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Best Acoustic Guitar

There are few things in life that yield benefits as great as those that you can receive from being able to play an instrument, and there are few instruments out there that are as impressive and as beautiful as the guitar, especially if you’re looking to show off. The guitar has been around for hundreds of years, and stringed instruments similar to the guitar have been around even longer.  Thankfully, we’ve moved on from the days where we used various disgusting substances for strings, and into a golden age where anyone with a few hundred dollars can get a decent guitar shipped to their home.

Best Acoustic Guitar – Comparison Table

This article is going to take a look at a few of the better guitars that are out there, and to rate them, to help you to figure out if they’re the guitar that you want to spend your hard-earned money on or not.  We’ve got a lot of guitars to get through, so before we get into an in-depth review of the guitars in question, let us first take a general look at them through a table. The table shows the best acoustic guitars out there right now in 2018.

NameFretsWoodPickup
Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany back and sidesL. R. Baggs Element Pickup
Gibson J-200 Standard Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top, Eastern Curly Maple back and sidesFishman Ellipse Aura Electronics Package
Gibson J-45 Standard Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top and Honduras Mahogany back and sidesL.R. Baggs Element Pickup
Martin HD28 Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top and East Indian Rosewood back and sidesNone
Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar20All MahoganyNone
Martin D-35 Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top and East Indian Rosewood back and sidesNone
Taylor 114ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top and Layered Sapele back and sidesTaylor ES2 Pickup
Tayler 314ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top and Layered Sapele back and sidesTaylor Expression System 2 Pickup
Taylor 814ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce top, Rosewood backTaylor Expression System 2 Electronics
Guild D-55 Acoustic Guitar20Sitka Spruce Top and Rosewood back and sidesNone
Gretsch 5022CWFE Rancher Falcon Jumbo Cutaway Acoustic Guitar21Spruce top, Laminated back and sidesFishman Sonicore Pickups
Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic Cutaway Acoustic Guitar20Laminated Spruce top, Laminated Maple body and backSingle-Coil Gretsch Pickup
Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher Fideli’Tron Acoustic Guitar16Spruce top, Laminated Mahogany bodyFideli’Tron Pickup
Takamine GJ72CE-BSB Jumbo Cutaway Acoustic Guitar20Spruce top, Maple backTK40D Preamp

This table shows you just a small amount of the massive amount of information that has to go into picking the best acoustic guitar for you and your own needs.  Acoustic guitars these days are made by dozens of reputable companies that are located all around the world.  Today, many American guitar companies are outsourcing some of their production to China, Japan, Mexico, and Indonesia, and the product that they make can be argued to be not as high quality as they should be.

To be quite honest, if you are looking to find a good guitar, you are going to need to do a fair amount of research.  There are so many different guitars, and different variants of guitars, that you are unlikely to ever encounter all the lines currently being offered by any guitar company, let alone all the common guitar models being offered in the US and Europe.  With this being the case, picking out the best guitar for you has become a much more difficult task.  But luckily, I’m here to help.   The table above should have given you a decent idea of what it is that you are looking for in a guitar, and now we can do a bit of an in-depth look at the guitars that are on the market right now.

1

Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar – The Red ‘Burst Model

The Gibson Hummingbird is an acoustic guitar that Gibson has been making for over half of a century at this point.  It was first introduced way back in 1960, and it has been sold continuously since then.  Back when it was introduced, it was Gibson’s second most expensive acoustic guitar (the most expensive, of course, was the Gibson J-200, which is a jumbo guitar with an ornate set of inlays, so that makes sense), and one of the most expensive dreadnought guitars on the market at the time. 

It has remained a popular guitar for a couple of reasons.  Of course, when it was first launched, the ‘flower power’ generation was just beginning to get interested in making music, and that probably helped, especially since the pickguard comes with an ornate inlay depicting a hummingbird getting nectar out of a flower.  But there’s also the fact that as an acoustic guitar goes, it was actually a very good one, and one that had a good sound to it.

Notable musicians who utilized the Gibson Hummingbird include the eternal Keith Richards, who brought one back to England in 1964, and used it to write some of their longest popular and most-famous songs they ever performed, like Jumping Jack Flash.  Of course, it was pretty much an ever-present guitar during the 60s and 70s, because it was a good mix of American engineering and hippie aesthetic.

How does it sound?  As far as Gibson dreadnought guitars, it sounds amazing, no matter when it was made.  The top is Sitka spruce, and the sides and back are made out of mahogany these days (although back then, obviously, the materials were a bit different).  It has some pretty fancy trapezoidal inlays, too, which make it look much fancier, and they also make it easier to play (if you can’t see those inlays while you’re playing and trying to hit a specific fret, there is no chance you will be able to see any inlay ever).

Modern Hummingbirds from Gibson include a pickup made by L.R. Baggs, a company with a strong history in the acoustic pickup market.  Of course, depending on the model that you get, you can get them made without a pickup, but why?  Having a pickup can be handy, even if you never really plan to do anything but play this guitar acoustically.

And when it comes to aesthetic beauty, there are few guitars that come close to offering what the Hummingbird can offer.  I mean, have you seen that sunburst?  Yellow to orange to red, just a beautiful look for any guitar.

If you have the money and you’re looking for a dreadnought that sounds good and plays even better, this is a great guitar for you, and I think it can be argued that Gibson is the best acoustic guitar brand, or at least is on the short list of the best brands.

PROS
  • You have to love that beautiful burst look
  • L.R. Baggs pickup is a nice bonus
  • The guitar sounds beautiful, and when professionally set up, it plays easily
CONS
  • The price is steep, but it’s a Gibson, and you’re paying for the name and the quality.
2

Gibson J-200 Standard Acoustic Guitar – Gibson’s Jumbo Offering

Up above, I made mention of the fact that the Gibson J-200 was the most expensive acoustic guitar line of its time, even when they introduced the Gibson Hummingbird (and honestly, even when they introduced the Gibson Dove, it remained the most expensive model they offered).  As far as standard guitars currently offered by Gibson go, the J-200 jumbo is still the most expensive guitar that they offer, usually clocking in around three thousand dollars.

Jumbo guitars, as a general rule, are likely to have a lot more volume and a much deeper tone to them.  Of course, that can be varied by what they’re made out of, but if you’re looking to get sound that will fill up not just a room, but a hall, or sound that will stand out in a busy orchestra, you’re absolutely going to want to get a jumbo guitar.  The J-200 will probably always be made by Gibson, seeing as they’ve continued to make the guitar since they first offered it in 1937.  At this point, they make a handful of different J-200 models, but the standard still stands out as being a great option and one that doesn’t cost a lot more for things you don’t need.

The shape alone helps it to make a lot more noise and to reverberate a bit more, but it is the materials that go into making it that help to set it apart.  Of course, there’s the Sitka Spruce for the top, which is almost a standard in the guitar world, outside of a very few higher-end models, but the back and sides are made of Eastern Curly Maple.  Combine these woods together, and you get a guitar with a rich, deep sound that can be used in everything from country music to folk music, and even in acoustic punk rock.

If you’re dead set on having a pickup, you’re in luck; the Gibson J-200 Standard comes with a Fishman Eclipse Aura Electronics package, which is a decent pickup in its own right, and can provide that warm sound you’re looking for through the speakers you may be playing through.

If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar under 500, this isn’t the guitar for you.  If you’re looking for a serious, heirloom-quality, professional-grade acoustic guitar, though, the Gibson J-200 Standard is a good choice for you.

PROS
  • Jumbo size means a lot more volume and a richer tone
  • Beautiful and ornate guitar on its own
  • Fishman pickup and system is a great way to make sure that you will be able to play through an amp if you feel the need to
CONS
  • The price is quite high
3

Gibson J-45 Standard Acoustic Guitar – The Travelling Model

Now, to begin with, there are better color options than the one in this picture.  This tobacco/ vintage sunburst look, it’s a cool look when you’ve got it in a Les Paul or some other electric guitar, but when it comes to acoustic guitars, I do not much care for it, personally,

Anyhow, when it comes to the J-45, you’re going to find that it is a decent guitar if you’re looking for a dreadnought that you can take with you everywhere.  Another nice touch is that it is not nearly as expensive as the last two that we reviewed, and honestly, it is generally cheaper than the other Gibson acoustic models.

As with all the guitars we’ve reviewed thus far, it has a solid Sitka Spruce top.  The back and sides, on the other hand, are Honduran Mahogany, which gives it a surprisingly rich tone and sound for the price and the size.  Not to say that it is going to sound as good or as rich as the jumbo up above, but let’s be honest here; how many people want to spend that kind of money if they do not need that Jumbo sound, especially when they can save a decent amount of money and get a decent sound quality elsewhere?  Precisely.

Just like the Gibson Hummingbird, the J-45 these days comes with an L.R. Baggs pickup.  As I’ve said before, these are quality pickups.  In fact, in guitars that don’t have pickups already installed, one of my favorite pickups to install is a simple screw-in L.R. Baggs pickup that goes in the sound hole and is installed by where the neck ends. 

All things considered, the only problem that I have with this guitar is the color that they’re trying to sell most of them in, but if you look around, you can find it in a better color. Other than that, if you’re looking for a decent Gibson acoustic guitar that you will be happy with bringing around with you, and what is possibly the best guitar for beginners that Gibson makes (Gibson themselves, not Epiphone on behalf of Gibson or anything like that), then this is a great guitar for you to take a look at.

PROS
  • Well designed and with great wood in it
  • Sounds great for the size
  • L.R. Baggs pickups are always great
CONS
  • Gibson name, Gibson guitar, means Gibson price, and that is a pretty high price
4

Martin HD-28 Acoustic Guitar – A Classic Martin Solution

When I think Martin guitars, made by the fine folks at Martin & Co Guitars, this is pretty much what I think of.  A simple looking, fairly plain, dreadnought body, with a simple neck with understated inlays and a blocky head.  That’s not a complaint, that’s just saying that Martin does simple-looking guitars, and they do them well.

Martin guitars have been used by many famous guitarists, but I would argue that none of their users are anywhere near as famous as Johnny Cash, who played mostly on Martin guitars.  That’s right; the Man in Black, when he had the money to go out and pick his own guitars, spent his money on Martin products. 

Personally, the only difference that I find from Martin guitars is a deeper sound than provided by, for example, a Gibson guitar, as well as the fact that they seem to have a tougher action, meaning that it seems to take a bit more force to get the strings to vibrate properly.  But all these things can be addressed simply by having it professionally set up, which is not an expensive thing to do, and can be done by your local luthier (do not take it to Guitar center unless you know their luthier.  Trust me on this).  

The Martin HD-28 that we’re here to talk about today is based on the design of the Martin D-28, which was first offered in the 1930s.  The D-28 was beloved for its booming tone and its ability to project.  The HD-28 improves on the standard D-28 in a few ways, though.

To begin with, it uses scalloped braces in its design, which means that it has a more open sound than that Martin D-28.  That’s really the only difference when it comes to the structure, although there are a few cosmetic differences in looks, but it’s the sound that matters most, not the look of the guitar, for the most part.

If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar with a pickup, you’re going to be disappointed, as they do not come in the Martin HD-28 at all (in fact, most Martin products do not come with pickups standard).  However, if you’ve got the money to spend and are dedicated to getting a pickup for your acoustic guitar, you could always buy a Martin and then have a pickup put in it by the local luthier.  And let’s face it, Martin guitars are always among the best acoustic guitars, and Martin is one of the best acoustic guitar brands A-Z.

PROS
  • Beautiful guitar with beautiful sound
  • Simple guitar that plays well when it has been set up properly
  • Martin quality, and getting to own a guitar Johnny Cash would’ve used, are both amazing
CONS
  • No pickups in the guitar unless you pay to install your own
5

Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar – The Mahogany Martin Option

This is a rare guitar because not only is it a Martin, but it is a Martin made entirely out of mahogany wood.  Believe it or not, in the modern acoustic guitar market, the vast majority of the tops of the guitars are made out of one common material; Sitka Spruce.  It’s a quality spruce, and people tend to find that it is easy to work with, so they use it a lot.

But what if someone had the crazy idea to go out and to make a guitar whose body was entirely mahogany?  Insanity, right? Well, not really.  Martin had that idea quite some time ago, and their Martin 000-15M is a great guitar that a lot of people love.

The way that it really stands out, though, is the use of mahogany in all parts of the body. It leads to a richer tone and to a more booming sound, and it also makes the guitar a lot easier to spot when it’s in a rack or on the wall or whatever the case may be. 

Plus, let’s just face it; in a world that is filled with guitars that are either painted or are spruce on top, the addition of a new color scheme, a natural color scheme, is something that is welcome.  This naturally dark, brown, rich wood looks amazing when it is out of the case. 

But how does it sound?  Does it have that deep sound that a lot of the Martin dreadnought style guitars have? Yes, yes it does.  It sounds amazing, and it looks just as good. 

The only real loss here is that, as with most Martin acoustic guitars, they do not come with a pickup standard.  This means that they cannot ever be considered as the best acoustic electric guitar that was ever made, and sadly, if you are looking to find the right acoustic electric guitar for you, you must keep looking.  But as far as Martin acoustics go, this one stands out nicely, and it is a great guitar for anyone looking for a guitar with a decent sound to it.  Just remember, buying a Martin guitar means that you’re going to spend some money, and these things tend to hover in the two thousand dollar and up range if you can find them (older models, of course, will cost much more).

PROS
  • Well put together and looks just beautiful with its mahogany top
  • Rich tone
  • Martin Quality
CONS
  • Action could be a bit easier to play
  • No pickups included, which means that if you need a pickup, you have to install it on your own or else buy a different guitar
6

Martin D-35 Acoustic Guitar – The Mid-Level Martin

The Martin guitar company does not make cheap guitars, and this one is not cheap either.  But what it does do is make quality guitars that are simple, even understated.  Unlike the Gibson guitars, they’re not made for show, but rather for playing and for sound, and the Martin D-35 continues that history.

As with almost every other guitar on the market, the D-35 is made with a fantastic piece of Sitka Spruce on top, and then on the bottom is made out of the finest East Indian Rosewood. This wood comes together to make a guitar that has a fantastic tone, and it looks beautiful and simple, as well.

So, what does this guitar offer that allows it to make sense of the price that it demands (often around the three thousand dollar level and up)?  Well, there’s the East Indian Rosewood, of course, that helps to make it worth a lot more money than the others tend to be.  But more than that, it’s just got a better tone and a warmer sound (again, due to the use of that East Indian Rosewood). 

Who is this guitar good for?  What kind of music is the guitar made for?  Well, it can be good for anything that needs a real presence from the acoustic guitar.  In general, you find that people are happy to use it for Bluegrass or Folk music, but it can also make a decent guitar for someone looking to play Country music, and even a decent acoustic guitar for those looking to engage in some nice acoustic punk rock jamming. 

Yet again, it’s a Martin guitar, and the means that it does not likely come with a set of pickups or anything like that.  If you are looking to make sure that you will be able to utilize amplifiers and PA systems and the like, then you may want to either go out and get another guitar, or you may want to get a pickup that you can put in the sound hole of the guitar. Of course, you are also able to go out and get a luthier to put a pickup in it, if it is so important to you.

No matter what, though, you are going to find that this Martin guitar can offer you a tone quality that you just can’t beat.

PROS
  • Beautiful Martin design, simple and understated
  • East Indian Rosewood gives it a great sound quality
  • Heirloom quality, the kind of thing that you could keep in the family as long as it’s taken care of
CONS
  • No pickup included
  • The price is pretty high, but so are all the guitars that we’ve looked at thus far
7

Taylor 114ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar – The Low-Cost Taylor

Having played guitar for almost two decades, for the longest time I was not a Taylor guitar fan.  I preferred other brands, and indeed, I didn’t even give the Taylors a chance.  Since then, I have come to know that they’re a lot better than I thought they were, and they’re definitely worth the money, even though they have the single cutaway that I personally find to be an ugly look on an acoustic guitar.

My personal prejudice about the Taylor was misplaced.  They’re great guitars, and they really do provide you with booming sound.  But even better than that, they manage to provide that sound at a decent price, something like half or less of the cost that you are going to end up having to spend on the guitars that we have looked at thus far.

The 114ce is made of the usual top material, the Sitka Spruce, as you should expect.  But the sides are made of a different material, a cheaper material known as Sapele, which is layered and bent to provide the look of the back and the sides, and to provide the sound that you will need.

How is the sound?  It’s fantastic.  For the price that you’re going to be paying for this 114ce, it is much better than you could get out of most comparably priced guitars, and if you find one that is used, you will be getting an even better deal.  Unlike all of the offerings from Martin, these DO, in fact, have pickups.  The 114ce comes with the Taylor Expression System 2 pickup, which will allow you to not only enjoy the sound of your guitar acoustically, but will also allow you to get the sound quality that you need when playing through a speaker.  Something that also bears mentioning is that the Taylor ES2 system has the controls on the outside, up by the neck, which is a great benefit.  For those who don’t know, many pickups in acoustic guitars, especially in the higher-end acoustic guitars, require that you reach inside the sound hole to manipulate the various settings.  That can be a hassle, especially for someone that has large hands. 

This offering from Taylor guitars is one that you are bound to be happy with, and one that you will enjoy playing for a long time to come. Definitely worth the price!

PROS
  • Decent price, and you get a lot of guitar for it
  • Great tone, and good volume, too
  • ES2 pickups from Taylor, and controls that you don’t have to reach into your guitar to get to
CONS
  • Cutaway. The cutaway in acoustic guitars just looks ugly and unnatural
8

Taylor 314ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar – The Mid-Level Taylor Offering

The Taylor 114ce is kind of their entry-level offering in the ‘ce’ line, the Grand Auditorium line that they seem to make a lot of their money off of. The 114ce tends to run around eight hundred bucks, give or take, which is pretty good for a guitar of that quality.  On the other hand, the 314ce runs more in the range of a thousand and a half dollars, give or take, and it is a lot more of a ‘professional grade’ guitar.

If you’re just going by the pictures, yes, it looks a lot alike the cheaper entry-level 114ce.  That’s the point of them all being in the same line, to make sure that they are at least somewhat alike, after all.  And when you look at what they’re made out of, it is pretty similar.  Sitka Spruce for the top (because apparently, it is almost a crime in the guitar producing community to make a guitar that does NOT include a Sitka Spruce top), and the bottom and sides are satin Sapele. 

When it comes to sound, you’re going to be getting a bit better sound, but you will still be getting the same kind of warmth out of this guitar that you would be getting out of the 114ce, just more warmth, and a bit better tone.

The pickups are the same as those that are in the Taylor 114ce, as well, which is fantastic. They continue to be a well-designed set of pickups, and as with the pickups in the 114ce, the 314ce’s pickups are capable of being controlled without ever having to put your hand into the sound hole.  I know that this doesn’t seem like a big hassle to anyone, but try changing the settings on your pickups on the fly while you’re playing live, and see how big of a deal that becomes.  I guarantee that if you ever have to do this once, you will not want to have to attempt to do it again.

So, if you’re looking for a mid-range Taylor, goof for musicians who are playing in the intermediate to professional levels, and one that you can be happy to take around with you everywhere you go, you are going to be happy with choosing the Taylor 314ce.

PROS
  • A quality guitar for a decent price, still cheaper than most Gibson and Martin offerings
  • A great pickup system
  • Decent construction
CONS
  • Still has that ‘Venetian style’ cutaway that just doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing
9

Taylor 814ce Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar – The High-End Taylor Model

This one looks a lot different than the other ones if you look closely, and I assure you, I have not used a picture of the same guitar three times.  Trust me on that.

When it comes to noticeable difference, the 814ce has a much more ornate inlay system, yet still not one that strikes you as gaudy, which is not something that can be said for most of the fine guitars offered by Gibson (we can all agree that they’re great guitars, sure, but how much money is being wasted on putting in inlays for the Hummingbird and the J-200?  How much does that work add to the price?!). When it all comes down to it, I would think that most people would want to have that money go into making their guitar a little more ornate and putting in some better woods, rather than putting in expensive inlays and the like.

And let’s be clear here; the price of this guitar tends to hover around the price of a nice Gibson J-200.  Of course, it is superior in a couple of ways, and that’s coming from someone who really enjoys a good Gibson J-200.  While the 114ce and the 314ce were made of the same materials, the Sitka Spruce and the Sapele, the 814ce is made of Sitka Spruce on the top, and then it has beautiful Rosewood for the sides and the back.

What does that wood do?  Well, that warm sound that you get from the Grand Auditorium line, it continues to get better and better as warmer and more exotic wood are being utilized, and the Rosewood is one of those woods that it’s hard to get much warmer than. Not trying to suggest that the difference between these guitars is minor, but the Rosewood makes a huge difference in sound quality.

It also has the same pickups that you get in the entire series, the Taylor Expression System Pickup 2, and that is a great thing.  And yes, it continues to have the controls and settings for that pickup on the outside of the guitar, so there is no need for you to be sticking your hand into the sound hole to manipulate your pickup.

If you’re looking for a professional grade guitar from the Taylor ce Grand Auditorium line, this is a great option that you will be happy you spent your money on.  Honestly, if you need a guitar at all, and you have the money to spend, this is a great option, and one that you are not likely to regret spending your money on at any point.

PROS
  • Beautiful Rosewood back provides an even warmer sound
  • Booming projection and tone, you can light up a room with this thing
  • Great pickup system, continues to be great. Still nice to not have to put your hand in the sound hole in order to get your pickup situated properly
CONS
  • Still has that ‘Venetian cutaway’. Doesn’t add anything to the guitar, and I would think that it just dampens the sound quality
10

Guild D-55 Acoustic Guitar – The Undervalued Option

Guild guitars is one of those companies that makes a great product, and yet never seems to get any love.  And is it hard to see how that can happen? They’re competing in a market against a lot of names that have been there for quite some time.  Gibson and Fender, for example, have a lot of history and a  lot of trust in their brand name, and it can be hard to break into that kind of market. 

That’s a sad thing, too, because the Guild acoustic guitars are generally good products.  I would suggest not getting one that doesn’t have either the Pillar and Crown logo or the Ornate G logo (like this one has), though, because of late, Guild shipped a lot of the production for their cheaper models across the oceans to China.  Not to say that China doesn’t make a decent guitar, but if you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar that you can find, you are definitely going to want something made by craftsmen, rather than something mass produced in a factory.

The Guild D-55 is a beautiful guitar, and as far as dreadnoughts go, it has the booming and warm sound that you can expect from a good one.  It is equipped with Sitka Spruce top and with rosewood back and sides, and these woods, of course, come together and sound wonderfully.

Furthermore, the inlays are ornate without feeling like they’re overly gaudy, which is a nice departure from the way that Gibson makes their inlays look.  The only real downside to buying this guitar is that, alas, it does not come with pickups installed, although it is an easy thing for you to go out and to get your own pickups installed.

If you’re looking for a beautiful guitar, one made in America, and one that has a quality sound, yet isn’t from a brand that has become commonplace, then a Guild D-55 might be just the answer to your needs. Plus, look at that thing; it looks gorgeous.

PROS
  • Beautiful guitar with a beautiful burst
  • Inlays are also good looking, really
  • Rosewood and a warm sound combine to make this guitar sound as amazing as it looks
CONS
  • No pickup included, although it does come with a Guild hard shell case, so that’s a nice touch.
11

Gretsch Rancher Falcon Jumbo Cutaway Acoustic Guitar – The White Falcon Acoustic

If you know anything about electric guitars, you probably know about the Gretsch White Falcon, a guitar that started out basically as Gretsch luthiers trying to show off what they could do and that turned into their longest-running high-end line. Well, this 5022CWFE acoustic guitar from Gretsch is basically what happens when someone stares at a White Falcon too long, and then says to themselves ‘hey, why don’t we just make this into an acoustic guitar?

That person was insane, but the guitar that they ended up making is actually a surprisingly good one.  Which is weird, when you understand that in order to achieve that, they had to strip away a lot of the things that made the White Falcon such a famously loved electric guitar.

The Gretsch White Falcon electric guitar is designed around two electric pickups of some sort, they can be different depending on the particular model that we’re discussing.  Then, of course, there’s the Bigsby tailpiece as well.  The White Falcon acoustic guitar, though, has none of these things.

What it does have is a Sitka spruce top and a laminated back, along with a White Falcon-style pick guard.  It also has Fishman Sonicore pickups, which are not only a quality pickup, but one that will absolutely do what you need it to do.  Furthermore, the controls for the pickup are on the outside of the guitar, not the inside, which means that you do not have to dig through the inside of your guitar in order to change the settings on your pickups on the fly. 

So, if you’re looking for an unusual acoustic guitar, the fine folks at Gretsch have an interesting product to offer you, and one that it is shockingly good.

PROS
  • Sonicore pickups included, and pretty much any acoustic pickup made by Fishman is going to be a quality product
  • Looks like an acoustic version of the famous White Falcon
  • Sounds good, even when not plugged into an amp
CONS
  • Kind of a weird guitar all around, and the cutaway doesn’t really seem to add much
12

Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic Cutaway Acoustic Guitar – The Old-School Model

Before the hollow body acoustic guitar became the hollow body electric guitar, there was a kind of middle step in the whole process. This is that middle step, remade and reproduced for those of us who are living in the new century.

You see, before the electric guitar became a real thing, before the Les Pauls and the Fender Telecaster (at the time, released under the name ‘Fender Broadcaster’) and the like took off, people were playing these hollow body guitars when the idea of the electric pickup came up.  So what did they do?  They affixed the pickups to their guitars via any means necessary, and then they put simple controls for the pickups on their guitar, again, wherever they had space.

That makes this guitar, the Gretsch Synchromatic, something of an interesting piece of history.  You see, the guitar is basically the original electric/acoustic guitar.  You don’t have to play through the electric pickup, because the body is hollow and the entire guitar is made to reverberate when you play it. 

The included pickup is a single-coil Gretsch pickup that is similar to the pickups included in Gretsch guitars back when they first began to make electric guitars and electric pickups.  It has decent sound quality, but you have to remember that it is a basic pickup and a single-coil pickup, so it’s not going to give you a ton of high-end sound clarity or anything like that.   To go along with the single-coil pickup, you get a tone and volume control that is mounted to the pickguard, which is a nice touch and is accurate to what plenty of people were doing back in the day.

The top of the guitar is, as seems to be so common with acoustic guitars, the usual laminated Sitka Spruce, and the body is laminated maple.  Together with that pickup, the whole thing is a very interesting and classic electric guitar that is easily the best guitar of its type, and the most interesting acoustic guitar reviewed.  Also the guitar that feels weirdest to play.

PROS
  • Very interesting and unusual acoustic hollow body guitar design
  • Decent Gretsch single-coil pickup
  • Great sound quality
CONS
  • Just kind of an unusual guitar, all things considered
13

Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher Acoustic Guitar – The Bizarre Rancher Model

If you play guitar long enough, you’re bound to come across a couple of guitars that you look at and say to yourself ‘how did this come to be?’.  This is that guitar for me, personally.

It looks like it has the neck off one of the higher end Gretsch electric models, which I guess is cool, seeing as their necks are generally good quality (and really, their headstocks look pretty cool as well).  It has a Bigsby tailpiece, and that is where we begin our descent into madness. 

If you know anything about guitars, you know that the Bigsby tailpiece is not something you commonly find on electric guitars.  That’s something that you would normally find on an electric guitar, and we’ve already taken a stop off into the world of strange happenstances with that tailpiece being put on this acoustic guitar.

Then, let’s take it a step further.  Let’s take the pickup that is commonly used in Gretsch electromatics, the Filter’Tron, and let’s put it right there where the neck meets the body. 

Put that all together on an acoustic guitar that would otherwise be less than exciting, and you have the Gretsch Rancher acoustic.  That’s not to say that this is a bad acoustic guitar, by the way, just that without all these odd bells and whistles, it would be a standard acoustic guitar.   It has a Sitka Spruce top, and it has a laminated Mahogany body, and it actually sounds quite good when it is played acoustically.  Of course, with the Filter’Tron pickups, when you put it through an amplifier, you end up getting a lot higher quality sound than you would be likely to expect out of an acoustic guitar, even one with an electric pickup.

The only other thing that really needs to be mentioned about this guitar is that it has sixteen frets total.  Which is kind of unusual, and makes it a bit shorter and easier to travel with.  If you’re looking for an odd guitar for hitting the trail or for going home and rocking out on your favorite amplifier, the Gretsch Rancher Acoustic is going to be a good option for you.

PROS
  • Very good pickup and decent pickup positioning, too
  • Bigsby tailpiece is a nice, albeit interesting, touch
  • Quality guitar well put-together
CONS
  • The whole thing is pretty unusual, and there are not a lot of guitars to compare this too
  • 16 fret neck length can be somewhat limiting, especially if you play a lot in the higher registers
14

Takamine GJ72CE-BSB Jumbo Cutaway Acoustic Guitar – The Standard Entry-Level Acoustic

Takamine guitars (pronounced tak-ah-me-nay) are a company that has been around for something like 50 years and change.  They’re a Japanese company, and one that puts together their guitars (at least the higher end ones) in Japan still, and they have a reputation for putting together a decent quality and affordable acoustic guitar. They’re actually pretty popular with people who play acoustics, especially when we start getting into the higher-end and more expensive models.

As far as the guitar itself goes, it is a pretty standard affair.  They are made with a Sitka Spruce top and Maple back and sides, which is pretty common.  They also have a pickup, preamp, and tuner, which is a nice thing to see. The preamp is called the TK40D preamp, and they use it in a lot of their guitars.

There’s really not all that much to say about this guitar, honestly.  It’s a mid-level guitar, on the cheaper side, and if you’re not looking to spend a ton of money while still getting a basic guitar (that isn’t some weird Gretsch Frankentar), then this may well be the guitar that you want to spend your hard-earned money on.

PROS
  • Decently designed acoustic guitar
  • Good preamp and pickup system
  • Decent price for what you’re getting
CONS
  • Cutaway
  • Just kind of plain for an acoustic guitar

Best Acoustic Guitar - Buyer's Guide

Picking a guitar out is no small feat.  There is so much that goes into finding the right guitar, and so much knowledge that goes into finding the right guitar for you to spend your money on, that you probably have a lot of questions.  Luckily, here are a few answers that you can depend on. 

Should I Buy A Used Guitar?

There are a few things in life that you should buy used.  Cars are fine to buy used.  Certain kinds of jewelry, you can buy used without it being too weird.  Firearms, you can buy used.  And, yes, instruments you can buy used.

Now, that doesn’t mean that just because someone is selling an instrument used that you should trust that it’s good.  In general, I would not suggest that you buy used if you don’t know anything about instruments, or if you don’t know what to look for.  Especially when you get up into the higher echelons of guitars, there are fakes that are made that sell online quite often.  If you’re looking to buy a guitar online, have someone who knows guitars take a look first, and then buy it.

If you find a good used guitar in a store, if all the parts work, and if you like it (and the price) don’t be afraid to buy it.  If you find a guitar that you like, but it has all replacement parts, and nothing is standard, be warned that it may not be the guitar you think it is.

What Kind Of Pickup Do I Need?

Believe it or not, most of you don’t need a pickup in your acoustic guitar at all.  If you are getting an acoustic guitar for just beating around in the house, you need not worry about investing that kind of money in your guitar. A pickup is something you need if you’re playing live and you have to run through an amplifier.

By the way, it should be mentioned that it is simple to get a pickup for your guitar.  There are pickups that you can just wedge in the sound hole, and almost any decent luthier will be able to put in a pickup for you.

Is One Brand Generally Better Than The Other?

It all depends on what you’re looking for.  Some brands have long histories as being used for country music, some are obviously angling for the rocker, things like that.  If you’re looking for a guitar, it is always wise to look more at the guitar than the brand.  Remember, too, that even a guitar company can have a misstep (like the Gibson Les Paul ‘Zoot Suit’). 

Conclusion


We’ve looked at fourteen guitars today, and almost all of them are fantastic choices for making sure that you will be able to enjoy some great plucking at the strings.  But the point of this post, and the title, is ‘BEST acoustic guitar’, not ‘acoustic guitar reviews’, and that means that it is time that we took a look at what the best acoustic guitar reviewed is.

When you take into consideration cost of the guitar, and how much you’re getting for the money you spend, a guitar did come to the top, and it may not be the one you think it would be.  The best acoustic guitar we reviewed was not from the Martin nor Gibson families, but rather a humble Taylor acoustic guitar.  The best acoustic guitar, overall, was the Taylor 314ce Grand Auditorium acoustic guitar.  It has great tone, it has great projection, it has fantastic presence, it can project a warmth that you cannot get everywhere else, and best of all, it has a pickup, and all of this at a price that is almost always sub two thousand dollars.  Readers, you just don’t get a deal like this every day.

However, to be fair to the hard work done by the guitar makers, almost every guitar that we reviewed is a great one, and there are very few that we reviewed that would not serve you well.