If There’s One Guitar Brand You’d Buy from Forever, Which Would It Be?
This is my take of which brands are best for an electric guitarist, as well as my top pick.
After having come back to my lodging from a fun little vacation, we’re back at it with another guitar article.
Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved electric guitars. They look pretty and unlock a lot of tones and sound options.
I get asked sometimes which brand to buy from, and I have my answer. I’m sure everyone has their own. I’m not a brand elitist, but I do generally prefer one brand over the others.
In today’s blog, let’s which guitar brands are my favourite in my journey so far.
I hope to accomplish two goals with this post: help buyers explore various options (I’ll provide brief thoughts of each brand), and actually choose “one brand to rule them all” based on my experience.
And to spice things up, I’ll attempt to answer this question: if all guitar brands imploded, which one would you save?
Time to offend guitar heads out there! Let’s do it!
So here’s a list of the brands I have experience playing: ESP, Gibson, Fender, Epiphone, Kramer, Ibanez, PRS, Schecter, Jackson, and Charvel.
I like them all. But I need to pick one? Crap.
Let’s start with ESP.
ESP guitars are known for rip roaring metal. I’ve played their Eclipse, Horizon, and M-I/M-II guitars, and I’ve noticed one common theme: their quality and sound were always great.
ESP specializes in metal guitars, and guitars with high output. The guitar necks are incredibly comfortable and not too wide in nut width. It feels like a dream to blaze through their frets.
But as much as I love ESP, I have to give it a pass in this article for a few simple reasons: price point and variety.
Most ESP guitars are geared for heavier music, and mostly at a price point of over $1000 (unless you buy their sub-line, the LTD series). Although they do have firebird and strat-shaped guitars, they mostly serve a similar purpose: play heavy music.
Many Gibson lovers are obnoxious, but I actually like Gibson. Their SG and Les Paul guitars are iconic rock guitars.
Gibson has made strides over the years to cater to more budget-friendly buyers, as well as provide that humbucker punch to all of their guitar models, save for the more specialized models in their catalogue.
I have to say, Gibson is quite an expensive brand to buy from, especially as a guitar modder myself.
Also, most of their guitars are limited to the humbucker configuration. I personally wouldn’t choose Gibson as the only brand I’d ever buy from, but you do you.
Fender has made some real beauties over the decades, much like Gibson has. Fender guitars have a unique sound signature, and they specialize in the Telecaster/strat single-coil sound.
My dream Fender guitar is the Fender Ultra Strat series. Silent hum single-coils? Check. Fender tone? Check. Production quality? Check. Want a humbucker in it? They got those, so check. Signature strat sound? Check.
Fender has made a variety of guitars over the years at various price points, so I really like this brand.
Fender guitars can be budget-friendly, or high-end. The thing is, they have signature tones in their guitars, so versatility may not be so apparent, unless you do some modding of your own.
Ah yes, the “cheaper Gibson” of guitar lines. Basically, if you like Gibson guitars but are on a budget, Epiphone guitars are great to fill that void.
I have nothing against Epiphone, as I actually recommend this brand over Gibson at a certain price point. But having discussed Gibson guitars which are way too similar, I think I’ll pass.
This is a less well-known brand with more low-end to mid-range guitars. The thing that sets Kramer apart from other brands is they have various models like strats and Les Paul-type bodies, but with other amenities.
Their Striker and Assault series both have classic body shapes with souped-up features at a decent price point. 24 frets, larger fret sizes, Floyd Roses, floating bridges, and more. They also use one of my favourite brand of pickups in their guitars: Seymour Duncan.
This brand serves a more mid-range price buyer, so if you’re looking for a really high-end guitar, Kramer is not for you. For the purposes of this article, I’ll pass on Kramer.
Ibanez bases its head office in Japan and has become an international company since its inception. Perhaps since the 80’s, Ibanez was well-known for their super strat-style RG series.
Ibanez throughout the years has seen much growth and development in their guitar models. They revived the Iceman model, created the handle-bar Steve Vai strat, and more guitar models than I could count (many are no longer in production).
From beginner to mid-range to high-end guitars, Ibanez has it all.
I will say that since they have factories all over the East Asian continent, not all Ibanez guitars are made equally. I have seen a few duds/shoddy guitars over the years, but in their cheapest models. Their mid-range and high-end guitars have never disappointment me.
Paul Reed Smith is a great guitar brand. Overall, the quality of these guitars is superb at each price level.
PRS is perhaps most well-known for their double-cut custom guitars. Their guitars kind of look like a chubbier front side of a strat and the backside of a Les Paul fused together.
Most of their guitars have a humbucker configuration. Some can cover heavy metal, and others can cover country, blues, and rock.
I have to say, PRS is one of my favourite brands, but would I pick it over other brands in this list? Let’s see…
I would describe Schecter guitars as “above mid-range”. Most of their guitars have great pickups and hardware for their price point, but their prices are generally higher than most mid-range guitars.
Schecter has excellent finish quality, and there are a number of guitar bodies to choose from, like super strat, Les Paul, or explorer. Some bodies come with names like “Avenger Apocalypse Doublecut”, which looks like a strat that’s been stretched diagonally.
Schecter is pretty great, but let’s check the remaining brands.
Jackson has guitars that range in price from low to high-end. They specialize in one thing: heavy metal guitars.
Any guitar can be modded to sound differently (though it may cost a lot of money), but Jackson guitars definitely lean toward the heavy metal side of things. Many of their guitars sport the iconic Jackson “shark fin” fret inlays.
I do find that their lower end guitars are a little less rugged and durable as other guitars, though. I’ll take a pass on Jackson, as easy as it is to shred on their axes.
Charvel specializes in super strats and super teles. Imagine a Fender guitar, upgraded with almost every feature in terms of hardware. Floyd Roses, 24-fret guitars, jumbo frets, humbucker configurations, and a slightly more playable neck. That’s a Charvel.
One of my guitars at home is a So-Cal Charvel, modded to the nth degree. It’s one of my favourites for sure, but would I go with Charvel as a brand? Hmm.
Instead of trolling you and saying “I wouldn’t pick one as they all serve different purposes”, I’m actually gonna pick one.
Of the top choices, I like Fender, Ibanez, Schecter, PRS, and Charvel. All for different reasons.
But if I were to save one, it would be: Ibanez
This brand is so large that it has almost any guitar type, at any price point, with any sound that I need.
It’s got strats, super strats, hollow bodies, Ibanez exclusive models, fatter-necked strats, shred-worthy S series guitars, tapered Les Paul-style guitars, etc.
Ibanez has guitars with EMGs, Seymour Duncans, DiMarzios, and more (though some are guitarist-inspired). It’s actually too much.
They even have custom shops in the USA and Japan.
At every single budget and price point, I can find a worthy Ibanez guitar. Their features like guitar weight, wood type, tapering, binding, neck playability, and other hardware options have been engineered with specificity and detail.
I can honestly say that over the years, Ibanez has succeeded in blending feel, look, and sound quality in their guitars, which is freaking hard to do.
And I like the full range of quality: from lower-priced “really playable but ‘meh’ finish” axes to high-end “holy crap, that’s one of the coolest guitars I’ve ever played” axes.
If there’s one guitar brand I’d buy from forever, if they’re allowed to exist forever, it’d be Ibanez.
What brand would you choose? We all have different needs, styles, and preferences, but for me, it’s Ibanez.
Feel free to share a comment on what you prefer. With that said, it’s been good to get back to blogging.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next blog!
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Thanks for reading!