Hey guys, I'm in the market for a new guitar, primarily for hard rock. I have narrowed down my choices to the ESP LTD line, Ibanez RG, Jackson, and Schecter. What would be the best guitar, value wise, in this price range? I'm not looking for fancy finishes, just want purely the best quality guitar I can get for this price (quality wood, quality hardware, quality pickups). As far as bridge preference goes, imop the added features of the FR would be exactly balanced by the price and hassel (ie, after taking price into consideration, a FR is neither a pro nor a con for me).

On a related note, I was testing out some of the guitars down at Guitar Center today and fell in love with a used PRS SE Torero. From its features, it seems to offer everything I'm looking for; nice mahogany body, great pickups (EMG 81 in neck and 85 in bridge), and a solid feeling FR bridge. The guitar was listed at $635 (low compared to the comparable condition 2 guitars on Musician's friend), and from what I could tell was in very good condition (checked for scratches, the neck, the fretboard, and tuners). I asked the guy why it was priced so low, and he informed me that there were scratches on the front (they were shallow, normal wear scratches), and he informed me that the original fretboard was cracked so they replaced it (that devalued it apparently). Would this be a potential issue down the road? Also, what would key things to check for in a used guitar be? Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer!
I'm no expert, but I can give you some advice. I would definitely recommend the PRS SE. I don't own one but a friend has it and he loves it. When buying used make sure the frets are ok, and make sure that the neck is not warped. Their are always going to be scratches or dents, but that's ok.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Jul 25, 2014,
If you're buying strictly new, and you want something good out of the box no mods needed, you can drop Ibanez right out. Their QC is fantastic, but unfortunately their pickups are terrible. If you don't mind swapping pickups after the fact, definitely consider them.

Used, your options open up. Right off the top of my head, you can get pretty much any LTD Deluxe for $600, which are all great instruments. You can also get a lot of Japanese Ibanezes (either 90s-00s MIJ, or a low end Prestige like the RG1570). You still need new pickups in these, but they are just fantastically built and are worth the investment, regardless.

PRS SEs are nice guitars, but if you're going used, I wouldn't consider one unless you really got along with the feel.

The amount of great guitars you can get used is just too large for me to even really know where to start, so I'm just going to do a quick browse and link some stuff.

Gibson Les Paul Studio - $525 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Gibson-Used-Gibson-Les-Paul-Studio-Faded-Cherry-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110269748-i3828779.gc

Fernandes Monterey - $530 http://www.guitarcenter.com/In-Store-Used-USED-FERNANDES-MONTEREY-WHT-WC--102313--109519133-i3471470.gc

Jackson DK2 Pro - $550 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Jackson-Used--Jackson--DK2PRO--Purple-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110107334-i3755684.gc

LTD EC-1000 - $550 http://www.guitarcenter.com/ESP-Used-LTD-EC1000-2-Color-Sunburst-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110216828-i3807595.gc

Ibanez RG1420F - $550 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Used-Ibanez-RG1420FR-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110243045-i3852639.gc

LTD H-1001 - $550 http://www.guitarcenter.com/In-Store-Used-USED-ESP-LTD-H1001-BLACK-CHERRY-NC-109934292-i3689162.gc

Ibanez Destroyer - $550 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Used--Ibanez-2000s-DESTOYER--Silverburst-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110118125-i3780878.gc

Ibanez S540 - $551 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Used--Ibanez--S540--Emerald-Green-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110196510-i3773622.gc

Jackson RR5 - $570 http://www.guitarcenter.com/In-Store-Used-USED-JACKSON-RR5-BLACK-W-OHSC-110058284-i3731456.gc

Ibanez RG1570M - $580 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Used--Ibanez-1990s-RG-1570--Cobalt-Blue-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110117524-i3797820.gc

Ibanez S1625 - $600 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Used-Ibanez-Prestige-S1625FB-Tan-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110235176-i3845872.gc

Peavey Wolfgang - $600 http://www.guitarcenter.com/Peavey-Used--Peavey--Wolfgang--Trans-Blue-Electric-Guitar-110113254-i3790895.gc

LTD EC-1000FR - $600 http://www.guitarcenter.com/ESP-Used-LTD-EC1000-Deluxe-Flamed-Greyburst-Solid-Body-Electric-Guitar-110236191-i3800236.gc

And tons more that I didn't list because there are just way too many.
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Actually think I found the guitar Im going to go with. My cousin is lending me his old RG550 from '92 (the good old days of Ibanez; got relatively new EMGs as well) and if I like it it's mine for $300. He keeps his gear in top shape so it sounds like a great deal to me. Gotta love family