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Best cheap guitars for 2015

Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body Electric Guitar, Vintage Sunburst

It's 2015, and it's time to list what's best for cheap guitars for this year.

What's new?

For the 2015 year, not too much. 2015 rolls off with the reintroduction of models that ran out due to good sales in 2014. Guitar companies are rolling out what sold well last year, and that's actually a good thing because you can find guitar reviews on just about all of what's below very easily.

The list

I've got 10 of them this year, all of which receive high customer satisfaction ratings.

This list starts with the cheapest guitar that's under $200, and the rest stay well below $500 USD.

That being said, here they are.

Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster Electric Guitar, Rosewood Fingerboard, Lake Placid Blue
Squier Affinity Telecaster

We begin with the cheapest guitar on the list, and arguably one of the best, because this is a can't-go-wrong guitar. No vibrato system (meaning no "whammy bar,") two pickups, great weight, great look, stupidly easy to maintain, pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it guitar and ridiculously easy to string up and play. That's the Squier Affinity Telecaster. Not easy to find in stores because these sell out quick.

This guitar works for anyone, no matter the skill level. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate or a pro player, this guitar totally gets it right in every way.

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified 70's Stratocaster Electric Guitar, Rosewood fingerboard, Vintage White
Squier Vintage Modified 70's Stratocaster

I'm listing this specific Squier Strat because it already has the visual modifications that most players would do to it, that being black knobs and black pickup covers. Can these be switched out if you wanted to switch to white or off-white? Yes, of course.

This is a great Strat all around and has the better Duncan Designed pickups in it, which is a step up from the Bullet series.

The guitar needs nothing except setup (as does any guitar you would buy no matter how much you paid for it.) Plug in and go.

Epiphone LP-100 Les Paul Electric Guitar, Vintage Sunburst
Epiphone LP-100 Les Paul

The LP-100 is a Les Paul guitar that, as I've said before, is a Les Paul that's not missing anything. It has all the controls where they would be on a Gibson Les Paul and comes with the pick guard - which is something even several Gibson models don't offer.

This is, more or less, a "Studio" version of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. The only thing separating it looks-wise from the Standard is the lack of binding and dots on the neck instead of trapezoid inlays.

Epiphone SG EGGVWCCH1 Vintage Solid-Body Electric Guitar, Worn Cherry
Epiphone G-400

When you want a Gibson SG in an Epiphone flavor, the G-400 is what you want. This guitar absolutely and totally gets right everything that makes an SG an SG. It has the "fast" slim taper D-shape neck, has the smaller pick guard under the pickups, has 4 knobs instead of just 2, it's the correct cherry color, has the trapezoid inlays... it has it all.

When you want a proper SG for a nice price, the G-400 is it. Nobody else makes anything that even comes close to it other than Gibson themselves.

Agile AL-3010 SE CSBF
Agile AL-3010

This Agile is, without question, the most Les Paul you can get for the money. It is absolutely loaded with goodies. Too many to list here. Let's just say that if this had "Gibson" on the headstock, it would sell for about $3,000 easily. But it's way, way less than that.

Fender Modern Player Tele® Plus  Electric Guitar, Honey Burst, Maple Fretboard
Fender Modern Player Tele Plus

Yes, we have a real-deal Fender Telecaster in the under-$450 price range, and this one delivers.

It is an HSS, but you'll notice there's a little switch between the volume and tone knobs for splitting that humbucker to single. Pictures do this guitar no justice as the Honey Burst finish looks incredible in person.

If you looked at the Squier Affinity Tele and thought, "I'd like a Tele with more to it", this is your guitar. It's loaded and it has "Fender" on the headstock for bragging rights. Can't do much better than that.

Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD Electric Guitar, Cardinal Red
Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Why even bother with the Epiphone LP Standard when the Agile is a better guitar that sells for less? There are only two reasons.

The first is color choices, such as Cardinal Red shown above. A Les Paul in that style of red just looks cool.

The second is resale/trade-in value. If you're interested in buying a Les Paul but may sell or trade it out later on, the Epiphone will hold more value than the Agile will, even though it's not as good as the Agile is. For some, resale value matters. And if it's a choice between Agile and Epiphone, Epiphone wins when it comes to how much someone would be willing to pay for a used one, or how much a guitar store would offer in trade value for it.

Schecter Damien Special Electric Guitar - Crimson Red
Schecter Damien Special

This special model from Schecter is the best value for metal players. It comes stock with an EMG 81 pickup in the bridge position and an EMG 85 in the neck position. It also has a Graph Tech TUSQ nut and cool "fire" inlay work.

The Damien Special is a crazy-good metal guitar for the money, no question about that. It's also built right, meaning it can take a beating and keep coming back for more.

Danelectro D59MOD-BLK Modified Hollow-Body Electric Guitar
Danelectro D59MOD-BLK Modified Hollow-Body

I'm listing this specific guitar for those out there that want something different but won't put you in the poorhouse. Danelectro delivers with the D59MOD in black. Yes, it is a hollow-body, although it doesn't look like one. And yes, that means it's lightweight and the neck won't dive on you.

This is technically a reissue of the D59. The only thing you have to be aware of is that it has a "wraparound" bridge, meaning strings are installed by going under the bridge, wrapping around the top, then back to the headstock. Yes, it's easy to figure out.

How does it sound? Jangly and twangy, kind of a Telecaster but with more treble because of the lipstick pickups.

Fun guitar all around, and easy-to-play.

Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body Electric Guitar, Vintage Sunburst
Epiphone ES-339

This is the guitar shown at top, and one I mentioned just recently, the Epiphone ES-339.

Wow, what a guitar. Truly.

This particular Epiphone is built overseas, but set up in the USA before you get it. I'm amazed at the price this thing sells for, because it could easily pass as a $2,500 USD instrument. The look is totally correct, the sound is totally correct... pretty much everything on this guitar is totally correct.

The ES-339 has something else too. Sex appeal. Yes, really. Anyone that sees you playing one of these makes it look like you have money and drive a BMW. Are those reasons to buy the guitar? Not really, but it's a nice bonus! 🙂

The real reasons to get the ES-339 is that it has that classic semi-hollow body sound for rock, blues, jazz and country. It's also the size of a Les Paul, which to many feels better than the bigger body of the ES-335.

If there were any one guitar on this list you would be totally happy with, the ES-335 is it. Yes, it's the most expensive on the list, but still well south of $500.

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