The future of music

10 Best Acoustic Guitars (Personally Tested)

December 29, 2023
A person playing an acoustic guitar.

Searching for the best acoustic guitars can be overwhelming, but my guide simplifies your hunt.

I outline top picks, balancing quality and cost, to meet your specific needs and ensure you find the perfect instrument without hassle.

Whether for a concert, campfire, or quiet reflection, discover guitars that resonate with your music journey.

Quick answer: what are the best acoustic guitars? The best acoustic guitars in my experience are the Yamaha FG800, known for its solid top and full sound, perfect for beginners and pros alike. The Epiphone DR-100 stands out due to its classic design and rich tones, offering playability without breaking the bank. Lastly, the Martin LX1E Little Martin impresses with its quality craftsmanship and clear, vibrant sound, making it a reliable travel companion.

Top Acoustic Guitars Ranked

Here is a quick list of the best acoustic guitars based on my hands-on analysis:

  1. Yamaha FG800 – Overall best acoustic guitar
  2. Epiphone DR-100 – Best acoustic guitar for beginners
  3. Martin LX1E Little Martin – Best smaller-sized acoustic guitar
  4. Fender CD-60 – Best on a budget
  5. Gibson J-45 – Best for versatility
  6. Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar – Best for traveling
  7. Yamaha A5R ARE – Best for flexibility
  8. Taylor 110e – Best for intermediate players
  9. Gibson G-45 Standard – Best for touring
  10. Martin SC-13E – Best electro-acoustic guitar

I’ve also made a video on the top acoustic guitars for those who prefer watching a video:

10 Best Acoustic Guitar Reviews

When I test acoustic guitars, I focus on these key areas:

  1. Build Quality: I examine the guitar’s structure, checking the body, neck, machine heads, and bridge for sturdiness, ensuring it’s well-made, even for budget models.
  2. Fretwork: I inspect the frets, looking for uniformity to avoid any playability issues like buzzing or accidental cuts.
  3. Playability: Comfort is crucial, so I assess how the guitar feels when held, focusing on the neck shape and body design.
  4. Sound: I play using different techniques to test the guitar’s tone range, listening for good balance and projection in various styles.

1. Yamaha FG800 – Best acoustic guitar

Yamaha FG800 - Best acoustic guitar

Testing Yamaha’s FG800 revealed why it’s a hit: top build quality meets standout performance.

Crafted with spruce and mahogany, its sound impresses even seasoned players.

Its dreadnought form delivers bold volume, fitting for quiet rehearsals or lively shows.

Beyond its strong presence, its style is timeless yet distinct.

This guitar is a smart buy, offering exceptional value and playability for advancing your craft.

2. Epiphone DR-100 – Best acoustic guitar for beginners 

Epiphone DR-100 - Best acoustic guitar for beginners

The Epiphone DR-100 stands out in my tests for beginner acoustic guitars.

Known for quality, Epiphone crafts this model with a standard, yet sought-after, spruce and mahogany mix.

The result is a balanced tone, ideal for newcomers.

While not the least costly option, the DR-100’s value shines through for dedicated learners, proving it’s a solid investment for starters.

3. Martin LX1E Little Martin – Best smaller-sized acoustic guitar 

Martin LX1E Little Martin - Best smaller-sized acoustic guitar

I’ve played many guitars, and within the $700 range, the Martin LX1E Little Martin stands out.

This model comes from Martin Guitar, the creators of the first steel-string acoustic, a choice brand for pros globally.

The Little Martin makes owning a piece of this legacy more accessible, offering a rich learning path without breaking the bank.

What’s striking is its compact size, perfect for young players, yet its tone packs a punch, allowing for dynamic play.

It’s no surprise that talents like Ed Sheeran pick it, confirming its status among the top acoustic guitars available.

4. Fender CD-60 – Best on a budget 

Fender CD-60 - Best acoustic guitar on a budget

As a seasoned guitar player, I appreciate what Fender offers with the CD-60, especially for new and mid-level players.

Priced under $200, it’s a steal, giving top value with its sound and build.

Though its back, sides, and fretboard use laminated wood, playability stays high.

The CD-60 shines in tonal balance, crucial for beginners.

Its glossy look adds appeal, too. Trust in Fender’s reputation for quality guitars; even their budget-friendly CD-60 holds up to that standard.

5. Gibson J-45 – Best for versatility 

Gibson J-45 - Best acoustic guitar for versatility

The Gibson J-45 catches your eye with its vintage style, but as an experienced player, I know its appeal doesn’t stop there.

This acoustic marvel boasts top build quality and sound, owed to its Sitka spruce top and sturdy mahogany and rosewood parts.

It’s a real workhorse, adaptable for any music style.

Yes, the cost is high, but for a lasting, quality guitar, the J-45 is worth the investment.

6. Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar – Best for traveling 

Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar - Best for traveling 

The Taylor GS Mini stands out as a top pick for those needing a portable, compact guitar.

I’ve found its build – featuring a Sitka spruce top and laminated Sapele frame – promotes both durability and great sound.

Despite its travel-friendly size, it doesn’t compromise on quality, suiting new and seasoned players alike.

Its comfort makes it a notable choice, solidifying the GS Mini’s position as a leading small acoustic guitar.

7. Yamaha A5R ARE – Best for flexibility 

Yamaha A5R ARE - Best acoustic guitar for flexibility.

The Yamaha A5R ARE stands out in performance, both plugged and unplugged.

Its unique feature is the SRT2 preamp, ensuring consistent resonance and a bright sound balance.

This guitar showcases a solid Sitka spruce top, rosewood body, and mahogany neck, all highlighting its superior build.

The A5R doesn’t just look good; it promises an exceptional audio experience.

8. Taylor 110e – Best for intermediate players 

Taylor 110e - Best acoustic guitar for intermediate players

Taylor guitars have a distinct sound and touch that fans will know.

The Taylor 110e is a step up for those familiar with their style.

Its Sitka spruce top and walnut body are not just sturdy; they’re also visually appealing.

This model offers a rich, clear sound, setting it apart from beginner guitars.

It suits experienced players, handling strumming or finger-picking well.

9. Gibson G-45 Standard – Best for touring 

Gibson G-45 Standard - Best acoustic guitar for touring

The G-45 stands out with its Sitka spruce top and walnut body, built for road trips.

It sounds more modern than the J-45, thanks to its unique build.

Easy to play, this guitar fits new and skilled players alike. It’s built for comfort and lasting use, perfect for frequent gigs.

For a travel-ready Gibson dreadnought, the G-45 is a solid pick, though not the most budget-friendly.

Yet, its quality justifies the cost.

10. Martin SC-13E – Best electro-acoustic guitar

Martin SC-13E - Best electro-acoustic guitar

Ending with another Martin guitar feels right.

The SC-13E, though costly, ranks high among acoustic guitars.

This S-13 Fret model features spruce, koa, and ebony, presenting a stunning look and sound.

Its unique trait is the blend of electric and acoustic styles. The built-in tech enhances without overshadowing the acoustic charm.

For a modern, quality acoustic guitar, the Martin SC-13E is wise to consider.

Acoustic Guitars – How It All Started

It’s no wonder there are so many different models of acoustic guitars out there – acoustic guitars have been around for centuries.

The guitar evolved from the kithara1, an instrument that rose to prominence in ancient Greece around 700 BC.

After the Romans entered Spain, they brought the kithara with them, which led to the guitar becoming synonymous with Western European culture2.

Of course, the instrument transformed a lot over the decades, and one of the most significant changes was Gibson’s creation of the archtop guitar; an instrument with violin-like sound holes, an adjustable bridge, and a curved body3.

But the credit to the steel-string acoustic guitar as we know it today is given to Christian Frederick Martin of Martin Guitars. 

The company was established in 1833, and it’s still one of the most respected guitar manufacturers in the world.

It’s where the first dreadnought guitar comes from – and this remains one of the most popular guitar body shapes in the market. 

What Guitar Body Size Should I Choose?

Besides the popular dreadnought guitar, there are plenty of guitar sizes to choose from.

Dreadnought and Jumbo guitars usually deliver a deeper sound as well as increased volume and tone, and that’s why they’re associated with solo singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Sheryl Crow, and so on.

Acoustic Guitar Body Sizes

Generally, the bigger the guitar, the bigger the sound.

So if you prefer a tighter, more precise sound, you should opt for a smaller-bodied acoustic guitar.

The Grand Auditorium, ‘000’, and Parlor are popular choices among musicians who prefer smaller guitars. 

Apart from its tone, the size of the guitar also affects how comfortable the instrument is, and that’s why you should choose the shape that suits you best.

Each guitar comes with its characteristics, so think about what type of guitar you need and browse the models from that category. 

What Is the Best Wood for Acoustic Guitars? 

Another element you should familiarize yourself with is acoustic guitar materials.

So, what type of wood is best for your acoustic guitar? And does that matter?

Well, the type of wood the guitar is made of affects the tone – so, there’s a huge difference in terms of sound.

Now, wood may be different for the top (soundboard) of the body, the back and sides of the body, the neck, the fretboard, and the rest of the guitar.

Since they’re highly resonant, spruce and cedar are the most frequently used woods for the soundboard of an acoustic guitar4.

Spruce is a rather strong and sturdy wood that helps produce a clear, bright tone. 

When it comes to the sides and the back of the guitar, you might come across mahogany, which gives an earthy, mid-range sound.

Other popular woods for guitars include Koa, Maple, and Rosewood. 

That being said, the type of wood is important to take into consideration when buying an acoustic guitar.

There are many different types of woods used to make guitars, so it all depends on the tone you want to get. 

What About a Guitar Pickup?

Acoustic guitars are known for their tender, clear sound – and a quiet one, compared to their electric companions.

But if you want to amplify your acoustic guitar, you can get a guitar pickup.

Using a built-in pickup is arguably the easiest way to enhance your sound, but if you already have an acoustic guitar, you can buy a separate pickup.

There are many awesome acoustic guitar pickups to choose from – and which one suits you best largely depends on your budget and your preferences.

How Much Should I Spend on an Acoustic Guitar?

The price of the guitar pickup depends on its quality, and the same goes for the instrument itself.

But what is a good price for an acoustic guitar, and what should you expect?

Acoustic Guitar with Amplifier

Firstly, I want to point out that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new acoustic guitar, especially if you’re just starting.

There are many affordable acoustic guitars for beginners worth checking out, and they often don’t cost more than $500. 

But of course, if you want to get a more professional, high-end guitar, you’ll have to invest some money.

For intermediate and advanced players, acoustic guitars usually cost between $400 and $1,200, and professional acoustic guitars can go up to $10,000 (yes, you’ve read it right.)

Nevertheless, if you know a bit about instruments, this shouldn’t be very surprising – pro instruments tend to be quite pricey.

But if you’re looking for an entry-level acoustic guitar, don’t worry – you’ll have to invest some money in it, but it won’t break the bank.  

How to Take Care of Your Acoustic Guitar – Best Tips

If you’re ready to spend more money on your acoustic guitar, you probably won’t regret it.

Expensive acoustic guitars are well-built and durable, and they tend to produce a beautiful sound.

But all of that doesn’t matter if you don’t take good care of it.

Taking care of your instrument is crucial if you want to live a long, happy life – therefore, make sure you remember the following tips:

  • Clean your hands before playing
  • Wipe the strings down after practice
  • Change the strings regularly
  • Store your guitar in the right way
  • Keep it properly humidified 
  • Avoid scratches (keep it in a case when traveling)

If you take good care of your guitar, it will serve you well for many years to come!

Final Thoughts 

Learning what to look for in an acoustic guitar is an essential step in acoustic guitar shopping.

And if you know what you’re looking for (and what your priorities are), you’re already halfway there.

Either way, I hope my review of the best acoustic guitars helped you narrow down your search.

Once you get the guitar that meets your needs, you can start improving your skills – and only the sky will be the limit!

You may also like:

Sources:

  1. https://www.mi.edu/education/guitar-history-how-the-guitar-has-evolved/ ↩︎
  2. https://online.berklee.edu/takenote/how-classical-guitar-arrived-in-spain-and-then-the-rest-of-the-world/ ↩︎
  3. https://invention.si.edu/invention-electric-guitar ↩︎
  4. https://mcclarenguitars.co.uk/cedar-vs-spruce-which-soundboard-material-should-you-choose-for-your-guitar/ ↩︎

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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