From Country to Jazz to Deathcore and everything in between, the electric guitar can be found fulfilling numerous roles. This versatile instrument is one of the most popular among amateur and professional musicians alike.
This popularity and demand have given rise to a huge market for electric guitars. Most local music stores will have walls dedicated to these instruments and plenty of brand names to choose from.
Though the brand names aren’t the most critical factor to consider when picking out an electric guitar, knowing the top brands to look out for can be useful in finding your electric guitar (and at the very least for a conversation with other guitarists). In this article, we’ll have a look at what I believe to be the best electric guitar brands on the market.
The top 13 best electric guitar brands in the world are:
Of course, any “best of” list is subjective by nature. I’ve done my best to make this as objective as possible (I’ve even added Gibson, though I’ve personally never enjoyed playing any of their electrics). I’ve included not only my own bias but also the opinions of others (in real life; in online forums, and by which brands professionals use). I’ve also taken into account the number of models and the objective nature of the models in each brand.
We’ll get into each of these brands in greater detail to explain why they made this list. I’ll also share two notable guitars per brand; a link to their official website and a bit of history about each company.
How could I not start this list with Fender? From the Stratocaster and Telecaster to the Jazzmaster, Jaguar and Mustang (among others), Fender has solidified its position as a top-tier electric guitar manufacturer and has been a go-to brand for guitarists of all skill levels for a very long time.
Fender guitars can be found around the world in the hands of professionals and amateurs alike from jam spaces to stadium tours to high-end recording studios. These iconic instruments have inspired countless musicians to learn guitar and create beautiful music.
Fender was founded by none other than the legendary Leo Fender (who also founded Music Man and G&L) and has a rich history of inventiveness and creativity to draw up when producing its world-class electric guitars.
With plenty of critically acclaimed instruments, Fender has become a household name. The company continues to build upon its legacy as one of the greatest electric guitar brands in the world.
Notable Guitar: Stratocaster (link to check it out at Fender)
Notable Guitar: Telecaster (link to check it out at Fender)
Fender is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
• Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World
• Top Best Bass Guitar Amplifier Brands In The World
• Top Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use
• Top Best Guitar Amplifier Brands In The World
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation started out as “Fender’s Radio Service”, founded in 1938 by Clarence Leonidas Fender in Fullerton, California. In 1946, the company had its name changed to Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Fender began producing guitar pedals in 1954 with their first volume pedal. Today, the company is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.
Official Website: fender.com
Parent Company: Servco Pacific
Paul Reed Smith (also known simply as PRS) is without-a-doubt one of the world’s premier guitar (and amplifier) manufacturers. PRS electric guitars are beloved instruments owned and played by musicians around the world.
With a deep commitment to the craft of guitar building and a culture focused on quality, PRS creates some of the best electric guitars on the market.
The team at PRS is passionate and committed. With a devotion to the rich heritage of guitar making and to new technologies, the designers at PRS are able to create absolutely beautiful instruments. The result has been huge, making PRS a definite inclusion in any debate about the “best electric guitar brands”.
PRS electric guitars offer uncompromising tone, playability and character.
Notable Guitar: SE Standard 24 (link to check it out at PRS)
Notable Guitar: SE Custom 24 (link to check it out at PRS)
Paul Reed Smith Guitars was founded in 1985 by Paul Reed Smith in Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Today, the company is headquartered in Stevensville, Maryland, USA.
Official Website: prsguitars.com
Gibson is one of the most famous guitar brands in the world (perhaps even more well known than Fender). It’s a rare company that is as equally cherished for its acoustic guitars as it is for its electric guitars.
With well over 100 years of experience to draw from (and some of the world’s most recognizable designs), Gibson continues to offer some of the world’s best electric guitars.
From the Les Paul to the SG, to the ES, Flying V, Firebird, Explorer (and more), Gibson has produced a number of instantly-recognizable classics on the electric guitar market.
Whether you’re a beginner or a master guitarist and no matter your budget, Gibson will have an electric guitar for you.
Gibson combines world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships, and progressive product evolution to produce amazing electric guitars.
Notable Guitar: Les Paul (link to check it out at Gibson)
Notable Guitar: SG (link to check it out at Gibson)
Gibson owns the following guitar brands:
• Dobro (no official website)
• Kalamazoo (no official website)
• Original (no official website)
• Orville (no official website)
Gibson is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Acoustic Guitar Brands In The World.
Gibson was originally founded as the “Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd.” in 1902 by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. In 1944, Gibson was purchased by Chicago Musical Instruments which was acquired by ECL in 1969. In 1974, Gibson became a subsidiary of Norlin Musical Instruments and in 1986, Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman, and Gary A. Zebrowski bought the company before it went bankrupt. In 2018, the company filed for bankruptcy and has since emerged. Gibson Guitar Corp. is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Official Website: gibson.com
ESP is the first of two Japanese brands on this list and is, itself a two-for-one brand. What I mean is that the ESP company has a sub-brand known as LTD that is worth mentioning. Actually, the company has several other brands, which I’ll list below.
ESP guitars are well respected in the harder genres of music but have also found a home in practically all styles. Expert design and craftsmanship go into each and every ESP guitar ensuring nothing but the best for players around the world.
The company has a wide range of superb electric guitars at all practical price ranges. With ESP, there’s something for every, especially if you’re into fast, aggressive playing.
Note that the LTD brand carries many of the same models as ESP but at a fraction of the cost. That is because while ESP guitars are built by expert craftspeople in the main shop in Japan (or at ESP USA in the United States), LTD guitars are manufactured in larger quantities in assembly lines outside the main shop. Therefore, ESP gets the main mention in this article.
Notable Guitar: E-II Horizon (link to check it out at ESP)
Notable Guitar: E-II Arrow (link to check it out at ESP)
ESP (Electric Sound Products) was founded in 1975 by Hisatake Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan., where the company is still headquartered today.
Official Website: espguitars.com
The other Japanese company on this list is the famous Ibanez. It was one of the first musical instrument companies from Japan to break through to the American and European guitar markets.
From the early days of funky-looking low-end guitars, Ibanez has built up its catalog of higher-end models to become one of the best manufacturers of electric guitars in the world.
Today, there is a wide range of notable musicians playing Ibanez guitars (signature models or otherwise) and plenty of other pro musicians and amateur guitarists that cherish their Ibanez axes.
Ibanez guitars are known for their sleek designs and easy playability and are designed with quality components and design philosophies.
Notable Guitar: j.custom RG8570Z (link to check it out at Ibanez)
Notable Guitar: AZ2202A Prestige (link to check it out at Ibanez)
Ibanez is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World.
Hoshino Gakki (founded in 1908 by Matsujiro Hoshino) started Ibanez in 1957 in Nagoya, Japan, where the company remains headquartered today.
Official Website: ibanez.com
Parent Company: Hoshino Gakki
Godin is Canada’s premier brand for electric guitars. It’s another company that is equally at home producing electric and acoustic guitars, though its acoustics are typically sold under its subsidiary brands (I’ll list them below).
When it comes to electric guitars, Godin’s passion for music and craftsmanship is obvious in each and every model. With an unwavering dedication to quality and ingenuity, Godin produces some of the world’s best electric guitars.
Godin guitars are produced with a very hands-on approach with expert craftspeople involved every step of the way. The resulting products are among the best and Godin’s electric guitars can be found in musical situations around the world today.
Notable Guitar: Summit Classic Supreme LTD (link to check it out at Godin)
Notable Guitar: xtSA Koa LTD (link to check it out at Godin)
Godin Guitars was founded in 1972 by Robert Godin in La Patrie, Quebec, Canada. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Official Website: godinguitars.com
Gretsch is the oldest brand on this list, getting its start all the way back in the nineteenth century. To this day, the family-owned business emphasizes hand-craftsmanship and a dedication to quality parts, woods and production.
Over the years, Gretsch has made a name for itself as a pioneering musical instrument brand. This innovation and passion has lead to Gretsch becoming one of the most respected brands of electric guitars in the world.
Perhaps they’re not as sleek and fast as Ibanez but that’s the beauty of musical instruments. For the less-heavy genres, a Gretsch guitar is likely a perfect fit. From hollow bodies to center blocks to solid bodies, Gretsch produces some of the finest electric guitars to ever reach the hands of guitarits.
Gretsch was founded in 1883 by Friedrich Gretsch in Brooklyn, New York, USA. In 1967 Gretsch was sold to Baldwin Pianos, which went bankrupt in 1984. In 1985, the company was acquired by the Gretsch family once again. Though Gretsch remains its own company, since 2002, much of its development, distribution and sales are handled by the Fender Musical Instruments Company. Gretsch is headquartered in Savannah, Georgia, USA.
Official Website: gretschguitars.com
Charvel is one of the two standalone brands on this list that has been acquired by Fender. That being said, Charvel (and Jackson, which we’ll discuss next) is indeed its own brand deserving of a spot on this list.
Charvel guitars are self-defined as “high-performance tone machines”. These finely-crafted electric guitars have been played by the best of the best in metal, fusion and other genres. Whether you’re a virtuoso or an amateur, Charvel electric guitars will inspire the best of your playing.
With a devotion to tone, performance and innovation, Charvel produces exceptional axes for the most discerning of guitarists.
The company draws on a rich history, sharing roots with Jackson and resources with Fender. It also has a reputation for pushing forward with extraordinary technology integrated seamlessly into its powerful electric guitars.
Oh, and as a biased side note, Guthrie Govan plays a Charvel and he’s my favourite guitarist.
Notable Guitar: USA Select DK24 (link to check it out at Charvel)
Notable Guitar: USA Select San Dimas Style 1 (link to check it out at Charvel)
Charvel was founded in 1974 by Warne Charvel in Azusa, California, USA. Wayne Charvel sold the company to Grover Jackson (founder of Jackson Guitars) in 1978. The brand was sold to IMC (International Music Corporation) of Japan in 1989 and was acquired by Fender in 2002. Today, the company is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.
Official Website: charvel.com
Parent Company: Fender Musical Instruments Corporation
Jackson, like the aforementioned Charvel brand, is owned by Fender but stands as its own brand and gets a well-deserved spot on this list.
Of course, if you’re not a metalhead, you may disagree with the inclusion of Jackson on this list. However, seeing how Jackson guitars have become standard fare in the metal scene shows how great these guitars really are. Hate it or love it, metal demands some chops and instruments that can handle the playing. Shredders choose Jackson for a reason.
Jackson guitars draw on a wealth of experience from expert team member including the founder Grover Jackson (who also founded the aforementioned Charvel brand). In getting acquired by Fender, the Jackson brand has come into a vast amount of resources to continue its innovative practice in producing the perfect guitars for heavier genres.
Notable Guitar: USA Select Soloist SL1 (link to check it out Jackson)
Notable Guitar: USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1 (link to check it out at Jackson)
Jackson Guitars was founded in 1980 by Grover Jackson in Glendora, California, USA. The company was acquired in 2002 by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and is now headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.
Official Website: jacksonguitars.com
Parent Company: Fender Musical Instruments Corporation
Rickenbacker is well-known for their incredible bass guitars but the brand’s 6-strings are equally as impressive.
This company has a long history of producing world-class instruments and the diverse sounds of Rickenbacker guitars can be heard around the world on recordings and in person.
These guitars feature some pretty unique designs and standout among the crowd not only in looks but also in performance. The expert craftsmanship and creativity of the designers can be felt and heard in each and everyone on of Rickenbacker’s superb electric guitars.
Notable Guitar: Model 381V69 (link to check it out at RickenBacker)
Notable Guitar: Model 1996 (link to check it out at Rickenbacker)
Rickenbacker is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World.
Rickenbacker was founded as the “Ro-Pat-In Corporation” in 1931 by Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp in Los Angeles, California, USA. The company is headquartered in Santa Ana, California, USA.
Official Website: rickenbacker.com
Ernie Ball Music Man
Music Man, like the aforementioned Fender, was founded (in part) by the legendary inventor Leo Fender. That tells us the company was started off on the right foot. The company was, a decade later, acquired by Ernie Ball, which built it up to the well-respected company it is today.
Like Rickenbacker, the Music Man guitars feature creative designs. This uniqueness is a selling point for Music Man guitars.
However, more importantly, Music Man’s electric guitars sound incredible. They’re built by masters and are among the best hand-crafted instruments available. From the initial design to the body, neck, electronics and setup, Music Man guitars are carefully put together to ensure guitarists get the best instruments possible.
Notable Guitar: Monarchy Majesty (link to check it out at Music Man)
Notable Guitar: St. Vincent (link to check it out at Music Man)
Music Man is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World.
Music Man was founded in 1974 by Forrest White, Tom Walker and Leo Fender (the founder of Fender) in Fullerton, California, USA. The company was acquired by Ernie Ball in 1984 and is now headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California, USA.
Music Man owns the following guitar brands:
Official Website: music-man.com
Parent Company: Ernie Ball
Kiesel Guitars (formerly Carvin) is yet another superb guitar brand from California that produces some of the world’s best electric guitars.
Kiesel draws upon a rich history of master guitar making and innovation to design and produce superior electric guitars that outclass the vast majority of competitors. By following a direct sales approach, the company can get these incredible instruments to guitarists at a very reasonable price, given the quality of the guitars.
This company combines modern production techniques with forward-thinking designs to bring forth amazing instruments for the discerning guitarist. Whether you’re already a shredder, a prog rocker, a fusion aficionado or aspire to be, Kiesel makes the perfect tools for you.
Notable Guitar: K6H 70th Anniversary (link to check it out at Kiesel)
Notable Guitar: CT6 (link to check it out at Kiesel)
Kiesel is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World.
Lowell Kiesel founded the L. C. Kiesel Company in San Diego, California, USA in 1946. After a few changes of location, the company name was changed to “Carvin Corporation”. In 2015, Carvin Corporation split its business units, and Kiesel Guitars was founded to take over the guitar and bass manufacturing. The company is headquartered in Escondido, California, USA.
Official Website: kieselguitars.com
Schecter is, get this, the seventh brand on this list from California (though technically Fender, Charvel and Jackson are now headquartered in Arizona). That means that California has brought forth more than half the brands on this list!
Since the mid-1970s, Schecter Guitar Research has been making its name as one of the world’s premier guitar companies. Today, there’s really no questioning this fact.
Schecter’s electric guitars are among the most highly-revered in guitar circles. The superb craftsmanship, excellent sound and deeply-enjoyable playability appeals to a wide range of players and playing styles.
What’s more, is that these world-class instruments are actually relatively affordable. Whether you’re selling out stadium tours like some Schecter players or you’re just jamming in the garage, Schecter will have an electric guitar to make things that much more enjoyable.
Notable Guitar: PT Custom (link to check it out at Schecter)
Notable Guitar: Banshee Mach-6 (link to check it out at Schecter)
Schecter is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Bass Guitar Brands In The World.
Schecter Guitar Research was founded 1976 by David Schecter, Herschel Blankenship and Shel Horlick in Van Nuys, California, USA. In 1983, the company was acquired by a group of Texan investors and moved to Texas. The company went under in 1987 but the brand name was quickly purchased by the Japanese Hisatake Shibuya. Today. the company is headquartered in Burbank, California, USA.
Schecter owns the following guitar brands:
• Wylde Audio
Official Website: schecterguitars.com
Parent Company: Hisatake Shibuya
Past The Top 13
Of course, there are many more electric guitar brands that could have broken my top 13. Since this is such a subjective premise, I figured I’d end this article with a longer list of brands that very well could replace some of my picks in my readers’ top 13 lists. I’ll add links to the website of each brand: