The Best Acoustic Guitars - Between $100 & $2000

The Highest Rated Acoustic Guitars

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As you gain more experience and skills, and as your musical preference fluctuates, the itch to buy another acoustic guitar intensifies. And this is one itch that will be hard to satisfy, especially when you become more aware of premium instruments and their top shelf specifications.

Here we look at what the market considers to be the best acoustic guitars in different price ranges up to $2000, so you can see which ones fit your current budget. You can also use this guide to plan ahead and save up for top rated acoustics that are worth investing in.

If you are just beginning to play and looking for your first guitar, then you might prefer to take a look at our guide to Acoustic Guitars for Beginners.

Note that these are acoustic guitars without electronics, if you want a guitar that's ready to plug in please see our separate guide to The Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars.

The Best Acoustic Guitars

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200

If you are interested in similarly priced options with pickups that let you plug them into an amplifier, then check out our separate recommendations for Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $200.

Fender CD-60 V3

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender CD-60 V3 - Sunburst

The CD-60 V3 is the third iteration of Fender's popular entry-level acoustic guitar, carrying over much of the same features that made it popular, while introducing some design improvements.

This latest version features scalloped "X"-bracing support and Graph Tech Nubone nut and saddle.

Given its affordable price, it comes with specs that you expect from entry-level acoustics, having a laminate spruce top, and laminate mahogany for the back and sides. Thankfully, this configuration is enhanced by the scalloped X bracing which improves resonance.

Other features include having a C-shape mahogany neck and 20-fret walnut fingerboard that follows conventional dreadnought specs.

Finally, it ships with a hard case, which many owners appreciate.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Finish: Black, Natural or Sunburst Gloss Finish
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 11.8"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.3”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Most reviewers are pleased with what they got for the money, describing the Fender CD-60 V3 as a great buy, and a great beginner to intermediate guitar. There are also plenty of commendations pointing to its tone, although most of them do come from beginners and their parents. Still there are experienced players who find this to be a good grab-and-go beater alternative to their more expensive instruments. The included guitar case also gets a lot of thumbs up.

Cons

There are a few who report string action setup related issues, while some are not too happy with how the tuners hold their tuning.

Overall

With its affordable price tag and bundled guitar case, the Fender CD-60 V3 is a nice full-size starter acoustic guitar that should be looked at by those with limited budget.

Fender FA-115

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender FA-115 Dreadnought

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $200.

The FA-115 is Fender's most popular beginner acoustic guitar, it usually comes bundled with essential accessories. While it does not have a solid top, it makes up for it with the quality of accessories that it ships with, which include clip on tuner, strings, picks, strap and a gig bag.

This dreadnought shape guitar features spruce for the top and mahogany for the back and sides, and while the laminate top maybe a turn off for some, it does have durability and reliability as its strong point, which makes it more ideal for beginners who may not be as conscious about careful handling of the instrument.

It follows after Fender's "Easy to Play" neck profile with rolled fretboard edges, with a fretboard radius of 12" and a scale length of 25.3".

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: ‘Easy-to-Play’ shape with Rolled Fretboard Edges
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.3”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

The Fender FA-115 is described as the best beginner friendly guitar by many, thanks to its combination of good playability, tone and price. Many are also pleased with the quality of the included accessories, including the free Fender guitar lessons which many commend in reviews. Many users also agree that attention to detail and overall build quality is also quite good given the price.

Cons

If you're looking for a solid top acoustic guitar, or you're not too keen on accessories then you may want to look at other acoustics in this guide.

Overall

With its build quality and accessories, the Fender FA-115 is a good starter guitar for anyone to learn on.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300

For similarly priced options that come with pre-installed pickups, see our recommendations for Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $300.

Yamaha FS800

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$220
Yamaha FS800 - Natural

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $200 to $300.

Yamaha's FG/FS series continue to get rave reviews, particularly since they included traditional x-bracing support on their solid top models.

The FS800 brings their tried and tested formula into a concert profile acoustic, it is essentially a smaller bodied alternative to the FG800.

The FS800's compact profile alters the tone with more emphasis on the mids and highs.

Another important difference, although minor, is the shorter scale length which lessens the tension required for the strings to be in tune. This makes it a tad bit easier on the hands, while the curvy compact body makes it easier on the body and elbow to play.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Nato/Okume
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Slim Tapered
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.75"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

While this is an entry-level guitar, even experienced players appreciate its overall quality and value for money. Most users are satisfied with its tone, while its playability also gets a lot of thumbs up, especially from guitarists who are into fingerstyle playing. It is also described as a comfortable instrument to learn on.

Cons

Like most guitars in this price range, some recommend replacing the strings to better appreciate its tone. There are a few who had some fret-buzz issues, but they were able to get it setup properly and still have mostly good things to say about the FS800.

Overall

The Yamaha FS800 is easily one of the best value concert profile guitars in the market today, especially when considering that it comes with a solid spruce top and x-bracing.

Yamaha FG800

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$220
Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar

The FG800 is another great example of why Yamaha continues to be a top guitar brand for students, with its solid top construction, beginner-friendly playability and student-friendly budget.

Solid spruce top guitars are expected to sound better than laminate top ones, they are also louder and have better frequency representation.

Supporting the guitar's solid top is an X-bracing built to Yamaha's quality standards, which gives more freedom for the top to vibrate without compromising structural integrity.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Nato/Okume
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Slim Tapered
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.75"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25 9/16”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Build quality is the biggest factor in reviews, users are simply happy with how well built this affordable instrument is. With good build quality comes good playability, and this is reflected in reviews. Tone is also often commended, some even reporting that it sounds as good as other more expensive dreadnoughts.

Cons

The quality of the strings that it came with caused a few users to slightly lower their ratings. There are also some who recommend getting the guitar setup professionally to get the most out of the instrument.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable dreadnought acoustic with solid spruce top, then this is well worth considering.

Ibanez AW54

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Ibanez AW54 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Though Ibanez is known more for their electric guitars, the brand actually produces a lot of high quality and inventive acoustic instruments.

The perfect example of this is Ibanez’s AW54, a member of their Artwood series, which features renewable tonewoods that allow for lower price tags.

The tonewood it uses is okoume, which is a lighter and more readily available wood compared to Mahogany. But it does have a similar “warm” tone, with stronger representation of low-end and low-mid frequencies.

It’s great if you’re looking to play folk, blues, and country music. It’s also great for finger-style songs.

An interesting feature of this instrument is that Ibanez sells it with “Ibanez Advantage” bridge pins. These pins are designed to make string changes easier. The “bulb” of the pin is wider, making it easier to grab. The end is also tapered, which helps hold the strings in the correct position.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Okoume
  • Back and Sides: Okoume
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Neck Profile: Slim (21mm at 1st Fret)
  • Fingerboard: Ovangkol
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.75"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.629"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

The ibanez AW54 continues to impress users with its earthy appeal and warm tone, thanks to its tonewood configuration. Many also feel that the guitar surpassed their expectations when it comes to build quality. Playability is also often commended, as expected from Ibanez.

Cons

As similar as it is to mahogany, it still is a different wood, and this is a deal breaker to some. There are a few who caution that okoume is a bit softer than mahogany, which means that the guitar requires a bit more TLC when handling to avoid scratches and dings.

Overall

If you're looking for a warm sounding solid-top acoustic guitar that's easy on the pocket, then check out the Ibanez AW54.

Yamaha FG820

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$290
Yamaha FG820 Acoustic Guitar

The Yamaha FG820 is a traditional dreadnought with a solid spruce top that's within reach of serious students of the instrument.

And while having a solid top is already good to get in this price range, having been built to meet Yamaha's renowned quality standards, makes it even more appealing.

The guitar's body stays true to classic dreadnought design, with the back and sides crafted from laminate mahogany.

The neck is also described as having a standard shape, which judging from the specifications are straightforward reproductions of classic dreadnought neck profile.

To improve the guitar's resonance and tone, Yamaha employed scalloped bracings (lighter), a feature that's you can normally find in more expensive acoustic guitars.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Standard
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400 mm
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Nut Width: 42.86 mm

Pros

The Yamaha FG820 is well loved for its overall build quality, and this is a common theme among reviews of Yamaha made instruments. Users appreciate how good the neck feels, describing it as very easy on the hands of beginners. Others appreciate the extra cosmetic details that add to its premium look, like the cream colored bindings on the body and fretboard. Owners of this guitar are simply satisfied with what they got for the money - a good quality instrument.

Cons

No note worthy complaints about the guitar's design and quality, but note that Dreadnoughts can be a bit bulky for smaller players.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable dreadnought acoustic with solid top, then you have plenty of good options in Yamaha's line up, this one being one of the top rated.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

For similarly price options that come with pre-installed pickups see our recommendations for Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $500.

Takamine GD20-NS

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$330
Takamine GD20 6 String Acoustic Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $300 to $500 along with the Yamaha FG830.

The Takamine GD20 is a dreadnought acoustic with a bit of a twist, using a solid cedar top in place of the usual solid spruce.

Cedar is more commonly used in nylon string guitars, and is known for producing warmer tones. The use of Cedar on a Takaminne dreadnought results in a more balanced overall tone with some emphasis on mids.

Note that the downside of cedar is that it may not have the same projection as spruce, but its distinct tone will be a good compliment in duo guitar setups where the other guitarist already has a spruce top acoustic.

The GD20 also features Takamine's proprietary split-saddle, which as the name suggests, splits the saddle in two pieces to better position the strings for improved intonation.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Slim
  • Fingerboard: Ovangkol
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.3”
  • Nut Width: 1.685"

Pros

Takamine is well known for the playability of their guitars, and this applies to the GD20-NS, with many commendations for how easy it is to play. So much so that even experts at Acoustic Guitar Magazine concludes their review by saying: "The GD20-NS just might be a perfect beginner guitar, with admirable playability and sound that won’t frustrate a new player. But the guitar also would be an appropriate match for the seasoned player who needs another songwriting or even recording tool—for an absolute steal." Users are just as pleased with what they got for the money, commenting that the guitar sounds, looks and plays more expensive than it actually is.

Cons

Much like with other acoustics, there are some who report getting better results by replacing the default strings that it ships with. There are also a few reports of minor cosmetic issues.

Overall

With its solid cedar top, the GD20-NS adds a different sonic twist along with Takamine's penchant for playability and intonation, to the all-time favorite dreadnought style guitar.

Yamaha FG830

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$340
Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $300 to $500 along with the Takamine GD20-NS.

The Yamaha FG830 is a dreadnought profile guitar with a solid spruce top paired with laminate rosewood back and sides.

Rosewood is more “focused” than mahogany, so the guitar has a stronger mid-range and high-end punch. This lets you be heard better over other instruments.

However, musicians who prefer Americana music (not including bluegrass) or solo arrangements may prefer a mahogany guitar because of their warmer voicing.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Laminated Rosewood
  • Finish: Natural, Tobacco Sunburst, Autumn Burst
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Slim Tapered
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400mm
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25”
  • Nut Width: 43mm

Pros

Some users report that they bought this guitar so that they wouldn't have to risk carrying their more expensive acoustics too often - yet they ended up liking the FG830 more! Tone gets the most positive mention in reviews, specifically how full it sounded when strumming. This is seconded by commendations for its overall value.

Cons

There are some who comment that the extra cost compared to its more affordable sibling, the FG820 is not justified, unless you’re looking for an affordable rosewood voiced instrument.

Overall

The Yamaha FG830 gives you a bit more quality for the money, well worth checking especially when you consider how expensive other similarly spec'ed guitars are.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1000

A more detailed guide for this price range is available: The Highest Rated Acoustic Guitars from $500 to $1000.

If you're looking for similarly priced guitars that come with pre-installed pickups then see our guides to Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $750 and Under $1000.

Taylor Academy 10

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$549
Taylor Academy 10

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $1000.

The Taylor Academy 10 is a dreadnought acoustic with student friendly playability.

It sports a distinct slim profile neck and shorter 24 7/8" scale length, both of which make it easier to play.

Another noteworthy feature is its beveled armrest, which makes it more comfortable on your picking arm, especially for new players.

While many will consider this guitar as mid-priced, this is still entry-level for Taylor, thankfully, they still equipped the Academy 10 with solid spruce top and sapele back and sides.

More importantly, this guitar is built to meet the quality standards of Taylor guitars, which many consider to be among the best available.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce Top
  • Back and Sides: Sapele
  • Finish: Varnish
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Neck Profile: Taylor Slim
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 24.875"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Reviewers have tons of good things to say about the Taylor Academy 10, more specifically about its build quality, which many describe as up to par with other more expensive Taylor guitars. Extra brownie points are also often given for its playability, which some describe as "like a dream" thanks to its shorter scale length, light gauge string and slim neck profile.

Cons

Since it is a streamlined entry-level model, there's not a lot to expect cosmetically. At this price, you can get better spec'ed guitars from other manufacturers, but value for money is not the strong suit of Taylor guitars anyway. Interestingly, there are still some who feel that they got more than their money's worth.

Overall

If you're looking for a premium quality student friendly guitar, then this should be high on your list.

We have additional recommendations in this price range which you can see in our guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1000.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000

Martin 000-15M

99
GEARANK

99 out of 100. Incorporating 350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1299
Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $2000 along with the Martin D-15M.

Martin is one of the most famous names when it comes to acoustic guitars, and for good reason. The brand is one of the most revered and long lived producers of acoustic guitars which has been the weapon of choice for guitarists across a ton of different genres and decades.

The 000-15 features an all-mahogany construction which gives it a balanced voice with a strong mid-range presence that works for various musical and playing styles.

The guitar's smaller 000 body complements its tonewood to give it a tone that's reminiscent of early Americana music.

Features:

  • Body Shape: 000
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval / Standard Taper
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Saddle Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.4”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

This guitar continue to retain an almost perfect overall rating at major retailers, and it only follows that a lot of good things have been said about it. Organic, natural and mellow are words that users use to describe its tone, while others focus their praised on its classic appeal, build quality and playability. Speaking of playability, even experienced players find it a joy to play right out of the box.

Cons

There are a few who feel that the guitar is too bare-boned for the price, and wish for more cosmetic appointments.

Overall

If aesthetic appeal is not much of a big deal for you, and you're looking for a good quality 000 body acoustic, then check out the Martin 000-15M.

Martin D-15M

99
GEARANK

99 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1299
Martin D-15M Acoustic Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $2000 along with the Martin 000-15M.

Martin’s D-15M is a solid all-mahogany dreadnought. This guitar has a very strong rhythmic presence, thanks to the warmth and bold mid-range tone that you get with mahogany.

Because of the dreadnought sized body, the guitar also has low-end response and volume to spare.

An interesting feature of this guitar is that it combines the standard Martin dreadnought voicing (think Bluegrass) with the warmth of mahogany. This gives the guitar a surprisingly balanced voice.

Finally, it follows the minimalist design of Martin's Style 15 guitars, which they first introduced back in the 1940s.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval, Standard Taper
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Saddle Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.4”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Being a dreadnought, this guitar is expected to be a fantastic rhythm instrument, and reviewers agree. Being a dreadnought, it can handle picks and heavy strumming, but with its mahogany body, there are also plenty who report that it works just as great for more intricate fingerstyle playing. Many reviewers say that it feels solid and is well built, down to minute details.

Cons

With its high ratings, there's not much in the way of negatives to report on, although there are some who wish that the guitar was not so bare looking.

Overall

When it comes to dreadnoughts, your investment is safe with Martin, especially with their high reselling price. So if you're looking for a premium mahogany dreadnought, and you want to go for what the market actually rates the highest - then go for the Martin D-15M.

Martin 00-15M

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1299
Martin 00-15M

Martin's all-solid mahogany body guitars are rated very highly by guitarists, allowing them to secure multiple spots in this guide.

The Martin 00-15M is part of this line, with a 00 body that features a solid mahogany top and solid mahogany back and sides - a combination that accentuates the mids for a warm tone that works great for fingerstyle and for vocal accompaniment.

It follows the same neck specs as the other 15M Martin guitars, with a dovetail neck joint construction, modified low oval mahogany neck, and topped by a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard.

Finally the top, back, sides and the neck all have a satin finish.

Features:

  • Body Shape: 00
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval / Standard Taper
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Saddle Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.4”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Tone is the biggest reason why owners love the Martin 00-15M, it has a mellow and emotive tone, which inspire owners to practice more and and enjoy making music. As expected, finger style players love its tone. Interestingly, even those who are into simpler strumming and playing styles are also impressed with the sound. Being comfortable to play also gets a lot of thumbs up, from guitarists of different skill levels. Other commendations point to its premium build quality and attention to details.

Cons

Being an all-mahogany body acoustic guitar, and given its 00 shape, don't expect this to sound like a spruce topped dreadnought.

Overall

C.F. Martin & Co. continues to be the go to brand when it comes to premium acoustic guitars, check out the Martin 00-15M if you're looking for a warm sounding alternative to the dreadnought.

Martin 000-15SM Mahogany

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1599
Martin 000-15sm

The Martin 000-15SM is a guitar with a look that harkens back to the "blues box" guitars of the '30s, complete with a 12-fret neck joint.

Despite its smaller 000 body profile and 12-fret neck joint, Martin opted to give this guitar a standard scale length, which avoids the need for any technique adjustments when switching from a standard size acoustic.

Another important distinction of the Martin 000-15SM is its slotted headstock, which completes the guitar's old school appeal.

The top, back and sides are all crafted from solid mahogany, while the fingerboard and bridge are crafted from East Indian rosewood.

Features:

  • Body Shape: 000
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Satin
  • Bridge: East Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval
  • Fingerboard: East Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 12
  • Scale Length: 25.4"
  • Nut Width: 1.75"

Pros

There's just something special about the look of 12-fret guitars with a slotted headstock, especially when backed by a premium brand like C.F. Martin & Co. This guitar continues to be rated highly, with most retailers reflecting reviews of perfect 5 star scores. It gets most of its commendations for its clear and detailed tone, followed by positive comments about its classic look and build quality.

Cons

We all wish that this guitar was priced a bit lower, but those who bought it are more than pleased with how their investment turned out.

Overall

With its premium specs and classic looks, the Martin 000-15SM is an easy recommend, even if you have to wait and save for it!

Things to Consider When Buying an Acoustic Guitar

Woods

Most guitarists and guitar makers have traditionally been of the opinion that all-solid wood guitars offer the best performance because solid woods carry sound and resonate better than laminated woods or other composite materials. The main downside is that solid wood are more costly compared to laminate, and this is the reason why only a few guitars offer solid wood construction in lower price ranges. Thankfully, there are still some good solid top guitars that are rating well while keeping reasonable price tags.

Note that there are some manufacturers who utilize composite non-wood materials on their guitar and do so quite successfully, but they usually are used for stage ready acoustic-electric models, or for travel guitars. Even high-end manufacturers are now using composite wood in places like the fretboard.

Here are some of the most commonly used tonewoods:

  • Spruce

    One of the most popular tonewoods for the top of an acoustic guitar and is generally considered to have an 'all round' tone without being overly bright, warm or bassy. Spruce tends to go well with most other types of wood that may be used on the rest of the guitar.

  • Cedar

    This is a less dense wood than Spruce so it tends to have less sustain and projection while sounding warmer. It's often found on guitars that are designed for fingerstyle players.

  • Mahogany

    Mahogany is a dense wood that lends itself to a warm tone that projects very well. It was traditionally used mainly on the back and sides of a guitar, however in the last few years it has become a very popular wood used to build an entire guitar - in fact many all-mahogany guitars are now rated more highly than their traditional counterparts.

  • Sapele

    Sapele is becoming a popular choice these days. It's a bit denser than Mahogany and produces a slightly brighter sound. Taylor say it adds "top end shimmer" to the guitars they use it on.

  • Maple

    This is a very hard and dense wood and is most often used on the back and sides but you will occasionally find it used as a top wood. It has great projection but tends to emphasize the mid frequencies too much for many people's taste as a top wood.

  • Koa

    Also known as Hawaiian Koa because it's a native Hawaiian species. It's a dense hardwood which emphasizes the mid to high overtones and as it ages it tends to 'open up' adding warmth to the mid range. It's mainly found on high-end guitars due to its high cost.

  • Rosewood

    Rosewood offers a lot of warmth and complex overtones It's usually found on the back and sides or fingerboard and is said to 'round out' the overall tone of Spruce topped guitars. It's also an expensive tonewood so you tend to find it used sparingly on less expensive models.

  • Although specific woods have their characteristics much also depends on how they're used in building a guitar - if you'd like to dive deeper into this topic then you might like to read a luthier's opinion: Tapping Tonewoods by Dana Bourgeois.

Shape and Size

Generally smaller bodies such as Concert guitars will emphasize the mids and high treble frequencies and are often preferred by fingerstyle players. At the other end of the spectrum Jumbo body guitars resonate the lower bass frequencies much better and are preferred by those who play a loud strumming style. In between you have the Grand Auditorium and similar shapes which combine the tonal characteristics of small and large bodied guitars. The most popular shape these days is the Dreadnought which is nice and loud and produces a good balance of high and low frequencies with enough note definition for playing melodies with a pick.

Action / String Height

Guitars with a low action allow for faster runs and the use of playing techniques such as tapping on the fretboard and hammering on/off. Beginners and those transitioning from electric guitars generally find a lower action easier to play. A higher action on the other hand lends itself a bit better to loud strumming styles of play where fret buzz would be a concern if the action was too low. Unfortunately guitar manufacturers typically don't provide string height as one of their specifications and the actual height tends to vary between individual guitars and batches so if you don't like the setup your guitar has when it arrives you either have to get a guitar technician to adjust it for you, or do it yourself. For advice on setting up your guitar see this guide from Guitar Player.

Nut Width

The nut width essentially describes how far apart the strings are spaced. A larger nut width will suit players who are used to it, for example anyone transitioning from classical style guitars, or those who have larger fingers. If your background is mostly with electric guitar then you'll feel more conformable playing an acoustic with a smaller nut width.

Scale Length

This is essentially the distance measured between the saddle and the nut, or more accurately described as double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret plus some "compensation" added by the position of the saddle. A longer scale length requires higher tension in the strings and results in a brighter tone. A more detailed explanation with examples is presented quite well by Stewart MacDonald and a good description of the implications of different scale lengths can be found at Guitar Player.

Strap Buttons

It's important to note that some manufacturers don't provide strap buttons, or they don't provide one on the neck side of the guitar. If you want to play using a guitar strap then take a good look at the pictures to see if you need to buy strap buttons along with your guitar. They're easy to install and fairly inexpensive.

Finish and Aesthetics

While ideally, we should be buying instruments primarily for their sound, as human beings, we are often easily lured in good aesthetics. Still, this does not mean that you ought to not consider the overall look of your guitar, because getting a guitar that's nice to look at will impact your overall enjoyment of the instrument, resulting in more inspired playing and practice.

Which Acoustic Guitars are Best for Beginners?

Students of the guitar have special needs, their limited budget must afford them an acoustic guitar that's easy to play, inspiring to look at and good sounding. For a more in depth look at this topic, check out our Guide to Beginner Acoustic Guitars.

Best Acoustic Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 an the current edition was published on August 24, 2021.

We performed another extensive survey of the acoustic guitar landscape completed in August 2021, resulting in 90 acoustic guitars being placed on our short-list for closer examination. We gathered information from over 22,500 review and rating sources which we also processed with the Gearank Algorithm to produce our rating scores out of 100 you see above and selected the highest rated options to recommend within each price bracket.

We only included 6-string, steel string acoustic guitars that are generally full-sized instruments for their type and only ones that are widely available from online music equipment retailers in the USA. The types of acoustic guitars not included here are: Acoustic-Electric, Classical / Nylon String, Travel, Silent and Parlor Guitars.

For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Supplemental product research and writing, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled by Gearank.com including logos which are the property of C.F. Martin & Co., Inc., Taylor-Listug, Inc., Yamaha Corporation, Guild Guitars / Cordoba Music Group and Gearank / Hitsquad Pty. Ltd..

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

Surprised you haven't

Surprised you haven't included the Fender Paramount PM-3 Limited Adirondack 000 Rosewood in your over $1000 priced guitars? I'm really impressed with the tone and build quality of these guitars.

That's an Acoustic-Electric

That's an Acoustic-Electric guitar and so wasn't eligible to be selected for this guide.

The Seagull SWS you have

The Seagull SWS you have listed has 21 frets. I first humbly checked my two Seagulls and the image you provided and sure'nuff all three have 21 frets. It would suck if a prospective buyer sees it's specs listed here and not bother to look at the image.

Thank you Vincent, there was

Thank you Vincent, there was a typographical error which I've now fixed thanks to you.

Where would you rank an

Where would you rank an Augustino Loprinzi acoustic from late 70's to early 80's?

We only provide ratings for

We only provide ratings for music gear and instruments that are currently available new so we can't really help you with that request.

As a result of the January

As a result of the January 2018 update of this guide the following guitars were removed from our recommended list above, either because there were more highly rated options to recommend in the case of acoustic guitars which hadn't been discontinued, or because they were acoustic-electric guitars which we are no longer featuring in this guide:

I have an Enquiry , I am

I have an Enquiry , I am looking to buy a semi-acoustic guitar with a cutaway , I have heard that the Richwood Acoustic D-40CE is a better overall guitar than the EPIPHONE EJ-200CE NAT do you reckon that´s true ? Thanks.

The Richwood Acoustic D-40-CE

The Richwood Acoustic D-40-CE doesn't meet our criterion as a guitar widely available in the USA so we haven't rated it - maybe someone else more familiar with European brands can help you.