Esteban Guitars: The Complete 2021 Guide

If you’re curious about Esteban guitars and wondering whether they are worth the investment, read on!

If you’ve ever looked for a new guitar, you’re probably familiar with the research phase.

This is the time when you look up information about all sorts of guitars like Fenders, Gibsons, Ibanez, Yamahas, or in this case, Estebans.

However, despite the many brands available, it’s often hard to make a brand choice, let alone settle on a specific guitar within that brand. 

Assuming you are in this part of the research phase for Esteban guitars, let’s take a look at some of the things you may be wondering about this guitar like:

  • What is the story/history behind these guitars?
  • How much do they cost?
  • Where are they manufactured?
  • What sort of quality are Esteban guitars?
  • Why are they so unpopular/popular?

The Story Behind Esteban Guitars

According to Wikipedia, Esteban is the stage name of musician Stephen Paul.

Paul was born in 1948, and is from the Pittsburgh area.

However, today he lives in Tempe, Arizona and has since 1976.

He gained commercial success by selling his instructional DVDs and Esteban guitars on Home Shopping Network via infomercials.

Esteban has produced many Billboard ranked albums.

How much do they cost?

Although new Esteban no longer manufactures new guitars, you can still find Esteban guitars for sale today.

Generally, Esteban guitars do not cost as much as more popular brands like Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, and others.

For example, you can find some acoustic Esteban guitars on Ebay for $25 – $50.

The reason Esteban guitars are inexpensive is likely because they are made of low-quality material (more on this in the next section).

Where does the Esteban manufacturing company make its guitars?

manufacturerers typically make less expensive guitars like Estebans outside of the US.

In the early days, Japan led the way for manufacturing affordable guitars.

However, as workforce wages began rising in Japan, guitar manufacturers started manufacturing guitars in other countries like South Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines. 

Obviously, there are great musical instrument makers all over the world.

However, the price point of Estebans indicates it’s probably not just the lower cost of labor available in countries outside the US that has gone into their manufacturing.

Some Esteban guitars are so inexpensive that the only explanation for their price is that they also used lower-quality materials to manufacture them.

In short, I haven’t found exactly where Esteban guitars were manufactured.

However, their low price point and the sheer number of negative reviews about their guitars likely means they were manufactured outside of the US with less expensive labor and materials.

What sort of quality are Esteban guitars?

Not all inexpensive guitars are necessarily low-quality.

If you check out my buyer’s guide to acoustic guitars, you’ll notice plenty of low-cost options there with thousands of positive reviews!

Likewise, even the best instrument manufacturers occasionally produce a dud.

These duds:

  • may have a manufacturing defect,
  • a luthier may not have set them up properly,
  • or they may just need new strings (in which case, it’s not really a dud).

In short, an inexpensive guitar doesn’t necessarily mean its low-quality, and an expensive guitar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s high-quality.

That said, in light of the overwhelming number of negative reviews of Esteban guitars, my perception is that they are low-quality instruments.

Should I buy an Esteban guitar?

Given the overwhelming number of high-quality, budget-friendly guitars available, I’m not sure why you would buy an Esteban guitar.

Again, check out my buyer’s guide to acoustic guitars to find a great guitar for you.

And remember, the most important thing about buying a guitar is playing the actual guitar you are buying.

Even mass-produced instruments have subtle differences, and you want to make sure you love the instrument you buy.

Although I recommend playing the exact instrument you end up purchasing, you can still purchase instruments online.

Just make sure they have a generous return policy in case the instrument isn’t to your liking.

If these guitars are often low-quality, why are they or have they been popular?

Esteban’s highly-successful Home Shopping Network and infomercial campaigns to sell this guitar made them quite popular for a while.

However, most reviewers have noted that their low price and the advertisement to first-time guitar purchasers is what made them popular.

A more experienced guitarist likely would not have fallen for an Esteban guitar.

Thus, their legend persists because they were once popular even though they don’t have a great reputation.

Final Take On Esteban Guitars

If you really want to purchase an Esteban guitar, there are a couple things I recommend.

  1. Take the instrument to a luthier to get it “set up.” This is the number one recommendation John Mayer has for all guitarists.
  2. Make sure you or your luthier puts high-quality strings on the instrument.

If you have a steel string instrument, I recommend these strings.

They are my absolute favorite strings and I recommend them to everyone!

I’ve played inexpensive guitars with these strings and they sound better than much more expensive instruments with low-quality strings.

If you have more questions about Esteban guitars, let me know in the comments!

10 replies on “Esteban Guitars: The Complete 2021 Guide”

Nice knowledge that everyone should read before purchasing a guitar…..thx

Harrison Alleysays:

Thanks, Gary!

I appreciate you saying that.

Matthew O Bruchsays:

My ex purchased an Esteban guitar “kit” with all sorts of learn to play videos and extra crap. It was awful. So for about eighty bucks I had it reworked by a local music store. When I opened the case they looked at me and said they get a lot of these. With some rework, new strings, reset fret height and such it is the best soundinding two hundred dollar guitar in the house. So….. plan to spend more than the purchase price.

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for writing in! That’s good to know that, with a proper setup, an Esteban guitar can sound nice and function well. Having your guitar set up by a luthier is such an important step in getting the most out of your guitar, and it’s one that many overlook.

I purchased an Esteban American Legacy Starlight Limited with a serial of 00657. I have a huge collection of guitars and this one play extremely well, tone is lacking a little but a sweet guitar. How do I knoe what year it was made

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Leo,

I’m glad you’ve had a good experience with your instrument!

I did some research online and didn’t find a serial number lookup for Esteban.

Some websites provide serial number lookups to determine how old your instrument/gear is like this one:

However, I did find some reviews of the instrument here:

According to the date on those reviews, your instrument may have been manufactured around 2004 – 2006.

I wish I had a more definitive answer for you!

I just bought an Esteban nylon string guitar. It’s a strummers guitar and sounds ok and plays pretty good

That’s great to hear, Rick! I’m always happy to know about positive experiences with an Esteban.

Ricardo C Lunasays:

I love my Esteban Limited Edition Classic Guitar. They are excellent quality for the price. I also bought two other guitars one black one yellow. Have been enjoying them as well. Good for my collection.

Hi Ricardo,

Thanks for writing in! That’s great to hear!

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