Frequently Asked Questions
About Acoustic Guitar
Who Makes Top
Quality Acoustic Guitars?
There are hundreds of guitar
makers around the world. Some are large companies that have been around
for over a century. Others are highly skilled luthiers who have
just surfaced in the last decade or so, and only make a handful of
guitars each year.
Large Guitar Companies
These are some of
the more popular companies that produce 1000+ guitars each year, and
generally incorporate some sort of automated manufacturing process
in the construction of their guitars. For a more complete list
Jason Nieh's Guitar Notes.
In today's market of high-tech guitar manufacturing, one objective
still remains constant: tone. At Alvarez, they manufacture tone
the old way: by hand. Since 1965, Alvarez Guitars has been
building an illustrious history of quality, reputation and tone.
The Alvarez line stems from an exclusive relationship with Kazuo Yairi
of Japan who's family represents more than 60 years of hand crafting
fine acoustic guitars. Kazuo Yairi is the last luthier of
his generation who continues to build guitars by hand.
This attention to quality, detail and tradition separates Alvarez from
other acoustic guitar manufacturers. The absence of
computer-based production and automation results in instruments that
are completely and inherently unique. Different examples of the
same model will exhibit sonic and cosmetic character particular to
that individual instrument. The luthiers at the Yairi factory
are master craftsman who build instruments from start to finish.
As opposed to an assembly-line manufacturing facility, the Yairi
factory produces limited-run, detailed guitars that feel and
sound...special. Guitars that are hand-crafted for tone
The Gibson Montana guitar-makers create each guitar with the same high
standards. The visual beauty, ease of playability, and
incredible sound of a Gibson Acoustic Guitar can be attributed to a
long list of unique features, fine materials, and meticulous building
techniques. The Gibson Montana Division continues the
tradition of hand-building Gibson Acoustic Guitars with the same
vibrant sound, high quality and creative innovation that have earned
Gibson a place in the hearts and hands of America's greatest artists
throughout this century.
From a small loft in New York City, Guild has grown through the years
to become one of the world's best known guitar brands. The acquisition of Guild by Fender Musical Instruments at the end of
1995 returns the ownership of this American Tradition to a company
dedicated to producing the finest value in American made guitars.
In a continuing quest for
operational excellence, Guild has moved again in recent times; from
Corona, California to Tacoma, Washington in 2005, and most recently
from Tacoma, Washington to a newly acquired facility in New
Hartford, Connecticut in 2008 - all in an effort to provide
musicians with the best Guild guitars ever!
Thirty years and over thirty-thousand guitars have firmly established
Jean Larrivee as one of North America's premier acoustic guitar
builders, and his dedication to quality, innovation, and aesthetics
has attracted guitarists from around the world. In addition to
building guitars with great tone, volume, playability, and lasting
value, Wendy Larrivee, Jean's wife, designs and produces, award
winning, exquisite inlay motifs that can be ordered on any of
For well over a century and a half, the Martin Guitar Company
has been continuously producing acoustic instruments that are
acknowledged to be the finest in the world. Eric Clapton, Bob
Dylan, Paul Simon, Keith Richards, Elvis, Paul McCartney, George
Harrison, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bruce
Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Joan Baez,
Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmie Rodgers and Marty Stuart are among
the countless artists who are (or were) proud to own a Martin.
It would be impossible to list all the musicians who perform on a
Martin guitar, but even this brief overview reads like a "Who's Who."
One may wonder if there are many respected musicians who do NOT, in
fact, play a Martin. If there is a cache surrounding the
prestigious Martin Guitar, it's because the company has the reputation
for producing instruments of unparalleled quality. The respect
given the Martin guitar has been earned through the decades and is
based on the unmatched sound and craftsmanship that has characterized
every Martin instrument since 1833 when Christian Frederick Martin,
Sr. opened his first shop in America.
It started in 1964, when Charlie Kaman chose a small team of aerospace
engineers and technicians (several of whom were woodworking hobbyists)
and set them to work to make a better guitar. In the end,
he did what few have ever succeeded in doing -- he revolutionized the
acoustic guitar. Ovation guitars made their public debut in 1966
with their round back and new ideas. Professional musicians
hailed the guitar's performance and purists shook their heads.
As a longtime guitarist, Charlie understood the needs of players and
his extensive helicopter blade experience gave him a better
understanding of vibration than any other guitarmaker. As
Charlie himself put it, "In helicopters, the engineers spend all their
time trying to figure out how to remove vibration. To build a guitar
you spend your time trying to figure out how to put vibration in.
But vibration is vibration." Two years and many prototypes
later, the team brought the first production Ovation to life; the
Balladeer. With the now-famous roundback, the first
Ovations raised a lot of curious eyebrows in the music industry.
Although the first Ovations were purely acoustic, it wasn't long
before the professionals who played them began asking for ways to put
the acoustic guitar at center stage. Professional musicians who
wanted an acoustic guitar with greater projection on stage began to
flock to the newcomer.
Tacoma Guitars (now owned by the
Fender Corp.) is located in the wood-rich Northwest, Tacoma Guitars
has erupted on the American guitar scene with three of the top ten
selling guitars. Founded by visionary veterans of the guitar
industry, Tacoma has pushed the boundaries of conventional instrument
design with great success. Featuring all solid wood tops and
lifetime warranties, these instruments are built to achieve a balanced
tone that responds to the individual. Among their innovations
Voiced Support Bracing, in which brace positions are optimized for
maximum top resonance, triangle bracings which achieve the same
strength with less mass than round bracings, and the Tone Shaped
Bridge which further balances the sound to achieve an even response
across the tonal spectrum.
If you don't know the name of Takamine you are in for a very pleasant
suprise. These acoustics have set the standard for stage
electro-acoustics and are used by countless artists all around the
world. Takamine solid tops are bookmatched from the most select
Spruce or Cedar, kiln-dried and air-cured in Takamine's dry mountain
climate and hand-calibrated for sonic balance. All the braces
are cut from quartersawn Spruce and carefully hand shaped and glued.
Each top is then hand-tuned for optimum frequency responce. The
Takamine amplification system is unlike any other acoustic/electric
guitar pickup and preamp. Six individual palathetic crystals
sense both individual string vibration and top vibration, where most
pickup systems sense either one or the other. The result is a
very natural overall sound and balance.