The acoustic guitar is one of the most popular instruments of them all, and for a good reason. Although not necessarily the easiest instrument to learn, the acoustic guitar is fairly portable and versatile. You can play pretty much every genre of music with it in any setting, and if you have a mic lying around or you have an acoustic guitar with a built-in preamp system, you can put on a live performance or join a band on stage.
When shopping for an acoustic guitar, It’s best to narrow down from the many reputable brands with a proven track record, as well as models that have been around for decades. Also, while some guitar manufacturers make incredible electric guitars, their acoustics don’t always belong on the top shelf. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 17 best acoustic guitar brands you can need to consider when buying an acoustic guitar.
Here Are the Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
Last, but not least, we have Alvarez, which has been a reputable acoustic guitar brand for over 50 years. The company was founded in 1965 and has been making both acoustic and electric guitars ever since. Although the company is located in St. Louis, Missouri, all of their guitars are built in Japan and China. However, the instruments they put out are of great quality, and they fall into the group of guitar brands that have a good guitar for every segment of the market. Whether you are looking for a good beginner guitar or just something affordable, or a top-of-the-line acoustic, Alvarez has it.
One of the reasons why they are so popular among beginner guitarists, apart from their affordable price tag, is their playability and balanced tone, as well the fact that many of them come with a built-in pickup system, allowing players to play them on stage. On the budget end of the spectrum, the most interesting Alvarez acoustic is the AD60, which is one of the best acoustic guitars you will find on the market for just under $300. The great thing about this guitar is that it has a solid top, which is not too common on guitars in this price range. And the same is true for most affordable Alvarez acoustics because they simply offer more than most of the competitors.
If you are looking to spend more, then you might want to check out their Masterworks series, which offers plenty of acoustic guitars in different body shapes and sizes. All of the guitars in this series are all-solid. However, their price still puts them within reach of a lot of players, which cannot be said for most all-solid guitars made by other brands. The best pick of this series is the MF60 OM, which has an orchestra body, which features a premium feel and quality, as well as a great combination of tone and playability.
Collings is a Texas-based guitar company that makes superb instruments. One of the reasons why US-made instruments are so coveted among guitar players, and why they are so expensive, is because those guitars undergo a very detailed and very strict quality control process. We would also add that another reason why American-made guitars are among the best ones in the world is that the USA has been at it for longer than anyone else. Every country and every brand looks up to it in terms of guitar quality, playability, design, as well as innovation.
And when it comes to American guitar brands, Collings is among the best ones, since Collings guitars are practically handmade, and go through rigorous quality control. None of them are made outside the US. The company was founded in the 1970s by Bill Collings, who started off making his first guitar in his kitchen. It didn’t take long before the brand became popular with Texas musicians, and from then on, it was praised in the entire US, as well as the rest of the world.
Obviously, Collings guitars represent the high-end of the acoustic guitar market, which means their price tags reflect that. You are not very likely to see any beginners playing Collings, but you will see plenty of professional musicians, as well as players which appreciate an exceptionally well-made instrument with its own distinctive sound. Just like high-end Martins, Gibsons, or Taylors, Collings acoustic guitars are the kind of instrument that you buy and hang on to them for a lifetime.
The most interesting guitars in their lineup belong to the Traditional series. All Collings guitars are superior instruments, but what makes these special is that they are made from carefully selected tonewood and hand-built with the goal of making them sound as vintage as possible. The best model in this series is the Collings D2H T, which is a dreadnought guitar, but one which has a really balanced sound, where the low end doesn’t overpower the mids as it does on some of the other dreadnoughts.
Yet another Canadian guitar brand on this list. Godin has already been featured on this list once already, in a way, because it’s a parent company of Seagull. Just like Seagull, Godin also makes quality acoustic guitars. The main difference is that their range of guitars is much larger, which means they offer good acoustic guitars at just about any price point, and what’s even more important, they offer more than their competitors for the same price. Yet, despite this, they still make all of their guitars in Canada, in six factories at four locations. They have successfully avoided the temptation to outsource their production and earn a bigger profit.
Robert Godin founded the company in 1972 in La Patrie, Quebec. Nowadays, the headquarters of the company is located in Montreal. Since their beginning, they have managed to become a global brand, and they also own several other guitar brands, including the aforementioned Seagull, as well as Norman, Art & Lutherie, Simon and Patrick, and La Patrie, which makes classical guitars. We have already mentioned that Seagull is just about the most environmentally-friendly guitar brand out there, and while Godin is not quite on the same level, they are still kinder to the environment than most other companies. This is evident in the fact that they use locally-sourced tonewood, instead of importing exotic ones.
The company also excels in acoustic-electric guitars, which are ideal for playing in a live setting on stage, and they offer a variety of preamp systems, depending on the model. For instance, their mid-priced guitars feature Godin’s very own QIT pickup system, while their top-tier acoustic-electric guitar feature the Anthem, which is an innovative pickup system made by L.R. Baggs. The most interesting guitars are in their Acoustic Series, which feature top-tier, all-solid acoustics, that also look great. Specifically, it is their Imperial Laguna Blue GT EQ guitar that stands out the most, mainly because of its incredible light blue finish. The top is made out of solid spruce, and the back and are solid mahogany, which gives this guitar a really clear, but also warm sound. Being a high-end acoustic Godin, this particular model is equipped with the Anthem pickup system.
These days, Godin is mostly talked about because of its series of hybrid guitars called the Multiac Series, especially the Grand Concert Deluxe model. It’s a nylon-string guitar that has the size and the shape of an electric guitar but sounds like a classical guitar when you plug it into an amp. It has a cedar top, and the chambered body is made out of mahogany. This type of guitar enables classical and flamenco players to play in a live environment, without having to sit in the exact same position in front of the mic.
Since we are on the subject of guitars which offer great value for money and are tough and reliable, we have to mention Ibanez as well. Ibanez is primarily known for making some of the most popular electric guitars used by metal, rock, and punk musicians. However, their acoustic guitars are no slouches either. In fact, if you are looking for affordable guitars with some of the design elements seen on more expensive brands or exotic tonewood, then Ibanez should be right up your alley. Let’s begin by taking a look at the history of the brand, and explain the origins of its unusual name, given that it has a Hispanic name, but is a Japanese company.
The roots of Ibanez go all the way to the 1800s when a Spanish Luthier named Salvador Ibáñez was making his guitars. By 1929, guitars built by Ibáñez had made their way to Japan thanks to Hoshino Gakki, which was the name of the company that imported them. Encouraged by the sales results, the company decided to make its own versions of the guitar they were importing. This started in 1937 and by 1957, they started branding their instruments simply as Ibanez. Another pivotal moment for the moment came in 1971 when they started exporting their guitar to the US. This sounds very similar to Yamaha’s worldwide success story, which started once they started exporting their guitar to the US just a few years prior to Ibanez.
What’s interesting about Ibanez is its unusual lineup of guitars. They are pretty affordable, which should manifest itself in basic, no-frills acoustic guitars, but it seems like Ibanez didn’t get that memo. Although not top-tier guitars in terms of price, they often feature unusual finishes and unique tonewoods which are rarely used by other guitar manufacturers. For example, their acoustic guitars which have a flame or quilted maple tops look very striking. And then there is their Artwood series, which implements some of the modern design solutions on traditional acoustic guitars. However, some of these guitars are made out of laminate, which explains the affordability. This means that these exotic woods and finishes are there mostly for the cosmetic effect, rather than sound.
But, they still have some exceptional models, such as the AW54JR from the Artwood series, which has an open-pore, solid mahogany top, which along with the dreadnought body shape, gives this guitar a really warm, rich sound. It’s definitely one of the best guitars Ibanez currently makes. All things considered, Ibanez is one of the most reliable brands, and their guitars are well-made and work in pretty much every situation you can think of. Overall, I would say Ibanez is easily one of the best acoustic guitar brands out there.
Jasmine is a guitar company that used to be owned by Takamine, and that means you can pretty expect more of the same from them since they have kept all of the models from that period and still continue to implement their solutions and technology. In other words, you can expect great guitars at an affordable price. While Takamine has a huge variety of different guitar sizes and shapes, Jasmine mostly focuses on making dreadnought and grand auditorium acoustic guitars. Also, there is an additional difference between Takamine and Jasmine, because high-end Takamines can get pretty expensive and can rival Martins and Taylors, while Jasmine doesn’t have a top-shelf model in their lineup. They simply make great affordable guitars.
This means that Jasmine acoustic guitars are aimed at beginner guitar players who would like an affordable instrument that is also of good quality. In this segment of the market, nearly all acoustics are made out of laminate wood, with varying degrees of features, as well as build quality and finish. However, Jasmine will surprise you right away, since one of the guitars, the Jasmine JD-37, is a dreadnought that comes with a solid spruce top, and costs under $200, which is an absolute bargain you won’t find anywhere else. The next cheapest guitar with a solid top will set you back at least $300 if you’re lucky. On the other hand, if you are looking for an all-solid guitar, you are probably better off looking at some of the Takamine models.
And if you are looking for something really cheap, you might want to take a look at the Jasmine S-34C. This guitar is the company’s highest-rated model and its price is a real shocker: it costs less than $100 dollars if you order one online. As for the quality, it easily wipes the floor with all other bargain bin guitars, since it plays and feels like a more expensive instrument. These guitars are ideal for beginners, as well as for those who want to try their hand at playing guitar, but don’t want to spend too much money in case they aren’t disciplined enough to stick with it in the long run.
One interesting thing about Jasmine guitars is that there are some out there with a Takamine logo, which makes some people think it’s a fake. Well. don’t worry, because it’s not. Those are simply Jasmine acoustic guitars which were made while the brand was owned by Takamine, in the Takamine factory in South Korea. In 2005, however, the Jasmine brand was sold to the company called KMC, which ceased the use of the Takamine logo.
If you are a fan of vintage-style acoustic guitars, Blueridge is the brand for you. Guitar aficionados often say that the best acoustic guitars are produced by small boutique brands, and Blueridge certainly proves them right. What makes Blueridge and its guitars even more special is that they are not mere relics. The vintage part isn’t just skin-deep, because the company is focused on building guitars as they were built pre-war. Many will agree that the 1930s were the best decades for acoustic guitars. In terms of feel and sound, Blueridge acoustics are comparable to those of Martin, but with a much lower price tag. In fact, they have often been considered some of the best Martin copies, which is quite a compliment in a way.
The company has been building acoustic guitars for over 35 years, which means it’s a relatively new brand in the guitar world. The reason why Blueridge guitars are aiming to re-capture the 1930s magic with the acoustic guitar is that 1930s guitars were made when quality materials, craftsmanship, and better construction techniques were more readily available. So, how are they managing to keep the cost down, since vintage-style guitars tend to cost upwards of several thousand dollars? Well, by using more modern materials and modern technology. For example, one of their best guitars is the Blueridge BG-40 which costs well below $1,000, yet feels and sounds like a pre-war instrument.
The aforementioned BG-40 belongs to Blueridge’s Contemporary Series of guitars. For those who prefer an even more classic tone and feel, there is also their Histories Series. The best pick in this range is the BR-160, and it features an all-solid body. The top is made out of solid Sitka spruce, which gives it a clear, resonant sound, whereas the back and sides are made out of rosewood. This makes for a really classic combination of tonewoods, and the resulting sound is, well, classic as well. The majority of Blueridge acoustic guitars feature solid tops and solid back and sides.
If you are a fan of high-end Martins but don’t have the cash to buy one, just like most people, Blueridge might just be the best alternative out there, since it’s not far off in terms of looks, quality, and sound, yet it costs much, much less. Blueridge has managed to gather a sizable following as a brand, and it’s only going to get bigger in the future.
Fender needs no special introduction since it is the largest guitar manufacturer in the world. But, most people tend to associate it with their iconic electric guitars, such as the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, as well as offset models like the Jaguar. But, they also have a very diverse lineup of acoustic guitars as well. There are several reasons why Fender acoustics aren’t as hyped as their electric counterparts, or even as some of the competitors’ acoustic instruments. Unlike most other guitar manufacturers, Fender didn’t make acoustic instruments before making electric guitars as well. They started with the Telecaster and then got into acoustics way later.
The first reason for this is because Leo Fender used to work with tube circuitry in radios and home music amplifiers. Then he realized that amplified instruments are the way of the future, so he got into PA systems. It was his niche, so making electric guitars was a natural progression for him. The first acoustic Fender guitar was produced in 1964, only one year before Leo Fender sold the company to CBS. Nowadays, pre-CBS Stratocasters and Telecasters are worth a small fortune, and pre-CBS acoustic Fenders are probably among the rarest guitars out there.
The second reason why Fender’s acoustic guitars aren’t as popular as their electric guitars are because Fender targets the more affordable segment of the market. In other words, there aren’t that many high-end Fender acoustics, which is usually the ones that give guitar brands their reputation. Fender acoustics aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the company seems to be focused on beginner players, which is completely fine. Some of the models, such as the CD-60, are among the most popular beginner and intermediate acoustic guitars, and they often come as part of guitar packs, which have everything that a budding guitar player might need. These affordable guitars are usually made out of laminated wood, which might also be the reason why Fender guitars are not as acclaimed as some of the other reputable guitar brands.
If you are looking for premium-feeling offerings by Fender, you might want to check out the Acoustasonic series, provided that you are not a purist. It looks weird, but it’s just about the best hybrid guitar we have heard so far. If you want something more traditional, you should take a look at their Paramount series, which are well-made, vintage-style instruments with a built-in pickup. What’s great about the Fender acoustic is how player-friendly they are. Even the cheapest entry-level models have modern “C’ becks and rolled fingerboard edges for better playing comfort. Fender guitars, even their acoustic ones, are always worth looking into.
Although it’s a well-known fact that Epiphone is owned by Gibson, which profiled it as a brand that produces more affordable versions of Gibson’s instrument. However, despite the more budget-friendly price tags, Epiphone acoustic guitars are great instruments, and the company itself has a history that predates Gibson. Although Epiphone was bought by Gibson back in 1957, they have been making musical instruments since 1873. The company was then moved from what is now modern-day Turkey to the United States in 1903. In 1928, they finally started making acoustic guitars. As we have already mentioned, Epiphone makes more affordable takes on the classic Gibson, many of which can give more expensive instruments a run for the money.
For example, many players opt to buy ant of the Epiphone Les Paul guitars, since they are not made in the US and are therefore cheaper. Of course, these Les Pauls don’t feature the same level of craftsmanship, but their sound is pretty close to the original, which is why they are also used by professional musicians. The same goes for their acoustic guitar. Epiphone’s versions of the iconic Gibson guitars, such as the Dove or the Hummingbird, are incredible instruments in their own right. Mind you, Epiphone’s own design, the DR-100 is among the best and most popular entry-level acoustic guitars.
If you are looking for something more premium, then you’re going to want to check the company’s Masterbilt Collection, which sports some of the best acoustic guitars you will find on the market. A lot of these instruments are based on Gibson guitars, and they are built using high-quality materials and tonewood. However, this being Epiphone and not Gibson, you will get an acoustic guitar with a solid spruce top, as well as solid sides and back for less than $1000. Of course, with Gibson, you are paying for their brand and legacy. With Epiphone, you get what you have paid for, and that’s just fine in our book. In addition to the Masterbilt Collection, we would also recommend the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro, which, as we have already pointed out, is Epiphone’s take on the original Gibson Hummingbird.
That particular model has a solid top and laminate back and sides. It’s a great-sounding acoustic guitar, and even though looks are a subjective category, it looks every bit as gorgeous as the original, which is one of the prettiest guitars ever made. And because it also features the SlimTaper “D” neck, the Hummingbird Pro is a breeze to play as well. You even get the block inlays and the eye-catching pickguard. It comes with a built-in preamp system, which means you can play it live on stage as well. Epiphone may not have the prestige of Gibson, but it still makes some really good acoustic guitars.
Popular Related Article: Overview of the Bass Guitar Brands
One of the acoustic guitar brands that often gets overlooked for some is Takamine, which is surprising, given then they make excellent guitars at any price point. In some aspects, they are comparable to Yamaha guitars. Both are Japanese brands, and both offer great value for money. In case you are looking for a mid-priced acoustic guitar, Takamine might be your best bet, because you will get more guitar than you would if you were to buy another acoustic guitar brand for the same price. Takamine is a brand that is also a pioneer of acoustic-electric guitars, as it was one of the first manufacturers to use a bridge-mounted pickup.
Founded in 1962, Takamine has introduced numerous other innovations. In addition to their preamp systems, they were also one of the first to use quarter sawn wood for the bracing. This improves the projection and sustain, but at the same time, allows the bracing to age more evenly, because of the less distinctive grain. We have also seen some manufacturers use different types of body contouring, which makes the guitar more comfortable to hold and play, and Takamine does the same time. However, one thing we haven’t seen on other guitars is the asymmetrical neck, which is something that Takamine implements on some of its models.
In case you haven’t seen these necks, they get thicker as you get to the bass strings and thin out as you get to the treble side of the fretboard. This allows for more comfortable playing and makes it easier for inexperienced players to form chords. If you are in the market for a quality acoustic guitar that won’t put a massive hole in your budget, you should definitely check out Takamine’s G Series. These are not top-tier Takamine models, but they are great instruments nonetheless which also sport some specs reserved for more experienced acoustics, such as the solid top. Beginners will also love the GD10 dreadnought, which has mahogany back and sides and a spruce top, as well as a rosewood fingerboard. No cheap alternative woods to be found here, which is definitely a huge plus.
As for their top-of-the-line models, Takamine acoustic can go head-to-head with almost any of the Taylor or Martin models, while still keeping a lower price tag than its competitors. Their Pro Series is especially stunning, not just in terms of sound and craftsmanship, but also looks and attention to detail. So, it’s safe to say that Takamine is one of the rare brands that make great guitars across its entire range. In fact, we think their acoustic-electric guitars sound the best of all brands when plugged in, which is something that touring musicians and live performers might like to know. As for famous Takamine players, the list includes Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Wilson, Simon Neil, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Glen Hansard, and Nancy Wilson.
One of the most interesting things about the acoustic guitar world, and acoustic guitar players as well, is how reluctant or downright resistant they are to innovations and changes to the traditional notion of what an acoustic guitar should be. This is one of the reasons why we have chosen to include Ovation guitars on our list, apart from them being great instruments. Many purists will scoff at their “bowl” design which not only looks strange but doesn’t feature any wood, except for the guitar top. And despite popular and somewhat mean comments, these round back guitars are made of plastic, but a composite material named Lyrachord, which is similar to fiberglass.
To explain what Ovation acoustic guitars are all about, let’s go back to their beginnings. Founded by Charles Kaman in 1965 in Connecticut, Ovation is a brand that is somewhat of an exception, since it was the brainchild of an aerodynamicist who just happened to be a guitar enthusiast. His day job included developing various innovations for helicopters, which is where he got the idea to use composite materials for guitar building. Having expert knowledge about using and shaping those advanced materials, he assembled a team of aerospace engineers and luthiers and created the Adamas guitar, once of the first-ever acoustic made by Ovation. And the most impressive is that it only took them about a year to build this brand new type of guitar.
Despite all this aerospace technology and materials, Ovation guitars sound just like your normal acoustic guitars, and even the most hardcore purists will admit to that. In fact, their unique design allows the project outstandingly well for such a small body. Lyrachord also has another advantage over traditional tonewoods, and that is durability. It is completely resistant to cracks, warping, and unlike solid wood guitars, also completely resistant to temperature and humidity changes. Ovation guitars are tough, yet at the same time, they are very light and thanks to the electric guitar-like neck, very easy to play as well.
One of Ovation’s most popular series of acoustic guitars is the Celebrity series, and one of their best models is the Ovation Celebrity Elite. This guitar’s back and sides are made out of Lyrachord, yet the top is made out of exotic tonewood, which not only looks good but sounds great. The only downside to Ovation’s bowl design is that these guitars don’t sit as nicely on your lap as your standard acoustic guitar, which means it might be a good idea for you to use a guitar strap, even if you are playing it sitting down. Apart from that, these guitars are very light and comfortable, and those who have played them a few times are very likely to become lifelong fans. The biggest names that play Ovation guitars are Melissa Etheridge, Glen Campbell, and Al Di Meola.
If you are looking for a boutique brand acoustic brand, then you are probably looking for the absolute best in terms of sound and craftsmanship. Well, one such guitar brand is the Larrivee. This is the second guitar brand on this list that comes from Canada. The first one is obviously Seagull. But, while Seagull makes some affordable models, Larrievee’s sole focus is high-end acoustics. For starters, all of their guitars are all solid wood, which puts them in the same category as top-shelf Martins. Their instruments are stunning pieces of guitar building, and some would even call them art, due to the combination of highest-caliber craftsmanship and exotic tonewoods, which both look and sound great.
One of the defining characteristics of all Larrivee acoustic guitars is their balanced tone, which makes them suitable for a wide variety of music genres. Also, they also put great care into making sure that their guitars are easily playable, which is evident by slim necks that allow you to do really fast runs, as well as low action, which means you won’t struggle to make chords anywhere on the neck. The way that they do bracing is also on an expert level, and it allows the soundboards to really resonate.
So you get everything that you would expect from a high-end acoustic guitar with Larrivee instruments, but what you don’t get is a lot of flash. If you take a look at the most expensive acoustics on the market, such as those of Martin or Taylor, you will see that they are pretty flashy, with fancy binding around the body, neck, and the rosette, as well as eye-catching inlays on the fretboard. With Larrivee, things are way subtle, since their instruments aim for understated elegance. For instance, most of their guitars have a satin finish, which not only allows the exotic tonewood to breathe but also showcases its natural beauty without unnecessary embellishments.
You should definitely check out the Artist Series, which provides you with everything you need in terms of sound and playability, but still some nice visual details. All of the guitars in this series feature a classic combination of tonewoods, with solid Sitka spruce used for the top, whereas the back and sides are made out of rosewood. All of the binding around the body and on the back is made out of maple, and the rosette features abalone as an aesthetic touch. Best of all, you can choose among a variety of different models and shapes, as well as those which feature cutaways with easier access to upper frets. The best model in this series is probably the Larrivee LV-09, so make sure to check it out.
When talking about guitars that provide the best value for money and are tough workhorses at the same time, you absolutely need to mention Yamaha first. Although Yamaha makes pretty much everything, they have started making acoustic guitars in 1941, but they have stopped production because of the war, only to continue in 1946. What’s interesting about the Yamaha brand is that it got its first proper exposure in 1969, when it was first imported in the US. This coincided with Woodstock, and the Yamaha FG-150 made an appearance on stage as well, as it was played by Country Joe McDonald. Ever since, Yamaha has become a global guitar brand, and one of the most popular manufacturers as far as acoustic guitars are concerned.
Now, being a reputable brand that is also extremely popular, Yamaha has a huge selection of different models, but the ones you should definitely pay attention to belong to three series of its acoustic guitars: The FG series, the L series, and the A series. The FG series (FG stands for folk guitar) is by far the most iconic one. The most popular guitar from that series is the legendary FG830, which has earned its status due to excellent playability, which is why it’s such a favorite among beginner guitar players. Of course, it is also well-made and incredibly well-priced, which is something we have come to expect from Yamaha guitars.
The L series, in which the L stands for luxury, and which is focused on offering players acoustic guitars that have a fairly traditional vibe and a warm one, but which also include all of the latest technologies innovations and modern upgrades you might expect to see on today’s guitars. Probably the best guitar in this series is the Yamaha LS6. Finally, we’ve come to the A series. This series represents the best that Yamaha has to offer, and these are usually guitars that are aimed at professional musicians and performers. They feature all-solid bodies, premium tonewood, and materials, and have the price to match all of that quality.
But, even though it’s fairly common for affordable guitars to have laminate tops, Yamaha does offer some of its cheaper models with solid tops and very resonant bodies which sound like more expensive guitars. Yamaha’s guitar may not have the prestige of Martin guitars, but their top-tier models can rival Martin acoustics any day of the week. And their mid-priced models are just great all-rounders and tough workhorses that will never let you down. Yamaha acoustic guitar and often the acoustics of choice for the likes of Paul Simon, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, John, Denver, Chad Kroeger, and Joe Bonamassa. Yamaha is definitly one of they best guitar brands out there.
Although not as popular among some of the other brands on this list, Guild makes superb acoustic guitars, there is no doubt about it. Founded in New York in 1952, the company originally started making archtop jazz guitars, but only a few years after it was established, it started making flat-top acoustic. Guild is also recognized for at least one important innovation: it is the first brand to create a dreadnought guitar with a cutaway, which has made playing easier for millions of players since it’s easier to reach those upper when there is a cutaway.
Although not hugely popular in the electric guitar world (you would be hard-pressed to name a famous Guild player apart from Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil), they are still a pretty big name in the world of acoustic guitars. Guild guitars owe their stellar reputation to high-quality build, simple design, and rich sound. Their dreadnought guitars are some of the most sought-after instruments on the market, but their lineup of guitars extends beyond that, as they often acoustic guitars with concert-sized bodies, as well as jumbo guitars. Their premium guitars have a top that is made out of solid spruce, which is a tonewood that has a bright, resonant sound.
As for the rest of the body, you can choose between rosewood and maple. Rosewood, as you would expect, makes for a large, booming sound of the guitars with plenty of bass. Guild’s rosewood guitars are ideal if you are doing solo acoustic gigs and you want a rich sound with plenty of overtones. But, if you are looking for something more punchy that is going to be able to cut through the mix in a live setting, then you give their maple guitars ago. In the case of jumbo guitars, everything sounds loud and amplified, even more so than on their dreadnought models.
Looking at Guild’s lineup of different guitar models, you would easily conclude that most of their guitars are mid-priced, with some affordable guitars thrown in for measure. But, that is just the tip of the iceberg, because the company allows you to customize and spec out your guitar, as well as to choose among a number of different signature models, whose price is significantly higher, but so is the quality and playability. Notable guitar players which prefer Guild acoustics are Tom Petty, Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pete Townshend, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Eric Clapton. That’s pretty much rock royalty, which just goes to show that Guild makes excellent guitars.
Although Seagull may not be among the first guitar brands when you think of it in the context of acoustic guitars, they make some of the best instruments out there. In fact, they have an extremely loyal following with an almost cult-like adoration for the brand. Seagull guitars are manufactured in La Patrie, Quebec, in Canada. Fun fact: La Patrie has a population of only 750 people or so, with as many as 200 of them involved in the making of Seagull guitars in one way or another. Seagull is owned by Godin Guitars, and the connection goes way back since Robin Godin founded the Seagull in 1982.
One of the reasons why Seagull enjoys such a stellar reputation is the quality of their guitars. What’s interesting about the brand is the way they have gone about to achieve such quality. First, all of their guitars, and we do mean all of their guitars down to the cheapest budget models, as made with solid tops. Second, all of their guitars are made by hand, which provides an unparalleled level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. While some guitar brands are doing their part to reduce their environmental footprint by sourcing their woods from sustainable resources, Seagull has taken it way further than that. In addition to sustainability, they have also focused on clean energy, which means that they use hydro-electric power. The brand is about as “green” as it gets.
We have mentioned that all Seagull guitars have solid tops, but that’s not the most interesting thing about them. If you have ever seen a Seagull guitar in person, you would have noticed that they have a slight curve to their tops. This enables a thinner top with lighter bracing. This is beneficial because it improves the resonance and structural integrity of the guitar. Flat top guitars have heavier bracing, and their tops have a tendency to sink in around the soundhole over time. The compound-curve top on the Seagull solves that issue without compromising the sonic qualities one associate with solid top acoustic guitars. Lighter construction allows the sound to project more freely, as well.
Their guitars usually feature a subtle, tasteful design, with their signature slim headstock. Such a narrow headstock allows the machine heads to be placed in parallel with the guitar’s nut, which helps the guitar stay in tune for much longer, which is one of the innovations Seagull has come up with for its guitars. Their flagship model is the Seagull S6 Original, which is an all-solid dreadnought guitar with a top made out of cedar, while the back and sides are made out of wild cherry. In addition to their dreadnought shape, they offer several other acoustic guitar body shapes, such as the Grand, Folk, Folk Cutaway, Dreadnought Cutaway, Mini Jumbo, and Concert Hall across several of their series such as the Artist, Maritime SWS, Coastline, Entourage, and so on.
Most notable players include Peppino D’Agostino, James Blunt, Kim Deal, Michelle Lambert, Emm Gryer, and Michalis Hatzigiannis.
Gibson, along with Fender, is the most iconic guitar brand in all of music, and you would be hard-pressed to find a professional musician who doesn’t own one or a beginner who is aspiring to buy it one day. The company was founded back in 1902, but before it started to build guitars, it made mandolins. Then they used that experience to produce various models of archtop and hollow-body guitars before they eventually started making flat tops. Of course, the result of that is Gibson Les Paul, the epitome of the guitar itself, but since we are talking about acoustic guitar brands here, their acoustic models are no less legendary, despite being less exposed. After all, the company started making acoustic guitars first.
Gibson is famous for several of its models, such as the J-35, which is one of Gibson’s pre-war guitars that was revived not too long ago and was a smash hit, especially in the category of guitars between $1,000 and $2000. Then there is the J-45, which along with J-35 represent Gibson’s unique slope-shouldered or round shoulder dreadnought body shape. The J-45 is also one of the most celebrated acoustic guitars out there, especially when used for recording. For fans of the classic dreadnought shape, there is the iconic Hummingbird, which is pretty much the benchmark for dreadnought guitars everywhere, along with Martin. Last, but not least, Gibson is also known for its jumbo guitars, especially the SJ200.
Popular Related Article: The 14 Best American Made Guitars Right Now
The majority of Gibson acoustics is made out of solid tonewoods, and as far as acoustic-electric models are concerned, they are usually paired up with L.R. Baggs system of pickups. As in the case of Gibson’s electric guitars, their acoustics are also made entirely in the US, in their Montana factory. These guitars are premium instruments that are the result of superb craftsmanship and attention to detail, as well as rigorous quality control. You will often come across generous use of traditional tonewoods such as spruce, mahogany, and maple, which depending on the model, give these guitars a sound that can be bright and clear, or deep and warm. In both cases, Gibson acoustic guitars are some of the most resonant ones on the market.
Gibson guitars are among the best premium acoustic guitars, and their price reflects that. Of course, for that, you get corresponding quality and sublime sound, but you are also buying a piece of history, which is ultimately priceless. There are very few guitar brands whose legacy is as rich and as iconic as Gibson’s. Among the most notable musicians which play or have played Gibson acoustic guitars are Joe Bonamassa, John Prine, Ry Cooder, Steve Earle, Jimmy Page, Dan Hicks, Dickey Betts, Elvin Costello, and many, many others. The list is virtually endless. I have many Gibson guitars that I love and I’d say they’re definitley one of the best acoustic guitar brands of all time.
Taylor makes incredible acoustic guitars, there is no doubt about it, and you would be hard-pressed to find even a professional musician who wouldn’t want to own one. Quite simply, Taylor makes some of the most beautiful and most advanced acoustic guitars you can currently buy for your money. Because they are revered among guitar players and professional recording artists, you may come to the conclusion that Taylor guitars have been around forever, just like Martin. However, the truth is that they have learned their stellar reputation in a matter of decades since they were founded back in 1974 by two fellows named Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug.
Taylor has surged in popularity during the 1980s, due to a unique combination of quality, playability, innovation, and looks. The company is well-known for its use of exotic tonewoods, different bracing innovations, such as V-bracing, guitar body ergonomy, as well as its celebrated Expression System, which is the company’s patent preamp system that is present on most of their high-end guitars. Also, their guitars have a unique neck, also called the Taylor NT neck, which is among the most comfortable and playable guitar necks you will come across. Taylor guitars remain as popular as ever, and the brand itself is the best-selling acoustic guitar brand in the US. One of the reasons for that is the versatility of Taylor’s lineup of guitars.
Although Taylor is known for making high-end premium acoustics, their lineup has something for everyone, both in terms of sound and budget. Sure, they offer acoustic guitars which can cost as much as $10,000, but there are plenty of great options that cost anywhere between $700 and $2,000. You can even get away with paying less if you opt for their affordable Academy series, which is aimed at beginners. But, you can also find the right guitar anywhere between their 100 and 900 series. Their cheaper models are made in Mexico and often feature laminate wood. However, if you go for one of the guitars in the 200 series, you will also find that they have solid tops, which allows for better resonance and richer sound. If you are looking for an all-solid guitar, start looking at a 300 series and above.
Taylor is also an extremely popular brand if you are in the market for travel-friendly acoustic guitars, such as the guitars from the GS Mini Series, as well as the Baby Taylor and Big Baby Taylor acoustics. Their high-end guitars are made in California with premium materials and exotic tonewoods. If you are looking for the absolute best that they have to offer, the 914ce and the 814ce are your best bet. Their price is breathtaking, but it’s the kind of instrument you buy for a lifetime. Some of the most notable musicians playing Taylor acoustic guitars are William Ackerman, Tony Iommi, Jason Mraz, Taylor Swift, Dave Matthews, Mark Tremonti, and Myles Kennedy.
If we’re talking about acoustic guitar brands that manufacture their guitar on a relatively large scale, then we definitely need to put Martin as our top brand pick, with Taylor coming in at close second. These two are basically Fender and Gibson of the acoustic world. Sure, Fender and Gibson make acoustics, as well, but some of their high-end models would have trouble keeping with Martins and Taylors. Martin has a long and impressive history of building stringed instruments which goes all the way back to the 1700s. However, they have started identifying themselves as a guitar company since 1833. Even more impressive is the fact that Martin has been owned and run by six generations of the Martin family.
Martin has pioneered arguably the most popular acoustic guitar shape of them all, the dreadnought, which is a popular choice among rock, pop, and country musicians worldwide. They have also created the orchestra model (OM) body shape, which is also one of the most common choices among guitarists and songwriters. These guitars have a rich, booming sound with plenty of bass, which is one of the reasons why Martin guitars are considered the ultimate high-end acoustic guitars. Other factors that have earned Martin its reputation are superb craftsmanship, use of high-quality materials, their outstanding legacy, as well as the fact that all of their guitars are made in the US, where the level of quality control is unparalleled.
Popular Related Article: The 30 Best Acoustic Guitars on the Market Right Now
Obviously, if your playing style involves a lot of strumming and loud chords, then you’re going to feel right at home with one of Martin’s dreadnoughts, while those players who prefer gentle fingerpicking should opt for their orchestra model guitars. Another area in which Martin has made significant innovations is guitar bracing. To be more specific, Martin was one of the first manufacturers to use X-bracing in the construction of its guitars, which is now a pretty common type of bracing. Before that, Spanish-style fan bracing used to be the norm during the early days of acoustic guitars.
So why isn’t everyone playing a Martin acoustic? Well, all of those superb qualities come at a price, which is why the company’s best instrument from the Vintage series can reach upward of $5,000, which puts it out of reach for most guitar players. If you are looking to spend top dollar on an acoustic guitar, then you might want to take a look at the models such as the D-28, the D-41, the D-45, as well as the HD-28. If you are looking for that signature Martin sound and style for less than $1,500, then you definitely need to check out the D15-M as well. Martin guitars have made a huge impact in the history of music, and they have been played by the likes of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, and Johnny Cash, just to name a few. Overall, I would say Martin is the best acoustic guitar brand right now, but let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high quality music related content as well as some of the most accurate and in-depth gear review and demo information on the internet.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 (over 15 years now) and am an avid collector of all thing’s guitar. Amps, Pedals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Microphones, Studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University and with my engineering experience I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.