29 Best Guitar Brands In 2017 (Recommended by our readers)

When it comes to buying a new guitar, whether it’s your first or an upgrade, it’s important that you know exactly what you want before you decide to open your wallet.

The problem? There’s too much choice.

So we asked our readers to recommend their favourite guitar brands. And boy did they deliver! Here's the 29 best guitar brands according to you. 

Many of the guitar brands you'll be familiar, but there'll be plenty that even the most seasoned guitarist hasn't come across. There are the big players and the smaller up and coming brands here.

How we judged each guitar brand

To add a little pizzaz to things, I asked our readers to rate their favourite guitar brands. The three criteria I asked you to rate from 1 to 5 (one being the worse, 5 the best) on the following things: range of models, build quality and popularity. 

Here's a breakdown of what each one means...

Range Of Models

Are the guitars high-end only, do they suit a broad spectrum of styles, do they produce electrics only? The more on offer, the higher the score.

Build Quality


How well made are they? Choice of tonewoods, construction styles and electronics all factor in.

Popularity

The new and unique are great, but if a guitar is admired by thousands of players across the world, then it’s passed the true test of quality. However, since some of the brands and manufacturers on this list are much lesser known, don’t judge a guitar by this alone! It takes time to build a following, even if you have the best.

In addition, at the end of each section you’ll find a link to a particularly noteworthy guitar produced by each. 

Time For The Big Reveal....The 29 Best Guitar Brands (in no particular order)

1. Moniker

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Have you ever wished you could have a custom made guitar so that you could get the perfect tone and have an instrument that feels like an extension of your body?

It’s just a shame how expensive it is - until you check out Moniker.

For less than a $1000 you can design and purchase your very own guitar. The true beauty of this is that now, it’s not only insanely rich and famous musicians that can enjoy the benefits of custom made guitars, you can too!

It's no surprise then that our readers chose Moniker - quality, stylish and at a decent price. Not to be sniffed at

Here's the TX BBQ Series...assuming it won't cook sausages too:

2. Seagull

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Possibly the ‘greenest’ guitar manufacturer in the world at this point, they use reclaimed wood, use sustainable practises and support their local community by refusing to outsource anything.

They also put as much thought into their instruments, and use much thinner headstocks on their guitars to help them stay in tune for longer by keeping the strings in a straighter line than conventional headstocks.

Here's the Seagull S6...

3. Yamaha

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Japanese company Yamaha are well known for doing a bit of everything. They produce a lot of musical instruments and gear beyond guitars.

They have a great selection of guitars for beginners to choose from, especially in the acoustic range. They deliver decent instruments at an affordable cost.

A Yamaha F-series, for example, is a great first choice for a beginner looking to learn how to play acoustic guitar. It’s no frills, but sounds great when well maintained.

Here's one in action:​

If you're looking for cheap but decent sounding acoustics check out our review of 5 of the best (cheap) acoustic guitars.​

4. Epiphone

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

They started life as one of Gibson’s main competitors. Now, they’re actually owned by Gibson and produce a range of lower budget guitars that many musicians look down on.

However, this is an elitist attitude, as Epiphone have produced some excellent guitars which are accessible in terms of price and are great for getting started with on your musical journey.

As an added bonus, they’re also the only company in the world which can use Gibson’s designs for their own guitars, so a Epiphone can punch far above what you’d expect in terms of quality.

Let's take a glimpse at one their signature guitars, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard:

5. Taylor

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

If acoustic guitars are your thing, Taylor have some of the best designs available on the market. In fact, they are one of the top two brands around, the only thing is, nobody’s quite sure if they took the top spot or not!

They’re very well known for the Big Baby acoustic guitar, but this isn’t the only one in their line up.

Whilst it is a great guitar, it seems that their others are being sadly overlooked in recent years.

Here's their Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric model which is pretty nice:

6. Martin

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Remember how we said Taylor was one of the top two brands of acoustic guitars? Martin is the other one.

They’re world leaders in the industry, and owning a Martin is the dream of many intermediates who’ve started to take a serious view of their music.

When most people picture an acoustic guitar, it looks like the Dreadnought style invented by these guys. Their influence is one of the strongest and longest.

Oh to own a Martin, no home should be without one. Check out how they sound below...

Martin are great for playing the blues. If you're looking for an acoustic blues guitar check out our 5 of the best here

7. Gretsch

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

If you’ve wanted a hollow-body, semi hollow-body or resonator guitar, Gretsch is the best place to start, and will likely be the place you end your search too.

Whilst other brands do made decent guitars with similar designs, the level of knowledge and skill Gretsch brings to the table is unbeatable in this niche.

Playing their boxcar resonator is like actually being transported back in time to the dust bowl.

Let's hear how one sounds...​

8. Jackson

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Perhaps you growled a little at the mention of Ibanez being the best manufacturer of metal guitars? If so, then you’re probably a fan of Jackson guitars.

They’re the pre-eminent American company for metal guitars, and they’ve built this reputation for quality over a very long time, being the only real choice for a good period of their history for a serious head banger.

Interestingly, they also do a bang tidy job of making guitars that play beautiful rockabilly.

​Let's take a glimpse at one their signature guitars:

9. Greenfield

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Remember back in 2006 when Andy Mckee became a youtube and myspace sensation with his unique fingerstyle/percussion guitar playing?

He was almost as famous for his weird ‘harp guitar’ as he was for the beautiful music he played.

If you’re looking to bag yourself something similar, Greenfield Guitars is the place to go.

Every guitar is built on commission, and are truly individual with a high degree of consultation between the maker and yourself.

For an excellent demonstration of just how magical a Greenfield harp guitar can sound, look no further than here:

fender-tele

Purchase from manufacturers website 

10. Sabre

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

A brand new British guitar company founded in 2009 by Christian Howes producing custom and bespoke electric guitars.

Despite their short history, they have already began to compete with much more established brands.

They were awarded the Editor’s Pick award by Premier Guitar’s magazine in 2011, and they are also the only UK company in history to receive 2 five-star reviews with no negatives back to back from Total Guitar magazine, as well as receiving the best buy award in the same issues.

Unfortunately, they aren’t very well know but that looks set to change.

Check out the below video...

sabre-wra7ith

Purchase from manufacturers website

11. Dean

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Dean Guitars are definitely worth checking out.

They produce electric, acoustic and bass guitars. If you’ve ever wanted a guitar with a little more stage presence, these guys are definitely worth checking out.

They’ve got a lot of style, but that’s not where their talents end.

Their guitars really shine in the hands of a shredder, and the tonal qualities perfectly match their aggressive designs.

Here's their Michael Amott Signature Tyrant model:​

12. ESP 

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Plenty of rock and metal legends have chosen ESP axes for a reason. The tone is meticulous, the aesthetics striking and the hardware precise.

These don’t just match your average guitar’s fat and chunky sound with the distortion cranked up, they can practically sing and will easily keep up with your as a musician no matter how hard you push your skills, or your instruments!

Like many manufacturers, you can also have made to order guitars or go for one of their iconic line up of stocked guitars.

For more on metal guitars check our our review of 5 of the best metal guitars

Let's take a look at one:

13. Encore

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Your first thought on seeing one of these guitars might be to roll your eyes and laugh, but think back to when you first started playing.

If you weren’t from a musical family, chances are you had to make do with a cheap model. Sure, they aren’t the greatest, but they’re cheap and have a “good enough” quality that lets a wide eyed beginner embark on their musical journey in confidence.

They also sell “beginner kits”, which include cases, music stands, plectrums and tuners as well as producing smaller bodied guitars for children.

Let's take a look at the Encore Strat copy:

14. Vintage

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

You wanted a stylish guitar, something you could play at a gig and feel confident you looked as cool as you sounded.

Turns out you didn’t have a couple thousand dollars to spend on a brand new Gibson, so you did what any right minded musician would do.

You looked around, and hey turns out that this Vintage stuff seems pretty damn good considering it cost nearly ten times less!

Here's the Vintage appalingly named 'Lemon Drop' guitar. Sounds ok though.

15. Gibson

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Even non-musicians will know this one, and for good reason. It’s one of the largest guitar manufacturers on the planet, and is the owner of many other brands.

Their guitars vary a lot in quality, with the American made models being noticeably superior but also more expensive than those made to spec in factories.

Gibson’s biggest claim to fame is the Les Paul, which has gone through several redesigns, inspired countless copycats and been played by some of the most famous guitarists in history.

They’re a solid brand with good designs, not super expensive and have solid wood and electronic choices along with a clear attention to detail in the workshop.

Check out their Les Paul in this comparison review with an Epiphone Les Paul:

If you're trying to decide whether to get a Strat, Les Paul or Tele, check out our comparison review here​. There are also some pretty amazing Les Paul copies out there.

16. Farida

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

They make decent guitars, and cater best to the vague and fuzzy “intermediate” crowd.

What stands out about them is their 12 string guitars, which make a strong stand against other more expensive models from heavyweights like Taylor.

Check out their 12 stringer below:

17. Hagstrom

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

High quality guitars, with some unusual design ideas that make them stand out from the endless hordes of Strat and Tele copies.

Strangely, they aren’t as well known as other brands and yet they are able to sell top quality instruments far cheaper than the big names in the industry.

Check out their Pat Smear Signature model here:

18. Ibanez

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Starting as a small Japanese company that made decent copies of more established American guitars, they eventually grew into their own entity and firmly staked a claim to being the makers of metal guitars at a budget price.

One of their most notable contributions to the guitar world is their 7 and 8 strings, which they have made into a very accessible instrument and not just the purview of well-off musicians.

Here's one in action:​

19. Lowden

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

For that authentic Irish jig, Lowden Guitars are the answer.

Their very first guitar was something only its makers could love (bent over nails for frets? Hell yes!).

But since that day they have gone on to make some of the most finely crafted and elegant acoustic guitars to ever come out of Ireland.

Here's one of their models...

20. Furch

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

A Czech company that take an ambitious view of what an acoustic guitar can do.

Removable fretboards for the travelling musician, acoustic bass guitars, 9 and 12 strings, you name it. Even their standard shaped guitars give giants like Martin and Taylor a run for their money.

The kicker? They’re insanely underpriced for the sky high quality and curious inventiveness that goes into making them.

Let's take a glimpse....

21. BlackMachine

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Sadly it’s not always possible to order a guitar from BlackMachine as this “company” is in fact just a single luthier working out of the UK.

However, a few of his guitars are floating around on the internet, and the “one of a kind” guitar experience will ensure that not only will the instrument be an asset to your music due to their high level of craftsmanship, but it’ll probably end up with its own groupies too.

That is, if you manage to ever get your hands on one.

Let's take a glimpse....

22. Fender

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Fender have had a huge hand in shaping the guitar as we know it today, and some of their innovations have become integral to the industry of guitar making as a whole.

What’s more, they own several of the other brands in one way or another, as such it’s very easy to see the influence of Fender in some of the most iconic guitars around the world.

They’re best known for the Stratocaster and Telecaster, and these have become more than just a model of guitar. They’ve dominated the design of guitars in the same way that all cars have seats and a steering wheel.

No surprise they're in the list really.​

Let's take a glimpse at one their signature guitars, the Telecaster below

Also check out our review of great sounding Tele copies (at a fraction of the price)

23. Charvel

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Back to a more established name, Charvel still might not seem like one of the heavy rollers on the playground, but don’t let that fool you.

They were the guys that inspired Jackson Guitars to start their business, and have been a huge part of the guitar industry.

Their guitars are so popular that they’re one of the most prolifically faked instruments around. Today, the original founder, Wayne Charvel, and his son produce guitars under the name Wayne Guitars.

Let's take a glimpse....

24. Rickenbacker

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

What list would be complete without mentioning Rickenbacker? If you weren’t aware of this already, they produced the world’s very first electric guitar, and they’re still going strong today.

They were one of the defining elements of the 1960’s and 70’s British music scene, and they had an indirect hand in creating the “Marshall sound” you’ll hear endless talk about when discussing amps.

However, they are harder to get hold off than other guitars due to the demand far exceeding supply.

25. Matsumoku

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

When it comes to archtop guitars, Matsumoku have the stage.

Their guitars are a favourite of jazz players around the world. Their history is intermingled with other guitar manufacturers, producing various bits and pieces, in addition to entire guitars, for other luthiers.

They also sell their own brand of guitars under the name Westone, but their handiwork is everywhere under all sorts of names, including some of the big names on this list.

Let's take a glimpse....

26. Washburn

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

If it wasn’t for these guys, electro/acoustic guitars would still be lingering in the wings waiting for their moment to shine.

Until their designs, electro/acoustics were an unplayable mass of feedback. Now, they’re more or less standard for playing in larger venues for those who don’t use pure electrics.

However, this isn’t where their expertise ends.

They have acoustics that cover everything from beginners to experts, and their electric guitars also stand out as being thoughtfully made.

They also have a long history, and have more experience in building guitars than many other manufacturers combined.

27. B. C. Rich

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Have you noticed that when it comes to unusual shapes, it tends to be makers of metal oriented guitars that get all creative?

B. C. Rich is no exception.

They have some of the most visually striking designs ever made, and their instruments can be found in the hands of some of the world’s most famous guitarists.

Here's one of their most epic guitars, the Warlock Bronze...

28. AXL

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

High achievers with high minded designs, they take a lot of care when choosing the hardware for their guitars.

Visually, AXL guitars have a bold theme that fits very well with their sound.

They have won numerous awards in recent years, and they are proud of their handmade, top of the range guitars for a reason.

Let's take a glimpse....

29. Manzer

Range Of Models

Build Quality

Popularity

Despite being creators of numerous exceptionally high quality acoustic guitars, both custom and standard models, Manzer guitars are predominantly known for their insane “pikasso” guitar.

If it’s not the world’s strangest guitar, it’s definitely one of them.

However, don’t let this put you off. They aren’t gimmicky, instead focusing most of their effort on producing exquisite instruments for serious musicians.

Let's take a glimpse....

So, in summary...

There we have it, the 29 guitars that our readers said were the best.

Quite an eclectic mix isn't it!

Which do you think are missing? Drop it in the comments below...​

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