, Sterling by Music Man, and ESP/LTD offering instruments with premium appointments like those we looked at above, you can have the features you've always wanted without breaking the bank. Pro or amateur, righty or lefty, working musician or student, you can now find a guitar in your price range with the high end features and premium appointments you have been looking for!