The market for the best acoustic guitars under $1000 is flooded with good options. This is great news for anyone looking for a good instrument that does not break the bank. The other side of that coin is that picking the right acoustic guitar at this price can become overwhelming.
The reason for the vast array of options at this price range has to do with enormous leaps forward in design, manufacturing, and quality. From big tone and unique design options to onboard electronics and neck construction, there’s been tons of innovation for acoustic guitars under $1000.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be looking at the best acoustic guitars you can buy for $ 1,000 or less. We looked at tones, playability, and, of course, build quality. If you’re looking for a great acoustic guitar and you’re working with a budget of up to $1000, you won’t want to miss this.
Features: Grand Auditorium body, Solid Sitka spruce top, Taylor ES2 electronics
Benefits: Easy amplification, Beautiful tones, Responsive performance
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Features: Solid Cedar Top, Wild cherry back and sides, Tusq nut
Benefits: Sustainable construction, Unique sound quality, Most affordable North American made guitar
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Features: Fishman Isys III electronics, Solid mahogany top, Custom inlay
Benefits: Fantastic looks, Great playability, Super warm tones
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- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- How to Choose the Right Guitar For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
The Seagull S6 is our top pick. This instrument is a creation of master builder Robert Godin, of Godin Guitars. Built with Canadian tonewoods, this guitar comes with a compound curved top for greater resonance and great tuning stability.
The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat is our Budget Choice. With a solid mahogany and mahogany back and sides, this guitar comes with striking visual attributes and is great for songwriters.
Finally, the Taylor 114ce is our Editor’s Choice. This instrument comes with the quality that we’ve come to associate with this brand. It gives you balanced warmth and a nice top end and is a great choice for the dedicated professional.
Attention to detail on a fantastic instrument.
Handcrafted in Canada with a true sense of pride, Seagull guitars have become one of the top choices for professionals everywhere. With tonewoods harvested from Canadian forests and special attention to detail, the S6 benefits from a deep tradition of guitar making.
The Seagull S6 is a Canadian-made acoustic guitar that features a pressure-tested cedar top and 3-layer wild cherry for the back and sides. Seagull opted to design this instrument with a compound curved top for greater resonance, and better tuning stability.
Additionally, the S6 was conceived with an altered dreadnought body shape for eliminating boominess and offering a full-range tone. This guitar also comes with an integrated set neck made of Silver leaf maple and a Rosewood fretboard.
As soon as we grabbed this guitar it became obvious that some great attention to detail went into its making. With Robert Godin (also the founder of Godin Guitars) at the helm, Seagull has become one of the most respected guitar brands, and the S6 is further proof of that.
We started by strumming some open chords and got an impressive projection and a sound that filled our room. The tone on the S6 is balanced and full, and it gave us great tuning stability thanks to the integrated set neck. We also liked how this instrument responded when we played some single lines, and triads in the upper strings and frets.
The playability in this guitar was also stellar, with a 1.8″ nut width that is great for larger hands, and a very responsive mahogany fretboard. Additionally, the nut is TUSQ which provides a similar feel to bone, but with livelier harmonics.
This guitar also comes with dual-function truss rods for easy neck alignments and for greater stability and better intonation. In short, a fantastic guitar with great sound and feel.
Verdict: The Seagull S6 is a Dreadnought acoustic guitar that comes with a pressure-tested cedar top with a compound curved design. It is hand built in Canada and gives you great projection with fantastic playability.
A unique acoustic designed for a true rockstar.
This guitar was designed based on Tim Armstrong's favorite Fender acoustic from the '60s. It comes with unique visual appointments that the Rancid guitar prefers, and offers great quality for the price.
The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat features a solid mahogany top that combines nicely with its laminated mahogany back and sides. This guitar is a unique instrument because of its striking visual attributes, all dictated by Armstrong himself.
These include a black headstock, a 4-ply tortoiseshell pickguard, and Hellcat logos on the third, fifth, and seventh frets as well as two skulls at the 12th fret. All of these fretboard details are done in pearl acrylic for an extra special touch on this instrument.
This guitar comes in a concert-sized acoustic body and features Fender’s advanced scalloped bracing. We started our tests by playing fingerstyle and really liked how the instrument responded. We then switched to a pick and got a nice projection and a unique vibe on this acoustic.
We then plugged the guitar into our Roland JC 120 via its Fishman Tim Armstrong preamplifier. We got a good acoustic tone that can be used in a variety of live contexts.
The fingerboard is made of walnut, while the neck is maple. This guitar also has a radius of 11.81″ and a C shape that felt good for our hands and gave us good playability.
Even though you probably don’t associate Rancid’s music with acoustic guitars, the fact is that Tim Armstrong is the band’s main songwriter and has an appreciation for the instrument. This intention and sensitivity are present on the Hellcat as it feels like a songwriter’s instrument.
In short, a nice acoustic guitar with tons of personality. This instrument is especially good for songwriters and comes with everything you need to play at home or onstage.
Verdict: The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat features a unique design and great sound for the money. This guitar is ideal for songwriters or beginners that want a unique instrument. Additionally, you can also plug into an amp or PA for live performances, thanks to the Fishman preamp included.
Superior craftsmanship and quality for the discerning guitarist.
Taylor is one of the best acoustic guitar brands in history, as it gives users top-notch quality and tone. The 114ce is a great instrument for both beginners and professionals, as it offers great quality at the 1000 dollar mark.
The Taylor 114ce features a Grand Auditorium body style with a Sitka spruce top and layered walnut back and sides on a satin varnish finish. This combination of tonewoods produces balanced warmth and a nice top end, especially when combined with Taylor’s superb craftsmanship.
Additionally, the layered walnut back and sides allow the instrument to remain stable even through climate changes and uncareful handling. The 114ce also comes with a tusq nut and Micarta saddle for a buzz-free performance.
We started our tests by playing some chords and a few lines. The sound, feel and playability of this instrument were all unmistakably Taylor’s. The 114ce’s acoustic tone was open and projected very well, with a nice balance of sparkle and warmth. We particularly liked how extended chords sounded, as this guitar gave us great response across the entire frequency range. It also responded well to our playing, particularly when we brought out more the top voice on some chords.
Although this guitar has a Grand Auditorium body style, its waist is a bit narrower. This results in a more pronounced high-end response that is great for live performance as it helps cut through the house mix.
Regarding playability, this Taylor was smooth as butter. We loved the feel of the maple neck with ebony fingerboard and the 15-inch radius. Not only did it give us a very comfortable playing experience, but the fretboard was also responsive to the nuances of our playing.
For plugging in, the 114ce comes with Taylor’s Expression System 2 which relies on a proprietary pickup located behind the saddle. Plugged into our Roland JC 120, we got the natural acoustic sound of this instrument, with great dynamic range and nice responsiveness.
This guitar holds its tuning very well, with nice intonation. This is partly due to the die-cast chrome-plated tuners as well as the overall design of the instrument. In short, a fantastic acoustic guitar for musicians that demand quality above everything else.
Verdict: The Taylor 114ce comes with a Grand Auditorium body style with a narrower waist for top-end sparkle that penetrates a mix. It is great for fingerpicking or regular playing and features a carefully calibrated preamp system that preserves the natural acoustic tone of the instrument when plugged in.
Vintage looks with modern appointments for today's players.
Yamaha is one of the top music companies, known for creating good instruments for decades on end. The A3M acoustic blends classic looks with modern features, and the result is a guitar that is ideal for songwriters that need quality when plugging in.
The Yamaha A3M ARE Dreadnought Cutaway comes with a solid sitka spruce top that combines nicely with its solid mahogany back and sides. These tonewood choices are known for providing warm and balanced tones, and tend to be great for all types of right-hand picking techniques.
The A3M is designed with new scalloped bracing on the top while the dreadnought’s back features shorter bracing. Yamaha also gave this guitar what they call A.R.E. wood torrefaction treatment. This treatment gives the guitar top greater stability as well as a vintage hue.
We tried this guitar and enjoyed the warm sound that it produces. Although we played jazz, soft rock and other styles, we feel that this guitar is best in the hands of a songwriter. We found that this guitar is mostly suited for playing chords and strumming, with a nice open tone that is great for working on some ideas and verses.
The neck on the A3M is made of 3-piece Mahogany, with an Ebony fingerboard. We liked how this guitar felt in our hands, as it was responsive and comfortable to play with a standard 25.5 scale length.
For plugging in, this guitar is outfitted with an SRT2 pickup system. You get independent knobs for volume, treble, and bass. Additionally, this system also features auto feedback reduction and a blend control that lets you dial in the balance between the piezo and SRT2 preamp.
Another nice feature of the SRT2 pickup system is that by pushing the blend control, you can pick between the modeling of a Neumann KM 56 mic or a Royer R-122. In short, a nice-sounding guitar that gets the job done. However, there are plenty of choices in this price range so make sure you pick the one that fits your needs.
Verdict: The Yamaha A3M ARE Dreadnought Cutaway features a nice combination of tonewoods for warm tone with great projection. Aside from good tone and playability, this guitar also allows you to plug in directly into a PA or amp thanks to its preamp system.
A great sounding instrument built with sustainability protocols.
Martin has been one of the top acoustic guitar brands for decades. With input from hitmaker Shawn Mendes, this company built this instrument with a bitey sound and using ethically harvested woods.
The Martin 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes Signature acoustic guitar features a spruce top and sapele back and sides. This combination of tonewoods delivers a bright sound that can cut through any mix and is inspired by Sam Mendes’ tonal preferences.
This Martin acoustic comes in a smaller Auditorium-style body that provides comfort for smaller players. A nice detail on this instrument is that it was built using ethically harvested FSC-certified tonewoods for preserving environmental resources.
The FSC protocol (Forest Stewardship Council) works with local growers and sawmills to sustainably harvest resources, so you can strum the guitar and also feel like a responsible citizen of the world.
This guitar features a robust sipo neck with an ebony fingerboard. We got nice responsiveness to our playing dynamics and also liked how this neck felt in our hands. With a 16-inch radius and 24″ scale length, the Martin 000JR-10E was a joy to play with.
Acoustically, we got fantastic resonance, and a true Martin feel and vibe throughout the instrument. We tried open chords, melody lines on the higher frets and even some acoustic riffing. This Martin gave us a balanced sound throughout, with a nice resonance where the mids were really coming through with beautiful harmonic information.
And for plugging in, this acoustic comes outfitted with a Fishman Sonitone pickup that preserves the true character of this instrument.
This system features volume and tone controls mounted on the soundhole, which allows the player to conveniently make adjustments on the go. The Fishman Sonitone operates via a 9 V battery conveniently located in a compartment right next to the output jack of the instrument.
In short, a nice-sounding guitar that delivers the spirit and quality of a Martin for under a grand. As good as this guitar is, the pickup system may be a bit limiting for folks that prefer to have more tonal control options at their disposal.
Verdict: The Martin 000JR-10E Shawn Mendes Signature acoustic guitar offers a bright and beautiful tone, and is constructed with sustainability and ethics in mind. It is inspired by Sam Mendes’ tonal preferences and visual preferences and features a fantastic Fishman pickup system that preserves the tone of the instrument when plugged into a PA or amp.
A comfortable guitar with a gorgeous look.
Washburn has a solid reputation for offering great value options for all types of musicians. This acoustic-electric guitar is no exception and offers great response on a well-designed and durable instrument.
The Washburn Bella Tono Allure SC56S is built with an acacia body and a solid spruce top, on a concert body shape. This guitar features a Quartersawn Scalloped body bracing for stability and resonance.
The first thing that struck us about this guitar is how beautiful it is. Not only the nice gloss finish on the spruce body but also the detailed inlay job on the ebony fretboard. With an Abalone/turquoise beach scene displayed, the fretboard provides a special and unique touch to this instrument.
The neck feels quite nice, made of mahogany and with a Modern “C” profile. We particularly liked how the smooth satin finish felt in our hands, as we moved from the lower frets to the higher ones with great comfort.
Another great feature that enhances the playability of this guitar is the comfort arm rest. This is basically a beveled edge on the lower bout on the instrument, right where you’d place your forearm.
Soundwise, this guitar is sensitive to our playing and very musical. In other words, it has great dynamics and responds well to our touch, whether we played it fingerstyle or with a pick. When strummed with force, the sound remained balanced and projected well. For quieter passages, the tone was smooth but forward.
This Washburn comes equipped with a Barcus Berry LX4 preamp system. With independent bass, middle, treble, presence, and volume knobs, we were able to dial in our tone to our liking. Additionally, this system has a built-in tuner for added convenience.
In short, a nice guitar for beginners and songwriters that also need to plug into a PA to share their creations.
Verdict: The Washburn Bella Tono Allure SC56S features a concert body shape and a stable Quartersawn Scalloped bracing that adds to its resonance. With a beautifully designed fretboard and modern appointments, this guitar is ideal for writing and gigging, thanks to its preamp system.
Great craftsmanship and features at a very affordable price.
Alvarez has made a strong name for itself in a very competitive field of acoustic guitars. With over half a century of producing instruments, this company offers good quality at a fair price, and the AG60CEAR is no exception.
The Alvarez AG60CEAR Artist 60 Grand Auditorium comes with a nice combination of tonewoods, featuring solid Sitka spruce on the top and African mahogany for the back and sides.
We tried this guitar acoustically at first and got a round tone that projects well. We particularly liked how smooth our open chords sounded, especially when softly plucked with a light pick. The AG60CEAR also responded nicely to our light fingerpicking.
We then wanted to test how the guitar sounds when plugged in. This Alvares comes with an LR Baggs Element under-saddle pickup and StagePro EQ that gave us a natural sound that was true to the unplugged sound of the instrument.
It comes with a volume knob, three sliders for controlling bass, mids, and highs respectively, as well as a phase button and built-in tuner. The LR Baggs system is a great addition to this instrument, as it gives you fantastic plugged-in quality for the price of this guitar.
Regarding playability, this Alvarez features a neck shape that goes from V to C, for greater comfort as you go up the fretboard. The feel of the satin finish on the neck is also nice and inviting. With a 14.96″ radius, Indian laurel fingerboard, and 25.5″ scale length, this guitar provides a smooth playing experience.
Additional features like real bone nut and saddle as well as chrome hardware make this guitar punch way above its weight. In other words, this guitar comes at a fantastic price for all the quality and features it offers.
Verdict: The Alvarez AG60CEAR Artist 60 Grand Auditorium features a balanced combination of tonewoods, nice playability, and good tuning stability. This guitar is a good choice for beginners and songwriters that want an instrument that is better than its price suggests.
How to Choose the Right Guitar For You
There are a lot of options for great acoustic guitars under $1000. The path to selecting the right one for you begins with what your needs and preferences are. Below are a few things to consider.
Size and Body Shape
Guitars come in different sizes in order to provide tonal variation, stronger projection, and volume. In general terms, the bigger the acoustic cavity of the guitar, the bigger its sound will be.
However, other considerations like playability, the size of the hand and arms of the player, and other features come into question. Below we have listed the nomenclature of different sizes that many companies go by when designing their instruments.
These guitars are small and lightweight, often preferred by smaller folks or parents looking for an instrument for their children. Parlor guitars commonly have a bright top end and prominent mids, and are easy to play and reach, unless you have big hands, in which case they may be a bit tight and uncomfortable.
These are moderately sized guitars that many folks prefer for fingerpicking. They tend to provide a balanced sound and are relatively comfortable for most people to play. They also tend to be louder than parlor guitars.
This type of body is favored by guitarists that want impressive volume without having a massively big guitar. Dreadnoughts are popular among many musicians, including songwriters, blues players and others that play acoustic guitar.
However, they also tend to be bass heavy, which some folks like and others do not. They are great for strumming with nice projection and presence.
The jumbo excels in volume but does not come with the pronounced lower end that dreadnoughts exhibit. Instead, jumbos have a balanced tone and are a common choice among recording musicians and folks looking for a tone to cut through and fill a room.
The choice of wood used in an acoustic guitar has a substantial impact on tone, projection, and feel. As most things guitar related, tonewood choice comes to personal preference and taste.
An extremely popular choice for guitar tops. It produces a smooth tone with complex overtones, great for strumming and fingerpicking.
Another common choice for guitar tops, Cedar gives you warmth on your tone. They stand out when played at medium levels but not so much when forceful strumming is needed.
The go-to choice for backs, sides and fingerboards. Rosewood is known for being an extremely well-balanced tonewood. With a rich bass, forward mids, and beautiful highs, Rosewood has been a popular choice for decades.
A common choice for necks and fingerboards, but also used on tops, backs, and sides. This tonewood is sought after for its strong mids, detailed high-end, and tight bass.
Used mostly for backs and sides, walnut provides a well-balanced tone.
Very common for necks, maple is a very hard wood that also has nice resonant qualities, with a sparkly top end. This tonewood is arguably the most popular choice for necks, both for electrics and acoustic guitars.
A very hard wood that offers a bright tone and makes for silky fingerboards. It also has the added benefit that it is still relatively easy to harvest and its demand is not through the roof as in the case of rosewood.
Choosing the right acoustic guitar under $1000 is a matter of your personal needs and preferences. Luckily, we live in a time where you can get a fantastic instrument for less than a grand. It all comes down to exactly how much you want to spend and what you need the instrument for.
A few years ago, the best-known acoustic guitar brands started producing quality instruments for a much lower cost. They quickly found out there is a substantial market for acoustic guitars under $1000, so new brands followed suit as well.
To recap our choices, the Seagull S6 is our top pick. Built under the eye of renowned guitar builder Robert Godin, of Godin Guitars, this acoustic features a compound curved top and greater resonance and tuning stability. The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat is our Budget Choice. With a fantastic mahogany body and mahogany back and sides, this guitar features a unique visual and was designed with input from Rancid’s guitarist. Finally, the Taylor 114ce is our Editor’s Choice. With balanced warmth, great projection, and playability, this acoustic guitar is a wonderful choice for discerning musicians that value quality and are willing to pay for it.