Acoustic guitars are one of the most popular instruments ever invented. Today, 1.40 million acoustic guitars are sold each year in the United States alone.
There’s never been a better time to get into learning this fun instrument with all of the helpful resources out there for learning.
But what kind of guitar do you get? There are hundreds of brands out there making guitars, so it’s difficult to determine which are trustworthy.
I’ve heard this question hundreds of times in my 20+ years of playing guitar, and I’m happy to answer it. The people who try to figure it out totally on their own usually end up disappointed.
This won’t happen to you if you check out this in-depth review of the best acoustic guitar brands.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each brand and samples of their guitars for every level of player from beginner to professional.
The Best Acoustic Guitar Brands You Need To Have At The Top Of Your List
Of the hundreds of brands out there, I condensed this list of 9 brands from my own experience and speaking with my fellow musicians and teachers. My picks for some good acoustic guitar brands include:
- Fender: A Classic And Affordable Option
- Yamaha: Consistent, Reliable, And Affordable
- Seagull: The Rising Star With Amazing Sound
- Taylor: Quality Sound Above All Else
- Martin: Legendary Sound
- Jasmine/Takamine: Quality Guitars For New Players
- Oscar-Schmidt: Electric Quality In An Acoustic Package
Fender claims to be the foremost in guitar and bass manufacturers, and it’s certainly one of the most well-known. While they’re most popular for their electric string instrument, the acoustic options they provide cement them as one of the most popular acoustic guitar brands.
Founded in South Carolina, the American-based brand has made it their goal to provide the best sound and professional-level instruments and accessories for musicians.
Rock and roll was their inspiration and remains their bread and butter, but as amatuer musicians have become prevalent, Fender has provided more models for all sorts of players at a variety of price points.
Here are three models I recommend in particular.
As far as beginner acoustic guitars go, it doesn’t get much more solid than the FA-115. This bundle is affordable for anyone, and the sound from this start guitar is surprisingly full.
The FA-115 has a full-body size with a laminated spruce top. This is what helps it sound full for a beginner. Spruce makes a great top wood, but the lamination is a step down from a solid spruce top.
Still, this is much better of material than many other guitars at a comparable price. The rosewood fingerboard is a common and solid choice with 20 frets for beginning lead guitar players.
The synthetic bone saddle and nut are nothing to write home about, but they do the job just fine and save you some money.
With this bundle you also get:
- Soft case
- Extra strings
- Clip-on tuner
- Starter DVD
This is a fine choice for beginners and early intermediate players, but you’ll want to trade up as you grow. It’s guitars like this that make Fender one of the best beginner acoustic guitar brands.
Fender’s CD-60S comes in at a medium price point, but the step up in sound quality and control is worth it. For intermediate and advanced players, this guitar will fit you well, and even experts and professionals may be happy with it.
The best part about this full-sized dreadnought-style guitar is the materials. The top, back, and sides are all made from mahogany.
For a top, this isn’t a standard choice (spruce is considered a clearer sounding option), but mahogany creates a mellow, rich tone. The back and sides made of mahogany is a common choice for higher-quality guitars.
The internal bracing design is meant for better sound as well. With a scalloped bracing, Fender balances less material inside the guitar body without sacrificing stability.
The fingerboard also features rolled edges which makes playing chords and solo work easier. The action is low and easy to play with advanced techniques. This all combines to make a guitar with great tone and good playability. Only experts and professionals may want a little more out of their guitars.
Plus this option is a bundle. Click the link to see what’s included.
Fender Paramount PM-3
The medium-high price of the PM-3 may seem a little higher than you want to pay, but the higher-quality design elements move this acoustic guitar to a great-sounding product any level of player would be happy with.
For one, the guitar’s natural and organic-looking finish is stellar. It’s designed to look as much like 60s Fender looks as possible, so it’s perfect for the serious and nostalgic guitar player.
A mahogany top provides a mellow and rich tone to the sound, and its open-pore wood provides a little more clarity than standard mahogany woods.
Solid mahogany back and sides also add to the beauty and darkness of the tone. As with many higher-quality fender acoustic guitars, the scalloped X-style bracing allows for more resonance inside the body without sacrificing the structural integrity of the body.
The bone nut and saddle as well as the rosewood fingerboard do much to provide sound clarity and efficiency in playing. Whether you’re playing rhythm or lead, the PM-3 will be able to handle what you want.
Its only downside is the lack of strength of sound when compared with solid spruce top guitars of similar quality. But this is largely a matter of personal preference.
Yamaha began in 1887 when Torakusu Yamaha repaired its first reed pipe organ in Japan. He later went on to build his own, and since then, the Yamaha group has grown to be a giant in the music instrument world.
Their dedication to creating consistent and quality instruments in all areas for all levels of playing abilities has transferred well into their acoustic guitars. While not the first brand coming to mind in professional guitars, they make guitars for all levels with a great sound, playability, and price.
Even their professional line guitars are affordable although they haven’t gained as much popularity as some of the more legendary brands. This isn’t because of any poor design or sound Yamaha’s part though.
All in all, Yamaha is one of the best affordable acoustic guitar brands.
Check these 3 Yamaha acoustic guitars for different types of players.
The Yamaha FD-01S is a great choice for beginners. The affordable pricing comes with a clear sound and good construction.
A solid spruce top provides a strong, punchy sound perfect for playing solo work or chords. Most acoustics at this price use either a laminate or some other composite, so the solid spruce is a good plus.
The back and sides are made from Nato wood which is a harder form of mahogany. While this is more commonly used as a type of neck wood, Nato for the back and sides will add to power and clarity of the sound.
Its main downside is a lack of depth and richness to it when compared to many other kinds of wood. The tone may also get too harsh on strumming or picking if you’re not careful.
On the flip side, it’s an affordable wood to make guitars from, so this is one of the places Yamaha is saving money.
The synthetic nut and saddle do the job well but are subject to damage over time. The neck is easy to hold and the action is fairly low for a low-priced guitar.
The geared tuners hold the pitch well which is great for beginners. You won’t have to keep adjusting the guitar to get it back in tune.
Overall, the guitar works well for beginners and early intermediate players, but those looking for a richer sound will need to look for a better model.
This medium-priced FG800 acoustic guitar is a step up from the previous Yamaha in every way. Though many of the specs seem the same, the materials are just a little better and more time is spent in making this guitar easier to play with better sound quality.
In addition to the better sound, this guitar also comes with a bundle pack perfect for newer players.
For materials, the solid spruce top works well with all levels of guitars by providing the clear, strong sound a folk acoustic guitar you’d expect.
The FG-800 also uses Nato for the back and sides, but a higher quality option of Nato/Okume. This specific variation has a slightly more mellow and rich sound which the previous model was lacking.
The Nato neck is solid and won’t bend easily, and the rosewood fingerboard provides easy playing whether you’re doing chords or melody.
The neck and fretboard feel a little better in your hands, especially as you play higher notes which most beginners and intermediate players won’t usually do.
For this reason and the better sound, this guitar is a solid choice for intermediate and some advanced players. Take also a look at our detailed review of the Yamaha FG8xx series to see some similar and better guitars of this brand.
The bundle at the link includes the following extras:
- Soft case/gig bag
- Extra strings
- Clip-on tuner
- Instructional DVD
Yamaha LL6 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
This more expensive model features some of Yamaha’s best design features in sound production and accessories. As a result, this guitar plays well, sounds great, and maybe the perfect fit for advanced to professional level players.
The solid spruce top is a hand-selected Engelmann variety. This wood is known for its great balance of clarity and power with depth.
On top of this, Yamaha also uses their Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) to make the wood sound better.
How much difference this process makes is unclear. What is clear is how much nicer this spruce top sounds when compared to others.
The back and sides are made from solid rosewood. This material resonates well with sound allowing for richer tone across all highs, mediums, and lows.
Rosewood as a back and sides is more uncommon, but it makes for a great sounding guitar.
The neck and fretboard are shaped well for all kinds of playing. It almost seems to play itself.
On top of this good design and sound is the addition of an SRT Zero Impact Passive Pickup for electric amplification. Yamaha’s decision to use this decision was a good one in my opinion.
By using a more simple (but effective) pickup option, you aren’t sacrificing space in the guitar’s body. The less space you have, the worse the sound will be.
While you aren’t going to have a lot of onboard control over the electric sound, you don’t need to sacrifice your natural acoustic sound at all.
Seagull Guitars is a newer company in the guitar world, but its local feel, sustainability goals, and quality design have made quite the impression.
The company was started in 1982 Quebec, Canada by Robert Godin. His essential goal was to take the best materials and design elements of professional-level guitars and make them at a price point more affordable for the average person.
The guitars have made a splash in the world and won awards for their sound and design. They continue to improve and design new guitars and styles for all players beyond the traditional.
Here are quick reviews on two of my favorite Seagull options.
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar Limited Edition Tennessee Red
This specific S6 original acoustic and all along this line provide a professional quality sound at a medium-high price range. For beginners looking for a cheap guitar, this isn’t for you.
But if you want to learn on an amazing sounding guitar which will grow with you no matter what you’re playing ability, then a Seagull S6 is a fine choice.
This guitar features a solid cedar top instead of the industry spruce standard. The sound quality will still be quite clear, though it may lack some of the power of spruce.
On the other hand, cedar is generally richer in its sound.
The wild cherry back and sides are a unique choice among guitar makers. Cherry forms a sort of middle ground between the rich mahogany and the firm maple.
As a result, this guitar is balanced between depth and definition in its sound. This gives it a versatility to sound great in different genres and play styles some, more specific sounding guitars won’t have.
The rosewood fingerboard is standard, but the Tusq nut and compensated saddle are another of the premium features added.
The nut’s step up from cheaper options provide better stability in intonation (tuning). Still, many say this is not quite as good as the premium bond option.
The compensated saddle is quite special. It provides an efficiency in sending vibration into the body of the guitar matched only by bone.
The neck design and tapered headstock are unique and feel great when playing, especially when playing the lead. It also gives a look different from all the traditional guitars.
In all, the S6 is the flagship of Seagull and their “entry-level” guitar which will satisfy all but the pickiest professionals.
Seagull Performer CW Flame Maple HG QI Guitar
This higher-priced option is one of Seagull’s best guitars designed with professionals in mind. Its unique style, great sound, and still-affordable (though high) price is why it’s become more popular in recent years.
Featuring more traditional materials and design features, this model still stands out because of the smaller company care and attention it is able to give to their guitars.
With a spruce top, the sound is clear and strong. But the pressure treatment it receives before construction gives it added durability and a little more richness to the sound.
Flamed Maple backs and sides only add to this sound. Maple is a wood popular in higher quality guitars for the defined and rich sound it produces.
While not as mellow as mahogany, the sound is still full and powerful enough to fill a space without using the on-board electronics.
Still, if you need to fill a whole concert hall or you’re playing outside, the Quantum 1 electronics will help you out. This system doesn’t take up too much, so you needn’t worry about losing sound power, especially with the quality maple and spruce.
Seagull’s unique headstock shape and neck design are again in place for ease of playing and solid tuning.
The Performer series of guitars by Seagull also feature their compound curve body over the bridge. This reinforcement is their attempt to deal with the sagging of the top most guitars suffer when the weather is dry but without losing dynamic power to the sound.
This compound curve seems to work, and my friends who play this guitar as their main instrument love this feature.
The Tusq nut and compensated saddle come back with the Seagull performer series, and both work well to provide solid tuning and powerful sound.
Since 1974 in California, Taylor has been a staple in the acoustic and semi-hollow electric guitar game. Bob Taylor and Kirt Listug started their company with quality and modern building techniques in mind.
The duo pioneered many of the techniques which have become industry standard today. They still push the cutting edge in guitar making, and their products have been in homes all over the world for beginners through professional musicians.
Their range of guitars is unmatched by any other guitar maker except perhaps Yamaha. As a world-class musician himself, Bob Taylor’s expertise has informed the design of the guitars.
Taylor guitars are meant for high-quality performance, and as such, their prices are typically higher. It is one of the best sounding acoustic guitar brands.
Here are 3 common acoustic guitars from the Taylor catalog.
Taylor Academy 10 Dreadnought
For a medium-high price, the Academy 10 dreadnought provides a good balance of clear sound and easy playability.
The top wood is a solid sitka spruce. Sitka spruce is considered better for the guitar than just plain solid spruce because it tends to cut back on the harshness of the attack of strums while still remaining clear.
Sapele makes up the back and sides. While not a common choice, this is a solid one. The wood is much like a more affordable maple in that it provides some serious depth but adds even more pure sound and definition to the playing.
The neck and heel are made from hard rock maple. This is a little unusual, but this wood still does a good job of providing structure while adding a little more resonance to the sound.
West African ebony makes up the fretboard of the acoustic guitar. This wood is tough and looks great. While I personally prefer the feel of the traditional rosewood, ebony is a common choice for many professional-level guitars.
Included with this guitar is a custom Taylor gig bag for easy transportation. Advanced and expert-level players will be more than happy with this guitar. Beginners and intermediate players would love this too, although maybe not the slightly higher price.
Taylor’s 114CE is an acoustic-electric combo built with the expert and professional level player in mind. As such, the high price won’t scare off those dedicated to great sounding guitars.
The 114CE is one of Taylor’s most popular guitars they make, and it’s also consistent in its rich sound.
As with the previous, the top is made from sitka spruce which is a step up from the standard spruce material. The back and sides are made of walnut wood; this wood provides a good balance of definition and richness of tone across all ranges.
Taylor makes this fretboard of ebony which is strong and easy to play off of. The neck and heel again are made from hard rock maple.
The grand auditorium design features a semi-cutaway where the neck connects to the body. This is a compromise of two ideals.
A true cutaway would sacrifice some richness of sound and dynamic power by reducing the air inside the body. But the cutaway does provide room for fingers to play chords and mostly solos up higher on the guitar.
The Venetian cutaway gets little of both for those who want a balance.
The Expression System 2 provides the electric pickup for the sound. This system is a little bigger than one might prefer if one is looking for a pure acoustic sound, but the extra controls and pickup quality means the guitar will transition to amplified playing well.
Taylor 714CE V-Class Grand Auditorium
Take everything from the 114 CE and ramp it up 3 notches, and you’ll get the 714CE. This is a professional guitar in and out (at a premium price).
The spruce top is the top-notch Lutz variety with special treatment and design for the best sound all around. Indian rosewood makes up the back and sides for an awesome, rich sound with a clarity that may surprise you.
Mahogany makes up the neck wood which provides structure, style, and some even more mellow sound. Taylor uses their favored ebony fingerboard for this model as well.
The Taylor ES2 pickup system is in place here as well. As is the Venetian cutaway for a good combination of sound and solo playing reach.
If ever there was a way to tell the difference wood makes to the sound of a guitar, it’s comparing the 114CE and 714CE. Both feature almost all the exact same designs, but the materials are different.
Both sound great, but the 714CE is just better although at a much higher price. Professionals either have one of these or have considered getting one.
C.F. Martin and company is the oldest guitar making company still in popularity today. It sits atop the pile for its legendary quality and presence throughout the ages.
As such, some of the models it produces are considered to be the best acoustic guitars ever made. However, even with such a reputation, they make good guitars at a price anyone can afford.
Every guitar maker owes much to this company, and it still helps to pioneer some of the newest best practices in guitar making.
Check out 3 of their most popular models for all levels of players.
Martin Custom 20th Anniversary of X w/Sonitone
This special version of the Martin X with Sonitone shows why this company has been a giant for almost 200 years. At a medium price, the quality of this acoustic is impressive and perfect for intermediate to advanced players.
A sitka spruce top provides an awesome clear sound a step above laminate or solid spruce.
The back and sides are made from Martin’s high-pressure laminate (HPL) wood. Normally, a wood composite like this would be a big detraction from the sound of the guitar.
However Martin manages to do it, this guitar still has a rich yet clear sound with this material although perhaps not as good solid wood.
The neck is made from select hardwood for a focus on durability under the pressures of serious playing. This aligns with Martin’s reputation for making guitars which last decades.
The fingerboard is made from Morado wood. This is a unique choice for most makers, but Martin is known for finding unique wood to use.
The guitar sounds pure and plays easy. In fact, the fingering on this guitar is easier to do than almost any other.
But the sound just doesn’t always match up with higher class guitars or even a similar priced option from Fender or Seagull. Still, it’s a good guitar for those who want to try it out; the feel of the neck may be enough for you to overlook a couple of other things.
Martin D-10E Road Series
The D-10E road series is a classic example of Martin’s attention to detail and what to expect from their guitars. At a medium-high price, this guitar fits advanced to expert players. Even professionals will get a lot from this instrument.
Features include their preferred sitka spruce top for clear, powerful sound and sapele back and sides. The overall tone of this guitar is boiled down to two words: defined and crisp.
For those looking for a deeper tone with many overtones, this may not be for you. It’s going to fit a more aggressive and clean play style.
The hardwood neck does the job, but the Richlite fingerboard is a nice touch. It’s smooth to the touch and makes advanced techniques such as sliding much more accessible. Its hand-rubbed neck finish adds to this.
The road series also adds the MX-T fishman electronics for pickup and tuning. This unit is larger than I would prefer in an acoustic guitar and may impact the dynamic power of the sound when played acoustically.
But if you’re playing plugged-in often and still want an acoustic sound, this system is one of the top options you could pick.
Martin 15 Series
The 15 series is a professional-line guitar designed to meet the old school standards of sound with new-age techniques in construction. Its higher price may seem scary, but you’d never need to buy another acoustic guitar with this one under your fingers.
Top, back, and sides are all made from solid mahogany. This wood is known for its richness and complexity of sound. Its deep tones and resonance make simple songs sound complex.
Even the neck is made from mahogany. Martin has quadrupled-down on this wood’s sound with great results.
Each piece of mahogany is bookmatched for a completely consistent tone free of deformities and air pockets. The wood’s density makes it one of the top choices for any good acoustic guitar.
Rosewood for the fingerboard is the classic choice and fits well under anyone’s fingers.
The bridge is also East Indian rosewood. This wood transmits vibrations directly into the body of the guitar which is what creates the resonance and power of the sound.
Poor quality bridges will lose a lot of the tone and dynamic energy of the vibrations, but not this bridge.
The neck shape and 14 open frets make this a guitar for classic acoustic playing with many techniques available to you regardless of genre.
Jasmine By Takamine
Since 1959, Takamine has been building guitars for the average person. Their goals of quality sound, easy playability, and affordable price have helped them gain traction with their products.
The company carries two main lines of guitars which may cause some confusion for those unaware of the situation. Their medium to high-quality guitars bear the name, Takamine.
They also have a line of good guitars made specifically with beginners and low price in mind. These guitars go by the name, Jasmine.
Both are from the same company and brand, but the labels are different. Jasmine guitars are still good for beginners and intermediate players despite what seems to be a distancing by the parent brand. In fact, Jasmine guitars are consistently on lists of the best beginner acoustic guitar brands.
Here are two of their acoustic options, one from Takamine and one from Jasmine.
Jasmine S34C NEX Acoustic Guitar
This beginner guitar looks professional and sounds quite good for the price. A laminate spruce top is certainly a step down from solid spruce, but the price drop may make it worth it.
Even with laminate, the guitar still has a clear sound. The back and sides are made from sapele which you see on higher-end guitars as well. It adds some depth to the sound.
A rosewood fingerboard is a surprise on a guitar at this price as well. This wood is easy for all players, but especially beginners, to play on. The wood responds well to fingerings.
The nut and saddle are made from synthetic bone. This fancy plastic is tough, but it will show wear over the years. It’s a good thing these are easily replaced.
The chrome tuners hold pitch well, and the shape harkens back to the 50s and 60s rock and roll.
While there are cheaper beginner guitars in the Jasmine line, this is one of the models I recommend to my students. You won’t outgrow this guitar anytime soon, and most people will enjoy this guitar for their whole paying careers.
Takamine Acoustic Guitar GD20-NS
This intermediate-advanced guitar is available at a medium-low price with a quality almost all amateur guitarists will be satisfied with their whole careers. The GD20-NS has many features you’d expect from a premium guitar at a lower price.
The top is solid cedar. This wood provides a clear sound close to that of spruce with a little more depth to the sound.
The sides add to this with their mahogany wood providing richness to its high, middle, and low range. The mahogany neck also has a 12” radius making it easier to grip and play.
The rosewood fingerboard makes it easy for your fingers to fly around the frets and play a solo of chord work. The upgrade to bone nut and saddle also helps the sound stay pure and in tune.
The classic, natural satin finish gives the guitar the classic acoustic look anyone would love.
Though not as much as Fender, Martin, or Taylor, Oscar-Schmidt is still one of the world leader’s in guitar making. Even with a stronger reputation for their electric guitars, Oscar-Schmidt’s acoustic options are one of the best sounding acoustic guitar brands.
Their acoustic guitars come in a variety of prices and lines with some geared towards newer players.
Here are two common options for early-career players which will last a long time.
Oscar Schmidt OG2CESM
The OG2CE is a great guitar at a medium-low price. This select model adds a little more to the guitar and looks amazing.
The sound of the guitar is full, though some expert and professional players may wish for a little more clarity and overtones in the sound.
The top is made from solid spruce which produces a clearer sound with some power. With sides and a back of spalted maple, the sound adds even more power and fullness.
A mahogany neck adds some richness to the sound. All of these add up to a great sounding guitar.
But then, you may wonder, why did you say the clarity and overtones were a little lacking compared to higher-end guitars?
The shape of the guitar features a cutaway for better solo playing, but it reduces some of the dynamic power you’d get from the acoustic sound.
Alone, this wouldn’t affect the sound too much, but with the addition of an electric pickup system, the natural pickup sound is further affected.
For those looking for a strictly acoustic sound, you may wish for more to your sound, but if you want an acoustic that works well with speaker systems and has the ability to solo well, this may be it.
Oscar Schmidt OD312CEB-A-U
The OD312 is another acoustic-electric option by Oscar Schimdt. This one comes in at any even more affordable price and makes a fine guitar for new players who want the potential to play both acoustically and to project the sound.
A select spruce top gives power to the sound while the mahogany back and sides mellow it out a bit in balance. The cutaway makes it easier to play up the fretboard.
This guitar is a 12-string acoustic, making it different from the other options in their article. 12 string guitars are tuned to the same 6 pitches as a standard guitar, but each pitch is doubled. The doubling effect adds a unique quality to the sound you may want to check out. This style is a favorite of the singer-songwriter era and folk style music.
You have the option of an engineered wood (wood composite) fretboard for less or the better rosewood at the medium price.
Now you know a little about how to navigate through the sea of products to find the best acoustic guitar brands. All of these brands are trustworthy and produce some solid instruments.
For the best quality acoustic guitar brands, check out Taylor, Martin, or Seagull. The sound from these guitars across every model is awesome.
When being budget conscious, check out Fender or Yamaha for a great value instrument.
Whatever you pick, match your playing level with the different options from above, especially if you’re a more advanced player. New players shouldn’t have a problem playing “above” their level as the guitar will just allow you to grow.