Although the quality of overseas guitar manufacturing has improved significantly over the past 10 years, American made guitars are still the most coveted stringed instruments out there. And it’s not hard to see why. Some of these American brands, such as Fender and Gibson, have produced the best and most recognizable guitars in history, both acoustic and electric. On top of that, they are often the go-to brands for some of the biggest bands and artists, and they have also been featured on just about every classic song or album, especially when it comes to rock music.
But, American guitar brands have earned their place in history because they are, first and foremost, great instruments. Sure, some of the USA brands have outsourced some of their product lines to countries like Mexico, China, or Indonesia, but the models that remain American-made are unmatched when it comes to build quality, performance, and sound. The fact that they are made in smaller series right here in the US typically guarantees a better quality control process and superb craftsmanship that can rarely be found anywhere else. So, if you are feeling patriotic or if an American-made guitar has always been your dream, definitely check out our guide on the most reputable American guitar brands, as well as the best American-made electric and acoustic guitars you can buy today. I’ll start this article by jumping into reviews on the best American made guitars at each price point, but if you want to learn more about the different American guitar brands check out our full list of American guitar brands and buying guide here.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. PRS S2 Custom 24 Electric Guitar (Best Value Electric)||Fret Count: 24|
Scale Length: 25″
|$1650||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Taylor 314ce V-Class Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural (Best Value Acoustic)||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 25.5"
|$2000||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Fender American Ultra Telecaster Electric Guitar||Fret Count: 22|
Scale Length: 25.5″
|$2000||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Gibson SG Standard ’61 Electric Guitar Vintage Cherry||Fret Count: 22|
Scale Length: 24.75”
|$1800||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Gibson Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar||Fret Count: 22|
Scale Length: 24.75”
|$1500||Read Full Review Below|
|6. PRS McCarty 594 Figured Maple Top Electric Guitar||Fret Count: 22|
Scale Length: 24.6"
|$4000||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Martin D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 25.5"
|$3000||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Guild USA D-55 Traditional Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 25.625
|$3600||Read Full Review Below|
|9. Taylor Guitars Builder’s Edition 652ce 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar||Fret Count: 18|
Scale length: 24-7/8"
|$4200||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Martin D-16E Acoustic-Electric Guitar||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 25.4"
|$1800||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Fender Custom Shop Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster Electric Guitar 3-Color Sunburst||Fret Count: 21|
Scale Length: 25.5″
|$5400||Read Full Review Below|
|12. Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s Electric Guitar Gold Top||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 25.75"
|$2500||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Gibson J-15 Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar Walnut Burst||Fret Count: 20|
Scale Length: 24.75"
|$1950||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Taylor 514ce V-Class Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural||Fret Count: 20|
Scale length: 25.5"
|$2800||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are the Best American Made Guitars
1. PRS S2 Custom 24 Electric Guitar (Best Value Electric)
|Body||Double Cutaway Mahogany with Maple Top|
|Pickups||85/15 “S” Humbuckers|
|Bridge||PRS Patented Tremolo Bridge|
My Review: If you’re looking for the best value among American-made electric guitars, then look no further than the PRS S2 Custom 24 electric guitar. The PRS Custom 24 has been one of the best guitars you can get for a long time, but it’s finally accessible to mere mortals in terms of price. For the “S2” custom 24 models, PRS has kept everything that makes the Custom 24 and incredible playing and sounding guitar but scaled back on things like premium materials and labor-intensive manufacturing techniques that drive up costs. With S2 Custom, the top is flat as opposed to a hand-sanded archtop. The S2 also uses an asymmetrical beveled maple top as opposed to a premium piece match 2 piece AAA flamed maple top. Honestly, though, the tops look incredible on the S2. The body is made of mahogany with an asymmetrical beveled maple top, and the back is three-piece mahogany with a scale length of 25”.
The fretboard is made out of rosewood, and features 24 frets, along with instantly recognizable PRS S2 bird inlays. What we really love about the S2 Custom is the range of different tones it can produce through different humbucker pickup combinations, which you can select using the three-way blade switch. The PRS Custom S2 Treble bridge pickup will enable you to play more intense genres, such as blues or rock, whereas the neck pickup will provide a smooth midrange that is perfect for jazz. When you turn on both humbuckers though, all hell breaks loose, and you can play anything from hard rock to metal with plenty of sustain.
Who Will Use This Most: Absolutely everyone. Build quality and tone makes it appealing even more recording artists, and gigging musicians will also be able to afford one. And given how versatile it is thanks to the humbucker pickups, it will be suitable for pretty much all genres.
Bottom Line: When you take into account all of the factors, it’s hard to imagine that you can get a better American-made guitar than the PRS S2 Custom 24 for the price. There is a video of Paul himself introducing one of these guitars in an overview where he describes the S2 as 90% of the guitar for half the price when comparing it to a full blow PRS Custom 24. Just an incredible guitar and an incredible value.
2. Taylor 314ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural (Best Value Acoustic)
|Body||Grand Auditorium with Cutaway|
|Top||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Solid Sapele|
|Finish||Gloss Top, Satin Back and Sides|
|Bracing Pattern||Taylor V-Class Bracing with Relief Rout|
My Review: The Taylor 314ce acoustic guitar is the “entry-level” Taylor guitar in their lineup of USA-made guitars. We say “entry-level” because it’s among the cheaper Taylors you can buy which features an all-solid body. However, the sound and build quality are what you would expect from Taylor, which is to say it’s incredible. We also think that this particular model is the best value of them all. So what’s the trade-off? Well, there is certainly less “bling”, because you don’t get the tortoiseshell pickguard, nor the mother-of-pearl inlays. There is also no fancy binding, but that makes the 324ce look classy and understated.
The combination of solid Sitka spruce top and solid Sapele back and sides so the Taylor 314ce produces bright and clear high-end notes, thanks to Sitka spruce, whereas the Sapele has similar tonal properties to those of mahogany, which means you get a deep, full bass and a smooth midrange. This guitar also features Taylor’s V-Bracing, which makes the guitar project better, even though the 314ce isn’t as loud as some of the more expensive models in the range. We also love the satin finish on the neck, back, and sides. If you are looking to play this beauty on a stage, you can make use of the superb Expression System 2, which makes this guitar sound amazing, so there is no need for additional microphones.
Who Will Use This Most: Given the brilliant preamp system, the 314ce will be the guitar of choice for many touring musicians, as well as singers-songwriters, whether they prefer loud strumming or gentle fingerpicking.
Bottom Line: The Taylor 314ce keeps everything that’s great about the top range of Taylor acoustics, and does away with some of the cosmetics, in order to keep the price tag lower. And that is more than fine by us.
3. Fender American Ultra Telecaster Electric Guitar
|Body||Single Cutaway Alder|
|Pickups||Ultra Noiseless Vintage Tele Bridge & Neck Single Coil Pickups|
My Review: Fender’s Ultra Series comes as a replacement for their popular Elite series of guitars, and brings just the right balance of legacy and innovation. The Fender Telecaster American Ultra is a must-have for all those among you who are in love with the classical Tele looks and sound. This, if anything, looks and feels even better than the previous models, with a contoured body which is not only lighter but also allows for better access to those upper frets. Another update is the D profile neck, which just feels great in your hands, and enables you to both shred and play buzz-free chords.
The American Ultra Telecaster comes with Ultra Noiseless Vintage single-coil pickups, and because it has the Fender S-1 circuit and the three-way pickup switch, you can easily change between different pickup combinations and achieve the tone that you like. We also forgot to mention another innovation, which is the sculpted neck heel, which makes the guitar really comfortable and easy to play. This particular model features a maple neck, which goes great with the Butterscotch Blonde finish. This is just about the best American Telecaster for the price Fender has ever released.
Who Will Use This Most: Those who prefer the unmistakable classic Telecaster sound. Because of the D-shaped neck profile, this guitar is suitable for both blues soloing, as well as for crunchy rock chords.
Bottom Line: The Fender American Telecaster Ultra is a fantastic guitar, and although not among the cheapest on our list, it’s worth every penny. All of those subtle improvements really add up to a lot, making this guitar a real joy to play. This is easily one of the best American made guitars out there.
Popular Related Article: 17 Best High End Acoustic Guitars
4. Gibson SG Standard ’61 Electric Guitar Vintage Cherry
|Body||Double Cutaway Mahogany|
|Pickups||Dual Burstbucker ’61 Humbucker Pickups|
My Review: The Gibson SG electric guitar is one of the most instantly recognizable guitars in music history, especially in Vintage Cherry finish. But, interestingly enough, the SG is not something that can only produce a vintage sound, because it has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity among many stoner rock and metal bands, which prefer its massive sustain. This particular model, the SG Standard ‘61 is our favorite of the bunch, because it’s a nod to the original SGs which were designed in the ‘60s when Gibson was determined to come up with a new design that would be as popular as the Les Paul. Needless to say, they failed on the popularity front, but we got a great guitar in the process that has a loyal following.
The SG Standard ‘61 is all mahogany, apart from the fretboard, which is made from rosewood and features acrylic trapezoid inlays. The neck itself has a very slim tapered profile which is a joy to play, and the whole thing is topped off with a headstock that has vintage deluxe tuners. But, what really makes this guitar stand out is its vintage tone, and that is the result of dual Burstbucker ‘61 pickups. What’s great about these is that you can pretty much throw anything at them, from the clear treble notes, as you have on AC/DC’s songs, to the low-end rumble when the guitar is paired up with effects or a fuzz pedal. You can control all of this thanks to volume and tone controls, because you get two of each, as well a three-way toggle switch.
Who Will Use This Most: The Gibson SG is pretty versatile, but it feels right at home among players which play straight-up rock and roll, as well as among the stoner rock guitarists.
Bottom Line: The Gibson SG Standard ‘61 is a true workhorse of a guitar, and you won’t go wrong if you are looking for that signature tone.
5. Gibson Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar
|Body||Single Cutaway Maple Top and Weight Relieved Mahogany Body|
|Pickups||Dual Humbuckers with Coil-Tapping|
My Review: One of the things you will notice about the Gibson Les Paul Studio is that it doesn’t have some of the esthetic elements we have grown accustomed to on a Les Paul, such as the binding. Basically, Gibson has removed these elements in order to keep the price down, while keeping the essence of the guitar intact. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a better American-made guitar that sounds this good for the price, all the while being a tough workhorse that plays great in any kind of environment, whether you’re laying down tracks in a studio or touring.
Mind you, this version of the Les Paul still looks great, thanks to the figured maple top which is available in a number of different finishes. Keeping in line with all the traditional Les Paul elements are the humbucker pickups, or to be more specific, one Gibson 490R neck pickup and one Gibson 498T bridge pickup. Needless to say, the sound is instantly recognizable. The Les Paul Studio is also extremely playable, thanks to the slim tapered profile of the neck.
Who Will Use This Most: Those who are looking to get a true Gibson Les Paul without having to spend a fortune, as well as professional musicians who are looking for a reliable touring instrument. It can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it
Bottom Line: The Gibson Les Paul Studio ticks all the right boxes when it comes to Les Paul essentials while doing away with some of the fancier elements in order to make this model more affordable.
Related Article: Types of Acoustic Guitars Explained
6. PRS McCarty 594 Figured Maple Top Electric Guitar
|Body||Double Cutaway with Figured Maple Top and Mahogany Body|
|Pickups||58/15 LT Humbucker Pickups|
My Review: There is no doubt that PRS makes some incredible guitars across their entire range, and the PRS McCarty 594 belongs to the high end of the spectrum. If you are looking for an electric guitar that perfectly embodies the ‘59 Les Paul, you shouldn’t get a Les Paul. Get a McCarty instead. This is the double-cutaway version, but the company also offers a number of single cut models. Named in honor of the legendary Ted MacCarty, the PRS 694 has a mahogany body with a figured maple top which looks absolutely amazing. This is what a premium electric guitar should look like.
In terms of build quality, the McCarty is excellent, but that is something we have come to expect from PRS. As for the sound, the 594 features two 58/15 humbucker pickups with a four-control layout, which resembles the well-familiar Les Paul layout. If you are used to playing Les Pauls, this guitar will fit you like a glove. Whether you choose to play it in a full humbucking configuration or with the coil splits, this electric guitar sounds like an absolute monster, and there is not a single tone across the entire range that sounds anything less than sublime. And it plays great whether you are a jazz player or a metal shredder. Sure, the price tag is pretty astronomical, but the McCarty is a true high-end guitar and hands-down one of the best ones you can buy.
Who Will Use This Most: Obviously, this model is aimed at those players which require perfection and are willing to spare no expenses in order to obtain it. Also ideal for fans of the ‘59 Les Paul, as this is an improved version of that.
Bottom Line: We love everything about the PRS McCarty 594 and we cannot recommend it enough. It’s a dream guitar without a doubt.
7. Martin D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
|Top||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Solid East Indian Rosewood Body|
|Body Bracing||Non-Scalloped Forward Shifted X-Bracing|
My Review: The Martin D-28 is the ultimate embodiment of the dreadnought body shape, not just because it sounds and plays great, but also because it has left an indelible mark in music history. We would need a whole article just the name of all the names and songs this guitar was used on. If you are looking for a guitar that sounds and looks vintage, the D-28 is the ideal choice, since it’s basically a remake of the original D-28, albeit with a few updates, such as the forward-shifted X-bracing. The tone remains huge as well, with fantastic projection and incredible sustain. Honestly, playing just about any high-end acoustic guitar after this one feels like a step backward.
The D-28 can pretty much play anything with perfection, whether you are strumming away to acoustic rock songs or playing delicate blues and jazz solos. The only real rivals this dreadnought guitar has are other Martin models, such as the D-41, which is even more expensive than the D-28. Despite the price tag, this is pretty much the only acoustic guitar you will need in your life, especially if you love the vintage sound and styling, which is evident if you take a look at the binding.
Who Will Use This Most: Recording artists, country, rock, and blues players, as well as anyone who can afford to buy it. It’s the ultimate dreadnought guitar that builds upon the legacy of the original.
Bottom Line: The Martin D-28 is absolutely flawless in just about every aspect. It’s the perfect acoustic guitar, and that’s pretty much all there is to say about it.
Related Article: Recommended Acoustic Guitars Under $1000
8. Guild USA D-55 Traditional Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural
|Top||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Solid Indian Rosewood|
|Body Bracing||Scalloped Adirondack Spruce Bracing|
Estimated Price: $3,500
Body Style: Dreadnought
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides: Solid Indian Rosewood
Body Bracing: Scalloped Adirondack Spruce Bracing
Fret Count: 20
My Review: The Guild USA D-55 Traditional represents the company at the top of its game. And when Guild is on that level, it can easily rival the likes of Taylor and Martin. If money is no object when buying an acoustic guitar, then you will definitely need to check out the D-55 Traditional. The top is made from solid Sitka spruce with Adirondack spruce bracing. This makes the guitar sing on the high-end of the range, because of the Adirondack spruce, which is very light and resonant. A nice counterpoint to the sound you get from the top is the rosewood back and sides, which provide a deep bass response.
As opposed to the Standard series D-55, the Traditional has more intricate details, such as beautiful binding, as well as generous use of abalone and mother-of-pearl. You also get a high-quality case that resembles alligator skin. This guitar looks and sounds classy, and you will turn quite a few heads as you start playing it. Another thing that stands out on this guitar is the slim D shaped neck, which is ideal if you are constantly switching between acoustic and electric and playing chords.
Who Will Use This Most: Seasoned guitar players, session musicians, as well as recording artists. This is one of the best American-made acoustic guitars, so it will appeal to anyone who has the budget to purchase it.
Bottom Line: The Guild USA D-55 Traditional acoustic guitar provides you with pretty much everything you would ever need in an acoustic guitar: great sound, superb build quality, and playability. What more could you want?
9. Taylor Guitars Builder’s Edition 652ce 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
|Body||Grand Concert with Beveled Cutaway|
|Top||Solid Torrefied Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Solid Figured Big Leaf Maple|
|Neck||Hard Rock Maple|
|Bracing Pattern||Taylor V-Class Bracing with Relief Rout|
My Review: The Taylor 652ce belongs to the Builder’s Edition series of guitars. This particular model was designed by Andy Powers and features a number of innovations introduced by Taylor, as well as the use of selected tonewoods. You will also notice that this is a 12-string guitar. One of the goals Taylor has set out to achieve with this guitar is to bring the precision and the comfort associated with electric guitars to the world of acoustics. The result of that is a fairly slim neck that sits very comfortably inside the hand. But, creature comforts do not end there.
The 652ce also has rolled fingerboard edges, beveled armrest, and cutaway, as well as low action. It’s stunningly easy to play, even for a 12-string guitar. The top is made from torrefied Sitka spruce, which has undergone a process of roasting in order to age the guitar and make it sound more open and resonant, just like it would happen naturally with age. All 12-string guitars have that beautiful high-end shimmer, and this one does too, but it doesn’t skimp out when it comes to bass and midrange tones either. For those looking to play this guitar live, the 652ce also comes with Taylor’s own Expression 2 preamp system, which captures every nuance of the sound this guitar is able to produce.
Who Will Use This Most: The price itself puts it out of reach for most casual players and hobbyists, but professional musicians will absolutely love the Taylor 652ce, both live and inside the studio.
Bottom Line: The Taylor 652ce is one of the most playable, beautiful, well-made, and yes, most expensive acoustic guitars out there, and once play it, you will have trouble putting it down.
Popular Related Article: Roundup of Our Favorite Classical Guitars
10. Martin D-16E Acoustic-Electric Guitar
|Top||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Solid East Indian Rosewood|
|Bracing Pattern||Forward-Shifted X-Bracing|
My Review: As soon as we have laid our hands on this guitar, we have realized that the D-16E is while being the usual Martin dreadnought, somewhat different than the rest of their lineup. First, there is the lack of traditional binding. Instead, you get silver binding, which is a lot less flashy, but still pretty elegant. Then there is the price tag, which puts the Martin D-16E among the company’s more affordable models. And once you start playing it, you will also notice that the body itself is somewhat shallower than those found on most Martin dreadnought guitars.
Speaking of the body, the top is made out of solid Sitka spruce, with solid East Indian rosewood back and sides. The tone itself isn’t as loud or as booming as you would expect from a Martin acoustic, which is the result of a shallower body, but it is more balanced. To make it louder, you will simply have to play harder. The D-16E is also set up for live performance since it features a built-in Fishman Matrix VT Enhance that is discreetly tucked away on the inside of the guitar.
Who Will Use This Most: Touring musicians, singer-songwriters, as well as anyone who needs a high-end acoustic guitar at a fairly reasonable price tag.
Bottom Line: The Martin D-15E is great acoustic guitar, and while it’s not the best guitar Martin has ever made, it’s still miles ahead of most of its competitors, especially in that particular price range.
11. Fender Custom Shop Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster Electric Guitar 3-Color Sunburst
|Body||Select Alder with Double Cutaway|
|Pickups||3 Custom ’60s Single-Coil Strat Pickups|
|Bridge||American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo|
My Review: If money is no object and you are looking for the best Fender Stratocaster out there, we recommend that you take a look at the Rory Gallagher Signature model. Although most signature and relic guitars are designed just to shift more units, the amount of effort that went into the creation of this Strat has us thinking the exact opposite. Every last detail has been painstakingly replicated, down to the stripped finish of the original, which ended up being that because of the supposedly acidic sweat of the late guitar legend. There is also aged plastic, and a distressed neck and fretboard.
And when you plug this Strat, it sounds extremely close to the original tone of Rory Gallagher’s guitar, which is to say it is really sharp, biting, and yet very delicate at times. Just playing the first few chords of Gallagher’s “Moonchild” will send shivers running down your spine. You can pick any combination of the three single-coil pickups with a three-way selector blade switch. This is both a great guitar and a testament to the artist and the bygone era.
Who Will Use This Most: Because of the price, the Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster is aimed at collectors with deep pockets, professional musicians, and fans of vintage Fender Stratocasters.
Bottom Line: The Fender Custom Shop Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster is a stunning electric guitar, and by all accounts, it is the best Fender Strat on the market today. Fender has managed to capture the magic of the original, and it’s spectacular.
Related Article: Great Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
12. Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s Electric Guitar Gold Top
|Body||Single Cutaway with Figured Maple Top and Mahogany Body|
|Pickups||Dual Burstbucker Humbucker Pickups|
My Review: After facing years of criticism, it seems that Gibson has returned to form under new leadership if their 2019 lineup is anything to go by. Bridging the gap between modern and vintage is the Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s Gold Top electric guitar. The guitar itself shows that Gibson has listened, as the Les Paul Standard ‘60 Gold Top looks, feels, and sounds like a ‘60s Les Paul, which is to say it’s incredible. You get the maple top with a stunning gold finish, as well as the mahogany body.
Responsible, in large part, for the vintage tone is the dual Burstbucker humbucker pickup. These pickups produce that sweet and clear sound all Gold Tops are known for, and you can dial in just about any kind of tone thanks to two volume controls, two tone controls, along with a three-way toggle switch. It’s what’s worked for Gibson in the past, and now they have finally brought it back to the 21st century.
Who Will Use This Most: Fans of Les Paul Gold Tops, rock and blues players, and just about anyone who prefers the vintage Les Paul sound over everything else.
Bottom Line: The Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘60s Gold Top represents what Gibson does best, and in our opinion, it is the best Les Paul you can buy today.
13. Gibson J-15 Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar Walnut Burst
|Body||Slope Shoulder Dreadnought|
|Top||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Walnut|
|Bracing Pattern||Traditional hand-scalloped X-Bracing|
My Review: Looking for a high-end acoustic guitar for under $2,000? Gibson has you covered with the J-15. Featuring Gibson’s signature slope shoulder dreadnought shape, this acoustic guitar shows why Gibson has become such a huge name in the industry. The craftsmanship on the J-15 is superior. The top is made out of solid Sitka spruce, body and sides are solid walnut, with details such as the hand-fitted dovetail neck joint, as well as the hand-sprayed nitrocellulose lacquer. Also adding to the overall looks are the mother-of-pearl inlays on the fretboard.
The guitar produces a sound that is pretty big and rich, which makes it ideal for genres such as rock, country, pop, and blues, and the lacquer will make sure that the wood is able to mature and breathe with age. And if great live performance is what you are looking for in a guitar, the Gibson J-15 comes with a built-in L.E. Baggs Element preamp system. For the price, you also get a hardshell case, which makes this high-end guitar good value as well.
Who Will Use This Most: The J-15 will appeal to everyone who loves an acoustic guitar that has a loud, robust sound and is well-made. It’s pretty versatile, which means you can use it both inside the studio and on stage, regardless of the genre.
Bottom Line: The Gibson J-15 acoustic guitar is an impressive guitar and it’s easy to see why it has been so popular for decades. We highly recommend it.
14. Taylor 514ce V-Class Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural
|Body||Grand Auditorium with Venetian Cutaway|
|Top||Solid Western Red Cedar|
|Back and Sides||Solid Tropical Mahogany|
|Bracing Pattern||V-Classwith Relief Rout|
My Review: Taylor’s range of acoustic guitars has plenty of great guitars, but the one you should definitely check out is the 515 with V-Class bracing. One of the reasons why this guitar is on this list, apart from the expected Taylor craftsmanship, is the selection of tonewoods for the body of the guitar. The top is not made out of Sitka spruce, but Western Red cedar, which produces a slightly warmer sound than the spruce. When paired up with the mahogany sides and back, it really sounds balanced across the entire tonal range. The signature Grand Auditorium body shape and V-Class bracing make the 514ce project extremely well, which is why this model is played by so many guitarists.
Just like all top-of-the-line Taylor guitars, the 514ce is equipped with the Expression System 2 preamp, which allows the guitar to sound equally well when plugged into an amp. When not plugged in, the guitar has incredible sustain and volume, with all the notes sounding clear and articulated. Taylor has done it again. The 514ce is a stunning guitar, and while not exactly a bargain for the price, it’s the sort of guitar that you buy and then keep for the rest of your life, because you won’t want anything else.
Who Will Use This Most: Because this particular model has a cedar top that really shines if you have a more delicate touch, it will be suitable for fingerpicking. Of course, a great strumming sound is present here as well, which makes their guitar suitable for genres like rock and country.
Bottom Line: The Taylor 514ce definitely belongs among the best American-made acoustic guitars you can buy today. While not cheap, it is among the more reasonably priced Taylor models, which is why we have decided to put it on your list.
American Made Guitars Buying Guide
Are American Made Guitars Better?
A lot of people wonder if American made guitars are actually better and worth paying more for. The short answer is yes, generally speaking. Guitars that are made in the U.S.A. tend to be made with higher quality than guitars made overseas. Of course, you can find exceptions and an argument can be made for certain foreign brands/shops/luthiers. One example, there are many guitar models that are made in Japan and are held in the highest regard. It’s also worth noting that a guitar that is known for being high quality will hold and sometimes increase in value over time, and this is true for nearly every of the top big-name America Guitar Brands.
American Guitar Brands List
Just listing all of the American guitar brands would take ages, so for the purpose of this guide, we will focus on those guitar manufacturers which stand out the most, whether it’s because of their iconic status, value, design, build quality, or simply because they represent the very essence of great acoustic or electric guitar. Here is our list of best American guitar brands:
Fender, along with Gibson, is the most iconic American guitar manufacturer of them all. The company itself was founded way back in 1946 by Leo Fender, and since then, it has gone on to produce some of the most legendary instruments in music history. Obviously, Fender’s most recognizable models are the Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster. The former is just about synonymous with the word “guitar” and has been played by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Ritchie Blackmore, and David Gilmour, just to name a few. Telecaster has been celebrated by legends such as Bruce Springsteen and Roy Buchanan, Jeff Buckley, and Keith Richards.
Other notable models include the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar, which was played by Kurt Cobain. They have even developed a separate EVH range in collaboration with Eddie Van Halen. One of the reasons why Fenders are always popular is not just because of their quality. Yes, the company uses premium tonewoods and every high-end instrument is beautifully made, but other American-made brands have caught up or even surpassed Fender in more than one aspect.
The reason why Fender is still such a coveted brand is its legacy, as well as the unmistakable tone of their guitars which has been unsuccessfully replicated by so many of its competitors. Those looking to recreate the vintage guitar tone have no other choice but to get themselves a Fender guitar. For those looking to get more value for their money, Fender also has their affordable Squier series, which are good instruments in their own right.
If you are at a concert or looking at a recording of a live performance and you don’t see a guitarist playing a Fender on stage, then they are probably playing the other iconic guitar: Gibson. Gibson was founded in 1902, and the company originally made mandolins. Over the years, they switched to making various archtop and hollow-body designs, but it wouldn’t be until 1952 that they would create their most iconic model: the Les Paul. Much like the Fender Stratocaster, The Gibson Les Paul has been immortalized by players such as Jimmy Page, Slash, Paul Kossoff, Peter Frampton, and Gary Moore.
Gibson would also go on to create other legendary models, such as the Gibson SG, most notably played by Angus Young, Tony Iommi, and Derek Trucks, the ES 335, which has been the guitar of choice for Chuck Berry and B.B. King, the Les Paul Junior, as well as models such as the Explorer, the Firebird, and the Flying V. When it comes to acoustics, it is impossible not to mention guitars which have become a part of music history, such as the Hummingbird and the J-45, As you can see, when it comes to legacy and history, Gibson is at the very top along with Fender. It’s important to note that all Gibson Les Paul guitars are made in the US. Just like Fender, they also have a line of more affordable guitars under the Epiphone label.
Gibson has gone through some tough times in the last decade, which has affected the quality of some of its models. But, their top-of-the-range models are still amazing guitars, and if that fat, massive tone full of sustain is what you are after, Gibson Les Paul is still the best option.
For the longest time, Gibson and Fender were viewed as archrivals, and players were in favor of one or the other. But all of that changed with the emergence of PRS. The company was founded by luthier Paul Reed Smith back in 1985, who named it after himself (hence the PRS moniker). What started out as a small project eventually became a company that is basically a household name for anyone with even the slightest interest in music. Some of the famous players who have endorsed or played PRS guitars are Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy, Dave Navarro, John McLaughlin, and more recently, John Mayer.
PRS guitars have also been instrumental in propelling the nu-metal movement, and some of the most notable players in the genre, such as Wes Borland and Brad Delson, have used PRS guitars. One of the things that has really helped PRS establish itself as a premium electric guitar brand is the mentorship of legendary Ted McCarty, after which PRS caught up with Gibson and Fender, especially in the ‘90s and the early 2000s. Paul Reed Smith would even go on to name one of its best high-end models after McCarty.
When it comes to using premium tonewoods and materials, as well as craftsmanship and quality control, PRS’s top-of-the-range models are on par with those of Gibson and Fender, and more often than not, they often surpass them. Similar to Gibson and Fender, PRS has gone and created a line of more affordable guitars under the SE series. However, these guitars are still high-quality instruments and are superior to equivalent Squiers or Epiphones.
Martin makes some of the best acoustic guitars out there, across all price ranges. The roots of the company can be traced all the way to the 1700s, although it has established itself as a guitar company back in 1833. It has been owned and operated by members of the Martin family for six generations. Martin is responsible for arguably the most popular shape among acoustic guitars – the dreadnought, which was a design previously abandoned by another company. Martin took it and made its own, and pretty much all guitar manufacturers would go on to copy them.
Today, Martin guitars are known for their superb craftsmanship, attention to detail, as well as their incredible sound. Like some of the other brands on this list, Martin has left a permanent mark in music history and has been played by the likes of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, and Paul McCartney. Apart from introducing the dreadnought body shape, Martin is known for being one of the first guitar companies to implement the now standard X-bracing, as opposed to Spanish-style fan bracing that was common on the guitars back in the day.
Their most prized models are the HD-28, the D-28, the D-41, and the D-45. The Vintage Series features their finest instruments, which costs upward of $5,000. The company is also notable for its environmentally-friendly approach to building guitars, as they often use alternatives to endangered wood species. However, they also have a number of affordable laminate models which are great for beginners.
Taylor is the best-selling acoustic guitar brand in the US. Along with Martin, it represents the very best when it comes to build quality, attention to detail, and tone. The company was founded back in 1974 and has gone on to build some of the finest high-end guitars you can buy today. Their guitars are easily recognizable, not just because of their bright, loud sound, but also because of their Grand Auditorium body shape. Taylor guitars are built using the highest-quality tonewoods, but the company itself goes out of its way to make sure that their production is sustainable.
Taylor’s best models include the 914ce and the 814ce, but the brand also offers more affordable models, such as those from the 200-series, which offer great value. You are probably also familiar with their travel-sized guitars, such as the Big Baby and the GS Mini, which sound great despite being extremely portable. They are also responsible for some clever innovations, such as V-bracing, which allows guitars to project better. In terms of price, they are similar to Martin, which means their top models are pretty pricey, but worth every penny nonetheless.
It would be safe to say that Gretsch makes some of the most beautiful guitars you will ever see. But, its reputation wasn’t built on looks alone. The roots of the company go all the way back to 1883, but things really took off for them with the emergence of rockabilly. In fact, Gretsch has almost become synonymous with the genre. Their guitars were played by the likes of Chet Atkins, Brian Setzer, Eddie Cochran, George Harrison, Bo Diddley, Billy Gibbons, Tim Armstrong, and Billy Duffy. Gretsch guitars are also popular among jazz and blues players. Their flagship model is the White Falcon, which sounds just as good as it looks, and has the price tag that reflects that.
Their Electromatic Series is aimed at players who are looking to get a good electric guitar without breaking the bank. Those with a strong preference for hollow and semi-hollow body guitars will find much to like about Gretsch, especially if they are willing to pay for their high-end models.
Guild was founded in 1952, and throughout the ‘60s, it has produced a significant number of hollow-body guitars, which were embraced by jazz musicians. However, they also started making acoustic and solid body electric guitars. Their Starfire line was especially popular among psychedelic bands of the era, and their acoustic guitars belong to the same echelon as Taylor and Martin. Guild guitars have been played by Brian May, Bryan Adams, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Tom Petty, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others.
Their retro style and sound for hollow-body guitars are incredible, and their acoustics are true workhorses in terms of durability and quality. The trade-off with the latter is their weight.
Although G&L produces a lot of different models, you have probably seen those which look a lot like famous Fender electrics. In fact, they look exactly the same at first glance, which is not a surprise, since the company was founded by Leo Fender. Yes, the very same Leo Fender, after he sold the company to CBS in 1965. You can think of G&L as an excellent alternative to Fender, especially when you consider their sound and build quality. Leo Fender himself claimed that G&L guitars and basses were the best instruments he has ever made. Jerry Cantrell is one of the most notable rockstars who is often seen playing one of his many G&L electric guitars.
Suhr is one of the youngest guitar brands on this list since it was founded in 1997. What sets this brand apart from most others on this list is the fact that they don’t really have their own line of guitars. Instead, you can reach out to them and they will create a custom guitar for you based on a combination of well-known guitar shapes, pickups, and finishes. They basically function like a boutique guitar builder, but on a larger scale. This is the reason why you will often see Suhr guitars that look like Les Pauls or Fender Stratocasters, but which surpass the original in terms of quality, playability, and sound.
Ovation was founded in 1965, and it’s become famous for its unorthodox guitar design. Unlike most guitars, Ovation acoustics feature a composite bowl design that replaces the traditional back and sides, whereas some models feature a top that has 22 smaller sound holes instead of one large one. This sort of design is the result of research and provides better sustain and volume. They feel and look different, which may put off some players, but they also have a hardcore following that swears by them. Ovation guitars have been played by the likes of Paul MacCartney, Cliff Richard, Bob Marley, Neil Diamond, and Cat Stevens.
In case you are a metalhead, you probably already own a Schecter. The company was founded in 1972. Schecter guitars have proven themselves as high-quality instruments in any genre, but they are a favorite among shredders. Players like Jerry Horton, Synyster Gates, and Robert Smith are among those which have recognized that Schecter has been quietly making some of the best guitars in the industry. The kind of craftsmanship and quality that you get with these guitars is surprising given their price tag. You get a high-quality instrument that is great value, which is not something you see every day in the guitar world.
- BC Rich
- Ernie Ball Music Man
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.