Gibson Les Paul guitar with car in the background

Guitars as Cars

If guitars were cars what would yours be?     

Like most people we are all brand aficionados; in the world of guitars this can be taken to extremes – what it says on your headstock defines you as a player; the wrong name and you are seen as an amateur/beginner/non-serious etc.

As with cars, the guitar make is all important, but also the country it was made in!

US Makes

Most of us would like to own and play a USA made Gibson or Fender, Taylor or Martin; their name on the headstock showing the world that we have taste and style and are ‘a serious guitarist’! Why USA? Well that is where the electric guitar and the rock’n’roll revolution started!

So, brands are important. Across all products they define us and our tastes, style, social acceptance, feel good factor and ‘coolness’. Whether this is right or wrong is irrelevant as one man’s brand is another man’s derision. And, like cars, we aspire to certain brands and tend to stick with that brand for life.

The Brands

So if guitars were cars what would they be?

Martin Guitars, as one of the oldest and most respected brands in the world, would be a Mercedes Benz – sold, reliable, mature and the ‘founder’ of modern guitars.

Gibson would probably be Audi, another old established brand that has shaped the history of guitars and is seen as solid, reliable and ‘safe’.

Taylor Guitars? Probably BMW – the new kid on the block producing quality, sought after guitars with great performance, that are very well made using modern innovative methods.

Fender Guitars, part of the giant Fender Corporation and one of the largest manufacturers in the world would be VW – a huge range of solid, well made products that don’t let you down but all based on a couple of designs. Some of their products are workhorses, some sporty and some racy so there is something for everyone and lots of other manufacturers copy them to break into the market.

Squier and Epiphone are the volume end of the market with lower prices but still good quality so they would be Ford and Vauxhall; good but what you really want is an Audi or a BMW!

Yamaha, who produce a huge range of quality guitars at mid price levels would be Honda as they make everything for everybody – not exciting (unless you get the NSX!) but won’t ever let you down.

The same goes for Ibanez, who also make a huge range of acoustic and electric guitars, who could be Toyota.

Going niche, how about Burns of London – the quintessential sixties English brand that has come and gone a few times since then, I can see Jensen Cars – they made the fabulous Interceptor in the sixties which looked good but never quite delivered on its promise to take on the world.

Gretsch, who make rockabilly guitars, used by everyone who was anyone in the fifties and beyond, has to be Cadillac with its old stately opulence.

That old rival to Martin, Guild Guitars has similarities with Jaguar – a new owner and a new lease of life making them sought after once again after losing their way and falling out of favour.

There are also many US brands that came along in the seventies, but didn’t make much of an impact over here, apart from PRS, who make a great range of well made sought after, expensive electrics – any ideas on what kind of car they would be?

Links to other pages

Choosing an Acoustic pickup
Signature Guitars
Electric Guitars