I have been playing around with soloing over chord progressions on electric guitar. I'd jam around high on the fretboard, high strings (i.e., G, B, high e), then for variety jump to D, A, low E strings.

Every time I'd jump to the low E string, it seemed like the tone just bottomed out, and I can only describe it as gutless. I guess when soloing you generally want the lead guitar tone to pierce through the chord progression / backing track. And I do recognize in some ways that piercing is inherently easier on high pitched notes, since they are just naturally more piercing.

But I thought I could jump to lower notes for some growly contrast, and I do get this from the D and A strings, but when I jump to the E, it just all dissolves and again seems gutless.

I was initially playing on a $200 Epiphone into a practice amp and thought it might be the weakness of pickups / amp. But yesterday I did the same thing with a $1500 PRS into a tube amp, and the same thing happened, when I took the solo to the low E (low pitched) it all got sort of sunken and hollow and gutless.

I am wondering if there's sort of a general rule that guitarists learn that low E is sort of off limits when playing lead guitar and needing to cut through other instruments? Or, perhaps it is just the way I'm dialing in everything tonal on the guitar & amp that perhaps is not ideal for low E string soloing and could be fixed.

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The setting you are using must be the cause. All strings are used in solos from all genres of music, including the low E. Doesn't matter if i am playing a jazz gig, a rock gig or in a orchestral setting, i can still use all strings. So it's most likely the tone you are using.
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Youcan definitely use the low E when soloing. You're instinct was right, you need to dial in a tone that allows it to cut through. Steve Morse actually switches to the bridge pickup when he gets to the lower strings in a run.

Stevie Ray Vaughan would often hit the low E root note when soloing to great effect.
Are your strings old?

I'm unclear what you mean by "gutless". Is it too quiet? Is the tone murky? does it lack sustain?

The issue is likely rooted in technique or an instrumental setting/adjustment. Or maybe you just need new strings.
You need to use the bridge pickup to cut through . I personally have no issue cutting through on low strings on my jem, but it's a bit more difficult on something with a less piercing tone, then you have to make sure you're equalized right
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I think I've noticed this less when I'm low on the fretboard for some reason. Like, as I get to the middle of the fretboard, where the strings are the "loosest", the extra thickness of the low E combined with the looseness seems to swallow my tone. I guess it could be called murky, it just has no teeth. Maybe "gummy" would be a good word for it, yet my tone has teeth everywhere else.

Well, I'll just try more experiments with bridge v. neck, and amp settings, see if I can get clearer picture of this. If I cannot resolve it, perhaps I'll upload an audio sample of what's going on.

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I don't see where anyone has addressed what may be the real issue - or at least a contributing factor. You said that you're playing through a practice amp. Let's be honest, practice amps aren't known for being all that spectacular. While you're using a $200 guitar, I suspect it would sound better with a proper amp.

FWIW, I play lead guitar in our group. I tend to avoid the low E, when the bass player is playing with the group. The fact is, it just sounds too muddy when I use the low E and the bass player is doing his thing. I do have some solo parts and will use the low E there, because I'm the only one playing and it sits better in the mix at that point. On the two or three occasions I have tried to use the low E with the bass player, our lead singer has mentioned that he can't hear me playing. I find it's better if I give my lead work it's own spot in the mix, by staying in the upper registers and avoiding that low E.
You need to have a generous amount of low cut when playing electric guitar leads.

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Okay, I found an audio sample of what I'm talking about here at 2:27:


Now, I think (it was a year ago) this was done on an Epiphone plugged into my computer through FocusRite 2i2 audio interface, and recorded in Reaper, and I added FX / distortion to it. However, it's basically the same "tonal downshift" I experienced last night to to a gummy/gutless tone on the low E when I was jamming on my PRS McCarty through an all-tube amp, even though the tone was really strong and biting on the other strings, or at least it seemed so to me.

Honestly, I've spent 90% or more of my 2.5 years playing guitar doing chords, so I do not have a lot of experience soloing, different theories / ideas for lead guitar tone versus rhythm guitar. Ideally, I'd find a nice, thick tone that cuts through and stays strong on all six strings without having to fiddle with anything mid-solo, but maybe that's asking to much. Well, any recommendations, or articles I can read, to help me learn this aspect of guitar playing, would be appreciated.

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