The Great Guitar Debate: Fender Vs. Gibson

A timeless debate that echoes in the hallways and practice rooms of every guitar store around the world;


 Fender or Gibson? What's the difference? Which is the superior brand? Which one should you choose? 


This is one of the most polarizing questions in the guitar community. Choosing between the two can be as complicated as being asked to pick a favourite parent. Both are great options and both produce beautiful music. It's a  real conundrum and the difference is really in taste and function. What music do you play? What sound do you want to create?


Here's a look at the differences between two of the world's most famous guitar brands, Fender and Gibson

Scale Length


The glaring difference between the two is the sound, both are very distinct. Both guitar brands have their own distinct sound-This difference comes from a number of different factors, the most important being the scale length. Generally speaking its very different between the two brands (Scale length is the distance between the nut of the guitar and the base of the strings) 


Fenders usually sit at 25 inches and Gibsons at 24.  This length affects the guitars sound because the tension on the strings is different given the scale length.  The extra inch might not sound like a lot but it makes a world of difference in terms of sound and tone. The way the strings move feels different because of the tension they hold. Gibson guitars, in a sense, feel easier to play because there is less tension in the strings. Resulting in fuller tones that feel warmer. 


Fenders, on the other hand, have a slightly longer scale length. Tighter strings which hold more tension, you can feel the difference in resistance when you play. The result is sharper tones that have a stronger feel and a defined low end. 

Fretboard Radius and Feel

The size of the frets and shape of the neck is another difference that contributes to the difference between both guitar brands. Fenders have a smaller radius and the neck is usually rounder, relative to the Gibson.

This is another reason why the Gibson feel a bit easier to play because there is more room on the fretboard. It's not designed to be easier you just have more room to operate because the guitar is made to have a different tone. The way your hands will move on the guitar will be different as a result.


Bending and sliding on a Fender feels difficult because of the tension and feel of the guitar. If you bend the same note on a Gibson SG and the same note on a Fender Telecaster you will notice that they sound completely different.


Body Shape & Structure


The bodies of both brands are often very different which is what makes them distinguishable. This also has a large effect on the guitars sound. 


If you compare a Gibson Les Paul with a Fender Telecaster you will notice a huge difference in both shape, weight and size. The Gibson holds a lot more mass, more mass means more space for the sound to resonate which is another reason why Gibsons sound warmer. On the other Fender has a lot less space and a small neck which enhances the sharpness of the sound. Fenders are known for using better quality woods as well which will always result in a better sound.


What Sound do you want?

All of these design differences are what give each brand its distinct sound. Both brands design their guitars to compliment their function. That is why you must ask yourself what music do you want to be making? Blues or rock and roll?  Metal or country? Your answer will guide you the right brand. If you want a blues sound then Fender is the best option because they design their guitars to have a piercing tone. One that compliments the raw emotion of the blues. If you want to have a classic rock sound then go with Gibson. The wider neck and scale length will give you the brightness and grunge you desire. The guitar will raw with energy and power.

One is not superior to the other, they are two of the most famous guitar brands in the world and its is hard to choose a favourite. At the end of the day, it really comes down to taste. 


If you'd like to learn more about our wide range of guitar products, accessories and tuition opportunities, get in touch with the tuition team at Music Mart today!