Last Update Sept 2017 – Acoustic guitars have been around for a long while, being one of the favorite instruments of the people. First version of an acoustic guitar was first recorded in Europe sometimes in the middle ages, during the 13th century. Gittern as it was called, this thing didn’t look like much.
However it spawned a whole branch of stringed instruments, with an acoustic guitar as we know it being the latest and probably the last evolution. Ever since then, people have been in awe of the sound box and what a simple wooden contraption can do when you put some strings over it, and apply tension.
If you play guitar, having an acoustic one is simply a must. Without one, you are missing out on a huge portion of fun and great times that this instrument can provide. Sure, electric guitars are more versatile, they sound bad-ass when plugged into an amp, and cranked to overdrive. But that’s not the whole point. Electric guitars have their place, but they limited in many ways without an amp.
Guitar technology has advanced, and will keep advancing no matter what, however acoustic guitars still hold their ground relentlessly. People are still buying them, people are still playing them. If you’re wondering why, there are many reasons, some of which we will name in particular. However the biggest reasons is the connection between the player and the instrument.
It’s a borderline primal feeling that has an enchanting effect on people. You strike a string, and it’s disturbance creates a most peculiar warm sound that just demands respect. It just feels right. And the best thing is, you can easily share this experience with others.
- 1 – Why an acoustic?
- 2 – Music Skanner 2017 Epic Guide
- 3 – How to choose the right One
- 4 – What is a Top Rated Guitar
- 5 – Main Brands
- 6 – Which one for Beginners ?
- 7 – Under 1000 Dollar Selection
- 8 – Under 500 Dollar Selection
- 9 – Under 300 Dollar Selection
- 10 – Top Sounding Guitar
- 11 – Best For The Money
- 12 – Our Favorite – The Editor’s Choice
- 13 – Parlor and Travel Selected for you
- 14 – Conclusion
– Why an acoustic?
When was the last time you pulled out an electric guitar and entertained your friends? Acoustic guitars are just better suited for any occasion other than practicing and playing a gig. They bring spontaneous joy to people. You probably know at least one occasion when you were on a party somewhere, and your friend pulled out an acoustic guitar.
It completely changed the atmosphere, bringing people together with music.
This has been done for a long time now, long before electric guitars even existed.
Not only that, but acoustic guitars offered hope to the people. African American slaves, who were brought over from Africa and enslaved on the fields of United States used acoustic guitars to forget about the troubles of their daily lives and have a moment of joy in an otherwise hard existence.
If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have blues today. And without blues, modern music would be completely different. Can you even imagine a world without bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Beatles?
If pure entertainment and history are not a good enough reason for you to consider owning an acoustic guitar, how about the fact that one of these can actually help you become a better guitar player? Some people say that if you want to see how skilled a guitarist is, give them an acoustic guitar let them play.
Unlike the electric guitar, an acoustic one doesn’t tolerate mistakes. Every false tone, or error in technique will be amplified by an acoustic guitar. You will start hearing yourself make mistakes that you didn’t notice before.
An acoustic guitar is an excellent tool which you can use to practice your precision, picking patterns, and technique in general. If you can play something flawlessly on an acoustic guitar, you will absolutely kill it with an electric one.
– Music Skanner 2017 Epic Guide
By now you are probably wondering why such a long introduction to this article. Well what we have in store for you today is something special. We have decided to give what is probably the most extensive guide to buying acoustic guitars.
We will cover everything starting with the basics. You will find out what you need to look for in an acoustic guitar, what types of acoustic guitar you can find, and what are some of the best ones available on the market. The structure of this article will have a section for different cost brackets, starting with more expensive options and moving to more affordable ones.
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have a comprehensive understanding of acoustic guitars in general, and what are some important features to look for when buying one.
Without further ado, let’s start our journey to find the best 2017 guitars !
– How to choose the right One
You are on your way to buy your first acoustic guitar, but there are so many different shapes, and types to choose from. Which one is the best, you might be wondering?
It’s hard to answer that question without going over the properties of each acoustic guitar type. They are not all created equally, and each different attribute has its own impact on the sound of the guitar in question. So before we get into which particular guitar is the best for you, we need to figure out what each of these different elements has to offer.
There are several standard body styles of acoustic guitars on the market. They all share the same basic construction and elements, but offer a different sound and experience when you play them. Comfort is another issue, as acoustic guitars are not as thin as their electric counterparts.
The soundboxes of acoustic guitars come in different shapes and sizes, some of which may be too big and uncomfortable for you to use. There are five different standardized body shapes of acoustic guitars that we need to go over, and they include the following:
- Grand Concert and Concert
- Grand Orchestra and Orchestra
- Travel and Parlor guitars
While there are more style than these we mentioned, the five body styles above are probably the most common ones you’ll find. Every other body style of acoustic guitars is some sort of variation of these.
Grand Concert and Concert
Generally considered to be the most compact full sized acoustic guitars, Concert body style features a lower bout usually in the 13″ range, with a more curvier and slimmer waist. Grand Concert represents a slightly larger version of the Concert body style. These two types of acoustic guitars are more comfortable to play, especially for the players of smaller stature, thanks to their slim waist.
Sound wise, Grand Concert and Concert acoustic guitars have a broader frequency range with great mids and a bright, strong sound.
Grand Orchestra and Orchestra
Compared to Concert guitars, Grand Orchestra and Orchestra acoustic guitars are generally larger in size, with a bigger lower bout that goes up to 16″ with Grand Orchestra guitars.
However, this increase in size is not proportional through the whole body as the waist on Grand Orchestra and Orchestra acoustic guitars tends to be slim. Because of their curvature, these guitars have that hourglass appearance. Although they feature a larger bout, Orchestra and Grand Orchestra guitars are still considered to be on the more comfortable side of body styles.
The sound you can expect from Orchestra acoustic guitars is a crisp one with distinct trebles and bass sounds. It’s generally appreciated among the players who prefer finger picking as it adds more definition and clarity compared to other body styles.
Dreadnought is a more modern style of acoustic guitars which first appeared in 1916. Today it’s the most popular body shape on the market, often refereed as to Standard acoustic guitar.
In regards to size and shape, Dreadnought is similar to Orchestra guitars, with a large but somewhat squared bout. However the waist is much wider than the ones found on previous two body styles we described. Because of this, it may take some time for new players to find a comfortable position to play in.
One of the best attributes of Dreadnought acoustic guitars is their sonic versatility. These guitars generally offer a great balance of trebles, mids, and lows, that makes them perfect for strumming and finger-picking.
Jumbo acoustic guitars feature the largest lower and upper bout, often going as far as 17″ in width. You could argue that Jumbo acoustic guitars are just an oversized Orchestra guitars with more soundbox volume. In terms of comfort, these are hardest to get used to although they do feature a somewhat slim waist.
In terms of sound, you can expect to hear very distinct bass and treble sounds, with somewhat reduced response compared to the Dreadnaught. One of the most prominent sound attributes of Jumbo guitars is their volume and presence. These are generally capable of filling a larger sized room with sound with ease.
Travel and Parlor Guitars
Travel and Parlor guitars are smallest in size of any acoustic guitar body styles available. They were designed to be mobile, and easier to play for younger guitar players or those of smaller stature. Sometimes they come with unorthodox designs that don’t really resemble an acoustic guitar, but in most cases they are just scaled-down Concert guitars.
Sound wise, travel and parlor guitars have a punchy but delicate tone, which is often what you can hear in folk music and sometimes bluegrass. They don’t offer much volume or resonance due to their limited soundboxes, but they give you a decent response and definition.
Guitar Tops and Tonewood
The kind of wood the guitar is made of will define what kind of sound it will produce. Different wood types have different properties, and that’s why you will see a lot of different choices on the market.
In addition to this, the way the top panel of the guitar is made also impacts the sound. In this section we’ll go over different types of guitar tops and different types of wood being used in acoustic guitars.
When it comes to which part of the guitar has the most ability to impact the tone, it’s the guitar top.
This element of an acoustic guitar is what amplifies the vibration of your strings which travel through the bridge to the body of the guitar.
The type of guitar top you choose to use will define what kind of sound properties you can expect.
There are generally two ways to make a guitar top, solid or laminate. Solid guitar tops are made of two pieces of wood with matching grains. Using this type of guitar top gives you a lot better sound and resonance properties.
Not only does a solid top guitar sound better right out of the box, but the sound it offers will only improve in quality as the guitar ages. Solid top guitars are somewhat more expensive, but for most people there is no alternative.
Laminate top guitars, on the other hand, use several layers of wood pressed together. The quality of wood usually varies from layer to layer, and these type of tops don’t have a great sound quality. Compared to solid top guitars, you can expect a weaker volume and not much depth. Main advantage of laminate guitars their lower price.
There are numerous different types of tonewood that is used in acoustic guitars. The quality and hardness of the wood is different from type to type, giving you different results in terms of sound and acoustics. We’ll mention some of the most common types of tonewood you can expect to find in acoustic guitars, and how they affect the sound.
– Spruce – Spruce is the most widespread type of wood used in guitar tops. It is strong, adds little weight to the guitar, and generally resonates very good. Spruce top guitars usually have good clarity and definition of sound. There are several types of spruce commonly used, each one bringing very subtle differences to the sound properties of the guitar.
– Cedar – Cedar is usually described as having a bright tone and quick response. It offers great definition of sound which is why it is mostly used in classical and flamenco guitars. It’s great for finger-picking and overall light playing techniques.
– Mahogany – Being a very dense wood, Mahogany delivers a strong sound that brings treble to the foreground. It does have a somewhat slower response due to its density, and is often used in blues and similar genres.
– Walnut – Compared to mahogany, walnut does a great job at providing bright high-end tones and very defined midrange tones.
– Maple – Maple is a great “support” wood. It’s usually used on the sides and backs of acoustic guitars as it complements the top wood, but doesn’t affect its properties.
– Rosewood – Rosewood is the most traditional choice of wood for acoustic guitars. It has been used for a long time, and is cherished for its great acoustic properties. This wood offers very good projection and clarity while retaining a great low end response. Aside from being used in acoustic guitar bodies, rosewood is generally the wood of choice for bridges and fretboards.
Now that we know more about the anatomy and styles of acoustic guitars, it’s time to see what the market has to offer, and what you can expect to find.
– What is a Top Rated Guitar
This part of the guide will deal with specific guitar models and their features. We won’t go into premium guitars, because our goal is to give a selection of instruments that cost up to $1000. This is what most people are looking for.
We have structured this segment in a way that covers several different price brackets for those who have a set budget to work with, each one featuring what we think are the best guitars in that price range. We will also discuss which brands of acoustic guitars offer the best quality, and which guitars are best suited for beginners.
Near the end you will also find what we consider to be the best guitar on the market. Let’s dig in.
– Main Brands
Researching which acoustic guitar brand you can trust is an overwhelming task for most newcomers. There are so many companies out there, most of which seem to offer great instruments. However, even though that is somewhat true, there are some brands that stand out thanks to their quality, reputation, and popularity.
In this part of the guide we will discuss some of the best brands currently available on the market.
C. F. Martin & Company
C. F. Martin & Company, often referred to only as Martin, is one of the oldest and most dedicated acoustic guitar manufacturer in the world. It’s Martin who first invented the popular Dreadnought acoustic guitar, that has since taken over the world like wild fire.
Their guitars are hand crafted by some of the best people in the business, and are considered to be the elite of acoustic guitar world. Martin guitars are definitely not cheap, but you can’t put a price on excellence. C. F. Martin & Company acoustic guitars are recommended to seasoned guitar players who developed and honed their taste, and know exactly what they want.
Created in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars is one of the leading acoustic guitar manufacturers on the market. They make some of the best sounding guitars you can find, blending a mixture of modern trends and ultimate craftsmanship. Along with C. F. Martin & Company, Taylor Guitars is the elite brand of acoustic guitars.
Seagull is a company that started making guitars in early ’80s. This manufacturer takes pride for having the whole process of building their guitars done in Canada, from beginning to the end.
Over time Seagull gained reputation as one of the best companies to offer hand crafted acoustic guitars with incredible level of craftsmanship and quality, however they are not nearly as popular as Taylor or Martin.
Their guitars are really something special, and often offer an unmatched value for the money.
There is no special introduction necessary for Gibson guitars. They are one of the leading guitar manufacturers in the world period. This includes both acoustic and electric guitars.
Their acoustic range offers a great quality and performance ratio, and includes something for everyone. If you need a beginner guitar, Gibson has you covered, but if you’re looking something more refined and advanced, Gibson offers that as well.
Yamaha’s acoustic division produced some of the most iconic acoustic guitars in past several decades. This company offers a great range of instruments which vary in quality and sound, but most of which are good, reliable guitars.
You just can’t go wrong with Yamaha if you’re new to acoustic guitars, or even if you’re an intermediate player.
This subsidiary of Gibson is known for their bang for the buck guitars, which offer a good portion of that trademark Gibson sound in a more affordable package. Epiphone acoustic guitars are great midrange instruments.
They are not as refined as those from Taylor or Martin, but Epiphone guitars are a great value for the money.
Fender acoustic guitars not as popular as their electric guitars, that’s for sure. They are more basic and crude compared to other manufacturers listed here, but if you want a solid experience, Fender can deliver that.
Fender acoustic guitars are recommended to those who are just beginning to play, as they are more than great for novice players.
Oscar Schmidt is company with a long history of making great acoustic instruments. The company was founded in 1871, and has since spread from Europe to United States. Oscar Schmidt isn’t as popular as other brands we listed, but they sure make great acoustic guitars. Their products are well priced, and offer great quality for the money.
We could have made a far more extensive list of manufacturers, but that deserves an article of its own. For the time being this list includes the brands you can trust.
With that said, let’s continue on and see which guitars are best for beginners.
– Which one for Beginners ?
If you’re a beginner looking for your first acoustic guitar, you will probably want something that is affordable, offers a decent sound, and not too niche in terms of features or body style.
You can save your hard earned money for later, when you have a more developed taste and ear. We chose two great guitars that are affordable and offer a decent sound for the money.OG2SM from Oscar Schmidt is one of the top acoustic guitars in its price range. The build quality is great, and the guitar has an amazing aesthetic appearance. It is all a beginner could in need in terms of quality and sound, and then some.
You won’t often see this guitar in stores, and it is considered to be somewhat of a hidden gem of acoustic guitars.
Oscar Schmidt OG2SM features a standard Dreadnought design with spalted maple top which offers great sound properties and just looks amazing. The sides and the back is made of quality mahogany, making this guitar perfect for blues and similar genres of music.
The fretboard and bridge are standard rosewood, and are of decent quality. The neck is thinner and fast, making it very easy to play. Out of the box, this guitar is easy on the fingers, which is something you definitely want as a new player.
Nothing about this guitar looks or feels cheap. The joints are all well made and have no creep. The finish on OG2SM is astonishing for the money. It is something you won’t find even on guitars that cost a lot more than this one. When you first hold this guitar, it definitely inspires confidence. For the money, OG2SM offers impressive build quality.
<< Demo Button – The sound the OG2SM offers is impressive for the money. It’s resonant, has great volume and can be defined as mellow even with factory strings. If you invest in a better set, you can really experience the full potential of this instrument. You probably won’t find this guitar in other “Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar” reviews on the web, but we think that this Oscar Schmidt is the real deal.
Fender set out to build a no-thrills acoustic guitar that delivers good sound at an affordable price, and they’ve managed to accomplish that with great effect. The FA-100 is a great solution for beginners who want a good performance to price balance, and a big brand name to rely on. It come in several different color schemes, including Suburst, Natural, and Black.
Fender FA-100 is a standard Dreadnought acoustic guitar made of a combination of agathis and spruce. It features laminated top and bottom, which is not the best solution ever, but more than good enough for novice guitar players to practice with.
Fretboard and bridge are both rosewood, and the neck is pretty decent. It’s not the fastest neck on the market, but it does a good job.
For a low budget Fender, FA-100 offers decent build quality. Everything is as basic as it gets, but nothing is too delicate. The guitar feels alright when you hold it, and the finish is pretty decent especially on the Sunburst version.
Joints are good, and there is no creep in the neck. Only thing we feel could be better made is the bridge, but it’s not too big of an issue.
<< Demo Button – The sound you can expect from this Fender is pretty good for laminate top and bottom guitar. There is enough resonance, and the sound is decent. It’s nothing to write home about, but for a beginner it will sound more than great although you will probably want a better instrument in the future as your skill evolves.
– Under 1000 Dollar Selection
Now that we got beginner guitars covered with two great models for that purpose, lets go to the other end of the spectrum and discuss some great instruments that cost around $1000. In this price range you get the quality of sound that is already entering the professional grade, along with build quality and features.
Sure, there are much more expensive guitars on the market than these, but $1000 is considered to be a sweet spot of price and performance. We got three models that we consider to be the top guitars under 1000 dollars in store for you, so let’s see what they have to offer.
Seagull’s Artist Mosaic is right on the edge of our budget, and is probably the best guitar you can find for that kind of money. Most of its owners say that playing the Artist Mosaic gives you the experience of a much more expensive guitar for under $1000.
And they are right. This guitar is incredible, and not only sound wise. The design, build quality, finish and details are all simply impressive. Artist Mosaic easily outperforms more expensive Taylors and Martins. This is the type of acoustic guitar that you will want to have no matter how many guitars you own.
One of Seagull’s flagship series acoustic guitars, Artist Mosaic, sports a Dreadnought body style made with hand picked, pressure tested solid cedar top combined with solid mahogany neck, sides and back.
The fretboard and bridge are made of fine Indian rosewood, which is just a joy to play. Seagull chose only the best quality wood for this guitar, and it shows. Finish is a semi-glossy one, and it nicely accentuates the quality and grains of the wood they used.
Nut and saddle are not bone nor fossilized ivory, but TUSQ. This is an artificial material which is meant to emulate the properties of bone but with more consistent results. It’s fair to say that even the most picky guitar players won’t notice the difference between TUSQ saddle and an old school bone one. However, if you still insist on more traditional materials for these two components, you can always change them. At least that’s easy.
Build quality of Artist Mosaic is superb to say the least. The skill of the craftsmen who built it is apparent through all the details and the seemingly flawless way the materials were joined together.
Artist Mosaic features scalloped Adirondack Spruce bracing, which eliminates any weak link in the design, and offers great support to the whole guitar. Headstock is impressive, both in design and quality. The tuning pegs are refined but sturdy enough to dial and hold a tune.
<< Demo Button – Solid cedar top combined with solid mahogany sides and back, results in one of the most pleasant tones you will hear, no matter how many Martins or Taylors you have played in the past. The sound is big, with lots of volume, but also very warm and sweet.
There’s enough brightness and clarity for it to be played with fingers. Overall the Artist Mosaic offers a unique sound that you will not find in this price range, guaranteed. Seagull definitely lifted the bar with this models.
Another Canadian guitar maker that isn’t as famous as its neighbor is La Patrie. Although both the Seagull and La Patrie belong to Godin, and are made in the same small town of La Patrie.
These guys offer some of the best hand crafted classical acoustic guitars you can find on the market. The La Patrie Collection is their flagship model when it comes to their models that have no electronics. Everything about this acoustic guitar is outstanding, from build quality, finish, to the sound it produces. For those of you who play classical guitar, and need a good nylon acoustic, this is as good as it gets under $1000.
This hand crafted classical guitar sports a hand picked, high quality solid cedar top which was chosen by La Patrie’s most experienced luthiers. The sides and the back are made of solid rosewood that just improves the already incredible acoustic properties of La Partie Collection.
The neck is thinner than usual, but very playable mahogany piece which features a nice rosewood fretboard. Nut and saddle are made of TUSQ material, just like the Seagull has on their Artist Mosaic. With a beautiful high gloss custom polished finish, this guitar looks just stunning.
When it comes to build quality, La Partie delivers the best their luthiers have to offer, and these guys are some of the best in the business. As soon as you pick this guitar up and look at it closely, you notice that it was made by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.
La Patrie Collection is one of rare acoustic guitars that comes with the signatures of every luthier that worked on it, and there are eleven people who worked on any given Collection that leaves their shop.
That has dedication to quality and user satisfaction written all over it.
<< Demo Button – As far as classical guitars in this price range go, La Patrie Collection gives you the best volume performance for the money, period. The sound is rich, loud in volume, and full all around. The warm and clear tones you will experience with this guitar make it hard to compete.
Taylor, one of the best manufacturers of acoustic guitars in the world has very few guitars that fall within our $1000 price range. One of the most notable models they offer is the 110ce acoustic-electric guitar.
Actually, it’s their most affordable Dreadnought design that you can buy. If you want a taste of that Taylor’s signature sound for a reasonable amount of money, Taylor 110ce is probably your only option under $1000.
This guitar features a Dreadnought design with the Venetian cutaway for easier access to higher tones. Taylor 110ce comes with a Sitka spruce solid top which has unique properties compared to other types of spruce. This wood is generally harder with great elasticity.
The back and sides are made of laminate Sapele, which is similar to mahogany in many ways. The varnish finish is nice, offers decent protection and looks pretty good. Neck is made of sapele as well, and is pretty playable over all. The fretboard is not your standard rosewood, but they used maple.
The electronics that come with this guitar are good enough for recreational use. The ES-T under-saddle transducer does a decent job at reproducing the natural sound of this guitar, but we still feel that you would get a better result with a good microphone setup.
In terms of build quality, we cant find a single flaw. This guitar gives you that trademark Taylor quality with great X-bracing and overall fit of material. Nothing creeps, nothing moves. The guitar inspires confidence to say the least. The finish is very nice, especially for a varnish one and hardware seems to be high quality.
<< Demo Button – The sound you get with the 110ce is a bright, clear, and crisp one that has a lot of that trademark Taylor color to it. It’s very versatile in terms of what genres you can play with this guitar. One of the defining attributes of its tone is the open midrange spectrum with defined trebles. You can strum, finger-pick or do just about anything you want on this guitar, it will sound great.
When plugged into an amp, the on-board bass, treble and volume controls allow you to shape the sound to your liking. There’s also a custom-voiced EQ and dynamic response feature which expands your control over the sound a bit more.
Like we mentioned earlier, the ES-T pickup is capable of reproducing the sound of this guitar just fine, although there definitely are better units out there. For the price, we think this Taylor offers a great deal of quality and that signature Taylor sound.
– Under 500 Dollar Selection
Now that we know what you can expect to find for around $1000, it is time to go down a notch and see what you can get for half that much. There are some really good and great sounding guitars in the $500 range.
With this budget in mind, you can still choose what you want in terms of features which also includes electronics if that’s your thing. We are still in the solid top territory with guitars in this price range, although you will start seeing less and less hand built products.
We have selected three more than decent guitars, which we thing represent the best under 500 dollars. Surprisingly, there’s one Taylor in the mix. Even though it’s not nearly as good as their flagship models, this thing can pull its own weight.
Next to it we have another Seagull, and a very refreshing Yamaha guitar. Let’s go over each one, and see what makes these guitars the best in this price range. Small side note, please keep in mind that these guitars are not placed in any particular order.
L-Series of acoustic guitars is the flagship of Yamaha’s acoustic range. These guitars are hand crafted using select materials, while they are also the only acoustic guitars series where you get Yamaha’s A.R.E technology.
The A.R.E technology we mentioned refers to a special way of treating wood before it is shaped for manufacture. Yamaha exposes their A.R.E. treated wood to intense sound waves for a certain period of time, effectively giving that wood the same properties you would experience from wood that is 30 years old.
This might sound like an attempt to ramp up the price of these guitars, but this technology actually makes a tangible difference in sound.
The Yamaha LL6 comes with a solid Engalmann spruce top. This type of spruce generally has a bit different sonic properties than your regular Sitka spruce or something similar.
The sides and back of this guitar are made of laminate rosewood. Sure these parts are not made of solid pieces of wood, but the rosewood laminate found on this guitar sounds pretty good. Neck is a three-ply rosewood and mahogany design which is a rare thing to see on guitars in this price range.
This Yamaha also comes with passive electronics. This means that you can plug it in an amp, but it doesn’t have its own preamp built into the body of the guitar. Reason for this choice comes from Yamaha’s tendency to eliminate anything that could in any way hinder the sound quality of the guitar. In case of LL6, this approach works great.
Build quality of this guitar is excellent. Everything is fitted well together, and Yamaha’s modified non-scalloped bracing design helps this guitar retain its tone qualities without affecting the structural integrity of the whole design. Only little complaint we have about build quality on this guitar are the plastic nut and saddle pins. These are both easy and cheap to replace with something proper, but we feel that Yamaha dropped the ball a bit with this one.
<< Demo Button – Yamaha LL6 offers quite a bright tone that sounds full and rich. Since it’s a jumbo guitar, you can expect an abundance of volume with emphasized mids and highs. The whole guitar is made to accommodate this type of sound, from the choice of wood to special bracing design.
The A.R.E. treatment is partially responsible for the sound you get from this guitar, and we have to say that the technology definitely works. The electronics on this guitar is the newer SRT Zero Impact Pickup system that does a great job at reproducing the sound of LL6 without altering the tone in any way. If you want a great and versatile acoustic guitar under $500, you can hardly beat this Yamaha.
Big Baby Taylor is a larger version of their Baby Taylor travel guitar. They say it’s a 15″/16″ in terms of bout dimensions, which is practically a full sized guitar. The design is standard Dreadnaught, only slightly scaled down.
Overall this is one of Taylor’s best affordable acoustic guitars, and one of the best you can find under $500, period.
The top of Big Baby Taylor is made of solid spruce while the sides and the back is layered sapele, which is like an African version of mahogany. Even thought it’s a layered design, the sapele wood still offers great acoustic properties to the tone of Big Baby Taylor.
The finish is matte, and doesn’t stand out too much. Moving to the neck, it’s made of sapele as well while the fretboard is genuine African ebony. It looks nice and plays even better, which we can partially thank the standard Taylor neck profile for.
The build quality of this guitar is superb. It’s not made in Taylor’s main factory in U.S. but that doesn’t reduce the quality of build one bit. Every joint is precise and well done, the sound hole is laser cut, and the scratch plate is well nicely fixed to the body.
The bracing is standard Taylor design, with great acoustic properties and supports the structure of this guitar very well.
<< Demo Button – The tone of this guitar is impressive. You get a rich and crisp sound with incredible sustain for this price range. The brightness of the tone is that standard Taylor feature that you find on most of their guitars.
In all essence, you get a very versatile sound that responds well to picking, finger picking, hybrid or flat picking. You can play just about any genre of music on this Taylor and it will sound absolutely amazing. It’s fair to say that Big Baby Taylor punches well above its weight class.
We already talked about one great Seagull model in our previous section, but if that didn’t warrant your respect for this company, this next guitar surely will. Seagull S6, a sub-$500 guitar that is hand made.
Let’s repeat that, hand made, in Canada by Seagull luthiers who are one of the best in the business. Let that sink in. In this price range you’ll be hard pressed to find a hand made guitar at all, let alone one that is made in North America.
For us, this speaks volumes about Seagull and their parent company, Godin. Back to the guitar itself, Seagull S6 features a standard Dreadnought design, and is pretty much a no-nonsense guitar. You get all the basics and not much more.
For a guitar in this price range, you get a hand picked and hand fitted, pressure-tested solid cedar top. If that was it, we’d be impressed, but there’s more.
The sides and back are made of Canadian wild cherry, a type of wood that is rare on guitars, and pretty much specific to those made in North America. The acoustic qualities of this odd combination of wood are just astounding.
The neck is a bit thicker and made of Silver Leaf maple. Only thing that is even close to standard when it comes to materials used in this guitar, is the rosewood fretboard. To top it all off, you get a nice custom polished finish which really accentuates the quality of this instrument.
What can we say, the luthiers did an impressive job, and the fact that this guitar falls into affordable category means nothing in terms of build quality.
It’s a hand made guitar. The guys who made it gave it the same treatment as if it was a $1000 guitar. Even the small details such as the nut or the saddle, are quality made. In this case the material of choice was TUSQ, the same synthetic you will find on more expensive Seagulls and Taylors. S6 simply keeps on surprising us.
<< Demo Button – The sound this guitar offers can knock much more expensive guitars out of the ring with one strum of the chords. The cedar solid top combined with wild cherry back and sides gives you very clear and defined sound full of brightness and warmth.
This combination of wood really brings out the midrange and bass to a certain point. The volume is great for a Dreadnaught, and you can easily play just about any genre of music on this incredible guitar. At this point we probably sound like Seagull fan boys, but they keep surprising us on every corner.
This concludes our choice for best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. Each of these models will be more than worth your money. Whether you are a beginner looking for a long term investment in their first guitar, or someone looking to step up their game with a new instrument, these three will get the job done and then some.
– Under 300 Dollar Selection
Now we are moving deep into affordable territory where you can expect to find much more laminate wood and much less top end features. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no good guitars to be found in this price range.
On the contrary, there are several guitars that give you the bang for the buck you probably wouldn’t expect. We have chosen three guitars that we thing represent what could be the most realistic selection of acoustic guitars under 300 dollars. Let’s get started, shall we?
Yamaha FG series belongs to a family of guitars with a history that is over 40 years long. They are some of the most respected acoustic affordable guitars, and you will probably find the FG730S on just about any “top 5” list for this price range.
This model has retained all the qualities that made the FG series so famous, delivering that old familiar sound in a more modern package.
For a guitar this cheap, Yamaha FG730S brings a solid Sitka spruce top to the table. The sides and back are made of rosewood, while the neck is made of Nato. The fretboard is standard rosewood, and is pretty playable.
The FG730S features a natural finish, which nicely rounds up the aesthetics of this acoustic guitar. One more noteworthy feature is the dove tail neck joint, which we thought was a nice touch by Yamaha.
In terms of build quality Yamaha FG730S comes across as pretty standard. Everything sits right and is fitted together nicely. The hardware is decent, and won’t break tune easily. Overall build quality is nothing extraordinary, but definitely not sub par. You will have no problems with this Yamaha in the long run.
<< Demo Button – Sound wise the Yamaha FG730S is a true Dreadnaught. It gives off very strong mids and warm low end bass. It’s design lends well to projection of high tones, and you will get a good clarity from this guitar.
For the amount of money you are asked to spend, the sound is actually pretty good. It’s a responsive guitar that is also versatile enough to be used for just about any occasion and genre of music.
Washburn has been in the business of making guitars for a long time now, and they’ve got a great selection of affordable acoustic guitars for any budget. The WD10S we chose to review today is one of their better models under $300, and it brings out the best attributes of this U.S. based guitar brand.
We like the way this guitar feels, and more importantly sounds. If you’re a beginner or someone looking for a good acoustic guitar to add to their collection without breaking the bank, Washburn WD10S is a great choice.
Washburn WD10S is a standard no-thrills acoustic guitar featuring a classic Dreadnought design. The materials Washburn chose for this guitar are solid Sitka spruce top, with mahogany back and sides. All in all good combination.
The neck is also mahogany with a satin finish, while the fretboard is standard rosewood. Interesting thing about the neck is that it features a double action truss rod, which we thought was pretty nice.
The nut and saddle are made of bone. This choice of materials is refreshing compared to the most of guitars in this price range which use artificial, low grade plastics for this purpose.
Overall build quality is pretty great. This Washburn features 1/4″ scalloped Sitka spruce bracing which does a great job at holding everything together while giving the tone of the guitar a nice touch.
You won’t find many great rosettes on guitars in this price range, but the WD10S comes with a wooden one which adds a great detail to what is otherwise a pretty basic design.
<< Demo Button – What marks the performance of Washburn WD10S is its incredible projection. This thing is loud and clear. The sound is crisp with a nice warm undertone which is very noticeable and gives that fullness to the tone.
We like the way this thing sounds, especially for an affordable guitar. The conclusion about this guitar and its features comes down to this. It’s a solid top guitar which is very rare in its price range, the materials are great, and the sound is impeccable for a sub-$300 instrument. It would be wrong not to recommend this guitar to anyone.
Fenders low end series of acoustic guitars are known for their straight forward approach. Their CD-60 model is no different, and it comes packing a nice sound packed in a very attractive body. It is a standard Dreadnought design with no specifics that stand out aside from the finish, which we’ll talk about more in the following lines of this review.
Okay, this the first guitar we’ve listed that features laminate top. In this case it is mahogany, and to be honest it’s not nearly as bad as some laminate tops go.
The sides and back are also laminate mahogany. Aside from its acoustic properties, we’d like to note how stunning this guitar looks. It has a unique appearance which is worthy of our compliment.
This Fender, although a cheap one with laminate wood, is one of the prettiest guitars on this list. Let’s get back to things that matter more. The neck is also mahogany, and on top of it you will find a 20 fret rosewood fretboard. It’s not too fast but it’s definitely playable.
The build quality of Fender CD-60 is pretty good overall. Every component on this guitar is build well and fitted nicely. Nothing is loose, and nothing creeps.
The bridge is solid, while both the saddle and nut pins inspire confidence. Straight from the box the action is setup well, and other than tuning it you won’t have to put in much effort to make it playable right away.
<< Demo Button – That all around laminate body may cause some people to second guess this guitar, but there is no reason for that kind of reaction at all. The tone is fairly rich and deep, with a slight emphasis on low end of the sound spectrum. This makes it a great lead guitar. However it’s not a stranger to finger picking either. At the end of the day, Fender CD-60 is a well rounded instrument with a great balance of performance and price.
This sums up our best guitars under 300 dollars list. The models we chose are definitely worth the price you’re asked to pay, even the Fender we listed. Naturally you can’t expect a professional grade instrument in this price range, but we feel that all three of these guitars perform well within the limits of what is acceptable for affordable acoustic guitars.
– Top Sounding Guitar
Alright, we covered several important categories of acoustic guitars in terms of price and intended use.
For this segment, we’re going completely disregard the price tag, and go wild.
Guns blazing all out. We are going to find the best sounding acoustic guitar on the market. Now, we know that this might sound silly because ever acoustic guitar sounds different, and every one of them has their own little signature properties. But we’ll disregard that as well. Anyway, here are our two picks for best sound acoustic guitar that we could think off.
This is one of the best guitars Taylor has to offer. It was chosen several times as the TOP of the year by various sources. It’s one very expensive instrument, and anyone is justified in having extremely high expectations from such a guitar.
Well, Taylor 814ce not only meets those expectations, it exceeds them by a large margin. It’s a Grand Auditorium body style guitar, with a 16″ lower bout and a cutaway.
Materials used in this hand crafted guitar are top of the line stuff. You get Sitka spruce top combined with Indian rosewood back and sides. No need to mention that these are all solid wood.
The fretboard is made of ebony and features a 25 and a half inch scale which is easily accessible thanks to the cutaway design. The guitar comes with an incredible Expression System 2 piezo pickup with three sensors that sits behind the saddle. This system is Taylor exclusive.
Oh boy, where to even start. Bob Taylor and Andy Powers, owner and master designer of Taylor, completely redesigned this guitar from the bottom up.
They’ve created new bracing patterns, installed new electronics as we already mentioned, calibrated the thickness of the finish itself, and even went as far to pick the perfect glue for this guitar.
This guitar is not just an instrument, it’s represents the perfect harmony of its parts. Everything is tweaked to perfection on 814ce, everything.
<< Demo Button – There is a reason why we chose this as one of the best sounding acoustic guitars on the market. Taylor 814ce just blows away anything out of the water. The sound is simply incredible.
The bass tones are fat, rich and loud but not too expressed. You will feel the vibrations in your body when you go for the lower notes. Midrange is smooth as a butter and full. However, one of the best things about the sound of this guitar is its consistency across the fretboard.
As you move to higher notes, you still retain the color of the sound no matter how high of a note you hit. It just follows through. It’s a serious all purpose guitar for serious players who know exactly what they need, and aren’t afraid to get it.
In terms of price, the D-35 is not the most expensive guitar in Martin’s lineup. It’s probably not the best guitar they have to offer either. But it’s one of the best sound acoustic guitars out there, and that’s a fact. It’s somewhat legendary at this point, and a lot of big name artists seem to be fond of it. Honestly, so are we.
There are many unique and great features on this guitar but let’s start from the basics. D-35 is a standard Dreadnought style guitar, and in many ways it’s similar to D-28, but there are certain differences we’ll discuss later.
Martin D-35 sports a solid spruce top, rosewood sides, and what is probably the most striking feature on this guitar, a three-piece rosewood back. The rosette is the same you’ll find on D-28 which is a great choice. Before we continue let’s just mention that every part of this guitar is bound in white. The neck is low profile mahogany piece, with a dark ebony fretboard. Overall the materials are as good as they come for a hand crafted high-end acoustic guitar.
Everything on this guitar just screams hand-crafted. The detailing, fitment of every single component, it all inspires confidence. Now for the bracing. One of the main differences between the D-35 and D-28 is the 1/4″ stock bracing that is used on the top of this guitar.
It’s thinner than what you can find on the D-28, but it has a pretty good effect on the sound that D-35 makes. Speaking of which, let’s get to the good part.
<< Demo Button – The sound of this guitar was described as heavenly by several different guitar players. Mind you, these are people who play guitars for a living, and not your average recreational guitarist. The thinner bracing gives you fuller bass sounds and more response in general.
The tone is generally rich and vibrant, and you will get an abundance of volume. This guitar simply projects better than almost anything on the market. The tone is generally not defined by a certain part of the frequency spectrum. Highs, mids and lows all sound equally charming and rich on D-35 along with a mind boggling sustain.
– Best For The Money
From all the guitars we listed in this article, it’s time to figure out which ones offer the best value for the money. We will take a pick from all categories we have, and all types of guitars we mentioned.
We are interested in bang for the buck more than anything else. With that in mind, here are two of the best acoustic guitars for the money that we can offer.
We already talked about this guitar in detail, but we’d like to go back and mention how this guitar fits in our bang for the buck category. Yes, it’s a Taylor and it’s not too cheap. But for around $700, this guitar really packs a mean punch and reaches up well above its price range in terms of sound it offers.
You get a legit Taylor instrument, with that trademark Taylor sound, for a price of a mid range guitar. And on top of all that, you also get decent electronics.
We find the whole package to be worth much more than the listed price. This guitar definitely packs some heat, so when the time comes for you to upgrade your main piece, you should remember this Taylor. It will be a good upgrade from any low to mid range acoustic guitar.
In the more affordable price bracket, Seagull S6 simply dominates the bang for the buck contest. For less than $500 you get an instrument that was hand crafted by some of the best luthiers in the industry using some of the best and not so common materials you can find, and finally a guitar that is built in North America. This combination of features just doesn’t happen outside of Seagull.
You’re probably wondering why all of this is so important. Well, to be frank the guitars, especially the hand crafted ones, from North America are generally considered to be the best there are when it comes to acoustic guitars. So having a pretty affordable instrument with that kind of background is a huge deal.
– Our Favorite – The Editor’s Choice
We’ve covered a lot of great guitars in this article, all of which offer great sound and more than decent build quality. However, there is one that stands out the most, at least to us. If there’s anything we appreciate, it’s good craftsmanship. What we appreciate even more is good craftsmanship that comes at a reasonable price.
Usually when something is very well made, it will come with a price that that is often bloated. That’s basically what branding does for you. But sometimes there are odd instances where a company offers a product that is well made and costs appropriately. That’s why we chose the Seagull Artist Mosaic as our own favorite pick.
This guitar is the perfect example of harmony created by the sum of its parts. Everything just works together so perfectly. The design, quality of build, materials used, it all falls in like pieces off the puzzle. And the grand picture you get once all of the pieces are in place is the majestic sound of this acoustic guitar.
Frankly, we first thought there was some kind of mistake when we saw the price on this guitar. We honestly thought that it was under priced on accident and that the MSRP will surely change. But no, that’s not the case. Someone in Seagull was crazy and kind enough to give us this guitar for less than $1000. The very same guitar which can compete with instruments three times more expensive than that.
We can’t say for sure what the deal is, because this guitar does everything we said, and is everything we said. Maybe Seagull is not that famous yet where they can ask for Martin range prices. Or maybe they just want to prove to the market that you can have utmost excellence for less money than others are asking for.
Either way, we are grateful to Seagull for what they’ve done as this is one of the best we’ve ever come across.
– Parlor and Travel Selected for you
Last category we’ll cover in this guide are the travel and parlor guitars. These are usually smaller versions of acoustic guitars that are easier to carry around, hence their names. We chose two great models for our pick, both of which are compact in size but bring a big boy sound. Without further ado, let’s check out best parlor and travel acoustic guitars.
Washburn really delivered on point with their Vintage Series R320SWRK. This is a true parlor sized guitar. From the moment you pick it up, you understand that it’s made with the utmost attention to detail.
One thing Washburn wanted to accomplish with this guitar was that vintage look of a guitar that was used for many years. And they’ve managed to do just that.
The top on this little Washburn is made of solid spruce while the sides and the back are all solid rosewood. The shape is standard parlor with a mahogany V shaped neck.
There are 18 frets on a nice ebony fretboard that comes with beautiful “tree of life” inlays. Saddle and nut are both made of bone, which just adds to the overall quality of this guitar.
The craftsmanship on this guitar is superb, and that’s pretty much the only good way to describe it. The level of detail and Washburn’s aging effect are both impressive. Even the tuners are made to look distressed from use. Everything fits together perfectly, and the quarter sawn scalloped Sitka spruce bracing does a great job at supporting the structure of the guitar, as well as providing for a rich tone.
For such a small guitar, you get a full bodied sound that is rich, warm and full of resonance. The volume this thing is capable of pushing out is incredible for its size. You can use this guitar for just about any genre of music that you can think of. It’s all thanks to it’s full and well rounded to spectrum with nice lows and pretty sweet mids.
Baby Taylor BT2 is one of the best travel guitars on the market , period. Actually, it’s not that far from being one of the best acoustic guitars in its price range in general. It’s features a 3/4 scale Dreadnought design, with a great matte finish that makes it more durable and easy on the eyes.
The top on this guitar is made of solid mahogany, while the sides and the back are made using layered sapele. The neck is also made of sapele while the fretboard is genuine African ebony. This guitar features 19 frets in total due to its compact size. All in all, it offers a great choice of materials.
Build quality is typical Taylor, even though this is an affordable model. Everything fits beautifully and there’s nothing that we can pinpoint as being bad. The frets are smooth, and the finish of the neck makes it comfortable to play. Tuning pegs are high quality, like every other piece of hardware on this guitar, and hold a tune pretty well.
<< Demo Button – Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor is a small guitar with a big sound. This thing is loud, especially compared to other guitars of this type which tend to have a smaller presence than normal.
Tones are bright and clear while there is enough midrange and low tones to balance out the highs. For a small soundbox guitar, that’s pretty impressive. From what we can say, this is probably your best bet for a travel and parlor guitar to carry with you on your trips.
We have reached the end of our epic guide. We covered all the major categories and price brackets that people are usually interested in, showing you some of the best guitars on the market. Hopefully you didn’t find this guide to be too average.
We included some not so popular models which other authors failed to mention in hope to broaden your horizons a bit, and show you that there are more great instruments out there aside from what several top brands have to offer.
Hopefully our Epic Guide supplied you with enough information for you to make an educated and well informed decision when you go out to buy an acoustic guitar for yourself. With that said, we wish you good luck and happy playing!