How to buy the best acoustic guitar for your needs

By | April 9, 2021


First, choose a budget for your acoustic guitar. Guitars are available for under $ 100 but can also go over the $ 5,000 price tag. In general, there will be a difference in quality and sound when you pay more. This is because cheaper guitars are usually made of laminate wood (thin strips of wood glued together) while more expensive guitars are made of solid wood. Solid wood is desirable, especially for the upper part of the guitar, as its vibrations make it sound better over time. But remember that there is a law of diminishing returns … that is, while there may be a big difference between a $ 100 guitar and a $ 1000 guitar, there may be less of a difference between one that is $ 2000 and $ 3000.


Based on your budget, make a short list of acoustic guitar companies you want to try. It does not have to be a comprehensive list (you can add more when you join) … but it helps to plan your purchase. In the budget range (under $ 500), I would recommend looking at Seagull guitars and Art & Lutherie guitars. These have great value for money. If you are willing to spend between $ 1000 and $ 3000, you will be able to pick up Taylor, Martin or Gibson guitars. Over the $ 3,000 mark, you can look at boutique companies like Collings and Goodall or even order a handmade acoustic guitar (although they usually cost more and require a significant waiting time). Also, do not be afraid to buy used guitars, especially if they have solid wood panels. If they have been well taken care of, they will be cheaper and often sound very nice.


Then choose the kind of environments you plan to play your acoustic guitar in (bar, church, campfire, home etc …). This allows you to choose a guitar that best suits your needs. For example, you probably would not want to use a $ 5000 guitar for use in a bar where it can be easily damaged or stolen. However, such a guitar may be acceptable if you only play it at home.


In the same way, you decide if you need electronics built into your guitar. These guitars have pickups that allow you to amplify your guitar via an amplifier or a PA system with 1/4 inch cable (usually). These ‘acoustic-electric guitars’ will increase the cost of the guitar. If you are unsure, do not buy it … you can always install pickups as an aftermarket job.


Decide what kind of sound you want your guitar to have by going to a store (if possible) and playing as many guitars as possible. Knowing your sound preferences for guitars will be very helpful here. Your guitar’s tone is mainly influenced by the guitar’s structure and design, the company (which goes hand in hand with structure and design) and the forest used.

The larger the guitar size, the darker and fuller the sound that the guitar will have. If you like fuller sound guitars, look at dreadnaught or jumbo guitars. If you prefer something with a little more balance, check out large auditorium shapes.

Alternatively, you can also try different brands of guitars. Martin is known for his full and deep voice while Taylor is known for being brighter and having more ‘sparkle’ in the sound.

Finally, you can choose forests that suit your taste. There are two main guitar parts: the top and the back / sides. The top is generally considered to be more important when it comes to shaping your sound. Typical top forests include sitka spruce (light, strong and very ideal for strumming), englemann spruce (softer than sitka, often better for moderate strumming or fingerpicking), cedar (very warm and sensitive but a little easier to damage, better for soft strumming or fingerpicking) and Adirondack spruce (considered very susceptible to fingerpicking and strumming but also very expensive).

The sides and back further ‘taste’ the sound. Typical forests include Indian rosewood (dark and full-bodied, fairly common appearance), mahogany (a well-balanced sounding wood) and maple (very light but can be very beautiful). There are more ‘exotic’ forests available as well as koa, walnut, cocobolo and brazillian rosewood, but they often carry premium prices.

The price of firewood depends on appearance. However, the look has no bearing on the sound (it can be a sweet specimen that sounds wonderful).


Decide how big your guitar is. Some of the more expensive acoustic guitar models have more ‘bling’ on them. Some of these features include binding of wood or mother of pearl instead of plastic and inserts in the guitar neck. It depends on your taste and budget. Other guitars have colored or sunburst finishes. As a rule of thumb, the colored wood tends to muffle the sound of lower guitars. On the more expensive guitars, dyes and surfaces are made in such a way that you retain the sound and tone of the guitar.


You will want to find out if you want a guitar with a cutaway or not. This is a part of the guitar that has a ‘cutaway’ so you can have easier access to the higher fretboards. There is some debate about whether cutaways have an impact on the overall sound of the guitar but most people tend to think that it does not. There are two types of cutaways: Venetian, which is more rounded in appearance and Florentine, which has a more angled look.


You also want to decide the size of the guitar you want to buy. The neck size can differ from company to company and even model to model. If you have smaller hands, a ‘short scale’ guitar may be of interest. The cutters on this type of guitar are closer together, making it easier to play complex chords.


Decide if a touch screen is necessary. a re a heavy drummer, they can be useful. If you primarily finger-pick, they may not be that much. If you want a pickguard but do not like the look, note that some companies offer ready pickguards.


Decide if you need picks, strings, tuners or cases with your guitar. You may want to buy an amp (if you buy an acoustic electric guitar).


Above all, you play many guitars and buy the one you want. Note that there are variations in the sound of guitars, even if they are the same guitar model. So much play!

Tips and warnings

  • If guitar strings are difficult to push down, it means that the guitar is likely to have high measures. Companies like Martin are known for selling high-end guitars. You can always take it to a luthier and have them lower the action to something you prefer. They will probably also ‘tune’ your guitar (called a ‘set up’) to get better intonation and the like. Other companies like Taylor are known for their low stakes. But you should still bring it in for a set.
  • Usually there is room for negotiation when buying a guitar. Do not hesitate to ask for a lower price or see if the seller is willing to give you extra candies (strings, picks, etc.). The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no’.
  • Do your research! At many chain music stores, there are employees who may not know too much about the guitar in question. They can give you incorrect answers so it is best to know what you are looking for in advance. A great resource is
  • Finally, if you are planning to buy guitars a lot, find a store you like and develop a good relationship with a particular seller. They will remember you and treat you well when you will check things out or buy guitars.
  • Buying a guitar can be daunting because the process is often tedious and confusing. Here’s what you need to know to make things a little easier!