5 Best Electric Guitars Under $2000: High-End & Droolworthy

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Best Electric Guitar Under $2000 ReviewsIf you’re thinking about spending up to two grand on a guitar, you’ll realize the gravity of making the right decision.  It’s usually a one-time experience for most players to spend this much, so you want to get as much info as you can on a variety of guitars that could be potential considerations.

Where do you start?  You look for tried-and-true guitars that have done it for famous musicians.  You look for components capable of handling your unique sound and playing technique.  You look for the best electric guitars from manufacturers that have made a name for themselves in the competitive industry.

This is where we come in with a list of the very best that have been bought, played, and continue to outshine the competition.  This is where you put your hard-earned cash.

 

Quick Answer: Best Electric Guitar Under 2000 Dollars

  1. Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster Review
  2. Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Review
  3. Godin LGX-SA Review
  4. ESP E-II Horizon-III Review
  5. PRS CE 24 Review

 

Our Top 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $2000

With two grand to spend, you gain entry to the premium guitar market.  All guitars in this price range have excellent tonewoods, hardware, and build quality.  Craftsmanship is A-class as manufacturers tighten up their belts and even perform professional setups before shipping it out.

The only guitars still out of your reach are custom signature models and limited releases, but they’re not the king you want to bash on the weekends.  So, what guitar is more than good enough to create your authentic sound signature without worry of the risks of weekend and even daily usage?  You guessed it – a high-quality, mouth-drooling, plays-like-butter $2000 electric guitar.

That’s why we searched for a handful of the highest-rated guitars backed with a review base, so you can trust that it’s a guitar worth buying for more than its specs and hot appeal alone.  While we helped to slim down the margins on selecting the best guitars, it was the masses who provided them with their popular and trustworthy status.

A guitar in this price range is deserving of more than just bragging rights or as a collector’s item destined as a wall-hanger – it wants to be played, it deserves to be played!

 

1

Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster Review

Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster, Maple Fretboard - Black
17 Reviews
Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster, Maple Fretboard - Black
  • Soft v-shaped neck and vintage frets offers the feel and vibe of a vintage Strat.
  • Three Vintage Noiseless pickups deliver the full range of vintage Strat tones with absolutely no 60-cycle hum.

Three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Eric Clapton is an iconic classic, and with one look at Fender’s signature guitar named after the Slowhand himself, you’ll immediately recognize the classic features of this Strat.

PROS:
  • Vintage noiseless pickups
  • TBX tone circuits
  • Active mid boost
  • Soft V neck profile
  • Blocked tremolo

CONS:
  • Plastic control knobs

Plastic controls knobs are a shame to see, but they’re also featured on the Signature model of this guitar, so there’s no upgrade to this hardware to expect.  But, there’s so much more to be ecstatic about than there is to be disappointed.

The Stratocaster solid body guitar is made from alder with a maple neck and maple fingerboard.  It has one of the slimmest, most playable necks you’ll ever come across with its soft V profile for fretting notes and bending strings with ease.  It’s perfectly paired with the vintage-sized frets and a fingerboard radius of 9.5″.

All the hardware finish is in chrome whereas the custom signature model has nickel and chrome, but both feature all the same electronics and blocked vintage synchronized tremolo bridge.  Interestingly, the bridge has a removable wood block that keeps the bridge from moving as this was a specification requested by the music artist himself.

The SSS configuration is made up of three Vintage Noiseless Single-Coil Strat pickups.  As the hum is expected with single-coil pickups, you won’t get that with the noise cancellation technology on these ones.  They’re made with polysol-coated magnet wire, vinyl-coated output wire, plastic bobbins, and Alnico II magnets.  They’re brilliantly clear with well-defined characteristics of the single-coil pickups, but as you know, they’re so not strong on the mids.

To help with that, the Eric Clapton guitar has a 25db Active Mid Boost feature that can be activated with use of the second tone control.  It dims the trebles allowing boosted bass and mid frequencies.  The first control knob activates the TBX (Treble Bass Expander) at setting 5 and above.  It works as its name suggests – expands what you can do with high frequencies.

Obviously, there are endless tonal possibilities to explore the rock and blues way.  Included in the buy is a Vintage Tweed case, strap, and cable.  Nice way to get exceptional value out of your buy!

 

2

Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Review

Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster, Maple Fretboard - 2-Color Sunburst
12 Reviews
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster, Maple Fretboard - 2-Color Sunburst
  • The combination of a soft vintage v-shaped neck, modern flat 12" freeboard radius, and medium jumbo frets, offers a fast and comfortable playing experience unlike any other.

It seems Fender has a guitar for every noted musician, and it’s fitting they have model for “one of the most respected guitarists on the planet.”  If you’re after a Strat in Eric Johnson style, this detailed guitar is for you.

PROS:
  • 1957 body
  • Soft V neck profile
  • EJ single coil pickups
  • Vintage tremolo
  • Bone nut

CONS:
  • Neck finish

The gloss nitrocellulose lacquer on the neck is a hit with buyers, but there has been mention of it becoming sticky when your hands get sweaty – just FYI.

There have been several mentions of this guitar being a modified version of the ’57 custom shop guitar and they’re right.  You don’t have to be a fan of Eric Johnson to love this guitar, because it’s a winner all on its own.  It has an alder body with a maple fingerboard and a 1-piece quartersawn maple neck.  What’s that?  Exceptionally strong, straight-grain, and a more expensive cut of maple used in high-end guitars and basses.

Another high-end feature is the bone nut and vintage-style staggered tuning machines that ensure incredible tuning stability without string trees needed.  It also has the same V-neck profile that’s slightly softened for sleek playability and a 6-saddle American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo bridge.

While Eric Johnson is known to favor DiMarzio HS-2 pickups, he’s put his name to the Specially Voiced Eric Johnson Single Coil Pickups with Countersunk Mounting Screws.  While there are three single coil pickups, there is only a tone control for the neck and bridge.  However, the 5-way pickup blade allows you to go between all three.

Each pickup is designed to provide unique tonal contributions.  The neck pickup is based on the ’54 Strat pickup design and incorporates oversized Alnico 3 magnets.  The middle pickup is based on the ’63 Strat pickup design and is reverse-wound to cancel out the hum when it’s switched to be used with either the neck or bridge pickups.  The hot bridge pickup uses Alnico 5 magnets that is known to provide some punch without compromising the high-end shimmer and chime.

Fender includes accessories with this buy that consists of a Deluxe Blonde Hardshell Case with Black Ends that has a black interior, strap, cable, and an “Ash Tray” bridge cover.  For a guitar that vintage style under its belt modified for all styles and genres of playing, the EJ guitar belongs in every player’s collection.

 

3

Godin LGX-SA Review

Godin LGX-SA Solid Body 3-Voice Electric Guitar (Cognac Burst AAA)
4 Reviews
Godin LGX-SA Solid Body 3-Voice Electric Guitar (Cognac Burst AAA)
  • North American made
  • Double-Action Truss Rod
  • Honduras Mahogany Neck

Godin delivers outstanding and unbeatable quality with their electric, acoustic, synthesizer guitar.  It’s a 3-Voice electric guitar in every sense of the word.

PROS:
  • 3-Voice capabilities
  • Seymour Duncan humbuckers
  • Graphtech nut
  • Figured maple top
  • PolyDrive X preamp

CONS:
  • 16″ radius fingerboard

The Godin electric guitar has the LGX neck with a 16″ fingerboard radius.  It’s not a drawback, but some users, we suspect with smaller hands, may have trouble with its larger than standard size, especially if you’re accustomed to slim neck profiles.  However, the mahogany neck has a natural satin finish that feels more organic.

The body is made from mahogany, but it has a AAA grade figured maple top with a Cognac Burst Flame color and finished in a high gloss.  It’s exceptionally eye-catching, and it’s looks equally match its sound.

Equipped with Seymour Duncan humbuckers, you have an Alnico 5 magnet with a special coil wind Jazz SH-2n at the neck that is bright, vintage, and incapable of being muffled even with high distortion.  Sitting at the bridge, you have a Custom Custom SH-11 with an Alnico 2 magnet to produce those familiar warm tones with a very present mid-range.  It provides fat, full, and warm tones with a treble response that rivals other pickups.  It’s also vacuum wax potted to eliminate the squeals.  Switch into single-coil mode at the 2nd and 4th position with the 5-way selector blade and regulate with the Master Volume and Tone Control, so you can take the stage by electrified storm.

But, of course, as a 3-voice guitar, there’s more.  You have an on-board RMC pizeo preamp EQ and 6 piezo transducers on the saddle to bring out those acoustic sounds with an Acoustic Volume, Treble, Bass, and Midrange found on the upper bout.

Don’t forget about the third and most versatile output mode: synth access.  The Roland Ready 13-pin output allows ultimate modeling given the individual, separate signal transducers for each string called hexaphonic that drives the synth.

The LGX-SA is an astounding guitar, and if you’re looking for a guitar worthy of recording and concerts, you’ve found your match.  Yes, it’s expensive, but you could put a heck of a lot more down on a synthesizer, acoustic, and electric guitar if you were to buy them separately.  Now, there’s no need to overspend.  This is your value buy right here!

 

4

ESP E-II Horizon-III Review

ESP E-II Horizon-III Electric Guitar with Case, Reindeer Blue
5 Reviews
ESP E-II Horizon-III Electric Guitar with Case, Reindeer Blue
  • The ESP E-II Series is our highest-quality factory-produced instrument collection
  • A bold variation on the classic ESP Horizon shape, with an extended and beveled upper horn and a shortened lower horn
  • Designed for high-level, serious players who can't accept compromises in their instrument's ability to perform

This guitar is part of EPS’s Japanese-made, flagship series, and it’s every bit as awesome and high-quality as you would expect.  With an exaggerated, beveled horn, Reindeer Blue with high gloss finish, and black hardware that matches the Ebony fretboard, it’s a stunning guitar with tons of edge.

PROS:
  • Neck-thru-body
  • Seymour Duncan pickups
  • GOTOCH locking tuners
  • GOTOCH TOM
  • Bone nut

CONS:
  • Mirror-like finish

Don’t get us wrong, the finish is exquisite, and who doesn’t like shine taken to the extreme?  Since we couldn’t find any legit flaws about the E-II, we’re only mentioning here that a high gloss finish means fingerprints.  Since this git is almost $2000, part of taking care of it, including wiping away the smudges, is a given.

The Horizon-III has the familiar Strat body, but as you can tell, it has extremely exaggerated, beveled horns.  The body is made from Alder, but it has a flamed maple top with a 3-piece maple neck that runs through the body for optimum strength and reliability.  It has a Thin U neck profile with an Ebony fretboard that features 24 X Jumbo frets with a bone nut.

All the hardware has a black finish including the GOTOCH Locking tuners and GOTOCH TOM string-thru-body bridge.  The pearloid inlays are unobtrusive with an ESP logo inlay at the 12th fret.  Some favorite Seymour Duncan pickups are installed on the E-II.  The Jazz humbucker sits at the neck that emphasizes the bright tones of the alder tonewood.

At the bridge sits a Custom 5 humbucker that is basically a ’59 humbucker but twice as loud.  It scoops the mids to bring out a fatter tone from the trebles and bass.  When paired with the Jazz humbucker, you have a warm and fat tone and plenty of sustain with an aggressive lead to cut through various mixes.  For progressive metal, you may want to get a high-quality amp to help reach the sound you’re after.

For a guitar that looks the part and sounds just as good, the ESP guitar is up to recording, live gigs, and professional use.  That’s Japanese quality for ya.

 

5

 PRS CE 24 Review

PRS CE 24 Electric Guitar Gray Black
3 Reviews
PRS CE 24 Electric Guitar Gray Black
  • Mahogany back and maple top Bolt-on maple neck Rosewood fretboard Pattern Thin carve Satin nitro finish PRS 85/15 pickups Volume and push/pull tone control 3-way toggle switch Includes gig bag
  • Since the dawn of rock and roll, the snap and response that comes from a bolt-on neck guitar has been an essential part of the mix
  • These attributes have, in turn, become essential to many players trying to tell their story through music

The CE 24 guitars are praised for their versatile design that allows them to simulate any tone option you can imagine reaching.  But, with a bolt-on neck, what’s it doing in this price range?

PROS:
  • Bolt-on neck
  • Coil tapping
  • 85/15 humbuckers
  • Locking tuners
  • Reachable 24th fret

CONS:
  • No hardshell case included

While many guitars of this standard come with a hardshell case to protect your expensive buy, unfortunately that’s not the case with the CE 24 guitar.  Don’t fret, it does come with something – a Deluxe Gig Bag.  We know it’s not the same, but guitar itself will blow away your disappointment.

As far as the bolt-on neck that’s usually a feature seen on much cheaper guitars, there’s a difference here – it’s done by PRS made in America.  Bolt-on necks were seen on the CE production line over a decade ago, and now that they’re back, they feature the same traditional design that’s praised for durability, snap and response, and much easier repairs – not that you’d ever need it with a PRS.

There has been meticulous attention to detail from the PRS Low Mass Locking tuners and nickel hardware to the bird inlays and down to the rounded corners of the PRS Patented Tremolo Molded bridge.  Equipped with an 85/15 treble pickup in the bridge that has pronounced highs, a present midrange, and mellowed bass, it pairs well with the 85/15 bass pickup at the neck that scoops the mids for a more balanced voice from the trebles and bass.  What can you get?  Authentic single-coil tones out of a humbucker with use of the push/pull tone control knob.

The double-cutaway bout allows access all the way to the 24th fret, and the carved maple neck with a Pattern Thin shape and satin finish promises incredible comfort.  The bird inlays are a staple feature for PRS, and the 3-way selector pickup switch allows you to get six sounds from the pickup where you can explore endless tonal options.

Made from mahogany with a maple top, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard, it maintains some traditional CE features proven to make a great guitar, but with some new upgrades, it’s better than ever.  From rock and roll to country twang and contemporary pop and dance, the CE 24 delivers.

 

What to Look for in an Electric Guitar Less Than $2000

Spending about $2000 on one of the top electric guitars is no easy decision.  You have brands competing against one another, multiple models with very different pickups and bridges, and mind-blowing finishes that are flawless.  How do you choose?

At this point in the price range, you already know what your style is.  You look to the guitar that offers what you need to get you there whether it’s a signature model or a versatile, all-round guitar with pickups that offer endless tonal options to explore.  Here are more considerations to hum and haw about in determining what guitar will do you right.

Performer On Stage With His $2000 Electric Guitar

 

1

Who Should Buy an Electric Guitar for $2000?

Who in their right mind would spend this much?  You may have doubts about spending this much on an electric guitar, but it’s been a worthwhile investment for many.  If you play live gigs, record in a studio or even your own studio setup at home, are looking for your next addition to your collection, or you’re looking for the one, big-ticket item that will last you a lifetime, you can justify buying a guitar in this price range.

Beginners, please don’t buy here.  You may have the luxury of affording one of these awesome guitars right off the bat (in that case, care to share?), but there are plenty of other great electric guitars under $500 that can get you started off right.  You can even find quality beginner electric guitars that can handle the abuse of the learning curves while still putting out decent sound to keep you motivated.

 

2

Tonewoods

Tonewoods may not be appreciated by the beginner player as much as it is to an experienced guitarist.  After all, it’s the experienced set of ears that can hear the difference.  You see classic build combinations that include mahogany bodies with maple tops, maple and mahogany necks, and even some maple fingerboards that provide a different tonal contribution versus rosewood and ebony.  You can still find alder and even basswood solid bodies in this price range.  Why?

There are quality cuts of basswood, nato, and alder that can put them several notches above a cheap guitar with the same tonewoods.  These woods are desired for their lightweight, softer, and easier to work with density.  They’re also seen as good, all-rounder tonewoods that help provide a crisp and bright top-end but can be easily shaped by the pickups.

You’ll also see the terms “figured wood” and “AAA,” but what do they mean?  Figured tonewoods provide a highly appealing, high-end aesthetic to the look of your guitar.  It can mean incredible strength due to the type of cut, straight grains, or some unique characteristic that that wood offers.  Figured tonewood costs more and it will be reflected in the overall cost of the guitar.

Tonewoods are graded in several evaluations to determine its quality as a tonewood.  AAA tonewood is a very high-end quality of wood that’s second only to Master Grade tonewood.  For one reason or another, usually cosmetic, AAA tonewood didn’t qualify as Master Grade tonewood.  It could be something as nit-picky as a knot shadow or grains that barely veer off course.  Below AAA tonewoods, you also have AA, Select A Grade, B Grade, and more.

Tonewood is important to achieve the look, durability, and sound that you’re after.  Manufacturers will pair tonewoods with pickups and other components that can work cohesively to produce unparalleled tonal performance.

 

3

Electronics

The pickups are important because they shape sound.  They can’t create a tone that doesn’t already exist, but they can emphasize or scoop certain parts of the tonal range to help you acquire a certain sound or genre, or they can provide endless tonal frequencies that you can explore and experiment with.

At this point in the price range, pickups are rarely swapped out.  The ones that come with the guitar are specially paired together to provide the best tonal ranges and work well together to bring out their strengths.  If mods are still being done to the pickups, it’s usually because a player loves the guitar but wants to achieve a sound that the pickups can’t currently handle or achieve.

Almost all humbuckers equipped on guitars in this price range will have the ability to split coils.  Even single coil pickups in this price range will have some sort of winding polarity or noise-cancelling tech to eliminate the hum.

Brand names will often be seen like Seymour Duncan, and manufacturer-designed pickups like Yamaha, Fender, and PRS will often equip their own top-of-the-line pickups to achieve a certain sound.

Pay attention to the pickup system and know what type of sounds you’ll like to play with most of the time to ensure you’ll be happy with your buy.  It can quickly get expensive to replace them if you decide you’d rather a different set.

 

4

Hardware

Incomparable.  The hardware expected is unparalleled compared to hardware on cheaper guitars.  Few, if any, mods are done.  Locking tuners are often seen, real bone nuts, and locking bridges offer even more tuning stability.  Guitars in this price range should not be going out of tune, and you’ll notice staggered tuning posts and angled headstocks to eliminate the need for string trees.

Plastic knobs are still seen for control dials, plastic 1-ply pickguards, and that should be it for plastic.  Everything else should be metal and real wood with the exception of high-quality veneers used to achieve a very specific top finish.

 

5

Setup

Don’t be surprised to find your guitar playable out of the box – it did cost two grand, after all.  Since you’re spending a fortune on your brand new guitar, many manufacturers often have it setup before it leaves the factory, but don’t be disappointed if it needs a small tune-up, intonation, or even a minor adjustment to the action depending on the music genre you like to play, especially on guitars that have been sitting on the shelf for a while.

With that said, very few guitars need major adjustments or setup like that seen in cheaper budgets.  If it does, something’s wrong and you may need to contact the seller to address this.  A professional setup can make a big difference too if this is your first, big-ticket purchase and you lack the skills to make the tweaks needed.

 

6

Maintenance

You’re going to want to take care of your $2000 guitar.  Fortunately, many of these expensive guitars will come with a hardshell case that’s excellent for storage, protection, and transportation.  However, disappointment still happens when you end up with a gig bag or with nothing at all.

Gloss finishes need extra care to wipe off debris, sticky sweat, oily smudges, and fingerprints.  Floyd Rose bridges are more difficult to change out strings and can be time-consuming to tune.  The fretboard also gets dirty overtime, so wipe over here for fretboard cleaning tips.

Your electric solid body guitar could also do with a guitar humidifier.  Yes, the body may have a heavy, protective coat of gloss, the neck may have a finish that prevents moisture-loss, but guess what?  You also have an exposed fretboard just like an acoustic guitar.  What happens when there’s too little or too much humidity?  Sharp fret ends, action changes, glued joints separate, tone loss, and finish discoloration – enough said.

If you don’t take the measures to maintain the welfare of your expensive guitar, it’s on you and you can’t bash the manufacturer.  There’s no reason a guitar in this price range shouldn’t last a lifetime with the proper care.

 

Look, Hear, & Play! 

The electric guitars in this price range are ripe for the picking.  There are so many awesome-sauce guitars that have unique pickup pairings, traditional tonewood combos, and hardware that are only ever seen in the high-end market.

With the many options available, there’s a $2000 guitar that will appeal to you.  Of course, it must fit your aesthetic, comfort, and sound demands, because essentially, it will be an outward expression of you.  If it looks the part, sounds the part, and plays the part, what more are you waiting for?  Make a bold move and pull the trigger!

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While I don't have an arts degree in music, I have spent enough time around musical instruments & musicians to pass on some useful information. When I'm not rocking out to a sick beat on my stereo, you will find me sitting on a bean bag, in the corner of my room with a guitar trying to emulate the prowess of the great Mr Eric Clapton.