Guitar, like many other hobbies offers a variety of product choices for just about every conceivable scenario.
This overabundance of choices might prove to be just as confusing as it is helpful, leaving you lost and wondering "what guitar setup is right for me and the type of music I play?" Luckily, you're a cheap guitarist so your options are not nearly as expansive or expensive.
But in the world of cheap guitars, you have the burden of avoiding poorly made products and ridiculous promises from manufacturers hoping to make a quick buck.
Bearing this in mind, here is a compiled list of example rigs comprised of only cheap guitar gear for several popular genres of music all for around $500 each! It's by no means comprehensive, but it should help you get some ideas! The brands and models are listed, but you'll have to use Google and a little researching to figure out the rest.
The Rocker You're a budding young guitarist and you just want to rock! Or maybe you want to relive the glory days of 70s hard rock but don't want to make guitar-hero level investments.
This cheap rig can handle all of the classics up to today with its raw-raunchy power.
The Guitar: Agile Al-2000 - $200 The Agile AL-2000 is an affordable copy of the classic Les Paul design.
With dual humbucking pickups and a solid 10lb mahogany body, this guitar was simply made to rock! At $200, this Les Paul-style guitar is very affordable and comes from a brand consistently praised for its value, customer service, and sheer quality.
The Amp: Orange Crush PiX 35 - $249 The Orange Crush PiX is an affordable solid state amp in the Orange product line.
At 35 watts and featuring a 1x10 speaker, this amp is equally adept at practice and small gig situations while remaining portable.
Tone wise, it is a very close approximation of the British-voiced Orange tone that just oozes rock vibe.
This amp even includes digital effects for practice, increasing its versatility.
And at $249, who can argue with that? Other Stuff: The Basics - $20-30 You don't need any gimmicky pedals to rock out! Along with the guitar and the amp, all you need is a strap and a cable and you're ready to play! For less than $500 you have a gig-ready, practice approved rock rig that is cheaper than most guitars alone! The Punker Who needs guitar solos or complicated songs? Cut the fat and get to the point! This punk rock rig is ready made for the punk guitarist who just wants to slash a few chords and keep things simple.
After all, expensive gear isn't very punk! The Guitar: Squier Tele Custom - $249 The Squier Tele Custom is a no frills guitar with dual humbucking pickups and a maple neck that is ideal for pounding power chords.
The Tele Custom was Fender's response to the Les Paul in the 1970s, with the power and durability of the Gibson combined with the lightweight and comfortable feel that Fender/Squier have to offer.
Compared to a regular telecaster, the tele custom will handle distortion much better and accentuate your rhythmic playing with ease.
Squier is Fender backed so you know you're not getting some cheap offbrand copy - it's made to last! The Amp: Roland Cube 40 - $219 The Roland Cube series are cheap but highly responsive modeling amplifiers that will work equally well on stage or at home.
While there are numerous models to choose from, you'll likely find the Cube's "R-Fier" high gain model - modeled after the modern punk sound of the Mesa Boogie Rectifier series - ideal for punk power chords and palm muting.
Other Stuff: The Basic - $20-30 All you need for punk is your guitar and your amp, so just buy a cheap durable cable and a guitar strap and you're ready to rock! For less than the price of a mid-level guitar, you have a gig-worthy and versatile punk rock rig.
What a world we live in...
The Metalhead/Shredder Droptuning, chunking, speed picking, and high gain - you're getting into brutal territory with this rig! Metal players demand high gain and clarity and a guitar that is comfortable while they're thrashing about, but those kinds of rigs can get a bit expensive...
until now! The Guitar: Ibanez GRG150DX - $250 Ibanez guitars gained popularity in the 80s as shred worthy, fast playing instruments that accommodated the increasingly high gain sounds of heavy metal music.
After a rough patch due to the popularity of grunge, Ibanez has come back in full force offering guitars in all price ranges from affordable to high end.
The Ibanez RG series, of which this guitar is a part, offers humbucking pickups, a tremolo system, and a fast playing neck great for speedy riffs or shredding.
The Amp: Peavey Vypr 30 - $199 The Peavey 6505 is the de-facto metal amp these days; it is also well over $1000.
Peavey's Vypr series offers affordable modeling amps that closely emulate their more expensive cousins.
The 6505 model on this amp will take you into high gain territory with the articulate, powerful distortion sound you'll need for shredding or chunking.
Like most modeling amps, the Vypr also comes with programmable effects, making extremely versatile for its price.
If you think you need more volume and you have more money to spend, there are larger versions of this amp to suit your air-moving needs.
Other Stuff: Straplocks, the basics - <$40 With all your heavy thrashing and playing, you may need straplocks to keep your guitar firmly over your shoulders - and not somewhere in the mosh pit.
Straplocks are usually around $15, easy to install, and are essential if you're playing onstage with intensity.
Otherwise, you'll need a strap and a cable.
The Blues Noodler So you got the guitar playin' blues? Not to fret! You don't need tons of money invested into guitars and amps - you just need some soul.
This cheap guitar rig will help you articulate your blues pickin'.
The Guitar: Squier Affinity Stratocaster - $180 The Stratocaster design is almost synonymous with the blues.
With three single coil pickups and two in-between pickup positions, there are plenty of ways to find the sweet spot for your blues bends.
Squier guitars are designed and backed by Fender, so it's as close as you're going to get to the real deal without spending a lot more money.
The Amp: Fender Vibro Champ XD - $239 Fender amps have also had a close association with blues players.
The Vibro Champ XD is a super affordable tube/modeler hybrid that is both small enough to crank up and wail without deafening yourself but loud enough to play any show miked.
For blues playing, it offers more than enough versatility and it shouldn't have any problem hanging with a reasonable drummer (as rare as those may be).
Other Stuff: Dunlop Crybaby Wah, the basics - $80 The wah pedal was popularized by blues-rock giants Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in the late 1960s and has since become a staple of blues lead playing.
For around $70 you can add the distinct wah sound to your blues playing repertoire.
Just be sure to buy an extra cable along with the basics and you have a smokin' blues rig all for around 500 dollars.
Conclusion As you can see, it is clearly possible to find the guitar gear that suits your needs all at a very low price.
While the sheer number of musical instrument products might seem overwhelming, a savvy cheap guitarist can find some great stuff out there without breaking the bank.
It's just a matter of knowing what you're looking for, how much you want to pay, and what style of music you want to play.
With these restrictions in mind, the sheer volume of guitar gear out there seems more like an opportunity than a confusing mess.