What is the best electric guitar brand? Well, there are actually 3 answers to this question based on popularity and overall sales. But what companies are in the “Big 3”? Today we break down the who and why!
What Is The Best Electric Guitar Brand?
I see this question a lot from both beginners and experienced guitarists. It is a totally legitimate question, but it doesn’t really have a quick answer. If you really want to break it down, you could probably ask 100 different guitarists and end up with a myriad of different guitar companies. Personally, I like Schecter Guitars the best, but that is not what the market reflects.
Looking at the actual statistics and sales numbers, it is pretty obvious who the “Big 3” brands are when it comes to the best electric guitars. To be fair, they have been the same for quite a while. It used to be just two companies that really dominated the market when it comes to quality and sales.
So today we are going to look at the 3 big brands and talk about why each one is so popular. There is a reason these are the most popular guitar brands right now, and some of that is heritage and legacy. Some of it is innovation and quality. There is a lot to look at so let’s dive in!
#3 PRS Guitars
Paul Reed Smith is one of the only guitar brands out there, and certainly the only one on this list, where the creator is still alive. Not only is Paul still alive and well, he is highly involved in PRS Guitars. Whether it is the design of the guitars, or the day-to-day business operations, Paul is involved.
PRS got its start from Paul being a repair tech, that started building guitars. He wanted to blend a Stratocaster and a Les Paul. Everything about PRS is the “happy medium” between the two classic designs. Things were not always easy for Paul in the beginning, but once he got Carlos Santana on board playing his guitars, the brand took off.
The “Core” Series that PRS offers from the USA Factory in Maryland can be quite pricey. These are often called “lawyer guitars” because they carry such a high price tag. So how does PRS end up on the list of the 3 most popular brands? Is it just revenue?
The success of PRS is not just in the USA made guitars anymore. The PRS SE Series are the less-expensive import lineup, and these guitars are extremely popular. The S2 Series is also very popular, which is a budget USA brand. When you put the Core, SE, and S2 series all together?
You get one of the most successful guitar brands on the planet right now. Not only do the guitars sell very well, the quality is amazing across the board. In fact, I think the the PRS SE guitars are catching up with the USA counterparts in many ways. All together, you cannot go wrong with PRS.
#2 Gibson Guitars
Gibson has been around for a very long time, and is what we call a “legacy company” when it comes to guitar brands. Gibson has been making instruments since 1894, and it is still a very popular brand. Gibson makes guitars that are historically accurate. These are “new” guitars that feel and look just like much older guitars.
This is exactly why Gibson is still at the top when it comes to the best guitar brands. The rich heritage of the brand allows customers to buy the same type of guitar that their heroes may have played. Gibson basically sells you the notion that you are buying a “piece of history”. Technically, you are!
But Gibson also controls and owns Epiphone Guitars, which is the budget option. Epiphone makes budget versions of famous Gibson models, but also has its own rich heritage with players like The Beatles. Epiphone is just as important as Gibson when it comes to sales and quality. Are we seeing a trend here with the budget brands?
#1 Fender Guitars
Fender really needs no introduction. Even people that have never thought about playing guitar usually know what a Fender Stratocaster looks and sounds like! Leo fender made the solid body electric guitar popular, what back in the 1950’s. Like Gibson, Fender is also a “heritage” type of company”.
This just means that Fender still makes the same guitars that made the brand famous. Although, there have been little changes here and there throughout the years. These subtle changes do not take away from the overall vintage aesthetic and feel, however.
Like the other two powerhouse brands on this list, Fender also has a budget brand with Squier Guitars. However, unlike the other two brands I think Fender still sells more of the major brand. This is because Fender has so many different price points. Sure, you can buy an inexpensive Squier, but a “real” Fender is never really out of reach for most customers.
So those are the big brands that pretty much dominate the industry. Other brands like Schecter and Ibanez clearly do well when it comes to niche styles. Those two brands are often thought of as “metal” brands and both definitely cater to that crowd. If you want to be technical, I believe that Yamaha Guitars might also be one of the biggest sellers worldwide, but just doesn’t have the same brand recognition.
But the big three brands that seem to be on most buyer’s radar are PRS, Gibson, and Fender. Even more so when it comes to the budget-friendly brands. You really can’t go wrong with any of these brands, and they are are all just about equal these days. What is the best electric guitar brand? All 3!