Guitar Brands

Close-up of Fender Stratocaster

You will likely compare different guitar brands when shopping for a new or used guitar to see which ones offer the features, sound, and price points that fit your needs. While it's important to familiarize yourself with popular brands of guitars so that you can make educated decisions about your instrument purchases, it's also good practice to not purchase an instrument simply because you're attracted to the name. Personally, I've played "brand name" guitars that weren't so good and no-name guitars that were surprisingly good. Still, there are some brand name guitars that are worth your attention simply because of their long history of success in the industry.

Quality Budget Guitar Brands

At one point, budget guitars were characterized by their poor sound and weak playability in addition to their low cost. I can testify to this personally. I started playing guitar in the 1980s and good budget guitars were challenging to find (used was the way to go). However, in recent years, due to the rise in popularity of computerized routers (CNC machines), there has been a rise in the playability and reliability of lower-cost instruments. If you are looking for budget electric instruments (those in the sub-$500 range), there are excellent offerings from Epiphone (owned by Gibson), Ibanez, Fender, and Squier (owned by Fender). Fine budget acoustic guitars can be found from Epiphone, Fender, and Yamaha.

Popular Mid-Range Guitars

Popular brands in the mid-range area ($750 - $1,000) include Carvin, Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, Martin, Reverend, Takamine, and Taylor. Guitars in this range are often considered "workhorse" instruments and include such popular models as the Fender American Stratocaster and American Telecaster. Generally speaking, brands in this price range include superior hardware such as tuners, pickups, and bridges and also include improved playability and sound.

The High-End Market

If you're searching for brands in the high-end guitar market, you'll find the usual suspects such as Fender (especially the custom shop), Gibson, Ibanez, Martin, Takamine, and Taylor, but you'll also see more so-called "boutique" guitar companies that don't cater to the low-end market but focus on the high-end range. These companies include such names as Collings, James Tyler, Knaggs, Nash, Paul Reed Smith, Suhr, and Tom Anderson, just to name a few.

Ultimately, the playability, sound, and cost of the individual instrument is more important than the name on the headstock; however, the above information will hopefully prove useful as you find the best guitar for your needs.

Selected List of Guitar Brands

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