10 Most Versatile Electric Guitars (2021 Update)
Nowadays, it’s rare to find guitar players who only play one or two specific styles of music. As music lovers, we love to play various styles of music, and it’s equally important to have an electric guitar that will allow you to play multiple styles of music. Luckily, there are so many great super versatile electric guitars, and they come in all kinds of shapes and designs.
On this list of guitars, we are going to deal with mostly solid body electric guitars, as well as a couple of semi-hollow body electric guitars. Solid body electric guitars have literally a “solid” block of wood as the guitar body, while the semi-hollow body guitars have hollow parts in the body with a block of wood in the center of the guitar body. Both have pros and cons – while the semi-hollow body guitars might produce a more resonant and deep guitar tone, it’s more prone to feedback especially with distortion on the guitar.
On the other hand, solid body electric guitars are better choices for playing heavier styles of music like rock and blues and are generally more versatile. We’ve tried to include guitars in many different price ranges so you can find something that fits your budget. Do note that all of the guitars on this list our team at Guitar Lobby has personally owned or tested. Without further ado let’s get into our most versatile electric guitars list.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. PRS Custom 24 (Editor's Choice)||Body Style: Double Cutaway Solid Body |
Top: Carved figured maple
|2. Fender American Professional Stratocaster||Body Style: Double Cutaway Solid body|
|3. Gibson ES-335||Body Style: Double Cutaway Semi-hollow body |
Top: 3-piece Maple/Poplar/Maple
|4. Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty||Body Style: Double Cutaway |
|5. Fender American Performer Telecaster||Body Style: Single Cutaway|
|6. Gibson SG Standard ‘61||Body Style: Double Cutaway|
|7. PRS John Mayer Silver Sky||Body Style: Double Cutaway Solid Body|
Body Wood: Alder
|8. Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s||Body Style: Single Cutaway|
Top: AA Figured Maple
|9. D’angelico Premier Bedford (Best Under $1000)||Body Style: Offset Solid Body Guitar |
Body Wood: Basswood
|10. Squier Bullet Stratocaster||Body Style: Double Cutaway Solid Body|
Body Wood: Poplar
Here Are the Most Versatile Electric Guitars
1. PRS Custom 24 (Editor’s Choice)
|Body Style||Double Cutaway Solid Body|
|Top||Carved figured maple|
|Back and Sides||Mahogany|
|Neck||Mahogany (Pattern Regular)|
|Pickups||PRS 58/15 Bass and 58/15 Treble Humbucker Pickups|
My Review: Paul Reed Smith guitars have been the gold standard of high-end guitars for the past couple of decades. PRS guitars are massively successful that have the best elements of modern technology and the best elements of the old vintage guitars. Their models are largely inspired by Fender and Gibson guitars, and Paul Reed Smith took the best parts of Fender and Gibson guitars and created their own version.
The most famous PRS guitar is the PRS Custom 24, and this guitar was their very first model, released in 1985. PRS Custom 24 has elements from both Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul, and it was designed to give the best flexibility and versatility from one single instrument.
The PRS Custom 24 came with many groundbreaking features at the time, and for the 30+ years that they have been sold in the market, it has been refined and changed into the PRS Custom 24 that we know of today. You can expect this guitar to excel with genres like rock, blues, pop, jazz, and funk, and you can find this guitar in the hands of guitarists like John Mayer, Orianthi, and Al Di Meola.
The PRS Custom 24 provides the highest quality that can be used as a high-end touring and recording guitar for professionals and advanced guitarists. We recommend this guitar for musicians looking to play at the highest level and have the budget to afford this guitar.
If this guitar is way above your budget, there is also the SE version of this guitar, which has similar specs but is sold at a much cheaper price point. The SE models are manufactured in South Korea, and they are also monitored closely by PRS headquarters and produced at a very high quality.
Key Specs and Features: From looking at the body, the first thing we see is that the guitar body is very ergonomic and we see a lot of traces of Fender Strat and Gibson Les Paul. The design of the body makes the guitar extremely lightweight but very resonant at the same time. Because of the ergonomic design, the guitar sits very comfortably when you play it sitting down.
Similar to a classic Gibson guitar, the body is made of mahogany and the top is finished with a carved figured maple top. The materials used for this guitar are of the highest quality, and the fretboard is made of rosewood with a 25-inch scale length.
The hardware is super solid and the best representative of the cutting-edge technology of today. The guitar has PRS Gen III Tremolo bar and PRS Phase III Locking tuner, both of which are designed and built in-house. They are very functional, and it provides a super stable whammy bar that won’t go out of tune even after wild bends and hardcore playing.
Electronics: The PRS Custom 24 is equipped with relatively new PRS 58/15 pickups. Number 58 represents 1958, meaning they were trying to recreate humbuckers from 1958 but also improve and make their own changes. These pickups are very clear in the high midrange and have less low mid-range, and are also strong on the bass frequencies. This makes each note of the guitar sing, and the tone of the guitar will easily cut through the mix.
PRS Custom 24 offers five unique pickup positions. The first position is the bridge humbucker, the second position is bridge humbucker with neck single coil (in parallel), the third position is the bridge & neck humbucker, the fourth position is the neck single coil with the bridge single-coil (in parallel), and finally, the fifth position is neck humbucker.
All of these five unique pickup positions were designed by PRS to give the players a great-sounding single-coil guitar tone while also getting an excellent humbucker guitar sound as well. This technology is relatively new and it’s one of the factors that make this guitar stand out amongst others.
The second and fourth pickup position is very unique in that you get to experience a complete single coil sound (neck single + bridge single) and a mix of both single-coil and humbucker sound.
With these combinations, you have access to a much wider palette of guitar tone than your regular Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster. In a recording situation, having one of these PRS Custom 24 is a great asset, because you can get so many different combinations of tones from just one guitar.
Bottom Line: It’s easy to see why the PRS Custom 24 has been so popular for 20+ years, the guitar is almost close to perfect – quality , ergonomic while comfortable body shape, super versatile tone, and high-tech hardware that can last a lifetime.
The PRS Custom 24 is the perfect example of a great high-end guitar that ensures maximum versatility, and it’s worth every bit of the $3850 (and up) market price. To the guitarists that need a top-quality electric guitar for recording session work or touring, the PRS Custom 24 is an amazing choice.
2. Fender American Professional II Stratocaster
|Body Style||Double Cutaway Solid Body|
|Back and Sides||Alder and Ash|
|Pickups||V-Mod Single Coil Stratocaster|
My Review: To start off the list, we have to start with the most classic electric guitar that we all are so familiar with – the Fender Stratocaster. Fender Stratocaster is arguably the most well-known electric guitar, and it’s been the most popular electric guitar since its release in 1954 by Fender.
It was released after being carefully designed and reviewed for over 2 years, and it was designed as the ultimate all-around electric guitar and was targeted to the mass market. Since it’s been around for so long, there are so many great vintage Stratocasters that are still being sold in the used guitar market.
Over the course of this time, Fender has been revising and making changes on the Stratocaster to suit the demand of the market. Fender’s latest “improved” version of the Strat is called the Fender American Professional Stratocaster, and it’s targeted at guitar players that want to play all kinds of genres with just one electric guitar.
Fender American Professional Stratocaster has some of the best features of “the old and the new ”. Fender kept many of the classic features that made this guitar famous and added cool innovative technologies onto the guitar that fits the 21st century. Fender Stratocaster has been a long favorite for versatile genres like Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk, RnB. But the new innovative technology even allows you to use the Stratocaster to play newer genres like EDM.
Key Specs and Features: Fender Stratocaster is most famous for its iconic Strat body shape, with the wavy and S-curve waistline that everyone instantly recognizes. The Stratocaster body is built with Alder and Ash, and it comes in various finishes – from the classic Sunburst to White. The neck is built with Maple, and the neck has a modern deep “C” neck profile. The newly implemented modern deep “C” neck profile is pretty similar to its original version, but the design does have a slightly deeper C neck profile, and the shoulders of the guitar neck are slightly wider and thicker. The wider guitar neck allows for more sustain in the guitar and more depth in the tone.
The arm/bridge of the new Stratocaster is called the 2-point Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles, and it provides a more stable and easy-to-install solution to the previous arm. To install the previous arm into the guitar, you needed to screw the arm in and out every time. But the new 2-point Synchronized Tremolo allows you to simply push in the arm and the arm easily locks into place.
Electronics: Pickups also went through some major changes, and Fender has used the latest technology to “upgrade” the Stratocaster pickups. The new pickups are called the V-Mod Single Coil Strat, designed by the legendary Tim Shaw. Tim Shaw created the new pickups by trying out different Alnico magnet types like Alnico II, Alnico III, and Alnico V magnets, and various combinations of these magnets. Tim selected the best magnet type that fits each position on the 5-way pickup selector, and this system is designed to give the maximum versatility and options for different styles of music.
The new pickup system is also slightly tweaked, and the new treble-bleed tone circuit allows for more tone to shine through the amplifier. The treble-bleed tone circuit is designed to retain the high end even when the volume knob is down, and this new pickup system gives the players the ultimate tone for modern guitar playing.
Bottom Line: All in all, the Fender American Professional Stratocaster is certainly a modern take of the timeless classic. It feels different from the vintage Strats and sounds different from the vintage Strats as well. But with all these new technologies implemented, the Professional Stratocaster can certainly be used for more modern genres like Modern Pop & Rock, Funk, RnB, and even EDM. Overall, it’s a decently-priced high-quality electric guitar that has the ultimate versatility for younger players. It’s one of the most versatile guitars out there and one of our favorites here at Guitar Lobby.
3. Gibson ES-335
|Body Style||Double Cutaway Semi-hollow Body|
|Back and Sides||3-piece Maple/Poplar/Maple|
|Pickups||Dual Calibrated T-type humbuckers|
My Review: The Gibson ES-335 is another iconic guitar that we have to talk about in this list. You saw this guitar in the hands of legends like BB King or Larry Carlton, and even in movies like Back To The Future. Gibson ES-335 is a type of electric guitar called semi-hollow body, and semi-hollow body guitars have hollow areas in the body for maximum resonance but the body is not as thick as a full hollow-body guitar.
Semi-hollow body guitars have a solid block right in the center of the body, and it allows players to get a lot of resonance while preventing too much feedback from the amp. The first versions of the ES-335 were released in 1958 by Gibson, and it’s still getting a lot of love from the guitar players after 60+ years.
Gibson ES-335 is popular for its versatility – the ability to rock out with creamy overdrive, while also having beautiful clean tones for jazz, funk, and RnB. Although Gibson ES-335 guitars are very pricey for the average guitar player, they remain the gold standard of the semi-hollow electric guitars.
Key Specs and Features: As we mentioned above, the main feature of the Gibson ES-335 is the solid block in the guitar body, which is the key feature in allowing the guitar to get that signature ES-335 deep resonating sound. ES-335 has the iconic double cutaway Gibson guitar shape, and the guitar body is made up of 3-piece maple/poplar/maple for both the top and back & sides.
Many know Gibson guitars for their extensive use of mahogany wood for many of their guitars, but the Gibson ES-335 has a unique combination of maple and poplar for the body.
The neck, however, is made of mahogany and the neck profile is a rounded C-shape. And while some players will need some adjusting time to the thick rounded C-shape neck profile, once you get used to it, the thick neck profile will give you a very comfortable grip for playing chunky chords and smooth lines. It’s the perfect neck profile for achieving the thick and fat blues and jazz tone.
Gibson ES-335 also has very luxurious and sturdy hardware that has proven to be very reliable for many years. It has the Gibson Vintage Deluxe tuners with keystone buttons for reliable tuning stability and precise intonation.
It also has the Gibson ABR-1 bridge and stop bar tailpiece, which became a hallmark of Gibson guitars and the standard hardware for many notable high-end electric guitars.
Electronics: In terms of pickups, the modern Gibson ES-335 comes with Gibson calibrated T-type humbucking pickups. These are reliable humbuckers from Gibson and you can expect to get a great tone for many different genres such as jazz, blues, rock, country, and RnB. The guitar has a three-way pickup selector with two volume knobs and two tone knobs for neck and bridge pickups.
The tone from the ES-335 is on the warmer side, and they are also known for a full-midrange in their tone that will help the guitar sound cut through the band mix. The clean tone of the ES-335 is beautiful and lush-sounding, and when you crank on some overdrive into the tone, you can also get a gorgeous blues and rock tone as well. By using the bridge pickup, you can get some serious power from the Gibson ES-335.
Overall, it’s a very versatile, high-end Gibson semi-hollow body electric guitar.
Bottom Line: Overall, the Gibson ES-335 is hands-down one of the best high-end semi-hollow electric guitars around, and it sets a very high standard for semi-hollow guitars. It’s one of the most versatile electric guitars out there and a great thing about the ES-335 is that with time, the guitar will age like a fine wine. For any serious guitarist, the Gibson ES-335 is one of the must-have guitars in your arsenal.
4. Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty
|Body Style||Double Cutaway|
|Back and Sides||Mahogany|
|Pickups||DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy|
My Review: Music Man was founded in 1974, and they were first known as a company that introduced active electronics on their production lines. The famous music accessories entrepreneur Ernie Ball’s son Sterling Ball – who is a legendary instrument designer and a musician by his own right – was on the team since the 1970s.
He helped develop the famous StringRay Basses, and the Ernie Ball company officially bought Music Man in 1984. In 2001, they teamed up with John Petrucci, one of the all-time great metal guitarists, and launched John’s first signature model: The JP6.
Ever since then, John Petrucci and the team at Music Man never stopped innovating and developing and created a total of 9 signature John Petrucci signature guitars.
The amazing thing about his signature lines is that John personally always uses his signature guitars in his Dream Theater tours, recordings, and songwriting process. This is quite rare in the guitar world because many guitarists with their signature line will use multiple different guitars when they are actually playing on stage. But John exclusively uses his signature models, and over time, he was able to gather all kinds of feedback, make adjustments, and do experiments to create the best possible instrument.
With over 18 years of experimenting and developing multiple signature models, the one and only Majesty were born. It’s the pinnacle of all his creations and his Majesty is simply put, one of the best signature guitars you’ll find anywhere. If you’re looking for the maximum performance, high-end guitar, the Music Man Majesty is certainly the guitar for you.
Key Specs and Features: The design of the Majesty is just gorgeous and it is one of the most luxurious-looking guitars on the market. The design is said to be inspired by sports cars and running stallions, and it’s pretty obvious when you look at these.
As the name suggests, it’s really a majestic looking instrument, and it also comes in multiple beautiful colors – Blue Hanu, Dark Roast, Enchanted Forest, Red Sunrise, Solar Dust, Stealth Black, and Tiger Eye. Different color models of Music Man Majesty have different combinations of wood and hardware, so you can expect each color to be slightly different in both the look and their tone. For example, the Enchanted Forest version of the Majesty has a mahogany neck and maple top and has matte black hardware.
For the Kinetic Blue finish, the color changes depending on where the light hits the surface. And the Kinetic Blue finish is made of basswood and has chrome hardware. The Tiger Eye color is a separate limited edition model with a completely different body composition.
So even amongst the same model, there are slightly different aspects to it, and these aspects will all result in slightly different tones.
All Majesty guitars have 24 frets with an ergonomic body shape that allows players to reach all the high frets with ease, both from the top and the bottom of the neck. And the neck-through design provides easy access to the frets while providing a very resonant tone.
The bridge/tremolo is John’s signature Custom John Petrucci Music Man floating tremolo of chrome plated, hardened steel
Electronics: The pickups are designed by John Petrucci – his new Rainmaker and Dreamcatcher humbuckers. These pickups are super innovative and powerful machines, and these pickups were products of John’s quest for his ultimate tone for many, many years.
John Petrucci says these humbuckers bring out the Majesty’s inherent tonal complexities “in a way that gives the guitar an expressive, intense, fearless, creamy, gorgeous, pure, unobstructed, and addictively powerful voice.”
Although the Rainmaker and Dreamcatcher humbuckers can work well with any amps, John Petrucci’s preference of amp pairing is a Mesa Boogie or other high gain 6L6 amps. It really incorporates all the best sounds from all JP’s previous signature models and John Petrucci describes this guitar as a “really bold, present, up-front, sustaining personality”.
Music Man Majesty has a switch on the volume knob, and by turning the switch on, you can access the 20db boost feature. The tone knobs also have a coil tap button feature, which you can access different combinations of the pickups.
On top of that, there is something called the Piezo function. And what this does is when the switch is set to Piezo, you can access super high-quality acoustic steel-string guitar sound.
Naturally, it’s not a perfect acoustic guitar sound, but it has an attractive and unique quality of its own. In terms of live performance, it can work beautifully, and unlike an actual acoustic guitar, you can mix and match any effects on it without worrying about possible feedback problems from the amp.
It’s a really futuristic feature, and you can even combine the Piezo pickup + the regular magnetic pickup. Music Man Majesty is available in a bunch of different finishes and there is also a 7-string version available. With all these futuristic features and futuristic designs, Music Man Majesty is truly ahead of its time and a revolutionary electric guitar.
Bottom Line: There are definitely guitar players who prefer the old, the vintage, the classic such as a Gibson, a D’angelico, or a Fender. But if you’re someone who wants a futuristic, modern guitar, and if you have the budget, the Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty is a great all-around, powerful machine that is super versatile.
This guitar would obviously work for a variety of genres, but the best fit for this guitar will be modern rock, progressive rock, and metal.
5. Fender American Performer Telecaster
|Body Style||Single Cutaway|
|Back and Sides||Alder and Ash|
|Pickups||Yosemite Single-Coil Telecaster Pickups|
My Review: Another iconic guitar that we have to talk about is the Fender Telecaster. Telecasters are actually older than Stratocasters, and there are so many top-quality vintage Telecasters that are available in the market. Although there are many great high-end options for the Telecaster, we are going to look at one of the most commercial options for the Telecaster.
In 2017, Fender released their American Professional Series that featured their all-new modern, revised versions of their classics like Stratocasters and Telecasters. Then in 2019, Fender released another new line of Fender American Performer Series, which replaced the previous ‘gateway’ American Specials.
Performer series are offered at a slightly cheaper price point than the Professional series, and since their release, the Performer series has been getting a great review from the public and the media. When comparing Telecasters and Stratocasters, the Telecasters are very different creatures compared to the Stratocasters, and the tone palette is much different.
They are also very versatile, but the tones generally have more “twang” and punch compared to the Stratocasters. In a way, the Telecasters can be seen as more primitive than the Stratocasters, but there is certainly beauty in simplicity and authentic vintage tone.
Key Specs and Features: Fender Performer Teles are offered in unique finish options like Penny, Vintage White, Satin Sonic Blue, and Honey Burst. The new colors and designs give a refreshing look to the classic electric guitar and breathes a new life to the massively popular guitar.
Fender Performer Telecaster has the classic Alder body with a bolt-on maple neck with 9.5’’ radius maple fingerboard, and there are a total of 22 jumbo-sized frets, finished with a synthetic bone nut.
The neck profile of the Performer Telecaster is a slim ‘Modern C’ profile, which is a slightly thinner version of the C-shaped neck. Thinner necks are more suitable for modern genres like modern rock and pop, and the slim ‘Modern C’ allows for very fast movement up and down the guitar neck.
Also, the Truss-rod adjustment is at the headstock for easy accessibility, and Fender’s new ClassicGear machine heads have an 18:1 gear ratio for smoother and more precise tuning.
The higher-ratio tuners are a great asset for guitar players who record a lot, especially when recording against precise electronic instruments. The bridge is composed of a 3x brass saddle string-through-body bridge for a very solid base.
Electronics: One of the main reasons that the Professional Series made headlines in 2017, was due to their all-new V-Mod pickup system that was designed by pickup guru Tim Shaw. The pickups on the Performer Series have another set of newly designed pickup systems by Tim Shaw. The Performer Telecaster comes with a set of pickups called the Yosemite Single Coils, and the middle pickup is reverse-wound and reverse polarity, while a push/pull tone pot adds the neck pickup in parallel.
Pickups have a simple three-way wiring, and for some reason, the pickups were named after the famous Yosemite. The pickups also come with a Fender Greasebucket tone circuit, which is a system that gives way to more clear high-end.
The general tone palette of the guitar is on the brighter side, and it’s voiced clear and has enough power at the bridge position for some hard rock-n-roll. The middle positions provide a satisfying range of twang and silkiness that is great for funk and blues.
Overall, the new Performer Telecaster seems to have a very wide range of tones available while retaining the classic Telecaster tone.
Bottom Line: Fender continues to deliver an all-new high-quality line of Telecasters, and the American Performer Telecaster is the perfect guitar for modern guitarists that are into rock, blues, country, pop, and even surf. If the Fender Professional Series were too pricey for your budget, the new Fender Performer Telecaster is an amazing alternative.
6. Gibson SG Standard ‘61
|Body Style||Double Cutaway|
|Back and Sides||Mahogany|
|Pickups||BurstBucker 61R and BurstBucker 61T|
My Review: Whether it’s from the hands of Derek Trucks or Angus Young, you probably have seen this guitar a whole lot. Launched in 1961, the Gibson SG model is short for “solid guitar”, and it was one of the first guitars that were released after Gibson ended the contract with Les Paul.
They were descendants of the Gibson Les Paul, created after Gibson was experimenting with smaller versions of the Les Paul guitar – Les Paul Junior, TV, and Special models. They soon made a thinner, double-cutaway version of those guitars, and a few years later, that guitar ended up becoming the Gibson SG.
It was only after 1963 where that model officially became the Gibson SG when Les Paul’s endorsement contract ended in 1962 with Gibson. At the time, producing SG guitars was a way for Gibson to respond to their competitors Fender and Gretsch, and especially Fender was launching instant hits after hits with their new models.
But for Gibson, it took them years to really master their SG model, and one of the final finishing puzzle pieces was the ABR-1 (tune-o-matic bridge) and PAF (pickups). After the 1960s, and 1970s, the Gibson SG became their most popular model, and the SG guitar soon became an iconic solid-body guitar of the 20th century.
Key Specs and Features: The most amazing thing about a good-quality SG guitar is how much sound it can produce from such a small body. When on full blast, it resonates like a small bomb and creates such a deep overdrive and distortion tone that has become so iconic. SG has its own personality to it, and you’ll know what I mean if you listen to Angus Young’s playing.
Standard ‘61 features a full mahogany body and SlimTaper neck, and rosewood fretboard with Plek’d frets. They are available in Vintage Cherry, which is the classic SG color that we all grew up with, and I honestly don’t know if anyone’s looking for anything other than the Vintage Cherry finish.
Gibson’s mahogany construction adds a touch of brightness and provides plenty of sustain for both soloistic playing and rhythm guitar playing. Another shocking thing about the Gibson SG is its tonal variety and genre diversity. From Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel to Derek Trucks, the Gibson SG nails so many different styles of music.
The Gibson SG Standard ‘61 is an effort to go back to the original model, and use what worked best but also make minor new modifications. The new SG Standard ‘61 guitars are available in three different versions of bridges – with Maestro Vibrola, with Sideways Vibrola, and with the classic tune-o-matic bridge.
The prices might vary for each version of the bridge, and all three bridge types have a very specific use. The Maestro Vibrola is the classic whammy bar bridge, where you can bend the note up and down like a regular guitar bridge arm.
The Sideways Vibrola on the other hand has an arm that moves side to side, and it’s an unusual feature that can be used to create unique sound effects on the guitar. Lastly, if you don’t need the fancy arm, you can just go for Gibson’s classic tune-o-matic bridge – one of the most iconic and widely used electric guitar bridges.
Electronics: The tones are reminiscent of the ’60s, and they feature Burstbucker ‘61 R and T pickups – meaning rhythm for the neck pickup, and treble for the bridge pickup. These pickups have the Alnico 5 magnets, and it allows a little more output and bite, and cuts through the sound more than the Alnico 2 magnets.
The volume and tone controls are hand soldered CTS 500k audio taper pots. Unlike some of the new guitars where the controls aren’t as sensitive, these will allow you to control the volume and tone to the smallest detail.
The SG is best suitable for rock and blues styles, but they are also more than suitable for pop, funk, and RnB. If you’re looking for a lightweight guitar that has a huge sound, and that’s perfect for all kinds of genres, Gibson SG Standard ‘61 is what you’re looking for!
Bottom Line: The Gibson SG Standard ‘61 is a lightweight monster of a guitar that can cover so many styles of music. From its iconic Vintage Cherry body, you can get a powerful sound that can fill up a stadium. If you ever wondered why the Gibson SG has been so popular since it’s release in the 1960s, try one of these beauties out at a guitar store nearest to you.
7. PRS John Mayer Silver Sky
|Body Style||Double Cutaway Solid Body|
|Pickups||635JM Single Coil Pickups|
My Review: We’ve looked at the Fender Stratocaster on this list, and now let’s look at a version of a Stratocaster made by PRS. PRS is well-known as one of the premier guitar brands for high-quality electric guitars, and they also work with some of the most famous guitarists of our time.
One of Paul Reed Smith’s closest collaborators is the great John Mayer, and when they first started working together on a new guitar, many people were very skeptical about the project.
The process of building the new guitar took them almost two and a half years, and when it was released, the reaction from the guitar community was mixed. Some guitar players thought this was just another Strat among thousands of other Strats in the market, and some thought this was a special Strat that stands out from the pack.
But the fact is that the PRS John Mayer Silver Sky is a special instrument that stands out from the many modern takes on the Fender Strat.
John Mayer and PRS collaborated and paid attention to every single possible detail on an electric guitar. From the headstock all the way down to the bridge, all the small details are well-thought and picked for a reason. Their initial goal was to create a guitar based on the 1963-1964 Fender Strat and create a modern take on their favorite vintage Strat. It has a unique mix of features from both vintage 1963/1964 Fender Strat and a PRS guitar.
Key Specs and Features: First, by looking at the body of Silver Sky, we can see that it has a Fender Stratocaster body but something is definitely different from the Fender Stratocaster we know of.
The treble side of the body isn’t as deep as the original Stratocaster while the bass side of the body is deeper and has a sharper nose than the original Stratocaster. The body material is Stratocaster’s usual Alder wood and it has a Gloss finish.
The neck is a bolt-on Maple neck and it has a classic Strat scale length of 25.5 inches. Something that is very unusual about the Silver Sky is the headstock of this Strat and it has a modified PRS headstock that John Mayer altered to fit his playing style.
For people who are used to the classic Fender Stratocaster, the altered PRS headstock on a Fender Stratocaster body might take a little while to get used to, but it certainly does have a strange luxuriness to them.
One of the amazing things about this guitar is the playing feel and the neck profile. The neck profile is based on the 1963-4 Strat and guitar players will instantly recognize how incredibly comfortable it is to play this guitar.
John Mayer and Paul spent so much time perfecting the neck profile and the “feel” of the guitar, and they’ve certainly found the “sweet spot” of a comfortable neck profile. The guitar comes with numerous other features like the PRS Tremolo Bar and Gen III Knife-edge screws.
The bridge also only goes down in pitch and this results in an acoustically louder guitar. Other features include a bone nut and molded metal jack plate that makes plugging in much easier.
Electronics: The pickups on the PRS Silver Sky are 635JM Single Coil pickups, which are John Mayer’s Signature PRS Single Coil pickups. These pickups showcase a full and round tone and have a musical high that will pop out of the mix but is incredibly pleasant to the ear.
PRS Silversky comes with a 5-way blade switch as any Strat would. In terms of tone, all five pickup positions have a distinct sound – neck pickup has a beautiful full sound with a bunch of low end and the bridge has just enough “honk” with plenty of bite to them.
The middle, 2nd, and 4th all have their distinct color and present so much tone variety within the guitar.
Bottom Line: After spending time with this guitar, it’s obvious that the PRS John Mayer Silver Sky is not just another boutique modern Strat. This guitar is a final product of years of collaboration between two great minds of the guitar industry and from the playing feel, sound, to looks, Silver Sky is definitely worth the price.
For guitar players who have the budget, John Mayer Silver Sky is a super versatile guitar that can work for many different styles of music.
8. Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s
|Body Style||Single Cutaway|
|Top||AA Figured Maple|
|Back and Sides||Mahogany|
|Pickups||BurstBucker 61R and BurstBucker 61T|
My Review: Gibson Les Paul is another versatile high-end electric guitar that we can’t forget about, and on this list, we are going to look at the Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s. The Les Paul Standard 60s is an attempt at replicating some of the best Les Pauls from the 1960s, and Gibson kept most of the classic features that made this guitar special in the first place.
Gibson guitars have been able to maintain their top quality production for so many years, and the Les Pauls are a perfect example of their timeless production of the legendary guitar.
After trying out the Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s, the Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s responded beautifully to my picking and fingerpicking, and the guitar really sang. The grip and left hand felt very comfortable all around the neck, and it has a really good resonance despite the small body size.
Although many recognize this guitar as a rock or blues guitar, the Gibson Les Paul is much more versatile than people might think. It can also be perfect for playing jazz or clean tones as well. So overall, it’s a timeless masterpiece that will be here to stay for many years to come.
Key Specs and Features: Following the Gibson tradition, the Les Paul Standard 60s has an all-mahogany body with AA figured maple top. You can find all-mahogany construction for most Gibson guitars, and it’s one of the main ingredients that give Les Paul guitars their signature sound.
The top quality mahogany with AA figured maple top gives the guitar that “mahogany tone”, and it’s something that can’t be replicated with any other choice of wood. The mahogany neck with a SlimTaper neck profile gives you that vintage feel, and the SlimTaper neck never gets old, and you can always feel at home when you’re playing on a SlimTaper neck.
In terms of hardware, it keeps the same reliable hardware as the original model back in the 1960s. It features an ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece, as well as Grover Rotomatic Tuners for the tuning. The guitar has proven many times that it is very versatile, and you can play everything from jazz, rock, blues, and pop.
Electronics: Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s uses Burstbucker 61R pickup for the neck and Burstbucker 61T pickup for the bridge. All the Gibson Burstbucker pickups are great, and the 61R and 61T pickups specialize in providing a very gritty, and full tone.
They do push the amp a little bit more than the standard Burstbucker pickups, and they are also great for playing lead guitar as well as rhythm guitar with the volume rolled down. The pickup positions are controllable with the classic 3-way pickup switch.
Bottom Line: Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s is a state-of-the-art versatile, high-end guitar for players that love the vintage sound. It’s perfect for playing with overdrive guitar tones and tube amps, but Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s also feature a tremendous clean tone for Pop, RnB, and Jazz styles.
The Gibson Les Pauls can be described as one of the best electric guitars ever made, and you definitely won’t regret having a Gibson Les Paul Standard in your arsenal.
9. D’angelico Premier Bedford (Best Under $1000)
|Body Style||Offset Solid Body Guitar|
|Pickups||Duncan HB-102 Single Coil STK for neck, and HB-101 humbucker for the bridge|
My Review: There is a legendary guitar company that is not as well known to the general public as Fender, Gibson, or Gretsch, but in my opinion, D’angelico is equally as important and revolutionary.
They’re called D’angelico Guitars, and it was created by one legendary figure in the guitar world, a luthier – John D’angelico. Mr. D’angelico started his journey by becoming an apprentice of violin and mandolin maker at the age of 9, he took all that expertise and built his own company in NYC’s Little Italy in 1932. He produced some of the best performing and most beautiful archtop guitars with his two hands, and he only had two assistants helping him out.
Unfortunately, John unexpectedly died of a heart attack in 1964, and one of his apprentices Jimmy D’Aquisto bought the company, and that was the end of D’angelico for a while. Luckily in 1999, a group of guys bought the D’angelico name, and Brenden Cohen relaunched D’angelico in 2010. After Cohen took over the company, D’angelico took a more commercial turn, and they looked at ways to put the D’angelico guitars on the market for a cheaper price and have the D’angelico guitars available for a broader market.
Before 2010, D’angelico guitars were the dream guitar for many jazz guitarists, but the original D’angelico guitars were way too expensive for most guitar players to afford. And it makes sense, considering the original D’angelico guitars were all handcrafted by John D’angelico and his two assistants.
But luckily, the new management started moving their production to Japan and South Korea, and they were able to make super high-quality guitars and sell them at an incredibly reasonable price point.
Ever since their relaunch, D’angelico has been producing some of the most beautiful electric guitars in the commercial guitar market. D’angelico originally focused on just hollow body and semi hollow body guitars, but in recent years, they started releasing a whole new line of solid body electric guitars.
One of their unique and popular line of models is the Bedford series, and Bedford guitars have an offset body that has a similar body shape to guitars like Fender Jaguar or Fender Mustang.
D’angelico Premier Bedford has an unusual body shape that provokes a sense of elegance, and at the same time, it’s a very versatile guitar that can be used for Pop, Jazz, Funk, Rock, RnB, and more. Since D’angelico’s relaunch, they already have guitar legends like Bob Weir, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Isaiah Sharkey using D’angelico solid body guitars.
Key Specs and Features: D’angelico Premier Bedford is part of one of the cheaper guitar lines produced by D’angelico, and the Premier lines feature three solid body guitar shapes – Ludlow, Atlantic, and Bedford. The shape of Bedford is very unique, with a F-hole pickguard combined with a curly offset guitar body.
The body shape and the hardware of the Premier Bedford can also be described as the perfect mixture of Gibson and Fender. The offset body gives players a lot of space and makes it easy to access all 22 frets, and the body is a basswood body and the neck is a C-shaped maple neck.
The neck also stands out, because the neck has a “slim, unfinished” neck profile and has a very tiny neck joint – and this makes this instrument more unique than any other guitar out there.
The “slim and unfinished” neck allows you to play without getting sticky fingers (or sweaty hands), and it also puts less burden on your wrists. Other than that, Premier Bedford has the classic Gibson style Tune-o-matic bridge, which is always a reliable choice for any electric guitar, and it comes with Rotomatic Stair Step Tuning machines.
Electronics: D’angelico Premier Bedford has four knob controls with two volume knobs and two tone knobs. Unlike most under $1000 electric guitars, the D’angelico Premier Bedford comes with a coil tap function on both neck and bridge pickups. The coil tap functions allow you to access another type of sound, and you can separate both the neck and bridge pickups into a single-coil sound.
The neck pickup is a Seymour Duncan STK single coil, which is a hot two-stack single-coil pickup. What it means is although it’s not as powerful as humbuckers, STK single coils pack much more current than a single coil. The neck pickup by itself has a spanky, and thin Fender-like tone, which is perfect for rhythm guitar playing like strumming and cutting.
The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan HB-101B humbucker, and it’s a lot punchier and thicker than the neck pickup. With these tones combined with middle position and coil tapping, you can access a variety of tones from spanky and thin all the way to warm humbucker sound.
Bottom Line: So overall, Premier Bedford is a perfect mix of Fender and Gibson, and a perfect mix of new and the old D’angelico. The D’angelico Premier Bedford has a combination of both a one-of-a-kind offset solid guitar body and new features on solid body electric guitar.
It also has old traditional features from the D’angelico hollow body guitars that came before and still has that luxurious D’angelico design and sound.
10. Squier Bullet Stratocaster
|Body Style||Double Cutaway Solid Body|
|Pickups||Squier Standard Single Coil and Standard Humbucking Pickups|
My Review: Before I end this review, I want to introduce the ultimate “cheap and versatile” electric guitar. It’s called the Squier Bullet Stratocaster, and it’s probably one of the cheapest stratocasters you’ll find anywhere. And this guitar is made by Squier, which is a company under Fender that produces cheap versions of Fender guitars.
It has an extremely affordable price point under $200 and you might wonder if it’s even decent enough to be used for practicing. But surprisingly, the Bullet Stratocaster actually has a decent tone and comfortable build that can even be used for performances on stage. Overall, I would characterize this guitar as “super cheap guitar that doesn’t completely suck”.
The body is made up of basswood, and it has the classic C-shaped neck profile. Having a C-shaped neck profile might be a great idea for beginners because you can get used to how a C-shaped neck feels early on, and the transition to the more expensive guitars will be flawless in the future.
The guitar also has a working hardtail bridge, and this helps the guitar stay in tune, especially after bending and doing big vibratos. The tuners are actually quite decent, and Bullet Strats feature standard die-cast tuners, and the tuning stays surprisingly stable.
The frets might be a little lacking because this guitar only has 21 frets. But for $180? I’m definitely not gonna complain.
Electronics: One downside of this guitar might be the pickups. These things are loaded with Squier standard single-coil pickups and standard humbucking pickups, and these are not very good at noise canceling.
They are very sensitive, so you might hear some hums and noises when you are plugged into an amp. The addition of humbucker pickup in the bridge position gives you another set of sounds and tones to work with, and for such a cheap guitar, having both options of single-coil and humbucking pickup is a great advantage for the player.
In terms of tone, it has a pretty decent tone, and you can even crank some distortion with this guitar. Other than that, Bullet Strats have one volume knob, two tone knobs, and five-position pickup selectors.
Bottom Line: Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a super affordable and versatile Stratocaster with both single-coil and humbucker pickups. It’s a great first guitar for beginners and it’s also a good practicing electric guitar for beginners as well.
Bullet Stratocaster has a very comfortable C shaped neck profile for practicing for a long time and also has a wide array of tones for practicing and performing. It’s one of the best cheap electric guitars you’ll find anywhere.
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