If you’ve ever been in the market for a guitar, you probably noticed that different models vary significantly in price.
And the largest contributing factor to this is where the guitar is made.
So the real question is, “Where are guitars made and is there really a difference?”
In this article, you’ll learn all of the major countries where guitars are made and if it actually matters when you’re choosing a guitar to buy.
I’ll also go over 16 examples of where the top guitar brands in the world manufacture their guitars.
In short, most of the top guitar brands are made in the United States (North America), Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, China, and Mexico. American and Japanese guitars are the top of the line and the others are meant for the mass production of budget options.
What Countries are Guitar Manufactured In? (And Does is Matter?)
United States (North America)
When it comes to manufacturing guitars, North America is the tried and true.
The United States is the country that popularized the electric guitar in the 1950s with the most iconic brands in the industry such as Gibson and Fender.
To this day, American made guitars are seen as the best of the best in terms of quality.
American made guitars are usually hand made, so you can expect to pay a much higher price for these.
The major brands such as Fender, ESP, and PRS will typically reserve their core line of guitars or custom shop guitars to be made in America and have their budget line of guitars mass-produced overseas.
So if you’ve ever wondered why some guitars are cost over $3,000 while others cost $300, you can bet that the expensive guitar was made in America.
Japan is another company known for its high-quality guitars.
While most would say that they don’t quite compare with the American guitars in terms of quality, many of the top guitar brands are Japanese companies.
For example, Ibanez and ESP both make their top of the line guitars in Japan, and many would argue that they are every bit as good as the American brands.
Either way, Japanese and American made guitars are definitely the countries that make the best guitars out there and are a clear cut above the rest.
Since manufacturing guitars in America and Japan are much more expensive, these guitars come with very hefty price tags that most people can’t afford.
As a result, companies looked to have their guitars mass-produced overseas where the cost of labor and production is much cheaper.
This allows them to lower the price for the end consumer.
Of major countries that mass produce guitars, South Korea is without a doubt the best.
Companies such as PRS, ESP, Schecter have their higher-end budget line guitars made in South Korea to ensure that there is a balance between price and performance.
In terms of quality, Korean guitars are on par with Japanese guitars, but usually cost significantly less.
As a result, if you’re looking for the best value, I would definitely go with a Korean-made guitar.
Some examples include the PRS SE Custom line of guitars, Schecter Banshee guitars, or ESP LTD 1000 series.
Indonesia has become one of the primary countries where guitar manufacturers have their budget line of guitars made.
Since the cost of labor is very low in Indonesia, they can mass produce guitars in factories and sell them cheap.
In terms of quality, Indonesian-made guitars tend to be slightly lower than that of Korean made guitars.
With Indonesian guitars, you’ll usually find that there are some quality control issues from model to model
This could include imperfections to the finish, rough fret edges, bad setup out of the box, a nut that’s not filed properly, and more.
However, that’s not to say these guitars are bad by any means.
Indonesian guitars can be an amazing value for the price.
For example, if you look at a PRS SE Standard 24, I’d argue that there isn’t another guitar out there that can compete with it for under $500.
Some companies even have their higher-end production guitars made in Indonesia, such as the Ibanez Premium line of guitars. These guitars are packed to the brim with features that you would expect from guitars that cost twice as much.
Chinese guitars are becoming more and more popular these days for guitar manufacturers who want to mass produce affordable lines of guitars.
Obviously, the cost to mass produce products in China is significantly lower, due to the cost of labor.
As a result, Manufacturers can get guitar prices down to $200 or less by having them produced in China, versus say, Korea, where prices are still relatively high.
Overall, Chinese guitars are seen as the lowest quality among the overseas manufacturers (but not always the case).
However, in recent years, improvements in technology have made producing guitars much more efficient across the board. While Chinese guitars are still considered the lowest in terms of quality, the gap is certainly closing between Chinese guitars and higher end Korean guitars.
Nowadays, Chinese guitars are becoming closer in quality to the higher priced options, so in time, we could definitely see more and more guitar manufacturers move their production over to China, as it would allow them to cut costs, while maintaining quality.
16 Examples of Where Guitars are Manufactured
Where are Gibson Guitars Made?
All Gibson guitars are made in the United States in one of three facilities depending on the type of guitar.
Gibson is probably the most iconic guitar brand on the planet.
Along with Fender, Gibson helped popularize rock music.
They are known for several iconic guitars such as the Les Paul, SG, and Flying V guitars.
These are all American made guitars, meaning the are the best of the best in terms of quality.
Gibson also owns other subsidiary brands that make import guitars in other countries.
However, if you have an authentic Gibson guitar, it will be made in America in either Tennessee, Michigan, or Montanna.
Where are Epiphone Guitars Made?
As previously mentioned, Gibson owns several subsidiary brands that make import guitars overseas.
Epiphone is the most well known brand that is owned by Gibson.
Epiphone guitars are all made in china. They are known for making affordable versions of Gibson guitars, while never actually branding themselves as Gibson.
As mentioned, Epiphone guitars are all mass produced in factories in China.
While guitars made in China are typically lower in quality, Epiphone has significantly improved their quality control over the years.
One thing that most people don’t know is that Epiphone is actually an American manufacturer based in Nashville, TN.
They were originally Gibson’s main rival before Gibson acquired them.
Epiphone guitars used to be manufactured in several different countries since the company was founded.
Between 1957-1970, Epiphone guitars were made in America right beside Gibson factories.
Then the early 1970’s the production of Epiphone guitars started being manufacturing in Japan.
In the 1980’s Epiphone guitars were made primarily in Korea with some production still in Japan as well.
Finally, in 2004, Epiphone guitars started exclusively being made in China due to the cheaper costs to mass produce.
Where are Fender Guitars Made?
Fender guitars are currently made primarily in America and Mexico.
Their main manufacturing facilities are in Corona, California and Ensenada, Baja California Mexico.
Fender is the other top iconic electric guitar brand right alongside Gibson.
The guitar that brought them to fame is none other than the Fender Stratocaster.
Everyone knows this guitar design, even if you don’t know anything about guitars. The Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul are the first two guitar designs that modernized guitar in general.
Some of the guitar legends that were famous for using a Fender Stratocaster are Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Yngwie Malmsteen.
In addition, Fender also had other iconic guitar designs as well including the Fender Telecaster and Fender Jazzmaster.
While Fender is an American company, only their top of the line guitars are made in the United States. If you have an American made Fender guitar, then you know you’re dealing with the best of the best.
They also have an affordable line of guitars that are made in Mexico. All of Fender’s Mexican made guitars use the same shape as the original American line, but are produced overseas with lower quality parts to cut costs.
Where are Fender Squier Guitars Made?
Squier is the subsidiary brand to Fender since 1965. The company was started in 1890 in Battle Creek Michigan.
They are known for creating affordable Fender style guitars for beginners who are on a budget.
While Squier is technically an American company, all Squier guitars are all made in China. This to reduce labor costs and manufacture guitars inexpensively.
As mentioned, Squier guitars basically follow they exact same design elements as an actual Fender guitar.
As a result, the typical types of guitars you’ll expect from Squier are Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazzmasters, and several other acoustic guitars.
While Squier guitars are made in China, their quality is actually quite good. Chinese guitar manufacturers have definitely stepped up their game in terms of quality control in recent years. This is especially true for Squier, especially since they are backed by Fender.
I would have no problem recommending a Squier by Fender guitar to any beginner looking for their first guitar.
Where are Paul Reed Smith Guitars Made?
PRS Paul Reed Smith Guitars are made in various countries including the United States, South Korea, and Indonesia.
Where the PRS guitar is made depends on which line and model you’re looking at.
The higher end PRS guitars are all American made in Maryland and the affordable line of guitars are mass produced overseas to cut production costs.
Here is a summary of where the different lines of PRS guitars are made.
PRS Core – The PRS Core line of guitars are all made in the United States in Maryland. These Paul Reed Smith guitars are the best of the best in terms of build quality, wood, hardware, pickups and aesthetics. The only exception would be PRS Custom Shop guitars, which are also made in America.
PRS CE – The PRS CE line of guitars is the next step down. PRS CE guitars are also made in the United States in Maryland, so they are still top of the line. They have the same build quality, woods, hardware, and pickups. The only reason they are lower than the PRS Core line is that they use a bolt-on neck as opposed to a set-neck, which less expensive to produce. In addition, you won’t have all of the fancy finish options as you will with a PRS Core. But no matter how you look at it, The PRS CE is an American Made guitar in every sense of the word.
PRS S2 – PRS S2 guitars fall in between a PRS CE and a PRS SE Custom. PRS S2 guitars are made in the United States in Maryland. However, unlike the PRS CE, the PRS S2 uses hardware and pickups that are made overseas, similar to that of a PRS SE Custom. This allows them to reduce costs while still having a real Paul Reed Smith guitar that is made in America.
PRS SE – PRS SE guitars are made in either South Korea or Indonesia. This is the affordable line of guitars by PRS meant for those who are on a budget. The PRS line of guitars can be broken down into two main categories; the PRS SE Custom and the PRS SE Standard. The PRS SE Custom guitars are the higher end versions and are typically made in South Korea. The PRS SE Standard guitars are made in Indonesia. While these guitars are mass produced overseas, they are still very good in terms of overall quality.
Where are Ibanez Guitars Made?
Ibanez guitars are made in either Japan, the United States, Indonesia, and China depending on the model of guitar. Ibanez used to have guitars made in South Korea in the past, but have since moved production of those guitars over to either Indonesia or China.
Ibanez is a Japanese guitar manufacturer founded in 1908. However, the modern era of Ibanez guitars really started in 1957.
Today, only their higher end electric guitars are still made in Japan, while their low to midrange guitars are made in Indonesia and China.
The Ibanez Prestige and J Custom line of guitars are still made in Japan. These are the top of the line Ibanez guitars are comparable to any American made guitar from the likes of Gibson, Fender, and PRS.
Ibanez’s Premium, Iron Label, and Axiom line of guitars are made in Indonesia as a way to cut costs and make the guitars more affordable. These are midrange to advanced level guitars are suitable for basically all levels of play.
The Ibanez GIO series of guitars are made in China. These guitars are designed for beginners who want the class Ibanez look and feel, but are on a budget.
Where are ESP Guitars Made?
ESP is top Japanese guitar manufacturer that was founded in 1975. They originally only specialized in creating replacement parts for guitars before they created their own line of guitars a decade later.
Today, ESP guitars are either made in Japan or the United States. They also have several subsidiaries that make guitars in other locations, such as South Korea and Indonesia.
The ESP Original Series and ESP custom shop guitars are handcrafted in Japan. There is also a more affordable version, the ESP EII, that is still made in Japan, but made in a factory.
In addition, ESP also has a custom shop line of guitars that are made in the United States. The made in America ESP custom shop guitars are the best of the best when it comes to ESP’s offerings.
Where are LTD Guitars Made?
As previously mentioned, ESP has several subsidiary brands that produce guitars overseas in South Korea and Indonesia.
LTD is the most notable subsidiary brand to ESP, known for creating affordable variants of the classic ESP guitar designs.
The higher end ESP LTD guitars, such as the ESP LTD EC-1000 is made in South Korea. These guitars usually offer excellent build quality, specifications and overall value for the money. While they are in the ESP affordable line of guitars they are usually quite comparable to the real thing.
Some of the lower-end ESP LTD guitars are made in Indonesia. These guitars still feature similar design elements to the original ESP designs, but lack some high end hardware, pickups, and features. Overall, they are great for beginners and intermediate players who want an ESP guitar.
Where are Eastman Guitars Made?
Eastman Guitars are made in China. However, there is a major difference between Eastman Guitars and typical Chinese made guitars.
While most companies mass produce their budget line of guitars in China to cut costs, this is not the case with Eastman.
Instead, Eastman actually handcrafts their guitars in China, meaning these guitars are not factory made and never actually touch a CNC machine at all.
As a result, the quality of these guitars is on par with the best of the best guitars (even American made guitars), despite the fact that Eastman guitars are made in China.
In terms of the types of guitars they produce, their most notable guitar is the Eastman SB59 which is their take on a Gibson Les Paul style guitar.
To further emphasize the point that Eastman Guitars are extremely high quality, check out Darrell Braun’s video comparing an Eastman SB59 to a Gibson Les Paul. You’ll be surprised to see that the Eastman is superior to the Les Paul in almost every way, despite the fact that it costs MUCH less.
Where are Jackson Guitars Made?
Jackson Guitars are made in the United States, Mexico, Indonesia, and China.
Originally founded in 1980, Grover Jackson started Jackson Guitars in Orange County, CA. After being bought by Fender in 2002, the operations have moved several times.
In terms of where Jackson Guitars are made, it really depends on the model of guitar.
Unlike typical subsidiary brands, Jackson Guitars are not just cheaper copies of their parent company Fender.
They have their own separate line of guitars ranging from USA made custom shop guitars all the way to $150 beginner guitars made in China (and everything in between).
Their Custom Select and USA Series guitars are the top of the line Jackson Guitars. These Jackson guitars are all made in America (as the name would suggest).
The Jackson Pro Series guitars are made in Indonesia. These guitars are their high-end consumer model guitars are mass produced. These guitars are are an excellent value and are a good bang for your buck.
Next, we have the Jackson X Series of guitars that are also made in Indonesia. These guitars typically fall in the $500 range and are meant for intermediate level players. They are fairly similar to the Jackson Pro Series with the exception of the hardware, pickups and features. The build quality of these guitars are solid.
Finally, we have the Jackson JS Series. These guitars are their budget line of guitars that are more suited for beginners. The Jackson JS guitars are all made in China. They are good guitars for the price. The Jackson JS Series falls right in line with what you would expect from an entry level Squier, which makes sense since Fender owns Jackson.
Where are Gretsch Guitars Made?
Gretsch is a trusted guitar manufacturer that has been around since 1983. The company was originally founded in Brooklyn, NY.
They are primarily known for their iconic semi-hollow and hollow body guitars.
Nowadays, most modern Gretsch guitars are made overseas in China, South Korea, and Japan in order to keep their prices down.
The majority of their Korean and Chinese guitars fall into the $400 – $800 price range, which is typically the sweet spot in terms of price vs performance.
Gretsch’s Professional line of guitars are created in Japan. Japanese guitars are typically higher quality than Chinese or Korean guitars, so you can expect to pay a premium for that.
Finally, while most of their guitars are made in the far east, they do have a line of Custom Shop guitars. These are all handmade in the United States.
So if you really want a top of the line Gretsch guitar, then a custom shop, made in America, guitar is the way to go.
Where are Schecter Guitars Made?
Schecter is known for creating high-quality electric guitars primarily catering to metal and hard rock genres.
They are a United States company founded in 1976 that was originally known for creating replacement guitar parts for Fender and Gibson before creating their own guitars.
Today, most Schecter Guitars are made in South Korea. They specialize in creating guitars that are an excellent value for the price.
While their guitars are mostly produced overseas, they use best overseas manufacturers in South Korea, use those cost savings to pack their guitars with professional quality hardware and electronics.
From my experience, the Schecter Korean made Schecter Banshee Elite rivals any higher end Japanese lines of guitars from ESP EII or Ibanez Prestige.
Where are Taylor Guitars Made?
Taylor is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to acoustic guitars.
They are known for creating some of the highest quality acoustic guitars out there used by artists like Taylor Swift and Dave Matthews.
Taylor Guitars are made in El Cajon, Calafornia.
Founded in 1974, Taylor is actually one of the largest American made guitar manufacturers, despite not being around as long as some of the other reputable guitar brands.
Since Taylor Guitars are made in the USA, you know that they are the best of the best in terms of quality.
In addition, with their rise in popularity, Taylor Guitars released a line of more affordable guitars.
These Taylor Guitars are made in Mexico in Tecate, which is actually right on the border, approximately one hour away from El Cajon, California.
Mexican made Taylor Guitars, while not quite as premium as American made Taylor Guitars, are meant to still offer top notch quality at an affordable price.
Where are Martin Guitars Made?
C.F. Martin and Company also referred to as just Martin Guitars, is one of the oldest, and most established guitar manufacturers in the world.
Martin Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer that was originally founded in 1833 and has been owned by the Martin family ever since.
All main series Martin Guitars are made in the United States in Nazareth, PA. These are the top of the line American made acoustic guitars that Martin Guitars are known for.
In addition, Martin Guitars also has several models of affordable guitars that are made in Mexico. This includes the LX “Little Martin” Series, the Road Series, and the Backpacker Series. Martin Guitars also manufactures some Ukuleles that are made in their Mexico plant.
Where are Blueridge Guitars Made?
Blueridge is an acoustic guitar manufacturer that is a subsidiary under the Saga Musical Instruments parent brand.
They are known for producing high quality acoustic guitars that are catered towards intermediate players.
Blueridge Guitars are made in China. They are mass produced in chinese factories with CNC machines to help keep costs low while maintaining consistent quality control.
One reason that Blueridge Guitars have gained a lot of popularity recently is because their acoustic guitar models are designed to be reminiscent to popular models of Martin Guitars.
Since Martin Guitars are made in America, their price range is usually outside an intermediate guitar player’s budget.
As a result, many look to Blueridge Guitars because they are made in China and offer a similar experience to Martin Guitars at a fraction of the price.
Where are Guild Guitars Made?
Guild Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer that specializes in producing acoustic, electric, and bass guitars primarily catering to jazz players.
While many may not be aware of Guild Guitars, they have been a trusted American guitar manufacturer since 1953.
While Guild Guitars is an American made guitar manufacturer, they have multiple lines of guitars that are produced in different countries.
Their M, D, and F body shape guitars are all made in the United States in their Oxford, California factories. These are their top of the line acoustic guitars.
Guild Guitars also has a dedicated line of electric guitars called their Newark St. Collection guitars. These Guild guitars are made in South Korea. So while they are not quite as high quality as their American made guitars, they are still considered high end guitars as far as overseas import guitars are concerned.
Finally, their Westerly line of acoustic guitars are made in China. These guitars are mass produced in factories and meant to be more entry level guitars for those on a budget.