Some of these lesser-known guitar brands happen to be cheaper than their industry-leading counterparts.
You’ll also find some high-end custom manufacturers in the list, so to maintain some kind of order, we’ve given each brand two separate ratings.
The first rating is for average cost:
- RED for Extremely Expensive (anything over £1500)
- ORANGE for Expensive (around the £1000 – £1500 mark)
- YELLOW for Affordable (around the £500 – £1000 mark)
- GREEN for Extremely Affordable (anything under £500)
For alternative currencies, you’ll need to firstly check your national suppliers of these instruments, if they are accessible in your country, then check the national average price. For the custom shop brands, you should check their websites to make sure they deliver to your country, before checking online currency converters to find the price in your national currency.
The second one is my personal judgement. It’s a star rating between 1 and 10:
1 ☆ (lowest)
10 ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (highest)
Of course, My word doesn’t mean much seeing as different guitarists can prefer different guitars. This rating system simply allows me to avoid rating them purely on their cost alone.
So here it is, our list of the most underrated guitar brands in 2017:
10th – ALVAREZ Guitars
EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE – Under £500, at least for the most part. Even the higher prices are within affordability (£500 – £1000).
Rating – 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆
Alvarez Guitars are primarily an Acoustic instrument manufacturer yet they offer a few hollow-body electrics as well.
They showcase a very pleasant looking website which hosts all of their impressive instruments as well as their fairly large spectrum of artists. The guitars that have always caught my immediate attention are the Yairi-Standard series and of course the Jazz & Blues series which includes their hollow-bodies.
Check out this Alvarez Guitars video which explains their “Masterworks Series”:
Although they are a very cool brand, especially for acoustic enthusiasts, there needs to be something more unique for us to give them a higher star rating. Their wood choice and craftsmanship is top-quality but I think they’re missing their “Les Paul”… their “Stratocaster”. There will no doubt be a bright future for this still-growing brand and I personally hope to see them take a big swerve into obscurity! I want a flamboyant Alvarez Guitar… Too much to ask perhaps?… Still, they are very worthy of a place in our list.
Check out their website here – Alvarez
9th – Levinson BLADE Guitars
AFFORDABLE – Although they offer high-end instruments for easily over £1000, the average cost for each level of instrument is within an affordable bracket.
Rating – 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆
Although they create multiple styles of guitar to a professional quality, they do lack the advertising in order to showcase their instruments. It wouldn’t surprise me for people reading this to have never heard of Levinson Blade Guitars before, as they are fairly difficult to find outside of searching for their own website. Quite often with us instrument enthusiasts, we will delve into the depths of YouTube to gain a greater understanding of an instrument. They unfortunately do not have much to offer in the form of visual promotion, although from reading reviews and checking out their website, I can gather that they are a serious entity in the manufacturing world of guitars.
Their “Classic”, “Delta” and “Texas” Series axes are just 3 of my personal favourites. Expertly built, each series offers a different set of options to the last.
Check out the Levinson Blade Guitars review by Geoff Sinker below:
With a greater advertising campaign, they would reach a higher number in our list without a doubt. Unfortunately for them, this list is dedicated to finding out which Guitar brands deserve a greater applause for their work. Stand Blade Guitars next to a brand with a greater advertising campaign, you’ll find more people are attracted to the other brand. This being said, as far as manufacturing the instruments is concerned, they are most certainly worthy of a spot on our list and with some promotion, we would at least add 2 stars onto their current 5/10 star rating.
Check out their website here – Blade
8th – REVEREND Guitars
AFFORDABLE – Most of their guitars are between £500 and £1000
Rating – 6 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆
Reverend have gone with a Vintage look with their website and boy oh boy, does it show in their instruments! They look like something Marty and the Doc could have brought back from the past!
A blast from the 60s-past, infused with modern electric specs and you have yourself a Reverend Guitar. They are unique and they even have The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan in their Artist Repertoire! A very cool artist to have flying your flag.
Check out the Captain & Chappers reviewing Reverend Guitars below:
Reverend Guitars are beautifully designed and professionally crafted although, in my opinion, they don’t quite weigh up to the remaining brands in this list. Certainly worthy of a place though, outstanding Guitar brand!
Check out their website here – Reverend
7th – HAGSTROM Guitars
AFFORDABLE – Bordering extremely affordable, these guitars are cheap.
Rating – 6 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆
Hagstrom is not a new brand. They’ve been doing this for longer than 99% of the people on earth have even been alive! Don’t let their flashy designs fool you into thinking they’re unprofessional, these guitars can really stand up for themselves and offer something for any instrumentalist. From their Retroscape series, right through to their Super Viking Series (I know, cool right) they have opened up the manufacturing industry and almost entirely shaped it into something new and something sparking with creativity.
Check out Paramore’s Justin York in this Hagstrom Guitars H-III review. This is a guitar re-released after it was originally available in 1965!:
6 stars may seem low for all of the good things I’ve had to say about Hagstrom but there are a few Guitar brands out there who I believe deserve the top spots just a little bit more!
Check out their website here – Hagstrom
6th – MICHAEL KELLY Guitars
AFFORDABLE – Even though they offer all different types of models, they remain in and around the £500 to £1000 bracket.
Rating – 7 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Michael Kelly, since 1999 have prided themselves on the fact that they don’t offer the “boring” guitars that have flooded the guitar manufacturing industry. No, their instruments are far from boring! I am personally a fan of some of their older models which are no longer available, although the newer models allow for a much more unique playing experience. One series which really has caught my attention are the Hybrids; a collection of guitars designed to mould both electric and acoustic into one beautiful model. It truly does look innovative and should certainly attract more attention today than perhaps some of those “boring” guitars!
Check out this Michael Kelly Guitars showcase from the Winter NAMM 2017:
A very worthy 7 stars for Michael Kelly Guitars. In any other lists about great guitar companies, they may come higher but I feel there are a few brands who deserve more limelight than they do right now. Again, exceptional guitars and a bunch of top luthiers who think slightly more outside the box when it comes to designing their models.
Check out their website here – Michael Kelly
5th – ORMSBY Guitars
EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE – Custom builds. These instruments can easily reach £2000 with customised specs. Even the basics will cost you approximately £1000.
Rating – 7 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
On the Ormsby website, click on the word “create”, you can thank me when you’ve had enough of their superb online guitar designer app! Seriously, this is something that industry leading guitar manufacturers will not have yet, furthermore, not only can you design a guitar from all of the amazing specs that Ormsby have to offer but you can also see your design updating with every edit you make, through their 360 degree manoeuvrable virtual camera.
Check out the Ormsby Guitars showcase from winter’s NAMM 2017:
Their instruments alone would have earned them a place on this list but their promotion and their website have boosted Ormsby into what I believe to be one of the most deserving of a greater audience.
Check out their website here – Ormsby
4th – LAG Guitars
EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE – Under £500
Rating – 8 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
So first of all, I believe it’s pronounced as if you were saying “Laarj” (it’s a French brand and I don’t do French very well. My apologies!)…
From 1978, Michel Lag has been hand-crafting guitars to a spectacular level. I am one of the lucky few to had bought one of the Lag “Arkane” series electric guitars when they were out and I do apologise because I must say, it is the best guitar I have ever played. It’s such a shame that their electric guitars are no longer in production.
Dario Lorina, guitarist for Black Label Society, is one of many popular artists under the Lag Guitars family.
As much as Lag Guitars are almost an indulgence for me to have placed in this list, they are also undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the field of acoustic guitar manufacturing.
Check out the Lag Guitars – 2017 video below:
Not only are the woods exotic enough for your guitar to look incredible under any stage lights but they are also made using the most suitable woods. Where some manufacturers would design with good looks over good quality, Michel Lag has provided his customers with a magnificent blend of both and in my honest opinion, they could have been higher up the list if it weren’t for me trying to avoid looking like a super fan!
Check out their website here – Lag
3rd – MITCHELL Guitars
EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE – These guitars are made to be sold by the dozen!
Rating – 8 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
The Mitchell Guitars website is split into acoustics and electrics, which already tells me that there are far too many styles of instruments to comfortably fit onto one site. I was right!
Not only is their incredible website worthy of recognition from a professional branding perspective, but their instruments are so professionally displayed that they aught to be making the likes of Ibanez and Jackson quiver in fear! Their prices, as mentioned above, are exceptionally low. I’m not sure how they do it. Their specs can compete with many high-end instruments and yet they are at least half of the price.
Check out the Mitchell Electric Guitars promotional video below:
Some of my personal favourites are the MX420 acoustic models and the HD400 electric models. If you were to buy both of these guitars, you would only be spending approximately £500 to £550…
The video only showcased their electric lines. For the full whack… visit the website and see for yourself!
Check out their website here – Mitchell
2nd – FAITH Guitars
AFFORDABLE – between £500 – £1000 average cost
Rating – 9 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Faith Guitars offer an enormous array of stunning acoustics, each with their own unique image. Patrick James Eggle, the leading luthier at Faith Guitars, has been building these beautiful pieces of art since 2002, although he has been building his own guitars since the age of 15. Have a look at my personal favourite, the FVBMB, which was voted the UK’s best acoustic guitar of 2016! Although their 12 strings look pretty incredible too…
Check out the Faith Guitars stand from earlier this year (2017) at The Guitar Show in Birmingham:
Among the many artists under the Faith Guitars repertoire, there is Rob Chapman of Dorje and the two guitarists of Mallory Knox, Sam Douglas & James Gillett. It’s no surprise that artists want to be under an endorsement from Faith Guitars, they are magnificent species in the world of acoustic instruments and they are a joy to behold for any instrument enthusiast.
Check out their website here – Faith
1st – KIESEL Guitars
EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE – Like the Ormsby Guitars, Kiesel work as custom guitar luthiers. Even their basics will cost you upwards of £1000
Rating – 10 stars ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
I have been a fan of Kiesel Guitars since I first saw them about 3 years ago. Their imagination and creativity is second-to-none and their models are updated on (at least) a yearly basis, furthermore, Jeff Kiesel keeps us all in-the-loop with consistent live video streams from their new warehouse, which is pretty cool!
They are now in what I would call their third generation as a brand. Jeff has basically been handed the reigns, following his father and his grandfather before him. It is perhaps worth mentioning that their history is just as impressive as their current work. My personal favourite design would have to be the Aries M6 guitars, which provides a multi-scale fingerboard (fan fretted) among many other extremely cool traits! For those in Jazz and Metal, have a quick look at the 7 and 8 strings they have to offer…
Check out Jeff Kiesel and The Tone King at winter’s NAMM show 2017 where they showcased 101 Kiesel Guitars:
Over the past few years, since I’ve known about Kiesel, I’ve noticed a significant rise in their popularity (at least on social media!) but I still don’t understand why they’re not a household name for those musical families out there! These guys are the real deal and I, among many others, would prefer to own an extremely well-crafted custom guitar than a stock guitar, built by one of the big-named brands.
Check out their website here – Kiesel
Check out some of our other content:
- Important Decisions When Releasing Music
- How To Make The Most Of Your Practice Time
- WHERE To Write Songs
Have I missed any great guitar brands? Let me know in the comments!
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