Best Guitars From Brands You May Not Have Heard Of

It may be time for you to switch brand

music man stingray cutlass

There’s a huge range of different guitars on the market, each brand having their own style and loyal following. If you’re a Gibson loyalist, a Fender enthusiast or an Ibanez fan for instance, it’s fairly commonplace to stick to the brands you love, which is of course understandable. But the world of guitars is a huge place full of amazing models and beautifully crafted instruments, some of which that you may not even know about.

In this blog we’re going to look at a selection of the best guitars from some of the up-and-coming guitar manufacturers, most notably Merida and Music Man. Who knows, you might just switch brand…


The Merida guitars story started out, according to their official website, with a trip to Spain. Taking inspiration from the 2,000-year-old historical Roman village of Mérida as well as the ancient arched Puente Romano Bridge which resulted in the design of the Mérida Extrema’s TwoWoodtone Bridge. With this inspiration in mind, it’s no surprise that they absolutely excel when it comes to creating classical acoustic guitars.

The stunning run of guitars, which are all handmade, includes three particularly impressive models – the Merida Trajan T-5CES Electro Classical Guitar, Trajan T-35CJCES and the F-95EH Flamenco Electro Acoustic Guitar – all of which could be used professionally.

At the more modest end of the pricing spectrum, you have the T-5CES which is fitted with Fishman OEM ISY-201 electronics – so you know they won’t let you down. The cutaway body allows you to get closer to the upper frets and the combination of spruce top and mahogany back and sides are a joy to play, whilst providing the tonal clarity and resonance you need. For beginners or those who need an extra guitar for stage and studio, the T-5CES is the perfect option. But don’t let the small price tag fool you, this is definitely not a toy, but a beautifully designed guitar that stands up to its peers.

Merida Trajan T-5CES Electro Classical Guitar

Next up we have the T-35CJCES. The Merida Trajan T-35CJCES includes an arm scarf to make the guitar that little bit more comfortable to play (and a nice little flair too) whilst the self-lubricating Graphtech Black Tusq XL nut ensures tuning stability as well a richer resonance. The Fishman OEM ISY-201 electronics coupled with a solid spruce and solid mahogany body ensures the sound carries perfectly when connected to an amp. Ideal for professionals and those who want to take their classical playing to the next level.

Merida Trajan T-35CJCES Electro Classical Guitar

As far as classical guitars go, it’s hard to choose one over the other when it comes to Merida. With that said, it’s the Merida F-95EH Flamenco Electro Acoustic that really shines that little bit brighter in this selection of guitars. Specifically designed for Flamenco players, the mixture of exotic woods, including solid cypress wood, and curvaceous body shape all add to the overall feel and playability of the guitar. The on-board Merida / Fishman Presys preamp system allows you to go electric when it’s called for too. Not only is it a stunning looking guitar, but it’s a powerhouse in terms of projection and playability thanks to the lightweight yet powerfully percussive cypress wood. An 18-fret rosewood fingerboard has been designed to provide players with the effortless note changes they need for the Flamenco musical style. For Flamenco players, you’d be hard pushed to find a better sounding, or more beautiful guitar.

Merida F-95EH Flamenco Electro Acoustic Guitar

Let’s not forget the electric guitars though…

Ernie Ball Music Man

As for electric guitars, the widely respected Music Man range from Ernie Ball has spawned two extremely awesome looking guitars, the Cutlass and the StingRay. Both guitars are currently turning heads in the music world after their unveiling at Namm 2016, with Guitar World stating, “The Modern Classic StingRay and Cutlass provide a perfect blend of vintage looks and present-day features, resulting in timeless masterpieces for discriminating electric players.” With a review like that, you have to give these guitars a chance, plus they look really cool too.

The StingRay guitar made its first appearance in the 70’s when Music Man released two models, aptly named the StingRay I & StingRay II and was eventually discontinued in 1982. Fortunately for us, Music Man have decided to update this beautiful guitar, improving on the original StingRay design along the way.

music man stingray

With an oversized 4-over-2 headstock, vintage spec humbucking pickups as well as an off-set African Mahogany body, the StingRay looks cool as a cucumber in a snow storm. Music Man have successfully maintained that 70’s style and old world aesthetics yet partnered it with modern design and playability. The straight string pull and compensated nut offer superior tuning and precise intonation – exactly what you need after you put that awesome tremolo system through its paces.

The Alnico 5 humbuckers can take you through smooth, glass like tones all the way to vintage growl depending on the style of music you want to play – making it a versatile and impressively responsive guitar.
Although it will be available in Black, Ivory White, and Chili Red, it’s the Vintage Tobacco Sunburst that really shines here.

The Cutlass guitar from Music Man offers fans of a single coil sound something a little different. The hum usually associated with single coil designs has been eliminated with the new active wide spectrum silent circuit that operates in conjunction with the completely custom mid-60s-style staggered pole single coils. This means zero unwanted noise when you crank those pick-ups. The transparent buffered output also offers something new for 2016, allowing you to sculpt your sound more effectively.

music man cutlass

The lightweight alder body offers great playability whilst the smooth and very sleek looking modern tremolo system provides guitarists with extra options when it comes to rocking out. As far as guitars go, Music Man have created a range to be reckoned with for 2016. Look out for the Ivory White and Vintage Turquoise models – both very cool looking finishes.

The question is though – which do you prefer? Cutlass or StingRay?

To view the full range of electric and acoustic guitars, visit the Dawsons website.

About Lee Glynn

Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EP’s/singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.

Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.

Here are some fun facts:

  • Before moving to the UK, Lee used to host a radio show in Australia at the age of 18. Lee presented the unsigned bands segment at Twin Cities FM in Perth, WA.
  • Sound Of Guns enjoyed a short but successful career in music with many of their songs being used in television adverts, sports channels and the extremely successful videos Road Bike Party and We are Not Crazy We are Amazing.
  • He also can’t play bar chords due to an accident so learned to play power chords by studying Black Sabbath songs and Tony Iommi’s playing style.