The 10 best acoustic guitars for all styles and budgets

Whether you’re looking for your first acoustic, a campfire strummer or a busking workhorse, we’ve got you covered.

Martin Inception GPCE
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The world of acoustic guitars is a huge and perhaps intimidating one to dive into. If you’re a beginner, all the talk of tonewood, bracing patterns and strange abbreviations for body shapes may fly completely over your head. If you’re a seasoned player with some cash to spend, a great acoustic can and should last you a lifetime – but there are far more excellent options on the market than you could ever hope to try.

So, we’ve compiled this handy list of guitars which will clear things up a little: no matter if you need your first guitar, a small guitar, a smart guitar, a hybrid guitar or the last guitar you’ll ever need, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in.

The best acoustic guitars, at a glance:

Best acoustic for beginners: Cort Earth L60M

Cort Earth L60

The Cort Earth L60M is an amazing instrument for beginners. Construction consists of an orchestra-sized OM body shape, satin-finished mahogany top, back and sides, a smooth-playing playable satin-finished mahogany neck and a 25.5” scale length. Given its sound and playability, it could easily cost several hundred pounds more than it does. While its strong sound and pleasingly natural aesthetic make it excellent value for money, for beginners in particular the out-of-the-box setup of very playable low action is the most inviting thing about it.

Need more? Read our Cort Earth L60M review.

Best affordable acoustic: Fender PO-220E

Fender Paramount PO-220E

For just £649, the Fender PO-220E is a lot of acoustic guitar for the money. Construction is all solid wood – a Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck and ovangkol fretboard and bridge. These raw woods come together in one of the prettiest guitars you can find this side of a grand – helped along by that pleasing tiger-striped pickguard, vintage-hued finish and eye-catching binding.

Playability and sound are great, too – the lack of gloss on the neck lends it a played-in feel that suits the overall vintage vibe, and the profile is a pleasingly comfortable one. And despite the orchestra body-size, it’s still got a good amount of projection, even if there’s not the boomy low-end of a dreadnought.

Need more? Read our Fender PO-220E review.

Best electro-acoustic: Taylor Builder’s Edition 814ce

Taylor Builder's Edition 814ce

Taylor’s ES2 active pickup system is a very unique piece of kit – rather than just being a piezo below the saddle, three sensors run through the bridge behind the saddle. The result is an amplified sound really quite unlike anything else, arguably more ‘true’ to the natural sound of the guitar. It helps that here the guitar in question is an excellent one – extremely comfortable to hold and play, absolutely gorgeous to look at and bearing a singing, vocal character to its sound.

Need more? Read our Taylor Builder’s Edition 814ce review.

Best dreadnought acoustic: Martin D-28 Modern Deluxe

martin modern deluxe d-28

“Modern” may not be what you think of when you picture a Martin dreadnought, but, the D-28 Modern Deluxe does manage to balance forward-looking innovation and staying true to the soul of the original design. There’s a torrefied Sitka spruce top that aims to capture the magic of a 100-year-old instrument, but there’s also a satin-finished mahogany neck that’s far from traditional, with a slim and asymmetrical version of Martin’s High Performance profile. The result is a true best-of-both-worlds guitar, and for our money on of the absolute best dreadnoughts you can buy right now.

Need more? Read our Martin D-28 Modern Deluxe review.

Best high-end acoustic: Martin Inception GPCE

Martin Inception GPCE

Speaking of innovation – Martin’s new Inception guitar makes no bones about being a completely forward-looking instrument, with a very unconventional collection of tonewoods and distinctly modern, fast-playing neck profile. But maybe the biggest change is the skeletonised bracing – one step further than scalloping, this keeps the strength of the top while increasing resonance and projection.

Despite the change-up on the design front, it still sounds like a Martin, however – albeit one with a little more pronounced mid- and high-end frequencies. While it may lack some characteristic low-end thump, this leads to an overall more balanced sound, and the bold innovation has paid off in spades when it comes to the overall sound, look and feel of the guitar.

Need more? Read our Martin Inception GPCE review.

Best small-bodied acoustic: Sheeran By Lowden W02

sheeran by lowden s04 w04

Ed Sheeran is maybe the most notable ambassador for small-bodied acoustics out there. But Sheeran By Lowden guitars aren’t just signature models – they offer the excellent sound and feel of a Lowden at a sub-£1,000 price. The W02 is particular emblematic of the best parts of a small-bodied acoustic – a focused, characterful midrange, and while there’s of course not much ‘boom’ to the low end, it’s still there, enough to support you as you sing along. The volume this guitar produces is quite an achievement given its size, too. It’s also worth noting that for this price point the construction and woods used are all exemplary – and, well, just look at it!

Need more? Read our Sheeran By Lowden W02 review.

Best acoustic for buskers: Guild F-240E

Guild F-240E

For busking, you’re going to want a good amount of volume – and for that, the Jumbo body size of the Guild F-240E is perfect. You’ll also want a guitar that won’t cost an arm and a leg, not least because you don’t want to be carting your life savings around with you all of the time or putting an ultra-premium instrument at risk of being rained on. Luckily, this guitar is very approachably priced, and offers a high-quality pickup system for amplified playing alongside its jumbo unplugged tones.

Need more? Read our Guild F-240E review.

Best signature acoustic: Martin 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes’ signature Martin guitar, the 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes, photo by Adam Gasson
Shawn Mendes’ signature Martin guitar, the 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes. Image: Adam Gasson

This guitar is tailor-made for the Shawn Mendes superfan – it really succeeds at capturing his playing preferences and making them accessible to those who love his music. And really, that’s goal number one for a good signature instrument. But its appeal goes beyond that brief – it’s also a wonderful-sounding and approachably priced acoustic. It comes with a great setup out of the box, and bears a bold sonic profile, especially for its size.

Despite costing a reasonable $799, it features a list of appointments and specs that could easily justify a $1,000-plus price tag – if you’re looking for a good 000 guitar, don’t let this one pass you by just because there’s a scribble in the soundhole – and if you’re a Mendes fan, well, then, all the better.

Need more? Read our Martin 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes review.

Best hybrid acoustic/electric: Fender Acoustasonic Player Jazzmaster

Acoustasonic Jazzmaster
Photo by Adam Gasson / Guitar.com

The Acoustasonic guitars are really something: hybrid acoustic/electric instruments that still do a good job of being both. Of course, there will always be trade-offs, but the sheer quality of the electric, acoustic and blended sounds are far better than they have any right to be.

But really, it finds a sweet spot that transcends either kind of guitar it emulates: it’s a genuinely versatile instrument that allows you to switch between acoustic and electric instantly – especially handy when playing live – but it also offers a host of new sounds that you genuinely can’t get another way. The Player version of the line is also fairly approachably priced, while the Jazzmaster model makes the most sense to us, hinting the best at the overall experimental approach.

Need more? Read our Fender Acoustasonic Player Jazzmaster review.

Best acoustic for learning: Lava ME 3

The LAVA ME 3 smart guitar

If you’re looking for traditional tonewood, well, look away. But it might feel a little weird to route out a spot for what’s basically a small android phone into Sitka spruce, so carbon fibre maybe makes a bit more sense here. The Lava ME 3 plays great for the price, but more importantly it comes with some incredibly innovative smart features that make it a brilliant learning tool: there’s a recorder, a looper and a chord analysis tool all embedded in the player-facing touchscreen, all going some way to help you understand what you’re actually doing on the instrument.

Need more? Read our Lava ME 3 review.

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