Best acoustic guitars 2022: 12 top options for guitarists of all ages and abilities

Close up of Taylor acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Future)

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Our top picks

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 (opens in new tab).

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 beautiful acoustic guitar. The modern-day iteration improves on earlier models with better bracing and a tapered neck, yet these changes only serve to enhance what is music's ultimate acoustic workhorse.

Our budget-friendly choice would be the Yamaha FG800 (opens in new tab). Yamaha's reputation is one founded on quality and value for money, and the FG800 epitomizes that. It's not the cheapest option on our list, but we'd say it's worth spending a bit more to get to that next level of quality. 

If you're looking for something in between, then you'll be hard-pushed to go wrong with the Taylor 110e (opens in new tab). Coming from one of the biggest names in the acoustic guitar world, this full-size dreadnought packs powerful sound, effortless playability, and outstanding Taylor build quality - this brilliant intermediate acoustic perfectly bridges the gap between budget and boutique.

Best acoustic guitars: Product guide

Best acoustic guitars: Epiphone DR-100 with spruce top, mahogany back and sides

(Image credit: Epiphone)
Just starting out? This is the best acoustic guitar for you

Specifications

Body: Spruce Top, Mahogany Back & Sides
Neck: Mahogany neck
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Electronics: None

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely balanced tone
+
Quality belies the price
+
Neck is a joy to play

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a solid wood top

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 acoustic guitars: Yamaha FG800 with walnut fingerboard

(Image credit: Yamaha)
Could this be your ideal ‘second guitar’?

Specifications

Bobdy: Solid Spruce Top, Nato/Mahogany Back & Sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Walnut fingerboard
Electronics : None

Reasons to buy

+
A best-seller, for good reason
+
Superb construction and build quality
+
Sounds incredible

Reasons to avoid

-
No electronics

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 acoustic guitars: Martin LX1E Little Martin

(Image credit: Future)
Hey, if it’s good enough for Ed Sheeran…

Specifications

Body: Sitka Spruce Top, High Pressure Laminate Back & Sides
Neck: Rust Birch Laminate
Fingerboard: Richlite
Electronics: Fishman Sonitone electronics

Reasons to buy

+
Martin quality at an affordable price
+
Superb for younger players
+
Don't underestimate its tonal potential

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for those with larger hands

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 acoustic guitars: Taylor GS Mini

(Image credit: Future)
Smaller body, big sound. This is the best acoustic guitar for home use

Specifications

Body: Solid Sitka Spruce, Sapele Back & Sides
Neck: Sapele
Fingerboard: Ebony
Electronics: ES2 electronics

Reasons to buy

+
Build quality is superb
+
Plays perfectly
+
Has its own unique voice

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the loudest on this list

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

Best acoustic guitars: Epiphone Inspired By Gibson J-45

(Image credit: Epiphone )
The workhorse just got more affordable

Specifications

Body: Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Solid Mahogany Back & Sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Indian laurel with Mother of Pearl dot inlays
Electronics : Fishman Sonicore

Reasons to buy

+
All solid-wood construction
+
Aged finishes give them a worn-in feel
+
Fantastic value 

Reasons to avoid

-
We would prefer a rosewood fingerboard 

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 acoustic guitars: Taylor 110e

(Image credit: Taylor)

6. Taylor 110e

The best acoustic guitar for intermediate players

Specifications

Body: Sitka Top, Walnut Back & Sides
Neck: Sapele
Fingerboard : Ebony
Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for strummers and finger-pickers alike
+
Noticeable jump in quality from entry-level
+
Electronics retain warmth and clarity

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one finish

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Takamine P3NY

(Image credit: Future)

7. Takamine P3NY

This parlor guitar is perfect for pickers

Specifications

Body: Cedar Top, Sapele Back & Sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Electronics: Palathetic Pickup, CT4B II Preamp

Reasons to buy

+
Small body, big sound
+
In-built tuner is a joy to use
+
3 band EQ is great for sculpting your sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks the booming sound of a bigger guitar

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Martin SC-13E

(Image credit: Future)
A bold, thoroughly modern and brilliant crossover design

Specifications

Body: Sitka Spruce Top, Mahogany and Koa Veneer Back & Sides
Neck: Select Hardwood
Fingerboard: Ebony
Electronics: Fishman MX-T w/Sonicore Pre-Amp

Reasons to buy

+
Slinky performance
+
Well-balanced acoustic tones
+
Electronics are very impressive
+
Ergonomics are well thought-out

Reasons to avoid

-
Maybe too radical for some

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

Best acoustic guitars: Gibson G-45 Standard

(Image credit: Future)
The best acoustic guitar for life on the road

Specifications

Body: Sitka Spruce Top, Walnut Back & Sides
Neck: Utile
Fingerboard: Richlite
Electronics: Fishman Sonitone

Reasons to buy

+
A lot of guitar for the money
+
Comfortable to play
+
Tone is faultless

Reasons to avoid

-
An EQ on the pickup would have been nice

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

Best acoustic guitars: Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster

(Image credit: Future)
Juxtaposed Fender delivers superb variety of sounds

Specifications

Body: Lutz Spruce Top, Mahogany Body
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Electronics: Fishman Enhancer

Reasons to buy

+
Quality mash-up of acoustic and electric
+
Genuinely innovative guitar
+
Tonally useful in the studio or on-stage

Reasons to avoid

-
Divisive aesthetic

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

Best acoustic guitars: Martin D-28

(Image credit: Martin )

11. Martin D-28

The best acoustic guitar for accomplished players

Specifications

Body: Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Solid East Indian Rosewood Back & Sides
Neck: Select Hardwood
Fingerboard: Ebony
Electronics: Optional

Reasons to buy

+
A musical icon
+
Excels in any application
+
An investment that will last a lifetime

Reasons to avoid

-
Upper fret access is limited

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Gibson SJ-200 Deluxe

(Image credit: Gibson)

12. Gibson SJ-200 Deluxe

The best acoustic guitar for when money is no object

Specifications

Body: Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Rosewood Back & Sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Richlite
Electronics: LR Baggs VTC Electronics

Reasons to buy

+
Glorious, full-blooded sound
+
Visually stunning
+
A treat to play

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks might put some players off

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 Martin D28 acoustic guitar with solid East Indian rosewood body with solid sitka spruce top, resting on a distressed wooden panel

(Image credit: Martin)

A brief history of acoustic guitars 

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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.

Gibson SJ200 sound hole with LR Baggs pickup

(Image credit: Future)

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 to look after your 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 the best 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.

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 everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.

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