Last updated: September 26, 2020

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From Woody Guthrie and the Delta blues musicians to the world-famous Ed Sheeran, the acoustic guitar has been the favorite instrument of artists for over a century. Offering a bright, vintage, yet timeless sound, it stands as a versatile guitar. While mastering it isn’t within everyone’s reach, learning to play it isn’t so complicated – hence its incredible popularity.

Let’s have a closer look at this fascinating instrument to help you find the best acoustic guitar on the market. Get ready to embark on a one-way journey into the very heart of our existence: music. Once you know which model to choose, you will be a step closer to capturing any and all audiences.

Key Facts

  • Opt for a jumbo, dreadnought, or nex guitar if you want to play rhythms. If solos are what you’re into, you will prefer a cutaway model, for instance. Think about this aspect carefully, as the sound will be completely different.
  • If you are buying your very first acoustic guitar and are only starting to learn to play, don’t invest too much money. The road to mastering this instrument is exciting but very challenging. Don’t spend a lot of money on something you might end up giving up.
  • If you want a taste of musical glory and intend on playing in front of an audience, you will be better off choosing an electro-acoustic guitar. While standard acoustic guitars can be amplified with an additional microphone, this is particularly unpleasant for both you and the sound engineers.

Our Selection: The Best Acoustic Guitars on the U.S. Market

These instruments are so versatile that you can use them to play ballads just as well as to liven up a party with your friends. However, acoustic guitars come in a variety of styles, which makes this purchase a real challenge. In the following section, you will discover our selection of the best models currently available on the market:

Best Starter Kit for Beginners

This incredibly affordable set will give you everything you need if you’re taking your first steps in the guitar-playing world. This 19-fret acoustic guitar comes with 2 full sets of steel strings and a digital tuner to get you started right away. In addition, you will find a carrying case, a guitar pick, and a shoulder strap in this starter kit. Available in 4 color sets, this is a fantastic model to initiate you to the greatest instrument of all.

Best Electro-Acoustic Guitar

Are you ready to take it to the next level and invest a little more? Then you can opt for this all-wood electro-acoustic guitar, with which you will have more versatility. This set includes strings, several picks, and a gig bag, among other accessories. But what really makes this model stand out is its amplifier that will have you rocking all night long. Are you ready to turn the volume up for your next solos?

Best Fender Acoustic Guitar

Sometimes sticking to reputed manufacturers is the safest way to buying a quality product, and this is exactly what you’d be doing if you opted for the FA-115. Fender is a staple in the music industry, and this beginner bundle comes with a 20-fret acoustic guitar and several accessories to see you on your musical way. It even comes with a DVD to help you get started and learn a few chords from the get-go.

Best Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Last but not least, this dreadnought-style acoustic guitar is quite simply Amazon’s Choice in the category. It has received high ratings and quality reviews from past users, and it is the ideal model to play rhythms or jump into the Americana genre. This versatile steel-string instrument offers a powerful sound with an emphasis on bass sounds, and it’s another great choice for music lovers.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Acoustic Guitars

Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Paul Simon, Michael Hedges, or Elliott Smith. The list of musicians who have helped bring acoustic guitars to the front of the stage – literally and metaphorically – is endless. You are probably dreaming of joining them if you’re reading our article – if only in your own garden. But before you can make a claim for fame, it is time for you to learn more about acoustic guitars.

Acoustic guitars can sometimes be used with nylon strings.
(Source: Pelikh: 103427517/ 123rf.com)

What is the difference between an acoustic guitar and a classical guitar?

An experienced musician might laugh upon hearing this question, but it is essential for a beginner to know the answer. Both instruments are often simply referred to as guitars, unlike electric guitars which are always called as such. In the table below, you will find all the information you need to know how to differentiate these instruments clearly:

Acoustic guitars Classical guitars
They tend to use steel strings. They exclusively work with nylon strings.
The sound is best suited to styles such as pop, rock, blues, country, and folk. They focus on the interpretation of classical pieces and traditional folklore.
These guitars produce a bright, deep, and powerful sound. They offer a sweet, light, and dry sound.
Their strings are characterized by greater tension and are, therefore, harder to press. The strings have less tension, so they are easier to press.
The neck is narrower, so the strings are closer to each other. The neck is wider, with more space between each string.
Treble notes are more noticeable. Bass sounds are more present.
Jimi HendrixAmerican Guitar Legend
“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”

You should also note that:

  • Acoustic guitars can sometimes be used with nylon strings, which gives them a hybrid sound between classical and acoustic guitars.
  • There are two main types of classical guitars: the standard classical guitars and the flamenco guitars – the latter present variations in design.

There are different types of electro-acoustic guitars.
(Source: Bogicevic: 102429025/ 123rf.com)

What kind of acoustic guitars are there?

The world of acoustic guitars is extremely wide, from a few bucks to thousands of dollars. In fact, we could dedicate a whole article for every type out there. But we know that you’re here to choose the right guitar and start jamming away, so we have prepared a quick recap of the different options available to you:

  • Folk: The acoustic guitars par excellence, they are small with a bright sound in spite of their lower resonance. They are ideal for people with little hands and tend to be very light and easy to play. Martin is one of the most popular manufacturers of folk guitars.
  • Parlor: These models are very similar to classical guitars, albeit slightly narrower. Much like folk ones, they stand out for being very comfortable to play, as well as offering a sweet sound with dominant treble notes. This is the perfect option for playing blues or arpeggios.
  • Concert and grand concert: These acoustic guitars have very sharp curves, as well as a deep body. They are generally small and therefore suitable for beginners and most children. On the other hand, their bright sound makes them ideal for fingerpicking-style songs.
  • Auditorium: Acoustic guitars of this type stand out for their larger size. Their main characteristic is the search for a powerful sound with the perfect balance between the different tones. Auditorium models are used a lot in Americana styles like country, blues, and folk.
  • Dreadnought: Invented by the Martin brand, they are incredibly versatile instruments with a powerful sound. They have most often been used to play bluegrass or by rhythmic guitarists. The bass notes are particularly noticeable with this type of guitar, which features a blunt body.
  • Jumbo: Created by Gibson, this type of acoustic guitars was a response to Martin’s dreadnought models. They are large, powerful-sounding instruments. Their soundboard focuses on projecting as much bass and midrange notes as possible, and they are ideal for using a pick.
  • Nex: Last but not least, we find the next guitars. Gibson developed the jumbo, and Martin the dreadnought; Japanese brand Takamine did the same with these instruments. They are similar to jumbo guitars but smaller in size, making them very easy to play and extremely versatile. They are very popular for playing pop and rock music.

What are the best guitar cutaways?

Once again, this question may seem absurd to experts, but it is vital for novices. Guitars with cutaway feature a hole in the soundboard, at the bottom of the neck. This type of guitar is designed to facilitate playing the upper frets. This is why they are favorites among guitarists who like to play treble notes and perform solos.

Much like electric guitars, electro-acoustic models can amplify sounds via a cable.
(Source: Kuvaiev: 24556798/ 123rf.com)

What is an electro-acoustic guitar?

This isn’t a type of acoustic guitar per se, but rather a model that allows you to amplify its sound. While you can do so with any guitar using a microphone, this is a bit outdated. Electro-acoustic guitars make for more accessible amplification with the use of a cable, like that of electric guitars.

There are two types of electro-acoustic guitars: active and passive. The former need batteries but offer equalizers and are much easier to set up. On the contrary, the latter are lighter since they do not integrate the same features as active models. Their downside is that they are more difficult to equalize, depend more on the soundboard, and tend to offer a more metallic sound.

Did you know that some guitarists apply rosehip oil to their fingernails? This hardens them, allowing musicians to perform arpeggios better.

What are the advantages of acoustic guitars?

If you have made it this far, you are seriously considering getting your own acoustic guitar to start jamming. Whether your goal is to be the next Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, or Cat Stevens, or you are just looking for a first guitar, you have an incredible range of instruments to choose from on the American market. If you still have any doubts regarding acoustic guitars, you can compare their pros and cons in the table below:

Advantages
  • They are the best option for developing technique
  • You won”t need as many accessories as with an electric guitar
  • You can find very affordable models
  • They allow you to play both electric and classical guitar songs
  • Their sound is bright, powerful, and deep
  • They are much easier to amplify than electric guitars
  • You can play solos, or with a band
Disadvantages
  • The strings can be a bit painful for your fingers at first
  • They require more care than electric guitars

Buyer’s Guide

If you like to roam music festivals around the United States – or the world, you have probably witnessed some of the best guitarists out there rocking on their acoustic guitars and thrilling the crowds. You want to be like them, and we totally get that. To reach your goals, you first have to buy the guitar that will accompany you on your journey. Pay attention to the following criteria and be on your way to stardom!

Level

As we mentioned earlier, don’t invest too much if you’re getting your first acoustic guitar. You can find very affordable options that will still offer a quality sound. Learning to play an instrument is a real marathon that requires a lot of dedication and motivation. Don’t spend thousands of dollars if you’re not sure that you will still want to play in a few months.

Depending on the level you have, you will want to opt for a specific width (fretboard) and length (scale). In addition to your skills, your own anatomy will influence your decision. If you are a beginner and have smaller hands, you should prefer a more manageable guitar. On the contrary, you will favor a larger fretboard and neck if you have long fingers and a lot of experience.

There are two main types of classical guitars: the standard classical guitars and the flamenco guitars.
(Source: Sukanant: 66942308/ 123rf.com)

Style

Although you can play virtually any genre with your acoustic guitar, every model is more suited to a specific set of genres. If you like to play arpeggios, for instance, you won’t make the most of your instrument by buying a jumbo acoustic guitar. For solos, on the other hand, you will need a model with a cutaway or with at least fourteen frets instead of twelve:

If you want to You must use
Be a rhythmic player A Gibson jumbo or her small Epiphone sisters
Play arpeggios like Ralph McTell A folk, concert, or dreadnought acoustic guitar
Play blues like Rory Gallagher An auditorium acoustic guitar
Drive the crowd wild like Ed Sheeran A nex acoustic guitar with as many frets as possible
Play captivating solos A cutaway guitar as many frets as possible

Materials

If you’re just starting out, we recommend you purchase a laminate wood acoustic guitar. While their sound isn’t necessarily inferior in quality, these models offer one great advantage for beginners: their affordability. Solid wood acoustic guitars, on the other hand, stand out for their clearer and more durable sound, but they naturally require a more significant investment from your part.

Acoustic or Electro-Acoustic

If embarrassment is your biggest enemy, a standard acoustic guitar will do the trick. However, if you want to play gigs with your band in front of an audience, it will be essential for you to purchase an electro-acoustic guitar. Remember that active models require batteries and are more versatile, while passive ones are lighter but can present difficulties with certain equipment.

Cutaway

You may not enjoy keeping a steady rhythm very much or playing more romantic tunes like Nick Drake. In that case, this means that you prefer jamming the songs of others with unforgettable solos as icing on the cake. Your best option will be to opt for an acoustic guitar with fourteen frets and, if possible, a cutaway format (with a hole in the soundboard).

Summary

The acoustic guitar has played an essential role in some of the greatest songs in the history of music. In fact, these instruments have also been fundamental to many folk songs since the end of the 19th century. Its bright, deep, and powerful sound seems to have made its way to the heart of music lovers around the globe. This is probably why you want to join in and get jamming!

But before you can choose the right model for your needs, you have to know the different types of acoustic guitars available out there. The value for money and overall quality are critical, and you will probably want to purchase an aesthetically pleasing model. You should also take into account your level, the style you want to play, and whether you prefer keeping to the rhythm or playing fantastic solos.

It’s your time to hit the stage. If you enjoyed our shopping guide on acoustic guitars and found it helpful, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Sudthangtum: 40950045/ 123rf.com)

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