Stealing Share's Analysis and advice

Guitar Branding. A Market Study

March 17, 2023

Guitar branding market study

Guitar branding is huge, unique, and filled with the potential to steal market share.

In this article, Stealing Share will look at the science of guitar branding.

You can also check out our story on the rebranding of Sabian, one of the world’s largest cymbal manufacturers. But the study is about another instrument.

Which is the best guitar? That’s for you to decide.

Here we are talking about BRANDING, not the quality of the instrument.

When choosing the best guitar brand, the notion that one brand reigns supreme over all others is subjective and often the result of personal preference.

Guitar brandingWhile some brands have built a reputation for quality craftsmanship and sound, the notion of a “best” brand ultimately boils down to individual taste and playing style.

Every guitarist has unique needs and preferences, such as musical genre, playing technique, tonal preferences, and even the size and shape of their hands.

What works for one guitarist may not necessarily work for another.

Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge that the concept of a “best” guitar brand is fluid and dependent on personal choice.

Numerous renowned guitar brands, including Fender, Gibson, PRS, Ibanez, Martin, and others, have left their mark on the music industry.

Each brand offers a distinct blend of features, materials, and craftsmanship, catering to diverse musical styles and player preferences.

Some may prefer the classic tone and playability of a Fender Stratocaster, while others may gravitate towards the versatile sound and design of a Gibson Les Paul.

The choice between these iconic brands ultimately comes down to the individual guitarist’s musical vision and personal connection to the instrument.

Additionally, guitarists often develop loyalty to a particular brand based on their experiences and familiarity with its instruments.

This loyalty can stem from the quality of past instruments they’ve owned or played, the brand’s reputation within their preferred genre, or even the endorsements of their favorite musicians.

So the idea of a “best” guitar brand is subjective and varies from one guitarist to another. Personal preference, playing style, and musical goals all play a significant role in determining the right instrument.

Back to the BUSINESS of branding guitars

While certain guitar brands have achieved legendary status and earned widespread acclaim, the ultimate decision on which brand is the best lies in the hands of the individual musician.

Exploring various brands, models, and styles is crucial to find the guitar that feels and sounds right for you.

The market for buying a guitar — whether an electric or an acoustic — is incomprehensibly vast.

Right now, the popularity of the guitar is undeniable. We’ll look at the components that establish strong guitar branding like the manufacturer’s history, celebrity endorsement, and craftsmanship.

More than that, we will also expose just how few brands have touched upon the most important aspect of branding a guitar: the musician’s adoration for their instrument.

The influences behind the selection

On one end of the spectrum are guitars intended for the novice player. These instruments allow buyers to dip their toes into the musical waters.

They can properly hold the depth of expression that comes from a whammy bar. While playable, they are not worthy of passing down the family tree.

rebranding agencies miss the point Such guitars include acoustics like the Yamaha acoustic line and the Gibson Epiphone. It also includes electrics like the Fender Squier and Peavey line.

The opposite end of the spectrum consists of intricate, handmade models rendered from the finest woods worldwide.

These guitars are priceless and sound exquisite. They are statement pieces often placed on display or for professional touring and recording musicians.

In the middle rests a tier of moderately expensive guitar branding. These guitars are very worthy of maintaining for a lifetime; acoustics, like Martin, Guild, or Taylor, and electrics like Rickenbacker and Gibson Les Paul fall into this category.

We’ll elaborate on the table stakes components that establish guitar branding (the manufacturer’s history, celebrity endorsement, and craftsmanship).

Certain guitar branding practices have a better connotation than others.

This isn’t a lie. An elite group of guitar brands is widely accepted to be the best of the best in the market. Why are these guitars considered best? One reason is that the guitar manufacturer has a history of making instruments with excellent tonality.

They are conditioned to withstand a lifetime of bumps, bruises, scrapes, and, most importantly, playing. (read a blog on the iRig pedals here)

History of the guitar manufacturer

The history of the guitar branding manufacturer is essential. Nobody wants a guitar if they know its truss rod will bend to the point of collapse or if its bridge comes flying off due to faulty gluing.

Guitar branding. Martin Guitar logoA buyer wants a beautiful instrument that they can make beautiful music with. Thus, the legacy of the manufacturer is important. Consider the importance that the Martin & Co. guitar places on its lineage. Martin guitar branding.

All you need do is glance at the homepage of the manufacturer’s website to see the value it places on nostalgia and how paying homage to that helps to provide a story for the instruments it makes.

This apparent nod to the past isn’t observable with Martin & Co. alone. For instance, an advertisement for the Gibson Les Paul honors the 1959 model: Within the music industry, it is a standard view that the past is better than the present.

The lure of analog

It’s why many musicians continue to record on reel-to-reel tape (even though it’s a longer, more challenging, and expensive process)—some mic their instruments from a vintage tube amp rather than plugging in directly for preprogrammed vintage sounds.

Musical purists wish to hear the Beatles catalog in mono rather than stereo.

It’s why Billy Bob Thornton posed the question, “Which artists, post-1980, will be remembered 100 years from now?” to Bill Maher. It’s also why lifelong hobbyists and professionals want their guitars to have a vintage look, sound, and feel.

Celebrity endorsements of the guitar

There is value in celebrity endorsements too.

Typically, celebrity endorsements get a bad rap. The danger is that if they are the sole reason to buy a product, that product is tied to that celebrity.

Guitar branding Martin and Celebrity David Crosby

Papa John’s, for example, better hope founder and spokesperson John Schnatter doesn’t get into trouble.


(I spoke too soon—Jared Fogle and Subway.) But some positive examples, including Michael Jordan and Air Jordan, defined Nike as being about winning. It’s why Target sells First Act, an Adam Levine-endorsed line of acoustic and electric guitars.

Yet there is an even deeper connection between the company producing the guitar, the celebrities endorsing them, and the consumer: the company’s heritage.

Consider the following grab from the Guild Guitar website. It also chronicles who played the Guild guitar and when. For example, we can see that in the 1960s, blues legends Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters became synonymous with their playing of the Starfire IV and Thunderbird (both electric models produced by Guild).

Later that decade, we see a picture of the late folk hero, Richie Havens, playing his acoustic Guild guitar while on stage at Woodstock.

Blending heritage with celebrity

In this instance, Guild guitar branding has used its heritage to seep into the heart of the musically conscious consumer.

Guitar branding market study. Guild AdIt is banking on the fact that you will want to buy a guitar with history on its side — one that the legends have had by their side, too.

Similarly, the middle to upper-tiered guitar, Alvarez, highlights the celebrities it has sponsored and the professional musicians who have chosen them.

Just look at the list of musical legends who have used it: Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana, and CS&N.

Gretsch, widely known for its line of beautifully constructed, hollow-bodied electric guitars, also boasts a long list of professional musicians that use its electric and acoustic guitars.

The names on this list aren’t quite the level of Guild or Martin but are worth mentioning nonetheless.

For instance, the following is a shot of the punk rock guitarist and singer Tim Armstrong of the band, Rancid.

Next to him are two of those gorgeous electric hollow bodies.

Guitar craftsmanship

Great guitar companies also tell how they make guitars. It is an important part of guitar branding.

This is another component of guitar branding. With the construction of any instrument, there is great artistry at hand. With guitars, artisans search the world over for ideal and sustainable wood.

They look for wood to mold in such a precise and caring way that it resonates profoundly with musicians.


Guitar branding Taylor adThe Taylor guitar is often considered one of the most dignified brands today.

One reason this is true is that Taylor sells its guitar manufacturing process. Buyers know they are getting a divine instrument.

When in the market for a Taylor guitar, you can mold your guitar search according to different facets of the construction process.

You can find a guitar sculpted in a particular way or made from a specific wood.

Take a look at the categories provided on Taylor’s site: It’s not surprising that in the “About Us” section on the Taylor guitar website, you can find a sentence that reads: “Outstanding playability, flawless craftsmanship, and stunning aesthetics are just a few of the reasons that many of today’s leading musicians make Taylor their guitar of choice.”


The Canadian guitar company Seagull also places importance on the construction process of its guitars. Look at all the images on the right-hand side of the company’s homepage.

These pictures show craftsmen honing in on the minutest of details, all leading to the production of a stunning guitar.


Guitar branding market studyThe Takamine guitar site exhibits the same attention to craftsmanship. The Takamine line of guitars is a reliable middle-tired acoustic guitar (but one that also has a more expensive, Pro-Series line).

It advertises itself as the guitar that is built by “artisans.” Look at the following image pulled from the Takamine website: It’s evident that Takamine recognizes the value of guitar branding in its handiwork, right?

Most guitar branding only uses these three components in advertising. Why?

From what we’ve seen in the marketplace, the advertising for guitars isn’t very good. Most advertisements leave viewers with a lazy feel as they rarely connect with the potential buyer’s heartstrings.

This is because most ads sell one or two table stakes components. Worst of all, they are missing what a musician seeks: to fall in love with their instrument.

Gretsch is an example

Guitar branding market study Gretsch and Brian Seltzer

Take, for example, the following advertising for the Brian Setzer line of Gretsch guitars: Sure, the copy of this advertisement hits on the story of these models, and we have a celebrity, Brian Setzer.

But in what way does this impact the buyer? It’s more of a glamour shot for Setzer.

Taylor’s ads are about Taylor

Guitar brandingThis print advertisement for the Taylor guitar is undoubtedly better than the Gretsch ad, but we think it’s still missing something.

Sure, we know that Taylor builds guitars, but the copy reads like it is angry at the world for not knowing that.

This advertisement imbibes Taylor with itself rather than eliciting any emotion from a potential buyer.

Reverend is also about Reverend

In the following ad, the electric guitar company, Reverend, empowers the buyer to choose to purchase a Reverend guitar.

Guitar branding market study ReverendWhile we get a slight sense of the manufacturing element of the Reverend guitar, we still don’t know the type of guitarist who plays a Reverend nor what would drive them to choose a Reverend as their musical soulmate.

As is, this particular Reverent guitar has a clean-looking head (the top of the guitar that houses the tuning pegs and keys) with metal tuners.

However, not much is left to motivate the buyer. We could bore you with ad after ad for acoustic, electric, classical, and 12-string guitars, only to be continually discouraged by the outcome.

To steal market share, guitar branding must focus on what resonates most with buyers.

Winning in the guitar market shouldn’t be hard.

Right now, everyone is selling a portion of what they should, but foolishly, hardly anyone is doing what’s right: selling to the emotional triggers of the musician.

What they want is to rendezvous with a beautiful-sounding six-string.

Manzer is on the right track

Guitar branding market study Manzer adThis ad works because it focuses on the guitarist’s experience with a Manzer guitar.
A beautifully made guitar, when played, can make a guitarist feel like they have transcended the world around them.

Manzer is certainly doing things right with its advertising. The copy for the following ad is simple yet powerful: “Imagine a Therapist that does all the talking.” It doesn’t hurt that the Manzer guitar pictured here has a beautiful fretboard.

Martin & Co. is also pretty good

Guitar branding Taylor AdPrint ad for the Martin & Co. company also hits the right stroke as the Manzer ads do.

Guitarists have a sense of allegiance to their primary guitar. Here, Martin recognizes that most guitarists want a lifetime friend in their guitar and that, as it ages, that friendship will deepen (this is why Willie Nelson continues to play his beat-up guitar).

Guitarists believe in superstition like a basketball player does by wearing the same socks when they win.

They believe in the emotional connection they have with their instrument.

That’s why it doesn’t matter if you are a beginning guitarist or a pro; you want to be a part of this collective musical story.

For the love of guitars

The story has always been the same. It’s the hope of becoming a star alongside your traveling companion: your guitar. That guitar holds a special place in the heart of the guitarist. It’s their baby. They love it. They bond with it.

This should be the ingredient most used when companies market their guitars. What does the guitarist aspire to be? Without cluing into this, we’re left with bland advertising that does little to move the heartstrings.