Although the stringed instruments date as far as the 9th century AD, the guitar as we know it emerged in the mid-19th century. The use of guitar spans various musical genres including Jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, flamenco, punk, rock, metal, reggae, mariachi and pop music. Today, guitars are available in a wide variety of materials, strings (4-18 strings) and types (electric, acoustic, semi-acoustic and semi-electric). According to quality, build and brand an acoustic guitar can cost from $100 to as high as $5K. Signature guitar models, built according to the playing specifications of virtuoso musicians can even cost higher.
Gibson Guitar Corporation was founded in 1902, as a mandolin manufacturing company in Michigan, US. They pretty much invented the arch top guitar using the same design for violins. Gibson soon ushered a wide range of stringed instruments and also launched one of the earliest hollow-body electric guitars in the market. Nevertheless, it was in the 50s that Gibson released their most famous model ‘the Les Paul’, which was designed by the jazz legend Les Paul. The Les Paul not only became their most successful model till date, but also led to the emergence of Rock n Roll music that exploded in the late 60s and 70s. Their other famous models include the Flying V, Explorer, SG, and firebird. With all these iconic guitars that Gibson makes, it is no surprise that they take the top of this list of the top guitar brands.
Fender Electric Instrument Company was founded in the year 1946, in California, US. Due to the popularity of electric guitars in the 50s, Fender soon launched their first solid-body electric named the ‘Telecaster’ and the ‘Precision Electric Bass’ in 1951. Despite of them not being the first to build electric guitars, their design and innovation in electric guitars made them one of the most commercially successful instruments company. While their Telecaster model was famous, their success came with the launch of the ‘Stratocaster’ model in 1954. The model soon became a signature of several notable musicians of the era due to its balanced design and ease of playing.
3. Paul Reed Smith
The PRS Guitar company, was founded in 1985 by master luthier Paul Reed Smith in Maryland, US. While the company was founded pretty late as compared to the other notable manufacturers, they soon became famous for their high-quality guitars. PRS Guitars started out as a custom guitars workshop and is known to cater some notable musicians such as Carlos Santana and Howard Leese. Unlike other manufacturers, PRS guitars are known for their signature model, which is a double cutaway version of the Gibson Les Paul. The wood used for their guitars was much more expensive than their contemporaries and only high-quality wood such as curly maple, mahogany with pearl inlays.
Grover Jackson assumed the ownership of Charvel guitars in the 70s with a view of reviving the business. In the 1980s, famous guitar player Randy Rhodes approached Charvel with an idea of a custom guitar. He collaborated with Grover Jackson so create a sleeker and more stylized version of the Gibson Flying V and renamed it the ‘Concorde’. Most electric guitars during that era were merely copies of the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster and the Concorde was a much-needed departure from the older designs. Impressed with the outcome, Jackson branded it with his own name and became a premier choice for Heavy metal musicians of the 80s.
5. BC Rich
BC Rich stands for Bernardo Chavez Rico, the American guitar luthier who founded the company in 1969. From the very start, BC Rich was known for their unusually designed solid body electric guitars that provided a respite from the usual Les Paul and Stratocaster based models. By the late 80s and 90s, with the emergence of more complex metal music styles such as Glam, Thrash and Death metal, their use became more frequent and was popularized by notable heavy metal musicians such as Dave Mustaine, Slash, Paul Stanley, Kerry King, Nikki Six and Trey Azagthoth.
The above brands are not only trusted by some of the most talented musicians out there, but have also helped push the boundaries of music through their innovations. Irrespective of the genre you’re in, these iconic brands will certainly please you in terms of craftsmanship and technology in music.