Ask Paul: Five Great Guitars for Under $500, Part 2



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Cracker please, no wiggle sticks on any of them, I like to buy old vintage Epiphone ea 250's bodies off ebay and build them as i dang well please, I've got one loaded with 3 dano p'ups and a Floyd for a bridge and a fantastic custom neck built by a Gibson trained Luthier to my specs, , another loaded with TV Jones Gretsch p'ups and a Bigs, (Carvin 25" mahog neck thru, yes I gave the hollow body a neck enema) and another in progress, it'll have a Jackson Floyd liscensed bridge and TV Jones T'Armond p'ups fore and aft and a Gretsch n the mid, and a bolt on Mity Mite neck.

Why do all that? First UR working with very old but affordable bodies (tone), second you get instruments with unique character, and the price of admission is about $650 per axe, but the Chinese are not invited.

Of course you also need to pop for some Luthier training and a few thou worth of tools, but guess what, you can do other things with the tools, a chunk of my income comes from handyman work on peoples houses and tools is tools.

And of course talent is required as well, that can't be bought but can be brought along thru sheer practice. I just wish more players would involve themselves in piecing together their own instruments (Eddie didit), it seems to be a dying art per USA and that's arguably the last place that should happen, being USA gave this Planet LP's and Strat's and Dano's and a boatload of great guitar designs...ex.PRS kicks some butt...


I'll have to disagree with the LTD's being one of the top 5. I have a Squier Classic Vibe 60's Strat which is much better than the LTD. I bought it over a year ago at my local Guitar Center and I did try out both of them before I made my purchase. The Squier is better made, sounds much better, and is IMO, a all around much better versatile guitar. Even though it's Chinese made, the quality of the build and the sound of the pickups, leaves it's MIM Fender Standard counterpart, in the dust, and could give some of Fender's MIA models a run for their money as well.



Hey Paul:

I know this was only part 1 but let's jump right into part 2 or 3.

There the ubiquitous Fender MIM Strat or Tele. Of course, there are also the Fender Blacktops and some of the better Squiers.

There's the Ibanez RG 350/370 series. There is also some of the Steinberger "headless" style guitars for around $400, and in the metal category don't forget about ESP's KH-202.

Just some thoughts and lots of love to you!



When someone asks me to recommend an inexpensive but well-made, reliable guitar—acoustic or electric—I always think of Godin first, and Godin's various brands (Seagull, etc.). They're made in North America, use quality parts, and hold up well. Also, if we have to stay under $500, MIM Fender instruments are quite good, and again made in North America. (If you can't shop local, shop continental!)



Paul - usually I think you're on the right track, but I recently tried an ESP LTD ST203, and it definitely was not a good guitar. The construction was poor, the neck and fret job was dreadful, and it sounded cheap and weak. As far as budget Strat copies go, the Squier Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified Strats were definitely better made all around and they certainly sounded better. Maybe I got an ESP that wasn't set up right, or maybe it was made on a bad day at the factory. But the Squier CV's and VM's are much, much better guitars in a lot of ways. I hate to disagree with you because I mostly find that you are on target, but you missed out here.


Dr Gonzo

Hey Paul,
Big fan of your reviews. I picked up a pretty sweet, inexpensive, honest-to-god Gibson a while back and was just curious if you had gotten to try one, and what you thought.
It's a Les Paul Studio 60's Tribute Goldtop. Similar to some other models it has a thin nitro finish, not really 'worn' as they claim, just not glossy like more spendy Lesters. 2 P-90 pickups, 60's slim taper neck, and all the other requisite LP hardware. Mine has a 2 piece mahogany body, though 3 piece bodies seem to be the most common. It is a very sharp looking axe,not overly fancy, with the goldtop being (to me)the best looking of the available finishes. The P-90's sound great, and the guitar plays very nicely. The kicker was the price, $850 brand spanking new!! The same model in an SG can be had for $750. They are absolutely Made in USA, and a heck of a value, especially if you love the bark and snarl of good P-90's.
Your thoughts?



Paul Im a huge fan!
Your reviews are the coolest ever!
About this article, I consider that this information is very very valueable for people with a low budget(like me) who NEEDS to play and to express the rock star inside! Those Ltds are great guitars! I found a LTD H-500 for around 500 and I felt like winning the lotto, and I use it trough a Line6 30watts Spider 4, and everytime I play I have the sensation of being using a super custom shop ESP trough a marshall stack.

Thanks for the gear reviews, tips and kind words


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