So your wallet is feeling pretty light these days but you’ve decided that you just have to have an American made guitar. Fortunately, there are several options outside the big brand names which offer domestic construction with upgraded features offering more bang for your buck. While these are still priced at a premium compared to imported guitars, smaller shops also pay a greater attention to detail generally ensuring your dollar isn’t simply paying for advertising in magazines or celebrity endorsements.
- Benford Guitars - Benford is a small shop based in Milwaukee which offers customized Strat and Tele style guitars starting at $425 for their standard line including a Deluxe Levi's gig bag. For those extremely finicky about their guitar’s orgins, note that Benford does utilize some parts sourced overseas but is completely upfront about it. They offer full custom work as well with a sky's the limit attitude.
- Godin - Godin guitars are made in the Canada with some assembly in the USA so technically a North American guitar rather than simply American. Their performance series offer a great bargain with several retailing under $500.
- Carvin - Carvin has been around since 1946 selling musical equipment direct eliminating the middle market mark up passing the savings to the consumer. While most famous for highly customized guitars often made with exotic and highly figured woods, they also offer a more down to earth model named the Bolt which has a base price under $650 as of this writing. The Bolt is also offered as a kit for under $400.
- First Act - While most well known for their budget offerings available in the big box retailer's toy sections, the company also offers a wide range of more serious instruments both import and domestic. Their Limited Edition line is made in America and start at $799 (this is a price cut from their previous retail pricing of well over $1000) but is in extremely limited supply.
- Strictly 7 - Strictly 7 guitars was founded by Jim Lewis to fill the niche of aggressively styled guitars directly at metal players. Direct sold instruments start at $799 USD (but offer several upgrade packages) and they also feature a custom shop.