Choosing the Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar 2023

Guide to Guitars for Beginners


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Guitar teachers tend to meddle with their students' guitar choice, and the reason is simple - we don't want our students to struggle with quality problems like tuning issues, high string setup, dull sound and more.

I even go out of my way to be with my students when they buy guitars, to minimize any quality related frustration. This is the same principle behind this guide, featured here are top rated acoustic guitars that I consider as best for beginners, to help students avoid problems that may negatively impact their enjoyment and playing improvement.

For this edition, we retained the same format, dividing the guide into three main sections: acoustic, acoustic-electric and classical guitars.

Like our other guides, we feature only ones that you can readily buy within the USA.

Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar - Guitar Teacher's Top Picks

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 for Beginners

Yamaha FS800


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

Street Price: 

Yamaha FS800 Concert Body 6-String Acoustic Guitar


  • Bass has less depth compared to dreadnoughts
  • Lacks treble zing


  • Great value acoustic guitar
  • Solid spruce top with traditional X bracing
  • Great response, sustain and projection
  • Beginner friendly size and neck shape

Yamaha continues to be the brand to beat when it comes to student friendly instruments, so it's only proper that we feature their best rated beginner acoustic guitar - the Yamaha FS800.

This concert body acoustic comes from their popular FG/FS series, and for the price, it comes with nice features that include solid spruce top and traditional scalloped X-bracing support. This makes the top vibrate better, which results in good response, sustain and projection.

Having a smaller concert body makes the FS800 more comfortable for younger players, it also has a slightly shorter scale length that lessens string tension a bit making it easier to play. This comfortable playing feel, together with its nice specs and affordability, makes the FS800 a great choice for beginners.

The smaller profile and shorter scale affect the sound a bit, bumping up the mids without overwhelming other frequencies. This gives it a balanced tone that lets you hear every note of more clearly. This is a type of tone that will sound better as you get more experience and learn about tone complexities. On the flipside, it has less of the boominess and treble crispness that you get from dreadnoughts.

Build quality is better than what you'd normally expect in this price range. The body feels solid and does not fall short from Yamaha's expected quality standards. The neck doesn't feel cheap, rather it feels smooth and comfortable to play.

When it comes to student friendly instruments, it's hard to go wrong with Yamaha, especially if you're going with their top-rated student-friendly acoustic guitar.


  • String Type: Steel
  • Body Shape: Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body: Nato/Okume
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Nut Width: 1.69"

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Acoustic Life Tony Polecastro 94/100
YouTube FNDGuitar 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Ibanez AW54


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

Street Price: 

Ibanez AW54 6-String Acoustic Guitar


  • Sustain is lacking
  • Non-traditional voicing


  • Solid Okoume top
  • Warm mid to upper-mid focused tone
  • Musical sounding harmonic overtones
  • Student friendly playability

The Ibanez Artwood AW54 is a classic looking dreadnought with Ibanez' brand of playability and value for money. It has a neck that's around 0.83" thin, topped with an ovangkol fingerboard with a 15.75" flat radius, both of which result in a comfortable neck profile that is easy on the fretting hand.

The AW54 sports a solid top crafted from renewable wood called okoume, which lets you enjoy the vibrancy of a solid top acoustic at a price point that beginners will appreciate. Okoume's warm response is similar to mahogany, but with a bit more top end. The tone of this guitar is focused on the mids to upper-mids range with lots of nice harmonic overtones, which allows it to better cut through other instruments or through a track your jamming on.

The body follows the classic dreadnought shape, which gives it the low and high end response you'd expect from acoustic guitars. The main difference is that it has a warmer voicing, because of its Okoume tonewood. One downside that I noticed is lack of sustain, although not by much, but it is noticeable.

Build quality is top notch, all the details are done well, including neck, fretwork, finish and body bindings.

All in all, the Ibanez AW54 is a great instrument to learn guitar on, especially for those who are into folk, ballads, and other musical styles that utilize warmer tones.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Okoume
  • Body: Okoume back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.6299"
  • Nut Width: 1.69"

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Hoff Guitars 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars for Beginners

Yamaha FGX800C


95 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha FGX800C - Natural


  • Too big for younger players
  • Lacks low-end
  • Plastic nut and saddle


  • Budget-friendly solid spruce top
  • Good projection and top-end clarity
  • Good build quality
  • Student-friendly playability

The FGX800C is an excellent specimen that showcases Yamaha's reputation for quality student-friendly instruments.

While it is priced slightly above the $300 mark, it is still a good value starter guitar, because you are getting a pickup-equipped solid top guitar, embedded with Yamaha's DNA. The response of the solid spruce top will get better as it ages (your playing will break it in as the wood 'opens up'), in time for you to better appreciate it as you gain more experience. The top is supported by scalloped bracings, which allows the top to resonate better without compromising structural integrity.

The body follows traditional dreadnought profile, but with a cut-away for easier access to higher frets. It's acoustic voicing doesn't stray from what you'd expect of a good solid top dreadnought, having loud projection, full sounding lows, and crisp highs. Chords ring well and sustain nicely, and resonance will get better as the solid top ages. One concern I have is its over-emphasis on attack, which sometimes results in a scratchy tone. As a dreadnought it is also quite big for younger beginners.

An added bonus is its built-in electronics that make it a viable stage instrument for recitals and for other performances. Its nato neck and fretboard also follow conventional specs for familiar playability, and they are built to Yamaha's high quality standards.

The Yamaha FGX800C is a great guitar for beginners that can grow with you as your skills progress and start performing on stage.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: Dreadnought with Cutaway
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body: Nato/Okoume back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.675"
  • Electronics: Yamaha System 66 Electronics

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube The Underemployed Guitar Guys 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Takamine GY11ME


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

Street Price: 

Takamine GY11ME


  • Not as full sounding as bigger acoustics
  • Built-in preamp had issues after 3 years
  • No solid wood on the top or body


  • Student-friendly playability
  • Vintage style square tapered slotted headstock
  • Mid-focused voicing great for blues
  • Reliable tuning and intonation
  • Proven beginner-friendly durability

I was initially drawn to the GY11ME's classic aesthetics, especially its nice looking square tapered slotted headstock. The old school headstock matches its "New Yorker" parlor style body nicely. After finding out that it doesn't have a solid top, I became hesitant. But I still gave it a try, because at that time, I have been hunting for a good parlor guitar.

What made me ultimately decide on taking it home was its easy playability. It has a beginner-friendly mahogany neck with flat fretboard radius, short scale length, and narrow nut width. This makes it ideal for my son who plays on a short scale nylon string guitar. So it made perfect sense to get the GY11ME, my son gets a student friendly acoustic-electric, and I can finally get a nice looking parlor guitar as a beater instrument at home.

The transition into steel string went smooth for my son, and we both ended up using the GY11ME for practice and even on stage. Fast forward to today, the GY11ME is still our go-to practice guitar at home, surviving hours and hours of playing that testifies to its solid build and good quality hardware. It has also seen plenty of stage action, in church services, school events and gigs.

Great looking grab and go guitar - Takamine GY11ME
Here is my GY11ME after the pickup system was replaced; the original preamp is still intact, but no longer used.

Thanks to its mahogany construction and parlor style body, the GY11ME has a warmer tone, which works nicely for old school musical styles like blues, gospel, rock and the like. This means that it won't have the fullness and clear sound of bigger acoustics. But it is still compatible with the type of songs that younger students prefer. It would've been nicer if it the top was solid mahogany, but it probably wouldn't be as beginner friendly in terms of price and reliability.

For plugging in, it comes with a TP-4T pickup and preamp system, which has essential controls including 3-band EQ and gain, as well as a nifty built-in tuner. But it went bad after around 3 years of use, so I ended up replacing it with a Fishman Sonitone. My luthier explained that this is a common problem with preamps that have a tuner button, the tuner button can sometimes go bad and mute the preamp intermittently or totally cut the audio off.

Note that there is a new version of the GY11ME with Takamine's regular headstock and slightly different specs. If you are into the original version's slotted headstock, then you may want to get one ASAP while there are still available stocks from retailers.

Even with its short comings, the GY11ME still is the proverbial stone that can hit two birds: super easy playability that's great for beginners, plus old school vibe that experienced musicians will appreciate. Even after many years of use, my expert review of the Takamine GY11ME is still very much positive.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: New Yorker Parlor
  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Scale Length: 24.8"
  • Nut Width: 1.67"
  • Electronics: Takamine TP-4T

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Acoustic Review Editor 90/100
Gearank Alexander Briones 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

The Best Classical / Nylon String Guitars for Beginners

Yamaha C40 MkII


91 out of 100. Incorporating 1600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha C40 MkII Classical Nylon String Guitar


  • No solid wood component
  • Not for non-classical players


  • Most popular beginner classical guitar
  • Time tested build quality and reliability
  • Good clarity and balanced sound
  • Student friendly playability

The Yamaha C40 MkII is a nylon-string guitar that's widely used by beginner and classical guitar students.

Compared to steel strings, nylon strings are significantly easier to fret, making this guitar ideal for new players, however note that it has a wide nut width following traditional classical guitar specs, which maybe a bit too wide for those who are used to slim profile neck acoustics.

It has to be said that nylon strings are also dramatically different, which can be good or bad depending on the preference of the one who will use the guitar. I got the C40 for my classical guitar lessons, and for that purpose it has served me really well. It has good clarity which is important for learning different techniques, and has balanced bass and treble.

On the other hand, the C40 is not that a good fit for playing modern songs, let alone rock songs. While it can technically be used to play non-classical songs, they will end up sounding different, so carefully consider preferred style of music before getting this guitar.

The Yamaha C40 is not overly impressive on paper, with no solid top and no premium cosmetics. But it easily trumps others with its legacy and longevity. There are simply so many guitar players who started / studied guitar on the C40. I for one can still play my over two decades old Yamaha C40, which still looks and plays good, albeit a-bit battered because of use. When I was taking classical guitar lessons, I used to carry it all over the city where I live in, and I never had any serious issues with it.

If you're aiming for traditional classical guitar tone and playability at a modest price, then this is your best bet.


  • String Type: Nylon String
  • Body Shape: Classical - a little smaller than a Grand Orchestra
  • Top: Laminated Spruce
  • Body: Meranti back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 18 - 12 open
  • Scale Length: 29.5625"
  • Nut Width: 2.0625"

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Mike Paradiso 94/100
YouTube 5 Minute Music 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Cordoba C5


92 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Cordoba C5


  • Slightly modified body


  • Solid Red Cedar Top
  • Good projection and bass/treble definition
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Quality craftsmanship and hardware

Cordoba's fast rise in the nylon string guitar market is undeniable, thanks to their combination of good quality build, modern production and affordable price tags. Case in point is the Cordoba C5, an accessibly priced classical guitar, but with good specs that include having solid red cedar top supported by traditional Spanish fan bracing.

The Cordoba C5 has a slightly modified body, it has a smaller soundhole and slightly bigger body, both of which help improve the guitar's clarity and projection. This subtle differences also make it viable for other styles of music, like bossa nova and flamenco. While this small changes may not appeal to those who are into strictly traditional classical guitar design, the C5's tone is still as classical as it gets - with more bass and treble definition. I can hear note separation clearly, which makes this a great instrument to learn on.

For the price, the C5 comes with bone for the nut and saddles, which is another step up compared to its entry-level counterparts. This ups the sustain and resonance of the guitar by a lot. Cordoba is also known for good workmanship and aesthetics, hence the use of eye candies that include Indian rosewood binding, gold tuners with pearl buttons, and detailed wood rosette inlay.

It may not be entry-level cheap, but all these features add up to make the Cordoba C5 a great value nylon string guitar. More importantly, these upgraded specs translate well in real world playing, with a tone that works well with various Spanish music styles.

This reasonably priced nylon string guitar is a great student friendly instrument that is more than capable of appeasing even advanced players.


  • String Type: Nylon String
  • Body Shape: Classical
  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Body: Laminated Mahogany
  • Number of Frets: 19
  • Scale Length: 25.6"
  • Nut Width: 2"

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
This is Classical Guitar Bradford Werner 96/100
YouTube Florentin Tise Plus 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying a Beginner Acoustic Guitar

Perfect Fit

Acoustic guitars, like all musical instruments, are meant to bring out the musician's distinct style. This is the reason why there really is no one guitar to perfectly fit everyone - rather there are many different guitar designs to cater to personal styles and expressions.

Beginners will usually gravitate towards guitars that are similar to what their favorite musicians use, so the safest choice is to start out on an instrument that looks and sounds familiar. But this is not a strict rule, because some experts will advise beginners to learn on non-familiar instruments like a nylon string guitar to expand their sonic and playing palette right at the start.

Things That Make Beginner Acoustic Guitars Easy (Or Hard) To Play

Playability is a very important factor to consider when getting beginner acoustic guitars. Below are the main factors that make a guitar easy or hard to play.


Action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. If it’s too high (above the fretboard) the strings are hard to press down, and if it’s too low (close to the fretboard) the strings will buzz when you play them, so guitar manufacturers aim to set it at just the right height.

Generally the thickest string on a guitar should be 3/32 inches away from the fretboard and the thinnest string should be 1/16 inches away at the nut (the part of the guitar closest to the tuning pegs). The height of the strings at the twelfth fret (which is in the middle of the neck) should be roughly double the height they are at the nut. As long as the string height is somewhat close to the measurements above you shouldn’t have too many issues. If it’s significantly higher (like ¼”) you’re either going to want to get a set-up or buy a different guitar.

Nut Width

As previously mentioned, a guitar’s nut is what the strings pass through before the fretboard starts. It’s on the end closest to the tuning pegs and has six grooves for the strings to sit in.

Nuts come in different widths. Guitars with wider nuts have the strings spaced farther apart, and the opposite is true for guitars with thinner nuts. The two most common nut widths are 1.69” and 1.75”. Younger musicians, or those of you with smaller hands, may prefer something even thinner (though they won’t necessarily need it!). Note that classical guitar usually have a wider nut with of about 2".

String Type

There are two main types of acoustic guitars: steel string and nylon string. Steel strings, which are steel plated with a bronze alloy, are harder to press down. Younger children (generally under 7), often find it difficult to push these strings down. This is the most familiar configuration, and widely used in majority of music styles.

Nylon strings are obviously made from nylon, a material that give them a different sound and makes them significantly easier to push down than steel strings. This is the most common choice for students who want to learn classical guitar music, but is in no way limited to that, especially popular artists like Jason Mraz using them. Younger players find these strings much easier to press down.

Body Type

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of body shapes and sizes, and the general idea is that bigger bodied guitars have more volume and bottom end, making them sound fuller. Smaller bodied guitars lack low end, which emphasizes the mid and high frequencies, which works great with fingerstyle playing and other similar styles. Big bodied guitars like the dreadnought can be too big for smaller players, so guitars with compact bodies will be more ideal. The type of finish on the body and neck also impacts playing feel and comfort. Personally I prefer satin finish, but it's not very good at protecting the wood. Speaking of protection, the body style and size of your guitar will also dictate the gig bag or guitar case you'll need.

Here we’ve ordered the most commonly found body styles in order of biggest to smallest:

  • Jumbo
  • Dreadnought
  • Slope-Shoulder Dreadnought
  • Grand Orchestra
  • 000
  • Classical
  • 00
  • Parlor

What is the Best Guitar for Short Fingers?

Most of the guitars featured here have 1.69" nut width, which is a standard specification used by many guitar manufacturers, and is known to be good enough even for young players. Still we have to mention that at 1.67", the Takamine GY11ME has the narrowest nut width in this list, although it only wins by a tiny fraction.

Guitars with narrow nut widths and flat fingerboard radius are easier for those with short fingers, 3/4 size guitars and parlor guitars usually fall into this category, but not always. Classical guitars (and nylon string guitars in general) usually have wide nut widths at around 2", which may make fretting some chords harder for those with short fingers. But this does not mean that classical guitars are impossible, because while it may be hard at first, the wider string spacing opens up the fretting hand better, improving stretching ability and strength. This is the reason why I've taught many young guitarists on classical guitars, and other guitar teachers do the same.

Acoustic-Electric Guitars

The simple addition of a compact piezo pickup and preamp system can turn your acoustic guitar into a stage ready instrument. And this added function makes them the best deals to get for serious students of the instrument. These days, there are many beginner acoustics that come with pickups right out of the box. This is the reason why we added a section that features the best beginner acoustic electric guitars, so you can take your starter guitar with you on stage. Acoustic-electric guitars are highly recommend for fast learners that serious guitar player students, so they won't have to buy another guitar for their performances when amplification is needed. Big name brands are aware of this, and have been offering student friendly guitars with built-in pickups, like the Martin LX1E.

What To Expect During Your First Few Weeks of Playing the Guitar

The first month of guitar playing is going to be the hardest. The reason for this is that when you start playing you don’t have any calluses, so playing your guitar for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a stretch is going to hurt the tips of your fingers. Though if you stick with it, by the time you’ve been playing for three or four months you’ll have a few good calluses built up.

Your main concern should be overplaying. We know it’s tempting, especially when you first get your guitar, to play for long periods of time. However, if you do this before you’ve built up the proper musculature you can actually cause permanent damage to your body. So when you’re just starting, take a 15 minute break for every 30 minutes you play. You can extend these times when you’ve been playing for a longer period of time, though make an effort to not exceed two hours in one sitting.

Tips on Practicing

Everyone learns differently, so it’s hard to suggest a one-size-fits-all approach to practicing the guitar. With that being said, the most important thing to remember is that learning the guitar is a process. No one is awesome at playing an instrument when they first start. In fact, most musicians struggle for a while before they really start learning. So even though it may be difficult, just keep working at it.

Also, if you’re not going to invest in guitar lessons most musicians have a pretty good experience with Hal Leonard books. The company also publishes books on different styles for more advanced musicians. There’s also a ton of great YouTuber’s creating lessons. Literally all you have to do to find them is type “Beginner Guitar Lessons” in YouTube’s search bar and you’ll find what you need to get started.

Advanced Topics

We didn't want to include a lot of additional information which could be confusing for beginners and which isn't necessary for anyone just starting out. However, if you'd like to read more advanced information about things such as Tonewoods, Scale Lengths or Acoustic-Electric Guitars, then please read Tips for Acoustic Guitar Buyers.

Beginner Acoustic Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017.

All the staff and this guide's author play acoustic guitar, so between us we decided that the main criterion for the guitars to be considered for this guide is that they should be relatively easy to play. With that in mind, we created a list of candidates that had suitable nut widths, scale lengths, body types, and string types, that we know from experience will make learning to play as painless and enjoyable as possible to help beginners get through the first few weeks of learning and practice.

For this 2023 edition, we retained the 3 main sections that feature regular acoustic guitars, classical guitars, and acoustic-electric guitars. We've also increased the price range to $500 to account for market price changes. This still limits the list to budget friendly options, but if you have extra dough, you can go for beginner acoustic guitars from premium brands like the Taylor Academy 10, Martin D Jr-10, and the like.

As always, only those that are available from major online music gear retailers in the USA are included. If you'd like to know how the Gearank scores out of 100 were calculated then please read How Gearank Works.

Further Advice

If after reading this guide you still have some questions about buying your first guitar, please feel free to post questions in the comments section below and we'll help you out.

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.

My first acoustic guitar was a cheap Ovation knock-off that had ridiculously high unplayable action. It was not until a few years later when I was given a Yamaha C40 that I actually started enjoying playing. After having gone through this frustration, I've made it my personal mission to prevent other students from suffering the same fate.


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


Main/Top Image: based on a stock photograph in the public domain.

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

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


Thank you, this really helped

Thank you, this really helped a lot. My son wants to start playing and I had no idea where to start. I now feel Confident that I will be making the right purchase for him. Now all I need is ear plugs ???

I am learning to play guitar

I am learning to play guitar and the only chord I am having trouble with is C. Having short large fingers means that the G string does not ring clear. Should I look for a guitar with a larger nut or switch to Nylon. Both have been recommended to me by guitar players.

Larger nut widths, which is

Larger nut widths, which is what nylon string guitars tend to have, are easier to play with thicker fingers, so I agree with the advice you have received.

Maybe you could go into a large guitar shop and try a few different options to see what feels best for you.

I am also a senior person

I am also a senior person considering learning how to play the guitar for the first time. There is a small music store in my neighborhood that I am planning on purchasing my guitar. The store only carries two companies and Teton Guitars is the larger of the two. My question is do you recommend Teton Guitars? How do they compare to the companies/models you recommend for beginners. The model suggested by the store is STS10NT. What do you think of this model? Thanks for any recommendations you may have.

Teton is a brand that isn't

Teton is a brand that isn't sold by any of the major online music gear stores so they don't feature very prominently in our research.

The handful of ratings and reviews I've seen for the brand are good, but we have no rating data on the model you asked about.

Our recommendations are the ones you see listed above for beginner guitars.

I recently purchased an

I recently purchased an Ibanez SGT130 for my husband for his birthday. How does that compare to the Ibanez AW54 listed above?

I am a singer and want to

I am a singer and want to learn guitar. I want to sing solos with my guitar do you suggest the Yamaha FS830 or FS800. i know there's a cost difference, but i prefer to have the better sound for solo. R&B, Soul, Gospel.

The main difference between

The main difference between the two models you mentioned is the wood used for the back and sides, which is laminate okoume for the FS800, and laminate rosewood for the FS830.

While laminate rosewood will definitely look better, the difference in tone between these two laminate wood is not going to be enough to justify the price increase. And with the FS800 having substantially higher ratings, market response seems to agree with my opinion.

So, if forced to choose between the two, I'd go for the FS800.

Interesting question!

Interesting question!

We haven't created one, but we do list the nut widths of all the guitars above under Specifications in their individual descriptions.

Hi. A senior beginner here.

Hi. A senior beginner here. I appreciate your advice on guitars for beginners. I am considering some steel-string acoustics from Yamaha, specifically the FS800 series(Concert body type) and The Yamaha FG800 series (Dreadnought body type). I have also come across the Epiphone Hummingbird Artist acoustic, and am interested in that as well. Just wondering if you would have any thoughts on any or all of the above. Thanks very much for your time. Matt

The Yamaha FG800's edge is

The Yamaha FG800's edge is its solid spruce top, while the Epiphone Hummingbird's advantage is its aesthetic appeal. Note that we don't have data for the FS800, but being from Yamaha, I wouldn't be surprised to find it doing just as well.

Although outside the scope of this guide, the guitars you mentioned are reasonably priced and similarly rated. So it'll mostly boil down to your preference: either you want to go for a solid top with conventional appearance, or a premium looking guitar with laminate top.