Whether you’re looking for an acoustic or electric guitar, shop the best guitars made in the USA. American-made guitars offer high quality craftsmanship and great sound, features you won’t find in cheaper models made elsewhere.
Guitars Made in the United States
It’s probably safe to say most people who are semi-serious about guitar playing play guitars made in America. Think Gibson, Fender, Martin, Music Man, or Rickenbacker. These are some of the bigger names of American guitar manufacturers, and there are others who make some pretty great guitars in the USA, too.
You don’t have to be an experienced musician to choose an American-made guitar. If you’re just starting out on a guitar, you’ll find a number of entry-level guitars made in the USA. If you value quality, purchasing an American-made guitar as a beginner will prove to be a worthwhile investment that provides a great playing experience. These guitars retain their value over time, as well.
Related Article: Are Gibson Guitars Made in USA?
Why Consider A Guitar Made in the USA
I live near the city once known as the band instrument capital of the world, Elkhart, Indiana. People who live in this area share stories about the quality of instruments before either the parts or the entire instrument was sourced to manufacturing facilities overseas. They say today’s instruments lack in quality and sound.
One friend in particular who is a renowned musician was recently gifted a new instrument, with some of the parts sourced offshore. After playing it several times, he returned to his former, older instrument, claiming the newer one does not have the rich sound and quality as his older one.
The same can be said for guitars, too. Most individuals who play guitar recommend one that’s made in the USA. The best acoustic and electric guitars are made in America. They’re crafted with care, precision to detail, and with the best materials.
What to Look for in a Quality Guitar
When looking for a high-quality acoustic or electric guitar made in the USA, there are several factors to consider. Here are some things to look for:
The type of wood used in the construction of a guitar has a significant impact on its sound. A high-quality acoustic or electric guitar showcases solid wood rather than plastics or veneers. Look for high-quality tonewoods such as Sitka spruce, mahogany, rosewood, or maple. Many prefer a maple top and a rosewood fingerboard.
When it comes to putting all the pieces together, quality craftsmanship is key. A well-made guitar, whether acoustic or electric, will have clean joints, smooth finishes, and no visible defects. A dovetail joint should connect the body to a smooth, comfortable neck.
Regarding well-placed frets on the fingerboard, look for nickel-silver or stainless steel frets. Some guitars feature gold frets that are more for the look than it is for the sound. Jumbo frets can be used on electric guitars, making it easier to play fast and complex lines in heavy metal or rock music. Smaller frets provide a traditional or classical sound.
Your acoustic or electric guitar comes with aesthetically pleasing inlays. They're attractive as well as useful, especially when the frets are involved. Avoid plastic inlays and instead, look for one or more of these common materials:
Mother of Pearl: Mother of Pearl is a popular choice for inlays because it has a beautiful iridescence and a lustrous shine. It is often used for fretboard markers, headstock logos, and other decorative elements.
Abalone: Abalone is another popular choice for inlays and fretboard markers because it has a striking, multi-colored appearance that catches the light.
Wood: Wood inlays are a classic choice for guitars, and they can be made from a variety of exotic woods, including ebony, rosewood, and maple.
Visit a local, reputable music store or consult with an instructor or instrumentalist before buying. When possible, play the guitar before you buy to get a sense of its tone and projection. High-quality guitars will have a balanced sound across all strings, clear and sustained notes, and a resonant tone. After trying out several guitars, choose the one that fits your needs best, then if you choose, you can buy online or from a local business.
Related to the electric guitar, pickups are a critical component of the guitar’s overall sound. These devices are mounted on the guitar body and use a magnet to convert the vibration of the strings into an electrical signal that’s amplified. Different types of pickups produce different sounds, and players often choose pickups based on their preferred style of music or tone. Single-coil pickups tend to have a brighter, cleaner sound, while humbuckers have a thicker, more powerful sound. Look for electric guitars with high-quality pickups from reputable manufacturers such as EMG, Fender, Gibson, or DiMarzio.
Spend a little time researching the brand’s reputation for quality and consistency in manufacturing.
Look for a warranty that covers any defects in materials or workmanship. A good warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment.
High-quality acoustic and electric guitars made in the United States can be on the expensive side. Set a budget and look for guitars within that range that meet your quality criteria.
Ultimately, the best guitar for you will depend on your individual preferences and playing style. Take your time, do your research, and try out different guitars before making a decision.
Who Plays an American-made Guitar?
Although not an exhaustive list, here are some famous musicians and American guitar brands they play (or played):
- Bob Dylan: Gibson and Martin
- Jimmy Page: Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, Gibson Flying V
- Carlos Santana: Paul Reed Smith Santana
- John Mayer: John Mayer Stratocaster
- Eddie Van Halen: Music Man, Fender, Gibson
- Johnny Cash: Martin
- Eric Clapton: Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Martin
- Phil Keaggy: Taylor, Martin, PRS
- Albert Lee: Music Man Albert Lee
- Duane Allman: Gibson Les Paul
- Muddy Waters: Gibson ES-335
- Paul McCartney: Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Martin, Rickenbacker
- Stevie Ray Vaughan: Fender
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