Below I have outlined what I consider to be the top 10 acoustic guitar brands currently making guitars.
The acoustic guitar industry is pretty huge and these brands are what I consider to be the best in the business currently, from what I’ve experienced.
The list takes into account different budget ranges – it’s not just the brands that make the best guitars but brands that also make some really decent guitars that are a little bit more friendly on the wallet.
These are in no particular order.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #10: Martin
Building Guitars Since: 1833
Headquarters: Nazareth, Pennsylvania, USA
Factory(s) located: Nazareth, Pennsylvania | Navojoa, Mexico
Price Range: USD MSRP $429 – $11,299 (not incl limited editions/special editions)
The name Martin is synonymous with acoustic guitars and is probably the first brand that a lot of people think of when they hear the phrase “acoustic guitar” or certainly the phrase “acoustic guitar brand”.
Martin is definitely focused on producing high-end guitars and would be hard to argue that they didn’t make the some of the best guitars in the world.
But they are one of those brands, where you can look at their price range and it’s painting a reasonably accurate picture – the guitars they make at the low end of that price range are worth looking at if that’s your budget. The guitars in this range are actually really good quality instruments (IMO) and perhaps one of the reasons for this is a trickle down effect from their more high-end range.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #9: Taylor
Building Guitars Since: 1974
Headquarters: El Cajon, California, USA
Factory(s) located: El Cajon, California | Tecate, Mexico
Price Range: USD MSRP $428 – $9,458
Like Martin, Taylor is synonymous with acoustic guitars. They are a much younger company and brand but have fast become the largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars.
They challenge Martin for acoustic guitar supremacy and in a lot of ways are similar – certainly when it comes to their price range. They make some really nice high-end guitars – but at the lower end of their price range, there are some great guitars that offer great value for money. Again, this might be something to do with trickle down tech from their higher end instruments.
But they are certainly a sonically very different brand to Martin. When you get the chance to play a lot of different Martin’s and a lot of different Taylor’s you get to know that each has a certain sound – even where tonewoods are the same and size/shape is similar, a Martin will sound like a Martin and a Taylor will sound like a Taylor.
What you like better might just come down to personal preference.’
Acoustic Guitar Brand #8: Seagull
Building Guitars Since: 1982
Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Factory(s) located: LaPatrie, Quebec, Canada
Price Range: USD MSRP $349 to $1,499 (converted from Canadian dollars)
Hailing from Canada, this relatively young brand has made some big strides in the industry. They are made by Godin guitars (which also make Art & Lutherie, Simon & Patrick, Norman and La Patrie).
Seagull guitars are easily recognizable by their distinctive tapered headstock (which is supposed to help to keep your guitar in tune for longer) but that’s probably not the key to their success.
The key, in my opinion, would be that they are able to make quality all solid wood guitars that retail for around that $1,000 or less mark.
They also have some quality lower-end guitars, that use laminate back and sides, but it’s their Artist and Maritime series guitars (all guitars in both series are all solid wood) that stand out from the crowd, IMO.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #7: Fender
Building Acoustic Guitars Since: 1963
Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Factory(s) located: Corona, California, USA | Baja California, Mexico
Price Range: USD MSRP $100 -$999
Though Fender are more known for their electric guitars (the iconic Telecaster and Stratocaster to name but two), Fender make a range of acoustic guitars also.
I’m not going to claim that they’re the best acoustic guitars on the planet, because they’re not, but they are decent instruments for reasonable prices. They’re focus is definitely on that lower-end of the market.
Even their Paramount series, their most pricey instruments still come in at a recommended price of less than $1,000.
And perhaps the best value for money acoustic-electric guitar on the market – the Fender T Bucket 300ce – goes for less than $300.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #6: Gibson
Building Acoustic Guitars Since: 1902
Headquarters: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Factory(s) located: Nashville, Tennessee, USA | Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Price Range: USD MSRP $1,499 – $21,399
Like Fender, Gibson are also more well known for their electric guitars – but unlike Fender, they focus on high-end, high-priced instruments.
Well, even though they’re more known for their electric guitars (think Les Paul) – they are also commonly referred to as one of the top 3 when it comes to acoustic guitars – so they are one of those rare brands that do electrics and acoustics well.
Yes, there are acoustic brands that make electrics and electric brands that make acoustics but they always seem to do one or the other quite a bit better – for Gibson it’s hard to say which they actually do better.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #5: Yamaha
Building Guitars Since: 1942
Headquarters: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
Factory(s) located: Tenryu, Japan | East Jakarta, Indonesia
Price Range: USD MSRP $245 – $7,299
Reliable is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Yamaha.
Typically, you can pick up any Yamaha guitar and it will be reliable – in terms of sound, in terms of playability, in terms of intonation etc.
Though the price range for Yamaha acoustic guitars is a broad one, it’s a bit deceiving to look at in isolation. Their main focus, and where they really excel, is in making quality instruments that come in at a low price-point.
One of the highest selling, and perhaps the best value for money guitar going around is the Yamaha FG800 – for a guitar that you can realistically buy for around $200 (MSRP $325), you might be very surprised by the sound and the quality of this guitar.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #4: Ovation
Building Guitars Since: 1966
Headquarters: New Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Factory(s) located: New Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Price Range: $369 – $3,499
The only brand in this list that has a fibreglass rounded back (no back and sides here – just a back essentially).
That makes them unique for sure, but this isn’t a list of the most unique guitar brands.
What inspired me to include them in this list is the consistency that they bring, their ease of play and their ability when plugged in.
If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar that’s consistent, more robust to differing weather conditions, and sounds even better plugged in that it does unplugged (a rarity in my experience), then Ovation is a brand worth looking at.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #3: Takamine
Building Guitars Since: 1959
Headquarters: Sakashita, Japan
Factory(s) located: Sakashita, Japan
Price Range: USD MSRP $229 – $2,899
These guys make some seriously good guitars but still keep their prices within a reasonable range.
I really loved the P1NC that I tried – part of their Pro Series 1.
There are some quite unique aspects to Takamine guitars too – like their split saddle, pinless bridge and asymmetrical neck.
The next 2 brands are brands that I have little to no experience with but have been brought in here based on reputation and research.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #2: Larrivee
Building Guitars Since: 1967
Headquarters: Oxnard, California, USA
Factory(s) located: Oxnard, CA, USA
Price Range: USD MSRP $1,648 – $5,048
Not the first name you go to in your head when you think of top acoustic guitars – but maybe that’s a marketing problem – because more and more people seem to be raving about their Larrivee guitars.
Not a brand of guitar that I’ve played but this comes in based on research and what I’ve heard from those who own them.
They definitely focus on the higher end market – on making high-end instruments.
Whilst this company started out life in Toronto, Canada, production now takes place in California, USA (since 2011). Production was in both California and Vancouver, BC, Canada until 2013 but the Vancouver factory closed in 2013.
Acoustic Guitar Brand #1: Breedlove
Building Guitars Since: 1992
Headquarters: Bend, Oregon, USA
Factory(s) located: Bend, Oregon, USA
Price Range: USD MSRP $399 – $8,399
There were others I could have put in here – but I wanted to include an up and comer.
O.K. so 1992 doesn’t sound that recent (and they were working on designing and building their guitars well before their launch date so it’s actually earlier than this really) but in guitar terms, it’s pretty darn recent.
And since it’s the only brand on this list that was started after I was born, it’s recent comparatively!
Here’s a quick overview of the top 10, their price range and the year that they started building acoustic guitars.
|Brand||Since||Low-End Price||High-End Price|
There are a number of other acoustic brands (such as Guild, Washburn, Blueridge, Ibanez, Epiphone to name just a few) that didn’t make this list. Should any of those or any others be on this list, in your opinion?
Anything here that doesn’t belong?
Leave a comment in the comments section below if you agree or disagree with this list.