While every musical instrument is cool in its own right, few have the sort of universal appeal that electric guitars enjoy especially since you can get a good electric guitar for under $400. This also means that there is an almost unlimited number of choices when it comes to choosing a good electric guitar.

The first step is figuring out the best amount of money that you should be spending on one. While some of these instruments can come with exorbitant price tags, they don’t really make for a wise choice for someone starting out or looking for their first upgrade.

Under $400 is a great place to start and here are the five best electric guitars you can buy at this price point.

5 Awesome Electric Guitars for Under $400

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster

Ask a complete novice to describe an electric guitar and chances are quite high that they will describe a Fender Stratocaster. While getting an American-made Fender in this price range is a futile attempt, the Squier by Fender is an excellent budget-friendly option that is still very good.

Even though this one comes in at a tenth of the price of some of the higher-end Fenders, it is still very capable of being used to learn and even perform with.

The build quality is good and comes in all the configurations a guitarist would want. There is the legendary triple single coil pickup configuration for those looking for the standard Fender look and sound.

For those wanting something a bit more versatile, this model is also available in the HSS configuration that provides the best of both humbuckers and single coils. For the left-handed guitarists out there, this guitar also comes in a lefty configuration which is a great boon, especially in this price range.

The final bonus point with this guitar is the number of color options you get. Irrespective of whether you are going for something flashy or something understated, you will find something that will suit your style.

  • Sound: 5/5
  • Looks: 4/5
  • Build Quality: 4/5
  • Durability: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5

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Yamaha Pacifica PAC120H

One brand name that cannot be ignored when talking about guitars in the price range is Yamaha. There was a time when mass-manufactured guitars were frowned upon but it was Yamaha who played an instrumental role in proving that high quality can still be achieved in affordable factory-made guitars.

While Yamaha is very popular among budget shoppers because of how well their entry-level guitars punch above their weight, the PAC120H takes that to a whole new level.

Alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard are the perfect combination and the stock Alnico V pickups are of pretty good quality. You also get a lot of flexibility with this model.

You can choose between dual humbuckers and HSS configuration and there is a wide gamut of color options making this quite a versatile guitar. This versatility extends to the bridge as well as this guitar comes in hardtail and tremolo variants.

The best feature about this guitar is the way it feels. It is so much better than its price tag might suggest. They come very well set up from the factory and everything from the action to the intonation is usually pretty spot on.

If you want an all-around good performer that is easy to play, is set up properly and will last for a decent amount of time then this is one guitar you cannot go wrong with.

  • Sound: 4/5
  • Looks: 4/5
  • Build Quality: 4/5
  • Durability: 3.5/5
  • Value for money: 4.5/5

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Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe

Schecter is normally associated with premium guitars but the C-6 is perhaps the most bang for the buck guitar they make. The Diamond Plus humbucker pickups pack in a lot of punch while the graphite nut is a feature usually reserved for much pricier guitars.

The Tune-O-Matic Bridge with String-thru Body also tends to offer more sustain and the tuners found on this guitar are among the best in this segment.

The sound this guitar produces is so much better than you would expect. It has a very tight high-end and punchy low-end. It can cut through a mix perfectly which makes it an ideal guitar for someone who performs in a band with a lot of instruments and for recording heavy mixes.

While it might not be the best guitar for someone looking for a great clean tone, it is perfect for anything with a bit of grunt. It works well with overdrive and distortion pedals and can make a tube amp sing. It is also the perfect ax for heavy metal. Having said that, the tone knob on this one and the three-way pickup selector offer enough tweakability to make it useable in pretty much any scenario.

Even though it is available only in black or white, both these colors look really good and go well with the overall classy appearance.

  • Sound: 5/5
  • Looks: 4/5
  • Build Quality: 4/5
  • Durability: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5

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Monoprice Indo Series 6 String Basswood

Normally $100 is a bit too little for a decent electric guitar but this is one guitar that bucks that trend rather admirable. It almost beggars belief to hold this guitar in your hands because of how good it is even before you consider its diminutive price tag.

There are obvious signs of this being a very affordable guitar. The finish isn’t the best and the tuning stability is also questionable but it is good where it matters. The sounds you can get out of this are unbelievable. The Tele look is a bonus and it looks great too.

Another area where this guitar shines is the amount of work that has been put into finishing the frets. Generally, guitars at this price point come with sharp fret edges and often require some setup work before being good enough to be played on. However, all you will need to do with this guitar out of the box is tune it and it is good to go.

This guitar is very light and this helps it produce a very soulful sound and the stock pickups are decent enough to make do without the need for an upgrade.

The only downside is that this isn’t the most durable guitar out there and will age very quickly. As such, if you can spend a bit more money, you should go for one of the other options listed here. However, if $100 is all you have then you will get an awesome guitar that you can even use for on-stage performances.

  • Sound: 5/5
  • Looks: 4/5
  • Build Quality: 3/5
  • Durability: 2.5/5
  • Value for money: 4.5/5

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Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT

There wouldn’t be an electric guitar without Les Paul and this is a very worthy guitar to carry his name. While a Gibson branded Les Paul does not exist at this price point, this Epiphone Les Paul is the next best thing. Aesthetically, this guitar might not be the most attractive but this guitar more than makes up for it where it matters which is in the tone department.

The dual humbuckers on this guitar are some of the best you can get as stock for under $400 and that combined with the very Les Paul-esque three-way toggle switch and dual volume and tone knobs give it enough flexibility to tackle pretty much any genre of music you can think of. It also features a carved top which is a premium feature for this price point.

It does come with a few minor gripes like slightly unreliable tuners and the aforementioned plain looks but if you are thinking purely based on tone and sound quality, few can come close to this guitar without commanding twice or even thrice the price this guitar commands.

  • Sound: 5/5
  • Looks: 3/5
  • Build Quality: 3.5/5
  • Durability: 3.5/5
  • Value for money: 4/5

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Should You Buy An Electric Guitar Online?

There was a time when buying electric guitars online was highly discouraged. The prevailing wisdom was that you should go to a local music store and check the instrument out before buying it. This held true for many years but over the last 4-5 years, buying electric guitars online has become a very viable and practical option.

The primary reason behind this is that online sellers have become well-versed in how to properly pack and ship guitars which minimizes the risk of damage.

The quality control on mass-manufactured guitars has also improved vastly. An overwhelming number of guitars bought online come set up so nicely that all they need is some tuning and they are good to go.

Easy returns make it pretty convenient to deal with the rare occasions when you might be unsatisfied with a guitar purchased online.

What To Look For In A Guitar Under $400?

The first step is figuring out the sort of tone you are going for. Single coils make for a great option for bright sounds and they provide great clean tones. Humbuckers are best suited for heavier stuff with plenty of gain and drive.

However, the cool thing about these five guitars is that every one of them is versatile enough to deal with whatever you throw at them.

The next thing to look for is the build quality and durability. At this price point, you will only find mass-produced guitars. Not all of them are created equal and that is why we have chosen guitars that do well in this regard as well.

Apart from the Monoprice Indo, every one of the guitars listed here will serve you well for years and will only need the occasional setup to keep them going.

The list of things to look out for is rounded off by aesthetics. People tend to suggest that looks should not be considered as it is a shallow thing to do but the truth is that aesthetics do play a big role.

Every time you look at your guitar, it should entice you into playing it. So, choose the shape and color that speaks the most to you.

To Sum It Up

Under $400 is a great budget to go shopping for an electric guitar and these five guitars prove that. These guitars are good enough to provide near the professional-level tone and feel without breaking the bank. They can also serve as great project guitars for upgrades and modifications.

Musical instruments have come a long way and these guitars are a testament to that as not long ago, guitars this good came with price tags two to three times of those attached to these amazing electric guitars.

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