You want it fast. You want it cheap. In this day and age, who doesn’t? But how realistic is it to rock up at your local guitar emporium and walk off with a shred-ready electric for around 500 bucks? Well, as this month’s round-up proves, it’s more than feasible. We could have extended this test to models from Schecter, Jackson and LTD, too, and hardly covered all the bases. This month’s affordable speed machines are culled from arguably the most competitive marketplace for guitar design, and that’s great news for everyone – especially when you have the hardy perennial Squier Stratocaster fitted with active pickups and a double-locking Floyd Rose vibrato for guitarists looking to take their lead game to the next level. It’s joined by two fiscally responsible signature models in the form of the EVH Wolfgang Standard and Ibanez JEMJR, and Kramer’s wacko-spandex retro-shredder: the 84. All have doublelocking vibrato units, zippy necks, little nips and tucks to ease you into an orgiastic display of hemi-demi-semi-quavers. Powerful humbuckers are the order of the day. Hell, these high-powered electrics might even set your hair on fire. But, rest assured, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.