Starting out on a musical path with a guitar in hand is exciting. From first sight to first strum, every guitar has a special quality that will make someone reach out and take it for a spin. Your first guitar will always be special, but the importance of the second is often overlooked. It isn't long until novices and newcomers are sure to get the same instinct all seasoned guitarists have felt before – when it's time to upgrade.
For all guitarists looking for a steppingstone into their next purchase, here is a quick list of some of our recommendations.
Epiphone Original Collection and the Inspired by Gibson Collection
Built on solid foundations and with some of the most iconic designs ever conceived, Epiphone is a name that represents quality and value. In their Inspired by Gibson collection, Epiphone rolls out the red carpet for Gibson designs, where creations like the Les Paul Standard or the SG Standard carry on flagship Gibson traditions and specifications. There is no question about the authenticity of these guitars with their high-quality materials and hardware to bring all the experience of Gibson into the hands of players.
Along with the Inspired by Gibson Collection, the Epiphone Original Collection stands out in a crowd for their eye-catching designs and unique tones. Epiphone's UpTown Kat and Wilshire both turn heads with expressive sounds and less-than-traditional looks. Electric basses also get time in the spotlight with the Epiphone Viola and Jack Casady for instruments with plenty of visual character and tonal kick. Altogether, Epiphone guitars offer players a great step into a world of outstanding tone and quality construction.
Fender Player Series
The Fender name is pretty hard to miss when shopping around for electric guitars. Decades of prestige and innovation are sure to do that. Fender's Player Series functions as an excellent point to explore and join the Fender family for the first time. The classic Fender designs everyone know and love are here, along with some interesting lesser-seen classics. Along with Stratocasters and Telecasters, the Fender Duo Sonic, a humble, eye-catching offset that has never gone out of style is part of the series along with Jaguars and Jazzmasters. An interesting feature to the Player Series Jaguar and Jazzmaster is the addition of humbucking pickups that give the model an interesting twist from the traditional. On either path, the Fender Player Series will deliver upon an exceptional Fender experience from first strum.
The wide range of designs of the Electromatic line might seem daunting, but there is sure to be plenty of matches among the Electromatic's wide selection. Chambered bodies and high-output pickups are the specialties of these guitars making them easily held in hand and responsive from the first riff. Delivering on a variety of chambered or semi-hollowbody tones, playing an Electromatic is enticing and addicting with many models featuring a Bigsby tailpiece for expressive bends in playing. A variety of colors, hardware setups, and tonal characters make each Electromatic its own for players looking to kick their guitar collection into overdrive.
Squier Paranormal Series
A trial of Squier’s most unconventional models can be an interesting detour from the familiar or make for a new instrument match altogether. There’s no doubt these quirky creations will catch the attention of the average passerby, but to also produce tones all their own? That’s impressive. From the Super-Sonic's reverse-offset shape and headstock to the Cyclone’s mashup of Fender designs, the Paranormal series is a great take on the classics we hold dear. Players in search of quirky designs and unique yet classic tones need look no further than the Squier Paranormal Series.
Fender Vintera Series
The vintage-inspired looks and sounds of the Fender Vintera series are sure to make any fan of classic Fender eras come running. Taking inspiration from Fender instruments from the 1950s to the 1970s, these guitars spring off the walls with dazzling color schemes and classic tones. From Fender’s early years in the ‘50s to the ‘70s with decades of innovation to their name, the Vintera Series covers a wide range of tones with iconic Stratocaster single coil snap to Telecaster humbucker bite. Unique color finishes and authentic Fender design all contribute to a guitar series that stands with one foot in the groundbreaking past and one in the innovative future. Looking for a guitar that could be equally classic and modern? Fender does a great job at keeping their legacy impressive today as it was in decades past.
The tonal kick and careful design of Gretsch guitars is widely known, and one of the best places to experience those features is with a Gretsch Streamliner. Building upon some classic models, a Gretsch Streamliner can vary in design with solid body, semi-hollow, and hollow body construction. Classic humbucker kick and expressive playability make for guitars that are easy to pick up and hard to put down. The high-quality materials and construction of the Gretsch Streamliner essentially go without mentioning as Gretsch delivers a full package. Each Streamliner is highly equipped and dressed to the nines to make any player pick one up and hesitantly put it down. A wide variety of Streamliner experiences await- and all of them are sure to blow doors down.
The status of Taylor Guitars as a household name in acoustic guitars does not only come from their mastery of V-Class bracing and acoustic pickup systems in their most distinguished models. The Taylor Guitars Academy Series presents a quality introduction to the Taylor name with both steel and nylon string options. Those looking to strum or fingerpick along during practice or take to the stage in performances can rely on the Academy Series. The comfortable handling of the body makes for an easy access point for evolving players to get into the Taylor Guitars sound, a sound that has already won over many guitarists new to the game. With a legacy of acoustic guitar design to the name, Taylor Guitars is an excellent pick.
Martin X Series
The name Martin Guitars has a certain legacy to it. With generations of guitar builders carrying on the proud American brand, the mastery of the instrument is undeniable. This expertise is present in all Martin models, including the X Series. The high-quality materials and excellent playability of the X Series is stands out in crowds of similarly-styled guitars. The X Series incorporates acoustic guitar features that have stood the test of time with other Martin guitars including scalloped "X”-shaped internal bracing, sleek neck profiles, and some newer features like Fishman electronics systems. The impressive features that make Martin guitars unique and acclaimed are present with the X Series for the best foot forward into the Martin family.
Fender Cali Acoustics
Fender is no slouch when it comes to acoustic guitars. The Malibu, Redondo, and Newporter Player Series guitars all sport the same wow-factor as their electric cousins with quality materials and careful construction. Each Fender Cali acoustic model brings its own flare to the table while also remaining comfortable in hand and easy to play. The six-in-line headstock in reminiscent of a Stratocaster headstock to make for a guitar that is quickly identifiable and authentically Fender. A smooth natural or burst finish are both aesthetically impressive for an acoustic guitar that stands out on stage visually and tonally just as any other Fender might.
Epiphone Masterbilt Acoustics
Epiphone’s Masterbilt acoustic guitars produce exceptional acoustic tones that carry Epiphone’s prestigious legacy. Capturing those vintage vibes while remaining applicable in modern contexts, Epiphone’s Masterbilt acoustic guitars prove the quality craftsmanship and effortless musicality of the name. With the Epiphone Masterbilt Texans sporting Fishman electronics to easily translate acoustic sounds from practice to performance for instance, the Masterbilt acoustics are primed for the traveling musician or experienced songwriter. For guitarists looking to experience the Epiphone name for themselves, it is truly a series not to miss.
The wide selection of guitars to choose from for that next step on your own musical path can be daunting. With these ten recommendations, hopefully the search for your next loyal guitar will be easier and plenty of fun.