Best Guitars

Choosing a guitar is tough, and so is finding the best guitars made in the USA with so many manufacturers in the market today. We decided to dig in to find the craftsmen that are truly making the best guitars in terms of quality, performance, and value right here in the USA. Below are our findings along with all of the factors that went into our research.

Our Findings

Overall, we found 8 U.S. guitar manufacturers that really stood out from the pack. All of these craftsmen have a model for anyone from a beginner to incredibly advanced pickers. We broke down our top picks into a few different categories based on style: acoustic, electric, archtop, bass, and a last option for more custom builds. Check out our top picks below!

Top Recommendations

Best Guitars Best for:
Collings Guitars Acoustic
C.F. Martin & Co. Acoustic
G&L Guitars Electric
Heritage Guitar Inc. Electric
Kurt Wilson Guitars Electric
Koentopp Guitars Archtop
Rickenbacker Guitars Bass Guitars
Jon Kammerer Guitars Custom

Recommendations: Going Deeper

Here are a ton of deeper details on our top picks: features, what we liked, what we didn’t like, and more.

Best Acoustic Guitars

Collings Guitars


For the best in acoustic guitars we definitely recommend checking out Collings. They are based in Austin, Texas and have been crafting amazing guitars since the 1970s. Their old-school products are made with a top quality mix of hardwoods and tonewoods for strength, beauty, and a rich and versatile sound for most playstyles. If you’re looking for the basics, go with their D1 model – a square-shouldered, 14-fret dreadnought, which is one of the most popular body shapes in the world. If you’re looking for some more customized options, the CW Mh A is great for flatpickers and bluegrass players, or go with their OM1, which stands for “Orchestra Model”.

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Things we like:

  • Beautiful old school style
  • Tons of model options
  • Great sound

Things we don’t like:

  • Have to find a local dealer

 

C.F. Martin & Co.


Martin guitars are some of the highest quality guitars on the market thanks to their incredible attention to detail. The construction process really makes them stand out, which is even more true when looking at their popular acoustic models. The wood used to produce their guitars is all environmentally sourced, and every aspect of the construction process is carried out meticulously. We recommend going with the HD-28V (pictured here), which is their most popular Vintage Series model and sounds great across a variety of playing styles.

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Things we like:

  • Classic neck shape
  • Dovetail joint construction
  • Smooth sound

Things we don’t like:

  • Local dealers only

 

Best Electric Guitars

G&L Guitars


Founded by Leo Fender, Dale Hyatt, and George Fullerton after the original sale of Fender, G&L is a guitar company that focuses on small scale custom production of guitars and offers some of the highest quality instruments that you can get in the United States today. G&L offers many different guitar types, but their electric guitars made in Fullerton, California are definitely our favorites. These guitars sound edgy, play smoothly, and remain tuned for a long time when they are set up properly. You simply can’t go wrong with this classic.

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Things we like:

  • Great sound
  • Three color choices
  • Blend of contemporary and classic style

Things we don’t like:

  • Typically only sold through local dealers, but check their online store for clearance instruments you can get a deal on

 

Heritage Guitar Inc.


Heritage is a smaller guitar manufacturer that is very similar to Gibson due to its product offerings. The company is well-known for producing high quality electric guitars, and offers a selection of hollow body and solid body guitars. One of its most famous is the H-150. We love that that H-150 is still comfortable to hold and play and isn’t too heavy, despite it’s full solid body for maximum tone quality. That’s because the guitar has a smaller form-factor than many other solid body guitars do. The guitar is made up of a mahogany body and a solid maple top, it has a look of quality and offers a recognizable tone that should sound familiar to many. The guitar produces a thick and rich sound that comes across well over microphones.

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Things we like:

  • Warm recognizable tone
  • Solid construction
  • Manageable weight
  • Mahogany and oak construction
  • Beautiful pearl trapezoid inlays
  • Available in several different colors

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Kurt Wilson Guitars


Kurt Wilson has been producing amazing handcrafted guitars out of their Illinois factory since 1990, and offer some of the best electric guitar models on the market today. The Kurt Wilson Standard Series of guitars are known for their traditional construction, high level of quality and excellent attention to detail. The Standard Model is our favorite, but they do have a few other variations as well: an XL model that’s a bit bigger, a semi-hollow model, and an XL semi-hollow model with an arrowhead F-hole. All Standard models are super high quality and fuse old-school design with modern-day engineering, offering a rich and resonant sound that will come across well on most quality speaker setups.

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Things we like:

  • Mahogany body
  • Maple top wood construction
  • Several model variations
  • Awesome sound
  • Appeals to a variety of players

Things we don’t like:

  • Limited supply

 

Best Archtop Guitars

Koentopp Guitars


Koentopp is well-known for producing clean-sounding archtop guitars that are highly versatile. We love that the company offers so many different customization options, making it easy to pick out the exact build that you want. Both American and European tone woods are available to choose from for builds, so make sure to choose the American option. The guitar comes with a standard 22 fret layout and solid ebony fittings that look nice and function reliably. The real beauty of Koentopp guitars is obvious through their preparation. These guitars are handmade with a high attention to detail going into every part of the construction process. The company produces a limited number of these guitars, so it can take time to order and purchase one of them.

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Things we like:

  • Handmade construction
  • Based on a vintage design
  • Basic 22 fret layout
  • Solid ebony fittings
  • Customizable materials

Things we don’t like:

  • Limited availability
  • Lengthy ordering process

 

Best Bass Guitars

Rickenbacker Guitars


Rickenbacker is a legend in the music industry – they are credited as being the first known producer of electric guitars, all the way back in 1932. Today, they are making some awesome bass guitars out of their facility in Santa Ana, California, and obviously have a long history of doing so. The bass models in the 4000 series were first introduced in the 1950s! These guitars are well constructed, easy to tune, and sound amazing.

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Things we like:

  • Tuning ability
  • Sharp sound
  • Round wound strings

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best Custom Guitars

Jon Kammerer Guitars


We love the highly customizable guitars constructed and sold by Jon Kammerer. These guitars utilize top quality OEM equipment and carefully selected hardwoods. The guitars can be customized and modified in several different ways during the construction process, and the added options don’t come at an extra cost. This means that you can get a more specific guitar than you can from most other companies when ordering a Jon Kammerer creation.

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Things we like:

  • Quality wood construction
  • Customizable guitar
  • Attention to detail
  • Hand-crafted construction practices

Things we don’t like:

  • Long wait time

Factors We Considered

The Action

When looking for a guitar, the action is crucial depending on your experience level. Focus on lower action for new players, or a mid-range action for experienced players looking for a cleaner sound. Most guitars should come with a low action when it arrives, or it should be easily adjustable to a low action level that’s comfortable for beginners to play.

The Material

We selected guitars made from quality laminates, partial hardwood components, or full hardwood components to get the best sound quality overall. The best guitars are made of full hardwood, but they can be cost-prohibitive for some buyers, which is why we considered other options here as well.

The Finish

We focused on finding guitars with a lighter translucent finish in most instances. The richest guitars generally show off some of the wood grain through the finish. Thicker finishes that block the wood grain can take away from the sound of the guitar and leave you with something that falls a bit flat.

The Sound

All of the factors above contribute to the sound of the guitar. We listened to dozens of audio files and tested a few of our own to find the guitars producing the best quality at the right price.

Brands Aren’t Everything

While it’s not a bad idea to buy based on brands known for their quality, we understand that brand name alone doesn’t tell you if a guitar is good or bad. There are some low-quality options from very well-known manufacturers. We looked for quality above brand and only choose guitars based on their features and value.