Best electric guitars under $2,000 2024: high-end guitars for intermediate and pro players

Best electric guitars under $2,000
(Image credit: Future)

If you're ready to move beyond the budget or mid-range guitar brackets, then it's time to start looking at what's on offer in the upper mid-range and high-end categories. There you'll find the best electric guitars under $2,000, which offer the perfect blend of epic tone, quality craftsmanship, and just about any sonic vibe you might be looking for. 

For this kind of money, you're permitted to set your expectations high. At that price, your new guitar - whatever it is - should deliver the playing experience you've dreamt of since you started out. This is the higher end of the market, after all. So, that's why we've opted for must-have classics from Gibson, top-of-the-line six-strings from Fender, and even some cult classics-in-waiting that might have escaped your notice. 

If you've been mulling over an upgrade or just want to treat yourself, you're sure to find an instrument to get excited about in this comprehensive guide to the best electric guitars under $2,000.

We've included some in-depth buying advice at the end of this guide for those who'd like to read more about the best electric guitars under $2,000. If you'd like to read it, click the link. If you'd rather get straight to the products, keep scrolling.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Our top pick

If you are in the market for a Telecaster at this price range, then in our humble opinion, the Fender American Professional II Telecaster is your best choice. With its stunning alder body, smooth maple neck and V-Mod single coil pickups, this guitar is an absolute joy to play with a tone that's out of this world. 

The Gibson SG Standard '61 is a fine choice for those seeking a hard rock classic. This vintage reissue pays perfect homage to the original SGs of the early sixties, with its fierce tone and excellent playability. 

For those who like their guitars more on the extreme side, the Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL7 HT is a great alternative. Priced right in the middle of Jackson’s seven-string range, it offers a great balance of value and pro features - with a tone that will melt your face if you get too close.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Product guide

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Fender American Professional II Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

1. Fender American Professional II Telecaster

A new take on an established classic


Body: Alder, roasted pine
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5"
Pickups: 2x V-Mod II Single-Coil Tele

Reasons to buy

V-Mod pickups deliver bold, dynamic tones
Comfortably rounded “Deep C” neck profile

Reasons to avoid

Some players may prefer a traditional Tele 

At first glance, the American Professional II Telecaster seems like the classic version of the iconic electric solidbody model that most guitarists know and love, with an alder body, maple neck with a satin urethane finish on the back, 25.5-inch scale length, a 9.5-inch radius, 22 frets, master volume, master tone and a three-way pickup selector. 

However, subtle differences are immediately apparent the moment you pick it up and plug it in, such as the narrow-tall frets, distinctively comfortable feel of the modern Deep C neck profile, and a push-push switch on the volume control activates the series mode for a fatter tone. The three-saddle bridge design may look familiar but the compensated brass barrel saddles are designed to give accurate intonation. 

What’s more, the American Pro Tele sounds absolutely amazing. The two V-Mod single coils are beefy and ballsy with twang that packs a solid punch. It’s tone that vintage connoisseurs spend years searching for while pros go on endless quests for the ideal replacement pickups. Yet here it is in a brand-new, off-the-shelf instrument. 

The Tele design may be a classic, but the new model comes in a wide variety of traditional and unconventional finish colors and styles - it really is one of the best Telecasters on the market right now. 

Read the review: Fender American Professional II Telecaster

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM

2. Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM

A superstrat with deep cutaways and comfortable contours


Body: Alder w/ Flame Maple top
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5"
Pickups: Seymour Duncan SSL-1 single coil (neck), SSL-1 RWRP single-coil (middle), TB-14 humbucker (bridge)

Reasons to buy

Duncan single coils and humbucker provide variety of tones
Pro quality hardware

Reasons to avoid

Neck heel is not as slim or contoured as many modern superstrats

Yamaha’s Pacifica series guitars have remained best sellers since their introduction way back in 1990 for several very good reasons, but the main reason for their popularity and longevity is that every Pacifica model - from the most inexpensive entry-level instrument to the top-of-the-line artist signature guitar - provides unbeatable value for the money.

The Pacifica 612 VII FM is no exception, offering an alluring combination of high-quality tonewoods, hardware and electronics along with superior craftsmanship and playability.

The 612 VII FM –  which features in our best Strat-style guitars guide – features a sleek, modern “superstrat” design with deep, sweeping cutaways and comfortable contours. What’s really impressive about the guitar is its first-class hardware and electronics, which make the usual pro-quality upgrades unnecessary, unlike most other guitars in its price range. 

Pickups consist of a Seymour Duncan SSL-1 single coil at the neck, a reverse wind/reverse polarity SSL-1 single coil in the middle position and a Seymour Duncan TB-14 humbucker with a chrome cover at the bridge.

Thanks to those pickups, the 612 VII FM is a tone monster. The single coils deliver impressively fat and harmonically rich tones, and their output is perfectly matched to the humbucker so there is no volume drop when changing pickups. 

The reverse wind/reverse polarity SSL-1 middle pickup provides completely noise-free performance when the neck/middle or bridge/middle setting is selected, while still delivering the desirable out-of-phase “quack” that Strat players adore. 

With its immaculate craftsmanship, comfortable design and pro-quality hardware and electronics, the 612 VII FM is a great bargain on today’s market.

Read the review: Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Gibson SG Standard '61

(Image credit: Gibson)

3. Gibson SG Standard '61

Our pick of the SG crop


Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Scale: 24.75”
Pickups: Gibson Burstbucker 61R/61T

Reasons to buy

Certainly looks the part
Slim taper neck is a joy to play

Reasons to avoid

Changes are mostly cosmetic

There's something about a Vintage Cherry SG. From the curves on its body to the grain of the wood, everything about these guitars has a certain personality about it. And, if you're exploring this price bracket, we'd usher you towards the absolute peak of SG perfection. 

The Gibson SG Standard '61 is an homage to the original SGs that came when Gibson ceased production of the Gibson Les Paul to put all its energy into this bold new design. It may never have caught on in the way they'd hoped, but to those who have fallen for the SG's unique charms - which is still going strong 59 years later - the '61 reissue is the ultimate nod of appreciation.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Jackson Soloist SL7 HT

4. Jackson Soloist SL7 HT

A seven-string speed demon


Body: Mahogany w/ ash top
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25"
Pickups: PRS S2 Type-D single coil (neck) and S2 humbucker (bridge)

Reasons to buy

Affordably-priced seven-string
Neck-through construction
Duncans have high-output punch and outstanding clarity

Reasons to avoid

Solid all around

For players who prefer a hardtail bridge, a traditional (i.e. non-slanted or multi-scale) fretboard, passive pickups and a non-extended scale length, Jackson’s Pro Series Soloist SL7 HT is a great choice. Priced right in the middle of Jackson’s seven-string range, it offers a great balance of value and pro features.

The most distinctive feature of the SL7 HT is its body construction, which places a layer of ash with a distinctive transparent satin Charcoal Gray finish on top of a slab of mahogany. The single-piece maple neck extends all the way to the body’s heel for true neck-through-body construction, but ash laminates on the sides and back give the body a consistent look.

Consistent with Jackson’s other Soloist models, the SL7 HT is a speed machine with a very fast-playing neck that, despite having a very slim profile, feels rock solid. The high-output Duncan SH-6 humbuckers deliver remarkably clear and well-balanced sound. 

Thanks to treble and midrange emphasis with slightly rolled-back bass, the pickups allow the low B string to produce a brilliant, metallic clang rather than the deadened mush one often encounters on seven-string guitars with non-extended scales. As a result, the SL7 HT sounds as good when played with a clean amp setting as it does when pushed to the brink with high-gain distortion.

Read the review: Jackson Soloist SL7 HT

Best electric guitars under $2,000: ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

5. ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

A solid buy with even more solid tuning


Body: Mahogany w/ maple cap
Neck: 3-piece mahogany
Hardware: EverTune bridge, Grover tuners

Reasons to buy

EverTune bridge keeps you in tune
Seymour Duncan humbuckers
Great playability

Reasons to avoid

EverTune is a bit difficult to get a handle on – at first

The EverTune bridge, which provides amazing tuning stability and intonation - just try to knock this baby out of tune - is the selling point here, but the EC-1000ET is a beauty besides. 

The guitar features a mahogany body with maple cap, a three-piece mahogany set neck and impeccable construction. Pickups are Seymour Duncan, and lend the guitar a range of tones, from full and aggressive with the bridge ‘bucker engaged, to more rounded and mellow with the neck.

And the playability is impeccable. It's a guitar that's perfectly tuned and intonated up and down the neck and not only sounds great, but allows you to riff and solo with confidence. If never going out of tune is important to you (and how could it not be?), this is one of the best electrics going today.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Fender EOB Stratocaster

6. Fender EOB Stratocaster

Get sustain for days with this Radiohead-approved Strat


Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Pickups: Sustainer Driver (neck), Texas Special single coil (middle), Duncan JB Jr humbucker (bridge)

Reasons to buy

Sustainer pickup
Wide range of tones
Seymour Duncan humbucker

Reasons to avoid

One finish option

A partnership between Fender and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, the EOB Fender Stratocasters offers a wide palette of tones, thanks to its Seymour Duncan JB Jr. humbucking bridge pickup, Texas Special single-coil middle pickup and Fernandes Sustainer unit in the neck position. The Sustainer creates near-infinite sustain on one or more strings, making it easy to achieve thick, textured sounds.

Controls include an on/off switch, intensity control and a three-position switch to select the mode: Fundamental only, Harmonic only or Blend. Other modern and classic features include a six-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge, vintage-style tuning machines, a “10/56 V” neck profile, 21 narrow-jumbo frets, a synthetic bone nut and a special neck plate engraved with a custom “Flower of Life” emblem. 

Furthermore, the guitar’s ethereal all-white design is a perfect complement to its otherworldly tones.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH HT M Ash

7. Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH HT M Ash

A T-style shred machine


Body: Ash
Neck: Two-piece maple
Pickups: Duncan '59 SH-1N humbucker (neck) and JB TB-4 humbucker (bridge)

Reasons to buy

Super-fast playability
Generous body contours
Dynamic Duncan humbuckers

Reasons to avoid

Not a lot of finish options

A Tele-shaped model with a hard tail bridge, the Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH HT M comes with a beautifully grained natural ash body coupled with a two-piece bolt-on maple neck. 

In a smart design move, the body is contoured with a generous belly cut to hug your midsection, a contour on the cutaway and a heel for unfettered access ahead of the 15th fret, in addition to a slick contour behind the lower bout for the output jack.

Performance-wise, the Style 2 feels like a wild bucking horse once you strap yourself in, you can’t help but hang on as your playing heads toward breakneck speed. The fast-neck profile with a hand-rubbed urethane gel back finish is so smooth it allows your fingers to effortlessly skate across the whole neck. 

When it comes to the guitar’s sound, Charvel was wise to use the darker-voiced Seymour Duncan humbuckers to balance the ash body’s brighter tone characteristics. Here, the pickups have a strong midrange that makes chords sound chunky when using high-gain amplifiers, while leads have the perfect bite and roundness that slice through the mix. 

Engaging the volume’s push/pull coil split brightens up the tone for single-coil spank. This is a totally versatile hard rock masterpiece stripped down for dexterous guitar acrobatics.

Read the review: Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH HT M Ash

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Guild Starfire V

(Image credit: Guild)

8. Guild Starfire V

A semi-hollow with Bigsby-style vibrato


Body: Laminated mahogany, semi-hollow
Neck: 3-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany
Scale: 24.75"
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2x LB-1 humbuckers

Reasons to buy

Classic looks and tones
Vintage-voiced pickups
Bigsby-style vibrato

Reasons to avoid

A bit heavy for a semi-hollow

The semi-hollow Starfire was first intended to compete with Gibson's ES-335 but still boasts plenty of classic Guild style, including spacious cutaways and a wooden foot Tune-o-matic-style bridge. 

The new Starfire V sports mahogany laminates with a striped figure under the Cherry Red finish and, unlike the Starfire IV, adds in a Guild vibrato. The three-piece neck joins the body at the 18th fret and features a 'soft U' profile, and is topped with a rosewood fingerboard.

Soundwise, the guitar is bright and bold, with plenty of low-end definition. The LB-1 "Little Bucker" pickups here replicate the early '60s-era “Anti Hum Pickups,” and come with their own tone and volume controls. 

Though the Starfire is a little weighty around the neck due to the maple center block, it has all the ease and easy playability you would expect from a thinline design.

Best electric guitars under $2,000: PRS SE McCarty 594 Singlecut

(Image credit: PRS)

9. PRS SE McCarty 594 Singlecut

The singlecut McCarty gets the SE treatment


Body: Mahogany/ Maple Top
Neck: Multi-ply mahogany
Scale: 24.594”
Pickups: PRS 58/15 LT S

Reasons to buy

Great weight, build and playability
Superb bridge/tailpiece
Very usable partial single-coil sounds

Reasons to avoid

Some may prefer a Les Paul 

It's no secret how much we love the PRS SE range here at Guitar World. For us, the build quality is second to none in their price category and the finishing is simply superb - and of course, this extends to the new PRS SE McCarty 594 Singlecut.  

Unfortunately, the singlecut beauty has never quite reached the height of its double-cut brethren, making it a criminally underrated guitar in the PRS catalog. 

This stunning guitar comes loaded with a set of 58/15 LT "S" pickups, which delivers a warm, vintage-inspired tone with plenty of clarity and bite when you need it. 

Read our full PRS SE McCarty 594 Singlecut review

Best electric guitars under $2,000: buying advice

Fender EOB Stratocaster on red background

(Image credit: Future)

We're very much into serious electric guitar territory here. If you're shopping in and around the $2,000 mark, you’re either a proper player with a clear idea of what you want, or you've won the lotto and are looking for something to hang on the wall! We'll assume it's the former and hope that by now you know your mahogany bodies from your maple tops, and have a keen preference for the type of pickups you want. 

Is it worth spending around $2,000 on a guitar?

Typically, you can expect the very best in fit, finish, and overall quality control, when you are buying a guitar at this price point. You can expect a guitar without any of those undesirable qualities we've all experienced in our playing careers. It's fair to say if you drop this amount of cash on an instrument it should sing straight out of the box - something every guitar on this list certainly does. 

Where you focus your decision process is where you'll probably most notice the improvements a high-end guitar will bring. The pickups will likely allow you to access a wider range of high-quality tones. The playability across the fretboard will be immaculate. And, above all, a $2,000 guitar shouts “play me!” every time you look at it. 

What should you be looking for at this price point?

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The fact is, if you're seriously looking at this end of the market, you don't need us to tell you what you should be looking for. You'll already know. That said, it's always worth thinking about the following things before dropping all your hard-earned cash. 

Now, if you are planning on only owning one high-end guitar, then you'll want it to be as versatile as possible – that's why the gorgeous PRS CE is featured at the top of this list. You'll want to find an axe that can just as easily tackle the softer side of your playing as well as the face-melting side. 

With that in mind, it's worth looking for a guitar with tone-shaping features such as coil-splitting, as this will allow you to cover more sonic ground. 

Next is obviously the feel of the instrument. You want a guitar that's effortless to play. Luckily at this price point, most of the guitars will come with professionally rolled edges on the fingerboard, resulting in a very satisfying playing experience. You also don't have to worry about lousy fretwork either, as, at this price, most of the guitars will come set up and ready to go. So try a few different styles out and see what feels right for you.

How we selected the products for this guide

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar and bass related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best electric guitars under $2,000 available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best electric guitars under $2,000 on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.  

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