Student of Guitar

Esteban Guitars: The Complete 2022 Guide

Table of Contents

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!

25 Responses

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

    1. Harrison Alley says:

      Thanks, Gary!

      I appreciate you saying that.

  2. Matthew O Bruch says:

    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.

    1. Harrison Alley says:

      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.

  3. 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

    1. Harrison Alley says:

      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: https://www.guitarinsite.nl/SERIENUMMERS-fgm_eng.php

      However, I did find some reviews of the instrument here: https://www.musicgearreview.com/reviews.php?man=Esteban&cat=Acoustic_Guitars&mod=American%20Legacy

      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!

    2. If it is like my 2008, then inside of the sound hole you should see a maker’s card glued to the back.

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

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

  5. Ricardo C Luna says:

    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.

    1. Hi Ricardo,

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

  6. William Bassett says:

    I just purchased a black T200 from a pawn shop for $150. This guitar plays and sounds absolutely great. I haven’t played it through an amp yet, but acoustically it rings like a bell. I re-strung it and the machine heads are junk, but who cares! I would like to see the specs but I can’t seem to find them anywhere? I also own a Martin HD28.

    1. Hi William,

      I’m happy to hear you’ve had a good experience with your instrument! I also looked around for specs on your instrument and didn’t find anything. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find specs on any Esteban these days.

  7. Bob Mercer says:

    A friend passed on to me an Esteban classical that had a built-in active pickup. I’d never seen a guitar like that before. Initial tuning was difficult, (it had never been tuned) but once done, action was decent but tone was lacking UNTIL I plugged it into the accompanying amplifier. It sounded nice. I intend to pass it along to a young beginner. It really is a well designed guitar for beginners. Nylon strings easy on the fingers and good sound (with the amplifier) at a cheap price (in this case free!)

    1. Hi Bob,

      It’s always nice to hear of a good experience with an Esteban instrument! I also love it when an instrument is free. My brother found his favorite guitar ever (a Gibson) in a dumpster in Taiwan when studying abroad there – kinda crazy!

  8. John Wadsworth says:

    I was very disappointed when i bought an estaban guitar especially when I looked inside. It was a joke very sloppy workmanship. I Pete Townsend that guitar within a week. I got my moneys worth out of it that way. It does not live up to any of the fine craftsman claims made on his infomercial.

    1. Hi John,

      I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m also not surprised. Unfortunately, these guitars have earned a reputation of being low-quality.

  9. I was giving an Esteban for Christmas, in 2007. It didn’t need to be reworked. And, played well. I used it in the recording of my 2009 studio CD. And, still play it at live venues, to this day.

    1. That’s great to hear, Gary! As you’ve probably noticed in the comments on this post, a handful of people have had great experiences with their Esteban guitars. I’d love it if you dropped a link to your album so people on this post could hear a studio-recorded Esteban and know that there are some success stories with this instrument out there.

  10. As a guitar player for almost 60 years, I’ve owned and played them all of every major brand. I saw an Esteban acoustic/electric at an antique shop and picked it up and was very surprised at the quality and negotiated the price down and bought it. With slightly lighter gauge strings and a few minor tweaks I was very happy all around. Great feel and tone, and the frets are perfect – no adjustments. I admit it, I was really surprised. Great guitar!

    1. Hi Kerry!

      I love to read about positive experiences with this brand! And as you can see in the rest of the comments, you’re not alone in having a good experience with Esteban.

  11. Do they all have his signature on the inside on the makers card? Cause the one I got for free does lol

    1. Hi David,

      That’s interesting. My guess is that they don’t all have a real signature but they may all have at least a printed signature that looks authentic.

  12. Mike South says:

    Any info out there on the Esteban electric guitar? I have one that has outlasted two wives, a period when my son had it and a decade in my mother’s basement. I recently found it and had it setup and tuned and it seems fine. The little amp didn’t make it however.

    1. Haha,

      That’s quite the run you’ve had with your electric Esteban, Mike. I’m going to look into this and potentially add a section to this post about their electric instruments.

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