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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.
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
Best Guitars Made in the USA
Do you know of a guitar brand manufactured in the USA that we didn't include on our list? Leave a comment below and we'll check it out! As always, thank you for shopping made in the USA.
Best Acoustic Guitars Made in the USA
You'll find electric guitars listed after the acoustic guitars.
C.F. Martin & Co. has been around for nearly 200 years, making this guitar maker probably the most historic. Today, it simply calls itself Martin Guitar, and it remains an innovative company that’s keen on continually improving the sound of a guitar. This company makes many (more than we can count!) of its Martin guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. These series include:
15, 16, 17
The series NOT made in the USA are:
Martin does source some of its components outside the USA, so like several on our list, even these made-in-the-USA guitars are not 100% American-made. The most iconic Martin Guitar is the D-28. It’s a classic acoustic guitar with an understated look that many artists choose. You can also choose this guitar in an electric option, too. It’s crafted with East Indian rosewood, open gear tuners, an aged toner top, antique white accents, and a faux tortoise pickguard. Choose from three stain options. You can also select left or right-handed models. Choose a dealer near you from the Martin Guitar website.
Austin, Texas is the headquarters of Collings Guitars. This company has been making acoustic guitars since the 1970s using a mix of hardwoods that create signature sounds for different playing styles. You’ll find an American-made acoustic guitar for every genre of music, from bluegrass and country to orchestral and solo music. Lyle Lovett praises Collings for making him a dreadnought that’s “head and shoulders above a guitar you could buy in a store.” Collings’ videos also feature other artists who praise the beauty and sound of these acoustic guitars.
Collings uses the strongest wood for the top, spruce, with mahogany completing the back and sides. Choose from both left or right-handed options as well. Pictured is the D1 T, part of the Traditional or “T-Series” guitars.
Not only is Gibson an American company, but it also makes every guitar in the USA! Gibson Guitars Company began in Michigan in 1902. Today, the headquarters are in Nashville, Tennessee, home of country music. Gibson’s facilities are located both in Tennessee and Montana. Its acoustic guitars are manufactured in Montana, and they’re made one at a time with great care rather than mass-produced.
You’ll find all kinds of Gibson acoustic guitars to choose from, beginning with the Generation Collection, the least expensive, up to the Custom Shop Historic Collection. Gibson offers detailed descriptions of each of its guitars, empowering you to make the best choice for your playing. Gibson’s least expensive offering, the G-00, is shown, but while you’re on the website, check out its other guitars, too. The G-00 features a Sitka spruce top with a back and sides made from solid walnut. It also has traditional scalloped X-bracing. This wood combination added with a masterful construction creates crisp, resonant tones. This option also has a thinner body, called “parlor-sized,” making this selection quite comfortable to hold. Gibson also makes electric guitars in the USA, which you can read about below.
Located in Iowa, John Kammerer makes custom acoustic and electric guitars. Kammerer has been building guitars since he was in design school, opening his shop full-time in 2000. One unique quality about the maker is he takes the time to make blind fret slots. Kammerer also came up with a unique bridge design that eliminates the need for bridge pins. If you’re looking for something a bit more custom, this company can easily do so on some features without an upcharge. Choose any number of customizations, from the fretboard material to body wood, inlay marker, and more. As a designer, Kammerer also includes some interesting design elements in the guitar as well. As far as the acoustic guitars go, choose from left or right-handed and dreadnought or classical. Either choice comes with an L.R. Baggs element pickup system.
Dan Koentopp, the owner of Koentopp Guitars, studied and practiced making stringed instruments for years, and today he makes them in Los Angeles, California. These options are extremely expensive, and you’ll wait several years before you receive one, they’re in such high demand. That’s because there’s nothing like a Koentopp guitar. Each one is hand-crafted using classic construction methods. Koentopp says on his website he can make them by hand faster and better than with a machine.
Koentopp’s first-ever acoustic guitar was an archtop model, and he still makes them today. You also can choose a classical guitar that highlights the traditional Torres design with a modern twist. Whether you go with the archtop or the classical, you’ll experience a balanced guitar with clean lines, enhanced clarity, and incredible sound. Pictured is the hand-carved Chicagoan oval hole archtop guitar. Choose your specific wood choice, finish, fingerboard inlay, tuner, and binding.
Maybe lesser known but equally as spectacular is Larrivée Guitars. This company has been around for as long as some of the others on the list, as the company has a 55+ year legacy of making guitars. Larrivée Guitars sometimes is referenced as “affordable luxury,” given the warm sound and spectacular craftsmanship.
The OM-40R is an acoustic guitar that started being made in 2008. This American-made guitar (Oxnard, California) is the company’s flagship model and only continues to grow in popularity. It boasts a Sitka spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and a single piece of mahogany for the neck. Larrivée was the original innovator of parabolic bracing. If you’re looking for a less expensive acoustic guitar, check out the Larrivée OM-03, which has similar makings. To name drop, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Robert Plant, and other artists own a Larrivée guitar. NOTE: Not all Larrivee Guitars are made in USA. Many are made in Canada.
Headquartered in Stevensville, Maryland, Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitars has been making high-quality electric, acoustic, and bass guitars since 1985. Today, this iconic brand makes them all over the world, including in the USA. Specific USA models include the PRS Private Stock, Core, CE, and S2 models. The PRS SE series is made in Indonesia, and several online writers say they can feel and hear a qualitative difference when they play. The PRS Private Stock acoustic guitar showcases the best materials and customization options.
Not only are these works of art, but also they’re built to last. They have remarkable playability and sound. Choose your wood, finish, and inlay to get an acoustic guitar specific to your personality. Note: Most, if not all, Paul Reed Smith acoustic guitars sold on Amazon or at Walmart are not made in America.
Taylor Guitars has been making incredible instruments since it started in 1974 with Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug at the helm. Not everything this guitar company makes is American-made, so look for the made-in-the-USA options.
The made in USA options include the GT, AD, and 300 series and higher guitar models, which are made in California. There’s also a tab on the Taylor Guitars website that features the American Dream® series. These guitars are made from premium solid wood.
Check out the AD27. Although it’s one of Taylor’s most affordable all-solid wood, US-made guitars, it has garnered awards for its sound and beauty. It features a Grand Pacific body shape for a seasoned, classic tone; solid Sapele and mahogany woods for a warm, bold sound; and V-Class bracing for enhanced sustain and volume. This selection also comes with a case for protection. Choose from both left or right-handed options. An added benefit Taylor offers is its sustainable efforts.
One final great quality (besides its guitars, of course!): In 2021 Taylor Guitars became 100% employee-owned, choosing to entrust its future to the lifeblood of the company to its workers instead of selling to someone outside its walls. Shop the Taylor website for free shipping on orders of $39.95 and up.
Collings makes electric (and acoustic, as described above) guitars in Austin, Texas. While electric guitars didn’t become part of the Collings family until 2006, this company has been around since before the 1980s. Bill Collings, the founder, passed away in 2017, but his drive for beauty and excellence remains in every aspect of guitar-making at the Collings facility.
Choose from a hollow, semi-hollow, and solid-body electric guitar. Shown is the 470 JL, a collaboration between Julian Lage and Collings. It has a fully hollow trestle block body design that utilizes a solid mahogany body and maple laminate top. The pickup comes from master Ron Ellis and the guitar also has a Bigsby vibrato. Although you can’t buy from the Collings website, you can find a dealer there, along with reading about and watching videos about the company’s guitars.
Although Fender makes its guitars throughout the world, this American company has to appear on our list for three reasons: 1) Some guitars are American-made; 2) This American brand has been around for over 70 years when Leo Fender and George Fullerton created what we know today as Fender Guitars. 3) "Stratocaster" is a household name in the world of electric guitars.
Fender confirms that any model which has the word “American” in its name is made in the USA at Fender’s Corona, California facility. Its website shows almost 50 selections of electric, bass, and acoustic-electric guitars. You’ll also see numerous guitar parts that are made in the USA as well.
Shown is the American Performer Stratocaster® that’s a highly recommended option by Fender. The body is made from alder wood. It has three single-coil Stratocaster pickups, one middle pickup, and jumbo frets. While you’re on the Fender website, check out the American Professional ii line that includes the Telecaster Deluxe, Stratocaster, and Jazzmaster. You’ll ooh and aah out loud over the Fender American Vintage II 1961 Stratocaster, another selection, with its nitro finish, a top material that’s reflective of the era. Choose from both left or right-handed options. Fender also boasts some amazing US-made bass guitars, but its acoustic guitars are not made in the USA.
After Leo Fender and George Fullerton sold the Fender company to CBS in 1965, they launched Music Man (you can read about this below). Then in 1980, the partners started a third company, G&L Musical Instruments, now known as G&L Guitars. The letters reference the partners’ first names. Because Leo Fender was an electrical engineer by trade, he continued to innovate, especially as electric guitars became more and more popular with the evolution of musical genres. Many of the styles emulated the Stratocaster and Telecaster but also incorporated updated electronic and vibrato systems.
As the guitars have improved even more over the years, they still hold onto that original Dual-Fulcrom vibrato system. More can be said about these guitars, such as their magnetic field design, saddle-lock bridge, and MFD pickups, but if you find yourself holding one of these, you’ll hear and feel its sound quality and American craftsmanship. Note: Not all G&L Guitars are made in America, only the built-to-order guitars are. When you’re looking on the G&L Guitars website, be sure to shop the “Made in Fullerton Guitars” tab for USA guitars. These built-to-order guitars can be ordered in a variety of colors, woods, and more.
Some would argue about whether or not Gibson makes the best electric guitars. What they would agree on is Gibson makes the most well-known electric guitar: the Gibson Les Paul.
Gibson has been making guitars since 1902 but skyrocketed in the industry in the 1950s with the humbucking pickup, the before-mentioned Les Paul, Flying V, Explorer, and more. Today these updated versions are made in Gibson's Tennessee facility. Others through the decades have tried to emulate the design, but nothing is truer than a true Gibson. Even more, Gibson makes every single guitar in the USA, something that’s worthy of celebration.
The Gibson SG is one of the biggest-selling guitars of all time…but let’s go back to the Les Paul. This iconic beast of an electric guitar hit the scene in the early 1940s by the namesake, Les Paul, who tinkered and tweaked his invention until its introduction to the world in 1952. There’s so much more that could be said about this guitar and the many famous people who played it, but suffice it to say, it’s still one of the most sought-after electric guitars in the world. Today you’ll find nearly five dozen different Les Paul options at different price points. Pictured is the Gibson Les Paul 1957 Goldtop Darkback Light-Aged electric guitar. Made from a single piece of mahogany, it features lightly aged hardware that gives it the unique character and feel of its original. This and others that carry the Les Paul name have that incredible, perfectly rebellious tone.
Heritage Guitars opened its doors in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Three luthiers purchased a former guitar factory and its equipment. Then they began crafting high-quality electric guitars, and they’re still going strong.
As Heritage Guitars continues to embrace its roots in American craftsmanship and innovation, the company also continues to grow. You’ll find both pre-made and bespoke (custom) offerings. The Standard Collection features five styles, designs, and finishes. It’s made from curly maple on the top and mahogany on the back. It has a nitrocellulose, high gloss finish. Standard delivery is 5-7 days, but if you upgrade the bridge to a Bigsby B7, you’ll need to allow 3-6 weeks. This is quintessential made in the USA where you’re getting excellent quality and personal attention. Heritage Guitars, while lesser-known than some of the big names, makes some of the best acoustic guitars you'll find. Shop the Heritage Guitar website, or find a local dealer.
John Kammerer Customs is located in Iowa where Kammerer and staff make acoustic, electric acoustic, electric, and bass guitars. Kammerer makes a single model in several styles. The Scorpious electric guitar has been around for over 20 years. It’s available in either a chambered or solid body, and both feature Kammerer’s “Tone Pod” that allows you to swap out pickups literally within seconds. The result is a single guitar with various tones.
Because these guitars come from a relatively smaller company (in comparison to the big players like Fender or Gibson), Kammerer offers some customization options with no upcharge EXCEPT for when you choose an exotic wood; see the list on the website. Customization includes wood species. Finish, neck shape and width, and more. The standard electric guitars come with two sets of tone pods.
Dan Koentopp, the owner of Koentopp Guitars, studied and practiced making stringed instruments for years, and today he makes acoustic and electric guitars in Los Angeles, California. These options are extremely expensive, and you’ll wait several years before you receive one, they’re in such high demand. That’s because there’s nothing like a Koentopp guitar. Each one is hand-crafted using classic construction methods. Koentopp says on his website he can make them by hand faster and better than with a machine.
Koentopp’s electric guitars feature the same classic construction as his acoustic guitars but with a bit of attitude electric guitars typically have. The set neck is made of Birdseye Maple, and you can choose from several wood species for the fingerboard. Each piece is handmade to exact standards, giving these guitars some of the best-sounding tones you can find on any electric guitar.
Kurt Wilson Custom Guitars are made in Illinois, where it’s been in operation since 1990. Each electric guitar is handmade, one at a time, by Wilson, from wood selection to final polish. Choose from the Standard series, Standard XL, Standard XL SH, and Standard XL SH Arrowhead, shown. Wilson uses mahogany for the body, maple for the top, and mahogany for the neck. The pickups come from USA manufacturer Seymour Duncan.
Once manufactured both in Canada and in the USA, Larrivée Guitars now makes its acoustic and electric guitars in California. The company puts as much thought into the electric guitars as it does its acoustic offerings. Its sound and performance controls and electronics rival some of the more well-known names. It uses genuine vintage paper-in-oil capacitors and Bournes potentiometers.
Larrivée has been making electric guitars for over 30 years. The Baker-T Classic, shown, is meticulously crafted from a single piece of ultra-light American Swamp Ash. A quarter-sawn Indian Rosewood fretboard rests on a hard maple neck, bringing a warm spacious tone. Choose from five stunning finishes.
Music Man guitars are made in California. The company thoroughly highlights its guitar-making process on its website. Music Man was founded in 1974 by Forrest White and Tom Walker, with Leo Fender as a silent partner. Ernie Ball acquired the company in 1984, and today you’ll often hear the company called “Ernie Ball Music Man.” It makes many different guitars, each with its own characteristics and options.
According to the Music Man website, Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse joined the company in 1985 when Music Man designed and made his signature electric guitar, with replicas still offered today on the Music Man website. This electric guitar features a neck made from roasted maple and a rosewood fretboard. The body has a Morse blue burst sparkle finish.
Not only does Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitars make some great acoustic guitars, but this company also makes some pretty great electric guitars. Not everything the company creates is made in the USA, but the electric guitars made here include the Core series, S2 series, and the Private Stock series. All three series offer different styles and finishes. The S2 series, while good, sits at the bottom of the price point and come in flatter finishes. The pickups are not made stateside on this series. The Core series is a higher-end series that is crafted from premium materials.
Fun fact: The McCarty selections are named after former Gibson president Ted McCarty, who mentored and befriended Paul Reed Smith. Finally, the Private Stock series is a custom offering. Note: The PRS SE series is NOT made in the USA. Shown is the McCarty, a vintage-appointed guitar. It boasts a slightly thicker back for enhanced tone and sustain, specialty pickups, and a PRS Stoptail bridge with brass inserts.
Rickenbacker celebrated its 90-year anniversary in 2021, so this California company is doing some great work to be around for this long. Equally important is the fact that every Rickenbacker electric guitar is made in its Sana Ana, California production facility.
Ever heard of John Lennon or George Harrison? They both played a Rickenbacker electric guitar at one time, as did their friend Paul McCartney; legend has it that it was a Rickenbacker that Lennon used when the Beatles were introduced to America on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the 1960s.
This company has so many models and variations to choose from! Model 620 has a 1950’s look and feel with the “Cresting Wave” maple cutaway. It has a rosewood finish with pearl inlay markers and a maple neck and body. It also features solid pickup electronics. You can find a local dealer or online seller of these great electric guitars from the Rickenbacker website.
Tammy Tilley is a southern transplant living in the Midwest. Growing up in the West Virginia hills, she was surrounded by family and friends who made things with their hands, from a penny whistle carved from the backyard tree’s branches to the hand-hewn wooden cradle gifted to her when her firstborn arrived. As an adult, she continues to be fascinated by the small cottage businesses the Amish and Mennonite communities cultivate in Northern Indiana. Tammy holds a B.A. and M.S. in English/Education.