Buying a guitar online : a short guide

A guitar made by Jericho Guitars

Do you love electric guitars?

Are you a beginner, or have you been playing for more than 7 years? Have you been thinking about ordering a guitar online?

 You’ve tried to find a few online brands, but you think there’s too many of them and don’t know where to start?

That’s okay. We all have specific tastes, and sometimes the more « famous » brands don’t really cut it for us. Let us guide you through a few brands that you may or may not have heard of, and where you could order a guitar online.

Know that most of these guitars will be fairly expensive, as you should expect from a niche market, but still cheaper than the mainstream counterparts would be at the same level of quality.
We will also make a few recommendations for cheaper brands that will get you great quality for a low price.

REMEMBER: everything in this article is a matter of taste and every of these points could be argued against, these are just general impressions gathered from testing and researching several models from each brand. I have been a guitar player for 9 years now, and used to work in a guitar shop.
These are my own general impressions gathered from trying out models and exchanging with other musicians and shopkeepers.

Scandinavian efficiency at a low pricing / Hagstrom & PRS – Price: Low-medium

If you already know a bit about electric guitars, these names probably ring a bell. PRS and Hagstrom are two well-known brands, but the thing that sets them apart here is that you’ll always get what you pay for. A lot of models from more mainstream builders can come with a variety of bad surprises when you receive them: poor finishes, broken electronics or tuners…

A guitar made by PRS.
A variation of the SE, PRS’s most famous model.

PRS has always been reliable in this aspect. Although their low-end models are nothing crazy, they’re well made and the factory pickups they’re shipped with are decent.
They are rather heavy guitars with thick necks. That makes them perfect for rhythm guitarists, but not so much for lead players.
Hagström guitars are sometimes shipped with small flaws, but their customer service is excellent and they’ll replace your instrument if it’s flawed. If you want something cool-looking that can play a bit of everything without breaking the bank, these are perfect.

One of Hagstrom's guitars, the super Swede. These are made in Europe!
One of Hagstrom’s guitars, the super Swede.
These are made in Europe!

Both brands deliver great instruments with decent factory pickups that will be able to do a lot for you at a reasonable price. Mostly oriented for “smooth” sounds, these are great for any variation of rock, folk and pop.

Classics reimagined for a decent price/Jericho Guitars – Price: Medium-high

Jericho guitars is a brand that has only recently started getting widely acknowledged.
Although their models don’t really have anything terribly original about them, they seem to hit all the right notes (ba dum tsh)
With gorgeous finishes, good hardware and great craftsmanship overall, Jericho guitars feel a lot like Ibanez guitars, with added originality value.  Their slim bodies and deep necks make for ideal stage instruments.

The edge 6 NT, a guitar made by Jericho.
The edge 6 NT from Jericho guitars is just as impressive visually as it is technical.

Most of the guitars are also neck-through, which is really rare nowadays among mainstream brands. With a fresh coat of paint on the classic looks, Jericho guitars might be perfect for you if you’re looking for something that can play a bit of anything with a modern touch. Their prices are also very reasonable, with the least expensive model costing 800$ (the edge 6nt). And that’s an excellent price for such good guitars. Just make sure you like the sound of the factory Alnico pickups first!

Australian kings of weird shapes/Ormsby – Price: Medium-high

Although Ormsby has been around for a while, they’ve really started getting renowned lately. Which is in itself a success, but even more so for an Australian brand! Their guitars are odd-shaped without looking strange or too uncanny. Their finishes also vary widely, from neon-green to natural woods.

A collection of Ormsby guitars.
Ormsby loves using bright neon colors.

But that’s not where the strength of Ormsby lies. Pretty much all of their models come in a multiscale variant. If you’ve never heard about multiscale before, here’s the gist of it: the fretboard is « bent » in a way that the frets form an oval shape instead of being all vertical. This greatly changes the comfort of the fretboard and allows you to easily drop the tuning of your guitar.

Ormsbys are absolutely perfect for people who are looking for a virtuoso instrument at a decent price. I have to say that I’m personally astonished at how low their pricing is considering how good these instruments are, being all around 1500€, including delivery. (That’s the advantage of buying Australian, their dollar is worth much less than the American and Canadian ones !)

Custom quality without the added cost of an order/Kiesel – Price : Variable, generally high

Kiesel does something really special that stands out among all other brands. Instead of making mainline models that will all play or look like each other, they make nothing but one-off instruments.

A guitar made by Kiesel.
Kiesel most certainly knows how to make sexy finishes.

With a  varied range of guitars, all of them having different shapes, mechanics, and pickups. The brand doesn’t specialize in « one genre » of music either. As such, it’s hard to review the brand in general. But their craftsmanship is generally impeccable. You can pretty much get a custom guitar without paying the price of a custom order.

I want the best of the best without having to make a custom order/Caparison – Price: High – Very high

Caparison. If you haven’t heard their name, they pretty much scream « I want to be able to do ANYTHING with my guitar ». Used by extremely talented and very-niche players such as Matthias Ia Eklund, Michael Romeo, Dan Vadim Von (Morbid Angel), these guitars are NOT for beginners.
With extreme shapes and very specific mechanics and electronics, these guitars are tailored for speed, comfort, and ease of use. They’re almost flawless in every aspect and also feel very inspiring.

A white and black guitar made by Caparison.
Caparison guitars just scream scales and technicity.

It is arguable that their cost is a bit too high for their quality. That choice will be up to you, but Caparison is one of the most expensive brands out there. Hard rock, metal, jazz… These work for just about anything.

I play alien death metal and I want people to know it /Etherial guitars – Price: Variable

A guitar made by Ethereal guitars
No wonder Rings of Saturn use these.

To be honest, we’re just adding these in for shock value. Etherial guitars is an extremely original guitar brand. The shapes, the finishes, the mechanics, the playability – nothing is « normal » about Etherial guitars. Some of their models are made out of carbon (which is starting to be a trend). It’s hard to explain what’s so special about them without letting you try one out. Let’s just say that the passion put into them is incredible. And their pricing is actually not as high as you would think.
Their guitars are tailored with metal in mind, of course.

So here you go, these are our recommendations! Feel free to ask anything in the comments below.

NB: Every picture used is from the owner company’s website.

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