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The D-18 is an icon in the entire world of acoustic guitars, let alone the Martin catalog. Huge names like Elvis Presley, Paul Simon and Kurt Cobain all chose the D-18 to be their dreadnought of choice, and we can see (and hear) why.
Acoustic guitars come in many different shapes and sizes, the most popular being Dreadnought, Grand Auditorium, and Parlor, among others. Each of these styles brings its own characteristics to the table, so consider them carefully when choosing the best acoustic guitar for you.
Generally speaking, the bigger the guitar, the bigger the sound. The smaller the guitar, the tighter, and more focused the sound. Perhaps that's obvious, but you'll want to consider the effect on tone too.
Dreadnought and Jumbo guitars generally deliver a deeper sound and increased bottom end due to their cavernous body sizes. These are a favorite of legendary solo singer-songwriters such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Sheryl Crow, as the increased volume and tone can make up for the lack of full-band accompaniment. This massive sound can get lost in a band situation though, as the extra bass and low mid frequencies interfere with a bass guitar or kick drum.
Bear in mind that the size not only affects the tone but also how comfortable the guitar is to play. So if you feel better playing a smaller guitar, then go for it. You have to be comfortable with your instrument.
You may not know if you'll ever want to plug into an acoustic guitar amp or even PA speakers, and, of course, you could always have a pickup installed at a later date. Still, we recommend opting for a steel string with an onboard pickup/preamp if it's within budget. As they say, it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!
The Fender CD-60S All-Mahogany is a good reminder of just how much guitar you can get for your money at the more affordable end of the market. We've come far since the days of high-action, poor tuning stability, and shoddy construction that used to mark out lower-priced models. Instead, we're offered a solid-wood mahogany top, laminated mahogany back/sides, and an inviting rolled fretboard edge.
There's no denying that Bob Marley wrote some of the greatest songs of all time, and through the '70s, his songwriting companion was his beloved Guild Madeira. Today Guild has brought the guitar back - sort of - in the form of the Guild A-20 Marley.
Featuring a gorgeous solid spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides, this guitar delivers the warmth and punch we demand from a large-bodied acoustic. The modern C-shaped neck - with a 25 " scale length - feels familiar, like an old friend, and is insanely comfortable to play.
We found the sound to be balanced rather than boomy, giving strummed chords the fullness that made the J-200's reputation. Expect articulate highs and a warm foundation in the bottom end. The slim 60s 'D' profile neck suits a wide variety of playing styles, but there's a definite lean toward rhythm guitar work here.
If you want to hear what this guitar can really do, then plug it into an acoustic guitar amp. The onboard Fishman Sonicore pickup delivers a sound fitting of one of the best cheap acoustic guitars. Throw in a solid top as well and this is, without a doubt, one of the best electro-acoustics around today.
The Mexican-made Mini is equally functional as both a travel-sized acoustic and "modern-day parlour guitar". Despite its small footprint, the GS Mini is no toy instrument: there's a solid Sitka spruce top, a faultless build quality and the setup is immaculate.
The slight, soft 'V' profile of the neck combined with narrow nut width makes this acoustic feel much more like an electric guitar, in spite of the standard 56mm string spacing. It gives the GS Mini a really comfortable playing feel, particularly when you're strumming chords, though fingerstyle players might prefer a little more room.
Harmonically speaking, it might not have the huge depth or width of the full-size dreadnought, but there's a punchy midrange and a slightly textured edge. It retains a Martin stamp: classic, old-school, and a fine picker's choice, too. Put simply, it's a cracking guitar, far from a Guitar Shaped Object.
Gibson's Generation collection of acoustic guitars sees a rare move from the guitar giants - releasing a US-made acoustic for under a grand. The Generation G-00 is the smallest model from the new line of spruce-topped acoustics, fitting firmly into the 'Parlour' body category, and there are some thoroughly interesting features that make this guitar stand out among the rest.
The Generation G-00 - much like the entire Generation collection - has two soundholes. The main one is where you'd expect it to be, slap bang in the middle of the solid Sitka spruce top, with the second one in the side of the guitar, aiming directly towards your face. Referred to as the Player Port, it's designed to give you, the player, more tonal feedback. It's no gimmick - and on loud stages or even just when you want to hear more of yourself, it works well.
The back and sides of this guitar are made from Walnut, which in our experience, provides warmth and depth but with a nice punchy brightness. Especially with the smaller body size, this tonal richness is important - and the G-00 provides plenty. Combined with an LR Baggs pickup, the Generation Collection G-00 is a real competitor in the race for the best acoustic guitar under $/1,000.
For us, the 214ce Plus is a highly comfortable, super playable grand auditorium acoustic guitar. Taylor is a manufacturer that constantly works to improve the ergonomics and feel of their instruments, and this is obvious - thanks to the slim profile of the mahogany neck and tasteful venetian cutaway.
Like many other acoustic guitars in this price bracket, a solid sitka spruce top makes an appearance, adding bags of power and brightness to the tone of this guitar. The back and sides are of laminated rosewood construction, and although a slightly curious option for a guitar north of a grand, the tonal influence is a positive one - more brightness, more clarity, and less woolly sounding low-end.
The A5R's rounded fretboard edges offer an enjoyable playing experience that mimics the feeling of guitars that have been played in to a degree and it has an ethereal quality in the high ranges, even though some treble resonance is traded with the lower action.
While the traditionally ornate decoration and blushing finish have been lovingly retained, this modern Montana incarnation offers a discrete LR Baggs Element VTC system for plug-in power. It is unlike many we have seen and produces a sound worthy of one of the best high end acoustic guitars around.
As we stated at the start of this guide, it is pretty difficult to buy a bad guitar in this day and age. So if the build quality of guitars is higher than it's ever been, what should be your primary concerns when buying a new instrument?
Acoustic guitars are some of the most subjective instruments out there. Every player has their own set of preferences - but there are a few key criteria every acoustic guitar should meet before we recommend it to our readers.
The first thing we look at is the overall build quality of the instrument. Does it feel strong, solid and like it can withstand hard playing? We need to make sure any acoustic guitar we recommend is sturdy and reliable, and won't let you down. How well does it all fit together? How good is the hardware? Is the level of finish up to scratch? These are all questions we seek the answers to during testing.
We then check the setup, and the level of finish of the guitar. We look at the action (the vertical distance between the strings and the fingerboard), and also the fretwork - to make sure there are no dead spots or sharp fret ends.
We've also got to test the sound of the guitar. For this, we play a variety of different styles including country style chicken-pickin', strumming with a plectrum and everything in between. We play throughout the whole dynamic range of the guitar, and listen to the tone and projection to make sure it's all as we'd expect.
Bigger-bodied guitars like the dreadnought and jumbos usually have a stronger bass response than smaller ones, as well as a tight top end. This leaves room for vocals to sit nicely in a mix. Smaller-bodied guitars like the concert are usually a little brighter and mid-focussed and grand concerts, which are the same shape but a little bigger, can provide a really nice balance. 041b061a72