A guitar is a massive investment for any musician and a long-term commitment for beginners. Best Guitar Brands 2021 Updated Review has everything you must know before you buy your guitar.
Guitars are available from hundreds of brands for various price ranges. Why we should stick to the best brands, especially on your first guitar, is for obvious reasons. Quality, Playability, Design, Sound/Tone, and Reliability are nothing to play around with. And yes, must mention: Best brands don’t necessarily mean expensive guitars.
Our Best Pick:
Discover the best & worst guitar brands 2021
The line up at a glance
After a series of in-depth research on several products, we’ve selected these Best guitar brands Read through each product with its pros and cons to find your guitar.
Celebrity reputation, great designs, and awesome playability.
Our Picks For Top 8 Best guitar brands in 2021
Who doesn’t recognize Gibson! Gibson Brands, Inc. (formerly Gibson Guitar Corporation) is an American manufacturer of guitars. The most famous Gibson guitar of all time is Les Pauls. Les Paul remains one of the best guitars in the world and obviously, it has been a huge turning point for Gibsons.
Fun Fact: Did you know Gibson’s first effort to manufacture an electric guitar is far from the legendary Les Paul? They called it “The Log”. The Log was one of the first solid-body electric guitars built-in 1940 in the Epiphone factory, which didn’t have a modern design to it just as Les Paul does. Yet we see to what extent The Log inspired the Gibsons..
Gibson manufactures guitars under several subsidiary brand names such as; Epiphone, Tobias, Maestro, Kramer, Steinberger, and many others.
Gibson as a brand has remained consistent with the styles and designs of their guitars.
Innovation is when their very own Min-Entune robotic self-tuning mechanism can tune a guitar in under 2 seconds, which is featured on some of their popular electric models.
In addition to their world-famous Les Paul series, they have manufactured some other famous electric guitars such as; the SG, Flying V, Explorer, ES-335, and Firebird. Their very classic acoustics include the beautiful Hummingbird.
The brand Gibson has always had a soft corner in every musician’s heart, but their newer models are somewhat being subjected to controversy in terms of quality and technical aspects.
Nevertheless, Gibsons remain legendary for their tone and craftsmanship, and below a few from many proud owners of Gibson masterpieces to witness the very statement;
- Les Paul (pioneer himself) – The Log & Les Paul
- Bob Marley – Les Paul Junior with P90 pickups
- Elvis Presley – Gibson J200
- Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin – Les Paul
- Steve Clark, Def Leppard – Firebirds and Les Pauls
- Ace Frehley, KISS – Flying V
C. F. Martin has been manufacturing acoustic guitars since 1796. They stepped towards manufacturing electric guitars since 1974 and E-series has been one of the first. They do manufacture some good quality electric guitars ever since but what they are eternally famous for is their Acoustic guitars.
Martin is a brand where you can get some great quality affordable guitars, but at the same time, you may as well find some legendary high-end expensive masterpieces.
It is said that Martin practices some environmentally friendly build techniques on their recent designs such as the outstanding acoustic DX1AE, however, echo-friendly to what extent is always open for discussion.
Martin is specializing in acoustic guitars better than in anything else. They were the ones who invented now the most famous classic Dreadnaught shape.
Martin was also one of the first designers to move away from traditional Spanish-style fan bracing and go towards the X-bracing.
D-28 and D-45 are just a couple from their many incredibly beautiful guitars and they are great for entry-level players and beginners due to the easy playability. Their modern acoustic designs are pretty affordable, yet their iconic Vintage models can easily cost five to six thousand dollars.
Martin’s Cheaper DX series features laminates but the price is quite affordable. The quality of their sounds is not compromised depending on the price tag. They make great budget guitars with fantastically consistent sounds.
Some popular artists who love Martin acoustics:
- Ed Sheeran: X Signature Edition
- Of Monsters and Men: D-28
- The Avett Brothers: D-35
- Mumford & Sons: D-28
- The Lumineers: 0-18
In 1957, the company that owned Gibson bought out Epiphone and since then, they’ve been sister companies. Even Though at one time Epiphone was one of Gibson’s biggest competitors, it are now owned by Gibson. Epiphone is more like Gibson’s budget-minded sibling as they are the only guitar company that is allowed to use Gibson specifications and particularly the specs to make Les Pauls, Explorers, SGs, and Flying Vs.
Epiphone is one of the best electric guitar brands and is very well known to be manufacturing budget copies of Gibson’s high-end guitars. Alongside, Epiphone also makes some guitars that are original and unique to them and are favorites of some music legends. Below are some of them to highlight;
- The Beatles: Epiphone Casinos
- Joe Pass: Joe Pass Emperor & Epiphone Broadway
- Noel Gallagher: Epiphone Les Paul Standard, Epiphone Sheraton & Epiphone EJ-200
- Gary Clark Jr.: Epiphone Casinos
- Matthew Followill (Kings Of Leon): Epiphone Sheraton
Since Epi is owned by Gibson, the design and quality of the Gibson copies are not too far away from the originals. This starts a conversation when we refer to Les Paul Epiphone versions. Epi’s Les Paul Special II and the Les Paul 100 are among the best guitar brands for beginners, yet the sound of these is not as rich or deep as the original Gibsons. But the price tag speaks for itself, why a Gibson Les Paul is so expensive when Epiphone lets anyone try that iconic guitar for a far too less price.
Japanese Yamaha started constructing their first guitars in the 1940s. Their heavy hands in music education make them one of the most successful acoustic brands for practicing musicians and students. They are great in all acoustics, trans-acoustics, electric and bass guitars.
If you are a beginner or a student, we specifically recommend Yamaha guitars and their technology.
Yamaha has a wide selection of guitars available for entry-level beginners, students, novice level, or even for music professionals. They manufacture different quality guitars for different price ranges. Yamaha also produces many models for professionals.
Their acoustics are pretty excellent and available for all levels in many options. Yamaha FG800 is widely considered as one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners due to the positively surprising easy playability and amazing sound quality. And it’s L Series offers high-level craftsmanship and solid-wood designs. Carlos Santana had a custom Yamaha SG175 where he worked in collaboration with Yamaha to further improve it and the result was one of their most popular models, the SG2000.
Through the premium Yamaha LL-TA and LS-TA models they introduced the transacoustic guitar technology to the world for the first time, and hence become the “Best in Show”.
A few of many noble guitarists who kept their faith in Yamaha;
- John Lennon: “Dragon” CJ52 Acoustic
- Bob Dylan: L-6
- James Taylor: FG 465 “James Taylor, guitar”
- Bob Marley: Yamaha SG1000
- Paul Simon: CJ-52
Celebrity collaboration, rock n roll fame, and unique Fender tones.
+ Infamous models
+ Perfect first electric guitars
+ Celebrity collaborated models (EVH)
+ Unique ‘Fender’ tones
+ Pivotal company (rock n roll fame)
– Cheaper models are not well constructed as competitive models
– Modern guitars with better quality for the same budget can be found
American manufacturer Fender (founded by “Leo” in 1946), are well known for their electric and bass guitars even though they produce everything else as well from acoustics to amps and other music equipment. Their Stratocaster & Telecaster are some of the greatest guitars they have manufactured.
You can choose their guitars between maple or rosewood fingerboards, HSS or SSS pickup configuration, and from an array of colors.
Stratocaster and Telecaster series was their game-changing weapons to the music world. Many celebrities were captured by their iconic designs and technology who boosted the company’s fame and made it a celebrity brand. Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix are just a couple to mention from many. Models like the Stratocaster & Telecaster are by far some of the greatest guitars ever made. They use premium woods to manufacture their guitars although they are imported. Due to the woods, they use and technology is producing some unique tones and sounds that are highly recognizable as “Fender tones”.
Fender has used the Squier brand since 1982 in producing the best affordable copies of their iconic Stratocasters & Telecasters which was a great hit. Squier guitars have been manufactured in Japan, Korea, Mexico, India, Indonesia, China, and the United States of America.
A few of the most popular Fender lovers who own their own signature Stratocasters.
- Jeff Beck
- Ritchie Blackmore
- Eric Clapton
- Rory Gallagher
- David Gilmour
This Japanese company Ibanez has been the first to launch 7-string guitars to the music world. It was back in 1990 with the Universe, the first 7-string guitar in the market. They produce some great wild-looking guitars with excellent craftsmanship and high-end quality providing a great value for money.
It is nothing to hide that Ibanez is mostly copying European guitar designs and some of the late 1960s Ibanez designs were similar to Hagström and Eko guitar designs as well. They seem pretty skilled not only at producing their superior masterpieces, as well as at copying great guitars out there and letting guitar lovers buy them for a very less price in comparison. Robin Hood in the guitar world? Or, not really..?
They offer two main solid body styles: the RG- 24 fret standard and thicker body & the S- 22 frets and thinner.
Currently have manufactured more than 130 acoustic models, more than 300 electric guitars, and around 160 bass models in their legacy.
The Ibanez specialized in quality copies of famous American guitars and the brand itself is subdivided into Custom, Prestige, Premium, and Gio in their budget series line. Ibanez is well recognized mainly between metal and hard rock players as heavy music is definitely their biggest strength.
The brand has faced a few lawsuits as initially they have appeared to be manufacturing unauthorized copies of Gibson, Fender, and Rickenbacker’s well-reputed brand designs. But they flipped the coin back to them with their own Iceman and Roadstar series.
On the technical side, the majority of their guitars are floating tremolo but there are some fixed bridge options. They have a range of pickup combinations.
The RG is famously their most iconic instrument, but the S series is a massive competitor as well.
A few from many celebrities who love Ibanez;
- Jake Bowen: JBM27
- JB Brubaker: JBBM20
- Mario Camarena: MAR10
- Paul Gilbert: PGM333 & FRM300
- Mårten Hagström: M8M
Made in Canada. Their attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship are some of the best qualities we could find that can compete with other best-looking brands. Quality designs at an affordable price is an absolute virtue for music lovers.
Basically, unique tonewood, great craftsmanship, and quality construction all at an affordable price.
Great for all players and an amazing second guitar as well.
Their S6 is one of their best-selling guitars and overall the Seagull Artist series is at the top of the lineup.
One of their most distinguishable features is the headstock shape which aligns the tuning machines and nuts providing better tuning consistency. Their body design is very flexible and curvy and never flat-topped.
Below are some great celebrities who use Seagull instruments:
- Michalis Hatzigiannis – Performer Mini-Jumbo QI
- Peppino D’Agostino – Artist Series Peppino D’Agostino CW model
- James Blunt – S6 Original
The Seagull S6 Original is particularly a bare-bones acoustic, perfect for beginners and intermediate players.
Celebrity reputation, great designs, and awesome playability.
+ Amazing built
+ Expert designs
+ From high-end to affordable prices
+ Some greatest guitars
– Cheap guitars are less brilliance
– Some claim their high-end guitars are overpriced
Taylor is the number one seller for acoustic guitars in America and has been running production for over forty years. Taylor guitars are among the best in the world as well as the most expensive, but they are worth every penny.
Taylor produces fantastic tones, has great intonation and fret accuracy, and is durable. They are expertly crafted with high-quality woods and obviously cost a bit.
Their electric ranges are cheaper than their acoustics and acoustic-electrics.
Taylor 200-series is very popular and reasonably priced. Their Baby and Big Baby, and the GS Mini smaller-bodied guitars perfect for intermediate and beginner players for a good price.
These may be small in size but excellent in playability & tone, and pretty loud.
Just a few from many Taylor lovers;
- Taylor Swift: PSGA, SolidBody, GS8, K65ce, R5-S, PS-LTD, 615ce, and etc.
- Dave Matthews: Taylor 914ce
- Tony Iommi: GS Mini, T5, T3, 816ce, and 914ce
- Zac Brown: Baby Taylor, SolidBody, T3, 612ce, 614ce, 910, and NS74ce.
Criteria used for evaluation
Acoustic or Electric
Electric guitars usually have thinner strings than acoustic guitars, which is a reason why some claim electric guitars are easy to play for beginners (less pain on fingers) but electric guitar hand movements are fast and need a lot of practice to play a decent session. Whereas, acoustic guitar strings are a little thicker, but hand movements can be smooth. The tones of both are completely different as well.
Three major parts: The body, the neck, and the headstock. Electric guitars have tuners to adjust the pitch. The fretboard, strings, body shape, and size determine the sound of the guitar. Woods of acoustic guitars have a big impact on the tones, while the material of electric guitars wouldn’t make a significant difference to the tone. The scale of a guitar is quite important as well, some guitars come in smaller scale lengths which are ideal for young players, small hands, or travelers. Small guitars don’t produce a huge bass response or louder tones.
The tonewood of an acoustic has a big impact on the tone. Electric guitar body wood doesn’t necessarily make any impact on its tones. Strings are playing a big role in producing different sounds as well. Playability and versatility are two main key points you need to pay attention to when buying a guitar.
Player Level & Hand
You need to understand the player level to choose what’s right for you. For beginner players, we recommend buying a simple electric or acoustic guitar as a start and then move on to other complicated versions such as bass guitars and trans guitars (semi-acoustic or acoustic-electric guitars), as you learn.
Some guitars are available for left-handers as well. Changing the playing side needs a lot of adjustments as a normal guitar constructed for right-hand playing won’t just work on the other side. But there are many options where you could get your guitars customized for left-hand usage.
Starting from a little as less than $150, guitar prices can go sky-high expensive. Quality, playability, versatility, and durability are some of what you must be looking for when buying a guitar. In general anything, $2000 and above will get better in quality than anything below, but gone are the days when affordable is called “cheap”. Yet, most professional guitarists stick to high-end brands such as Martin, Taylor, Gibson, etc.. However, we recommend you to go for at least an average priced guitar if you are a serious player.
The appearance of your guitar can inspire your skills more than you think. Style, build, weight, color, size, and shape determines the look and feel of the guitar. Not just that, appearance also affects the tones of the guitar, playability, and portability as well.
Frequently Asked Question
Professional guitarists are quite often never the budget buyers. They are ready to invest a good amount in order to get the best they need to thrive in their music career. They mostly prefer the best reputed high-end brands such as Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Fender, etc.. Although they cost a fortune, at the end of the day it is a great investment.