What are the best guitar brands?
The answer depends on many factors. These include the type of guitarist you are, the type of music you like and your budget.
In this article, we list 14 of the best guitar brands. We explain the pros and cons of each to help you decide which one is right for you. If you’re a newbie and need help, check out our guide to choosing your first guitar.
Can’t see your favorite guitar brand listed? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you think the best guitar brands are!
If acoustic guitars are your thing, check out some of our other articles. We have a list of the the best acoustic guitar brands, as well as the best acoustic guitars and best acoustic guitars under $500.
Along with Gibson, Fender is the world’s most iconic guitar brand. The Fender Telecaster was released in 1950 and was the world’s first commercially available solid-body guitar.
A solid-bodied guitar relies on electronic pick-ups to produce sound. They often don’t have any sort of chamber in the guitar body to produce the sound. Fender is most well-known for this type of guitar.
Fender’s solid-bodied guitars are amongst the most iconic and include:
Fender guitars are associated with single-coil pick ups. However you can also get Fenders with humbuckers and P90s for a rockier sound.
Fender are also known for their acoustic guitars. Unlike their electric models, Fender’s acoustic guitars are usually aimed at beginners or those on a low budget. If you are looking for a really high quality acoustic then you may be better off looking at other brands.
The only exception is the Fender Acoustasonic. These innovative electro-acoustic guitars are an attempt to create something different in the acoustic guitar market. They’re fairly pricey and split opinion when it comes to looks. However, they sound incredible and unique.
Fender’s best acoustic guitar brands include:
- Great range of high-quality guitars
- Built to last
- Better for single-coil pickups than humbuckers
- More expensive models aren’t good value for money
Gibson is a much older guitar brand than Fender but is equally iconic.
It became well-known for its acoustic guitars like the Gibson Super 400 back in the 1930s.
Later on, it created several solid bodied guitars including the iconic Les Paul and the SG.
Gibson is also responsible for the iconic Flying V guitar that was made famous by glam rock and hair metal bands in the 80s.
Gibson electric guitars mainly use humbuckers which gives them a darker sound. They also tend to weigh more than Fenders and are usually more expensive.
The company has struggled in recent years and even filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
The best guitar brands from Gibson include:
Gibson is more well-known for its acoustic guitars than Fender. The Gibson Hummingbird is one of the most iconic acoustic guitars of all time. However, they also tend to be more expensive. Their acoustic models include:
- Made from high-quality materials
- Gibson humbuckers have a high-quality sound
- Great classic rock sound
- Less robust than other guitar brands
- Affordable models aren’t good value for money
- Few options for single could pickups
Ibanez was founded in 1908. It started distributing guitars under the Ibanez name in 1945. The brand first found success making inexpensive copies of popular guitars and then went on to create its own popular designs.
Ibanez is well known for its rock and jazz guitars, including:
The brand makes high-quality metal, jazz, rock, bass, acoustic guitars, and more.
Ibanez’s prices are affordable compared to other brands on the market. Its beginner guitars particularly offer incredible value for money.
Ibanez isn’t just one of the best guitar brands, It is also one of the top-selling bass companies internationally.
Ibanez fans like the fast neck design on their guitars. Because of this, they are great for shredding and so Ibanez has become associated with styles like 80s metal.
Ibanez guitars are best for beginners looking for a specialized guitar, but more experienced musicians can also enjoy their craftsmanship.
- Features a wide range of guitar models
- Affordable selection makes purchasing a first-rate guitar possible on a budget.
- Fret buzz is a common problem with cheaper guitars
- Nicks in the finish
- Prevalent tuning problems
Martin is closely associated with acoustic guitar music.
The company was started in New York in 1833. The brand continues to be a family business. It has been run and overseen by six generations of Martins.
Several members of the Martin family have invented new guitar features that became the benchmark for quality guitars.
For example, founder C.F. Martin Sr. invented the X-bracing method to increase an acoustic guitar’s sound and tone.
Martin’s most well-liked guitars are:
The D-28 and D-45 were designed based on the original dreadnought guitar created by Frank Henry Martin. The brand’s guitars are best for acoustic, bluegrass, singer-songwriter guitar players, or fingerstyle musicians.
Martin’s original dreadnought guitars are now sought-after by professional musicians or collectors, as the instrument’s scalloped bracing gives the guitar a rich, clear tone, louder than most acoustic guitars.
Rock stars like Bob Dylan and Hank Williams play the Dreadnought D-28.
- Martin guitars are well known for their craftsmanship
- The brand uses specialty wood to achieve an exceptional tone
- High cost
- No budget options
Paul Reed Smith had been creating guitars at home by hand since 1975. For the first 10 years he would sell these guitars directly to artists by getting backstage at gigs.
This approach worked and he managed to get a number of big name guitarists playing his early instruments.
In 1985, he stepped up the business. He toured guitar shops across the East Coast trying to drum up business.
He returned with enough orders to open his first factory and launched the PRS company.
PRS guitars commit to tone, playability, and beauty, and the brand is dedicated to staying on top of new technology in the industry. The company makes electric, bass, and acoustic guitars, as well as amplifiers and accessories. It also creates custom and limited-edition versions of its instruments through its private stock program.
Some of PRS’s most famous guitars are:
The PRS Custom 24 was the first guitar Paul Reed Smith ever publicly marketed and distributed. A guitar from PRS is best for metal, rock, and jazz musicians. The brand has specially developed guitars for these genres.
- PRS guitars are beautifully crafted.
- Its instruments are known for the flexibility of their sound
- Able to be played in multiple styles of music
- PRS guitars tend to have a slightly shorter scale than other popular guitar brands
- You can’t get a brand new one for under $600
Tanglewood Guitars was formed in England in 1988. The brand’s mission is to excite and inspire musicians worldwide by creating durable and beautiful guitars while keeping prices at a level their customers can afford.
Tanglewood now makes basses, banjos, ukuleles, and other folk instruments, but the brand’s original focus and dedication has always been on the acoustic guitar. Since its founding, Tanglewood has become the United Kingdom’s all-time best-selling acoustic guitar brand.
Tanglewood Guitars are best for musicians who play folk, bluegrass, or singer-songwriter music. They’re also an excellent brand for people learning to play the Ukulele. The company offers excellent versions of the instrument for under a hundred dollars.
The brand is best known for the following guitar models:
- Tanglewood Guitars are reliable and high-quality.
- Guitars have a long lifespan.
- Most models are under $500
- Few premium models available.
The Epiphone guitar brand was founded in Smyrna, Turkey, in 1873. The company’s instruments have been prominently used in musical eras from swing to the British Invasion. Today, Epiphone remains the favorite guitar brand of many famous musicians, including Paul McCartney, Gary Clark Jr, and Lenny Kravitz.
Some of Epiphone’s first guitars were in the Recording series. This was a line of small acoustic instruments that the brand attempted to sell before making their first archtop acoustic guitar. Gibson bought the brand in 1957. Today, Epiphone is well-known for producing high-quality budget versions of Gibson guitars.
Epiphone guitars are known for their flexible and rich sound, making them best for musicians who may play more than one genre of music. The brand offers acoustic and electric guitars.
The most famous guitars from Epiphone include:
- Epiphone makes standard and traditional guitars for beginners
- It also makes premium and pro guitars for professional musicians
- Epiphone guitars are manufactured overseas in the brand’s factory in Qingdao, China.
- Overseas manufacturing can lead to customer support or quality assurance issues.
The Taylor guitar brand was founded in 1974 in El Cajon, California. Like Martin, it mainly produces acoustic guitars. It’s one of the only major guitar manufacturers to be 100% employee-owned. Taylor distributes guitars to dealers in 60 countries worldwide.
As one of the most sought-after and best guitar brands, Taylor guitars are well-known for their playability and durability. Taylor makes their guitars from first-rate varieties of wood that have specific tonal properties (tonewoods), like Sitka spruce and cedars. All Taylor guitars have a solid-wood soundboard, which improves the guitar’s sound over its lifetime.
The most popular Taylor guitars are:
Taylor is well-known for its 12-string guitars. They are known for their versatility. 12-string guitars are typically more difficult to play, but are popular with fingerstyle guitar players and have a distinctive sound and tone.
Taylor guitars are best for musicians who don’t mind paying extra for a high quality guitar. The brand’s guitars are long-lasting and made to be played over and over again.
- Taylor guitars are durable
- Sustainable and ethically manufactured
- All profits go directly back to the employees who own the business.
- If you prefer strumming to fingerpicking, Taylor guitars may be harder to play.
Squier has been making quality guitars in the United States since 1982. The company originally made strings for guitars and other instruments. Fender bought the company in 1965 and began selling budget versions of its popular guitars under the Squier label in 1982. The guitars are manufactured in China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and other countries in East Asia.
For the most part, Squier guitars are cheaper recreations of Fender’s premium guitars. Unlike Fender, Squier guitars are made with budget materials to keep the price down, and they are manufactured in countries with a lower currency rate to keep labor costs down.
Some of the best Squier guitars are:
- Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster
- FSR Classic Vibe 60s Jaguar
- Classic Vibe 70s Telecaster
- Classic Vibe 60s Telecaster Thinline
Although they’re budget guitars, Squier models are still good quality and you get more value for money than you would from a full Fender guitar.
Squier guitars are preferred by some professional musicians, like Pete Wentz, George Harrison, Jeff Healey, John Mayall, and Jack Pearson. Squier guitars are best for those who want to learn or play guitar on a decent budget instrument.
- Squier guitars are all based on Fender designs.
- The guitars use affordable parts and labor.
- Good quality beginner options.
- Squier guitars are a budget product.
- Some professional musicians may prefer a more premium instrument.
Yamaha guitars were founded in 1887 by businessman Torakusu Yamaha. The company started off building Reed organs and pianos before later moving on to other instruments. The company began manufacturing nylon-string acoustic guitars in 1940. By 1966 Yamaha was distributing various acoustic guitar models worldwide.
After 1966, Yamaha introduced several more lines of acoustic guitars, some of which are still famous to this day. The company eventually expanded to provide amps and effects pedals and now offers multiple versions of acoustic, electric, and bass guitars as well as accessories.
Yamaha is best known for the following electric guitar models:
Yamaha acoustic guitars include:
Yamaha guitars are best for guitar players of any skill level, from beginner to intermediate. Pacificas are very popular with beginners. They are a great choice for your first guitar. However, Each Yamaha range also offers more expensive models that are suitable for professionals.
- Yamaha guitars are affordable
- Well-made instruments that are suitable for beginners and pros alike
- Some Yamaha guitars are made with cheaper tonewoods, Nito and Agathis
- Cheaper tonewoods lead to a cheaper look and sound than other guitars
Vintage guitars are sold in 140 markets worldwide. The brand has sold acoustic and electric guitars, amps, and accessories worldwide since the early 90s. The company began with the Encore line of guitars before releasing their Vintage models in 1995.
Vintage guitars are known for their build, playability, and affordability. Vintage guitars are built using premium timbers and branded hardware. In recent years, the company has partnered with hardware and electronics manufacturer Wilkinson. This has improved the quality of instruments without impacting the price. Today Vintage is one of the best guitar brands when it comes to getting value for money.
The most well known Vintage brand guitars are:
Vintage guitars are best for those who want a quality, affordable guitar durable enough to withstand years of use. Vintage guitars go through the design in the UK, and the parts are made in China before being manufactured in Korea. The guitars ship across the US from registered dealers.
- Vintage guitars are incredibly affordable.
- Vintage guitars sell under market value based on the materials used to make them.
- Vintage brand guitars are only available to buy from a registered dealer
- You cannot buy guitars from the company’s website, so buying one can require travel
Cordoba was founded in 1997 and created excellent nylon-string guitars and strings favored by classical and flamenco artists internationally. The company makes unique and creative guitars, and its instruments are hand-crafted by expert luthiers in multiple countries.
Cordoba guitars are designed in traditional Spanish style and handmade. The guitars are lightweight and have a deep, clear sound. Every Cordoba instrument is made using a variety of tonewoods, including cedar, mahogany, and spruce. Every guitar comes with nylon strings the brand has perfected for more than a decade.
Some of the brand’s best-known guitars are:
Cordoba makes affordable guitars and ukuleles for beginners and professional musicians. Its different models are designed for musicians at any level of talent and are made in California, Valencia, Barcelona, and China. Cordoba guitars are best for classical musicians, flamenco musicians, and anyone who prefers a lightweight Spanish guitar.
- Cordoba guitars are lightweight
- Easy to carry
- Comfortable to hold for long periods while performing or to travel
- Nylon string guitars require more tuning than other string types
- Nylon strings are more easily affected by heat
Gretsch has been crafting and distributing guitars for over 135 years and has been a popular choice of stars like Chet Atkins and George Harrison. The company was founded in New York in 1883 by Friedrich Gretsch. In 2002, Fender began handling the manufacturing and distribution of Gretsch, and since then, the guitars have become well known worldwide.
If you want a guitar with style then Gretsch is for you. They often feature bold metallic colours and chunky hardware. They are also associated with Bigsby Tremolos and many models feature them. They also tend to have a “growly” sound due to their humbuckers.
Gretsch is often associated with glam rockers who value their powerful sound and glitzy design. They are also popular with country & western and rockabilly guitarists.
Premium Gretsch guitars are made in the United States and Japan, while the more affordable instruments are built-in in East Asia.
The most famous Gretsch guitars are:
- Gretsch guitars are made of premium materials.
- The player has a good amount of control over the instrument’s sound.
- Gretsch guitars have a unique sound
- The quality can vary from model to model
Schecter was founded in 1976 in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It began as a guitar repair shop and started producing its instruments in 1979. The brand offers electric, bass, and acoustic guitars, to dealers and musicians in 150 countries. It also has a custom shop facility where the brand makes its USA-built guitar models.
Schecter guitars are known for making top-of-the-line custom signature instruments and affordable lines made for the budget musician. While the brand is famous for its electric guitars, it also makes acoustic guitars made of tonewoods like mahogany and rosewood.
Some of Schecters most well-known guitars are:
Schecter guitars are best for metal, blues, and classic rock musicians. It offers a large number of 7-string models compared to other brands. This makes it popular with metal guitarists. Schecter is a dependable choice for professional musicians.
- Lots of options for metal guitarists
- The body build makes them comfortable to play while performing.
- Players have reported minor issues with the guitar electronics.
- Limited electric options beyond rock and metal styles
Find the best guitar for you!
The best guitar brand will provide you with a fair-priced, high-quality instrument that you can use for years to come.
If you’re having trouble discovering which guitar is right for you, visit your local music store to try out different models before you buy.
Remember, the right guitar for you will be the right size and comfortable. It will also be easily maintained without breaking your budget.