Best Acoustic Guitars of 2020 (and How to Choose the Right one)

How would you feel if you spent a whole months pay on a lemon of a guitar?

There are thousands of guitars on the market, with a huge range of prices, and they come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. How do you choose the perfect one, without spending hundreds, if not thousands, on a lemon?

Below you’ll learn exactly how to make the right choice when choosing an acoustic guitar online, and how to avoid making the common mistakes most people make when shopping online. We’ll reveal which features you should be looking at; and which features you should completely ignore.

Our team has spent hundreds of hours researching, reviewing and testing some of the best rated guitars available online, so if you’ll have the best recommendations at your disposal. Lets make the right decision, shall we?

Best Acoustic Guitars: 8 Top Picks of 2020

1. Martin Standard Series D-18 – Best Sounding Acoustic Guitar

Martin Standard Series D-18

Specifications

  • Brand: Martin

  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides
  • Dimensions: 9 x 47 x 20 inches
  • Best for: finger-picking, strumming, all styles
  • Accessories included: none

Martin Guitars have been in the business for almost 200 years now, and each guitar continues to be hand-made by skilled craftspeople. Their acoustic guitars come with a sense of history built in, with the company having been there through the early days of country, rock, and folk music.

So it’s no surprise that a Martin guitar, the Standard Series D-18, is at the top of our list. Their generations of experience is readily apparent in this model, both in the high-end craftsmanship and quality sound.

The recently updated D-18 is a dreadnought that many cite as the benchmark dreadnought guitar, thanks to its balance, depth, and clarity.

The soundboard is solid Sitka spruce, with a tight, straight grain, and the back and sides are solid mahogany. Though the mahogany tonewood is less expensive than famed rosewood alternatives, sound quality is in no way diminished. The mahogany offers a brighter sound that makes this a great guitar for taking the lead.

The updates include a new bracing system that balances stiffness and flexibility to give it a crisp and smooth sound, but with a faster response to changes in dynamics. It also features a new, slimmer neck, which has proven very popular among advanced players. Overall, it feels more responsive and alive than previous models. 

Unlike the more expensive D-28, it lacks mother-of-pearl inlay or herringbone trim, but the removal of these purely decorative features lowers the cost while maintaining that classic Martin sound. Though Martin guitars are not cheap, you are paying for their years of experience, which guarantees high-quality materials, top of the line craftsmanship, and a long-lasting guitar that will only improve with age. An investment in a Martin today is an investment in years of pleasure with this guitar.

If you like the sound of playing the best acoustic guitars money can by, check out our guide on the best acoustic guitars under $2000 here to see more, similar guitars.

2. Taylor 314ce – Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Taylor 314ce guitar

Specifications

  • Brand: Taylor

  • Build type: Grand auditorium
  • Tonewood: Sitka spruce top, sapele back and sides
  • Dimensions: 9 x 48 x 21 inches
  • Best for: any playing style + perfomance
  • Accessories included: none

Like Martin, Taylor is one of the most established names in acoustic guitars. While that typically comes with a high price tag, the 314ce is an exception. This popular acoustic electric falls at the bottom end of Taylor’s top-of-the-line range, meaning it offers a perfect combination of quality and value.

The 314ce is an American-made grand auditorium guitar, with a cutaway shape that allows for easy access to the higher frets. While the large dreadnought guitars have a booming sound that is great for bluegrass and flatpicking and smaller grand concert guitars are ideal for finger picking, the mid-sized grand auditorium rides a line in between that allows it to highlight any musical style.

We chose it as our favorite acoustic electric thanks to the inclusion of Taylor’s patented Expression System 2, which features a behind-the-saddle pickup (7). By mounting the piezo pickup behind the saddle, as opposed to under it, Taylor engineers found they were better able to capture the natural sound of the guitar. It may not be the most advanced electronics system in terms of range, but it keeps things simple and easy to use, and it’s equally at home in the studio or at a live show.

Like the Martin, the 314ce’s features solid Sitka spruce top, which gives it a broad dynamic range. It has sapele back and sides, a high-density wood that lends brightness and volume. The neck is satin-finish mahogany. This tonewood combination makes it equally well-suited to fingerstylists and strummers.

It also makes it beautiful to look at, with a smooth satin finish on the back and sides and a sleek black pickguard. The build quality is as high end as would be expected from any Taylor guitar, despite being one of their least expensive models. If you absolutely must have an acoustic guitar with a pickup, read this guide: The Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars

3. Donner 36” Dreadnought Package – Best Beginner Guitar

donner 36 dreadnought

Specifications:

  • Brand: Donner
  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: African spruce top, African mahogany back and sides
  • Dimensions: 6 x 39 x 18 inches
  • Best for: beginners, young players
  • Accessories included: carrying case, strap, capo, tuner, extra strings, a polishing cloth, and picks

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A beginner guitar should be easy to play and inexpensive, and it should come with all the accessories needed for a new player to learn, play, and maintain their instrument. What it does not need to be is a low quality guitar, and Donner knows this, offering a package that perfectly balances function, sound, and affordability.

Donner is a newer company, which means they’re hungrier than the established giants to prove their worth. They’re known for producing high quality instruments with a focus on small details, even in the low-end models, thanks to a strong research and development team. The result is smooth and tuneful guitars. 

The 36” dreadnought is a three-quarter size guitar with a slim neck, design decisions that make it lightweight and easy to play for beginners or young players. Fret positions are marked on both the neck and fretboard to make it easier for anyone new to the instrument. It’s a durable, comfortable, and stylish guitar. An African spruce top and an AAA African mahogany body and neck lend this it a warm and vibrant tone, and it comes strung with bronze strings for a crisp sound. 

Along with the guitar, the kit includes a carrying case, strap, capo, tuner, a second set of strings, a polishing cloth, and picks. Most beginner packages don’t include either a capo or an extra set of strings, so those thoughtful additions really set this one apart.

Related: The Best Beginner Acoustic Guitars

4. Fender CD-60S Solid Top – Best Value for Money

Fender CD-60S Solid Top

Specifications:

  • Brand: Fender
  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: Spruce top, mahogany back and sides
  • Dimensions: 7 x 45 x 19 inches
  • Best for: fingerpicking, flatpicking, strumming
  • Accessories included: Hard case, tuner, strap, strings, picks, Austin Bazaar instructional DVD, and polishing cloth

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Fender is an iconic American guitar brand with more than 70 years of experience building great guitars, both acoustic and electric. While their budget models may not feature the same premium materials as the higher-end instruments, they still benefit from decades of manufacturing expertise, putting them a step above the average introductory guitar. 

The entry-level Fender CD-60S is a perfect example. This dreadnought guitar is a great buy for the serious beginner looking to progress. While not the cheapest on the market, it provides plenty of room to grow so you’ll get more value for your money, and it comes with a wide array of accessories.

It features a solid spruce top, which immediately distinguishes it from most laminate-topped budget instruments, and the back and sides are laminated mahogany. The mahogany neck is very hand-friendly, making it easy to get around the rosewood fretboard. The design is a classic, simple but attractive.

An outstanding feature of this guitar, particularly as compared to other entry-level instruments, is its perfect action. Typically, if the action is too high, the guitar will feel uncomfortable to play, and if it’s too low, you will hear string buzzing (8). The action on the CD-60s makes it easy and comfortable to master finger tricks and other playing styles.

Priced below $300, the affordable price tag of this instrument suggests beginner, intermediate and advanced players can still find joy here. The tone is lively and well-balanced, making it an ideal instrument for any number of musical styles, whether strumming or fingerpicking. As expected from the dreadnought style, the projection is strong, and the bass notes are powerful without being boomy.

5. Jasmine S35 – Budget Pick

jasmine s35 guitar

Specifications:

  • Brand: Jasmine
  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: Spruce top, nato back and sides
  • Dimensions: 8 x 48 x 18 inches
  • Best for: Beginners, strumming, fingerstyle
  • Accessories included: none

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Related: The Best Budget Acoustic Guitars

The best budget guitar manufacturers know which corners to cut in order to keep costs low without unduly affecting sound quality, and Jasmine has mastered this balance in the S35. This guitar is cheap in price but not in sound. It’s designed for and marketed to beginners, but many will find a lot to love in this guitar even as they progress.

The S35 dreadnought is a full-size guitar that offers good projection and considerable volume. It was originally designed by Japanese company Takamine, a high-end guitar manufacturer whose expertise is apparent here.

The select spruce top is two-piece, rather than solid, which can lead to a slight degradation in tone due to the seam. However, only advanced players would notice such a difference, and Jasmine compensates by using a unique Advanced-X bracing system to give it a solid-top feel. The sides are made from laminated nato, a wood similar to mahogany, which is another cost cutting measure that has limited impact on sound quality. The fretboard is a standard rosewood.

The result is a combination of woods that is inexpensive, lightweight, and sturdy. The S35 offers a big, bold sound, well balanced from treble to bass. Select spruce is known for warm balanced tones and good resonance, and this is enhanced by a smooth satin finish.

6. Blueridge BR-160 Historic Series – Best for Country

blueridge br-160 guitar

Specifications:

  • Brand: Blueridge
  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: Sitka spruce top, Santos rosewood back and sides
  • Dimensions: 5 x 40 x 16
  • Best for: Flatpicking, strumming, country music
  • Accessories included: padded carrying case

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Related: The Best Guitars for Country Music

Country music has a rich sound, defined by many instruments, but the backbone tends to be the acoustic guitar. If you aspire to play country music, the Blueridge BR-160 Historic Series is a perfect choice. Historic Series is more than just a name; this guitar has a look and sound that harken back to the early days of country music. This expertly crafted instrument is for vintage fans looking for an aged, mellow warmth in their sound. 

Many have referred to Blueridge as “the poor man’s Martin,” and that is not meant in a derogatory way. Buying a Blueridge guitar means you’re getting the sound quality of the famed Martin dreadnoughts at an affordable price.

It has Canadian-sourced solid Sitka spruce top, which gives clean articulation and a crisp tone. Its responsiveness makes it equally suitable for flat picking or strumming. The hand-carved parabolic top bracing is done in a pre-war forward-X pattern, which provides great resonance for harmonic playing and gives this instrument its unique nostalgic sound.

The build quality is top of the line. The sides and back are made from solid rather than laminated wood, a rarity at this price point, and the santos rosewood offers a deeper bass than mahogany. The mahogany neck is slim and easy-playing. The complete result is a versatile guitar with a full sound from treble to bass and a silky smooth playability.

The high-gloss finish gives a crisper edge to the mid-range and treble notes and also looks great under stage lights, making this an ideal choice as a performance instrument. The tortoise shell pickguard adds a distinctive retro style, as though this guitar came right out of the 1930s.

7. Takamine GD20-NS – Best finger style guitar

takamine gd20-ns

Specifications:

  • Brand: Takamine
  • Build type: Dreadnought
  • Tonewood: Cedar top, East Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Dimensions: 6 x 44 x 20 inches
  • Best for: fingerstyle, singer-songwriters
  • Accessories included: none

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Related: The Best Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitars

Founded in 1962, Takamine is a Japanese company with considerable expertise in the field. In the 1980s, they were among the first to introduce acoustic electrics, and now they’re known worldwide for their high-quality acoustic guitars. Takamine is one of the few top brands to invest considerably in low and mid-range products, to the consumer’s great advantage.

The GD20 is a low-cost 6 string dreadnought featuring a solid fine-grain cedar top, which can be hard to find at a price below $500. Cedar, with its beautiful reddish hue, is less dense than spruce, so it offers a warmer and more mellow sound, but with a bit less volume. It’s frequently used in the manufacture of classical guitars thanks to its bright tones. It has East Indian rosewood back and sides, which enhances the mellow tone and provides a solid midrange, and the 21 fret fingerboard is rosewood. 

This is a great guitar for any style, but it’s particularly well suited for fingerstyle because of its bridge design. The pin-less rosewood bridge has a split saddle, which gives better intonation for sweeter-sounding chords and single-note runs, while also making it easier to change the strings. 

The C-shaped neck is attached to the body via a dovetail joint, which is widely accepted as the best connection for enhancing sound, and it’s relatively slim for comfortably playing at faster tempos. The guitar is dynamic and responsive, with each string ringing clear and not muddying as it resonates. All of these features have made it a popular guitar among singer-songwriters.

8. Taylor GS Mini Mahogany – Best Small Guitar

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany

Specifications:

  • Brand: Taylor
  • Build type: Mini grand symphony
  • Tonewood: Mahogany top, sapele back and sides
  • Dimensions: 4 x 41 x 14 inches
  • Best for: travel, lively strumming
  • Accessories included: padded gig bag

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Related: The Best Small Acoustic Guitars

Taylor is a prominent name in the small guitar market, known for making minis that actually sound good, as opposed to just being a convenient size. And the GS Mini Mahogany is no exception. 

Instead of starting from scratch designing a mini guitar, they took their popular grand symphony as a reference and simply shrunk it down. This idea, coupled with high-quality materials, solved the “not enough sound” problem that is common with mini guitars.

The GS Mini features a solid mahogany top, laminated sapele back and sides, and an ebony fingerboard. A patented NT neck joint is employed to enhance playability, a feature also found and appreciated on full-size Taylor guitars. And they haven’t compromised on style. This is a beautiful instrument, with the same matte finish found on the more expensive Taylors.

The result is a loud and rich sound, despite the guitar’s small stature. Its sound quality is high in the treble and mid ranges, but it also manages to produce a strong bass note despite its undersized body. In fact, it surpasses most full-sized beginner guitars when it comes to sound, making it a great buy for both adults and young players.

At only 11 pounds, this is an easy guitar to travel with, whether you’re headed to a beach bonfire or a back country camp out. It’s not the least expensive mini guitar, but it is very affordable when you take into account that you’re getting the craftsmanship and sound quality of a Taylor.

9. Seagull S6 – Best Under $500

Specifications

  • Topwood: Cedar

  • Back and sides: Laminated wild cherry
  • Body style: Dreadnought

Related: best acoustic guitars under $500

It’s almost laughable to call the Seagull S6 an entry level guitar. Sure, it has a low price. But everything else about it, from the build quality to the tonewoods, just screams high-end.

For starters, most brands outsource production of their low-end models to factories in China or Mexico. Not Seagull.

Seagull makes every guitar by hand in Canada, right down to their cheapest model, the S6. 

For you, that level of craftsmanship means you’re getting a guitar that sounds better and lasts longer. In fact, the longer it lasts, the better it will sound.

The top wood is solid Canadian cedar, and it has been pressure tested to ensure the best quality. Again, this is the sort of rigorous attention rarely given to entry-level guitars. The sides and back are made from a beautifully grained laminated Canadian cherry. The combination gives this guitar a distinctly warm sound, with rich resonance and good depth in the low-end.

Who was it made for? As the lowest-priced model in their lineup, Seagull made this guitar with beginners in mind. But with quality that far surpasses an average entry-level guitar, the S6 is an equally great choice for a more advanced guitarist on a budget.

10. Breedlove Concert Discovery  – Best Under $300

Specifications

  • Topwood: Solid Sitka Spruce

  • Back and sides: Mahogany
  • Body style: Concert

Related: The complete list of acoustic guitars under $300

Breedlove Guitars was founded by two Taylor employees looking to make new and exciting guitars. The result is a company that manages to be both modern and traditional, and their instruments ride this same line.

Breedlove’s specialty is small-body guitars, which has made them popular with fingerstyle players. The entry-level Concert Discovery is a prime example. Compared with a dreadnought, the compact concert body shape is more comfortable to hold against the body when fingerpicking.

The topwood is solid Sitka spruce, so you can count on nice crisp high notes and impeccable sustain. It’s a treat to find a solid wood top at this price, and you’ll definitely notice the excellent sound quality. The back and sides are mahogany, which adds a warmth and depth that balances the bright spruce. 

Overall, this guitar sounds rich and full-bodied, much more than you’d expect from a smaller model. Some of this is due to the pinless bridge, which not only makes string changes easy but also improves resonance of the soundboard. The rest is due to the obvious expertise with which it was designed and built.

Who was it made for? With its small body and value pricing, this is a great guitar for any new player, including children. The concert body shape is comfortable and easy to play, and the choice of tonewoods gives it a classic acoustic sound. Fingerstylists will be especially thrilled with this little instrument.

How to Choose the Perfect Acoustic Guitar For Your needs

Choosing the best acoustic guitar can and should be a highly personal quest. You’re looking for a guitar that meets all your technical demands, but you also need one that feels right in your arms and pleasing to your ears. This article includes ten great options, each of which is the best for a certain style of play and style of player. 

Before you jump to the reviews, take a moment to read through this buyer’s guide. It will help you narrow down exactly what you should look for when buying your first, or second, or final guitar.

The most important thing to ask yourself as you get started is what sort of music you hope to play, because different styles of music are better played by certain shapes, sizes, and materials of guitar. Whether you’re wild about Spanish flamenco or southern country rock, there’s a perfect guitar for you, and we can help you find it.

a guy playing one of the best acoustic guitars available; a martin.

Is an Acoustic guitar the right type of guitar for you?

First-time and casual guitar players often prefer acoustic to electric guitars, and there are several reasons for this. Acoustics tend to be less expensive and more approachable than electrics, because they don’t require any additional accessories like amplifiers, cables, and pedals. For the same reasons, they are also lighter and more portable, which makes them a great option for jamming with friends in the park or strumming around a nighttime campfire.

Of course, acoustic guitars are not strictly the realm of beginners and hobbyists. Professionals and advanced players continue to buy them for their unique sound qualities and affinity for certain types of music. In the words of Jon Pareles of the New York Times (1):

“An acoustic guitar promises intimacy and homespun sincerity, with the romantic legacy of the troubadour behind it.”

Decide if you want a pickup

An acoustic-electric guitar, also occasionally known as an electro-acoustic guitar, looks exactly like an acoustic but differs in that it has electronic components installed inside. These can include a magnetic pickup, a piezo pickup, or a built-in microphone, and they allow the guitar to be plugged into an amp or soundboard.

Acoustic-electric guitars are a great choice if you ever hope to perform live or record music, because their sound can easily be projected or manipulated. When not plugged in, an acoustic-electric is still a perfectly functional acoustic guitar, so it’s almost like a two-in-one. 

Related: Electric vs Acoustic Guitar

In general, it is a more versatile option with very few cons. However, buying an acoustic electric will increase your costs a bit, especially if you want to buy an amp or other accessories to go with it. The increased complexity of including electronics also means that there are more things that can go wrong, and electronic components can be expensive to fix.

Choose a guitar from a reputable brand

There are innumerable brands in the acoustic guitar marketplace, but only a few are recognized by experts as leaders in the field. These include Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Fender, Blueridge, Seagull, Takamine, Epiphone, Yamaha, Ibanez, and Jasmine. It’s a good idea to buy a guitar from one of these well-established brands, even if it is one of their most basic models, because the quality of craftsmanship will generally extend across a company’s entire line.

Related: The best acoustic guitar brands

Certain brands are particularly renowned for a certain style or instrument or shape of guitar, a factor to keep in mind when you make your decision. Martin is best known for steel string dreadnoughts, Taylor is known for easy playability and making mini guitars with big sound, and Blueridge specializes in crafting reproductions of historic and pre-war guitars.

Decide on what Body shape and size you need

Acoustic guitars come in a number of different shapes and sizes, and the right one for you will depend on both the type of music you want to play and how comfortably the guitar’s body fits against your own. 

The body of a guitar acts as its resonating chamber, which means different acoustic guitar body types will produce different types of sounds, and some guitar sizes may not fit comfortably in your arms. For example, when buying for a child, you probably don’t want to opt for a jumbo guitar, even if that child yearns to play bass-heavy country and western.

There are no hard and fast guidelines defining guitar body shape and size, so each manufacturer has their own offerings (2). In general, there are six main types, they are:

  • Dreadnought and Variants: This is the most common acoustic guitar shape, popular among strummers and singer-songwriters for its full sound and large bass response. It’s a large-bodied guitar, which is why it takes its name from a British battleship. Some variants have rounder shoulders or cut-aways that allow easier access to the higher frets.
  • Parlor: These are the smallest acoustic guitars. They’re great for fingerpicking thanks to their light, focused, and balanced sound, and they make great first guitars for children.
  • Jumbo and Super-Jumbo: These are the largest acoustics and, as a result, have a great bass response and sustain They’re commonly used for strumming and in country music. 
  • Auditorium: The auditorium lies halfway between a dreadnought and a parlor. It features a classic hourglass figure that sits comfortably on the knee, which gives it the perfect balance between playing and comfort. Players of folk music and other fingerpicking-heavy styles favor this shape, including no less than Eric Clapton.
  • Grand Auditorium: The grand auditorium was designed to be an all-arounder, an ideal combination of size, shape, volume, and comfort. It’s a mid-size guitar, with more presence than the parlor, but it lacks the heavy bass response of a larger option. It is popular for finger-style guitar playing and use in solo gigs.
  • Classical: Classical guitars are Spanish in origin, featuring a small body, wider neck, and nylon strings (3). They are well-known for flamenco style music and finger-picking but their comfortable play-ability also makes them a great beginner guitar.

Along with these classic shapes and styles, there are also mini or travel guitars, which are often just smaller dreadnoughts. They are designed for portability and versatility rather than to enhance any particular sound or style of play. These are a great option if you’re a frequent traveler or casual player, prone to strumming around a campfire with friends or kicking off a backyard jam.

Understand guitar tone wood, and how they dictate sound

The choice of tonewoods, the woods that make up the body, neck, and fretboard of the guitar, is arguably the most important consideration when looking for the best acoustic guitar. If there are no electronics involved, these woods are what provide the vast majority of a guitar’s distinctive sound. Here’s where you can learn about different acoustic guitar tonewoods.

Many manufacturers have a preference for certain woods and have developed a particular expertise in their use. There can also be international regulations regarding rare or exotic woods that play a role in a wood’s popularity (4).

The first consideration is whether your should go for a laminate vs solid wood acoustic guitar. This is particularly important for the top wood, which is responsible for much of the guitar’s sound. While solid wood is simply a single piece of wood, laminate is several layers of wood adhered together. 

Solid wood guitars tend to be more expensive, but they are favored by experts because they vibrate better and produce a richer sound and volume. They also age better. (5)

“In addition to more pleasing aesthetics, solid wood provides richer overtones and sustain that improve with age. This improvement in tone and resonance is one of the reasons vintage acoustic guitars are highly sought after.”

Laminated woods produce a darker tone with less volume, but are popular for structural and budgetary reasons, making them a great option for lower priced beginner guitars. They are also less vulnerable to warping and cracking in response to changing climate and humidity, a worthwhile consideration if you travel or live in a humid region.

There are a number of woods that can be used to craft a beautiful acoustic guitar, but some are more popular than others due to their acoustic characteristics. We will list a few here, along with their tonal qualities (6). When it comes to choosing your guitar, think about the sort of sound you want to play, and then look for a tonewood that fits the bill.

  • Spruce: Spruce is among the most popular for acoustic guitar tops because it is lightweight, strong, and provides good resonance without compromising clarity. There are many species of spruce that can be used in guitar tops, and each offers a unique tone.
  • Cedar: Cedar is less dense than spruce, so it produces a brighter tone and has a quicker response, which makes it a good choice for classical guitars. It is also commonly used for sides and back.
  • Ebony: Ebony is mostly found in fretboards, because it is strong with a slick feel.
  • Rosewood: Rosewood is a traditional material for acoustic guitars and is used for the body, fingerboards, and bridges. It’s known for rich and complex overtones that make for articulate sound and broad projection. 
  • Mahogany: Mahogany is very dense and thus has a slow response rate. As a top wood, it gives a strong sound with an emphasis on high-end tones. This has led to Mahogany top guitars being popular for country and blues music. However, it is more commonly used for backs and sides to amplify mid-range tones and minimize boominess, particularly in larger body styles.
  • Maple:  Maple is favored for sides and back. It has a low resonance which limits its interference with the natural tones of the top wood. For the same reason, maple acoustic guitars are great in live settings, because they can be heard through a mix of instruments.
  • Sapele: Sapele is highly sustainable African wood, used for backs and sides. It is similar to mahogany in tone, but slightly more treble.

The finish of a guitar, be it matte or high gloss, can also have an effect on its tonal qualities, though certainly to a lesser extent than its tonewood. Matte finished guitars have a thinner lacquer, which has less effect on the sound of the wood, so matte finished guitars sound louder. 

High-gloss finishes have a thicker coating of lacquer, which means they keep their pristine look for longer and look great under stage lighting at live shows, but the heavier finish can also choke a guitar’s sound. Either way, the finish has a small effect on sound relative to other factors.

Nylon strings vs steel strings

Without any electronics to alter the sound, the strings of an acoustic guitar play more of a defining role in its overall sound. 

Classical or flamenco guitars sport nylon strings, which are light and easy on the fingers, making them great for fingerstyle playing or for beginners who have yet to develop the necessary finger strength and hard calluses. They have a softer, mellower tone.  Steel strings are standard for acoustic guitars, lending the typical sounds to rock, folk, country, and blues. Generally, the two types are not interchangeable; a guitar is built to accommodate one or the other.

There are a number of types of metallic strings, and each is available in several gauges. The best type to choose is largely dependent upon the style of music you wish to play and the guitar you wish to play it on. 

a close up photo of the best acoustic guitar

Bronze strings have a bright, ringing tone, while phosphor bronze strings are a bit warmer and darker, and aluminum bronze offers a strong bass and crisp sound. Brass strings have a jangling, metallic character. Polymer-coated versions of any of these are also available, which results in less sustain and brightness but with more presence and warmth. Folk guitarists often favor silk and steel strings, which are softer with a more delicate tone.

How much should you spend?

The costs of an acoustic guitar spans a huge range, from less than $100 to many thousands. The exception here are Acoustic guitars for kids which are a little more affordable. If you’re buying your first guitar, it’s probably wise to purchase something at the lower end of the scale, particularly if you’re not yet sure how much you love it. This not only saves you money, but it provides a low-investment way to find out what aspects of a guitar are really important to you. 

Then, once you’re ready to upgrade to a new guitar, you’ll already know which features to prioritize and what you’re willing to pay more for, be it the size and shape of the body, the type of tonewood, or the design of the neck.

If you’re a seasoned guitar player willing to spend a little more money, the more expensive guitars tend to feature better construction, higher quality materials, and solid wood. Likewise, the addition of electronics in an acoustic electric will increase the price. 

It is also worth remembering, if you’re buying a high-end guitar, that it may actually appreciate in value over time, especially those from premium brands like Fender or Martin. Of course, any guitar will go up in value if you become a big star!

FAQs

On average, it takes about 6 to 18 months to learn guitar, to the point where you can comfortably and easily pick up new songs. This is based on practicing just a few hours every week. Here’s a list of the best online guitar lessons you can consider.

Expensive guitars are worth it depending on your financial situation. Expensive guitars will be better made using higher-quality materials. So they will produce a better sound, and that sound will usually improve with age. However, if you don’t have the money to spare, a mid-range guitar can still produce excellent sound while allowing you to do other important things like eat and pay rent.

The best selling guitar of all time is the iconic Fender Stratocaster (9).


  1. Pareles, J. (2000, November 12). MUSIC; The Humble Instrument That Conquered The World. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/12/arts/music-the-humble-instrument-that-conquered-the-world.html
  2. Owens, J. (n.d.). The Acoustic Body Shapes You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/the-acoustic-body-shapes-you-should-know
  3. The Origins of the Classical Guitar. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.yamaha.com/en/musical_instrument_guide/classical_guitar/structure/
  4. Bradbury, A. (2020, March 27). Out of the woods: the environmental challenges facing guitar makers. Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/features/out-of-the-woods-the-environmental-challenges-facing-guitar-makers
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