10 Rock-Solid Guitars Under $600

Do you need to spend a ton on a gig-worthy axe? Probably not.

There has never been a better time to get your hands on a gig-ready guitar without breaking the bank. Sure, we’ve all lusted after the high-end models, but these 10 guitars balance affordability, features, and construction.

Squier J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster

This affordable signature Jazzmaster from Dinosaur Jr.’s famed dealer of decibels offers the traditional lead and rhythm circuits à la vintage JMs, but pairs that with an Adjusto-Matic bridge and a slightly wider nut.

$499 street

fender.com

Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS32Q DKA

This sleek shred machine builds on Jackson’s Super-Strat lineage with a 24-fret compound radius neck that’s smooth and fast. It’s loaded with a pair of the company’s high-output humbuckers. One twist: This particular model comes as a hardtail. Dive bombers need not apply.

$299 street

jacksonguitars.com

Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic Outfit

Heart’s lead axe-wielder brought back her classic signature model this past year. The mahogany body is based on the NightHawk and has a figured maple veneer top. Other highlights include a pair of ProBucker pickups (FB720 and 3 Slant), through-body construction, and twin parallelogram inlays.

$579 street

epiphone.com

ESP LTD SN-200HT 

Although this is definitely a modern speed demon, the traditional styling shines through with a basswood body and maple neck. It’s outfitted with a charcoal metallic finish, thin neck, and a push/pull tone knob. The guitar comes loaded with ESP LH-150 pickups and a fixed bridge.

$449 street

espguitars.com

Kramer Assault 220

The classic lines in this Les Paul-shaped body are tried and true, but Kramer has updated it to create a modern-rock marvel. A mahogany body and licensed Floyd Rose tremolo with locking nut are highlights, while other features include alnico V humbuckers, K-Speed SlimTaperC” neck, and 24 medium jumbo frets.

$379 street

kramerguitars.com

Gretsch G2215-P90 Streamliner Junior Jet Club

A mix-and-match approach can always open up new creative pathways and this particular Gretsch solidbody combines a Broad’Tron BT-2S with a P-90 Soap Bar. The wraparound bridge is anchored to a nato body with an aged white binding.

$399 street

gretschguitars.com

Ibanez AZES40

Born out of the higher-end AZ series, this budget HSS guitar aims to cop the same vibe and feel of its more boutique counterparts. They are available in three colors, each loaded with ceramic pickups, T106 bridges, and Jatoba fretboards.

$349 street

ibanez.com

Sire Larry Carlton S7

One of the newest models in Carlton’s line of signature models is this S-style setup featuring an HSS pickup array. Other highlights include a roasted maple neck, alder body, bone nut, and a 2-post tremolo bridge.

$599 street

sire-usa.com

G&L Tribute ASAT Classic


Built upon the bones of Leo’s timeless T-style designs, this ASAT Classic offers bolt-on construction, sassafras or poplar body, and a hard rock maple neck. As the name suggests, even the pickups pay homage to Leo’s design with a pair of MFD single-coils.

$589 street

glguitars.com

Yamaha Revstar RS320

Inspired by the design style the company uses in their high-end motorcycles, this nato-bodied model comes in at the price of a high-end pedal. It features a pair of ceramic YGD humbuckers and a thin neck profile with a rosewood fretboard.

$399 street

yamaha.com

Plus, the Fontaines D.C. axeman explains why he’s reticent to fix the microphonic pickup in his ’66 Fender Coronado.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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