How we test
We personally research and test the latest acoustic guitars to provide unbiased recommendations. We rate each guitar out of 5 and use the review data to inform rankings. Read more about how we test at Guitar World.
It may sound bold, but we genuinely believe there's never been a better time to buy an acoustic guitar. The sheer volume of guitars on the market at the moment is exhilarating, with many companies producing the best acoustic guitars they have ever made. Now, with so many instruments from an incredibly diverse group of manufacturers, it's easy to get overwhelmed - we call it 'option paralysis' - but don't worry, we are here to help.
Whatever your budget - and playing style - we guarantee one of these top acoustic guitars will be perfect for you, and this guide is here to help you pick your favorite. With entry-level acoustics from the likes of Epiphone, Yamaha, Martin, and Taylor, through to high-end heavyweights from Gibson and Fender, we've got you covered.
Our choices are presented in price order so you can easily find the right one for your budget. Of course, we've also scoured the web to find the best prices, saving you any legwork in that department, too.
Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about all aspects of guitar gear from electric and acoustic guitars to pedals, amps and more.
31/10/23: As well as auditing the products to make sure the list is up to date with the very best acoustic guitars around, we've also given this page a fresh new look, tweaking the format to make it easier to navigate and find the right model for you.
Best acoustic guitars: The quick list
Want to get to the good stuff without reading walls of text? Well, here you'll find a roundup of our top choices for the best acoustic guitars with links to read a more detailed review if you'd like.
Best on a budget
Built by one of the guitar world's biggest brands, we found the Epiphone DR-100 to be an entry-level acoustic with the feel of something far more prestigious.
Best for beginners
The Yamaha FG800 is one of the best budget acoustic guitars ever. A solid top at this price point is astounding, and the tone produced is outstanding.
Best small guitar
Considering the size, this compact Martin guitar is loud, delivering a tone that larger guitars could only dream of. Better yet, the sound is warm and mellow.
Read more below
Best for home use
The GS Mini is essentially a scaled-down version of the favored Taylor Grand Symphony-shaped acoustic. Like other Taylor guitars, the GS Mini has a bright, clear tone.
Best workhorse acoustic
Featuring an all-solid-wood construction, quarter-sawn spruce bracing, and tapered dovetail neck joint, Epiphone has nailed every detail of this incredibly famous flat-top acoustic guitar.
The best acoustic guitars in 2023
You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Best on a budget
Built by one of the guitar world's biggest brands, we found the Epiphone DR-100 to be an entry-level acoustic with the feel of something far more prestigious. The quality of this acoustic far outstrips the price point, cementing its position on this list.
Despite the all-laminate construction, the DR-100 sounds fantastic with a full-bodied and powerful voice thanks to its dreadnought body shape. It responds really well to both flat-picking and fingerstyle too, showing off a great dynamic range.
With solid tones and excellent build quality, the Epiphone DR-100 will inspire you to keep playing it. Forget the low price. This is an acoustic guitar that will set you up nicely for any musical journey ahead.
Read the full Epiphone DR-100 review
Best beginner acoustic
The Yamaha FG800 is probably one of the best budget acoustic guitars of all time. The FG series of guitars goes way back to 1966 when the first instrument was introduced and the fact they're still making 'best of' lists today says something about the quality of these guitars.
A solid spruce top at this price point is frankly astounding, we're more used to all-laminate guitars at this budget. It lends this guitar a powerful voice that combined with the dreadnought body shape gives it some serious volume with a rich, and warm tonality.
A smooth, well-finished neck with a nice round profile encourages many styles of play. It's hefty enough for experienced players to enjoy, whilst simultaneously being comfortable for the less-seasoned strummer to pick up their first chords on. A truly great acoustic guitar that over-delivers for the money.
Read the full Yamaha FG800 review
Best small guitar
The Martin LX1E is a small-sized dreadnought with bags of appeal. It's marketed as a travel acoustic guitar, which can be thrown in the (included) gig bag to accompany you anywhere. Spend a bit of time with one, however, and you'll see it has more to offer than as a mere travel companion.
It's a compact guitar but it's loud considering the size - certainly louder than other small-body acoustics we've reviewed. There's a smattering of low end but where it really cuts through is the mids and highs, responding really well to your playing dynamics too.
The onboard Fishman Sonitone electronics make it ideal for hooking up to an acoustic guitar amp, with the controls hidden away in the soundhole to keep the exterior of the guitar looking clean. It means this guitar can easily compete with larger acoustics tonally when plugged in, making it a great option for the gigging guitar player.
Read the full Martin LX1E Little Martin review
Best for home use
Next up is something approaching bona fide classic status in the acoustic guitar world. The Taylor GS Mini was launched in 2011 and bridged the gap between travel guitars and fully-fledged workhorse acoustics wonderfully.
The GS Mini is essentially a scaled-down version of the popular Taylor Grand Symphony-shaped acoustic. During testing, we loved its smaller size, as it makes it ideal for leaving around the house ready to pick up and play while you're waiting for the microwave to ping. Despite the shorter scale, the string spacing is still that of a regular-size guitar, so it feels great for fingerpicking.
It's got that very bright and clear tone that's a signature of most Taylor guitars. Whilst lacking slightly in the volume department unplugged, you can more than make up for it with the onboard ES-B acoustic guitar pickup, which allows this great guitar to compete with its full-sized siblings when playing live.
Read the full Taylor GS Mini review
The J-45 has been spotted slung around the shoulders of many notable players new and old through the years, from Bob Dylan to Billie Joe Armstrong, Woody Guthrie, and Myles Kennedy. Favored for its understated looks and folksy charm, the guitar would go on to get the nickname “The Workhorse”, as it was seen as the working man’s flattop. The loud, attention-grabbing tone contrasts its subtle beauty, with a rich low-end and singing mid-range means it’s always heard, no matter the situation.
If you’ve been following the prices of the Gibson J-45 over the last few years, then you’ll have noticed a rather sizable increase - you won’t get much change back from $/£2500 right now - and it’s looking like the prices won’t be coming down anytime soon.
Luckily Epiphone has been busy meticulously recreating the iconic sloped shoulder dreadnought - and at a far more affordable price! Featuring an all solid-wood construction, quarter-sawn spruce bracing, and tapered dovetail neck joint, we feel that Epiphone really has gone out of its way to nail every detail and pay tribute to the famous acoustic.
Every element has been carefully considered, even down to the finish. Gone is the thick plastic-feeling lacquer, in favor of a soft and supple aged finish that we found a delight to play with during our testing. So if you are looking for those classic acoustic sounds of yesteryear, but don’t want to fork out a small fortune, it’s definitely worth considering this fantastic guitar.
Read our full Epiphone Inspired By Gibson J-45 review
Best for bright tones
So you've been playing a while and you're ready to spread your wings. Your playing proficiency has developed and you've nailed those techniques that caused you so much anguish at the start. Where to now? We'd say you deserve a new acoustic guitar that reflects your hard-earned progress.
The Taylor 110e might just be that guitar. Sitting in the bracket between first guitars and professional heavyweights, the 110e is a fine example of everything just done better. The slightly thinner width of the neck makes it super comfortable to play on without feeling too cramped for those with bigger hands, meaning it will suit players of all experience levels.
The sitka spruce top produced a gloriously welcoming sound during our testing, and the onboard Taylor Expression System 2 electronics make it ideal for live performance. And, being a Taylor, you can expect a certain degree of quality all around.
So those are our top picks, but there are more great options to choose from that offer something a little different. We've selected a few more of our favorites below.
We're big fans of a good parlor guitar here at Guitar World. With a slightly smaller body than a regular dreadnought size, they are perfect for folk who like... folk. And other genres, too. But where they excel is in the hands of someone who knows how to use their hands. Make sense?
The Takamine P3NY gets our nod as the best acoustic guitar for finger pickers thanks to its easy action and beautiful response to playing dynamics. Combining cedar and sapele tone woods with some pretty advanced electronics, you get a guitar that we found to be super comfortable in the hands of any player.
Employing something called a 'palathetic pickup' – which articulates each string individually – it copes superbly with live performance whether you're strumming hard or fingerpicking gently. The slotted headstock and pinless bridge combine for outstanding sustain, rounding off this truly great guitar's impressive list of specs.
It pays not to stand on ceremony when you are designing a guitar. Let fresh thinking follow its own logic. That’s how we end up with guitars such as Martin’s SC-13E – an electro-acoustic the likes of which we have never seen before.
Look at the body shape for a start, that squashed offset cutaway tears up the rulebook. That’s just for starters; flip it over and you’ll see the Sure Align neck system, with that deep carve allowing for full access to the top of the neck. The system allows for on-the-fly neck pitch and intonation tweaks.
The top is Sitka spruce, the back and sides mahogany with a thin koa veneer for some visual pazazz. Martin saves the last of the fireworks for the playability, with an action so low that might catch those used to wrestling chords out of their acoustic unawares. This is a daring guitar, playable with a stunning voice that sits so well in a mix.
Read the full Martin SC-13E review
When you think about a touring guitar, you think of something that sounds great, but is also built to withstand the rigors of life on the road. It's a fine balance, and one that requires a guitar which can live up to the demands.
The Gibson G-45 is certainly one such animal. It displays superbly robust construction, which gives you the confidence you need to transport it from venue to venue, night after night. The included hardshell case is a welcome addition, too.
But, being a Gibson acoustic, our testing proved that it also delivers a top quality sound with superb resonance. The Fishman Sonitone electronics also ensure you'll sound great no matter the size of the venue.
Read the full Gibson G-45 Standard review
Something of a curate's egg here. When you're looking for versatility in an acoustic, that usually means little more than it is at home being picked or strummed. With the Fender Acoustasonic, you get much more than that.
Marrying up the projection and woody sounds of an acoustic, with the unique form and function of a Telecaster, this guitar is sure to turn heads. But, hidden behind the unique visual stylings is a guitar which gives you plenty of room to experiment.
Some pretty advanced electronic trickery allowed us to choose between a plethora of acoustic or Tele tones, or even blend them up to create something completely new. It's crazy but we liked it.
Read the full Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster
The Martin D-28 is to acoustic guitars what the Porsche 911 is to cars. When you first start learning, it's the guitar you dream of owning. As you get better, you begin to appreciate what makes it so special. And, if you ever get to try one, you'll understand what all the fuss is about.
Famed for its favor among some of music's best-known names, the D-28 has cemented its place in music history over eight decades. During our testing, we discovered that Its rich, warm tones can be employed across any number of musical genres, and the build quality is about as good as it gets.
It works equally well for strumming and fingerstyle and sits in the mix perfectly thanks to its balanced low end. Players of any standard, and of any style, should try the D-28 at least once in their lives. When you know, you know.
Rounding off the list we have something a bit special. Something from the extremes of acoustic guitar excellence. The Gibson SJ-200 Deluxe. Look at the ornamentation! Marvel at its pronounced curves! Recoil at that gargantuan price tag!
The neck on this guitar is joyous to play on straight out of the box, with a low action and smooth playing feel that responds superbly to any play style. Pluck gently with your fingers and it responds with open ease, stum hard with a pick and it responds with a huge attack - but no loss of definition.
In reality, what we have here is a guitar to savor. Everything from the tonewoods employed to extract tones that'll make your knees wobble, through to the advanced LR Baggs electronics. The SJ-200 is, in our experience, a tonal behemoth; a fine example of what can happen when Gibson really puts its mind to it.
Best acoustic guitars: Buying advice
A brief history of acoustic guitars
Acoustic guitars have been around much longer than their electric counterparts, with very early incarnations dating back centuries. The steel-string acoustic guitar as we know it today can be traced back to the mid-1800s, and credit is largely given to CF Martin (of Martin Guitars).
Martin created the first dreadnought guitar, which is still one of the most popular body shapes today. Things have come on a lot since then in terms of shapes, woods, features, etc, so when looking for the best acoustic guitar, it’s important to consider a few key points before committing.
Think about the sound you want, and what sort of music you’re playing - are you a singer-songwriter looking to back up your vocals; are you playing mostly instrumental music, or playing in a full band? If you’re looking to play live, then a pickup will be useful.
Budget plays a part when seeking the best acoustic guitar too - do you want something to learn on, or are you looking to upgrade to something that will last for years to come, with a good resale value? Gibson and Martin make some incredibly desirable acoustics, but the likes of Epiphone and Yamaha can still give you great sound on a tighter budget.
Which acoustic guitar body shape should I go for?
The shape of an acoustic guitar’s body affects the sound, and how comfortable it is for you to play. If you’re of smaller stature, then you might find something with a smaller body easier to play, though, of course, there are no set rules for this - it’s all subjective.
The body shape also affects tone and volume. If you think of the top of an acoustic guitar working a little like a speaker cone, then a bigger top can move more, thus making it louder when played hard. A guitar with a smaller top has less surface area to move, so it won’t project as much - even if you hit it with the same attack, you’ll reach its maximum headroom quicker. That’s not to say that bigger is always better - if you play with a lighter touch, then you’ll probably find that you get more response out of a smaller-bodied acoustic; it will react better to your playing.
Bigger-bodied guitars like the dreadnought and jumbos usually have a stronger bass response than smaller ones, as well as a tight top end. This leaves room for vocals to sit nicely in a mix. Smaller-bodied guitars like the concert are usually a little brighter and mid-focussed and grand concerts, which are the same shape but a little bigger, can provide a really nice balance.
Which wood is best for my acoustic guitar?
A lot of an acoustic guitar’s tonal character comes from the woods used in its construction. Solid wood is usually preferable, as it moves more than laminated wood, giving you a richer and more resonant sound. All solid wood construction (solid top, back, and sides) comes at a premium price, and a solid top with laminate back and sides is a nice halfway point if you’re on a tighter budget.
Spruce is one of the most popular wood types for the top as it provides a sweet, balanced tone - it’s warm, with a nice top end too. Other widely used top woods include mahogany, cedar, and maple.
The wood used for the back and sides tend to differ more. Mahogany is used a lot and has a nice mid-range sound that people sometimes describe as ‘woody’ or ‘earthy’. Rosewood is usually complex sounding, with strong highs and lows, as well as fairly pronounced mids - basically, it’s really present but is often expensive, and walnut usually sits between the two. There are however lots of different wood combinations out there, all of which yield different tones.
Do I need an acoustic guitar pickup?
Want to amplify your acoustic guitar? You’ll either need to stick a mic in front of it or get one with a built-in pickup (an electro-acoustic). If you’re playing gigs or open-mic nights then getting one of the best acoustic guitars with a pickup will be very useful. Alternatively, you can buy yourself one of the best acoustic guitar pickups if you've already got a killer acoustic guitar. The quality of sound you get from the pickups tends to go up alongside cost.
What should I pay for an acoustic guitar?
When buying an acoustic guitar, you get what you pay for. On more premium guitars, you’ll get better quality woods which yield a better sound. You’ll also get better hardware - this consists of things like the tuners and the bridge, which can affect tuning stability and how well the guitar resonates. You also pay more for better build construction which can help your guitar last longer and play better.
That said, there are great cheap acoustic guitars that balance all the above with cost. If you’re just starting out, you can pick up a good beginner-friendly acoustic for around $150-200. If you’re upgrading, then you’ll likely see some improvements in tone and playability around the $700-1,000 mark, and if you’re seeking a pro instrument, depending on what you want, you’ll likely be looking at around $1,500+.
How do I look after my acoustic guitar?
All guitars benefit from a regular restring with a set of the best acoustic guitar strings. Whilst you’re doing that, you can also clean the body and fingerboard to keep it looking and playing well. Acoustic guitars do absorb moisture and dry out too, which in bad cases can render your instrument unplayable. To avoid this keeping the guitar in a case can help, plus you can also buy acoustic guitar humidifiers that keep them from drying out.
How we test acoustic guitars
It's fair to say that acoustic guitars are very subjective. Every player has their own personal preferences regarding tone and feel. That said, there are a few key criteria that a guitar must meet for us to consider recommending it to our audience.
The first thing we look at is the overall build quality of the instrument. For many, their humble acoustic guitar sits at the center of their world. It's vital then, that we can wholeheartedly recommend a sturdy and reliable guitar that won't let you down. We closely inspect every aspect of the guitar, from the body and neck to the machine heads and bridge, to ensure they feel strong, and well made – regardless of price.
We'll next check the consistency of the fretwork to confirm there aren't any sharp frets that may cause some nasty cuts or tall frets that may result in the guitar choking out or buzzing.
This leads perfectly on to the playability of the instrument. For this, we are checking how comfortable the guitar feels to hold, paying close attention to the neck profile and radius, and how the body feels to sit with.
Lastly, we move our attention to the sound of the guitar. To test an acoustic guitar's tone, we will try a variety of different playing techniques and styles to see how the guitar handles them, from strumming cowboy chords with a flat pick to subtly tickling the strings with our fingers and everything in between. We are carefully listening to how the guitar projects and the overall tonal balance of the instrument.
Find out more about how we make our recommendations and how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides.
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