Best Acoustic Guitar Guide
Acoustic guitars are a one the most popular instruments in the world. They can be used to play almost any genre of music, and come in a wide variety. You don’t need to be a pro to impress people or play some amazing music with an acoustic guitar. Even with a few simple chords, you can play a number of popular songs from decades ago to the contemporary tunes of today.
If you are looking to purchase the best acoustic guitar for you, there are several factors to consider before you make a selection. Don’t buy a guitar on a whim. You’ll find yourself much happier with your choice if you take some time to learn the basics and put some thought into the selection.
It’s hard to really pick a “best acoustic guitar”, because what’s good for you might not work for someone else. That’s why it is always a good idea to take the time to consider all the factors that make a guitar what it is before buying one. When you have some idea of what sound you’d like, what features you need, and what you’ll be doing with your new guitar, you’ll be able to narrow down the list and make a selection.
In this list, the number one guitar is the Fender FA-100 Dreadnought because it is a total all-rounder acoustic. It allows for versatile playing, has a full and rich sound, and is made from quality material by a top guitar maker. It’s also highly affordable, so it makes for an excellent choice.
A Quick Comparison of the Best Acoustic Guitars[table id=1 /]
Guide to Buying Acoustic Guitars
Choosing the best acoustic guitar for you will depend on your preferences, needs, purpose, and budget. If you have no prior experience with guitars, you might be tempted to just buy the cheapest or the first acoustic guitar that you see. Well, even if you haven’t got a clue where to start, that’s not a good way to go. Because as you learn and play more, you may find yourself unhappy with the sound, look, or construction of the instrument. This guide should help to point you in the right direction.
Deciding on a Budget
Acoustic guitars can cost as little as under $100, and as much as thousands of dollars. It’s important for you to know just how much you’re willing to spend because this will have a huge impact on your options. There are literally thousands of guitars to choose from and hundreds of brands. If you’re an intermediate or pro guitarist, you’ll want to spend a little more to get the kind of quality that will help to showcase your skills. If you’re a total newbie, you may feel better to start with an affordable guitar and move on to better ones as you master the instrument. For a few hundred dollars, you can get some pretty good acoustic guitars. If you’re still on the fence, you can always buy secondhand cheap acoustic guitars and learn the ropes. Also, see if you can find an acoustic guitar for sale online.
Matching the Guitar to the Skill Level
If you’re a beginner just looking to learn, you don’t really need to worry about all of the factors that influence the sound and quality of a guitar. But it’s still a good idea to learn about what makes a good acoustic and choose one that sounds and looks good. That way, when your skills advance, you won’t outgrow your guitar right away. If you can afford to buy a pro guitar, you should, because this will never go wrong for you. If you are an intermediate guitarist looking for an upgrade, then you need to take your time to decide on something that suits your needs.
Considering the Use
What are you going to be using the guitar for? Do you want to be playing open mic nights or starting a band? If so, a semi-acoustic guitar might be a good idea. A semi-acoustic is only slightly different from a traditional acoustic. The difference is that you can plug it into an amplifier directly and still get the rich acoustic sound. You can play it as a normal acoustic too. Don’t go for an electric guitar until you’ve learned the basics on the acoustic and you are sure you want to get into it. If you will be playing in public with an acoustic or semi-acoustic, you should look for a decent quality.
Choosing the Right Size
If you are kind of small made, like I am, you might prefer to find a smaller guitar. A narrower body and neck will be good for small hands and arms, although this is not really a hugely limiting factor. Most standard guitars can accommodate pretty much anyone, but you may be more comfortable with a smaller model. It will help if the action of the strings (the distance between the fretboard and the strings) is relatively low. Beginners will find it easier to learn to play because higher action will be painful on the fingertips and finger muscles. Larger bodies will give deeper sounds, though.
Understanding Construction Quality
This point is actually quite closely linked to sound as well. The shape of the guitar, the sound holes, the wood it is made out of, the strings, and the body type all affect the way it will sound when played.
Usually, beginner guitars are made from laminate wood. A well-made laminated wood guitar will generally keep its sound and be clear and defined. Many players who are serious about the guitar prefer solid woods because laminate does not produce as rich and resonant a sound. Beginners will still benefit from a standard laminate guitar, however. Solid woods tend to be more expensive.
Cedar wood will produce a brighter, trebly tone and is suitable for classical playing. Mahogany is very dense and can produce a very strong sound, and it’s a favorite among blues and country guitarists. Maple will give you a drier sound and is great for playing live with a band. Rosewood is extremely popular among rock musicians because of its rich sound, projection, and bassy tone. Spruce is pretty much a standard and offers clarity and resonance. Walnut will give you good midrange tones.
The strings will also make a difference to the sound. Different guitars come with either nylon or steel strings, and you can’t swap them out for one another. If you want a soft and classical tone, or plan to learn finger picking, you might prefer the nylon stringed guitars. Steel strings produce a louder tone with more brightness and are preferred by rock, pop, and country musicians.
A Closer Look at GuitarPal’s Picks
Fender is considered one of the pioneering and top manufacturers of guitars, having been famous in the industry since the 1930s. This manufacturer has been a pioneer in the world of guitar and guitar accessories, so you can be sure that pretty much anything you get from them is good quality. It is a personal favorite, and I have yet to be disappointed.
The Dreadnought model is a type of acoustic body first developed by Martin Guitars but is used by most acoustic guitar manufacturers today. The body is on the larger side, giving a full, rich, and resonant sound every time. Smaller made players may take some getting used to, but any guitar will. It’s low priced (just $150) and a great choice for beginner players.
The FA-100 acoustic is made with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, giving the sound a more bassy tone. The laminate spruce body will give you reliable and clear sound. The steel strings are much closer to the fretboard, so they won’t be too painful at the fingertips of the fretting hand.
There’s a 20-fret board, and no cutaway, so if you’re looking to hit a few high notes, you’re a bit limited. Unless you’re hoping to be a rock god, this will be no problem for you.
If you buy the guitar online, you can get a gig bag (the carry case), an electronic tuner, guitar picks, strings, and a strap. So you can have the full guitarist experience. Simply put, this guitar is the whole package at an affordable price, and that’s why it’s number 1 on this list.
- Rich, full sound
- High-quality construction
- Good for beginners
- Comes with tuner, picks, case, strap
- It’s Fender!
- Smaller made players may need to get used to size
- No cutaway
2. Yamaha FG800
You probably know Yamaha for doing a little bit of everything, from guitars to bikes. They’ve been making guitars since the Swinging Sixties and are world renowned for their mostly affordable but good quality guitars.
An upgraded version of one of Yamaha’s most popular acoustic guitars (worldwide!) is the FG800, which has a low price tag but packs a punch with sound. At just $200, you can get a pretty good tone and some solid construction out of this guitar. If you want a Yamaha acoustic guitar, this should be your pick.
The dreadnought body is made from spruce wood and nato, with the fretboard made of rosewood. This means you’ll get a nice combination of bass and brightness. Your guitar will sound crisp, but deep and resonant. It’s an excellent choice for beginners and anyone looking for a bluesy, jazzy sound.
This guitar has 20 frets and no cutaway. Again, this is pretty much standard, so you won’t likely need anything more than this. The only thing that some players might struggle with is the action, which might be just a tad bit high for beginners.
- Quality budget guitar
- Versatile sound
- Especially good for blues and jazz
- Higher action on strings
- Smaller players may struggle with size
- No cutaway
This guitar is actually one of the best selling products from Epiphone. The company has been in the musical instrument manufacturing industry since the 1870s but moved into guitars after Gibson took over in the 50s. Gibson is largely considered the best guitar manufacturer in the world, and though there aren’t any Gibson brand guitars on this list, Epiphone guitars are all under the Gibson label.
The DR-100 is one of Epiphone’s original and most affordable models, at just a hundred bucks. It’s pretty much as close as you can get to a (very expensive) Gibson acoustic guitar. The spruce top, mahogany body and neck, and rosewood fingerboard make for great sounds overall. If you want a kind of bluegrass, rock, country, or folk sound, this is the go-to guitar. The versatile but budget-friendly DR-100 will serve well as a first-time instrument.
The standard fretboard comes with 20 frets, so you’ll be able to play anything basic or intermediate guitarists might play. The narrow neck and easy action make this a highly playable guitar for most beginners. The steel strings will give you brightness and add to the resonance of the dreadnought body. Epiphone acoustic guitars are usually good, so this if you like the brand, check out a few more options if you can.
- Excellent brand
- Super cheap
- Well suited for beginners
- Good, sturdy construction
- No cutaway
- More geared towards bluegrass, country sounds
- Somewhat limited to lower-mid to upper range tones
The Little Martin featured here is a bit on the expensive side compared to most of the other guitars on the list at over $300, but is still an affordable choice for amateurs hoping to get serious. Martin Guitars has been making these instruments since the 1830s! So they know their stuff.
This guitar is ideal for the smaller player and is easy and light for carrying about. Though it’s small, it has the dreadnought body shape to give you a nice, full sound. The laminated koa body offers a dynamic range of sound. Though not as frequently used for guitars, koa wood is used for ukuleles, and it is a durable hardwood to rely on.
The 20-fret fretboard and bridge are made from rosewood, enhancing the koa sound you’ll get as you play. The steel strings will add more brightness to the sound. The action is also easier on the fingers.
This guitar isn’t the kind of acoustic you’d play on stage with. It’s more for practice and learning, and for leisure. It’s the kind of guitar that’s perfect around the campfire with friends and smores. Overall, it is best for smaller hands.
- Dynamic range of tones
- Sturdy and solid construction
- Ideal for learning and practice
- Especially suited for smaller hands and players
- Not so great for stage performance
- Comparatively expensive for a first-time guitar
- Range still lacking fuller bass
Taylor Guitars is one of the top manufacturers of guitars in the US and has been making guitars for over forty years. The GS Mini Mahogany is the most expensive guitar on this list ($500), but it is still of extremely high quality.
The smaller body offers easier carrying and holding, making it well suited for younger and smaller players. The mahogany and Sapele wood work well together for the body, giving a strong and powerful sound. The real ebony 20-fret fretboard and bridge are easy on small and fresh fingers.
This guitar looks beautiful and comes with a soft, padded gig acoustic guitar case. You won’t get as bassy a sound out of this guitar as some others on this list, but you still get a good tonal range.
The best things this guitar is for are portability, smaller players, and people looking to play a range of music types.
- Solid and reliable construction
- Powerful sound
- Light and easy to tote
- Gig bag provided
- Good for small players and kids
- Less bass on the range
- Expensive compared to others on the list
- Not ideal for performing at a gig
Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars
If you are looking for a guitar solely based on staying under a budget of say $100 or $200, then there are several highly rated cheap guitars. Alternatively, you could buy used acoustic guitars for practically nothing.
- Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought – this is a nice mahogany, rosewood, and whitewood guitar that you can switch easily for a lefthander. It has a big sound to it.
- Jasmine S53 – this guitar looks almost as good as it sounds, with a rosewood and nato construction, and excellent resonance.
- Epiphone DR-100 – this was mentioned earlier on the list for the bright and resonant sound made by the rosewood, mahogany, and spruce construction.
- Fender Squier Dreadnought – I know I have a thing for Fender, but this is really a good guitar for such a low price. The maple, rosewood, and basswood create a lovely sound, and the product comes with useful accessories you will need.
- Fender FA-100 Dreadnought – this is the rosewood and spruce guitar that was my top pick, and it will serve you well with its durability and its booming sound.
Best Left Handed Acoustic Guitar
Some guitars are made just for right-handed guitarists, and you cannot swap the strings around and play comfortably if you are a left-hander. Other guitars are made to be left-friendly, in that you can string them any way you like. Of course, if you want the same kind of style or shape in an exclusively left-handed version, there are plenty of options. I would recommend the Oscar Schmidt OG1 for just over $100. It’s a good quality and well-suited choice for learning and practicing, especially for people with small hands, thanks to the narrow neck.
Alternatively, you could try the Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor, the mahogany, ebony, and Sapele guitar that’s a nice choice for a crisp tone. It’s also good for smaller players and beginners. You could also try the Blueridge BR-43LH Contemporary Series. The exclusively left-handed guitar is made from spruce, mahogany, and East Indian rosewood. It produces a warm and clean sound.
Best Acoustic Guitar for Beginners
If you need a guitar exclusively catering to total beginners, then you’ll need an instrument with some versatility and affordability. A good beginner acoustic guitar should be long-lasting, sturdy, and of good enough quality to give you a well-rounded learning experience. A popular beginner guitar that I would recommend is the Seagull S6 Original. It’s made from wild cherry, rosewood, and cedar, and produces a big, rich tone.
A couple of other good choices include the Yamaha FG730S, which is about as traditional as an acoustic guitar can get. Then there is also the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany, the mahogany, Sapele, and ebony guitar I talked about earlier. This guitar is a worthy investment for a beginner who hopes to get serious.
Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids
Learning guitar as a child is one surefire way to become a master guitar player quickly. If you’re looking for a guitar for a young child, then a smaller but well-made guitar would be best. My choice would be the Yamaha JR1 guitar. It’s a rosewood and spruce guitar so you’ll get a lovely sound, and the small scale is perfect for smaller players.
Another excellent choice would be the Rogue Starter Acoustic, which is also smaller scale. It’s made from mahogany and rosewood, a rich and gorgeous sound, and it’s quite affordable. Alternatively, the First Act FG1106 is even cheaper and smaller and features a thin fretboard to make learning easier.
Ultimately, when choosing a guitar for you or for someone else, it’s best to consider the needs and the purpose of the guitar. Whatever your budget, you can find good acoustic guitars with some great quality sound and construction to suit the player’s needs. Take your time to figure out what kind of sound you’re going for, what you would like to do with your guitar, and how much you’re willing to spend on it, and they go out to get one.