The guitar is a musical instrument with ancient roots that is used in a wide variety of musical styles. It typically has six strings, but four, seven, eight, ten, twelve and eighteen string guitars also exist.
Guitars are recognized as one of the primary instruments in blues, country, flamenco, mariachi, rock music, and many forms of pop. They can also be a solo classical instrument. Guitars may be played acoustically, where the tone is produced by vibration of the strings and modulated by the hollow body, or they may rely on an amplifier that can electronically manipulate tone. Such electric guitars were introduced in the 20th century and continue to have a profound influence on popular culture.
Traditionally guitars have usually been constructed of combinations of various woods and strung with animal gut, or more recently, with either nylon or steel strings. Guitars are made and repaired by luthiers. There are many brands of guitars, but some commonly known brands are PRS, Gibson, Dean, Gretsch, Ibanez, Kramer, Jackson, Schecter and Fender. The following list includes electric, acoustic, and custom guitar manufacturers. For an in depth history on the guitar see history link at bottom of page.
Martin - The Martin Guitar Company in Nazareth, Pennsylvania has been producing acoustic guitars that are acknowledged to be the finest in the world for well over 150 years. The Martin Guitar Company has endured since C. F. Martin, Sr. produced Stauffer influenced creations in the 1830s to recent developments introduced by C. F. Martin IV. Continuously operating under family management is an amazing feat in today’s market place, reflecting six generations of family dedication to the guitar maker’s craft. Throughout its rich history, the company has adapted successfully to changes in design, distribution, and manufacturing methods. In spite of these changes, C. F. Martin has always maintained its commitment to quality. This commitment to excellence in instrument production born in 1833 is still alive and well today at Martin’s expanded facility in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Gibson - Orville Gibson began making mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan USA. In 1902, the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co, Ltd. was founded. In the 1920s the Gibson Company developed many innovations in guitar design, and became the leading manufacturer of arch-top guitars, particularly the Gibson L5 model. In 1936 they introduced an "Electric Spanish" model, the ES-150, recognized as the first commercially successful electric guitar. Between 1974 and 1984 production of Gibson guitars was shifted from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee.More recently new production plants have been opened in Southern and rural areas, such as Memphis, Tennessee as well as Bozeman, Montana. The Memphis facility is used for semi-hollow and custom shop instruments, while the Bozeman facility is dedicated to acoustic instruments.
Washburn - Washburn Guitar’s 120-history began in Chicago in 1883. The original guitar factory was located a few blocks away from Maxwell Street. In the early 1920s, Maxwell Street itself was a center of the musical movement. Often considered the emigration point of thousands of African-Americans arriving from the Mississippi Delta, Maxwell Street was believed to be the birthplace of the Delta Blues. Musicians of all calibers would listen and jam in an atmosphere without the monetary influence so prevalent in today’s music industry. The Delta blues soon became the dominant blues style and greatly influenced the Rock & Roll scene. On Maxwell Street, as well as in small clubs around the country, Washburn guitars embodied the perfect mix of style, craftsmanship and sound that was the epitome of the hard working musician. From blues musicians, to rock musicians Washburn’s history is one of diversity.
Guild - With a rather modest beginning the Guild Guitar Company began its rise from a small Manhattan guitar workshop to one of the world's premier makers of high-quality acoustic and electric guitars. Registered in October 1952, the fledgling Guild Guitar Company set up a 1,500-square-foot manufacturing facility on the second floor of a factory at 536 Pearl St.. Guild's genesis was simple. In 1952, Dronge's friend George Mann suggested that the two men start a new guitar company. Another friend of Dronge's, Gene Detgen, suggested the name “Guild”, and the Guild Guitar Company was in business, with Mann and Dronge as president vice president, respectively. Guild flourished in the '50s and '60s. Although they had started out producing mainly jazz guitars, Guild's popularity and reputation spread quickly, and over the years its instruments found their way into the hands of high-profile musicians.
Alvarez - The Alvarez line stems from an exclusive relationship with Kazuo Yairi of Japan whose family represents more than 60 years of hand crafting fine acoustic guitars. Kazuo Yairi is the last luthier of his generation who continues to build guitars by hand. This attention to quality, detail and tradition separates Alvarez from other acoustic guitar manufacturers. The evolution of a new guitar begins in St. Louis, Missouri where production model ideas are conceived and designed by a development staff at St. Louis Music, Inc. The Yairi factory in Kani, Gifu-Japan then takes these designs and produces a limited number of instruments, each with its own individual characteristics. The absence of computer-based production and automation results in instruments that are completely and inherently unique: Different examples of the same model will exhibit sonic and cosmetic character particular to that individual instrument. The luthier's at the Yairi factory are master craftsman who build instruments from start to finish. As opposed to an assembly-line manufacturing facility, the Yairi factory produces limited-run, detailed guitars that feel and sound "special". Guitars that are hand-crafted for tone and playability.
Taylor - Taylor Guitars is a leading maker of acoustic guitars for the mid-price and high-end market. The company produces over 40,000 instruments a year that range from the three-quarter size "Baby Taylor," retailing for under $500, to more than 60 different full-size models that start at $1,200 and go up to $10,000 and beyond. The Taylor Guitar Company began in of 1973, when two young men Kurt Listug and Bob Taylor started out doing instrument repairs and then moved up to making guitars. In 1976, the company's guitars were sold to outside dealers for the first time when Kurt Listug visited music stores in Los Angeles with a selection of the firm's instruments. Among other features, the early Taylor guitars had bolt-on, low-profile necks, which allowed for easy repair, and were made in several different neck widths. After more than a quarter-century in business, Taylor Guitars had become one of the best-known makers of acoustic guitars in the world. Esteemed for their quality and technical innovation, the company's instruments were played by many famous musicians, as well as thousands of others who prized their clear tone and ease of use.
Yamaha - Yamaha was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha. It was named Nippon Gakki Company, Limited and produced pianos and reed organs. In October 1987, on the 100th anniversary, its name was changed to The Yamaha Corporation. Yamaha Corporation of America established in 1960 is located in Buena Park, California. Yamaha has become the world's largest manufacturer of musical instruments from pianos, to violins, to guitars, to woodwinds, and beyond. Yamaha isn't exactly the first company that you think of for guitars, and is never spoken of in the same sentence as Martin, Gibson, or Guild. Known more for keyboards, digital pianos and synthesizers, Yamaha, never the less, does make some excellent sounding guitars in a reasonable price range. Yamaha first began producing steel-strung acoustic guitars at the Hamamatsu Custom Shop in 1966, and the current “Compass” series boasts the thinnest neck possible in an acoustic guitar line, and indeed plays much like an electric guitar in this regard.
Ovation - The Ovation Guitar Company is based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, USA. Ovation primarily manufactures acoustic guitars and is a holding of Kaman Music Corporation. Ovation guitars are differentiated by their composite synthetic bowl, rather than the traditional wooden back and sides of the modern acoustic guitar as produced by luthier's starting in the late 18th century. Ovation has also produced solid body electric guitars and active basses. Developed starting in 1966 and introduced as the 'Balladeer' in February, 1967, Ovations reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s, where they were more often than not seen during live performances by touring artists if acoustic guitars were being played. Ovation guitars' synthetic bowl and early use (1971) of pre-amps, onboard equalization and piezo pickups were particularly attractive to live acoustic musicians who constantly battled feedback problems from the high volumes needed in live venues.
BC Rich - The B.C. Rich Company has its roots in a classical style guitar repair shop owned and operated by Bernardo Chavez Rico. He later expanded to guitar making and his early models were inspired by the Les-Paul guitars. The B.C. Rich Guitar company continues to evolve and deliver high performance guitars and basses with stunning style. From hand-made custom guitars to affordable standard import series guitars. BC Rich started in the early 1970's. and by the 1990,s their guitars were widely used in heavy metal. The popularity of B.C. Rich instruments among metal musicians continues to the present.
Brian Moore - Brian Moore was founded in 1992 as a manufacturer of high end, custom made ergonomic, electrics guitars, blending art with technology. It blended the strength and sustain of advanced composite material with the tone and beauty of wood. Brian Moore Guitars was founded in June of 1992 by Pat Brian Moore, a non-guitarist, Kevin Kalagher and Patrick Cummings. These guitars come with built in computer connectivity .
Burns - Burns London is a guitar-making company originally formed in 1960 as Ormston Burns Ltd. It was founded by James Ormston Burns (1925-1998), who has been described as the "British Leo Fender", because his policy of continual development and refinement reflected a constant quest to realize his vision of the ideal electric guitar.] Burns guitars were reintroduced in 1992, and the product line now includes a collector's edition of the first model the company produced.
Epiphone - The Epiphone Company is a musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos. Before being bought out by Gibson in the late 1950s, Epiphone was Gibson's main rival in the arch-top market. Their professional arch-tops, including the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway and Triumph, rivaled (and some contend surpassed) those of Gibson.
ESP - In 1975, Hisatake Shibuya opened a shop called Electric Sound Products (ESP) in Tokyo. It provided custom replacement parts for guitars. In 1976, ESP gained a reputation as a provider of high-quality replacement parts. At this time, ESP also began crafting guitars under the ESP and Navigator brand names. Now ESP is a world-renowned manufacturer in the music world.
Fender - Founded in 1946, by Leo Fender, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has been an American icon for over 50 years. His guitar, bass, and amplifier designs from the 1950s continue to dominate popular music more than half a century later. Fender and inventor Les Paul are often cited as the two most influential figures in the development of electric instruments in the 20th century.By introducing the first commercially viable solid body electric guitar, the first electric bass and countless classic amplifiers, Fender musical instruments have left their mark on jazz, blues, country, rock and many other styles of popular music.
G&L - G&L is a guitar design and production company founded by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt in the late 1970s. The G&L name comes from the initials of George (Fullerton) and Leo (Fender).G&L instruments are similar to the classic Fenders, but with some modern innovations. G&L instruments are not widely distributed but are highly regarded by many musicians and collectors. The relatively small scale of production further allows for more custom options than are possible on larger production lines.
G&L hand crafts each instruments with love, dedication and great skill.
Gibson - The Gibson Guitar Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, USA, is a manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars. The company's most popular guitar, the Les Paul Standard, is a solid-body electric guitar. Gibson also owns and makes guitars under such brands as Epiphone, Kramer, Valley Arts, Tobias, Steinberger, and Kalamazoo. In addition to guitars, the company makes pianos through its Baldwin unit, Slingerland drums, as well as many accessory items.
Gretsch - The Great Gretsch Guitar Classics are back in limited production, in celebration of the history of stringed instruments and in tribute to the great family that made so much of That Sound possible. For more than 100 years Gretsch has developed what came to be known as "That Great Gretsch Sound". That distinctive sound has energized the market for decades. Gretsch was founded in 1883 by Friedrich Gretsch, a young German immigrant. His Brooklyn shop was made for the manufacture of banjos, tambourines, and drums. In 1895, at the age of 39, Gretsch died, and the successful company was taken over by his son Fred. By 1916, Fred had moved the company into a larger 10-story building in the Williamsburg district, becoming one of the most prominent American musical instrument makers.
Hamer - Hamer Guitars is an American manufacturer that specializes in the production of high quality guitars. It was founded in Illinois by Jol Dantzig and Paul Hamer in 1973, and early instruments featured designs created by Dantzig. Originating in the Chicago area, Hamer is generally considered to be the first "boutique" electric guitar brand that specifically catered to pro musicians.
Ibanez - Ibanez is a guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki and based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Hoshino Gakki were one of the first Japanese musical instrument companies to gain a significant foothold in the United States and Europe.The Hoshino Gakki company began in 1908 as the musical instrument sales division of the Hoshino Shoten bookstore company. In 1935, they began manufacturing their own stringed instruments. One of the most respected and well-known names in high quality, excellent tonal value, electric guitar manufacturing for both the beginning guitarist and seasoned pro.
Jackson - Jackson was originally owned and operated by Grover Jackson, a partner of Wayne Charvel of Charvel Guitar Repair. It started with the creation of the "Rhoads" V model guitar, originally designed and used by guitarist Randy Rhoads. Grover put his name on the Rhoads rather than the Charvel name because he felt the design was too shocking for Charvel's regular customers. This model inspired Grover to start the Jackson guitar company.
Parker - Parker Guitars is an American manufacturer of electric guitars and basses, started by luthier Ken Parker in the early 90's in Rochester, New York. Parker designed and crafted electric guitars without depending on the examples of traditional acoustic and electric guitar design. Most recognized of his guitars is the "Parker Fly" .
Washburn - Washburn Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer. It was established in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. Washburn is known for many innovations in guitar building and marketing. It was the first guitar manufacturer to use artist endorsements and build a large-bodied acoustic guitar. They are all hand built. The budget lines are marketed as Lyon by Washburn and Oscar Schmidt by Washburn.
There are too many custom luthier's to list here, so I have confined my list to just a few. A more complete
listing can be found here:> LUTHIERS
Blade Guitars - Blade had become the best selling custom high-end guitar in Europe.
Collings - Custom instruments based on traditional American designs. These designs have become true classics by withstanding
the test of time. It is our intention to continue this legacy of tradition, quality and style by building the finest acoustic instruments possible.
Breedlove Guitars - High end custom guitars . Located in Bend, Oregon.
Burns Guitars - Burns London is a guitar-making company originally formed in 1960
Desmond Guitars -
Handmade concert classical and flamenco guitars handmade by Robert B. Desmond.
Griffin Guitars - Excellent sounding instruments of great craftsmanship and superb appearance.
Possibly the loudest acoustic I have ever personally played.
Laughlin Guitars - High Quality Acoustic stringed instrument maker in Vancouver Canada.
Larivee - Finely crafted acoustic and electric guitars.High end.
Lowden - Lowden guitars are currently handcrafted in a small workshop in Downpatrick under the direct supervision
of George. Because of superior design and high attention to detail and workmanship the new Lowden guitars from
the new workshop are considered among the best guitars in the world today.
Tim Reede Custom Guitars - Hand made Arch-top, Flattop,and Electric Guitars.Tim Reede Guitars have been shown around the United States at such
prestigious events as the Newport Guitar Festival in Newport RI, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival near Healdsburg CA and
the Miami Guitar Festival in South Beach FL.
For Guitars & Accessories - zZounds
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