Updated 2/5/2014 – We’ve scoured the internet for over a decade and found the best electric guitar manufacturers around the world while curating this Electric Guitar Manufacturer Directory for aficionados and gearheads. We sure have found some amazing (and strange) electric guitar companies along the way. Enjoy.
Abyss Guitars is owned and operated by Kevin Pederson, who handcrafts personal guitar designs with labor-intensive electric guitar building techniques. He uses only the highest quality hardware, tone woods and craftsmanship to distance his line of electric guitars from the rest of the market. Not only are they uniquely well built…they are also gorgeous. Ken gives a keen eye to the aesthetics on his guitars in order to produce an instrument that will inspire guitarists for a lifetime. These electric guitars are truly works of art.
Alembic is known primarily as a bass company, but they make some of the most incredible guitars as well. Jerry Garcia’s guitars were made from Alembic designs. His Wolf, Rose and Tiger and Rosebud guitars are some of the more famous Alembic guitars that he has played with the Grateful Dead. All Alembic guitars use exotic woods with mind-blowing finishes, often incorporating multiple woods throughout the body. Complex electronics are also common with Alembic guitars, offering options like effects loops and stereo outputs. These are some of the most beautiful electric guitars in the world.
Steve Andersen has been created handcrafted electric guitars since the early 70s (he also makes mandolins). HIs archtop electric hollowbody guitars are some of the most playable and classic-looking instruments on the market. Great for jazz and fusion players.
Tom Anderson is one of the more well-known modern boutique guitar luthiers around today. His guitars featured attention to fine details and offer some of the most incredible sunburst designs on the market. They are sleek and ready to rock. Plus, he’s a good guy.
Andona makes some of the most unbelievable guitars, like this flame-topped solidbody shown to the left. There are no compromises in the manufacturing of Andona guitars, and classic designs somehow are made more…elegant. This Telecaster-inspired guitar shown to the left plays like a dream and will stand out from the crowd at your next gig. A+ electric guitars.
Originally launched in the early 1950s, Aria Guitars are a Japanese based company that produces both acoustic and electric guitars (began in the mid 60s). Unique designs like the framed guitar shown to the left help Aria stand out from the crowd, although not necessarily one fo the elite electric guitar companies. Visit their website to explore more of their electric guitar models.
Phil Sylvester, founder of Art Guitars, combines his attraction to avante-garde art with his interest in electric guitars. These guitars are simply wild. They are more unique than almost every other guitar in this directory, and will attract the artsiest of guitarists from around the world. As strange as they look, they play extremely well and sound magnificent.
The electric guitars from Aspe have been created from years of design, planning and personal listening to various guitar models. They are known for an elite sound, easily playable nature and attractive body shapes. The guitars can be customized and tweaked to your liking.
The tone wood, mature and valuable, is the most important raw material in all of the handcrafted guitars from Auerswald. 35 years is the minimum age for wood to be make its way into an Auerswald guitar. Some of their tonewoods are so old they can be considered antique woods (upwards of 135 years!). Doesn’t this look like the Prince guitar? Hmm…
Located in the mountainous terrain of Northern California (aka NorCal), Ken Bebense draws inspiration from his many acres of forest land, bears and other wildlife to build some of the most incredibly unique guitar designs on the market. Using classic guitar parts like tailpieces, but making them out of wood, Ken sets his guitars apart from nearly every other electric guitar on the market. His wood grains will turn heads and the tones will feel like magic under your fingers. Truly an fantastic electric guitar luthier.
Robert Benedetto, founder of Benedetto Guitars, fuses sculpture, architecture, music and art into his fine, handcrafted electric archtop guitars. These archtops stand out in the modern golden age of guitar making, and Robert is known as one of the more respectable archtop luthiers in the world. You can’t go wrong with a Benedetto..
Andrew Scott, founder of Blindworm Guitars really stretches the the boundaries of guitar making with his incredible woodworking skills to create some of the world’s most outrageous electric guitars. These babies are sleek, unique and anything but weak. Some might call them sonic masterpieces. He uses rare and exotic tone woods combined with top-notch hardware to surpass guitar players’ wildest fancies. Prince doesn’t stand a chance if you own one of these bad boys.
Brian Moore guitars are known for their unique electronics (like midi electronics and the iGuitar’s piezo and humbucking pickups) and ergonomic shape for easy playability. These guitars are like cult classics.
Brubaker guitars have grown beyond their two original electric guitar models: the K-4 and B-2. Their guitars are based on traditional electric guitar designs like double cutaways and single cutaways and can be customized to suit. They also offer an Xtreme Spalted maple guitar, which is a really strange beast that brings out the avant-garde style in your playing.
Mark Campellone builds some of the highest quality electric archtop guitars on the market. They are carefully crafted, based on crafted designs (like this Gibson-inspired guitar to the left), rich with harmonics and a dream to play. Check them out.
Chandler is known for its two-way unique truss rod, critically-acclaimed guitar finishes, slick electronics and a reminder of classic American craftsmanship in guitars. Chandler is also known for making popular lap steel guitars that are affordable and great for entry-level lap steel guitarists.
Chapin Guitars use only the finest materials and are handcrafted for ergonomic playability and a wide range of tones. Classic designs (like this Telecaster-inspired guitar to the left) are spiced up with unique features like sleek pickguards and gold hardware. This can be your everyday/every-gig guitar.
Collings, mostly known as a high-end bluegrass guitar company, screamed onto the electric guitar market in recent years with some stunning electric guitar designs. We saw these first-hand at the 2013 NAMM show and they blew us away. They offer new concepts in jazz archtop guitar design, offer incredibly warm tones with brilliant clarity. Bill Frisell is a well-known guitarist who uses a Collings guitar.
Comins archtop guitars offer the warmth that guitarists live with punchy midrange that is needed to cut through the mix. The low-end is loud and clear, paired with a pleasing high end that is full of harmonics instead of harsh to the ears. Overall, these guitars are well-balanced and perfect for jazz players who employ techniques like chord/melody, fingerpicking and flatpicking.
Conklin’s New Century Series guitars offers a custom solution for discerning (aka “picky”) guitarists. These guitars can have a hard rock, black-as-night look and feel to them…or an exotic wood grain appeal. Be sure to check out their custom guitars gallery to get a closer look at their designs.
Cort guitars have come back in a big way recently. They make some fine archtop guitars, and some affordable ones to boot. Cort has been in business for over 50 years due to their classy designs, hand-picked parts and willingness to adapt with modern technology. These are good electric guitars for new jazz guitarists who want a nice archtop without breaking the bank. Check them out.
The New Yorker, D’Angelico’s legendary jazz archtop guitar, is capable of some gorgeous acoustic tones (without amplification). That’s where the tone starts…alone, with the guitar. Plugging it in makes it even better as the guitar’s unique body design allows wood bridge and hollow body to interact with the vibrations of the strings. This creates a very resonant guitar that can be played for days. It’s the classic modern jazz archtop guitar…and you don’t necessarily need to live in the Big Apple to own one.
DeTemple keeps one core philosophy at its core when building guitars: use your hands. By limited the use of machines and modern technology to create their guitars, DeTemple produces truly one-of-a-kind instruments for their customers. The Spirit Series guitars are vintage-inspired, handcrafted and able to be customized to your needs. Just reach out to them.
The Korean-made replicas of traditional and contemporary guitar designs from Dillion Guitars are made from quality woods and hardware, although not necessarily the solid exotic tone woods discussed in some of the more elite guitars on this page. But, they sound great for an affordable, attractive guitar. Good for intermediate players.
One of the only guitars designed to be played with a bow, Dramm Guitars offer innovative neck, body, fingerboard and bridge designs to compensate as necessary. The pickups and the electronics are even tailored to this unique application of a bow on a guitar, and guitarists can explore new territory with these axes. Definitely different.
Maximum sustain and tone are the goal at Driskill Guitars, and they’re good at it. With designs like a triple-P90 setup, the tones are diverse. The Diablo is one of their more popular guitars and is known to be very playable while providing ample aesthetics.
Lloyd Loar, founder of Eastman Guitars, was a founder of the golden age of electric archtop guitars during the 1920s. This was an incredible era, and one that is cherished by jazz guitarists around the world. Eastman archtop guitars were (and still are) built to offer a brilliant, clear tone with and elegant design that was perfect for jazz. beauty of craftsmanship. This is the same company as Eastman Strings, a renowned violin/cello manufacturer founded in the late 1900s, and they’ve evolved over time to focus their historical instrument-making skills on archtop guitars that can be found in jazz clubs across the word. The Uptown Professional Series continue this legacy, are highly sought after.
Epiphone’s founder, Epi Stathopoulo, is a historical legend in the world of guitar making (although not as well known as builders like Leo Fender). He was among the earlier guitar luthiers to embrace bluegrass and jazz music and received many patents over the years that influenced other guitar builders. Some of these inventions include the extension-based truss rod design, individual pole pieces in electric guitar pickups and the very first wah pedal design (called the “ToneExpressor”). The cream of the crop, however, was when Les Paul created the “Log” and the world’s very first solid-body electric guitar after experimenting in the Epiphone factory in 1941. Note: This is debatable, as it’s also claimed that Adolph Rickenbacker actually created the first electric guitar.
Dennis Fano builds his retro-style guitars as if all of the classic American electric guitar luthiers of the mid 20th century would have collaborated as a collective unit. That is the inspiration behind the Alt de Facto series and it’s as good of an inspiration as any. Everything from the aged nickel guitar hardware and the classic vintage feel of worn lacquer finish to classic wood choices like mahogany, swamp ash and alder—these guitars reek of vintage skunk. Combined with modern features such as compound radius fingerboard, high-end Gotoh and TonePros guitar hardware and custom wound Fralin pickups, Fano guitars are sure to surpass anyone’s expectations. Nels Clines and Jeff Tweedy would agree!
Fender originally began in 1946 by Leo Fender who created one of the world’s first electric guitars. Many think that Leo created the first electric guitar, but it was actually Adolph Rickenbacker. However, Fender guitars became the most famous line of electric guitars in history (battling Gibson over time). Their incredible line of groundbreaking (and often replicated) designs include the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Mustang, lap steels and more. Most guitarists choose Fender guitars for the classic single-coil pickup tone with light and playable bodies. These guitars are great to wrestle with in order to draw out all of the toneful goods that they offer.
Gecko Guitars is located in the picturesque village of Bundanoon, 2 hours south of Sydney and sells exclusively the range of instruments by guitar-maker Frank Dainovskas. Frank has been designing and making electric guitars and basses for over 20 years. Now living in Australia, his basses and guitars are available to all musicians. The quality and craftsmanship are second to none. Gecko Guitars uses Australian tone woods due to their aesthetics and strength. They also provide note clarity and tonal girth that is needed for an electric guitar.
The old Giffin workshop was located under a bridge by the Thames river in London, and it soon became a meeting place for many big-name guitarists of the 1970′s as a hotspot for people seeking great guitars and guitar service. Guitarists such as Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour and even Eric Clapton frequented the old Giffin Guitars workshop. To this day, Giffin has produced over a thousand affordable and high-quality guitars including their Standard 6-string (solid or hollow body), their incredible 12-string, T-Series guitars and Brigand Single Cut guitar.
Gibson, like Fender, is one of the world’s most popular electric guitars. Ever since the Les Paul and early jazz archtops, the electric guitar luthier scene was born. Their line of legendary electric guitars includes the Les Paul, SG, ES-175 (hollowbody), ES-335 (semi-hollowbody), Flying V (rock guitar), Explorer (rock guitar), Firebird and more. Many of the great guitarists of our time (B.B. King, Chet Atkins, Howard Roberts, Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Pageetc.) spent either their entire or a good portion of their careers making the music we love with these elegant guitars. Gibson Guitars is now over 100 years old. They got their start with acoustic instruments.
Handcrafted in Partington (England…Manchester area), Gordon-Smith Guitars have been around for several decades and are the longest tenured modern guitar company in England. They keep their costs as low as possible for their customers while offering classic singe cutaway, double cutaway and other designs (like this Explorer-inspired guitar to the left). Rosewood fingerboards and one-of-a-kind one-piece maple necks…and even left-handed guitars…help to set Gordon Smith Guitars apart. These options come included in your guitar…not at an extra cost to your wallet.
Gretsch is one of the most beloved electric guitar manufacturers from the golden era of electric guitar making, and lives on today with unique designs. Chet Atkins is one of their most famous endorsers, but there are many classic and modern lines to choose from including the Jet Duo, Nashville, Firebird, Falcon and plenty of other hollowbody and solidbody electric guitars. These guitars are especially popular in country music and can be seen on classic albums and modern day hits across the world. Truly a classic brand.
Grimes Guitars is a boutique electric guitar company who gives full attention to detail in their craft, and builds electric guitars slowly to ensure top quality. The backs and tops of their electric guitars are tuned to perfection, which is a commonly overlooked step by mass-produced electric guitar companies. As they build their electric guitars, they keep the overal tonal response top of mind to ensure that the wood is vibrating at optimum. Grimes produces only 20-30 guitars each year, so you know you’re getting a quality instrument.
Using modern electric guitar building techniques, incredible tone woods and a vintage-style lacquer finish, Don Grosh’s electric guitars are some amazing instruments. Each guitar is given the “acoustic test” when complete, to ensure that the guitar sings without even being pluged in. Check out the unique body shapes and cool use of P90 style pickups (as shown in this Grosh guitar to the left).
Guild builds fine guitars in so many different styles: arch-tops favored by giants of the jazz community, and flat-top and electric guitars that became classics during the folk boom of the ’50s and ’60s, as well as the rock era of the British Invasion, folk-rock, the blues revival, and psychedelia. These guitars are famous for their rich sound, beauty, and craftsmanship. They are equally famous for their durability and value.
Founded in 1974, in the basement of Chicago-area suburb, a posse of guitarists got to work on building a new breed of modern guitars that would eventually inspire many of today’s guitarists. Hamer Guitars focuses on the art in guitar making and builds one of the best guitars on the market with only the highest-grade parts. These guitars are built by hand and given an incredible finish that is buffered to make the guitar shine on stage.
Gerry Hayes of Haze Guitars, based in Ireland, specialises in designing and building custom electric guitars and basses. Haze makes uniquely shaped guitars (like the one shown to the left) along with popular guitar shapes. But, each guitar can be customized to your needs. Maybe you want a Telecaster style guitar with P90s or a Stratocaster with a stop tailpiece? Think out of the box, and then work with Haze Guitars to build your dream electric guitar.
Scott Heatley, founder of Heatley Guitars , creates custom electric guitars out of his shop in Vancouver (BC). He hand-selections tone woods (sometimes directly from the saw mill) and creates uniquely shaped electric guitar bodies (like shown to the left with the unusual “f holes”). He can even design a custom shape to create your dream electric guitar. Literally anything you can think of, Scott will make it come true. Definitely check out Heatley Guitars.
Heins Guitars builds custom guitars based on classic designs. They not only build electric guitars, but also build custom archtops and bass guitars. Browse their website to learn more about the Heins guitar shop, their electric guitar models, choice tone woods, vintage guitars and more.
Henneken Archtops first came onto the boutique electric guitar market in the late 1990s at the Osnabruck Open Strings Festival. They feature vivid paint jobs and incredible playability for jazz music. They build an archtop adorned with nylon strings which creates an incredibly warm tone, and their 12-string model is simply lights out. Visit their website to learn more about Henneken Archtops.
Heritage Guitars is run by former Gibson luthiers who actually create their guitars using some of the original Gibson machinery in the oldest Gibson factory building. Some say that Heritage guitars are better than the modern-day made Gibson guitars, but that’s open to debate. We’ve played their ES-335 model and were blown away. The consistency of quality is unmatched. Since the mid 1980s, when Heritage Guitars was founded, many new Heritage electric guitar models have been released and they now have a well-rounded range of hollow, semi-hollow and solid wood guitars. These are some of the best. When considering a Gibson guitar, also consider a Heritage.
Hofner Guitars is the biggest stringed instrument and electric guitar builder in Germany. They’ve been in business since 1887…well before Gibson, Fender, etc. The electric guitar didn’t exist then, but the foundation for it did. Their master luthier (Karl Hofner, now deceased), was known for incredible luthier craftsmanship and business strategies that built this company’s long-standing tradition. These guitars have survived WWI and WWII and live on today as some of the most classy electric guitars on the market. Just look at this red-wine colored beauty to the left. Hofner makes gorgeous guitars, plain and simple.
By the mid-80?s with the interest in instrumental rock guitar on the rise, Ibanez collaborated with players such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert and brought out the JEM, JS, RG and S models. Today, present day versions such as these models still considered the standard in hard rock and instrumental rock guitars. As well known for its jazz guitars as it is for rock, Ibanez has an impressive line of jazz boxes including the aforementioned George Benson models, two Pat Metheny models, and most recently, the new John Scofield signature semi-acoustic.
J.Backlund makes dual-toned guitars that create a nice aesthetic appeal, and use chrome hardware to contrast the body style. These guitars are inspired by classic designs, but taken in new directions (like the guitar shown to the left which is similar to a Fender Jazzmaster body shape). Their guitars are well-balanced, ergonomically shaped and built with solid woods to last a lifetime.
JJ Guitars makes boutique solid body electric guitars out of the United Kingdom using hand-selected tone woods and high-end materials. The great thing about these guitars is they don’t cost a fortune. They are relatively affordable, so this is a good electric guitar builder to check out if you have money to spend, but aren’t rich.
Jersey Girl guitars are a modern legend. Having been in business since the early 1990s, they have a small group of electric guitar luthiers and effects pedal designers who created some very unusual looking guitars (natural wood colors with adornments like shown in this guitar to the left). Each guitar is hand-built one at a time and are given artistic treatment on every detail. These are some of the most unique electric guitars on the market today.
Jet guitars are known for their highly-capable and customizable electronics, which allow for all sorts of tonal hues, midi capability and more. Their models include: Earlewood, Caldera, Baritone and also a lap steel.
Koll Guitars has been building handcrafted custom electric guitars for several decades, and specializes in custom instruments through collaboration with the guitarist. Their archtops are quite unique (some Art Deco models, some with Alaskan Sitka spruce, etc.). Their “Glide” guitars (like shown to the left) feature unique body shapes and come with all sorts of pickup configurations.
Kritz Guitars uses aged tone woods (over 100 years old) and custom-wound pickups with aged magnets to produce a modern vintage style of guitar. With unique pickup and tone control configurations, paired with elegant body shapes, these electric guitars are some of the finest around. Many of their guitars have a transparent finish to help the natural wood grain shine in all its glory.
Trusted by Gibson Guitars due to his incredible guitar making and repair skills, Bruce Kunkel has restored numerous collectible and historic guitars like the DeAngelico Excel used by Chet Atkins on recordings from his younger years. Through this process, George uncovered the secrets of these classic guitar designs and he uses them today in his own designs. Bruce left Gibson to start Kunkel Guitars in 2003. He wanted the final say in every part of his guitar work, but is forever grateful to Gibson for the unique opportunity he had to restore the greatness of the world’s fines guitars. He now focuses on the artistic side of guitar making.
Lado Guitars was founded by Joe Kovacic, a well-respected electric guitar luthier with more than 40 years of guitar building experience. What you need to know about Lado Guitars is that they held a Guinness world record for the largest and loudest electric guitar (that is actually playable) from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. With innovation like that, Lado is sure to surprise with their unique designs.
Drawing on electric archtop guitar influences like D’Aquisto, D’Angelico and Gibson, Mark Lacey builds electric archtops and semi-hollow guitars inspired by the greatest jazz archtop luthiers of our time. These electric guitars are traditional in design (despite the unique headstocks) and are focused on playability and durability.
You want aged wood? How about swamp Kauri roots that are 35,000 years old? That pretty much beats every other electric guitar builder on this page in the “aged wood” category. Coupling these unbelievably old wood with hand-carved designs, Langcaster Guitars push the envelope of electric guitar design. Their unique pickup designs, Earvana nut and LightWave systems round out one of the most unusual line of electric guitars in the world. Oh, and their super quiet and sustain like a mofo. These are super cool electric guitars.
Chris Larkin is a one-man-show in making his custom electric guitars. He buys the tone woods, hand-crafts every guitar and ships them all by himself. He features original designs (like this bass-shaped guitar to the left) with incredible finishes that bring out the wood’s natural beauty, and focuses on practical enhancements to make the guitar more playable.
Leach Guitars makes solid body electrics with quality figured tops and the sides, back and neck are all made from Mahogany. What’s unique about them is that they fold where the neck meets the body via a hinge. Multiple pickup setups can be chosen from (including a MIDI/magnet pickup combination. They are hand-carved and priced affordably. Their Excelsior model is lower budget (but still a quality guitar) and the Elite model is their higher end guitar.
The U-Guitar, from Leduc Guitars, features a “sound table” that floats freely, constructed out of European spruce, and is attached to the body between the bridge and the bottom of the body. What does this mean? Well, this produces frequencies resonating at a lower level and helps to further amplify the guitar’s sound (like an acoustic). This also helps the guitar’s higher strings sustain longer, and the lower strings have richer harmonic content. Very innovative design, and classy looking electric guitars.
Little Guitar Works is a small boutique electric guitar (and bass) shop that makes both standard and ergonomic-style guitars…even guitar-making tools for other luthiers. They custom design guitars for musicians who want “the works,” and can customize the body as desired. Standard designs, or unique ergonomic shapes, can be requested.
Malden uses modern technological advancements in electric guitar making to build high-quality guitars that are affordable (somewhat). Their electric guitar models include the Stiger, Subhuman, Bulldozer, Karma, Bad Karma, Mozak, Liquid and Utopia. All of these boutique guitars have their own characteristics that make them unique.
Malinoski Guitars is founded on fine furniture building techniques, but taken to the world of electric guitars. When you look at these guitars (like this one to the left), you realize these are a step away from tradition and closer to creative masterpieces that make the boutique electric guitar industry so fantastic. Incredible wood grains and fine playability.
Manzer Guitars makes most of their guitars from scratch (except for hardware), and offers some gorgeous custom inlays that are engraved by hand. Each electric guitar’s fingerboard is slotted individually by hand, the woods are bent with precision, and the tone woods are hand-selected from lumber yards across the country. Manzer is always on the hunt for curly Maple, which might end up in your custom Manzer electric guitar if you can help them find it.
Founded in Europe in the 1980s, Master Guitars is led by luthier George Gorodnitski (from Latvia). George was a student of violin-making and studied music and art while in college. He moved to the U.S.A in the late 1980s and began his line of high quality guitars, focused on archtop designs, flattops, half-acoustic designs and full-on electric guitars. Master Guitars have a unique edge on the market: their guitars are designed for a bow to be used while playing them. Truly unique.
Bill May, founder of Maton Guitars, is an Aussie luthier who has the longest-established electric guitar shop in the country of Australia. He was the first to use many native woods from the area in electric guitar making, so these have a unique tone and feel. He’s one of the local legends.
Mayones Guitars operates out of Poland, and is the country’s largest guitar and bass luthier for years now. They sell several thousand guitars each year, and make roughly 100 electric guitar and bass models. They also sell all sorts of music gear such as amps, pickups and more.
McInturff Guitars has a lineup of over ten electric guitar models and they are beauties. These guitars are plyed by guitarists like Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Chuck Garvey of Moe., and even Los Lobos’ front man…David Hidalgo. These are some of the best modern boutique guitars on the market, and Terry McInturff has built quite a name for himself.
Located out of North Carolina, McNaught Guitars is a little boutique guitar company (2 people!) that offers some incredible custom inlay work to their fretboards. Their headstocks aren’t too shabby, either. They have roughly 10 models of electric guitars including: Phoenix Rising, V5, Vintage Single Cut, Vintage Double Cut, Single Cut Jr, Double Cut Jr, G5, G5-T, D+ Series, D Series Bolt-Ons and Black Out. When you look at their guitars, you recognize that they are modeled after classic designs…from the 60s through the 80s.
Stephen McSwain, founder of McSwain Guitars, creates art guitars like this one shown to the left portraying a snake. They are (of course) handmade, one by one, and would look just as good on your wall as in your hands. Check out their website for some incredibly gallery images of their unique electric guitars. Slash has been known to play a McSwain guitar.
Megas Guitars makes jazz arch tops that are considered to be among the best guitars in the world. The founder, Ted, makes only 12 custom electric guitars each year, so these are not easy to get your hands on. He oversees the entire process of making Megas guitars, and as a result has built a reputation of the highest regard with both collectors and guitarists alike. In fact, he was one of 23 luthiers asked to create an instrument for a tribute to Jimmy D’Aquisto called the Blue Guitar Project.
Meloncon Guitars makes custom electrics that are inspired by Fender’s Stratocaster and Telecaster body shapes. They are finished with a quality lacquer sealing. Some of their guitars include: P-90 Artist, Custom Artist, Pro Artist and the Cajun Gentlemen. Check out the wicked tremolo on this guitar to the left.
Modulus Guitars is known for one primary feature: carbon-fiber necks that stay in tune much better than guitar necks made of wood. They invented this technique back in the 1970s. They are located out of San Francisco, where electric guitar luthiers are in abundance…and they’re one of the leaders. Jimmy Herring plays a Modulus guitar, and Mike Gordon (Phish) plays a Modulus bass. Those are both incredible endorsements. They also come with a signature extended top horn cutaway that gives them a unique look.
Imagine a mandolin body mixed with a Les Paul, and that’s what you see in this Morch guitar shown to the left. Morch Guitars are made in Scandinavia, and have been in business for nearly half a century. This curl-model guitar shown to the left has been published in the Dana Design Index (which sounds important) and displayed across the globe for its unique design. They are available for custom order, so visit their website and reach out for more details.
Starting in the early 1980s, Brad Nickerson began building jazz arch top guitars that have become highly collectible across the U.S. and in European countries. They are featured in high-end boutique guitar shops around the world, and have even been displayed at the Smithsonian as part of Jimmy D’Aquisto’s Blue Guitar Collection tribute (led by Scott Chinnery).
Novax is the Fanned-Fret innovators, celebrating 25 years of Fanned-Fret technology in 2014. Their guitars are known for combining bass and electric guitar into a single, playable instrument. They draw from classic designs of the first of the 20th century, yet take guitar making into a completely unique direction with their fanned frets, and combination of bass strings/pickups with guitar strings/pickups. Charlie Hunter is the most well-known guitarist to use Novax guitars, and he only needs one other musician…a drummer!
Paul Reed Smith is one of the bigger names in electric guitar making, and he has innovated many new electric guitar designs and techniques to create one of the most established brands in history. You’ll see PRS guitars being played by guitarists like Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Dave Navarro. PRS has expanded its line of products to include acoustic guitars and guitar amplifiers, as well.
Petillo Guitars custom makes very unique, somewhat rustic electric guitars using very old exotic tone woods, modern electronics and technology, highly precise fretwork and custom necks. They can also duplicate the exact string spacing and other features of your favorite guitar in order to produce a custom guitar that you’re already used to. Very cool concept! Petillo also offers custom inlays and pickguards for their guitar, as you see in this guitar shown to the left.
Founder Sid Poole died in 2001, but his guitars live on. The website for Poole Guitars is kept afloat by his family and friends as a tribute to his life and passion. Explore everything that Sid created and look for used Poole guitars online and in local classifieds. If you get a chance to play one, you’ll be in for a treat.
Brian May’s “Red Special” guitar inspired RS Guitars to create a true replica (well, without the antique fireplace mantle originally used to make Brian May’s guitar). These Red Special replicas are custom made for each customer and will provide years of head banging Queen guitar love for the rest of your life.
Website | RS Guitarworks makes some very earthy-looking guitars inspired by classic designs (like this Gibson Explorer-esque guitar to the left…which has a sweet earthy green finish). They also make vintage Fender-inspired designs that don’t just look vintage, but feel vintage too. These are very cool electric guitars that will last long enough to pass down to your children.
Ribbecke Guitars, located out of San Francisco with so many other great electric guitar luthiers, has been in business for going on a half century. They build custom instruments to order and have never had a custom guitar rejected by a customer. Now that’s quality. Tom’s most famous guitar is called the Hafling, which is a hybrid steel string/arch top/classical guitar that was designed through collaboration with Bobby Vega (Zero).
Basing their guitar designs on the inspiration provided by the original electric guitars produced in the 1950s and 1960s, Rickenbacker guitars combine vintage designs with modern features. The company still makes their classic guitars used by the Beatles, The Byrds and more. Their signature models were backed by guitarists like Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Tom Petty (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) and Pete Townshend (The Who). In order to stay in business so long, Rickenbacker was smart to continue focusing on improvements to their guitar design and construction. One thing remains, however…their attention to classic design with the vintage look, tone and feel that made them famous so many years ago.
These unique, handcrafted electric solidbody guitars are given the personal touch from all angles (carving, paint job…everything). Their design includes what’s called “relief-carved” construction, and they feature folky art concepts based on animals, rockets and other wild inspirations. The headstocks are unique to each guitar, matching with its theme. Quite possibly the most outrageous and artsy guitars made today, Rinehart guitars play just like a normal guitar, are made of normal guitar tone woods, (alder, mahogany, ash, etc.) and are equipped with the finest guitar hardware and pickups to ensure maximum playability.
Under the tutelage of James Trussart, Roadrunner Guitars was launched. Thees guitars feature artistic aesthetics (like this one shown to the left with a resonator-style soundboard) and reliable construction techniques taken from vintage designs. They have over 40 different electric guitar models, so have fun browsing on their website. Roadrunner Guitars makes everything from steel dobros to electric guitars for the truly adventurous tone seeker.
Ruokangas Guitars is a small company making electric guitars, located in Finland. Juha Ruokangas started the company in 1995, and today he makes about 120 instruments together with his team of master luthiers. Every Ruokangas guitar is made by hand by one of the luthiers in Juha’s team, without CNC, laser or other automated machinery. Juha is also closely involved in the build process designing new models and building single custom guitars by order. The Ruokangas philosophy is to cherish the old world values and enjoy the woodwork and art of guitar craft. Juha is known in the guitar industry as a pioneer of using Spanish Cedar and Arctic Birch in his guitars since the mid 1990′s. He is also the first luthier using thermo treated wood materials (roasted, as the Americans have started to call the process) in his guitars. Juha is also the chairman of The Guild of Finnish Luthiers and the vice president of The European Guitar Builders association.
Sabrafen Guitars, located in Spain, makes electrified versions of traditional style guitars but with unique F-holes and other guitar design elements. Their website is in Spanish, and Google Translate doesn’t work very well, so these are a bit difficult to get more information on unless you can read Spanish.
Sadowsky Guitars, located in New York, has a long-standing history of making fine electric guitars (solidbody and hollowbody) that have highly resonant tone woods. They sound incredible played acoustically, which is what you want…even in an electric guitar. This allows the pickups and electronics to amplify a better quality sound in the end. Their guitars are light weight and many of them are typically made from alder or swamp ash and feature figured maple tops.
Taku Sakashta, who is now deceased (body found in Santa Rosa in 201o…RIP), built a rnge of unique electric guitars that spawned multiple genres. They were known for well-balanced and uniquely adorned (like with the wooden tailpiece shown in this guitar to the left). His website is no longer active, but we’ve linked to the article about his death on Premier Guitar as a tribute to his short but important legacy.
Sandberg Guitars builds high-quality boutique guitars that have unique neck profiles, very strong fretwire and frets that are dressed to perfection. They are highly playable and performed live by guitarists like Reggie Worthy.
Schaefer Guitars, established in the early 70s, customizes guitars in great detail for customers. Everything from the width of the nut to the choice of tone wood is within the customer’s control to create a custom guitar built on a classic design. The wood is hand-carved, tuned (top and back) and features a glossy Nitro finish.
Chris Siegmund, founder of Siegmund Guitars, builds solidbody and arch top guitars that respond naturally to your playing (as you would expect). Each note blooms from the guitar. Tone woods for Siegmund Guitars are personally chosen by Chris, and he even makes guitar amps to accompany his instruments. Check out the unique resonator archtop shown to the left. These are very unique guitars that will bring out new sounds in your guitar playing.
Soller Guitars makes some really fun body designs, as shown in this guitar to the left. They’ve been around for several decades and make custom guitars, bass guitars, repair electric guitars and make other stringed instruments.
Sonntag Guitars makes jazz arch tops customized to all sorts of specs. They make acoustic and semi-acoustic jazz guitars with floating pickup designs, as well as electric guitars with built-in pickups. They are inspired by classic electric guitar designs.
Michael Spalt, founder and luthier of Totem Guitars, has married his extensive background in fine arts and his lifelong passion for the guitar to the woodcarving and engineering skills acquired over the past 15 years. Totemguitars are fashioned from found objects, pieces of wood left over from more traditional projects and whatever else might cross Michael’s path, embodying this colorful approach to art an the building of high quality instruments.
Specimen Guitars, hand-crafted by custom guitar luthier Ian Schneller out of Chicago, are created with some of the most unique designs (like this cello/lute-style electric guitar shown to the left). They use oddball guitar materials like phenolic, bell brass, masonite, aluminum and exotic woods to create some of the most unique electric guitars on the market. Of course, exotic tone woods are used as well.
You want the 80s? Steinberger Guitars will give you the 80s. These futuristic guitars feature a headstock-less design that was seen in music videos across this horrible decade of music (debatable, we know). They also feature what’s called a “Double-Ball Tuning System,” which allows the guitar to stay in tune forever…for…ever. These are very structurally sound instruments that will let you shred for hours…days…weeks…and you still won’t have to tune back up.
The unique electric guitars from Stevens Guitars are well-balanced up and down the neck, are comfortable to play, and feature ergonomic designs that support good playing posture. The truss rods are carefully implemented and the neck joints are constructed solidly. They have incredible sustain, tone and stay in tune quite well. Did we mention how cool they look?
Suhr Guitars fully embraces modern technology (CNC routing/programming) to create incredibly consistent, high-end boutique electric guitars that have taken the world by storm in the past decade. They still feature a lot of hand-craftsmanship for the finer detail work, and are made by a single electric guitar luthier (assembly lines are nowhere to be found). Suhr Guitars are quite popular today and can be found in most reputable guitar shops around the country.
Teuffel Guitars began building electric guitars in the late 1980s and creates some of the most strange-looking electric guitars on the market. Guitars like the Birdfish and Tesla have really stretched the limits of guitar making and we highly encourage you to check out their website for a closer look at these unusual electric guitar designs. Teuffel Guitars are made in Germany.
Joe’s whole thing is to start with a great piece of wood and try to give his guitars the widest range of tones possible. Through creative switching, and the right set of pickups, Joe Till guitars can cover all the bases. Warm, fat, buttery, twangy, spanky, jangly, snarly… And when piezo pickups are added to the mix, guitarists will be blabbering all those acoustic adjectives as well. Very cool looking guitars, some reminiscient of that well-known NorCal bass company that employed the maker of Jerry Garcia’s guitars.
Timtone Custom Guitars makes custom electric guitars with any string count…any. They are made with fine tone woods and high-end craftsmanship. They are always on the hunt for out-of-the-ordinary figured tone woods to help give their guitars a unique tone, look and feel. They are handmade and well-loved during the creation process.
ToneSmith Guitars really start from scratch. They cut, mill and prepare the wood straigh from a standing tree to give each custom electric guitar a completely “ground-up” creation process. These electric guitars are handcrafted following vintage designs, and customized per order. Once they are in your hands, however, they are anything but traditional. Just check out this unique take on a Fender Telecaster shown left (from the F-holes to the tremolo to the pickup configuration).
Tyler guitars offers several classic body style models. The lineup includes the Studio Elite, the Classic, the Mongoose, and the Tylerbastar.
The guitars from U.S. Masters Guitar Works combine unique features with practicality to create innovative designs. They are known for their “Ever-tru” necks equipped with “extended uniform neck profiles” and a contoured flex truss rod that connects to the body with a ”captive neck joint.” These innovations in guitar making help to bring out the guitar’s full harmonics, sustain and tuning capabilities compared to other electric guitars.
Versoul Guitars leans on artistic European modernism in their custom electric guitar designs to produce some of the most aesthetically pleasing electric guitars. Kari Nieminen, educated in art, combines this unique aesthetic approach with ergonomic design, functionality and playability.
Wendler Guitars is known for their “electroCoustic” guitar, which is a unique solid body acoustic/electric guitar that is highly resonant and touch-sensitive for the true artist. The great thing about this guitar is that you can crank it up…much unlike an acoustic guitar (which will feed back). They use Red Cedar tone wood for the body (popular with classical guitars) and magnetic/piezo pickup combinations to produce a very complex tone rich with harmonics.
Wilkat Guitars offers custom made guitars that feature unique elements like the neck-thru-body joint and countered-heal that is friendly on your palm. Some of their custom electric guitars also feature pyrographic designs and imagery that are literally burned into the guitar’s wood (courtesy of artist David Wickenden).