Best Country Music Guitars

How to Find the Best Country Music Guitars

Whether or not you’re a fan of country music, it’s undeniable that a country music song has a very distinct sound both instrumentally and vocally.

So, if you’re looking to recreate that twangy, punchy sound that’s synonymous with a country music hit, you probably want to know the best guitars for the job.

Read on to learn more about how to find the best country music guitars based on their overall sound, quality of construction, and price range.

Top 3 Picks

Looking to jump right in? Here are our top three picks for best country music guitars.

What is a Country Music Guitar?

What is a Country Music Guitar

What makes a guitar a great country music guitar is its ability to produce the punchy, twang, and vintage blues-like sounds you hear in your favorite country music song. Finding the perfect guitar comes down to your playstyle and the particular sound you’re trying to create, as well as how much or how little you want to involve gear like effects pedals and amplifiers to curate the perfect sound.

Country Music Guitar vs Regular Guitar

When we think about a “regular” guitar, we often refer to rock guitars and beginner guitars – the acoustic and electric guitars we start with when learning to play different music.

However, country music guitars are often the same guitars used for rock or other music styles. Still, certain features like pickups play a significant role in the guitar’s ability to produce that iconic country sound.

 

Country Music Guitar

Rock “Regular” Guitar

Body Style

Solid-body is the most common, semi-hollow for more robust, vintage sound.

Solid-Body, Semi-Hollow, Hollow

Acoustic/Electric

Electric is most common in modern country music

Electric or Acoustic depends on the type of “rock” or other music being played.

Pickups

Single-Coil Pickups are the gold standard, humbucker for the occasional difference in sound.

Single-coil, humbucker, etc. based on sound preference and music/play style

Other Features

Vibrato Bar, Tone, and Volume knobs are all standard features that come in handy for customizing the sound. Vibrato bars aren’t necessary but a welcome addition if looking to achieve a particular effect for a song.

Vibrato bars, tone and volume knobs, distortion, and other extra features can be beneficial to help you customize your sound to the style of music you’re playing. You’ll often find a tone and volume knob and maybe a vibrato bar in the average “regular” or beginner guitar.

Brands of Country Music Guitars

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands for country music guitars.

Fender

Fender is one of the most widely known guitar brands in the world. Their telecasters and Stratocasters have been the industry standard for everything from country music to pop for over six decades.

Fender Telecaster

fender telecaster country music

The Fender Telecaster is one of the most iconic guitars across genres but is well known for creating that signature country music sound. A telecaster is a classic and straightforward solid-body electric with two single-coil pickups. You can switch between using both pickups, the bridge or the neck – with the bridge pickup giving you the most country twang.

American vs Mexican Telecasters

The Fender American Professional is the top-of-the-line telecaster used by many modern country artists. Still, the Player Series Telecasters is a great budget-friendly option for beginner to intermediate guitar players.

The Fender American Professional is an American-made telecaster, while the Player Series are made in Mexico. While the major difference is in price, the American-made guitars also feature higher quality wood and hardware like tuners and pickups.

The hardware is easy to upgrade on a Mexican-made Telecaster. Especially if you’re a beginner looking to start with a more budget-friendly option, but if you’re a serious guitar player, the wood’s quality and ease of use right out of the box may mean an American-made model is worth the price tag.

The Fender Stratocaster is a real chameleon; it is a great option for country music and proves its worth in everything from blues to rock. It’s an excellent option for those country music players that like to add in bits of other genres to mix things up.

This solid-body electric comes with three single-coil pickups vs the Telecaster two, allowing it to create five different pickup combinations to truly customize your sound. You can also buy your Stratocaster with a Humbucker pickup at the bridge if you’re looking to play with more of a rock or country-rock tone.

Like the telecaster, there are both American and Mexican-made options in the professional vs player series, with price being the main difference in the builds.

Gretsch

Gretsch country music guitars

While they may not be as much of a household name as Fender, Gretsch guitars have been a favorite in country music since the 1960s after gaining notoriety in the 1950s rockabilly movement.

These guitars are hollow bodies with a fuller, more woody sound. They produce a sound and tone that you cannot get from any solid body alternative, which often makes them a unique and standout instrument in any song or performance.

Gretsch guitars can be a serious investment piece – the Gretsch 6120 is one of the most popular builds and will set you back well over $3000. However, the price reflects the quality and consideration that goes into these guitars.

With two TV Jones T-Armond single-coil pickups for a precise yet vintage sound, stunning high-quality wood, and vibrato bar, you’ll have no issue curating the perfect country sound.

If you need something a little easier on your wallet, their Streamliner Series is a great budget-friendly guitar with the G2420 giving you an experience that mimics the 6120 at a more affordable price.

Gibson

gibson guitars for country music

You don’t need to be a guitar player to know a Gibson Les Paul. Arguably the most iconic guitar on the market, a Gibson is a true force of nature across all genres of music. In particular, when it comes to country music, you reach for a Gibson when you’re looking for a blow-you-away southern rock sound.

The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar with a Burstbucker 1 and 2 pickup at the neck and bridge, respectively, deluxe tuners, and more to help create that full, punchy sound they’re known for.

While a Les Paul will run you over $2000, the Epiphone Les Paul is budget-friendly, similar to Mexican-made telecasters. They’re built overseas with more affordable hardware and wood but still produce a surprisingly great, warm sound.

What to Look for in a Country Music Guitar

If you’re looking for a guitar to play country music specifically, there are a few things to consider ensuring you get that classic country sound.

Single-Coil Pick-Ups

Country music, especially modern country music, is known for its bright, twangy, clear sound. Single-coil pickups help provide that exact sound. In most country music guitars, you’re looking at two or three single-coil pickups depending on how many variations you want to be able to switch to.

Single-coil pickups are a very clear-sounding pickup which makes them great for adding any effects or distortions. In addition, they pick up the frequency of the notes played better than some other pickups meaning you’re more likely to get a clear sounding note without its frequency impacting it or dampening the tone.

Tonewoods

The wood that your guitar is made of plays a huge part in the tone you’ll get out of it when it’s played. While things like pickups and strings also impact the overall tone and sound, the wood makes up most of the guitar, meaning it has a considerable part to play in what type of sound it can produce.

When it comes to country music guitars, you’ll most often see Alder, Rosewood, and maple used for the guitar’s body and fingerboard.

Alder

Alder wood is a light to medium weight wood that provides a great balance of frequencies, and the dense grain means it delivers a very clear sound. Alder is often used for its versatility as its full, well-rounded sound and tone lend itself well to everything from blues to pop, especially country.

Rosewood

Rosewood is one of the most popular choices of wood for fretboards. A lot of this popularity comes from the durability of rosewood, as it can easily handle the constant wear and tear on regular playing. In addition, it’s great for creating warmth and smoothness to the sound of your guitar and easily compliments all configurations and styles.

Maple

Maple is a much harder and heavier wood than Alder, making it a great choice for the necks of guitars. It’s considered a tone wood that produces a bright and snappy sound and allows for distinction between notes.

Hardware

Hardware on a guitar is often up to personal preference. A standard guitar will typically come with pickups and a volume and tone knob, but more expensive and specific guitars can include tuners, vibrato bars, tone knobs, etc.

The type of hardware you want will depend on the sound, customization, and play style that you want from your instrument.

Weight

If you’re playing for long periods or rocking out on stage, you’re going to notice something like the weight of the guitar more than those that casually play. However, this is a personal preference as some prefer a heavier guitar.

Either way, the weight is mostly dependent on the wood, so if you’re looking for a lighter weight guitar, you want to look for something like Alder, which is a good light to medium weight, and for a heavier guitar, something like maple or other hardwoods.

Price

Price is a big factor when it comes to buying a guitar. While cheaper, more affordable guitars can produce excellent quality sound, they are often made from lower-quality materials, making them less durable and less likely to last.

You may also need to upgrade the hardware on many budget guitars to achieve the exact sound and tone you’re looking for.

If you are able, spending a bit more money or making a serious investment in a high-quality instrument pays off.

You’ll notice the difference in the quality of the wood, the higher-end hardware, the additional features, and most importantly, the sound, clarity, tone, and control you have while playing.

With many of the guitars on this list, you’ll find that American-made guitars are of higher price and quality, while those that are lower price tend to be made in Mexico or overseas. This only matters if you prefer to buy American-made guitars or if you’re looking for a specific quality in guitar.

Warranty

If you’re emptying your wallet for an instrument that you hope to get a lot of use out of, you want to know you’re backed by a great warranty.

In most cases, you’re looking to protect yourself from absorbing the cost of a replacement or repair in cases of defects of materials and construction, manufacturing issues, and hardware issues.

Warranties typically range from 1 year to life and apply to the guitar’s body and the hardware separately.

Best Country Music Guitars

Gretsch G6122T-62GE Vintage Select Country Gentleman – Walnut Stain, Bigsby: Best High End Guitar

The Gretsch G6122T-62GE Vintage Select Country Gentleman is a real high-end gem. With the unique full, woody sound made popular by George Harrison and Chet Atkins.

The maple body is bright and snappy, which creates an unmatched full-bodied sound combined with the Humbucker pickups. The overall design makes it a comfortable guitar to play from the U-shaped neck to the refined body.

  • Price: $3400 – 3900
  • Color: Walnut
  • Wood Type: Maple body and fingerboard
  • Best Feature: TV Jones Classic Pickups for a vintage sound

The price tag makes sense when looking at this stunning guitar with a sophisticated walnut stain and metal accents, from the vintage-inspired tailpiece to the pickups, knobs, and switches.

Pros

  • Unique, full-bodied sound that stands out
  • Stunning design and construction
  • High-quality maple wood

Cons

  • Humbucker pickups don’t produce the clear sound you typically associate with a twangy modern country.
  • Expensive

Gibson Acoustic Sheryl Crow Country Western Supreme – Antique Cherry: Best Overall Acoustic

The Gibson Acoustic Sheryl Crow Country Western Supreme is a stunning choice for those who want the acoustic country sound. The combination of spruce and mahogany tonewood creates an unparalleled combination of balanced sound and projection.

  • Price: $4300 – 4800
  • Color: Antique Cherry
  • Wood Type: Rosewood fingerboard, Mahogany Body
  • Best Feature: Gotoh tuners help keep you in tune

This guitar was made to be comfortable and a real performance guitar. The Gotoh tuners will keep you in tune, while the Amulet M Analog Pick-up System produces a real acoustic tone with minimal feedback.

The antique cherry color with rosewood fretboard is a genuinely classic pairing that will appeal to every country music player.

Pros

  • Amulet M Analog Pick-up for real acoustic tone and minimized feedback
  • Antique Cherry color is an acoustic guitar classic
  • Tonewood combination produced balanced sound with unmatched projection

Cons

  • Expensive

Gretsch G6196T-59GE Vintage Select Country Club – Cadillac Green, Bigsby: Best Hollow-Body Electric

The Gretsch G6196T-59E Vintage Select Country Club is a versatile guitar capable of strumming a ballad or rocking out at full volume. The gorgeous Cadillac Green color with metal accents makes this guitar look like a work of art and will definitely be a statement piece in your collection.

  • Price: $3500 – 4000
  • Color: Cadillac Green
  • Wood Type: Maple body and fingerboard
  • Best Feature: Bigsby tailpiece for smooth vibrato

The maple body brings a bright and snappy tone, while the TV Jones Classic Pick-ups add that old-school sound to create something that sounds unlike anything else. The Bigsby Tailpiece allows you to add smooth vibrato, while the three volume controls and single tone switch help you really customize your output to create the exact sound you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Show-stopping color and design.
  • Maple body produces a bright and snappy country sound
  • TV Jones Pick-ups add a vintage depth to your output

Cons

  • Humbucker pickups don’t produce the clear sound you typically associate with a twangy modern country.
  • Expensive

Fender American Professional II Stratocaster – Dark Night with Maple Fingerboard: Best Affordable Option

The classic Fender American Professional II Stratocaster truly transcends genres. This is a great choice for any genre. It’s capable of producing a country song’s clear and twangy sounds to rock out with full distortion in a hard rock anthem.

  • Price: $1400 – 1600
  • Color: Dark Night
  • Wood Type: Maple Fingerboard, Alder Body
  • Best Feature: Narrow tall frets for comfortable, more easy playing

Fender Stratocasters come in a wide array of colors, from funky to classic, so you can pick the guitar that says something about you and how you play. This Dark Night color, though, is something really special.

Pros

  • American-made stratocaster
  • Three single-coil pickups with five pickup combinations.
  • Variety of colors
  • Mid-range price

Cons

  • Second to the telecaster for classic country sound

Fender Player Telecaster – Butterscotch Blonde with Maple Fingerboard: Best for Beginners

The iconic Fender Telecaster gets a more affordable option with the Mexican-made Fender Player Telecaster. There’s no guitar quite like the telecaster for classic, twangy, and clear-sounding country music, but the price point can be a bit steep for some beginners and budget-conscious players.

  • Price: $750-850
  • Color: Butterscotch Blonde
  • Wood Type: Maple Fingerboard, Alder Body
  • Best Feature: Alnico V single-coil pickups for a punchier sound

That’s where the Player series comes in – made with more affordable hardware and constructed in Mexico, you still get the sound you love with a more wallet-friendly price.

The Butterscotch Blonde is a classic telecaster color that you can’t go wrong with adding to your collection.

Suppose you’re looking for more customization of your sound. In that case, the Player series guitars can be upgraded with higher quality hardware to get precisely what you want out of your instrument without breaking the bank.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Two single-coil pickups for clear, twanging sound
  • C-shape neck for comfortable and quick playing
  • Versatile guitar, great for all genres

Cons

  • The Mexican-made Player series uses lower-quality woods and hardware that may need to be upgraded in time

Best Strings for Country Music Guitars

An important piece of the puzzle when you’re looking to create the perfect country music sound is strings. Here are some of our top picks for country music guitar strings:

Ernie Ball Earthwood Bronze Medium Acoustic Strings

The Ernie Ball Earthwood Bronze Medium Acoustic strings are 80% copper and 20% zinc.

  • Price: $5-20
  • String Material: Bronze
  • Gauge: Medium, 12-54
  • Electric/Acoustic: Acoustic

Some of the most popular acoustic guitar strings on the market due to their crisp, clean, and balanced tone and great projection.

Pros

  • Balanced tone
  • Great Projection
  • Clear sounding
  • Medium gauge has a bit more string tension

Cons

  • May be “loud” for acoustic strings depending on preference
  • Reviewers have suggested they’re difficult to break-in

Martin & Co. Authentic Acoustic MA175 Strings

The Martin & Co. Authentic Acoustic MA175 Strings help bring out the natural tone of your guitar.

  • Price: $5-15
  • String Material: Bronze
  • Gauge: Custom Light, 11-52
  • Electric/Acoustic: Acoustic

The light-gauge and silk and steel construction make these strings a great versatile addition to your acoustic – from fingerpicking to strumming.

Pros

  • Brings out the natural tone of your guitar
  • Bright, rich tones
  • Light gauge is great for fingerpicking and plucking

Cons

  • Potential for a lot of string noise during movement depending on play style

D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Regular Light

The D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings are some of the best in the business.

  • Price: $5 – 55 (depending on the number of sets)
  • String Material: Nickel
  • Gauge: Regular Light, 10-46
  • Electric/Acoustic: Electric

The nickel wound strings stand up to wear for a long-lasting bright sound.

Pros

  • Great for a variety of electric guitars
  • Reduced fret-wear
  • Bright sounding, great intonation and magnetic output
  • Regular light gauge is excellent for a comfortable feel with versatility in tone

Cons

  • Reviews suggest their longevity can vary

FAQ

Question: Is a Single-coil or Humbucker Pickup Better for Country Music?

Answer: Single-coil pickups are preferred by most country music players as they deliver the classic and sought-after clarity and twang. Humbuckers tend to be preferred by those looking for jazz or harder rock sound.

Question: What Guitars Do Country Music Singers Use?

Answer: Possibly the most popular guitar used by country music singers is the Fender American Professional Telecaster.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a great country music guitar, you want something that gives you that classic country sound and twang. You can’t go wrong with the Fender Player Telecaster – Butterscotch Blonde with Maple Fingerboard. If you’re looking for that classic sound and one of the most popular country music guitars – the ones played by all your favorite country music artists then this is it.

However, there’s lots of space to customize and play with your setup and find what you like best – whether that’s trying out different body styles, tonewoods, pickups, or brands. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment down below. And for more great guitar tips, check out our guide to the best acoustic guitars!

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