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 fromDinosaur 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

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In their corner, from left to right: Wilco’s Pat Sansone (guitars, keys, and more), drummer Glenn Kotche, Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, and keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen.

Photo by Annabel Merhen

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Every artist who’s enjoyed some level of fame has had to deal with the parasocial effect—where audiences feel an overly intimate connection to an artist just from listening to their music. It can lead some listeners to believe they even have a personal relationship with the artist. I asked Jeff Tweedy what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that.

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Luthier Maegen Wells recalls the moment she fell in love with the archtop and how it changed her world.

The archtop guitar is one of the greatest loves of my life, and over time it’s become clear that our tale is perhaps an unlikely one. I showed up late to the archtop party, and it took a while to realize our pairing was atypical. I had no idea that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with everything about what’s commonly perceived as a “jazz guitar.” No clue whatsoever. And, to be honest, I kind of miss those days. But one can only hear the question, “Why do you want to build jazz guitars if you don’t play jazz?” so many times before starting to wonder what the hell everyone’s talking about.

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