7 Best High-End Electric Guitars of 2024

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So you're looking to significantly upgrade your guitar collection.

We're talking a big-time investment here. Maybe you've finally gotten the dream gig, earned that promotion, or won that court case! Regardless of the reason, congratulations are in order. This is an exciting time for you!

It's also the time to do your research. Luckily for you, we're here with a cheat sheet of sorts - a list of seven of the best high-end electric guitars on the market today. The caveat, of course, is that these are brand-spankin' new guitars, fresh off the factory line with zero highway miles.

Kicking off our list is our pick for the best overall high-end electric guitar, the Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue. We've also got holy grail guitars from all the rest of the market's big players. No budget picks here—this list is strictly for the high rollers.

Ante up—let's check 'em out.

Quick Summary of the Best High-End Electric Guitars

  1. Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue (Best Overall High-End Electric)
  2. Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition '61 Telecaster Relic (Best High-End Fender Guitar)
  3. Fender Custom Shop '68 Stratocaster Dlx Closet Classic Maple Electric Guitar (Best High-End Strat)
  4. Gibson Custom 1968 Les Paul Custom Reissue (Best For Classic Rock)
  5. Gibson Custom 1964 ES-335 Reissue (Best Semi Hollow Guitar)
  6. Gretsch G6120-55 Nashville Chet Atkins Masterbuilt (Best Hollow Body Guitar)
  7. Gibson Custom Flying V (Best Shredder)

Best High-End Electric Guitars

1. Best Overall High-End Electric – Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue

Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue

SPECS

  • Body Style: Solid body
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Top Material: 2 piece plain maple
  • Pickups: 2 x Custombucker Soapbar P90 Single-coil
  • Neck Shape: Chunky C
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Aged Cellulose Nitrate Trapezoids
  • Number of Frets: 22, Narrow Tall

You knew the top pick was going to be either a Fender or a Gibson and the Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue takes the cake. It's got everything that made the Gibson Les Paul so famous in 1956 - from the P90 pickups and chunky neck to the adjustable ABR-1 bridge.

The chunky "C" neck is kind of the holy grail for a lot of Les Paul fans. The 60's SlimTaper necks just can't compete with the baseball bat that is attached to the '56 reissue.

The custom soap bar P90 pickups give you the rude, gritty, and unmistakable single-coil sound. Roll back the tone knob for instant warm jazz tones, just as Les Paul himself would've played.

Like all of the Custom Shop Historic Reissue models, Gibson's Vintage Original Sheen finish option comes standard. The nitrocellulose finish is buffed to a light matte appearance, giving it the look and feel of a well-loved axe. This thin finish also helps enhance the tone.

If you're looking for a truly dreamy Gibson Les Paul, look no further than the '56 Goldtop reissue - our top pick for the best overall high-end electric guitar.

2. Best High-End Fender Guitar – Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition '61 Telecaster Relic

Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition '61 Telecaster Relic

SPECS

  • Body Style: Solid body
  • Body Material: 2-piece Alder
  • Pickups: Hand-wound Twisted Tele Single-coil (neck) Hand-wound Original Black Guard Single-coil (Bridge)
  • Neck Shape: 60s Oval C
  • Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Dark Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Clay dots
  • Number of Frets: 21, Narrow Tall

It basically came down to a coin toss for us to decide which iconic Fender model to lead off with, and ultimately we went with the Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition '61 Telecaster Relic. We just couldn't resist this gorgeous recreation of one of the world's most classic guitars.

Fender's Custom Shop really nailed the feel, look, and sound of the '61 Fender Telecaster. From its 2-piece alder body and a quarter-sawn maple/rosewood neck to its beautifully relic-ed finish, this guitar gives you a warm worn-in feel from day one. The Medium Tint Nitro Lacquer allows your guitar to continue to age naturally.

The chunky oval C neck has the feel vintage aficionados love, while the 21 narrow tall frets allow for fast playing up and down the neck. Your strings are anchored by a classic 3-saddle barrel bridge.

Hand-wound single-coil neck and bridge pickups serve up unlimited clarity, articulation, and bite. The Twisted Tele neck pickup offers a more mellow strat-like glassy tone. This killer pickup combination offers depth, twang, and everything in between.

Telecasters are iconic guitars, you know them and you love them, and this '61 reissue is the ultimate Tele.

3. Best High-End Strat – Fender Custom Shop '68 Stratocaster Dlx Closet Classic Maple Electric Guitar

Fender Custom Shop '68 Stratocaster Dlx Closet Classic Maple Electric Guitar

SPECS

  • Body Style: Solid body
  • Body Material: Alder
  • Pickups: 3 x Fender Custom Shop Hand-Wound Under-Wound '69 Single-coil
  • Neck Shape: 1969 U
  • Neck Material: Plain grain maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Laminated maple
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Black Micarta dots
  • Number of Frets: 21, Narrow Tall

No "best electric guitars" list is complete without a Fender Stratocaster appearance. The Fender Custom Shop '68 Stratocaster Dlx Closet Classic Maple Electric Guitar is a world-class tribute to the early CBS Fender era.

You may recognize this guitar from the countless dorm room posters of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi knew what he was doing, and once you play this guitar you'll immediately understand the appeal.

A trio of underwound single coils offers a more dynamic version of the iconic strat sheen. A modern 5-way blade pickup switch lets you dial in those quacky 2- and 4-position tones.

The classic 2-piece alder body rings with harmonic-packed resonance, and it matches the Skunk-stripe-less 2-piece flat-sawn maple neck and big CBS-era headstock and logo. The Fender Custom Shop DLX Closet Classic finish captures the vibe of a well-preserved vintage artifact.

Fender Stratocasters have gone through so many variations since their debut, and it can be an exceedingly difficult task to try and pick out a "best," but the Custom Shop '68 Dix Closet Classic is about as close as you'll find to a perfect Fender Strat.

4. Best For Classic Rock – Gibson Custom 1968 Les Paul Custom Reissue

Gibson Custom 1968 Les Paul Custom Reissue

SPECS

  • Body Style: Solid body
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Top Material: 2 piece plain maple
  • Pickups: 2 x 68 Custom Humbucker
  • Neck Shape: 68 Medium C
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Mother-of-Pearl blocks
  • Number of Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo

It's safe to say that the history of rock and roll music would look and sound way different if it weren't for Les Paul. His epic signature guitar needs no introduction, and the Gibson Custom 1968 Les Paul Reissue is a love letter to classic rockers.

The thin Nitro finish, which was standard issue in 1968, wears naturally and allows the guitar to "breathe." Paired with the multi-ply body binding, this Black Beauty "tuxedo" is ready for formal engagements.

Punchy and powerful custom humbuckers provide the grit and clarity that put these beauties on the map back in the day. A lightweight aluminum stop tailpiece helps balance bite and sustain.

You also get gold hardware, classic "Waffle Back" tuners, Black Witch Hat knobs, and mother-of-pearl block markers, for a period-accurate aesthetic that is sure to turn heads.

If you're a fan of classic Les Paul guitars, or Gibson guitars in general, the '68 Reissue is the axe you've been waiting for.

5. Best Semi Hollow Guitar – Gibson Custom 1964 ES-335 Reissue

Gibson Custom 1964 ES-335 Reissue

SPECS

  • Body Style: Semi-hollow body
  • Body Material: 3-ply Maple/Poplar
  • Pickups: 2 x Custombucker Alnico III Humbucker
  • Neck Shape: 64 Medium C
  • Neck Material: Solid Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Small Block Cellulose Nitrate
  • Number of Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo

Johnny Been Goode? Then reward him with the gift of a Gibson ES-335 reissue that honors the past while also bringing us back to the future...do you see what I did there?

Playing this reissue is like going back in time and playing a semi-hollow guitar built in 1964. The meticulous detailing can be attributed to the vast and extensive research, scanning, studying, and listening that the Gibson team did while prepping the rollout of this faithful recreation.

Custombucker pickups serve up smoky humbucker tones that recall those glorious days of yesteryear, in both neck and bridge positions.

A medium C-shaped mahogany neck offers unmatched comfort and playability. The guitar's natural tone comes from the 3-ply maple and poplar body, which shines through with each and every strum.

Despite being a new electric guitar, you'd swear you're playing a well-preserved piece of history. Now if you could only master that classic Chuck Berry duck walk...

6. Best Hollow Body Guitar – Gretsch G6120-55 Nashville Chet Atkins Masterbuilt

Gretsch G6120-55 Nashville Chet Atkins Masterbuilt

SPECS

  • Body Style: Hollow body
  • Body Material: Laminated Maple
  • Pickups: 2 x Seymour Duncan Dynasonic Humbucker
  • Neck Shape: C
  • Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Pearloid Western Motif
  • Number of Frets: 22, Vintage

"So you wanna be a rock and roll star, then listen now to what I say. Just get this electric guitar, then take some time and learn how to play."

This definitely should have been a promotional tie-in for The Byrds and Gretsch back in the day, but now you can pay tribute to the country rock stars of yesteryear by forging your own musical path with the Gretsch G6120-55 Nashville Chet Atkins Masterbuilt.

Gretsch master builder Chad Henrichsen painstakingly recreated the original Chet Atkins signature model, and now you have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

From the all-maple body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard to the iconic “G” branding, western motif, comfy C-shaped neck, gold hardware finishing, and Bigsby B6 BGVF vibrato, you'd be hard-pressed to find any level of detail that went unaddressed. They even went ahead and added a 22nd fret.

The tried and true selection of tonewoods brings this hollow body beauty to life, and that tone is captured beautifully by the boutique-level Seymour Duncan-built Dynasonic humbucker pickups.

This is a list of high-end electric guitars, and the Gretsch G6120-55 Nashville Chet Atkins Masterbuilt is about as classy and high-end as you can get. Handmade in the USA Gretsch Guitars Custom Shop, it would be a worthy addition to any collection.

7. Best Shredder – Gibson Custom Flying V

Gibson Custom Flying V

SPECS

  • Body Style: Solidbody
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Pickups: 490R Humbucker (neck) 498T Humbucker (bridge pickup)
  • Neck Shape: Medium C
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Inlay: Mother-of-Pearl Blocks
  • Number of Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo

Can we ask you a personal question? Do you want to rock? No, we mean really rock. You do? Okay, well, we've got a suggestion: trust your instincts and finally pull the trigger on the Flying V of your dreams.

The Gibson Custom Flying V has got the look, and it's got the feel. A mahogany body gives you rich midrange character and sustain. The medium C mahogany neck allows for fast and comfortable playing, and it comes topped with an ebony fretboard and medium-jumbo frets, for that familiar Gibson feel.

Gibson Custom's 490R/498T pickups deliver hot and undeniably hard-rocking humbucker tone. From the tonewoods to the rock-solid set-neck construction to the top-shelf hardware, this guitar was made to rock and be rocked.

So go ahead, live a little, and get yourself the Flying V you've been thinking about since your teenage years.

Best High-End Electric Guitars Buyer's Guide

Buying a high-end electric guitar can be an exciting but substantial investment. These instruments are known for their exceptional craftsmanship, premium materials, and superior playability, and they're often favored by professional musicians and serious enthusiasts.

Here's a comprehensive buyer's guide to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a high-end electric guitar.

Name Your Price

Obviously, if you've made it this far into an article about high-end electric guitars, you're probably ready to drop a fair amount of change on your new instrument.

That being said, be sure to determine how much you're willing to spend on your new guitar. Prices can vary significantly, so setting a budget will narrow down your options.

How's It Play? How's It Feel?

We've done a lot of the legwork for you, but alas, there is no substitute for sitting in a music store and trying out different guitars until you find one that feels comfortable in your hands.

Pay attention to factors like the neck profile, fretboard radius, and overall weight. A comfortable guitar is crucial for long hours (and years) of playing.

Good Wood

The type of wood used for the body and neck of the guitar significantly affects its tone. Common tonewoods include mahogany, alder, ash, maple, and more. Different combinations can produce various tones, so choose one that suits your musical style.

Picking Up?

Pickups play a vital role in the sound of an electric guitar. High-end models often feature custom pickups or high-quality third-party pickups. Consider the type (single-coil, humbucker, P90) and their configuration (number of pickups) to match your desired tone.

Inspector Gadget

For their price tag, high-quality instruments should be known for their exceptional craftsmanship. But that's not always the case! The fine folks in charge of quality control are only human, and humans do miss some fine points from time to time.

Inspect the guitar closely for any flaws or imperfections in the finish, fretwork, and binding. Attention to detail is a hallmark of a quality instrument.

Resale Value

Many high-end guitars can appreciate in value over time, especially if they're limited edition or custom models. Consider the potential resale value as part of your investment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the differences between single-coil, humbucker, and P90 pickups?

Single coils are known for their bright, clear, and crisp sound. They produce a sharp, articulate tone with good treble response. They have a clean and transparent sound that emphasizes high frequencies. Single coil tones are well-suited for genres like blues, surf rock, and country music.

It's worth mentioning that single-coil pickups are susceptible to electromagnetic interference and can produce a humming or buzzing noise, especially in high-gain settings.

Humbucker pickups are known for their warm, thick, and smooth sound. They produce a rich and full-bodied tone with reduced noise compared to single coils.

Humbuckers offer high output and are capable of producing a fat, creamy, and sustain-rich sound. They are commonly used in rock, metal, and jazz genres.

P90 pickups, also known as "soapbar" pickups due to their shape, are a unique design that features a single coil with wider magnetic poles. They offer a gritty, raw, and midrange-focused tone.

What do different neck tonewoods sound like?

We'll try to sum this up as succinctly as possible.

Mahogany necks are typically associated with a softer attack and a smoother, rounder sound. They have a warm and slightly dark tone.

An Alder neck offers a bright, well-balanced, and round tone with clear and articulate sound.

Ash necks are bright and snappy and offer good sustain with pronounced attack.

Maple necks are often used for their clarity and brightness, especially in bolt-on neck configurations.

It's important to note that these tonal differences are subtle and can be influenced by other factors such as the guitar's body wood, pickups, hardware, and even playing technique. So, often times guitarists prioritize the feel and playability of the neck rather than its tonal characteristics.

What's so important about tonewoods?

Tonewoods are important for guitar bodies because they have a significant impact on the overall sound quality and guitar's tone. The choice of tonewoods can greatly influence various tonal characteristics of electric guitars, including resonance, sustain, warmth, brightness, and volume.

Conclusion

Remember that choosing a high-end electric guitar is a personal decision based on your musical style, preferences, and budget.

Take your time, do your research, and select the instrument that resonates with you both visually, sonically, and, dare we say, spiritually? It's an investment in your musical journey and can bring years of joy and inspiration.

Our suggestion? Go with the guitar that started it all, and the classic reliability of the Gibson Custom 1956 Les Paul Goldtop Reissue. Or, if you're more of a Fender person, pick up a Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition '61 Telecaster Relic or Fender Custom Shop '68 Stratocaster.

Either way, you know you're going to be satisfied when you spend top dollar on one of these gorgeous axes.

Happy playing!

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