Whether you’re a world renowned rocker or an eager amateur playing out of a garage, you’ll need a guitar that matches your unique style and sound. But with the dozens, if not hundreds, of guitar manufacturers on the market, choosing an ax that fits your needs can be a daunting task. The best guitar brands are ones that have stood the test of time. Year in and year out they are revered by industry professionals and endorsed by rock legends. But they never forget the little guy, and are sure to offer affordable options. Here’s a look at the best:

5. Epiphone

Believe it or not, Epiphone was once Gibson’s largest competitor. These days, the highly regarded manufacturer is owned by Gibson, and bases most of their products around Gibson staples. The good news is that guitars like the Epiphone Les Paul possess features that parallel Gibson’s flagship product, all at a fraction of the price.

4. Ibanez

Ibanez guitars often get written off as cheap knockoffs of other popular brands, but that’s hardly the truth. Featuring a plethora of makes and models, Ibanez guitars feature quality necks, powerful pickups and gorgeous finishes. Although most of their guitars are built with the rocker or heavy metal artist in mind, their AR line features a vintage tone and classic sound.

3. Washburn

Washburn is a name you can trust. In business for a staggering 130 years, Washburn guitars became all the rage among rockers during the 1980’s. They’ve died down in popularity a bit since then, in part thanks to the surging Ibanez, but their popular RX and XM series are still played by masses of professions. Washburn’s greatest strength is that they offer affordable versions of their top models that sound and look almost identical to their most costly counterparts. If that doesn’t sell you, they’re endorsed by Kiss front man Paul Stanley.

2. Fender

What more can be said about the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster that hasn’t already been said? Featuring an iconic look and instantly recognizable sound, these flagships of the Fender line have been used by stage musicians since the 1950’s. Fender rarely comes out with new technologies or brands, which some musicians see as a deterrent, but by producing very similar guitars year in and year out, the company is able to keep manufacturing costs down. What this means is that you get an awesome guitar for less.

1. Gibson

There’s a reason most serious musicians prefer Gibson guitars over the more affordable Epiphones – the quality and craftsmanship cannot be matched. Everyone, musician or otherwise, should experience the feeling associated with rocking out on a Les Paul, SG, or Flying V for the first time. Although they’ve been around forever, and like Fender, rarely come out with anything too different, they’re still the #1 brand on the market today. Over 4 million Facebook fans would agree – Gibson rules.

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