Our acoustic guitar buying guide will provide all you need to know when trying to pick the best acoustic guitar for you. This step-by-step guide will show you how to buy an acoustic guitar correctly.
- Trying to decide which is the best option of the many acoustic guitars to choose from.
- Especially if you are unfamiliar with the instrument.
- Shopping without any thought to budget, acoustic type, or brand awareness is frustrating.
- Our guide will ensure you won’t fall for common pitfalls when buying your beautiful new acoustic guitar.
- Let us give you the information you’ll need to make an informed purchase.
Which is the best acoustic guitar for you?
There is something magical about a high-quality acoustic guitar. The magic comes together with the melding of fine tonewoods, which expert luthiers carefully craft into a beautiful instrument. The acoustic guitar has an incredible history and is highly versatile.
The sonic sounds from an acoustic guitar are like no other musical instrument. Acoustics guitars are exceptional and personable. We suggest that you learn all you can about the instrument. Enjoy the journey to find the acoustic guitar that is right for you.
All the Different Types of Acoustic Guitars
If you are new to the wonderful world of acoustic guitars, you will be forgiven for becoming confused when you realize how many different types of acoustic guitars types are out there. The sheer number of various kinds of acoustic guitars can be overwhelming. However, fear not; we have you covered; we will discuss all the different popular types of acoustic guitars in today’s market by breaking it all down into categories.
An acoustic guitar may be played anywhere
Guitar reviews and salespeople will talk about all the various components that make an acoustic guitar. They will often speak about multiple parts of an acoustic describing the guitar’s features. For the uninitiated, it may sound like gobbly gook.
“I love the subtlety and tonal range of the acoustic guitar.” Dan Fogelberg
Many components make up an acoustic guitar. The various parts determine how an acoustic guitar sounds and feels to play. We will discuss that one by one so that you have a good understanding of how the different parts affect the guitar and why.
We have organized all the information into bite-size chunks. Moreover, we have discussed all the pros and cons of purchasing a new guitar. You will be ready to buy.
Don’t worry; everything will make sense by the end of this guide. We have done our best to arrange all considerations in order of importance.
1. Okay, firstly, let’s discuss the most critical part of the buying process: determining an accurate budget.
2. Having a budget or a minimum and maximum spend clear in your mind is step one.
3. When speaking with a salesperson about guitars, they are most likely to ask you about your maximum budget.
4. That is a fair question if you would like the assistance of a salesperson.
5. The salesperson can show you a range of guitars you can afford.
6. The more information you acquire about the type of guitar you want, the easier the salesperson’s job will be.
7. The golden rule is to buy the best acoustic guitar you can afford.
8. A quality guitar will inspire you to play.
9. A lousy guitar will do the opposite.
Your Playing style
Having some idea about playing style can also be helpful. Some acoustics are better suited than others for a specific type of guitar playing.
- The acoustic guitar lends itself to almost any musical genre or style.
- Do you need a guitar that is versatile or perhaps more specialized?
- Some guitars lend themselves better to certain styles.
- Are you a strummer, mainly open chords, and barre chords?
Fingerstyle or Flatpicking.
Do you have a heavy attack or a light strummer?
- Where will I be playing your guitar?
- What style(s) of music do I want to play?
- Are there specific tonal properties you have in mind, such as volume, richness, low-end response, warmth, etc.?
- Will you play more often by yourself or with other players/instruments?
- Will you be singing with your guitar?
- Are there guitarists whose style or tone you would like to emulate?
- Do you plan to play lead lines higher up the neck (toward the body)?
- Do you plan to do any live performances or recordings?
Common Musical Genres for acoustics?
- Bluegrass or flat pick.
Common playing styles for acoustic guitar.
Are you seeking a specific tone?
- Are you trying to find a guitar that will emulate the guitar of someone famous, a particular tone? That would be a guitar that has specific specifications.
- Do you wish to play up the neck (the dusty end)? Then consider a cutaway guitar. A cutaway will allow you to play right up the neck.
- Where will you play your guitar most of the time?
- Suppose you plan to play at home most of the time. Perhaps in a casual sitting on the lounge, or even a recliner.
- You might consider the size of the guitar; small may be the better fit. You may not need the significant volume of a bigger guitar.
- Suppose you are planning to play with a group of friends. In that circumstance, you may need to consider a more prominent guitar which will give your more volume.
Suppose playing live such as in an open mic setting. Even the loud volume of a Jumbo Acoustic may not be enough. It would be best to have a guitar cut through the noise. In this type of situation, an acoustic-electric would be the best choice.
“If you can’t play it on an acoustic guitar or a grand piano then it’s not a song.” Christopher Cross
Do you plan to sing and play the guitar?
Consider a guitar that will complement your voice. A guitar constructed whose back and side are built from rosewood. It may be a good choice in this instance.
Rosewood is said to create a pocket of space for the vocals.
Rosewood has a scooped midrange which is approximately where the human voice sits.
We recommend trying different guitars to see which compliments your voice the best.
- If you are planning to play instrumentals primarily.
- Be sure the guitar has the sonic capability to fit your playing style. Are you planning to record with your guitar?
- A guitar with a pickup built-in might be a consideration. However, we believe the optimum way to record an acoustic is to use a mic.
- A smaller guitar may be worthwhile if planning to do a lot of recording.
- A smaller guitar will have a smaller sonic footprint.
- A larger-bodied guitar can use a lot of space in the recording mix.
Every day suitable playing situations for the acoustic guitar
*** Denotes an acoustic-electric may be the best solution.
- Playing in a band ***
- Open mic ***
- Family gatherings
Construction of an acoustic guitar
The anatomy of most types of acoustic guitars consists of the following components. The body of an acoustic guitar consists of the following elements.
As a guitarist, you familiarize yourself with the components of different acoustic guitars. Parts for an acoustic guitar do vary in their types of construction. They are often referenced when discussing the quality and sound of an acoustic guitar. It is best to become acquainted with the components and their names for an acoustic guitar.
“My foundation is acoustic guitar, and it is finger-picking and all of that and sort of an orchestral style of playing. Lead guitar came later, more out of the necessity to do so because of expectations in a particular situation.” Lindsey Buckingham
The following components for an acoustic guitar will be referenced often.
The Top or Soundhole
Also known as the soundboard. ( the soundhole is within the guitar top). The top or soundboard is supported by special bracing. Bracing does affect the sound of an acoustic guitar by design.
As the name implies, it is the back of the guitar’s body.
The neck is the longer half-round component for which the fretboard or fingerboard. It is joined to the body of the guitar.
The all-important component for a guitar is, of course, the strings—the main differences between steel and nylon. Nylon is usually found on Classical guitars.
Steel strings have far more tension; hence, the guitar’s construction must allow that. A steel-string guitar will be louder and have more sustain than a nylon-string guitar. The gauge or diameter of the strings can be changed anytime.
An acoustic guitar designed for nylon strings will sound more mellow, not as loud, or as much sustain—a player may find a nylon string guitar easier to play because it has less tension than a steel string.
Can steel strings be used on a nylon string guitar?
Never interchange the strings on a nylon-stringed guitar with steel strings. A nylon-stringed guitar has not been constructed to take steel strings. Significant damage is very likely to ensue.
There is no point in fitting nylon strings to an acoustic designed for steel strings. It is going to sound dull and lifeless.
The Position Markers
The position markers are also called inlays. Inlays mark the position of the frets at predetermined positions on the fretboard. The player then has a marker indicating the location for the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 12th frets.
The fretboard is where the player places his fretting hand when playing the guitar. It is a separate component that is fixed to the neck. The fretboard also houses the frets placed at regular intervals across the fretboard.
The frets are constructed from fret wire and cut to the fretboard’s width. The fretboard has grooves sized to accommodate the frets, usually tapped into position in the grooves.
The purpose of frets is to change the pitch of a guitar string by the guitar player pressing the string down directly behind the fret. The frets are played across the length of the fingerboard at regular intervals.
The headstock is attached to the neck and supports the string tuners. The guitar strings wind around the pegheads. The pegheads will turn and loosen or tighten the guitar strings so that each individual is tuned to the correct pitch for each string.
Machine heads are the mechanisms that turn the pegheads when tuning the guitar. The guitar tuners will vary in quality and might affect the guitar’s tuning stability.
The nut is located at the bottom of the headstock. It is usually a white or off-white colored material fixed to the neck of the guitar. It allows the strings to sit in their groove in the nut. Hence it keeps the strings located evenly across the fretboard.
Upper and lower bouts
Are the curved sides of the body of the guitar. See the acoustic guitar glossary for more information on all the components of an acoustic guitar. There are many differences between the elements of an acoustic guitar. Be aware that various manufacturers design multiple parts differently, which affects the guitar’s sound.
As the name applies, the pickguard protects the surface of the top of the guitar from scratches from the guitarist’s pick or fingernails. It is usually made from a type of plastic or tortoiseshell.
The bridge is located at the opposite end of the guitar and is where the strings are fixed to the guitar top with bridge pins.
The saddle-like nut is fitted to the bridge. It has grooves cut into it to accommodate the guitar strings. The grooves are spaced evenly to maintain the correct spacing for the guitar strings.
The string pegs locate and lock the strings into the bridge.
Solid Wood vs.Layered Wood Construction
One of the prominent features of the acoustic guitar is all solid wood construction or laminated. Solid wood is the preferred option as it results in a better sound for the guitar. However, solid wood is the more expensive option because solid wood requires more intensive construction methods than a laminated guitar.
Laminated or layered wood is often made with a central core and external and internal layers. Layered wood acoustic guitars offer a tone slightly less complex than a solid wood guitar.
Laminated guitars usually are less expensive; therefore a good option for budget-conscious purchasers. All acoustic guitars respond to humidity conditions, both high and low. One advantage of laminated guitars is their ability to contend with less-than-ideal humidity conditions.
What Types of Acoustic Guitars are There? | Body Shapes & Sizes
The three main acoustic guitars are the Dreadnaught (and its many variants), Jumbo, and Parlour.
The following acoustic guitars have essential differences, which must be considered carefully. Many companies sell different acoustic guitars; all have minor differences that should be considered.
- Most brands have a unique sound.
- Technical differences.
- Price points
The Archtop acoustic is often used for Jazz. Archtops deliver a very focused sound with minimal sustain. Those are features that work well in Jazz. It’s a guitar that does not sound like a flattop acoustic guitar. However, it does offer sonic features sought after for Jazz.
Concert acoustic guitars are slightly smaller than dreadnought. Tonally they are strong in the upper and middle frequencies. The body is a comfortable acoustic, especially for the smaller framed guitarists. Its shorter scale makes fretting easier. They are great for finger-style players.
Classical acoustic (Nylon Strings)
Classical guitars are fitted with nylon strings and have a distinctive warm tone. They are sized similarly to a parlor-sized guitar. Nylon string acoustics use lower string tension than steel-string acoustics. Classical guitars use a wider nut than steel guitars.
The Dreadnought is a famous large-bodied acoustic guitar. They offer a big, full-bodied sound with solid bass. The Dreadnought was an acoustic guitar concept developed by C.F. Martin & Company in 1916. The name dreadnought was derived from a battleship of the same name, HMS Dreadnought, in 1906. Its distinguishing features are its large size, square shoulders, and bottom. Dreads are known for their loud, rich and deep, and some might say boomy sound as they have become known.
Dreadnoughts are great for genres such as Bluegrass, country, folk, pop, and acoustic rock. The Dreadnought is one of the most copied guitar styles on the market. The main complaint about Dreads is that they can feel large and cumbersome to play for some. The main reason is the Dreadnought’s less-rounded waist.
The Martin D-28 is an iconic guitar in the world of acoustics. For many, it is the definitive acoustic guitar. It generally presents with a spruce top, and mahogany or rosewood back and sides. The Dreadnought is a model that is a bit big for some. However, we believe that every prospective buyer of an acoustic guitar should try it for themselves.
As the name implies, these are huge guitars with a huge sound—not recommended for smaller-framed players.
Many concert guitars have a long and rich history. They are in the smaller-bodied category, which makes them comfortable to play. They are known for a bright sound with a strong mid-range
Grand Auditorium acoustic
A Grand Auditorium acoustic shape is an excellent choice for Flatpicking, fingerpicking, or strumming. Its sound is clear and prominent. Tonally it has well-defined treble, mids, and lows. It is an excellent all-rounder guitar.
Grand concert acoustic
The Grand Concert is a comfortable guitar to play, especially when seated. It’s an excellent option for fingerstyle players for home or stage players alike. A shorter scale length makes it easier to play.
Flamenco is designed to play the Flamenco music genre. They incorporate features to support the Flamenco style of playing. They have tap plates fitted to the guitar’s top to facilitate the tapping style, which is a big part of the Flamenco music playing style. Similar to Classical guitars, Flamenco guitars also use a wider neck.
The Jumbo acoustic guitar is excellent for the predominately strumming guitar player. Nice big sound down low yet retains clarity in the upper frequencies.
12 String acoustic guitars
Cutaways are trendy guitars; the term cutaway is used because part of the body is “cutaway” to allow the fretting hand to access the upper frets.
Purists believe that the sound of cutaways is affected because of the shape of the guitar. Technically perhaps that may be correct. In practice, perhaps not. If you are a guitar player that does not need access to the higher frets, a cutaway would be of no benefit to you.
The acoustic-electric guitar is essentially an acoustic guitar with an electric guitar pickup and its controls built into the guitar.
These guitars are ideal for anyone who wants an acoustic guitar but requires more volume for various playing situations.
Ideal for the gigging guitar player who wishes to play at venues where a standard acoustic may not be loud enough. I.e., open venues such as street performing.
“I have a 1969 Grammer Johnny Cash acoustic guitar, and it’s so inspirational.” Joe Bonamassa
The cost of an acoustic-electric will be higher due to all the electronics.
An acoustic-electric can be plugged into a PA system or an amp. Also, consider the cost of an amplifier in your budget for this option. Many acoustic-electric is fitted with tone and volume controls and a tuner. Having the ability to adjust the guitar’s tone is a great asset.
Tone controls do not stop with the built-in onboard controls. Like an electric guitar, adding external effects like reverb, delay, and other flavors gives you a new sonic palette with which to experiment.
Acoustic designated as ‘OM” is a size between a Dreadnought and a Parlor. It has a relatively small waist and elongated upper and lower bouts. It’s a good choice for fingerstyle and strumming.
Travel acoustic guitars
Minis such s the Taylor Mini GS are hugely popular with guitarists. A more petite body does not equate to a lower volume loss of quality.
However, popular with guitar players who frequently travel, many buy the Taylor Mini because they are often great-sounding and more comfortable than prominent-bodied acoustic guitars.
The parlor acoustic guitar is known for its focused high-end midrange. It’s great for fingerstyle comfortable because of its smaller size.
Acoustic guitars | Important considerations
We want to emphasize the importance of the right neck. It must feel comfy in your hands.
Chunky vs. Slim
In straightforward terms, some guitars have chunky (baseball bat) necks. Other guitars may have slimmer necks.
If the neck is the right neck, it should feel easy to form chords anywhere on the length of the neck. The size of the player’s hand will vary a lot from small to large.
Generally, a slimmer neck is easier to use for most players.
Width of the neck
The width of a guitar neck is measured at the nut. A wide neck allows the strings to be wider apart compared to a narrow neck.
A narrow neck will make it easier for players with small hands to make Barr chords.
A medium that allows a balance, not too wide yet easy to cleanly fret the strings.
A wider neck might appeal to a fingerstyle player with big hands or long fingers. (traditionally, Classical guitars have very wide necks. 2 or more inches is not uncommon.
The guitar’s action
The action refers to the spacing between the frets and the string. Guitars with lower action are easier to fret. However, if the string spacing is insufficient, the strings will buzz because they may contact the fret.
The guitar’s intonation
Intonation refers to all the strings when fretted on any position on the fretboard, which will sound the note correctly. If the intonation were incorrect, one or more notes would sound out of tune.
The nut is located at the top of the neck, where the fretboard meets the headstock. Furthermore, the nut is grooved to accommodate each of the guitar strings. The strings are located in their groove through a tuning peg and tuner hole.
The headstock locates the strings of the guitar tuning pegs and tuning keys.
Guitars are built in various sizes, from small and cozy to large with big curves.
A guitar’s scale length refers to a measurement taken from the guitar’s nut to the bridge. Scale length is an important specification to consider when choosing a guitar. A longer scale length guitar results in the strings requiring a higher tension.
A short-scale length guitar results in the guitar’s strings with less tension. The fret spacing is closer, making it easier to stretch the fingers onto a fret.
A guitar’s scale length will make an appreciable difference to the guitar’s playability. If you are a guitar player with small hands, a guitar with a shorter scale length.
Tonewoods in acoustic guitars.
An acoustic guitar is built with various types of woods called Tonewoods will influence the sound of an acoustic guitar depending on where and how they are used. Think about tonewoods like the ingredients of a cake. Tonewoods are flavors for the guitar.
Tonewoods have different physical properties, which will translate into the tonal characteristics of the wood. Tonal woods can be thought of as ingredients in a cookbook.
Various tonewoods are used as tonal flavors to use as an analogy. That being the case, tonal woods are selected for their tonal flavors. The tonewoods used for the top, sides, and back are especially important.
Much to consider
When buying a guitar, the choice of tonewoods should be carefully considered. Tonal woods influence a guitar’s sound due to the varying degrees of density and stiffness. Those characteristics will influence the sounds of the guitar’s bass, midrange, treble, and sustain.
“‘Flying In A Blue Dream’ was quite automatic. I was working on another song, and I took a break and picked up my acoustic guitar, tuned it strangely, and instantly wrote the tune. It’s funny how you can struggle with one piece and write a better one in a minute. Usually, when things come easy, it means it’s good.” Joe Satriani
Reviewing the specs of a guitar and determining the type of tonewoods can guide someone about how that guitar might sound.
Hardwoods vs. Softwoods
Tonewoods may be grouped into categories such as hard and softwoods. Hardwoods: have a higher density. Hardwood such as mahogany, rosewood, koa, and maple is often used for acoustic guitar’s back and sides. Softwoods are lightweight but have high tensile strength.
These are characteristics desired for the top or soundboard of the guitar. Typically these woods used are cedar, spruce, or redwood. Sitka spruce, in particular, is a very popular tonewood for a guitar’s top.
The result is a guitar that sounds crisp and has a clear tone, with excellent sustain and dynamic range. Furthermore, hardwoods are also used for guitar tops, usually made with mahogany or koa.
- Hardwood-top guitars, such as an all-koa or mahogany-top model, produce a natural compression so that they will not yield as quick a response as a spruce-top guitar will.
- There tends to be more of a controlled, sustaining “roll-in” effect to a note.
- Mahogany-top guitars will produce strong fundamentals with a clear and direct focus.
- Hardwood’s natural tonal compression will help even out the response of an aggressive strummer.
- All Koa guitars will sound similar to mahogany but with more shimmer and chime in the upper register because of their slightly denser nature.
- Guitar players with intense picking or strumming can often “dig in” on a hardwood top guitar without overdriving.
True to its name, a guitar’s slotted fretboard hold the frets in place. In the acoustic guitar world, ebony is widely used due to its density. Ebony is an excellent choice for fretboards because it holds frets exceptionally well, and its density provides resilience in the face of the rigors of fretting the strings.
Some guitar makers use rosewood fretboards (even more so in the electric guitar world); Taylor guitars have said they find “rosewood is less resilient than ebony because it has a lower density.”
Inexpensive guitars sometimes incorporate fretboards made of Richlite, a composite material. True to its name, a guitar’s slotted fretboard hold the frets in place. In the acoustic guitar world, ebony is widely used due to its density. Ebony is an excellent choice for fretboards because it holds frets exceptionally well, and its density provides resilience in the face of the rigors of fretting the strings.
- Some guitar makers use rosewood fretboards (even more so in the electric guitar world);
- Taylor guitars have said that “rosewood is less resilient than ebony because it has a lower density.”
- Inexpensive guitars sometimes incorporate fretboards made of Richlite, a composite material.
When discussing the various tonal properties of wood, it is defined in terms of the wood’s frequency range.
- Low-end frequencies
- Midrange frequencies
- High-end frequencies.
Acoustic guitar’s tonal woods defined – back and sides
A rich, musical tone with ringing overtones adds complexity and sustain. It has a broad range of deep lows, bell-like highs, and a slightly scooped midrange. It is known as one of the most enduring and popular tonewoods.
Indian Rosewood is known for its rich, “high-fidelity” acoustic voice with solid bass and treble; it has complex overtones and offers plenty of sustain. Rosewood is very much a versatile tonewood, ideal for various playing styles.
- Its tonal characters are known for their excellent midrange; it is often described as punchy, woody, or dry, all this without a lot of ringing overtones.
- To have a more controlled response that responds well to a strong playing attack can subdue the harshness of a heavy strummer.
- Clear and forthright tonal character. at times an excellent option for playing with other instruments
- At times referred to as an earthy, low-fi sound compared to rosewood’s gorgeous richer, high-fidelity characteristics.
- Mahogany guitars are often featured on many roots music recordings, from country blues to folk to rock.
Mahogany is ideal if:
You like a clear, direct tone with many midranges rootsy characters. It’s a good guitar wood to try if you’re unsure what tonal personality you want. Its controlled response makes it a forgiving wood for beginner-level players.
- It has been highly Revered in the bowed instrument world over the centuries because of its linear, transparent response; it reflects the player rather than imposing its personality.
- Maple is traditionally considered a clean, bright, and focused tone; it offers a quick attack and short note decay that cuts through a mix exceptionally well.
- Maple guitars produce warmth, complexity, volume, sustain, responsiveness, and overall versatility while retaining maple’s naturally evident qualities.
Maple is an excellent option if:
You want a tremendous all-around wood that can respond well to various playing styles. Maple is known to have a brighter sound with less warmth or sustain.
- Alternative to mahogany, with extra top-end sparkle
- Consistent and well-balanced output across the tonal spectrum
- Compatible with a diverse range of playing styles
Choose Sapele if:
You want a versatile-sounding guitar with good clarity and overall balance. It is very similar to mahogany. However, it has a bit more top-end. Because it doesn’t have as established heritage as mahogany, Sapele guitars tend to be more affordable.
- Substantial volume and midrange focus with a dry and yet clear warm, similar to mahogany and koa woods
- Top-end shimmer with a richness similar to rosewood
- Its all-around musicality suits a variety of body sizes and playing styles
Consider Blackwood if:
You’re looking for a great all-around acoustic sound. Furthermore, Blackwood responds well to various playing styles, making it a versatile performer. Its solid tonal output makes it a dynamic voice that responds well to lively strumming.
Fingerstyle players will love the clarity, warmth, and top-end shimmer. It is an excellent choice for recording and live performance applications.
- An African relative of rosewood, sharing many tonal qualities, including a broad tonal spectrum from lows to highs
- Slightly fuller midrange and treble response than rosewood, similar to koa
- a popular choice among players at every level
Consider ovangkol if:
You like the sound of rosewood with a little more midrange. Ovangkol’s versatility makes it an excellent choice for various playing styles. And because it’s a lesser-known wood than rosewood, an ovangkol guitar may be available at a more affordable price.
“Artie travels all the time. The rehearsals were just miserable. Artie and I fought all the time. He didn’t want to do the show with my band; he just wanted me on acoustic guitar.” Paul Simon
- Prized for their exotic visual appeal, guitar sets are often beautifully figured.
- Fairly dense tropical hardwood shares the same tonal properties as mahogany, i.e., a strong midrange with extra high-end brightness and a beautiful chime.
- The more playing time a Koa guitar receives and the more the wood ages, the warmer and sweeter its voice becomes.
Consider koa if:
You’re inspired by the visual appeal of exotic-looking woods and crave midrange tones with a bit of extra top-end brightness. Remember, a Koa guitar will age gracefully, rewarding you with a sound that improves with time.
West African Ebony
- Dense tonewood produces clear, articulate notes with solid volume and projection.
- Rich, ringing overtones that respond to a light touch or heavy playing
- Linear quality across the tonal spectrum for a very balanced sound
Consider West African ebony if You’re a fingerstyle player who loves ringing, sustained overtones or a heavy strummer who needs a strong attack and a presence that can cut to the front of a mix.
- The most commonly used wood for tops because it’s light and stiff in the right ways, especially when quartersawn
- Its lighter weight gives the top the freedom to move, which helps translate the player’s picking or strumming into a clear acoustic tone.
- Generates a broad dynamic range
- Accommodates an abundance of playing styles, from aggressive strumming to light fingerpicking
It goes well with:
Virtually every playing style. You might consider Adirondack spruce if you have an extremely aggressive strumming or picking style. Cedar is a good alternative if you have an exceptionally light touch or play fingerstyle.
- It is a naturally occurring hybrid of the Sitka and White/Engelmann spruce.
- Blends tonal characteristics of Sitka and Adirondack spruce to produce extra power, richness, and volume
- The midrange tones tend to have a slightly richer, sweeter quality
It goes well with:
Players with a driving attack who crave strong acoustic horsepower and dynamic range.
Western Red Cedar
- Less dense than spruce.
- Its relative softness adds warmth to a guitar’s tone, especially for players with a lighter touch, like fingerstyle players or light to moderate strummers and pickers.
- Players with a more vigorous attack are often better paired with spruce.
- Cedar pairs well with nylon-string models because of its responsiveness to the strings, producing less overall energy than a steel-string guitar.
It goes well with:
Fingerstyle players and players with a light picking or strumming touch crave a warm, responsive sound.
- A tight grain structure leads to a bold, punchy response with plenty of volumes.
- Brilliant high-end complemented by warm overtones similar to cedar
- High headroom for aggressive playing without topping out
It goes well with:
Players seek a richly variegated visual aesthetic with a powerful output and a responsive, woody low end.
Different Types of Acoustic Guitars | Tones Bright and dark
Bright Tone vs. Dark Guitar Tone
An acoustic guitar tone is often bright or dark. A trait is usually due to tonewoods used to construct the guitar or playing style. Picks can also cause a dark or bright tone.
An acoustic guitar’s tones are often described differently. A bright tone, treble emphasis, or lots of top ends. It’s a tone that you can hear by playing very close to the bridge. The closer to the bridge you play, the brighter and thinner the sound. Note: Thin pics can also contribute to a bright and light sound.
A dark sound has emphasized bass and a more significant low end. Furthermore, a dark tone can also be heard if you use a thick pick. The darker the tone will become as you play closer to the neck.
Experienced players use various picking positions as part of their sonic variations or, if you like, palettes.
Why do solid guitars sound better with age?
A characteristic of high-quality solid-bodied guitars is that their sound will improve as it ages. Much discussion has ensued amongst guitarists about solid-body guitars breaking in or requiring time to play in before it reaches their best sound.
This is said to be due to the wood, which has a degree of stiffness, becoming more relaxed because of the vibration from the strings over time. This is a phenomenon that is said to occur when played regularly.
The aging process for the guitars varies with the type of wood used to construct the guitar. Furthermore, hardwoods with a high density tend to take longer to break in. A high-quality guitar has been built from quality sold wood construction is said to improve its sound with age.
That is why an all-solid-body guitar is said to improve over time.
Acoustic guitar aesthetics
The visual elements
The visual appointments can add that touch of class to an acoustic guitar. At the same time, the instrument’s tonality and playing comfort are the most crucial features of your guitar. A guitar’s visual aesthetic plays a role in the total package for the guitar. After all, a guitar provides a multi-sensory experience.
“I grew up in the suburbs and was raised on rap radio, so it took me a long time to stumble upon the acoustic guitar as a resource for anything.” Cass McCombs
Visual enhancements range from clean and straightforward to detail-rich. Sunbursts are very popular and have many variations. You might opt for wood inlays and bindings. Abalone trim might be a good option, or pearl inlays all contribute to the visual appeal of the guitar.
Woods offer beautiful grain color variegation.
Fretboards, peghead, and rosette.
Abalone, Ivoroid, mother-of-pearl, and wood.
Body Bindings and Purflings
Ivoroid, wood, plastic, and various other materials.
Satin, matte, Gloss
Edge burst, Sunburst, custom color treatments.
When buying a guitar, a vital consideration is how the guitar is set up. A guitar’s setup refers, amongst other concerns, guitar’s action.
In short, the guitar’s action is the space between the guitar strings and the height of the frets. Furthermore, it may be hard to play; the strings might touch the frets and buzz if it is too low.
When buying a guitar, establish if the guitar’s setup suits your requirements. If a setup needs to be done, then the possible cost of the work needs to be included in your budget.
Be sure to allow for accessories in your budget when buying your guitar, especially if it’s your first guitar. The standard accessories are as follows:
- A high-quality hard case or gig bag.
- A capo
- Guitar picks
- Spare strings
- A guitar strap
- An electronic guitar tuner
- A high-quality guitar stand
Sooner rather than later, some maintenance will need to be done to your guitar. Changing the strings when required will revitalize the sound of your guitar. A few simple guitars will be required to do the job.
- A pair of side cutters.
- Some assorted screwdrivers
- Cleaning cloths and guitar polish.
A big tip is always to wash your hands before playing your guitar. Furthermore, some people tarnish the guitar strings more than others due to sweat.
It’s a good habit to keep two clean cotton rags, one to wipe the guitar body and another to clean the strings and only the strings.
Going shopping: Store vs. Online
Buying your acoustic guitar from a brick-and-mortar store is always the best option; buying from a store has the advantage of allowing you to try different types of acoustic guitars and make comparisons.
Look for a store with a wide selection of guitars.
Another advantage of a brick-and-mortar store is the help of an experienced and knowledgeable salesperson. Furthermore, if you are fortunate and have many stores in your area, try them all.
Buying online means purchasing the guitar without playing it. Perhaps you have played the guitar you like and decided to buy it online because it’s a great deal.
Guitar service and support
Always check the vendor’s return policy if you need to send the guitar back—both for an in-store purchase or online.
“I even played bass for a while. Besides playing electric guitar, I’d also get asked to play some acoustic stuff. But, since I didn’t have an acoustic guitar at the time, I used to borrow one from a friend so I could play folk joints.” Mark Knopfler
Financing your new acoustic guitar
Financing your new guitar may allow you to purchase the guitar of your dreams right away. It is also a way of buying those guitar accessories with the guitar. The vendor may cut a good deal.
As always, when taking out a loan, don’t go beyond your means. Financing is a personal decision that only you can make/
Tips for Test driving Acoustic Guitars
Note: Try to remember to bring a favorite pick with you. It should be fun when it comes to trying many different acoustic guitars. However, many feel a little overwhelmed and nervous playing guitars in a store, as with everything else in the acoustic guitar buying process. Think ahead.
Work out a playing sequence that will allow you to evaluate the guitar thoroughly. You can play some simple songs or chords up and down the neck. Some melody lines or fingerstyle.Whatever you choose to play, play the same thing on every guitar you try.
If you find an acoustic you’re interested in, have someone play it for you while listening in front of the guitar. It’s often surprising how different it might sound when in front of it while it’s being played by someone else. Have the person playing the guitar play the same thing you have been playing if possible.
Plug it in
If you’re checking out an acoustic-electric, ask if you may plug it into an amp. Suppose you have your amp. Consider bringing it with you.
Suppose you are trying acoustic guitars with different tonewoods. Be sure to jot down a few notes.
Form a relationship with the salesperson. They are most often guitar players also. Make their job easier by declaring the reason you are there. Suppose you are there to evaluate different guitars only on that day and not buy. Be sure to let the salesperson know.
Only go to the guitar store when you have plenty of time. Don’t rush. Sometimes it is best to leave a day or two in-between “roadtesting guitars.” It may turn out that deciding which guitar is best from all the different types of acoustic guitars you have tried may be difficult. It may be best to try them again the next day or so after the first.
Etiquette | In-store Do and donts
- Don’t lean a guitar against the wall or some other prop.
- Do use a guitar stand or a hangar.
- Please don’t ask for a pick and then put it in your mouth.
- Do bring your picks.
- In the case of acoustic-electric, do not plug it in and play it loud when the store is full of people.
- Don’t plugin with the volume turned down or the amp on standby.
- Don’t leave an amp on after you have finished.
- Do turn an amp on when you are finished.
- Do play in an isolation room if the store has one.
- Don’t be rough with the guitar.
- Do be respectful and careful with the guitar.
- Don’t play with dirty hands.
- Do wash your hands before playing the guitars.
- Don’t wear a buckle belt or anything else to damage the guitar.
- Do wear clothing that will not damage the guitars.
- Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions.
- Do ask all the questions you need to.
Acoustic guitar manufactures
There are way too many acoustic guitar manufacturers to list them all here. However, here are just a few.
The epiphone is widely seen as a budget guitar builder. They do, however, build fine acoustic guitars.
Fender is well known for its electric guitars, especially the Stratocaster and the Telecaster. Furthermore, they have an excellent range of different types of acoustic guitars also.
Gibson guitars are perhaps one of the best-known guitar manufacturers globally. Some of their electric and acoustic guitars are legendary.
Guild guitars are a premium brand that targets intermediate and advanced guitar players.
Larrivee is all-solid wood, professional-quality guitar.
Martin is a very well-known premium acoustic guitar builder. They have many iconic guitars.
Guitar manufacturers Ovation and Adamas guitars are well known for their round-back guitars. Furthermore, It’s a feature that gives their guitars a very recognizable shape.
Seagull Guitars build high-quality instruments. They are known to be premium guitar builders.
Taylor acoustic guitars are a well-known acoustic guitar brand. They offer a very comprehensive range of quality instruments.
Yamaha is a well-known company that sells very high-quality musical instruments. Their acoustic guitars are no exception.
Our Guitar Buying tips
Essential considerations for buying your new acoustic guitar.
When you begin to search for your perfect acoustic, you will find a host of options, extras, and features for all the various types of acoustic guitars at all the different price points. Our number one tip always is to buy the best possible guitar that you can afford.
If this is the first time you buy a guitar, or perhaps you are a beginner, you may be tempted to buy a cheaper guitar. Beginners often conclude that purchasing a more affordable guitar and upgrading later is best.
As a beginner or a first-time buyer of a guitar, we say a high-quality instrument will encourage you to play. An inferior guitar will not inspire you in the same way. However, cheaper guitars do not automatically mean a lousy guitar. The fact is a quality guitar can be had at most price points.
But generally speaking, a guitar’s quality will improve as the price increases. That said, seasoned guitar players will agree with the following: if a guitar is the right guitar, it will speak to you.
“It’s amazing what the acoustic guitar can bring to the picture.” John Waite
It will sound as you would like it to -sound, it will be comfortable, and it will inspire you to play it. If you experience anything less, then perhaps you need to keep shopping.
Buying an Acoustic guitar | The Pitfalls
You will be an informed buyer if you commit to following our advice. However, let us list the most common pitfalls of buying an acoustic guitar.
Make a list
Call us obsessive-compulsive if you like; however, we say it’s a good idea, while a list is not essential. Shopping can be frustrating, and there is much to think about and much to remember. We will encourage you to write it down, a pocket memory. That’s why having a list will serve you well.
A simple checklist will help you remember which guitars appealed and which did not. Record some specs prices and make some comments about each guitar. The list can be as simple or comprehensive as you wish.
Before you buy, take plenty of time to browse and try all the different types of acoustic guitars that you can. A list takes the load off your brain. Shopping for a new acoustic guitar should be fun.
Play some quality instruments when you have an opportunity to do so.
Guitar advice Team member Ivan Avicolli plays a demo on his Yamaha AC5R acoustic guitar.
Playing a high-end guitar will give a point of reference for comparing guitars. Furthermore, always play another guitar whenever you can, even the occasional cheaper guitar. It won’t take long to learn the differences.
Be sure to take lots of notes as you go along when trying each guitar. That way, you won’t need to rely on your memory. Take all the time you need, try as many guitars as possible.
What will your new quality acoustic guitar be?
It will look great; However, quality acoustics will have high-quality components, wood, and tasteful aesthetics. Quality acoustic guitars should last a lifetime.
- It will stay in tune.
- Correctly intonated for the full range of the fretboard.
- The guitar will sound clear and complete across the total spectrum. This guitar will be hard to stop playing and put down.
- It will have ample volume and sustain.
- It will be set up correctly for you, the player.
- If the guitar is brand new, it should be supported with a warranty.
- The guitar’s size, type, and scale length will be per your needs.
- The guitar will be comfortable and easy to play.
- If constructed from solid wood, it will sound better as it ages.
- All the above will be confirmed when the guitar speaks to you.
This buying guide will give you all the information you need to choose from the many types of acoustic guitars that are available successfully. Remember, the right guitar will make it self-known to you when you play it. The right guitar will feel comfortable to play both sitting and standing. The right guitar will sound and feel right. A life analogy is when you meet the lady of your dreams. You will know she is the right one for you.
“Gibson Les Paul.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Nov. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Les_Paul.
Taylor Guitars, https://www.taylorguitars.com/.
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