If you’re in the market for a new electric or acoustic guitar, then you’ve probably seen the “country of origin” listed in the specifications quite frequently. Does it matter? And where are guitars most commonly produced? I’ll be addressing both these questions in this article.
The Quick Answer
Most entry-level acoustic and electric guitars are produced in China and Indonesia, whilst the majority of the highest quality and most expensive guitars are made in the United States and Japan. Mexico and South Korea are best known for producing mid-range guitars.
Here is a table comparing some of the most popular acoustic and electric guitar brands and the main countries that produce their guitars.
|Guitar Brand||Main Manufacturing Countries||Price Range|
|Gretsch||Indonesia, China, South Korea, Japan||$300-$3000+|
|Ibanez||Indonesia, China, Japan, USA||$150-$3000+|
|ESP||China, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan||$200-$3000+|
|Schecter||Indonesia, South Korea||$300-$3000+|
|Jackson||China, Indonesia, USA||$150-$3000+|
|Yamaha||China, Indonesia USA, Japan||$120-$2000|
All Gibson guitars are produced in the USA. Their solid body guitars such as the Les Paul, and their hollow body and semi-hollow electric guitars such as the ES-335 are made in their headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. Gibson’s acoustic guitars are produced in Montana.
Fender guitars are produced in the USA, Mexico, Indonesia and China. The cheapest Fender electric guitars in the Player-series, Deluxe range and Vintera range are produced in Mexico. Premium guitars in the Fender range are produced in the USA. Some acoustics are made in China and Indonesia.
Some entry-level Fender acoustic guitars such as the FA-125 are made in Indonesia, some mid-range acoustic guitars such as the Paramount PM-2 are made in China. The most expensive acoustic-electric guitars are produced in the USA in the Acoustasonic range.
Epiphone guitars are produced primarily in the Qingdao factory in China. This includes acoustic and electric guitars in the Modern, Standard, Traditional and Junior ranges. There are very few exceptions such as the USA Frontier Acoustic-Electric guitar by Epiphone.
The vast majority of Squier guitars are produced primarily in China and Indonesia. Most guitars in Squier’s Classic Vibe, Affinity, Bullet and Contemporary ranges are made in Indonesia. There are some exceptions such as the left-handed Affinity Stratocaster that is produced in China.
Most Gretsch guitars are produced in Indonesia, China, South Korea and Japan. Most low-mid range guitars are made in Indonesia and China. Mid-high range Gtretsch guitars are made in South Korea. The most expensive Gtretsch guitars such as the G6228FM-PE and G6659TG are made in Japan.
Most Ibanez guitars are produced in Japan, Indonesia and China. Most low-end Ibanez guitars in the GIO series and S Series are produced in Indonesia and China. Most high-end Ibanez guitars are produced in the Japan such as the Prestige series. Custom shop Ibanez guitars are often made in America.
Most ESP guitars are produced in China, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. Most low-end ESP guitars are produced in China and Indonesia. Most mid-range guitars such as the LTD line are made in South Korea. Premium models such as those in the E-II line are made in Japan. The most expensive models are made in the USA.
Schecter guitars are mainly produced in Indonesia and South Korea. The low-end guitars in the Schecter range such as the C-6 Elite are produced in Indonesia. Mid-range such as the PT Electric Guitar are produced in South Korea. Some high-end guitars such as the PT USA are produced in America.
Many entry-level Jackson guitars such as the Dinky JS11 are made in China. Many mid-range guitars such as the X-series SLX Soloist are made in Indonesia. Many premium Jackson guitars such as the Pro Series King V are made in the USA.
Most PRS guitars are made in either Indonesia or Maryland, USA. Low-end PRS guitars in the SE (student edition) range such as the SE Standard 24 are made in Indonesia. More premium guitars such as those in in the S2 Standard and S2 Custom range are made in Maryland, USA.
Martin guitars are mostly made in Mexico and the USA. The low-mid-range guitars such as the LX1 Little Martin, and up to the D-13E Road Series Acoustic-Electric are often made in Mexico. Premium Martin acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars are mainly made in the USA, starting at around $1200.
Most Taylor guitars are made in Mexico and the USA. Entry-level Taylor guitars such as the Baby Taylor are made in Mexico. Many mid-range Taylor guitars such as the 110e are also made in Mexico. The more expensive models such as the GT Urban Electric-Acoustic are made in the United States.
Yamaha mainly produces guitars in China, Indonesia, the USA and Japan. Entry-level to mid-range guitars are often produced in China and Indonesia. Some premium models such as the FG5 Red Label Acoustic guitar and SA2200 Semi-Hollow Electric guitar are made in the USA and Japan, respectively.
Popular Guitar Manufacturing Countries
Many countries produce top quality guitars from leading brands, but there are around 6 countries that are best known for it. Let’s take a look at each manufacturing country and which guitars they produce.
The United States is well-known for producing the highest quality guitars from leading brands such as Gibson, Fender and PRS. America produces both acoustic and electric guitars which often command the highest prices and it is rare to find a US-made guitar for under $1000.
Some of the most well-known guitars produced in the USA are the Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster. Other popular brands that produce guitars in America include Ibanez, Jackson, PRS, Martin, Taylor and Yamaha.
American-made guitars are highly-regarded as the best because they have some of the best-trained luthiers, very rigorous quality control and use high quality materials such as tone woods and pickups. This is typically why US-made guitars are more expensive than those produced in other regions.
Japan is a country well-known for producing high quality guitars, primarily of the electric variety. Popular brands which manufacture their guitars in Japan include Gretsch, ESP, Ibanez and Yamaha. This is often where they produce their top-of-the-line guitars.
Mexico is recognised for producing quality electric guitars from popular brands such as Fender, Martin and Taylor. They are well-known for producing mid-range guitars such as the Fender Player series. Mexico are also known as one of the leaders in acoustic guitar manufacturing.
South Korea mainly produce mid-range electric guitars which are often cheaper than American, Mexican and Japanese-made guitars, but more expensive than guitars produced in China and Indonesia. Popular brands which manufacture guitars in South Korea include Gretsch, ESP and Schecter.
Many entry-level and cheaper electric guitars are produced in Indonesia, however some brands manufacture their mid-range guitars in Indonesia as well. Both acoustic and electric guitars are manufactured in Indonesia from leading brands such as Squier, Gretsch, Ibanez, PRS, Jackson and Yamaha.
China is one of the most well-known countries for guitar manufacturing. Many good quality entry-level and affordable acoustic and electric guitars are produced in Chinese factories. Popular brands which produce guitars in China include Epiphone, Squier, Ibanez, ESP, Gretsch Jackson and Yamaha.
Does it Matter Where a Guitar is Made?
Many players looking to buy a new guitar wonder if the country of origin is important when dictating quality.
Chinese and Indonesian guitars often have a poor reputation for producing low-quality guitars. This is because the guitars are often mass-produced with cheaper materials. However, you can get good quality guitars from China and Indonesia and many brands choose to produce most of their guitars there.
It is generally accepted that America and Japan produce the best quality guitars that often command a higher price. Mexico and South Korea are well-known for producing mid-range guitars, whilst China and Indonesia often produce the most affordable models.
I’ve written a full article discussing the differences between guitars made in different regions, so check it out if you’re after a more detailed answer.
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