Peavey Session has a secret hidden weapon
If you want the best gigging guitar for the cheapest price that has a better-than-average level of build quality, it's the Peavey Session for one very specific reason...
Before I get into that, Peavey has absolutely one of the coolest headstock designs ever put on an electric guitar. The "wave" at the end really sets it apart from other designs and it's very well thought out. Also, the Session has a beveled body, recessed control knobs (you'll never hit them accidentally,) and body binding.
But the neck is where the magic happens. It's a 5-bolt, but it gets even better than that. There's a graphite composite nut and a compound fingerboard radius also. But that's not the cool part either.
The cool part is the neck has dual carbon fiber inserts for added reinforcement.
Let me explain how important this is.
A problem that anyone who gigs regularly faces routinely are neck shifts, be it from humidity, hot stage lights and so on. This is what makes the Gibson Les Paul such an awful gigging guitar, as the mahogany set neck on it shifts so easily that at times it's almost unplayable.
With Fender guitars, you have the option of blowing a bunch of cash on a model with a quartersawn maple neck, such as the Eric Johnson Stratocaster.
But then there's the Peavey Session. It costs way less and actually has a neck that is better suited for gigging compared to a Fender that costs hundreds more.
There are not many of these out there, and the Session is without question a gem of a guitar because you get so much for the money.
Yes, the Session is an out-of-production instrument, but there are still a few out there selling for new. If you can locate one, grab it just to get that oh-so sweet reinforced neck. As I've said before, a neck is ultimately what makes a guitar any good or not. The Session has got that great neck on it.
What's the next best thing if you can't get a Session?
Another diamond in the rough is the Jackson JS22 Dinky. It doesn't have carbon fiber inserts, but does have a neck with graphite reinforcement.
Is the JS22 as good as the Session? No. The Session has way more going for it. But if you want a cheap axe with a neck that can handle the rigors of gigging relatively well, JS22 gets the job done...
...but try for that Session first. It's worth getting.