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US Made Cheap Gibson Guitars

Contrary to what many assume, you can get a cheap Gibson guitar (made in the US of A) for only a hundred or so more than the Chinese-made Epiphone clones.

If having Gibson on the headstock means a lot to you, and the assured quality that comes with it, this page will point you in the right direction and save you hundreds.

The guitars featured here are backed up by hundreds of reviews and comments which you can read for yourself.

There are also carefully selected user videos that demonstrate the high quality of these budget Gibson axes.

Cheap Gibson Guitar #1 - Melody Maker

Humbly minimalist, meat 'n' potatoes, whatever you want to call it, but with all the presence and sustain you expect from a MIA guitar. If you're looking for a cheap Gibson guitar, but want more than a mere "copy", the below is a faithful reissue of a true Gibson classic...

Gibson Melody Maker Electric Guitar

Overall Rating

8.5 / 10


Harmony Central - Ultimate Guitar Amazon - Zzounds - Music Radar
Key Features
  • Minimalistic design
  • Hot pickup = strong tone
  • One single coil pickup
  • Accurate reissue of the classic

What users say

The modern Melody Maker is a reissue of Gibson's classic, orignally produced in 1959. It features a slimmer, lighter Les Paul style cut and typically with one single coil pickup in the bridge position, one volume and one tone knob. So simplicity is the MM's key selling point, taking the cost of a Nashville made Gibson down into budget territory.

Users have been pleased with the output from the lonesome single coil, delivering plenty of high end balanced against the darkness of the solid mahogany body and neck. There's a generous serving of sustain and harmonic response, even with the slimmer profile, and users have noted that the MM has enough grunt for classic rock, punk and even metal susprisingly well through the right amp.

The crispness of the single coil is backed up with plenty of punch when set close to the strings. Sink them into the body for a smoother, jazzy vibe. The MM can even emulate a nice acoustic tone through the right amp for lush, resonant, strummed chords, which you get a taster for when unplugged.

You'll notice in the reviews many have upgraded the stock pickup to a standard P-90 which has made a lot of difference for those who wanted something a bit higher output. However, the stock single coil is meatier, quieter and more rounded than anything you might find in Fender models and delivers a "best of both worlds" chiming, even twangy tone on the clean channel while grinding on overdrive.

The overall quality of the MM is what you'd expect from the US made Gibbos. Built to last a lifetime and finished to perfection. Definitely deserving of a hard case!

Cheap Gibson Guitar #2 - SG

Another stripped down Gibson classic, retaining everything that truly matters and at nearly half the cost of the Standard and less still than the original Special.

Gibson SG Special Faded Electric Guitar

Gibson Faded SG Special Electric Guitar

Overall Rating

8 / 10


Harmony Central - Ultimate Guitar Amazon - Zzounds - Musicians Friend
Key Features
  • Standard SG cut
  • Gibson tune-o-matic bridge
  • Powerful dual humbuckers
  • Faded, "worn" finish

What users say

A Nashville made Gibson SG with only some minor simplifications on the Standard (yet half a grand cheaper), and the faded cosmetic feature which many love (available in New Worn Brown or Cherry).

Typical SG features - fat, rounded neck profile, mahogany body and neck, double "devil horns" cutaway, Gibson tune-o-matic bridge and dual 490 humbuckers. The only notable difference is the baked maple, as opposed to rosewood fingerboard.

It's debatable just how much the faded finish adds to the tone, but users generally agree the faded series is superior to the original Special. Resonant, ultra reponsive and beefy, with the maple fretboard giving that extra top-end bite. SG's have graced many styles of music and will continue to do so - the Special's stock pickups will fulfill anything but the heaviest of metal.

On that note, many users have been blown away with what a simple pickup change can accomplish. Others have simply played with the stock pickup height until they find the balanced, full, warm tone this axe is known for. So don't be too hasty in dismissing the 490s.

The bottom line is, whether this is your first Gibson or you've owned some of their top end models, the Faded Special will not disappoint. Perhaps more versatile than your typical Les Paul and lighter although not as bass responsive and punchy. Whatever the trade offs, an American SG at this price is simply irresistable if you've got the cash.

Compare Inexpensive Gibson Guitars

The table below shows a side by side spec comparison of the two Gibson axes on this page.

Melody Maker Special Faded SG
Best For Guitarists who want a simplistic design, punky tone and lightweight feel. Guitarists who want a classic, US made SG spec without the price tag.
Defining Features Single single coil pickup (hot!), solid mahogany body, slim Les Paul cut.
Standard SG cut, 2 high output humbuckers, faded finish.
Scale Length 24.75 inches 24.75 inches
Neck Set-in Mahogany
Set-in Mahogany
Rosewood Baked Maple
Frets 22 22
Body Mahogany Mahogany
Inlays Dot Dot
Pickup(s) Melody Maker Single Coil Alnico II Humbuckers
490R (Neck)
490T (Bridge)
Est. Price $300 $699
Best Deal link to buy guitar at discounted price link to buy guitar at discounted price

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