When I went to buy my main acoustic guitar I had a short list of what I wanted. The list had no brand names or models that I was interested in. I knew what I was not willing to live without. I took a day and drove to all the music stores in my area. I pulled down guitar after guitar listening to their sound and looking at their features. My list was simple: cutaway, electronics, and a pinless bridge. The guitar also had to have mojo. It had to have a sound and feel that stirred something inside me.
Below we’ll give you a comparison table with different models that will look at their ratings. To find out more about any of those models will be links to extended reviews that will allow you to find out more about each guitar. At the end we have some tips and tricks to help you navigate the whole shopping process to find the right instrument for you.
Top 10 Acoustic Guitars For Under $1000
The Seagull Maritime SWS Rosewood SG is a dreadnought sized acoustic. It has a pressure tested solid sitka spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides. The mahogany neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard that has a 16” radius. The guitar has a very good dynamic range with an open and crisp voice that is very balanced.
Yamaha’s LL16RDHC is an all solid wood jumbo acoustic guitar. The top is Engelmann spruce with rosewood back and sides. It has a passive SRT zero impact piezo pickup. The sound is a bright and sweet with plenty of string definition that sounds just as good acoustically as it does plugged in.
Fender’s PM-2 is the parlor sized guitar in their Paramount Series. It has a solid Sitka spruce top with quartersawn scalloped X-bracing. The sides and back are solid East Indian rosewood. The C-shaped neck is mahogany with a 19 fret ebony fingerboard. The tone is bright with an even balance across the register with plenty of dynamics.
The Breedlove Pursuit Concert Ebony is an acoustic/electric with a soft-cutaway. The top is made of solid Engelmann spruce with laminate Java ebony back and sides. The electronics are Fishman’s Isys + USB with Sonicore pickup. The neck is wide with a slim profile and smooth finish. The tone is warm and clear that has a sweet character with a wide dynamic range.
The Seagull Artist Mosaic CW Folk Element is part of the top of the line guitars by the manufacturer. It is all solid wood with a cedar top and mahogany back and sides. The integrated set neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. It uses the hybrid Godin EPM Quantum II electronics. The sound is warm with plenty of articulation and wide dynamics.
The Recording King ROS-616 has a 12th fret OOO body style. The AA grade solid mahogany top is paired with solid mahogany back and sides. The “V” shaped neck is also mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. Volume is loud given the body size. It has a balanced sounding tone that sounds best when finger picked.
Yamaha’s GC12C is a nylon string traditional classical guitar. It has a solid American cedar top with solid mahogany back and sides. The African mahogany neck is topped with a flat ebony fingerboard. The sound is round and warm with plenty of snap, but it does favor the lower register.
The Blueridge BR-160 is a prewar inspired dreadnought acoustic. It has a solid sitka spruce top with solid Indian rosewood back and sides. The slim mahogany is topped with a rosewood fingerboard. There is enough brightness to give the guitar a sprightly bounce, while the lows are strong enough to hold down the bass.
The BR-341 by Blueridge is a prewar style parlor steel-string strictly acoustic guitar. It has a solid Sitka spruce top with forward shifted X-bracing. The back and sides are solid mahogany. The neck and body have a natural high gloss finish. It has a smooth warm parlor sound with plenty of projection.
Guild’s OM-140CE is an all solid wood acoustic/electric. Sitka spruce is used for the top with African mahogany on the sides and back. Fishman’s Sonitone preamp and Sonicore pickup provide the electronics. The voice is charming and bright with warm undertones that get lost in the mediocre electronics.
The Guitars of this Range
This is a broad range of guitars going from the upper end of the workhorses to the start of the solid wood tone machines. If there are electronics onboard, they are good with plenty of tone sculpting capabilities. The eye candy at this price range is quite amazing, but don’t let a pretty face make you blind to the soulless monstrosity of a toneless guitar.
These are guitars for serious musicians, or at least those that want to look serious. These are guitars that will have the total package. Don’t get too caught up in wanting it all. You still need to focus on what your needs are, then buy the guitar that best matches them. This is a major investment, and should not be taken lightly.
There are still laminates, but they look fantastic and are made from the best tonewoods. These are the crème de la crème of the workhorses. If they sacrifice to have the laminate, then the electronics are better. And do not underestimate their durability.
A hard-shell case is a must, if you are going to invest so much money, then keep it safe. Most of these guitars come with at least a gig bag, but you’ll want to upgrade.
You might want to pick up a travel, beater guitar or at least an acoustic guitar for less than $500. This would be the guitar that you’d take on trips or to the campfire. Leave your expensive baby at home where it is safe, and take your travel/beater guitar to the locations that are not amenable to the health of a guitar.
Make sure you have all that you need to amplify your electric-acoustic. If plugging into a PA you’ll need an instrument cable, DI box, and XLR cable. If you are playing smaller venues either as a solo artist or duo, then have an acoustic amplifier that can play to the room.
Personally I don’t own an acoustic amp, but I’m not trying to gig out as a solo artist (believe me, no one wants to hear me sing). There is plenty of projection from an acoustic instrument to hear yourself while practicing at home. If you plan on having a complex live show with loops, sequencing, and/or using delays as part of the musical passages, then an amp is very important. You need to get used to triggering all this gear so that it becomes second nature, so you won’t be struggling with the technology in front of an audience.
Know What You Want
The guitar that you buy in this price range will be with you for a long time especially if you match your needs. If what you want is a complex tone with a fit and finish that is second to none, then the more you spend the better you will get. This will be a guitar that if given enough room to sing will give a tone that is spectacular.
The price point below is home to the workhorses. Guitars that sacrifice tonal complexity for durability. If you are looking for an instrument to drag along to gigs, then this might be a very good option. You might even get lucky, and find a used guitar that will give you more bang for your buck. Buying used might keep you on your toes, guitars of this caliber or better do not show up very often. Be ready to jump on a good deal if one shows up.
Food for Thought
One thing that concerns me at this level are the guitars that try to sell you on the headstock. There are some very fine manufacturers that phone it in on some models. Don’t ignore the limitations of an instrument because of the name on it. Joe Schmoe at the end of the bar could care less who made the guitar, he just wants to hear “Free Bird” played right now.
If there is another guitarist in your group who already has an acoustic, then try to get an instrument that is voiced differently. If they have a steel string then take a look at nylon string guitars, these two instruments blend well while allowing each instrument to be heard. At least, if their guitar is bright and lively, then find a warm and mellow sounding instrument to offset their sound and widen the tonal character of the band.
Guitars at this value will get you a decent amount if you decide to sell or trade them in. If this is something that is important to you, then keep to the more well-known brand names. Personally, guitars that I have spent this kind of money on are staying with me for life. My kids can decide if they want to sell them after I’m gone.
If you are not ready for this level of commitment, then you might want to check out some of our other comparison articles on less expensive guitars or even the starter acoustic guitars page. Subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss anything new or exciting. Check back regularly, these lists are not cast in stone. We might spot your next guitar before you do. Until next time may your suspended chords carry for miles and your leads tell a story.