If playing guitar is your kink, then you can be sure that you are living in the golden age of guitar manufacturing. It may be somewhat controversial, but it would be difficult for anyone to disagree with that statement.
Although some dinosaurs of the guitar-making game may be thought to be down in the dumps and producing some of the less impressive guitars of their catalog, there are so many options available on the market, that you can be sure to find just the perfect fit for your string picking needs.
Whether it’s the high-end boutique guitars, historically significant brands, or some more affordable options, you are sure to find here everything you need to know to make the educated consumer decision.
These are the best guitar brands on the market right now:
Distinct sounds with highly customizable features
Starting with a bang, obviously! Is there anything that hasn’t been said about this legendary brand?
Besides Stratocasters and Telecasters being some of the most recognizable instruments ever (due to the fact that so many legendary artists we love and adore played those puppies), one of the main hallmarks of Fender’s history is quality and innovation.
Fender electric guitars are very well-known for their spanky high end which lent itself to so many of the famous songs we have grown up with and continue to like.
Try anything by Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, and “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix, just to name a few.
The fact that these instruments are highly customizable and also available at different price points really adds to their popularity and wide appeal.
Other notable Fender electric guitar models are Jaguar, Mustang, Jazzmaster (look up Kurt Cobain and Noel Gallagher, for example).
Besides building electric guitars, Fender is also known to produce some really cool acoustic and Spanish acoustic guitar models as well.
The best price-quality ratio currently on the market
It has been said that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”? Well, that really does come in handy when describing the sudden meteoric rise in popularity of this guitar brand.
What do we mean by that? Well, since most of the dinosaur-type guitar brands are pretty much overpricing their instruments just because they can (since their name is deeply embedded in all our guitar-playing folk brains and emotions), Harley Benton decided to take a completely different approach.
The name of the game here is: Maximize the quality, minimize the price. The prices at which you can buy yourself a great guitar are downright unbelievably low; as opposed to what we got used to in the past couple of years (decades), at least.
Harley Benton is mostly known for creating stunning copies of the classic guitar models. Strats, Tele’s, Les Pauls, you name it. They do it all! And they do it well!
One of the coolest things about this fine guitar brand is that they make some incredible replicas of classic Gibson acoustic guitar models. Not only are those HB Gibson wannabe’s really good, but they are mind-bogglingly affordable.
The fine wine of the higher-end guitar manufacturing game
Do you see yourself liking some really fine instruments? Instruments that are lavish, stylish, fine-taste approved, yet they still work like magic? Well, look no further!
Ever since 1985 these guys have been manufacturing some incredible guitars that ended up in the hands of some of the biggest guitar virtuosos of today, like John Mayer and Carlos Santana, just to name a few.
If you are looking for an affordable consumer option, you should primarily focus on the SE line of PRS guitars. Those are some sturdy, bang for your buck guitars that retail from $500 up to $1,000.
As far as the rest of their catalog goes, those are mostly high-end, boutique-type guitars that are sure to give you boundless years of creative interplay between you and your beloved instrument.
The S2 line of PRS instruments features all of the classic designs that they are known for. However, the Private Stock collection represents the pinnacle of PRS’ craftsmanship, since those guitars are handmade by their finest luthiers.
With PRS you are likely to get a prestigious instrument that can go anywhere with you and be a tremendous servant to your needs.
Chances are that if you are a beginner you would gravitate toward some more affordable instruments.
For the seasoned professional, you’ll struggle to find a more reliable brand that goes about its business with so much passion and care.
These guys are the sovereign rulers of the acoustic guitar niche in the market of today.
These instruments take the craftsmanship to some new dizzying artistic heights while delivering some stunning sonic textures.
If you are looking to buy a cheap guitar that you can strum away at frat parties and happenings similar in nature, you should probably skip buying Taylor. There are many other guitar manufacturers that offer guitars that are much more tailored to your specific needs.
This is a fine instrument that will lay best in the hands of someone that pays close attention to their craft. The marriage between the right guitar player and a carefully picked Taylor acoustic guitar can really be a perfect one.
The options of different Taylor guitar series are superabundant, which may seem to overly complicate your buying decisions, but no worries. With our guidance and Taylor’s vast plethora of different instruments, you can truly pick a real babe.
Their smallest full-size body guitar is the Grand Concert. With that one, you are getting a scale length more reminiscent of the parlor guitars, and the same can be said about the body size. However, the coolest thing about it is that it sounds like a regular-sized instrument.
Grand Auditorium is probably the model they are best known for, and quite rightfully so! The impeccable design ensures top-notch sonic qualities with the playing comfort being at the highest possible level.
Grand Symphony and Grand Orchestra are jumbo (or at least jumbo-esque) guitars that give you that incredible warmth and weight in your sound.
Swagger and idiosyncratic sounds
Up until this point, all of our picks were either primarily electric or acoustic guitar-making companies. Enter Gretsch! The undisputed kings of hollow-body guitar design.
These guys were pretty much spearheading the wave of revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll guitar sounds in the 50s and early 60s. Bands like the Beatles, AC/DC and Green Day (just to name a few) were sporting their beloved Gretsch babies each in their own decade.
The trademark Gretsch hollow-body sound allows for tremendously harmonically rich content and some truly magical sonic textures.
Although best at what they do, you cannot expect to buy a Gretsch hollow-body guitar and get it to sound equally as impressive in a heavy metal scenario. In that way, these guitars are not that versatile.
However, the joint forces of the hollow-body design with those legendary Filtertron pickups really make for a truly unique sound that really is the best at what it does.
Besides the hollow-body design, you can also get some solid body Gretsch guitars, as well as acoustic guitars. Both of those other categories are really good, but they are not what first comes to mind when we talk about Gretsch.
If you want that type of sound, and your budget allows for it, grab a good ole Gretschsky!
Legacy of Kings
You might just as well end it with a bang, right? Gibson has really come under fire from the guitar playing loyal in the last decade. Is all of the backlash fair? Well, judge for yourself. Just type onto YouTube “Gibson Play Authentic” and decide for yourself.
However, the overall quality and the longevity of this brand, truly make it worthy of the GOAT moniker.
Anyone who has ever strapped on a guitar has at a certain point lusted after a Les Paul or an SG. Those two models literally defined rock and roll as a genre.
Don’t get us started trying to list famous Gibson players… Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Slash, Randy Rhoads, Angus Young, Tony Iommi, BB King, Larry Carlton, Noel Gallagher, Gary Moore, the list goes on and on.
Another one of those legendary models which Gibson brought forward was the famous ES-335, which was a very unique semi-hollow body Thinline instrument.
On the acoustic guitar front, Gibson has been killing it as much as they did in regards to the electric guitars. Models such as J-45, SJ-200, Hummingbird, and many others truly defined what we know as a good acoustic guitar sound.
The main issue with Gibson nowadays is the price. They are very well aware of the emotions we have developed in regards to their products, and they are more than willing to cash in on that. And why wouldn’t they?
The only true issue there is the fact that they really knocked it out of the park with their pricing points.
You are rarely going to see a beginner with a Gibson. It’s just that they are too expensive. But on the other hand, if you are a seasoned pro, chances are that one of the aforementioned guitars is a mandatory weapon in your arsenal.