The Best Acoustic Guitars from Recommended Brands – Your Guide To A Good Sounding Instrument

Last Updated: Feb-27-2018
Where do we start… this mega chart has received a mega refresh! A lot had changed since the last update, so we removed older models that may have fallen out of production or became hard to find, and added many more – as well as a few new sections.

A couple of new guitars that made their way onto this list include the excellent beginner-friendly Taylor Academy A12e along with the affordable Breedlove Discovery Concert and Alvarez Artist Series AF30, while our premium sections saw the addition of the Takamine EF360S-TT, the Martin D-16RGT, and the Yamaha A-Series A3M among others.

We added the cool Martin LX1 Little Martin to our section for small-handed players, while both the higher-end Takamine EF381SC and Guild F­1512E arrived in the new 12-String category. Check out the rest below!

If you’re looking for a new acoustic guitar, it’ll quickly become apparent that the term ‘best’ is pretty broad. Let’s break it down.

Table Of Contents

First, you have so many different types music – flamenco, jazz, country, blues, classical, rock and pop, to name just a few. Then you have musicians performing at different levels – there are the beginners who’ve never held a guitar before, there are experienced guitarists playing in bands, then there are professional guitarists, who make a career out of playing the guitar.

You then have different budgets – one shopper may only have $100 in their back pocket while his friend can drop $2,000 on his new axe (lucky guy!).

There are also shoppers who know nothing about guitar at all – the caring girlfriend looking for a budget acoustic for the man of her life; the father who doesn’t really care what he spends, as long as his son gets the best acoustic guitar for kids.

Of course there are more examples, but this brief introduction highlights how buying a guitar differs from person to person, and what is ‘best’ for one, may not be the ‘best’ for another.

How Do I Find My Dream Acoustic Guitar?

A good question! As we’ve just explained, for every individual ‘the best acoustic guitar’ will be different. This is why we’ve split some of the top guitars on the market into relevant categories.

You’ll find it easier to navigate to the category that interests you the most, bypassing those guitars out of your budget or too basic.

Before we get started, if you are in the market for an electric guitar instead of an acoustic, don’t worry – we have them covered in our extensive electric guitars page elsewhere on Guitar Fella.

The same goes for nylon-stringed acoustics – you will no longer find them on this page because we have a new chart dedicated solely to classical guitars.

Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitars:

ImageAcoustic Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Seagull Artist Mosaic Seagull Artist Mosaic

Total of 4.88/5  

Outstanding model by Seagull. Worth every penny.

+ - Martin D-16RGT Martin D-16RGT

Total of 4.75/5  

An awesome all-solid-wood Martin dreadnought, made in America.

+ - Takamine EF360S-TT Takamine EF360S-TT

Total of 4.78/5  

Vintage tone and style to spare with this high-end Takamine.

+ - Seagull S6 Seagull S6

Total of 4.88/5  

Beautiful style, quality and playability with this Seagull.

+ - Takamine GD93 Takamine GD93

Total of 4.60/5  

A proud representative from the Takamine family.

+ - Breedlove Oregon Concert CE Breedlove Oregon Concert CE

Total of 4.75/5  

Premium American-made Breedlove that’s hard to put down!

+ - Yamaha FG800 Yamaha FG800

Total of 4.83/5  

FG800 shows what made Yamaha's FG series so legendary to begin with.

+ - Blueridge BR-160 Blueridge BR-160

Total of 4.50/5  

Great looking dreadnaught body guitar from Bristol.

+ - Yamaha A Series A3M Yamaha A Series A3M

Total of 4.82/5  

A mid-range performance-focused acoustic with a high-end feel.

+ - D’Angelico EX-63 Archtop D’Angelico EX-63 Archtop

Total of 4.83/5  

A must-have acoustic for vintage enthusiasts.

Seagull Artist Mosaic

Seagull Artist Mosaic

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As we move into more premium territory, there’s no better guitar to start this category than Seagull’s popular Mosaic, which exudes quality at a big but fair price. With a delightful dreadnought shape, this steel-string acoustic is made with a pressure-tested solid cedar top, with solid mahogany back and sides, all with a semi-gloss custom polished finish that allows the guitar to sing – and sing it does! The tonewoods combine to deliver a rich and bright sounding instrument, with plenty of warmth that would please the most demanding of guitarists. The Canadian craftsmanship on offer is excellent and everything from the distinctive tapered headstock to the seagull inlay on the 12th fret of the rosewood fretboard feels considered and well-made. Check out the details in our full review.

Martin D-16RGT

Martin D-16RGT

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No surprise to see Martin making waves in the higher-end market – it’s where the brand excels. The D-16RGT is a solely acoustic experience, with no electronics. However, the hardware, design and style you get for your cash still makes this dreadnought feel like a very good buy. This all-solid-wood model sports a Sitka spruce top with East Indian rosewood used for the back and sides. The build quality is impeccable, which is no less than you’d expect from an American-made Martin. The tone is equally as impressive, remining well-balanced and warm, with a bold projection. Of course, it comes packed in an excellent Martin hardshell case. Be sure to read the full review of Martin’s D-16RGT for all the details.

Takamine EF360S-TT

Takamine EF360S-TT

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Innovation, tone and a touch of vintage is what’s on offer with this delightful high-end Takamine electro-acoustic. As we discuss further in the full Takamine EF360S-TT review, the Japanese brand includes a solid spruce top treated with its Thermal Top aging process. Here, the wood is baked at a high heat, opening it up for a full and distinctive vintage tone. This warm tone is naturally replicated through an amplifier thanks to the on-board electronics featuring Takamine’s Palathetic pickup and TLD-2 line driver preamp. In fact, the whole experience feels very premium, with appropriate vintage appointments and a fast-playing mahogany neck, with an ebony fretboard and 20 frets. It also comes with a nice hardshell case. Excellent!

Seagull S6

Seagull S6

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We start with a true classic, that’s equally as good for experienced players as it is beginners who are learning the guitar for the first time – the Seagull S6. It’s a good-looking steel-string acoustic that’s popular with guitarists of all abilities, due to its comfort, playability and sound quality. The S6 – as we state in our full review – sports an attractive solid cedar top with wild cherry back and sides. There’s a hand-finished, fat silver leaf maple neck, with a good rosewood fretboard and 21 frets, as well as a distinctive tapered headstock. The sound is lovely – excellent projection and very dynamic with a good mid-range. It’s certainly not a budget option, but it’s still very affordable and will accompany you for decades of playing.

Takamine GD93

Takamine GD93

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Takamine’s GD93 is a dreadnaught style steel string acoustic. It has a solid spruce top with rosewood sides. The back is really special with a three piece rosewood-quilted maple-rosewood design. The looks are helped further along with abalone fret markers, rosewood headcap, maple purfling, gold hardware, and a dark wood rosette. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. Takamine’s split saddle design is also incorporated into this guitar helping it to maintain its intonation. The tone is bright with plenty of string definition. The slim neck profile is comfortable and fast. This is a great guitar for playing country style licks or strumming lush chords along with the rest of the band.

Breedlove Oregon Concert CE

Breedlove Oregon Concert CE

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Packed with Breedlove’s renown flair and a bold tone, it’s no wonder the Oregon Concert CE makes this chart. This higher-end electro-acoustic is made in America, and the quality shows! It features a comfortable cutaway concert body, comprising a solid Sitka spruce top and the striking addition of Myrtlewood on the back and sides, all enhanced with black body binding. For such an appealing body, the hard rock maple neck is one of the highlights, with a semi-gloss finish that feels beautiful in the hands. This model is fitted with L. R. Baggs electronics for great-quality sound replication, although its bright tone is just wonderful unplugged. The full review has everything you need to know about the Breedlove Oregon Concert CE.

Yamaha FG800

Yamaha FG800

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Yamaha’s FG800 is a staple of the legendary FG series, which has been a force in the affordable acoustic market for fifty years. The FG800 – as we detail in our full review – is an excellent guitar for beginners at a super affordable price, with some advanced features that make it sound wonderful. It comes in Sand Burst and Vintage Tint finishes, although you can’t beat the simple and elegant classic natural finish. It also shows off the solid Sitka spruce top, which is scallop-braced, with nato back and sides, and a slim nato neck (with rosewood fretboard) that makes playing a breeze. It sounds great, and the bracing on the top gives a good amount of bass depth and resonance. An excellent choice for beginners.

Blueridge BR-160

Blueridge BR-160

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Guitarists looking for a vintage guitar with a premium feel would be wise to check out this pre-war inspired Herringbone dreadnought from Saga’s Blueridge, which has sound and style in abundance. The steel-string beauty is crafted from solid Sitka spruce on the top, which features solid Indian rosewood back and sides, and a slim mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard. You’ll notice some impressive decoration on the BR-160 (as we mention in our full review), including an exclusive Dalmatian-style tortoiseshell pickguard, accurate 14:1 butterbean-style tuners, and an elaborately decorated motherof-pearl headstock. The sound is to die for – a rich, traditional tone with great balance and robust projection. Hard to fault this superb offering from Blueridge, which comes in at a very good price.

Yamaha A Series A3M

Yamaha A Series A3M

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Yamaha’s A Series puts the focus on performance, and their A3M – a key part of this cool range – certainly feels built to play. This mid-range acoustic features a dreadnought body made from solid wood – Sitka spruce on the top, and mahogany on the back and sides. This features Yamaha’s A.R.E. treatment, for enhanced ‘opened up’ tone, which means the guitar sounds full and rich straight from the box. The mahogany neck is a joy to play, with hand-rolled fretboard edges to deliver a beautiful feel. Adding extra value is the inclusion of Yamaha’s S.R.T. system, offering both mic and piezo pickups, for an all-round versatile instrument that’s perfect for the stage. There’s more on the Yamaha A3M in the full review.

D’Angelico EX-63 Archtop

D’Angelico EX-63 Archtop

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If you’re into vintage style and tone, but want it at a price that won’t completely ruin you, the D’Angelico EX-63 is one to check out. Based on the last guitar ever made by master luthier John D’Angelico, this acoustic reissue is oozing with retro beauty. It features a traditional non-cutaway archtop body, with laminated flamed maple on the back and sides, capped with a spruce top. While it’s vintage in style, the playability still feels modern, with a comfortable slim C-shaped maple neck. Vintage appointments include mother-of-pearl block inlays, the signature raised tortoise Scalini pickguard, and ‘Stairstep’ tailpiece. A quality instrument and a class act – as we highlight in the complete breakdown of the EX-63.

Acoustic or Electro-Acoustic – What’s Better?

While reading through our guitar reviews you will have seen both acoustic guitars as well as acoustics with a pickup/pre-amp system, and – especially if you’re starting out – you may have asked ‘which is better for me?’

However, like everything else in the world of guitar, the answer is completely down to you, your tastes and ambitions.

An electro-acoustic guitar is one that works just like a regular acoustic would, although has the added benefit of having a pickup, allowing you to plug the guitar into an amplifier and cranking up the volume, playing with a band, or – by using a good guitar pedal – adding an array of tones and effects to your sound.

Due to the extra components and work involved in making it, an electro-acoustic version of a guitar will usually be more expensive than it’s acoustic brother, although you can find very affordable electro-acoustic models these days.

Just keep in mind that you will need to buy an amplifier to benefit from the perks of your new electro-acoustic. Make sure to check out our detailed page that covers more than 60 of the top guitar amplifiers on the market for a little inspiration.

Whether or not you go for an electro-acoustic model may depend on where you plan to play it. If you are playing a concert or on stage with a band you will need something that is capable of being plugged into an amp, or risk not being heard!

Guitars For Beginners (click here for more reviews)

Taylor Academy A12e

Taylor Academy A12e

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Although there are certainly much cheaper beginner acoustics (and, if that’s what you’re looking for, check out the dedicated beginner’s page), it’s hard to beat learning on a real Taylor. This affordable Taylor – part of the iconic brand’s Academy Series – shows off the typical quality you’d expect, along with good looks and beautiful playability. With a 24.87” scale length it features a Grand Concert body, with solid Sitka spruce on the top and a sapele laminate on the back and sides. This body also features an ergonomic arm rest for extra comfort. Highlighted in the full Taylor A12e review, the guitar comes fitted with simple but effective electronics, and an awesome Taylor padded gig bag.

Yamaha FG830

Yamaha FG830

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As far as acoustic guitars for beginners go, unless you want to spend a considerable amount more on a Taylor, the FG830 from Yamaha is a great choice. This popular dreadnought remains one of the best-selling acoustics on the market – and for good reason. It’s an affordable factory-produced guitar, but after a good setup it can play like butter. It features a solid spruce top with an advanced scalloped bracing system, balanced with laminated rosewood back and sides. Combined, this delivers a bright and articulate tone with a bold projection, which beginners will very much enjoy. Equally as much as the sleek matte-finished nato neck – great for first chords, notes and songs. There’s more on the FG830 in the full review!

Rogue RA-090

Rogue RA-090

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When you’re just starting out, chances are you don’t want to spend more than a hundred bucks on a guitar, especially if you aren’t committing to learning. Enter, the Rogue RA-090, which is a superb choice for beginners on a budget. For no more than the price of dinner for two, the RA-090 offers decent quality in its large dreadnought body, which is made entirely of laminated whitewood to keep the cost down. It looks good and the 20-fret nato neck plays well. There are no electronics, which is great to keep things simple for beginners, while the hardware is quite reliable considering the price. Check out the full RA-090 review for all you need to know!

Under $2000 (click here for more reviews)

Breedlove Oregon Concert CE

Breedlove Oregon Concert CE

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Packed with Breedlove’s renown flair and a bold tone, it’s no wonder the Oregon Concert CE makes this chart. This higher-end electro-acoustic is made in America, and the quality shows! It features a comfortable cutaway concert body, comprising a solid Sitka spruce top and the striking addition of Myrtlewood on the back and sides, all enhanced with black body binding. For such an appealing body, the hard rock maple neck is one of the highlights, with a semi-gloss finish that feels beautiful in the hands. This model is fitted with L. R. Baggs electronics for great-quality sound replication, although its bright tone is just wonderful unplugged. The full review has everything you need to know about the Breedlove Oregon Concert CE.

Blueridge BG-2500

Blueridge BG-2500

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If a bold vintage look and a big vintage sound gets you excited, the beautiful Art Deco-inspired BG-2500 from Blueridge will be right up your street. Taking inspiration from the historic Gibson J200, this high-end model sports a jumbo 21” body made from quality woods, with a fit and finish that ensures the BG-2500 feels worth the hefty sum of cash. There’s a solid Sitka spruce on the top and AAAA-grade solid maple on the back and sides. It also has an ebony-reinforced flamed maple neck, with a 20-fret ebony fretboard featuring gorgeous white pearl inlays. It looks great and sounds just as good, with a hauntingly beautiful rich vintage tone. There’s more on the BG-2500 in the full review.

Taylor 300 Series 314ce

Taylor 300 Series 314ce

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Of course, this page wouldn’t be complete without an all-solid-wood made-in-America Taylor! We’ve featured the 314ce, which feels like a true premium guitar. With a 25.5” scale length, the 314ce features a Grand Auditorium body shape with a playability-enhancing Venetian cutaway, allowing good access to the highest of the 20 frets. The top of the body is made from solid Sitka spruce, along with solid sapele back and sides, leading to a beautifully rich and powerful tone that’s well balanced between warm and bright. The neck is hugely playable, with a satin-finished tropical mahogany construction. This model is an electro-acoustic, fitted with Taylor’s Expression System 2 including the brand’s patented behind-the-saddle pickup.

Under $1500 (click here for more reviews)

Takamine EF341SC

Takamine EF341SC

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It’s not one of Takamine’s premium models, but give it a few strums and you can see why Bruce Springsteen uses this awesome EF341SC on stage! Part of Takamine’s Legacy Series, the glossy black EF341SC is an elegant guitar with a good dose of rock attitude. It sports a cutaway dreadnought body for excellent upper-fret access, with solid cedar used on the top, and laminated maple on the back and sides. Adding to the playability is the C-shaped 20-fret mahogany neck. Built into the top is Takamine’s own CT-4B II preamp system, with 3-band EQ and a built-in chromatic tuner. Unplugged, the tone is warm and balanced, while it sounds top notch through the electronics. Check out more in our full review of the EF341SC.

Martin 15 Series D-15M

Martin 15 Series D-15M

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Part of Martin’s mid-range 15 Series, the popular D-15M is an all-solid-wood, all-mahogany acoustic which proves the perfect companion for the stage, recording, or simply chilling out with a sweet guitar. With a non-cutaway dreadnought body shape, the D-15M shows off typical Martin elegance and just as much Martin playability. Just like the body, the neck is also made of satin-finished mahogany, capped with an East Indian rosewood fretboard, and 20 frets. There’s no electronics on this model, but – as we mention in the full Martin D-15M review – this acoustic is fitted with reliable hardware that complements the guitar’s consistency, while the tone on offer is naturally rich and warm. Hard to fault, even at this higher-end price.

Taylor 200 Series Deluxe 224ce-K

Taylor 200 Series Deluxe 224ce-K

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Taylor offers a diverse range of woods and styles in its 200 Deluxe Series, although it’s the delightful 224ce-K that shines the brightest to us. Its dark aesthetics are down to the all-Hawaiian Koa construction with a solid top paired with laminate back and sides. As we mention in the full review of the Taylor 224ce-K, it sports a Grand Auditorium shape and a Venetian cutaway, which makes reaching all 20 frets of the satin-finished neck a much easier task. With the Koa construction it has a naturally bright tone that will warm up with age, while the Expression System 2 electronics (featuring 3-band EQ and phase filter) make on-stage performances a strong point of this acoustic.

Under $1000 (click here for more reviews)

Breedlove Solo Concert

Breedlove Solo Concert

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Dollar for dollar, Breedlove’s Solo Concert is perhaps one of the best acoustic guitars on this entire list – even though it’s missing a piece on the side of the body! The missing piece is, of course, deliberate, with Breedlove offering players a second soundhole, allowing you to hear the same output as the audience. The top is made of solid red cedar, while the back and sides are crafted from laminated rosewood. Combined, this delivers a rich and warm tone that’s well-replicated though the versatile L. R. Baggs undersaddle pickup and preamp system (including 3-band EQ controls and a built-in tuner). Breedlove – consider us impressed! Read more about the Breedlove Solo Concert in the complete review.

Seagull Maritime SWS SG

Seagull Maritime SWS SG

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Made in Canada, the Maritime SWS SG is a real beauty and instantly recognizable as a Seagull, thanks to that familiar headstock. Part of the brand’s Solid Wood Series, this model sports a pressure-tested solid spruce top with solid mahogany back and sides, all with a resonation-enhancing high-gloss Custom Polished Finish. The result is a nicely balanced guitar in tone which offers a big projection. It’s a pleasure to play too, with a mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard, featuring 21 frets (it’s joined at the 14th). It also comes fitted with quality chrome tuners and a rosewood bridge. Honestly, to see such a well-made all-solid-wood acoustic in this price range is a great find! Check out more on the Maritime SWS SG in the complete review.

Taylor 100 Series 114ce

Taylor 100 Series 114ce

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While slightly lower-end than some of the other Taylors we feature on this page, the 114ce from the brand’s affordable 100 Series is a great performer for all abilities and styles. It features a handsome Grand Auditorium shape with a soft cutaway for good access to the higher frets, while the satin-finished sapele neck is incredibly playable – as is the case with all Taylor guitars. The iconic brand keeps costs low with laminated sapele back and sides paired with solid Sitka spruce on the top, as well as producing it in the respected Mexican facility. Throw in the Taylor Expression System 2, chrome tuners, and a padded Taylor gig bag, and you have one excellent package – as we mention in the full review.

Under $500 (click here for more reviews)

Yamaha L Series LS6

Yamaha L Series LS6

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Yamaha’s LS6 is another acoustic that’s a favorite of ours, as it offers excellent value considering the style, build and hardware you receive. Part of the famous Japanese brand’s L Series (the L standing for ‘luxury’), the LS6 really does feature a luxurious feel for the sub-$500 price tag, with an elegantly designed concert body made from A.R.E-treated solid Engelmann spruce on the top, with laminated rosewood back and sides. This combines to deliver a rich tone that sounds like something you’d receive in a much higher price bracket. You can also amplify this sound through the stealthy S.R.T. Zero Impact pickup. Interested? Further details on the wonderful LS6 are available in the full review.

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

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Ibanez’s striking AEW40ZW blows away many other guitars in the sub-$500 price range thanks to its use of beautiful exotic zebrawood on the top, back and sides. The electro-acoustic features a distinctive jumbo body shape, with a soft Florentine cutaway which allows good access to the 20 frets of the rosewood fretboard. This all sits on a satin-finished C-shaped mahogany neck. The AEW40ZW also features the Ibanez-designed AEQ-SP2 preamp, along with a good quality Fishman Sonicore pickup. A simple but versatile system, that includes volume and 2-band EQ controls, a built-in digital tuner, and both Balanced XLR and 1/4” outputs. A bright but well-balanced sound. Be sure to check out the full review of the Ibanez AEW40ZW.

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

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Here we have a real icon, re-imagined for the affordable acoustic market. With a design that’s true to the original Gibson Hummingbird, Epiphone’s Hummingbird PRO electro-acoustic features a dreadnought body with 1960s square shoulders, a solid spruce top, and laminated select mahogany back and sides. Vintage detailing includes classic pearloid parallelogram inlays and the elaborate Hummingbird pickguard. Joined at the 14th fret, the SlimTaper D-shaped neck is also mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. As we detail in our complete review of the Hummingbird PRO, it includes a Shadow ePerformer preamp system with NanoFlex under-saddle pickup, allowing the naturally rich sound to be amplified and shaped thanks to the versatile controls. A great choice for blues or rock guitarists.

Under $300 (click here for more reviews)

Yamaha FG830

Yamaha FG830

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As far as acoustic guitars for beginners go, unless you want to spend a considerable amount more on a Taylor, the FG830 from Yamaha is a great choice. This popular dreadnought remains one of the best-selling acoustics on the market – and for good reason. It’s an affordable factory-produced guitar, but after a good setup it can play like butter. It features a solid spruce top with an advanced scalloped bracing system, balanced with laminated rosewood back and sides. Combined, this delivers a bright and articulate tone with a bold projection, which beginners will very much enjoy. Equally as much as the sleek matte-finished nato neck – great for first chords, notes and songs. There’s more on the FG830 in the full review!

Breedlove Discovery Concert

Breedlove Discovery Concert

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The Oregon-based brand makes several appearances in this mega chart for one reason – their models are incredibly recommendable, whatever the price category. And, in the sub-$300 market, the Discovery Concert shines brightly. To keep costs low, the Discovery Series is made in China, but set-up in the US, so it feels great right out of the box. The Concert Discovery is also attractive and built with quality materials – there’s solid Sitka spruce on the top, with laminated mahogany back and sides. It also comes with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets, sealed chrome tuners, a pinless rosewood bridge and a padded Breedlove gig bag. Not a bad haul considering the all-round affordable price. There’s more on the Breedlove Discovery Concert in the full review.

Alvarez Artist Series AF30

Alvarez Artist Series AF30

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Alvarez is a brand up there with the best when it comes to making a great guitar that doesn’t cost the earth. And it’s their solid-topped AF30 – a staple of the Artist Series – that stands out in the sub-$300 category, showing off great style and quality for the affordable price. It features a compact folk body, built with solid Sitka spruce on the top and laminated mahogany on the back and sides. The smooth mahogany neck is easy to play, while the guitar offers a beautiful mellow tone that suits all styles of guitarist, and is great for accompanying a vocalist. As we mention further in the full review, there are no electronics, but the hardware makes for a consistent and reliable experience.

Cheap Acoustic Guitars (click here for more reviews):

Jasmine S35

Jasmine S35

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We shall start this budget category with a hugely affordable steel-string model, that gives guitars twice the price something to think about. From Takamine’s budget subsidiary Jasmine, the S-35 – which we have reviewed in full – features the classic dreadnought shape body, with an advanced X-braced spruce top, along with agathis back and sides. It also sports a slim nato neck – joined at the 14th fret – with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets, and a rosewood bridge. Overall, it offers good clarity and provides lots of projection, thanks to both the natural finish (allowing the wood to resonate) and the bracing on the top. More than suitable for beginners, who would find plenty of use with this guitar.

Epiphone PRO-1

Epiphone PRO-1

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If you think cheap can’t mean quality, think again – Epiphone’s budget PRO-1 acoustic is out to prove you wrong! Loaded with innovative hardware, it makes playing simple for both beginners and experienced players alike. This full-sized dreadnought sports a laminated select spruce top with laminated select mahogany back and sides, and comes in several color choices. There’s an EZ-Profile C-shape mahogany neck with a very slick rosewood fretboard, and 20 JumboPRO frets, which all adds up to a comfortable and easy-playing instrument. The guitar also includes a rosewood bridge and tuners with a precise 18:1 gear ratio, as well as a humidifier to help condition the instrument. Our full review of the Epiphone PRO-1 has everything you need to know about this great-value acoustic.

Fender FA-100

Fender FA-100

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There are few better names in the world of guitar than Fender, and their steel-string FA-100 shows they can pack a punch in the budget acoustic market. It offers a simple but stylish look with a traditional dreadnought body shape that appeals to any guitarist. The top is made from spruce and features X-bracing, while the back and sides are made from basswood. The FA-100 also sports a very playable maple neck, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. It would work very well for beginners, as it provides a defined, crisp sound that’s well suited to plucking or strumming, and good for everything from rock to country. Throw in a classic Fender-branded headstock and a limited lifetime warranty, and you have a very attractive package for the low price. Don’t miss our full review of the FA-100.

Travel Guitars (click here for more reviews)

Martin Steel String Backpacker

Martin Steel String Backpacker

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If you accept that you’re not going to get the kind of booming projection you’d expect from a fullsized Martin, this cute 24” scale-length steel-string Backpacker will impress, and is perfect for playing on the road (or on a plane, in a boat, and anywhere else you can think of!). For such an affordable price you’ll find a good solid Sitka spruce top, with undefined tonewood back and sides, and a good Richlite fretboard with 15 frets. It’s lightweight but durable, and comfortable to hold and play on. The sound – while quieter than a full size guitar – is surprisingly full of tone. Close your eyes and you may struggle to tell the difference between this and a mid-range full-sized guitar! Check out our complete review of this impressive Backpacker.

Baby Taylor BT2

Baby Taylor BT2

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One of our favorite small-hand friendly acoustics is the Baby Taylor BT2 – a mini dreadnought that punches above its relatively affordable price tag with a hefty tone and beautiful overall feel. It features a solid mahogany top with laminated sapele back and sides, leading to a warm tone that’s a joy to listen too. Despite the small body size, the BT2 has a robust projection, thanks to the arched back. The neck is joined to the body via screws, which tarnish the look a little, but leave no impact on the slick playability or the tone, so aren’t a big deal. It also comes with a stylish, protective padded Taylor gig bag. There’s more on the Taylor BT2 in the full review. Check it out!

Yamaha SLG200S Silent

Yamaha SLG200S Silent

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Coming in at the higher-end of our travel acoustic chart, Yamaha’s SLG200S Silent is a masterpiece in its own right – innovative and portable, without losing the full-size playing experience. With no traditional body on offer, this steel-string electro-acoustic uses a detachable maple and rosewood frame to keep it travel-friendly, while a solid mahogany body gives it substance and tone. It also features a satin-finished mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard and 22 frets. We talk about the electronics of the Yamaha SLG200S in the full review – without its SRT Powered preamp system and undersaddle pickup it wouldn’t be very audible! This system features a built-in headphone socket and versatile controls, including volume and EQ, as well as a built-in effects rotary control.

Electro-Acoustic Guitars (click here for more reviews):

Martin Road Series DRS1

Martin Road Series DRS1

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The legendary American brand rarely put a foot wrong, and they certainly don’t do it in the electro-acoustic market – as the DRS1 shows. This all-solid-wood dreadnought – part of the brand’s Road Series – packs a real punch when it comes to tone, with a big projection and great warmth. This is largely down to the expert construction and the use of satin-finished solid sapele on the top, back and sides. As for design, it’s a straightforward but elegant model, with simplicity that all guitarists can appreciate. Highlighted in the full review of the DRS1, it comes loaded with an excellent and very stealthy Fishman Sonitone system. Throw in chrome die-cast tuners, solid hardware, and a hardshell case, and you get good return for your cash.

PRS SE A50E

PRS SE A50E

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Part of Paul Reed Smith’s famous Angelus Series, the A50E is a stylish electro-acoustic that’s new for 2018, although could quickly become a modern classic. With a mid-range price, the A50E sports a 25.3” scale length Angelus body shape, crafted with figured maple (back and sides) and solid Sitka spruce (top). This quality wood is complemented with the elegant detailing we’ve become used to with the Angelus series, such as the distinctive abalone bird fretboard inlays, with matching abalone rosette and purfling. As we highlight in the full A50E review [INSERT LINK to Full Review], this snazzy electro-acoustic is loaded a simple but effective Fishman GT1 preamp system, offering natural replication of the guitar’s bright, articulate acoustic tone. A winner from PRS!

Epiphone EJ-200CE

Epiphone EJ-200CE

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You can always rely on Epiphone to provide an acoustic guitar with eye-catching looks and a quality sound at an excellent price, and the EJ-200CE is certainly a testament to this. Based on one of the world’s most famous guitars, the J-200 (introduced in 1937), this revamped model offers an excellent mix of vintage style and modern components, perfect for any level of skill. Epiphone have crafted the single-cutaway body from solid spruce on the top, and a select maple back and sides, not forgetting a maple neck with well-decorated rosewood fretboard, and rosewood ‘mustache’ bridge. The acoustic sound output is clear with good projection, while plugged in to an affordable acoustic guitar amplifier the eSonic pickup system – with built-in tuner – also impresses for the price. Make sure to check out the full review.

Small Hands (click here for more reviews)

Baby Taylor BT2

Baby Taylor BT2

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One of our favorite small-hand friendly acoustics is the Baby Taylor BT2 – a mini dreadnought that punches above its relatively affordable price tag with a hefty tone and beautiful overall feel. It features a solid mahogany top with laminated sapele back and sides, leading to a warm tone that’s a joy to listen too. Despite the small body size, the BT2 has a robust projection, thanks to the arched back. The neck is joined to the body via screws, which tarnish the look a little, but leave no impact on the slick playability or the tone, so aren’t a big deal. It also comes with a stylish, protective padded Taylor gig bag. There’s more on the Taylor BT2 in the full review. Check it out!

Martin LX1 Little Martin

Martin LX1 Little Martin

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If you want to make a tad bigger investment and get one of the best acoustic guitars in the world within the “under $500” league that just happens to be very well suited for children too, check out the Little Martin. Martin is one of the most renowned guitar manufacturers in the world, and we would be lying if we said that this six-sting didn’t have the absolute best sound on this entire list.

Utilizing high-quality wood and stellar craftsmanship, this is the guitar that brought the manufacturer’s sonic excellence to players on a budget. It’s compact, it’s strong, and it can tackle any musical style that you can think of.

Fender MA-1

Fender MA-1

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Another great little guitar for players with smaller hands – with an equally small price tag! The Fender MA-1 is a 23.3” scale length small-bodied steel-string with a small hand-friendly C-shaped neck made from nato. This is attached at the 12th fret to the body, which sports a clean, timeless style, with laminated agathis on the top and laminated sapele on the back and sides. Considering the affordable price, the tone isn’t bad at all, even though it is a little quiet due to the smaller body. The hardware it comes with is all pretty consistent, and leads to a reliable guitar that’s excellent for travelling, kids or adults with smaller hands. Check out everything on the Fender MA-1 in the full review,.

12-String Guitar (click here for more reviews)

Takamine EF381SC

Takamine EF381SC

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The innovative Japanese brand manage to consistently deliver on innovation, quality and versatility, which is why we regard them so highly. It’s also why their EF381SC 12-string guitar is first in this category. This reliable electro-acoustic is perfect for the modern stage performer, utilizing Takamine’s CT4B II electronics that offer both versatile onboard EQ controls and a natural replication of this acoustic’s bright, twinkly tone. This tone is largely down to the quality of the materials used in the construction – a solid spruce top, with maple back and sides, all with a sophisticated black finish. As we mention in the full EF381SC review, this 12-string model is an all-round beautiful workhorse, well worth the price tag.

Guild F­1512E

Guild F­1512E

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If you’re after a gigantic 12-string sound, the Guild F­1512E is an electro-acoustic worth checking out. Guild’s reputation as one of the best acoustic brands is upheld with this impressive model, that proves well worth its higher-end price tag. With a jumbo body shape, the F­1512E sports a solid Sitka spruce top, with rosewood back and sides, combining for a well-balanced tone with good warmth. Of course, it also has huge projection and you barely need electronics to amplify it further! Still, the option is there, with Fishman’s Sonitone pickup included, along with generally reliable hardware and a smart Guild polyfoam case. There’s more on this impressive 12-string in the full review of the Guild F­1512E.

Martin D12X1AE

Martin D12X1AE

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Yet another Martin on this mega chart, but are you really surprised? The brand is at the top of their game, as they have been since 1833 and – with guitars such as the D12X1AE – it doesn’t look like anything is about to change. For a Martin in particular, this 12-string dreadnought is reasonably affordable, but still displays the traditional design and build that make Martin such a big name. It sports a mix of solid and laminate woods, with Sitka spruce on the top and the rest made up of rosewood HPL. As we mention in the full review of this dependable 12-string, it also comes fitted with a Fishman Sonitone pickup and reliable hardware for consistent live performances.

Should You Go Nylon or Steel?

This is as important – if not more – than the question above, and must be answered before you buy, or even start looking for your next guitar.

Generally it’s agreed that beginners may benefit more from using a nylon-string instrument as it’s less intense on the fingers, and may encourage longer playing sessions.

However it’s not essential, and starting on a steel-string guitar may keep you playing longer if you prefer that style of music.

But if you enjoy the smooth, mellow sound of classical guitar music or the excitement of flamenco, go for a nylon-string classical guitar.

If you prefer rock, country, blues or folk, you’d be better off checking out steel-string guitars, which offer that crisp, bright sound.

Whatever you go for, ensure you try out as many as you can – or at the very least watch a few review videos – to determine what sound and style you prefer. Who knows, you may decide nylonstrings are for you when you didn’t initially consider them.

A final word of advice when changing your acoustic strings (and don’t forget to check out our page on the best guitar strings on the market): you cannot use steel strings on a nylon-stringed guitar, and vice versa.

This experiment has no benefit, it won’t be very successful, and can cause big damage to your guitar. Besides, there’s no reason you can’t own both nylon and steel-stringed models – with guitars so affordable these days, everyone can own every style!

And if you are into experimenting you can check out our article on the best resonator guitars – but this is different topic and I don’t want to go into details.

The Final Word

While there are plenty of poor quality guitars on the market, every model and manufacturer we have featured here is worthy of your time. Although don’t forget that the guitars on this page are only a drop in the ocean of what is out there in terms of choice.

Ultimately, make sure to go with what you feel is best for you, whether small budget or big spending, acoustic or electro-acoustic, steel or nylon strings.

If you are passionate about what you are doing, and keep learning and practicing, every guitar will sound great in your hands. And if you are just starting out, make sure to check out some online guitar courses to help you get started.

On every stage, at every concert, the audience always rates the player – not the instrument. People would always listen to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix – even if they were performing with a $100 Yamaha! Let that be some inspiration for you.

Good luck with your guitar shopping and enjoy your new purchase!


Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Cort 450c. Totally agree with your eulogistic review. Bought it a couple of yeers ago from Amazon for £215. Didn’t expect much for that price. What I got was a fantastic little guitar which is by far my favorite and most played of several guitars, including a Martin and a Fender. All praise to the wonderful people at Cort.

  2. You don’t have a single Guild in your list, but you have Washburns that totally lack any sort of bass response. In fact, I’ve never understood how Washburn could take perfectly good materials like sitka spruce and mahogany, and produce such inferior guitars. You list the Fender fa-100 and stratacoustic, both firewood as far as I’m concerned, but don’t list the outstanding Alvarez AD60 and AD70, two amazing sounding guitars for the money. The Hohner and Oscar Schmidt OG2 are beginner guitars, but I know a lot of people with Yamaha FG800 and FG830 guitars who would be very offended by you saying one of their favorite guitars is for beginners. They are serious instruments, even if they only carry a sub-$300 price tag. They are certainly better sounding than that Taylor Big Baby thing, which I was shocked to hear at GC. Talk about over-rated. But you did get many things right. You gave the Blueridge d160 high marks, though I think the D140 should have been up there, too. Good to see that you gave the FG800 such high marks, but I actually like the FS800 a little better. It’s easier to play and better for fingerpicking. The Ami, Jim Dandy, and Recording King are all over-rated and over-priced. You need to take the Washburns down and put up the Guild M-120, D-120, and D-150. The D-150 may be the best guitar you can buy for under a grand.

    • Point(s) taken. Thanks Tom!

      I do agree that Guild deserves to be up there in the list! We will be refreshing our ranks for 2017 and you can expect them featured!

      The FG800 and F830 are outstanding guitars, no doubt about it. It is just that their price makes them very appropriate and affordable for beginners.

    • I think saying a guitar is ‘good for beginners’ is very different to saying ‘a beginner’s guitar’, and therefore shouldn’t offend anyone. At the end of the day, a $3000 Martin is probably very good for beginners, because it’ll play like butter. So the fact that they say the FG800 and FG830 is good for beginners is actually a compliment!

    • Hi

      I’m looking for a guitar for my boyfriend and am considering either the Yamaha FG800 or the Alvarez ATD60. He’d probably use them just at home. Do you have any thoughts about which is a better option?

  3. Consider Eastman. I’ve been through many guitars but the E10SS is the best value in acoustic I’ve run across and among my favorites regardless of price. Beyond that, every Eastman I’ve played has been top notch.

  4. Tom Joad…you are right.I started on a FG820,and it was a decent guitar to get me started.Last week I ordered a Guild D150(lefty)and received it two days ago!….outstanding guitar I think.sounds good,looks like a much more expensive guitar.Got it from Samash for 959.00!I think this one is a keeper!

  5. I wanna weigh in, I’m just an average player but having one of the best luthiers around and talking to them really gives you an idea of what quality your getting from a guitar. I play a martin DC 16gte, my singer plays a Chinese knock off Taylor. No one can tell the difference when he switched to the real genuine 314 CE Taylor (basically made the same way as the Chinese one), and we get no complaints about either guitar. Save your money, (buy quality) or buy the Chinese knock off and find it’s made the same and it will make you the same money playing and feel just as good in your hand as the 1000 dollar plus Taylor. Conclusions for Taylor or martin fans is don’t go name brand cause they (known or unknown) swear by them, is all personal preference, try everything in every price range find what’s right for you. My $750 DC 16gte Martin was right for me. My singer the 914ce Taylor Chinese knock off (327 bucks new) suits him better than his 1200 dollar original Taylor 314ce.

  6. i like ‘The Final Word’ statement, my first recording use Yamaha Shen-Shen FG-50 guitar (i don’t know that original production of Yamaha affiliate or not, but i feel the fingerboard bigger than standart), with electric guitar strings (9|42), etc, getting the course prior to learn more chord but jamming in the gig give more experiences….apologies me if there wrong word, best wishes

  7. I have an applause acoustic guitar model #aa4-4 with a rounded back can anyone tell me about this guitar I just inherited it? I also got an Marlin electric with a solid base and I haven’t got a clue what I have. Thank you

  8. I’ve played Martin D35 and O18 for decades and fooled around with Maton and Cole Clarke’s for a bit, but switched to James Goodall’s ( 6 and 12) which are simply stunning instruments. Why they’re not mentioned here is a mystery to me – especially if it’s quality of woods and craft and tone you’re chasing. I love the Martin’s but Goodall stole my soul.

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