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13 Best Acoustic Guitar under $1000 Reviews and Buying Guide

Regardless of whether you’ve just decided to pick up a guitar or if you’ve been playing for years – everyone can agree that finding a good acoustic guitar is very, very hard. What’s more, finding the best might as well seem impossible given that we’ve so much to choose from nowadays.

We’ve scrounged the market far and wide in search of the best acoustic guitar under $1000 and have come up with some very tasty surprises – Yamaha, Ortega, Martin, Seagull, and of course Fender have all found their place in our review, so if you’re looking to buy a high-value acoustic guitar, kick back and browse away.

If you are a veteran, jump right below to our top list and check out our favorites. If you need a bit of help learning what to look for, see our buying guide at the end.

Here Are the Top 13 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1000 of 2019:

Model Name

Key Features

Category

Price

More Info

Sapele top, back and sides, thin body, fishman electronics

Best Acoustic Guitars

$$$

Canadian spruce top, African mahogany sides and back, thin-line body, 12-hole bridge, two way truss rod

Best Acoustic Guitars

$$$$

Mahogany back and sides, spruce top, Godin quantum electronics

Best Electric-acoustic guitars

$$$$

Pressure-tested Cedar top, Wild Cherry sides and back, silver-leaf Maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge

Best Electric-acoustic guitars

$$$

AA Spruce top, scalloped bracing, deep-contour body, rosewood freboard and bridge

Best 12-string acoustic guitars

$$$$

Composite body, solid spruce top, multi-sound hole, deep-contour body

Best 12-string acoustic guitars

$$$$

Dreadnought body type, Solid mahogany construction, Fishman Sontone pickups

Best small body acoustic guitars

$$$

Koa back material, Sitka Spruce body, Richlite freboard

Best small body acoustic guitars

$$

Solid Spruce top, wild cherry sides and back, sliver-leaf maple neck, semi gloss finish

Best jumbo acoustic guitars

$$$

Sitka Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, mahogany headstock

Best solid wood acoustic guitars

$$$$

Ebony bridge, mahogany body and neck, rosewood back and sides

Best solid wood acoustic guitars

$$$

Sitka spruce top, HPL body construction, A-frame bracing, Fishman Sonitone electronics

Best left handed acoustic guitars

$$$

Mahogany top, back, and sides, mahogany fingerboard

Best left handed acoustic guitars

$$$


Best Overall Acoustic Guitars under $1000

The first acoustic guitar we’re going to review is Martin’s DJR 10E. As the brand stated, ‘Martin is all about fresh ideas’, so it’s pretty safe to say that you should expect something a bit different with each and every one of their models.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

This guitar has got a top, back, and sides made of premium quality Sapele material. This specific tonewood is very durable, and since the majority of the construction is made of a single material type, it’s quite safe to say that you’ll get the most out of what Sapele has to offer – crispiness and sturdiness.

Basically, most people confuse Sapele with mahogany, and there’s a good logic behind that. These two tonewoods are very similar in terms of sonic performance, but the fact is that Sapele is very hard to bend, which sadly means that guitars such as this are often stiffer than most.

The body of DJR 10E is very thin, which somewhat compromises for the stiff construction we just mentioned. Premium Fishman Sonitone pickups are introduced to the board, providing exceptional sound quality at all times.

The hardware is pretty basic, and all you need to know about it is that the tuning pegs hold the tune quite nicely, the inlays are fairly visible, and the frets pretty big, large enough for a beginner to learn the ropes.

What we liked about this guitar:

First of all, Martin is a reliable guitar making brand. They’ve earned most of their fame through making premium quality medium and high-end guitars, and DJR 10E falls somewhere in between in that respect.

Apart from the fact that it’s made by a reliable brand, this guitar is quite an eye candy. You can see the beautiful Sapele even through the rich finish. Even if we were to completely disregard the aesthetic component of DJR 10E, there would still be plenty of things it intends to bring to the table.

The electronic outline of DJR features Fishman Sonitone pickups. They’re absolutely amazing, adding plenty of character to the already massive crispiness in the sound this guitar provides. Last, but not least, you’ll get a complementary gig bag completely free of charge.

What we thought could be improved:

This is a remarkably great guitar in its own right, and there are but a small number of things that can’t even be considered as downfalls, rather we just think that some people might not like certain aspects as much as the others would.

We’re mainly talking about the single-tonewood construction. Most guitar enthusiasts spend hours and hours at the shops trying out different guitars because no matter how experienced you are, you’ll never be able to know for sure how the combinations of different tonewoods work together.

However, DJR 10E is made of a single tonewood material, making it predictable in a way. It does sound great, but the introduction of other tonewood elements would compensate for the downfalls this one has (overly bright, in a sense).

Pros:

  • Excellent build
  • Excels in aesthetics
  • Great value for the price
  • Superb sound
  • Comes with a complementary gig bag

Cons

  • Made of a single tonewood type
  • Overly accentuated highs

Our verdict:

Once we take everything into account, we can easily come to a verdict that Martin’s DJR 10E is a wonderful guitar that boasts quite a value for the money. It’s beautiful, sounds superb, and it packs quite a punch with the Fishman pickups. It’s gig ready, but its smaller size makes it absolutely great for band practice, or for plain practice at home.

Regardless, some people would find its highs as annoying, so our verdict of the DJR 10E is that this is a guitar for people who know what they’re looking for, for guitarists who actually want the buffed up highs.

Ortega Guitars RCE138-T4STR

Next up is Ortega Guitars’ RCE138-T4STR (shortly, RCE138). 

Now, Ortega Guitars is a brand that’s not among the most famous on the market, but they do specialize in making high-quality acoustic guitars, and RCE138 is a great example of their craftsmanship.

The reason why we’ve decided to add an underdog’s brand model in our review of the best acoustic guitars on the market is because this particular guitar has a lot to offer in terms of uniqueness and exquisiteness.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

The top of this guitar is made of Solid Canadian Spruce material, the back and sides are made of African mahogany – these materials work well together, providing excellent sound and plenty of sustain. Mahogany offers brightness to the highs, contrasting the warmth of Spruce.

With a thin body, this guitar offers a huge level of playability and is perfect for both beginner guitarists and seasoned veterans. However, the fretboard is slightly curved, which might make you feel a bit odd if you’ve played several ‘conventionally built’ guitars prior to using this one.

What we liked about this guitar:

For start, we really liked how Ortega’s RCE138 looks like. It has a beautiful red high gloss finish, the craftwork is absolutely impeccable, and pretty much every superlative in these lines actually is closer to the truth in an objective sense.

Apart from that, we’ve mentioned that there are some bleeding-edge features onboard the RCE138. First of all, there’s the 12 hole bridge and a two way truss rod, Ortega’s very own preamp and the pickup system, as well as an onboard tuner.

In terms of sonic performance, this guitar sounds just as good as it looks. The tonewoods work remarkably great together, the manner in which this guitar was built is simply astonishing, and in plain words- if you’re looking for the best sounding guitar for the buck, you’ve found one.

What we thought could be improved:

Regardless of how good this guitar is, it’s sadly not perfect per se. Namely, it’s not so good for beginners for several reasons.

First, the semi-curved fretboard will require you to take some time to get accustomed to it, meaning that its playability is hardly conventional in any respect. On top of that, it has some features that immediate beginners might not exactly utilize very well, such as the truss rod for example.

Lastly, this is a semi-acoustic guitar meaning that it has a integrated pickup system onboard. However, what you see is what you get – you won’t be able to fine tune it on the guitar directly.

Pros:

  • Great selection of tonewoods
  • Superb sound
  • Awesome features
  • Comes with a gratis gig bag and strap

Cons

  • Not the best choice for beginner guitarists

Our verdict:

Though it is true that this might not be your go-to guitar if you’re just starting out, if you have had at least a bit of practice on this instrument, you’re going to love it. It looks amazing, sounds amazing, and it’s able to withstand years and years of abuse before giving in. We highly recommend that you try it out for its versatility, great sound, and plenty of durability it offers.

Best Electric Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

Even though we’ve had a couple acoustic electric guitars so far, this time around we’re talking about specialized semi-acoustics, and what better way to open up than with one of Seagull’s?

We’re talking about a major brand here. Seagull makes some of the world’s finest acoustic guitars, and Maritime SWS is definitely something you want to try out if you haven’t already. We’re introducing you to one of the best electric acoustic guitars available on the market – the Maritime SWS.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

First of all, let’s say a word or two about Maritime SWS’s design. It’s a dreadnought guitar with a tapered headstock, a compound top, a custom-polished finish. It features a somewhat bigger than average nut, although its width is pretty slim.

Now the part that probably interests everybody the most is the electronic component of this guitar. It packs Godin’s premium Quantum IT pickup configuration that sounds very, very expensive. The frets are decently big, suitable for most beginner guitarists to say the very least.

What we liked about this guitar:

Basically, there are maybe just a couple of guitar models that could even hope of matching Seagull Maritime’s semi-electronic performance. Even acoustically, this guitar sounds so full and bright that it shouldn’t surprise you that a bunch of professionals favour it so much.

In terms of aesthetics, it looks absolutely stunning, although it’s not as amazing as some of our previous picks. Nevertheless, it looks exquisite and unique, especially due to the tapered headstock.

Now, innovative design and an amazing sonic performance are more than enough to declare this as one of the best semi-acoustic guitars out there, but what else is so great about this guitar is that it’s actually very, very playable – it’s a perfect option for people who’ve had some experience with guitar playing and are looking for a considerable upgrade.

What we thought could be improved:

Firstly, the inlays aren’t so clearly visible, which might make some people confused, especially if you’re accustomed to playing on an ebony fingerboard. Apart from that, there are no notable downfalls or drawbacks.

Pros:

  • Excellent electronic and acoustic performance
  • Huge bang for the buck
  • Suitable for beginners due to big frets
  • Beautiful finish

Cons

  • The inlays aren’t all that good

Our verdict:

Simply put, Seagull makes some of the finest guitars that you can possibly find out there, and Maritime SWS is here to show us the extent of it all.

Seagull S6

Overview:

Even though we’ve just reviewed a Seagull, we thought that it simply wouldn’t be right to leave out this brand’s flagship model – the S6. Basically, if you were to search up the best Seagull models, or even the best acoustic guitars regardless of who made them, in nearly every single review you’ll find S6 or a reference to it.

There are numerous similarities between the Maritime and S series in various aspects, but since we’re evaluating the performance of this acoustic guitar in an objective manner, we’ll stick to what it is – a simple, great-sounding semi-electric that’s well worth the money.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Seagull’s S6 features a top made of solid Cedar, the back and sides are made of Wild Cherry wood. This is by all means not a combination of tonewoods you’ll find so easily, and what it does is that it gives flexibility to the guitar in many aspects – it’s durable and not as prone to warping, but it’s also light and very, very gentle to the touch.

Furthermore, the neck is very interesting, as it’s not only made of exquisite silver-leaf maple, but it was also ‘cut’ and ‘set’ with the special ‘Ergocut’ technology. The fingerboard of S6 is made of high-quality rosewood, eliminating the inferior visibility Maritime SWS had to offer. The nut and saddle are also improved, featuring compensated GraphTech technology.

Although the same electronics (Godin Quantum pickup configuration) are used, there’s also an onboard digital tuner.

What we liked about this guitar:

Seagull’s S6 didn’t earn that much fame by accident. This remarkable guitar offers amazing sound quality, it’s very playable and it’s suited for players of all levels. Whether it’s wired up or unplugged, it sounds equally great.

Furthermore, we really liked its plain design – it was clearly made for performance, and not aesthetics alone, although in this aspect it’s not as great as the ones we’ve covered so far.

What we thought could be improved:

The S6 is made of highly durable, exquisite performance and the tonewoods have been clearly selected with great care. However, there are two downfalls to it – it’s got a neck that can easily pick up ‘scars’ (due to its softness) and the width of the neck might not be appealing to some people.

Regardless, it’s an awesome guitar, although immediate beginners (not all) might feel like the wide neck makes it a bit harder to play than other similarly priced guitars.

Pros:

  • Rich, full sound
  • Durable construction
  • Exotic tonewoods
  • Great pickup and electronics
  • Superb intonation

Cons

  • Not exactly perfect for immediate beginners due to wide neck
  • Top is prone to scarring 

Our verdict:

Intonation’s perfect and it’s overall pretty playable, although we don’t recommend it to immediate beginners.


Best 12-String Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

Moving on to 12-stringers, we have one of the most remarkable pieces of art – Ovation’s Balladeer. Now, if you’ve done any research about this particular guitar, you’ll see conflicted opinions about it. Some people love it, others hate it, but after careful evaluation of its performance aspects we’ve stuck with the first group.

The Balladeer looks stunningly beautiful, its acoustic performance is excellent, but what’s best of it all is the fact that its electronic component works like a charm for people who want to spice it up a bit with a hint of electric sound. 

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Balladeer has been on the market for quite a while, which basically means that the majority of its features are not exactly new per se. However, it does come supplied with a pack of high quality features, including Ovation’s OCP 1K pickup, chromed hardware, and a scalloped bracing.

Essentially, this is a very big guitar with a deep contoured body, a rosewood fretboard and bridge, and a top made of solid Spruce. Like we’ve already mentioned, the Spruce top is prone to scarring, but in every other respect it’s pretty great – superb sound, decent sustain, and plenty of clarity are just some of the benefits you’ll see onboard.

What we liked about this guitar:

The Balladeer is a classy acoustic 12-string guitar. It’s over 40 years old in terms of design, but people who’re looking for that nostalgic sound should definitely try it out. We really liked the way it was built – the tonewoods offer a great compromise between light weight qualities and superb performance.

Even though it is a 12 string, it’s remarkably easy to play, mainly due to the rosewood fingerboard. On top of that, intonation’s fairly good as the chromed hardware does the job for the money, and then some.

Robust action, great tension and piercing, if not even haunting sound are just some of the ways we could characterize what we liked about the Balladeer.

What we thought could be improved:

The first thing we didn’t really like about this acoustic 12 string guitar is the fact that it’s top heavy. The base is pretty light, but it sort of leans toward the top end which results in the fretting hand fatigue.

With all this being said, you could easily deduce the biggest flaw of the Balladeer – it’s not for everyone. Surely enough, if we look at it through a prism of objectivity, it’s great, it sounds awesome for the money, but it’s strikingly different from most 12-string guitars.

Whether it’s the way it was made, the tonewoods, or specific technologies used onboard, it’s fairly hard to say, but the punch line is that Balladeer sounds different. Some people characterize this different sound as nostalgic, others say it’s old-school, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

Pros:

  • Exquisite sonic performance
  • Lightweight construction
  • Robust frame
  • Awesome action and tension

Cons

  • Very specific sound
  • Not really exemplary in terms of sustain

Our verdict:

Balladeer is, for a lack of better words, a very special guitar in all aspects. Like we said in the beginning, you’ll either grow to love it or hate it, as it’s practically impervious to indifference.

It emits a very distinctive sound, although it won’t sustain it for too long, it growls with electronics as much as it weeps when unplugged, and the great action contributes to its massive playability. If you’re into oldies sounds, you should give it a shot.

Ovation Elite

Overview:

We’ve taken a gander at Ovation’s catalogue and Elite seems to be just as good as the Balladeer, although they’re very, very different when compared. This guitar has a set of strikingly different features, and offers a different set of benefits, so if you didn’t find the Balladeer to your liking, this one just might be the one that you will.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Elite, just like the Balladeer has a AA Spruce top, scalloped bracing, and the rosewood fretboard. However, the first different feature this guitar has in comparison to our previous pick is the ergonomically designed mid-depth bowl. It was inlaid with very exotic hardwoods, allowing it a superior level of durability.

In terms of design, the Elite has a single cutaway and is slightly lighter than Balladeer, hence it’s a bit easier to play. Sound wise, this model offers more sustain and resonance, but it’s slightly better for live performance due to its vibrant mids and highs.

Just like the Balladeer, this is a semi-acoustic 12-string, and the pickup configuration of Elite is equally good, if not better than that of a former.

What we liked about this guitar:

The first thing that made us include yet another Ovation’s guitar in this segment of our review is the fact that this one actually offers what the former lacks – sustain. It’s got a fuller tone laden with richness all over both unplugged and wired.

Secondly, the feedback control provided by a specially designed bowl is what makes it so good for live performance, though Balladeer doesn’t lag behind in this aspect either. It looks very amazing, and there’s no mistaking that it has Ovation written all over it.

What we thought could be improved:

The only thing that makes this guitar so good for the stage and not as good for actual practices is precisely that it sounds so powerful and strong. Namely, the multi soundhole emits sounds that are perhaps too loud for home environment, regardless of how much you try to control your strokes.

Pros:

  • Ideal for live gigs
  • Exceptional sonic performance
  • Superb construction
  • Rich, full sound and sustain
  • Great action and intonation

Cons

  • Not so good for home practice

Our verdict:

All things considered, Elite has no actual drawbacks if you’re a professional musician – you’ll be more than pleased with how it sounds, it was built to last, and it packs an amazing pickup configuration. It’s definitely worth the cash.

Best Small Body Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

Washburn is a major brand, famous for their high-end as well as their budget acoustic guitars, and we’re here with the review of the HD100 Heritage. It looks plain, but sounds like a powerhouse and offers a great action, features, and intonation.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Basically, the Heritage is a dreadnought acoustic guitar with a Sitka Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a scalloped bracing, ebony fingerboard, and mahogany neck. There’s a lot of tonewoods onboard which form a very interesting combination.

Despite the abundance of features, the Heritage HD100 looks very, very plain and simple. The only not-so-conventional thing about it is the fact that the dotted inlays are a bit further up on the E string, which might be confusing for some musicians.

What we liked about this guitar:

Basically, you’ll want Heritage HD100 for its sound and durability. The many tonewoods introduced to the construction provide an awesome combination, leaving little room for compromise between these two most important aspects of performance.

What we thought could be improved:

We could potentially register Heritage HD100’s plain look as a flaw – a guitar that costs as much should look at least a bit more intriguing. Apart from that, we’ve mentioned that the inlays are positioned a bit awkwardly, lowering the overall playability rating for beginner guitarists.

Pros:

  • Exquisite sound quality
  • Plenty of tonewoods onboard
  • Robust construction
  • Good for both practice and live performance

Cons

  • Plain outward appearance
  • Weird dotted inlay positioning 

Our verdict:

It’s pretty safe to say that nearly every single acoustic guitar Washburn put out on the market is worth the money, and HD100 is not an exception. Clearly, it’s worth the money as it provides a big, powerful sound and a sturdy body, but it might not be the best choice for beginners due to the fact that the dots are in a bit of a weird place.

Martin LXK2 Little Martin Koa

Overview:

Next up is Little Martin LXK2, a classic, petite acoustic guitar that packs a set of pretty cool features. We mainly recommend it for its portability and, surprisingly enough, for its robust sound quality, among other things – Martin is a reputable brand, and no matter how small Little Martin might appear, it was built to last, and its sonic performance might shock you if you underestimate it.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Little Martin is made of a single tonewood – laminate HPL material. This is certainly not so common, but then again, this means that both its durability and sound are also different in comparison to most similarly priced guitars.

What laminate wood has to offer is strength to the sound and robustness to the construction. Obviously, Little Martin isn’t called ‘little’ by accident, so most people immediately assume that the sound will take a blow in turn, but that’s certainly not the case here.

What we liked about this guitar:

First of all, Little Martin is made of exceptionally durable laminate wood material – you can rest assured that it will last you for decades, if not more. On another hand, the sheer strength of its sound is enough to declare it as one of the best small-body acoustic guitars you’ll find for the buck.

Additionally, it’s gig ready, despite its size. Little Martin’s powerhouse sonic performance and portability will help you pull off your live performances with great ease.

What we thought could be improved:

Like we said, Little Martin has a powerful sound, but it’s a different story when we talk about sonic clarity and sustain. It chirps and it bellows on stage, but its sound is not something you’d characterize as ‘airy’ or ‘rich’. There’s plenty of depth to the tone and timbre, but some people might dislike its surprisingly punchy voice.

Pros:

  • Very powerful sound
  • Ultra-durable construction
  • Very portable
  • Gig-ready

Cons

  • Tone lacks the character and richness of similarly priced models

Our verdict:

Regardless of the fact that Little Martin has a couple of downfalls to its name, there are also plenty of benefits it offers which are, perhaps, superior to those most similarly priced models could bring you. It’s a beautiful, exquisite guitar, and that’s only putting it mildly.


Best Jumbo Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

We’ve already reviewed a couple Seagulls, but this time around we’re having the Entourage for a spin. It’s a classy guitar, much like basically every Seagull model out there, but the reason why this one is in this category is because it boasts a significantly higher level of playability.

It’s pretty affordable for a high-end guitar and it packs an exquisite setting of features, which are just some of the reasons we’ve decided to introduce you to a third Seagull guitar so far.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Essentially, the Entourage has a spruce top, silver-leaf maple neck, and back and sides of wild cherry wood. The main difference between Entourage and other Seagulls is precisely the specific type of Wild Cherry used for the back and sides. Namely, this material gives the guitar plenty of warmth and durability, yet it somehow feels very gentle and perhaps even fragile when held.

Moreover, this is one of the lighter acoustic guitars you’ll find in the boutique price point category, and it’s certainly one of the most valuable models this brand’s ever made.

What we liked about this guitar:

We primarily decided to review the Entourage because it feels so great. It’s light, the Wild Cherry will make you actually doubt that you’re holding an acoustic guitar, much less a high-end one, and to top it all – it was built to withstand quite some punishment.

In terms of sound, the special form of maple on the neck resonates very well with the other tonewoods. Entourage sound can be pinned somewhere between pleasantly bright and lukewarm, but that’s actually up to you to decide since we all hear things differently. Objectively, it sounds expensive and rich.

Last, but not least, Seagulls almost by a rule look stunning, the Entourage is certainly not an exception. This acoustic guitar looks plainly amazing and it has a semi-gloss finish which only adds to its beautiful outward appearance.

What we thought could be improved:

Surprisingly enough, not many people are out there who’ve had anything bad to say about the Entourage. It’s a light, great-sounding guitar that’s equally good for both beginners and seasoned veterans, it’s great for home practice and live gigs – you name it. The only potential problem is the one that most Seagulls have – the Spruce top which is prone to scarring.

Pros:

  • Very versatile sound
  • Lightweight single-cutaway construction and design
  • Exquisite tonewoods and build materials
  • Excellent aesthetics due to the semi-gloss finish

Cons

  • The Spruce top is not as durable as the rest of the construction 

Our verdict:

Every Seagull is worth the cash, but Entourage is even more so, perhaps. This acoustic guitar has everything you could possibly want – it won’t break unless you really employ the use of intentional physical force, it will sound great even if you don’t know how to play it, and it’s got a wide dynamic range, allowing you to search for notes you otherwise deemed unattainable.


Best Solid-Wood Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

The first solid-wood acoustic guitar in our review is Zager’s EZ Play ZAD20. Now, even though Zager isn’t the most popular brand, this guitar is actually made of some premium quality tonewoods and it’s more than capable of standing its own ground versus more famous models. Though it maybe doesn’t look like much, the ZAD20 offers premium performance for the money.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Zager’s ZAD20 features a Sitka Spruce top, mahogany back, sides, neck, and headstock, abalone rosette, and a custom setting truss rod. Aesthetic wise, ther’s the high-gloss finish that certainly adds a bit of flair to the somewhat plain outlook of this acoustic guitar.

All of the major components of ZAD20 are solid wood, meaning that this guitar is very, very durable. In fact, it’s more robust than the vast majority of guitars in the same price range.

What we liked about this guitar:

Among the most striking features we liked about ZAD20 the prime spot goes to the simple, yet very clever tonewood combination. Mahogany is warm and it comprises the most of the construction, and Spruce top offers punchy lows and great projection and response.

It’s true that this acoustic guitar looks quite plain in many respects, but the high gloss finish helps it excel in aesthetics just a bit more.

Sound wise, the ZAD20 is awesome, but what’s really different about it is the fact that it possesses a huge level of playability (hence EZ Play). It’s basically made for beginner guitarists who don’t have problems putting out an extra couple of hundred dollars – it wouldn’t hurt to learn the ropes on a good guitar, as most beginner players get dissuaded if they’re playing on a plank.

What we thought could be improved:

Sound is great, playability is awesome, it looks pretty decent, but ZAD20 isn’t perfect. However, there’s a small flaw – the neck is made of such materials that it’s not as durable as the rest of the construction.

This shouldn’t be too big of a deal if you care for your guitars, though – with proper maintenance you’ll be able to utilize its durability to the fullest.

Pros:

  • Sturdy construction
  • Rich, warm tone
  • Hand-filed frets
  • Excellent intonation and action

Cons

  • Looks plain
  • Top heavy and not as sturdy

Our verdict:

In all fairness, most people would probably feel reluctant to try out such an expensive guitar mainly because it’s not made by a very famous brand. We’d like you to think otherwise, as ZAD20 has plent of benefits in store for you. It emits a very rich sound, it’s built like a brick house, and it generally doesn’t have any major drawbacks or downfalls.

Yamaha AC1R VN A Series

Overview:

Yamaha are among the most famous guitar builders of all time, and it goes without saying that they’ve proven to be so time and time again. We’ve taken a close look at what they have to offer and decided that AC1R VN is a perfect pick for this occasion.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

The AC1R features an ebony bridge, mahogany body and neck, and rosewood back and sides. This is an awesome tonewood combination that leans a bit in favour of warmth over bright. It also features a built-in tuner and a 3 band equalizer along with volume controls integrated onto the body, allowing you to easily customize your sound in case you want to play it plugged in.

Speaking of which, this guitar comes supplied with SRT pickup whose sound is best characterized as pristine clear – it doesn’t actually boost the volume too much (unless you want it to, you could do it with controls), and it doesn’t over-emphasize any particular aspect of the soundstage.

What we liked about this guitar:

The no-brainer behind our decision to label Yamaha’s AC1R as one of the best acoustic guitars ever built relies on its sound more than on anything else. Unplugged, this guitar offers a huge dynamic range and plenty of sustain, but it seems that it performs even better when plugged in.

Namely, the SRT pickup brings aboard plenty of tonal clarity, making it absolutely perfect for live performances. The addition of the onboard tuner and controls only makes playing live even more convenient.

What we thought could be improved:

This is, by no means, the most beautiful guitar Yamaha engineers constructed. It looks just alright, plain even, but it only needed the aesthetic component in order for us to call it the ‘perfect acoustic’ guitar. That being said, it’s actually quite great that it’s the only thing it lacks, since there are no actual flaws performance wise.

Pros:

  • Versatile acoustic guitar
  • Absolutely ideal for live performance
  • Huge value for the money
  • Huge value for the money
  • Comes with gratis features and accessories
  • Built-in tuner and volume controls

Cons

  • Doesn’t really look too exotic or exquisite

Our verdict:

Disregarding its outlook, the Yamaha AC1R is certainly a very fine acoustic guitar. If you’re looking for a companion for your live performance acts, there seems to be no better choice than AC1R. Astonishing sound quality, durability, and overall performance are the least you should expect.


Best Left-Handed Acoustic Guitars under $1000

Overview:

Left handed players have substantially more trouble finding a good guitar than the right handed population, but luckily, some of the bigger brands such as Martin have decided to lend out a helping hand.

We present to you the 000X1AE acoustic guitar – a plain-looking, surprisingly strong sounding guitar that you should at least give a shot if you happen to save up enough cash.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

Martin’s 000X1AE features a Spruce top, HPL body, A-frame bracing, and Fishman Sonitone electronics – all of this yields a very solid combination that grants the player plenty of versatility when it comes to playing.

There’s also an USB output which makes it absolutely perfect for recording your music and tracks – this is only complemented with its compact size, making it easier to carry around to a studio or a gig.

What we liked about this guitar:

The sound of this guitar is very powerful, especially on the higher and middle end. Volume levels are abundant and rich, and the tone is very distinctive, to say the very least. Martin’s 000X1AE has plenty of character, which every seasoned professional player will gladly welcome.

Additionally, atop the great sounding performance you’ll also grow to love its small, compact size. However, don’t let that lead you into thinking that it’s flimsy, because it’s quite the contrary. HPL laminate is among the most robust components you could introduce to a guitar.

What we thought could be improved:

As much as HPL is great in terms of durability, it’s actually not that good when it comes to the feeling of the guitar. Namely, Martin’s 000X1AE feels very rigid and dry, which has somewhat of an impact on the overall playability.

Regardless, it’s still very much usable and suitable for players at all skill levels, including both immediate beginners and professionals.

Pros:

  • All-purpose guitar
  • Very versatile, rich sound and character
  • Robust construction
  • Premium quality electronics

Cons

  • Feels rigid and dry

Our verdict:

If you can somehow look past the not-so-great feel of this guitar, you’ll find it as a reliable companion regardless of what type of playing you intend to do. Martin’s 000X1AE excels in nearly all fields of performance and we recommend it to everyone and anyone looking for a good guitar.

Fender PM-1 Standard mahogany left-handed

Overview:

Fender’s been making premium quality guitars for a while now, and it goes without saying that each and every model they made sets a precedent for pretty much every other brand that’s out there.

We present to you the PM 1 Standard – a guitar that has set the standards of quality in virtually all possible aspects.

Manufacturer key specs and features:

PM 1 Standard rocks a full mahogany construction – top, back, sides, and fingerboard are all made of this material. This means that this guitar has a very distinctive, warm sound. Of course, it won’t appeal to people looking for brighter timbres, but whoever’s looking for strong, robust sound is looking for PM 1.

The nickel tuners hold the tune remarkably well, for several weeks at a time to say the very least, and the factory action is neither too high or low.

What we liked about this guitar:

Great guitars come in all shapes and sizes, but what we really liked about the PM 1 is the fact that it sports an all-around performance. It’s sized just right, it sounds just perfect (for people looking for a warm sound), and it’s very durable.

What we thought could be improved:

Mahogany is, sadly, a bit heavier than certain other tonewoods, which means that a guitar that’s mainly made of that particular material (such as this) will weigh quite a lot.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally warm sound with plenty of structure
  • Full Mahogany construction
  • Excellent action and intonation
  • Superb playability

Cons

  • A bit heavier than most similarly priced guitars

Our verdict:

Fender guitars are just amazing, and PM 1 proves that point with pinpoint accuracy. This is a high value high-end guitar that’s perfectly suited for all playing styles, playing types, and player levels. All we can say is save up and you won’t regret it.


Buying Guide – How to Pick the Best Acoustic Guitar

Now that we’ve seen the models that are worthy of calling ‘the best of the best’, it’s time to see how we picked. Of course, different types of acoustic guitars have undergone different tests and were required to pass different criteria, but let’s talk about what generally makes the ‘best acoustic guitar’ a little bit better than ‘good’ and ‘decent’ models.

Build material

It’s fairly easy to start with what’s the guitar made of – you won’t find much use of a guitar that gets broken and worn out after a couple of months or years.

This is especially important for guitars that are just below the price range of $1000. Though this is not a fortune per se, it’s still a lot of money, and understanding the term durability will help you greatly.

Basswood

Let’s start off easy. Basswood is one of the most common build materials for a guitar, mainly because of the fact that it’s so inexpensive. It’s very easy to bend or cut before it’s finished too, which just makes it a bit more practical in that sense.

Basswood is a decently versatile choice as it offers a fine compromise between sounding bright and warm (actually, leaning towards the line of being warm just a bit more). It’s light and stimulates the lows, but it lacks the depth of other tonewoods.

Mahogany

Mahogany is also incredibly popular, mainly because it’s durable and looks quite amazing. Unlike Basswood, Mahogany is very warm sounding tonewood, and is widely considered as a great substitute for a bit more expensive rosewood. It doesn’t sound so big, but it does have the depth basswood lacks.

Ash

Ash is the polar opposite of the overly warm mahogany – it’s very bright and offers plenty of sustain. The brand that made using ash tonewood popular was actually Fender, although modern variants are seldom featuring this element. The biggest benefits Ash offers are a great feel, a very bright tone, as well as plenty of sustain.

Koa

Koa is, basically, a tonewood most commonly used in the manufacturing process of ukuleles, although acoustic guitar makers sometimes use it as well. It’s decently warm and has a speck of brightness to it, but the reason why guitars made of it are usually so expensive is because it looks absolutely amazing.

Actually, Koa offers a fine compromise between mahogany and rosewood, providing excellent highs and great mids.

Maple

Maple is popularly used for fingerboards as well as necks because it’s incredibly bright. It’s not lightweight per se, but it wouldn’t be fair to label it as ‘heavy’ either. Maple is strong and very durable, and it will give you the best sounding highs you could imagine.

Rosewood

Rosewood is basically an expensive material that is mainly used for higher end guitars. It has a distinctively warm sound and looks stunning and beautiful. Rosewood offers remarkable treble response and plenty of sustain, but what’s best about it is the fact that it works like a charm in combination with practically every other tonewood possible.

Sound

How a guitar sounds is what most players are interested in. Now, this is a very tricky matter, mainly because the perception of sound is not the same with everyone. Objectively, it would even be hard to ‘describe’ the sound just because of that fact. However, the ‘best’ acoustic guitars need to have a sound so distinctive that even laymen could notice the difference without too much trouble.

Sustain

Getting familiar with the range of sounds might help you, as you’ll hear words like ‘mids, lows, and highs’ pretty much everywhere when guitar talk is at stake. Though those are fairly self-explanatory, the harder, more tangible part comes when defining whether a guitar has a good sustain and resonance.

That’s actually the first thing beginners notice when they pluck the strings – just how long the note persists. Cheap guitars have almost no sustain at all, but that doesn’t mean that high-end guitars ring forever. Hitting the perfect ground in the middle is almost impossible, but the same can be said about finding the best guitar for the cash, right?

Character

Apart from sustain, let’s talk a bit about the guitar’s tonal character. Basically, that’s the guitar’s sonic signature – the way it differs from the other models. Guitars with weak characters are unimpressive, they don’t make you pick up the guitar for days mainly because their tonal character is dull.

Guitars with plenty of character, however, are best distinguished by the fact that there’s a bit of everything without overly accentuating any of the sound ranges – if the lows are deep, but not overly powerful, if the mids are clear, but not too present, if the highs are bright and pristine, then you’ll know you’ve found a guitar with character.

Plugged and unplugged

Since we have a section of semi-acoustic guitars, it wouldn’t hurt to mention that the best semi-acoustics should sound equally good plugged and unplugged. What that means that you should be searching for a guitar as if it was acoustic from a standalone point of view – if it’s good, then you should start considering whether you want to check out how it performs when wired.

The story is a bit different for people who’re performing live gigs and who actually rely on the electric components and completely neglect the acoustic aspect – in that case, you should be considering how good the pickups are and whether or not there are any sort of onboard controls and features.

Design

The manner in which a guitar is designed correlates to pretty much every other aspect in a logical sense. Its weight will affect how hard it is to play it, its size will determine how easy (or hard) for you it will be to take it from one place or another or store it, for example.

Weight

Guitar’s weight is actually pretty important not just because of the part where you think of moving it from one place or another. There are many players who practice playing it in an upright position, and heavier guitars tend to put a lot of stress on the back and shoulders. In the back of your mind, heavier guitars will slowly pull you away from playing if you’re a beginner.

On another hand, most people think that the lighter the guitar is, the easier it will break. That’s not necessarily true – you should check out the section where we defined the most common tonewoods for further reference.

Basically, certain wood types are innately heavier, and durability is not necessarily affected by the weight of the wood alone. For example, semi-acoustic guitars are almost by default heavier than acoustic guitar simply due to the fact that there’s additional hardware onboard.

Again, we’ll mention people who intend to perform live. The weight of the guitar might just determine how good your evening at that pub will be. If you use a light guitar, you can easily embrace your gig and audience whereas a heavy guitar will slowly start ‘injecting’ fatigue into your back and shoulders.

Size

There are several guitar size types, each bringing different benefits and disadvantages along. For the purposes of our review we’ve mainly picked dreadnoughts and grand auditorium guitars, but there’s also a jumbo for people who don’t mind the size and weight that much.

The smallest of guitar types is the Baby Parlour, often considered as a baby guitar. It’s so small that most adults couldn’t play it properly. Next up is the auditorium which is a full-size guitar, but with the least mass when compared to other adult guitar types.

After Auditorium there’s the Orchestra type which is just a bit wider, and then there’s the Grand Auditorium which often comes with a single cutaway. Dreadnought is by far the most popular guitar type mainly because it was tailor-made for an average adult. Last, but not least, the Jumbo is the biggest size available.

So, if you’re asking how does size affect the performance of a guitar, the answer isn’t all that simple. First of all, smaller guitars are easier to carry around and store, but bigger ones are flashier, in a sense.


Final words

We’ve seen some of the finest the best brands had and have to offer, but ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which acoustic guitar will be perfect for you.

The ‘under $1000’ price point category is considered as high-end or boutique, but note that there are still far more expensive guitars in the higher price point categories, although the vast majority of these models are signature guitars which are either signed or ordered by a famous artist.

This particular price range is actually ideal for people who’ve had some experience with guitar playing – no one expects a beginner to pay a small fortune for an instrument that he or she might never pick up again. On another hand, starting out with a quality guitar might actually help you attach to the instrument faster.

Despite the price, the ‘best acoustic guitars’ are very hard to find and come by, so luckily for you, you don’t need to search so far. We’ve taken the liberty of taking a gander at the catalog of some of the finest, most reputable brands, such as Yamaha, Fender, Martin, Seagull, and many others.

We hope that you’ve liked our reviews, and we recommend that you pay close attention to the buying guide before you check out the individual reviews – understanding the aspects of a guitar’s performance is, perhaps equally important as choosing the right one.

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