Acoustic guitars, in particular, can be difficult to shop for when you’re new to the instrument. Not only do the majority of acoustics look quite similar, but even when reading the spec sheets of the models, you’ll note that many are even made with the same materials.
Learning a little about the brands and what they’re known for will help to make your decision-making process a little more straightforward. In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ve prepared the ultimate guide to acoustic guitar brands. We’ve covered 10 of the best-known makers and included some background on the brands, as well as some information about 3 models from each, including an entry-level model, a mid-range model, and their top-of-the-range model.
Carry on reading to find out all about these top acoustic guitar makers.
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Breedlove
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Epiphone
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Fender
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Gibson
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Guild
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Martin
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Seagull
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Takamine
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Taylor
- Acoustic Guitar Brands: Yamaha
- Final Thoughts on the Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Breedlove
Breedlove Guitars was founded in 1990 by Larry Breedlove and Steve Henderson, a pair of former Taylor Guitars luthiers. Despite the company being founded by former employees of a rival brand, Breedlove quickly developed its own unique style among acoustic guitar brands, incorporating elements of both traditional and modern guitar design.
Breedlove guitars are widely known for their distinctive sunburst finishes and ergonomic body shapes, offering players maximum comfort and playability. Over the years, Breedlove has continued to innovate, introducing new technologies and construction methods that have set the standard for sustainable guitar manufacturing practices. The company’s commitment to excellence has made Breedlove one of the most respected names in the guitar industry.
The Breedlove ECO Discovery S Concert (full review here) is an affordable path to Breedlove ownership and really does represent excellent value. This particular model is an import, but it’s still made with the same onus on sustainability as their US-made guitars. It features a solid Sitka spruce top with laminated okume back and sides, which results in a bright and punchy tone. The overall fit and finish is excellent, and the concert-size body is comfortable for most players, regardless of ability.
The Breedlove ECO Pursuit Exotic Concert CE is a wonderful guitar that suits both amateurs and working musicians alike. This particular model is made with a gorgeous solid koa top, with Breedlove’s special EcoTonewood koa for the back and sides, giving it a beautiful mid-range tone with tons of shimmer at the top end. This model is also equipped with Fishman Presys electronics, allowing you to plug in and play to bigger audiences without losing the distinctive character of its acoustic performance.
The Breedlove Limited-Edition Premier Concert CE is one of the finest models ever released by Breedlove. It’s made entirely with solid tonewoods, but you can feel good about your purchase knowing that the materials are all legally and ethically sourced. The top is made with natural European spruce, while the back is constructed with show-stopping Brazilian rosewood with a wedge of figured koa running down the middle. It looks sensational, and the hand voicing ensures some of the most brilliantly nuanced tones you’re ever likely to hear.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Epiphone
Epiphone is one of the oldest and most well-known guitar brands in the world. The company was founded in 1873 and, over the years, have produced some of the most iconic acoustic guitars ever made. Early Epiphone models like the Emperor and Broadway were highly sought-after by jazz players, and these instruments are still revered today.
Today, Epiphone continues to produce high-quality acoustic guitars that are used by musicians all over the world. Like with their electric guitars, they are known for producing licensed copies of Gibson models at affordable prices, making them one of the ideal acoustic guitar brands for beginner and intermediate players.
The Epiphone DR-100 is a classic entry-level dreadnought that offers the big, booming tones you’d expect from any guitar of this style. It features spruce on the top, back, and sides, making it exceptionally bright, and because it’s made with real wood, it will mellow and mature with age. It’s one of the most affordable acoustics from a major name, and it really looks the part, too.
The Epiphone Hummingbird is a faithful reproduction of the Gibson Hummingbird, produced in a way that makes it affordable for a far greater audience. Like the Gibson, this model is also made with all solid tonewood, with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides, giving it a beautifully balanced tone. Not only is the tone well balanced, but the structure is too, and for a big guitar, it’s also exceptionally comfortable.
The Epiphone Texan has been the brand’s flagship acoustic model ever since its first introduction back in 1942. The Texan is an Epiphone exclusive model, and not a Gibson replica, although it is built by Gibson luthiers in their Bozeman, Montana factory. This model is a slope-shouldered jumbo built with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and size. It has a huge voice, with rich lows and mids, together with a shimmering top end that has made it a favorite of players like Peter Frampton, Noel Gallagher, and even Sir Paul McCartney.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Fender
Fender’s acoustic guitar lineup has a long and rich history. The company was founded in 1946 by Leo Fender and soon became known for its innovative electric guitars. By the early 1960s, Fender began producing acoustic guitars, and by the end of the decade, the company had become one of the largest producers of acoustic guitars in the world.
Fender currently offers a wide range of acoustic guitars, from entry-level models to high-end instruments. There’s quite a focus on fun with Fender’s acoustic lineup, so you’ll see more unusual colors and designs than you will traditional styles, especially compared to other acoustic guitar brands.
The Fender CD-60S is a fantastic dreadnought designed specifically for the beginner-level player. It’s extremely affordable and features a slim, novice-friendly neck. Despite its low price, the CD-60S does feature a solid spruce top, which is instrumental in its clear, bright voicing. Because of the big, dreadnought body, it’s also a loud guitar, too, making it a great choice for campfire strummers and group singalongs.
The Fender Redondo Classic is reminiscent of the early Fender acoustics, with its easygoing West Coast vibe. It’s a full-size dreadnought, made with a solid Sitka spruce top, and finished in a fun 2 tone sunburst. It also features solid mahogany back and sides, which do a great job of providing a mellow mid-tone to compliment the punchy, bright upper register from the spruce. This model also happens to be electro-acoustic and is fitted with an excellent Fishman-designed pickup and preamp.
The Fender American Acoustasonic Jazzmaster is a triumph of technology and craftsmanship. Using SIRS technology, this incredibly thin acoustic resonates and produces a sound like a full-depth instrument, and yet, it’s no thicker than a solid-body electric guitar. It’s made in the USA with an all-mahogany body, and for guitarists who tend to play their acoustic through an amp, it has one of the best pickup systems of any electro-acoustic on the market
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Gibson
Gibson was founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson, who was initially a mandolin maker. After adding guitars to their product catalog, Gibson quickly became one of the leading manufacturers.
Their acoustic guitars were known for their quality and craftsmanship, and they quickly gained a reputation as being some of the loudest and best made in the business, leaving newer acoustic guitar brands in the dust.
Gibson are regarded for their commitment to US manufacturing and still make some of the finest acoustic guitars on the market. Their instruments have been played by some of the biggest names in music, from the likes of Elvis Presley and Hank Williams Sr. to Ronnie Wood and Neil Young, and countless others.
The Gibson G45 (full review here) is a fantastic introduction to the Gibson brand at a price that won’t raise too many eyebrows. It has a Gibson slope-shouldered dreadnought profile. The G-45 is made with a solid Sitka Spruce top and walnut back and sides and produces a darker tone than you’d find on a spruce/mahogany combo. One unique feature of this model is the Player Port, which is a second soundhole on the upper bout of the bass side designed to allow you to directly hear the true character of the guitar.
The Gibson J-185 EC Modern is a slightly scaled-down version of Gibson’s legendary Jumbo style, making it eminently more usable by more players, with only a marginal sacrifice on volume. It features a gorgeous sunburst solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides, a combination that creates a rich, warm sound while retaining shimmering overtones in the upper registers. It’s very much designed with lead players in mind, with its comfortable Venetian cutaway and the Gibson Advanced Response neck profile.
The Gibson Hummingbird represents the finest lutherie that this storied brand is capable of. This stunning guitar has a rich history all of its own and has accompanied some of the greatest of all time players on stages all over the world. It’s made with the finest solid Sitka spruce top and choice cuts of koa for the back and sides. It sounds simply spectacular, with incredible presence and a gorgeous balanced tone. The hummingbird pickguard, and mother of pearl and abalone inlay throughout really highlight what a special guitar this is.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Guild
Alfred Dronge founded Guild Guitars in 1952 in New York City. They relocated to Connecticut in the 1970s, where they produced guitars until 1995 when Fender purchased the company. Fender managed the Guild brand until 2014 when they were sold to the Cordoba Music Group.
Considered one of a handful of acoustic guitar brands at the top of the market for quality, Guild is known for their traditional style acoustics, particularly their Jumbo size and 12-string models. Their guitars are well-crafted and renowned for their quality construction and beautiful finishes, and they continue to be popular among collectors and working musicians.
The Guild D-240E is a very traditional-looking dreadnought-style guitar. The natural solid Sitka Spruce top has a subtle vintage tint that really adds to the aesthetic, as does the faux tortoiseshell pickguard. This model features an arched back for improved sound projection, which, when coupled with the peppy spruce top and dreadnought shape, provides a massive voice not often heard in this price range.
The Guild F1512 Jumbo is actually one of their 12-string models, a style for which Guild is very well known. It has a jumbo body shape/size, which gives it a big, booming tone. It has solid sitka spruce and mahogany construction, which partners beautifully with the 12-string layout, making it unbelievably bright and punchy. This Guild offers a lot of guitar for the money and is one of the most fun to play 12 strings on the market.
The Guild D-55E is a spectacular acoustic guitar made by hand in Guild’s Oxnard, CA factory. It has a stunning Antique Sunburst solid Sitka spruce top, paired with solid Indian rosewood on the back and sides, a combination that lends a darker, mellower tone than you’ll find on their entry-level and intermediate models. It’s finished with nitro lacquer and features mother of pearl and abalone for all inlay pieces – this really is an heirloom quality piece that stands out in a sea of Gibsons and Martins.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Martin
Founded in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin, the Martin Guitar Company is one of the oldest and most respected makers of guitars in the world. From its humble beginnings in a small shop in New York City to its historic plant in Nazareth, PA, Martin has grown to become an international force in the music industry, with guitars that are played by some of the biggest names in the business.
The company’s commitment to quality craftsmanship has remained unchanged since its founding, and today’s Martin guitars are still made using many of the same techniques that were employed almost 200 years ago, making them arguably the top of the heap for acoustic guitar brands.
The Martin D-X1E might be the brand’s entry-level model, but that doesn’t make it any less of a Martin. It brings all of the classic traits you’d expect, including a well-balanced response that responds brilliantly to changes in touch. It features durable high-pressure laminate construction and Fishman MX electronics, complete with an under saddle piezo for accurate representation of its acoustic tones when played through an amp.
The Martin 000-15M is the most affordable US-made Martin in the lineup, and represents a notable step up from their entry-level guitars. The 000-15M has Martin’s 000 body shape, which is one of their smaller styles. It gets all solid mahogany construction, and the resultant tones are rich and smooth. It isn’t the loudest guitar, but it projects beautifully, and the smaller body makes it an incredibly comfortable choice for all sizes of player.
The Martin D-45 is one of Martin’s longest-running models, having made its first debut in 1933, and thanks to its ornate inlay has always been considered to be amongst the very first luxury guitars. Today’s version gets a high-end solid Sitka spruce top, together with East Indian rosewood for the back and sides. The tones are unmistakable, with a huge voice, incredible balance, and unheard-of projection.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Seagull
Seagull Guitars is a Canadian company that manufactures a range of acoustic guitars. The company was founded in 1982 by Robert Godin, and its headquarters are located in LaPatrie, Quebec. They are exceptionally proud of their 100% made-in-Canada reputation, with all materials being locally sourced from Canadian forests.
Their acoustics are used by a number of acclaimed musicians, such as Steve Earle, Damien Rice, and Glen Hansard. Seagull Guitars are known for their unique sound, quality craftsmanship, and affordable prices, making them one of the top acoustic guitar brands for intermediate guitars.
The Seagull S6 is one of the most affordable guitars made in North America, and it’s also one of the most unique. It features a cedar top and layered cherry back and sides, two unusual woods in steel string guitar manufacturing. The cedar is snappy and provides exceptional projection, and the cherry keeps things just a little brighter than mahogany. It has a modified dreadnought body shape that keeps the output tighter than a standard dreadnought, and this has made the S6 very popular with recording artists.
The Seagull Coastline Momentum is a more luxurious version of their already superb S6 model. It offers the same cedar top but upgrades to a solid wild cherry back and sides. On top of the solid wood construction, it also gets a fully bound body and headstock and a high gloss finish that looks incredible. In addition, it’s loaded with Fishman Sonitone electronics for high-end amplified performance.
The Seagull Artist CW EQ is a real players guitar, designed for working musicians and recording pros. It has the standard Seagull modified dreadnought shape, but in this case, it comes with a cutaway, providing improved access to the upper frets. In a departure from the majority of the lineup, it’s made with a solid spruce top and mahogany back and is equipped with LR Baggs Anthem electronics. Its tones are tightest around the upper mids, with exceptional clarity across the board.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Takamine
Takamine guitars have been around since the late 1950s, when the company was founded in Sakashita, Japan. Over the years, Takamine has become one of the most respected acoustic guitar makers in the world, known for their innovative design and high-quality craftsmanship.
Takamine was one of the first companies to mass-produce acoustic-electric guitars using under-saddle pickups, and their instruments are now used by some of the biggest names in music, including Blake Shelton, Bruce Springsteen, and Garth Brooks. Today, Takamine is still headquartered in Sakashita, and their guitars are prized by musicians all over the globe.
The Takamine GN30 is a great entry point into the Takamine range. It features a reduced-size jumbo shape body for superb projection and resonance without the sheer bulk of a full-size jumbo. It’s made with a classic combo of spruce top with mahogany back and sides, giving it a crisp and clear voice with strong mids and top end. The GN30 is beautifully appointed, with a strong black finish, and a gorgeous abalone rosette, too.
The Takamine P3NC is from their Pro Series and offers some incredible features for amateurs and pro players alike. This Grand Auditorium model is made in Japan using a solid cedar top with solid sapele on the back and sides. It’s designed with playability in mind and includes a cutaway for high fret access and an ultra-fast playing satin neck. The electronics are Takamine’s in-house CT4B system and offer incredible clarity and accurate acoustic tone reflection.
The Takamine P7NC has Takamine’s NEX body shape, which delivers dreadnought-like tones without the overpowering volume that can often accompany them, making this guitar a favorite amongst singer-songwriters. It has solid spruce and rosewood construction, giving it a mellow tone that is beautifully replicated by the Cooltube CTP-3 electronics, which actually feature a 12AU7 low voltage tube in the preamp for exceptional warmth when amplified.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Taylor
Taylor Guitars is one of the world’s most popular manufacturers of acoustic guitars. The company was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug. The pair had previously worked at a hippie guitar ship in San Diego, but after leaving, they built a small factory and began producing high-quality acoustic guitars.
In the 1980s, Taylor Guitars began to gain popularity among professional musicians. The company’s instruments were featured on numerous records and played by some of the world’s most popular artists, marking their place as one of the top acoustic guitar brands. Taylors are prized for their crisp, articulate, and well-balanced tones, as well as their build quality and innovative engineering.
The Taylor Baby Taylor BT1 is a ¾ size guitar that has become one of the most popular acoustics on the market. This miniature dreadnought gets a solid spruce top and layered walnut at the back and sides, giving it additional warmth and fullness that would otherwise be lost due to its diminutive size. It’s ideal as a travel guitar or as a guitar for younger or smaller players.
The Taylor American Dream AD17 is a US-made model that puts the emphasis on performance rather than aesthetics, so while cosmetic imperfections can be present, the tone remains completely unaffected. This particular model is made with solid spruce on top and solid ovangkol on the back and sides. It sounds very similar to a spruce/mahogany model, with a bright, crisp top end, excellent projection, and well-balanced mids.
The Taylor PS14ce is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest acoustic guitars ever made. It’s made with a redwood top and solid Honduran rosewood for the back and sides. The redwood top gives this guitar rich, almost brass-like tones with incredible sustain. It’s a Grand Auditorium-sized model, making it extremely comfortable while still providing exceptional projection. Those looking to play to large audiences will particularly enjoy the Taylor Expression System 2 electronics.
Acoustic Guitar Brands: Yamaha
The Yamaha Corporation has been responsible for producing some of the finest acoustic guitars in the world since they began making guitars in the 1960s. Yamaha chose to do things differently from other Japanese makers, and instead of copying famous American brands, they started out with proprietary designs, most of which survive to this day.
Today, Yamaha’s acoustic guitars are renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and tonal quality, with that accolade even including their more affordable models. They’re considered one of the target acoustic guitar brands for upper beginner to intermediate guitarists while not quite hitting the expert or high end of the market.
The Yamaha FG800 is one of the best entry-level guitars on the market, with specs and performance to rival intermediate-level models from other brands. It’s a full-size dreadnought with a solid spruce top and nato back and sides, giving it a classic tonal profile, with sparkling highs and big, booming mids. The build quality is rock solid, and despite the low price, the FG800 is more than suitable for working musicians.
The Yamaha Red Label FSX3 is a concert-size guitar built to Yamaha’s exacting standards. It’s constructed with a solid Sitka spruce top treated with ARE (acoustic resonance enhancement), which pre-ages the wood, giving it a mellow, vintage tone right out of the box. It features Atmosfeel electronics, which include an in-body microphone and an under-saddle piezo to accurately reproduce the beautiful tones of the FSX3 when amplified.
The Yamaha LL56 Custom ARE Original Jumbo is a big investment, but it also happens to be one of the best-made and best-sounding acoustic guitars on the market. This is one of the few Yamaha models made in their Japanese plant, and it’s constructed with all hand-selected materials, including rosewood back and sides, as well as an ARE-treated Engelmann spruce top. Its tones are incredibly reactive to changes in touch and range from nuanced and delicate to big, booming, and bass-heavy.
Final Thoughts on the Best Acoustic Guitar Brands
There’s something magical about choosing the right acoustic guitar. When you find one that’s comfortable and sounds just the way you like, there’s a good chance it will find a permanent spot in your collection.
Especially if you’re looking for a first guitar, taking your time to find the best fit for you will ensure that you’re more comfortable with the instrument, and when you’re more comfortable, you’ll play more often and ultimately get more enjoyment from it.