The Best Acoustic Guitars - Between $100 & $2000

The Highest Rated Acoustic Guitars

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The more playing experience you gain, the more you are exposed to the many different guitar brands and builds. You then learn of their impact on tone, playability and their musical applications. This exposure results in an ever growing need to expand your budget and make room for another acoustic guitar.

Here we look at current market favorite acoustic guitars, covering all prices 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. This March 2022 Edition shows the continued popularity of all-mahogany acoustics as they secured multiple recommendations in this guide with their superb ratings.

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.

If you're into small-bodied acoustics for their focussed mid-range tone and easy playability, then check out our guide to The Best Parlor Guitars.

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

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my 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.

Yamaha F325D Dreadnought

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$170
Yamaha F325D Dreadnought
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $200

The F325D is an affordable dreadnought acoustic that is built to meet the quality standards of Yamaha.

To keep the price low, Yamaha utilized cost-effective materials including laminated spruce for the top, and sapele (low-cost alternative to mahogany) for the back and sides.

The body follows traditional dreadnought shape, and comes with streamlined aesthetics.

It is joined with a nato neck that also complies with familiar specifications, with a shorter 25.5" scale length and 1.6875" nut width.

Specs

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Sapele
  • Finish: Gloss Natural
  • Bridge: Walnut or Laurel
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Walnut or Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.75"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Owners of the Yamaha F325D are impressed with its overall quality, which they consider to be above their expectations given its price. Most of the positive reviews are from beginners who are pleased at the guitar's solid build, smooth playability and ringing sound. There are also a few experienced musicians who find the F325D to be a good starter guitar.

Cons

There are a few who rated the guitar lower because of shipping related problems. Others report fret and string setup up issues, including a few who found the strings to be rusty right out of the box, but this was a rare occurrence.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable dreadnought acoustic with good build quality, then this is for you.

Beginner Bundle Option

Ibanez IJVC50 Jampack

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$170
Ibanez IJVC50 Jampack

The Ibanez IJVC50 Jampack is an affordable guitar bundle that includes essential accessories.

At its core is a grand concert size acoustic, which has a narrower waist that makes it more comfortable to play, while retaining loud enough acoustic projection. This shape is inspired by old orchestral acoustic guitars used in large ensembles back when there were no amplifiers to plug into.

Given its affordable price, it is built using affordable tonewoods that include laminate spruce for the top and meranti for the back and sides.

But what separates it from other entry-level acoustics is that this one is built to Ibanez' standards, which are known for reliability and playability.

This package includes a gig bag, guitar strap, electronic tuner, accessory pouch and guitar picks.

Specs

  • Body Shape: Grand Concert
  • Top: Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Meranti
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Nandu
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Neck Profile: V-shape
  • Fingerboard: Nandu
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.84"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.36”
  • Nut Width: 1.65"

Pros

Reviewers describe the IJVC50 Jampack as a good starter guitar package, with most commendations coming from young novices and the people that gift this package to them. Given its price, many are surprised at its full sound and playability, while others are pleased at its tuning stability and overall build quality. Another common theme in reviews is that this bundle gives you more than your money's worth.

Cons

There are a few reports of missing accessories upon opening the package - make sure you buy from a reputable seller. A few experienced musicians caution beginners about sharp fret ends - you may need to do a bit of filing down to make them smoother if that's your preference.

Overall

Ibanez IJVC50 Jampack is a good value starter acoustic for those who want a big bodied acoustic with extra projection.

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

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$220
Yamaha FS800 Concert Body 6-String Acoustic Guitar
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar Under $300.

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

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.

Specs

  • Body Shape: Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Nato/Okume
  • Scalloped Bracing
    (1) Scalloped Bracing. (2) Normal Bracing.
  • 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 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.

Ibanez AW54

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Ibanez AW54 6-String 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 as seen in the image below.

Specs

  • 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 say in their reviews 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.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

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

Yamaha FG830

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$340
Yamaha FG830 6-String Acoustic Guitar
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $300 to $500.

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

Specs

  • 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: 15.7"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

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. In his Music Radar review, Dave Burrluck said, "comparing the FG830 with a much more expensive USA solid wood spruce/rosewood dread (a new Taylor 410) we're hearing a guitar that on all levels, not least sound, punches way above its price."

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 out especially when you consider how expensive other similarly spec'ed guitars are.

Martin D Jr-10

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Martin D Jr-10 6-String Acoustic Guitar

The D Jr-10 represents C.F. Martin & Co.'s successful foray into the mid-tier market, a "junior" size version of their popular dreadnought shape guitar.

Being the company that developed the dreadnought, Martin is certainly the authority when it comes to its design, so it's not surprising that their miniature version is well received.

For the price, this guitar comes with good specs, sporting a solid wood body, solid sitka spruce for the top, and solid sapele for the back and sides. And since it is built to meet the quality standards of Martin, you can expect good quality playability and tone from it, albeit different from its regular sized dreadnought siblings.

Everything else about it is also scaled down, including the neck which has a shorter 24" scale length and a narrower 1.75" nutwidth. The neck follows Martin's "High Performance Taper" profile, which is their own modified low oval shape.

Specs

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought Jr
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Solid Sapele
  • Finish: Satin
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Neck: Richlite
  • Neck Profile: High Performance Taper (Modified Low Oval)
  • Fingerboard: Richlite
  • Fingerboard Radius: 16"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 24”
  • Nut Width: 1.75"

Pros

The Martin D Jr-10 is junior in size, but big in terms of quality. Owners find its overall build quality to be up to Martin's standards, which is quite a treat in its price range. It gets commended for its tone, which many say lives up to the company's name. While others love the easier playability that its shorter scale length offers, it is especially appreciated by older musicians who wants a comfortable yet good sounding acoustic.

Cons

Given its smaller body, it will not have the same projection and low end as regular dreadnoughts.

Overall

The Martin D Jr-10 is a great entry-way into the world of premium acoustics, highly recommended for those who want an easy to play guitar.

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 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$599
Taylor Academy 10 Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $500 to $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.

Specs

  • 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, however, there are many who felt that they got more than their money's worth from this guitar.

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 $1500

Martin 000-15M

99
GEARANK

99 out of 100. Incorporating 425+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1349
Martin 000-15M 6-String 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 company is one of the most revered and long lived producers of acoustic guitars that have been the weapon of choice for many professional 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.

Specs

  • 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 owners use to describe its tone, while others focus their praise on its classic appeal, build quality and playability. Speaking of playability, even experienced guitarists 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 350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1349
Martin D-15M 6-String 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.

Specs

  • 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. But there are a few who wish it had better cosmetic appointments.

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.

The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000

Guild M-20

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1599
Guild M-20 6-String Acoustic Guitar

The M-20 is part of Guild's modern reproduction of their old '60s acoustics that were competing well with established brands like Martin at the time.

This particular model sports a concert shape, with a narrower waist than a dreadnought and compact dimensions that make it more comfortable to play, and which gives it a midrange-focused tone.

Its all-solid mahogany wood construction complements its mid-focused tone further, while also adding to its earthy appeal.

To complete its period correct styling, Guild opted for stripped down aesthetics.

The neck sports a shorter than average scale length of 24.75", but contrasted by a slightly wider nut width of 1.75".

Specs

  • Body Shape: M - Concert
  • Top: Solid African Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid African Mahogany
  • Finish: Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Bridge: Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: C Shape
  • Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Nut Width: 1.75"

Pros

"Like an old friend", as one reviewer wrote, nicely encapsulates market sentiment towards the Guild M-20. Many love its overall vintage appeal that matches its comfortable playing feel. Others rave about its old school flavor warm tone, and overall vibe. Cordoba (Guild's current parent company) was able to inject their brand of build quality into the M-20, and this is reflected in reviews that praise its craftsmanship. Huw Price summarized his Guitar.com review by saying, "Our overall impression is that the powers that be at the new Guild factory are showing due deference to Guild’s heritage and no corners are being cut. Back in the day, Guild was up there with the best and we’re pleased to report that it still is."

Cons

It's all mahogany concert body limits its projection and low-end, and this is obvious when compared to a conventional spruce topped dreadnought acoustic.

Overall

If you are into old school stripped down aesthetics and want a premium all-mahogany concert acoustic, then check out the Guild M-20.

Guild D-20

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1599
Guild D-20 Dreadnought 6-String Acoustic Guitar

Guild has a long history of producing good quality acoustics.

Case in point is the D-20, a modern take on Guild's Westerly era (late '60s) dreadnought, that meets the quality and craftsmanship standards of their new parent company, Cordoba.

The Guild D-20 is an all-solid body dreadnought, featuring solid African mahogany for the top, back and sides, and is available in vintage sunburst or natural finish.

This wood combination and shape gives the D-20 a warmer tone while retaining the projection and bottom end expected from a dreadnought.

Everything about it follows familiar specs, including its 25.6" scale length, 1.6875" nut width and 12" fingerboard radius.

Aesthetic appointments are kept to minimum, resulting in a streamlined look that lets its natural wood grains take the spotlight.

Specs

  • Body Shape: D - Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid African Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Solid African Mahogany
  • Finish: Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Bridge: Indian Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: C Shape
  • Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Frets to Body: 14
  • Scale Length: 25.6”
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"

Pros

Tone is the biggest reason why users rate this guitar highly, described as warm and balanced, with good projection. Others appreciate its full bass notes that make this guitar a great accompaniment tool be it for plucking or strumming. Huw Price of Guitar.com agrees with market sentiment, concluding his review by saying that the D-20 has "fuller midrange and better frequency balance". Most users also appreciate its craftsmanship, which they consider to be much more premium than its actual price. With good construction also comes good playing feel and aesthetics, and these are also reflected in reviews.

Cons

With its all-mahogany body, it may not have the trebly zing that you'd normally expect from a spruce top dreadnought.

Overall

If you're looking for a vintage style all-mahogany dreadnought, then this is definitely worth checking out.

Martin 000-15SM Mahogany

98
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$1649
Martin 000-15SM Mahogany 6-String Acoustic Guitar
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic Guitar from $1500 to $2000.

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.

Martin Slotted Headstock
     Martin Slotted Headstock

Specs

  • 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. Build quality also gets a lot of kudos, which is important given its top-shelf pricing.

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 says 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 March 23, 2021.

We started by having an extensive survey of the acoustic guitar landscape in March 2022 and we ended up with 97 acoustic guitars being placed on our short-list for closer examination - you can see the list in the Music Gear Database. This entailed the gathering of relevant reviews and ratings data of over 25,100 sources, all of which were processed via the Gearank Algorithm to produce our rating scores out of 100 you see above. Finally, we 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

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

Here are some of the acoustic guitars and related gear I own:

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: 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.