If you go on the internet and search for the best cheap electric guitars, you likely come across some videos on YouTube talking about Firefly Guitars. Several of them are glowing reviews of these cheap guitar clones. And naturally, you may want to see for yourself if these are as good as what the internet says they are.
Only there’s a problem. You can’t find Firefly guitars for sale. Aside from a few independent listings that want $400 for the same guitar that the guys on YouTube said costs less than $150. What’s going on here? What happened to Firefly Guitars?
I’ll get into that and more in this article. But first, let’s get some background on the company and find out who Firefly Guitars is.
What Company Makes Firefly Guitars?
This guitar maker has been around for less than a decade but has gained quite a reputation. They are based in China and specialize in high-quality bargain versions of some well-known and sought-after guitar models.
Firefly is not one of those gigantic Chinese manufacturing firms. It is a small company that doesn’t even have a website up and running yet. Not much is known about the company other than their guitars are sold on Amazon and Guitar Garden.
In fact, it’s possible that Guitar Garden is the company behind Firefly guitar production. But, that is only speculation at this point. Other than the guitars they make, most of Firefly Guitars’ company history and staff remain a mystery. I’d like to find out more, but unfortunately, my Mandarin skills are nonexistent.
What Kinds of Guitars Does Firefly Make?
Firefly’s focus is on making clones of legendary electric guitar models at near rock-bottom prices. The most popular Firefly guitar model is the FF338, which is a clone of Gibson’s ES335 semi-hollow body electric guitar. Quite possibly the greatest jazz/blues guitar ever made.
There are two other widely sought-after Firefly guitar models. The first is the FFTH, a copy of the Fender Telecaster Thinline, which is also a semi-hollow body guitar. And the second is the FFLP, which, you may have guessed, is the Firefly version of a Gibson Les Paul. Both of those models, along with the FF338, are extremely difficult to find.
Each Firefly guitar model follows the designs of the original ones they are based on almost exactly. From a distance, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an FFLP and a genuine Goldtop Les Paul.
The Quality of Firefly Guitars
Amazingly, for electric guitars that cost less than $200, Firefly makes some pretty good ones. The woods used to make the body and neck are not flimsy laminate as you might expect. Maple and mahogany are common in the body and neck construction. And Rosewood is normally used for the fretboards.
As a result, these guitars offer a good sound and are durable enough. However, to sell them for such a low price, there are areas where the quality drops off. The most noticeable is with the tuners. The machine heads on Firefly guitars are cheap and prone to slip.
Another area of obvious low-quality is with the frets. Often they are rough and sometimes uneven. The good news is that it tends to be the frets closest to the body that are not smooth. The frets near the headstock tend to be just fine.
They are clones, after all
Likewise, the pickups are not going to match the quality of those found in the name-brand models. With the FF338, you get two humbucker pickups, but they are what are called “microphonic.” Meaning they cannot be pushed to the limit without feedback squeals.
Additionally, on the FFTH, the two single-coil pickups are not going to sound like the ones from Tim Shaw you get on a genuine Telecaster Thinline. However, both the single-coil and humbucker pickups that come on Firefly guitars are reliable and sound good. Heck, they even got waxed pots.
That all being said, there are some surprising pluses with Firefly guitars. One of the best things about Firefly guitars is that they all come with bone nuts that are cut correctly. Furthermore, the guitars receive a proper setup before delivery, so the intonation is good to go right out of the box. And they include Allen wrenches for truss rod and bridge adjustments.
So, What Happened to Firefly Guitars?
Let’s start by stating that Firefly guitars are still made today. They haven’t gone out of business, nor were they bought out or merged with a bigger brand. Many people think something must have happened to Firefly guitars because they are so hard to find.
Furthermore, people often assume the reason why Firefly guitars are hard to find is because the company failed. The logic goes, if a $140 guitar produced in China cannot be found, it must be due to the manufacturer’s shortcomings.
However, that assumption is wildly off-base. If anything, the difficulty in finding Firefly FF338 guitars is a testament to the company’s success. Or rather, the incredible value of a Firefly FF338 semi-hollow body guitar and the Firefly guitar models means the demand for them is off the charts.
Firefly makes small batches, about a few hundred or so, for each of their guitar models. And as mentioned earlier, they are sold almost exclusively on Amazon. You cannot go into a Guitar Center and find a Firefly FF338 hanging on the wall. Therefore, people put alerts on their Amazon accounts for new Firefly shipments, and within days the stock will be sold out.
This adds to the assumption that something happened to Firefly Guitars. The reality is that the Firefly FF338 guitar is one of the best-selling items on Amazon. This is one reason why the Firefly FF338 is typically listed as “currently unavailable” on the Amazon website.
The Bigfoot of Guitar Brands
However, you can also find listings for Firefly guitars on other online guitar retailers such as Reverb.com. But they will be as rare as any other retailer site. To make things worse, you will usually find a markup in the price by about $100 from the $140 on Amazon. This is because the sellers on Reverb have to buy their stock from Amazon and not directly from Firefly.
Of course, you can also try to buy a Firefly guitar on eBay or similar online marketplaces. But you are likely to run into the same problem. You can’t find Firefly guitars anywhere. And if you are lucky enough to find one, it’s going to cost quite a bit more than $140.
The bottom line is that getting your hands on a Firefly guitar is like getting video footage of Bigfoot. Unless you are tech-savvy and can create bots that mine the internet for when a Firefly guitar gets listed, your search is going to be a difficult one.
Why Are Firefly Guitars So Popular?
The success of Firefly can be attributed to the power of YouTube. No one knew much of anything about Firefly until some popular guitar, and music channels on YouTube started talking about them. One of the first to do a review of the Firefly FF338 semi-hollow body electric guitar was the YouTube channel “Guitar MAX” all the way back in 2017.
The review was honest and let people see and hear this one-of-a-kind Gibson ES335 clone. And it knocked people off their chairs. The look of the guitar was gorgeous, and the sound was unbelievable for something that cost $140. It sounded almost exactly like the real deal.
The video got over 600,000 views, more than 9,000 likes, and about 1,800 comments on YouTube. Furthermore, the comment section is full of praise and people talking positively about the Firefly FF338.
Additionally, Guitar MAX wasn’t the only YouTube channel that put out positive reviews of Firefly guitars. Once some of the other “guitar guys” on YouTube saw the numbers Guitar MAX was getting, they put out their own Firefly guitar reviews. And they didn’t just stick with the ES335 clone either.
Video reviews of the Firefly Telecaster clone and the Firefly Les Paul copy soon followed. And in a very short time, a huge amount of people discovered Firefly guitars, and demand surged.
Considering that a real Gibson ES335 semi-hollow body electric guitar costs roughly $3000, and a Firefly FF338 costs $140, it’s not hard to see why. The same goes for the other Firefly guitars; they are a fraction of the price of the original guitar models.
More Mythical Creature Comparisons
The reason Firefly guitars are so popular is because they are unicorns in the world of guitars. Quality construction and sound at bargain basement prices. That’s a real rarity and a big part of why Firefly guitars are best-sellers. And why they are as elusive as Bigfoot and Unicorns.
Although it is true that the sound and construction are not 100% the same as the original guitars, they are pretty darn close for the price. Any aspiring guitarist now has the chance to own a guitar that looks and sounds like some of the most legendary and greatest guitars ever assembled. And all without having to donate plasma every month for the next ten years just to do so.
There’s no doubt that the budget price range of Firefly guitars helped make them so popular. And why they fly out the door when listed online. But also because Firefly guitars are well-made and durable. Guitar MAX did a follow-up review on YouTube two years after his initial FF338 review, and there was nothing wrong at all.
Looking for more Awesome and Affordable Guitars?
Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars Under $200, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500, the Best Hollow And Semi-Hollow Guitars, the Best Blues Guitars, and the Best Jazz Guitars you can buy in 2023.
You may also like our comprehensive Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO Review, our Epiphone ETCNCHNH1 Hollow-Body Electric Guitar Review, our Gretsch G5622T Review, our Gretsch G2622 Streamliner Review, and our Oscar Schmidt OE30CH Classic Semi-Hollowbody Cutaway Review for more great items currently available.
What Happened to Firefly Guitars – Final Thoughts
So, to summarize, nothing has actually happened to Firefly Guitars; they became a huge hit among guitar players of varying skill levels. This was largely thanks to them being some of the best cheap electric guitars on the market today. Conversely, that is why it’s so hard to find Firefly guitars.
Seeing how these guitars are not mass-produced in huge numbers further limits their availability. However, they are not gone, and new batches will continue to be released for as long as the demand remains. And I am more than confident that demand will persist for the foreseeable future.
Well, at least as long as Firefly can maintain the same level of quality with such a low price, that is. Or until some other new guitar maker comes along and introduces the world to the equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster of cheap electric guitars. In the meantime, you can try to catch a Firefly Unicorn if you can.
Until next time, let your music play.