10 Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
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Finding The Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
Some people wonder where the acoustic guitar has gone. They fret that it’s been replaced by electronic instruments and that laptops are devoid of the ability to convey human emotions.
These people are misguided, sorry to say. But, we’re not here to rag on them. In fact, we’re here for the same reason you are: to keep the guitar’s spirit alive.
That’s why we’ll be running down our list of the best acoustic guitar brands, where you’ll learn of some of the most prestigious, expensive, affordable, and desirable guitars available.
10 Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
Yamaha is one of the oldest companies on this list and their products aren’t just limited to guitars. In fact, they’re one of the world’s best-selling pianos manufacturers and its motorcycle subdivision is equally as popular.
But we’re not talking about pianos that can pop a wheelie, we’re talking about the best acoustic guitar brands. Yamaha started making guitars in 1966 with their Yamaha FG180. Their long history has allowed them to hone their manufacturing practices to a razor’s edge of sharpness.
Yamaha guitars feature Acoustic Resonance Enhancement, a technique the company created to maximize an acoustic guitar’s sonic capabilities. The company puts more care into their standard acoustic guitars than most people put into sustaining their marriages. Maybe that’s why divorce rates are rising while concert frequencies are plummeting!
They’re also one of the more affordable brands on this list. Here are some of their product prices from Amazon:
- Yamaha APXT2, Acoustic-Electric Guitar: $210
- Yamaha APXT2 EW Light Brown Burst: $283
- Yamaha APXT2 OVS: $244
- More affordable than other guitar brands
- Makes products designed for beginners
- Implements unique technology into their guitars
- One of the longest-running guitar products in the world
Depending on when you visit the Gibson website, the first thing you may see is legendary guitarist Slash posing with a Gibson guitar, the veins bursting from his forearms and his hair eternally quaffed to curly perfection. It’s a message that says, “this could be you.”
Now you don’t need to have been a member of Guns ‘N Roses or even have good hair to become a master guitarist. And though you’re probably aware of Gibson’s name, it’s likely that you’re more familiar with their holy grail product: the Gibson Les Paul.
The Michigan-based company has been making instruments since 1904. They produce their guitars in the United States which allows them to keep a close eye on every item’s development. They also opt to use the highest quality wood they can get their hands on.
These philosophies mean that Gibson’s guitars aren’t as cheaply priced as other companies, but that doesn’t negate them from being considered one of the best acoustic guitar brands. For example, the Gibson J-45 Standard costs $2,849 and the Gibson G-00 retails for $999.
Luckily, Gibon’s prices indicate the level of care the brand puts into every guitar.
- Guitars are made in the United States
- High production standards mean you’ll get a great product
- The desired brand of guitarists like Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Slash
Here’s another Japanese guitar company to make our list. They’re notable for being the first brand to make the seven-string and eight-string guitars en masse. That ingenuity is what slots them as one of the best acoustic guitar brands.
Since 1957, Ibanez has been making a massive variety of guitars and string instruments. They produce electric guitars, acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, basses, and all the accessories you could want.
Ibanez’s guitars have earned a reputation for being some of the toughest instruments on the market. Technically verbose guitarists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani flock to the brand because they know the guitars can handle their demands.
You don’t have to be a guitar wizard to reap the rewards of an Ibanez guitar, although their pricier options are held in higher regard than their middle-of-the-line guitars. That’s not a knock against their more common items, it’s like comparing a gold medal to a silver medal.
- A huge assortment of quality products available
- Favored by highly-skilled guitarists
- Incredibly durable guitars
Fender is one of the best acoustic guitar brands for people who are just learning their first chords. This is not only because of their lower prices but also because Fender guitars are shaped in a way that makes it easier for newer players to wrap their fingers around.
Most of their items hover within the $200 to $800 range. This affordability has made Fender popular with guitarists since Leo Fender created the brand in 1946. And when we say popular, we mean near-inescapable.
Almost every single one of your favorite guitarists has touched a Fender before. Their forgiving shape and focus on sound over aesthetics have made them a staple in genres like jazz, soul, rock, and country.
- An ideal brand for beginners
- More affordable than other guitars
- Available in most music stores
If you want a company with a storied history then Epiphone is for you. The brand began in 1873 in the Ottoman Empire (that’s how you know this brand is old) before the founder’s son Epaminondas Stathopoulos hopped on a ship to New York City and brought it with him.
Our old friend Gibson purchased Epiphone in 1957 and turned them into a subcontractor for more affordable guitars. Don’t take “more affordable” as a shorthand for “lesser quality,” because Epiphone is still one of the best acoustic guitar brands around.
Their prices are definitely their main appeal. Check out the costs of their best-selling acoustic guitars and try to tell us that they don’t make you want to rip out your wallet:
- Epiphone Natural J-15 EC: $269
- Epiphone Natural El Nino Travel Acoustic: $179
- Epiphone Natural J-15 Studio: $289
Most customers online tout Epiphone guitars for having impressive sonic quality for their price range. While they can’t offer the finishing touches of some higher-end guitars, that might not be a problem if you’re looking for an affordable guitar with a great sound.
- Very affordable items
- Great quality-for-price ratio
- Works under the tutelage of Gibon
6. Martin Guitar
Martin Guitar is a company that’s older than some countries. Christian Frederick Martin founded them in 1839 in New York City and their long lineage means they’ve had nearly 200 years to perfect their acoustic guitars.
Their focus on acoustic guitars has earned them devout followers like Johnny Cash, John Mayer, and Willie Nelson. Their pristine craftsmanship is due to Martin Guitar’s insistence on making every guitar by hand. This patient practice means they’ve seen trends come and go. They’ve honed their manufacturing down to a science built on 200 years of improvement.
You can marvel at that near-perfect practice by grabbing a Martin Guitar 00L Guitar for $2,249 or a Martin Guitar Bentley Snowflake First Edition for $15,499.
- Specialize in acoustic guitars
- Combine modern trends with timeless designs
- Offer customers the opportunity to customize their own guitar
- Adhere to environmentally-friendly practices via Preferred by Nature
We’ve covered plenty of guitar companies with long legacies, but there are some young pups teaching the old dogs new tricks. Namely, Taylor Guitars, whose stock has risen in recent years to become one of the best acoustic guitar brands as well as one of the largest in America.
The brand began in 1974 in El Cajon, California. Their acoustic guitars reflect the sunny and relaxing vibes of their home state. Taylor Guitars has earned praise from their fans for the great feel of their strings. This tactile feedback has been called smooth and dreamlike by online commenters.
Taylor’s guitars have a sound that’s as crisp as a fresh bag of chips. Acoustic-focused music acts like the Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews, and Jason Mraz prefer Taylor because of that crispness.
The company focuses nearly exclusively on acoustic guitars and accessories. While they have some electric options for sale, their acoustics earned their reputation.
Check out some of the prices for their most popular items:
- Taylor GS Mini-e Koa: $899
- Taylor Academy 12e: $699
- Taylor K24ce (V-Class): $5,499
- Unique sounding guitars
- Products available in many price ranges
- Phenomenal quality control in regards to production
8. Gretsch Guitars
This brand owes a bit of their prestige to George Harrison. He played their instruments during the early years of The Beatles, prompting fans to purchase Gretsch Guitars en masse.
However, they’ve been around since 1883 when Friedrich Gretsch created the company to make banjos and tambourines.
As the times changed so did Gretsch. Nowadays they’re known as one of the best acoustic guitar brands because of their high-end sound, esteemed build quality, and wide price range.
They make more than just guitars, but some of their more affordable acoustic options include the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy 24” Flat Top Guitar ($189) and the Gretsch G9520E Gin Rickey Acoustic/Electric with Soundhole Pickup ($279).
- Offers a vintage sound that’s preferred by some guitarists
- Classic designs
- Played by some of the most popular guitarists of all time like George Harrison, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, and Bo Diddley
This is our third Japanese guitar brand on this list, but what earns them their spot is that they were one of the original developers of the acoustic-electric guitar. Fans enjoy them because they are great mid-priced options without sacrificing quality.
Their Takamine Pro Series is made in the Japanese Alps using well-practiced techniques and hand-crafted expertise. This process gives these guitars a sound, feel, and quality all of their own.
Musicians like Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Jon Bon Jovi, and Noel Gallagher have all expressed their love for Takamine guitars.
The brand’s attention to how wood, fretboard, body, and neck designs can affect a guitar’s sound has led many people to name Takamine as their favorite acoustic guitar brand.
- Guitars are made in the Japanese Alps
- Thoughtfully designed instruments
- Great balance of volume and sound quality
10. Collings Guitars
The final entry in our list of the best acoustic guitar brands is Collings Guitars. They’ve been making acoustic guitars out of Austin, Texas since 1973. Not only are their acoustic guitars considered some of the best available, but their mandolins are also so beloved that many fans consider them a necessity in bluegrass music.
But what do people love so much about these guitars? It’s the unmatched sound quality that comes from founder Bill Collings. He was a noted guitar obsessive who demanded only the best from his employees.
Luckily, Collings Guitars was staffed by workers who were just as enthusiastic about quality as Collings.
This quality-first approach is appreciated by Collings Guitars purchasers. They hold that you’re getting your money’s worth with this company, which is something considering the cost of items like the Collings OM2H ($4,877).
- Passionately designed guitars
- Devoted fanbase
- The esteemed quality justifies the high price point
How to Shop for the Best Acoustic Guitar
Now that you’re aware of the best acoustic guitar brands, it’s time to turn your attention to how you should select the best guitar.
Brand name means almost everything when it comes to acoustic guitars. Each brand carries a legacy of practices, philosophies, and sounds that dictate what type of guitars they make.
Quality and Construction
Every guitar can be considered a piece of art if it’s well-constructed. The finest acoustic guitars have been labored over to maximize their ability to deliver sounds that could soothe an angel.
Different types of wood, different finishes, and more can affect the sounds that come out of your guitar. They can produce different tones. For example, ash guitars are often twangy whereas maple guitars have clearer tones. It’s worth experimenting to see which type of tone you prefer.
Body Shape and Size
Just like with materials, the best acoustic guitar brands design their products with bodies to benefit their users. The dreadnought shape is the most common and the easiest shape for beginners because of its versatility.
Different guitar styles are better suited for different styles of music, which is why you’ll find that many guitarists in the same genre adhere to particular styles. Look at the musicians you like and which styles they use. That can guide you towards choosing the guitar best suited for you.
An untuned guitar isn’t the end of the world, but it can feel like it. That’s especially true if your guitar falls out of tune every other day. The best acoustics should hold their tune for as long as you need.
Some guitars are as expensive as a down payment on a house, but they’re usually worth it. Beginners may not need all the advantages of a world-class guitar, so a budget guitar that fits within their weekly spending allowance may provide more bang for their buck,
What are the 3 main types of modern acoustic guitar?
The three main types of modern acoustic guitars are as follows:
- Steel-string flat top guitars (most common version, built for strumming and fingerpicking)
- Nylon string guitars (better for classical music, warmer tone)
- Archtops (little reverb, only used in jazz)
What affects the sound of an acoustic guitar?
There are many factors that can affect a guitar’s sound. These factors begin at the blueprint stage and go all the way to the finished product. Even your hand shape and size can affect a guitar’s sound.
The guitar’s body, neck, material, strings, style, tuning, and volume can all alter how it sounds.
How can you break in an acoustic guitar?
The easiest way to break in an acoustic guitar is to play it. An hour or so of continuous playing will ease the strings into the tuning and get them accustomed to the shape of the guitar.
Do I need a pickup on my acoustic guitar?
Acoustic guitars only need a pickup if you wish to amplify the sound. You can usually circumvent this by placing a microphone in front of your guitar. However, that won’t work for larger concert settings, in which case it’s worth looking into a pickup.
How do I know when it’s time to change the strings?
Most guitar experts recommend changing the strings on a guitar after 100 hours of playing. However, we assume that you’re a regular person that doesn’t stare at the clock while you strum your lover’s lullaby.
Another rule of thumb is to change them every three months. That’s a safe estimate that should be somewhere within the ballpark of 100 hours of playing.
Don’t let the internet think pieces lead you into believing that the guitar is dead. It is a compositional marvel that captures the artist’s spirit. It’s one of the most honest musical instruments because it grants its user access to a world of sounds, feelings, and expressions.
Plus, it promotes patience. Becoming a good guitarist takes time, but the process is rewarding. Whether you’re taking the first steps to mastery or you’re already a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you’re sure to find a guitar built for you from one of the great brands we’ve covered here.
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