Best Acoustic Guitars in 2017 – reviewed right here!
So here we go guys, we’ve prepared this huge list of the best acoustic guitars out there on the market today for you to check out – all costing below $1000! Although we have simplified a lot of the information, pros and those with larger budgets should still be able to take something from this in depth article. At the bottom of the page you will find some more general advice and tips regarding acoustic guitars in general. If you would like to contribute or have any suggestions, then please do not hesitate to contact us via the contact page. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into what we consider to be the best acoustic guitars on the market for 2017!
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $1000
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $500
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $300
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $200
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $100
- Best Value-for-Money Acoustic Guitars
- Best Travel Acoustic Guitars
- Best Acoustic Bass Guitars
- Best Acoustic Electric Guitars
- Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners (Beginner Kits)
- Best Acoustic Resonator Guitars
- How To Choose The Right Acoustic Guitar For You
- Choosing an Acoustic Guitar: General Tips
- Which acoustic guitar is best for beginners?
- What are acoustic guitars made of?
- How are acoustic guitars made?
- What is a good size and shape for an acoustic guitar?
- When is a plectrum needed?
- Which acoustic guitar brands are most respected?
- Where are acoustic guitars usually made?
- Should I get an acoustic or electro-acoustic guitar?
- Nylon or steel strings?
Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $1000
The Blueridge BR-163CE Historic Series Cutaway Acoustic-Electric 000 Guitar has a solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped braces that gives players a crisp tone and clean articulation. The back and sides are made of solid, durable Indian rosewood, to guarantee a deep bass and strong cutting power.
The neck is a slim mahogany piece that offers fast and easy action; the wood itself guarantees long-lasting stability. It has an onboard tuner and features a distinctive herringbone marquetry, snowflake position markers, a Dalmatian tortoise-style pickguard and a Fishman Presys Blend transducer system. This guitar is constructed with a forward-shifted X-brace pattern for the top and uses a nut width of 1 11/16 for easier fingerstyle playing.
What could put you off is that the tuning pegs don’t hold tuning very well–you may prefer to replace them with another set. And though it plays nicely, some cosmetic flaws–like some excess lacquer perhaps–can be off-putting for some folks. But if you’re looking for a small-bodied guitar that’s easy to play and bring everywhere, this is the instrument for you.
- Good build
- Excellent performance
- Great sound
- Easy to play
- Tuning pegs not that great
- Big price
This grand auditorium electro-acoustic guitar from Taylor features Sapele laminate for its back and sides, a top of Sitka spruce, a Sapele neck and a plastic soundhole rosette. The 114ce is a great all-around guitar that is highly responsive to strumming, fingerpicking and flatpicking.
This guitar comes with Taylor’s Expression System 2 pickup, which produces a natural amplified sound. This guitar also features a three-ring rosette, a genuine ebony bridge and fretboard as well as Italian acrylic dot fretboard inlays. Black binding coupled with a black pickguard round off the look of the whole package. It looks simple and elegant, which may charm some people but put off others who may find the guitar too plain-looking. It’s really a matter of taste.
Amazingly light at only 12 pounds, this versatile instrument is something young players can definitely grow up with. It’s comfortable to play, responsive, has a bright clear sound and is a Taylor to the core. However, it’s really better suited for intermediate to advanced-level players. While it’s not bad for beginners, there are other, better options for a starter guitar.
- Simple design
- Great playability
- Great choice for advanced players
- Tuners not that great
Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $500
If you’re looking for a 12-string guitar that comes fully equipped with all the bells and whistles for live gigs, then this would fit the bill nicely. The Ibanez Exotic Wood Series’ rich sound is visually complemented by a figured-ash top and body and an abalone rosette. The striking package looks great hung on a wall, but why do that when you can take it out for a tour?
We agree this instrument sounds as beautiful as it looks. Doing live performances with this guitar is easy with its B-Band UST pickup and SRTn preamp with notch filter and tuner. This model is the first 12-string guitar in the Ibanez Exotic Wood Series, and does it deliver! It has a great tone by itself and plugged, you’ll never want to put it down.
It doesn’t come with a case however, so buying one would add to your total. An Ibanez hard case can cost about $100 or so. There are other guitar cases you can try out, such as the Gator Cases GWE-DREAD 12 Acoustic (the guitar fits in this nicely). Also, you may prefer to replace the strings and get a more accurate tuner. For the price though, tuning every now and then is something you can definitely put up with.
- Amazing sound
- Looks fantastic
- Great value for money
- No case included
Seagull has been making waves in the music industry, and it’s especially true in the case of its S6 guitar. Outstanding craftsmanship is reflected in the guitar’s overall package, from the solid cedar top to the genuine lacquer finish and hand-finished neck. The classic dreadnought shape features sides made of Canadian wild cherry, a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, while the neck is from silver maple leaf.
The S6 is a great instrument for those looking for an entry-level yet high-quality acoustic guitar. It has a bright tone and great clean sound–not for those inclined to bass-driven bluesy sounds. Everything about it says quality, but without the premium price.
Performance is superb overall, though some folks may find it quite pricey for an acoustic. Still, this is a treasure even seasoned musicians would love to keep close.
- Joy to play and has rich tone
- Sounds great and stays in tune
- Nice and sturdy
- Action may be a bit high for some
Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $300
WARNING : The Amazon vendor has since increased this price to slightly above $300 since we first reviewed it in July 2017.
The Hummingbird has always been a go-to acoustic for folks like Keith Richards, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and Noel Gallagher when they need a rhythm guitar with that balanced, “woody” tone. When Keith Richards first played a Hummingbird, it didn’t have the cutting-edge pickup system like it does now.
The Epiphone Hummingbird PRO’s Shadow ePerformer preamp and Shadow NanoFlex pickup system lets you plug the guitar in for crowds big and small. This electro-acoustic features a solid spruce top that improves with age the more you play it–and we gather that will be for a long, long time.
The guitar’s neck and body are made from select mahogany while the fingerboard is made from rosewood. The fingerboard is nicely designed with pearloid parallelogram inlays. The Hummingbird PRO also features the classic sloped dovewing headstock that Epiphone guitars are known for.
Sound-wise however, some musicians may find the guitar lacking in terms of bass response–it is a Hummingbird after all. The pickup may not be as responsive as many players want, and some may also prefer to replace the strings with another set of better quality.
- Excellent build
- Looks fantastic
- Great for beginners
- Could sound a little tinny to a pro
- Strings not brilliant
Yes, you can finally own a Fender for less than $300! This extremely affordable 12-string acoustic-electric offering from one of the world’s most trusted guitar companies combines a great sound and easy playability with powerful onboard electronics, built-in tuner included.
The CD-60SCE-12 Dreadnought features a single-cutaway body that makes it easy to access the upper frets and a solid mahogany back and sides. The top is made from solid spruce for that crisp sound and increased volume, making this a perfect instrument for having around everywhere, from intimate coffeehouse gigs to a cozy campfire setting.
The Fishman pickup/preamp system provides players with a variety of onboard controls to amplify their performance without compromising the guitar’s inherently pure and resonant tone. The easy-to-play neck has a rolled fingerboard edges, making the guitar incredibly comfortable to play, especially for beginners.
A few notes about the guitar though: the tuning pegs may seem a bit sensitive, but the guitar stays in tune well. The strings aren’t all that amazing–nothing a quick replacement can’t fix. We still say it’s quality without the price, making it one of our top favorites.
- Extremely slick design
- Great tone
- Some build issues reported
Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $200
The OG2 from Oscar Schmidt is a deep dreadnought acoustic with a full resonance. The “SM” stands for spalted maple (for the top), and each guitar looks unique because of it. This acoustic isn’t all about looks–it also brings with it a bright sound with good string clarity.
This acoustic has laminate catalpa for the back and sides and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. This model has a synthetic bone nut and saddle, while the rosewood bridge has the brand’s distinctive look. And while the OG2SM doesn’t have the tonal depth of a guitar with a more solid tonewood, it does have a very nice clear sound and it projects well.
For a below-$200 price point, the OG2SM is a good choice, especially for beginners inclined toward a bigger guitar body. The action is low, making it easy to play. A word of caution however: some guitars may get damaged in transit, so it’s best to have it inspected and professionally set up before playing. You may prefer to replace the nut and bridge, or set it up according to your tastes.
- Sexy design - even better in person!
- Great sound
- Great value for money
- Build quality not always reliable
- Not too comfortable to play
Proving to be a powerful competitor to the OG2 from Oscar Schmidt is this model from Gretsch. The G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is part of the company’s Roots collection, and it brings back the distinctive sound and feel of Gretsch’s Rex acoustic guitar, which was one of the most popular guitars from the Thirties to the Fifties.
This parlor-sized guitar packs a lot of volume punch for its size, thanks to the elongated upper bout and 12-fret design. You can even say the projection quality seems to be better than a larger guitar! Plus, it’s made of agathis, a highly resonant wood that delivers the mellow, warm tone of mahogany and combines it with the classic resonance of pine.
Because of its size–a 24” scale–you can easily take this Gretsch anywhere–to your favorite coffeeshop or busking corner, for example. However, some people may find the action a bit high, so a bit of sanding may be required to lower the string height and make it easier to play.
- Great playability
- Great volume and tone
- Cheap laminate wood build
- Can sound a bit tinny
Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $100
Who would have known you can get an amazing guitar for less than $100? If you’re looking for a small guitar for a child or young teen learning to play, this one won’t disappoint. Many people think a cheap guitar translates to a horrible-sounding one, but that’s definitely not the case with this Rogue.
The smaller profile makes it a great first guitar for kids, but it also has a nice tone. You can lower the action and change the strings to suit your playing taste, as it may be a hit too high for some players. You may also have to get it set up first, as it’s not exactly playable right out of the box. Then give it to a child as a starter guitar or bring it to your camping trip–do whatever you will, this little guitar will hold its own.
- Great choice for a first guitar
- Cool colour and design
- Small guitar so good for kids
- Flimsy and cheap build
- Needs frequent retunes
Another top choice as the best budget acoustic guitar is this nice offering from Jasmine. Natural satin finish, laminate spruce top, sapele back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and a dreadnought body style–it’s got the “good body” basics down pat, and for less than $100, you really can’t ask for anything more.
This guitar features Jasmine’s Advanced X Bracing system, which has a forward-shifted X-bracing pattern. This essentially positions the wood braces nearer the soundhole, which results in a more open and livelier sound.
The Jasmine S34C NEX is definitely great for beginners looking for a well-built starter guitar that’s easy to play and comes with superb value at less than $100. It may need some prior setting up however, especially when it comes to tuning, sanding down the fret bars and having strings replaced. Still, the decent quality of the guitar–from the workmanship to the sound–makes it seem like this model is worth hundreds more.
- Very slick design
- Very comfortable to play - lightweight
- Hard to beat at this price range
- Issues with build quality
- String action not great
Best Value-for-Money Acoustic Guitars
The Little Martin is an extremely affordable instrument for the quality it brings, making it one of our top choices when it comes to being a great all-around compact acoustic guitar. With its feature-packed smaller size, you can definitely bring it anywhere!
The Little Martin LX1 features a high-pressure mahogany pattern laminate with a textured finish, a solid Sitka spruce top, chrome small-knob tuning machines, a Tusq saddle, a Rust Stratabond neck and East Indian rosewood or Solid Morado fingerboard. It’s definitely a Martin all around, with a great range and it’s amazingly easy to play.
Enthusiasts looking for a take-anywhere guitar would love this model. This is a great choice for beginners as well. Plus, it comes with a padded gig bag. Sound-wise however, it may be tinny to some ears–we suggest trying it out first at a music store. If you like it the sound, then it’s all good.
- Lightweight and compact
- Decent build
- An Ed Sheeran favorite
- Sounds a little tinny
Look, it’s a little dreadnought! This adorable Baby Taylor comes packed with everything Taylor guitars are known for. It was first conceived as a starter instrument for children, but it’s been praised by even the most grown-up of guitar players because of its quality and great value for money.
The Baby Taylor features a solid mahogany top, layered sapele back and sides, Taylor Standard Baby X-Bracing and a natural matte body finish. The fingerboard is made of genuine African ebony while the neck is made of sapele. It packs quite a volume for such a small package.
It also comes with a durable gig bag so you can definitely take it along with you anywhere life takes you. Taylor Swift takes her Baby Taylor along with her on tours so she can create music on the go, and so can you. You may need to tune the guitar frequently however, as it gets out of tune easily.
- Stays in tune
- Amazing sound
- Compact design - good for kids
- Sounds a little tinny
Best Travel Acoustic Guitars
If the Little Martin LX1 is one of our top choices as the best value-for-money guitar, the LXK2 makes it as one of our top choices as a travel guitar. It’s not just for road trips, either–with its smaller size, this is an exceptional guitar for children and beginners with small hands.
The modified 0-14 Martin body features a Micarta fretboard and bridge, a wood-pattern high-pressure laminate top with Sitka spruce bracing, Stratabond modified low-oval neck and 23” scale. The overall build quality is robust, with a nice finish that can endure scratches from lugging around everywhere.
This travel guitar comes with a padded gig back for easier portability. If you’re looking for a guitar to take with you on your camping trip or cross-country adventure, this Little Martin will definitely be a staunch companion.
It does have a few flaws however, particularly the tuners and strings. Both aren’t too good and may need to be replaced. They’re not terrible per se but if you’re looking for a performance guitar, this Little Martin may not be up to task straight out of the box.
- Small and compact
- Loud and bold
- Great for busking
- Tone a little limited
- Tuners not that great
Instruments from Traveler Guitars are fast becoming favorites among touring musicians. The Traveler Acoustic AG-105EQ is the shortest full-scale hollowbody acoustic-electric guitar on the market today. It features a modified traditional bracing pattern that makes for an increased volume and greater presence all around.
Traveler makes use of its Streamline Tuning System to eliminate the need for a headstock, making the AG-105EQ smaller and better-balanced than other travel guitars in its range. This model also includes a built-in tuner, a custom Shadow preamp and an onboard headphone amp with an 1/8 inch aux-in jack, so you’re all set!
With the AG-105EQ, you’ll have both playability and portability, making it your perfect partner on the road. It comes with a gig bag too, of course. The only serious downside is perhaps the price–at a little less than $400, it’s not exactly cheap, but considering the quality, serious players will get more than their money’s worth.
- The tone is second-to-none
- Comes with a solid and beautiful gig bag
- Packs a punch for its size
- Possibility of some blemishes in the build
Best Acoustic Bass Guitars
If you like the warm and rich sound of an acoustic bass guitar, the 4-string AEB10E from Ibanez is definitely one to consider, whether you’re playing plugged or unplugged. This guitar features a spruce top and mahogany neck, sides and back, along with pearl dot inlays. The fretboard and bridge are made of rosewood.
Plugged in, you’ll be happy to have the Fishman Sonicore pickup and SST preamp on your side for that superior, solid sound and full tones. But there are a couple of things about the construction that you may not be too fond of: you’ll have to do some adjustments with regard to the saddle if you hear a slight fret buzz, and a bit of filing on the fret ends that stick out.
- Looks great
- Sounds good either acoustic or amplified
- Strings a little noisy
This acoustic-electric wonder from Fender is every bass player’s dream. The Fender Kingman Bass SCE is a distinctive instrument that features a vintage-inspired three-ply gold pickguard as well as the classic Fender Jazz Bass headstock, tuners and neck profile. It also has a vintage-style Fender Viking bridge and bone nut and saddle.
This Fender acoustic-electric bass has a cutaway body with solid spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. The mahogany sides and back lends to a richer, more defined and resonant bass sound. This guitar has a maple neck and 20-fret fingerboard of rosewood, and already comes with a Fishman Presys pickup system that features a tuner, active onboard preamp, low battery indicator and volume/tone controls.
All in all great specs, but those specs also make the guitar top heavy, so you’ll really have to balance everything out with your right arm.
- Beautiful finish
- Great quality wood
- Powerful sound
- Not that loud unplugged
- A little neck heavy
Best Acoustic Electric Guitars
Epiphone’s aptly named “King of the Flattops” has been modified with a nice cutaway for total upper fret access and an eSonic2 preamp system. The J-200 style was originally introduced way back in 1937, and its legacy now lives on in the EJ-200SCE.
Many of the world’s top musicians, including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Don Everly, Pete Townshend and Buddy Holly made the J-200 their rhythm guitar of choice. If you want to emulate the greats, you won’t go wrong with having your own Epiphone.
This acoustic-electric features a classic shape with a solid spruce top and select maple back and sides, a classic rosewood “mustache” bridge and revolutionary NanoFlex and Nanomag pickups. The fingerboard is also maple, and it has a vintage-style pearloid crown inlays.
Straight out of the box, the factory settings may be all right for some, while others may want to have the guitar professionally set up to address fret buzz issues and shave down the bridge. The eSonic2 also may not be up to par with the electronics in more expensive guitars out there, but for its price category it’s actually pretty good.
- Full and powerful sound: electric or acoustic!
- Versatile range of tones
- Looks fantastic
- Some fret buzz reported
This may be a full-scale acoustic-electric guitar from top to bottom, but the Jameson Acoustic Electric Guitar has a 3-inch thinline body. It has a single cutaway for a comfortable playing experience, making it a great instrument for guitarists of all skill levels.
The high-gloss finish gives this Jameson guitar a striking appearance. The guitar is available in blue, black or natural finish. It has a rosewood fingerboard, nato body, spruce top and enclosed die-cast tuning gears usually only found in more expensive models.
The action may be a bit high however, and the edges of the metal frets may need to be sanded down or filed as these extend over the neck. With that said, you may have to have the guitar professionally inspected and set up. Some folks probably wouldn’t mind paying extra for that anyway, considering the guitar’s price.
- Bargain basement price
- Impressive color
- Plays well for the money
- Some string buzz after a few months
Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners (Beginner Kits)
The PR-4E is the younger sibling of the well-acclaimed PR-5E. The PR-4E electro-acoustic player pack is perfect for beginners as it comes already paired with a Studio-10 acoustic amp (with balanced and line inputs), a tuner, an instructional DVD, picks, cord, strap and gig bag. It’s a starter pack just waiting to go on stage or in the studio.
The PR-4E features a mahogany body in a cutaway style and select spruce top. The next is also mahogany while the fingerboard is rosewood. The controls for the Studio-10 Acoustic Amp that comes with the guitar include volume, treble, bass, gain, mid and a boost switch. The amp is versatile and ideal as a practice amp, making it suitable for beginners.
Now for the cons: the guitar is not immediately playable out of the box. Beginners will do well to have it inspected and set up first to check for defects, make some necessary adjustments and address fret buzz issues.
- Great value for money
- Looks great
- As good as $1000 for a beginner
- Doesnt come set up
- Not a strong build
The Jasmine S35 features a laminate spruce top and satin finish, laminated nato back and sides, rosewood fretboard and chrome-covered tuning machines. The rosewood bridge is paired with a synthetic bone saddle and bone nut. This dreadnought has all the basics covered.
Nice, simple and solidly built, the Jasmine S35 is perfect for beginners wanting to learn but not wanting to spend a fortune on their first guitar. For the price, it has a surprisingly balanced and rich sound with enough definition to work with. The sound quality exceeds the guitar’s price range. For beginners, this is really a decent guitar that is more than capable of providing hours of practice–you wouldn’t go wrong with it.
You would, however, need to have it set up professionally first, which would mean spending money on adjustments and probably a new set of strings.
- Plays well and sounds great
- Quite resilient for a cheap guitar
- Ideal for a learner
- Build quality not great
- May need help setting up
Best Acoustic Resonator Guitars
If you’re wondering why there are so many Epiphone guitars on this page, that’s because that’s simply how great Epiphone is at creating guitars to suit every taste and budget. Now we have another Epiphone, this time in the resonator guitar category.
The Dobro Resonator guitar has been an icon in the American music scene since the 1920s. This model, the Hound Dog Round Neck, is an improvement over the earlier resonator with its new proprietary nickel-plated Dobro cone. It brings back that much-loved Dobro sound, which will surely thrill country, blues, bluegrass and folk music lovers.
This resonator guitar features an open Soundwell Design for tone balance, nickel-plated hardware and fan pattern coverplate, rosewood fingerboard and a classic single-cone resonator/spider bridge construction.
The only caveat perhaps is in the pickup–it may not be as consistent as expected in terms of output, which means that while the Dobro Hound Dog sounds great acoustically, it may not perform just as well when plugged in.
A resonator that not only looks fantastic but sounds great as well, the Gretsch G9220 Bobtail will make you weep in delight. The G9220 Bobtail is part of Gretsch’s Roots Collection and features a mahogany top, body and neck as well as a rosewood fingerboard and “F” soundholes. The build quality is exceptional and the guitar definitely exceeds expectations in the looks department.
The Ampli-Sonic spider cone (hand-spun, we might add) and bridge provide that authentic resonator ring. The Gretsch G9220 Bobtail has a nice crisp tone and is easy to play. It’s equipped with a Fishman Nashville pickup that features a split-saddle piezo-ceramic pickup, which is specifically designed for spider-style bridges. All in all the Fishman electronics helps in offering consistent, accurate sound reproduction every time.
What could put off some players is the V profile neck as it takes some getting used to. A bit of a fret buzz is also expected, so some adjustment work on the frets or neck may be in order.
- Solid build
- Crisp tone
- Packs a powerful sound
- Tuner may feel a little cheap
General Acoustic Guitar Buying Info
How To Choose The Right Acoustic Guitar For You
The guitar is one of, if not, the most popular and widely played musical instruments in the world. Many people pick it up at an early age and continue playing even into their autumn years.
Here we focus on the acoustic guitar, which is a top choice for beginners learning to play music. Acoustic guitars are a great starter instrument that you can take anywhere for practice, without needing wires, amps and electricity.
Portable and easy to play, it’s no wonder that the acoustic guitar has become a fixture in homes, schools, choir groups and even around campfires. And with the different brands and models of guitars out there in all sizes and shapes, there’s bound to be one that’s right for you.
So how do you choose an acoustic guitar? Do you simply walk into a store or order one from Amazon? Not exactly. Because there are many kinds of acoustic guitars, you’ll have to consider several factors when deciding to buy one, either for yourself or a child learning to play. Factors such as size, structure, appearance, playing style, tone and of course, price should be considered.
No matter its price however, an acoustic guitar is an investment, one that will serve you well and that you’ll enjoy playing if you choose correctly. If you’re a beginner, know that your first guitar will determine how effectively you’ll be able to practice chords, songs and techniques. It will also impact your playing style. Guitar No. 1 will either make learning to play an enjoyable experience or a difficult and painful one.
Choosing an Acoustic Guitar: General Tips
When choosing an acoustic guitar, here’s a quick tip: only choose from the guitars that have been fully inspected and adjusted to make them easier to play as well as accurate in tone production, intonation and tuning. After all, it’s hard to learn music properly if you’re not even sure your instrument is correctly tuned!
For this matter, it would be helpful to get an electronic tuner to go with your first guitar (if it doesn’t come included yet). Since the pitch of the guitar can be adjusted, it’s important to keep your instrument tuned to standard pitch especially when you’re just starting out learning music.
Practicing for hours can make the strings a bit loose and fall below standard pitch, so you’ll need to readjust it to standard pitch. Having a tuner around helps you do just that and saves you from the frustration of tuning a guitar simply by ear, which is usually a trial and error method, especially for beginners who haven’t learned to differentiate one pitch or chord from another.
With that said, a guitar tuner allows you to develop your musical ear. With a tuner, you’ll become more accustomed to accurate tuning faster than learning it by ear and guesswork alone. Soon you’ll become more apt to notice when your instrument is even slightly out of tune, letting you adjust it as needed.
Lastly, choose a guitar with a color and finish you really like. If a guitar doesn’t look appealing or beautiful to you, look for another. Having a guitar with a physical appearance you enjoy will make you want to always have it around, contributing to your motivation to practice every day.
Remember that practice is important–no matter how nice a guitar sounds, if you’re not going to play it because you don’t really like how it looks, it’s just better off being sold to someone who appreciates it and replaced with something else.
Which acoustic guitar is best for beginners?
As mentioned previously, acoustic guitars come in different sizes and makes, so there is no one particular guitar model that’s best for beginners. Instead, beginners should first choose according to size, especially if the beginner is a child or someone with a smaller stature.
An acoustic guitar that is too large will be difficult for a child to make the proper movements with both hands, and holding up their arm up to shoulder height to reach over the guitar can be difficult, uncomfortable and even painful. Short arms and a long guitar neck don’t mix, as over-reaching for the first fret would put children at a technical disadvantage because they wouldn’t be able to move their fingers properly, if at all, on the fingerboard.
However, don’t be too brand-conscious when it comes to choosing a guitar. While a brand name may be an indicator of a quality instrument, there are smaller brands out there that produce guitars of the same or even superior quality at lower prices. You can read guitar reviews and see for yourself!
Beginners can also consider buying their first guitar secondhand. There are many pre-loved guitars for sale that have been well-maintained. If you have a limited budget, buying pre-owned can be your ticket to getting that brand-name guitar you’ve always wanted. You may need to replace the strings and do a bit of polishing and other minor fixes, but it would all be worth it.
The best acoustic guitar is one that feels good in your hands, looks great to your eyes and sounds like heaven to your ears.
What are acoustic guitars made of?
Acoustic guitars are made using different materials. Here are the major parts of acoustic guitars and what they’re made of.
- Body – Wood is the primary material for the majority of acoustic guitar bodies, selected for its resonance. What sets the sound quality and tone of the guitar is the vibration of the wood when the strings are played. Most acoustic guitars have a body with a bottom made of a heavier type of wood such as mahogany, while the top has a lighter wood like Alpine or Sitka spruce.
- Neck – The neck of acoustic guitars would often have the same type of wood used in the body, usually mahogany. The fretboard may be of a smooth wood for easier playing, such as maple or rosewood, while the frets are made of soft durable metal such as nickel or stainless steel.
- Truss Rod – The truss rod, which runs through the neck used to correct changes to the neck’s curvature, is made of metal.
- Pickups – Pickups, which are present in acoustic-electric guitars, are made up of electronic copper wire coils and magnets.
- Bridge – Holding the strings in place and transferring the strings’ vibration to the soundboard is the bridge, which is generally made of wood with a bone saddle. Some older saddles were made of ivory.
- Headstock – The tuners at the headstock are made of metal, while the headstock itself is usually made of wood.
- Strings – The guitar strings may either be nylon or steel.
How are acoustic guitars made?
The process of creating an acoustic guitar involves choosing, sawing and bonding different pieces of wood together.
Body – Top and Back
The top and back portions of a guitar are formed in a process called bookmatching, in which a single piece of wood (for example, rosewood) is sliced into two sheets, with each sheet having the same width and length as the original piece but only half as thick.
The two sheets are then glued together and sanded to the proper thickness once dry. After quality inspection, they are graded according to color, lack of blemishes as well as regularity and closeness of grain.
The top is cut into the guitar shape and the soundhole is sawed. Slots are carved around the soundhole for concentric circles that will serve as decorative inlays.
Next, wood braces are glued to the underside of the guitar’s top piece in a process called strutting. This controls the way the top vibrates and braces the wood against the pull of the strings. Braces are usually done in an X-pattern style.
The back is also braced, but instead of an X-pattern, the strips of wood are positioned parallel from the left to right, with a single cross-grained strip running down the length of the glue joint. The back of the guitar is then cut and glued in the same way as the top.
Body – Sides
To form the sides of the guitar, strips of wood are sanded to the proper thickness and length and then softened in water. These are placed in molds shaped to the guitar’s curves. Once ready, the sides are joined with basswood glued to the inner walls, with reinforcing wood placed along the inside wall so that the instrument does not crack when hit. Endblocks are then used to join the guitar’s top, neck and back sections. The top and the back sections of the guitar are then glued to the sides, and the excess wood is trimmed off.
The neck is carved, and a reinforcing rod to make the neck much more rigid is inserted through it and sanded. The fingerboard or fretboard is then set in place, and fret slots are cut into it for placement of the frets. The neck is then bonded to the body, and the entire guitar is coated with a sealer and lacquer then polished. It is at this point when many guitars receive decorative inlays.
Bridge and Tuning Machines
Next, the bridge is attached near the soundhole and a saddle is fitted. The nut is placed between the headstock and neck. The tuners, or tuning machines are mounted on the head, then the guitar finally receives its strings. The whole process can be finished in three weeks, but a guitar may spend up to two months on the manufacturing table depending on the amount of decorative detail done on it.
The last phase is actually quality control, where guitars are thoroughly inspected for any flaws. This ensures that only the best instruments are shipped out and sold.
What is a good size and shape for an acoustic guitar?
Acoustic guitars come in various sizes and shapes, with smaller ones generally known to be more portable and comfortable to hold. They vary in tone however, with larger guitars having a greater bass response and smaller ones possessing a greater treble response–so it’s important to use your ears when choosing a guitar’s size and shape as well.
Different guitar manufacturers may call give their products different names from the standard general shapes, so make sure you do your research on these variations. Dimensions may vary as well. It’s best to shop around and try many different guitars to find one that suits your fancy.
To give you a better idea about the different guitar sizes and shapes you’ll encounter, here’s a brief outline arranged from smallest to largest.
- Parlor Guitars – the smallest of the bunch, parlor guitars have a light, balanced sound and are good for fingerpicking.
- Concert, or Model “O” – similar to parlor guitars in tone balance, fingerpicking suitability and response but are slightly larger.
- Grand Concert, or Model “OO” – this guitar’s shape is derived from that of the classical guitar and has a solid mid-range register, making it a great all-around instrument–Goldilocks would love it, as it’s “just right.” Its sound isn’t as bright or balanced as the parlor or concert guitar, but it’s not as bassy as the larger guitar sizes either.
- Orchestra Model, Grand Auditorium, or Model “OM” or “GA” – sometimes referred to as the Auditorium or “OOO,” this mid-sized model has a great volume, projection and balance. It’s a favorite among finger-style players and is usually played in solo gigs.
- Dreadnought – the most common acoustic guitar shape, it’s named after a British battleship because of its size. Because it’s large, it has a lot of bass response. It’s the top choice among flat-pickers and is a great accompaniment to voice because its full-sounding lower registers are able to support the voice well.
- Jumbo and Super-Jumbo – their names say it all. These are the largest guitars on the market, used for strumming and a favorite among country musicians. If you want those bassy sounds, this is the guitar for you.
When is a plectrum needed?
A plectrum or pick is used to strike the strings of the guitar. The material, shape, texture and thickness of the pick have an impact on the sound the guitar makes. You don’t need it all the time however, especially if you mainly play using your fingers anyway.
A plectrum can be used for any kind of guitar, but it’s mostly used with electric guitars and for playing rhythm guitar. With a pick, you can strum harder against the strings and achieve more volume.
For many guitar players, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some players find difficulty in maintaining control over their pick–the pick slips away from their fingers, or they don’t like the way it sounds. Some are more comfortable with fingerstyle playing and techniques than picking techniques. Try both and see which you like!
Which acoustic guitar brands are most respected?
With so many guitar brands out there, which one should you pick? The world’s top musicians have their own favorites, and you’ll probably have your own top pick soon enough. Keep in mind that each brand has its own benefits, drawbacks, distinctions and even niche that it appeals to. For beginners, you won’t go wrong choosing guitars from the following respected brands:
This brand is one of the oldest and most iconic brands in the world. It has garnered a reputation for creating high-quality guitars, and some players even stick to it throughout their lives. The most popular guitar in Gibson’s lineup is the Les Paul with its signature shape and rich tones. Gibson also owns other guitar brands such as Epiphone, Baldwin, Maestro and Kramer, among others.
Fender is considered one of the best guitar brands in the world and Gibson’s top competitor. Fender guitars have a different style, sound and playability however. If Gibson has the Les Paul, Fender has the Stratocaster as its iconic guitar. Fender is the parent company of other guitar brands such as Gretsch, Charvel, Jackson and Squier.
Epiphone is one of the largest producers of guitars in world, with several ranges to choose from such as the Casino, Texan and Sheraton. Aside from guitars, the company also manufactures banjos, upright basses and other string instruments.
Jackson guitars are known for their elegant and slender designs, in particular their pointed headstocks that look like shark fins.
A Japanese brand, Ibanez produces a range of acoustic, electric and bass guitars. Its guitars are associated with metal, jazz and progressive music. Ibanez is the first company to commercially manufacture seven- and eight-string electric guitars.
Played by rock ‘n’ roll greats such as The Beatles, Rickenbacker guitars are known for their beautiful tone and quality craftsmanship. The brand is one of the oldest guitar companies still in operation and is one of the pioneers in the development of the electric guitar.
Another Japanese company, ESP (which stands for Electric Sound Products) produces mostly electric guitars and basses.
Yamaha is a large conglomerate (you’re probably familiar with Yamaha motorcyles) and its musical instruments business is one of its largest and the oldest. It has several musical instruments in its product lineup, guitars and pianos being the most popular and stylish in the market.
Taylor is one of the most respected companies specializing in acoustic guitars, which are recognized for their craftsmanship, innovation, quality and reasonable price.
Martin is one of the most celebrated makers of acoustic guitars in the world. The company has been around for nearly 200 years and is known for its lineup of steel-string acoustic guitars. Martin is the company behind the iconic dreadnought shape of acoustic guitars.
Where are acoustic guitars usually made?
The different guitar brands all have manufacturing facilities in their home turf and even in other places, but the top seven countries where classical, electric and acoustic guitars are usually made and some of the brands that call them home are the following:
Germany – Höfner and Nik Huber
Canada – Seagull
France – LAG, Vigier
China – Vintage, Walden (big-name guitar brands also have factories in China)
United Kingdom – Patrick Eggle Guitars, Vox, Tanglewood
Japan – Ibanez, Yamaha, ESP
United States – Gibson, Fender, PRS, Washburn, Taylor, Epiphone, Jackson
Should I get an acoustic or electro-acoustic guitar?
Electro-acoustic guitars look exactly like acoustic guitars–and they are–but with an added benefit: They can be plugged in, whether it’s into an effects pedal, amplifier or other recording equipment.
Electro-acoustic guitars are more versatile because they’re fitted with transducers, microphones and pickups, allowing them to be used for live performances with a big crowd or if you want to experiment with a loop FX pedal. Some electro-acoustic guitars even come with built-in effects.
If you don’t find yourself playing in front of a live audience or playing with effects pedals, then go for an acoustic guitar. But if you have dreams of eventually making it big (or simply playing in front of a crowd, or making some music videos) and want to make sure your guitar is up to it, then by all means get an electro-acoustic.
Nylon or steel strings?
Many beginners ask this question, which is good because it brings up the misconception that newbies should start with a nylon-string classical guitar as it’s “easier on the fingers” than a steel-string acoustic guitar.
Keep in mind that with either kind of string, your fingers will become sore and a bit tender at the start because it’s something all beginners experience until the skin on their fingers develops callouses and adjusts. Both kinds of strings also require adjustment.
Here’s the deal. Nylon-string guitars are commonly used for folk and classical music, while steel-string guitars are typically used for country, rock and other genres. So if you’re wondering whether to choose between nylon and steel, you have to first determine the kind of music you want to play.
Nylon strings give off a more mellow tone, while steel has a crisp and bright tone. It’s important to determine what kind of music you prefer to play, as strings are not interchangeable between nylon- and steel-string guitars.