20 Best Acoustic Guitars – Recommended Brands, Reviews And Beyond!

I bet you didn’t know that there were so many different guitars out there (we currently have a monstrous list of 100+ guitar reviews). They each are unique, and bring something to the table, whether it is an inexpensive price point, aesthetic detail, or an innovation on an old design. You can’t play all of them, but we can help you narrow down your choices. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the world of guitars or have been around long enough to remember seeing Hendrix live, we have a guitar review for you. Before we move on, let me just point out that this article is focused on acoustic guitars, if you are looking for the top rated electric guitars, this page will not be of much use to you.

What’s Best?

First off, best is a relative term. The ratings on each guitar is based upon its relation to guitars in the same price point. That is why a $150 guitar might be “better” than a $1000 one. You can break down the lists to find an instrument that more suits your needs, but on the grand scale we’re thrown them all together.

Also, “best” is a matter of what you are looking for and what meets your needs. A classically trained player has no interest in a steel-string thin body acoustic/electric. To him it is a waste of wood, but I on the other hand might be looking for that very instrument.

Top 20 Best Acoustic Guitars

PRODUCT

FEATURES

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PRODUCT

FEATURES

AR​​​​ RATING 97/100​​​​

  • Easily one of the best dreadnoughts on the market.
  • Built by very skilled luthiers at Yamaha.

AR​​​​ RATING 97/100​​​​

  • A very classic look which satisfies the retro fans.
  • A choice of tonewood which makes this an amazing setup.

AR RATING 96/100

  • A very comfortable large body acoustic guitar.
  • Sound full of that Taylor twang many are looking for.

AR RATING 95/100

  • Easily one of the best performing dreadnoughts out there.
  • Fender's well known level of build quality and craftsmanship.

AR RATING 92/100

  • Really good build quality all around.
  • One of the finest sounding small body guitars out there.

AR RATING 91/100

  • The build quality and attention to detail akin to Yamaha.
  • Great choice of materials all around.
  • Easily the most comfortable dreadnought on the market.
  • Build quality one expects to see from Taylor.

AR RATING 90/100

  • High levels of build quality, craftsmanship and quality control.
  • Awesome sound despite the use of HPL for the shell.

AR RATING 83/100

  • Great build quality and pretty awesome tonewood.
  • Easily the best dreadnought in this price range.
  • Great build quality with plenty of hand fitted elements.
  • Carefully selected tonewood which brings awesome results.

AR RATING 81/100

  • A small body orchestra shape means high levels of comfort.
  • Awesome build quality we are used to seeing from Yamaha.
  • Easily one of the best looking guitars in this category.
  • Brings an impressive amount of value for the money.

AR RATING 73/100

  • Best selling acoustic guitar series in history.
  • Classic Yamaha build quality and quality control.

AR RATING 72/100

  • Great build quality all around, especially the body.
  • A good looking starter which is a rarity these days.

AR RATING 72/100

  • Impressive Yamaha build quality and quality control.
  • Awesome choice of tonewood and laminates makes it sound great.

AR RATING 72/100

  • A classic dreadnought body that feels great.
  • Build quality we are used to seeing from Yamaha.

AR RATING 62/100

  • Awesome build quality considering the price.
  • Great finish, fit and overall attention to detail.

AR RATING 60/100

  • A classic dreadnought body which is made of great materials.
  • Good build quality across the board.

AR RATING 60/100

  • Impel design with that's rough around the edges but functional.
  • Decent choice of tonewood all around.

AR RATING 60/100

  • A great model that brings awesome aesthetics to the table.
  • Build quality that inspires confidence across the board.

AR RATING 97/100

Going for a top end Yamaha is a decision that many professionals make these days. There is something comforting about a brand who is so adamant about perfection and reliable when it comes to build quality. Because of that Yamaha L Series LL16R is considered to be one of the absolute best acoustic guitars you can get at the moment.

What differentiates an average L series model from the rest is the fact that these guitars receive a lot of attention from Yamaha's top luthiers. Everything is put together seamlessly. The tonewood of choice comes in form of a nice spruce top paired with rosewood back and sides. Overall, the sound and the feel of the guitar are quite impressive.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Easily one of the best dreadnoughts on the market.
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    Built by very skilled luthiers at Yamaha.
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    Great selection of materials which make it stand out.
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    Awesome sound that is perfect for stage use.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Black finish can be high maintenance.

AR RATING 97/100

Guild is another brand that really needs no special introduction. They are among the best in the business, especially when you need higher end stuff. Guild D-150 fits that description pretty well. It is a professional grade dreadnought which packs a very mean punch for the money. If you are looking for a reliable workhorse, this is pretty much it.

When it comes to tonewood, Guild went with a solid spruce top combined with Indian rosewood back and sides. That is arguably a pretty standard combo, although it sounds much better in this particular package. Overall, Guild D-150 really pushes the limits of what you can expect to see in the higher mid to high end segment of the market.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A very classic look which satisfies the retro fans.
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    A choice of tonewood which makes this an amazing setup.
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    Sound which easily out performs many of its competitors.
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    Hardware reliable enough to retain the key reliably and consistently.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Guild uses vintage neck profiles which some may dislike.

AR RATING 96/100

Taylor is a dominant name in the acoustic guitar industry. They have been around for a long time, long enough to establish quite a reputation. Because of that, finding a higher mid range Taylor means that you're dealing with a reliable guitar. Taylor 114ce isn't their best, but it brings that Taylor essence many are looking for, that's for sure.

The only real issue we have with this guitar has to do with tonewood they chose. Us being pretty conservative feel that a proper mid range model should be made of solid wood all around. Taylor's decision to use laminates for the shell goes against that belief. With that said, we can't say that it sounds bad. On the contrary.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A very comfortable large body acoustic guitar.
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    Sound full of that Taylor twang many are looking for.
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    Impressive set of electronics which really work with this guitar.
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    Build quality and craftsmanship we are used to from Taylor.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Use of laminate is our only gripe with this guitar.

AR RATING 95/100

Fender is probably not the first name that comes to mind when one starts looking at acoustic guitars. Especially the higher end stuff. However, that doesn't mean that the creators of Stratocaster don't offer some pretty impressive solutions. Fender Paramount PM-1 is an awesome guitar that fits the bill of what most professionals are looking for. It's a proper workhorse.

They have stuck with a proven formula of combining a solid spruce top with East Indian rosewood back and sides. On top of that, it is worth mentioning that this thing is put together with a great level of quality and attention to detail. When you add the built in Fishman electronics, you get a very solid stage ready package.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Easily one of the best performing dreadnoughts out there.
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    Fender's well known level of build quality and craftsmanship.
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    Awesome sound made possible by great tonewood.
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    Awesome Fishman electronics are a cherry on top.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    This Fender isn't produced in North America.

AR RATING 92/100

Taylor's line of guitars includes a whole variety of awesome models. Some of them are more conventional while others not so much. Taylor GS Mini is somewhere in between. It is an awesome acoustic guitar that is designed primarily for those who have smaller hands. Considering that comfort is key when playing guitar, GS Mini has a very real following.

Much like the model we have mentioned earlier, this Taylor also features laminates. With that said, the use of laminate materials is much easier to accept in a smaller body guitar as it doesn't affect the sound as much. Speaking of which, GS Mini packs a mean punch. It's a very good performer that brings all the nuances of quality.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Really good build quality all around.
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    One of the finest sounding small body guitars out there.
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    Quality hardware which inspires a lot of confidence.
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    Sound that meets and exceeds all expectations.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Use of laminate in this price range.

AR RATING 91/100

Another smaller body guitar that we would like to mention goes under the name of Yamaha FSX830C. It is aimed at younger users as well as those with smaller hands and it's super comfortable for use. Yamaha has ensured that attention to detail is about as impressive as we could have expected. Overall, the entire guitar inspires plenty of confidence.

They have used a solid Sitka spruce top in combination with rosewood back and sides to give this Yamaha a very classic feel. This combo of tonewood is nothing new, however Yamaha's choice of tonewood adds a whole new layer of sound quality. On top of that, the guitar comes with a System 66 preamp package which works pretty great.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    The build quality and attention to detail akin to Yamaha.
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    Great choice of materials all around.
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    Compact guitar that has a massive sound thanks to tonewood.
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    Great set of electronics do it justice.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    It will benefit from a proper setup job.

AR RATING 91/100

Mot professionals know Taylor for one or more of their elite models. The rest of us tend to recognize it thanks to one rather interesting guitar. Big Baby Taylor is often misidentified as a parlor guitar even though it isn't. We understand where the confusion comes from because it's slightly smaller than a full size model, but not by much.

Where a parlor guitar is most often 2/3 scale of a full sized model, Big Baby Taylor is 15/16 scale. In other words, it is barely smaller. In terms of tonewood and craftsmanship you are getting a remarkable solid spruce top paired with sapele back and sides. Even though the sapele is laminate, the sound is quite something.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Easily the most comfortable dreadnought on the market.
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    Build quality one expects to see from Taylor.
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    Sound that is full of warmth and range.
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    A pretty good set of hardware which ties everything up perfectly.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The only gripe we have is the use laminate wood.

AR RATING 90/100

Where many see Taylor as the absolute leader in the industry, others see Martin in that same role. Truth be told both of these brands are reaching more or less the same levels of quality. Levels which are ahead of the pack. Martin LX1E is an awesome model which combines comfort, great build quality and that refined, superior Martin sound.

The guitar is based on a solid Sitka spruce top which is paired with an HPL shell. HPL stands for High Pressure Laminate and represents Martin's take on this type of tonewood. Even though we definitely dislike the use of laminates in this category, Martin's HPL has a very authentic sound signature. With that said, the overall sound is impressive.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    High levels of build quality, craftsmanship and quality control.
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    Awesome sound despite the use of HPL for the shell.
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    Hardware which ensures consistency and reliability necessary.
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    Great starter model for those who want a head start.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Use of laminate wood can be a turn-off for some.

AR RATING 83/100

Takamine is the third brand along Martin and Taylor which defines what modern acoustic guitars are all about. Their designs aren't always traditional but no one can change the fact that Takamine makes some of the best guitars available today. Takamine GD20-NS is one such model. It is a mighty, well built dreadnought that offers impressive bang for your buck.

The guitar is based on a solid mahogany shell matched with a nice cedar top. Takamine did abandon the whole spruce deal with this one, but the results of doing so are great. The sound is massive, has great projection but also plenty of detail. It is every bit as warm as spruce but with a bit of a twang.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality and pretty awesome tonewood.
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    Easily the best dreadnought in this price range.
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    A different but highly attractive sonic profile.
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    Hardware solutions which make it a suitable work horse.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    A proper setup job will definitely give it an edge.

AR RATING 82/100

Finding the right guitar for your budget can be tedious depending on what that budget is. In our case, Alvarez Artist AD 60 has proven to be exactly the type of guitar we wanted to find. Everything about this build is on point. From its rather attractive aesthetics, fit and finish, to the build quality which is really top notch.

In terms of tonewood Alvarez took a more standard route by pairing a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides. What sets it aside from most of its competition is the fact that it was hand fitted. On top of that, AD60 comes with a great set of hardware. All of this results in a pretty great tone.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality with plenty of hand fitted elements.
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    Carefully selected tonewood which brings awesome results.
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    Attention to detail worthy of a higher tier of guitars.
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    Sound which is really impressive considering the price.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Definitely could use a proper setup job by a pro.

AR RATING 81/100

Moving into lower mid range models, we see that Yamaha is every bit as dominant as they are in the upper mid range. Yamaha FS820Yamaha FS820 comes across as a pretty logical choice for many. It's a smaller body acoustic guitar which is just built like a tank. We can thank Yamaha's impressive mass production technologies for such a great package.

Overall, we are looking at an orchestra body that is based around a solid Sitka spruce top. Back and sides come in form of mahogany which really gives the guitar that edge. Due to its smaller size and orchestra body shape, you will experience pretty massive lows, good mids and sharp trebles. Honestly, this guitar sounds larger than it is.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A small body orchestra shape means high levels of comfort.
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    Awesome build quality we are used to seeing from Yamaha.
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    Pretty good selection of materials for such an affordable build.
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    One of the best sounding models in this price range.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Could use a change of strings upon arrival.

AR RATING 80/100

Despite them being much more involved in the electric guitar segment of the industry, Ibanez is definitely capable of designing some awesome acoustic guitars. The one we're looking at today goes under the name of Ibanez  AC240OPN Artwood Series and is a pretty interesting package. You could say that is good looking workhorse that pretty much delivers a solid performance.

In terms of build quality and tonewood selection, Ibanez went with a full mahogany setup. This combined with the fact that it is a concert body really gives it a massive tone. On top of that, you have a rock solid set of hardware which makes it a very reliable guitar even after prolonged use. Generally speaking, it's a winner.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Easily one of the best looking guitars in this category.
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    Brings an impressive amount of value for the money.
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    Awesome selection of tonewood gives it a powerful sound.
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    Orchestra body shape makes iteasy and comfortable to play.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Really could use binding on the fretboard.

AR RATING 73/100

Martin is the brand that has introduced us to dreadnought guitars. However, some of the most popular and well known dreadnoughts actually come from Yamaha. Their FG series are officially the most sold acoustic guitars in the world. That should say a lot about their performance and quality. The model we are looking at today, Yamaha FG800, proves that point.

Yamaha went with a Sitka spruce top as well as nato back and sides. This way they were able to deliver a very authentic sound without inflating the price of the instrument. Besides, nato is pretty much up there with mahogany and rosewood when it comes to sound and other properties. Speaking of sound, this bad boy offers a lot.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Best selling acoustic guitar series in history.
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    Classic Yamaha build quality and quality control.
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    Massive sound that is full of warmth and finesse.
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    One of the best looking guitars on the market.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Strings will definitely need a change for best results.

AR RATING 72/100

Most of the Ibanez acoustic line of guitars are straight shooters. Especially when you look at their entry level models. That makes them a safe choice in a market saturated with questionable guitars. Ibanez IJV50 kit was designed to remove any risks for beginners. It features the Ibanez V50 guitar and a whole lot of awesome accessories you will need.

What surprised us the most is the fact that V50 comes with a solid spruce top. That definitely isn't something you see every day with these guitars. On top of that, build quality has met and pretty much exceeded all of our expectations. Overall, Ibanez did a great job with this one. As for the accessories, they're pretty good too.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality all around, especially the body.
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    A good looking starter which is a rarity these days.
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    Good tonewood for the price makes it a steal.
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    Sound that has that standard dreadnought feel to it.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Might need a setup job for best results

AR RATING 72/100

When it comes to absolute beginner models, you'll rarely find a brand that is as good as Yamaha. Where most brands tend to be competitive in the higher price ranges, Yamaha dominates in the lower and mid range segment of the market. The only proof you could need to back these claims is the Yamaha FD01S. It's just that good.

What defines this particular model are the build quality and tonewood. Yamaha isn't going to pack their beginner models with high end tonewood, but their laminates are easily among the best you will find. Combined with their impressive mass production technologies, this Yamaha offers one of the best tones in the category. Overall it is a perfect model for beginners.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Impressive Yamaha build quality and quality control.
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    Awesome choice of tonewood and laminates makes it sound great.
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    Tone that is full of warmth and width.
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    A pretty awesome set of hardware capable of key retention.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Arrives with a single strap button.

AR RATING 72/100

Yamaha beginner acoustic guitars have been the backbone of the community for a long time. This segment of Yamaha's offer includes quite a number of great models. Thee one we want show you today goes under the name of Yamaha F235D. It is a dreadnought, but one that really ties together a good sound, great build quality and affordable price.

The features you're looking at on this one is a spruce top paired with laminate back and sides. While it may not be as refined as some high end models, the sound you get is great. Compared to other beginner guitars, you could say that F235D punches above its weight class. Additionally, Yamaha ships these with lots of awesome accessories.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A classic dreadnought body that feels great.
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    Build quality we are used to seeing from Yamaha.
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    A fairly rich sound for such a simple guitar.
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    Great selection of accessories.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The gig bag comes across as too thin.

AR RATING 62/100

Another awesome model from Yamaha comes under the name of Yamaha APXT2. The thing that makes these entry level Yamahas is the fact that they have perfected the art of mass producing acoustic guitars. They are so good that you generally can't tell the difference between a mass produced one and hand crafted one. APXT2 brings some of those qualities.

One thing we like about this particular model is the fact that it is a 3/4 scale guitar that uses a jumbo style body. They have used a spruce for the top while the back and sides are meranti. Overall, it brings a massive, refined tone in a package that is comfortable for playing. It's a perfect starter guitar.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Awesome build quality considering the price.
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    Great finish, fit and overall attention to detail.
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    Comes with a built in preamp making it very functional.
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    Awesome tone that is full of width and warmth.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The strings that come with this guitar need changing.

AR RATING 60/100

Jasmine comes in as another awesome brand that is producing top of the line acoustic guitars. Their budget segment is also very commendable, especially when you look at models such as the Jasmine S35. This bad boy is the very definition of bang for the buck. Not only does it pack great components, but it also comes with awesome accessories.

In terms of size and tonewood, you are looking at a full size dreadnought body. They have gone with agathis for the shell, while the top is a standard spruce piece. Needless to say, the whole thing is put together quite nicely. One awesome surprise is the fact that it comes with spare Martin strings. It's a great starter package.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A classic dreadnought body which is made of great materials.
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    Good build quality across the board.
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    Comes packed with great accessories.
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    Sound that is great right out of the box.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    You might need to do a proper setup job.

AR RATING 60/100

The fact that Fender is best known for their electirc guitars doesn't mean that this brand isn't involved in the acoustic market. As a matter of fact, this is a segment of the market where they are directly represented even in the budget category. One such guitar is the Fender FA-100. It's an awesome dreadnought that brings reliability and safety.

With great build quality, Fender has ensured that you get the performance you deserve. However, they didn't really spend too much time on aesthetics. Because of that, this model looks a bit rough around the edges. In terms of sound, you are looking at that classic dreadnought vibe which we all love. Generally speaking, it's a quintessential starter acoustic guitar.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Impel design with that's rough around the edges but functional.
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    Decent choice of tonewood all around.
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    Dreadnought sound which is what most beginners need.
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    Fairly good hardware and strings.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    These sometimes need a setup job out of the box.

AR RATING 60/100

Beginner acoustic guitars are an area where Ibanez excels. Their models may not be as refined as what other brands are offering, however Ibanez has always been able to deliver good performance on a budget. One model that really defines what we mean is the Ibanez IJV30. It's a great guitar that is comfortable for beginners but also advanced players.

What we definitely appreciate about IJV30 are the aesthetics. Ibanez definitely covers the performance aspect in their instruments, but they also make sure that what you're buying also looks good. With Ibanez IJV30, you get both the looks and the sound. Overall, this is one of the most respectable budget acoustic guitars you can find on the market right now.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A great model that brings awesome aesthetics to the table.
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    Build quality that inspires confidence across the board.
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    Great sound especially for such a budget build.
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    Features an awesome set of accessories in the box.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings aren't the greatest for sure.

Categories

If you are looking for something to match a particular budget or skill level, we’ve got you covered. We have the guitars broken down into categories based on their price. A new player won’t have to slog through an extreme number of Taylors and Martins to find the instrument that makes sense for them. Conversely, an experienced player won’t have to go through all the entry level instrument to find what they are looking.

When you reach your desired category you’ll find even more helpful information. Each guitar has a link to an in-depth review. Take your time and check out each review to find which guitar (or guitars) match your needs. The current categories are: Beginners, Under $200, Under $300, Under $500, Under $1000, Parlor, Travel, but we never stop expanding!

The Criteria

Each guitar is reviewed based on four criteria- Design, Features, Performance, and Value. They are compared to other guitars at the same price point to make the comparison fair. I base my ratings upon my own experience and my own bias.

Just so you know, here are what these criteria mean to me as I look at each guitar.

  • Design
    This the overall build, look, and innovations. I try to look at the intent of the instrument, and if it makes sense. Does it all work to make a cohesive and interesting instrument? Do the elements of the instrument make sense together? How pretty is it? Where are they pushing the design to make a better guitar? How well is it built?
  • Features
    This is a very concrete category just looking at the key elements of the guitar. It can get subjective when you look at guitars at the same price point where one has many features and the other has none. I ask myself what sets each guitar apart from the others? What is the manufacturer proudest of? You can tell this by what they want you to focus on in their own descriptions of the guitar. Innovations also appear here for me, and if they worked. The aesthetics play a part here, an expensive guitar had better have some abalone, mother of pearl, or exotic woods to catch the eye. An inexpensive guitar will compromise in the looks department, which I do not count against them.
  • Performance
    This is the most subjective of all the criteria. There are certain things I don’t like on a guitar, and other things I think are great. No matter what I say about performance you should definitely pick up and play the instrument before you buy or be prepared to send it back if you bought online. The more expensive the guitar the more I become critical of how the guitar plays.
  • Value
    When I look at the whole package, is it worth the price? Would I be happy if this were the instrument I bought? I try to leave personal feelings out of it, unless the price doesn’t match the other three criteria. Nothing annoys me more than an overpriced guitar. At the same time, an inexpensive guitar with lots of features or is very nice to play I find impressive.

The Breakdown

The categories are based on price point. You can get an idea what your money will buy. Whether you decide to save more to buy a more expensive instrument or pay less to get a diamond in the rough. Click on the title of each group of guitars and you will be taken directly to the corresponding article with more guitar reviews, more details and more information.

Acoustic Beginner Guitars – The Expectations

When it comes to beginner guitars it is a matter of risk and reward. The more you spend the nicer instrument you can get, but you risk losing your investment if playing guitar is not your thing (or for whoever you are buying the guitar for). A nice well-made and setup guitar is easier to play, but I don’t believe that those who have a true passion for playing quit because of a cheap guitar. There would be a lot fewer guitarists in the world if that were true. I also believe that you get what you pay for.

A cheap instrument is going to give you very little in return, whether it’s from playing or trying to sell it on the secondary market. That is one thing to think about, there is a very strong secondary market for musical instruments. You won’t get back all you paid, but you can mitigate the damage by selling that now unused guitar at your local store or on ebay. If you have realistic expectations of your first guitar, then you’ll be much happier in the long run. 

Acoustic Guitars Under $200 – The Budget Bracket

These guitars make sense for the new player. You invest a little to make sure this is the right thing for you. In the comparison article we’ll dig a little deeper and talk about what you should look at and do when shopping for your first guitar. For instance, there are more expenses beyond the guitar itself, and we discuss that so you know what else to buy with your guitar.

There are also those looking for a beater guitar. Something they can take with them anywhere they want to go and not worry about ruining one of their prized instruments. Many of these guitars will be usable in this way.

An “Under $200” guitar is going to have issues. The compromises a builder has to make to produce an instrument so cheaply is extreme. These guitars will need a setup more likely than not, it is just a way for the company to save money. There will be lemons whether it is a bad build that gets through the quality control process or just an instrument so cheaply designed and built that it can’t help but be a disappointment. Every guitarist has one of these instruments in their closet. It usually is an interesting story attached to it. 

Acoustic Guitars Under $300 – Spicy It Up

There are still compromises being made at this level, but there is also some significant improvements from the entry-level guitar. There are solid tops, nicer wood selections, better hardware, and some nice aesthetic details. Some manufacturers have their innovations migrate down to this level of guitar. That is why it is important to know about the builders and what they are known for. It is also good to know about what’s available so you know who’s giving the best value for the buck.

At “Under $300” you are talking about the best of the student or entry-level instruments. If you are more serious about playing this is not a bad prince range to be in. Many second guitars fall in this category.

These guitars start to get into the modifiable territory, too. If the bones of the instrument are good, then parts can be replaced with better materials or better quality to make a better guitar. Make sure the neck and body are the best they can be before you start adding too many modifications. Also remember these modifications will not add to the value of the instrument. Just like cars, the buyer wants a stock base to work from. The value of modifications are only in the playability of the instrument to you, not to the next person who owns it. 

Acoustic Guitars Under $500 – You Get What You Pay For

The “Under $500” category is where guitars start to get good. You will find gig worthy instruments that are going to sound good and be hearty enough to withstand the rigors of the road. Even if you are just playing around town your equipment will take a beating. I consider these prime instruments for most live players, because you usually get good bang for your buck.

These are also the best guitars for musicians that play guitar as a second instrument. This will be a guitar that won’t put up a fight to play a gig. The electronics will be solid enough to get a sound that will be good when mixed in with the rest of the band. 

Acoustic Guitars Under $1000 – Hitting The Premium Tier

“Under $1000” oddly enough can be hit or miss. Sometimes your dollars are going to pay for a name on a headstock rather than for the materials that make up the instrument. Don’t get me wrong if you lay down a $1000 for a guitar it will be playable, but sometimes you can get more guitar for less money. I have heard the argument about resale value, but that’s meaningless to me. I don’t pull the trigger very often, and when I do I don’t care about how much I’ll get when I go to resell it.

If you are willing to buy a guitar that is this expensive, then I’m betting you know what you like. You might not know all that is available so make sure to take the time to read through our reviews to get up to speed.

As an experienced guitarist this is one of the most fun categories. These are guitars that will be a lot of fun to play and will look fantastic.

The Throwback Parlor Guitar

Parlor guitars were a design of guitars that were popular in the late nineteenth century to about the mid-twentieth century. The idea was for an instrument that would be great for playing in small intimate settings, such as the parlor of your house. They are compact small instruments that have quite a good dynamic range. To modern players used to dreadnoughts, grand concerts, and jumbos, a parlor guitar sounds dated and kind of small. There is some validity to that perception, but it is a shame to ignore these little powerhouse guitars. They are making a comeback as guitarists are looking for a different sound. They are also very competitively priced, you get a lot more guitar for the money. Also, if you get a guitar with onboard electronics you can sculpt the tone to create an even more unique sound. There are more and more builders getting onto the parlor guitar train so there is a very good selection of instruments out there to choose from. They also make very good first guitars for younger players due to their shorter scale and relatively lower price than other guitar designs.

The Top Acoustic Guitar Brands

Here are just some of the top brands that build acoustics. They each share a love for the instrument. No matter how they started out here’s just a brief look at each to give you an idea of the kind of guitars that they build.

  • Alvarez
    Alvarez was established in St. Louis in 1965 as part of the St. Louis Music company as a classical guitar line. In the late 60s they started collaborating with Kazuo Yairi, a Master Luthier in Japan. They began building steel string guitars and selling them under the Alvarez line. Their early progressive bracing patterns, bi-level bridges, and extended neck block construction are some of their innovations. They have arch tops, baritone, bass, classical, dreadnought, folk, grand auditorium, jumbo, and parlor body styles, all pay homage to classic styles. They build guitars in all the price categories.
    For more information: http://alvarezguitars.com/
  • Breedlove
    The relative newcomer Breedlove has been producing guitars since 1992. They are based in Bend, Oregon, where all their guitars are designed. Their body shapes are contemporary that are usually matched with some kind of exotic wood. The bridge truss system is an innovation that relieves the stress on the bridge and guitar top. They don’t have any entry-level or guitars in the Under $200 category.
    For more information: http://breedlovemusic.com/
  • Cordoba
    Cordoba was founded in 1997. They have a passion for classical guitars, and it shows. They blend the traditional craftsmanship with new innovations. They have figured out a way to add a truss rod to classical guitars without any of the usual issues with neck dive. Steel string guitars and ukuleles are also produced by them. They make instruments that fall into all of our categories.
    For more information: https://www.cordobaguitars.com/
  • Fender
    More known for their contributions to the electric guitar world with the Telecaster and Stratocaster, they also make fine acoustic instruments. They have a large selection of styles and body shape to make the rock to country to jazz to classical players smile. There are plenty of designs to choose from in all the different pricing categories.
    For more information: http://www..fender.com/
  • Guild
    Guild first started building guitars in 1953 in New York City. Their early years they focused on jazz inspired instruments due to their founders love of the genre. They have expanded their palette, but they maintain the tradition of their original instruments. Their guitars only show up in the under $1000 unless you can snag a used one.
    For more information: http://guildguitars.com/
  • Luna
    It is easy to spot a Luna anywhere with their unique design elements. They are guitars that are meant to engage the mind and spirit. They look like pieces of art as much as they are guitars for playing. They show up in all the categories from Under $200 to Under $1000. This means anyone can join the tribe of Luna players
    For more information: http://www.lunaguitars.com/
  • Martin
    This venerable company introduced such innovations as X-bracing and 14 fret guitars. They also created the dreadnought size guitar named after the powerful battleships of the era. They have made some of the most sought after guitars of all time. Martins do not start filtering into our categories until the Under $500 category.
    For more information: https://www.martinguitar.com/
  • Ovation
    Ovation combines traditional and modern materials to create their distinctive guitars. Since 1966 they have been combining Lyrachord and wood to make guitars that look and sound different than the competition. They start showing up in our categories at the Under $300 range.
    For more information: http://www.ovationguitars.com/
  • Recording King
    They started out as a house brand for Montgomery Ward in the 1930s. The new incarnation of the company looks to capture the look, feel, and craftsmanship of those instruments. These are guitars with a vintage vibe. Their guitars show up in all the categories that we cover.
    For more information: http://www.recordingking.com/
  • Seagull
    The Canadian made Seagulls are part of Godin. Built in the small town of LaPatrie, which has a population of about 475. They look to balance tradition with new design concepts. You will find woods from North America making up their instrument in the interest of keeping costs down and using forest friendly materials. They start showing up in the categories in the Under $300 range.
    For more information: http://www.seagullguitars.com/
  • Takamine
    Modestly started in the shadow of Mt. Takamine in 1959 was this family owned and operated luthier that would later adopt the name of the mountain. Luthier Mass Hirade joined the company in the late 60s would later become president and lead them to go worldwide. With their Jasmine line of guitars you can find a Takamine at all the price points from beginner and up.
    For more information: http://www.takamine.com/
  • Taylor
    Established in 1974 Taylor has become one the top builders of acoustics. Based in El Cajon, California, were they build hundreds of guitars a day both there and in Tecate, Mexico. The company pioneered the use of computers, lasers, and other advanced technology to build their acoustics. Their instruments begin showing up in our categories in the Under $300 level.
    For more information: https://www.taylorguitars.com/
  • Yamaha
    The largest producer of acoustic guitars in the world. They make all sorts of styles and designs at a broad range of price points. If you are looking for an acoustic guitar then Yamaha probably has an instrument for you at your desired price point.
    There are even more builders out there, and too many to go over in detail. Just a quick read through of the above listing will let you know that there is plenty of selection out there. Whether your tastes are traditional or modern if there is nothing else there is plenty of choices to be had.
    For more information:http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/

The Marketplace

There are many of places to buy online, but nothing is better than your local mom and pop music store. They lack the selection of the bigger sellers, but they make up for it with service. Having access to a technician to keep your guitar in the best condition is a very valuable asset. The online sellers are more convenient, but your local shop is more valuable with all the additional services they offer.

Amazon, Sweetwater, and Musician’s Friend, are all online with every brand available. If one doesn’t have what you are looking for then another one will. Check their return policies before you purchase to make sure that if you get something that isn’t quite right that you can return it. Guitar Center has many outlets that will give you an opportunity to try out many different instruments.

Be warned that guitars are made from natural materials, and each instrument made by a manufacturer can vary from each other. This variation can be large if the builder has poor quality control policies. Normally, a good builder will put out a consistent product, but natural differences will happed even if it is just the look of the wood grain.

Make a List

Before you go running out to buy a new guitar, because you just go paid and it’s burning a hole in your pocket, figure out what you need. If you have the room, money, and an understanding significant other, then by all means buy all the guitars you want. But for the rest of us who have bills to pay take the time to think about what you need. When I bought my last acoustic I had a specific need, my band was starting to play acoustic gigs. I knew what I needed and what I wanted in the features of my new acoustic before I went store hopping. Do the same, and you’ll be much happier for it.

Try Everything

You will never know what works for you until you try it. Pull down guitars with weird shapes, unknown brands, too expensive, too cheap, or the just plain ugly. You will find what you don’t like and what you love. I’ve found guitars by very good builders that I found to sound less than stellar, and other guitars made by builders that aren’t known for making the best instruments that have a great mojo. You’ll never know until you try.

Brand Loyalty

I get it, you know what you like. You know what will impress the other guitarists. Don’t let it blind you to the other good guitars that are out there. To be honest, most people that come to hear you play won’t know the difference between Martin and Taylor or any other brand for that matter. Like I said before, try everything. If nothing else you will get a good laugh when you play a bad guitar. You steel string players will feel lost on the oversized fingerboard of a classical guitar, but then again it might feel just right.

Fill a Need

If you want to guarantee that your new guitar will get played make sure it fills a need. Whether that need is that you need your first guitar or your need matches a need for playing out live. If you are in a band make sure that the instrument will blend with the other instruments. If you work with another guitarist make sure your instruments don’t sound too similar. Whether you avoid the same brand or buy a nylon string because the other person has a steel string, keep that in mind. Don’t make blending with other members of the band your key focus. Bands don’t last, but you’ll still have that guitar.

To Sum It All Up

If you want a guitar then there is one in our list waiting for you to buy it. If not, then you need to check back regularly as we are always adding reviews. Subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss anything new or exciting. We are always on the look-out for new guitars to check out. Until next time may your chord changes sound effortless and you melodies be sing-able.

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