Who produces the best acoustic guitars in the world? What brand is great for beginners? What price range fits me well? The answer to these questions can be subjective. Everybody has their parameters to judge the quality of the instruments. To be purely objective, we will be looking at overall instrument quality, brand reputation, and popularity. With these parameters, it’s possible for us to at least come up with a list of the best acoustic guitar brands.
We’ve included a range of brands–some are known for making some of the world’s best-sounding guitars, and others are known for making economically priced guitars that swing well above their weight class in terms of build quality, tone and playability, Here are our top picks:
#5. Yamaha–The Best Value Guitars
You probably weren’t expecting to see Yamaha as our 5th pick on a list of top acoustic guitar brands. However, Yamaha is a brand that’s been praised for consistent quality and economical price range, allowing them to provide the best value for money. Most leading manufacturers have an economical line of guitars that caters to all budgets. Still, you often, end up paying more for the brand itself rather than paying for the quality of the instrument. And like us, if you ever played a poorly-made acoustic while learning, you know just how frustrating the endeavour can get.
However, while Yamaha guitars are recognised for value, many influential and legendary musicians have performed with Yamaha instruments, especially in the 70s such as John Lennon, John Denver, Bob Dylan and Carlos Santana.
Today, it can be quite rare to see experts playing Yamaha acoustics, but the brand remains an excellent choice for those looking out for quality construction at an affordable price. You also can find some of the high-end Yamaha acoustics at most major music stores.
#4. Gibson–For Players Who Want A Piece Of History
Most novices and regular people have likely heard of Gibson–it’s a brand name seen on stages and in studios around the world. Gibson has been making quality guitars for over 100 years. Professional & expert musicians widely use both their acoustic-guitars and their electric guitars.
Most Gibson acoustic-guitars is made of all solid wood, and even though Gibson is a large corporation, their acoustics are all still made by hand at their factory in Montana rather than a cheap, mass-produced guitar. The difference between a high-end, handmade one and factory mass-produced one can be significant.
#3. Guild–For Those Looking For A Player’s Guitar
Guild has been making and producing quality guitars since the 1950s. The guild as a brand, unfortunately, doesn’t have the mainstream popularity of Gibson or Fender yet, it’s still the preferred instrument of many professionals such as, legendary musician Doyle Dykes who plays a Guild guitar and has his signature model, a stunning grand orchestra guitar launched in 2012.
Guild guitars are frequently described as having a unique ‘sound’. To us, they have a brilliant sort of clarity about them, with punchy and natural-sounding bass.
Guild is a company that has been bought out several times, and its tumultuous history may explain why it isn’t as well known or as mainstream as Martin or Taylor. The company was also famous for producing electric archtop guitars during the 1950s and 1960s. As archtops fell out of favour, the guild began moving back to creating acoustics. The company’s focus on excellent build quality and top-class materials means that their guitars are a pure joy to play.
#2. Martin–Classic Tone, Classic Style
Martin is the manufacturer responsible for introducing the dreadnought body shape, X bracing, and other key innovations to the world of acoustic guitars. Their amazingly responsive dreadnoughts are often used as bluegrass instruments, and they sound great when being played fingerstyle, too. However, their rich tone lends itself well to just about any musical style.
The best-known Martin guitar is probably the D-28. This all solid spruce and rosewood dreadnought has both deep bass response and the sparkling nuances of rosewood. From the body shape to the tonewood configuration, it’s what a lot of people would consider the classical acoustic guitar.
Martin is a brand steeped in history, but their guitars aren’t without modern touches–acoustic-electric models have sophisticated electronics (usually by Fishman), and the brand has a connection to pop superstar Ed Sheeran. Because Sheeran often played Little Martins onstage, he collaborated with Martin to produce his signature, Little Martins.
#1. Taylor–Nuanced, Modern Sound
Taylor produces almost every conceivable type of acoustic guitar you could ask for. From ornately-inlaid limited editions to affordable, durable instruments, you can find something that’s perfect for most budgets and playing styles. They’re also refreshing to listen to. To our ears, Taylor guitars have a light, almost airy sound that suits modern singer-songwriters exceptionally well.
One thing that really sets a Taylor guitar apart is the Expression System pickups on acoustic-electric models. The pickup system sits behind the saddle (rather than under it). The pickup isn’t compressed like a standard under-saddle pickup; the sound ends up being more natural.
Taylor has also pioneered a new bracing style, which experts believe is a step up from traditional X bracing. Taylor’s V-class bracing is designed to let the soundboard vibrate more freely, resulting in improved sound and sustain. This video offers a demo of some of V-class Taylor guitars.
Whether you’re in search of a fast-playing bluegrass guitar or something to play relaxing slow songs on, one of these brands offers it. Let us know who your top picks/brands are? Add your thoughts in the comments section, and please share this article if you liked it!