These are what I consider to be the top 10 acoustic guitars out of all the guitars that I’ve played over the last couple of years.
I will update this list as I try more guitars, if I consider any of those to be better than any of the guitars on this list.
The guitars are chosen based on my enjoyment of playing them but I have also tried to include guitars with a variety of shapes/sizes and tonewoods and also over a variety of price ranges (though it should be noted that I don’t often play guitars that cost more than $3,000).
Ok, let’s get into the Top 10, in no particular order.
Top Acoustic Guitar #10
Guitar: Taylor 114ce
Price: $1,058 USD MSRP
Size/Shape: Grand Auditorium
Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Laminate Sapele (2017 and onwards models now have Walnut Back and Sides)
This is just an all round solid, dependable guitar. I thought about putting the 214ce in here instead – but to be perfectly honest I preferred the tone of the 114ce. They both play exactly the same but the 114ce has a slightly warmer more mellow tone to it (to my ear).
It’s a subtle but noticeable difference between the two and some will prefer the more Rosewood-y sound of the 214ce but I (just) preferred the sound of the 114ce.
Whilst this guitar didn’t blow me away, it is the kind of guitar you can rely on to sound good and play well and not put too much of a dent in the bank account!
I liked having the cutaway but you can also get a version with a non-cutaway (which will save you $140).
You can also get a Nylon string version of this guitar if that’s more your thing (add $50).
Of course, like most guitars on this list, the actual price you pay will be less than the MSRP.
Top Acoustic Guitar #9
Guitar: Martin DX1RAE
Price: $929 USD MSRP
Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Laminate Rosewood
As I’ve grown older, I’ve been less into Dreadnoughts – but sometimes I pick up a Dreadnought that renews my love for them. The DX1RAE is one of those.
The biggest surprises with this guitar for me were:
- How warm this guitar actually sounds, given the Spruce top and Rosewood (all-be-it laminate rosewood) back/sides
- How balanced the sound was, especially for a dreadnought
- The amount of man-made materials on this guitar (the fretboard is something called Richite, as is the bridge, the nut is Corian, the saddle is Tusq and the neck is Laminate Birch)
But the best thing about this guitar is the way it feels to play. I loved the feel of this guitar and didn’t want to put it down.
Top Acoustic Guitar #8
Guitar: Yamaha FG800
Price: MSRP USD $325
Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Laminate Nato
Everyone now and then, when I’m in a music store demoing guitars, I have to go and pick up an FG800 and play it for a few minutes.
Because I have to keep reminding myself that this guitar does actually sound as good as it does for this price!
This is something that in reality you can actually walk away with for $200 brand new. But it doesn’t sound like your typical $200 guitar when you play it.
And part of that reason is that most guitars that you buy at this price point don’t have a solid Sitka Spruce top on them – the other part is just good construction I guess.
Whatever it is, this is hands down the best guitar under $300 anyone produces (IMO).
Top Acoustic Guitar #7
Guitar: Martin OM18 Authentic 1933
Price: $6,599 US MSRP
Top Wood: Adirondack Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Mahogany
Going from the cheapest to the most expensive on this list, the OM-18 Authentic 1933 somehow feels like a guitar is supposed to feel. There’s no way to describe that in words but it really does.
It almost doesn’t feel like a guitar that’s in this kind of price range at first. It feels like it’s old (I guess that’s what they’re going for with the 1933 thing!) but the more you play it, the more you realize that this is what a guitar should feel like – and this is what Mahogany/Spruce should sound like.
I left the guitar store frantically searching for ways in my head to come up with the money (and to justify spending it on one guitar) to obtain this beauty.
I haven’t yet but I’m working on it!
Top Acoustic Guitar #6
Guitar: Fender T Bucket 300ce
Price: $299 USD
Top Wood: Laminated Flame or Laminated Quilt Maple or Laminated Quilt Ash depending on the color
Back/Sides Wood: Laminate Mahogany
This is one guitar you probably aren’t going to see under it’s MSRP. But that doesn’t make it any less value for money as the MSRP is already incredible.
I was surprised as to how this sounded and played considering the price-tag.
Now, it didn’t blow me away or anything – you’re not going to give you your left leg to own this guitar – but considering that it also has electronics, and with a solid sound and easy playability – this is a great option for someone who wants to plug in and also has a low budget.
Top Acoustic Guitar #5
Guitar: Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
Size/Shape: GS Mini (scaled down version of Taylor’s Grand Symphony)
Top Wood: Tropical Mahogany
Back/Sides Wood: Layered Sapele
Now this is one that did blow me away!
The sound that comes out of this thing is incredible. This is not a very big guitar by any means – but you wouldn’t know it if you just heard it and didn’t see it.
It also plays really nice. Sure, for those with bigger fingers, it won’t be easy doing some things in the upper frets but otherwise this is a smooth guitar to play.
I have the Mahogany version here but you can also get it with other tonewoods – I just have an affinity for Mahogany. Though it was a very tough choice not to put the Koa version in here, which I also had a chance to play – I actually think I might even like that slightly better – but it’s limited edition and not that easily available.
The other versions you can get are:
- Sitka Spruce Top with Layered Sapele Back and Sides (GS Mini)
- Sitka Spruce Top with Layered Rosewood Back and Sides (GS Mini-e RW)
- Sitka Spruce Top with Walnut Back and Sides (GS Mini-e Walnut); and
- Hawaiian Koa Top with Layered Koa Back and Sides (GS Mini-e Koa FLTD)
You can also get the GS Mini and Mini Mahogany with electronics (for an extra $130).
This is the best option for a small guitar going around, IMO.
Top Acoustic Guitar #4
Guitar: Ovation Celebrity Standard
Price: $369 USD MSRP
Size/Shape: Mid-Depth Cutaway
Top Wood: Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Fibreglass (of sorts) back – it doesn’t really have sides as it’s rounded
Again, this is one that didn’t blow me away in terms of it’s character and tone – but what did impress me about it was how compact, even and balanced the tone was. And even more so was how effortless it was to play.
It doesn’t have the kind of tone that I would say would be great for solo acoustic guitar – it’s got more of a compact sound great for strumming. But it’s a guitar, both in terms of sound and playability that’s hard to make errors on – it won’t punish you if your right-hand control is a bit off.
This guitar is super easy to play and in such a way that it stood out from everything else that I have tried.
Top Acoustic Guitar #3
Guitar: Seagull Artist Mosaic
Price: $950 USD MSRP
Top Wood: Cedar
Back/Sides Wood: Mahogany
This is one of the few all solid wood guitars you can get for under $1,000. And is the best of them, IMO.
This is my value-for-money pick for this list – and it’s something a little bit different in terms of the Cedar top.
Top Acoustic Guitar #2
Guitar: Martin GPCPA5K
Price: $999 USD MSRP
Size/Shape: Grand Performance
Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
Back/Sides Wood: Laminate Koa
From their Performing Artist series, Martin’s GCPA5K was one of my favorite guitars to play recently – it’s on this list so it must be right!
But even forgetting about making this list balanced with different priced guitars, different shapes and different tone woods, this would be one of my picks.
Like the DX1RAE earlier in this list, this guitar has its fair share of man-made parts – but that takes nothing away from this guitar.
It’s tone and playability are a joy. I look forward to getting more time on this guitar in the future – or at least something else from the Performing Artist series.
There’s also a step up you can go from there which is the guitars with a “4” in the name. There are 2 distinct sides to the Performing Artist Series – the 4’s and the 5’s. The 4’s feature solid wood back and sides (with a considerable jump in price as you’d expect).
Top Acoustic Guitar #1
Guitar: Taylor 322e
Price: $2,178 USD MSRP
Size/Shape: Grand Concert
Top Wood: Mahogany
Back/Sides Wood: Tasmanian Blackwood
If I had to pick one guitar that was my favorite off this list, this would be it.
Usually I favor Martin guitars when it comes to Mahogany – but I played this alongside an all Mahogany Martin and preferred this one. Not all was the same, of course – for one thing, this has Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides – but one things for sure, this guitar was a joy to play and the sound was one of the more pleasant acoustic guitar sounds I’ve heard in a while.
And as a bonus, this guitar looks amazing! In my opinion anyway.
If someone was to give me $2,000 to buy a guitar right now (anyone?… ?) this is what it would be.
The video here is for an older version of the 322e (which has Sapele back/sides so not the perfect representation)
You can also get this in a 12 fret model – something I’d love to try next time I see one.
Thanks for Reading
I hope you enjoyed this overview of my top 10 acoustic guitars and hopefully it gave you some useful information.
What’s your favorite guitar of the last couple of years? Or your favorite guitar ever? Leave a comment below.