Best Acoustic Guitars for the MoneyTomJoad A list for people looking to get the best guitar for what they can afford. Everyone knows a Gibson Hummingbird or a Martin D-28 is a great guitar. But that is irrelevant when you can't afford one. Don't just put a brand. That may cover a price range of thousands and a wide range of quality. A series, like the Yamaha FG800 series, that would include the FG800, FG820, FG830, and their acoustic-electric counterparts is good, though. Anything that is basically different versions of the same guitar.
The Top Ten
Great list. A quality guitar is important. But it's the efforts and time which makes one great. Money isn't always necessary here. - zxm
This is my favorite guitar. The only better guitars I've ever heard were hand-made Lowdens or Santa Cruzes that cost 4 times the price. The rosewood backed version is my personal favorite, but the mahogany backed one is awesome sounding, too, for a couple hundred less. This is a solid wood guitar, no cheap laminates, and everything on it is very high quality. If you like a 1+3/4" nut width, instead of a standard, check out the L-03 instead. Either way, Larrivee's unique symmetrical X-bracing gives it a tonal balance like no other guitars made. The D-03R is nicknamed the D-28 killer by Larrivee fans, because it is considered superior to the Martin D-28 at less than half the cost. Prices on Larrivees have risen dramatically in recent years, but they are still a great buy for the money. And if you shop around for a used one, you can find some amazing bargains. Check out Jarvis jamming out on one at https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=JidbfK4ngZM
When he gets to the fingerpicking ...more - TomJoad
This is an all-solid Sitka and rosewood copy of a 1930s Martin, and the guy who started Saga Music used to work for Martin. They may be made in China, but they still sound like a Martin. And you can pick one up for under $700! They have the forward X bracing of old-time Martins, and YouTube is loaded with videos comparing them to vintage Martins. So, if you always thought you could never afford a guitar with that Martin sound, maybe you can! Bluegrass players love this guitar for the great bass response.
https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=rl7xI-uuGuQ - TomJoad
This is a Chinese version of the US Guild D-40. It is all solid wood and has a high quality Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, and is built like a tank! I own a lot of guitars, and have owned a whole lot more in the last forty years, but I never owned one as solidly built as my Guilds. It's like they built them to last a century. And with proper care, they should. You can pick one up for around $750, including a lightweight hard case and various goodies.. Or, if that's too high for your budget, they make the D-240e version, with laminated mahogany back and sides, electronics to plug in, and a high-quality Guild gig bag with lots of goodies included like picks and a tuner for $399. The D-240e also has Guild's iconic arched back, which they introduced in 1954. So, even though it's a laminate back, the arch gives it exceptional projection, and looks way cool.
D-140: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=nsOYasBqn4U - TomJoad
It's the most famous out there. - zxm
The Yamaha FG700s was one of the first guitars I ever bought. Probably the 4th. They were the best guitar made in my price range back then, and I was a huge fan. I bought two, plus the FS650, and an FG160-1. When the FG800 came out, I had to try it, and it did not disappoint. The new bracing pattern brought out a deeper bass end, and it was picked on almost everyone's Best Guitars of 2016 lists. A solid Sitka spruce top and an advanced scalloped bracing system starting at $199 for the base model, that's pretty impressive. Fender, Washburn, Takamine, and Epiphone certainly couldn't touch it at that price. - TomJoad
I used to be really impressed by the sound of Yamaha's FG800 series guitars, but Then I heard the AD60. Not that the FG800 doesn't sound amazing for a $199 guitar, it does. And the AD60 costs about a hundred more. But it is one really impressive sounding guitar for just a solid top. Reminds me of a Gibson Hummingbird. Great projection, and it won't choke out, no matter how hard you strum it. This is one Rock 'n Roll sounding guitar. The AD70 has a laminated rosewood back, and is just as amazing. Both come in a CE version (cutaway, electronics).
AD60 version of Outside https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eh00lYiitz0 - TomJoad
I would not have believed I would put a Luna on the list six months ago. Of course, I had never heard one. Just imagine a grand auditorium acoustic-electric guitar with a solid rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, and an ebony fingerboard and pins, a black Tusq saddle and nut, and a beautiful art nouveau design. What would you expect a guitar like that to cost, with a lightweight case thrown in? If it was a Taylor, I would guess about two grand. But this cost me $499, new! Who else sells an all-solid guitar with a rosewood back for that kind of money? The upgrade from mahogany to rosewood costs almost that much on high-end guitars. And this guitar not only sounds amazing, it looks even more amazing. It is the ultimate chick guitar. Not only is it the perfect size for a chick, it will go with whatever they wear, including nothing. My girlfriend loves this guitar, and so do I. - TomJoad
Starting at just under a grand for the base model, this is an awesome sounding jumbo, for a small fraction of what a Gibson J-200 costs. Amazing clarity and articulation, and all the bass and punch you expect from a rosewood jumbo. This is a very high quality recording grade instrument. Amazing sample at the Acoustic Letter, or at https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Rr5sE-mzZB8
You should hear Won't Get Fooled Again on this guitar! Compare to Townsend's Gibson J-200 acoustic version. - TomJoad
This has to be the most unusual guitar I've ever owned, or even played. With it's offset soundhole, side port, and pinless bridge, it is something to look at. Especially with all of the heavy 'silking', or cross-grain on the top of mine. When you play it, it proves that it's not just another pretty face. At around $300, it costs about the same as the Alvarez AD60. While they are very different sounding guitars, they are both very worthy of your consideration. The Forte Porte is not the heavy-duty Rn'R workhorse the AD60 is, but it is exquisite sounding for fingerpicking, and is one of the few laminated back guitars that I think is recording quality. In fact, you should check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=KlQuIr1S1QY - TomJoad
For around $500, compares very closely to a Martin D-18. really!
Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=lsG6l0s9uZ8
That's new with no time to open up!
All solid Sitka and mahogany. Mine's 9 years old and sounds way better! - TomJoad
For around $400, you can pick up a high quality Canadian made solid spruce or cedar topped guitar that sounds really better than most guitars in it's class. It's laminated, but all 3 layers are wild cherry, which works better than guitars that put a thin veneer of mahogany on the inside an out, then fill the inside with poplar or sawdust. Simon and Patrick, another Godin offshoot, also make some excellent bang for buck guitars, in fact I think their higher end guitars are better, if less well known and harder to find in the US. Both are superior to Godin's Art & Lutherie branch. - TomJoad