It’s easy to get caught up in the big names when it comes to electric guitar brands. But there is a whole world out there, and lots of great brands that fly under the radar!
Electric Guitar Brands You may Not have heard Of… Yet!
If you walk in to any big box guitar store, you can be sure that the business carries Gibson, and Fender for sure. But the store will also have offshoots from those brands as well, and this will take up the bulk of the store’s stock.
You won’t find knock-off brands like Chibson, but there are some lesser known brands that you should definitely be aware of…
Of course there is nothing wrong with these brands! I mean, we love a lot of the bigger brands here at Electrikjam, especially brands like Epiphone. But on the same token, sometimes we are looking for something just a little.. different.
I think it’s only fair to explore all of the different price brackets. Some of these guitars on the list are very affordable, while others may be a little out of most people’s price range. it just really depends on you, the player, as to which electric guitar brand you choose.
Today we check out the top 5 electric guitar brands that you might have never checked out, but you definitely should!
#5 Cort Guitars
This might be the only one of the electric guitar brands on this list that you have already played! Cort Guitars is actually more famous for making other brands, like Epiphone and Fender. They still make certain Ibanez models in their famous factory.
But most people have no idea that Cort makes an entire line of guitars under their name, and a lot of the models are really great. We took a look at the 2020 lineup already, and it was impressive to say the least. They have some signature models, and many standard models to boot.
Cort is a great brand when it comes price. You get tons of features in the upper range of the Cort line, that usually come at a much more expensive price. You can get name brand hardware, and even Fishman pickups.
So if you are looking for something a little different on a budget… then Cort might be right up your alley. They may not be hugely popular electric guitar brand, but they have a lot to offer for an affordable price.
#4 GOC Guitars
GOC Guitars is a completely new brand to even me. I just found out about them this past year, after clicking on an ad. They make several different models, but most of them are geared toward Metal, and come in 7 and 8 string variants. Turns out, they seem growing in popularity as being one of the more affordable electric guitar brands.
Headless guitars like Strandberg, have been making a huge splash in the guitar market over the past few years, especially when it comes to multi-scale extended range models. I fund this mission statement on their official webpage:
GOC Guitars™ – Progressive Instruments is an American guitar brand founded back in 2008 in Saint Louis, Missouri USA. Our goal is to deliver cutting edge designs and technology to the world. Applying American and Japanese standard building procedures, we have formulated the perfect instruments needed for modern musicians with an emphasis on environmentally conscious, superior durable creations.
Of course they make more “traditional” instruments, in varying shapes and sizes. You can also custom order your own model from GOC that suits you. I checked out the ordering process and it seems pretty cut and dry.
So if you are in the market for something like Strandberg, but you don’t have a few grand lying around to burn, maybe GOC is more up your alley! However, if you are looking to go for an electric guitar brand that is completely custom…
#3 Kiesel Guitars
Kiesel is not one of the household name electric guitar brands like they should be. They are probably the most popular custom instrument maker in the United States, and used to function under the name Carvin.
Kiesel/Carvin have made amps and guitars for some big names over the years, namely Steve Vai. So while they may not be the most popular electric guitar brand, they definitely have some street cred to back up the products.
Jeff Kiesel took over carving several years ago, and has since made the company the benchmark for American quality. Kiesel makes just about any model you could possibly imagine, and the more premium finish options are truly out of this world.
Kiesel is not cheap by any means. But the trade off is that you get to choose literally every option in the building process. You can choose the woods, fret size, scale length, string options, and literally everything in between.
So if fully custom sounds appealing to you, the Kiesel may be exactly what you are looking for!
#2 Fernandes Guitars
Fernandes is one of those electric guitar brands that have been around forever. The company was probably most popular in the 80’s when all the major electric guitar brands made “super shredder” guitars. Those original Fernandes Guitars are still in the used market, and highly sought after by collectors.
But Fernandes didn’t just halt production as the 80’s came to a close. The company did however start to slip under the radar. Which is unfortunate, because the models that were produced over the past 10 years have been really cool.
When it comes to Japanese electric guitar brands, Fernandes always stood out as an innovator. They created the Sustainer pickup, that is now made popular by Steve Vai, and Kenney Hickey from Type O Negative. So while they one of the great electric guitar brands, they also make some really cool stuff on the side.
Fernandes is shut down in the USA now, and only the Japanese side of the company remains. You can still buy them, of course. But the popular US Custom Shop from Fernandes is dead in the water as of last year. Which is pretty sad!
As an honorable mention: Fernandes also owns Burny Guitars, that makes almost exact replicas of Gibson Les Paul guitars. These are to Gibson spec, but built by Japanese craftsmen that easily rival the Gibson models. Burny is another one of those electric guitar brands that you may have never heard of, but should definitely check out!
#1 Agile Guitars
While Agile is definitely not one of the mainstream electric guitar brands, you might have heard of them if you are in a niche group of metal guitar players. Otherwise, I think Agile flies under most people’s radar.
Agile is sold exclusively by Rondo Music in the United States. However they are made in South Korea, suspiciously in the same region as other brands like ESP/LTD and Schecter. This speaks to the quality of the parts and manufacturing, for sure.
I have owned a couple of Agile guitars over the years, especially when the hype was really high about buying one. I was very impressed with how much guitar I got for the money! But there is a caveat that comes with Agile guitars, that most other electric guitar brands get right these days…
Out of the box, they are usually not set up. This can be a huge turn off for new guitar players. It never bothers me much, as i can set up most guitars the way I like them. But if you have less experience n this department, then it might be a good idea to check elsewhere. Or take it to a guitar tech!
Rondo also has a fantastic return policy for the Agile guitar line. They have a “no questions asked” policy, and will happily swap your guitar for a new one if there is a defect. This policy is actually a lot better than bigger guitar brands!
Agile makes all kinds of models, ranging from classic Les Paul shapes, to Extreme Metal concepts in 7 and 8 string configurations. Almost every model Agile makes is very budget friendly, and you’ll be hard pressed to find something over $800. Compare this to other electric guitar brands, that offer much less.
So Now You Know Some of The Less Known Electric Guitar Brands…
There are tons of guitar companies out there, making stellar stuff. The choice is ultimately up to you to decide what fits your needs. But the message is clear: just because a company seems relatively unknown doesn’t mean that they are bad, per se.
You may find a diamond in the rough!
Are lesser know electric guitar brands worth it?
There are tons of brands like Cort that make absolutely killer instruments, but are not a huge company.
Are Agile Guitars worth it?
Definitely! If you know how to properly setup a guitar, and have no problem ordering sight unseen.. Then Agile is a great bargain for a South Korean instrument.
Is Kiesel a Good Brand?
Kiesel Guitars is probably one of the best custom/semi-cusom guitar manufacturers in the United States.