High-end acoustic guitars represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship, artistry, and excellence in lutherie. These meticulously crafted instruments are designed to deliver an unparalleled playing experience and produce rich, nuanced tones that captivate both players and listeners alike.
Additionally, they offer fantastic playability as well as other fantastic features not found on budget guitars. Nearly all manufacturers offer at least one high end acoustic guitar in their lineup, so there are plenty of choices out there.
Choosing any guitar is a highly personal decision, but when you’re looking at models in the 4 figure price range, the stakes are much higher. So, in this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ve picked 7 of the best high end acoustics on the market to help you in making your decision.
Throughout the reviews, we focused primarily on tones, build quality, and aesthetics. If you’re on the lookout for a high end acoustic guitar, you won’t want to miss this!
Features: Solid Sitka spruce top, Solid East Indian rosewood back/sides, Hardshell case
Benefits: Iconic tones, Peerless build quality, Fantastic residual value
Taylor 312ce V-Class
Features: V Class bracing, All solid woods, ES2 Electronics
Benefits: Bright tones, Excellent playability, Organic amplified sound
Taylor 312ce V-Class
Excellent quality with superior playability.
The 312ce V-Class is one of the finest acoustic guitars on the market today. With outstanding projection and playability, this is a great choice for professionals and enthusiasts looking for a top-shelf acoustic.
The Taylor 312ce V-Class features a Grand Concert body shape and V-bracing design that drastically improves the projection of the instrument over standard X bracing. Made with a Sitka spruce top, and sapele back and sides, this guitar is as resonant as they come, and that became obvious as soon as we strummed the first chord.
With a fantastic room filling presence, this Taylor guitar gave us a fantastic response across the entire frequency spectrum. Lows were punchy and well defined, the mids sang beautifully, and the highs were crisp and shimmery.
We got great response to our playing nuances, regardless of the style or technique we played. With a medium pick, this 312 gave us a full tone that was consistent at all volumes. When fingerpicking, we got great detail and a nice, balanced response across all frequencies.
The playability on this guitar was just as good as the tones. With a responsive tropical mahogany neck and a West African ebony fingerboard, we really loved the feel of this guitar. We also loved the feel of the 15″ radius.
This 314 also came with built-in Taylor Expression System 2 (ES2) electronics. We tested it with a Fishman Loudbox amp and got an accurate reflection of the natural acoustic tone, and good resistance to feedback.
As we often find with Taylor models, the out of the box setup was fantastic. It had a beautiful low action, with perfect neck relief, and extremely accurate intonation. Tuning stability was rock solid, too, thanks to the high quality Taylor branded tuners.
Verdict: The Taylor 312ce V-Class was everything we’d expected to see from a high end Taylor acoustic. The build quality was superb, the tones were beautiful, and to look at it was absolutely gorgeous. Not only did it sound great, but it also had the playability to match. Whether you’re a working musician, or you’re just looking for something a bit special to add to your collection, this Taylor is definitely worth your consideration.
Gibson Acoustic G-45
One of the most affordable US made acoustics on the market.
The G-45 delivers a great balance of performance and quality at a relatively affordable price point. With renowned Gibson construction, and being handmade in the USA, this guitar offers the kind of fit and finish you’d naturally expect of a high end acoustic.
The Gibson Acoustic G-45 comes in a natural finish, topped with a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish. It was made with a solid Sitka spruce top, and solid walnut back and sides.
When strumming with a medium pick, we got a direct and punchy sound with a nice dynamic range. When fingerpicking, the G-45 gave us great warmth and bell-like ring on the mid to high frequencies.
With a scale length of 24.75″ and 16″ radius, this guitar gave us the usual Gibson playing experience. We particularly liked the Advance Response utile neck, which nicely filled our hands. We also really liked the striped ebony fingerboard, which was responsive, and both looked and felt great.
One of the more controversial features of the G-45 was the Player Port. Some aren’t big fans of having an extra hole in the guitar, but we definitely saw the benefit. There was definitely a noticeable difference in the perceived sound as we played, as it projected directly towards us as an audience would hear it.
This Gibson acoustic was fitted with some of our favorite tuners, Grover Mini Rotomatics. They delivered fantastic tuning stability, and made fine tuning an absolute breeze. The factory setup was great, as evidenced by the fact that we didn’t have to adjust anything at all to get great playability.
Verdict: The Gibson Acoustic G-45, like most Gibson guitars, delivers big in terms of design, tone, and playability. Innovative features like the Player Port really helped give this guitar an edge on similarly priced competition, and when you consider that this one of the most affordable US made acoustics from a mainstream brand (by quite some margin), you’ll realize just how much value it actually offers.
The ultimate high end acoustic guitar.
For many, the Martin D-28 is the acoustic guitar, the yard stick for all other acoustics. Used by countless musical legends, this guitar has featured on some of the most iconic songs ever written, and you could have your very own.
The Martin D-28 featured a solid spruce top, and delivered incredible projection and stunning clarity from the moment we started playing. The back and sides were made of solid East Indian rosewood, which added considerably to both the warmth and the beautiful aesthetics of this guitar. Being a D series model, it had a dreadnought body, which gave it so much volume and character.
It was made with an ebony fretboard, and we absolutely loved the feel of it. The fretwork was literally perfect, and the Modified Low Oval neck profile felt absolutely fantastic.
Considering Martin’s usual insistence on traditional techniques, the D-28 did have an interesting forward-shifted bracing pattern which is supposed to enhance vibration and sustain, and we think they achieved their goals with this design.
The responsiveness of the D-28 was also fantastic. We played with different gauges of picks and also switched quickly between strumming and fingerstyle, and found that it adapted flawlessly without getting muddy.
One of the most special things about the D-28 was the vintage vibe. For instance, we loved the beautifully aged spruce top, the faux tortoise pickguard, and the open-gear tuners, which not only looked amazing, but delivered flawless tuning stability, too.
Verdict: The Martin D-28 boasts stunning tones thanks to its solid spruce top and solid East Indian rosewood back and sides. This guitar offers an extremely responsive playing experience and is a great choice for folk, blues, soft rock, and songwriters that want an heirloom quality instrument.
Quality tonewoods for amazing tone.
Originally from Canada, Larrivee is now a California-based company that makes high end guitars, and the L-03R is one of their most outstanding models. With premium tonewoods and a fantastic feature set, this guitar lives up to Larrivee's promise of "affordable luxury guitars".
The Larrivee L-03R came with X-shaped bracing made from Alpine moon spruce, Satin-finished rosewood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top with a natural finish.
We started strumming this guitar with a medium pick and got a very rich tone with excellent projection, thanks to the choice of woods and construction methods featured on this instrument.
The L-03R gave us a bright top end, with a well balanced midrange, and tightly focused bass. It was highly responsive to changes in touch, too. It had a voice that commanded attention, and really filled the room beautifully.
It came with a 1-piece mahogany neck that met the body at the 15th fret, as opposed to the 12th. This gave us much easier access to three extra frets, making it perfect for soloing or chords and runs that are a bit higher. With a hybrid neck profile that sat somewhere between a “C” and “D” we found this guitar was very comfortable to play. The neck was topped with a beautiful ebony fretboard, which felt as good as it looked.
The chrome Larrivee tuning machines delivered great tuning stability, and the bone nut, and saddle ensured superb resonance, and contributed to the stellar intonation.
Verdict: The Larrivee L-03R was an absolute delight to play thanks to its great tone, projection and resonance. Playability was great, and it looked gorgeous. The only downside for us was the relatively little known brand name, but those in the know know that Larivee guitars deliver performance that far exceeds their price point.
Takamine Legacy EF508KC
Pure koa tone and Japanese craftsmanship.
This Takamine is a great choice for players looking for something a bit different from the usual, but that still delivers a great tone. It’s a uniquely voiced instrument with a balanced response and full sound.
The Takamine Legacy EF508KC offers an exotic alternative to the usual tonewoods used on the majority of acoustics. This guitar was made entirely of koa on the top, back, and sides, which gave it a warm and well balanced tone. Besides the Koa, the EF508KC’s tone and projection was further enhanced by the scalloped X-bracing.
In terms of playability, this guitar came with a dovetail-jointed mahogany neck that nicely filled our hand, with a smaller 11.81″ radius and 25.354″ scale length. The rosewood fingerboard felt fantastic and looked amazing, especially thanks to the abalone snowflake inlays.
As for electronics, this Takamine was fully acoustic-electric. It came with a CT4B II preamp system with a 3-band EQ, using Takamine’s proprietary Palathetic pickup. Plugged into our Fishman Loudbox we got all the organic acoustic tone.
In short, it was a great guitar for just about any style and player. If you want an uncompromised acoustic tone and the ability to also plug into a PA or amp for live work, this Takamine is a good choice.
The factory setup was generally good, although the action was a touch too high for our taste. This would be easily remedied, though, and with an acoustic, it’s always easier to start with an action that’s too high and lower it than it is to start low and have to raise it.
We were, however, impressed with the tuners and the resulting tuning stability. Being a flagship model, this guitar was made in Japan, and if we know anything about modern Japanese guitars, it’s that the QA is second to none.
Verdict: In short,the Takamine Legacy EF508KC is a great guitar for just about any style and player. If you want an uncompromised acoustic tone and the ability to also plug into a PA or amp for live work, this Takamine is a good choice.
Yamaha LS36 ARE Concert
Exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail.
If you're after a high end acoustic with amazing tone and flawless fit and finish, this Yamaha guitar may be just the guitar for you. Whether you play with a pick, fingerstyle, or both, this guitar delivers big in terms of both tone and playability.
The Yamaha LS36 ARE Concert is a premium guitar made with some of the finest woods you’ll find on any acoustic. It came with a solid rosewood back and sides, and an Engelmann spruce top, treated with this company’s patented Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) technology. This is a torrefaction process that gives the guitar a broken in, vintage quality, and we thought it did a fantastic job.
The playability of this acoustic guitar is also phenomenal. It had a 5-ply mahogany/rosewood neck and smooth ebony fingerboard that both looked and felt great.
This Yamaha acoustic delivered some beautiful shimmer when playing open chords with a medium pick. It gave us a full sound that projected extremely well, and had an enhanced low end that was always clear and well defined.
The LS36 ARE Concert really excelled while fingerpicked. We heard every nuance of our playing on this instrument and loved how naturally balanced the frequencies were. The quality of the tone and response was consistent throughout the entirety of the fretboard, and the intonation was extremely accurate.
The attention to detail was really spectacular. It had stunning maple/abalone binding and an ebony bridge that further enhanced the fantastic looks and tone of this instrument.
Verdict: In short, the Yamaha LS36 ARE Concert is a spectacular acoustic guitar that delivers amazing tone and playability. It doesn’t come cheap, but when you see, feel, and hear what you’re getting for your money, we’re sure you’ll agree with our opinion that it’s worth every penny.
Alvarez Yairi DYM70
Unique bridge design and top craftsmanship.
This guitar is the flagship instrument of Alvarez' renowned Yairi line. It comes with a blend of traditional appointments paired with modern features and the kind of quality and attention to detail that only comes with a guitar built by a team of master luthiers.
The Alvarez Yairi DYM70 is a high end dreadnought acoustic guitar made with solid aged East Indian rosewood for the back and sides, and solid Sitka spruce for the top. This fantastic choice of tonewoods produces incredible tone which is further enhanced by the custom Shifted Asymmetric bracing.
We started softly strumming the DYM70 and got a beautifully balanced tone with fantastic projection. All of the design features and tonewoods used make this acoustic guitar a very responsive instrument that’s a real joy to play.
When playing fingerstyle, we got a warm sound with plenty of shimmer, but still with enough mids and bottom end. We got great projection and tight focus when we strummed with a medium pick, at all intensity levels.
One of the most interesting features on this guitar was the bridge. The luthiers at Alvarez designed a proprietary Direct Coupled bridge that allowed the strings to be in contact with the spruce top, which in turn boosted volume and sustain while reducing wear and tear on the bridge. We thought it was super innovative, and it actually made a big difference.
This Alvarez dreadnought also gave us great playability. We loved the comfortable mahogany neck with its soft V to C neck profile and its smooth ebony fingerboard. Through our tests, the DYM70 demonstrated rock solid tuning stability, thanks in large part to the Gotoh 510 tuners.
Verdict: The Alvarez Yairi DYM70 is a truly fantastic dreadnought acoustic guitar that features high end tone woods, innovative features like custom bracing, and quality hardware. This instrument delivers across the board, and would be a great choice for anybody looking for a high end acoustic that stands out in a crowd.
How to Choose The Right Guitar For you
The best high-end acoustic guitars offer a blend of craftsmanship and artistry that result in quality instruments that offer superior tone and a stellar playing experience. However, finding the best high-end acoustic guitar for you is usually a highly personal journey, and below we offer some key factors to consider.
Arguably, the most critical aspect of any acoustic guitar is its tone and sound. High-end guitars are crafted with precision and feature top-quality tonewoods that resonate with rich, balanced, and harmonically rich tones.
Still, not all sound the same, and the differences may feel massive if you are a trained musician with a discerning ear. Some superior woods featured on high-end acoustic guitars include:
- Sitka spruce, which produces a bright and articulate sound with a wide dynamic range
- Cedar, which has a warmer, darker tone than spruce, and also offers a fast attack, but with reduced sustain
- Mahogany, which has a warm and tightly focused sound with an emphasis on the lower mids. It’s most often used on the back and sides of guitars, but it works as a top, too.
- Rosewood, which offers a rich, dark, and complex tone. Rosewood is almost always used on the back and sides, and offers fantastic balance for a quality spruce top.
Another crucial factor, and for most, the second most important consideration after the tone. A high-end acoustic guitar should offer great playability, allowing you to effortlessly explore every inch of the fretboard with comfort and ease.
Consider factors such as body size, neck profile, scale length, fretboard radius, and action height. A comfortable neck profile with a well matched radius will enable fluid movement across the instrument, while optimal action height ensures easy fretting without sacrificing intonation. The guitar should feel like an extension of your hands, facilitating expressive playing and effortless technique.
Impeccable craftsmanship further sets apart high-end acoustic guitars from their counterparts. The attention to detail, precision, and expertise of the luthier should be able to be seen (and felt!) in every aspect of the instrument, from flawless joinery to intricate inlays.
Look inside the soundhole to see how the bracing has been finished. If the wood on the inside is smooth and well finished, it’s a clear sign that it was built by luthiers who care. The neck is another area that easily sets apart high end acoustic guitars from the competition – the frets should have a flawless mirror finish on top, plus perfectly smooth edges.
The visual appeal of a high-end acoustic guitar may not be a top consideration for some. However, paying top dollar for a guitar entails also getting a gorgeous instrument. Because we’re talking about a high-end guitar, attention to detail and the use of quality materials will have an impact on looks.
Features like intricate inlays, purfling, and beautiful rosettes are not uncommon with high-end instruments. While ornate, heavily embellished guitars aren’t to everybody’s taste, there’s no denying that perfectly set abalone or mother of pearl inlay is a clear sign of a well built guitar.
Resonance and Projection
The ability of an acoustic guitar to resonate and project sound is crucial. High-end guitars are designed to produce a well-balanced and resonant tone that carries across, and fills a room. Another aspect that sets apart these instruments from cheaper ones, is their ability to sustain notes and chords.
Other aspects like dynamic range and volume projection also come into play and are definitely something to look for with high-end instruments. A great guitar should fill the room and command attention with a rich and complex sound, with perfect note separation and delicate nuance.
Resonance and projection are heavily influenced by the body style of the guitar, as well as the tone wood, so be sure to weigh up which shape and material the guitars you’re looking at are.
As we’ve mentioned, shopping for a high end acoustic is something that can be extremely personal – taste in looks and tone can be completely subjective, and brand loyalty can even play a factor. Hopefully with the above suggestions, though, you’ll have a good jumping off point for getting out there and buying your next acoustic.
In case you are a beginner looking for a high-end guitar, the above-mentioned aspects of tone, craftsmanship, playability, aesthetics, resonance, and projection, are a great place to start when searching for the perfect high-end acoustic guitar. Ultimately, the right guitar will inspire and enhance the musician’s creativity, enabling them to reach new heights of musical expression.
To recap our top choices, the Taylor 312ce V-Class is our Top Pick for this list. Featuring a Grand Concert body shape and V-bracing design, you get great projection, resonance, tone and playability. The Gibson Acoustic G-45 is our Budget Choice. With a beautiful natural color and Gibson’s Player Port, you’ll get quality tone and high end playability, at a relatively affordable price.
The Martin D-28 is our Editor’s Choice. This is a truly incredible instrument that still sets the bar for what an acoustic guitar can be. Featuring a solid spruce top that serves up great projection and incredible note clarity, you get a rich tone and pro grade playability.