20 Best Acoustic Guitars For Every Player

Guitar is perhaps the only universally cool instrument. And one of the coolest things about it is that it comes in any number of equally versatile forms. From metal-head shredders to the smoothest of jazz musicians, there really is a guitar for everyone. And one of our favorite varieties of guitar are acoustics.

Acoustic guitars have a huge benefit over their electric brethren, as they’re both instrument and amplifier in one. That means that with a single piece, you can play just about anywhere from the comfort of your home to a sound stage in the furthest corner of the globe without having to lug a bunch of equipment around. And there are still numerous acoustic guitar formats that suit the playing style of any number of musicians and all their favorite musical genres. The fact is this: it’s pretty likely that you aren’t 100% keyed in on how broad the greater category of ‘acoustic guitars’ is. Since that may be the case, we’ve collected and broken down the following 20 best acoustic guitars into their appropriate groups and have outlined a bit of pertinent information about each.

Traditional Acoustic Guitars

These are what everyone thinks of when they hear the phrase ‘acoustic guitar.’ They come in any number of shapes (and their characteristics vary from brand to brand), but – at the end of the day – they all have a few consistent commonalities. They have six strings, are built without any electronics, and feature a large body which acts as a resonation chamber to amplify their sound. If you’re looking for the easiest pick-up-and-play option, a traditional acoustic guitar is your best bet.

Gibson J-45 Standard

This guitar is nicknamed the “Workhorse” for a reason. It’s one of the brand’s best-selling guitars of all time. Its rounded dreadnought shape makes it both easy to play and sound fantastic. And each purchase grants the buyer a black hardshell case with a plush lined interior to keep your new guitar safe and secure.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Mahogany
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 24.75″

Purchase: $2,199+

Martin D-28

When the brand claims that this dreadnought shaped guitar is the one by which all others are judged, they’re not being hyperbolic. This guitar has been used by everyone from Hank Williams Sr. to Jimmy Page and is truly one of the most classic acoustic guitars of all time. It may not be flashy, but it delivers on every level.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Rosewood
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.4″

Purchase: $3,299+

Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Acoustic-electric guitars have the same variety of shapes as traditional acoustics. The chief difference, however, is that – while they still have large hollow body chambers that can amplify sound – acoustic-electrics are also fitted with electronic components that can pick up the guitar’s sound and transmit it to an electronic amplifier. For the most part, brands offer all the same guitars in both traditional and acoustic-electric formats, but it’s always better to check beforehand just to be sure.

Taylor 814ce

This guitar is the one on top of which El Cajon, California-based brand Taylor Guitars built their entire business. As such, it’s easy to see how they became such a success. Between the gorgeous construction, inlays, and high-quality materials, this is a piece of art in and of itself. And the hide glue used to put it together has a neat property: it actually melds the wood joints on a molecular level, making it sound even better as time goes by.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Indian Rosewood
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $4,498+

Martin GPCPA4

With a cutaway for high-neck playing and an Auditorium style body, this guitar features super-high quality Fishman’s F1 Analog onboard electronics and is built with sustainable wood certified parts. One such part is the fretboard, which is constructed from FSC certified Richlite – a material made from 65% recycled resin-infused paper and 35% phenolic resin. It’s versatile, looks good, and is far more environmentally friendly than traditional wood.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Sapele
Fretboard: FSC Certified Richlite
Scale Length: 25.4″

Purchase: $2,149+

12-String Guitars

As the name might suggest, 12-string guitars’ distinguishing factor is that they have 12 strings. No, that doesn’t mean that the neck of the guitar is twice as wide and, therefore, twice as difficult to play. What it does mean is that each of the 6 normal strings has a corresponding secondary string that resonates an octave higher. In laymen’s terms, that means you get a much fuller range of sound. If you are familiar with The Eagles‘ “Hotel California” or Pink Floyd‘s “Wish You Were Here,” both of those songs feature 12-string guitars as the lead instrument.

Guild F-2512E

This guitar combines two of the things that Guild Guitars is most famous for: jumbos and 12-strings. The 12-string format is complemented perfectly by the larger body style (which is why so many worthwhile 12-string guitars are also jumbos) and the sides and arched-back – which are constructed out of maple – make for a surprisingly bright and jangly sound, while still offering depth and long sustain.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Quilted Maple
Fretboard: Indian Rosewood
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $524

Gretsch Rancher Falcon

Built with the same signature styling as Gretsch’s classic White Falcon hollow-body electric guitar, this 12-string acoustic is every bit as beautiful and impressive in its own right. The beefy body offers tremendous tone and sustain. And, just like its counterpart, it features a gold binding, pickguard, and hardware. It’s also fitted with a Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Isys+ preamp system, in case you want to plug this bad boy in.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Laminated Maple
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25″

Purchase: $700

Nylon String Guitars

If you’ve ever listened to classical music that featured a guitar, chances are it was a nylon string version of the instrument. While pre-WWII examples of these instruments featured strings made from animal intestines, modern iterations feature a much more reliable and cheaply manufactured nylon. Yes, nylon like the exterior of your favorite duffel bag. This is thanks to a man named Albert Augustine, who invented the synthetic strings in his shop in New York. These guitars are favored by people who play in the “finger-picking” style, as the strings are much more gentle on the fingers and easy to play at greater speeds.

Cordoba Fusion Rose

Bridging the gap between classic classical-style guitar sound and the feel of steel string guitars, this semi-hybrid is as gorgeous as it is well-built. It comes with a built-in Fishman Presys pickup system, so you can plug in for amplification, but also sounds great on its own. This guitar is the ideal middle-ground instrument for anyone who learned to play on a steel string but now wants to delve into classical playing and vice versa. Still, it still offers all the same warm tones classical players have come to expect.

Top: Indian Rosewood
Sides & Back: Indian Rosewood
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.6″

Purchase: $780

Godin Multiac ACS

It’s plain to see that this guitar features an unusual style. It is lacking a traditional sound hole and, in fact, the body is actually chambered rather than entirely hollow. Truth be told, however, this tremendous instrument plays like a dream and sounds just as good. It also features an RMC Custom bridge transducer and preamp with three-band EQ for plugging in. And, most uniquely, it has a 13-pin connector that can be plugged into Roland GR-Series synths for midi-style control.

Top: Cedar
Sides & Back: Maple
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $1,099

Parlor Guitars

Also known as mini or baby, parlor guitars are much smaller and more easy to transport than their larger counterparts. Besides having a smaller body, they also typically feature a shortened scale – meaning that their neck is shorter, as well. These guitars are excellent for children, people who like to travel, are limited on space, or have small hands. They were also quite popular with American folk musicians, such as Joan Baez. Fun fact: the original way to determine whether a guitar qualified as a parlor or not was if was smaller than a No. 0 Concert guitar made by Martin, one of the longest running acoustic guitar manufacturers in the world.

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy

If this guitar looks like it has a bit of a retro style to it, that’s because it is based on a guitar that was made back in the 30s and 40s. They’ve since revived it with modern materials, offering the same killer looks but with a more consistent build and sound quality. Keep in mind, however, that a smaller body doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller sound. This guitar still sings like a full-sized instrument. It’s also made of a uniquely resonant tone wood called Agathis that is similar to mahogany in many ways.

Top: Agathis
Sides & Back: Agathis
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 24″

Purchase: $1,099

Taylor GS Mini-e Koa

Koa is a beautiful hard tone wood that comes from Hawaii. This guitar features a top, sides, and back that are all made from the stuff. And the results are simply stunning in both looks and tone. Also, even though this is a much smaller guitar, it still features Taylor’s signature Expression pickup system – so you can plug this tiny 6-string into an amp just like any full-sized acoustic-electric. This truly is one of the best parlor guitars anyone can get their hands on.

Top: Hawaiian Koa
Sides & Back: Layered Koa
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 23.5″

Purchase: $1,099

Jumbo Guitars

Basically the polar opposite of parlor guitars, jumbos feature oversized bodies, are almost always steel stringed, and are best suited for more modern and contemporary styles of music. They are especially popular with country western, jazz, and blues musicians for the full depth of sound. They also tend to have a much greater range of bass tones and, while not necessarily louder than their normal or small bodied counterparts, have the potential for greater sustain – the rate at which the guitar’s sound decays into silence.

Blueridge BG-2500

Made with a “30’s Super-Jumbo” pattern, this is one of the biggest and boldest guitars out there. And, paired with the art-deco styling of the abalone inserts on the bridge and neck, it’s easy to see why this guitar is so popular with musicians that gravitate toward older styles – like cowboy country. This is also the flagship model of Blueridge’s BG line of guitars and offers a superbly vast range of tones and seems like it could resonate for literal days. This guitar is a true achievement and anyone lucky enough to own one should be aware of that.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Flamed Maple
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.6″

Purchase: $1,527

Taylor 818e

This shape is called the Grand Orchestra – and grand it is. The largest of Taylor’s current lineup, this beautiful rosewood and spruce jumbo acoustic guitar offers a tremendous dynamic range that works just as well for solo acts as it does for backing up a full band. And, as will all of Taylor’s instruments, the attention to detail on this one is astounding. From the maple binding and back strip, to the diagonal grain rosewood pickguard, to the stylized mother-of-pearl inlays, nothing has been overlooked. If big and bold is what you’re looking for, then this is it.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Indian Rosewood
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $4,238

Resonator Guitars

The only guitars on our list that have a notably different structure and build style, these guitars are also known as “steel tops” and feature either large metal plates built into the structure of their tops or they can have entirely metal bodies. Though originally designed for use in dance orchestras – as they were made to be louder than all-wood acoustics – they ended up finding a tremendous amount of popularity amongst bluegrass, blues, and country musicians for their distinct and twangy sound.

Dobro Hound Dog Deluxe

In some circles, the brand name Dobro is actually synonymous with resonator guitars in the same way that Kleenex is synonymous with tissue. And it’s easy to see why. Simply put, they make some of the best resonators available on the market – and this one is a prime example. Made from highly figured maple ply and with a classic Dobro insert, this twangy guitar is an excellent instrument for anyone who dabbles in bluegrass, blues, and/or country western.

Top: Figured Maple Ply
Sides & Back: Figured Maple Ply
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25″

Purchase: $600

Gretsch G9221 Bobtail

It isn’t very often we see guitars that are made almost entirely of metal. In most cases, that’s a good thing. But not this one. This steel offering from Gretsch offers some of the best twang available and is as beautiful and unique as it is well-made. But don’t worry about playability – it still comes equipped with a buttery smooth mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. It’s also fitted with a Fishman Nashville pickup.

Top: Steel
Sides & Back: Steel
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25″

Purchase: $1,299

Best Beginner Guitars

If you don’t already know how to play guitar, you have to start somewhere. We suggest, for your first instrument, not to go all out on a premium guitar. And that’s because learning how to play music is a long and often grueling process. If you decide that you don’t want to take it past learning Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” then you’ll be better off if you pick up something reasonable rather than dropping thousands on a cream-of-the-crop guitar. That doesn’t mean, however, that your first guitar should be a bad guitar.

Rogue RA-100D

While it might seem crazy to think that you could get a guitar worth playing for less than $100, this one is of shockingly good quality for its absurdly low price tag. Sure, it isn’t going to be something you’d bring onstage at Madison Square Gardens, but it still sounds good, is easy to play, and looks the part. Just keep in mind that the budget price is only going to cover the absolute bare bones – no case, no accessories, etc.

Top: Spruce
Sides & Back: Nato
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $70

Epiphone PR-150

Being the little brother of Gibson will get you overlooked a lot of the time, but Epiphone has done a tremendous job of both staying relevant and offering superb budget-friendly instruments, like this one. The balance of the spruce top and mahogany sides and back creates a warm and welcoming tone that will only get better with time. And it’s hard to beat the vintage styling of the sunburst finish and ’60s style Epiphone E on the pickguard.

Top: Spruce
Sides & Back: Mahogany
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $160

Best Mid-Range Guitars

For more experienced guitarists that have some money to spare, there’s a huge number of guitars within the under $1000 price range. These guitars, more often than not, feature better materials, construction, and easier playability. That being said, not all middle ground guitars are worth their asking price. And, concurrently, there are also a few instruments that are a bargain at the same price. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Takamine GN93CE NEX

While you’re not going to be getting an American made product, the quality of materials, playability, and overall sound of the GN93CE are all still there. It even has the added bonus of featuring a unique 3-piece back that’s constructed of rosewood and a beautiful quilted maple – all of which would cost a good deal more from just about any other brand. Best of all, this guitar is fitted with Takamine’s TK-40D Preamp and a built-in tuner.

Top: Spruce
Sides & Back: Rosewood & Quilted Maple
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25.4″

Purchase: $580

Seagull Maritime SWS SG

Seagull, a sub-brand of Godin, handcraft their guitars in a small village in eastern Quebec. And while that’s not quite the same as being made here in the USA, it’s still a promise of superb quality and high attention to detail. This rosewood guitar features a pressure-tested spruce top, a classic dreadnought shape (though just a touch smaller), and the brand’s signature tapered headstock for more easy tuning.

Top: Spruce
Sides & Back: Rosewood
Fretboard: Rosewood
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $700

Best High-End Guitars

While their prices might be considered laughable to some, these truly are the best instruments you can get for your money. Lots and lots of money. But with that cost comes some very big promises: these guitars are crafted from the finest materials in the world by the most accomplished luthiers out there. These aren’t just beautiful instruments – they’re 100% brilliant works of art. And, like fine wines or good whisky, they will only get better with age.

Taylor PS16ce

Taylor’s Performance Series marks their absolute best non-custom instruments. Each of them have been painstakingly manufactured by only the company’s top craftsmen. Pair that with the fact that the build materials are of the utmost quality and you’re left with a guitar that exceeds its notably high price point. And the hide glue that holds the instrument together paired with Adirondack spruce internal bracing ensure that, like a fine wine, this guitar will only get better as it gets older.

Top: Sitka Spruce
Sides & Back: Macassar Ebony
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.5″

Purchase: $9,318

Martin OM-45 Deluxe 1930 VTS

When we say that this guitar is a limited edition, we mean extremely limited. Only 11 have been made. What makes this one so special is that it was built to the exact same specifications as a 1930 OM-45 Deluxe acquired at the Guernseys Instrument Auction in April 2014. That guitar is on display and is considered a one-of-a-kind masterpiece amongst enthusiasts everywhere. This replica is the closest that anyone will get to playing it now. And it might just be the finest instrument you can buy.

Top: Adirondack Spruce
Sides & Back: Pre-CITES Brazilian Rosewood
Fretboard: Ebony
Scale Length: 25.4″

Purchase: $80,000

World's Best Guitar Brands

Interested in learning more about the guitar industry landscape? Well it’s best to start here at our breakdown of the best guitar making brands in the world.

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