From the world's largest stages and around the campfire, acoustic guitars are beautiful and popular instruments for professional and amateur musicians alike. They sound great live and on record and are the first instrument for many people.
It makes perfect sense, then, that the market for acoustic guitars is massive. With so many choices, from local luthiers to giant companies, it can be difficult to find the perfect choice for your musical journey.
Though brand names aren't the be-all-end-all when it comes to choice, knowing the top brands to look out for can be useful in finding your acoustic guitar (and at the very least for a conversation with other guitarists). In this article, we'll have a look at what I believe to be the best acoustic guitar brands on the market.
The Top 13 Best Acoustic Guitar Brands Are:
Of course, any “best of” list is subjective by nature. I've done my best to make this as objective as possible. I've included not only my own bias but also the opinions of others (in real life; in online forums, and by which brands professionals use). I've also taken into account the number of models and the objective nature of the models in each brand.
We’ll get into each of these brands in greater detail to explain why they made this list. I’ll also include one notable/flagship guitar for each brand along with a link to their official website and a bit of the company history.
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Taylor Guitars has been making a name for itself as an industry-leading builder of premium acoustic guitars since the mid-1970s. The company is responsible for some of the world's finest acoustic guitars, which are known to sound amazing and be very easy to play.
The expert team of designers and luthiers at Taylor combine master craftsmanship with innovative manufacturing technique to produce excellent guitars with notable consistency.
From the “affordable” options to the higher end of Taylor's catalog, these guitars sound incredible. If you've ever played a Taylor, you'll understand the beautiful combination of great sound and easy playing.
If you've even bought a Taylor, you'll know they're not necessarily “budget-friendly”. In many of life's purchases, you get what pay for and with Taylor Guitars, you get fantastic acoustic guitars.
Notable Guitar: 814ce
With a rich history of stringed instruments that dates all the way back to 1833, Martin is the oldest brand on this list. This family-owned business, along with its expert team, draws upon a wealth of knowledge and experience to produce some of the greatest acoustic guitars the world has ever seen or heard.
Martin has been an innovative company for quite some time. Over the years the company has introduced X-bracing, the 14-fret guitar, and the “Dreadnought” size guitar to the market.
The excellent sound of Martin guitars can be heard in classical and country to blues, folk and acoustic rock and everything in between. These beautiful guitars are enjoyed around the world by guitarists who want the best.
In addition to superb acoustic guitars and other stringed instruments, Martin also produces impressive guitar strings.
Notable Guitar: D-45
Guild has become a classic when it comes to iconic acoustic guitars, electric guitars and basses. Its reputation as an industry-leading acoustic guitar manufacturer has been growing since the company's inception in the early 1950s.
The company has a long-standing tradition of old-world craftsmanship, quality and value. These guitars are produced with care by expert luthiers and superb production lines and are designed to honour the classic Guild sound and feel.
This classic sound and feel is inherent in all Guild guitars and can be heard in genres across the musical spectrum.
The quality of the Guild's guitars has got the company a diehard community of followers. When it comes to acoustic guitars, Guild instruments are among the best in the world.
Notable Guitar: D-55
Seagull is one of many brands owned by the Canadian company Godin Guitars. Though Seagull gets a direct mention, other Godin brands also make superb acoustic guitars. Check out Godin Guitars, Norman Guitars, Art & Lutherie Guitars and Simon & Patrick Guitars for other great acoustic guitars. So this spot in the list can be almost thought of like a 5-for-1. Though all these Godin brands are great, we'll talk about Seagull acoustics in particular.
Seagull Guitars was built on the concept of taking the essential components of the best hand-crafted guitars and designing world-class instruments at reasonable prices for working musicians. This idea caught on and since the early 1980s, Seagull has been supplying musicians with excellent acoustic guitars at excellent prices.
Beyond producing world-class acoustic guitars, this company also offers a limited lifetime warranty on its guitars, covering them against material and workmanship defects. The company is also focused on sustainability, sourcing all components within Canada; having its facilities run by hydroelectricity, and using only reclaimed wood.
The main point, though, is that Seagull Guitars sound awesome and play very well. Try one out for yourself and you'll see why the brand has made this list!
Notable Guitar: S6 Original
Collings Guitars carry the prestige of world-class instruments. Bill Collings, who founded the company in 1973, was a master luthier known for outstanding craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail.
The company has grown successfully since the 70s into a well-known manufacturer of superb acoustic guitars. The brand continues to carry the legacy of its founder, producing some of the world's finest stringed instruments including, of course, acoustic guitars.
From vintage flair to modern elegance, Collings has brought many great guitars to the market, earning it a spot on this list.
Notable Guitar: D3
Takamine is a world-renowned Japanese brand that specializes in acoustic guitars. Whether you're after a world-class instrument or something affordable to start learning with, Takamine will have a wonderful option for you.
Since the early 1960's, Takamine has been devoted to innovation and continual improvement in design and manufacturing. The result of such efforts has culminated in some of the finest acoustic guitars and a worldwide reach for its instruments.
Takamine's team of expert craftspeople put a lot into each Takamine Guitar. Though the company is fully capable of mass production, they pride themselves on taking the time necessary to manufacturer each guitar to the highest standard, ensure that each guitar is beautifully crafted for the musicians that play them.
Notable Guitar: P7NC
Larrivee is another excellent Canadian manufacturer of acoustic guitars and has been crafting excellent musical instruments in the late 1960s.
This manufacturer maintains the goal of “affordable luxury”, offering high-end guitars at prices affordable to regular musicians. Larrivee guitars are crafted by experts in the field guided by the wisdom and experience of Jean Larrivee.
These guitars are built with the finest solid woods available and are designed to perform to the highest level over long lifetimes.
Notable Guitar: LV-10 Deluxe
Ovation is a standout company best known for its unique designs and true electric-acoustic guitars. They make this list since unplugged electric-acoustic guitars are simply acoustic guitars (with some electronics).
In addition to the carefully thought out electronics, Ovation guitar have excellent acoustic properties. The semi-parabolic backs of Ovation guitars help to give them a rich, full and consistent sound. This design is carried out with superior building material (including Lyrachord for the back) in order to produce superb guitars.
Note that Ovation was originally a subsidiary of an aerospace company called Kaman Corporation and thus had plenty of engineering resources at its disposal.
Today Ovation is a well-known name amongst guitarists. The brand's guitars are a bit different than the norm but their superior performance gets the company a spot on this list without a doubt.
Notable Guitar: Timeless Collection Elite Deep Contour
Gibson is perhaps the most well-known guitar brand in the world (other than Fender). This company is equally at home producing electric guitars as it is manufacturing acoustic guitars.
With well over 100 years of experience to draw from (and some of the world's most recognizable designs), Gibson continues to offer some of the world's best acoustic guitars.
Whether you're a beginner or a master guitarist and no matter your budget, Gibson will have an acoustic guitar for you.
The feel and sound of Gibson acoustic guitar are fully reminiscent of the brand's legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships, and progressive product evolution. The company has a massive amount of resources to draw from in designing new products and producing legendary models with precisions.
Notable Guitar: Hummingbird Standard
Alvarez (or K. Yairi) branded guitars (depending on location) are among the best acoustic instruments in the world. This Japanese-American company has solidified its reputation as one of the world's premier acoustic guitar brands.
Alvarez/K. Yairi guitars are designed with a focus on innovation and tradition, maintain the wisdom of old while simultaneously developing modern improvements in acoustic guitar design.
From the affordable models to the Masterworks, Alvarez-Yairi acoustic guitars offer superior value to the guitarists who are lucky enough to play them.
These beautiful guitars are cherished around the world for their eloquent character and balanced sound.
Notable Guitar: Masterworks Grand Auditorium
Breedlove is the youngest company on this list but is fully deserving of a mention alongside the other legendary brands. This American company has been fulfilling its goal of superior sound and sustainable exotic tonewoods since its inception in the early 1990s.
Breedlove acoustic guitars are some of the most aesthetically pleasing guitars in the world in terms of both sound and look. The dedicated craftsmanship shows itself in superb ease of playability, ergonomic shape and exceptional sound.
These guitars are designed and built with deep inspiration and have, in turn, inspired musicians around the world with high-quality acoustic guitars that play and sound as great as they look.
Notable Guitar: Legacy Concert CE
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Washburn, one of America's oldest and most revered acoustic guitar manufacturers.
With a history that extends back to 1883, this company has plenty of wisdom to build up when crafting its superb acoustic guitars. This background inspires the creation of guitars with exceptional value, easy and fun playability, and voice that is distinctly Washburn.
Washburn acoustic guitars can be heard around the world, on studio recordings and around campfires. These high value guitars are held dear by amateur and professional musicians alike and give Washburn a certain spot on this list.
Notable Guitar: Heritage F11SCE
Yamaha is yet another company that got its start in the nineteenth century. This Japanese multinational conglomerate is involved in several industries but is well-respected in the music/audio world.
Yamaha's acoustic guitars range from entry level to world-class with options for every one in between. It would be difficult to set this brand aside when putting together a “best of” list due to its wide variety of superb acoustic guitars.
So acoustic guitars may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of Yamaha. The brand name may not even be included in your discussion of top guitar brands. However, the company's dedication to producing world-class instruments is apparent in its high-value acoustic guitars and, in my opinion, Yamaha is worthy of a spot on this list!
Notable Guitar: A5
Past The Top 13
Of course, there are many more acoustic guitar brands that could have broken my top 13. Since this is such a subjective premise, I figured I’d end this article with a longer list of brands that very well could replace some of my picks in my readers’ top 13 lists. I’ll add links to the website of each brand: