With thousands of different models to choose from, buying an acoustic guitar can be difficult. That is why I decided to write this guide to break down the best 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.
Table of Contents:
- $300 and under (Beginner)
- $300-$750 (Quality Beginner)
- $750-$1500 (Intermediate)
- $1500+ (Solid wood!)
- $3000+ (The best sound!)
$300 and Under - Beginner Acoustic Guitars
The $300 and below price point for acoustic guitars is what most beginners start out with. I would venture even further and say it’s likely that most choose something between $100 and $200 mark. For those looking to go super cheap, there are decent acoustic guitars under $100, like this model, but I do not recommend them. While they have great reviews, they are hard to play, require a set up, they don’t stay in tune and they never seem to last very long. If it were me, I would just splurge on something in the $500 price range as my first guitar.
So what do you get at this price point?
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:
We’ve written a detailed buyers guide reviewing the best beginner acoustic guitars under $300 here. Give it a read to see our top 10 picks in this category.
$300 - $750 (Quality Beginner Acoustic Guitars)
The next price point is between $300 and $500. These are 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:
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.
$750 - $1500 (Intermediate Acoustic Guitars)
It’s at this point in the guitar buying journey that things start to get tough. Once you start getting towards $1500 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 $1000 for a guitar with laminate back and sides when I can spend $1500 for a solid wood Martin?”. It’s a slippery slope that we have all slid down.
Usually you have to spend $1500 to get a new solid wood guitar. You can find a used one for less than that on sites like Reverb.com, but most people dropping that amount of cash on a guitar want to play it first.
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.
$1500 - $2500 and Beyond (Advanced)
Ah, here we are. This is where things really start to sound good. In the price range of $1500 and beyond we are seeing solid wood guitars from the top brands. The question then becomes, how much do you want to spend? Between $1500 and $2500 is where the quality shifts from decent guitar to amazing guitar. At $2500 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.
Beyond $2500 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 best 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 here. We reviewed a lot of the popular models in this category.
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?