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How to tell if a guitar is handmade, semi handmade or factory made

  •  Guitars   •  How to tell if a guitar is handmade, semi handmade or factory made

How to tell if a guitar is handmade, semi handmade or factory made

Do you know how to differentiate a semi-crafted instrument from a completely handmade one? If you are considering buying a guitar, it’s very likely that you are wondering how to know if a guitar is handmade or not, and the keys that differentiate them.

How to know if a guitar is handmade or not

We are dealing with a very complex topic that usually awakens doubts among musicians, specially those that are taking their first steps in the world of the guitar. In order to do that, we are going to review a series of keys that can help you with this identification.

Handmade, semi handmade or factory made: Creation method

An artisan guitar is entirely handmade, the luthier uses certain tools for its fabrication, which takes many work hours. On the other hand, a factory made guitar, is completely mass-produced, designed for mass sale. There is an intermediate point that not many people know about, and that is the guitars that have handmade and factory made parts: they are designed in a workshop, and then sent to a factory where they are manufactured.

Which guitar model is the best of the three?

There is a lot of debate about whether a handmade guitar is better than a factory one, and the answer, as with many other things in life, is “it depends”. If we limit ourselves to the quality and finish of the instrument as such, a handmade guitar is much better than a factory one, something that is reflected in its price. If we talk about which guitar is better depending on who uses it, each person who is going to acquire this instrument may have different motivations and that is when the answer varies.

Thus, for a beginner who is about to take his first steps in the world of music, a factory guitar may be the best option. On the contrary, for a guitarist who needs a more professional instrument, a customized guitar with a higher musical quality, the best option is a handmade guitar or a luthier guitar.

To get a handcrafted guitar, a key step is to contact a proven professional with a good reputation. A luthier who listens and knows how to build the instrument you need.

The luthier provides knowledge, experience and quality in the construction of the guitar, which is reflected in the sound, aesthetics, comfort and durability due to his dedication and skill.

In addition, when you order a custom handmade guitar, the luthier will probably invite you to follow the progress of its construction. If you want a handmade guitar, you can buy luthier guitars at and enjoy the pleasure of playing a handmade guitar.

The handcrafted guitar is not always a custom-made guitar.

It should be noted that a luthier’s guitar can be custom-made or not. There are guitars that the luthier makes by choosing himself issues such as design, type of wood or components and then puts them on sale. 

In this case, to know if a guitar is handmade or not, is a matter of looking at the details, asking about the different decisions that were taken for its manufacture and why. 

Wood quality

Although it is not decisive, it is rare for a factory guitar to be built with solid woods. Generally, lower quality woods are used in the factory, in this case, laminates. 

The preference for laminated woods over solid woods is due to the fact that it makes the guitars more affordable and accessible to a wider public, as we said before, factory guitars are aimed at the general public.

Although solid wood guitars provide a richer and more complex tonal quality, laminated guitars may represent a suitable alternative for beginners or players on a smaller budget. 

It is crucial to note that the quality of laminated guitars can vary considerably depending on the brand and model, and there are many factory guitars that use laminated woods, offering satisfactory sound and durability.

In addition, the varnish is usually different, since they are generally synthetic and rigid products, and that is shown in the natural vibration of the wood, since these varnishes make the sound fade before, losing sustain. 


The price is an indication of whether we have in front of us a handmade, semi handmade or factory made guitar. A handmade process leads us to an instrument with a higher quality at a higher cost. It is understandable, since the time dedicated to the elaboration of the instrument is considerably higher in the case of the luthier’s guitar in comparison with the factory guitar.  In the middle ground we would find the studio guitars, which are made partly in the workshop and partly in the factory, since they are designed in the workshop and their construction is ordered to a factory. If you want to get an idea, the price ranges would be as follows: 

  • Factory guitars: they usually have a price lower than 1,200 €, although you can always find models of premium brands that have a slightly higher price or, on the contrary, some cheaper ones. 
  • Studio guitars: here the price would be between 1,300€ and 3,000€.
  • Luthier guitars: Prices from 3,800€.

As you can see, when it comes to making a guitar from scratch the possibilities are endless, and therefore it can be difficult to differentiate them, especially for people who are not used to these jobs, but, as always, by paying attention to detail you can learn to differentiate them, it’s a matter of practice!

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