Guitars are arguably the ultimate musical instrument. They can adapt to most music styles, cover a wide range of notes, and can play more than one tone at a time. The only other instrument that can match a guitar’s flexibility is the piano. However, guitars are more affordable, easier to learn, and, most importantly, portable.
However, as with anything else, guitars vary greatly in quality depending on the brand. Additionally, some brands make guitars that are suited for a specific style, while others have a wide variety of models to suit different levels and styles.
Ultimately, the ease of playing and how good your tune sounds depend on the type of guitar you are using. While there are lots of options to choose from, it can be easy to get lost in the plethora of guitars available on the market.
If you ask any expert, they will advise you to stick to the most reputable brands. While some lesser-known brands do have good products, it is usually a case of hit and miss. In this guide, we shall discuss some of the best brands to consider, as well as what you need to know when looking for a good guitar.
The Right Guitar Brand
A great guitar will not mean much if it does not suit your style, skill level, or preferences. Therefore, it is important to determine what you need from a guitar before you begin shopping for one. Consider the following factors.
Type: Acoustic or Electric?
While most brands offer both acoustic and electric guitars, some specialize in one category. Brands such as Fender and Taylor are renowned for their masterpieces when it comes to acoustic guitars, while most rock bands will insist on only purchasing their electric guitars from Epiphone or Gibson.
Obviously, this is the most important value of any instrument.
When comparing sounds made by top guitar brands, it is a case of apples vs. oranges, as renowned brands rarely miss a step when it comes to quality. As such, it is a matter of preference.
Therefore, get acquainted with sounds from various top brands to find one that pleases you the most. Better yet, look up what your favorite guitarists play.
For example, Gibson is incredibly popular in the rock space thanks to its overdriven, full-bodied sound. Classical guitarists, on the other hand, swear by Fender guitars.
Lefties make up only 10% of the population. Consequently, they find themselves at a loss when looking for products such as guitars, as the vast majority of these instruments are made for right-handed players.
As such, getting a good guitar can be tricky if you are not right-handed, but that doesn’t mean that you should accept anything that comes your way. Many people feel that Epiphone and Fender make the best guitars for left-handed players. You might want to check them out first before searching elsewhere.
The needs of a beginner and those of a veteran differ considerably. Beginners need a basic but quality guitar for practice. However, a veteran might need more bells and whistles on their instrument. If you are a beginner, it is important to pick something that offers value without breaking the bank.
Best Guitar Brands To Choose From
So who makes the best guitars? There really isn’t a clear winner, but some brands are better than others. The following are the top guitar brands you might want to consider.
Fender guitars are some of the most beloved in the American music scene. The secret to their icon status is that they never miss when it comes to quality.
The company equips their guitars with single-coil pickups, giving them the characteristic bright tones that players adore. Nonetheless, while single-coil guitars are excellent at cutting through the mix owing to their brighter sounds, they are more susceptible to humming issues as compared to other designs.
Fender guitars come with a 25.5-inch scale length, which although longer than that of most brands, gives a rich sound to their instruments. However, guitars with longer scale lengths can be harder to play due to the greater string tension.
If looks matter to you, this is your brand. Fender guitars feature some of the most aesthetically pleasing designs in the game today. In fact, their body shapes are among the most imitated in the industry.
These guitars cater to all types of players. Regardless of the level, you are in, you will find a Fender guitar that suits you.
Unlike Fender guitars that come with single-coil pickups, Gibson brands feature a pair of humbucker pickup sets. The advantage of this design is that it reduces hum and other types of noise significantly while retaining a warm sound.
As a result, it is extremely convenient for players who are fond of adding lots of overdrive to their output.
This is why Gibson guitars are extremely popular in rock circles.
Most Gibson guitars feature a scale length of 24.75 inches, which is considerably shorter than Fender’s. Nonetheless, the shorter scale size comes with advantages of better playability thanks to the reduced tension, as well as a warmer and more rounded out sound that Gibson guitars are renowned for.
And they are quite the lookers, especially if a classic, exotic design is your style. Gibson employs mahogany in the construction of their guitars, which not only contributes to aesthetic appeal, but also the sound quality thanks to the darker tones it creates.
Nevertheless, Gibson’s outstanding craftsmanship comes at a price, as their guitars are among the most expensive on the market today. As such, they might not be the ideal starting point for beginners.
If you are a fan of Gibson but not of their prices, you might want to check out Epiphone. Their guitars have the same design and specs as Gibson guitars but come at a much lower price. However, Epiphone guitars do not enjoy the first-rate craftsmanship that Gibson guitars do.
However, this is not to say that you will not enjoy an Epiphone, as these guitars are still pretty good.
Over the years, Epiphone has been closing that gap in quality and have upped their game. For example, their latest offerings use the novel ProBucker Pickups that tremendously enhance sound quality. That said, the consensus in the industry remains that Epiphone is the price-friendly alternative to Gibson.
And truth be told. Epiphone does a remarkable job at replicating Gibson’s tone. Whatever your skill level, you will find an Epiphone that is right for you.
Yamaha is a household name thanks to the wide range of instruments they produce. When it comes to guitars, their offerings appeal to beginner and intermediate players, as they feature budget-friendly prices.
Yamaha acoustic guitars are some of the best out there, with the FG800 being their flagship acoustic model. Nonetheless, despite their budget-friendly prices, this Japanese manufacturer does not make compromises when it comes to quality.
Yamaha utilizes high-quality materials and craftsmanship to make guitars that not only feature great construction but also sounds that rival those from higher-end brands.
What’s more, Yamaha guitars do not disappoint when it comes to playability. This is another reason why they are good for beginners.
While Taylor is one of the most reputable brands in the high-end acoustic guitars circle, their electric offerings are not too shabby either. While Taylor’s electric guitar line does not get as much attention as its acoustic line does, their electric guitars are, in fact, are some of the best in the game today.
Yes, you might pay a pretty penny here, but enthusiasts say that they are worth their weight in gold.
This brand also has a more budget-friendly line that caters to beginners looking for a decent guitar from a reputable manufacturer. What’s more, they even produce smaller guitars for kids. Despite their smaller size, the mini guitars rival their full-bodied counterparts when it comes to sound quality while costing a fraction of the price.
Thanks to Taylor’s commitment to innovation, this brand is always introducing new designs. Therefore, if you want something a bit different aesthetic wise, do not hesitate to check them out.
This brand has a diverse product line up, consisting of acoustic, bass, and electric guitars. Nevertheless, while their products might not be particularly high end, they offer great options for beginners.
Even at budget-friendly prices, Ibanez guitars feature decent quality and offer good performance. However, they might not have all the bells and whistles or meet the quality standards that pros and enthusiasts look for in a guitar.
Ibanez guitars do look the part, though, even featuring basswood and mahogany in the construction. You typically find those materials only in higher-end models. This is a testament to Ibanez’s rising standards.
Despite Schecter being one of the most revered brands in the guitar industry today, this manufacturer comes from humble beginnings. They started out as a replacement part manufacturer for other companies in 1976. In 1979, the company decided to have a go at guitar making, and that was all she wrote. Their product was a huge success.
Schecter guitars are especially appealing to metal enthusiasts thanks to the heavy metal sounds they are capable of. The company has a diverse product lineup too, which includes basses.
Their most famous line, however, is the Hellraiser series. These finely-build instruments are capable of a wide range, from heavy metal distortions to softer sounds.
If you are looking for a guitar for playing metal specifically, you cannot go wrong with Schecter.
Jackson is another fan-favorite in the metal space. They manufacture a variety of models, ranging from affordable guitars to high-end products for pros and enthusiasts.
Jackson’s designs are unlike anything else on the market. You will know a Jackson when you see one. They are what comes to mind when you think of 80s metal bands, pointy, sharp-angled guitars. As such, Jackson guitars not only sound metal but also look it too.
While their looks might be a bit over-the-top for some, they are excellent options if you are looking for a guitar for playing metal.
9. Martin Guitar
There is no doubt that Martin has made a name for themselves in the world of acoustic guitars. But they also make acoustic-electric pieces.
The company makes both budget-friendly and high-end guitars. And you will be surprised to find a rosewood neck even in the lower-priced models. That’s not all; their guitars have a characteristic warm, sustained tone, as well as bright sounds.
Martin guitars are also renowned for their resonators, which are as top-notch as it gets. In fact, Martin manufactures most resonators found in other high-end brands.
Overall, guitars from this brand are good options for both beginners and enthusiasts, thanks to their high quality and playability.
10. Paul Reed Smith (PRS)
PRS is a luxury guitar brand that caters to rock and roll enthusiasts. PRS guitars have been a favorite for many ever since they burst onto the scene in the 80s. Renowned guitarists such as Vince Neil and Trent Reznor have owned pieces made by this manufacturer.
PRS has especially nailed the aesthetics department, with their guitars featuring some of the most stunning designs you have ever seen. They do not cheap out on construction quality either utilizing only high-quality materials to make their instruments.
If you are a rock and roll enthusiast with more than a few coins to spare, consider getting a piece from Paul Reed Smith.
11. Ernie Ball Music Man
The Ernie Ball Music Man (EBMM) is a guitar and bass brand that is renowned for its high-quality instruments. Designed for pros and enthusiasts, these guitars do not come cheap. But you will never be disappointed with what you get. Ernie Ball Music Man guitars are arguably the most well-made in the industry today.
EBMM’s guitars are also incredibly versatile and will suit a wide range of genres. This company also manufactures bass guitars, which also feature excellent quality.
12. B.C. Rich
B.C. Rich is a popular brand in the metal space thanks to its heavy metal sounds and sharp jagged edges. The influence of B.C. Rich in hard rock is far-reaching, with famous bands such as Slayer and Motley Crue being among the many that wield this brand’s guitars.
B.C. Rich has everybody in mind when making their guitars. Their selection is quite diverse, offering pieces for both beginners and pros. Most of their guitars come with a mahogany body and rosewood neck, making their budget-friendly options some of the best in the industry in that category.
Even if you are not a fan of the heavy metal look, this brand also has something for you. Nevertheless, B.C. Rich guitars might not have the best sound in their space.
If you are interested in a custom guitar, Kiesel is the way to go. This brand only sells their guitars on special order guaranteeing uniqueness in each piece. They make excellent amplifiers as well.
Thanks to their unique production style, Kiesel manufacturers guitars for every fancy. But they do have base models for those not looking for a custom experience. And they have everything from acoustics to electric basses.
If you are extremely picky and are yet to find your ideal guitar, Kiesel has you covered. They will work with you to help you get your dream guitar.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is especially relevant when it comes to guitars. There is no other way of getting a good instrument other than buying it from a reputable manufacturer. High-quality guitars do sound not only good but also have excellent playability, making you look forward to each playing experience.
The brands on this list not only excel at sound quality, but also at expert craftsmanship. Check them out!