WINNER: Fender Player Plus Nashville Telecaster
A substantial but still accessible upgrade on the popular Player Series, the Player Plus range is designed to hit the right notes for modern guitarists with features and finishes optimised for today’s players. This Nashville Tele is the pick of the bunch, however, with its mixture of a full complement of Tele tones and convincing Strat quack in positions two and four, it’s a seriously versatile proposition.
Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard
The Inspired By Gibson line had already raised the bar for Epiphone considerably but this budget take on the most storied Gibson of them all takes things to another level. With all the upgrades taken care of at the factory, this is not just a great guitar in its own right, but is a viable alternative to an entry-level USA-made Les Paul.
EVH 5150 Series Standard
Your ticket back to the 1980s in a Neon Pink time machine! The Standard is an homage to the Kramer EVH used in the mid-to-late 1980s, albeit with a few modern tweaks, including a compound 12-16 inch fingerboard radius and a deeper upper body curve. This is bona fide 1980s rock pedigree at an affordable price, and a whole lot of fun into the bargain.
Guild Starfire I Jet90
Guild’s Newark St Collection has long been a destination for those with vintage inclinations and a down-to-earth budget, and this guitar combines the classic singlecut Starfire outline with a centre-block, a trio of Guild’s Franz P-90s and a Bigsby-style vibrato tailpiece. There are plenty of affordable semis but few possess as much character and charisma as this.
Cort G300 Pro
The G300 Pro is the flagship model from the boutique-styled G series, and provides further evidence that the company’s mastery of quantity has no detrimental effect on quality. With superb build quality, a gorgeously full neck and consummate sonic versatility the G300 Pro is a must-try – regardless of your budget.
Gretsch G2622T-P90 Streamliner Center Block
By adding P-90s to the centre-blocked G2622 model, Gretsch has made another move with itws budget Streamliner range to demonstrate that Gretsch guitars can cover a broader sonic palette – and it’s quite a bold one at that. The result is a thoroughly likeable semi that excels in the mild-mannered area where Gretsch and Gibson crosses over.
Epiphone Inspired By Gibson ES-335 Figured
Epiphone’s Inspired By series represents a massive step up in looks and build quality for Epiphone, and this ES-335 is a fine addition to the catalogue. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable guitar with a build quality and standard of finish that exceed expectations at this highly competitive price point.
Fender Noventa Jazzmaster
Heading up Fender’s quirky new Noventa range, this three-pickup offset is all about blurring boundaries. If you appreciate offset stylings but have never got on with the tones or complex switching typical of vintage-style models, the Noventa Jazzmaster is well worthy of investigation.
Jackson X Series Soloist SLX DX
The Soloist has been a staple of the shred world for over 40 years, but in this affordable incarnation, the it’s much more than a mere nostalgia trip. For fleet-fingered modern technical players it provides the holy grail in terms of upper fret access, action and playability, all without costing the earth.
Cort KX300 Etched
While the finish might polarise, the huge selling point of the KX300 is its EMG Super77 pickups. These dynamically responsive premium pickups excel with distortion, and are equally as characterful through more vintage-voiced overdrives, but what’s truly unbelievable is how Cort has managed to squeeze these high-end pickups onto a sub-£500 instrument.