Before we begin, let’s make one thing very clear—there is no best acoustic guitar brand.
Like all things in music, preference for acoustic guitar brands is entirely subjective and down to YOU the individual.
This article helps novices or new guitarists to weigh up these factors. This will help them to choose their first guitar or even a step-up one.
It takes you through some of the biggest names in acoustic guitars. It provides you with the pros and cons of each one, and highlights a few key models. We’ll also list some of the artists known to play each guitar brand.
Of course, your search doesn’t end here. There are hundreds of acoustic guitar brands out there and they’re not all listed in our article. And each one has hundreds, maybe thousands of models. You’ll need to keep doing research to find the guitar for you.
If you’ve got a favourite acoustic guitar brand and you can’t see it here then get in touch to let us know—we’d love to add it to our list!
Along with Gibson, Fender is the biggest guitar brand in the world. But it’s mainly known for its electric guitars.
Its reputation for acoustic guitars is more modest. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Fender had a reputation for poor-quality budget acoustic guitars.
That’s changed more recently. The company has revamped its entire acoustic guitar range and even introduced a few innovative new models.
Today, fender offers an excellent range of affordable guitars that are easy and comfortable to play. They’re ideal for beginners and great value for money.
They have also released the Acoustasonic, an acoustic-electric hybrid with a unique selection of sounds and features. It’s available in Stratocaster, Jaguar and Telecaster shapes.
Although Fender has upped its acoustic game, players looking for something with high-end build quality or premium features may be disappointed—most Fender acoustics are built for guitarists on a budget.
Fender’s best acoustic guitar models include:
- Great value for money
- Designed for beginners or younger players
- Good pricing for those on a budget
- Older models are poor quality
- Fender’s top-of-the-range models are not very high-spec compare to other brands
Gibson or Fender? This a fierce debate when it comes to electric guitars.
But in the world of acoustic guitars Gibson is the clear winner.
Gibson has been making acoustic guitars since the 1920s.
The company’s first acoustic guitar, the L-5 was apparently meant to be a large mandolin but was eventually marketed as a guitar.
This was followed by the Gibson L-1. The L1 started life as an arch top acoustic guitar but soon became the company’s first flat top.
But it was during the late 1930s that Gibson’s reputation took off.
During this time the company created its range of jumbo and super jumbo guitars. These guitars became popular with country and western acts.
Gibson acoustic guitars are associated with many famous musicians, including Elvis, Slash and blues legend Robert Johnson.
Gibson guitars are known for their incredible sound and amazing looks.
But they are also incredibly expensive, with many models costing thousands of dollars.
Today, Gibson’s most well-known guitars include:
- Legendary guitars with incredible sound
- Excellent build quality
- Beautiful looks
- The most well-known models cost several thousand dollars each
- Not great for beginners or players on a budget due to high cost
Like Fender, Ibanez is more well-known for its electric guitar and electric bass ranges.
But it also has a wide selection of acoustics. Like Fender, Ibanez focuses on the affordable end of the market. But unlike Fender, Ibanez puts a modern twist on many of its guitars.
The company was started in 1908 as a bookstore chain. But in the 1930s it started to produce Spanish-style classical acoustic guitars.
Ibanez tends to make acoustic guitars that break away from classic designs favored by other brands.
Its acoustic guitars are noted for their stunning, modern looks. But some have also been designed to fill unique gaps in the market.
For example, the sound quality of most acoustic guitars falls short when they are plugged into an amp or PA. Ibanez’s AEW range has features tailored for this use, creating a better sound.
Famous Ibanez acoustic players include Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Cat Stevens. Some of the brand’s best-known guitars include:
- Ibanez AEW range
- Stunning modern looks
- Great range of modern features and designs
- Lots of great options for acoustic guitarists who want to plug-in their guitar
- Some entry level guitars are poor quality
- Guitars made to be plugged in don’t always sound good unplugged
Martin is closely associated with acoustic guitar music.
The company was started in New York in 1833. The brand continues to be a family business. It has been run and overseen by six generations of Martins.
Several members of the Martin family have invented new guitar features that became the benchmark for quality guitars.
For example, founder C.F. Martin Sr. invented the X-bracing method to increase an acoustic guitar’s sound and tone.
Martin’s most well-liked guitars are:
Both instruments were designed based on the original dreadnought guitar created by Frank Henry Martin. The brand’s guitars are best for acoustic, bluegrass, singer-songwriter guitar players, or fingerstyle musicians.
Martin’s original dreadnought guitars are now sought-after by professional musicians or collectors, as the instrument’s scalloped bracing gives the guitar a rich, clear tone, louder than most acoustic guitars.
Rock stars like Bob Dylan and Hank Williams play the Dreadnought D-28.
- Martin guitars are well known for their craftsmanship
- The brand uses specialty wood to achieve an exceptional tone
- High cost
- No budget options
Tanglewood Guitars was formed in England in 1988. The brand’s mission is to excite and inspire musicians worldwide by creating durable and beautiful guitars while keeping prices at a level their customers can afford.
Tanglewood now makes basses, banjos, ukuleles, and other folk instruments, but the brand’s original focus and dedication has always been on the acoustic guitar. Since its founding, Tanglewood has become the United Kingdom’s all-time best-selling acoustic guitar brand.
Tanglewood Guitars are best for musicians who play folk, bluegrass, or singer-songwriter music. They’re also an excellent brand for people learning to play the Ukulele. The company offers excellent versions of the instrument for under a hundred dollars.
The brand is best known for the following guitar models:
- Tanglewood Guitars are reliable and high-quality.
- Guitars have a long lifespan.
- Most models are under $500
- Few premium models available.
The Taylor guitar brand was founded in 1974 in El Cajon, California. Like Martin, it mainly produces acoustic guitars. It’s one of the only major guitar manufacturers to be 100% employee-owned. Taylor distributes guitars to dealers in 60 countries worldwide.
As one of the most sought-after and best guitar brands, Taylor guitars are well-known for their playability and durability. Taylor makes their guitars from first-rate varieties of wood that have specific tonal properties (tonewoods), like Sitka spruce and cedars. All Taylor guitars have a solid-wood soundboard, which improves the guitar’s sound over its lifetime.
The most popular Taylor guitars are:
Taylor is well-known for its 12-string guitars. They are known for their versatility. 12-string guitars are typically more difficult to play, but are popular with fingerstyle guitar players and have a distinctive sound and tone.
Taylor guitars are best for musicians who don’t mind paying extra for a high quality guitar. The brand’s guitars are long-lasting and made to be played over and over again.
- Taylor guitars are durable
- Sustainable and ethically manufactured
- All profits go directly back to the employees who own the business.
- If you prefer strumming to fingerpicking, Taylor guitars may be harder to play.
Yamaha guitars were founded in 1887 by businessman Torakusu Yamaha. The company started off building Reed organs and pianos before later moving on to other instruments. The company began manufacturing nylon-string acoustic guitars in 1940. By 1966 Yamaha was distributing various acoustic guitar models worldwide.
After 1966, Yamaha introduced several more lines of acoustic guitars, some of which are still famous to this day.
Yamaha is best known for the following acoustic guitars:
Yamaha acoustic guitars are suitable for beginner and intermediate guitar players. They are also good for experienced or professional musicians who are on a budget.
The 310 is a great choice for your first guitar and the FG800 has the honor of being the best-selling acoustic guitar of all time.
- Yamaha guitars are affordable
- Well-made instruments that are suitable for beginners and pros on a budget
- High-end models offer less value for money
- Players looking for a high-spec guitar may be disappointed
Yamaha might be the best acoustic guitar brand in Japan when it comes to name recognition.
But ask any real acoustic guitar aficionado and they’ll tell you Takamine has the edge when it comes to build and sound quality.
Takamine started in 1959 as a small family guitar shop. The company took its name from the mountain that the shop was at the foot of.
Over the years takamine has become well-known for a number of innovations when it comes to electro-acoustic guitars. These include the palathetic under saddle pickup—designed for a richer, more articulate sound. It also developed its parametric equalizer (which became known as the AAP preamp) and replaceable preamp system.
Today, the company is well-known for its G-series. Helpfully these are accompanied by a number—the higher the number the better the guitar quality.
So while the G10 and G15 series are aimed at beginners, the G90 series features the highest quality guitars the company makes.
This helps players of any budget or playing level choose a guitar that is right for them.
Famous artists who use Takamine guitars, include John Bon Jovi, Bruce Springfield and Jazz and rock legend Paul Schofield.
Some of the company’s most well-known guitars include:
- SW341-SC Steve Wariner
- Wide range of models and price points means Takamine offers something for everyone
- Great plugged in sound due to advanced electronics and preamps
- Good sound and build quality
- Doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Martin or Taylor, so high-end guitars may lose resell value quicker
Epiphone is often compared to Fender’s Squier brand. And no wonder, the two businesses are both owned by a legendary guitar company and both produce budget versions of their parent company’s guitars.
But Epiphone actually has a lot more history than its competitor.
The Epiphone acoustic guitar brand was founded in Smyrna, Turkey, in 1873.
Some of Epiphone’s first guitars were in the Recording series. This was a line of small acoustic instruments that the brand attempted to sell before making their first archtop acoustic guitar.
Gibson and Epiphone were actually rivals in the early days of the acoustic guitar. They battled it out for dominance in the flat-top market back in 1930’s—Epiphone with its Masterbilt range and Gibson with the L-4 and L-5.
Gibson ultimately won the rivalry and ended up buying Epiphone in 1957.
Epiphone doesn’t only produce budget versions of Gibson guitars. It offers some of its own models.
Notable models include the Epiphone Texan, a dreadnought acoustic that is similar to the Gibson J-45 and the E1 classical guitar.
The company is also well-known for its artist models. The Slash J-45 is a great example.
Notable Epiphone acoustic guitar players include Paul McCartney, Ben Gibbard, Peter Frampton and Noel Gallagher
Famous Epiphone acoustic guitar models include:
- Epiphone Texan
- Slash J-45
- Masterbilt Hummingbird
- Masterbilt J-200
- If you want a Gibson but can’t afford it, then Epiphone will get you some of the way
- Budget models make Epiphone acoustics a great choice for beginners
- Other companies on this list make better budget versions of Gibson guitars
- Playability isn’t always good
Luna guitars stand out from the other guitar brands in this list.
The company clearly on the visual aspects of their guitars, creating some incredibly unique designs.
The Vista Eagle and Safari Starry Night models both look stunning and are perfect examples of the bold visuals Luna uses.
The company was started in 2005 and it’s guitars are designed by stained glass artist Yvonne de Villiers. Apparently they are a homage to her mother who was a musician. The company also produces ukuleles, banjos and percussion instruments.
Luna guitars are known for having slimmer necks and being made from lighter materials than other brands. It’s also well-known for producing small-bodied guitars (in other words not drednoughts or super jumbos). This means Luna guitars often appeal to women or smaller players.
They are also affordable, with most models costing less than £800.
Unfortunately, many of their guitars are made from laminates which some players complain results in poor sound quality and low volume.
Some well-known Luna players include Kyle Biss, Vicki Genfan and Shevonne Philidor.
Some of Luna’s most famous guitar models include:
- Vista Eagle
- Safari Starry Night
- Stunning looks
- Smaller, lighter build, designed for women and younger players
- Poor materials and build quality
- Poor sound and playability
Seagull is a sister brand of electric guitar maker Godin. Like Godin, it is a Canadian company – all its guitars are made there.
Seagull guitars have a great reputation value for money. Some players compare them to Martin or Taylor guitars, even though they are a fraction of the price.
Seagull guitars are well known for their curved cedar top.
The curved top works in a similar way to guitars of the pre-1930 period. It adds strength to the top meaning it needs thinner wood and less bracing.
The result is a more stable, better sounding guitar.
Seagull guitars also feature a sharp head shape. This allows the tuners to be aligned with the strings which improves tuning stability – it also gives these guitars their distinct look.
Most Seagulls feature Maple necks. These are normally found on electric guitars. The neck is also wider than usual which might make it less comfortable for beginners.
Seagull’s flagship guitar is the S6. It features a Graph Tech Compensated Tesq saddle. This holds the strings tight and improves the playability and sound. This is a feature you normally find on guitars much more expensive than the S6.
It also has a double truss rod to make the neck more robust and produce an even sound throughout the guitar.
Notable artists that use Seagull guitars include British singer-songwriter James Blunt and Kim Deal of the Breeders and the Pixies.
- Good value for money
- Excellent sound and build quality
- Might not be suitable for children or guitarists with small hands due to wider neck
- Unremarkable looks
Faith guitars are based in Shropshire, UK. The company was started by luthier Patrick James Eggle. His view is that using solid woods in guitars is critical to improve their sound and performance.
He uses solid Engleman spruce in his guitars. He says that this gives them a crisp, articulate sound.
Faith guitars are also known for their striking modern looks. The FX and Blue Moon series in particular both look very stylish.
Faith guitars are well-regarded and played by a large number of artists. These include Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, The Sherlocks and YouTuber Rob Chapman to name just a few.
They’re also affordable, with most models costing less than $1,000.
Faiths best regarded guitars include the Venus and the Naked Neptune models.
- Great looking guitars
- Great sound for the money
- No high-end models
- No very cheap budget models
Sigma was originally started as a budget brand for Martin.
But Martin decided to discontinue the brand.
Rights to the brand name were bought by German company AMI Musical Instruments. But they weren’t able to acquire the U.S. rights.
Instead, Sigma guitars in the U.S. are sold under the Kindred brand.
Like Seagull, Kindred’s guitars are excellent quality, but the brand isn’t well-known. This means you can get a high-spec guitar for a fraction of what a Gibson or Martin would cost.
Kindred offers a huge range of guitars, most of which are copies of classics like the J-200 and the D-28. It is particularly known for its range of resonator guitars.
Sigma has recently launched its own budget brand, Ditson Guitars. Ironic, given the fact that Sigma started life as a Martin budget brand!
Some great Sigma guitars include:
- RM-140+ resonator
- Offers excellent, high-quality guitars at affordable prices.
- Some copies are very close to the original guitars they are modelled on
- Rare in the U.S.
- Poor brand recognition