There's never been a better time to play the acoustic guitar. Okay, so that's a bold statement to make, but we think it's true. The sheer range of guitars that are available, from an incredibly diverse set of brands and manufacturers, makes finding the best acoustic guitar for you a tantalizing prospect.
But with great choice comes a problem - albeit a good one. We call it 'analysis paralysis' - essentially, because there are so many great acoustic guitars to choose from, it can be hard to zero in on the one that's right for you. Luckily, we're here to help.
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So, without further ado, allow us to present to you a selection of the best acoustic guitars in the world today.
Whatever your budget - and whatever you like to play - there's a six-string to suit you. From acoustic guitars for beginners from the likes of Epiphone, Yamaha, Martin and Taylor, through to high-end heavyweights from Gibson and Fender, we've got you covered.
What is the best acoustic guitar right now?
Putting together 'best of' lists is always a blast because every guitar we present is, in its own way, truly brilliant. But if we had to choose one acoustic guitar to last us the rest of our lives, we'd probably opt for the Martin D-28.
When you think of some of the biggest acts in music history – The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley – it's hard not to associate them with this wonderful acoustic guitar. The modern-day iteration improves on older models with better bracing and a tapered neck, yet these changes only serve to enhance what is music's ultimate acoustic workhorse.
How to buy the best acoustic guitar for you
Buying a new acoustic guitar is a big and exciting step. In an ideal world, you're making an investment in something that will define your sound, style and playing experience for years. So it's important to make sure what you buy is right for you.
On that note, there are a few questions you need to answer before you open your wallet. Are you looking for something to help you progress as a player, for example? Alternatively, perhaps you've been playing a few years and are looking to take yourself to the next level with your next instrument.
Acoustic guitars, while largely the same on paper, do offer significantly different experiences the further you go up the price spectrum. Entry-level acoustic guitars tend to be less robust and, if we're being honest, aren't as easy to play as a higher-end acoustic.
The action – the height the strings sit from the fingerboard – is usually higher, making them harder to play. Sometimes this can be solved by paying for a good setup, but by that stage, you might have ended up paying over the odds.
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What’s more, the selection of woods aren't as choice, having an impact both tonally and on the overall quality of construction. Lower-priced acoustics are more likely to use laminate woods, which don't vibrate as much as the solid woods you find on higher-priced models.
For most players, 'all-solid' acoustic guitars (ie, where the top, back and sides are all made of solid wood) are the gold standard for tonal depth and volume.
With many acoustics now featuring onboard electronics - known as acoustic-electric guitars or electro-acoustic guitars - there is another variable to consider: how the guitar sounds when amped up. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' comes into force here. Your mileage may vary.
At the top end, there are few of these concerns. Unplugged, a high-quality acoustic guitar sings when you play it. Notes ring out and have a rounded character that's rich and warm. Build quality is superb, meaning the instrument will last for years and years. And they are more likely to retain their value, meaning you can treat the guitar as an investment in your future playing career.
There's a lot to consider, so let us be your helpful guide through it all now with this list of the best acoustic guitars in the world today. We’ve also scoured the web to find the best prices, saving you any legwork in that department, too.
The best acoustic guitars to buy right now
Entry-level guitars have no right sounding this good! When you're looking for a beginner guitar, you're looking for something that will encourage you to keep picking it up. At this stage of your playing career, you don't need to spend lots of money.
You do, however, need to keep in mind that if the guitar you're learning on sounds terrible, or is hard to play, then you'll likely give up. The market is awash with sub-$100 own-brand acoustics, however proceed with one of these at your peril.
Instead, consider a reliable acoustic like the Epiphone DR-100. Built by one of the guitar world's biggest brands, the DR-100 is an entry-level acoustic with the feel of something far more prestigious. Here you can expect solid tones, reliability and a guitar that will inspire you to keep playing it. Forget the low price. This is a well-made guitar that will set you up nicely for the musical journey ahead.
This guitar can be found in most places for less than $200. This price bracket is awash with acoustic guitars from all kinds of brands, but when we think about the best in this region, we're drawn to the Yamaha FG800. Put simply, the sound this guitar produces makes it worth the money alone.
This is largely down to features like scalloped bracing, which boosts the low end sound, and the solid spruce top, which is normally found on higher end instruments. All of which adds up to make the FG800 a highly credible guitar. You'll struggle to find a (relatively) inexpensive acoustic which matches up.
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.
Despite the price and compact size, being a Martin it still has enough quality to deliver exceptional tone. The onboard Fishman Sonitone electronics make it ideal for hooking up to an amp, while the choice of rigid High Pressure Laminate mahogany means it can withstand years of 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. Its smaller size makes it ideal for leaving around the house, ready to pick up and play while you're waiting for the microwave to ping.
But, with the included ES2 pickup, it can also make the leap to performance, making it ideal no matter what situation you find yourself in.
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 is a great example, and gets our nod as the best acoustic guitar for fingerpickers. Combining cedar and sapele tone woods with some pretty advanced electronics, you get a guitar that is comfortable in the hands of any players.
What’s more, employing something called a 'palathetic pickup' - which articulates each string individually - it copes superbly with live performance at any volume.
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 in between first guitars and professional heavyweights, the 110e is a fine example of everything just done better.
The sitka wood produces a gloriously welcoming sound, 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 round.
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 allows you 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 like it.
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, 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.
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. Its rich, warm tones can be employed across any number of musical genres, while the build quality is about as good as it gets. Players of any standard, and of any style, should try one 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!
In reality, what we have here is a guitar to savour. Everything from the tonewoods employed to extract tones that'll make your knees wobble, through to the advanced LR Baggs electronics. The SJ-200 a fine example of what can happen when Gibson really puts its mind to it.
About the author
Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 10 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music.