From no name to well-known brands, the acoustic guitar market is overcrowded, especially in the $150 to $250 price range. With the tsunami of cheap brands, it can be painful to sift through the rubble to find a reliable instrument that offers both playability and value.
Fender’s solution to this dilemma is their CD-60, a well-crafted and affordable dreadnought acoustic guitar. At first glance, based on the reviews and ratings, it seems to have lived up to those claims. In fact, it ranks as their most popular budget-friendly model.
The banged-up Fender CD-60 in my guitar rack would agree. The pith of CD-60s success is the classic Fender design, excellent playability, and high-quality construction. I’ve used it for my practice and couch sessions, and it has served me well.
In this article, I’ll share my first-hand experience with the guitar to help you decide if it is the right choice for your needs.
Who is this for?
The CD-60 is a high-quality entry-level acoustic guitar that is ideal for hobby guitarists, students, and beginner-to-intermediate players on a budget. It’s an excellent choice as for anyone who is still feeling their way around the instrument for the following reasons:
- Good playability and comfort
- Quality construction and finish
- C-shaped neck with rolled fretboard edges
- Available in multiple finish options at an affordable price
The dreadnought body shape might be a tad bulky for people with small hands or stature. I recommend the Fender CF-60 – the relatively petite, folk avatar of the same model. The CF60CE is another option for those who want a lithe acoustic-electric guitar with a cutaway body.
Lastly, you can get more bang for your buck from a Fender CD-60 Solid Top Beginner bundle. It includes a hard case, guitar strap, instructional DVD, and an assortment of accessories bundled into one package. I have also listed some alternatives to the CD-60 in a later section.
Fender CD-60 Review
The CD-60’s dreadnought-shaped body comprises of a laminated Spruce top with mahogany back and sides. It has a Mahogany neck with a 25.3-inch scale length (click here to learn about scale length) and a Walnut fretboard that houses 20 frets with rolled edges and dot inlays.
The other noteworthy features include Fender Die-cast tuning machines, Graph Tech nut/saddles, a Pearloid Rosette, and a Walnut bridge. They look remarkably similar to bone and do a fantastic job of enhancing the tonal consistency. The CD-60 is available in black, sunburst, and natural finish with a fourth all-mahogany variant.
At first glance, the CD-60 looks a lot better than its price would suggest. It is simple, elegant, and has an excellent polyurethane gloss finish. It is a well-built guitar that is built to last for a long time. Despite the dreadnought size, it feels comfortable to play while sitting and standing.
The guitar sounds great right out of the box. The action and intonation are beginner-friendly (if those are unfamiliar terms, you can find guides on action here and intonation here), as is the neck width (43mm at the nut). The C-shaped neck makes strumming an effortless task. Beginners, I reckon, will cherish the rolled fretboard edges, which make it easy (or less painful) to learn barre chords.
The CD-60 has an affable chime and resonance, thanks to the unconventionally thin scalloped bracing that lets the top resonate freely. The projection is campfire-friendly, and the tone leans on the brighter side. You can buy the all-mahogany version for a warmer and mellower tone.
Performance-wise, it has decent dynamics and tonality that feel proportionate to the price. The note definition and clarity tends to waiver when I fingerpick songs like Blackbird or Scarborough Fair. It performs significantly better for the jangly strumming tunes like ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Love me do’.
You might pull off an odd performance with the CD-60 at a café, family gathering, or a small venue. Beyond that, the CD-60 isn’t built (or marketed) as a concert-quality instrument. There is a lack of depth and heft in the low end, which is noticeable when I use a thumbpick.
The guitar ships with Fender’s corrosion-resistant coated strings, which ought to last you for a few extra weeks than regular guitar strings would. However, I recommend the full-sounding and expertly balanced Martin Lifespan 2.0 acoustic guitar strings as a replacement.
The Martins eliminate some of the brittleness of the CD-60s high-end (that can sound tinny at times). You can also replace the nut and saddle with a bone nut. These simple and cost-effective upgrades will vastly improve the sound quality of the instrument.
So, is the Fender CD-60 a good guitar?
For the modest price tag it comes with, the CD-60 offers a good value. The construction, tone, and playability are on par (or better) than most options in the $200 to $250 price range. It may not be the end-all acoustic, but if you are a student, beginner, or hobby guitarist, it is well designed, well finished, and pleasant to play.
You can check out what it sounds like in this YouTube Demo by Fender.
Other models to consider:
The Epiphone DR100 is the toughest competition that the Fender CD-60 faces. It has similar specs, comparable construction quality, and a highly playable SlimTaper neck. You should check out our Epiphone DR100 review for more in-depth information.
The Yamaha F325D Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is another well-regarded option in the under-$200 price bracket. This budget-friendly dreadnought sports a solid Spruce top with a meranti body, and a rosewood fretboard.
Compared to the CD-60, it lacks the rolled fretboard edges and has higher string action. It does score well on tone thanks to the solid Spruce top. It has a warm, balanced sound that lends well to fingerstyle playing as well as strumming. The projection is loud enough any imaginable unplugged performance.
For Fender enthusiasts, I recommend taking a look at the FA Series for similar and/or cheaper options. The Fender FA-115 is my top recommendation if you don’t need any bells and whistles. It is fairly similar to the CD-60 but has a basswood body and hardwood bridge.
Additionally, I recommend the Fender FA-125CE if you want a more versatile instrument. It sports a laminate Spruce top, basswood body, and a 20-fret fingerboard. It also features a cutaway body, ‘Viking bridge’, and Fishman electronics that render a surprisingly good tone when you amplify the guitar.
The Fender CD-60 is one of their legit budget-friendly acoustic guitars that embody the QA, classic design, and build quality that we’ve come to expect from Fender. And, it manages to do all that without breaking the bank.
Although it isn’t ‘expensive’, it is priced higher than numerous entry-level ‘student guitars’. As an ‘ideal beginner guitar’, you do need to upgrade sooner or later. And, Fender guitars hold their value better than other brands. So there is that.
I hope this review has clarified everything you needed to know before you take the plunge and buy the Fender CD-60. Before you leave, don’t forget to check out some of our other popular reviews and recommendations for acoustic guitars.
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