The Top 31 Acoustic Guitars And Brands! What It Takes To Find A Good Sounding Instrument?

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Last Updated: May 29, 2017
This huge article details more than 30 of the best acoustic guitars on the market today, so we decided to refresh it to reflect some of the more up-to-date models. Several guitars from all categories were removed including the J. Navarro NC-61, Art And Luthiere’s Ami, and the Takamine GD-20. These were replaced by a range of varied models; some of which include Cordoba’s Protege C1, Taylor’s excellent Big Baby Taylor, the awesome budget Epiphone PRO-1, and Epiphone’s affordable premium Masterbilt DR-500MCE. Meanwhile the travel section saw the addition of the sleek Yamaha SLG200S Silent, with the gorgeous PRS SE Angelus A10E appearing in the electro-acoustic category.

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.

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 Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitars:

Image
Acoustic Guitar
Summary
Rating
Seagull Artist Mosaic
Seagull Artist Mosaic

Outstanding model by Seagull. Worth every penny.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
La Patrie Collection
La Patrie Collection

A nylon stringed beast. Quality classical instrument.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE
Hard to fault this versatile vintage electro-acoustic from Epiphone.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Takamine TSF48C Santa Fe NEX
Takamine TSF48C Santa Fe NEX

An expensive electro-acoustic that’s pretty much flawless.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
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Yamaha FG800

FG800 shows what made Yamaha's FG series so legendary to begin with.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Blueridge BR160
Blueridge BR-160
Great looking dreadnaught body guitar from Bristol.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Martin Custom D Classic
Martin Custom D Classic

A simple and stylish, but serious acoustic guitar from Martin.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
D'Angelico EX-63 Archtop
D'Angelico EX-63 Archtop
A faithful reproduction of John D’Angelico’s awesome last guitar.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Takamine GD93NAT
Takamine GD93NAT
A proud representative from the Takamine family.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Seagull S6
Seagull S6 Original
Beautiful style, quality and playability with this Seagull.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5

Guitars For Beginners (click here for more reviews)

Seagull S6 Original

Seagull S6

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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.


Yamaha FG800

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Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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.


Bristol by Blueridge BD16

BristolBd16

Body&Neck:4.3 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

The Blueridge Bristol BD-16 from Saga packs a great deal of sound quality and comfort into an affordable acoustic, and is well worth considering for any beginner. This versatile steel-string model features a traditional body shape, with a sturdy mahogany back and sides, and a spruce top with scalloped bracing to provide a bright, full-bodied sound. There’s also a slim mahogany neck that sports a smooth rosewood fretboard with 20 frets, while the chrome-plated 14:1 die-cast machine heads offer good tuning stability. The guitar shows great craftsmanship and is fun and fast to play, while the mahogany and spruce working together offer excellent projection – perfect for your first chords, licks and riffs! Check out the full review of this superb model.


Cordoba Protege C1

Cordoba Protege C1

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Looking for an affordable quality nylon-stringed guitar to learn on? Cordoba’s entry-level Protege C1 has you covered! This attractive classical guitar comes as a full-size, 25.6” scale length model, although child-friendly quarter, half and three-quarter sized versions also exist. It sports a traditional body shape, with a laminated spruce top, and mahogany back and sides, all coated in a high-gloss polyurethane finish. The mahogany neck has a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets, and feels comfortable for beginner hands. It offers a well-balanced sound and – even though it’s a mass-produced model – it shows off decent craftsmanship. Make sure to check out our full review of the Cordoba Protege C1 for all the details.


Ibanez AEG10NII

Ibanez AEG10NII

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

Ibanez may well be better known for their awesome rock and metal electric guitars, but they make a great beginner’s acoustic too – including this slimline, electro-acoustic classical guitar, the AEG10NII. With a modern glossy black finish, the single-cutaway body is composed of a laminated spruce top, with laminated mahogany back and sides, while there’s a sleek satin-finished mahogany neck with 21 frets. Although it’s not particularly traditional in design, it’s lovely to play. As we highlight in the full review of the AEG10NII, this affordable guitar comes with some smooth gold-plated tuning machines, a rosewood bridge, and is loaded with Ibanez’s excellent AEQ-SP1 preamp – including a Fishman Sonicore pickup, versatile EQ controls, and a built-in tuner. Perfect for any beginner.


Under $1000 (click here for more reviews)

Seagull Artist Mosaic

seagull artist mosaic

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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.


Blueridge BR-160

Blueridge BR-160

Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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.


Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE

Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

Epiphone really impress with their electro-acoustic Masterbilt DR-500MCE, and perfectly strike the balance between premium and affordable. With a single-cutaway dreadnought body, this steel-string guitar is made using quality solid tonewoods with plenty of vintage detailing – there’s a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. The neck is also one-piece mahogany, with a smooth SlimTaper D shape, a rosewood fretboard and 20 medium frets. Our full review of the Epiphone DR-500MCE highlights the quality hardware – 18:1 Grover tuners and bone nut – and the versatile electronics. These come in the shape of two Shadow pickups (NanoFlex and NanoMag), as well as a good quality eSonic-2 Stereo preamp, with a built-in tuner. A real joy to play.


Martin DRS2 Road Series Acoustic Guitar

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Body&Neck:4.0 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.4 Stars
Average:4.3 Stars

We’d be crazy to leave a Martin off this list, and the DRS2 really shines in this price range – beautiful looks are matched by stunning sound and attention-to-detail. As we’ve highlighted in our complete review of the DRS2, this steel-string dreadnought is built to the highest standards, using solid Sitka spruce on the top (which also features X-bracing for added strength), with sapele used for the back and sides. The neck – joined at the 14th fret – sports an enhanced, durable Richlite fretboard and plays like silk. As you’d expect, the guitar offers classic Martin tone, with a deep, rich acoustic sound with impressive Fishman Sonitone electronics for plugging into an amp. Lovely craftsmanship, with an included hardshell case.


Taylor Guitars 114CE, Grand Auditorium

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Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.2 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Here’s a real premium electro-acoustic steel-string from the renown Taylor Guitars, that boasts both style and sound in a package that will blow you away. There’s a Grand Auditorium body that’s wellbalanced for both flatpickers and fingerstylists, while the generous Venetian cutaway allows good access to all 20 frets of the ebony fretboard. The 114CE – reviewed in full here – features a beautiful Sitka spruce top, with a tone-enhancing natural varnish, layered sapele back and sides, and a sapele neck. The woods combine to offer clear, well-defined playing with a big sound, which is further amplified through the Expression System 2 pickup system, with simple but complete tone and volume controls. It also comes with a good gig bag. An all-round excellent stage performer for any guitarist.


Under $500 (click here for more reviews)

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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.


Taylor Big Baby Taylor

Taylor Big Baby Taylor

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Sitting somewhere in between a full-sized acoustic and a travel guitar, this Big Baby Taylor has a wonderful tone, with understated Taylor style. Solid craftsmanship is on display across the whole guitar. There’s a 15/16th-size dreadnought shape body, which has a 25.5” scale length and a 4” depth. Solid Sitka spruce is used for the top, while layered sapele features on the back and sides. Joined at the 14th fret, there’s a slim sapele neck, with a genuine African ebony fretboard and 20 frets. Due to the slightly abbreviated body, you don’t get the full dreadnought projection, but the Big Baby still displays a rich and full tone that works for many styles of music. We look at Taylor’s Big Baby Taylor in more detail here.


Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic

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Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.3 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

If you’re looking for a steel-string acoustic with vintage style and sounds, Washburn’s Vintage Series R314KK is well worth considering. It features a small, parlor style body made from a spruce top with trembesi back and sides. The spruce has a very cool aged finish, while other style points – such as the decorative ebony bridge, vintage binding, and distressed open gear tuners – give this guitar a true vintage theme. Not forgetting the fancy 1890’s style inlays on the ebony fretboard, which sits on a comfortable V-shaped mahogany neck. For such a small guitar it has a full-bodied sound and good projection, and is naturally excellent for blues, folk and fingerstyle. You can find out more in our full review of the R314KK.


Kremona Soloist S65C

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Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

The Bulgarian manufacturers Kremona have a good reputation for their handcrafted instruments and this nylon-string S65C from their Soloist Sofia series is really top-notch, offering great style and sound for the price. The classical body is crafted from an impressive range of tone woods, with a solid red cedar top, and laminated sapele back and sides, dressed with a glossy finish. There’s a smooth African mahogany neck, with Indian rosewood used for the fretboard and bridge. Combined, these woods offer superb projection with a well-balanced warm, rich tone. The craftsmanship is expert, and boasts high-end feel for a relatively low price. Well worth testing one if you can. Make sure to check out the full review for all the details you need on the S65C.


Cordoba C7

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Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.3 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

The C7 is an improvement in tonewoods and quality compared to some of Cordoba’s entry-level classical guitars, but this model still sports a very affordable price tag. With a traditional classical non-cutaway body shape, the C7 – as we highlight in the full review – is made using solid European spruce on the top, with beautiful Indian rosewood back and sides. The use of rosewood is also present in the binding, the bridge and the fretboard, which sits on a mahogany neck with 19 frets. It comes with a bone nut and saddle, quality tuning machines, and a Cordoba gig bag. Traditional in appearance and sound – it’s beautifully balanced, with a smooth warmth that makes it suitable for any style of classical guitar.


Under $300 (click here for more reviews)

Epiphone Hummingbird PRO

Epiphone-Hummingbird-Pro-300x300

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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.


Yamaha FG830

Seagull S6

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Introduced in 1966, the FG series is a staple of Yamaha’s acoustic guitar line, and this FG830 is one of the best-selling acoustics on the market – and it’s no surprise why! There’s an attractive Westernshaped dreadnought body, crafted with naturally-finished solid spruce for the top, with rosewood used on the back and sides. The neck is made from nato, while the rosewood fretboard is smooth and comfortable. The advanced scalloped bracing enhances the projection and resonance, allowing for a rich, full-bodied tone with great bass response, versatile for any style of music – although great for bluegrass! It’s a useful tool for any guitarist. Make sure to check out our full review of the FG830.


Ibanez AW54CE

Ibanez AW54CE

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

If a warm look and sound is your goal, then this affordable Ibanez AW54CE will tick many of your boxes. As part of their celebrated Artwood series, the AW54CE sports a dreadnought body made entirely of mahogany (solid on the top, with laminated back and sides) with a rustic open-pore finish. There’s a player-friendly single-cutaway to allow ample access to the satin-finished mahogany neck, which sports a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. The acoustically warm sound is amplified quite naturally thanks to the electronics on board – it features an Ibanez AEQ210TF preamp, with a Fishman Sonicore pickup, 2-band EQ, and a built-in digital tuner. Be sure to check out all the details of the Ibanez AW54CE in the full review.


Washburn C80S Madrid$T2eC16FHJFwFFZ4O5BcrBSBWTv7koQ--60_57

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

If you want an affordable Spanish guitar, look no further than the Washburn C80S Madrid – it’s even got Spain in the name! The C80S has all the style and sound you’d expect from a quality Spanish guitar, but without the hefty price tag. With a glossy traditional classical body, the guitar is made from good tonewoods – rosewood on the back and sides, with a solid cedar top that features scalloped bracing for a full, resonant sound. The neck of the Madrid is easy to play, and is made from mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard. It sounds warm and mellow, but is capable of projecting loudly. In all, a solid guitar that would appeal to both beginners and experienced guitarists. Read more about this guitar in the full review.


Cordoba C3MCC3MXXXXX

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

Cordoba know how to combine quality with affordability, and this C3M is a testament to that. A core part of Cordoba’s fantastic Iberia Series, the C3M – which is reviewed in full here – is excellent for both beginners and experienced classical guitarists. It’s a very good looking instrument – simple and elegant, with a Spanish fan-braced solid cedar top, and mahogany back and sides, dressed in a beautiful light satin finish. The finish both feels smooth and allows the wood to breathe and resonate – allowing for very good projection. The C3M also features a lovely nato neck, with a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets, along with a rosewood bridge. An affordable model that’s fun to play, with excellent sound quality.

Cheap Acoustic Guitars (click here for more reviews):

Jasmine S35

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Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

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

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.4 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

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.


Lyons Classroom Guitar

Lyons Classroom Guitar

Body&Neck:3.9 Stars
Hardware:3.9 Stars
Sound:4 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.2 Stars

Looking for cheap and cheerful? You won’t go far wrong with the Lyons Classroom acoustic guitar, which retails on many marketplaces for around $65, making it accessible to just about everyone. The Washburn-subsidiary have put together a nylon-stringed classical guitar that is able to withstand the heavy-handed environment of a classroom. With a range of sizes available, there’s a laminated spruce top with a natural gloss finish, a painted maple neck and 19-frets. Of course there’s nothing premium about it, but it feels quite well-made for such a mass-produced guitar. It sounds decent too, with good projection. Perfect for the classroom, lessons or home use for complete beginners. Be sure to check out our full review of the super-budget Lyons Classroom Guitar.


Yamaha C40

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Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.1 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Whether electric or acoustic, Yamaha are leaders in the budget market, and their popular nylonstring C40 demands your attention if you’re a beginner or on a tight budget. With a simple traditional classical design, the C40 features a spruce top, with meranti back and sides. There’s a nato neck, joined to the body by a dovetail joint at the 12th fret. Both the neck and body are comfortable to hold and play, and offer beginners a very suitable platform, although experienced guitarists would find just as much pleasure. The guitar provides a good range of sounds, and is warm and resonant, but well-balanced with good bass and treble response. Make sure to check out our full review of the C40 for more details.


Travel Guitars (click here for more reviews)

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar

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Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.4 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

This beautiful BT2 from Taylor is the perfect travel companion, boasting quality components and a sound to match. For an affordable price, the compact BT2 (as we detail in our full review), features a cute ¾ size dreadnought body, with an X-braced tropical mahogany top and layered sapele for the back and sides, which combine to give a clear and focused sound. There’s also a sapele neck – joined at the 14th fret – with an ebony fretboard, and 19 frets. The BT2 packs good volume for such a small guitar, and you’d have no problem practicing or jamming with it. It also comes with good tuning heads and a convenient gig bag, so you’re ready to hit the road!


Yamaha SLG200S Silent

Yamaha SLG200S Silent

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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):

Epiphone EJ-200CE

Epiphone EJ-200CE

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Electronics:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

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.


Mitchell MX400

Mitchell MX400

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Mitchell’s stunning MX400 is proof that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to find an electro-acoustic that gives you that wow factor. This model is available in three variations of exotic and eye-catching body woods – quilted ash burl, bubinga, or ovangkol, all with classy black detailing including the binding and tuning machines. All feature a single-cutaway Grand Auditorium shape with a smooth mahogany neck, an Indian rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. Acoustically the tones vary depending on the body wood, but the natural sound is amplified well through the CE304T preamp. The volume controls and 3-band EQ give you some flexibility with shaping your sound. Be sure to check out our complete review of the Mitchell MX400.


PRS SE Angelus A10E

PRS SE Angelus A10E

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

Paul Reed Smith Guitars (PRS) know their way around an electric guitar – but how do they fare in the acoustic market? Very well indeed, as this delicious SE Angelus A10E proves. This electro-acoustic sports PRS’s Angelus body shape with a single cutaway, made with solid mahogany on the top and laminated mahogany on the back and sides. There’s a fast mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard, 20 frets and attractive flying bird fretboard inlays. The mahogany offers a warm and woody tone, which is amplified naturally thanks to the undersaddle pickup. The controls aren’t very versatile, but for the beauty, sound and feel on offer, this is a great value purchase – as we conclude in our full review of the PRS SE Angelus A10E.


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!

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!

Final Considerations

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 Cordoba! Let that be some inspiration for you.
Good luck with your guitar shopping and enjoy your new purchase!

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!

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