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Best acoustic guitars 2019: top strummers for beginner guitarists to pros

Best acoustic guitars 2019: top strummers for beginner guitarists and pros alike
(Image credit: Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Fender)

There's never been a better time to play acoustic guitar. Ok, so that's a bold statement to make, but we think it's true. The sheer range of guitars available, from such a diverse set of brands and manufacturers, makes finding the best acoustic guitar for you a tantalising prospect.

But with great choice comes a problem - albeit a nice 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.

Allow us to present to you a selection of the best acoustics in the world today. 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?

Best acoustic guitars: Martin D28 with solid East Indian rosewood body with solid sitka spruce top

(Image credit: Martin)

It's nice doing 'best of' lists as 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'll define your sound, style and playing experience for years. So it's important to make sure what you buy is right for you. 

To ensure this, 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 a step up.

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 more high-end acoustic. The action – the height the strings sit from the fingerboard – is usually higher, making them harder to play.

What’s more, the selection of woods aren't as choice, having an impact both tonally and on the overall quality of construction. With many acoustics now featuring onboard electronics, 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 to them. 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 guide you 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

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

(Image credit: Epiphone)

1. Epiphone DR-100

The best acoustic guitar for beginners

Launch price: $232 | Body: spruce top, mahogany back and sides | Neck: mahogany neck | Fingerboard: rosewood

Great sound
Quality belies the price
Neck is a joy to play
Not much for the price

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 a player’s 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.

Best acoustic guitars: Yamaha FG800 with walnut fingerboard

(Image credit: Yamaha)

2. Yamaha FG800

Could this be your ideal ‘second guitar’?

Launch price: $325 | Neck: mahogany | Fingerboard: walnut fingerboard

A best-seller, for good reason
Superb construction and build quality
Sounds incredible
No electronics

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Martin LX1E Little Martin with sitka spruce top with High Pressure Laminate back and sides

(Image credit: Martin)

3. Martin LX1E Little Martin

Hey, if it’s good enough for Ed Sheeran…

Launch price: $439 | Body: sitka spruce top with High Pressure Laminate back and sides | Neck: rust birch laminate | Electronics: Fishman Sonitone electronics

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

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.

Best acoustic guitars: Taylor GS Mini with solid sitka spruce with sapele back and sides

(Image credit: Taylor)

4. Taylor GS Mini

Smaller body, big sound. This is the best acoustic guitar for home use

Launch price: $499 | Body: solid sitka spruce with sapele back and sides | Neck: sapele | Fingerboard: ebony fingerboard | Electronics: ES2 electronics

Build quality is superb
Plays perfectly
Has its own unique voice
Hard to find any

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 guitar and fully-fledged workhorse acoustic 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.

Best acoustic guitars: Takamine P3NY with cedar top, sapele back and sides

(Image credit: Takamine)

5. Takamine P3NY

This parlour guitar is perfect for pickers

Launch price: $1,925 | Body: cedar top, sapele back and sides | Fingerboard: rosewood | Electronics: palathetic pickup with CT4B II preamp electronics

Small body, big sound
In-built tuner is a joy to use
3 band EQ is great for sculpting your sound
Lacks the booming sound of a bigger guitar

We're big fans of a good parlour 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.

Best acoustic guitars: Taylor 110e with sitka top with walnut back and sides

(Image credit: Taylor)

6. Taylor 110e

The best acoustic guitar for intermediate players

Launch price: $799 | Body: sitka top with walnut back and sides | Neck: sapele | Electronics: Taylor Expression System 2

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

Best acoustic guitars: Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster with mahogany body and lutz spruce top

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster

Juxtaposed Fender delivers superb variety of sounds

Launch price: $1,999.99 | Body: mahogany body with lutz spruce top | Neck: mahogany | Fingerboard: ebony | Electronics: Fishman Enhancer acoustic pickup, Fender N4 Noiseless single coil with Fishman Undersaddle piezo, USB rechargeable battery

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

Best acoustic guitars: Gibson G-45 Standard with Sitka spruce top with walnut back and sides

(Image credit: Gibson)

8. Gibson G-45 Standard

The best acoustic guitar for life on the road

Launch price: $2,050 | Body: Sitka spruce top with walnut back and sides | Neck: utile neck | Fingerboard: richlite fingerboard **Electronics:** Fishman Sonitone

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

Best acoustic guitars: Martin D-28 with solid East Indian rosewood body with solid sitka spruce top

(Image credit: Martin)

9. Martin D-28

The best acoustic guitar for accomplished players

Launch price: $3,599 | Body: solid East Indian rosewood body with solid sitka spruce top | Neck: select hardwood

A musical icon
Excels in any application
An investment that will last a lifetime
None!

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 favour 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.

Best acoustic guitars: Gibson SJ-200 Deluxe with rosewood back and sides

(Image credit: Gibson)

10. Gibson SJ-200 Deluxe

The best acoustic guitar for when money is no object

Launch price: $7,738 | Body: solid sitka spruce top with rosewood back and sides | Neck: mahogany | Fingerboard: Richlite | Electronics: LR Baggs VTC electronics

Glorious, full-blooded sound
Visually stunning
A treat to play
The price, but it is a luxury instrument

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.