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8 V-style guitars for under 500 bucks
V-shaped electric guitars are just cool. I owned one in the past and may again in the future. Do I really need one for anything? Nope. I just like the way they look. My preferred V shape is what's known as a Rhoads V where the bottom fin is shorter than the top.
It's fortunate these days that there are several good low-cost V-shapred guitars out there to choose from. I remember a time when there was no such thing as low-priced V - especially the Rhoads shape which was usually $750 or more.
Every one of the V guitars below is under 500 bucks. Some are less than half that price. Check out each one below and you'll be amazed at how low they can get yet still retain great build quality.
After checking out the guitars, see my notes below because there are certain things about V-shaped axes you should know before buying one.
One other note before showing the guitars: I purposely stick to "normal" looking V guitars here. There are some wacky ones out there like Tyrant X, but those barely qualify as V's to me.
This is a guitar that looks like it's supposed to cost $1,000 but comes nowhere near that price. This is definitely a "look-at-me" guitar. It's not only a V but has wild graphics on it, and done in a way that doesn't look cheesy.
One of the best (if not the best) bargain V guitars out there. When you need a basic solid V that crunches like nobody's business, there's no other V that can beat the V-50's price point.
If the Mustaine model is a little too wild concerning the graphics and you want something a little more subdued but still very noticeable, the Metal Master model fits the bill here.
This is what I call the "Guitar player's V". No, it doesn't mean it plays or sounds any better than the other V's I've mentioned, but if the goal is to impress other musicians, having "Jackson" on the headstock matters. This is a real-deal Jackson King V, and yes it also comes in black. The price will shock you - in a really good way. You'll like the price so much you'll probably buy one - unless you like the one you see below even more.
For many of you, this is your V. And said honestly, if I were in the market for a V guitar right now, this is the one I'd buy. Ridiculously low price for a true Jackson Rhoads model. Everyone will think you spent a grand on this guitar, and go ahead, let 'em believe that. 🙂
This guitar is a bit odd-shaped, but there's a reason for it. That cut at the high-fret portion of the neck gives you ultimate access to those frets for super-easy shredding access. Also, this V does have a double-locking Floyd-Rose system on it.
If the Vanguard above has a shape that's too wacky for you and you want a traditional sharp V-shape with a Floyd-Rose setup, this is what you want.
Another from Jackson, and just barely under $500 but still qualifies. The difference with this Rhoads other than appearance is that it has far better hardware everywhere and a compound-radius neck (12-inch to 16-inch). This V is as pro-level as you can get in this price range, and is pretty much guaranteed to be the most comfortable-playing of the lot.
Can't decide which to get?
If you've said to yourself, "Yeah! I want a V! But I don't know which to go with...", get a Jackson. Any Jackson. Other guitar players you know will be impressed that you a have a guitar with "Jackson" on the headstock, and on stage the guitar has the "just-right" V shape that non-musician (as in fans) would expect.
The good and bad of V-shaped guitars
There are two and only two things good about V-shaped guitars.
- They are in all honesty the most comfortable guitars to play when standing up because they're light and balanced perfectly.
- They look cool.
That's it. You will get absolutely no tone advantages or better playability out of a V-shaped guitar.
As for the bad stuff about V-shaped guitars, it's fortunately a short list, but still a list worth knowing.
- You cannot play it while sitting down without wearing a guitar strap.
- V-shaped guitars are not known for lasting long. You may get 3 to 7 years of regular use out of one before it starts having neck problems or hardware failures. This is why very few vintage V-shape guitars exist, because they simply wear out early.
- Getting a case for a V-shaped guitar is never cheap.
- When placed on a guitar stand, it has to be set high or you'll bump the fins on the floor and scratch the finish (it's always better to put a V guitar on a wall stand because of this). For the Rhoads shape, a floor guitar stand must have a "fork" (where the guitar rests) that turns because of the offset fins.
- No matter how much you try to avoid it, you will nick/scratch the guitar on the fin tips. It will happen, so don't be surprised when it happens. It happens to every V-shape guitar owner.
Published 2012 May 25
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