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 history behind 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 “the best 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 get a reasonably accurate idea – 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.
This is undoubtedly one of their most popular models, thanks in no small part to a certain English pop star who has catapulted the use of smaller-bodied acoustic guitars into the stratosphere.
There are plenty of advantages to using a guitar of this size, not least the varying tonal quality. Whereas a larger style of acoustic guitar like a dreadnought might drown out a relatively meek voice, this smaller guitar is perfectly suited to accompany it.
Martin Guitars DX Johnny Cash Signature Edition
For those looking for a Martin guitar that is a little more versatile but that does not attempt to even hide its admiration for heroes past and present, then here’s your man.
In collaboration with popular music legend Johnny Cash, Martin released this signature guitar which does an incredible job of capturing his spirit in a guitar, doused in black just as he once was. If you are in any way a fan of Cash and his music, then this is a must-have!
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 best acoustic guitar brands. If you take a look at the history of Taylor guitars, you will notice that they are a much younger company, but have fast become the largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars.
Taylor guitars 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.
They are certainly a sonically very different brand to Martin, no matter of your playing style. 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.
This is a prime example of the kind of instrument that has set Taylor apart from their competitors, boasting an incredibly clear and crystalline tonal output, with a distinguished pumping volume to boot.
When you hear a guitar like this, it is not hard to see why it is so often the domain of touring musicians who not only need an instrument that is going to last the myriad trials and tribulations that befall a professional musician on the road; they also need an instrument that is going to look and sound the part with no questions asked.
Taylor GS Mini
If you are looking for something that is a little more transportable but no less a Taylor guitar, then this is a classic for all ages.
Much as with the smaller Martin models, this has a unique and desirable tonal quality that works incredibly well at accompanying soft voices of all kinds; the size also makes it far adaptable and transportable than some of the other more wieldy full-sized Taylor’s.
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.
Seagull acoustic guitars offer 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.
Seagull Artist Studio 12
This is the kind of guitar that sets Seagull apart from the rest, strung through with 12 strings to offer a wide and varied spectrum of sounds at your fingertips.
If you are looking for a 12-string acoustic guitar and want to know who to trust, then you can’t really go wrong with this offering. Sure, it is rather expensive, but when has this not been an indicator of the care and attention poured into a product?
For something a little more usual – though no less stylish – we have this guitar, the minimally named Seagull S6, minimalism mirrored in the myriad small touches and the streamlined headstock that gets in and out with very little added rigmarole.
The red and white combination here arrayed is one that will be very familiar to those with a certain perverted and fetishistic fascination with the decade of the 1960s in all its forms, though especially through the lens of American popular music. This model really wouldn’t be amiss in a country hoedown!
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 acoustic guitars come from brand that is more famous for their electric guitars (the iconic Telecaster and Stratocaster to name two), Fender does make a range of great acoustics as well.
I’m not going to claim that Fender acoustic guitars are 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, considering electric and acoustic guitars on the market – the Fender T Bucket 300ce. It goes for less than $300!
Fender Malibu Player
This relatively new offering from Fender offers everyone who can afford it the opportunity to relive those classic moments from Blue Hawaii, wherein Elvis Presley serenades a native of the island state.
Elvis would go on to use a guitar of this ilk, the kind of dreadnought acoustic adorned with the classic Fender headstock, throughout his career, so now really is your chance to affordably relive any fantasy of donning the shoes of the king of rock and roll that you might have had.
For something a little more classic – though no less affordable – we have this offering from Fender, one that effaces many of the trademark visual and aesthetic cues we have come to take for granted as uniquely Fender’s.
One of the first acoustic guitars I properly considered and weighed up in my mind was just such an acoustic guitar by Fender, though adorned in a deep black (that of course exhibits sweaty and sticky smudges and fingerprints like it gets off on it). This was the guitar of my first ever guitar teacher, and if it served him well then no doubt it can do you a favor or two too!
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 acoustic guitars come from a brand with a history of excellent electric guitars. But unlike Fender, they focus on high-end, high-priced instruments.
Well, even though Gibson guitars are more known for as electric guitars, 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 can make an excellent electric guitar, 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.
If you have ever watched any live videos of classic folk acts or rock acts gone acoustic, then you will no doubt have seen a guitar precisely like this in action. They are dependable, reliable, and fully capable of bringing any kind of acoustic music to life.
Many liken the experience of owning a Gibson acoustic guitar to having their own steed, one they can’t imagine living without taking out to ride – and, at that price point, you would hope so!
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. The main focus of Yamaha acoustic guitars is – they really excel 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. This guitar can be found for around $200 (MSRP $325), and you might be very surprised by the sound and the quality of this guitar.
This is almost certainly the most affordable offering on this list, though it is no less potent for it!
I remember living with a housemate who owned one such Yamaha acoustic guitar. Though it was easily the cheapest guitar in the house, not to mention the cheapest acoustic, it was still the guitar we gravitated towards the most. It had a certain way about it: the strings were tight and strong and, compared to my own parlor guitar, this thing was incredibly loud. They sure know how to make an acoustic guitar sing!
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
Ovation acoustic guitars come from 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.
Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus
For those looking for something a little out of the ordinary, then this offering from Ovation will no doubt have you covered, offering the kind of tones that a resonator might offer if it were jacked up on steroids.
Not only do their guitars sound really interesting, but they also tend to look rather beautiful too, this particular range of guitars being tastefully adorned with all sorts of flamed finish in the particulars of the wood. This shallow-bodied guitar is bound to turn heads and have ears pricked skyward in reverence.
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, the part of their Pro Series 1.
Takamine guitars history brings up quite unique aspects – like their split saddle, pinless bridge and asymmetrical neck, all wrapped up in generally pretty good, affordable guitars.
This is a brand whose robustness and dedication to the cause I can personally vouch for, having been a proud owner of a Takamine New Yorker parlor guitar for some years now.
Of particular note is their emphasis on the mid-range of frequency, something that I have rarely ever encountered in other acoustic guitars that I have played. This prioritizing of the mid-range opens up new possibilities musically, ones that I had not previously considered myself.
All of this on top of the fact that they are well-known in these circles as manufacturers of sturdy and reliable instruments where love has been poured in at every step, not to mention the long list of professional musicians who have used them and/or endorsed them over the years.
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 and 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.
This is another rather pricey offering, though I might suggest that, as with others on this list, the price is rather justified, for you are getting a high-end acoustic guitar that will not only serve you immediately but will be able to keep up with more or less anything you throw at it for many years to come. Investing in this kind of acoustic guitar is more or less investment for life.
The Larrivee brand is especially prized as a recording guitar, offering forth some of the most pristine tonal responses imaginable. These guitars are perfectly suited to recordings that are uncomfortably intimate, where the microphone will pick out even the slightest hesitation.
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!
Breedlove Discovery Companion
For those wanting to take their first love (music) on the road but without sacrificing too much of the tonal capabilities, then this is certainly a contender for the plucking of your heartstrings.
The travel guitar is an ingenious idea, though it is all too often a little disappointing when we get round to actually using it, no matter how much it can save us from boredom when on holiday or out on the road. The Breedlove is an exception! Though far from a reputable brand like some others here arrayed, the Breedlove really can deliver the goods when you are out and about.
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.
Since the brand was mentioned in my comments below, I’ve also now written a review on Zager guitars!
FAQs Acoustic Guitar Brands
Though there is not one singular acoustic brand that is the best of all and is universally accepted to be, Martin is the one that comes to mind for me, though this is likely a result of years of advertising and cultural propaganda. Martin guitars are always the acoustics that feel the most out of reach in a guitar store, the ones that have that extra spotlight shone upon them, almost causing your wallet to throw itself into the air with reckless abandon, not caring what happens to it or where it ends up so long as it can have some brief but beautiful moments with a guitar like this.
Most of the best acoustic guitar brands offer a pretty capable range of cheaper options. The one that immediately springs to mind is the Jim Dandy acoustic that was brought out by Gretsch not long ago; that thing sure is a lot of fun to play with. As a brand, on the whole, I would suggest Takamine, for they offer guitars of considerable quality for very reasonable prices. I might, however, be a little biased, having owned one of these guitars for several years and never really owning any other acoustic guitar brands.
This is an entirely subjective question, as almost everything that claims to be the ‘best’ is, so I can only offer forth my own opinion. The brands that come to mind for me are Fender, Gretsch, Eastwood, Takamine, Selmer, Burns, Mosrite, Martin, Eko, and Rickenbacker. I would say that I have only played around half of these brands for myself (Fender, Eastwood, Takamine, Selmer, Eko Gretsch), though, with some only being here based on reputation and being used by some of my favorite artists. Even fewer of these brands I have actually owned for myself.
Considering just how many variations there are on the acoustic guitar and the acoustic guitar shape, it would be impossible to single out one model among the countless droves of them that adorn the market each and every day and continue to saturate our tiny little minds like nauseating little light bulbs starved of attention. However, even from just looking around on various websites, it is not hard to see that the most popular shape is that of the dreadnought, with many beginner acoustic guitars (including those that come in little bundles for learners to learn with) being produced and sold in precisely this shape.