Ok, challenge time. To show off the vast number of incredible guitars available on eBay, we’ve set ourselves the task of identifying the coolest guitars you can find for under $1,000. We’ve spent hours trawling the listings and lined up some seriously good options that fit the bill.
We’ve focused the search on product ‘families’ rather than specific individual models, as our listings change all the time. Contained within this guide you’ll find guitars for players of all genres and abilities, from the biggest names in the guitar world, with a couple of wildcard options thrown in for good measure. Let’s begin.
Ask people which guitar they think of when you say Fender, and the majority would likely not choose the Telecaster as their first answer. Yet despite being Fender’s ‘second’ electric, the Telecaster boasts a similarly rich heritage, having been played by some of rock’s biggest names over the years.
For under $1,000, you’ll find some amazing models with serious vintage credibility, like the Fender Vintera Telecaster range, while – if you’re lucky – you may even see the cult classic Fender Baja Telecaster crop up from time to time.
With their two single coil pickups, Telecasters aren’t the most versatile electric guitars in the world, but what they lack in versatility they more than make up for with a unique, twangy tone that works across a range of different musical styles.
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Admittedly, the higher end of the Les Paul range sits comfortably outside our budget limit, but there are still full-fat Gibson Les Pauls to be found for under $1,000. The Gibson Les Paul Studio and Gibson Les Paul Tribute models both regularly find their way to the pre-owned market, and both offer the ideal introduction to the wider range.
Solid mahogany bodies and dual humbuckers ensure all the weight and tonal strength you’d hope for, and they retain their value extremely well so you’re unlikely to lose too much if you decide to move it on in the future.
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If a Les Paul or Stratocaster is too cliché, perhaps a Gibson SG is the answer for you. Boasting the same US-made build quality as their more famous stablemates, the SG has found favour with rock, metal and country players who love that meaty tone but want to stand out from the crowd.
For under $1,000 you’ll find plenty of Gibson SG Specials, which feature the same shape and tonewoods as their higher-priced brothers, making them something of a bargain.
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We’ve gone a bit more specific with this entry. The Gretsch G5422 is a large-bodied semi-acoustic with character and personality in spades. Typically found being played in country and rockabilly circles, the G5422 is actually far more versatile than it first appears.
Plenty of players find these guitars react wonderfully to a touch of overdrive, while their robust build quality means they can stand up to a lifetime of touring. Tonally, you can expect warm, resonant sounds from the neck pickups, thanks to the hollow body, while the bridge can dish up some nice grit at higher volumes.
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You can’t have a list of amazing guitars and not have at least one Fender Stratocaster. It’s basically the law. There are countless reasons why the Strat is the best-selling guitar of all time, but much of their appeal comes from the fact they look great, are easy to play, cover a lot of bases tonally and will last a lifetime if they’re looked after.
The pre-owned market has plenty of different Strats on offer, but it’s worth keeping an extra eye out for Made in Japan (MIJ) models and – if you can find them – Fender USA models. Not only do these offer superior build quality than the Mexican-made models, they also hold their value extremely well.
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For rock and metal players, the Ibanez RG series have reached that legendary status other guitars can only dream of. Boasting a familiar ‘superstrat’ body shape, yet with finer details designed to aid playing performance like a wafer-thin neck, the RG range is built with speed and precision in mind.
The range itself is broad, from entry-level models right through to high-spec, elite tier examples with hardware and fittings right off the top shelf. For us, the sweet spot comes in the Ibanez RG550, which was reissued in 2018 and delivers the perfect balance between price, performance and sweet, sweet tone.
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It’s hard to recommend a specific Martin acoustic guitar, on account of there being all manner of shapes and sizes to choose from. That said, general levels of quality across the range are high. Put simply, Martin does not make bad guitars.
Pre-owned, you’ll find dreadnought, parlour and ‘baby’ guitars all come in under $1,000, and each will provide that dream acoustic tone you’ve got in your head. Special mention to the Martin LX1E – used by Ed Sheeran, no less – which is a small-sized dreadnought acoustic which is almost the perfect guitar for beginners and live performance.
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In guitar circles, you may find some debate over whether the PRS SE Custom 24 is ‘cool’, as such. For some, they lack a bit of soul, while for others they don’t attract the same levels of kudos as an equivalent Gibson.
Look past all that, however, and you’ll find a range of guitars which are more than a match for more expensive, US-made models. What’s impressive about the PRS SE Custom 24 is how easily it can perform a range of musical styles. The dual humbuckers make it an ideal match for heavier styles, yet its pickups are versatile enough that blues, country, indie and country are well within grasp.
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Despite its Les Paul-style looks, the ESP LTD EC-1000 is in fact a completely different proposition. These guitars are built for heavy music, thanks to additions like active pickups and locking tuners, which mean it can cope with whatever musical mayhem you can throw at it.
You’ll find EC-1000s in a range of cool colorways, a world apart from the more traditional Gibson variations. The matte black version with gold pickups and hardware is a particular eye-catcher…
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The good news, if you’re a guitar fan, is that there is no shortage of choice on eBay. For under $1,000, you will find plenty of options available to you, no matter what style of music you play. Up there we have tried to outline some of the more common styles, but dig a little deeper and there are some seriously unique models which might be exactly what you’re looking for.