I can’t say exactly say, but the number of electric guitar manufacturers is definitely huge these days. In this article, I will stick to the best electric guitar brands and most renowned companies, particularly to those famous for specific shapes and guitar models.
This is one of the two most famous guitar brands of all time. For more than seven decades, this is a household name, famous for several guitar shapes and models. Of course, the first that comes to mind is Stratocaster, the most recognizable electric guitar in the world, while Telecaster also has a world-class pedigree and has been used by so many legendary guitarists. These two guitars are by far the most popular products of the company, but there is a couple of more notable models, like Jaguar, Jazzmaster and Mustang. Also, this company is famous for two iconic bass guitar models, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass. Also, Fender is famous for its amps, which are characterized by an unparalleled clean tone. Hot Rod, Bassman, Twin Reverb and Blues Junior are just some of many amazing tube amps that come from this company.
Gibson and Fender are the biggest rivals in the world of guitars. Compared to Fender, Gibson is a much older company and has a completely different approach in making electric guitars. While Fender uses mostly alder or ash wood and combines it with single coils, Gibson guitars are usually made from Mahogany and have humbuckers. After all, Gibson engineer Seth Lover designed the world’s first humbucker.
Gibson also has more legendary guitar shapes and models, though Les Paul is the only one that can compare with the Stratocaster in terms of popularity. Besides Les Paul, the list of iconic models includes famous shapes like SG, Explorer, Flying V, Firebird etc. The areas where Gibson really dominates are hollow-body and semi-hollow-body guitars. There are several legendary guitars in its lineup, starting from iconic ES-175 and ES-335 models.
Founded in 1957, Ibanez is the biggest Japanese guitar manufacturer and one of the leading guitar companies in the world. Like in most Japanese companies, initial models were copies of Stratocasters, Les Pauls and other legendary shapes. A couple of decades later, the company introduced the RG series, the ultimate rock axes, the most famous super strats in the world. Even today, RG is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Ibanez. However, this company has much more to offer, starting from spectacular hollow-body guitars that were and still are used by some of the most famous jazz musicians. This company has a pretty wide range of guitars in the offer and covers pretty much all common electric guitar types. Besides super strats and hollow-body models, it also produces amazing Artist series, which are typical mahogany/humbucker-sounding guitars. Besides electric guitars, Ibanez also makes great acoustic guitars, as well as amazing pedals, including the world’s most iconic overdrive, the TubeScreamer.
PRS is the third biggest North American guitar maker, known for amazing hi-end guitars. The company was founded in the ’50s but was recognized pretty quickly, mainly because of some famous names that started to play on these guitars. Of course, Carlos Santana comes first to mind, but there are many more big names that used these beautifully crafted guitars.
Most models are quite expensive, as the company focuses on quality and doesn’t really have some budget models in the offer. That is probably the biggest complaint about PRS, which has never managed to bring its models to large masses, even though it marks pretty impressive sales numbers.
Like every Japanese manufacturer, ESP offers excellent built quality and amazing value for the money. This company was founded in 1975, though it initially produced aftermarket guitar parts, for all those who wanted to upgrade stock models. Soon after, we saw the first models of this company, mostly upgraded versions of familiar shapes. Today, these guitars are usually associated with metal and other hi-gain music styles. Among famous guitars, there are also signature models of metal gods James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett.
Jackson is another company that is mostly oriented to metal and other hi-gain genres. It may not be as popular as in the ’80s but still plays an important role on the market. It produces both high-end custom shop and budget guitars and it is one of the rare major manufacturers that have neck-through models in its offer. Those would be famous King V and Randy Rhoads models, but Jackson offers other amazing guitars as well, from well-known series like Soloist and Dinky.
This is one of the oldest names in the business. This company was founded more than 150 years ago and it was initially known for banjos. It started to produce electric guitars in the ‘30s, but the real breakthrough happened in the ’60s, thanks to George Harrison, who played one of its models at the time. Since then, this company is best known for hollow-body guitars. Even today, it relies mostly on hollow and semi-hollow guitars, though there is a couple of solid body models in the offer as well.
The Japanese company is the world largest manufacturer of musical instruments. In their offer, you can find pretty much any kind of instrument, of both classical and popular music. Of course, there is a fine number of electric guitars in the offer as well. You’ve probably heard of Pacifica, which is definitely one of the most popular guitars among beginners and students. These guitars offer an amazing balance between price and quality but Yamaha also has some amazing hi-end guitars in the offer as well, both solid and semi-hollow body models.
These days, most of us look on Epiphone as Gibson’s budget division. However, this company has a much greater history. Before it was acquired by Gibson, it was one of the leading companies in the business. These days, it is a great alternative for all those who want a genuine feel of legendary models like Les Paul, ES-335, SG and others for a much cheaper price. The overall quality of these models is pretty good and the best thing is that Epiphone uses the same model names as Gibson, as well as almost identical shapes, with minor differences on the headstock.
The Canadian company owns a couple of big names in the world of acoustic guitars, including Seagull. When it comes to electric guitars, Godin offers an amazing quality. There is a nice range of electric and acoustic/electric models in the offer and a wide range of electric guitar types is covered as well. All models are characterized by the amazing build quality and look pretty upscale. Also, it is good to mention that this company installs all kinds of pickups on its guitars, including piezo and MIDI/Synth pickups. Those would be some of the most important criteria for classifying electric guitar types. As you can see, there are so many of them and I really hope this article will help you to get more familiar with specific design methods and their tonal characteristics. Keep in mind that there are no better or worse guitar types. Each one has its good and bad sides and in the end, it is all about a matter of preference. I wish you all the best in your electric guitar finding journey!