Thinline Acoustics are popular among players that want a more comfortable playing experience but with the tone of an acoustic guitar. These instruments are beloved for offering electric-guitar type playability but in an acoustic-type instrument.
Naturally, there is a tradeoff for this more comfortable playability. Thinline instruments have a smaller acoustic chamber and are considerably smaller than a regular acoustic guitar, never mind a jumbo acoustic. Because of this, thinlines tend to produce a sound that is not as big as a regular acoustic.
Many thinlines come with onboard preamp systems that sometimes make up for their limited acoustic response. Acoustic thinlines are very popular, and most major brands offer at least one model of these instruments. With so many options, how do you know where to start? We’re here to help. Keep reading.
- Top 3 Best Thinline Acoustics
- Best Thinline Acoustics: Individual Reviews
- How To Choose the Best Thinline Acoustic
- Final Thoughts on the Best Thinline Acoustics
Top 3 Best Thinline Acoustics
The ESP LTD TL-6 is our Top Pick for this list. It features quality woods and a Fishman preamp to provide great sound acoustically or plugged in. This guitar is also versatile and comes at a fair price.
The Yamaha APXT2 is our Budget Choice. This is a 3/4 guitar with a big sound and all the quality that we come to expect from Yamaha, at an affordable price.
Finally, the Taylor T5z Classic Deluxe is our Editor’s Choice, as it offers fantastic sound (acoustically and plugged), playability, and features. This guitar is for the discerning professional that wants a superior thinline acoustic and is willing to pay for it.
Best Thinline Acoustics: Individual Reviews
A thinline that sounds consistently good plugged or unplugged.
This guitar offers you the ability to sound great whether you are plugged in or not. On top of that, you get fantastic playability on a fast neck as well as onboard controls to dial in the exact sound you want in a live situation.
The ESP LTD TL-6 features mahogany on its back and sides as well as a finished spruce top. This combination is known for providing a resonant and warm tone and enhancing the projection of the instrument.
This guitar also features a 3-piece mahogany neck with a thin “U” profile for comfort and playability. The TL-6 is fitted with 22 jumbo frets and a 25″ scale length. The neck on this guitar feels very comfortable throughout.
We started our tests by playing the TL-6 unplugged. We loved how warm the sound is. Even though this is a very comfortable Thinline, it gave us great projection, especially for open chords that filled our room. This guitar can be a great choice for songwriters that want a warm acoustic sound whenever inspiration strikes.
We then plugged this guitar into our Roland JC-120 amp to test out the included Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup. Here, we got a warm and nicely balanced tone across the frequency spectrum.
The Sonicore pickup runs straight into a Fishman TL-3 preamp and makes this guitar a great option for live shows as well. This pickup system features four knobs: volume, high, low, and mids. In other words, you can dial in your tone just how you like it. There is also an onboard tuner to complete the package.
In short, a great Thinline guitar for a variety of uses. The LT-6 sounds good acoustically, and plugged in as well, thanks to the flexible Sonicore Fishman TL-3 electronics.
Verdict: The ESP LTD TL-6 features quality woods, nice playability, and a fantastic electronic system for plugging in and dialing your sound. This guitar is a great choice for songwriters and anybody else interested in a Thinline that can handle a variety of styles in an acoustic context.
A smaller guitar with a big sound.
The Yamaha APXT2 features an undersized design that is ideal for folks with small hands and children. It comes from one of the most respected instrument brands ever, and with a very attractive price that will appeal to beginners.
The Yamaha APXT2 is a 3/4 scale guitar that features spruce-topped meranti for a balanced and natural acoustic. Albeit small, this guitar features a 1-11/16″ nut that can accommodate full-sized hands as well.
We picked up this guitar and started strumming a few chords to start our tests. We were surprised by how full the sound was and did not expect such a small guitar to have a full tone. We got a nice bass and clear highs, as well as balanced mids.
The neck felt good in our hands. Despite its smaller size, we were comfortable and enjoyed the response of the rosewood fingerboard. This guitar features a 22.81″ scale length, so its especially good for folks with smaller hands.
This guitar comes with an ART-based Yamaha pickup system so you can plug it into an amp, PA, FOH, etc. Fitted with a system 68 contact pickup, the onboard electronics allowed us to dial in our sound via two knobs, one for volume and the other for tone. For convenience, Yamaha also added an onboard tuner to complete the package.
When plugged in, we got a tone that was very good for a guitar with this price and size. The Yamaha APXT2 sounded particularly well when we played all kinds of chords. This makes this guitar a nice option for acoustic gigs, songwriters, and especially beginners.
This guitar ships with a gig bag for protection and easier transportation. In short, a nice option for folks that are starting out and those with smaller hands.
Verdict: The Yamaha APXT2 features is 3/4 scale guitar that is great for beginners and folks with smaller hands. It is quite affordable and offers good sound for a smaller guitar, with the excellent addition of an onboard system for plugging in.
A superior thinline for the ultimate professional.
This guitar was designed to perform a an elite level. The T5z comes with the quality and tradition that Taylor instruments bring, and offers professionals fantastic tone, playability, and overall features.
The Taylor T5z Classic Deluxe (full review here) features a carved Sapele hollow body that is modeled after the Taylor Grand Auditorium silhouette. It comes with a tropical mahogany top as well as stylized F-holes that allow the top to breathe and enhance the resonance of the body chamber.
One of the most impressive features of the T5z is that it can sound great with either acoustic or electric amps. We wanted to put it to the test and started with our Fender Twin amp. We got a beautiful tone with full bass and shimmering highs.
This guitar comes with a visible bridge humbucker, concealed neck humbucker, a five-way switch, and an acoustic body sensor, to give it a complete and versatile sound. We loved how position 5 sounded for jazz, with a warm and mellow tone. Position 2 was also one of our favorites, particularly good for a pop context.
We then tried the T5z with our Marshall AS50D acoustic amp. Here, the acoustic sensor made all the difference. We got a beautiful Taylor tone, full and with fantastic balance. This makes the T5z a very versatile guitar, capable of great tones for a variety of situations.
Regarding playability, we loved the fast Sapele neck and ebony fingerboard on this guitar. This neck/fretboard combination was very responsive to our playing and nuances and with a fantastic feel throughout the 21 jumbo frets. To further enhance playability, this guitar features a very comfortable 12″ fingerboard radius.
In short, this guitar is designed for the discerning professional that demands great tone and features. It is a very versatile instrument that sounds and feels great and is well worth every penny.
Verdict: The Taylor T5z Classic Deluxe is a hollow body thinline designed for professional musicians who value quality over everything else. It can be plugged into acoustic and electric amps and provide great tone in both scenarios.
Yamaha quality and build for the songwriter.
This guitar offers everything the songwriter needs to craft, record and play his or her songs. It is comfortable to play and sounds good both acoustically and plugged in. Additionally, Yamaha also included an app with valuable educational tools to sweeten the package.
The Yamaha APX600 features a single cutaway design and comes with a System 65A preamp piezo pickup system that includes a built-in tuner. Its construction features nice-sounding choices, with locally sourced tonewoods for the body as well as a spruce top.
We started our tests by playing the APX600 acoustically. It gave us a nice warm sound for open chords and did a great job of staying in tune. We also got consistent tone throughout the neck and with good projection, whether we played open or barred chords.
We plugged into an acoustic amp and were able to dial in the sound we like thanks to the piezo pickup system. We relied on the three-band EQ, with three separate knobs for highs, lows, and mids, as well as the overall volume fader. For maximum convenience, this onboard electronic system also features a tuner and a battery indicator.
This guitar felt good in our hands, and we got a nice response and feel from its rosewood fingerboard. With 22 frets and a 25″ scale length, the APX600 was comfortable to play and even had us inspired to come up with a few verses.
Another nice feature that comes with this guitar is the Yamaha Player Port app. Here you have access to tips, licks, articles, tips, videos, and more. All you have to do is register your new Yamaha guitar online to get access to the Player Port app.
Overall, this guitar is a good choice for songwriters and folks interested in having a good acoustic instrument. However, it does feel a bit limited for those looking for versatility.
Verdict: The Yamaha APX600 is a good Thinline option for songwriters and beginners that want a nice instrument. It features a preamp piezo pickup system that allows the user to plug it in to showcase songs and jam.
A fantastic choice for nylon string players.
Cordoba has developed a solid reputation as a builder of nylon string guitars. Their instruments appeal to a variety of musicians, from flamenco players and classical instrumentalists all the way to songwriters and folks that want a quality nylon string.
The Cordoba C5-CET belongs to the renowned Iberia series of nylon string guitars and is made with a solid Canadian cedar top and mahogany back and sides. This combination provides a warm, responsive, and full sound with great attack.
This guitar also features a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. We started our tests by trying this guitar unplugged. We loved how it felt and how it provided a full sound with great sustain and superior playability.
This Cordoba gave us a nice response to our playing. We played a variety of styles from chord solo arrangements of jazz standards all the way to some classical etudes.
We really liked how the C5-CET employs a traditional classical-guitar-style construction on a thinline body and cutaway design. This, along with a thinner neck gave us the best of the classical world for the modern player.
To plug in, this guitar is outfitted with a Fishman Isys+ preamp system. With a 2-band EQ, battery indicator, and volume and phase controls, we were able to dial our ideal tone once plugged into our acoustic amp.
We got a full sound when plugged in, and the Fishman preamp system responded well to our playing. It captured our nuanced phrases and extended chords nicely, as well as more forceful flamenco-style techniques.
In short, a very good guitar for nylon string players of both the classical and flamenco tradition. Those that prefer a steel string sound and response will be better off looking elsewhere.
Verdict: The Cordoba C5-CET combines the best of classical guitar construction with Spanish fan bracing together with modern features for today’s players. This thinline nylon string provides a responsive and warm and full sound and is a great option at a fair price.
Quality tonewoods for a massive sound.
This Takamine offers a fantastic combination of tonewoods to produce a big and projecting sound. Besides great tone and fantastic playability, this thinline also comes with a good preamp system that let's do live work with quality and reliability.
The Takamine Thinline TSP138C features a solid spruce top with a Sapele body for a balanced sound and dynamic response. With an X-bracing type of construction, this guitar comes with a mahogany neck with a slender C design and a rosewood fingerboard.
In our tests, the first aspect that struck us is how big the sound of this guitar was. We tried it acoustically first, and it filled our room with a full-bodied tone with great projection. This guitar is a good option for songwriting and recording, as well as the stage.
For plugging in, this Takamine is outfitted with a CT-3N electronic system. This preamp system was specifically designed for Takamine’s Thinline Series and features a 3-band EQ and a notch filter for controlling feedback. Additionally, it comes with an onboard tuner and battery indicator.
The CT-3N preamp captured the sound of this guitar well, in great part thanks to Takamine’s proprietary Palathetic pickup. We plugged into our acoustic amp and got a very responsive sound.
This Takamine works great in a series of contexts and situations. We loved how it sounded with open chords, as well as some blues and jazz licks. This guitar can be used in many styles where an acoustic is required, as it offers an excellent tone and response consistently.
Other noteworthy features on this thinline include the abalone soundhole rosette with its matching dot fingerboard inlays, 12″ inch radius neck, 24.75″ scale length, and Gotoh Gold tuners.
In short, this is a very nice sounding guitar that will be great for songwriters, and players looking to have a professional acoustic thinline. As good as it is, its elevated price tag may be a negative aspect for some musicians.
Verdict: The Takamine Thinline TSP138C was designed with a fantastic combination of tonewoods for great tone and projection. It also includes a nice preamp onboard system so you can replicate its full tone in a variety of live situations.
A unique guitar with striking looks.
For years, Ibanez has been one of the most respected brands among guitarists. They offer fantastic instruments at a good price, and in the case of the Talman TCM50, a unique appearance for those that want something different and flashy.
The Ibanez Talman TCM50 mahogany back and sides and a beautiful figured ash top. Additionally, this guitar’s design features an Ivorex II nut and saddle, and a rosewood bridge and fingerboard to complete its unique visual appeal.
We began our tests by trying this guitar acoustically. We got a warm sound and projection typical of a well-made acoustic. Despite the sound being that of a good acoustic guitar, this instrument gave us the comfort of an electric. In other words, this Ibanez gave us a mellow acoustic tone but with the feel of a typical electric-guitar fingerboard.
In order to plug in, this guitar comes with a AEQ200MT preamp. We tried it with our Marshall acoustic amplifier and got a strong and forward tone that can work nicely in a variety of acoustic contexts, especially considering the price of this instrument.
We used the bass and treble controls to dial in our tone in a simple and straightforward fashion. This guitar sounded just as good plugged in as it did acoustically, and although it can be used by pop and acoustic rock players, we felt it was perfect for a songwriter.
We loved the Talman double-cutaway body shape on this Ibanez, as it gave us access to the upper frets, to play some licks and double stops that can add a lot of flavor and nuance to a song or arrangement.
Although this is a good guitar with nice features, mid-level and professional musicians may want to invest a bit more to get to that next level in sound and playability.
Verdict: The Ibanez Talman TCM50 features a striking look that will appeal to folks that want to cause an impression. It does offer good sound and features for its low price and is a good option for songwriters that need to plug in to showcase their songs.
How To Choose the Best Thinline Acoustic
Thin body guitars are great for folks that are smaller or just like the feel of a less bulky guitar. With their thinner body shape, narrower and faster neck lighter weight, thin bodies are more comfortable to play and handle.
Thin body acoustics are popular among beginners as well as professionals with smaller hands or arms. However, the tradeoff has always been that thinlines are not as loud and don’t project sound as well as normal-sized acoustic guitars.
This is especially true when it comes to the low-end, especially when compared with dreadnoughts and jumbos. Naturally, some thinline acoustics do have a better response than others. Below are some of the factors you should take into consideration before buying one.
This is the biggest selling point and appeal of thinline guitars. Not only are they easier on your plucking hand/arm, they also have slimmer neck profiles that are easier to play and therefore faster.
For instance, string bending becomes far easier on a thinline than on a regular acoustic. Additionally, chords are easier to get to, especially more complex voicings that demand some finger stretching.
Nicer thinline acoustics tend to feature electronics that can make up for their smaller acoustic sound and projection. In other words, not only are you able to plug them for amplifying but the loss of acoustic punch is minimized by a good preamp system.
Electronics on your thinline should also feature some kind of EQ controls that allow you to dial your tone just like you like it. Other features like a phase inverter, notch filter, mic blend control, and onboard tuner can also make a significant difference in sound and convenience.
Most thinline acoustic guitars tend to be lighter than your typical acoustic. Even though acoustic guitars are not particularly heavy, a lightweight instrument can have an enormous impact on your comfort.
This is especially true for folks that gig standing up and have back problems. As a matter of fact, the weight of thinline acoustics may be the most important factor for switching from regular acoustics.
Thinline acoustics can vary greatly in price. Beginners may want to look on the affordable side, as there are good models that do not cost much. On the other side, professionals should definitely spend more in order to get better sound, electronics, and overall features.
Like most things, you get what you pay for. Thinline acoustics are no exception. That said, there are some really good mid-level models for folks that want to bridge the gap between beginners and professionals.
Thinline acoustics come in a broad variety of body shapes and with different neck profiles. Two of the most popular neck profiles are the C and U-shaped necks. These tend to be comfortable and it all comes down to personal preference.
The only way to really know which type of neck shape you prefer is to try them out. Keep in mind that your preference may change with the years, or that you may prefer a certain neck profile for some styles and a different profile for others.
Another important factor on any guitar is the wood construction. Top-notch tonewoods produce a much warmer and more responsive instrument. They also make a difference when it comes to the neck and fingerboard.
Some popular quality choices areSpruce, Maple, Mahogany, Rosewood, Sapele, etc. Each wood has its own characteristics and traits. Once again, it all comes down to natural preference. Just like with the neck profile, it is key to try different combinations of tonewoods to see what you like and connect with.
Final Thoughts on the Best Thinline Acoustics
For many, thinline acoustic guitars offer an ideal blend of tone and playability. They feature bodies with reduced (thinner) acoustic space and smaller necks as well.
You trade the big sound that you’d get from a dreadnought or jumbo guitar for better playability and overall greater comfort. After all, regular guitars can be not only harder on your hands and fingers, but also harder to even reach, especially if you have a smaller frame.
The ESP LTD TL-6 is our Top Pick as it is built with quality woods and a Fishman preamp to provide great quality and versatility.
The Yamaha APXT2 is our Budget Choice. This guitar is ideal for folks with small hands, children and beginners, and offers a big sound with renowned Yamaha quality at an affordable price.
Last but not least the Taylor T5z Classic Deluxe is our Editor’s Choice, for the dedicated professional that demands the best in an acoustic thinline and whose top priority is quality.