The Best Acoustic Guitars - Between $100 & $2000

The Highest Rated Acoustic Guitars

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With so many options available, picking a single acoustic guitar can be a daunting task, even more so if you consider that the needs and expectations of guitarists differ as you move up in price range. Here we help you narrow down your options to only those worth considering, conveniently grouped into their specific price ranges.

We started off by scouting for the most popular and highly rated acoustics, and for this 2019 update, we ended up with an initial list of 88 guitars. Next, we examined relevant reviews, recommendations and ratings, including the most recent ones up to the September of 2019 - all adding up to over 8,600 review and rating sources. These data were then processed via the Gearank algorithm which gave us scores that closely reflect market sentiment - allowing us to confidently trim down the list to just the best acoustic guitars grouped in their price ranges, from under $200 up to $2000.

Also new to this guide is sub-section for acoustic guitars priced between $1,000 and $1,500, in response to the growing popularity of guitars in this price range. We've also added Pros and Cons for each of our recommendations, so you can get a good overview of actual feedback from owners and experts.

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

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200

If these top rated guitars don't quite fit what you're looking for then you can find additional options in the GuitarSite guide to Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars Under $200

Washburn Harvest Series D7S

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$199
Washburn WD7S Acoustic Guitar

When it comes to entry-level acoustic guitars, Washburn is known for great value, as exemplified by the Harvest Series D7S. For the price, you are getting a true solid spruce top dreadnought, with mahogany back and sides.

Neck specifications stay true to classic dreadnought designs, with its 25.5" scale length and 1.6875" nut width. While others can offer something with similar specs, only Washburn can do that without holding back on aesthetics, as seen in the D7S' custom wood inlaid rosette, which visually sets it apart from other budget dreads.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Bridge: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Ovangkol
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

It is commended mostly for its value for money, almost everyone who bought this guitar report that it is a steal. Build quality and aesthetics are also often praised, while others are just as impressed with its familiar dreadnought tone and playability.

Cons

As is the case with most entry level acoustics, there are some who are not too happy with the guitar's setup out of the box, stating that only after getting it setup properly did they get the most out of the D7S.

Overall

If you're looking for a distinct looking solid top that will not burn a hole in your wallet, then check this guitar out.

Ibanez AW54

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
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: Laminate Okoume
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Neck Profile: Slim (21mm at 1st Fret)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400mm
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.629"
  • Nut Width: 43mm

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 solidtop acoustic guitar that's easy on the pocket, then check out the Ibanez AW54.

Yamaha FG800

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha is a company that's been producing musical instruments ever since its inception, and their over 130 years of experience and expertise has expanded into guitars. 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: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Slim Tapered
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400mm
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25 9/16”
  • Nut Width: 43mm

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.

Yamaha FS800

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Yamaha FS800 - Natural

At the time of publication the Yamaha FS800 was the highest rated acoustic guitar under $200.

Yamaha's FG/FS series continue to get rave reviews, even more so with the addition of 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 also 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: 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

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 gives it comes with a solid spruce top and x-bracing.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300

If the following options don't suit you then you should read the GuitarSite guide to The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300 which is based on Gearank ratings as of August 2019.

Takamine GD20

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Takamine GD20 6 String Acoustic Guitar

The Takamine GD20 is solid-cedar topped acoustic guitar, a type of wood commonly used in classical guitars, which results in warmer tones. Since Takamine guitars are known for their brighter voicing, the use of cedar balances out the overall tone.

Another interesting feature of this guitar is Takamine's split-saddle, which comes in two pieces. Because of this, the positions of the strings are better positioned for improved intonation. This is especially useful when your playing intricate passages on the upper frets of the guitar.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Slim
  • Fingerboard: Ovangkol
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.3”
  • Nut Width: 42.8mm

Pros

Playability seems to be the strong suit of this guitar, as expressed by both novice and experienced players. Many are also impressed with its tone, including some who own more expensive guitars from well known brands. Many flatpickers and fingerstyle players gave their thumbs up for the way it handles their playing style.

Cons

There are a few who reported minor aesthetic issues, while some are not too happy with the quality of the default strings it came with.

Overall

With its high rating and good reputation, this should be high on your list if you're looking for a good solid cedar top dreadnought.

Ibanez AC240

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$300
Ibanez AC240 OPN 6 String Electric Guitar

At the time of publication the Ibanez AC240 was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $200 and $300.

The Ibanez AC240 (also know as the AC240 OPN) is a grand concert profile guitar, which is the next size down from the dreadnought. This body style is known for its more pronounced mid-range, making it a great choice for musicians who want to focus on finger-style arrangements and lead flatpicking.

Like most of Ibanez' entry-level acoustics, the AC240 OPN is crafted using okoume wood, an alternative to mahogany. This particular model has a solid okoume top which gives it its a warmer voicing, and balances the brighter tone that's expected from its body profile. Another interesting feature of this guitar is that it has an open finish, meaning that the pores of the wood are exposed to the air. In practice, it’s not objective what impact (if any) this has on the tone. However, it definitely doesn’t hurt the guitar in any way.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Grand Concert
  • Top: Solid Okoume
  • Back and Sides: Laminated Okoume
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Neck Profile: Slim (21mm at 1F)
  • Fingerboard: Ovangkol
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400mm
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 24.96"
  • Nut Width: 45mm

Pros

Getting a lot high 5 star ratings is good enough by itself, but having many users write long and detailed reviews of how happy they are with their guitar, now that is something special. And this is exactly what we found with the Ibanez AC240, as many of its owners are passionate in sharing how satisfied they are with its tone and playability. A good number of them report that this is a great bargain, they feel strong enough to recommend it to friends.

Cons

Rusted strings out of the box and some shipping related issues are mentioned in reviews, but all-in-all new owners are still pleased with the performance of the instrument.

Overall

Easy on the hands and on the pocket, this is well worth considering for those who want a non-dreadnought acoustic guitar.

Yamaha FG830

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar

The Yamaha FG830 is a very similar instrument to the FG800, with the most important difference being that the FG830 comes with 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 won'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 the FG800 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 $500

Taylor Big Baby BBT

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Taylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar

The Taylor Big Baby line is a series of guitars aimed at students and musicians on the go, featuring smaller body profiles that's easier to carry around and play on. The Big Baby BBT in particular is based on the dreadnought, only this one is around 15/16th of its size.

It is crafted using sapele, which features many of the same characteristics found in mahogany, including the overall warm voicing as well as the strong mid-range presence. The main difference is that sapele is more renewable, and it has bit more high-end frequency response than mahogany, although the difference is not too big.

Note: Sapele is sometimes referred to as mahogany…because it is mahogany. However, it’s a separate species of the wood from the more widely used Honduran mahogany. That’s why in the video the guitar is referred to as having mahogany back and sides.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought (15/16 size)
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Laminated Sapele
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: African Ebony
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Neck Profile: Taylor Big Baby Profile
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Stated
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25 ½”
  • Nut Width: 42.8mm

Pros

One user rightly describes the Taylor BBT as "unexpectedly good", and his statement encapsulates what many users feel about the instrument. Beginners who are lucky enough to start with this guitar are all praises about its playability, while experienced guitarists are impressed with its tone.

Cons

There are some build quality concerns that were raised, from minor cosmetic issues to a loose pickguard. There are also a few who question its reliability, with some reports of the guitar having neck / action issues within a year of use.

Overall

If you're looking for a quality portable guitar from a premium brand, then this maybe a good match for you..

Seagull S6 Original

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$419
Seagull Guitars S6 Original

At the time of publication the Seagull S6 Original was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $300 and $500.

Seagull continues to get rave reviews for the quality and tone of their instruments, case in point is their flagship guitar S6 Original, which continues to gather high ratings. It has many stand-out features, the most distinct of which is the use of wild cherry for the back and sides, a staple wood used on many Godin (Seagull's parent company) guitars. The top is also quite special, having been crafted from solid cedar that went through pressure testing.

While very similar to a dreadnought, the S6 Original's body shape is subtly modified to cut some unwanted boominess. Other features include a set-neck crafted from silver leaf maple, TUSQ nut and compensated saddle, and a distinctly tapered headstock that aligns the strings to the tuners which results in good tuning stability.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Modified Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Back and Sides: Wild Cherry
  • Finish: Natural Semi-Gloss
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Silver Leaf Maple
  • Neck Profile: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25 ½”
  • Nut Width: 45.72mm

Pros

Being the highest rated acoustic guitar in a very competitive price range is definitely impressive, and its all thanks to the many users who are genuinely impressed with the overall value and quality of the Seagull S6 Original. Superb, awesome and excellent are just some of the many ways owners describe the guitar. Its slight mid-range emphasis is greatly appreciated by solo singers who also play guitar. More and more positive reviews are also pouring in from guitarists of varying experience and playing styles, attesting to its versatility.

Cons

As expected, Seagull cannot please everyone, so there are a few who are unimpressed with the S6 Original's tone, specifically those who are used to traditional solid spruce top equipped dreadnoughts.

Overall

If you want nothing less than what the market actually deems as the best in its price range, then get the Seagull S6 Original.

Taylor Academy 10

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Taylor Academy 10

As the name itself implies, 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 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 in the market.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Spruce Top
  • Back and Sides: Sapele
  • Finish: Varnish
  • Bridge: Not Specified
  • 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 mostly 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 moneys worth.

Overall

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

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1000

Alvarez MFA66 Masterworks

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$600
Alvarez MFA66

Alvarez guitars know how to ruffle the feathers of big brands with their value packed mid-tier priced acoustics, a good example of which is the MFA66. This guitar gives you quite a lot for your money, starting with its all-solid wood design, down to its cosmetic appointments.

While it's not unusual to see solid mahogany top guitars in this price range, it won't be as easy to match the MFA66's solid mahogany back, sides and neck. It's even more impressive when you factor in other features like its forward shifted scalloped bracing, Paua Abalone Body purfling and inlays, acacia binding, real bone nut/saddle and ebony bridge pins.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Folk
  • Top: Solid African Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid African Mahogany
  • Finish: Shadowburst Finish
  • Bridge: Bi-Level Polished Rosewood Bridge
  • Neck: Solid Mahogany Neck
  • Neck Profile: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 24.8"
  • Nut Width: 1.75"

Pros

The Alvarez MFA66 continues to surpass the expectations of guitarists, many of whom are very happy with what they got for the money that they spent. Tone plays a big role in impressing users enough to write their reviews, while build quality and aesthetics come pretty close. One user describes it as an incredible guitar, and this simple description accurately summarizes what many guitar players feel about the MFA66.

Cons

There are a few reports of out-of-the-box shipping related issues, but outside of those, this guitar gets mostly positive reviews.

Overall

With its impressive specs and looks, it's not that hard to understand why the MFA66 secured a spot here for Alvarez guitars.

Guild OM-120 Orchestra 6-String Acoustic Guitar

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$699
Guild OM-120 Orchestra 6-String Acoustic Guitar

At the time of publication, the Guild OM-120 was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $500 and $1,000.

There's just something about the quality of Guild guitars that make them sought after, even by artists who aren't their endorsers. A good example of which is the Guild OM-120, an all-mahogany orchestra profile body guitar. The OM-120 features an all-solid African mahogany body, which gives it a very earthy appearance. This choice of wood works well with its orchestra (OM) body shape to give it a warm and somewhat trebly tone.

The most distinct feature of this guitar is its headstock emblem which is based on what the company used back in the '60s. Specs and playability wise, the guitar does not steer away from familiar territory, with its vintage-profile 25.5" scale C-shape neck, topped with a fretboard crafted from Indian rosewood. Note that the nut width is a bit wider than normal at 1.75", but it is still within conventional territory, especially among OM style guitars.

Features:

  • Body Shape:
  • Top: Solid African Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid African Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss Polyurethane Natural
  • Bridge: Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: C Shape
  • Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.75"

Pros

Tone seems to be its biggest asset, which one user describes as sweet sounding, a good one word summary of how most owners perceive its tone. Appreciation for Guild's attention to detail is also a common theme among reviews, which applies to both playability and build quality.

Cons

While most users are happy with its warm tone, some feel that that the bottom end is a bit lacking, but this is to be expected especially when comparing with bigger guitars like dreadnoughts and jumbos. It's slightly wider nut can be a deal breaker for some, but getting familiar with it is not too hard given the quality of the neck. Also note that many OM guitars seem to adopt this wider nutwidth design.

Overall

With the Guild OM-120, you're getting premium all-solid wood specs at a more reasonable price tag, highly recommended.

Blueridge BR-140

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$865
Blueridge BR-140 Acoustic Guitar

Blueridge’s BR-140 is a Martin-styled dreadnought, at a more affordable price point. The BR-140 is arguably the closest you’re going to get to that pre-War Martin tone while still keeping your budget under $1000. Because of this, it’s a great deal if you’re looking for a Bluegrass guitar especially. However, the BR-140 is also at home with singer-songwriter work and vintage finger-style arrangements as well.

The best thing about this guitar is that it’s actually made from all-solid woods. The tone you get from this instrument is going to be significantly better than the tone you’ll get from a laminated instrument, making the extra investment worth it if you’re serious about getting good acoustic tone.

Features:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Solid Honduras Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Slim
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Stated
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.6”
  • Nut Width: 43mm

Pros

As expected, there are plenty of favorable comparisons with Martin dreads, be it as a more affordable alternative, or as a backup/portable substitute for their expensive guitars. Some even report that it can stand its ground when paired with iconic guitars like the Martin D-18. Many describe the tone of this guitar as being bright with full bass much like traditional dreadnoughts.

Cons

There are a few who complain about the action being a bit higher than what they're used to, but this is a common issue among old school American made acoustics.

Overall

If your're looking for a reasonably priced all solid wood dreadnought based on classic designs, then do check out the Blueridge BR-140.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1500

Martin Custom D Classic Mahogany

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1200
Martin Custom D Classic Mahogany Dreadnought

While C.F. Martin & Co is still the brand to beat when it comes premium acoustic steel string guitars, the company has been successfully extending their reach to relatively lower price ranges. The Custom D is a good example, described as one of their most affordable American-made all-solid wood dreadnought.

Solid Sitka spruce is used for the guitar's top, while solid mahogany is used for the back and sides, all of which are built to their strict quality standards in their Nazareth Pennsylvania facility. It also features a dovetail neck joint, which is preferred by many for its effect on overall resonance and sustain. More importantly, all these features are packaged in a guitar that's reasonably priced (relatively speaking).

Features:

  • Body Shape:
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Satin
  • Bridge: Solid Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Solid Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval
  • Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.4"
  • Nut Width: 43mm"

Pros

Most, if not all owners of the Martin Custom D, are pleased with how well built the guitar is. There are many reports of its quality surpassing expectations, and many of those who bought the guitar online (without testing it beforehand) are impressed. Many are surprised at how playable it is out of the box. One user compared its playability to butter, a good one word representation of how most users feel about this guitar. As expected from a Martin, it also gets a lot of thumbs up for its bright yet punchy tone.

Cons

Lack of aesthetic appointments is a downer for a few, one user describes it as a very basic looking acoustic. But this is expected given that for the money you are getting a premium spec'ed US-made Martin guitar.

Overall

Considering its all solid wood construction, the Martin Custom D Classic Mahogany is a great bargain, highly recommended for those who aren't that into aesthetics.

Martin 000-15M

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1299
Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar

Martin is a household name 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: 43mm

Pros

With its almost perfect overall rating at major retailers, there's quite a lot of great things have been said about this guitar. Organic, natural and mellow are interesting words that users use to describe the sound of the Martin 000-15M. Most are impressed with its solid build and playability, including experienced players who find it a joy to play right out of the box. There are also many who compliment its streamlined simple appearance.

Cons

Speaking of simple, there are a few who feel that the guitar is too bare-boned 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 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1299
Martin D-15M Acoustic Guitar

At the time of publication, the Martin D-15M was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $1,000 and $1,500 and the first acoustic guitar to achieve a Gearank rating of 99!

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: 43mm

Pros

Being a dreadnought, this guitar is expected to be a fantastic rhythm instrument, and reviewers agree. Being a dreadnought, it an 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 play styles. Many reviewers say that it feels solid and is well built, down to minute details.

Cons

With its almost perfect score, there's not much negative to report on. Although there are some who wish that the guitar was not so bare looking.

Overall

When it comes to dreadnoughts, you're 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.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000

Martin 000-15SM Mahogany

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1599
Martin 000-15sm

At the time of publication, this was the highest rated acoustic guitar between $1,500 and $2,000.

The Martin 000-15SM is a compact parlor style guitar that harkens back to the "blues box" guitars of the 1930s, 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 is 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: 44.45mm

Pros

There's just something special about 12-fret parlor guitars, especially if it has a slotted headstock to complete its classic look. This is exactly what the 000-15SM is, with Martin's brand of premium build quality backing it up. So it's not much of a surprise to find it being rated highly, almost perfect, at most retailers. 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!

Guild D-40 USA Dreadnought

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1599
Guild D-40 USA Dreadnought Natural

Part of Guild's premium line of traditionally crafted guitars, the D-40 showcases what the brand is all about. It is a modern recreation of the original D-40 from the '60s that up to this day are still highly revered and in-demand.

Continuing the legacy of its namesake, the current line of D-40s sports an all solid tonewood body, with its top crafted from solid Adirondack spruce, while solid mahogany is used for the back and sides. Supporting the top are scalloped Adirondack spruce bracings, which also improves resonance. It also features bone nut and saddle, a mahogany neck, and a dovetail joint. Cosmetic appointments include tortoiseshell pickguard, binding and rosette, and it is wrapped in premium nitro finish to complete its classic feel and appearance.

Features:

  • Body Shape:
  • Top: Solid Adirondack Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Solid African Mahogany
  • Finish: Nitro
  • Bridge: Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: C Profile
  • Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius:12"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.625"
  • Nut Width: 43mm

Pros

One user says that his Guild D-40 is a "dream to play", and his sentiment is shared by many users, including experienced guitarists who have owned the original D-40. There are also plenty of users who commend it for handling various playing styles, from hard picking to intricate plucking. Greg Cahill of Acoustic Guitar Magazine concludes his review of the Guild D-40 by saying: "Power, punch, clarity, and playability, the D-40 checks all the boxes for an impressive dreadnought."

Cons

There are a few owners who recommend restringing the D-40 as soon as possible to get it sounding at its best.

Overall

With its legacy and continued high ratings, this premium American made instrument is well worth the investment.

Tips for Acoustic Guitar Buyers

  • 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.

    On the other hand, brands such as Ovation, and to a lesser extent Rainsong, have had a great deal of commercial success with acoustic guitars that use non-wood composite materials in a large part of their construction.

    Due to environmental considerations, many high-end manufacturers are now including composite woods in places like the fretboard or even sometimes on the top of the guitar where they would have previously used a solid wood. Based on many expert reviews and comparisons it would appear that the high end brands are now doing this quite successfully in terms of the quality and effectiveness of the finished product.

    The most important place to have solid wood is on the top of the guitar as this typically has the most influence on projection and sustain, but this tends to cost more than having a laminate top.

    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 higher 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 which combines 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.

  • 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

This guide was first published on November 3, 2016 written by Jason Horton. The latest major revision was published on September 18, 2019 written by Alexander Briones with contributions from Mason Hoberg and Jason Horton.

We performed a new extensive survey of the acoustic guitar landscape completed in September 2019 resulting in 88 acoustic guitars being placed on our short-list for closer examination. We gathered information from over 8,600 review and rating sources which we also processed with the Gearank Algorithm to produce the scores out of 100 you see above and selected the highest rated options within each price bracket to recommend.

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. Note that we did include guitars with parlor-sized bodies if they had a full scale length neck.

For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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