Here Are Some of the Best Acoustic Guitar Brands Out There!
Wondering which brand of acoustic guitar is the best? You’re not the first person to ask and we won’t be the last to answer! There are plenty of good guitar brands but today we’re looking into the best guitar brands. Specifically, this article focusses on the best acoustic guitar manufacturers and guitar companies that make top-quality acoustic guitars.
When it comes to acoustic guitar brands, there are lots of different aspects that make a guitar maker one of the “best”. The top acoustic guitar brands are more than just a fancy name on a headstock.
These companies have a consistent history of crafting high-quality acoustic guitars across price their price point – from high-end acoustic guitar brands for the pros to acoustic brands that work great for a beginner. They are the kinds of guitars you definitely want a hard case for.
So, whether you’re looking for American-made acoustic guitars, Canadian-made acoustic guitars, or other famous guitar brands that specialize in acoustic, let’s dive into our list of top 10 best acoustic guitar brands.
You’ll learn about the history of the brand, what makes them a top acoustic maker, who plays them, and even get a few models to look into for that “next guitar” inspiration.
Best Acoustic Guitar Brands List – Our Ranking Methods
There are a lot of great acoustic guitar brands out there that produce stunning acoustic guitars. Determining the best brand of acoustic guitar is not easy. No one is ever going to completely agree with any list that is put together on the subject. This is because “best” is a very subjective term. We all have different experiences with different guitar brands.
That said, this list of the best acoustic guitar brands is very much reflective of the “top” or consistently “highest-rated” brands out there. Brands are determined to be “best” because of their reputation, history, and, relatedly, the overall quality of their acoustic guitars. This list is also based on a combination of personal experience, discussions among friends and fellow players, and extensive research into the acoustic space.
I consider myself an acoustic enthusiast. I might not be the most skilled – but I have a strong appreciation for the top acoustic brands. Often, you’ll find a similar story among acoustic brands: A dedication to a unique skill set, a rich history with a passionate founder(s), top-level craftsmanship and sound, and a love for music.
I’ve had a Seagull and – truthfully – I have a Fender electric-acoustic which does its job as my acoustic guitar. Is it the best acoustic guitar ever? No. Is it terrible? Definitely not. It’s above average with a nice tone and good hardware so it fills my needs right now.
As for the best acoustic makers below, this list is loosely ranked from top to bottom. One brand might jump one or two spots (up or down) for you and that’s to be expected.
CF Martin & Co.
No list that claims to have the best acoustic guitar brands should exclude Martin from the top spot (or very close to it). The company was founded all the way back in 1833 by Christian Friedrich Martin – a young German immigrant with a skill for crafting high-quality instruments. Fun Fact: Martin & Co developed the “dreadnought” acoustic body that is now the popular size/shape for many acoustics.
From its humble beginnings in New York, New York, the name Martin is still considered a (if not the) leader in superbly crafted acoustic guitars with a sound that only comes from a Martin. The company’s current headquarters is in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. This is also where most Martin guitars are physically produced (along with a production site in Mexico) to be shipped around the world.
Martin has a long list of incredibly talented musicians who play their guitars. From legends like Willie Nelson, Chris Cornell (RIP) and John Prine (also RIP), and a few personal favorites like City and Colour, Ben Howard, and The Milk Carton Kids, it’s no wonder we fall in love with their unique sounds.
If you’re looking to pick up a Martin, even as one of the larger manufactures, their acoustic prices are on the more expensive end due to built and sound quality. However, you’ll have plenty of great models to choose from. You might want to aim for a D-18, a D-28, and 000-15SM as consistently popular Martins. Martins also make a great guitar gift… just make sure you really like the person!
For the other pioneer in acoustic guitar manufacturing, it’s time to mention Taylor. Founded back in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, the company has grown to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of top-quality guitars. Their acoustic guitars are among the best-sounding guitars on the market – which is always incredible given the scale of production the company maintains.
All Taylor guitars are made in either in El Cajon, California (where their headquarters are located) or in Tecate, Mexico. Bob Taylor is known as a pioneer in the music industry as Taylor is also credited with a number of innovations like the “Taylor Neck”. Taylor was also one of the first guitar makers to blend modern manufacturing tech with hands-on techniques pivotal to producing a high-end acoustic.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Taylor boasts a huge lineup of artists who have picked up (and prefer) a Taylor acoustic. From the really popular artists to the respectable musicians like Ben Harper, Jewel, and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Taylor is what adds to their iconic sounds.
If you are looking to pick up a Taylor acoustic, you’re going to need a few dollars. However, you pay for a top-quality acoustic and not just the name on the headstock. Check out their 912ce, 150e, or 324ce.
If you’re searching for acoustic guitars made in the USA, Collins is definitely an option. Founded in 1973, Collins Guitars is known as a smaller, boutique guitar company. However, do not let size bias you. Collins makes some of the most high-end acoustic guitars on the market.
The founder of Collins, Bill Collins, is considered to be one of the most respected names in modern acoustic instruments. In fact, he’s attributed to having created a guitar culture that emphasizes attention to detail and a consistent, high-end build quality.
The quality – both of the guitar construction and the sound produced – are hallmarks of Collins. It’s no surprise that these attributes spill over into their other stringed instruments like mandolins and ukuleles. The Collins headquarters is located in Austin, Texas, and this is also where all their instruments are built.
For those considering a Collins, be prepared to put up a few dollars. With notable players like Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons) and even Prince, these guitars don’t come cheap. Check out the DS Series for a 12-fret dreadnought, their CJ Series for their jumbo, or OM Series (Orchestra Model) for fingerstyle.
Founded back in 1982 by Robert Godin in La Patrie, Quebec, Canada, Seagull is an acoustic guitar brand that often gets very little love (usually because you’ve never heard of them).
A Seagull (S6 Original) was actually my first ever acoustic guitar back in the day. Truth be told, I loved that guitar but gave it up after an unfortunate accident caused irreparable damage. I still have my original guitar capo, though.
Seagull is owned by Godin Guitars which is a larger company (founded in 1972 by Robert Godin) and houses a number of other acoustic guitar brands besides Seagull like Simon and Patrick. Their current headquarters are located in Montreal, Quebec but all Godin guitars (including Seagulls) are made in Quebec (La Patrie) and New Hampshire.
Unlike other bigger guitar brands, Seagull only makes acoustic guitars (and mandolins and ukes). You can be confident they haven’t tried to branch out and diversify too much from their original mission/craft of making high-quality acoustic guitars across most price ranges.
Seagulls are known for their unique headstock design: It tapers inward giving it a smaller overall profile. The advantage of the tapered design is that the strings are more aligned with the tuning machines as they pass through the nut.
The strings have less of a bend which can help preserve the nut and help to keep the strings in tune. I always loved the headstock because it made the guitar feel lighter (to me).
As for who plays a Seagull, you’ve got James Blunt as one of the most notable. You should check out an S6 Original for their award-winning/most popular guitar series or the Maritime Series.
You can’t deny the influence Gibson has had on the modern music industry from its beginnings in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Founded by Orville Gibson, the company is known for some iconic instruments like the Gibson Les Paul (electric) and the Super Jumbo (acoustic). Their current headquarters are Nashville, Tennessee but their full acoustic guitars are all made in Bozeman, Montana.
That said, Gibson makes some high-quality acoustic guitars but they’ve been guilty of backing off their craftsmanship and relying on the illustrious history to sell guitars. To be honest, Gibson filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and also got caught up in legal trouble around the sourcing of their wood.
Now, do these things matter if the acoustic guitars are great? Kind of. It means you need to be picky about the quality of the Gibson you’re holding and thinking of buying.
As for artists, Joe Bonamassa and Jimmy Page have been known to play Gibson acoustic at some point in their careers. If you are looking into a Gibson acoustic, check out their SJ-200 for the iconic size or the J-45 Original which is supposed to be a throwback to their “Golden Era”.
Known for their incredible inlays on the headstock, fingerboard, and even bridge wings, Larrivée is another one of the more notable acoustic guitar makers. Founded back in 1967 by Jean Larrivée, it’s a Canadian company that moved across Canada from Toronto to Victoria to Vancouver for a few decades before moving everything to California partly due to the 2008 recession.
Jean was originally interested in classical guitar making. His passion for creation and refinement has spanned decades of reinventing acoustic bracing and searching the globe for the best possible tonewoods. As such, you’ll find quality crafted instruments made in Oxnard, California that are great value, solid construction, have a distinct look, and can really sing.
Larrivée guitars have been picked up by artists like Sarah McLachlan, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and even the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Hadfield played a Larrivée parlor in the International Space Station when he covered “Space Oddity”.
If you want to check them out, their P-03, D-03, and OM-05 are a great place to start. Larrivée guitars – because of their inlays – are the ones that look amazing hanging on their wall hanger for all to appreciate. Just remember to keep the room the right humidity!
Guild Guitar Company
Another kind of tricky acoustic brand is Guild. Founded back in 1952 by Alfred Dronge and George Mann in New York, New York, their current headquarters are now in Oxnard, California.
Lots of people are drawn to Guild because of their long, developed history as a solid guitar manufacturer in the USA. Their reputation is something that solidifies them as one of the top guitar brands out there. There’s also no denying the fact that they made high-end acoustic guitars considering legends like Tom Petty and Eric Clapton played a Guild.
One of the more recent “issues” that those looking to buy a Guild have is with regards to their manufacturing. Some Guild acoustic guitars are made in California while others are made in China. The build locations do create some tangible differences in the instruments (like the finish on the instrument).
People do like the imported Guilds but it’s just something to be aware of when you buy. Check out their F-30 or D-55 if you’re looking around.
Another company that has been accused of “living in its glory days” is Takamine. Founded back in 1962 in Japan, Takamine is among the best acoustic guitar brands because – like other Japanese instrument makers – they produce a top-quality guitar. Takamine was also one of the first acoustic makers to develop electric-acoustic guitars.
Takamine’s current headquarters are in Sakashita (where the company began) and they have a long and fairly impressive list of artists who swear by them. You’ll find legends like Glen Frey (of the Eagles) and Bruce Springsteen along with Garth Brooks and a number of smaller personal favorites like Glen Hansard.
One recent criticism with Takamine is that they aren’t as good as they used to be. However, the company has always achieved high quality in their guitars so they continue to make decent quality guitars that hold their own at each price point (except for the high, high end). If you want to try out a Takamine for yourself, head for a TSF48C or GD30.
For another all-American acoustic guitar company with a “feel good” story about a passion for music, you should see Breedlove. Breedlove was founded back in 1990 by two California luthiers – Larry Breedlove and Steve Henderson – who were looking to break free, experiment with designs and ideas, and essentially do their own thing.
They made their way to Oregon and originally ended very close to Bend, where their current headquarters are actually located. Bend is also where their top-end USA-made guitars are handcrafted. Their Discovery Series guitars are made in China and are much more affordable as a result.
Over the years, Breedlove has been out to redefine guitar-making by introducing Oregon Myrtlewood (a type of native wood) into acoustic construction and trying different body shapes. In general, Breedlove acoustics are a higher-end guitar.
However, the name isn’t as well known so one criticism is that Breedlove guitars don’t hold their value as well as other brands. So if you are thinking about resale, keep that in mind.
As for artists who play, Lisa Loeb (remember her?) and Chris Funk of The Decemberists have been known to pick up a Breedlove. If the brand interests you, check out their Legacy Series. They also have handcrafted acoustic guitars made with wood sustainability in mind (which is great for a brand to put into practice).
Last – but certainly not least – we have Yamaha. Founded back in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha, Yamaha has grown to become a very large, reputable multi-national company that manufactures products in a number of different industries.
Torakusu Yamaha first repaired a broken reed on an organ and so technically music was the first industry the company focused on. Today, music and music theory remains a top focus for the company through the production of pianos, stringed instruments, and other audio equipment.
Yamaha’s current headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan, and their top-end handcrafted acoustic guitars are produced in Japan. That said, other acoustic guitars are produced in Taiwan. As far as musicians who play a Yamaha acoustic, you’ll find Joe Bonamassa and Andy McKee. Chad Kroeger also plays/played a Yamaha – which is moderately funny because it’s Chad Kroeger.
If you’re searching for a new acoustic guitar, Yamaha is a great brand to check out if you are a beginner guitarist. That said, Yamaha has also begun to shed the stereotype that they are only for guitar students since they actually produce high-quality acoustics across the higher price ranges, too.
There are many Yamaha acoustic Series and models to try out. An LS6, A3R, or FG800 are just a small sample. Apparently some of the handcrafted Yamahas can play right up there with the big boys of Taylor and Martin. I don’t have experience with this but I am now curious enough to want to try one out.
Best Acoustic Guitar Brands FAQ
When you’re discussing some of the best acoustic guitar brands, there are often lots of questions to be asked. So, to be as helpful as possible, here’s our FAQ section where you can find the answers many people ask about this topic.
What are the best acoustic guitar brands in the world?
There are a number of top quality acoustic guitar brands around the world. Of note, the United States and Canada make great acoustic guitars, as does Japan, the U.K., Germany, Australia, and the Czech Republic, to name a few.
In an effort to not be too “North American-centric”, below you can find some of the best acoustic guitar brands divided up by country:
USA: Taylor, Martin, Guild, Gibson, Breedlove, Collins
Canada: Godin Guitars (owners of Seagull, Simon and Patrick, and Norman, among others), Larrivée
Japan: K.Yairi, Yamaha, Takamine, Morris Guitars
Germany: Albert & Müller, Lakewood Guitars
U.K.: Tanglewood Guitar
Australia: Maton, Cole Clark Guitars
Czech Republic: Furch Guitars, BSG Guitars
What are the best acoustic guitar brands for beginners?
One of the best acoustic guitar brands for beginners is Yamaha. Yes, Yamaha makes good guitars. Yamaha has a long history of making quality musical instruments and a long, mostly-true reputation of making “student guitars” for those learning. At a reasonable price point for a beginner guitarist, Yamaha acoustic guitars are good quality, intonation, with nice overall tones.
The worst thing to do as a beginner is to buy a cheap guitar and get discouraged when it sounds awful. Yamaha has your back when it comes to an entry-level acoustic guitar you can trust and learn on. Down the line, you can always consider graduating up from it as you progress or choose another Yamaha if you’re confident in the brand.
What are the best acoustic guitar brands for intermediate guitar players?
For intermediate guitar players, the best acoustic guitar brands are those that make a high-quality guitar at a slightly higher price point. You’ll be at a point where you’ll notice the improved built quality and intonation on a Seagull. You’ll also find a good intermediate guitar in some Yamahas.
For a greater jump in price, you might consider an acoustic guitar from Guild, Larrivée, or Breedlove. Of course, you can opt for a top brand but those acoustic guitars can get very pricey – as is the case for Martin, Taylor, or a guitar from a smaller boutique brand like Collins.
What are the best acoustic guitar brands for advanced players/professionals?
It would be easy to just say Martin and/or Taylor here because – let’s be serious – we wouldn’t be completely wrong. However, to exclude the other brands that create top guitars would be incorrect. A Gibson or a Collins Guitar might also be on the radar of an advanced guitar player.
Keep in mind that price doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality – but this is pretty true in the guitar world. At the price point professionals are usually looking to spend at, there is almost an endless amount of brands you could turn to for the highest quality acoustic guitars and even custom instruments.
For example, Albert & Müller only makes around 12 guitars in a calendar year so you can imagine the time to craft (and price tag) that goes along with them.
What are the best boutique acoustic guitar brands?
There are way too many boutique guitar brands out there. With so many experienced luthiers handcrafting incredible instruments/works of art, we’d never cover all of the best small guitar manufacturers.
That said, some smaller acoustic brands that have strong followings and craft top quality guitars are Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Collins, Honeybee Guitars, and Bourgeois Guitars.
For the Canadians, there are also a ton of small shops in Quebec and Ontario that produce high-end acoustic guitars. For example, Beneteau Guitars – located in Ontario – create custom guitars that start at $7000 USD.
Does Fender make good acoustic guitars?
Fender is absent from this list of best acoustic guitar brands because Fender makes great electric guitars. There is no denying their company credibility as a musical heavyweight and their role in shaping modern-day music.
However, their reputation with acoustic guitars is just too “hit or miss” for them to qualify among the best acoustic brands. “Best” begs for consistency and that is something Fender acoustics just don’t have. I even have a Fender acoustic and it’s a fine guitar – certainly not the best.
And there you have it – a rundown of the best acoustic guitar brands out there. Of course, there are some other really good acoustic guitar brands so don’t be turned off if the brand you love isn’t on here. Brands do change over time – for better or for worse – and so it’s always important to try out guitars, research well, and take the advice of others with a grain of salt.
As always, Happy Strumming,