The Best Electric Guitar Brands

Nearly 5 years after we first published our list of the top 5 electric guitar brands we have completely revised and updated our selection to include the top 10 brands.

Sweetwater

This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Electric Guitars stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

When we rated these to see which were the best of the best, we took into consideration their quality, popularity with professional guitarists, and the impact they've had on rock music.

After we originally published our selection of the top guitar brands, it became clear from the feedback we received that many of you wanted us to recommend individual models as well as the top brands, so here is our new selection along with one of the most popular models, and an entry level model, for each of the top 10 brands.

Things To Consider When Buying An Electric Guitar

Budget
The best course of action is to set a budget that is reasonable - right at the get go - while also considering the cost for other important gear like accessories, cables, amplifiers and effects, should you need them. A good rule of thumb to follow is that entry-level to mid-tier instruments are great for beginners, while more experienced players will want mid-tier to premium guitars.
 
Musical Preference and Guitar Heroes
The style of music you prefer will greatly dictate the type of guitar you want, so it is safest to stick to the guns (or axes) of your heroes. This way you can get a good and inspiring instrument even when you don't have thorough knowledge of guitar types. For experienced players, you owe it to yourself to understand the pros and cons of different guitar types better, before making big investments. But even then, your preferred style, and the recommendations of experts and professional guitar players that play them will be invaluable.
 
Guitar Body Shape and Types
To simplify the many available guitar body shapes available, we can categorize them into three shapes: double cutaway shape (eg. Stratocaster), single cutaway (eg. Les Paul), and exotic shapes (eg. Flying V). While it maybe considered superficial, having the right guitar shape will add to how enjoyable an instrument is to play and look at - which in turn inspires you to play more and better. In addition to shape, getting a good grip of basic body configurations is essential, here's a primer of the three most common:
  • Solidbody guitars have no hollow space inside the body, this is the most popular and used in a wide range of modern music styles by artists like Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani, John Mayer and many more.
  • Semi-hollow also called thinline, are guitars where the body has a small hollow space inside with a center wood block for structural support. It was made popular by blues-rock players like BB King, Larry Carlton, Dave Grohl and more.
  • Hollowbody guitars feature full hollow bodies much like acoustic guitars do, and are used often in jazz and mellow style music as exemplified by Jazz greats that include Joe Pass, Pat Martino to name a few. It is however not limited to just that as exhibited by Brian Setzer and his Rockabilly style, along with Chet Atkins and his iconic country guitar playing.
The goal is to find the body shape and configuration that appeals the most to your eyes and ears. The most straightforward choice for beginners will be the solidbody for its durability. Players who are looking to expand their sonic palette are usually the ones who will take interest in semi-hollow and hollow body guitars.
 
Guitar Neck and Playability
The specifications of the neck and string setup dictate the guitar's overall playability. As such, it is important to get a handle of important specs which include scale length (the length by which the string is stretched from the bridge saddle to the nut), nut width, fingerboard radius, and neck profile (shape of the back of the neck). Beginners normally want guitars to play easier, and will prefer those with shorter scale length, thin nut width and neck profile, and flatter fingerboard radius. On the other hand, experienced players will have grown accustomed to a specific neck configuration, if this is your case, you will want your new guitar to have similar specs to what you already like.
 
Guitar Pickup Configuration
Pickup configuration refers to the number and types of pickups installed on a guitar, and its position on the body. The two most common types of pickups include singlecoil, known for its crisp and punchy sound and the fatter sounding humbucker. For beginners, you'll have to once again look up to artists who play your preferred music genre, to see which pickups they are using to get their sound. In addition to getting the right sound, sonic flexibility is also an important consideration and the general rule is that the more pickups installed, the more sound varieties you can get. The most common configuration is HH, which stand for dual humbuckers, because of their overdrive and distortion friendly sound. The SSS (three single-coils) configuration is also popular, as seen on the Stratocaster, allowing for a more versatile tone options. There are other variations that combine both single coils and humbuckers, such as SSH (two single coils and a humbucker), for an even wider selection of tones.
 
Guitar Bridge Type
I remember choosing a floating tremolo equipped electric guitar as my first ever purchase, and I ended up being so frustrated at how hard it is to keep the guitar in tune and how complex string replacements were. To make the long story short, I felt relief when I traded it up for a simpler Fender Strat. These days, floating tremolos have gotten better and easier to setup, but I'd still recommend a guitar with basic stop tail piece or tremolo bridge for beginners - just so you can focus on learning the instrument and worrying about string setup when you have more experience.
 

The Best Electric Guitar Brands

1. Gibson

Although Fender are a bigger company, Gibson are the brand behind the iconic Les Paul. Both the guitar and the man with the same name have had a bigger impact on the electric guitar than any other. As someone here at GuitarSite.com once said about having a Gibson, "It's like carrying a trophy and a guitar at the same time!"
  Popular Gibson Les Paul Standard

Les Paul Standard T 2016

  The latest production model of the venerable Les Paul, as the label "T" suggests, this one follows traditional specs with '60s style slim taper neck profile. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Gibson Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute

Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute

  A more affordable version of the iconic "Gold top" finish Les Paul, with a price tag that's just under $900! Detailed information below

2. Fender

Fender are the biggest guitar company in the world with more sales than any other guitar manufacturer. Their first solid body electric guitar was the hugely successful Telecaster, but they are far better known for the Stratocaster - the guitar of choice for Eric Clapton and of course Jimi Hendrix.
  Popular American Standard Stratocaster

American Standard Stratocaster

  Easily one of the most familiar and easily identifiable electric guitar, and it is still going strong after decades of production! Detailed information below
  Entry Level Fender Standard Stratocaster

Standard Stratocaster

  Because of its popularity, the Stratocaster takes on many different versions, this surprisingly affordable Strat comes with a Fender logo instead of Squier. Detailed information below

3. PRS

Paul Reed Smith is a relative newcomer having been born just 2 years after the Stratocaster was created, and founding PRS Guitars in 1985, but in that relatively short period of time PRS have made a huge impact on the guitar world, have been used by the likes of Carlos Santana, Ted Nugent, Dave Navarro. and Mark Tremonti, are now the 3rd biggest electric guitar manufacturer in the USA, and have earned their place among the best electric guitar brands.
 
  Popular PRS S2 Custom 24

PRS S2 Custom 24

  This is a stripped down version of the more expensive PRS Custom 24 guitar which many dream of having, the lower price point of the S2 Customer 24 helped PRS reach the hand of more guitarists worldwide.
 
Detailed information below
  Entry Level PRS SE Standard 22

PRS SE Standard 22

  The SE Standard is PRS' representative in the entry level line, and this particular version carries over the company's passion for detail while keeping the cost really low. Detailed information below

4. Ibanez

Although Yamaha are a better known Japanese musical instrument company, Ibanez stands out from the crowd in rock guitars, not just in Japan - but the world over - with a number of big name guitarists such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Paul Gilbert having signature models. They originally built their American presence in the 1960s on the back of Gibson and Fender copies, however the RG series introduced in the 1980s was a more original design, based on Steve Vai's JEM Universal, and became one of the biggest selling metal guitars of that period and beyond.
  Popular Ibanez Steve Vai JEM70V

Steve Vai JEM70V

  If its good enough for a true master of the instrument like Steve Vai, then it should be good enough for everyone... now if only the guitar came with instant Vai skills. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

GIO GRX70QA

  The Gio is easily one of the most popular starter electric guitars for fans of rock and metal, and the Gio GRX70QA exemplifies its great balance of quality and value. Detailed information below

5. Epiphone

Prior to being acquired by Gibson back in 1957, Epiphone once competed with the most popular guitar brands in the market - including Gibson. These days, Epiphone is known for being the affordable sub-brand of Gibson, producing cost-effective alternatives to many of their premium guitars. Many experienced players today credit this brand for manufacturing their first ever instrument, and their popularity in the entry level market continue to soar high.
  Popular Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus

Les Paul Tribute Plus

  Epiphone's tribute to the iconic Les Paul, this one bearing elegant cosmetic appointments while still keeping the price very accessible. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Epiphone SG Special

Epiphone SG Special

  The Epiphone SG Special gives guitarists a chance to own a workhorse quality double-cutaway SG, at a considerably lower cost. Detailed information below

6. Schecter

Founded in 1976, Schecter Guitar Research started out by producing replacement parts for existing guitars of the era. They then took the production a step further by custom building guitars, and have grown steadily ever since. Today, Schecter is known for their extensive line of mass produced electric guitars, and their instruments are well received in the rock, punk and metal circles.
  Popular Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S

Hellraiser C-1 FR-S

  As the name suggests, this is not a classic guitar for mellow tunes, the Hellraiser C-1 FR-S is meant for heavy metal and rock music, and comes complete with a Floyd Rose bridge. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Schecter Omen-6

Omen-6

  Shecter continues to expand their presence in the entry level department with popular guitars like the Omen-6, a great bang per buck instrument with fast playing feel. Detailed information below

7. ESP

ESP is another Japanese guitar brand that makes this top 10 list with its many artist endorsements and actual user recommendations. Founded in 1975, it started as a builder of custom made parts for guitarists who want to personalize their existing instruments. Now ESP is known worldwide for their hot-rodded versions of popular guitar shapes, and other unique and eccentric designs, built to please modern rock and metal players.
  Popular ESP LTD EC-1000FM

ESP LTD EC-1000FM

  ESP's most popular guitar in the market comes from their sub-brand LTD, a hot-rodded take on the single cutaway LP body designed for today's players. Detailed information below
  Entry Level ESP LTD AX-50

ESP LTD AX-50

  In the past you'd have to shell out considerable cash for non-conventional looking guitars, but ESP's LTD helped turn that around by mass producing guitars like the AX-50. Detailed information below

8. Gretsch

Gretsch was founded in 1883 and started out making banjos - it wasn't until the 1930s that they began producing guitars - but during the 1950s their guitars began to take on legendary status. During the 1960s their popularity hit stratospheric levels because George Harrison was playing a modified 1957 Gretsch Duo Jet that he bought second hand for £70 from a ship crew member in Liverpool who had bought it brand new in New York. Most collectors agree that the 50s & 60s are the most sought after Gretsch guitars.
  Popular Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby

Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby

  There's just something about Gretsch guitars and Bigsby that makes them easy on the eyes and ears. The Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby is all that, while having an accessible price tag. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Gretsch G5426 Jet Club

G5426 Jet Club

  The G5426 Jet Club gives students an instrument with the same flare for aesthetics as more expensive Gretsch guitars. Detailed information below

9. Jackson

Grover Jackson became a partner with Wayne Charvel in the Charvel's Guitar Repair shop in California in the 1970s then Grover Jackson took over the entire business in 1978 and at that time they were making guitars under the name Charvel. Their guitars were tailored to the heavy metal and hard rock genre's of the day. Then a relatively unknown Randy Rhoads, who had just joined Ozzy Osbourne’s new band, contacted them in 1980 with the idea to create a highly customized guitar. That guitar, a new take on the Flying V called 'Concorde' became the first guitar to carry the Jackson brand and the company has been popular with shredders ever since.
  Popular Jackson Adrian Smith SDX

Adrian Smith SDX

  Jackson was one of the pioneers of the Super Strat design, and the Adrian Smith SDX showcases their design philosophy really well, featuring SSH configuration and a Floyd Rose bridge. Detailed information below
  Entry Level Jackson JS11 Dinky

JS11 Dinky

  This dual humbucker double cutaway guitar features the same fast playing feel as its expensive cousins, a great budget alternative for students into rock, progressive and metal. Detailed information below

10. Godin

Godin (pronounced Go-dan) was founded in 1972 by Robert Godin in Canada and now owns a number of highly respected acoustic guitar brands including Art & Lutherie, Simon and Patrick, La Patrie and Seagull. Their electric guitars, produced under the Godin brand, have been played by greats including Roger Waters, Elliott Sharp and John McLaughlin. Many of their high-end models come with 3 types of pickups - regular electric guitar pickups, piezo pickups for producing an acoustic-like sound, and Synth/MIDI pickups for making any kind of sound you want.
 
  Popular Godin LGXT

Godin LGXT

  The Godin LXGT trumps all the guitars in this list when it comes to sonic versatility, it lets you switch from conventional humbuckers to transducer pickups for acoustic sounds, and go beyond that via the built-in synth pickup.
 
Detailed information below
  Entry Level Godin Empire HG

Empire HG

  The Empire HG offers Strat and LP style sounds in one guitar, you can go from bright sounding single-coil pickup sounds to high output humbucker with just a single switch. Detailed information below

 

The Best Electric Guitars - Detailed Information...

Gibson Les Paul Standard 2016

Gibson Les Paul Standard

Developed by the collaboration of Ted McCarty and Les Paul, this "signature" guitar went on to become the "gold standard" in rock guitar and continues to be one of the most sought after and copied guitar designs to this day.

The Les Paul Standard 2016 Traditional is one of the latest iterations of this iconic guitar, bringing over the same pleasing aesthetics and rock friendly tone using modern production methods for improved reliability, consistency and expanded tone options. The body features a classic mahogany body with modern weight relief, and a AAA grade flame maple arched top. The 24.75" scale length mahogany neck is topped by a 22-fret fingerboard that has a nut width of 1.695". Giving this guitar its classic voice are two Burstbucker Pro alnico 5 humbuckers, while the push/pull tone knobs allow for single-coil sounds via coil splitting.

With its combination of jaw dropping looks, killer tone and sonic versatility, 2016 is a great year to get a Les Paul.

Gibson Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute 2016

Gibson Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute

The Les Paul Studio line are stripped down versions of the Standard line, pulling the price down to mid-tier and allowing budget strapped guitarists to own a true Gibson branded Les Paul. The Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute in particular is well received because of its impressive quality and close resemblance to actual LP guitars built in the '50s.

Interestingly, the 2016 version of this guitar doesn't stray too far from the more expensive Standard model in terms of looks - some even prefer it over more expensive models because of its streamlined look and operation. While there's no high grade tonewoods involved, the LP Studio still uses the same mahogany body and maple top combination. The 24.75" scale length neck also follows after the Standard model, complete with a 22-fret rosewood fretboard and a 1.695" nut width. As the name suggests, this model features a more traditional "rounded" neck profile that follows after 50's era specimens. Finally it is equipped with a 490R alnico 2 humbucker for neck and a 498T alnico 5 humbucker for the bridge, which also mimics the sound of old Les Pauls.

In conclusion, the Les Paul Studio '50s tribute lets you play the guitar that many iconic players played at a lower and more accessible price point.

Fender American Standard Stratocaster

American Standard Stratocaster

There's no denying the popularity of the Stratocaster, thanks to it being the weapon of choice for a long list of iconic players that include Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck to name a few. The American Standard Stratocaster is the latest iteration of this classic, carrying over much of the look and feel of the original, but more reliable and road worthy.

Even with the myriad finish options, the American Standard Stratocaster looks very much like the original Strats from Fender's original production line. This is a testament to how effective the original design is, most of the specs and even the hardware design are followed even to this day. Speaking of specs, the current iteration features the same double cutaway alder body and bolt-on maple neck with a scale length of 25.5", narrower nut-width of 1.685" and SSS (Three Single Coil) pickup configuration. Giving this guitar its authentic quack and chime are three Custom Shop Fat 50s Single-coils, which were once only available for Custom Shop models.

With its legacy, reputation, and its continued feature improvements, it's hard to go wrong with today's Fender American Standard Stratocaster.

Fender Standard Stratocaster

Fender Standard Stratocaster

While there are cheaper Strats under the Squier sub brand, the Standard Stratocaster is the way to go if you want a budget friendly one with with the Fender logo. This guitar is fondly called an MIM (Made in Mexico) Strat to differentiate it from the American made version. While some elitists will tell you that the difference is noticeable, many others attest that it's hard to spot the difference in an actual blind test - making this a true to form Standard Stratocaster, only this one is not made in the USA.

This guitar follows after the tried and tested formula of old Stratocaster design, from the double cutaway alder body to the bolt-on maple neck, down to its triple single coil pickup configuration. The scale length follows after traditional builds at 25.5", while the neck profile (modern C) and narrower nut width of 1.65" makes this guitar viable for modern players. While it doesn't have vintage voiced pickups, the default pickups are not so bad either, and will give you the distinctive Strat tone that almost everybody loves.

If you're looking for a workhorse guitar but want to save on the cost, the Standard Stratocaster is definitely worth considering.

PRS S2 Custom 24

PRS S2 Custom 2

The PRS S2 Custom 24 is a stripped down version of the expensive yet sought after PRS Custom 24 guitar, and because of its accessibility, it helped put the Custom 24 design into the hands of more players. What's impressive about the S2 Custom 24 is how it retains the same attention to detail and quality as PRS' more expensive guitars, making it a viable instrument even for those who can afford more expensive alternatives.

The S2 Custom 24 features a mahogany body with book-matched flame maple top, that follows the same double cutaway shape and detailed arch as the original Custom 24. The guitar's mahogany neck is also not far off, being rafted from mahogany with PRS' distinctive 25" scale length. It has a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard that has a comfortably narrow nutwidth of 1.656". Finally, the S2 Custom 24 owes its voice to its dual humbucker pickups that include the S2 Vintage Bass and the S2 HFS Treble - which provide PRS' characteristically open and clear tone. You can push or pull the tone knob for single-coil tones should you need them.

If you're looking to own a fancy PRS guitar but at a more modest price point, then this should be high on your short list.

PRS SE Standard 22

PRS SE Standard 22

Introduced in the late '90s, the PRS SE line was the company's entry into the already tough entry level market competition. With it, one can own a PRS guitar at a much lower price point, with the main difference being the country of origin, which for the case of the SE is Korea. The SE Standard line takes affordability a step further by having the production done in Indonesia, while still maintaining high quality standards.

The PRS SE Standard 22 is one of the stand outs in this line, a straightforward dual humbucker guitar with the same attention to detail as more expensive PRS instruments. It starts off with a mahogany body that is elegantly carved double cutaway shape that PRS has made their own, paired with a 25" scale length mahogany neck. The 22-fret rosewood fingerboard has a slightly wider nut width of 1.6875", while PRS' distinctive bird inlays serve as fret markers. Other features include two PRS-Designed Standard humbuckers which are wired to a volume and tone knob, as well as a 3-way pickup selector.

If you're looking for a premium looking guitar in the sub $500 range, the PRS SE Standard 22 is highly recommended.

Ibanez Steve Vai JEM70V

Ibanez Steve Vai JEM70V

Ibanez' strategy to have virtuoso guitarists as endorsers have paid off big time, allowing them to not only produce signature instruments, but to also improve on their production line guitars using the ideas they compiled from various artists. Among their many signature instruments, the Ibanez JEM series is easily one of the most easily identifiable, thanks to its affiliation with guitar wizard Steve Vai and its unique monkey grip handle, which is carved into the body.

The JEM70V is a Steve Vai signature model based on early JEMs he helped create. It comes with 3 different DiMarzio Evolution pickups that were handpicked by Steve Vai himself to give him the various tones that he needs for his expressive solo work, and intricate rhythm textures. The body is crafted from basswood, while the low profile 5-pc Maple/Walnut and 24-fret, 25.5" scale length rosewood fingerboard provide the fast playability expected of the brand. Other features include the Edge tremolo, 1.69" nut width, tree of life inlay, and it comes wrapped in Seafoam green finish.

If you're looking for a true to form shred machine in the style of Steve Vai, then this is what you need.

Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

The GRX70 showcases how good Ibanez is at producing great value guitars, they sure know how to keeps other guitar manufacturers on their toes. It has all the makings of a mid-tier instrument, complete with dive bomb capable bridge and great looking aesthetics, but packed inside a super affordable entry-level instrument. The basswood body with quilted art grain top is gorgeous, and a trio of pickups gives you tons of tones. A standard tremolo handles divebombing and other whammy acrobatics. This axe is perfect for burgeoning rockers who want a versatile guitar for all occasions. All in all, the Ibanez GRX70 gives you a whole lotta guitar for the money!.

To start off, the GIO GRX70 features a basswood body with quilted art grain top that makes it look more expensive than it actually is. But it's not just about the looks because for the price, you are getting Ibanez level playability, which is consistently comfortable and easy to play. Following conventional Super Strat specs, it has a 25.5" scale maple neck, topped by a 22 fret rosewood fingerboard wit a nut width of 1.65". Three Powersound pickups in HSH configuration are tasked to give this guitar its versatile rock and shred friendly tone, without breaking the bank.

This wallet friendly shred machine is highly recommended if you're looking for a cost effective way to play fast and furious.

Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus

Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus

Being a sub-brand of Gibson, it is Epiphone's task to get the Les Paul design out to as many hands as possible, and they did just that with many various iterations of the classic single cutaway design. For this list, we chose Epiphone's tribute to Les Paul, who incidentally also worked with the company in the late 30's, which is a bit in the mid-tier price, but worth every penny.

It wouldn't be called a tribute if it didn't follow convention, so having a mahogany body with an arched maple top is expected. Epiphone also designed the neck to mimic the playability of old LPs, giving this guitar a 1960s SlimTaper D profile. However, what makes the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus stand out is the use of two Gibson USA '57 Classic humbucking pickups, which essentially gives this Les Paul a more premium Gibson voice, at a fraction of the price.

For a mid-range guitar, the Epiphone Les Paul Tribute Plus gives a you quite a lot of premium bang for your buck.

Epiphone SG Special

Epiphone SG Special

The SG started out as a lighter alternative to the Les Paul - which Les didn't like and eventually opted out of. But what seemed like a failure turned out into a success story because many rock and metal guitar players loved the SG's sharp look, faster neck and comfortable upper fret reach. These days, the SG continues to dominate in the realm of rock and metal with modern production models like the Epiphone SG Special, which is meant to be as affordable as possible for future rock stars to learn on.

The core of this guitar is its twin horn double cutaway mahogany body, which follows after the original SG. But as expected in this entry-level price range, they exchanged what's supposed to be a mahogany neck for maple with 12" radius rosewood fingerboard. Specifications remain faithful to the original, with a scale length of 24.75" and 1.68" nut width. The generic pickups installed sound surprisingly good for the price, but like many have done, the pickups can be easily swapped out for more hard hitting humbuckers to get more out of the guitar.

At just under $180, there's really not much to complain about this SG, a true beginner friendly rock instrument that can be upgraded when needed.

Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S

Squier Bullet Strat

Shecter is known for manufacturing quality rock and metal friendly guitars at reasonable price points, and I think that they use evil model names to keep their instruments from the hands of pop and ballad players. The Hellraiser C-1 FR-S showcases what this company can give metal players in the mid-tier price point, and with its name, it is obviously not meant for choirs and church music.

Being part of Schecter's upper tier guitar line, this one comes packed with premium appointments, including a nice looking arched quilt maple top that follows the double cutaway shape of the mahogany body. It also has a 3-piece set mahogany neck that can withstand angry riff playing while the ultra access heel allows for easier upper fret access when you want to hit your audience with high note solos. The guitar has a Sustainiac Humbucker on the neck (known for long sustained notes) and the high output EMG 81 Active Humbucker that's great for metal riffs. Other features include Floyd Rose 1000 Series Tremolo, 25.5" scale length and 1.625" nut width.

If you've been looking for a guitar that can handle your metal playing, then this reasonably priced instrument is worth looking into.

Schecter Omen-6

Schecter Omen-6

The Omen-6 is a stripped down take on the Hellraiser, with the same sleek double cutaway design and HH (dual humbucker) configuration, but at a more affordable price point. But what's good about it is how Schecter is able to maintain the premium look and attention to detail at this lower price point, including the carved top design. While the name again implies something evil, this guitar is quite good for the price.

Like most affordable super strat guitars, the Omen-6 has a basswood body, carved into the elegant looking shape that Schecter is known for. The neck is crafted from mahogany and joins the body via a bolt-on joint. It is topped by a 14" radius rosewood fingerboard that has 24 jumbo frets. It comes setup for fast and comfortable playability, with its 25.5" scale length, 1.65" nut width and stylized fretboard markers. Giving this guitar its voice are two Schecter Diamond Plus pickups, which are passive pickups but are still hot enough for driving high-gain pedals and amps.

With its string through body bridge, and elegant looks, this is a workhorse ready shred machine that any one can buy. Both beginners and experienced players will find something to like about the Schecter Omen-6.

ESP LTD EC-1000FM

ESP LTD EC-1000FM

With so many guitar manufacturers hot rodding the Stratocaster, it is refreshing to see brands like ESP going after the other popular guitar shape, resulting in the "Super LP" guitar like the ESPT LTD EC-1000FM. This souped up version of the classic single cutaway body combines traditional looks with modern tones and playability, resulting in a fast playing axe that's easy on the eyes, and not too edgy.

ESP calls the body shape "Eclipse", which in the case of this guitar, is crafted from mahogany and paired with an arched flame maple top. The body is then wrapped in amber sunburst finish that complements the beautiful grains of the top. The guitar has a maple neck with a thin U profile and a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard. It is meant to play fast and smooth, with its 24.75" scale length and narrow 1.65" nut width. ESP opted for two Seymour Duncan pickups for this guitar, the '59 Humbucker for the neck and the hotter JB Humbucker on the bridge - both of which can handle both clean and high gain tones.

Instead of going through the all too familiar Super Strat route, why not shred on a hot rodded LP style guitar like the ESP LTD EC-1000FM?

ESP LTD AX-50

ESP LTD AX-50

ESP is one of the pioneers of utilizing unique and even bizarre body shapes on their guitars, and not only that, they also helped make these type of guitars much more affordable. The ESP LTD AX-50 is just that, a sharp and radical looking guitar that oozes with rock and metal vibe, while still retaining a very accessible price tag.

While it definitely looks unique with its four sharp edges and sculpted cutaways, this guitar follows conventional super strat design, starting with a basswood body that is joined to a maple neck. For its price, its quite surprising to find that this guitar features a neck through design, which is normally only found on more expensive electric guitars. The 25.5" scale neck is topped by a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard with a nut width of 1.65", providing a familiar shred friendly feel. Giving this guitar its metal friendly voice are two LH-150 Humbuckers that are hot enough for mean high gain metal tones.

Can't get any more metal than this in this price range, get the ESP LTD AX-50 if you want a true stand out yet affordable instrument.

Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby

Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby

While Gretsch is known for semi-hollow and full hollow body guitars, and it is only fitting that one of their semi-hollow chambered body models make this list, specifically the Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby. Being part of their Electromatic line, brings with it all the Gretsch goodness minus the premium appointments, at a very accessible price point. It is a true archtop thinline guitar, that passed the same attention to quality and detail that more expensive Gretsch guitars also go through.

It starts off with a chambered basswood body with an arched maple top, that follows the Pro Jet single cutaway shape. Because of the semi-hollow body, it is lighter on your shoulder and on the ears, and many notice that it emphasizes the high frequencies a bit more. Playability is also light, thanks to this guitar's shorter 24.6" scale length. The maple neck is topped by a 22-fret rosewood fretboard with a standard 1.6875" wide nut. Giving this guitar its biting tone are two Blacktop Filter'Tron Humbuckers.

The Bigsby Licensed B50 Vibrato Tailpiece wraps up this guitar's features, adding to both its visual appeal and sonic expressiveness. With its complex semi-hollow tone and premium looks, this guitar should be worth more - we highly recommend it.

Gretsch G5426 Jet Club

Gretsch G5426 Jet Club

Gretsch aggressiveness in the entry level market is at an all time high, churning out a wide selection of affordable alternatives to many of their premium guitar models. Continuing this theme is the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club, which is essentially a more affordable stop-tail piece version of the Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby above. It features the same chambered body and high quality looks but with a basic humbucker and without a Bigsby.

The body is very much the same, composed of a chambered basswood topped by an elegantly contoured laminate maple top - complete with the easily identifiable Gretsch style pickguard. The neck specifications also follow the Pro Jet Bigsby, with a shorter than usual 24.6" scale maple neck, 12" radius rosewood fingerboard, and 1.6875" nut width. It has a total of 22 medium jumbo frets with Neo Classic thumbnail inlays serving as fret markers. Because its not a Filter'tron pickup, the sound of this guitar will be subtly different, but apparently good enough for the many users that have rated this guitar highly and even recommend it.

This affordable and practical guitar is a great entry point into the world of premium guitars, I'd envy a beginner who'd be lucky enough to learn using this instrument.

Jackson Adrian Smith SDX

Jackson Adrian Smith SDX

Since Jackson is currently owned by Fender, they have the facilities, resources and more importantly, the legal right to use Strat bodies in their designs. The result are legitimate super strats from the brand that helped jumpstart the entire hot-rodded guitar market. The Adrian Smith SDX is a great example, co-designed by renowned Iron Maiden guitarist to be a road and gig-worthy metal guitar while retaining an accessible price point.

The guitar starts off with a basswood body, carved into the familiar Stratocaster double cutaway. Even the pickguard resembles that of a Strat, although the controls are different, with the Adrian Smith SDX just having two knobs for adjusting master tone and volume. While the neck still looks like a Strat, it is meant for fast and comfortable play, with its compound radius maple fretboard, 25.5" scale length, 1.6875" nut width and 22 jumbo frets. Giving this guitar its versatile tones are two single coils for the neck and middle position, along with a humbucker on the bridge, all of which are designed by Jackson with the approval of the Adrian himself.

The top mounted Floyd Rose Special vibrato wraps the modern features of this guitar, making it a viable workhorse for both students and experienced players alike.

Jackson JS11 Dinky

Jackson JS11 Dinky

Back when they were starting, Jackson guitars were only available to the elite few, mostly heavy metal artists. After being acquired by Fender, Jackson has since expanded into the entry level realm with mass produced versions of their popular guitar designs, including the Dinky shape. The JS11 Dinky does just that, making the Jackson Dinky a beginner and student friendly instrument that more players can enjoy.

The overall design of the JS11 Dinky is a streamlined and straightforward, it is basically a less contoured version of the Dinky with cost-effective parts, assembled and built overseas. But don't count it out yet because many found it to exceed their expectations in terms of looks and tone. The 25.5" scale maple neck, flat 12" radius fingerboard and 1.6875" wide nut also makes it a pleasure to play, and have made life easier for both students and experienced players alike. The high output Jackson designed humbuckers are also good enough for high gain playing, although most got great results by switching them out.

If you're looking for a budget friendly shred machine, or you're grooming someone else to be the next guitar virtuoso, then this is a good pick.

Godin LGXT

Godin LGXT

For several years now Godin have been producing some of the most sonically versatile guitars available with their combination of regular pickups, piezo pickups and synth pickups built into their higher end guitars. Note that the synth pickups are 13-Pin and compatible with the Roland GR series guitar synths - if you want MIDI you have to first plug into a Roland synth then take the MIDI out from the synth.

The LGXT comes with 2 Seymour Duncan custom humbucker pickups that give it a classic electric guitar sound. The piezo pickup with custom preamp EQ makes it sound very much like an acoustic guitar. With the built-in synth pickup you can get just about any sound you want via a Roland GR series synth. It has a silver leaf maple solid body with a figured maple top and a mahogany neck with a richlite fingerboard on top which Godin says makes the action even better when using a synth. It has a full 25.5" scale length and 1.6875" nut width.

This is a guitar for experienced players and I wouldn't recommend it for beginners as the string tension on the longer scale can be difficult to get used to when you're starting out - beginners should look at the entry level Godin below instead.

Godin Empire HG

Godin Empire HG

Like all Godin electric guitars the Empire HG is designed and built in North America. The Empire HG is a bit more accessible as an entry level guitar with a shorter scale length than Godin's higher-end models. It's said to be very playable while packing quite a punch - perfect for aggressive playing.

It comes with a single coil pickup in the neck position and a humbucker at the bridge - switching between the two pickups gives you both a strat like sound and an LP like tone. The pickup selector is 3-way so you can play with both pickups at the same time. It sports a shorter 24.75" scale length and smaller 12" radius on the rosewood topped mahogany bolt-on neck with a 1.6875" nut width making it very playable and accessible to guitarists of all levels of experience. Many customer reviews suggest the Empire HG feels and plays like a more expensive guitar.

If you're looking for a very playable guitar which is a bit different to the standard strat and LP styles without being totally radical, then consider getting yourself a Godin Empire HG.

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I'll go to bat for a USA

I'll go to bat for a USA Jackson any day!

I'll second that!

I'm fortunate enough to have ordered and owned a Jackson Soloist since 1987. Best playing guitar ever. Well, so far.....

What about ?

First Act

Suhr should be in the list

I would add Suhr Pro Series S6 to the list

Best guitars

Godin Guitars. Crafted in Canada, assembled in USA. Best value ever! I've got three of them and planning another. Godin used to be a ghostmaker and made many of the famous boutique guitars that people swear by.

I've been playing for 50 years. Once you play Godin, you never go back to the "big names".. unless you have a burning desire to throw money away.. or absolutely must have that big name on the headstock to match your t-shirt or cap. :}

We like Godin Guitars

We do like Godin here at GuitarSite.com - we've covered many of their new releases, most recently their Godin 5th Avenue Uptown GT.

Indeed. I have a Velocity

Indeed. I have a Velocity and a Richmond Dorchester and they both rock. The Velocity is my second favourite guitar in fact (my favourite being my Warren custom which was 5 times the price!). It just feels like you're holding quality. :-) I'm now hoping to get the new Session Custom TriplePlay.

Top 5 and more

+1 on USA Jackson; they've been GREAT since day one. I'd also swap ESP in for Ibanez any day... ESP Signature and Custom guitars are as fine an electric guitar as is made.

And what about Rickenbacker? I'd have put Ric in the top five instead of Gretch....

It was a difficult decision

It was a difficult decision to leave out Rickenbacker - they were at the top of our list for our 12 string electric guitar roundup.

Don't forget Carvin USA.

Don't forget Carvin USA. Made in California. They sell direct to the consumer. Finest guitar I ever played.

Carvin

I have a DC400 claro walnut and it´s one of the best I have played on!

My Don Felder 'Murphy' is

My Don Felder 'Murphy' is the best I've heard, seen or played--hands down, no argument

Did someone forget the tele?

I own some 13 or so, high end American, Canadian and/or Japanese 6 strings 7 basses and a full studip of gear and if my opinion means FA then I can't help but not mention my Washburn Custom Shop WV548! It has Parker guitars (famous for the FLY) patented composite glass carbon fiber fretboard, EMG active PU's (81, 85) and a real Floyd with the Buzz Feiten system and it is bar none, the fastest, smoothest, and by far the nicest playing (and sounding for that matter) guitar I own or have played in my some 30 odd years plus, playing electrics.

BTW this is versus my Jackson RR1, 1958 VOS Les Paul, Shred V, 67 Flying V custom, RD Standard, USA Charvel custom shop, USA DLX Ash Telecaster, Lado TL60 Prototype, and more etc. etc. etc.

This was more about brands

This was more about brands rather than individual guitar models, but the Tele made it onto the Top 10 Guitars list at http://www.guitarsite.com/top-10-guitars/

Lolol lame azz I knew if I

Lolol lame azz I knew if I kept reading your BS comment you would start nameing all your crapy azz guitars haha lol no one cares or gives a flying fuck what you have or own.... (What you must of sounded like when you were 12 and lame as today) Oohhh I'm sooooo cool I have jimi's guitar and eric's guitar cause I'm their nephiew ya there my uncles hmm mm both of them I own and play with there guitars all the time woooo hooooo...............

BCRich

Where do you people get off not even mentioning BC Rich. They have a fine selection of Guitars, they use some of the best woods you can ask for, very good electronics, and Kerry King of Slayer fame will only play BC Rich, that in itself should be enough said. On top of that the body styles that they have to choose from is far more innovative and original than anything that Ibanez could ever dream of producing. Fender and Gibson are in fact the most well known guitars in the world but frankly the body styles are outdated and worn. They believe in staying with what works but wheres the originality? Im sorry if I offend but BC Rich til death. I have never seen anyone come up with anything as wild and as evil looking as the worlock models. I mean the nickname for a guitar is an axe but so far only BC Rich guitwrs look like somthing you can take into battle, and the sound is like the very voice of Satan himself. And shame on you all to forget about Dean Guitars, They were used and endorsed by the God of Metal shreddiing himself Dimebag Darrell Abbott. The man died on stage with one in his hands. RIP Brotger and Goddspeed. give repect where respect is due.

Lol I agree I'm a nirvana

Lol I agree I'm a nirvana freak, not a kurt freak.... but dam fender all you can make is the same butt ugly designs that you have made for years come up with a compleatly new body design and I mean COMPLETELY NEW and just use the same components or better for a new guitar called, idk caster lol or DOUCHECASTER lol don't matter to me just hive us something new

Ibanez rules...

Reading the comments, looks like people dont like Ibanez, in my 15 years of guitar playing I have own three, all mid-lowend models in the RG series, those things are of amazing value they can take a lot of abuse and still sound great. I dare to compare them whit my SL3 jackson a guitar that costed me three times more than any Ibanez I had own, the only big difference are the pickups because other than that the built quallity is much the same and I dare to say Ibanez uses better compenets (frets, pots, switch) than Jackson...

I have 12 years whit my SL3 Jackson and 12 years whit my RG7420, so far I have replaced both POTs on the jackson, the frets are really worn out and FR chrome is peeling.. great guitar crappy components. oh, I havent had to replace anything on the Ibanez yet other than the stock pickups for something better. both are made in Japan =). So dont tell people that Ibanez sucks before actually owning one...

JEM70V

These specs of Ibanez is very unique_ 3 different DiMarzio Evolution pickups, and Edge tremolo, i love Steve Vai sound...........

Excellent guide especially

Excellent guide especially for beginner to acquire huge knowledge on branded guitar for purchasing a right guitar set.

The Best?

The best is a personal idea. Clapton & VanHalen can make a Walmart Special sound good. Paul Reed Smith made a guitar out of plywood purchased at HomeDepot and it didn't sound bad. IMHO Gibsons are too heavy, Fenders are like broom handles, Suhrs are Fender copies, BC Richs sound like muddy water, and Jacksons are just plain ugly. But if you like 'em, that's fine with the rest of us. I do laugh at people who shell out major $$$ for an axe and they still suck at playing. Dream on.
(same too ya!)

Which Brand is the Best???

Thats a major bend of opinions! It all boils down to..the style of music that you play and what you expect out of the guitar! Is playing only a hobby or are you trying to make a living bangin that Ax? The price of a guitar is not as important as the ability of the person strumming the strings! If your abilitys suck,and you have a expensive guitar..You Still Suck..No matter how good the guitar may be! I have owned cheep and expensive guitars of all different brand names..some very good..some very bad..bottom line is..if Your happy with the AX,thats all that matters! Screw the Name or the Price!!

which brand is best?

I found this.. a somewhat depressing list.. I own and play (all the time), a "the paul", an ES335, a strat, one of my three teles, an El Maya (and sold my les paul after that), a few hand-made, a couple self-made..

and a Givson blue diamond, made in india, bought new for 45 euros (with a hard case), and I have to say its possibly the most versatile. HSS and a zero-fret neck like the old EKOs..

The right guitar has to have the right neck, well seasoned and cured wood, straight grain, resonance, the right pickups and a weight that's good for you.. take yours, whatever you have, to a luthier and get it setup right.. what else... you have to use the right strings (usually not a "set").. you will then love and play your guitar.

as the comment above says the name and price don't really matter

RE: which brand is best?

In regards to which is best I personally think you pretty much got it right! Folks can piss n moan all they want but the facts are facts. Gibson, Fender, PRS ect all make fantastic guitars, time-tested tools of the trade. Many of you feel the need to want to publicly put down a certain brand in favor of another, there's good n bad in all of them!! If I could afford a Gibson Les Paul I would get one! Sure I could pull out the plastic n get one but I don't wanna have to do that just yet. I have no shame in purchasing a cheap guitar as long as I like it, to me if a guitar has a good smooth fast neck ......... it's a good guitar!! You can always swap pups n hardware but the neck is a little more complicated. I have a Fender Squire Strat, it is an "E" series Squire, I think it was made from 1984-87, and I can tell you that I will be 50 years old in May of this year and the neck on this Squire is the best I have ever felt on any guitar I have owned!! and yes it was a fairly cheap guitar. Now I hear that the "E" series of Squire Strats are supposed to be highly sought after or something, I don't know all about that, all I know is that I love the way this guitar plays n feels in my hands n riding in front of my belly! So folks don't put a guitar down simply because you can't afford it, like I said they are good guitars for a reason, same goes for the cheap guitars, don't knock 'em 'til you try 'em, there are some mighty good players out there to be had for cheap $$$, bottom line ..... regardless of the name on the head ..... if you can afford it, if it feels n looks the way you like n has a good neck then buy it n give it the love it deserves, it'll love you back in ways you never imagined!! Happy pickin n God bless

Took into considration Quality???

And named Gibson No 1? lol. How many current Les Paul Standards have you checked out, certainly not great quality, in fact laughable QC.

The Best Guitars are...

Or course, you have a repulsive snobs on here that can't acknowledge the truth that the list above correctly consists of quality, popular choices. I'd never play a Dean, a Parker, or a Godin. I'm so glad you love them, but you're a minority. The Gibsons and Fenders are tried and true designs. That's why the majority play them. They're actually good guitars, at least the equal of the snobs-are-us suggestions above. Having limited funds to spend, and wanting to ensure that a quality guitar with quality tone is aquired, I would go with a Fender or a Gibson without hesitation. I'm not a snotty nosed rich brat like most of the above put-downs and belly achers; I'm a 50+ mature adult who knows how to play and I play good, thank you. Not because I say, but because that's what others say. Fender and Gibson are overall the best guitars on the market for the average person of means and talent, unless you're rich and can afford something above $5000.00. Otherwise, calm down, remove the pentangle from your rectum, and relax. Is it really that important to you? THEN OPEN YOUR OWN WEBSITE AND PREACH ABOUT IT. This has been a public service message...Billy

The best public service

The best public service message I've seen in a while - thank you Billy!

That's a bit if an

That's a bit if an exaggeration but you're allowed. I would venture to claim that the snobs are those who proselytize Fender and Gibson as being the best (especially Gibson). It's been demonstrated a million times over that they are not. Which does not mean they don't make guitars many people want and like. Especially Fender (I have a GREAT Highway One Strat) who have managed to reach a wider audience with the pricing structure of the Fender brand than Gibson has with the Gibson name. The reason we see so many of them in the hands of pros (and their sheepish followers) is that these companies can afford to buy "stage presence". I would put PRS in that group too; however PRS makes better production guitars than both the above. And I'm not being a snob since I can't afford a PRS.

All that being said the best guitar is the one that allows you to express yourself to the best of your ability and makes you feel good doing so. If you need a custom shop Les Paul to do it then by all means go for it. If a Godin or Ibanez or Dean or Jackson is the one for you who are we to tell anyone they are wrong. Personally I think the best guitarists on the planet play Telecasters! :-)

To the webmaster: I got a message saying "The name you used belongs to a registered user." Yes, it belongs to me!

The best guitar brand

First Act by far is the best guitar made, ever. Wallmart, you can pick one up at. :)

Les Paul correction...

Les Paul DID NOT design the guitar that bears his name! Ted McCarty and his team at Gibson came up with it and took it to Les at Delaware Water Gap where he was living and recording (no planes flying over). Ted showed it to Les and he said, "They're getting too close to us, Mary, we better join 'em." The only contribution that Les made to the original guitar was that lousy wrap around the bottom trapeze tailpiece that was quickly dumped...

Les Paul correction correction.

Ted McCarty and the Gibson team designed the Les Paul. Les Paul's idea was for the strings to wrap over the tailpiece for string muting, (also invented by Paul). The boys at Gibson dropped the ball and redesigned the tailpiece wrong with the strings under the tailpiece.

We stand corrected...

I forgot to mention that we fixed that up and gave Ted McCarty the credit he is due.

My apologies for such a blaring omission!

Fender ARE Gibson ARE - WTF ?

Although Fender ARE a bigger company.... Gibson ARE the brand.... ??

WTF.. who edited this, outsourced Indians ? Fail.

I edited this

I wrote the original version, and many of the updates, with some of the updates by another staff member - Alexander.

I also wrote "Although Fender are a bigger company, Gibson are the brand behind the iconic Les Paul." - did you find something factually wrong with this?

BTW - last time I checked I wasn't an outsourced Indian :) I'm the guy who launched GuitarSite.com in 1999, when it looked like this.

uuhm ESP above Ibanez.

uuhm ESP above Ibanez. gretsch and fender are for old dudes with grey hair. and Gibson? i dont get it why they make it in the top 3 all the tme they produce unfinished guitars that end up in the stores where you ALWAYS have to fix something on.. They are the mos famous but certainly not the best.

Where's Carvin?

Updated and still no Carvin? I've played MANY of the guitars mentioned here and my 30 year old Carvins are far better in both quality and play-ability.

I think this is a great

I think this is a great post. We guitarists have fierce brand loyalty, so it's totally normal for there to be debate and disagreement. I think this is a nice, comprehensive list with a lot of great info. Do I like every brand on this list? Nope. Am I going to complain or argue about it? Nope. Kudos for all the work that went into this post.

I like Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet Bigsby

Wow that's a really nice sounding Gretsch. And the price is crazy. I have 2 basses and 3 guitars,which I mainly use for studio recording and they never leave my house. I was looking for some budget wise giging guitar and stopped at that model and the Pro Jet.
Thanks for your post.

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