Acoustic Guitars – The Top 10 Buyers Guide
Everyone needs an acoustic guitar. Whether you’re a pro musician or simply a hobbyist, an acoustic guitar should be in every guitarist’s arsenal. With the 2019 winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants event) now at a close, let’s review what’s available on the market.
Below are my recommendations for the latest acoustic guitar models and prices, with suggestions as to which are best for you at varying stages within your career in music. It’s time to go acoustic guitar shopping or just sit back and read about some cool acoustic guitars!
Fender Acoustasonic Tele Acoustic/Electric Guitar
Rating: 4 / 5
Fresh out of NAMM, Fender have released an electric/acoustic hybrid, the Acoustasonic. Built to feel like a classic Fender Telecaster but with the tonal capabilities of both an acoustic and electric guitar, this new hybrid has had mixed reviews on social media and music blogs.
This thin, mahogany hollow body, with sound hole, has a ’C’ profile 22 fret neck and ebony fingerboard. Equipped with Fender’s patent-pending stringed instrument response system (SIRS) for the optimal response and harmonic breadth of an acoustic guitar.
The electronics on this guitar should definitely be talked about. Fender has partnered with Fishman to create tonal versatility at its max.
The guitar utilises Fishman Aura technology with an A/B blend control, allowing the player to dial in sounds from different digital acoustic images or blend sounds from both the piezo and magnetic pickup. The five-position pickup selector allows for different combinations of acoustic imaging. A contact pickup mounted on the guitar’s body is perfect for percussive players.
Priced at £1,599 – The Acoustasonic is aimed towards pro guitarists, wanting the versatility of two guitars for the price of one. Perfect for solo looping musicians, giving the ability to loop acoustic rhythm with electric lead.
Taylor Grand Pacific 717E Builders Edition
Rating: 5 / 5
Another guitar released from this year’s NAMM, the Taylor Grand Pacific series.
Based on the famous dreadnought design, this rosewood guitar with a solid Sitka spruce top has a beautiful warm sound with plenty of clarity to cut through the mix.
Available in three possible models at a varying price, the 717E builder’s edition has all of those extra features to make playing the guitar that extra bit more comfortable.
A chamfered body removes the uncomfortable hard edge found on most dreadnought designs. Taylor has also reshaped the bridge, creating the ‘Curve Wing bridge’ to aid picking hand placement.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is its neck profile. Starting as a ‘C’ profile at the guitars body, the neck smoothly moulds into a ‘V’ profile at the headstock. This attention to detail keeps the players fretting hand comfortable no matter where it is positioned.
Priced at £2,949, this model is the most expensive of the series. Alternative models are available at cheaper prices, however, comfort features like the curved wing bridge are not included.
Hopefully, every model in this series has something to offer to every level of guitarist across the music industry.
Martin & Co DSS-ISM Streetmaster Slope-Shouldered Dreadnought
Rating: 4 / 5
Martin & Co has always been a popular acoustic guitar manufacturer. Their Streetmaster series being one of their most popular designs. Released at NAMM this year, Martin have now released a slope-shouldered version of this classic dreadnought design, priced reasonably a £1,499.
This slope-shouldered mahogany guitar with oval profile neck allows for better accessibility to the higher frets, without compromising the iconic deep, boomy sound of a dreadnought. Perfect for musicians accustomed to smaller bodied acoustics that want that warm dreadnought sound.
Its vintage finish definitely creates a relic feel. Ideal for musicians looking for a bit of character in their instrument! This is definitely one of the more pretty acoustic guitars.
Despite its beautiful build, this guitar is free from electronics, making it great for recording demo submissions and busking; however, troublesome at live shows where large volume is needed.
Fender California Series
Price: £260 – £290
Rating: 2.5 / 5
With three possible models priced between £260 – £290, these affordable acoustic guitars are perfect for the beginner player.
Despite the price, each model, of varying size and design, is built with a mahogany back / side with a spruce top and ‘C’ profile neck; optimising playability and tone. A cutaway helps reduce weight and allows access to those higher frets. The thin body and electric style neck build makes this acoustic feel just like an electric.
All bracing has been optimised for reduced weight and superior resonance.
Fishman electronics allows for bass, treble and volume control, allowing the player to dial in a great tone at every show. The inbuilt tuner and lightweight design makes this guitar perfect for beginner shows and small busking gigs.
Yamaha SLG200 Silent Guitar
Rating: 5 / 5
Despite being released back in 2015, the Yamaha silent guitar is still a strong contender on today’s market. Priced very affordably at £599, this guitar is perfect for the travelling musician.
Available in both nylon and steel string models, this collapsible guitar allows players to easily detach its maple wings, fitting the instrument into overhead luggage compartments on flights. It’s inbuilt preamp also removes the need for microphones when recording; offering line out audio.
A blend control on the guitar allows the player to blend between a piezo pickup and the digital acoustic images set in the SRT powered pickup system. Due to its lack of a resonance chamber; using this guitar live solves the feedback issues faced when gigging with acoustic guitars. A bass and treble control allows the player to dial in that loved acoustic tone.
Not only great for live, it’s also perfect for practising! A headphone port and aux in allows you to practice to your heart’s content, without waking everybody on the tour bus! There’s also an effects knob for reverb and chorus, allowing you to leave the pedalboard at home.
Rating 3.5 / 5
Priced very affordably at £279, the Freshman FA1AN is an incredibly well-built guitar that sounds great.
It’s thin, mahogany Folk style body with Canadian Sitka Spruce top, makes for a well-balanced tone that has plenty of clarity to cut through the mix. A cutaway keeps weight down and allows for easy access to higher frets. Fitted with Fishman electronics, features include phase, contour, volume and a tuner. This guitar is great for every level of guitarist.
Speaking from personal experience, throw a set of Ernie Ball Earthwoods on this guitar and you’ll have just the right tool for acoustic lead and bright crisp chords. Perhaps the guitar’s only flaw is its lack of bottom end. Musicians seeking a warm, deep acoustic tone should search elsewhere.
Gibson Montana 2019 Hummingbird Vintage
Rating: 4 / 5
Possibly one of Gibson’s most popular acoustics, the Hummingbird sits as the most expensive guitar in this list at £3,149.
Built with a mahogany body and Sitka spruce top, this dreadnought acoustic has a warm, deep tone that sounds fantastic. Ideal for recording warm chords.
Equipped with an LR Baggs VTC preamp and under-saddle pickup, cheaper models are available with lower quality tonewood.
My personal opinion; this guitar seems slightly overpriced. It’s definitely not for the bedroom player. With cheaper, similar models available, it all comes down to budget and personal opinion.
Gibson Montana 2019 J-45
Rating: 4.5 / 5
The J-45 is another very popular acoustic from Gibson. This round-shoulder dreadnought sounds slightly brighter than its 2019 Hummingbird counterpart and is much nicer to your bank account at £1,649. Alternative models are available at a varied price.
Fitted with the same electronics as the Hummingbird, the J-45 features a cutaway for extra playing comfort. Both its fingerboard and bridge are made from Richlite wood, a very durable material that will unquestionably survive the wear and tear of the road.
Both the J-45 and Hummingbird guitars are similar in construction; but with a considerable price difference between models, it all comes down to personal preference.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
The TL-6Z series of guitars are great first upgrades from the beginner acoustic. Priced at £625, the Fishman preamp offers a simplistic 3 band EQ, tuner and volume control – Everything a first upgrade guitar needs.
Built from mahogany, the TL-67 is built to feel like an electric; with a thin body and 22 fret neck. Other reviews say this guitar is perfect for Rock and Metal players that aren’t used to playing large acoustic style guitars. Despite being lightweight, the instrument has a really solid feel to it. There’s no question that this guitar will survive on the road, a good choice to have in your gig bag.
Other reviews have suggested that the instrument is slightly overpriced for what is a very simplistic guitar. My personal opinion, it sounds more like a clean electric guitar than an acoustic.
A nylon string model is also available.
Godin Multiac Grand Concert
Rating: 5 / 5
The Godin Multiac Grand Concert is the perfect guitar for classical musicians wanting to amplify their sound.
Available in both steel and nylon strings, this mahogany-bodied guitar with cedar top appears to be the go-to instrument for many modern, world music guitarists. Its two-chambered thin body with no sound hole helps to reduce feedback when performing at volume on stage – a common dilemma for acoustic players.
Undersaddle and acoustic soundboard transducer pickups provide the player with plenty of tonal options. Furthermore, a blend control allows both pickups to be combined together for further tonal exploration. Featuring a three-band EQ and output volume control, this guitar gives the gigging musician everything they could possibly want from an acoustic guitar.
Priced very affordably at £899, the Multiac Grand Concert also features a 13 pin connection, allowing you to connect your guitar to compatible synth devices.
There are thousands of different acoustic guitars on the market; all of them fantastic for a specific purpose. Personally, I love the Yamaha SLG200 Silent Guitar and the Taylor Grand Pacific 717E Builder’s Edition. Two incredible guitars for two very different reasons. For beginners, I would definitely recommend the Freshman FA1AN as a starter guitar – A well-built all-rounder that sounds fantastic for its price.
Whatever you end up going for, put it to good use by getting in the studio or collaborating with someone. After that, when you have something down, let us help you with your artist development, getting signed or having your music placed in film, TV and more!
Start a 14-day free trial today, no strings attached! What are you waiting for?