Look beyond Fender/Gibson!!

There's, like, other companies rather than Gibson and Fender that make good guitars and stuff.

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Ultimate Guitar
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Don't buy Fender or Gibson. These companies have been around for so long that they don't have to make good instruments anymore, just slap "Gibson" or "Fender" on the headstock and sell millions.

So it goes. Everyone wants to own a Fender Strat or a Gibson Les Paul, so they jack up the price, mass produce it in Taiwan and call it an instrument.

The list of alternative guitar makers is voluminous, but to name a few, there's Washburn, Hamer, Fernandes, Ibanez, Jackson, Paul Reed Smith, Takamine...the list goes on and on.

Of course, you can still buy a nice Gibson - and you could also put a down payment on a house. I suggest shopping around for other brands. You'll find hundreds of guitar makers that do fine work for a lot less...well, sometimes not less, but you will NOT be disappointed in a Paul Reed Smith.

A luthier friend told me about Fender, and how even the high-end USA strats pale in comparison with the classic models. Likewise, the owner of the music store I teach at reports nothing but problems and hassles and runarounds with Gibson. A young man bought a very nice Gibson from his store for over $1000 and this guy wanted some custom work done, so they gave him two weeks.

Six months later, no guitar - and he'd paid!!

Needless to say, they no longer carry Gibson, or Epiphone or Fender (unless it's used.)

Moral? Don't buy them. I am personally a big fan of Fernandes. They do an excellent job of creating solid Fender/Gibson lookalikes that play unbelievably well, and sound damn good too. Not to mention a whole line of originals that are also quality and not too expensive. You can get sustainer pickups, floyd rose bridge, a whole host of custom options - and you GET A GUITAR!!

Big companies don't care about you, they care about keeping the government out of thier books and a new Mercedes in the garage. Don't take my word for it, this is coming from a music store owner and a guy that builds guitars.

57 comments sorted by best / new / date

    cakehead
    hey man your probably right but what about schecter they make some of the best
    feenxfire
    Hmm wow i never thought about that...damn....makes ya think twice eh?Personally i couldnt affod a Gibson and WOULDNT wanna buy a fender becuase i mean COME ON!EVERYBUDY PHUCKING HAS A FENDER....ugh i hate them too...you can never go wrong with.... BC Rich Schecter ESP LTD or..PRS(wow alot 3 letter names =/ ) Personally i would go with BC Rich)thats what i got) and it kicks ass...but...mines custom ^_^
    Iddy904
    in my opinion you not buying a brand, your buying a guitar! so try it and find one you like the sound, feel, etc.. of and go for it! my current guitar is a gould! not exactly the best known brand out there, there cheap and cheerful and i like them...i can play them and i quite like the sound.. But i do agree in part....i'm not a fan of fender guitars. i tried one my freind bought and hated it. i just couldn't play it! it was hard to use and it sounded quite bad! but he was happy with it, so its all down to opinion!
    ShadowOfSound
    Umm. I agree witht he fact that you should not buy a name. I own a Washburn X22(My first Guitar, i installed 2 hotrails and a Dimebucker), an ESP F-200 (Beautiful body and sound) But none of them is able to get the tone my Les Paul has. I didn't buy it though. I couldn't afford it. It was given to me as a gift from my father, who bought it in the 80's. Like I've read most of you posted. Buy the guitar that Fits you.
    telecastermastr
    ok, wuts with putting down of fender and gibson... just cuz they're huge and dont put AS MUCH care into each and every guitar doesn't mean they're bad guitars... i have a telecaster and it plays great, sounds good, and it looks freggin awesome! i get compliments all the time on how flawless and beautiful my guitar is... and i dont think there's a "best" guitar company out there. everyone is different and it doesn't matter what you play, just how it suits you. My telecaster is my baby and i wouldn't take less than $1000 for it... not because its worth that, but because its the perfect guitar for me.
    Emenius Sleepus
    always depends on the particular instrument - every one is unique, there's rarely 2 guitars even of the same model and make that are the same, there will always be small differences. agree about buying the one that's right for oyu though... a suggestion is Ibanez RG320 - it's got a Floyd Rose which is a pain in the ass, but if you only use one tuning ( especially standard), that guitar is both an assault weapon and a lullaby caraoke machine - the tonal varieties are endless, you can even play single-coil strat and gibson-like tones on it, and create your own, and do shitloads more, and so on. Incredibly versatile instrument.
    perfec_circl
    Fender and Gibson make some of the best instruments. I do agree that some brands are right up there with them though, especially PRS. On the other hand, some just suck and are no quality at all. I bought an Ibanez and it got ****ed after 4 months! I was so pissed, but luckily the store I bought it from gave me a refund and I bought myself a Fender. Ibanez sucks salty ballz. Oh, and by the way, Fender owns Jackson.
    Emenius Sleepus
    I tell you what, I know PRS guitars are some of the best (if not the best) instruments made - they look, feel and sound great - but I tried a Tremonti SE model once, and it sounded ordinary - not necessarily bad, but it didn't make me feel anything. ON the other hand, I tried out Mick Thompsons BC Rich Warlock signature model (he is from slipknot if neone doesn't know), and it was just an amazing instrument, even though it was a lot cheaper - at least in the shop I tried it in. I took it through all the styles i could think of - rock, punk, blues, even a bit of Chili peppers funk - and it's playability and tone and feel were otherworldly. My point is, not promoting Ibanez or BC Rich, but buy a guitar that sounds good to your ears, feels comfortable and that looks and feels quality. When you pick up a guitar, if it feels "at home" then it's about 50% of the total evaluation passed. I have this gibson LP copy - it sounds quite shit and has a lot of feedback but I love playing it at least at home cuz the feel and look is that good. So up to you, buy a guitar that feels right, don't just go by a brand, as said in this article. When you buy a guitar, make sure you spend some time on it, take it through any songs you know and see how it holds up. PLay it for two hours if you need to, as long as you make sure it's the right instrument. Peace
    JC Rea
    PRS are the best guitars at this moment. Just ask Carlos Santana or the Cranberries.
    ludwigstrat-man
    I have a Fender Custom special...I wouldn't trade ne thing in the world for it...but mine is a old classic though...that thing has been through sum hell now...and it's still a kickin', but to ne one with fender, try getting Fender lace sensors...they sound WAY better then standard pickups, i suggest, gold on neck, blue in middle, and red on bridge...that way you would have a Tone range that only a Gibson Black beautey would get...if you don't like to play alot of clean though, almost all dist, then change neck to silver instead of gold, they come in white covers or black covers, black is awsome with a black guitar with white pick guard, it looks wild!!!
    avarice
    This guy probably just tried to get a Gibson/Fender and couldnt afford it. Anyways, all Gibsons ae hand made, even Epi's and i have 2 fenders(acoustic and electric) an ibanez ans a gibson les paul epi that has some custome things on it. out of my guitars i would say my ibanez is defiantely less superrior than even my old beat up mexican Fender strat. The point is that the more expensive they can get the better they are. Hell, no one believes this but back in el dayo my pops was a sound guy for a very popular band, i wont mention the name cause then everyone readin this will just scroll to the next comment about this crappy article. The guitarist gave him a '59 Gibson Les Paul in mint cindition and signed it, i snuxk into my dads closet found it and played it, i sounds better than all of my guitars, mean while i have an Ibanez that i have had for about a year and ihad to replace it with anew gibson les paul epi. so ha, youre article sucks. And while im ranting has anyone ehard of that shitty company called stagg? they freakin steal other compay designs and put their logo on it. i wlak into a guitar shop and im lookin at a lefty guitar and i thought i saw a b.c rich and it ened up being this stagg. i thought it was cool so i gave it a try. the damn this sucked!!!! thats all
    ibanez88e
    are you smoking crack?there is a huge difference between a fender and some trashy other guitar. name does matter. fender has way better tones then a yamaha. name isnt everything tone is and fender makes the best guitars. so think before you write
    LudwigRydin
    Buy the guitar you like, dont think about if it a gibson or fender or something else...
    Dark Omen
    I own a Schecter Omen-6 with a custom paint job (black with a silver barbwire design) and a Schecter Diamond Classic in the Dark Blue Color. They're the best two guitars i have ever played, i Highly recommend them.
    diablo83
    you shouldn't ever tell someone not to buy a particular guitar. maybe u should tell them to not limit themselves on one brand. by telling them not to is once again limiting the imagination or desire of the guitarist just like all the other columns do on this site
    iron maiden rox
    hey im 13 and im quite new to guitars, i sit for around 2 hours a day playing stuff like fade to black intro solo/chorus/werse 1 and 2 and dance of death and stuff and was wondering, is an epiphone gibson SG any good?
    rocker_dude74
    ok, you are very very very stupid. seriously. you can get an epiphone custom at steves music for just under 200 dollars. its one of the best guitars ive played other than my peavey raptor. you cant class a guitar. different guitars are made for different styles of playing. some are bad, but gibson are my favorite guitars because they suit my playing.
    5:15_Whofan
    i'd also suggest GODIN, thery're good, not to epensive, and godin is usually on the fore-front of advanced technology- look 'em up
    Mattb720
    So what if Fender and Gibson are big? How do you think they actually got to be as big as they are? By selling quality guitars at reasonable prices for those guitars. They sell the guitars at a set price so that they can afford to create them and still make a profit. This is one of the silliest articles I've read, honestly. Everyone, try out different guitars and decide for yourself what to play!
    Notgood
    yea its all preference. you should try thinking instead of having this closed minded idea in your head and making a stupid ignorant post that just wastes time and pisses people off
    mastercad
    If you want unknown brands, go for a DiPinto, Mosrite, Danelectro, Eastwood, or many others. I hate Strats, but I love Tele's.
    Mosquitocoil
    sorry about that...what i meant to say was: I have to agree with the article to a certain degree. Don't just go and buy a guitar for the name - buy what feels good and sounds good. You need a good balance of both. For me, I'd really like an Ibanez because I play mainly heavier stuff, and I've played a few different ones AT MY LOCAL SHOP!! That is, in my opinion, the most important thing. GET OUT THERE AND FIND OUT WHAT YOU LIKE! Get some assistance from the guys who work there, they'll tell you heaps!
    frigginjerk
    um, if anyone could clear this up for me: is "UG Stranger" just the nickname for any non-registered user? or is it one guy who is schizophrenic?
    frigginjerk
    i'm gonna go ahead as say this: i own a fender, and an epiphone (a division of Gibson), and they are great guitars. they sound fine, they don't fall apart, they have strings, pickups, frets, knobs, etc... everything i need. but honestly, people need to worry more about their playing than about what brand of guitar they buy. this goes both ways. don't buy a Gibson just because it's a gibson. but don't buy an Ibanez just because it ISN'T a gibson or a fender. in my opinon, you shouldn't let price determine what guitar you buy. if the perfect guitar for you is more expensive than the others, save up. nobody ever got anywhere with a quick fix.
    real628
    Can anyone recommend a great schecter model that doesnt cost $600? I wanted the C1 (Diamond series), but hey, thats a lot of cash
    RandyFunk
    Buy the guitar that feels right for you. I bought a Fender Telecaster not because its a "Fender," but because its a guitar that fits me. 90% of tone is in the fingers anyway, so brand and price are not of as much importance as feel.
    Bubonic Chronic
    I wrote this thing while UG was down. Forums were closed, so... Anyway, I just wanted to get some other names out there so people consider shopping around. I'm not telling you what to buy. Hell, an awesome Mexican strat came through our shop a few weeks ago. Still, don't buy a name, buy an instrument that you like.
    MikeyP.
    I agree, now a days, schecters are the best guitars out there. I just bought a schecter devil tribal and it is increbidle. Fender and Gibson use to make great guitar, but now they are just in it for the money!!!
    forklifterer
    i couldnt disagree more. All products i own are fender. No they are not made in taiwan maybe some cheap ass things but mine is a good old american made instrument. paul reed smiths are mad like miles from my house but i dont play there instruments they have higher prices then any other brand and i dont like them verry well. your saying that because one kid wanted a custom job to buy a guitar from another company because you havent heard a horror story from that company. and then you say that since they are massed produced they are not good the only guitar company on your list that i know of that doesnt mass produce is paul reed smith. I know ibanez and jackson do. when they go up in price they are uasing better parts yes you might get a great guitar for 300 bucks but that guitar will not have the same parts as a fender 700 dollar guitar thats because good parts cost money. youll prolly get some shitty made pickup instead of a reliant one.i always have used fender and always ill but i buy other guitars as well.
    Bubonic Chronic
    A little harsh, but I think you're right. I own two Fenders and they are nice, but I'd go for something else, too, just because everyone's got a Strat or a Tele anyway. And about cheaper parts, who cares? Parts are pretty cheap, change them out yourself. Research wood and find out what kind of fingerboard you like, what kind of wood you want for the body and what kind of hardware you want. Pickups can be anything, hell a new pickup is only, like $100, so you can pick that up later.
    Bubonic Chronic
    A little harsh. I've heard that about Gibson, though. Not very nice to work with sometimes. If I went with a lesser foreign model, though, I'd go with Fender Mex. They're pretty damn good (and a good price.) I love my jazz bass!
    nOtReGiStErEd
    some brands that aren't well known but are(imho) awesome instruments: Norman acoustics,samicks, and one that is actually pretty well known but still not super common, godin
    scot88
    the is so ##### ignorant. fender and gibson havent gotten that reputation by cranking out ####. they make some of the best instruments out there. period. sure they make their share of lower end models, but who doesnt. ive had my fill of idiocy for the day...
    cambo_Korn
    I own a cort solo series, and a ibanez sa60. They both sound excellent and if i put the price togather it would still be less than a Les Pual. But if the guitar feels right than than the money and the brand shouldn't matter, whether it's fender,gibson or what ever
    ad_lib_oz
    i have a yamaha pacifica 112 or watever its called...i got it 2nd hand for like $300 AUD with quality hard case and 15W amp...probably stolen lol (PERFECT condition , new they cost $550 AUD without case or amp...) so it wasnt too bad...and its great to learn on...i mainly use the two single coils cuz i like that sorta thing but hmm....i wanna get a tele sometime soon. it was like a love at first sight thing lol. expensive for me though haha....ahh il get around to it...also i thought this article was a piece of crap..
    ReDNuKe
    You gotta be kidding me with that statement!!! I own a GIbson SG Supreme and its the best thing ever in my opinion. I have played many guitars, sum even made by small companies and lemme tell u.. nothing i've played so far compares to the feel and sound of Gibson. Did u kno that higher end GIbson GUitars are HAND MADE.. not simply stamped and shipped out on a production line.. In any case dont be an idiot and fight the POWER.. oer wutever.. just cuz u think if a company is big it has to make crappy instruments and is nothing more than a FAD.. Gibson got to where it is through QUALITY.. look at the best guitarists of our time.. most play with Gibsons and Fenders.. go for quality instead of being rebelious and buying a third name brand..
    fiveironboy
    I agree and disagree with you in a sense. I own an Ibanez RG570 AND a Fender American Strat. They both have very unique sounds that the other can't make. For example, the Ibanez (which I put EMG pickups in), gives me a warm, thick sound. While on the other hand, the strat gives me the best clean and blues sound. You can't imitate the way a Fender Stat sounds and feels! Sorry to be wordy, i just can't agree with the comment "Don't buy Fender".
    Mack56
    go to www.edromanguitars.com, then talk about uderraed guitar companies. Most guitar companies that say they hand make their guitars are watching machines do the work right now. think about it
    Mack56
    also, if you're so sick of these guitar companies, make a custom one yourself and stop complaining.
    think11270
    geez guys, hes just saying, dont buy a fender or gibson just because of the name, try other brands out. I own a gibson and a fender, not just because of their names, because of the unique awesome sounds they can produce. Their are a lot of good other brands out there though...