Staying up to date on the latest, most exciting, and best electric guitar brands isn’t always easy these days. Individual builders, as well as larger custom guitar brands are popping up all the time.
Is that because the corporate guitar makers like Fender, Gibson, or PRS just aren’t offering the kind of custom work that the market is craving? I contend this is indeed, at least part of the reason why so many new electric guitar brands are emerging.
Immersing myself in the guitar community has exposed me to a plethora of new custom guitar brands. More than I thought was possible. Every time I visit Instagram, a brand new Luthier’s work shows up in my feed. It is extremely encouraging to see that the market is growing, and that the demand is there for these custom guitars.
That’s why I wanted to write this article. To share the wealth of diverse guitar builders I’ve discovered, with all of you. Some of them are just getting started, and some of them are fairly well established in the electric guitar community.
Either way, they didn’t make it on this list because everyone knows about them. They made it on this list because they are hidden gems, and they make beautifully unique electric guitars. So without further ado, here are 9 of the Best Custom Electric Guitar Builders You’ve Never Heard Of.
- 9. Best Custom Electric Guitar Brands - Veranda Guitars
- 8. Best Custom Electric Guitar Brands - Aristides Guitars
- 7. Best Electric Guitar Brands - Moar Guitars
- 6. Best Electric Guitar Brands - Electrical Guitar Company
- 5. Best Custom Electric Guitar Brands - Wide Sky Guitars
- 4. Best Electric Guitar Brands - Shelton Electric Instruments
- 3. Best Guitar Brands - Wallace Detroit Guitars
- 2. Best Custom Guitar Brands - MeloDuende Guitars
- 1. Best Custom Electric Guitar Brands - Waterslide Guitars
- The AxeDr.com Philosophy
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🇩🇪🎸🇩🇪 Absolutely rare German Hoyer 5062 Custom Deluxe Thinline Tele ___________________ #vintageguitars #fendertelecaster #teletuesday #vintagetelecaster #verandaguitars #rockguitar #electricguitars #fenderguitars #telecaster #telecastersofinstagram #fendervintage #hoyerguitars #bubenreuth #hoyer #germanguitars
The Veranda-Guitars label stands for unique guitar designs.
Visit the website to find out more!
Veranda Guitars just could not be left off of the Best Custom Electric Brands list. It would be a crime to do so. This is SUCH A FUN GUITAR BRAND! Each guitar is inspired by its own unique object/theme. Things like Aluminum PanAm Jetliner, Coca Cola, and a Celtic Age Battle Axe? (More on that one later.)
As you can see, this amazing custom electric guitar brand DOES NOT MESS AROUND. The sheer breadth of the builds is astonishing. Lets hear the full story behind this builder in his own words.
2016 – The start a year ago
“Some people who have ended up here at the Veranda Guitars may already know me as the operator of the ” Wutzdog-Guitars ” shop, which has been in Gunzenhausen in central Franconia since 1995 (only online since 2010). When I planked my terrace with grooved larch wood in 2008, I had the idea to build a solid body guitar out of it! However, it only took another seven years before the first real implementation.
During this time I collected ideas and above all interesting individual parts for such a project. This resulted in the number 001, the Veranda Eagle, in 2015whose story you can read here. Since more ideas were constantly being born during construction, twelve more copies were made in 2016, which are not all made of veranda wood, but their intellectual origin is at least often with a cool beer or a neat single malt on the terrace found.
Since these bizarre and original handmade electric guitars were well received by friends and acquaintances, I would like to introduce them to this non-commercial website at irregular intervals in the near future. Open end. I am always happy about constructive contributions and comments at [email protected]!
Robert Walch in December 2016″
The middle photo looks like a Celtic Age Battle Axe maybe? I better let the builder himself tell you about it.
“In April 2017, I was able to prove with the “Hansa Lübeck guitar” that the history of the electric guitar did not begin until the 20th century, but 400 years earlier. Now I even have to correct my research results from back then, since the first electric guitar from the Crusader period (13th century) is now available. I would probably have started this text if the instrument had been finished on April 1st. But it is not. So now the somewhat less spectacular version. The fact that I like building guitars that could have come from a different time can also be seen in the “Celtic” or the “Copperhead”Guitar.”
Aristides Custom Guitars, made out of Arium in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
IN STOCK REVERB STORE:
Aristides Guitars are a fast growing custom electric guitar brand based in The Netherlands. They seem to have this incredible cult following in the hard rock/metal guitar genre. The first time I saw one, I foolishly mistook it for a custom Ibanez.
Luckily for me, one of my followers quickly corrected my error, and I immediately took action to learn about Aristides. Turns out they have been around for quite a while, and have absolutely established themselves as one of the best electric guitar brands of today.
They have an incredibly interesting backstory, and I have to tell you about it. You can read their full history here, but for the sake of convenience I’ll give you a quick rundown of their brand story.
In 1995, a team of Dutch scientists, working in collaboration with Technical University Delft, started work on a unique mission: develop a material with perfect acoustic properties. The primary emphasis being on resonance and sustain.
The result of these 15 years is Arium, the perfect tonal material.
In 2007, Aristides Instruments started to work on the development of a revolutionary guitar.
- Perfect control of tone
- Incredible playability
- Innovative design
- Optimal utilization of the Arium properties
In short, the perfect instrument. The Aristides team got down to business with the famous Dutch design agency VANRENSDESIGN.
By the way, this is how I first discovered Aristides. This crazy good metal guitarist named Sanjay Foi plays a really nice Aristides. He makes some amazing music with that thing. Here’s a video of him. You can read more about him in Top 7 Guitar Influencers You Should Be Following in 2020.
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I A-B'd this guitar with a high end 335 and 330 from Dean, oh I mean Gibson, and this guy is so much louder acoustically! I was really not expecting that as my guitars are so much thinner in places, where as theirs is much more like a box. I'm not sure what they are doing to their wood, how thick their finish is or how much wood glue they are pouring in, but going from one to the other felt like going from a plastic toy to the real thing. #boastpost #playauthentic
The world’s local guitar builder.
My guitars are played on stages all over the globe, but each one starts its journey in my workshop, in Copenhagen.
Moar Guitars calls themselves “The World’s Local Guitar Builder”, and it really kinda feels that way. He takes classic body shapes, and makes them sleeker, and yet very tasteful. His custom electric guitar brand motto says it best…
Over the best part of the last decade my business has grown rapidly, but my core approach, ethos and passion has remained. Moar Guitars is a bold, independent small business; the person answering your emails is the same that’s winding your pickups. I work on a one-on-one basis to meticulously craft every aspect of the build, tailored exactly to your specifications.
His simplistic builds offer a more ergonomic, custom feel than the big name guitar brands of today. He offers both solid body and semi-hollow versions with handwound pickups. Last I spoke with him, he could barely keep up with the influx of orders he’s been getting. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. It gives hope to up and coming luthiers all around the world to see this guy succeed. Keep it up Moar Guitars!
The Master of the Aluminum Guitar Neck
This builder is making some of the craziest CNC machined aluminum guitar necks and bodies on the market today. Turns out they specialize in all acrylic electric guitars as well. The Electrical Guitar Company Instagram Feed is super active, with beautiful pictures of the guitar builds of the week.
This company was one built out of necessity. Kevin Burkett, an avid aluminum loving guitarist, found himself in need of an affordable alternative to his favorite Travis Bean instruments. As the story goes, he saved up enough money to buy the aluminum for a custom guitar. Then went around to every machine shop in town until one of them agreed to help him build it.
That man was Will Fitzpatrick, and he told Kevin he would teach him the skills to create his own metal-necked guitar. Since then, Kevin has been building these guitars himself for over 1,600 for customers all over the world.
They must be busy, because I’m starting to see Aluminum Guitar Necks all over the net. It’s a super interesting concept, and one I’ve yet to try myself. Fans of the aluminum guitar claim it has the best tonal capabilities of any material you can build a guitar out of.
If an aluminum guitar sounds like your thing, you should look them up. I’m sure they’d be happy to build you a custom neck. This company was a shoe-in for the best electric guitar brands list…especially with their masterful use of unique materials.
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New one #099 • @arcane.inc P90 and PAF, @schroederguitarhardware bridge and @emersoncustom Bumblebee caps & pots. Hand wound strings by @elgtsco• www.wideskyguitars.com #luthier #guitarmaker #handmadeguitar #guitar #electric #electricguitar #woodworking #handmade #custom #forsale #carvetop #guitarspotter #knowyourtone #mojo #guitarsofinstagram #premierguitar #boutiqueguitars #guitarworld #geartalk #gibson #lespaul #WideSkyGuitars #Taos #NewMexico
Wide Sky Guitars
Gary Clark Jr, Thom Yorke, Billie Joe Armstrong, John Doe, Gregory Alan Isakov, Sean Hayes, Eric Mcfadden & hopefully you.
Brand Motto: “I want to make art that inspires others to make their art. I want to make sculptures that sing.” — Patch at WideSky Guitars
I love reading the stories on how these electric guitar brands are built, what events led to their eventual creation. This guys story is so rich, and makes me wish I had such experiences. He’s an accomplished touring guitarist turned luthier.
“After graduating I moved out to LA to go to the Musicians Institute to continue studying guitar. While I was there Andy Brauer gave a lecture on how to set up your instrument. Something clicked and I went to his shop and asked for an apprenticeship which ended up becoming a full time gig for over 2 years.”
I found work with a custom furniture builder and at some point, with access to a fully equipped shop, I realized that I could try to build an acoustic guitar. Right around that time David Lindley was in town and I caught up with him before his show and asked if he’d try out my guitar and give me some advice.
He played it for a bit and kept saying this is a great guitar. He asked if I was selling it and I said I hadn’t thought about it yet because it was my first and he said something like “Whoa, you’ve made a monster guitar, don’t change a thing”. He gave me the confidence to go on and build my second.
I entered my second guitar into the Taos Fall Arts Festival and it ended up winning Best In Show. I had known instantly that guitar building was something that I wanted to do, these two experiences made me feel like I was on the right path and that I should really go for it.”
I highly recommend you have a listen to a recent podcast interview of Patch Rubin (Founder of Wide Sky Guitars) if you are taken by his instruments. Its an excellent story of the journey that led him to invent his amazing guitar brand.
One thing that stands out about this custom guitar builder is his use of alternative, natural finishes. When you look at his guitars, they exude that aged feel that every brand out there is trying to tackle these days. After messaging back and forth with Patch he informed me that his Electric Guitar builds have Osmo finishes, which he described as an Oil/Wax finish.
Patch reserves the French Polishing technique for his Acoustic builds. It speaks to the overall dedication he’s willing to put into each instrument. Its a long, complicated, hand applied finish using pure shellac chips dissolved in denatured alcohol, carefully dispensed onto a cotton pad, and applied in thousands upon thousands of micro layers.
Those layers melt into eachother to create a sonic-friendly finish that allows the character of the wood to shine through in its tone. It’s how all wooden instruments used to be finished before modern industry.
Wide Sky Guitars has favorable reviews wherever you look. Here is an excerpt from a review on acousticlife.tv:
“One of his models, the Wide Sky PL1, is a nod to the Gibson L1. If you have never seen a Gibson L1 look up the infamous picture of Robert Johnson… he is holding an L1. This guitar sounds tremendous, it’s barky, it’s distinct, it has great projection, and is very well composed with really nice note separation as well as articulation.
Although reminiscent of an old guitar it definitely has some modern improvements including a much thinner, more modern neck, and it is built like a flattop guitar but with a 15′ radius instead of the standard 28.’ I believe this is what gives the guitar such a distinct voice.”
Wide Sky Guitar owners all give 5 star reviews, here are a few of the more interesting ones.
This guitar is nothing shy of being a piece of art! Unreal. Good work brother!
Very cool guitar with a vintage vibe and great sound for fingerpicking some old blues tunes. Very satisfied – highly recommended!
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We're still at it! Getting stuff done like this wild GalaxyFlite BTB in Candy Apple Red with white Sportsman Stripe, Kill Switch, Porter Wide Ranges and Curtis Novak Gold Foil and Lipstick pickups! Did I mention it's wired in stereo? #galaxyflite #sheltonsguitars #sheltonelectricinstruments @porterguitars @curtis_novak_pickups @masterybridge
Shelton Electric Instruments
Luckily for me, Pinterest turns out to be a great place to find exciting new electric guitar brands. I remember the first pin I came across with a Shelton Electric Instruments guitar in it.
It was this teal colored Thinline Telecaster clone with with a Jazzmaster style bridge, and these super cool soapbar style(?) humbuckers.(See middle image) Incredibly, cleverly distinct. The pin didn’t have a link or any electric guitar brand name associated with it.
I posted it to Instagram with with a caption asking my followers to please help identify it. It didn’t take long with such an easily distinguishable custom guitar. The comments kindly informed me that it was a build by Shelton Electric Instruments, and I was thrilled to have found another custom electric guitar brand to add to my list.
Besides their incredibly beautiful appearance, the thing that really gets me excited about Shelton Guitars is their fancy electronics. They are known for adding an extra layer of tweakability to their pickup options.
Functionalities that every guitar tinkerer has dreamed of. I am a sucker for push/pull pots, phase switching, treble bleeds, coil switching…the more complex, the better. I can never have too many switches. Shelton Electric Instruments can deliver such features with ease.
In an Interview with Shelton Breeden, Brian K. Sanders of the Fretboard Journal asks Shelton to elaborate on some of the more complex electronics in their guitars.
“the four pickup SkyFlite is amazingly versatile. I spent a lot of time working out a system to get the maximum amount of usable settings from those pickups: 21 settings from four pickups and three push pulls. The only thing I didn’t get in there was phase switching. The feedback we’ve gotten from players has been tremendous on what you can do with it.”
Shelton continues to say:
“Ideally, I like a bit of extremes on the pickup voicings. Something hot that can drive the input at the bridge, and something that is a bit rounder and clean at the neck. We like middle pickups. You can add in a nice quack or get a nice clean tone out of a middle or even throw in something from left field.
We try to pack a lot of features into our electronics. Most of our two-pickup guitars have a 5-way switch where you can get your normal three positions plus a series setting and a cool treble roll off that’s somewhere between a cocked wah and an old Gretsch mudswitch. We also do a 5-way switch that does some cool stuff with series/parallel.”
Now you know why Shelton Electric Instruments made this list. They build stunning custom electric guitars, with clever electronics that every guitarist can appreciate. Let’s talk about the next brand on the list.
If you like the way these guitars look, you should check out my article on 7 Crazy Boutique Guitars Builders You Should Be Following in 2020!
Wallace Detroit Guitars
Wallace Detroit Guitars has to be the most inspiring on the 9 Best Custom Guitar Brands list. Reclaimed wood has become a huge industry in the United States. I’m betting no matter how small your town is, there is at least one business dealing in it.
What makes this company so special is that the reclaimed wood is from abandoned buildings in the City of Detroit. The economic death and decay one of our country’s most important cities is being turned into something good. An amazingly inspiring guitar is turning decay into music.
It’s not just the fact that they utilize reclaimed wood. It’s the way they put that wood together, that makes it completely unique to them. Any pattern you can think of, they probably do it, and/or will do it in the future.
Wallace Detroit Guitars UPDATE: After chatting with WDC on Instagram, they informed me that they just released a new Player Series of Guitars, and at an excellent price point of $1,200! That’s a great value, especially when you consider all the historical worth.
If you like the idea, do yourself a favor and visit their site. They have been featured on CNN, CBS, and Guitar Player magazine. I believe they deserve all the exposure they can get, and the guitar community obviously agrees that they are among the best electric guitar brands today.
In a recent article from CNN.com, Parija Kavilanz interviews Owner Mark Wallace. Writer Parija Kaveilanz helps tell the interesting story that brought this brand about.
“The idea for the guitars came to Wallace after a friend told him about Architectural Salvage Warehouse, a local nonprofit that deconstructs historic buildings with the goal of reusing salvaged wood and other materials to make new products. The concept piqued his interest. So he took a tour of the warehouse where the salvaged materials were stored.”
Wallace Detroit Guitar Founder Mark Wallace recounts:
“There was a lot of wood piled up and I happened to spot a cutting board made from reclaimed wood. It was stunningly beautiful,”
“I remember thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have an actual guitar made from this old wood?,”
When it comes to building these guitars, he obviously believes in quality over quantity. In the same interview Wallace describes the time frame for each build:
“Each guitar takes about three months to make and sells for between $2,200 and $3,800, depending on the rarity of the wood and custom components on the guitar.”
If you like classic Fender Style guitars without the Fender brand name, you will absolutely love my guitar roundup of Best Fender Telecaster Alternatives 2020!
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A superb article about MeloDuende in the Architecture, Decoration and Lifestyle magazine "Signature" by @profils.systemes. A big thank for this sumptuous work! 🙌🤘 Links here: https://apps.apple.com/fr/app/signature-by-profils-systemes/id1133449147 www.melocustom.com #bass#guitar#custommade#meloduendeguitars#customshop#handmade#exclusiveguitar#guitarporn#luthier#guitars#guitarspy#aluminiumguitars#weissenborn#musicislife#guitarsofinstagram#boutiqueguitarshowcase#boutiqueguitars#nammshow#guitarmaking#electricguitar
ALUMINIUM GUITARS HANDMADE IN FRANCE
MeloDuende Guitars is a super unique custom guitar brand based in Burgundy, France. They specialize in the fabled aluminum guitar; a growing trend among the best electric guitar brands in the community.
However, they go the extra mile when it comes to custom work on their all aluminum guitars. They add a style to that aluminum canvas. The end result is a guitar straight out of some dystopian future. They add metal paneling designs that just make the guitars look outstanding. After seeing just a few of their masterpieces, you can spot a MeloDuende Custom Aluminum Guitar from a mile away.
Aluminum guitars designed with their own custom bracing, tailored for the order. Semi-hollow bodies. Necks are made to order, only the finest hardware included. An estimated 200 hours goes into each model from scratch.
Can you imagine having enough passion and attention to detail to 200 hours into one thing? If you can, then you will understand the value of such works of art.
MeloDuende Guitars has been mentioned favorably on Guitar.com in a recent article with Tyler Bryant. For those of you unfamiliar with Bryant, he’s a Texan musician who has toured with greats such as Joe Bonamassa and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“This 335-sized custom electric was made by Meloduende in France. “I’d seen the one that Scott [Holiday] had, but I never knew who made it,” Tyler explains. “Bertrand from Meloduende reached out to me through Instagram and said ‘Hey, I’d love for you to try a guitar,’ and he sent me this and it just sounds unbelievable.”
He goes on to describe this guitar in detail:
Oversized custom control knobs are a feature of Meloduende instruments. “I wanna get some of these knobs for other guitars,” he enthuses. “They are so sick! If the light hits it right, you can see that it has gold paint on the neck, it’s very cool. Yeah this thing sounds unreal. It’s got these really crazy harmonic overtones.”
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One more of this MultiBender beauty before it heads off to its new owner. Waterslide Coodercaster in Sonic Blue with @mojopickups Lap Steel & Gold Foil Pickups and a @duesenbergguitars B & G bender. #waterslideguitars #straturday #coodercaster #multibender #bbender #gbender
Waterslide Guitars is a very special guitar brand located in Hollywood, CA. This brand sets itself apart from the competition by using super high end parts, and cleverly mismatched hardware from various fender models to create a truly unique partscaster. The classy knobs and little finishing touches don’t hurt either.
They also specialize in b and g benders for strats and teles. The use of the lap steel pickups is really what caught my attention. That combined with their crazy good tone is why they make my list of the best electric guitar brands today. There wasn’t a whole lot of info on their backstory, but I get the feeling its because they are so busy producing guitars.
From what I’ve read on the guitar forums, Waterslide Guitars entered the scene around 2014. Since then, they’ve gained a stellar reputation among very discerning players for having everything a player wants in an electric guitar build. Many say thats because the founder (Patrick) is a damn good guitarist, and knows exactly what guitar players like.
Another point frequently noted about Waterslide, is their affordable price in relation to other comparable guitar builders. They’ve definitely got great resale value, and guitarists are basically lining up to get one secondhand since they are mostly custom order guitars.
Here is what Waterslide have to say about the unique humbuckers in many of their models.
“Those of you familiar with Coodercasters know that the design of these old Valco-style lap steel pickups typically results in a middle position where three strings are in-phase and three are out. We’ve worked with Mojo to come up with a solution to that problem so all Waterslide Coodercasters with Mojo UK Lap Steel & Gold Foil pickups now feature our new switching system which allows all six strings to be in-phase with each other when both pickups are ‘on’.”
If Fender style and custom electric guitar builders are your thing, you ‘ll absolutely love this article on the Best Fender Telecaster Alternatives 2020!
The thing that blows my mind about waterslide guitars is their g and b bender capability. It does them no justice to write about them, and trying to describe the tone. You really need to hear and see these guitars in action to truly appreciate their excellence. Just watch the video below, you’ll understand why I consider them to be one of the top custom electric guitar builders immediately.
Custom Electric Guitar Builders
Sounds pretty sweet right? If classic fender bodystyles, lap steel humbuckers, and crazy cool b benders are something you might like to try, you should definitely visit their site. At the very least follow them on Instagram where they post their latest builds. You won’t be disappointed. Super exciting guitar builder. Can’t wait to see more from them.
The AxeDr.com Philosophy
Keep rocking, and share guitar with everyone who will hear it.
At AxeDr.com I believe that guitar can dramatically effect one’s life for good, and that every kid ought to consider pursing music in one form or another.
Learning an instrument can change the course of your life, and take you to places you never would have imagined. Plus, it makes you smarter. Who wouldn’t want such things? If you believe that too, please share this one someone in your life that would enjoy it.
It never ceases to amaze me, the stunning depth and breadth of creative custom electric guitar builders making truly unique guitars today. The very best custom electric guitar brands in the industry are being built not by massive corporations, but the daring lone luthier. By the looks of it they are dominating the market of custom electric guitars, and all the more power to them.
The Guitar Market has been flooded with cheap, poorly built guitars for at least a decade. The influx of new custom guitar builders is evidence of the guitar community’s demand for high quality instruments.
I think its speaks to the overall direction that our country, our world is heading in. A place where the value of quality, custom work is appreciated and celebrated. Perhaps the era of cookie cutter, generic products of our time have seen their hay day? Who knows.
The purpose of this article is to celebrate and support the deep wealth of talent that exists in the custom guitars market today. If this opened your eyes, just a little…or you simply enjoyed the content, please share it with your guitar buddies. It would mean the world to me, and the hard working luthiers in this article. Until next time…
The Axe Dr.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a "Boutique Guitar"?
A boutique guitar is the opposite of a big brand name guitar like a Fender Strat, or Gibson Les Paul. Boutique guitars are usually hand made, one-off guitars built for quality and craftsmanship. They are the best of the best in terms of components and materials.
2. Who are the some of best custom electric guitar brands?
Some of the newer, more popular custom electric guitar brands include:
- Veranda Guitars
- Shelton Electric Instruments
- Electrical Guitar Company
- Veritas Custom Guitars
- MeloDuende Guitars
- Wallace Detroit Guitars
- Wide Sky Guitars
- Moar Guitars
- Aristides Guitars
3. What is a custom electric guitar brand?
Custom Electric Guitar Brands are guitar builders who specialize in making high end, unique electric guitars. They often are just small brands who got their start in their garage or workshop.
The Guitar Market has been flooded with cheap, poorly built guitars for at least a decade. The influx of new custom guitar builders is evidence of the guitar community's demand for high quality instruments.
4. Who makes "Aluminum Guitars"?
Aluminum guitars are an interesting subject, and one that many luthiers have taken up as a product. Here is a list of current guitar makers who build aluminum guitars.
- Electrical Guitar Company
- Veranda Guitars
- MeloDuende Guitars
- Aluminati Guitars
- Aluminsonic Guitars
- Ed Roman Guitars
- Relish Guitars Switzerland
- Normandy Guitars
- Travis Bean Guitars (Limited Number)