It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to pick up a new guitar!
In fact, there’s never been a moment where there are more incredible instruments available on the market. From established makers to boutique builders, entry-level bargains to fully-decked-out top-of-the-line stunners, acoustics, electrics, signature models and more, the perfect guitar is out there, just waiting to be picked and strummed.
Here’s hoping it fits down the chimney.
But whether you’re gifting or getting this holiday season, Guitar World’s editorial team, led by Paul Riario, is here to help.
Check out our holiday guitar buyer’s guide video above, featuring 11 great guitars that are guaranteed to rock your stockings off!
Below, we take a more in-depth look at each model.
Orangewood Oliver Mahogany
The Orangewood Oliver Mahogany is an acoustic guitar with a classic and comfortable grand concert body shape. The solid mahogany top with layered mahogany back and sides creates a beautifully balanced tone. For roughly $195, you can buy directly online at the Orangewood website.
Even better, the Oliver Mahogany will come professionally set up by Orangewood's pro-guitar techs in Los Angeles and comes with a premium gig bag. Basically, the guitar is ready to play right out of the box.
To buy an Olver Mahogany, stop by Orangewood (opens in new tab).
ESP Guitars LTD EC-256 Series
ESP’s LTD EC-256 series is perfect evidence that a great guitar doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. At $449, the LTD EC-256FM is available in multiple colors and finishes and offers features that you’d normally associate with higher-end guitars, like a flamed maple top, binding on the body, neck, and headstock, and set-neck construction for fast and easy access to the highest frets.
The EC-256FM also features a mahogany body, a comfortable three-piece thin U-shaped mahogany neck and a roasted jatoba fingerboard with inlays and 22 extra-jumbo frets, as well as the acclaimed ESP Designed LH-150 humbucking pickups that offer great tone for all genres of music, and the tonal flexibility of coil-splitting controlled by a push-pull switch on the tone knob.
To buy an LTD EC-256, stop by ESP (opens in new tab).
Cort Core-OC Collection
The Cort Core-OC Collection is a carefully crafted collection made from solid wood. Cort’s main goal with the Core Series is to shed away any non-essential flashy features and stay focused on what truly makes acoustic guitars great.
The three models, the Core-OC Blackwood at $549.99, and the Core-OC Spruce and Core-OC Mahogany at $499.99 exemplify rustic, natural beauty and tone. Each guitar is built with a 25.3-inch scale and an OM (orchestra model) cutaway body and a slightly narrower nut (1 11/16 inch, 43 mm) that’s ideal for players with a smaller frame or for those who otherwise seek playing comfort.
To buy a Core-OC acoustic, head on over to Cort (opens in new tab).
PRS SE Parlor P20E
The SE P20E is a parlor-size acoustic with a big voice. At $529, it features all-mahogany construction and PRS’s hybrid “X”/Classical bracing, which allows the top to freely vibrate, creating an even, bold tone. Its smaller size makes playing for hours fun and comfortable, but don’t be fooled by its size, this is a professional grade instrument. Plug in, and the Fishman GT1 pickup system delivers a dynamic, organic tone.
Other high-quality features include a solid mahogany top, ebony fretboard and bridge and bone nut and saddle, as well as PRS's trademark bird inlays and headstock design. Available in three satin finishes with herringbone rosettes and accents, PRS SE Parlor acoustics look as good as they sound.
To purchase an SE P20E, stop by PRS (opens in new tab).
Sterling by Music Man StingRay Short Scale Electric Bass in Daphne Blue
The Sterling by Music Man Short Scale StingRay is the iconic StingRay design as a short scale bass, delivering easier playability that makes it a perfect fit for both guitarists and bassists.
The Short Scale Stingray features a passive boost and a neodymium humbucking pickup with 3-way rotary switch. The pickup configuration includes parallel, true single-coil, and series modes for dynamic tonal variety.
This bass comes in an eye-catching and timeless Daphne Blue finish with a Maple fretboard, and at $549.99 is easy on the wallet.
To buy a Short Scale StingRay, point your browser on over to Sterling by Music Man (opens in new tab).
Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard Outfit Electric Guitar
The Epiphone 1959 Les Paul Standard Outfit Solid Body Electric Guitar brings back one of the iconic instruments of rock 'n' roll. At $799, this '59 Les Paul Standard is a guitar that sounds great and plays even better, and will complete any guitar players’ holiday season.
This Epiphone Les Paul model features a mahogany body with a AAA maple veneer top tonewood. To come close to the original tone of the vintage ‘59 Les Paul, this model is equipped with Gibson BurstBucker pickups, 50s wiring with CTS potentiometers and Mallory capacitors.
To purchase a 1959 Les Paul Standard Outfit, stop by Epiphone (opens in new tab).
Dean MD24 Roasted Maple in Vintage Blue
The Dean MD24 F is now available for $849 with roasted maple necks and fingerboards for rock-solid stability and bright tones. This model is offered in Vintage Blue for those who like a classic or vintage look but with modern tone and performance that takes your playing to the next level.
The guitar features a Basswood body loaded with a Floyd 1000 series tremolo, direct mount Seymour Duncan TB5/ APH-1 sandblasted Zebra pickups, and 24 jumbo frets.
To buy an MD24, head on over to Dean (opens in new tab).
Dean Exile F Fluence Black Satin
Speaking of Dean, how about one more? At $999, the Exile F Fluence is a beast in playability and sonic flexibility. A high access heel joint on its alder body offers the ability to reach every note. Equipped with a set of Fishman Fluence Modern series pickups, you can add additional sounds by utilizing their dual modes with the push/pull tone knob.
The guitar also features a Floyd Rose 1000 series tremolo system, a black satin finish complemented with a three-piece maple neck, 24 fret ebony fingerboard, bound neck and headstock and chrome foil logo.
To buy an Exile series guitar, stop by Dean (opens in new tab).
Breedlove Jeff Bridges Amazon Concert Sunburst CE
Academy Award-winning actor and musician Jeff Bridges – you know, “the Dude” – has joined Breedlove in designing a series of signature guitars.
Breedlove’s Amazon Concert Sunburst CE Jeff Bridges acoustic-electric is a sustainably sourced all-solid wood luxury-level guitar that delivers amazing tonal balance in addition to its highly desirable colors.
Emblazoned with Bridges’ “All in this Together” motto along the fretboard, and his signature inlay along the back of the Wave headstock, the Jeff Bridges Amazon Concert Sunburst CE Torrefied European-Granadillo is proof that sustainability sounds great, for both the soul and the ear.
To buy an Amazon Concert Sunburst CE Jeff Bridges, stop by Breedlove (opens in new tab).
PRS S2 McCarty 594 Thinline
The PRS S2 McCarty 594 Thinline is an all-mahogany, thin-body guitar with a powerful voice. Whether you're looking for authentic humbucking tones or nuanced, sweet single-coil sounds, the S2 McCarty 594 Thinline can seamlessly master both sonic territories thanks to its 58/15 “S” pickups and dual volume and push/pull tone controls.
At $1,499, the S2 McCarty 594 Thinline is addictive to play, thanks to its all-mahogany body, versatile control layout, and bound 22-fret Pattern Thin neck profile.
Gibson Slash “Victoria” Les Paul Standard '50s Goldtop
Gibson and Slash recently collaborated on the Slash Collection “Victoria” Gibson Les Paul Standard Goldtop. This guitar features a maple top, a solid mahogany body, a dark back finish and Slash’s personal touches including a C-shape neck profile, uncovered Gibson Custom BurstBucker Alnico 2 pickups, color-coordinated hardware appointments, hand-wired electronics with Orange Drop capacitors and a vintage style brown hardshell case.
Exclusive to the Slash Collection are Slash’s “Skully” signature drawing on the back of the headstock, Slash’s signature on the truss rod cover, a blank truss rod cover in the case, Slash’s new Ernie Ball strings and four Slash Jim Dunlop Tortex picks.