The acoustic guitar is more than just a musical instrument – it is a versatile masterpiece. Whether you prefer the soothing fingerpicking of a classical guitar or the captivating blend of notes from a plectrum, this guitar has got you covered.
What’s more, it bends to the musician’s every need, whether you need gentle notes for story-telling lyrics or energetic strums to fill up a venue. The acoustic guitar is suitable for any genre, and its dynamic versatility is truly awe-inspiring. Its sound when recorded is simply amazing, leaving no room for disappointment.
Find the perfect acoustic guitar for your music needs without the hassle of sifting through countless options. Our guide offers choices for all budgets, skill levels, and playing styles, including classical pieces and electric acoustic steel strings. Discover the best model for you with the ultimate list of acoustic guitars at every price point. Check out our buying guide for further information.
The Origins of Acoustic Guitars
The popularity of acoustic guitars today is undeniable, considering how long they have been around. Historians have different theories about the instrument’s origins, but none are definitively proven. One of the likeliest connections is between acoustic guitars and a medieval instrument called a vihuela that evolved from the ancient lute. In Spain’s Middle Ages, the gittern, a small plucked instrument, was invented, with some shared features with today’s guitars.
The Spanish guitar maker, Antonio Torres Jurado, revolutionized the guitar in 1850 with a new design that still stands the test of time. He enhanced the body size, proportions, and secured the top and back with fan bracing, resulting in a more durable instrument than ever before.
Top Acoustic Guitars Overall Review
Discover the ultimate acoustic guitar for your budget with our top picks that have been rigorously tested and researched.
1. Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition (Best Overall)
Experience the unparalleled beauty and sound of the K14ce Builder Edition. Crafted with a stunning blend of Hawaiian koa and Sitka torrefied Sitka spruce, this Grand Auditorium model boasts a truly one-of-a-kind aesthetic and tone. Enjoy sweet harmonics, natural sustain, and impeccable balance that make for an unparalleled listening experience.
Unlock unparalleled performance and tone from this Taylor guitar thanks to its secret weapon – the V-Class bracing. This revolutionary feature not only boosts volume but also maintains natural intonation across the entire frequency range. Get ready to experience exquisite sound like never before.
Experience the rich and vibrant sounds of the K14ce Builder’s Edition, featuring exquisite tonewood sourced from Hawaii, Koa. With a mid-range focus and sharp high notes reminiscent of maple, Koa creates a beautiful sound that will captivate your ears.
The immersive fingerboard is crafted from African Ebony and the top is a solid Sitka spruce, providing a stunning visual and auditory experience. For optimal amplification of these sounds, Taylor has installed their premium Expression System 2 electronics with a proprietary pickup positioned just behind the saddle, offering clear and accurate sound amplification.
Experience a truly remarkable musical journey with the Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition. The combination of exotic tonewoods and V-Class bracing brings out the best in this versatile instrument, delivering a crisp, punchy, and resonant sound that will leave a lasting impression. Don’t settle for anything less than a memorable playing experience – try the K14ce today.
2. Martin Natural D-18 (Editor’s Choice)
Discover the unparalleled comfort and superior tonal quality of Martin’s D-18 acoustic guitar. With its modern, high-performance neck, you can easily play intricate chord shapes and complex fingerings with flawless precision. Plus, the spruce top and mahogany back and sides deliver a warm, resonant sound that’s both powerful and clean. Regardless of where you’re playing on the fretboard, the D-18 delivers remarkable sound quality that will leave you amazed. Experience one of the finest guitars on the market today.
Discover the Martin D-18: a dreadnought guitar that delivers an extraordinary balance of sensitivity and power. With its carefully chosen build materials, including top-quality mahogany, spruce, and rosewood, this instrument is truly exceptional. Hold the Martin D-18 in your hands and feel the difference that only comes with a top-of-the-line acoustic guitar.
The D-18 guitar stands out from the rest with its simplistic beauty. Unlike other high-end acoustic guitars, it doesn’t come with any electronics. But trust us, that’s a good thing! This beauty is meant to be enjoyed unplugged, in its purest form. The hardware is nickel-colored, and the pickguard flaunts an elegant tortoise pattern.
The saddle is made of bone, which is compensated for the perfect tune, and a multi-stripe rosette completes its classy look. Believe the hype because the D-18 is just as amazing as people say. Its sound quality is impeccable, records flawlessly, and is so well balanced that you won’t want to put it down.
3. Taylor GS Mini (Best Acoustic Guitars Overall Value)
Looking for a guitar that’s perfect for fingerstyle playing and singer-songwriters? Check out Taylor’s acclaimed GS Mini range. With a slightly smaller size than the Grand Symphony body, the GS Mini focuses on capturing the intimate nuances of your playing. And while there is a slight reduction in volume compared to full-sized GS models, powerful onboard ESB electronics ensure you’ll still be heard loud and clear. Plus, the shorter scale length means less strain on your fingers during marathon jam sessions. Discover the stunning attention to detail that sets the GS Mini apart from the rest.
Looking for an acoustic guitar with superb tonewoods? Check out Taylor’s GS Mini! With a solid spruce top and layered rosewood body, this guitar provides a classic blend of clarity and resonance. Even better, the back and sides feature two layers of rosewood veneer surrounding a poplar core, offering cost savings without sacrificing quality. Plus, with Taylor-designed ESB electronics and Piezo pickups with calibrated sensors, you’ll enjoy natural sound and impressive dynamic range – all controlled by an included preamp with tone and volume settings.
Discover the superior sound and portability of the GS Mini guitar from Taylor. Despite being smaller than its predecessor, the Grand Symphony model, it in fact exceeds expectations. With a lightweight design and easy playability, this guitar produces a well-balanced tone and comes equipped with top-notch onboard electronics. Experience the best of both worlds with the GS Mini.
4. Takamine GD30CE-12 (Best Acoustic Guitars Overall 12-String)
Looking for a 12-string acoustic guitar that’s both visually stunning and sonically immersive? Look no further than the Takamine GD30CE-12. With a beautiful rosette design and a carefully crafted blend of tonewoods, this guitar plays like a dream thanks to its wide fret radius and smooth playability. But it’s the remarkable range of harmonic overtones that really sets it apart – perfect for any guitarist looking to expand their tonal palette.
Are you looking for a classic and stylish acoustic guitar? Look no further than the Takamine, with a single-cut dreadnought body made of mahogany back and sides and a solid spruce top. The smooth mahogany neck transitions effortlessly across the rosewood fretboard with dot inlays. The cherry on top? Die-cast chrome tuning pegs for a touch of class. And when it comes to amplification, the high-performance TP-4td preamp system has got you covered with pickups that feature a tuner, gain control, active EQ, and a battery status indicator.
Looking for a quality 12-string guitar without breaking the bank? Look no further than the Takamine GD30CE-12. This guitar delivers a lush and diverse range of harmonics, highlighting its warm mid-tones. Precision tonewood selection results in an ideal balance between resonance and clarity, while the built-in Takamine preamp offers a variety of amplification controls to cater to your unique playing style.
5. Yamaha FG850 (Best Acoustic Guitars Overall Under $500)
Upgrade Your Skills with Yamaha’s FG850 Acoustic Guitar: Perfect for Intermediate Players
As part of Yamaha’s esteemed FG line, the FG850 is a top-quality acoustic guitar designed to help intermediate players enhance their skills. With over fifty years of refinement, this solid-top guitar offers an exceptional blend of comfort and sound quality.
Thanks to Yamaha’s cutting-edge acoustic analysis technology, the FG850 produces a rich, full-bodied tone in the low-mid range. Plus, the carefully selected bracing design ensures that you get the best possible sound from every note you play.
Unlock your true potential as a musician with Yamaha’s FG850 acoustic guitar today!
Experience powerful sound with Yamaha’s FG850 acoustic guitar, crafted mainly from rich mahogany wood for its back, sides, and top. This tonewood produces clear treble and deep low-mid range notes. The rosewood bridge and fingerboard add a sweet touch to the overall tone. Although the FG850 doesn’t include onboard electronics, it’s perfect for enjoying your music acoustically. The classic FG range has a history of models that deliver a great unplugged experience.
Attention guitar enthusiasts! Yamaha’s FG acoustic guitar range is known for its longevity and exceptional quality, and the FG850 model is no exception. This guitar offers top-end features at an affordable price point, thanks to expertly selected tonewoods. Get ready to experience rich, full-bodied tones and effortless playability without breaking the bank.
6. Martin D-10E (Best Acoustic Guitars Overall Under $1000)
Experience the Ultimate Sound with the Martin D-10E from the Martin Road Series! This guitar boasts various performance and sound enhancing features, making it superior to its predecessors. The unique combination of tonewoods gives you the classic Martin tone you love, with added playability thanks to the “Performing Artist” neck shape. Plus, the MOP pattern dot inlays add a touch of sophistication to its appearance. Play with ease and elegance with the Martin D-10E.
Looking for a high-quality guitar with exceptional tonality and playability? Look no further than the D-10E from Martin. This guitar features the classic tonewood, Sapele, for the back and sides, while the top is constructed from Sitka spruce for added resonance and character. The neck is smooth and fast-playing, thanks to its select hardwood construction, and the richlite fingerboard further enhances the guitar’s playability. And with the trusted Fishman Sonitone onboard electronics system, you can be sure that your natural tone will shine through without any unwanted noise. Experience the best in acoustic guitar craftsmanship with the D-10E.
Are you a musician always on the go? Martin’s Road Series is here to make your travels easier. Introducing the D-10E, the ultimate partner for any dedicated guitarist. With its Performing Artist neck shape, high-performance neck taper, and sleek blend of tonewoods, this guitar is designed to complement your busy lifestyle.
7. Taylor 224ce-K (Best Acoustic Guitars Overall Under $2000)
Experience the exceptional sound and beauty of the Taylor 224CE-K acoustic guitar, crafted with rare and luxurious koa tonewood. The shaded edge burst accentuates the guitar’s full resonance, highlighting its sweet spots.
Versatile and well-suited for delicate fingerstyle or powerful strumming, the 224CE-K’s koa top improves its attack. Plus, its classy add-ons enhance its appearance, making it a must-have for any musician. Discover the ultimate acoustic guitar with the Taylor 224CE-K.
The 224CE-K guitar has been improved for optimal playability with a cutaway design that provides easy access to the upper frets. Additionally, it features a single-ring faux pearl rosette, chrome tuners, and Italian acrylic small diamond inlays to enhance its looks. Made with the finest tonewoods, Koa is used for the back, sides, and top, while the neck is crafted from solid mahogany and the fingerboard from smooth ebony, resulting in impeccable tone.
Looking for an acoustic guitar that delivers an unbeatable tone without sacrificing style? The Taylor 224CE-K boasts a stunning design and a unique koa wood body, producing a tone that’s unparalleled by any other. And with Taylor’s own ES2 acoustic electronics, feedback and hum issues are a thing of the past – so you can focus on what really matters: playing your heart out. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, the Taylor 224CE-K is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a top-performing acoustic guitar. And at under $2000, it’s an unbeatable value.
8. Gibson Hummingbird
Gibson’s Hummingbird has been a beloved instrument for the past half-century, thanks to its stunning vintage design and exceptional tonal output. This square-shoulder dreadnought boasts a rich, warm sound that’s both powerful and nuanced. Combining high-end tonewoods, the Hummingbird produces a crisp low end, smooth mid-range, and sparkling high-end frequencies. Embrace the timeless appeal and amazing sound of this classic instrument.
Get ready to experience a full, warm tone with the Gibson Hummingbird. Crafted with only the finest tonewoods, including a solid mahogany back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top for the perfect high-end articulation. Plus, its select mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard make it one of the most playable guitars on the market. Don’t miss out on this premium quality instrument.
The Hummingbird boasts impressive hardware, electronics, and controls, sporting the highly sought-after Element VTC pickup system from LR Baggs. Featuring a sleek and low-profile design, this system includes a reliable under-saddle transducer for optimal stability. But that’s not all- the onboard preamp also has a hidden volume control conveniently located within the soundhole for easy access.
The Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar is simply the best. Its history alone is proof of its superior quality. With over 50 years of production and a warm, inviting tone, the Hummingbird is stronger than ever in modern times. Its smooth playability makes it one of the top guitars around. I can personally attest that it’s among the best guitars I’ve ever played.
9. Martin SC-13E
Upgrade Your Sound with Martin’s SC-13E Electric-Acoustic Guitar! Crafted from exquisite tonewoods, this exceptional guitar boasts a cutaway body that’s specially designed to enhance your playing experience and produce rich, elegant tones. Its innovative Sure Align neck joint provides superior comfort and maneuverability, with a reduced heel size that offers more room to navigate your instrument. Elevate your performance with Martin’s SC-13E – the ultimate high-end guitar for musicians who demand the best.
Crafted with precision, the Martin SC-13E guitar leaves no room for faults. The Tone Tension X Brace expertly connects the hardwood neck to the Koa fine veneer body, while the Sitka spruce top produces a stunning range of frequencies. Meticulously designed, this guitar is a rare masterpiece.
Experience top-of-the-line acoustic-electric sound with the onboard Fishman electronics of this Martin guitar. The MX-T preamps and pickups are seamlessly integrated into the soundhole for a sleek and unobtrusive design. Plus, enjoy the convenience of a built-in tuner.
Experience true awe with the Martin SC-13E – a cut above the rest when it comes to acoustic guitars. Its innovatively designed offset body sets it apart from the usual cutaways, delivering an exceptional playing experience. And when amplified, the guitar’s outstanding clarity and well-rounded tone are amplified by classy Fishman electronics.
10. Taylor Academy 12e
Looking for a quality acoustic guitar that won’t break the bank? Look no further than Taylor’s Academy 12e. This fairly-priced model offers Taylor’s signature playing experience, with a Grand Concert body that’s perfect for highlighting the nuances of fingerpicked music.
One of the standout features of Taylor’s guitars is their slim-profile neck, and the A12e is no exception. The scale length has been shortened slightly, and the action is lower, allowing for effortless playing. This guitar may be lightweight, but it’s still made with top-quality tonewoods. Plus, with the inclusion of the respected ES-B pickup, you can amplify the well-rounded tone of the A12e with ease.
Discover the secrets behind the feather-light 12e guitar for an outstanding musical experience. Boasting a top crafted from Sitka spruce in a sleek satin varnish finish, paired with a Sapele back and sides for enhanced resonance, this guitar delivers crystal-clear tones and a heavenly sound. The hard rock maple neck provides an unmatched solid grip, while the fingerboard, crafted from ebony, and featuring Italian acrylic dotted inlays, ensures smooth performance and a touch of elegance. Don’t miss out on this superbly crafted piece of art!
Experience authentic amplified sound with the ES-B onboard electronics system, inspired by Taylor’s innovative Expression System 2. With easy access battery port, tone and volume controls, and built-in tuner, you’ll have everything you need for seamless, high-quality performances.
Mastering your craft just got easier with the Taylor Academy 12e acoustic-electric guitar. Designed for intricate playing styles, this guitar boasts a comfortable, slightly reduced fretboard and lowered action. And with its tonewood mixture, this guitar produces a rich, warm tone that can fill any room with the help of the powerful onboard ES-B pickup system.
11. Yamaha L-Series Transacoustic
Yamaha’s L-Series TransAcoustic is a great 6-string guitar for any genre. It ensures an enjoyable playing experience, while also delivering a balanced tone that works well with folk, rock and blues music. The L-Series TransAcoustic is super cool because it offers onboard reverb and chorus effects that don’t need any extra equipment to work.
Yamaha fitted the top of this guitar with solid Engelmann spruce for its ability to maintain a balanced sound across all frequencies. The back and sides are made from solid rosewood, which helps the guitar create a stronger projection. This low oval neck is crafted using a combination of mahogany and rosewood, while the fingerboard is made from the reliable ebony.
Yamaha’s System70 electronics ensure a clean and undistorted sound. Adding on the reverb and chorus effects make these pickups even better!
You might find it hard to believe, but the L-Series TransAcoustic comes with effects incorporated into an acoustic guitar that can be used without having to plug it into an amplifier. Pretty cool, right? You can get super creative with your acoustic guitar by adding chorus and reverb – all without having to lug around extra pedals or amps!
12. Martin Little Martin LX1E
Martin’s LX1E – often called the ‘Little Martin’ – is a tiny acoustic guitar that packs all their usual tone and quality into a travel-friendly size. The brand is well-known for creating great instruments, and this one lives up to its reputation! This little guy packs quite a punch, with deep bass and sparkling highs. Plus, its reduced size makes it even easier to play than the bigger models.
If you’re looking for a high-end Martin acoustic guitar, the LX1E offers a balanced tone that delivers what you’d expect – an articulate, well-rounded and expressive sound. Its low oval profile makes it really comfortable to play with, and its lightweight design makes it ideal for taking on the road. The Little Martin is the perfect companion for any musician who travels a lot.
Martin made sure to build Little Martin LX1E with high-durability, so they used stratabond wood veneer for the modified neck. It’s actually the same material they use for all their guitars. This fingerboard is crafted with smooth richlite which is a great alternative to ebony or rosewood. The back and sides are made from mahogany sporting a textured finish, giving it that classic Martin appearance.
Martin has got this Fishman Sonitone Onboard Preamp System with volume and tone controls. It’s installed in the soundhole and helps to adjust the amplified output more precisely. Martin’s LX1E Little Martin packs a punch despite its small size. It has amazing bass tones and produces an impressive sound quality without any compromise on the quality. The Little Martin is super easy to play due to its combination of excellent woods and the altered neck shape.
13. Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster
Who knew the Fender Telecaster wasn’t just for electric players? Fender’s Acoustasonic Tele is an example of their out-of-the-box thinking! It’s a hybrid instrument but functions as an acoustic guitar.
The soundhole in the middle of the Acoustasonic Telecaster body is perfect – it works equally well when played acoustically or through an amp. It produces deep, thick lows and bell-like mid-range tones. This acoustic guitar has a different shape on the forearm compared to electric guitars, allowing you to play fast licks and runs more easily.
This modified Telecaster is crafted with mahogany for extra resonance without too much heft. Also, Fender opted for classic traverse bracing and a deep c American Pro neck shape. This guitar has a mahogany neck with a satin urethane finish, and the fingerboard is crafted from dependable ebony.
As you’d expect from Fender, they’ve made sure to use only the best electronics for their Acoustasonic Telecaster. It’s a great guitar for those who really want to get into electric playing. The bridge position has the Fishman enhancer pickup and at the neck is Fender’s N4. This pairing gives you noiseless amplification that can reach high volumes with ease.
Fender has done something daring and unique with the Acoustasonic Telecaster – combining what usually are two separate instruments into one. It’s this courageousness to keep innovating that’s why they’re still at the top of their game after so long.
14. Guild D-55
The Guild D-55 is one of the most stylish acoustic guitars on the market. With its perfect craftsmanship and 50 years of experience, this guitar delivers an amazing sound and playing comfort.
The spruce top gives you a nice, warm, woody sound across the bass, mids and treble frequencies. On top of that, the book-matched Indian rosewood back and sides adds an extra bit of finesse to your playing – giving you inviting overtones.
Guild has used some of the finest wood while manufacturing the D-55. The top is AAA spruce and bracing is made from scalloped red spruce, which gives it clarity and strength across all frequencies.
The body and sides have been constructed from solid book-matched rosewood, which adds more depth and resonance to the sound. It also features a 12″ radius fretboard crafted out of bound ebony, making for an impressive combo of top quality materials.
The D-55 is the classic dreadnought acoustic guitar and Guild chose to leave out any extra electronics which would take away from it’s traditional sound. All the hardware is top-notch – abalone rosette, tortoiseshell pickguard and Gotoh 700 series Gold Plated Open Back Tuners; that’s all packed in.
The D-55 from Guild is an amazing acoustic guitar. It’s one of their top instruments and provides a great sound and playability on all frets. Despite its traditional dreadnought design, the D-55 is in a class of its own due to its outstanding joinery and hardware.
15. Seagull S6
If you’re looking for something in between a cheap guitar and an expensive one, the S6 by Seagull is your best bet. It’s the perfect balance of affordability and quality. If you’re an intermediate guitarist looking to level up, this guitar is worth considering. It’s well-crafted and has a great feel to it, plus it has plenty of high mids that provide nice tones.
The S6 guitar has a modified dreadnought shape to produce a warm sound that’s full of detail. It’s easy to reach all the frets so you can go from bass notes to high treble with ease!
The S6’s design is really eye-catching with its solid cedar top and wild cherry back and sides. Plus, the glossy finish makes it look super chic. Seagull chose silver leaf maple wood for the neck which enhances the tone and goes nicely with the rosewood fingerboard.
The Seagull S6 is your regular, non-electric guitar, so it comes at a more affordable price since there are no electronics involved. The S6 shouldn’t be overlooked just because you need a bit more volume. You can easily install a soundhole pickup and rock out with its awesome tone through an amplifier or PA system.
The Seagull S6 is an acoustic guitar with a cedar body and modified dreadnought shape that makes it stand out from the rest. Its glossy finish gives it an extra bit of charm, and its sound quality is smooth and balanced. This instrument is a steal, considering there’s no electronic parts in it. It looks and sounds as good as a guitar that probably comes with a much higher price tag.
16. Washburn R314KK
Washburn has an amazing legacy when it comes to acoustic guitars. From folk to blues and rock, these guitars have been enjoyed by musicians worldwide because they sound and feel so authentic. The R314KK is an outstanding example of the Washburn ethos.
The R314KK has a parlor body style, making it easy to play and lightweight. Its sound is narrower than a typical dreadnought acoustic, but this encourages you to be more deliberate when playing chords or picking notes.
Washburn often does things differently when choosing their wood for instruments. The R314KK is a perfect example of this – its back and sides are made from trembesi, which gives the guitar a unique sound full of sweet and sharp harmonics. This instrument has a spruce top, mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard.
This Washburn acoustic has no electrical components, but that kind of adds to its vintage vibe. The hardware and inlays have a classic 1900s feel and the tuning pegs have a really old-school look.
The Washburn Vintage Series R314KK acoustic guitar has a classic feel to it. It takes you back to the days of old when folk singers used to carry guitars around with them. It also creates a wonderful mix of warm sounds across all frequencies.
17. Blueridge Guitars BR-40T
Blueridge has brought back the classic tenor guitar with their BR-40 model. It’s perfect for any musician who gig frequently as it has all the small details you’d expect from its predecessor. For the soundboard of this Blueridge guitar, premium Sitka spruce was used. It has a slightly dark and balanced sound. The back and sides are crafted from mahogany and the neck is made from select mahogany too. The fingerboard is made of Santos rosewood for even better responsiveness.
The Blueridge BR-40 doesn’t have any electronics, but it does have some great hardware. It’s equipped with vintage-style open-back tuners that have butterbean buttons, which is a classic feature of Blueridge acoustics. Plus, the gears rotate very smoothly with a 141:1 ratio and they’re really durable.
Blueridge’s Contemporary series is a hit with singer-songwriters! The BR-40 is an homage to the classic tenor guitars they’ve produced for years, with a cool tonewood mix and a deep, rich sound.
18. Cordoba C9
The Cordoba C9 is a classical guitar that is slightly smaller than your usual nylon-string guitars. It’s perfect for technical players, as it offers utmost playing comfort and allows them to get the job done quickly. Of course, it still gives you a whole load of mellow and harmonic sounds.
This guitar is a real throwback to the early 20th century, with its mother-of-pearl weave rosette and rosewood fingerboard that give it that beautiful vintage feel. Its high gloss finish adds a nice touch, too, making it look like a perfect flamenco guitar from the 1920s!
The body of the C9 Parlor is made from African mahogany, which offers a well-rounded and resonant sound. This type of wood helps the strings vibrate more freely in the instrument. And the fretboard is made of rosewood for a smoother feel, and the neck is made of mahogany which is reliable.
Cordoba C9 is the real deal when it comes to classical guitars – no need for added electronics. The guitar has a bunch of 1920s-style features that enhance its look and sound.
The Cordoba C9 is a great parlor guitar. It’s a classical nylon-stringed instrument with a design that harkens back to the amazing guitars from the early 1900s. This guitar is perfect for technical guitarists – it’s got a great set of tonewoods and has a shrunken body size making it really easy to play.
19. Yamaha Storia
Yamaha has been a leader in the music equipment industry for years. Recently, their acoustic guitars have become quite popular and the Storia is an example of why. Its simple design and consistent sound make it a must-have for all guitarists.
Yamaha put a lot of thought into the design of the Storia – crafting each piece to achieve a great balance between playability and sound. The pickup only enhances the guitar’s already amazing acoustic tone without taking away from it.
Yamaha decided to go with walnut wood for the fingerboard, which is known for being solid and responsive. The neck is made of nato, which provides lots of space to play around with different melodies and styles. For this acoustic guitar, mahogany is used for the back and sides while spruce is chosen for the top as it has reliable resonance.
Yamaha Storia is equipped with a passive pickup beneath its saddle which produces clean and accurate sound with minimum feedback or disturbance. The tone produced by the Storia is surprisingly warm as well.
Yamaha are famous for making amazing pianos and electric keyboards, but don’t forget they also make some great acoustic guitars! The Storia series is a perfect example. Storia’s walnut bridge and fingerboard give it a unique sound and style, making it suitable for all levels of musicians. And considering the price tag, this could easily be one of the best acoustic guitars currently out there.
20. Martin DX Johnny Cash
The DX is based off the special D-35 Martin designed for Johnny Cash in the ’70s. It has a sleek and unique all-black design and its sound is incredibly lifelike and meaningful. It’s truly beautiful. This Johnny Cash guitar has the classic dreadnought body shape and is coated in a dark black high-pressure laminate. It also features his iconic signature logo. It’s perfect for acoustic singer-songwriters!
Martin used spruce for the top of the DX guitar. The back and sides were made with HPL, which is a high-pressure laminate and gives it that matte black look – something Cash had requested.
Fishman’s MX electronics are a great choice to amplify the DX’s natural warm tone. The preamp/pickup system does an excellent job of capturing the mid-range frequencies and bringing out the most expressive sounds from your guitar.
Johnny Cash was brilliant when it comes to playing the acoustic guitar – no one else could do it quite like him. The Martin’s DX is a tribute to the late star, and definitely carries on his legacy. It’s filled with all the sound and depth that kept people drawn to him all these years.
21. Luna Fauna Phoenix
The Fauna Phoenix by Luna has a unique look and sound that makes it stand out from the rest. Its dark, edgy design and tone really sets it apart for those who don’t want to be just like everyone else. Playing the Fauna Phoenix, you’ll notice that it has a deep tone, lots of harmonic richness and great power throughout. With its C-shaped neck too, you can stay comfortable even when playing for longer.
Luna went for spruce and mahogany for the Fauna Phoenix guitar, with the former used on the top and the latter for back and sides. The neck is also made of mahogany while Pau Ferro fingerboard adds a special touch. Looking all rugged and tough, the Fauna Phoenix has Fishman Preysys III electronics that make sure your electric sound is just as amplified and clear as when you’re playing acoustically.
The Fauna Phoenix from Luna is a great acoustic guitar for those who prioritize both appearance and sound. Its slick yet alluring look, powerful tune, and easy-to-play strings make it a must-have for any guitarist.
22. Epiphone Hummingbird Artist
Epiphone, the sister company of Gibson, offers a wide range of tribute models so that more people can enjoy the legendary quality of Gibson guitars. And they have certainly achieved this with the Hummingbird artist – great playability and tone without costing too much.
The Hummingbird Artist has a classic Gibson body shape, and the iconic Kluson-style tuners make it look and feel like an old antique. It’s also known for its unique sound – harmonics in the highs, combined with a nice clear bass.
Epiphone acoustic guitars are usually much cheaper than the Gibson brand, and the main reason for this is because of their choice of tonewood. The Epiphone Hummingbird has a mahogany body, back and neck, giving you plenty of sound and resonance. Plus its rosewood fretboard makes it really easy to play your way up and down the scales.
The Hummingbird has kept its original design with no electronic additions. It consists of high-quality tuning pegs and scratchplates – making it possible to hook it up to an amp if necessary. If you’re looking for an affordable acoustic guitar, Epiphone is the perfect brand to go for. Although they may not be as high quality as Gibson guitars, they can still provide a great playing experience and help intermediate players hone their skills.
23. Fender PM-1
Fender’s the go-to brand when it comes to electric guitars but don’t ignore their acoustic models – like the Paramount PM-1. Great value and suitable for both experienced musicians and newcomers alike. The PM-1 has a powerful, full sound and provides an immersive bass. For the upper-midrange, you get a warm twang that’s great for Country or Folk tunes. And it records really well due to its balanced sound and the consistent combination of woods used in crafting it.
Fender used mahogany to construct the Paramount PM-1 dreadnought. It’s top, back and sides as well as neck are all made from this tonewood. They’ve selected ovangkol for the neck, which is known for its affordability and good sensitivity.
The Fender PM-1 has no electric parts, so you can really appreciate the natural sound it produces. It also looks great with its 60s style rosette and inlays and 40s style logo – giving it a classic, vintage feel.
The PM-1 from Fender’s Paramount series is known and respected for its authenticity and playability – and it doesn’t disappoint! It has a really fast neck and sounds great with rich mid-high tones, which makes it perfect for singer-songwriters.
24. Yamaha CG-TA
Yamaha’s CG-TA is a great choice for anyone in the TransAcoustic line. It’s a nylon string classical guitar which makes it really inspiring for creative people. Its array of tones are amazingly rich and can even have reverb and chorus effects without an external amp!
Yamaha has put an actuator on the CG-TA’s inner surface that responds to the vibrations created when you strum. This sends feedback back into the body which creates natural reverb and chorus.
Yamaha designed the CG-TA with specific materials to bring out the natural sound of nylon strings. The top is solid spruce, while the back and sides are made from ovangkol – showing off the beautiful treble of a classical guitar.
The CG-TA electric acoustic guitar has some really cool reverb and chorus effects, plus the System70 TransAcoustic pickup – specifically made for this type of guitar. Together, they make sure to bring out your guitar’s authentic tone while adding a bit of flavor to it.
Yamaha’s CG-TA is pretty impressive – it’s a classical nylon-string guitar that can do its reverb and chorus effects without having to be plugged in. Seems like a futuristic invention, right? It’s made up of a range of top-notch tonewoods and features some ultra-modern electronics to boot.
25. Fender Newporter Player
The Fender Newporter Player, part of the popular California Series Acoustic range, is a great-looking and affordable acoustic guitar. Plus, its midsized body produces a rich and powerful sound that is truly remarkable. With its lightweight mahogany neck, this guitar is perfect for people who play for prolonged periods, record or practise.
Fender really took their time with the Newporter Player, which has better bracing for enhanced resonance and a new nut and saddle for improved sustain. You can definitely tell how much attention to detail they paid when you take a look at it!
If you plan on performing with an amp, the Fishman preamp system in the Newporter Player will really come in handy as it helps to preserve the natural sound of your acoustic guitar even when plugged in.
The Newporter Player features a great blend of tonewoods. It includes a Sitka spruce top which helps with the resonance. The back and sides are constructed from solid mahogany, and have a glossy finish for added durability. The neck of the guitar is constructed from mahogany, which makes it ideal for fast playing. The fingerboard is made from walnut – giving it an overall great look.
Fender opted for Fishman electronics on the Newporter Player – a well-renowned brand in the industry. The amplified sound of this guitar closely resembles its unplugged tone.
Maybe you’re looking to upgrade from your basic acoustic guitar but don’t want to shell out too much money on an expensive one. The Fender California Series Newporter Player is a great combination of topnotch features and budget-friendly price tag. Plus, its ease of playing will definitely motivate you to keep mastering your craft.
26. Martin DJr-10E
The D-10E is part of the Martin Road Series and stands out with its range of design updates, making it a great choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly acoustic guitar. The dreadnought shape gives you that classic Martin sound – a bit more treble and enough punch in the low-mids. It’s pretty sought after!
The revised D-10E has some amazing features, like a mother-of-pearl fingerboard pattern, rosette inlays, and a multi-striped rosette border. Its body is in satin finish and the neck’s given a hand-rubbed touch.
Martin D-10E is an impressive instrument, made with excellent components. It has a dreadnought body with Sapele back and sides as well as a Sitka spruce top. Plus, it’s got a responsive Richlite fingerboard and solid mahogany neck.
Martin D-10E guitars feature Fishman’s MX-T electronics. The pickup and preamp set have become pretty standard on most of the Road Series, known for their quietness and accurate sound reproduction. The fingerboard is made of Richlite and it has a compensated white TUSQ saddle. Not to mention, the chrome enclosed gear tuning pegs just add more to the whole look.
Martin’s Road Series is well-known for its top-notch mid-priced acoustic guitars. The D-10E is one of them, offering a great playability and full sound with sweet highs. The Fishman preamp system installed gives you a clear amplification. Plus, the spruce, richlite and mahogany materials used in this guitar make its overall tone even better.
27. Yamaha A3-CR
Yamaha’s A3-CR acoustic guitar mixes vintage vibes with modern features to give you the best of both worlds. This instrument is designed with improved playability and offers a classic look and feel. The slim-taper profile neck lets you move really fast around the fretboard, and the concert cutaway body design helps you reach those high notes with ease.
The SRT 2 preamp system provides a nice amplified sound and is straightforward to use. Plus, the fingerboard edges are hand-rolled for extra comfort while playing. All in all, the A3-CR is a great choice for musicians on the go!
Yamaha has chosen mahogany for the neck of the A3-CR for its durable and sustained qualities. They’ve gone with rosewood for the back, sides and fingerboard, which is finished with a natural vintage look. On top of this, the top is made from spruce.
The Yamaha SRT2 pickup system boosts your guitar’s tone to perfection. You can customize the sound by mixing between different microphone models and piezo tones to get your desired plugged-in sound.
If you’re a travelling guitarist, the Yamaha AC-3R is an ideal pick for you. No matter where you are – recording session, stage performance or practice room – this acoustic guitar has the features to satisfy all your needs.
28. Yamaha FG-TA
Yamaha’s FG-TA is definitely a classy acoustic guitar. It has mahogany back and sides, solid spruce top and an impressive sound both when plugged in or unplugged. No wonder it’s gaining popularity among musicians!
This TranAcoustic model, the FG-TA, has some awesome features. From built-in reverb and chorus to a System70 Preamp and SRT Piezo pickup – it’s got it all! The connection between these two pieces of equipment is super smooth and lets you adjust the sounds according to your preferences. Plus, the black ABS pins with white dots give it a retro vibe.
Yamaha chose mahogany, spruce, and rosewood when building the TransAcousstic FG-TA which provides great sustain and harmonics – especially when amplified. Together, these materials create a brilliant sounding guitar.
The Yamaha TransAcoustic FG-TA has 2 devices attached which let you get the most out of its amplified sound. First, the System 70 Preamp preserves that classic acoustic guitar tone when it’s plugged in and secondly… For further amplification, the SRT Piezo pickup focuses on the guitar’s tones and sends them to an amp. It takes the best traits of your guitar’s sound and makes it even better!
Yamaha FG-TA is an ideal guitar from the TranAcoustic range. It comes with a preamp and pickup combo to create a crisp amplified sound plus a built-in effects unit to add depth and richness with reverb and chorus. When it comes to putting together a guitar, the tried-and-true combination of tonewoods used for the body and neck really helps in terms of providing sustain and harmonics.
29. Gretsch G5022C
Gretsch is already famous for its amazing electric guitars and basses, but their acoustic guitars are something special too. The G5022C with its body style and incredible sound makes it a dream to play.
This body comes in a glossy white finish, and the addition of gold binding across the top gives it a unique look. The Scalloped X bracing makes the guitar more stable and helps it last longer. It also has a unique triangle-shaped soundhole which adds to it resonance and uniqueness, making the Rancher one-of-a kind!
Gretsch designed the G5022C with some of the best tonewoods available. The back and sides are made from maple, along with a rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck. It’s highly playable, lightweight, and produces a loud sound with full range.
The G5022C is kitted out with the top-notch Fishman Sonicore preamp and pickup system. This piezo device captures the sweetness of your guitar and boosts it up perfectly for a sharp and distinct sound.
With decades of electric guitar production, Gretsch knows a thing or two and it shows in the G5022C. It features a distinctive triangular soundhole, the perfect blend of tonewoods, and an advanced pickup system to tackle any musical challenge.
30. Cordoba C10 SP
Wrapping up our list of the top acoustic guitars – the Cordoba C10 SP is an absolute beauty! In case you’re not too familiar with Cordoba, they make some truly amazing and expertly-crafted acoustics using the finest materials.
The C10 SP from the Luthier series is one of the first models that Cordoba released. It’s fan bracing pattern allows for more soundboard vibration, making it really responsive to nylon strings.
With the C10 SP, you get a more vibrant sound and better dynamics that will please any experienced classical guitarist. It really is one of the top choices when it comes to soundboard responsiveness! Cordoba put a lot of thought into their Spanish heel construction which gives the whole instrument great resonance and allows it to vibrate in harmony.
Cordoba is known for their attention to detail when it comes to guitar construction, and the C10 SP is a perfect example of this. It features a solid Indian rosewood body with spruce top, plus a fast-playing mahogany neck. If you’re looking to shred some technical licks, the rosewood fingerboard is ideal; it’s perfect for speedy players.
Certain guitars have such great unplugged sound, it really wouldn’t do them justice to add any electronics. Plugging them in would actually reduce their natural tone. The Cordoba C10 SP is a great choice for guitarists. It has great features like the two-way truss rod for extra stability, and an intricately designed fan bracing pattern.
Cordoba is well-known for their exceptional classical guitars, and the C10 SP only makes that fact more indisputable. It’s full of great features and components, showing why they’re one of the best in the business. It’s constructed with a unique combination of superior woods that helps create beautiful resonance when it’s played.
Choosing the Right Acoustic Guitar (Buying Guide)
Throughout the rest of our acoustic guitar guide, we’ll explore different parts of these amazing instruments. We’ve put together useful info for anyone whether you’re a seasoned player or completely new to it.
Types of Acoustic Guitars Explained
Even though acoustic guitars all look very similar on the outside, the design chosen by the manufacturer can have a huge impact on your sound, tone and playability. Over time, different designs have been used to create these guitars, each offering their own unique benefits and characteristics.
Acoustic guitars can be divided into three main types/classes. These are:
Steel String Flattops
Acoustic guitars usually come in three categories, each corresponding to different uses and musical styles. Distinctions between them depend on their dimensions, joints, materials used and overall design.
At the top of this article, I have a list consisting of different types of acoustic guitars. Before you buy a guitar, it’s important to understand how each type affects the tone, volume and playing comfort. This will help you decide which one is best suited for your style of play.
Steel String Flattops
Steel-string acoustic guitars are very common and popular for good reason. With great versatility, they’re suitable for both fingerpicking and strumming, making them an ideal choice. A challenge steel string acoustic guitar players may have when compared to nylon-string guitarists is that the strings on steel strings offer more resistance, which can make playing intricate lines harder.
Three popular body styles for steel string flattops are the dreadnought, jumbo, and grand concert. Learn more about all the types of acoustic guitars by reading our comprehensive guide on our dedicated page.
Dreadnought guitars are the most popular type of acoustic and they sure pack a punch! You can expect loud, booming sound along with great bass frequencies.Dreadnoughts have become a real hit with performers because of their even sound across all the different frequencies. This makes them great for anyone who is singing and playing an instrument themselves – like singer-songwriters or solo players.
CF Martin was the pioneer in introducing the dreadnought design. Its name is inspired by a British warship, and it has round shoulders with a neck that’s almost attached to the body right at the 14th fret. All in all, the dreadnought is a reliable shape to go for. You get playing comfort, plenty of volume and it’s relatively easy to maneuver.
Parlor acoustic guitars are popular amongst folk players because they’re easier to hold and play for long periods. They have a much smaller body than dreadnought models, making them more comfortable to keep the jam going without getting tired quickly.
Parlor guitars have a neck joint close to the 12th fret and sloped shoulders, so they look different than a dreadnought. Plus, they’re more lightweight and portable due to the narrowed body shape. Folk musicians like the parlor body shape of guitars because they’re so tiny and portable. That way, it’s super easy to take them from place to place.
Jumbo steel string acoustics are pretty big – bigger than dreadnoughts. They’re loud too, and can fill even the biggest of rooms with sound. Jumbo acoustics are great for guitarists who want a louder sound. The bigger body size boosts the volume by creating more room for string vibrations to resonate when they flow into the soundhole. This produces a louder, more defined sound and is perfect for gigs that don’t need amplification or having a great sing along around the campfire.
Besides the three most popular steel-stringed acoustic guitars, there are a few more types worth mentioning. The round-shoulder dreadnought body style is a spin-off of the original dreadnought shape. Gibson has been the top manufacturer of these acoustic guitars over the years.
Round-shoulder guitars have lots of advantages over regular dreadnought types. They are especially good for people who play while seated as the body shape fits perfectly on your leg. The mid-range has a distinct tone to it and the higher end is full of shimmering harmonics.
Martin was the one who designed the auditorium acoustic guitar, as it’s a great balance between small parlor and medium dreadnought guitars. One of its unique features is its hourglass-shaped body, making it comfortable for players who prefer to sit while playing. Acoustic guitars that you usually hear in auditoriums offer a rich, deep bass sound that folk and blues guitarists prefer.
Nylon String Acoustic Guitars
Nylon string guitars are usually better for your fingers than steel strings. They’re super popular among flamenco players and those who like to fingerpick rather than using a pick. Nylon string guitars have a very warm and inviting sound. You won’t hear any harsh notes up on the fretboard and the overall sound is smooth across the board. They may not have as much of an attack as steel-stringed guitars, but they make up for it with their distinct feel and texture.
A classical guitar is way smaller than a regular steel string guitar. It’s pretty much the same size as a parlor model, but with slightly more width. Classical guitars are a favorite among advanced guitarists who use complex chord shapes and cover the whole fretboard. These guitars reduce the tension on your fingers, so you can play for longer with less energy needed.
Flamenco Acoustic Guitar
Flamenco guitars are specifically made for playing flamenco music, which typically involves quick changes in tempo, intricate melodies and powerful strumming. These guitars are perfect for flamenco style playing due to their low action that reduces strain during rhythmic tapping. It’s different from other acoustic models, making it a great choice for someone looking to get into this type of playing.
Guitar Tonewoods Explained
The sound of an electric guitar is determined by lots of different things like the materials they’re made out of, the kind of pickups used, and even how its wiring is set up. Acoustic guitars, by comparison, are pretty straightforward. Any added electronics on an electro-acoustic will change the sound but ultimately, it’ll depend most on the tonewoods that are used.
The kind of wood used in an acoustic guitar has a huge impact on how it sounds, but also its playability, durability, recording capability and volume. When it comes to acoustic guitar craftsmanship, using a variety of methods and materials for the neck, headstock, body, back and sides can create different sounds. This was especially the case in the earlier days when there was mass production of acoustic guitars.
Nowadays, most guitar companies have specific types of woods they use to get their unique sound. Gone are the days when they used whatever materials were available back then. That’s because of sustainability issues that have become more important now. In order to protect the environment, stricter regulations have been put in place on certain Tonewoods commonly used in mass-produced acoustic guitars as deforestation has caused a huge reduction of these wood types.
Every roadblock is just a stepping stone to new opportunities. Despite the fact that manufacturers aren’t able to use a lot of the tonewoods from the past 50 years, they have still managed to come up with creative solutions to make acoustic guitars with high quality sound. It’s impressive what they’ve achieved!
The acoustic guitar is still alive and kicking! Thanks to innovative designs and the use of exotic woods, there are plenty of options for aspiring musicians today. Manufacturers have worked hard to keep this beloved instrument fresh and exciting.
Acoustic Guitar Top Tonewoods
An acoustic guitar is more than just a pretty face – the top of its body is essential in creating its unique sound. Even if you don’t know much about guitars, take a moment to appreciate all the work that goes into crafting it and how different each one can be! The soundboard is the top part of a guitar, connecting its strings to its body. It’s essential for manufacturers to pick an appropriate tonewood for the soundboard as it makes a huge difference.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, some of the most commonly used materials for the top are:
When you’re talking about the top of an acoustic guitar, spruce is by far the most popular tonewood. Most manufacturers choose spruce for their steel string acoustics as it’s incredibly versatile. You can play any kind of music on a guitar made with spruce – that’s why it’s so widely used!
Spruce gives you a wide range of sound with clarity and accuracy across the fretboard and sweet, mellow harmonics in the higher notes. Spruce is an awesome choice for guitar makers because it’s great for both fingerstyle and plectrum strumming. Plus, it has a really balanced sound which makes it a popular pick.
Cedar is growing in popularity for acoustic guitars and is only second to spruce in terms of the best wood. Initially, it was used solely on classical nylon-string guitars, but manufacturers are now using it for steel-string instruments more often.
Cedar is a bit less dense than spruce and gives off a dark, earthy sound. The tones it produces are full and enriching, but it doesn’t have that high-end sparkle. Cedar is known for its firm grain, which unfortunately means it won’t produce a lot of volume. Its strong overtones and consistent frequency response though make it a big hit with finger-picking guitar players, despite the lack of volume.
Acoustic Guitar Back and Sides Tonewoods
The kind of wood used to create the body of an acoustic guitar affects the sound it makes. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely and pick a type that’ll bring out the best tone. The various parts of a guitar contribute to its sound. Different components can enhance or reduce certain frequencies, which significantly affects the clarity and quality of the guitar’s audio.
Manufacturers usually choose specific woods for the back and sides of acoustic guitars as different combinations give you varying audio results. That’s why the wood used for the back and sides is often different from that used on the top.
Acoustic guitars usually have their backs and sides made up of certain tonewoods, the most popular being:
Gibson and Martin made mahogany popular in the early days because it was cheaper than rosewood. Today, though, it’s considered a premium material for its unique characteristics and qualities.
Mahogany has a deep, brown-red hue that makes it stand out from other tonewoods. It’s incredibly tough and dense, resulting in a warm and rich tone when used in music production. Mahogany is known for producing a sound that’s comparable to rosewood. It gives an articulate sound with a bit of elevation in the mid-range notes.
As mahogany wood ages, its tonal characteristics gradually change. What begins as a tight and focused sound eventually develops into something that is full of overtones, colors, and expression. Aged mahogany acoustic guitars are a big hit with music enthusiasts, as they give off a specific unique sound. They’re great for blues and country genres, due to their tonal qualities and look.
For many years, rosewood has been the top choice for acoustic guitar makers. It typically finds use in the back and sides of the instrument and can be traced back to its long musical history. Most companies use two major types of wood: East Indian rosewood and the more expensive Brazilian type.
Acoustic guitars with Brazilian rosewood back and sides are sought after for their beautiful looks and the amazing sound they make. Plus, they provide a bright, well-balanced tone which really stands out. Brazilian rosewood is facing some tough times due to current regulations which are aimed at preserving it. That’s why its use has been stopped in order to prevent its extinction.
East Indian rosewood has become a hot commodity now because it’s more affordable compared to Brazilian tonewood yet still gives you that sweet, beautiful sound. East Indian has a dark brown hue and straight grain pattern, whereas Brazilian rosewood has subtle reddish, grey and sometimes purple tones. These are the principle characteristics that set them apart.
Sapele wood is originally found in African forests and shares some characteristics with mahogany. It is commonly used for the back and sides of acoustic guitars. People have been turning to this wood type more and more, mostly because of its eco-friendly harvesting process. This way, trees are harvested responsibly and sustainably.
You can instantly spot sapele wood for its distinct and deep grains. It looks quite similar to mahogany, albeit with a bit lighter shades and stripes. When used for instruments, it produces a strong bass sound with decent mid-tones resonance. The treble end of this wood type is really expressive and defined, which makes it suitable for various music styles and genres.
Walnut is a great, budget-friendly tone wood that’s used for beginner-level acoustic guitars. It’s also easier to get and shape into the sides and back of the guitar compared to other, more expensive woods. The sound of this sits somewhere in between mahogany and rosewood, with a strongly emphasized midrange and a slightly shady overall tone.
Acoustic Guitar Neck & Fretboard Woods
Acoustic guitars usually come with either maple or mahogany necks. These materials are great for construction and can handle string tension well, making them really durable.
On the other hand, acoustic guitar fretboards are made using different materials. The wood choice of the body is crucial for giving off the right tone, but the fretboard is where your hands make contact with the guitar, so it’s important to ensure that it offers maximum comfort and smooth feel.
When it comes to fretboard tonewoods, some of the most common ones are:
For a while, rosewood was the go-to material for acoustic guitar fretboards. But, when regulations came into effect, manufacturers had to look for other alternatives since it wasn’t practical to use it like they were used to doing. It looks like the rosewood tree population is picking up again, and it won’t be long before its prospects in the industry improve with more sustainable production.
The new regulations had a big impact on Brazilian rosewood, leading to a surge in popularity for Indian rosewood. Rosewood is one of the top choices for acoustic guitar fingerboards because it’s so long lasting. Rosewood doesn’t go out of style or get worn down like other materials used in making instruments. It also has a natural oil coating that eliminates the need for a finish and keeps it feeling smooth and soft to the touch.
Maple makes for a great material to be used in electric guitar fretboards, but it can also be found on acoustic guitars too. It’s known for its density that produces a bright and clear sound with tons of volume across all frequencies.
Dark woods are commonly used on acoustic and electric guitars because they look better. You don’t often see maple as it has a brighter tone, so it’s rare to find it on acoustic guitar fretboards. That said, dark-sounding tonewoods can be balanced out and have more clarity through the use of maple. Maple is often used in this situation to bring back some harmony to the overall sound.
Ebony has been a favorite fretboard material for acoustic guitars for a long time. It’s classy and it adds to the sound of both acoustic and electric guitars. Professional guitar makers have been using ebony decks for decades now. It has a classy dark look that goes well with the kind of woods typically used for an instrument’s top, back and sides.
Ebony’s a great pick for guitar fretboards because of its density and smoothness. It also produces a good amount of natural oil which makes it so you don’t need to finish it, yet still get the same playability as other treated woods. Guitarists often refer to ebony fretboards as ‘fast’ because it provides smooth transition while playing. Especially for technical guitarists, this type of tonewood is a great choice as it increases their speed and accuracy.
If you’re looking for fretboards for your acoustic guitar, walnut is an excellent option. It’s quite similar to rosewood in terms of feel and density, however it’s not as popular due to its visual aesthetics. Walnut isn’t a popular pick among guitarists since it’s pretty light-coloured and doesn’t go well with the usual dark/light body and fretboard combo. Yet, when it is used, the playability is very smooth and you get a clear, bright sound.
Electric-Acoustic Guitars Explained
Acoustic guitars are great for intimate settings, but their sound doesn’t carry well in a loud environment. So if you’re playing in a noisy place, they won’t be able to drown out the background noise. That’s why manufacturers started incorporating some of the tech used in electric guitars into acoustic models, so they could be electrically amplified too.
Electric-acoustic guitars are great for musicians who want the best of both worlds. They get the warm, rich sound of an acoustic, plus they can plug it into an amp and really let their performance shine when playing to a large crowd. It’s like having two instruments in one!
Converting a regular acoustic guitar into an electro-acoustic one involves fitting a pickup and other electronic parts, basically the same process you’d use on an electric guitar. If you have an electric-acoustic guitar, you need to get an instrument cable and plug it into the pickup. This then goes into an amp, preamp, direct input or mixer. Electric model guitars use a different type of pickup than on electric-acoustics.
An acoustic guitar’s soundhole holds a magnetic pickup to detect the vibrations of the strings when played. It has an insulated copper wire wrapped around a magnet that makes a magnetic field. This is what measures and reproduces the sound of the instrument.
Electric guitar pickups are a match made in heaven when it comes to warm and expressive tones. Plus they bring out every little detail of your instrument. Best of all, they’re really easy to install – just pop them inside the soundhole and affix with a few screws!
Magnetic pickups are not without their shortcomings though. For one, they often have difficulty in picking up the resonance of the guitar body. Going acoustic to electric means you might experience a slightly different sound than your original acoustic sound. Also, you should be aware of feedback issues and remember that regular pickups won’t work if you have a classical guitar.
Instead of using magnetic pickups, you can opt for piezo transducer pickups. These sensors detect the vibrations of the strings and transform it into an electrical signal which then gets amplified. Piezo pickups are placed between the bridge and the bridge saddle to make it easier for the vibration in strings to change the voltage of the piezoelectric device.
Compared to other pickups, Piezo pickups don’t pick up as much of the resonance from the guitar body. Rather, it’s more about the sound of the strings being plucked and they mostly have a bright and articulate output. Pickups are a lot more dependable than soundhole pickups because they’re less likely to get feedback. The only issue is that it’s a challenge to fit these pickups.
The third type of acoustic guitar pickups are internal mics. They’re placed inside the guitar and record the sound like a vocal mic would. Pretty cool, right?
Internal pickups are just like any other microphones, but they provide a more natural sound capture. In comparison to piezo and magnetic pickups, they capture more resonance from the body of the instrument, resulting in an authentic tone that truly reflects how it should sound.
The bummer about microphone pickups is they can cause feedback. You have to be really careful with how you place the mic so you don’t get any funny noise loops. Plus, they don’t provide much power, so if you want more energy you need to combine them with soundhole pickups for an even blend of resonance and output power.
It can be tricky picking the right strings for your acoustic guitar – different materials and gauges work better for certain styles of playing. Most strings used for playing music are a mixture of steel and nickel. You’ll usually find the three thickest ones covered in a layer of nickel, as they create the lower notes.
If you’re playing an aggressive style of music, steel strings are the way to go. They produce a great amount of attack and resonance, making them incredibly loud and ideal for live performances. Plus, they cover most frequencies across the sound spectrum.
Steel and nickel strings definitely put more stress on your fingers – if you practice for too long with them, your fingers will start to really hurt. Fortunately, there is an easier option: nylon strings. Playing for longer will be much less painful!
If you’re into classical or flamenco guitar playing, nylon strings are the way to go. They’re much more comfortable to press down against the frets and technical players who use complex chord shapes love them. Nylon strings have much lower tension, which makes the pressing of chords easier on your fingers and gives you the ability to play for extended periods. They’re also much quieter than steel and nickel strings, so they won’t be suitable if you’re playing in a loud environment.
Acoustic Guitars & Effects
Acoustic guitars are great for exploring different effects. With all the possibilities that come with this instrument, you can easily experiment with different types of audio processing. Reverb is especially popular to use on acoustics – it adds a lot of depth to the sound. Reverbs sound especially good on acoustic guitars, bringing a sense of decay to the notes and making your strums and picking stand out.
If you want to add some more atmosphere to your acoustic guitar, using a delay effect is a great way to do that. With delays, you can achieve a whole range of sounds – from adding a gentle echo to creating artificial double tracking. And if you use it creatively, it can even turn the acoustic guitar into layers of beautiful harmonics. If you set the tempo when using a delay pedal, it will sync up with the rhythm of your song. Not doing so might lead to some chaotic and random results, which isn’t necessarily bad but could throw off a drummer’s timing!
Acoustic guitar tones get a cool twist with mod-based effects like phasing, chorus, flair, auto rotary and tremolo. Using a combination of these can really liven up your sound! Acoustic guitar and chorus is a match made in heaven, increasing the thickness and adding a wavy texture to it. And if you want something that’s more obvious, phasers and flangers are great too but use them sparingly in order to get warm tones.
Boosting effects aren’t usually used on acoustic guitars, but in genres like Mississippi blues, guitarists often add some overdrive to their sound. This results in a saturated tone that’s great for playing blues licks with a rough edge.
Acoustic guitars are often paired with dynamic pedals, which don’t make as much of a difference but still make a big impact. Compression works well to make softer frequencies more prominent in an acoustic guitar track, while EQing is great for refining the sound. It’s a must-have for mixing recorded acoustic guitars, as it helps you get the desired sound.
Recording Acoustic Guitar
If you’re trying to record an acoustic guitar, engineers use different techniques. If it’s electro-acoustic and has a pickup, you can plug it directly into the direct input of your audio interface for a unique sound. One downside to this method is that the audio you get won’t be as good if the microphone isn’t up to scratch. Plus, some electric interference can sneak into the sound too.
It’s pretty common to record acoustic guitar through a single condenser mic. Condensers capture the subtleties and slight variations of the guitar really well, making them ideal for recording acoustic instruments. Electric guitars can really benefit from using a condenser mic to get the most out of the treble end.
A lot of people also use two condenser mics for recording, usually in XY positioning. You need to make sure that the mics are at the same angle and height so that phase cancellation is produced. The two mics capture the highs, mids, and lows of the guitar which helps to create a well-rounded recording.
For recording acoustic guitar with a single mic, it’s a good idea to place it near the 10th or 12th fret. That way, you can capture the sound of strumming or fingerpicking as well as any resonance from the soundhole.
After going through this guide, you should now have a clearer idea of which acoustic guitar to go for. All the models here can provide great sound and playing experience, but they also come with different features to cater for different playing styles. When picking an acoustic guitar, it’s important to decide what sort of tone you want. Comfort is also a factor – and in this regard, acoustic guitars usually have it covered.