Reviews of the Best Guitar Manufacturers - Acoustic Guitar
Discover the Origins of Your Acoustic Guitar
Each of the guitar manufacturers is renown for particular aspects of their acoustic guitars. Some are known for breadth in certain price ranges, others for certain sound qualities, while others specific models. Here are a few of my personal observations.
Founded in 1965 by Kazuo Yairi, Alvarez Guitars
is based in St. Louis, MO. Unlike many other guitars today, the high-end Alvarez Yairi guitars are made by hand - not by computer controlled technology. Thus, each Alvarez guitar in the Yaira series is a one-of-a-kind instrument. These handmade guitars are manufacturered in Kani, Japan out of naturally seasoned wood materials. Not surprisingly, many of the more affordable Alvarez acoustic guitar models are made in China. Other models are made in St. Louis, Missouri.
Blueridge acoustic guitars are manufactured by highly skilled craftsman in China - setting a new, higher benchmark of quality for Chinese acoustics. Model BR 43 is an especially amazing value for the money.
Breedlove owners take pride in the fact that not only is their instrument made entirely in the United States, but that the company who produces it is committed to creating only the very best in acoustic guitars.
Owned by Gibson, Epiphone Acoustic Guitar makes one of the best quality acoustic guitars. They are most noted for their products in the $150 range, though high-end guitars are their forte. Especially the PR4E, EJ200 or DR100 models. All have great materials and features. Most of all, they have a signature sound that is half Epiphone, half Gibson. Epiphone is the chosen guitar of artists like Brian Aubert (Silversun Pickups) and Chad Kroeger (Nickelback).
Fender Acoustic Guitars is a privately held guitar manufacturers in Arizona. Known for remaining privately held and holding to craftsmanship, Fender is an American guitar maker for American guitarists. They do have a factory in Japan that makes their Squier line of instruments. Typically a higher-end guitar manufacturers known for their electric guitars, Fender does have a few entry level guitars like the CD60 and the DG60 dreadnoughts. Fender users include Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bob Dylan.
Gibson Acoustic Guitars operates out of Nashville, Tennessee and encompasses several brands like Epiphone, Steinberger and Kalamazoo, to name a few. Also privately owned, Gibson is extremely well-known for high quality guitars like the Songwriter and the J160E. The average price range is around $1800, so these are pretty much professional instruments for serious artists. If you look around some, you can find lightly used Gibson acoustics for around $500. Dedicated artists include Duane Allman, Chet Atkins and Jeff Beck.
Ibanez Acoustic Guitar is privately owned and operated in Japan. They were the first company to produce seven string models on a large scale. Ibanez prides itself on creating guitars that anybody can afford. That results in a diverse selection ranging in price from $199 to $499. Models like the V70CE and AEG20E make the case nicely. Ibanez is the guitar of choice for players like Jennifer Batten, Buckethead and Wes Borland.
The C.F. Martin Guitar Company has been owned and operated by the Martin family since 1833. Largely renowned for extremely high quality instruments, Martin Acoustic Guitars has a reputation for high-end prices as well. The do, however, have a level of guitars at under $400 for the beginner. Their backpacker series is outstanding in design and sound quality. Martin is famous for their bracing technique which produces a signature tone in every guitar. Martin guitars were used almost exclusively by the great Elvis Presley, who played a D28 in his last live performance.
The signature styling of the Ovation acoustic guitar
is the rounded back. While 95% of Ovation guitars are acoustic-electric models, there are a few notable "pure acoustic" models worth considering.
This Canadian guitar maker, Seagull Guitars, is a sub brand of Godin and they make acoustic guitars exclusively. All their instruments are hand crafted and are of the highest quality and workmanship. As far as price, Seagull targets the working musician. Seagull does have a few entries for the casual player, though, with the S6 and the Q1. You can own one of these Seagulls for around $315 to $429. Notable players include Kim Deal. Joni Mitchell has played Seagull as well.
Takamine Guitars is a Japanese guitar manufacturer. Known for very high quality and sound, yet affordable for the masses, Takamine is really the one for beginners everywhere, although they do make some higher-end models. Takamine's quality rivals that of Martin so closely that the company has been accused of copying Martin's designs and techniques. That has never been proven. A Takamine acoustic can be yours for as little as $149 in some markets with the tone and action of a Martin. Many artists use Takamine routinely due to the sound quality they produce.
Taylor Acoustic Guitars has only been around since 1974, but they have made their mark on the industry in that short time. The company, one of the few privately held guitar manufacturers, is owned by Bob Taylor. The quality in every guitar is unrivalled by any American luthier. Taylor's "Baby" series comes in at around the $299 range and is probably a good place to start out. If a higher end guitar is what you need, then Taylor can supply your need for around $1500 to begin with. Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Bryan Adams have all played Taylor guitars exclusively in studio as well as live performances.
Yamaha Acoustic Guitars, the same folks who bring us those fast little dirt bikes and crotch rockets also gives us a sweeter sound; the sound of guitar music. For about $189, a Yamaha acoustic guitar can grace your lap. Models like the CGS104A and F345 are among the more popular ones. Based in Japan, Yamaha Corporation excels in the areas of electronics and musical instrumentation. They also make motorcycles; which of the other guitar manufacturers does that? Go figure. Most notably, Yamaha guitars are played by Don Alder, Zac Brown and Gino Vanelli.
As a player, if I were forced to choose between these guitar companies, I would be hard pressed. But, in the end, I have to go with the one that caters to the beginner with a limited budget; Takamine Guitars. I say that for many reasons, most notably the fact that they have a plethora of affordable models available and they have better models for when I get better and need a better guitar. For around $1000, I could have the sound of a Martin at the price of a low end Gibson. That's value you cannot deny. Happy strumming!
Table of Contents
Alvarez Guitars | Blueridge Guitars | Breedlove Guitars | Dean Guitar | Epiphone Acoustic Guitar | Fender Acoustic Guitars | Gibson Acoustic Guitars | Guild Guitar | Ibanez Acoustic Guitar | Martin Acoustic Guitars | Ovation Acoustic Guitars | Seagull Guitars | Takamine Guitars | Taylor Acoustic Guitars | Washburn Acoustic Guitars | Yamaha Acoustic Guitars
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