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9 Best Electric Guitar Brands

Searching For The Best Electric Guitar Brands

Guitars may be the single most versatile instrument in human history. They can be the main attraction of any band, a key supporting player in the rhythm section, a stick of dynamite with fiery solos, or a machine that spits out fuzzy blankets of distortion.

They’re phenomenal pieces of equipment that nearly everyone has tried their hand at learning. Perhaps you want to pick up a guitar for the first time but don’t know where to start. 

While I won’t tell you how to become the next Steve Vai, I can tell you about the best electric guitar brands, what makes each of them unique, which styles are best suited for their products, and more. 

In fact, just because I like you, I’ll do just that. 

The 9 Best Electric Guitar Brands

#1: PRS Guitars

Best Electric Guitar Brands

While PRS Guitars may not boast the prestigious recognition of some of the other best electric guitar brands like Fender or Gibson, they’ve become nearly ubiquitous among professional and amateur players. 

Paul Reed Smith’s guitar company produces instruments that span price ranges and functionality.

Their line of PRS Guitars SE are more budget-friendly and easier for beginners to pick up than other items in their catalog. 

That being said, there’s no skill ceiling when it comes to PRS Guitars. They’re touted as taking the best traits from Gibson guitars and putting them into frequently fashionable looks.

One reason why PRS Guitars might not have the long-term brand-name strength of other companies is that they’re newer in the electric guitar game. 

They’ve only been around since 1985, yet their modern approach has made them the go-to brand for many of the most recognizable guitarists of the past three decades.

PRS Guitars have helped bands like the death metal tour-de-force Opeth record some of the genre’s best albums of all time. 

The brand is synonymous with modern rock as bands like Linkin Park, Creed, Alter Bridge, and Limp Bizkit all earned great success with a PRS Guitar in their hand.

Highlights

  • Iconic sounding guitars
  • One of the most popular brands of the last quarter-century
  • Favored by many modern guitarists

#2: Fender

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Fender is so popular among the best electric guitar brands that most people know their name even if they don’t play guitar. Nearly everyone has heard a Fender electric guitar on a track as they’ve been mainstays for over half a century.

So many famous guitarists have picked up a Fender model that it’d actually save you time if I told you which musicians don’t play a Fender. 

That dedicated audience has stuck around since the brand’s early days. Leo Fender founded his namesake company in 1946. He created two of the most important guitars of all time, the Fender Telecaster and the Fender Stratocaster, in 1951 and 1954 respectively. 

They continue to update those models to this day, but the features that made them such a hit upon their debut can be found in most Fender models. 

Fender guitars have a slightly twangy sound that can add some edge to your playing. They’re also made from ashwood, a material that makes them sound a bit poppier. 

Highlights

  • One of the two most popular guitar brands on the planet
  • Guitars have a bright sound
  • Easily accessible and most guitar repairmen are well-versed in maintaining them

#3: Gibson

Best Electric Guitar Brands

The other gargantuan guitar brand is Gibson. Numerous Gibson guitar models have become households names thanks to their contributions to rock music. 

The Gibson SG is popular in heavy metal circles due to AC/DC’s Angus Young and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi favoring them. 

The Gibson Flying V is perfect for flashy guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, and need I even say anything about the Gibson Les Paul?

What makes Gibson one of the best electric guitar brands, besides their iconography, is their unique sound. Their mahogany bodies and humbuckers give them a distinctively hefty tone that other guitar brands just can’t match.

Gibson makes all their guitars in the United States using premium materials. Their exquisite craftsmanship shines through in their products, but it also means that you’ll be paying premium prices for them. 

However, if you’re trying dedicated to music, then you won’t find a more rewarding guitar than a Gibson.

Highlights

  • Have been making electric guitars since the 1950s
  • The choice brand of many of the best guitarists of all time
  • Most of their guitars can survive decades of playing

#4: Ibanez

Best Electric Guitar Brands

The prior companies I mentioned in this list of the best electric guitar brands have massive product itineraries. While that’s also the case with Ibanez, they’re primarily known for their prevalence within heavy metal. 

Their strings are designed for metal’s prerequisite drop tuning while their tremolo systems allow players to perform techniques like tremolo picking and dive bombs that are essential to many metal genres.

Ibanez has been making their own contributions to the electric guitar market since the 1950s but the company is much older than that. 

They originally began as a subsection of a Japanese bookstore in 1908. They started selling imported guitars to Japanese citizens in the 1920s before they started making their own versions of the instrument.

If you want a guitar with a guttural sound that can raise the dead, then you’re going to want to buy an Ibanez guitar.

Highlights

  • Guitars are great for heavier rock genres
  • Guitars can be great for technical and flashy players due to their thin necks
  • Have high-end and mid-priced models

#5: Shecter

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Shecter is another pristine company that’s trusted by many of today’s definitive rock stars. Modern acts like Seether, Avenged Sevenfold, and Disturbed, as well as legends like The Cure and Prince, have all played a Shecter model at some point in their careers.

I assume that they loved this brand’s guitars because of Shecter’s deep well of knowledge. The brand started as a guitar repair shop in California in 1976

They took their remarkable eye and ear for guitar design and applied it to their first electric guitar model in 1979. Though these original guitars were as rare as they were expensive, they gained a benign reputation.

Some of their products sit at a comfortable price range, especially for their high quality. Items like the Shecter Kenny Hickey Solo-6 EX S ($1,199, the regular price is $1,719) or the Shecter Omen Elite-7 Multiscale ($749, the regular price is $1,069) can provide a beefy sound for a lean price.

Shecter may be a newer cat in the game, but their products prove that age is just a number.

Highlights

  • Can ship internationally
  • Good price-for-quality balance
  • Many online and brick-and-mortar retailers

#6: Godin

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Who said that Canadians don’t know how to rock? Whoever did has clearly never listened to any of Montreal’s preeminent bands, nor have they ever strummed a guitar from this Montreal-based company. 

Godin makes all of their guitars in their warehouse in Montreal, the same way as they have since their inception in 1972. This gives their electric guitars a hand-touched vibe that most musicians can appreciate. 

Some of their guitars are great (if not slightly more affordable) offshoots of other, pricier guitars. For example, the Godin Summit Classic HT Havana Brown is a good stand-in for the Gibson Les Paul and only costs $1,199 (the regular price is $1,475). 

Their guitars aren’t nearly as eye-popping as some of the other best electric guitar brands, but much like the country they come from, modesty can be the best indicator of quality. 

Highlights

  • Good budget alternatives to bigger-name guitars
  • The company makes all their guitars in Canada
  • You can save 25% on your first Godin purchase by signing up for their email newsletter

#7: Gretsch

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Let’s turn the history books back all the way to 1883 to talk about Gretsch. Friedrich Gretsch emigrated from Germany to Brooklyn, New York, and started Gretsch as a drum, banjo, and tambourine producing company. It wasn’t until the next century that his son Fred took the company in a new direction.

Under his guidance, Gretsch began creating their own line of guitars geared towards jazz and country players. 

Their catalog of hollow-bodied guitars made from maple and mahogany create sounds that are best heard in their natural state, meaning that you wouldn’t want to distort them through a speaker.

Gretsch creates their custom guitars in the United States but their less-expensive models are handled by Chinese workers. This doesn’t diminish their quality. In fact, the only thing it decreases is their price. 

You can find Gretsch guitars for as low as $300 and as high as $4,000

Obviously, you can expect a higher quality guitar if you shell out more money, but don’t sleep on Gretsch’s more affordable options. They are just as worthy of your attention as their high-end products.

Highlights

  • Make some of their products in the US
  • Guitars are hollow body
  • Do not need an amplifier for their guitars to produce a powerful sound

#8: Jackson

Best Electric Guitar Brands

The penultimate company I’ll include in my list of the best electric guitar brands is Jackson, an Arizona-based brand that now operates as a subsidiary of Fender. They were founded by Grover Jackson in California in 1980.

Jackson guitars are known for their angular shapes, expert utilization of materials, intelligent construction, and low prices. 

Their design invites technical play with a thin fretboard so you can slide your fingers across notes quickly. That speed is embellished by the company’s choice of rosewood and maple for the guitar’s necks and bodies.

These guitars are perfect for heavy metal for the reasons listed above. This may sound like an insult, but it’s extremely difficult to earn a living playing metal music. That’s why so many metal guitarists are in (at least) eight different bands at once. 

More releases mean more expression (and potentially more income), and Jackson promotes both of those tenants.

I’m also implying that Jackson guitars are great for metal because they’re cheaper. You can find more expensive models, but you won’t lose out on too much quality by purchasing a less expensive Jackson model.

Highlights

  • Guitars are nearly scientifically designed for heavy metal
  • More affordable than other brands
  • Uses great materials in their guitars

#9: Rickenbacker

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Rickenbacker owe a bit of their success to The Beatles. The Fab Four were instrumental in spreading the brand’s name as Beatlemania gripped the 60s youth tighter than an octopus would if it found you trespassing in its garden.

The brand’s sound is tied to the psychedelic 60s. Rickenbacker guitars have a warm tone that can uplift. It’s great for spacier tracks than focus more on texture than on form, so they’re ideal for psychedelic rock bands or other ambitious acts.

This sound means that a Rickenbacker guitar can give you a vintage vibe if that’s what you’re after. If you are chasing that aesthetic then I recommend saving a good chunk of money. 

Rickenbackers don’t come cheap. You’ll be paying for identity and artistry, and neither of those is budget-friendly with this company.

Highlights

  • One-of-a-kind sound
  • The company is also one of the best bass manufacturers in the world too
  • Expensive but exquisitely designed models

How to Shop for the Best Electric Guitar 

Best Electric Guitar Brands

You’ve just read about the best electric guitar brands, but now it’s time for you to choose the best electric guitar for you. Allow me to give you some pointers to make the decision easier on your end.

Brand  

Branding is everything when it comes to the best electric guitar brands, naturally. Based on what I told you earlier, these guitar companies all have totally different sounds:

  • Gibson
  • Fender
  • Jackson
  • Rickenbacker

Check out YouTube videos comparing how certain songs sound when played on different guitars to hear what I mean.

Materials 

What constitutes a guitar’s form can affect its sound. That’s why Jackson guitars are great for heavy metal while Gretsch guitars are best left to their own devices.

Tuning 

The proper tuning can dictate which style of music you can play on your guitar. Certain guitars lend themselves better to certain tunings

This doesn’t mean you can’t play a Les Paul if you want to play samba, for example, but that you might have an easier time if you choose a guitar that can be tuned better.

Types 

There are plenty of types of electric guitars, including the following types:

  • Solid-body guitars
  • Semi-hollow body guitars
  • Hollow body guitars

These can all change how your guitar will sound when filtered through an amplifier. Some brands specialize in certain types of guitars, like how Gretsch almost exclusively produces hollow body guitars.

Aesthetics 

Aesthetics play into more than just the looks of your guitar. Certain shapes can make it easier or harder for certain people to play them because of how they interact with the user’s body.

Country of Origin  

Guitars made in China are typically cheaper than guitars that are made in the United States. This can also reflect the quality of materials that are used and the production practices. 

The closer a guitar is made to the company’s headquarters, the more likely it is that the creator has a larger role in its production. It’s safe to say that the best electric guitar brands aren’t as likely to outsource their pride and joy’s production.

Accessibility 

There are some guitar brands that are hard to find in stores and online. Others are readily available at most music stores, though they might not be the best of the brand’s offerings. 

Accessibility is a key factor because it can determine whether it’s realistic for you to even acquire the guitar of your dreams.

Budget 

There are some ludicrously expensive guitars available out there. They simply may not be worth your money if all you want to do is play John Mayer to woo your gym crush. 

But, you might want to spring for a more expensive guitar if you know that you need one with a specific design or material. In that case, the budget is up to you.

Can I play electric guitar without an amp?  

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Amplifiers are instrumental to making the most out of your electric guitar. You can technically play an electric guitar without an amp but it’ll be missing the volume, power, and texture necessary for the instrument to sound its best.

Is it easier to learn electric or acoustic guitar? 

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Both types of guitars use the same notes, scales, and tunings, so there isn’t too much of a difference between learning on an electric or an acoustic guitar.

Some people may find electric guitars easier to learn because you can bend and strum their strings with slightly less effort than acoustic guitars’. 

However, as you gain more experience you’ll likely find this to be a superfluous factor.

How do I keep my electric guitar in good condition? 

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Here are my three biggest tips to help you keep your electric guitar in good condition:

  1. Store your electric guitar intelligently. Don’t keep it in a moldy basement where water could damage, or lay it on its side where gravity could affect the strings. Keep it upright and in a safe space in your living abode
  2. Restring your guitar every few weeks to keep them fresh
  3. Dust and polish the guitar body, neck, pickups, and strings

Those are the three easiest ways for you to keep your guitar alive longer than Keith Richards.

Final Thoughts

Best Electric Guitar Brands

Ultimately, the finest electric guitar is to be decided by you. There are libraries filled with guitar guides that explain the minutiae between the best electric guitars brands and for whom each brand is perfect. 

However, I hope that my article at least guided you in the right direction so that you don’t have to waste too much time in the guitar store playing Stairway to Heaven.


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