Best dreadnought guitars 2024: big body acoustics for powerful tone

For decades, acoustic players of all genres have chased after the tone and projection produced by the best dreadnought guitars. Probably the most recognizable acoustic guitar shape ever created, the dreadnought offers a bassy and defined low end, along with a clear and sparkly top end, usually with a slight mid-scoop.

Dreadnoughts are perfect for singer-songwriters, as the natural mid-scoop leaves room for vocals to sit. Flat pickers like them too, as there’s lots of definition and articulation, so you hear each note played clearly. To be honest though, a dreadnought guitar will work for almost every player – there’s a reason why they’re so popular!

First created by C.F. Martin towards the start of the 20th Century, the dreadnought has since played a part in pretty much every popular music movement up to the modern day. There have been loads of variations, and there are now lots of options available to players. Most manufacturers have their own take on the legendary dreadnought model. We’ve picked what we believe to be the best dreadnoughts out there right now, for every type of player and budget.

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The best dreadnought guitars available today

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For full write-ups of our favorite dreadnoughts, keep reading. 

Best overall

Best dreadnought guitars: Martin D-35

(Image credit: Martin)

1. Martin D-35

One of the most iconic dreadnoughts ever made

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid rosewood
Neck: Select hardwood
Fingerboard: Ebony
Bracing: Forward Shifted X-bracing
Pickup?: N
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
It’s an icon
+
Incredibly rich tone
+
Superb note clarity and articulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

One of the best and most iconic dreadnoughts available, the Martin D-35 is by no means cheap, but if you’re looking for the ultimate acoustic guitar tone, then this is one to seriously consider.

Constructed using a solid spruce top and solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, this guitar yields a rich sound that suits so many different styles of music. Chords ring out clearly – every note identifiable, balanced and clear. Of course, it’s got that powerful low end, but it’s also super rich in the top end. You’ve got some mids there as well, but there is the natural slight mid-scoop, as you’d expect from this type of guitar. Melody lines ring out beautifully too, with rich harmonic sustain across the fingerboard.

It’s built incredibly well, so you can expect this to last a lifetime. Whether you’re seeking something for studio, writing or live use, the D-35 can do it all – and then some.

Best modern dread

Best dreadnought guitars: Taylor 110ce-S

(Image credit: Taylor)

2. Taylor 110ce-S

One of the best dreadnought guitars under a grand for a modern acoustic tone

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Layered sapele
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Bracing: X-Bracing
Pickup?: Taylor ES-2
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Crisp modern tone
+
Great pickup system
+
Great playability 

Reasons to avoid

-
You want something more classic

Taylor are known for their fantastic playability and rich, crisp, high-definition tone. The 110ce encapsulates that perfectly, and for a great price. With this guitar, you’d be more than ready to hit the stage or the studio and keep up with the pros. It’s reliable and it’s built well so will likely last you a long time too.

The nice, bright articulation delivered by the solid spruce top is balanced out with the layered sapele back and sides which add a touch of warmth. The dreadnought body shape ensures that you get plenty of bottom end power as well as the top end sparkle that they’re known for. 

This version also has a cutaway in the body making it really easy to access the highest notes on the fretboard, as well as a great sounding pickup and easy access controls. Whether you’re a singer-songwriter looking for something to perform live with, or you want a solid workhorse acoustic, we think the Taylor 110ce-S is one of the best dreadnoughts you can get right now. 

Best workhorse acoustic

Best dreadnought guitars: Gibson J-45 Studio Rosewood

(Image credit: Gibson)

3. Gibson J-45 Studio Rosewood

One of the best workhorse acoustic guitars you can get

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Bracing: Traditional hand scalloped X-bracing
Pickup?: LR Baggs Elemental Bronze
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, slim body
+
Punchy, bold sound
+
Inspiring to play

Reasons to avoid

-
On the more expensive side

J-45s are tons of fun to play. They’re a great workhorse guitar which is probably why they’ve been played by such a wide range of musicians. This Studio version is more affordable than the Standard, but still packs a lot of the same punch. If you’re looking for one of the best acoustic guitars for writing, gigging, recording or even learning, this can do absolutely everything!

A solid spruce top is paired with solid rosewood back and sides. It’s quite bright sounding, but the dreadnought body shape ensures that you get a powerful low end too, so it’s lovely and balanced. You get great note clarity and separation which is useful in the studio. We also found it to be very responsive and dynamic so you really get out of it what you put in. 

The slightly slimmer body depth is super comfortable – you still get the rich, deep tones you’d expect, but it does make sitting down with it in particular a touch easier. Smaller players might also find reaching around to strum it that bit easier too.  

Best on a budget

Best dreadnought guitars: Sigma DM-15

(Image credit: Sigma)

4. Sigma DM-15

A fantastic all-mahogany budget dreadnought

Specifications

Top: Solid mahogany
Back & sides: Laminated mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Micarta
Bracing: X-bracing
Pickup?: N
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely warm sound
+
Quality tuners
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Too no-frills for some

Sigma makes some great guitars inspired by other legendary models. The DM-15 is its take on a mahogany Martin dreadnought (Martin actually used to be involved with Sigma until 2007), and we think it represents fantastic value for money.

A solid mahogany top is paired with laminate mahogany back and sides resulting in a great sounding guitar with plenty of bass and treble frequencies, and a nice, albeit slightly tamer, mid presence. You get great note separation so chord work is a joy on this guitar, though lead lines will ring out beautifully as well. It has a big sound, and it projects really well. A nice bonus is the addition of Grover machine heads which hold the tuning brilliantly. 

If you want the power and volume of a dreadnought with a touch of added warmth, then here is a fantastic option that’s also easy on your wallet.

Best for beginners

Best dreadnought guitars: Yamaha FG800 MKII

(Image credit: Yamaha)

5. Yamaha FG800 MKII

Definitely a contender for the best beginner dreadnought

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Laminated nato/okume
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Walnut
Bracing: Newly developed scalloped bracing
Pickup?: N
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of volume and projection
+
Plays great
+
Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Not particularly exciting

The Yamaha FG series has been around since the 1960s and in that time has provided countless players with quality, affordable instruments. The FG800 is a sturdy, reliable and traditional dreadnought made with a solid spruce top and laminate nato/okume back and sides. It sounds rich and balanced, and will gradually sound better over time as the top breaks in. 

Playability-wise, the FG800 is great, particularly for those in the market for a great beginner acoustic, but more experienced players will get along with it just fine too. The neck profile is quite thin, but still with enough body to it to really get your hands around; the neck also has a matte finish which means that if you’re playing for long periods then the neck doesn’t get slippy as you sweat. 

There isn’t much to dislike about the Yamaha FG800. If you’re seeking a top-quality budget dreadnought, then it’s one of the best out there.

Read the full Yamaha FG800 review

Best for the studio

Best dreadnought guitars: Taylor 327e

(Image credit: Taylor)

6. Taylor 327e

An all-solid mahogany dreadnought with Taylor’s ground-breaking V-Class bracing

Specifications

Top: Solid tropical mahogany
Back & sides: Solid tropical mahogany
Neck: Tropical mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Bracing: V-Class bracing
Pickup?: ES-2
Left-handed?: L

Reasons to buy

+
A modern take on the dreadnought 
+
Defined low end
+
The V-Class bracing really does work

Reasons to avoid

-
You prefer the brightness of spruce

Made from all solid tropical mahogany, Taylor’s modernized take on the classic dreadnought shape offers a rich, warm low, and clear and defined highs. Where some dreads might get a little boomy in the low end, Taylor's 'Grand Pacific' body shape does not, retaining clarity without sacrificing any power. 

The 327e is also fitted with Taylor’s amazing V-Class bracing. This unique way of bracing the guitar allows you to get more volume and sustain, while simultaneously improving intonation. All of this combined makes the guitar an incredible tool in the studio, but also perfect for live use too. Whether you’re gently fingerpicking, flat picking or driving the top with heavy strumming, the 327e is dynamic and responsive. It will react to your playing really nicely, allowing you to play with emotion and expression. 

Of course, it’s a Taylor so it plays great, plus you’ve got their renowned ES-2 pickup system on board. 

More options...

Still haven't found what you're looking for? Here are some more dreadnought options we rate.

Best dreadnought guitars: Fender California King Vintage

(Image credit: Fender)
A whole lot of guitar for not a lot of cash

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid ovangkol
Neck: Okoume
Fingerboard: Ovangkol
Bracing: Forward Shifted X-bracing
Pickup?: Fender/Fishman Presys VT Plus Soundhole Pickup System
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Nice, balanced tone
+
Looks amazing

Reasons to avoid

-
Might expect a bit more low end

This is one of the more recent additions to Fender’s acoustic line-up, though it takes a lot of inspiration from the early-‘60s. In fact, it’s essentially a modern take on one of Fender’s first ever acoustics.

First up, it’s got Fender’s Performance X-bracing – this allows the top to move more, giving it plenty of projection whilst retaining articulation and clarity. It being all solid wood, it also resonates really well and sounds super rich with beautiful overtones. There’s a nice amount of low end (though some might want a touch more from a dread), giving your chords plenty of power, whether you’re fingerpicking, strumming or flat picking, but there’s also plenty in the way of mids and treble frequencies too, making this a great choice if you want to be heard above a full-band mix.

The aged natural finish really helps contribute to the whole vintage vibe of the guitar, and the modernized V neck profile makes it easy to play. The onboard pickup works well and we also love the old-school 6-in-line tuners on the classic Fender headstock as it offers something quite different aesthetically from other acoustics. 

Read the full Fender California King Vintage review

Best dreadnought guitars: Takamine EF341SC

(Image credit: Takamine)

8. Takamine EF341SC

One of the best dreadnought guitars for live use

Specifications

Top: Solid cedar
Back & sides: Layered maple
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickup?: CT4B II
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Nice balanced tone
+
Great pickup
+
Plays well

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get richer sounding guitars when unplugged

This dreadnought has a lovely wood combination of solid cedar on the top, and laminated maple for the back and sides. The cedar gives it a nice warmth, whilst retaining a good amount of articulation, whilst the maple lends it some brightness and snap. Overall, the guitar is really well balanced tonally, and whilst it might not be the loudest dread on this list, it does respond well to changes in dynamics.

It sounds great unplugged, but this really comes into its own as a live performance tool. It’s fitted with a high quality pickup and preamp that mean when you plug it into an amp or PA system, you get a fantastic sound – much more natural and organic than your regular piezo pickup. It’s actually become a trusted tool for a number of pros playing huge stages around the world – Jon Bon Jovi, Bruno Mars and Danny Jones to name but a few.

If you’re playing live and want one of the best dreadnoughts for plugging in, then this really is one to consider.

Best dreadnought guitars: Martin D-10E

(Image credit: Martin)

9. Martin D-10E

The classic Martin dreadnought tone, for a great price

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid sapele
Neck: Select hardwood
Fingerboard: Richlite
Bracing: X-Bracing
Pickup?: Fishman MX-T
Left-handed?: Y

Reasons to buy

+
Deep, rich sound
+
Balanced tone
+
Decent pickup system

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as refined as the more expensive Martin dreads

When it comes to the best dreadnought guitars, there's one brand that stands out – Martin. The company came up with the design over 100 years ago and has developed some incredible guitars using this pioneering body shape.

The Martin D-10E is an all solid wood dread, with built-in pickup and soundhole tuner. It delivers the classic Martin tone – rich, woody, bassy – and it comes in a lot cheaper than something like a D-18 or D-28. It’s wonderfully resonant, dynamic and it projects well. The guitar is built using solid spruce for the top and solid sapele for the back and sides. This wood combination results in a very balanced tone that works well for lots of different music. 

There’s a Fishman MX-T pickup on board so you can plug in and play at gigs, plus there’s a discrete soundhole tuner that, when engaged, mutes the pickup’s output – a touch that we really love. 

10. Guild D-20

All-solid mahogany, US-built without a crazy price tag

Specifications

Top: Solid mahogany
Back & sides: Solid mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Bracing: Scalloped X
Pickup?: N
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
All solid wood
+
Warm, rounded tone
+
Plenty of power

Reasons to avoid

-
You want something brighter

Made in the US, featuring a solid mahogany top and solid mahogany back and sides, this is a premium, quality guitar, with a relatively modest price tag considering all the above. It’s a model that dates back to the ‘60s, but it’s just as relevant today as it was back then.

The D-20 has a lovely, rich bottom end – it’s powerful, but not overly boomy and it reacts wonderfully to playing dynamics. Whether you’re using a pick for big, bold strumming or you’re delicately fingerpicking, it gives out what you put in. You can of course use this guitar for whatever type of music you need an acoustic for, but it really does suit folky, singer-songwriter type stuff really well. The guitar features a satin nitrocellulose finish – this gives it a really nice matte look and feel to it, but also allows the guitar to vibrate freely.

Best dreadnought guitars: Epiphone Inspired By Gibson Hummingbird

(Image credit: Epiphone)
Summon an instant ’60s vibe from this classic square shouldered dreadnought

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Indian laurel
Bracing: Quarter-sawn spruce
Pickup?: Fishman Sonitone
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
All solid wood for a great price
+
Vintage acoustic tones
+
Quality tuners and pickup

Reasons to avoid

-
The look isn’t for everyone

The Hummingbird is one of the most recognizable acoustic guitars ever made. This Inspired by Gibson version is exactly what the name suggests – it takes its inspiration from the much more expensive US-made model that has been used by the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Thom Yorke, Chris Cornell and more. 

We found it to sound bright and clear, with lots of articulation and presence – largely thanks to the solid spruce top. The solid mahogany back and sides complement this, adding warmth and slight midrange boost. It’s a load of fun to play, especially if you’re looking to recreate some classic acoustic tones. The rounded neck profile adds to the general vintage vibe of the whole guitar, too.

In addition, you’ve got a great set of sturdy tuners, a really good sounding Fishman Sonicore pickup, plus just look at that finish! 

Read the full Epiphone inspired By Gibson Hummingbird review

Best dreadnought guitars: Fender Highway Series Dreadnought

(Image credit: Fender)
A revolutionary take on the dreadnought

Specifications

Top: Solid spruce
Back & sides: Solid mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Bracing: Tapered, floating X-brace
Pickup?: Fishman Fluence
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Great amplified sound
+
Two pickup voicing
+
Slimline body

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for traditionalists

One of Fender’s newer options, the Highway series builds on the fine work it's been doing with the Acoustasonics and brings it to the beloved dreadnought shape. It gives you a natural and organic acoustic guitar voicing, with more comfortable, accessible and even more electric-like playability. 

The Highway Dreadnought has a much thinner body than a regular acoustic – it’s just 2.25” thick making it really easy for players of all statures to get their arms around; even children. The newly-designed tapered floating X-bracing helps it resonate and gives it its natural tone, along with the solid spruce top (it’s also available with a mahogany top). This guitar sounds great unplugged, but it is fitted with a Fishman Fluence acoustic pickup that has a couple of different voices, making it perfect for live performances or even direct recording.

The body depth might not be for everyone, but its slimline shape and rolled edges will definitely make for a really comfortable playing experience for some. 

Read our full Fender Highway Series Dreadnought review

Best dreadnought guitars: Ibanez AAD140

(Image credit: Ibanez)

13. Ibanez AAD140

A dreadnought, and then some!

Specifications

Top: Solid okoume
Back & sides: Laminated okoume
Neck: Nyatoh
Fingerboard: Ovangkol
Bracing: X-M bracing
Pickup?: N
Left-handed?: N

Reasons to buy

+
Big, bold tone
+
Great projection
+
Nice finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Body too big for some
-
Some will prefer a brighter sounding guitar

Ibanez has built on the foundation of the classic dreadnought body shape and made it slightly bigger to increase the power and bottom end you get. This Grand Dreadnought shape is around 5 percent bigger and can produce more volume whilst still allowing for loads of dynamics in your playing. It’s also paired with their X-M bracing which improves how the guitar responds to your playing and produces a nice, balanced tone. 

The AAD140 has a solid okoume top, and laminate okoume back and sides. Okoume is similar to mahogany, so it’s warm and woody sounding – possibly even more so, giving this guitar loads of character. The neck profile is comfortable and features rounded fingerboard edges for improved playability. It has also been thermo-aged (basically, dried out) which gives it great stability and resonance. 

The AAD140 comes in at a very reasonable price too, so if you’re seeking one of the best budget dreadnoughts with a big, warm tone, then this could well be it.  

Best dreadnought guitars: Buying advice

Close-up of Gibson J45 bridge

(Image credit: Future)

How much should I spend on a dreadnought?

How much you should spend on a new dreadnought will always come down to the budget you have. There are some great guitars for not much money – the Yamaha FG800 comes to mind. If you look around the $/£300 price point, you’ll find some good instruments with a solid top that provide you with the powerful dreadnought tone and that are built well. 

When you get to guitars around the $/£750-1,000 mark, you’ll notice a bunch of improvements. The quality of materials used will be higher; you might even get all solid wood at this price. These guitars are perfect for many intermediate players, or even professionals that want a reliable workhorse that they can take on the road. From the studio to the stage, the best dreadnought guitars at this price point will serve you well. 

Once you get into the thousands, you’re in the realm of serious, pro-level instruments. Many of these will be made in the US, from all solid woods. Everything used to make the guitar – woods, hardware etc – will be of a higher standard, and you might get more aesthetic luxuries, too; fancy fretboard inlays, body binding and the like. 

What do I need to know about tonewoods?

Spruce, mahogany and rosewood are common woods used on dreadnoughts. Quite often, makers will use one wood for the top, then another for the back and sides, though sometimes, they’ll use the same throughout. 

The top piece of the body can be seen as being like a speaker cone; it shapes the tone of the guitar quite a lot. Spruce is probably the most common wood – it sounds fairly bright, it’s versatile, articulate and it responds well to your playing. You might see cedar being used, too – this is generally warmer sounding, and not quite as complex. People love mahogany topped guitars for their warm, woody tone and richer midrange. 

The back and sides can help eliminate or enhance certain frequency ranges, so they do contribute a lot to the instrument's voice too. Mahogany is used a lot as it can help balance out the highs and lows of spruce, particularly on a dreadnought. Rosewood is another popular wood for the back and sides, though CITES regulations do tend to make it expensive. It has a rich, complex sound with clear highs and defined low frequencies. Walnut is sometimes used in place of rosewood as it has similar tonal properties and is cheaper to source.

What's the difference between between solid wood and laminate?

If you’re on the hunt for the best dreadnought guitar, you’ll certainly come across specs that talk about solid wood. On an acoustic guitar, solid wood moves and vibrates more than laminated or layered wood does. This leads to more sustain, and a richer, more complex, and just generally better tone.

As you might expect, solid wood is more expensive. What you’ll find on many guitars, particularly those priced around $/£250-800, is that the body has a solid top, and laminate back and sides. The top plays a big part in the sound you hear from an acoustic, so by making this solid, and the back and sides (which do still affect tone) laminated, builders can produce guitars that sound great, but that are also affordable. 

How we choose the best dreadnought guitars

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best dreadnought guitars available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best dreadnought guitars on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.

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