The 10 Best Guitars of 2021
Published on 13 August 2021
This year has been really quite exceptional for new guitars. Despite the odd state that the world finds itself in, guitar manufacturers across the planet have tirelessly beavered away, designing and releasing more cool instruments than at any other point in recent history! We thought we’d take a second and round up some of the delights that have found their way into our stores during 2021. Read through our list, watch the videos and see if there’s something in there for you!
Charvel Pro Mod So Cal 1 in Slime Green
This bolder-than-bold superstrat from Charvel delivers unbelievable value (USA-made Seymour Duncan pickups and a ‘proper’ 1000 Series Floyd Rose trem) along with more than a sly wink towards a certain famous ‘mean and green’ guitar from the 80s. More of a tip of the hat than a direct tribute, this bombastically brilliant Pro Mod So Cal model practically shrieks with shred-authenticity. Charvel are legitimate 80s shred legends and this example hits the target right in the bullseye.
Epiphone Slash Les Paul Standard in November Burst
Slash has effortlessly maintained his rock god status for nearly 40 years now, and the popularity of these Epiphone signature models in ample proof of his staying power in the eyes of guitarists everywhere.
Instead of slapping the great man’s name on existing Les Pauls, Epiphone brought their A-game and released a gang of instruments that punched well above their price point. The look was right, the weight was right, the sounds were authentic and the feel was as moreish as a chocolate muffin. This is the sub thousand pound Les Paul to beat, AND it comes with a fitted hard case!
Fender Jazzmaster Acoustasonic in Ocean Turquoise
Fender took a big (if calculated) risk when they released the first Acoustasonic models a few years back Hybrid acoustic/electric guitars are an extremely tricky move to pull off, especially for a big heritage brand like Fender. However, undaunted, Fender in fact pulled off quite the Houdini with their best-of-both worlds Acoustasonic, and it’s proven to be a resounding hit. So much so, in fact that the initial Telecaster shape has since been joined by a Stratocaster model and – to reflect current tastes – this beautiful Jazzmaster model.
This wonderful Jazzmaster model is the first to cater more squarely towards electric guitarists, with a Tim Shaw designed humbucker in the bridge position. Have your cake and eat it, as they say, whilst sounding great and standing out from the crowd!
Gibson Custom Shop Murphy Lab 59 Les Paul Standard in Dirty Lemon
Top notch Gibson Les Pauls are consistently the most revered and lusted after instruments in our world. They have the magic, the mojo, the authority...and these Murphy Lab 59s are just spectacular. Take a great, hand-made Custom Shop Les Paul, with all the greatness, authenticity and detail that it entails, and then get Tom Murphy’s team to add the special sauce of ageing and tarnishing: the result is the closest match to a fabled 59 Les Paul as we’ll ever see. Every pair of hands on these guitars leaves spectacular work behind.
Lowden S22 12-fret Cedar & Mahogany
For many years, we at guitarguitar have considered George Lowden’s acoustic masterpieces to be some of the greatest instruments on the planet. The difference between reading about a Lowden and actually playing one is astronomical: they feel velvety and exceptional, whilst sounding like a clear, three dimensional grand piano. This model adds the warmth of Cedar and the more intimate playing experience that only a 12-fret guitar can offer. Divine.
LTD EC-1000 in Gold Andromeda
ESP’s LTD brand has also been the metalhead on a budget’s connoisseur choice. More top metal players use their designs than just about any other brand, from Metallica to Rammstein. The EC is LTD’s affordable take on the Eclipse, itself a lean, mean redrawing of the Les Paul. It’s now something of a classic choice in and of itself, especially for players who want a slightly more modern spec and sound. This EC-1000 in Gold Andromeda brings a touch of glam to proceedings with its lovely metallic finish and gold hardware. A set of Fishman Fluence Modern pickups show that LTD are on-trend and at the cutting edge of progressive heavy tone.
Martin Custom Shop D-28 1937
A ‘Pre-War’ Martin dreadnought is the acoustic guitar equivalent of the Lady of the Lake hurling Excalibur towards you. Whole industries exist to attempt recreations of these unfathomably good-sounding acoustics, but Martin themselves remain the best at it!
This wonderful Custom Shop recreation of a 1937 D-28 is perhaps the very definition of Martin’s craft. Authenticity is the key here, and by that we are talking about the historical measurements for the fingerboard thickness! We’re talking cloth-strip construction, just like the olden days! If you are a guitarist who appreciates things being done the way they used to be, then this Martin Custom Shop D-28 1937 is the Holy Grail.
PRS SE Custom 24-08 in Eriza Verde
PRS’ Maryland guitars are famed for their stunning look sand build quality, but their Eastern-made siblings aren’t too far behind! The Custom 24 design has long since been the guitar world’s most successful missing link between the worlds of Fender and Gibson, and this affordable iteration is a head turner in more ways than one! With improved pickups and a top carve that’s closer in styler to the US-made models, this stunner provides great value, tone, playability and looks. What more do you need? The Eriza Verde finish knocks us out every time we see it!
Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder Exotic Black Limba
Considering Schecter are one of the world’s most diverse brands, they definitely have a reputation for high performance S-types. This Sun Valley Super Shredder is a great example of that, with its exotic looks and shred-friendly hardware. There is always room in one’s collection for a good Floyd-equipped guitar, and when they are as pretty as this one, and as attractively priced, there’s no excuses not to investigate further! There isn’t much that this Black Limba beauty can’t cover, music-wise, and it will fit in just as easily at a Blues session as it will at a shredfest. Try it!
Taylor Grand Theater 811e
Taylor’s innovations are myriad and impressive, but amongst all that, they just make wonderful instruments. This is one of our favourites from this year: the Grand Theater 811e. It’s from their top-end flagship 800 series, and features the quietly innovative Grand Theater (American spelling there of course) body shape. It’s like a slightly scaled-down Grand Orchestra shape, in both overall size and thickness, and the neck is a tiny bit shorter (24 1/8” scale length) too. The feel is easier on the fingers and the sound is as deep and rich as you expect from Taylor’s best.
Add in Taylor’s inventive and effective V-Class bracing and you have a guitar that’s slightly more compact, slightly more personal and beautiful in every way.
So, that was our selection! What did you think? All guitars are currently in stock as of time of writing, so if your interest was been piqued, why not pop along to one of our stores for an in-person introduction? Find your nearest guitarguitar store by clicking below, or simply order online by clicking any of the blue buttons on this article! Thanks for reading!