Best Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar provides the most no-frills experience for guitarists. Forget having to pick up cables, amplifiers, pedals, pre-amps, and other accessories, and devices, an acoustic guitar is your one-stop shop for just picking up an instrument and playing music. These guitars can be used as a writing tool at home, a piece of a composition in the recording studio, or as a means to play music onstage, at the beach, in the park, or on a rooftop. There are a ridiculous amount of acoustic guitars available on the market for guitarists of all sorts of styles and skill levels, and it can get a little overwhelming when trying to find the right one. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some things to keep in mind in our acoustic guitar buyer’s guide below.
Sunlite GD-1800 Acoustic Guitar
Lag Tramontane T80A Auditorium Acoustic Guitar
Guild GAD Series D-125 Acoustic Guitar
Sigma DM-15 Acoustic Guitar
Martin HD-28 Standard Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Collings OM1 Acoustic Guitar
Gibson J-200 Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Taylor 712ce 12-Fret Acoustic Guitar
Breedlove Masterclass Dreadnaught Acoustic Guitar
Seagull S6 Original Standard Acoustic Guitar
Blueridge BR-140 Historic Series Dreadnought Guitar with Deluxe Hardshell Case
Fender CD-60 Classic Design Acoustic Guitar with Case
Martin DCPA4 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
Sunlite GD-1800 Acoustic Guitar
It's hard to go wrong with a Sunlight. These instruments produce a high level of tone quality in comparison to their price. With balanced sound production, a powerful ability to project, and easy playability, it wins the best pick on our list for its amazing bang for the buck value. With a spruce top, basswood back and sides, and mahogany neck, the dreadnought body allows for effortless projection. It plays well with a range of different strings, but is well-suited by nano web-coated, bronze Elixir strings. The 1800 series offers a reliable tone, with high quality fittings which include a rosewood bridge.
Another dreadnought body guitar, the Epiphone DR-100 has remained this manufacturer’s best selling acoustic guitar for good reason. The tonewood spruce top contributes to a great sound, a rosewood fingerboard makes fast passages feel comfortable, and small embellishments like the slim head stock contribute to a professional look.
Though this instrument doesn't quite offer the easy playability some higher-end guitars offer, especially in higher registers or those with barre chords, this guitars low price and even tone more than make up for this shortcoming. Fittings can be easily upgraded and a replacement of the D’Addario strings and die-cast tuners are cost effective ways to make this instrument even better.
With a warm appearance matching its equally rich tone, the Lag Tramontane T80A Auditorium guitar delivers a remarkably tone, even across all six strings. The professional French Satin finish, khaya back and sides, rosewood bridge, and sitka spruce top, make this guitar a welcome change of pace from a typical modern acoustic. With such a sweet look, its vehement ability to project is all the more surprising. Small details set this affordable guitar apart including a unique selection of tonewoods and minute additions allowing this guitar to look and feel like a professional model.
Guild GAD Series D-125 Acoustic Guitar
The Guild GAD series D-125 is an incredibly versatile acoustic guitar with a tone that’s simultaneously even and uncommon. The opulent, rich bass notes match well with a lighter top register, combining to produce a sound that plays well in virtually any genre. Chrome hardware and solid mahogany make for a sturdy instrument which will only mature in quality over time.
You may want to replace the D'AddarioCoated Phosphor Bronze with a lighter set to compliment the instrument's natural strengths. The manufacturers production methods aren’t entirely standardized with this instrument, so it's suggested you're able to play the guitar beforehand or you’re able to easily return it if needed.
Sigma DM-15 Acoustic Guitar
Similar to the Guild GAD in both price and solid mahogany construction, the Sigma DM-15 distinguishes itself with a gorgeous finger picking sound. This versatile guitar is incredible easy to play in a plethora of genres. The reliability it provides lends itself well to finger picking as well as full-bodied chords. It carries a characteristic moodiness and maturity not easily found with sleek looks to match. The flamed varnish and unassuming features contribute to a deeply polished final product.
The characteristic modern guitar sound owes a great deal to Martin. The founder, Christian Martin, developed an X-brace system for internal bracing that’s now a standard for steel string guitars, and his company has remained a force to be reckoned with. Their high standards make it difficult to pinpoint which Martin offers the best bang for your buck.
Two of the most highly contested Martins are the HD-28 versus the HD-35. The primary difference between the two models is aesthetic with the HD-35 having small visual differences such as a striking three-piece back. Though the HD-28 is suggested, musician preference ultimately wins this battle; playing both instruments back-to-back is the best way to determine which guitar is best fitted to your ear. The HD-28 can be customized with a standard top, amber tone or sunburst design as well as optional electronics plug-in options.
Collings OM1 Acoustic Guitar
Though Colling's relatively shallow body depth of four inches limit its volume production in a un-mic setting, it makes up for lack of depth with excellent responsiveness and consistency. Overseen by luthier Bill Collins, Collings has set the bar high for small factory production, and the OM1 certainly meets the high criteria. While other similarly priced instruments are specialized for a specific environment, this instrument provides a homogeneous and dependable sound across multiple genres.
The higher pitches are clear and bright without pulling too far away from the lower tones. With specs like a mortise and tenon hybrid neck joint, ebony bridge pins, and scalloped bracing, this guitar is built to last. The basic features can be highly customized with buyers selecting what spruce they'd like the top made out of, which bracing is utilized, nut width, and more. Certain aesthetic decisions can also create a thoroughly unique instrument, like the Gold Waverly tuners option and various peg head inlay designs.
A truly western guitar, the catching details of the Gibson SJ-200 Acoustic only augment its fantastically vintage sound. The nuanced fittings, including a mustache bridge, pearl inlays, a sunburst finish, and quality tonewoods like Indian rosewood and Sitka spruce, set the stage for the classic sound capabilities of this instrument. Wood occasionally pulling has been cited as a potential issue with this instrument, but as with any instrument, a continually humid environment constant humidity will increase the probability of this occurring. Though versatile, this guitar shines when producing a pre-1940's western tone, playing with remarkable consistency, an expansive bass, and clear, high tones. A comparable Les Paul for the world of country music, this distinctive guitar is one to last for generations.
The Taylor 712ce's tone is simply lovely. The top can be made with western red cedar, natural cedar, or spruce. It's a Grand Concert with a slightly smaller 24-inch scale length and forward shifted pattern bracing. Features can be custom ordered to fit the musician's exact predilections along with a few standard options unique to Taylor. For instance, there’s the use of their patented Expression System pick-up to retain the natural, warm tone of the instrument even when amplified. The warm tone was based off their Rosewood series guitars with the spin of a more classic, Americana personality. The 712ce captures both extremely well, creating an opulent sound that's both classic and progressive.
Though it’s on the higher end of the price spectrum for this list, this instrument more than justifies the steep price tag. Generating a piercingly clear sound without being abrasive, the Breedlove Materclass Dreadnaught finds the perfect balance between clarity and warmth without sacrificing one for another. With a tone that only opens up with time, the guitar is truly one to grow old with. It's also features an unmistakable look, with a flamed back more commonly seen on orchestral stringed instrument. High grade fittings and detailing top off this instrument’s stunning look. The LR Baggs Anthem TRU-Mic, though replaceable if desired, is a highly rated pick-up and the instrument also features Koa binding and leave inlays.
The Seagull S6 Acoustic Guitar is responsive, a particularly desirable trait for musicians whose often play finger picking patterns or melodic playing. In contrast to many of the other guitars on this list, the S6 is made of cherry and maple, a unique combination of tonewoods which contributes to its warm and expansive tone, matching its homey exterior. A professional set-up (something advisable for all guitars) is expressly recommended for this instrument. Some musicians have noted that the strings seem oddly high from the fret board, so a quick professional adjustment and tuning of the truss rod will go a long way to opening this guitar's full potential while its tone far surpasses expectations based on price.
Occasionally touted as a more affordable alternative to a similar dreadnought by Martin or Taylor, the Blueridge BR-140 stands its own ground. As hinted at in the name, this guitar exemplifies vintage aesthetics with details like a slope-shouldered design and Dalmatian tortoise pick guard. Though the selection of mahogany is not specified, Blueridge (an offshoot of Saga Music) has a 35 year track record of producing high quality, traditionalist instruments and the BR-140 is no exception. Though it's certainly visually attractive, the true draw of this instrument lies in its impressive sound production. It remains consistent while creating deep and tangibly sumptuous bass tones, countering these with shimmery high notes. The flamed back and sides are made of Honduran mahogany complimented by a Sitka spruce top.
This guitar offers high quality performance which certainly exceeds its low cost. It has the guts and structural capabilities to battle it out with much more expensive instruments, being built from a Rosewood derivative, sonokeling wood fingerboard, as well as spruce and mahogany tonewoods. The no-nonsense details can be easily upgraded for a more personal appearance, and the accompanying strings can be quickly replaced with a higher end, brighter set to complement the deep resonant power of the CD-60. These small upgrades will only augment an already reliable and high-quality instrument.
Though the Martin GPCPA4 is an acoustic-electric, it earns its spot on our list due to the side-by-side comparison of plugged and unplugged being virtually indistinguishable from one another. Constructed in a characteristically Martin vein, it features Hybrid X Bracing, Sitka spruce top, and mahogany back. The distinct tone comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the non-assuming exterior; it still provides an even and balanced tone, but each register embodies its own tonal color. Even though this model is targeted to performing musicians in both name and price, it's nonetheless remains a fantastic option for any dedicated musician.
Billed as the friendlier, comfier version of Taylor's Grand Symphony model, the GS Mini retains full voicing and sound production capabilities seen in many of Taylor's full sized instruments. It's made from standard mahogany, ebony bridge and fingerboard, and also includes a hard gig bag .Taylor cheekily calls this guitar a “fun little acoustic cannon”, and the sound it produces more than lives up to this apt title. This guitar is spectacularly balanced and versatile, showing a different side with every new technique and genre. The bass tones are opulent, particularly when linked with bright high tones.
Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide
Every acoustic guitar has its own personality, so finding the right one can be an arduous task – but there are certain questions you can ask yourself in order to help narrow your search. Are you just starting out, or a seasoned pro? What style of music do you intend to play with it? Is this guitar meant to be played in a pristine and immaculate recording or home environment? Or are you going to be carrying your axe around on your back wherever your path may take you?
But perhaps the most important question to ask yourself when considering whether or not the guitar you’re holding is the one that you want to buy is a very personal inquiry: do I like the way this acoustic guitar feels? It’s a very personal choice that can’t be determined by anyone but the guitarist, so be sure to test your options out for yourself before making a decision. Before you get to that point, here are a few things to know about buying acoustic guitars.
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Acoustic guitars come in many shapes and sizes, and the build of the instrument can greatly affect the sound that it produces. Of course, the strings that are utilized with each body type can also play a significant role in changing the sound that the instrument produces.
All three acoustic guitar body styles can also be built with a cutaway in the shape of the body, allowing guitarists to reach higher frets that extend beyond where the neck of the guitar meets the body.
Classic body style acoustic guitars offer a generally balanced tone and a medium amount of sound projection. This type of guitar is a safe go-to for a variety of styles, and for this reason it is used both by players who favor intricate fingerpicking as well as those who tend to play with broader strumming techniques.
Dreadnought guitars tend to produce a deeper and more bass-heavy tone. They also tend to sound louder than the classic style body acoustic guitar. Because they have a heavy, driving aesthetic, they are popular amongst guitarists who utilize heavy strumming techniques.
Jumbo guitars are something of a hybrid of the previous two styles – wherein the body is similar to that of a classic guitar while the sound hole is more akin to that of a dreadnought acoustic guitar. These guitars are ideal for players who play standing up, as they can sometimes be uncomfortable to sit in one’s lap.
Acoustic Guitar Parts
There are different parts that comprise an acoustic guitar, and each part can be made from a different type of wood. The top, back, neck, and sides are generally regarded as the most important parts of the body; meanwhile, the fretboard, bridge, and binding also play a significant (if not slightly less important) role in shaping the sound and tonality.
The neck is one of the more easily identifiable pieces of the acoustic guitar. This area is where the instrument is held, it houses the frets that enable players to play notes, and it obviously also displays the strings.
Intonation is the system by which an acoustic guitar’s notes play in tune as the player moves up the fretboard of the neck. Without proper intonation, a guitar won’t stay in tune and is useless for both live performance and recording.
An acoustic guitar’s rosette is a stylized inlay located near the soundhole of the instrument. While the rosette has little to no impact of the sound of an acoustic guitar, it does change the visual appearance and character of the instrument.
The bridge is the small wooden piece located directly below the soundhole of an acoustic guitar. This piece anchors the strings and transfers their vibration to the soundboard of the instrument.
An acoustic guitar’s frets are the small metal strips that divide the neck and fretboard into smaller sections. These frets are carefully measured into half-step increments and consequently enable guitarists to play different notes on their instrument.
The fingerboard is also referred to as the fretboard; it is the piece that is glued to the face of the neck and houses the frets that are divided by half-step increments.
The tuning keys are the small knob-like pieces located at the top of the acoustic guitar on the instrument’s headstock. By tightening and loosening the tuning keys, guitarists raise or drop the pitch of the strings, effectively tuning the guitar.
The headstock is located at the top of the guitar. Its primary function is to hold the tuning keys.
A machine head is an alternate term for the tuning key. These are also sometimes referred to as tuning pegs or tuners.
An acoustic guitar’s binding is utilized to compliment the look of the instrument’s body, neck, and/or headstock. Typically comprised of wood or plastic, this component doesn’t do much to affect the sound of the guitar, but gives it stylized character.
As its name implies, the pickguard is designed to help protect the body of the acoustic guitar from any wear-and-tear that would occur from strumming and picking at strings. It is located below the soundhole.
An acoustic guitar’s finish is another name for the final coating that is applied to the surface of the instrument.
Tops are generally made in one of two different types of builds: solid wood or laminate. The former is built from two single-ply pieces of wood that meet down the middle of the guitar top. This configuration is great for vibrating and resonating the sounds that are produced by the guitar.
Laminate tops are made from several layers of wood that are stacked on top of each other. While laminates don’t produce as great of a tone as solid wood tops, they are less expensive and therefore ideal for guitarists who are just starting out and are trying to make their purchase under a limited budget.
Beyond changing the appearance that an acoustic guitar may have, the type of wood that is used to make the instrument can also alter the way that the guitar sounds. When the sound of the guitar vibrates from the strings and reflects off of the wood, the type of wood that is part of this process can have an effect on the end product.
Cedar tends to produce a brighter and more trebly tone. Because of its quick response, many players who favor fingerstyle picking prefer to play cedar tonewood instruments.
Spruce is generally regarded as the standard for acoustic guitar tops. It provides excellent resonance and is responsive to a high velocity of sound.
Mahogany and kao emphasize more of the mid-range/low-end side of the spectrum when it comes to acoustic guitar sounds. Its “punchy” tone has made it an ideal choice for country and blues players.
Maple has a low response rate and internal damping, so it is generally only used for the side and back of acoustic guitars, as opposed to the top. Its dry and high-end favoring tone makes it an excellent axe for musicians playing live with other instruments, as it tends to cut through the mix with greater ease than other types of acoustic guitars.
Rosewood provides strong mid and high tones and is one of the more popular woods used on acoustic guitars. With a strong attack and sharp resonance, it is also used frequently for bridges and fretboards.
String materials can change the tone of the instrument, whether it’s the warm and dark sound of phosphor bronze or the bright jangle of brass strings.
Steel strings are generally used in genres such as rock, country, and folk. Bronze, phosphor bronze, and brass all fall under the broader umbrella of steel strings.
Classical acoustic guitars utilize nylon strings, which are better suited for the classical and flamenco style that these instruments are most commonly used for.
It’s important to not interchangeably swap guitar strings with instruments that they are not designed for. For instance, putting steel strings on a classical guitar that is designed for nylon strings can do serous damage to the body, as the neck of classical guitars are unable to handle the tension brought about by using the steel strings.