When looking at electric guitars, you may have noticed that some are made here in the United States, whereas others come from manufacturers overseas.
This begs the question: does it matter which country an electric guitar is made in? If so, which ones are the best?
Which Countries Are Electric Guitars Made In?
First, let's take a look at which countries around the world manufacture electric guitars.
Six nations produce the majority of the globe's electric guitars. They are:
If you go to your local music store or another shop that sells electric guitars, more than likely the ones in their stock will have been manufactured in one of those six countries.
Is Cost A Factor In Where Electric Guitars Are Made?
Cost is a major factor in the country of origin for an electric guitar. In the United States, labor and resources cost a lot of money. This isn't the case in places like Indonesia, Mexico, and China. In those countries, labor and materials cost comparatively little.
If a guitar company wants to produce an electric guitar for a lower income customer base, they will likely outsource manufacturing to factories in South Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, or China. This lowers the cost of production for the company, allowing them to charge less for the product.
Unfortunately, due to the inferiority of the cheap materials and the fast, but sometimes slipshod factory processes, these guitars are cheaper in quality as well as price. Parts such as the strings or the pickups may break faster than on a higher quality instrument.
Best To Worst Countries For Manufacturing Electric Guitars Ranked
Below is a ranking of the countries that manufacture electric guitars, from best to worst.
1. United States
The United States popularized the electric guitar in the 1950s, so it makes sense that the best electric guitars are made here. You'll see "Made In the USA" labels on timeless brands like Fender and Gibson.
That label justifies the extravagant prices that those brands charge for their instruments. An electric guitar made in the US will typically cost several hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
That's why even big companies like Fender and Gibson will outsource some of their guitar manufacturing to other countries. They want to appeal to more people than just the super rich, so they hire factories overseas to produce cheaper products. Always check the country of origin sticker on the electric guitar before you buy it!
Japan makes electric guitars on par with the quality of those manufactured in the US. Once again, these guitars will be expensive, but well worth it.
The brands Ibanez and ESP have their guitars made in Japan.
3. South Korea
South Korea produces great electric guitars for the higher end of the budget-conscious guitar line. GuitarAdvise ranks them almost on the same level as Japan in terms of quality manufacturing - except the cost is much more reasonable.
Mexico produces decent electric guitars for mid-level costs. (At this point in the ranking, the quality of materials and production starts to decline.)
Electric guitars made in Indonesia are definitely designed and made to fit a low budget. The problem is the cheaper the guitar, the lower quality it is. It may not last very long, and it may not sound too good, either.
Finally, we have China. Electric guitars produced in this country are bottom-level quality due to the extremely cheap cost of the factory labor and materials.
Conclusion: The Country Where The Electric Guitar Is Made Matters
The answer to our initial question - does it matter which country an electric guitar is made in? - is, emphatically, yes. If you want a high quality instrument, look for an electric guitar made in the US, Japan, or South Korea. If your budget is extremely tight but you want or need a guitar now, check out ones made in Mexico, Indonesia, or China. Just be aware that you get what you pay for.