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Best electric guitars under $2,000 2022: high-end guitars for intermediate and pro players

The body and upper frets of a PRS CE24 on a wooden floor, leaning against a wood-panelled wall
(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

For us, one guitar stands out above the others on this list. In terms of versatility, build quality and sheer class, the PRS CE24 (opens in new tab) has it all. Sitting pretty above the SE models, but beneath the otherworldly core models, the CE range takes the best of PRS's best and packages it in such a way that you're sure you're getting a truly exceptional instrument. 

It has a range of tones so wide you can use it in any setting, and the attention to detail will have the aesthetes and design fans purring. We know quality when we see it, and it's abundantly clear in this guitar.

Now, we have to say that we've seen an increase in prices over the last few months, and therefore the CE24 has crept up over the $2,000 mark. While it's still possible to find this guitar for the old price in some places, it's getting increasingly difficult. That said, if you can stretch your budget slightly, then it's most definitely worth it! 

If you really can't stretch to the new CE24 price but still want a quality Paul Reed Smith, you may want to look at the absolutely gorgeous PRS S2 Vela (opens in new tab)

Best electric guitars under $2,000: Product guide

Best electric guitars under $2,000: PRS CE 24

(Image credit: PRS)

1. PRS CE 24

The best electric guitar under $2,000 right now

Specifications

Body: Mahogany with Maple top
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 24
Pickups: PRS 85/15 Humbuckers
Controls: Master volume, push-pull tone, 3-way pickup switch
Hardware: PRS Patented Tremolo and locking tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Amber, Dark Cherry Sunburst, Gray and Black, Trampas Green, Vintage Sunburst, Whale Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible quality
+
Powerful sounds
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
A case would have been nice!

PRS recently reintroduced the CE range back into its line-up, after deciding there was space in its world for a classic bolt-on design. And boy have they got it right. The PRS CE24 is, by any measure, a tremendous guitar and fully deserves the number one spot on this sub-$2,000 electrics list. It looks, feels, sounds, and plays like an elite instrument. Everything from the quality of the build through to the wide range of tones from the 85/15 pickups screams class. 

The modern iteration comes in a range of distinguished finishes, but whichever you choose, the trusty combination of mahogany, maple, and rosewood, and some truly wonderful fittings, will be sure to bring a smile to your face. 

As we have seen a sharp increase in prices over the last year, this beautiful guitar is now just outside the $2,000 price bracket. That said, there are still some places offing the PRS CE at its old price, and even if you can't find it for sub $2,000, it's worth spending the extra to get a quality guitar. 

Read the review: PRS CE 24 semi-hollow

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

(Image credit: Fender)

2. Fender American Professional II Telecaster

A new take on an established classic

Specifications

Body: Alder, roasted pine
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Maple/rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2x V-Mod II Single-Coil Tele
Controls: Volume with treble-bleed, tone, 3-way selector switch
Hardware: 3-saddle, strings-through-body Tele bridge with compensated brass saddles, 6-screw mounting with removable modern 'Ashtray' bridge cover
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Roasted Pine, Sienna Sunburst, Miami Blue, Black, Mystic Seafoam, Mercury, 3-Color Sunburst, Dark Night Black, Butterscotch Blonde, Olympic White, Sonic Gray

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

3. Yamaha Pacifica 612 VII FM

A superstrat with deep cutaways and comfortable contours

Specifications

Body: Alder w/ Flame Maple top
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: Seymour Duncan SSL-1 single coil (neck), SSL-1 RWRP single-coil (middle), TB-14 humbucker (bridge)
Controls: Master volume, master tone (push/pull coil split), 5-way selector
Hardware: Wilkinson VS50 tremolo, Grover Locking tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Gloss Polyurethane

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)

4. Gibson SG Standard '61

Our pick of the SG crop

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Scale: 24.75”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22 medium jumbo
Pickups: Gibson Burstbucker 61R/61T
Controls: 2 x volume, 2 x tone, 3-way pickup switch
Hardware: ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge, vintage deluxe keystone tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Vintage Cherry

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

5. Jackson Soloist SL7 HT

A seven-string speed demon

Specifications

Body: Mahogany w/ ash top
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25"
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24
Pickups: PRS S2 Type-D single coil (neck) and S2 humbucker (bridge)
Controls: Duncan SH-6 7 humbuckers (neck and bridge), 5-way selector
Hardware: Jackson HT7 Hardtail string-thru bridge, Jackson die-cast locking tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Satin

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

6. ESP LTD EC-1000 EverTune

A solid buy with even more solid tuning

Specifications

Body: Mahogany w/ maple cap
Neck: 3-piece mahogany
Scale: 24.75"
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24
Pickups: Seymour Duncan JB humbucker, Seymour Duncan Jazz humbucker
Controls: 2x volume, tone, 3-way selector switch
Hardware: EverTune bridge, Grover tuners
Left-handed: Yes (without EverTune)
Finish: See Thru Black, Dark Brown Sunburst

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

7. Fender EOB Stratocaster

Get sustain for days with this Radiohead-approved Strat

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 21
Pickups: Sustainer Driver (neck), Texas Special single coil (middle), Duncan JB Jr humbucker (bridge)
Controls: Volume, tone, 1 x intensity, 2-way on/off switch, 3-way switch (Sustainer modes), 5-way selector
Hardware: 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo, Vintage-Style tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Olympic White

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

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

A T-style shred machine

Specifications

Body: Ash
Neck: Two-piece maple
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 22
Pickups: Duncan '59 SH-1N humbucker (neck) and JB TB-4 humbucker (bridge)
Controls: Volume (push/pull coil-split), tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: HT6 hardtail bridge string-through-body bridge
Left-handed: Yes (Style 2 HH FR M LH model)
Finish: Satin

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)

9. Guild Starfire V

A semi-hollow with Bigsby-style vibrato

Specifications

Body: Laminated mahogany, semi-hollow
Neck: 3-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany
Scale: 24.75"
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2x LB-1 humbuckers
Controls: Bridge volume, bridge tone, neck volume, neck tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: Guild Tune-o-matic bridge with rosewood base, Guild vibrato, Grover Sta-Tite open-gear 14:1 tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Cherry Red, White, Black

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: 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?

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. 

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Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.