As seen in:
Yamaha
Solid Top Acoustic
Best Choice Products
38-Inch Starter Package
Jasmine
S35
Epiphone
DR-100 Dreadnought
Fender
FA-100 Dreadnought
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Good

The best sound quality of all the top-selling acoustic guitars on our shortlist.

A complete beginner's package at an extremely low price.

For the price, an astonishingly good tone.

Mahogany back and neck. Authentic acoustic sound. Three color choices.

Bright, responsive tone. Affordable price, especially for a Fender. Includes padded gig bag and other nice-to-have features.

Bad

Reports of loose strap button on a few models.

No dots on the fretboard. Quality issues with guitar construction and tone.

A "fixer upper" that will probably require extra expenditures to get it set up right.

Strings have been known to buzz, requiring a manual bridge adjustment.

Spruce top is laminated and could be somewhat less conducive to resonance.

Bottom Line

Extremely high-quality guitar from a respected manufacturer. The best on the market.

This extremely popular package could be the right choice for you if you're looking for a child's toy.

A "get what you pay for" instrument with strengths and weaknesses. Suitable as a spare guitar.

A popular, budget-priced guitar with mahogany tone wood. Recommended by teachers for beginners.

A bargain-priced instrument of top-notch quality, and the best bang for your buck.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
78
Models Considered
46
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
171
Consumers Consulted

Best Acoustic Guitars

Our top five contenders are all affordable, and all have enjoyed immense popularity on the commercial market. We spell out the highs and lows of each instrument so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Products we Considered

Yamaha
Solid Top Acoustic
Best Choice Products
38-Inch Starter Package
Jasmine
S35
Epiphone
DR-100 Dreadnought
Fender
FA-100 Dreadnought

Considerations

Neck and Body

Different types of tone wood create different sounds on a guitar. Rosewood is the best (and most popular) choice for the fretboard. Spruce is a fairly inexpensive tone wood choice that typically gets good results. Mahogany and maple are two of the best tone woods, especially when paired together. Other combinations can also sound good. In our ratings, we take a look at not only the type of wood used, but what owners have to say about the sound quality elicited from each guitar.

Sound Quality

A guitar's sound quality is influenced by many things: tone wood, strings, fretboard, sound hole, hardware, and overall quality of construction. Guitar teacher wisdom says that you shouldn't trust any guitar that costs under $100. However, several of our contenders hover around this price point and do quite well in customer ratings. We tell you what owners have to say about the sound quality of each of the models on our top-selling list.

Features

Several of the acoustic guitars on our shortlist come with everything you need to get started -- gig bag, spare strings, strap, pick, tuner. Other products stand alone. We tell you what to expect with each purchase, along with any other side information that's important, such as bridge quality, hardware condition, and color choice.

Price

You could get a dirt cheap guitar for under $40, or you could get an ultra-expensive one for several thousand dollars. We concentrate on guitars at price points that appeal to the everyday guitar player. Read our ratings to get a feel for whether each model on our top-selling list is worth its dollar amount.

Considerations

Neck and Body

38" Black Acoustic Guitar Starter Package

Like many acoustic guitars today, the top of Best Choice Products' body is made of spruce, and its fretboard is made of rosewood. The back and neck are Sapele wood, which is basically a cheaper form of mahogany with an "extra treble zing," according to the manufacturer. Considering the extremely low price of this starter guitar, you would be correct not to expect top-notch tone quality. Some owners complain that the body feels "fragile," and a few owners experienced a failure of the wood glue that holds the neck and body together. This is a problem that could be easily repaired at home. A deal-breaker for some consumers may be the fact that the fretboard contains no dots. While it's true that most beginners don't need extensive position markers, it would be more educationally sound (and more authentic) if the dots had been included. If you choose this product, you can expect to get what you pay for in terms of neck and body. The instrument is functional, but its tone wood is nowhere near the caliber of guitars like the Yamaha.

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The top of the Jasmine acoustic guitar is made of the typical spruce wood; neck and back are built of Nato tone wood, which can come from either the Mora tree or Asian wood. Nato is not a top-tier tone wood, but the Jasmine's rosewood fretboard is of the expected quality for an acoustic guitar. If you have smaller hands, or if you're looking to purchase a starter guitar for an adolescent, the slim neck of the Jasmine may appeal to you. (Note: in spite of its slimmer neck, this is a full-sized guitar and therefore not a good choice for small children.) The Jasmine's dreadnought body adheres to the dreadnought style, which is more square in the shoulders and bottom than many other styles. As a dreadnought, the tone is bolder and louder than some other acoustics on the market today. Customers admire this guitar for its “beautiful wood grain,” but many owners note that the delicate, “shiny” finish of the Jasmine picks up scratches quite easily.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar, Ebony

The Epiphone's top is made of spruce tone wood and its fretboard of rosewood. One of this budget-priced guitar's selling points is the fact that its back and neck are made of mahogany. You won't find many guitars at this price point with mahogany tone wood! For this reason, the Epiphone comes highly recommended by a lot of guitar instructors to beginning students. For a small amount of money, students get to experience an authentic acoustic sound while deciding if the guitar is really right for them. If you're looking for a color variation, you can also get this Epiphone model in Ebony, Natural, and Vintage Sunburst finishes.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

The Fender Dreadnought's top is made of laminated spruce which, according to the manufacturer, offers a “stiffness to weight” ratio conducive to great sound. With a maple neck, basswood body, and rosewood fretboard, the Fender FA-100 tone woods produces a bright, responsive sound that is especially remarkable when you consider the guitar's affordable price. As a dreadnought, this model is a bit more boxy than some other acoustics on the market. Some owners with smaller and/or arthritic hands comment that the wide neck is a challenge for them when playing certain chords. Other owners, particularly those with larger hands, say they like the feel of the Fender's wide neck.

Yamaha Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The Yamaha's top is constructed of Sitka spruce, a “strong yet elastic” wood that helps the player articulate tone and dynamics. The neck is made of Nato wood, just like the lower-priced Jasmine on our shortlist. Unlike the Jasmine, however, the back and fretboard are both made of rosewood. One of the best things about the Yamaha's neck and body is the way the two are joined together: via a hand-fitted, dovetail neck joint that uses no metal hardware. This neck-to-body cohesion is ideal for tone as well as the overall stability and durability of the physical instrument.

The gorgeous body of the Yamaha is joined to the neck by a hand-fitted, dovetail joint using no metal hardware. This configuration is ideal for tone, stability, and durability of the instrument.
Considerations

Sound Quality

38" Black Acoustic Guitar Starter Package

Customers who appreciate this guitar package didn't buy it because they wanted an instrument with amazing tone. The primary attraction of the Best Choice Products Black Acoustic Guitar Starter Package is the price. This is a bare bones, exploratory instrument that suits some beginners who want to see if they like playing guitar. It's also often bought as a toy, although Best Choice Products doesn't market it as such. If you purchase this guitar, do not expect a superlative tone. You may not even get an instrument that plays the correct pitches 100 percent of the time. One owner complained that “in tune strings are out of tune chords.” Another owner quipped that this instrument “won't stay tuned for more than 10 seconds.” If you don't mind intonation and tuning problems, or if you're buying this for someone who probably won't stick with the guitar for long, this starter package could be a good choice for you. In spite of its tonal problems, this product is actually extremely popular with customers. This most certainly has to do with the package's low price, not it's sound quality.

The Jasmine is a large step up from the Best Choice Products' Black Acoustic in terms of sound quality, but most people who buy this instrument find they need to put a few more dollars into it for it to sound its best. Said one owner, “This guitar has the capability to sound like it cost $400, but you will need to spend an extra $20 in parts.” Others who bought the Jasmine said they spent up to $40 on a professional set-up to bring it up to snuff. If you don't mind a fixer-upper guitar and would like to take your chances on a budget instrument at this price point, you maybe pleasantly surprised by what an instrument technician can do to improve the sound quality of the Jasmine.

The Epiphone, with its mahogany body, is known for having a good tone at an affordable price. “Full lows” and “bright highs” are characteristic of this instrument, according to many satisfied owners. Several newbie guitar students told us that their instructor approved of this purchase as a beginner's instrument. The consensus seems to be that the strings will need to be replaced straight away if you want the best sound, but strings are an inexpensive purchase; if you're on a budget, it may be cheaper to buy an Epiphone and get it set up by a professional than to buy a higher-end model. Owners also tell us that they like the feel of this guitar. It should go without saying that the more comfortable an instrument feels in your hands, the better you're likely to sound when you play it.

Because the Fender Dreadnought is made with a laminated spruce top, the sound may not be as resonant as it could have been with with a non-laminated tone wood. However, this is a dreadnought model, and the overall tone is richer and bolder than some other acoustic models at similar price points. Most of the owners we surveyed were perfectly happy with the sound quality of their Fender. One owner called it a “cheaply made guitar with a fantastic sound.” If you're hunting for a bargain, it's hard to ask for much more than that in a musical instrument.

The Yamaha puts forth a beautiful dreadnought sound – rich, full, with resonant bass undertones. Owners tell us that they like how balanced the tones of this instrument are. One satisfied customer boasted that in a room full of acoustics, his Yamaha would “float to the top” of the din. Indeed, we found several consumers during the course of our research who wished they had purchased the Yamaha instead of either the Jasmine or the Fender. Like several of the other guitars on our shortlist, you may decide to have this guitar set up by a professional. One owner we spoke to noticed a buzzing sound coming from his strings. He took his guitar in to a repairman who lowered the action. After the strings were lowered, the buzz went away, and he was very happy with the sound. Overall, this buzzing seems to be a rare occurrence. If you're interested in a Yamaha acoustic guitar, we highly recommend the Yamaha.

In a room full of acoustic guitars, the rich, vibrant sound of the dreadnought Yamaha FG730S would "float to the top."
Ron
Expert Consultant
Ron
Musician, concert performer

Ron is a lifelong musician of incredible talent and skill. He plays piano, drums, harmonica, and guitar (electric, acoustic, and bass), as well as an array of other instruments. Ron has performed in a number of bands over the past three decades. In his spare time, you might find him researching equity investments.

Considerations

Features

38" Black Acoustic Guitar Starter Package

As a starter set, the Best Choice Products' Black Acoustic package includes more additional features than most of the other products on our shortlist. For your money, you get a guitar bag, strap, six-tone pitch pipe, pick, and second set of strings. You get an astonishing amount of goods for the price, and that's precisely where the trouble lies. Most of the owners we surveyed bought this starter package for a beginner child. They were attracted to the ultra-low price and thought that the purchase would be a safe, inexpensive way to find out if the child liked the guitar. However, even a beginner needs to hear how a guitar is supposed to sound, and the low-quality construction of this instrument gets in the way of that. The Best Choice guitar is difficult to tune and sounds cheap. Some buyers complained that the instrument doesn't fit in the bag; others found that replacing the strings immediately was the only way to get a decent sound. Many owners complained that there were paint drips on their guitar, leading us to believe that this instrument is manufactured in a plant where other non-musical items are made. (Unlike Fender and Epiphone, Best Choice Products is not dedicated solely to the manufacture of musical products.)

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The Jasmine's steel strings tarnish quite easily. In fact, one owner told us his Jasmine arrived with corroded strings, making it look more like a used instrument than a new one. The strings are also quite heavy; more than one owner told us they swapped the manufacturer's strings for a set of lighter strings in order to protect their fingers. The guitar's laminate back/sides and “satin” top do nothing to improve the “cheap” look of this guitar; in fact, they seem to enhance its bargain basement appearance. Nevertheless, the Jasmine is a top-selling guitar for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's a great starter instrument for a beginner (it costs a little more than the Best Choice Products' package, but the overall quality is much better.) Second, it's a popular backup choice for more experienced players. You could take this instrument to the park, a bonfire, or on vacation without worrying too much about it getting lost, stolen, or damaged.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar, Ebony

The acoustic Epiphone DR-100 is a winner in the books of many bargain-seeking musicians. As we mentioned earlier, its mahogany construction is one of this instrument's biggest perks. You will not find many acoustic guitars in this price range with real mahogany tone wood. Some owners say that the bridge is too low, causing the strings to buzz. Raising the bridge is a possible DIY project that could solve this problem, but many amateurs who don't know much about guitar find it easier to pay someone else to fix it. If you're thinking of buying an Epiphone, be aware that you may want to put some extra money into this instrument to make it sound its best – whether to tweak the truss rod or replace the hardware (a few customers were disappointed with the tuners). Overall, Epiphone has a far better reputation than guitars by Best Choice Products and Takamine (manufacturer of the Jasmine). It can be considered a legitimate competitor of the Fender FA-100 and an economically priced cousin of the Yamaha FG730S. Color choices include Ebony, Natural, and Vintage Sunburst.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

With the purchase of the FA-100, Fender treats its customers to a padded gig bag, electronic tuner, guitar strap, extra strings, and picks. It's not marketed as a starter package, but we note that it includes the same features that the Best Choice Products Black Acoustic starter set provides – but of a much higher quality. The tuner is decent, the bag is a great protective shield for the instrument, and the strap easily attaches to the forward strap button. Some beginners find the manufacturer's strings too thick for their fingers, but the strings can be easily and inexpensively replaced with lighter ones. Overall, you're less likely to have to take this purchase to a repairman for a set-up or other improvements; it comes with just about everything you need, and the quality is solid and more dependable than many other acoustic guitars in this same price range. To top it off, consumers who buy this guitar get to choose between four good-looking finishes: Black, Natural, Natural Satin, and Sunburst.

Yamaha Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The Yamaha is a more expensive guitar than any other on our shortlist, and it doesn't come with the extensive features offered by Fender and Best Choice Products. However, the product that you get is in keeping with Yamaha's high standards of quality. This is a beautiful guitar with a tortoise pick guard and a lovely rosewood back and fretboard. Customers can choose between three gorgeous color schemes: Natural, Tobacco Brown Sunburst, and Vintage Cherry Burst. Owners tell us that the tuner handles, made of shiny chrome, are actually easier to use than a lot of competitor guitars because they are larger. The action is low – a comfort to your fingers – but rarely do we hear complaints of the fret buzz that you sometimes get on guitars with bridge problems. You don't get a gig bag or extra set of strings with this guitar, but if you're going to purchase this nice instrument, chances are you'll want to buy a hard shell case to protect it. Chances are equally high that you won't need to purchase a second set of strings, as the set provided by the manufacturer will suit you just fine.

The Fender FA-100 includes just about everything you need -- padded gig bag, electronic tuner, guitar strap, extra strings, picks -- and its quality is solid and more dependable than many other acoustic guitars in its price range.
Considerations

Price

38" Black Acoustic Guitar Starter Package

For an extremely low price of $38, you can get the Best Choice Products starter package which includes a guitar, gig bag, strap, pitch pipe, and pick. Considering the fact that a new set of guitar strings alone costs around $15, you know you're getting a lot for your money with this package. The question is, is it worth it? Thousands of buyers think so. This particular model flies off the shelves, but durability is quite a different issue than price. Our research indicates that this particular package makes for a great child's toy -- something that could break easily and no one would shed a tear. If you're serious about guitar playing, this probably isn't the best choice for you. If you, or someone you know, is hungry to do a little bit of music exploration, however, the Best Choice package is a low-risk option.

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural

At $79, the Jasmine S35 is not as low-priced as the Best Choice Products starter package, but it comes close. For a bit more money, you get a lot more quality. This guitar is far from perfect, and you may want to spend another $20-$40 dollars to get it set up right. Many of the owners we spoke to feel it is imperative to replace the strings right away. Cosmetically, the Jasmine will never be as beautiful as the Yamaha or Epiphone. However, if you're looking to spend as little as possible -- and you don't mind investing a few more dollars in instrument repairs -- this could be a good choice for you. A lot of the owners we spoke to also like to keep this guitar on the side as their "spare" instrument.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar, Ebony

Epiphone is a strong name in guitars, and for a price of just $119, the DR-100 is a good buy. We recommend it for the mahogany alone, but the tone quality is also appropriate, and perhaps even better than it should be, for the price. Beginners and advanced musicians alike enjoy making music on this instrument, although you may want to replace the strings when you buy it. (Many people do.) Some notice a buzz in their strings and decide to lower the action. If this happens to you, you may choose to do the job yourself or pay a professional to do it. Or, you could simply put up with the buzz -- it's not that common, and some people don't mind it. During our research, we discovered that this model, in spite of its few flaws, has earned the seal of approval from many guitar teachers.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

The Fender FA-100 sells right now for $119. We think this price is a steal, especially considering the fact that you get a padded gig bag and several other desirable accessories (tuner, strap, strings, picks) with it. The quality of the wood may be slightly inferior to that of the Epiphone, but our research turned up very few sound quality complaints. Because of this, we give the Fender FA-100 very high ratings. Fender is a top name in guitars, and this particular model is a top seller for a reason: quality. The company takes care of its customers, as evidenced by the the included gig bag and the fact that so many customers are satisfied with their Fender's sound. If you're intrigued by the Fender brand name and you want an affordable acoustic guitar, you can't go wrong with this one.

Yamaha Acoustic Guitar, Natural

At $299, the Yamaha is the most expensive guitar on our shortlist. We think the price is justified, however. If you were to put the Yamaha in a room full of similarly priced guitars, its glorious, vibrant tones would quickly rise above the mix. When you read our top seller ratings, you'll notice that several of the lower-priced acoustics on our list may require an additional investment (set-up, repairs, and so on). This isn't usually the case with the Yamaha. You're not likely to need to replace the strings, lower/raise the bridge, or make other costly adjustments after you buy this instrument. Once it's in your hand, it's ready to play. We think this fact alone makes the FG730S worth the higher price.

When you buy a Yamaha, you're not likely to need to replace the strings, lower/raise the bridge, or make other costly adjustments. Once it's in your hand, it's ready to play.

Best of the Best

As a consumer, you may have noticed that the Yamaha Corporation manufactures some awesome products: motorcycles, golf carts, PCs, sound chips, and yes, musical equipment and instruments. The Yamaha distinguishes itself as the best musical instrument among all others on our shortlist, even the well-reputed Fender. For this reason, we give it our "Best of the Best" award.

You simply cannot go wrong with this guitar. With a back and fretboard made of rosewood and a neck and body that are fused together by a hardware-free, dovetail joint, the workmanship of this guitar is a cut above other acoustics in its class. Owners love the gorgeous dreadnought sound, describing it as rich, resonant, and well-rounded. If you sat in a music store and played each guitar on our shortlist, one right after the other, you'd hear the crystal-clear Yamaha difference for yourself. Many of the people we polled who bought a Jasmine or a Fender wished that they could go back and buy the Yamaha instead. Yes, it costs more than any other instrument on our list, but the chance that you'll need invest in repairs down the road is much slimmer, and the sound quality is definitely A-1.

If you buy this instrument instead of the Fender, you won't get the padded gig bag and other handy accessories that come with it. However, a padded gig bag is probably not enough for the exquisite Yamaha; most owners feel that a protective hard case is a wiser way to shield this top-notch investment. While we did encounter one or two complaints about buzzy strings, most owners tell us the action is perfect and doesn't need to be fixed. You're not likely to feel compelled to spend extra money on improvements when you buy this guitar. It's good as is.

In a nutshell, this fun-to-play instrument is well worth the $299 it costs. In fact, many owners estimate the actual worth of this guitar to be far higher than its list price. Owners tell us it feels good in their hands, sounds good to their ears, and is consistent over the long haul. If you want a dependable product from a reputable company and you don't mind paying more than the requisite $100 for a quality guitar, the Yamaha is, by far, the one you should choose.

Best of the Best
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If you sat in a music store and played each guitar on our shortlist, one right after the other, you'd hear the crystal-clear Yamaha difference for yourself.

Best Bang for your Buck

Three of our top five guitars hover around the $100 mark, but one instrument stands out above the others as a top-notch, dependable acoustic guitar: the Fender FA-100.

When you buy a Fender product, you're investing in quality. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has been manufacturing instruments and equipment since the 1940s. This particular model has a maple neck and solid basswood body; a good combination of tone woods that render a fantastic sound. When you compare the tone wood of the Fender to the tone wood of the Epiphone, you may be tempted to buy the latter. Even though the Fender uses some laminated spruce where the Epiphone uses mahogany, our research indicates that customers have fewer problems with Fender sound quality than Epiphone sound quality. This could have to do with its dreadnought design, its wide neck, its suitable action, or even its higher quality strings.

There's another reason why we deem the Fender to be more of a bargain than the Epiphone: the included features. When you purchase the FA-100, you also get a padded gig bag, electric tuner, strap (with a good strap button), picks, and additional strings. When you calculate the added value of these extras, it's easy to see that the company is actually making less money on this guitar than Epiphone is on its DR-100. Couple this with the fact that we encountered far fewer complaints about Fender's quality than Epiphone's quality during our research, and we know for certain which model wins our Best Bang for Your Buck award: The Fender FA-100.

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced guitar player, this is a great guitar to have on hand either as your primary instrument or a secondary backup. It looks great, too -- buyers get to choose between four gorgeous finishes, including the coveted Sunburst finish that is so popular these days. We've said it before, but we'll say it again: at a cost of $119, this guitar is an absolute steal. We think you should go get one right now, before the company comes to their senses and raises the price.
Best Bang for your Buck
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We think you should go get a Fender FA-100 right now, before the company comes to their senses and raises the price.
The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Kriti
    Kriti
    Data Scientist

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