Our Top Pick for 2018: Yamaha FG700S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
Read our full review.
Acoustic guitars can generate some of the riches sounds available on any string instrument. With an electric type of guitar there is a slight disconnect, since all of the generated sound has to travel through a guitar cable and is projected out of a guitar amp. There’s nothing quite like the instant gratification presented through sound hole of a well-tuned acoustic. You play the note, and you immediately hear the note. The technology for this type of guitar has been around since the 12th century and the world’s oldest guitar was crafted by Portuguese builder Belchior Diaz in 1590. With such a classic instrument, you’d imagine that there are myriads of guitars to choose from. To make your search for a great acoustic easier, we’ve compiled a list of the three best on the market today as well as a budget conscious guitar that you can play for less cash.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Yamaha FG700S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar, Natural||261 Reviews||from $299.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Fender Beginner Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar CD-60 All Mahogany - With Case||55 Reviews||Currently not available||Buy on Amazon|
|Oscar Schmidt OG2SM Acoustic Guitar - Spalted Maple||226 Reviews||$149.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural||793 Reviews||$105.32||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Yamaha FG700S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
For a product to rate as our Gold Pick, it has to be well-loved by consumers and critics alike. Our number one acoustic guitar is actually the best selling guitar in the United States. This well-crafted guitar is produced by instrument and electronics maker Yamaha; a worldwide giant that has been in operation since shortly after World War II. Its design is beautiful, and as such a popular instrument, it sports a set of well-loved features that appeal to new guitarists and virtuosos alike.
To start, this acoustic guitar sports a “natural” coloration that is bright and smooth-looking. The high-gloss finish that’s been added to this guitar it’ll protect it from the day-to-day and looks absolutely stunning under bright stage lights. This finish is also very thin; around 0.25 millimeters. As a result of this degree of thinness, the wood’s vibrations are less restricted, which will allow for a more robust sound. The side surfaces and back panel of this guitar are comprised of eastern mahogany, and the lighter brown coloration really adds a very natural feeling to the aesthetic of this instrument.
The saddle on this instrument is comprised of a wood that is dark brown in color. The shape of the saddle utilizes a sleek-looking waveform and is slightly raised over the body of the guitar. This acoustic sports a dreadnaught body-type that is wider than some of the other styles of acoustic guitar; simply put, it looks great for performances at small venues.
The neck and headstock of this guitar are also two key components that contribute greatly to the overall aesthetic of the instrument. The neck itself is comprised of nato wood that matches the coloration of the eastern mahogany on the back and sides perfectly. The surface opposite the fingerboard sports an ultra-comfortable satin finish that feels great on slides and when you are doing extensive strumming. The fingerboard itself is made of beautiful rosewood that’s comfortable to fret on. The edges on the fretboard are also rounded; this ensures that you’ll never have an issue with too sharp edges that hurt the fingers when you form chord shapes.
Ever nick a finger when you are sliding because your frets had tiny sharp edges at their tips? Luckily, this will not be a problem with this Yamaha acoustic since the frets are perfectly lined up with the edges of the fretboard. Insofar as fret inlays, these are incredibly small on this guitar. Whereas some guitar manufacturers like to adorn the fretboard with trapezoids or crowns, Yamaha decided to go with a simple tiny dot inlay on each of the major frets. The neck itself is attached via a dovetail joint and the headstock is of a classical 3+3 style. The tuners are comprised of die-cast metal, are well lubricated, and are designed to last a lifetime.
The rosette, or the pattern of concentric rings encircling the sound hole are black and silver; a very attractive, simplistic design. Another aesthetics feature that you might notice when looking at this guitar is the black bordering around the edges of the body. This bordering shines starkly against the natural wood tones of this acoustic; and as a result, makes the guitar much more visually appealing. The pick guard is one of the most attractive features of this Yamaha instrument; it has a tortoise pattern that is amber in color.
When it comes to day-to-day playing, this guitar produces some of the best sounds of any of the instruments on our list; which you can expect of a Gold Pick. Some might find the neck to be a little thin, which could make performing complex cord a finger-crunching exercise. The sound hole is very resonant; the result of a unique non-scalloped bracing structure that allows the tonewoods to resonate much stronger than several of the finished acoustics in its price range.
Simply put, this is a nearly universally-loved instrument. On Amazon, 98 percent of the 360 reviewers thought that this acoustic guitar was worthy of a four star rating or above. Of this 98 percent, 85 percent thought it was worth a near-unassailable five star rating. One five star reviewer felt this way about the instrument: “Let me start off by saying, I bought this guitar after months of research, and I am very happy with my purchase. If you are a beginner than you should look no further. The best part about this guitar is it stays in tune, sometimes I don’t touch this guitar for weeks and pick it up and play it and it will still be in tune.” Yamaha backs our Gold Pick guitar with a lifetime warranty.
#2. Fender CD-60 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The manufacturer of our runner up, Silver Pick product is Fender; one of the most iconic guitar manufacturers in the world. The inventors of the legendary Stratocaster and Squier lines of electric guitars, Fender also has a robust line of quality acoustics that are perfect for playing venues of nearly any size. This model is also one of Fender’s best selling acoustic guitars.This Fender beauty, with its excellent design, dreadnaught-styled construction, and beautiful sound, will appeal to guitarists of any type or skill level.
Another stunningly beautiful acoustic, the CD-60 has a unique mahogany top that is hued a nutty brown and sports numerous natural wood accents. The entire body; front, back, and sides, are comprised of this material, which is laminated to add a generous luster that looks great under venue lighting. The rosette and the area around the sound hole are some of the most stunning aesthetic features on this acoustic guitar. The interior section surrounding the hole is the mahogany, while the concentric circles surrounding this area features a silver-colored pearloid pattern that glistens beautifully.
The edges where the front meets the side of this guitar are highlighted with this same design aesthetic, and as the sides adjoin, Fender utilized a black lacquer to add a sense of edging to the guitar’s overall design. The pick guard is this same black and against the dark mahogany body, this feature looks stunning and well-contrasted. The saddle is comprised of nato and is compensated and tapers at each end.
Moving on to the neck and fretboard sections of this guitar, you might notice that this is a 20-fret guitar. Similarly to the saddle, the neck itself is comprised of nato and sports a rosewood fingerboard. Each fret looks beautiful and the fret inlays utilize the standard dot pattern that is used in so many beginner instruments. Each fret is sanded and smooth and adjoins the fingerboard with little-to-no snags. The headstock of this guitar is probably its most attractive feature. There is a noticeably higher amount of glossy laminate on this section and; as a result, it really looks attractive when playing the instrument. For those who like a more symmetrical design, the headstock itself is not much thicker than the neck at the base but tapers slightly at the top. The tuning machine pegs along the sides (this model is of course, 3+3) are all die-cast and feature a chrome finish.
When it comes to sound quality, this guitar’s construction allows for some great resonance and tone. Utilizing a scalloped X-bracing for its internal construction means that the sound can resonate very well inside the body. As a result of this construction, this guitar generates all of the notes that you’d expect on a much more expensive instrument.
An excellent 96 percent of the 40 reviewers on Amazon thought that this product was worthy of a four star rating or above. Of the five star reviews, of which there are several, one reviewer had this testimonial to offer in regards to this acoustic: “I love this guitar! I am in my fifties and brand new to guitar. I have had it now for 3 months and love it. Friends who know say it sounds great. I know that it feels good and looks so sharp. I think the sound is great and playing it is a dream to me. Having the hard case is really a big plus as I take it with me when I travel in the car and it says safe.”
#3. Oscar Schmidt OG2SM Acoustic Guitar
Oscar Schmidt has been producing quality acoustic guitars for well over 100 years. Established in New Jersey in 1871, this legendary producer of quality instruments has produced acoustic guitars that have been played by country music guitarists for decades. Our third place pick features a unique design that utilizes a very specific aesthetic that will really get noticed by anyone watching you play a gig.
The first thing that you’ll notice when you see this guitar is its very unique looking front. Oscar Schmidt utilized spalted maple; the result is a top that looks almost like the cross section of the innards of a log. This woodsy appearance is striking and you’ll love the variance of color tonality that is this guitar’s visual aesthetic, as well as how unique each of these guitars are even when comparing instruments in the same production line. Despite this very natural-looking design, the guitar still glistens via a very thin high gloss finish. The sides of this instrument are significantly darker in tone than the front and are comprised of mahogany.
The rosette on this instrument is relatively plain and doesn’t really appear very prominently as it is set on such a complex face; it’s a silver set of concentric rings. It does have one unique feature; the rings radiate further than is typical for most acoustic guitars and the outermost set actually extend underneath the tortoise pick guard.
This instrument also features a beautiful looking saddle that’s comprised of urea and is tapered at the edges. The neck and bridge are fully composed of rosewood, and the bridge pins are made of a almond colored plastic that goes well with the natural wood tones of the instrument; the bordering around the fingerboard also features this coloring. One of the few aesthetic features of this guitar that aren’t wood-themed is the gorgeous pearl fret inlays. These are of the standard dot variation and are suitably large; this is a perfect notation for beginner guitarists who still need larger visual cues to find the major frets.
From an audio perspective, this is a great sounding instrument. It produces crisp, strong-sounding notes and chords. The tonewoods of mahogany and maple really lend a unique sound to this guitar that competes with some of the more expensive models when it comes to tone.
93 percent of the 103 Amazon reviews state that this is a acoustic that deserves at least a four star rating. One five star testimonial: “I was intrigued by the spalted maple top…..so for 150 bucks, what the heck, but WOW, what a great guitar (I own and play over a dozen guitars, gig a couple time a month). Most of my guitars are acoustic electric, so i bought this one as a strictly acoustic to bang around on. Again, WOW, right out of the box, the thing looks meticulous, the action was perfect, nice and low, and a really great sound, stays in tune.”
#4. Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar
Want to play guitar without spending big money? If you’re ballin on a budget and want to generate your favorite Neil Young tunes, you should try the Jasmine S35. It has a great design, excellent tonality, and comes in at a very reasonable price point. Developed by Jasmine Guitars, a subsidiary of the Japanese Takamine Guitars, this is the perfect instrument for beginners.
Stylistically, this instrument like the other instruments on this list, is of the dreadnaught body construction. It features nato composition on the back and sides and has a top that is made of spruce. This is great, especially when you consider that the majority of guitars in this price range utilize plywood for the top’s construction. While the finish is satin-like, this guitar can sometimes get dirty somewhat easier than some of the other instruments that we’ve reviewed. A very unique feature of this guitar is the solid black line that bisects the nato backing of the frame. The rosette is the standard concentric circle design, and the pick guard is a uniform black.
Also like the other instruments, this acoustic guitar has a rosewood fingerboard with die-cast chrome tuning machines. The guitar head is very pretty, it’s comprised of nato; just like the bridge and has a prettily tapered edging and waveform top that makes it look attractive and unique. The fret inlays are an almond color and balance really well with the rosewood fingerboard’s design.
From an aural point of view, this guitar sounds great; especially considering the lowish sub-$100 price point. It can produce some great sounds since it’s fronted in spruce and the sound hole is resonant enough to pump out some quality harmonics.
86 percent of the reviewing audience for this product have granted it a four star or above rating on Amazon. This is out of 878 reviews; the largest amount of reviews for a single guitar on our list. One of the five star rated reviews had this to say about the product, “I’ve had this guitar for about 2 years now, and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s got an awesome sound, and it’s a good size. It’s great for a beginner, or someone that doesn’t want to spend a whole bunch of money.”
String Type – Nylon vs. SteelString Type – Nylon vs. Steel
Acoustic guitar strings typically come in two varieties; nylon and steel. Here is a breakdown on how each works:
Nylon – Nylon strings are non abrasive and feel almost plastic-like. They feel great on the fingers when strummed and sound more like the classical catgut strings (these types of strings are typically created from sheep or cow intestines not feline). The sound is less bright than steel strings. An easy way to tell if a acoustic guitar has nylon strings is to look at each string; the bottommost strings from E to G will look like they are made of a transparent plastic. The topmost strings From D to E are actually wrapped in steel and will appear metallic.
Steel – Steel strings produce a much brighter sound. If you attempt to place steel strings on a guitar neck that is designed for nylon, you will destroy the neck as it isn’t designed for the level of tension that steel strings provide. The E and B on these type of strings are simple metal wire, the G,D,A, and E strings on this type are would, but unlike nylon steel wound strings, these strings have a metal core.
Basically, when you are looking for a acoustic guitar, be sure to consider the string types as each will generate a completely different sound than the other.
Aesthetic and Construction
This is one of the most important considerations that you should take into account when purchasing a new acoustic guitar. These types of guitars are almost invariably crafted of various types of wood; and as a result, acoustics will vary greatly based on the wood used. These variances can occur because different wood types look different; some have rustic, heavily whorled patterns, and some are smooth with little detail at all. These variances can also be diminished dependent on the staining of the wood. Wood types can certainly vary but one thing is certain; no acoustic guitar looks exactly like another because of how even guitars constructed of the same types of wood can look very different because of the features of the wood itself. Guitar materials can also change the sound of the guitar itself; as a rule, different tonewoods sound different since wood types effect how the sound resonates in the cavity of your acoustic guitar.
Number of Frets
The number of frets is a really important consideration when you are thinking about purchasing an acoustic guitar. The amount of frets on this type of guitar can range from 18 frets to a full 24 on an acoustic guitar. If you see yourself frequently needing a higher range of sound then consider getting a guitar that has a higher number of frets. All of the guitars that we reviewed have 20 frets which is typical and acts as a happy medium when it comes to fret count. It’s rare that you will find a guitar with 18 frets, but they are definitely out there. If you are a beginner guitarist, when searching for an acoustic guitar, be sure that the guitar you purchase has at least 20 frets.
One of the most iconic shapes on any guitar, the pick guard is there to protect the finish on your guitar from the semi-sharp edge of your pick. This can also be one of the key aesthetic features of any guitar, whether it’s acoustic or even electric. Of course, not all guitars feature this functional embellishment and these types are better played with the fingers. Pick guards can vary in size, shape, and materials; typically pick guards are comprised of plastic or a laminated scratch-resistant material. When selecting an acoustic guitar, be sure to know what kind of strumming you’ll be engaging in because if you’re going to be using a pick a lot, then it may be best to grab one that has some protection from the edge of your pick.
Type of Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitars have several body types, here are a few:
Concert – Originating in the 1800s, this type is a smaller style of guitar that has a punchy, bright sound.
Grand Concert – This is a larger variant of the concert-style acoustic guitar. They have a larger sound than their non-grand counterpart.
Auditorium – Crafted to be played to larger audiences, this style of guitar is often called the orchestra guitar. It has a smaller waist and produces a robust, mid-range sound that is perfect for playing in a larger venue. These are also very comfortable to play.
Grand Auditorium – This type of guitar has a even thinner neck than the non-grand type and produce an even larger range of volume.
Dreadnaught – Named after a style of battleship, the dreadnaught acoustic guitar has a large form factor that has become popular among bluegrass singers. The neck is very wide and the body is thick with a particularly large tail.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
When you are picking up your next acoustic guitar, take your time. There are a lot of great instruments on the market, and we’ve reviewed some of the best that are available. Take a look at these models, our pre-purchase considerations, and do your own research to find a model that fits your style and skill level. As your playing progresses, you may want to buy another guitar and any of the models we’ve reviewed here can easily accompany another; they all have unique sounds and aesthetics.