Country Guitar Makers: Top Handcrafted Instrument Brands

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Country music has a rich tradition and a distinct sound that is deeply rooted in American culture. One of the key elements that contribute to the unique sound of country music is the guitar. Country guitar players have long relied on high-quality instruments to create the twangy, melodic tones that define the genre. In this article, we will explore some of the top country guitar makers who have crafted instruments that have become iconic in the world of country music.

History of Country Guitars

The history of country guitars can be traced back to the early days of country music in the United States. In the 1920s and 1930s, as country music began to gain popularity, guitar makers started producing instruments specifically designed for the genre. These guitars typically featured a smaller body size, a narrower neck, and a brighter tone compared to traditional acoustic guitars.

One of the earliest and most influential country guitar makers was C.F. Martin & Company. Founded in 1833, Martin has been a leading producer of high-quality acoustic guitars for over a century. Their guitars were favored by many country musicians for their rich, warm tone and impeccable craftsmanship.

Iconic Country Guitar Makers


Fender is a legendary guitar maker that has played a significant role in shaping the sound of country music. The Telecaster, also known as the “Tele,” is one of Fender’s most iconic models and has been a staple in country music since its introduction in the 1950s. Known for its bright, twangy tone and distinctive single-coil pickups, the Telecaster has been used by country legends such as Merle Haggard, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley.

In addition to the Telecaster, Fender’s Stratocaster model has also found its way into the hands of many country guitarists. The Stratocaster’s versatile tone and comfortable playability make it a popular choice for players looking to explore different sonic possibilities within the country genre.


Gibson is another renowned guitar maker that has left a lasting impact on country music. The Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar, with its warm, full-bodied sound, has been a favorite among country singer-songwriters for decades. Artists like Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, and Emmylou Harris have all relied on the J-45 to deliver their heartfelt lyrics and melodies.

On the electric side, Gibson’s Les Paul model has also made its mark in country music. Known for its thick, creamy tone and sustain, the Les Paul has been embraced by country players looking for a more rock-infused sound. Guitarists like Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons, and Joe Walsh have all wielded the Les Paul to great effect in the country music realm.


Gretsch is a lesser-known but equally influential guitar maker in the world of country music. The Gretsch Country Gentleman, a hollow-body electric guitar, has been a favorite among country players for its warm, jangly tone and striking aesthetics. Artists like Chet Atkins, George Harrison, and Brian Setzer have all made the Country Gentleman their guitar of choice, using it to craft their signature country licks and melodies.

In addition to the Country Gentleman, Gretsch’s line of solid-body electric guitars, such as the Duo Jet and White Falcon, have also found a place in country music. These guitars offer a unique blend of vintage aesthetics and modern playability, making them a popular choice among players looking for a retro-inspired sound.

PRS Guitars

PRS Guitars, founded by luthier Paul Reed Smith in the 1980s, has become a favorite among modern country guitarists. Known for their impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail, PRS guitars offer a blend of vintage tone and modern playability that appeals to a wide range of players.

Artists like Brad Paisley, John Mayer, and Brent Mason have all endorsed PRS guitars for their versatility and tone. The PRS Silver Sky, a collaboration between Paul Reed Smith and John Mayer, has become a go-to instrument for many country players looking for a classic Stratocaster-style guitar with modern features and playability.

Other Notable Country Guitar Makers

In addition to the aforementioned brands, there are several other notable country guitar makers who have made significant contributions to the genre. Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Collings Guitars, and Taylor Guitars are all respected manufacturers known for their high-quality acoustic instruments that have found favor among country musicians.

Santa Cruz Guitar Company, based in California, specializes in handcrafted acoustic guitars that offer a balanced tone and exceptional playability. Artists like Brad Paisley and Vince Gill have praised Santa Cruz guitars for their clarity and responsiveness, making them a popular choice for recording and performing.

Collings Guitars, founded by Bill Collings in the 1970s, has gained a reputation for producing some of the finest acoustic and electric guitars in the world. Their meticulous attention to detail and dedication to quality craftsmanship have earned them a loyal following among discerning players in the country music community.

Taylor Guitars, based in California, is known for its innovative designs and commitment to sustainability. Their line of acoustic guitars, including the popular Taylor Grand Auditorium and Taylor Dreadnought models, have been embraced by country musicians for their clear, balanced tone and comfortable playability.

Looking to learn more about country guitar? Check out our articles on country guitar guide, contemporary country guitarists, country guitar techniques, famous guitar manufacturers in country music, and influential country guitarists for a comprehensive exploration of the world of country guitar!


Country guitar makers play a crucial role in shaping the sound and feel of country music. From iconic brands like Fender and Gibson to boutique manufacturers like Santa Cruz and Collings, each guitar maker brings a unique perspective and expertise to the craft of instrument building. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an aspiring musician, finding the right guitar that speaks to your style and sound is essential in creating authentic country music. Next time you listen to your favorite country song, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into making the guitars that bring that music to life.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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