With thousands of different models to choose from, finding the best acoustic guitar can be difficult. That is why I decided to write this guide to break down the top acoustic guitars.
This guide explains what you get at each price point and suggests a few good models from each to start researching in your quest for the right acoustic. All of the guitars reviewed in this guide are steel string acoustics.
The best acoustic guitar will be the one that fits a guitarists playing styler and music genre the best. If you are into playing bluegrass, you’ll want to consider a dreadnought.
If you are a folk singer, you might want a smaller body guitar. Then again, Bob Dylan played a dreadnought, so it all really depends on what sounds the best to the player!
With that in mind, here are the best acoustic guitars to consider…
Table of Contents
Beginner Acoustic Guitars
The entry-level price point for acoustic guitars is what most beginners start out with.
The acoustic guitars offered at this price point will not be solid wood. They will be made of laminate wood. While cheaper, laminate wood does not resonate like a solid wood guitar will.
These cheaper acoustic guitars are great for learning, but most players upgrade to something nicer once they realize that they like playing the guitar and will stick with it.
Here are a few models to check out if you are shopping for a cheap acoustic guitar:
The Jasmine S-35 is one of the most highly rated beginner acoustics. You get a spruce top, laminate agathis back and sides, and a smooth satin finish. I was very happy with this guitar – it is easy to play and has a great sound for a beginner guitar.
I would recommend replacing some of the cheap parts with better options. Parts like the nut, saddle, bridge pins, and strings can be replaced for around $50 total, and will drastically increase the sound and playability of the guitar.
For a bit more, you get a slightly better guitar. The Fender FA-125 is a full size dreadnought, and features a laminate spruce top. It does have a rosewood bridge with a synthetic bone saddle. This could save you you the hassle of buying the Jasmine S-35 and having to replace parts.
One downside is that it needs a set-up. This will be the case for just about every cheap guitar you look at. Just take it in to a local shop and have them perform a set up and get the action a bit lower so that it is easier to play, and you will be good to go.
- One right-handed Fender FA-125 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
- Dreadnought Body: This guitar’s dreadnought body shape resonates with a bold and rich bass tone,...
- Durable Materials: All-Laminate construction allows this guitar to last long and sound as great as...
Another top rated cheap acoustic guitar is the Epiphone DR100. It has a spruce top and a mahogany body. The fingerboard is rosewood. It is a dreadnought body, so it will have the big sound that is common with large body guitars.
It is the best bang for your buck cheap acoustic guitar. It has a nice gloss finish, which gives it a very high quality look. The sunburst color is my personal preference for this classic acoustic.
- Additional Details: SlimTaper C-profile neck, Epiphone Sloped Dovewing headstock, and Premium Die...
- Mahogany body
- Dreadnought body shape
We’ve written a detailed buyers guide reviewing the best beginner acoustic guitars. Give it a read to see our top 10 picks in this category.
Midrange Acoustic Guitars
The next price point is what I refer to as quality beginner guitars. Obviously, they are the next step up from the previous category.
What is the main difference? Besides the price, you will get a guitar with a solid wood top. This is a big step up in the tone category.
At this price point you start to get guitars that are more of a joy to play. You hear sounds coming out of the guitar while playing, and you question yourself. Is that really me making that great sound?
Now, while the top is going to be solid wood that doesn’t mean it is the same quality of wood that goes into a more expensive Martin or Taylor. High quality tone woods cost more money, so the highest quality are often used in the high end guitars.
With that being said, you still get a solid wood top that will sound much better than a laminate top.
Here are some acoustics with solid wood tops and laminate back and sides:
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany is a great option for those looking for a guitar in this price range. It’s a little bit smaller than a standard sized guitar. It’s sort of a parlor guitar.
Despite it’s smaller size, it has the sound of a full size guitar. It has a solid wood tropical mahogany top. Taylor describes their tropical mahogany as being a hard wood, with a more punchy tone that is fitting to blues and roots music. Over time, as the guitar is played more, it will develop a richer, warmer tone.
You might even prefer playing this guitar over much more expensive models. I like its playability and smaller size. Check out my complete review of the Taylor GS Mini line.
- "Body Body type: Taylor Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Mahogany Back & sides:...
- "There's something undeniably inviting about the Taylor GS Mini's scaled-down size, yet a single...
- That mix of portability and musicality has proven to be a winning combination that fits into so many...
Taylor Big Baby Taylor
A great choice of guitar in this price range is the Big Baby Taylor. It’s a little bit smaller than a full sized guitar, but only on the body. It is a full length guitar. I recently purchased a Big Baby Taylor and love everything about it. It’s the ideal songwriting companion. Great sound, high quality build, and doesn’t break the bank. It has a solid sitka spruce top with layered sapele back and sides. This is a great compromise for a big sound and small price. The necks on Taylor guitars are some of the best in the world. They are slimmer than most, which provides a very comfortable feel.
Check out my complete review of the Big Baby Taylor. This budget guitar delivers!
The Seagull S6 is a great choice at this price point. It features a cedar top with wild cherry back and sides. The fingerboard is rosewood, and it has some other nice features like a tusq nut and saddle.
Seagull does a great job of giving the player a lot of value for their money. The S6 is their bread and butter, and you really can’t go wrong with this guitar.
As with buying any guitar, know the tonal qualities of the wood that makes up the guitar. The solid cedar top on the S6 will give you a sweeter and softer tone than a more dense wood like spruce or even mahogany.
- New Deep Dark Custom Stain on Wild Cherry Back and Sides
- New Custom Pick Guard
- Solid Cedar Pressure Tested Top
This price point also has slightly upgraded components such as bridge, nut, tuners, and fingerboard. See this list of the best acoustic guitars under $500 for more examples of available models in this category.
Intermediate Acoustic Guitars
It’s at this point in the guitar buying journey that things start to get tough. Once you start getting towards this range, you start to see guitars that are constructed of solid wood. Maybe you are a beginner still but are ready to splurge on something quality. But now that the guitars are made of solid wood, you start to hear the different sounds that the body shape and bracing variations can produce.
There is also the classic dilemma of, “Why spend this much for a guitar with laminate back and sides when I can spend some more for a solid wood Martin?”. It’s a slippery slope that we have all slid down.
Popular models in this category:
- Martin D-16GT
- Taylor 310 – Probably the best solid wood guitar for the money.
- Seagull Artist Studio
Solid top with laminate back and sides:
- Martin DRS1
- Taylor 214ce DLX
- Seagull Performer
See our complete buyers guide for acoustic guitars under $1500 for a complete breakdown of the best models in this category.
Ah, here we are. This is where things really start to sound good. In this price range we are seeing solid wood guitars from the top brands. The question then becomes, how much do you want to spend?
Between roughly $1500 and $2500 is where the quality shifts from decent guitar to amazing guitar.
At $2500 or so we start seeing classics like the Martin D28, 000-18, D18. We also see Taylor’s high end models from the 400 series. Lots of great Gibsons, Takamines, and Guilds as well.
See our complete buyers guide for acoustic guitars under $2000 for a complete breakdown of the best models in this category.
The Best Sound
Beyond $3000 you get to the top models from most guitar makers.
The Taylor 714ce and 814ce. The Martin HD28-V and 000-28. The Gibson J-45. The list goes on and on, but what you are essentially getting is the highest quality guitars that these guitar manufacturers have to offer.
Can you spend more? Sure. But then you are getting into the world of boutique guitars and fancy inlays and whatnot. See our full buyers guide for the best high end acoustic guitars. We reviewed a lot of the popular models in this category.
Here are our in-depth reviews on even more acoustic guitars:
- Taylor Big Baby
- Taylor GS Mini
- Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor
- Taylor 114ce
- Taylor 314ce
- Yamaha F335
- Yamaha FG700S
- Yamaha FG800
- Seagull S6
- Fender FA100
- Epiphone EJ-200SCE
- Epiphone Dove Pro
- Epiphone Hummingbird
- Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE
- Martin D Jr
- Martin GPCX2AE Macassar
- Martin LXK2
- Martin 000X1AE
- PRS SE Angelus A40E
- Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster
The Bottom Line
Your best bet is to venture out to your local guitar shop and play some of these top models side by side to their cheapest solid wood options and see if you can really tell the difference. If money is no factor, buy the high end model. You won’t be sorry.
However, in my experience, you get a pretty damn good guitar at $1500 that you will likely be happy with for many years. Plus, if you buy that high end model, what will you have to look forward to?
Last update on 2024-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API