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 see, Jason Nieh's Guitar Notes.

  • Alvarez-Yairi
    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 and playability.
  • Gibson
    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.
  • Guild
    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!
  • Larrivee
    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
    their guitars.
  • Martin
    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.  
  • Ovation
    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
    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 are: 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.
  • Takamine
    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.

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