Best Electric Guitar Brands

Ibanez is my pick for the best electric guitar brand because it offers rock-solid construction with genre-spanning models for beginners and pros.

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What makes a great electric guitar brand? Different brands specialize in different types of electric guitars, like Jackson and metal guitars or Gibson and rock and jazz axes.

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Whatever your style of music, you want an instrument that is dependable. That means the fretboard feels smooth with polished frets and the electronics are functional with no noise.

In this article, I’ll offer my picks for the 10 best electric guitar brands that span a variety of musical tastes.

Brogan’s Quick Take

The best electric guitar brand depends on the music style. Ibanez is best for rock, metal, and jazz, Fender for pop, folk, country, and blues, Gibson for rock, jazz, and folk, Schecter for metal and rock, Epiphone for classic sounds on a budget, PRS for modern rock and blues, Kiesel for custom guitars, Jackson for metal, and Agile for affordable extreme metal guitars.

Best Electric Guitar Brand Comparison

My top picks for the best electric guitar brands are:
  • Ibanez
  • Fender
  • Gibson
  • Schecter
  • Epiphone
  • PRS
  • Kiesel
  • Jackson
  • Agile
  • Harley Benton

All of these brands specialize in different things, but they all make guitars that last. Below, you can compare my picks for the best electric guitar brands side-by-side.

BrandCountry of OriginFoundedPrice RangeKnown For
IbanezJapan1957$100-$5000+Wide variety of styles, innovative designs
FenderUSA1946$200-$5000+Iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster models
GibsonUSA1902$500-$5000+Legendary Les Paul, SG, and ES models
SchecterUSA1976$200-$2000+High-quality instruments for rock and metal
EpiphoneUSA (Gibson sub.)1873$100-$1000+Affordable versions of Gibson designs
PRSUSA1985$500-$5000+Premium quality, unique designs, and versatile sounds
KieselUSA2015$1000-$5000+Custom-built guitars with a wide range of options
JacksonUSA1980$200-$3000+Popular among metal and hard rock guitarists
AgileSouth Korea2005$200-$1000+Budget-friendly alternatives to high-end brands
Harley BentonGermany1997$100-$500+Best-value electric guitars, offering various styles

1. Ibanez: Best for Rock, Metal, and Jazz

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Ibanez has long been recognized as one of the best electric guitar brands, and a significant part of this reputation stems from its innovative designs and genre versatility, particularly in rock and metal. The brand’s commitment to quality and playability has made it a favorite among guitarists of all skill levels.

One of the key factors that contribute to Ibanez’s reputation is its ability to produce guitars that are both high in quality and accessible. The brand offers a range of models at various price points, ensuring that both beginners and seasoned professionals can find an instrument that fits their needs without compromising on quality. The craftsmanship of Ibanez guitars often features slim neck profiles, which are particularly conducive to the fast playing styles required in rock and metal genres. This design philosophy has helped solidify Ibanez’s position as a go-to brand for musicians in these communities.

Furthermore, Ibanez is renowned for its genre specialty, especially within the realms of rock and metal. Their guitars are engineered with the needs of these musicians in mind, offering features such as high-output pickups for heavy distortion and locking tremolo systems for stable tuning even after extreme whammy bar use. These innovations ensure that Ibanez guitars meet the technical demands of players and the sonic requirements of the music they create.

The brand’s status is also elevated by a roster of endorsing artists, which includes legendary guitarists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. These virtuosos are not only influential in their musical domains but also collaborate with Ibanez to develop signature models that embody their unique playing styles and technical requirements. These partnerships not only add credibility to the brand but also allow for the development of cutting-edge guitar technology and design.

Collectively, Ibanez’s dedication to building instruments tailored for modern guitarists, its prominence in rock and metal music, and its association with iconic players, contribute to its standing as one of the premier electric guitar brands in the industry.

2. Fender: Best for Pop, Folk, Country, and Blues

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Fender stands out as one of the best electric guitar brands, cementing its reputation through a combination of historical significance, genre versatility, and a roster of iconic artists who have become synonymous with the brand. Founded in 1946 by Leo Fender, the company revolutionized the music world with the introduction of the Telecaster and Stratocaster models. These guitars became the cornerstone of the brand, recognized for their bright, crisp tones that are ideal for a wide range of musical genres, from blues and country to rock and indie.

The Telecaster, Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar, found favor among country and blues players due to its twangy, cutting sound that slices through a band mix. The Stratocaster, with its contoured body, three pickups, and tremolo system, offered a more versatile sound palette, making it perfect for the expressive demands of rock and funk. The precision and jazz basses further cemented Fender’s position in the music world, being adopted by bass players across various genres for their solid construction, comfortable playability, and clear, punchy tone.

Endorsing artists have played a pivotal role in Fender’s enduring legacy. Legendary musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour have used Fender guitars to create some of the most memorable music of the 20th century, influencing countless aspiring guitarists. Contemporary artists like John Mayer and Mark Knopfler continue to showcase the brand’s relevance in modern music, often recognizing Fender guitars for their quality and reliability.

Fender’s dedication to quality craftsmanship, combined with its ability to adapt to the evolving needs of musicians, has solidified its status among the best electric guitar brands. The company’s commitment to innovation, while still maintaining the classic designs that have been integral to its identity, ensures that Fender guitars remain at the forefront of the music industry, treasured by musicians of all levels and styles.

3. Gibson: Best for Rock, Jazz, and Folk

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Gibson’s reputation has been meticulously forged over more than a century through consistent delivery of high-quality instruments. Gibson’s name is synonymous with durability, quality craftsmanship, and a distinct, rich tone that has become a gold standard in the music industry. The trust in Gibson’s quality is evident in the loyalty it commands from both seasoned professionals and aspiring guitarists.

When it comes to genres, Gibson’s versatility is unparalleled. The Les Paul, one of Gibson’s flagship models, has become almost synonymous with rock and roll due to its thick, warm tones and sustained resonance. However, its appeal is not limited to rock; its expressive capabilities have found a place in blues, jazz, and even country music. The SG, another iconic Gibson model, offers a brighter, more cutting tone, making it a favorite for rock and metal musicians. Meanwhile, the Gibson ES-335, ES-175, and L5 find their homes in the hands of jazz and blues guitarists due to their smoother, more mellow sound. This versatility ensures that Gibson guitars are not only widespread but also deeply embedded in the fabric of various music genres. Gibson guitars have been copied the world over.

Endorsement by influential artists further cements Gibson’s status as a top-tier brand. Legendary guitarists such as Jimmy Page, Slash, and B.B. King have not only used Gibson guitars to craft their iconic sounds but have also collaborated with the brand to create signature models, inspiring countless musicians. These artists’ choice of Gibson as their primary instrument is a powerful testament to its sound quality, playability, and reliability. Such endorsements are not just advertisements; they are genuine reflections of the brand’s integral role in music history and its continual influence on the sound of contemporary music.

4. Schecter: Best for Metal and Rock

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Schecter Guitar Research, commonly known as Schecter, relentlessly pursues quality, innovation, and versatility. The brand’s reputation is built on its commitment to excellence, as Schecter guitars are renowned for their superb craftsmanship, reliability, and cutting-edge designs. Among musicians, both amateur and professional, Schecter is seen as a brand that consistently delivers high-caliber instruments that perform well beyond their price point, offering high-end features as standard. This attention to detail and quality has earned Schecter a loyal following and a place among the top guitar manufacturers in the industry. I’m a happy owner of a Schecter Omen Elite 8 Multiscale guitar, in fact.

Schecter’s range of guitars is especially favored by players of genres such as metal, rock, and hard rock, where the brand’s models are celebrated for their aggressive tones and high output. Yet, the versatility of Schecter guitars should not be underestimated. They also produce models that are equally adept at achieving warm, clean sounds, making them suitable for a wide array of musical styles. This broad appeal is a testament to Schecter’s understanding of artists’ needs across the musical spectrum.

Endorsing artists play a significant role in Schecter’s standing as a leading brand. The company’s roster includes influential guitarists such as Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold, Dan Donegan of Disturbed, and Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy. These artists not only use Schecter instruments to craft their distinctive sounds but often collaborate with Schecter to design signature models. These signature models embody the artists’ unique specifications and preferences, further showcasing Schecter’s capability to customize and innovate. As these high-profile musicians are seen performing with Schecter guitars on stages worldwide, they reinforce the brand’s image as a top choice for professionals, thereby inspiring the next generation of guitarists to choose Schecter for their musical journeys.

5. Epiphone: Best for Classic Sounds on a Budget

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Epiphone stands tall as one of the best electric guitar brands, with a reputation that resonates within the music industry for several compelling reasons. Initially a family business, Epiphone eventually became a subsidiary of Gibson, inheriting a legacy of excellence and innovation. This connection to Gibson allows Epiphone to offer guitars with classic designs and professional features at a more accessible price point, striking a balance between quality and affordability that appeals to a wide range of players.

The brand’s catalog is diverse, featuring models like the Casino, the Les Paul, and the SG, which have been pivotal in shaping the sound of popular music genres ranging from rock and blues to jazz and indie. This versatility ensures that musicians across the spectrum can find an Epiphone that suits their genre-specific needs, whether it’s the warm, round tones needed for jazz or the biting sustain required for rock.

Moreover, Epiphone’s stature is bolstered by a roster of endorsing artists who have wielded its instruments to craft iconic music. Legends such as John Lennon and George Harrison of The Beatles famously played Epiphone Casinos, demonstrating the brand’s ability to meet the demands of top-tier musicians. Today, contemporary artists continue this tradition, choosing Epiphone for its reliable performance and characteristic tone.

The brand further cements its status through a commitment to innovation, frequently updating its lineup with improved features and new models. This dedication ensures that Epiphone remains at the forefront of guitar manufacturing, constantly refining the playability and sound of its instruments to suit the evolving landscape of music.

In essence, Epiphone’s blend of rich history, genre-spanning applicability, endorsement by influential musicians, and a continuous pursuit of excellence makes it an undeniable choice for players seeking a top-tier electric guitar experience without the exorbitant price tag often associated with such quality.

6. PRS: Best for Modern Rock and Blues

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PRS (Paul Reed Smith) Guitars are often lauded as one of the best electric guitar brands, and for good reason. Their reputation for quality and craftsmanship is nearly unparalleled in the guitar community. Each PRS guitar is a testament to meticulous design and build quality, which has been a hallmark of the brand since its inception in the mid-1980s. The attention to detail is evident in everything from the choice of woods to the proprietary hardware and the stunning finishes that have become synonymous with the PRS name. I personally love the look of a PRS with a deep blue quilted maple top and blackburst edges.

The brand’s appeal is not limited to any single genre, which is a testament to their versatility. PRS guitars are known for their rich, articulate tone and sustain, making them ideal instruments for genres as diverse as rock, blues, jazz, and metal. The ability to produce a multitude of sounds ranging from crystal-clear cleans to heavy, overdriven tones means that PRS guitars are as adaptable as they are reliable.

Endorsing artists are a critical aspect of PRS’s reputation. The brand boasts a roster of influential guitarists who have chosen PRS as their primary instrument. Artists such as Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge, and John Mayer have all contributed to the brand’s prestige. Santana’s signature PRS model is a prime example of how artist collaboration can result in an instrument that not only meets the technical demands of top musicians but also inspires the playing community at large. I would be remiss not to mention PRS has a huge home in progressive metal and rock with artists like Porcupine Tree and Opeth riffing on the axes.

PRS’s commitment to quality, coupled with their broad genre appeal and endorsement by top-tier artists, has cemented their position as a leading guitar maker. Whether it’s through the beautiful aesthetics, exceptional playability, or the rich tonal possibilities, PRS continues to win over guitarists seeking instruments that deliver both on stage and in the studio.

7. Kiesel: Best Custom Guitars

Kiesel Guitars is a custom shop with a meticulous approach to guitar making, where each instrument is crafted with precision and attention to detail. Kiesel’s use of premium materials ensures that their guitars not only look stunning but also provide superior sound quality and durability, which is essential for both studio recordings and live performances.

The brand has carved out a niche for itself by catering to a variety of genres. While they are versatile enough to be used across the musical spectrum, they are particularly lauded in the progressive rock and metal scenes. Their guitars are designed to deliver clarity and extended range, which are critical for the complex compositions and technical proficiency required in these genres. The extended range guitars, with seven or eight strings and fanned fretboards, offer the downtuned, heavy, and intricate riffing capabilities that these styles demand. Kiesel also offers a wide selection of headless models like the Vader and Zeus.

Kiesel’s endorsement roster includes influential artists who are often at the forefront of their respective genres. These artists not only play Kiesel guitars but are also involved in the design process, resulting in instruments that are tailored to meet the demands of top-tier performers. For example, virtuoso guitarists like Stef Carpenter and Frank Gambale have worked with Kiesel, lending their expertise and further validating the brand’s standing within the musician community. These partnerships highlight Kiesel’s commitment to player-centric design and innovation.

Of course, the late and illustrious Allan Holdsworth played his signature Carvin and then Kiesel guitars for many years. His compact headless model is designed for ultra comfort and playability, and he absolutely shredded on it. He never used the neck pickup, so you can get the guitar with a single bridge pickup installed like he had it.

With a direct-to-consumer model, Kiesel has also managed to provide high-quality instruments at a competitive price point, bypassing traditional retail markups. This approach has endeared them to a broad spectrum of guitarists, from budding musicians to seasoned professionals, ensuring that superb playability and tone are accessible without an exorbitant price tag. The combination of quality, innovation, artist collaboration, and value for money solidifies Kiesel’s position as one of the best electric guitar brands in the market.

8. Jackson: Best for Metal

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Jackson guitars have carved out a formidable reputation as one of the best electric guitar brands, especially acclaimed within the realms of hard rock and heavy metal. This status is not accidental but rather the result of the brand’s relentless pursuit of crafting instruments that deliver in both performance and aesthetics, tailored to the demands of the genres they dominate.

The brand’s reputation is built on a foundation of high-quality craftsmanship and innovative design. Jackson was one of the pioneers in creating the “Superstrat” design, an evolution of the traditional Stratocaster shape, with sharper contours and an emphasis on faster playability. These design elements resonate with players looking for sleek, aggressive looks and a comfortable, high-speed playing experience. The compound radius fretboard—flatter towards the heel and more curved towards the headstock—is a distinctive feature that caters to both rhythm and lead playing with ease.

Jackson’s ideal genres are those that require aggressive and articulate tonal properties, such as metal and its various subgenres. The guitars are engineered to handle high-gain settings with precision, offering clear note definition even with the most saturated distortion. This makes them ideal for shredding solos and heavy riffing, common in metal music.

Endorsing artists play a critical role in cementing Jackson’s status in the guitar world. The brand has been famously associated with iconic guitarists such as Randy Rhoads, whose signature model, the Rhoads V, is emblematic of Jackson’s innovative spirit.

Other virtuosic players like Marty Friedman, Adrian Smith, and Phil Collen have also collaborated with Jackson, showcasing the versatility and reliability of the instruments in professional settings. These artists not only bring credibility to the brand but also influence a generation of guitarists to adopt Jackson as their go-to instrument. One of my favorite Jackson artists is Misha Mansoor of Periphery. He has multiple signature Jacksons that look sleek with bright blue or orange finishes.

In conclusion, Jackson’s blend of high-quality construction, genre-specific design, and the endorsement of influential musicians fortifies its position as a leading electric guitar brand for players seeking the ultimate in heavy music performance.

9. Agile (Rondo Music): Best Affordable Extreme Metal Guitars

Agile guitars have established themselves as a reputable brand among electric guitar enthusiasts, prized for their exceptional value and quality craftsmanship. Known for their cost-effective yet high-quality instruments, Agile provides musicians with professional-grade features at a fraction of the price of many other renowned brands, making them an accessible choice for players at all levels.

When it comes to ideal genres, Agile guitars are versatile, but they shine exceptionally in the realms of rock, metal, and progressive genres. The brand’s guitars often feature fast necks, high-output pickups, and excellent sustain, characteristics that are highly sought after by players in these music styles. The design and construction of Agile guitars facilitate the precise and rapid playing that these genres frequently demand.

While Agile may not boast the same level of high-profile artist endorsements as some of the larger, more established brands, their instruments are nonetheless respected in the guitar community. The lack of mainstream artist endorsements does not detract from the brand’s quality; in fact, it underscores Agile’s commitment to producing instruments based on merit rather than marketing. Many guitarists who play Agile guitars often praise them on forums, social media, and YouTube, providing organic, grassroots endorsements that are arguably more reflective of the brand’s value to real-world musicians. In fact, I owned an Agile 8-string and thought it was a great instrument for the value.

Overall, Agile guitars have carved out a niche for themselves by offering high-quality, versatile instruments that cater to players of heavy music genres, all at an affordable price point. Their growing reputation is supported by positive feedback from a dedicated user base, who value the brand’s commitment to quality and value over celebrity endorsements.

10. Harley Benton: Best Cheap 8 String Guitars

Harley Benton has carved out a reputation as one of the best electric guitar brands, particularly among budget-conscious musicians. The brand’s appeal stems from its commitment to providing surprisingly high-quality instruments at accessible price points. Musicians often laud Harley Benton for delivering robust build quality that belies its affordability, ensuring that even beginners can access instruments that feel, play, and sound like higher-end models. This democratization of quality has resonated with the guitar community, fostering a loyal following.

The value proposition of Harley Benton guitars is another cornerstone of its success. Players get a lot of guitar for their money, from the choice of materials to the inclusion of features that are typically reserved for more expensive instruments, such as coil-splitting capabilities and high-quality pickups. This positions Harley Benton as a go-to brand for those who want to maximize their investment without compromising on essential features that contribute to the guitar’s tone and playability.

When it comes to ideal genres, Harley Benton’s versatility shines through. Their lineup spans from traditional designs that hark back to the classic days of rock and blues to more modern configurations suitable for metal and progressive genres. This broad spectrum means that regardless of a player’s stylistic leanings, Harley Benton likely has a model that fits the bill, making them a versatile choice for players who often cross genre boundaries. My favorite model is the 8-string fanned-fret progressive model that is super cheap for the features you get.

In the realm of electric guitars, where brand and prestige can sometimes overshadow practical considerations, Harley Benton manages to strike a chord with those who prioritize substance over status. The combination of affordability, quality, and a wide array of genre-friendly options serves as a testament to Harley Benton’s standing as one of the best electric guitar brands for players looking for real value in their instruments.

Electric Guitar Buyer’s Guide

When you’re on the hunt for an electric guitar, your journey begins with assessing your own level of expertise. If you’re a beginner, look for a guitar that’s comfortable and easy to play; this often means a guitar with a slimmer neck and lighter body. Intermediate and advanced players might prioritize instrument quality and specific features such as the type of pickups.

Consider your budget next. While high-end guitars offer superior craftsmanship and materials, there are many affordable options that don’t sacrifice quality for cost. Be sure to set a realistic budget that reflects your commitment and needs.

Body style is another crucial aspect. Solid-body guitars are versatile and a good choice for rock, metal, and pop music. Semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars offer a warmer, richer sound ideal for jazz and blues. Think about the music you want to play and choose accordingly.

Pickups are the heart of an electric guitar’s sound. Single-coil pickups are known for their bright, crisp sound, while humbuckers offer a fuller, louder tone that’s less prone to interference. Some guitars come with a combination of both, providing a wide range of sounds.

The wood used in the guitar also affects its tone. Common woods like alder and maple provide a balanced sound, while mahogany offers a warmer tone with more sustain. The right wood will resonate with the music you aim to play.

Finally, don’t overlook the importance of playability. A guitar that feels right in your hands will inspire you to play more. Visit stores to try out various models and see which one feels the most comfortable. Remember that a good setup can make a world of difference, so consider having your guitar professionally set up after your purchase.

By keeping these factors in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding an electric guitar that suits your style, needs, and ambitions as a musician. Enjoy the process and the music you’ll create with your new instrument.

Best Electric Guitar Brands: Conclusion

At the end of the day, I have to pick Ibanez as the best electric guitar brand. It offers so much from metal to Jazz and you don’t need to donate a kidney to get a great instrument (like you do to buy a Gibson L5).

Electric Guitar Companies: FAQ

Below are a few frequently asked questions about electric guitar brands:

What makes Fender guitars special?

Fender is known for creating the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster, and later the Stratocaster. These guitars are renowned for their versatility, clarity, and twangy tone, making them popular across many genres, including rock, country, and blues.

What are Gibson guitars known for?

Gibson is famous for its iconic models, such as the Les Paul, SG, and ES-335. These guitars are known for their rich, warm tone and sustain, making them popular among rock, blues, and jazz guitarists.

Are ESP and Jackson guitars only for heavy metal?

While ESP and Jackson are well-known for their use in heavy metal and hard rock, they also offer a wide range of guitars suitable for various styles. Some models feature more classic designs and versatile pickup configurations that can handle different genres.

Are PRS guitars good for beginners?

While PRS guitars are generally considered high-end instruments, they do offer some models that are suitable for beginners, such as the PRS SE series. These guitars provide excellent build quality and tone at a more affordable price point.

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