So any time someone asks for advice on what guitar to buy it pretty much comes down to Jackson, Ibanez, Fender, Gibson . . . etc. So I just wanted to make a thread with details about the best guitar brands that never get mentioned but should. I'm only going to list guitars I have actual experience with but I'd encourage others to add guitars that have they have played so we get a decent list.

Brian May Guitars - 500 quid, locking grover tuners, ebony fretboard, 24 frets, mahogany body, custom pickups, custom wiring, wilkinson bridge. Same price as a lot of slightly higher end epi's and just as well if not better built. http://www.brianmayguitars.co.uk/

Washburn N2 - Really well built, good licensed floyd, perfectly finished (the model I used for recording was) quality pickups (bill lawrence) and simple control layout with nice options (coil tap) 300 quid. That's pretty good territory for a decent guitar for those looking for a budget conscious metal guitar. http://www.washburn.com/index.php

Vintage v100/ lemon drop/ paradise - the v100 is great, but the lemon drop is a gary moore tribute and the paradise is a tribute to slash. All are great guitars and the most expensive of these was just over 300. Mahogany, set neck, good wilkinson hardware, good pickups and great players, but only now are they being mentioned more. http://www.jhs.co.uk/vintageelectric.html

Michael Kelly - Same as above http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/

Spear guitars - often very very simple, but with interesting designs, these guitars are really cool and well priced. They have 300 pound les paul style guitars with seymour duncan pickups and custom artwork with set necks. They play really nicely too, I've tried a few in shops and they are really raunchy sounding. They also have alternate designed guitars with neck through construction for 350. Oh, and locking tuners. http://www.spearguitar.com/product/pro_1/tomcat-p/tomcat-fv.asp

EDIT: added websites
Last edited by CobenBlack at Dec 28, 2011,
These are brands that you can mostly find in small local music shops..

So they're not a big deal for big brands, though maybe useful for beginners?
Last edited by AmirT at Dec 28, 2011,
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I don't see why they couldn't compete with large brands. Some of them sure, they are more budget conscious, but the Brian May model for instance has better hardware than Most Gibsons, can make a great deal of very similar sounds and more and I don't see a quality difference. This thread is more about, if someone is looking for a guitar are they really getting the best deal going to the 4 brands they are always advised? Everyone on this forum seems to own the same guitars when there are hundreds of perfectly serviceable guitars from other makers that may even be cheaper.

For instance the Washburn could be compared to a Jackson, but has a slightly different sound because of the bill lawrence and is often a little cheaper than the japanese models though it is of similar quality. It also has a slightly thicker neck, a smaller body and simpler electronics that some consider better placed. Therefore if someone comes to the forum looking for a more metal oriented guitar with a slightly thicker neck and a clean layout they may end up with a jackson when in fact the washburn would be closer to what they were looking for.

I'd like to encourage some diversity in people's responses. Also, I'd like to add 3 makers I've just thought of. Italia for weird and wonderful guitars with a very large amount of pickup selections and tonal diversity coming from some odd switching options. And Hagstrom and Gretsch who don't get a lot of love on this forum despite being as good as any epiphone.

Like the washburn from above, if someone comes looking for a Les Paul style guitar on a budget they are likely to be sent looking at epiphones. What might be nice though is if they got given the option to look at some other guitars, like the gretsch, hagstrom, vintage and the Spear guitars. They all do similar things, and some have better pickups, they all have their own neck profiles which may feel better to the player, they all have slightly different switching options and sounds which may be better for what they are looking for. Not
Parker P series guitars can be had for very cheap, play great and sound great. A lot of them come with ebony fretboards, or things like swamp ash bodies, which are hard to come by on a $500 budget.

Rob Chappers's brand, Chapman guitars, are great and cheap if you're in the United Kingdom.

Agile guitars are also worth a look, but they're fairly similar to Epiphone/MIM Fender in quality.
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What the hell is a G&L.

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Gay & Lesbian I think, the box smelled funny
Greg what did you send me??
I forgot about the chapmans - they are meant to be really nice. A friend of mine said they purposely put in slightly lower cost electronics so that they can pour all of the money you spend into better wood and build quality. Don't know how true it is, but it seems like a chappers thing to do.