You’ve decided on your new passion – the guitar. It’s an instrument you’ve always wanted to play, but you’ve never allowed yourself the time or budget to start your music journey.
If you’re waiting for permission to discover your music groove, this is it – we’re giving it to you.
Whether you’ve raided your savings account, wisely saved up, or even dipped into your kids’ college fund, you still need a clue of what to look for. Don’t be the fool in the music store getting duped into a buy that’s not right for you.
We’re here to give you the heads up on the best acoustic guitars and noted brands within your budget range that you won’t have to feel guilty about buying. After this, you won’t be the fool any longer.
How to Choose an Acoustic Guitar
Not all acoustic guitars are equally made, and that may be obvious by their very diverse price ranges. Neither do they have the same playability or ease-of-use even though they essentially have the same components.
Believe it or not, acoustic guitars can vary in shape, size, and materials. The differences can make or break your experience. So, where’s the middle ground?
Guitars don’t necessarily come in a one-size-fits-all package. We’ve categorized our top acoustic guitars into the categories that may prove to be convenient for you. Are you an adult with smaller hands? A full-size dreadnought may not be at the top of the list, but a scaled-down or 3/4-size guitar may do you one better.
Planning on flying the skies or hitting the pavement with your trusty axe at your side? Perhaps a mini size guitar or one with travel-friendly features might appeal to you. Beginners might want to test the waters of affordable guitars before dedicating a large sum of cash on one that might not yet suit their lack of skill.
Feel free to strum by our top picks since we’ve thought of it all. With plenty of options, there’s sure to be a guitar that will speak to you.
Best Acoustic Guitar for the Money
It’s unlikely you’ve inherited an antique guitar that’s been collecting dust and value over the decades it’s been sitting in the attic. So, you’re going to have to set some budget restraints if you plan on paying your mortgage and keeping your kids fed and clothed this month.
But, how much do you spend if you’re a beginner? What if you want a guitar that’s good enough for recording? Are there guitars that have more value than its price tag? Are the accessories included in a bundle any good or are they junk?
We’ve filtered through the best acoustics in every popular price category in the market. Here, you’ll see where you can get the best of what’s offered in that price range even if you only have 100 bucks to spare or a grand to burn.
A-Z of The Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
It’s easy to think of the giant guitar brands that obviously have a huge footprint in the market. We recommend quite a few of them too, but the price difference is something that can’t go unnoticed.
So, we also looked at what other guitars they offered, and we also found some excellent brands that may not be as well known. They’ve proved their value to the market with high quality guitars and low prices that are justifiably attractive when you can’t afford a name-brand instrument.
We’ve vetted these brands and have checked in with the masses, and if we could give three thumbs up, we would. For now, we’ve settled with two.
If you’re wary of new brands just barely in the market, you won’t have to worry about Alvarez.
They’ve probably been around longer than you’ve been alive.
They know what they’re doing, and it’s apparent with the amount of quality they offer in their guitars.
Maybe it’s their tone, craftsmanship, and feel that has artists turning to Alvarez.
Blueridge is a brand owned by Saga Musical Instruments, but Blueridge is known for its own respects. Made in China, they’re especially known for their affordability and quality. They’ve been praised in the media, and they’ve been swung by many famous musicians in the guitar industry. But, Blueridge is particularly noted for their prewar and historic reproduction models that many bluegrass and folk players love.
Bristol is a family brand of Blueridge which is a sub brand of Saga Musical Instruments.
Bristol by Blueridge guitars offer entry-level and beginner quality that don’t cost a fortune.
Saga proves that they can hit any price point so that every aspiring musician can afford a trustworthy instrument.
Traditional sound, good quality, and low prices is something Bristol can do, and do it well they do.
This company is young, it’s just a babe, but with its new entrance to the market, they’re dedicated to bringing the latest innovation, developments, and manufacturing techniques to the music game. Their concept is to provide quality that’s good enough for the pros while allowing their instruments to be approachable for every player regardless of budget. Don’t be surprised if you see a trend with Donner throwing in extra freebies and/or bundle kits in the guitar buy.
Guitar brands don’t get much older than Epiphone, although they haven’t always been known as Epiphone. These days, we know Epiphone is owned by the parent brand of Gibson, and with that comes a tall order of quality expectations, and yes, they don’t just make electric guitars.
Epiphone knows how to draw out the authentic sound of an acoustic with their many models. Trying to list every Epiphone player in history would take a whole page of its own. Will you be one of them?
Everyone knows Fender. They are, after all, the largest guitar manufacturer in the world, and they’ve been around for longer than half a century. With their seemingly never-ending inventory of guitars, they can offer price ranges, quality, and value that most other manufacturers can’t keep up with. Whether it’s your first-time buy, beginner guitar or an expensive, professional model, it’s a given that Fender has it.
Gibson. The brand name is a full sentence in and of itself. They’ve established themselves in history with their eclectic electric guitars and their acoustic masterpieces.
Maestro by Gibson is a legitimate Gibson-owned brand that brings that Gibson touch at a much more affordable price point. When there’s this brand labeled on your headstock, why put your money anywhere else?
“That great Gretsch sound” has been a catchphrase for a long time. Gretsch is one of the oldest manufacturers on the block with over a century of experience in the industry, and now their great sound is available around the world. In 2002, Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) took over manufacturing and distributing to help players around the globe get their hands on an iconic American guitar.
Gretsch has been praised by many a famous guitar artist, and you’ll know why when you get your hands on one. FMIC is the same parent company of Fender, Squier, Jackson, and many others.
Technically, Ibanez has been around since the turn of the 20th century, but Ibanez as we know it officially came into the picture in the ’50s. They have a significant history in seeing the Japanese manufacturer into the United States game, and Ibanez continues to prove that they’re worth playing. We’re fascinated by their guitars, especially when it comes to quality, craftsmanship, beauty, and value embedded in one guitar. Ibanez proves that one guitar can certainly have it all.
KMC is the parent company of Jasmine guitars. This might come as news to you since Jasmine once had its day as a Takamine brand. Since that is no longer the case, should you be worried about quality and craftsmanship? No!
KMC has continued to maintain the high standards of what you have come to expect out of a Jasmine guitar. They’re gorgeous, sound beautiful, and they’re priced just right. Jasmine brings a whole new world to the entry-level market.
Luna Guitars is unique. It’s not just about the wood and metal components that makes it a fantastic guitar, but it’s also about its soul. When you feel the undeniable attraction to a Luna instrument that goes beyond its visually stunning appeal, don’t deny it and roll with it.
Expression is at the corner stone owning a Luna guitar. Not only does the finish embody a part of you, the guitar allows you to express the songs in your heart. This would make a lot more sense if you just check out the Luna guitar. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.
There’s no way we were going to leave a Martin out of our lineups. They’re not only well-known for their high-end productions, but they’ve also hit it out of the ball park with the low-cost crowd. They’ve introduced some solid guitars for solid prices that the affordable market goes nuts over… and, why wouldn’t they?
Martin makes their own strings, they have access to incredible tonewoods, and they go back almost two centuries in time. They’re almost peerless in the industry. We may as well say, “The buck stops here.”
This Canadian company is all hard-work, innovation, and passion. Although they’re relatively young, they’ve gone straight to sprinting in the guitar industry. They’ve dived right into American sales, Europe distributions, and they offer the latest, most-advanced tech that you’ll find on a guitar.
Riversong is especially known for their unconventional, and yet, forward-thinking approach of a neck-thru design. The advantages are many, and their design concepts and ideas continue to materialize allowing a guitar that is not only tonally balanced, but it projects and resonates like no other guitar can do.
Rogue is a house-brand guitar for Musician’s Friend, and it will consistently make in the top charts across the board. They came into the picture near the close of the 20th century, and they’ve continued to up their reputation and game ever since. Their guitars are Asian-made, have low price tags, and they’re great as first-time buys or entry-level instruments.
Their low costs come in with a slash to mark-up, and of course, some compromise to materials. However, Rogue tries to go above and beyond in creating transcendent guitars with exceptional value for the cost-conscious buyer.
“Handmade in Canada since 1982.” How do you ignore a headline like that? Seagull takes the personal approach further than most other guitar manufacturers. It’s why their guitars are revered at the top of the standard in any lineup.
Seagull makes all their guitars in Canada, something they are proud of, and they should be. From start to finish, these guitars get all the oversight needed to ensure every penny you spend has value. Believing in sustainability, they source their tonewoods from their very own backyard. Guitars truly don’t get better than this.
Simon & Patrick
S&P are owned by the same parent company as Seagull – Godin Guitars. If you’re familiar with Seagull, then you know exactly what to expect with S&P. That North American touch to your guitar is sometimes all the difference you need to sound and look superb against other artists.
S&P specialize in mid to high grade steel string acoustics. It’s what they do, every day, all day. If you want a guitar recommended by experts, then buy from the experts. Makes sense.
Takamine is another reputed brand that has high quality and excellent craftsmanship pouring out of its sound hole. The Japanese brand has earned its own in the competitive community of authoritative guitar manufacturers.
They continue to release limited signature models every year since 1987, and they’ve been in the industry long enough to celebrate its 50th anniversary. When there’s a Takamine in your budget-range, you’d be wise to snatch it up before someone else does.
Taylor might not be as old as some other giant brands we know of, but that hasn’t stopped them from gaining a worldwide reputation and presence in guitar manufacturing. Their guitars are known as innovative, easy to play, sustainable, and not without quality craftsmanship that executes excruciating attention to detail.
Many an artist owns a Taylor. Many a collector owns a Taylor. Perhaps, you may yet own a Taylor?
Voyage-Air is entrepreneurism at its best. Some of you may know this brand in the media with its multiple debuts on Shark Tank. But, apart from its celebrity-status conception, it’s literally a guitar that’s perfect for the traveling musician.
It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a toy. It’s a guitar that folds in half. How? Why? What? There’s a lot of components that makes this feature work. But, you’ll have to check the brand out to get all your questions answered.
Yamaha is a household name. It’s a brand that you turn to for nearly any home appliance, electronic, sporting good, and even vehicle. But, we also know that it holds a substantial footing in the music industry that of course includes guitars, and they’ve been doing it since 1942.
The inventory list of Yamaha guitars is extensive, and it just keeps on going. They dabble in price ranges both for the cost-conscious and high rollers. They’re a brand that you would look to for a beginner purchase as well as a brand that you can count on for a high-end model. We couldn’t expect anything less from them. It’s Yamaha.
Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide
How Much Should You Spend on an Acoustic Guitar?
This is probably the first and foremost concern when you’ve got a case of the strums to buy an acoustic guitar online. The general rule of thumb is to the buy the best of what you can afford – wife’s protests be damned! Just kidding – sort of.
If you’re a beginner, a quality, double-digit guitar can suffice, but most of the time people will opt for a second-hand guitar for a starter instrument. No problems there unless you want brand new. Our highly rated Jasmine S35 is the answer to those prayers. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get the best beginner acoustic guitar for somewhere in the $300 range.
Intermediate players may play be a little more daring when it comes to budget. You’d want to look for better quality tonewoods, fancier bracings, and finer craftsmanship – all of which will have a tremendous impact on sound, playability, and performance.
But, for the more serious guitarists of them all, you’d want to look in the upwards of $1000. Don’t get too crazy though since these once-in-a-lifetime buys can easily steer you into the $5000-$8000 price range!
There must be no exception to getting the absolute best of the best when it comes to spending in the triple zero price range. We’re talking about solid-wood, pro-level, highly-specialized, and hand-crafted quality. These are the only factors that will ease the pains of the stomach ulcer your gut created when you see the price tags on these gems.
Acoustic vs Acoustic Electric Guitars
Which is better? It depends on who you ask, what you play, and your personal style. But we say, get ’em both!
An acoustic guitar is traditional and timeless. It’s something nearly every guitarist started with sitting on the trunk of his car in front of a small crowd of teens at the Friday night bonfire.
Benefits of Acoustic Guitars
- Rich and true acoustics
- No limitations on portability
- Wider fret boards
- Larger string spacing – excellent for picking
- Perfect for use with vocals
- Builds finger and hand strength
While acoustic electric guitars have all the same perks of an acoustic guitar, you have the added advantage of plugging in and showing off your skills to the crowd as to ensure you’ll be heard. Just don’t forget that there will be extra costs involved such as tuners, pedals, pickups, and amps.
For more info on our choice of the top acoustic electric guitars, “pick it” up here! (You know that pun is totally intended!) You might also like to check out the best electric guitar models if you are not sold on an acoustic git and want to check out the electric competition.
Tips to Setting Up Your Acoustic Guitar
It doesn’t matter what the salesman or the online advertisement says, all guitars should be customized and set up according to your preferences as soon as you get your hands on it. This means tuning it, setting the action level, and even some simple neck adjustments.
Cheaper acoustic guitars can frequently become out of tune throughout the day. This is to be expected from the cheaper materials used to make the guitar. However, the more money you spend on one, the less often you’ll have to tune it. But, tuning is always going to be something you will have to do despite how much you laid down on your money-making gem.
Intonation is pitch accuracy and refers to how well the guitar is in tune throughout the entire neck – up and down. While there are many methods to check the intonation of an acoustic guitar, including the use of a tuner, a fast and simple way is to play an open D chord and then play it again at the 14th fret. If it sounds off, then you know you have to make an adjustment.
Finally, after each string has been tuned, play an open harmonic at the 12th fret. If it sounds good, you’re ready to do some jamming!
Sometimes the action is too high for many beginner players and the raw skin on your fingers will quickly learn this with the expected calluses. Unless higher action is your kind of thing for higher and clearer sound with a punch, you might want to lower the action by bringing in the strings closer to the fretboard but allowing it to be slightly higher in the 12th fret.
As long as the neck and nut hasn’t been damaged, you can make a simple truss rod adjustment to do this in a jiffy. Either loosen or tighten the truss rod and check the action again on the 12th fret. If this fixed it, voila, you’re done. But you also may want to adjust the action at the nut and the bridge if it’s still not right. Otherwise, you might have a defective neck. Boo!
See a Doc
Beginners shouldn’t turn to DIY methods, especially if it’s on a new guitar. But, if you can’t get your adjustments right, you might want to see a dealer or a repairer about making the adjustments for you which can cost a few bucks.
You might want more involved work which might offset the cost of your new instrument. If you go this route, especially on an expensive, vintage, and beloved guitar, make sure you play and test it out before finalizing the cost of the repairs to ensure the guitar is to your liking.
Aesthetics of Acoustic Guitars
While a sunburst finish or a flashy red gloss might offer a unique appeal, it doesn’t necessarily add to the sound punch or performance of a guitar. In fact, it can actually take away from the quality of resonance and sustain.
That’s why some of the top acoustic guitars have a natural finish where you can see the wood grain. Additional finishes and heavy glosses can diminish the sound.
While pearl inlays, signature scribbles, customized trim, and gold-plated tuners certainly can attract some much-wanted attention, they have little to do with sound. If you have the money to drop on a babe of a guitar, then by all means, be our guest.
But, don’t write off an ugly guitar because it might not have “sex appeal”. You might find that it has all the curves and singing voices you could want that can quickly outweigh any seemingly attractive aesthetics.
Know Your Strum!
The best guitar buy is going to be an informed buy! Know what you’re looking for, know what you want, and know how much you want to spend.
Getting caught off guard by a salesman who says you only need to spend a little bit more to get better is always going to be true. But, stick to your guns, know your strum, and play your own buying tune!