There are a couple of guitar manufacturers that have been around for many decades, known for the general good quality of their instruments:
Yamaha is well known for the quality of its instruments making a wide variety of acoustic and electric guitars, most of which are copies of popular American models, although a few are original in design to Yamaha. They also make a line of classical-style guitars based on Spanish models.
Ibanez guitars were best-known for their reasonably priced copies of popular electric guitars, including models inspired by Les Paul and the Stratocaster in the early 1970's. Using cheaper materials and automation in manufacturing, they were able to sell their high quality guitars for a significantly lower price than the originals. They abandoned the strategy of copying classic electric guitar designs and the newer models began incorporating more unique design elements such as slimmer necks, radical body shapes and flatter fingerboards, colorful finishes and higher-output electronics.
Alvarez acoustic guitars are a popular choice among leading guitarists worldwide. Their quality originates from an exclusive relationship with Japanese luthier Kazuo Yairi whose family had an experience of more than 60 years in hand crafting fine classical instruments. The company's current, skilled workers continue this tradition and their attention to detail and quality separates Alvarez from other acoustic guitar manufacturers.
Washburn guitars were made by the Lyon&Healey Company in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The name was revived in the 1970s by a U.S. importer of Japanese guitars. They make a reasonably good line of acoustic, folk guitars, as well as electric instruments.
Takamine is a Japanese company specializing in copies of Martin guitars. Reasonably priced, they are good alternatives for those who want a Martin-style instrument. They also make classical guitars, including some fine handcrafted models under the Hirade brand name.
Gibson The Gibson Company has a long history, going back to the 1890's. After a period of corporate ownership in the 70's, the company underwent a remarkable revival. They make acoustic, folk guitars, jazz models and the famous Les Paul electric guitar or the Flying V. They have also imported less expensive Japanese-made instruments, marketed under the Epiphone name.
Fender was founded in the early fifties by Leo Fender, this company is famous for two guitars, the Telecaster and Stratocaster, as well as its Jazzmaster bass guitar. Original Stratocasters from the 50's are worth huge sums of money.
Jackson guitars were equipped with angled, pointy headstocks and unique body designs - a couple of things that really made the brand stand out. Jackson Guitars was started in 1978 by Grover Jackson, a part owner of Charvel guitars. The merging of Jackson and Charvel happened in the 1980's. Charvel guitars where based on the Fender Stratocaster with bolt-on necks while the Jackson guitars had more unique body shapes often with an aggressive look, popular with harder rock and metal music.
Guild This venerable American maker was founded in the late 40's to make jazz-style guitars, but they are best-known for their folk, acoustic instruments of the 60's. Not as celebrated as Gibson or Martin, Guild nevertheless makes dependable instruments.
Martin makes some classical and acoustic-electric instruments, but basically is known for their large-bodied, Dreadnought styled guitars, the standard for acoustic players.
Ovation The most radical of all new guitar designs came from this company in the early 70's having fiberglass bodies with a bowl-shaped back, although the soundboard or face were made of wood. The sound hole design is also eccentric, often featuring (depending on the model) several small holes in the upper left-hand bout of the instrument.
Alhambra makes good quality guitars from the Spanish province of Valencia, manufacturing classical and flamenco guitars.
Cordoba traditional Spanish guitars also come from Valencia.