Today’s post covers “12 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2,000 in 2023”. The list includes amazing instruments from brands like Martin, Taylor, Yamaha, Gretsch, Fender, Epiphone, Guild, Ibanez, and even Jasmine.
In a nutshell, here is ou list:
1. Yamaha JR1 3/4-size Dreadnought
5. Ibanez 6 String PC12MH OPN Grand Concert
6. Guild M-20 Concert Acoustic
9. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Acoustic Guitar
12. Martin LXK2 Little Martin (Koa)
A guitar is like an extension of a musician’s personality. It helps you express yourself in ways that you didn’t know you could. So, whether the idea is to learn the instrument, play at a family gathering, jam with friends, or if you’re looking to write music, you need a guitar around.
While electric guitars have their own sound and versatility, there’s no substitute for a great-sounding acoustic guitar in your axe collection. Regardless of the genre of music you play or your playing style, you need to have a decent acoustic guitar at hand to experiment with.
We have carefully selected some really suitable acoustic guitar options that may be ideal for musicians of all skill levels. From 3/4-sized guitars to dreadnoughts to concerts to orchestra-style guitars, the list has something for everybody.
12 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000 in 2023
1. Yamaha JR1 3/4-size Dreadnought
As evident by the name, the JR1 3/4-size dreadnought guitar is very small in size.
Yamaha has always been creative in its approach when providing affordable guitars that sound good. It all started with the Pacifica range, which gained immense popularity among beginner and intermediate-level guitar players.
The company is equally good at dishing out some impressive acoustic guitars that can be good candidates to get you started in your journey to being the next big thing in the realm of guitar playing.
- Body Construction
This tiny music wonder comes in a dreadnought shape. The top has a natural gloss finish with a nice-looking maroon pickguard surrounding the lower end of the sound hole. The top is made of spruce, whereas the sides and back are made from meranti. The good thing about meranti is that it’s cheaper than mahogany but sounds similar. Because of its smaller scale length, the instrument is much smaller than a full-sized dreadnought guitar. The Yamaha JR1 is fitted with steel strap locks on the base and neck joint.
- Neck and Bridge
Yamaha JR1 3/4-size has a neck made of nato with a rosewood fingerboard. Employing nato in the neck construction keeps the price of the instrument down. The fretboard sports 20 frets with white dot inlays. Since this is a junior guitar, its scale length is 21.25”, almost 3/4th the length found on regular acoustic guitars. The bridge on the JR1 3/4-size guitar is made of rosewood as well and has 6 plastic bridge pegs and a white plastic saddle.
The junior-shaped guitar from Yamaha has 6 open chrome Kluson-style tuners arranged on the headstock in a 3 x 3 formation. In addition, the instrument comes fitted with 12-gauge (0.012 – 0.053) steel strings. The Yamaha JR1 3/4-size junior guitar also comes with a black gig bag.
The spruce top on the guitar’s body is ideal for emphasizing the higher frequencies, which makes the treble response pronounced and sparkly. Paired with spruce, the meranti favors the mids just enough so you know they’re there. Although the guitar’s body is much smaller, the sound hole does a decent job projecting whatever is being played.
The Yamaha JR1 3/4-size Dreadnought is a good option to check out if you’re looking to buy your kid his first acoustic guitar. Being a parent, you automatically get drawn towards cheaper guitars because of the ever-changing interests of kids these days.
Suited more to children aged between 4 to 9 and being such an affordable instrument, the Yamaha JR1 could be the perfect guitar for your child. Furthermore, this 3/4-sized guitar is a travel-friendly instrument, so you may find a few older musicians playing it too.
Since the Yamaha JR1’s 3/4-size Dreadnought body is much smaller than the full-sized acoustic guitar, it doesn’t have the resonance, throw, or volume that larger instruments possess.
To keep it in an affordable range, Yamaha has used cheaper wood for the overall construction. Unfortunately, the attention to quality also lacks, and you may be able to spot some imperfections, like some glue near the neck joint and imperfect frets.
2. Fender CD-60S
Any instrument with the “Fender” logo on its headstock is bound to be a good purchase.
The “CD” stands for “Classic Design.” The CD series includes several acoustic guitar models, some of which offer a single cutaway too. There is also a variety of tonewoods, so you can choose what suits you the most.
These Fender acoustics are very affordable and not only look good but sound good too. You can use them for writing songs, jamming with friends, or just noodling at home to brush up your guitar-playing skills.
The CD-60S is a dreadnought-shaped no-cutaway acoustic guitar with a mahogany top and mahogany back and sides. The guitar also has a spruce top variation with slightly different sound characteristics. A unique feature of the CD-60S is its scalloped bracing under the mahogany top. This is when the wooden pieces used for bracing on the underside of the guitar’s top are carved to have depth in the middle. The gloss-finished guitar comes in different colors, including Black, Natural, and Mahogany. Also placed near the sound hole is a single-ply Fender-style black pickguard to protect the body from scratches. The strap nuts on the CD-60S are placed on the base and next to the guitar’s neck joint.
- Neck & Bridge
All the color variations of the CD-60S offer a mahogany neck with a walnut fingerboard. The guitar has a “C” profile neck with 20 frets that exhibit white dot inlays. The instrument has a Graph Tech NuBone nut with a width of 1.693”. Being a full-sized guitar, the CD-60S has a scale length of 25”. The good thing about the neck is that it has rolled edges on the fingerboard, which gives the guitar a more played-in feel making it smooth. The bridge on the CD-60S is made of rosewood and has a plastic saddle with plastic bridge pegs.
The guitar features 6 chrome tuners arranged on the headstock in a 3 x 3 formation. The instrument also comes with Fender Dura Tone 12-gauge strings (0.012 – 0.053). Also hidden inside the neck of the CD-60S is a dual-action truss rod to give you more flexibility regarding neck adjustment.
Since the guitar lacks a cutaway design, the sound chamber is bigger and has louder/better sound projection with a good bass response. The scalloped design of the guitar top lets it resonate more, enhancing the response in the lower frequencies. Since the body parts are made of mahogany, the guitar offers just enough treble response with great clarity in the mid-range.
The CD-60S is an adequately priced instrument that targets beginner and intermediate-level players. The guitar looks good and has a decent sound delivery for any occasion. If you’re looking for an acoustic with full-bodied bass response, the CD-60S could be it.
The neck’s rolled-off edges give you the feel of a more expensive instrument. However, the neck is on the thinner side, making it suitable for younger players too.
Contrary to some other beginner-level guitars, the CD-60S does not come with a gig bag. The mahogany/spruce top feels quite thin. The guitar will require some setting up as the action it comes with may be higher for some players.
There are some other quality control issues, too, like you may be able to detect some glue where the neck joins the body. Also, since there is no cutaway on the body, those pesky lower frets are harder to reach.
3. Martin D-15M
The D-15M is one of Martin’s more popular guitars regarding sales and user reviews.
You can say that the D-15M is modeled after the more expensive D-28 as it borrows many features from the more expensive variant but at a fraction of the cost. Martin’s D-15M offers great value for the money spent.
Although much more expensive than the other two acoustic guitars discussed thus far, the Martin is in a class of its own, as you would imagine. In addition, the materials used in making the D-15M are top-of-the-line, so you can expect it to sound impressive.
- Body Construction
Some acoustic guitars use different tonewoods for their top, sides, and back. However, the Martin D-15M is made of mahogany through and through. The guitar has a dreadnought design with no cutaway on the body. The instrument comes in a unique Natural Satin Finish, which looks quite appealing paired with the dark maroon tortoiseshell pickguard. The underside of the D-15M’s top has an A-Frame X Scalloping, which involves 5/16” Sitka Spruce. Martin has its own approach to the X Scalloping on its guitars, varying distances from the sound hole for different sound characteristics. The body of the D-15M acoustic guitar measures 20” x 15.625” x 4.875” and has an overall length of 40.5”. Strangely you won’t find any strap locks on the D-15M.
- Neck & Bridge
The D-15M has a modified low oval neck made of solid mahogany. The neck has a scale length of 25.4” and a 16” radius. The D-15’s fingerboard is made of Indian rosewood and offers 20 frets, 14 of which can be easily accessed, while the other 6 are harder to reach due to its design limitations. The frets have tiny diamond inlays, which look rather nice. The instrument features a bone nut having a width of 1.69”. The bridge on the D-15M is also made of Indian rosewood and has a white bone saddle with a 16” compensated radius. The bridge also has 6 ebony bridge pins.
The D-15M from Martin comes with Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze strings which are of a medium gauge variety. Furthermore, the guitar comes with open-geared nickel tuners with butterbean knobs. Another great addition to the package is a hard-shell case lined with felt to protect the guitar when not in use.
- Character & Sound
So many aspects come into play to make an instrument sound like it does. The Phosphor Bronze strings on the D-15M are made of copper/tin and are very bright in their sound. Secondly, since almost everything on the guitar is made of mahogany, it provides a warm sound with a balanced response across the frequency spectrum. Finally, you’ll get that woodsy bass sound that Martin guitars are famous for because of the D-15 M’s superior construction. The top end has excellent clarity without being too shrill or tinny.
When getting a Martin instrument, you’re coughing up the dough to get that high-end typical Martin sound, and the D-15M doesn’t disappoint at all in this regard, even though it’s one of the more affordable models.
The volume and sound projection are fantastic, and you’ll enjoy the warmth an all-mahogany body can deliver. The guitar doesn’t require much setup and is ready to go. Also, the hard shell is a great addition to the package.
Some beginner-level musicians may stay clear of the Martin D-15M because of the bigger price tag compared to the other guitars on the list. Also, the guitar’s design is fairly simple, and you won’t find any strap locks on the body.
Another thing to consider here is that you can get a decent semi-acoustic guitar with electronics on board at such a price. So, you may want to invest according to your needs and preference.
4. Yamaha FG830 Dreadnought
Yamaha has been manufacturing impressive acoustic guitars for many decades.
After the success of the immensely popular FG730, Yamaha brings you the FG830, which is a new and improved version of its predecessor. The enhancements not only make the newer model better sounding, but it plays well too.
The FG830 is a quality instrument with no sharp edges on the frets and a rolled-off fretboard that makes playing the guitar smooth and enjoyable. The neck is set neatly on the body, and the tonewood used in the body construction brings up a lot of tonal character.
The guitar has a body that stays true to its heritage but employs some modern touches to stay more stylish and current. Having a dreadnought body, the FG830 has cream binding going all around its top and back and to the sides of the neck onto the headstock. Also, surrounding the sound hole is an abalone inlay that gives the feel of a much more expensive guitar. You’ll also find a maroon tortoiseshell pickguard on the top that enhances its natural gloss appearance. The guitar comes in Autumn Burst and Tobacco Burst, which look equally classy. Coming to the body construction, the FG830 has a spruce top with scalloped bracing and rosewood back and sides. Finally, if you wish to play while standing up, you’ll find traditional strap locks on the base and neck joints of the FG830.
- Neck & Bridge
The FG830’s neck is made of nato or Eastern mahogany. It has a wonderful smooth satin finish on the back, so your hands can easily glide over it without sticking to it. The neck has a 15.7” radius and a scale length of 25.5”. Near the headstock, the strings rest on a urea nut that has a 1.69” width. The rosewood fingerboard accommodates 20 frets with white dot inlays. The bridge on the FG830 is also made of rosewood and has a urea saddle. The bridge supports some good quality graph tech tusq bridge pins.
Regarding the hardware, the Yamaha FG830 uses 6 3 x 3 diecast chrome tuners that do a good job of keeping the instrument in tune. Installed on the Yamaha FG830 are 12-gauge (0.012 – 0.053) phosphor bronze strings. The neck conceals a truss rod that can be accessed at the base of the neck through the sound hole.
- Character & Sound:
The improvements of the FG730 model make for a warmer sound delivery with balanced tones, which will sound even better as the wood ages and matures. In addition, the bracing under the spruce top gives way to a punchier sound with a louder projection. As tonewoods go, spruce is known to have a little extra emphasis when it comes to the higher frequencies, which makes the sound just the right amount of chimey and bright but not piercingly shrill.
This full-sized Yamaha guitar is an excellent combination of a classic design with new bells and whistles. Learning from the shortcomings of its predecessors, the Yamaha company has equipped the FG830 with modern-style bracing to enhance its sound.
The sound projections and quality will fool you into thinking that you’re playing a much more high-end guitar that costs a ton of dough. The ever-affordable Yamaha FG830 is great for guitar players of all skill levels.
Since it is a full-scale guitar, the Yamaha FG830 may not be suitable for younger guitar players who could benefit more from the Yamaha ¾ scale guitar discussed earlier. In addition, some users have claimed that the guitar comes with high action, which requires a proper setup.
Furthermore, the FG830 doesn’t have a cutaway design, so the guitar may sound fuller and exhibit more resonance, but at the same time makes it quite difficult to reach those higher notes on the fretboard.
5. Ibanez 6 String PC12MH OPN Grand Concert
Ibanez is a name associated with some of the highest-rated guitars out there.
The company has been in the acoustic guitar business since 1908 and has gotten very good at it over the years. Ibanez acoustic guitars come in all shapes, sizes, and variations, but their unique selling point is how affordable these instruments are.
Built to last, the Ibanez PC12MH is a great instrument for beginners and traveling musicians who need a decent acoustic guitar around to get creative on the go. And you really won’t be spending too much to get your hands on the PC12M.
The Ibanez 6 String PC12MH is a grand concert-shaped instrument. The guitar has an Okoume top and Okoume back and sides. The Open Pore Natural finish looks great paired with the black pickguard and ring-adorned sound hole. If you want to attach a strap to the guitar, you can tie it near the nut and use the single strap button on the bottom of the instrument.
- Neck & Bridge
The Ibanez PC12MH has a nyatoh neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The first 14 frets can be freely accessed, while the rest are challenging to reach because of the guitar’s non-cutaway design. You’ll find a plastic nut with a 1.65-inch width on the neck. Finally, the PC12MH has a scale length of 25.6 inches. The bridge on the guitar is also made of rosewood and has an angled compensated saddle. The bridge pins seem to be made of ebony.
The instrument has 6 open-gear tuners that do what they’re supposed to and hold tuning well. As is a standard feature on most reasonably priced acoustics, hidden inside the PC12MH’s neck is a truss rod that can be accessed through the sound hole. Finally, the guitar comes with 12-gauge strings.
- Character & Sound
The guitar has a decent sound that appears to offer good detail in the treble and bass frequencies with a somewhat subdued mid-range response. The PC12MH is clear in its sound delivery, although it lacks a bit of loudness and resonance.
The PC12MH from Ibanez can be a good choice for beginner-level musicians because of its affordability and features. In addition, the overall sound is sufficient for casually playing at home or at a gathering with friends.
The guitar’s volume is a bit on the mellow side for its size. To make this guitar available at such a low price point, Ibanez has had to cut a few corners. The appearance is very basic, with no binding around the neck.
You’re also likely to find a lot of rough edges on the frets to the point where you might risk getting cuts on your fingers. The frets also lack an even polish because of which string bends won’t be so smooth.
6. Guild M-20 Concert Acoustic
The classic M-20 acoustic guitar was originally released back in 1967, the golden era of music.
This guitar has a more compact look but sounds very impressive because of its full-bodied tone. The M-20 was famously used in the recording of Nick Drake’s album “Bryter Layter,” released in the 1970s.
Something worth mentioning here is that although this is the much more current version of the M-20 acoustic guitar, it sounds exactly like the acoustic tones from the Bryter Layter album, which shows how Guild hasn’t wavered from its exceptional quality control.
- Neck & Bridge
The M-20 has a comfortable C-profile neck which is slightly flatter than the usual C-shaped neck, which makes it very comfortable to play. The fingerboard is made of rosewood and is set on top of a mahogany neck. The M-20 has a 12-inch neck radius and, contrary to some full-sized guitars, has a smaller scale length of 24.75”. The guitar offers 20 frets which are marked with Pearloid dot inlays. On the guitar, you’ll also find a bone nut with a 1.75” width. The M-20 has a straight rosewood bridge with a bone saddle and 6 bone bridge pins which is a nice touch. Also, on the headstock, you’ll find inlaid in mother of pearl the “Guild” peak logo and a screwed-on truss rod cover which you usually associate with an electric guitar.
The M-20 has a smaller body, and the overall length of the guitar comes to 39”. The body measures 18” from top to bottom and 13.75” across (widest point). The varying depth ranges from 4.12” to 3.25”. The M-20 is a “concert” shaped guitar with a solid mahogany top and mahogany back and sides. Under the mahogany top is some X-bracing done in Sitka spruce, strengthening the top and the guitar’s sound. The guitar comes in Vintage Sunburst and has a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Unfortunately, the M-20 doesn’t come with strap holds, so you’ll have to play this one sitting down.
The M-20 comes with vintage-looking open-gear tuners with a 20:1 ratio. Also installed on this concert-shaped guitar, are six light gauge coated Phosphor Bronze strings. Being an expensive higher-end guitar, the package also includes a sturdy hard-shell case, nicely padded with some black felt lining.
- Character & Sound
The M-20 sound is warm and rich owing to its phosphor bronze strings. For its size, the M-20 projects sound surprisingly well. The all-mahogany body brings its own warmth to the fore. Although the sound is not very deep regarding the bass response, the guitar compensates for that with great clarity among all frequency levels. If you’re into that woody, dry sound that comes to life with every pick stroke, the M-20 delivers it in style.
The M-20 gives you all the warm goodness associated with a guitar fully built from mahogany. The phosphor bronze strings complement the sound characteristics of the tonewood very nicely.
The open-gear tuners are a great addition to the M-20 as they hold tuning exceptionally well. The hard shell guitar case does a great job of protecting the instrument and has a built-in moistener that will have your mahogany guitar sounding pristine for years.
Firstly, the most obvious downside of the M-20 could be the steep price. Although the guitar may have no flaws in the true sense of the word, some of you may prefer a different instrument for a few reasons worth mentioning here.
Firstly, the concert-shaped body is smaller than usual, so you get a mellow-sounding instrument in the M-20. Secondly, the guitar doesn’t have strap locks or a cutaway design, in case you’re a fan of soloing down to the higher frets standing on a live stage.
7. Taylor BT2
Speaking from personal experience, Taylor has some of the nicest-sounding acoustic guitars.
The Taylor company was founded in the mid-70s and has been delivering premium acoustic and semi-hollow-bodied electric guitars ever since. The sound these amazing guitars produce has helped the company to carve out a huge fan following.
Any guitar collection would be incomplete without a proper acoustic guitar. While a little on the expensive side, Taylor offers some budget options as well, which are tonally gifted and borrow some of the features of the higher-end instruments in the Taylor line.
The Taylor BT2, also known as the Taylor “Baby” Mahogany acoustic guitar, is much smaller. The overall length of the instrument is just 33.75 inches. The guitar has a body length of 15.75”, a width of 12.5”, and a depth of just 3.375”. The Taylor Baby comes in a dreadnought shape with a Natural varnish finish. The top is made of American mahogany, while the guitar features Sapele back and sides. The mahogany top is laced with an X-bracing on its underside. The sound hole is adorned with a laser-etched pattern to give the guitar a modern look, whereas the BT2 doesn’t have a pickguard. Finally, the strap nuts are located near the neck joint and at the bottom of the guitar.
- Neck & Bridge
The Taylor BT2 has a neck made of American mahogany paired with an ebony fingerboard. The fretboard has a 15-inch radius and features a Tusq nut with a width of 1.69”. The fingerboard supports 19 junior frets with Pearloid dot inlays. Being a smaller-scaled guitar, the scale length on the BT2 is 22 ¾ inches long. The BT2 has a Lexan headstock with the “Taylor” logo without mentioning the guitar’s model number. Hidden inside the neck is an adjustable truss rod which can come in handy for neck adjustments and can be accessed through the sound hole. The BT2 uses a micarta bridge with 6 bridge pins made of ebony.
On the Lexan headstock are 6 enclosed chrome-plated diecast tuners arranged in a 3 x 3 formation. In addition, the guitar comes with some very nice sounding Elixer Nanoweb Light Gauge strings measuring 0.012 – 0.053 inches. Also included with the Taylor Baby BT2 guitar is the infamous Taylor gig bag, which is nicely padded and has pockets and straps for added convenience.
- Character & Sound
Even though the BT2 is a ¾ scale guitar that may even be mistaken to be a toy, it’s the real deal regarding sound. Some full-sized guitars cannot project the sound that the BT2 delivers with ease. The Elixer Nanoweb strings sound brand new even after years of playing and deliver rich tones with considerable warmth when the lower strings are played. The smaller scale length facilitates some crazy bends, so you can play blues solos to your heart’s content. The BT2’s construction allows it to deliver warm-sounding chords and shiny, sparkly tones when moving toward the higher notes.
For the price, the guitar has a lot to offer. It is deceptively loud compared to the size of the body and delivers great tones with amazing clarity. In addition, the BT2 has ideally sized frets and a very comfortable neck so that you can play for hours.
The shorter scale length can be equally comfortable for some of the younger musicians, who are dedicated learners and want a great-sounding instrument that will last for years. Finally, the BT2 can be an excellent travel guitar for seasoned musicians.
The guitar has two ugly-looking screws on the 16th fret where the neck meets the body, which is unusual for most guitars. While it can be useful when on the road, the smaller scale length and body size may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Again, if you want to do some acoustic soloing, which on these strings and nicely playable neck you would like to, you’ll wish there was a cutaway so you could reach down to the end of the fretboard.
8. Epiphone J-45 Studio VS
Over the years, Epiphone has treated the guitar world to amazing yet affordable instruments.
The J-24 is part of the “Inspired by Gibson” collection of instruments, so it is a replica of the much more expensive version from the Gibson line. However, the materials used in the construction are slightly low-end to keep the price under control.
However, not to take anything away from the J-24’s performance as it is worth considering due to the attention to detail and how accurately this budget acoustic guitar can mimic something 3 or 4 times more expensive.
The Epiphone J-45 Studio VS has a slightly modified dreadnought shape. The body is a bit round on both sides of the neck joint rather than having more pronounced shoulders. This particular Epiphone acoustic guitar has mahogany back and sides, while the top is made of Sitka spruce with some quarter spawn spruce bracing underneath. The guitar comes in an Aged Vintage Sunburst and Natural color variations, both of which offer a gloss finish. Additionally, the guitar has a maroon tortoiseshell pickguard with the Epiphone “E” logo made of metal. The J-45 Studio also has white binding on the edge of the guitar’s body, which looks especially great on the Vintage Sunburst guitar version.
- Neck & Bridge
The J-24 Studio VS by Epiphone has a slim tapered D-shaped neck profile with a 12.1-inch radius. The neck has a dovetail joint glued to the body, which keeps it firmly in place. The rosewood fingerboard rests on a mahogany neck and has 20 medium jumbo frets marked with white Pearloid dot inlays. Also, the guitar is a full-sized instrument with a 25.5-inch scale length. Since the J-24 is a budget-friendly guitar, the nut is made of plastic and has a width of 1.69”. The strings rest on a mahogany bridge with a plastic saddle and 6 plastic bridge pins. The J-24 has a compensated bridge and offers varying scale lengths to different strings for accurate intonation.
The J-24 has nickel-plated Kidney style premium tuners arranged on the headstock 3 x 3. In addition, the guitar’s neck is equipped with a truss rod that can be adjusted by unscrewing the bell-shaped cover on the headstock rather than through the sound hole. Finally, the strap buttons are found on the bottom of the guitar and the side of the neck heel.
The J-24 offers a very detailed sound. The Highs are profound but not shrill, the mids are nicely even, and the lows are deep and warm. Even though the instrument has a slightly rounded, compact body, the sound projection is good, and the guitar is loud enough. The spruce top is equally expressive for playing aggressive chords with a pick or mellow fingerpicking melodies. The mahogany back and sides add to the warmth of the instrument.
The quality control on the J-24 is impeccable. The frets are nicely filed to eliminate sharp edges, and the nut is equally smooth on both sides. The guitar comes well set up with a nice action and is ready to play right away.
Both color finishes look exceptional, especially the Vintage Sunburst gloss, which boasts the look of a more high-end guitar under stage lights. The neck profile has a great feel and is equally suitable for chord work and fingerpicking.
The slightly rounded, compact shape the J-24 offers may be something that guitarists used to playing jumbo-sized guitars may choose to steer clear of. You may also feel that the guitar lacks in loudness compared to some larger guitars.
9. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Acoustic Guitar
Gretsch has been around for years, providing some cutting-edge musical instruments for the modern player.
The G9500 Jim Dandy acoustic guitar does a great job of resurrecting the Rex parlor guitars made famous by Gretsch back in the 40s and 50s. The guitar looks good and delivers some classic tones, all at a very manageable price point.
Its diminutive size gives the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy enhanced portability, so you play it at home or a bonfire with friends. It is also a great option for traveling musicians who need an instrument when inspiration hits the road.
The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy has a set neck that offers a C-shaped profile and a radius of 12 inches. The neck is made of nato or Eastern mahogany and has a walnut fingerboard. Since the G9500 has a slightly smaller scale length measuring 24 inches, the guitar has only 18 vintage-style frets, out of which 12 have free access. The fingerboard has large-sized white Pearloid dot inlays. Having a width of 1.69”, the nut on the G9500 is made of synthetic bone. The good thing about the neck is that it has a semi-gloss finish on the back, which helps the fretting hand easily glide over it. The neck also has black binding on the sides, which goes well with the guitar’s overall appearance. Finally, the guitar features a classic 1950’s headstock with a “Gretsch” logo next to the words “Jim Dandy.”
The Gretsch G9500 has a “Jim Dandy” body shape similar to a concert guitar. The rounded shoulders offer a no-cutaway design. The guitar comes in two colors: a Frontier Satin, which has a wooden finish look, and a 2 Color Sunburst, which combines maroon and black. Both color variations come in a semi-gloss finish. The Jim Dandy also comes in a limited edition Nocturn Blue which is rather hard to find. The guitar is completely made of basswood, so you get a basswood top with an X bracing on the underside and basswood back and sides. The aged white bracing surrounding the G9500 goes nicely with the white pickguard, adorned with the “G” Gretsch logo. The sound hole is surrounded by black and white rings to give the guitar a more modern look. The G9500 has two vintage-style end-pin strap buttons if you want to play standing up. Finally, having a smaller size, the guitar’s body measures 17.875” in length and 3.75” in depth.
The G9500 comes with a traditional-looking bridge made of walnut. The bridge is loaded with a synthetic bone compensated saddle that offers better intonation for different stings thanks to its capability of providing different scale lengths for the high E, G, and B strings. Also, you won’t find any bridge pins the on the guitar as the strings are threaded through the back of the bridge.
The G9500 has 6 open-gear diecast tuners arranged 3 x 3 on the headstock. The headstock is labeled “Steel Reinforced Neck,” which indicates that the neck is loaded with a truss rod. The truss rod can be adjusted by using the truss rod wrench that comes with the G9500. Also installed on the guitar are some 12-gauge (0.012 – 0.053) D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze strings.
- Sound Characteristics
The smaller body and the basswood construction of the guitar give it a brighter sound with a bit of twang, making it ideal for some fingerstyle guitar work. The good thing about the G9500 is that it projects sounds quite well, considering how small it is. In addition, the Phosphor Bronze strings give the guitar airy and warm sound characteristics.
The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy 24 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar is a nicely made compact acoustic guitar which can be a great choice for younger enthusiasts looking for a decent guitar to learn.
The body material and Phosphor Bronze strings make the guitar ideal for playing Blues, Bluegrass, and Folk music. In addition, the G9500 Jim Dandy is a great candidate for a travel guitar as it sounds great and can be easily carried around.
The rounded C-shaped neck is a bit chunkier and may feel uncomfortable to some guitar players. Due to its compactness, the guitar seems to have an overly boxy sound, so if that isn’t something you prefer, you may choose to go in another direction.
10. Martin 000-15M
Here’s another instrument from Martin’s amazing mid/high-range acoustic guitars.
By the looks of it, the Martin 000-15M keeps things very simple. You won’t find anything too flashy on the body, like binding or fancy sound hole adornments. Instead, the 000-15M is designed after a stripped-back version of Martin guitars available in the depression era.
In doing so, Martin has done a good job in keeping the 000-15M in an affordable price range, depending solely on the guitar’s quality and sound characteristics to woo their target audience. And the Martin 000-15M does that quite effectively.
- Neck & Bridge
The Martin 000-15M has a bone nut with a width of 1.69 inches. The neck widens as you move your hand down to the neck joint and measures 2.125 inches around the 12th fret. The guitar’s neck is solid mahogany and has an East Indian rosewood fingerboard with small diamond-shaped inlays. You get a total of 20 frets on the guitar, with 14 of them having clear access. The Martin 000-15M offers a modified low oval neck shape and has a satin finish on the back for smooth playability. The guitar offers a scale length of 25.4”. Finally, the 000-15M has a belly-style bridge made of East Indian rosewood. The bridge features black ebony pins and a compensated saddle for accurate intonation.
- Body Construction & Appearance
The 000-15M acoustic guitar from Martin has a solid mahogany top that features Martin’s famous A-frame “X” shaped bracing underneath made of Sitka spruce. Having a rather simple design, the 000-15M comes in Natural satin finish. The sound hole is surrounded by a single ring on the edge, of which you’ll find the maroon tortoiseshell pickguard. The back and sides of the guitar are also made of solid mahogany. Finally, the 000-15M doesn’t have any strap buttons, so you’re out of luck if you like playing your acoustic guitar while standing.
Martin’s 000-15M comes with a solid square taper headstock with a head plate made of East Indian rosewood. The headstock sports the “Martin” logo on it and has 6 nickel open-gear tuning machines with butterbean knobs. In addition, the guitar comes with some light gauge Martin Studio Phosphor Bronze strings. The package also includes a 330 hard shell case.
- Sound Characteristics
The 000-15M delivers some trademark Martin sounds musicians worldwide have fallen in love with over the years. The guitar has that profound woody sound that makes your fingerpicking seem very detailed and crisp. The mahogany construction is ideal for delivering warm-sounding tones. Furthermore, the guitar seems to have a balanced response, so you won’t need to EQ anything while recording, as the 000-15M sounds great on its own. Finally, the guitar’s sound projection and loudness are exceptional.
The folks at Martin are the best in the business in coming up with instruments that sound amazingly good and cover all the basics in terms of quality, and the Martin 000-15M acoustic guitar is a great example of that.
The guitar produces sound with great clarity and crispness and is ideal for chord work, fingerpicking, or even acoustic soloing. If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar that has a well-rounded tone without being too shrill or too bassy, the 000-15M is a no-brainer.
Some connoisseurs out there may prefer a guitar with a Sitka spruce top to get a more profound bass & treble response. Also, the guitar is a bit expensive, so you may think twice if you’re at the start of your guitar journey and unsure if you’ll be able to go the distance.
Furthermore, if you’re into appearances, the Martin 000-15 M’s look seems plain and unimpressive, so you may think it’s a much more modestly priced, lower-end instrument.
11. Jasmine S34C NEX
Jasmine has been known to dish out some quality best-selling steel string acoustic guitars.
The Jasmine brand specializes in all kinds of acoustic guitars, including dreadnoughts, orchestras, auditoriums, minis, and classic/Spanish variations, all of which are priced modestly and within reach of players of all skill levels.
The S34C NEX uses innovative bracing techniques to deliver some pleasing tones thanks to its resonant body construction. The bracing is done in a way so that the instrument remains light but gives that true grand orchestra feels.
The Jasmine S34C NEX is a grand orchestra-style acoustic guitar, making it slightly smaller than a dreadnought guitar. You’ll notice that the curves on the body are more pronounced. The guitar has a cutaway design, so you can easily access all the available frets. The top is spruce, while Sapele is used for the back and sides. The guitar has a couple of diecast strap buttons, one placed on the side of the neck heel and the other at the instrument’s base. The sound hole on the spruce top is nicely decorated with several rings around it, and the guitar also has a black teardrop pickguard that looks rather nice on the Natural gloss finish. Hidden on the underside of the spruce top is Jasmine’s advanced “X” bracing system with a forward shift closer to the sound hole to give the guitar some unique tonal qualities.
- Neck and Bridge
The Jasmine S34C NEX has a nato neck with a rosewood fretboard. Being a full-sized guitar, the Jasmine S34C NEX has a 25.5-inch scale length. The fretboard offers 20 medium frets with Pearloid dot fret markings. Being a more budget instrument, the S34C NEX features a synthetic bone nut with a width of 1.75 inches. The guitar also features a rosewood bridge with a synthetic bone saddle and 6 synthetic bone bridge pins. The saddle is of the compensated variety, has notches, and is angled to offer better intonation.
The S34C NEX acoustic guitar comes with 6 diecast chrome tuners arranged in a 3 x 3 formation on the headstock that bears the vertically oriented “Jasmine” logo. In addition, the guitar has 6 Phosphor Bronze light gauge (0.012 – 0.053) strings.
- Character & Sound
Since the S34C NEX is slightly smaller than a dreadnought guitar, the shape has a direct influence on its sound delivery. As a result, the guitar is a bit more mellow sounding and may not be as loud as the dreadnought variation. Having said that, the sound quality is good, with a balanced response along the entire frequency range. The forward favoring bracing gives way to an open sound with more detail and clarity. In addition, the guitar’s spruce top resonates more freely thanks to the scalloped brace design.
Being one of the cheapest guitars on the list, the S34C NEX can be a good addition to your guitar collection. If you’re looking to experiment with a grand orchestra-shaped guitar that offers a slightly different sound, the S34C NEX could be a good start.
This guitar can also be a good option for beginners because of the low price tag and decent tonal abilities. In addition, the tuners are solid and will hold tuning well.
Although the guitar looks good out of the box, it will require a proper setup. The S34C NEX may have many fret problems, including unevenness and fret buzz. Also, in most cases, the action of the strings may be quite high.
Also, the orchestra shape may not be for everyone from the aesthetic point of view and what the guitar offers tonally. The volume and sound projection are not as good as a larger-bodied acoustic guitar.
12. Martin LXK2 Little Martin (Koa)
Martin has this innate quality of delivering instruments featuring an out-of-the-box approach.
Perhaps one of the most unique guitars on today’s list, this Little Martin comes from Martin’s “X” series, which features guitars that may look like they’re made of wood but use different materials for the body and neck construction.
Having said that, you would be wrong to judge this book by its cover as it has a lot to offer, contrary to its smallish presence. Once you try this instrument out, you’ll surely give it the respect it commands.
The body, including the top, back, and sides, is made from high-pressure laminate, which is designed to mimic the woodgrain of Koa. The laminate top is paired with a modified crowned X brace specific to the X series. As the name suggests, the LXK2 Little Martin is a tiny guitar with an overall length of just 34 inches, which means that the body’s dimensions come down to a 15-inch length, a 12-inch width, and just a 3-inch depth. The Little Martin has a strap button on the neck heel and one on its base. The top is simple, with no pickguard and just a white ring design around the sound hole. The LXK2 comes in a Natural satin finish.
- Neck & Bridge
The Little Martin has a natural Stratabond neck. The neck has a modified low oval shape and offers a 16-inch radius. The fingerboard is made of Richlite and comes with 14 accessible frets, while there are 20 frets in total. The frets are devoid of any fret markings. The guitar has a slightly smaller length of 23-inches. You’ll also find a white Corian nut with a 1.69-inch width on the neck. Coming towards the rest of the features, the guitar has an East Indian Rosewood bridge with a compensated Tusq saddle. The bridge pins are also made of Tusq material.
The Little Martin LXK2 comes with Lifespan 2.0 Phosphor Bronze 13-gauge strings (0.013 – 0.056) which have been engineered with an anti-corrosion treatment so the strings withstand the test of time and maintain their tone longer. The guitar also has Gotoh Nickel tuning machines that hold tuning well. Finally, the Little Martin comes with a nicely padded black gig bag adorned with the martin logo.
- Character & Sound
The materials used to construct the LXK2 give it a friendly sound that is not overly trebly or shrill and not too bassy either. Its tiny size makes the LXK2 a mellow instrument which a decent sustain and warm tones. The bass response is just right for fingerpicking and arpeggiated riffs.
If you’re living in an environment exposed to extreme temperatures, an instrument made of high-pressure laminate can be an excellent choice. Since the Little Martin is made of HPL, it is highly resistant to temperature changes, humidity, and scratches.
The Martin LXK2 sounds great for its size and the quality of the fretwork, and other aspects of the instrument offer a premium feel. The gig bag is a good addition as this tiny guitar is an excellent travel mate when you’re on the road.
For someone who relies heavily on fret markings to navigate the neck, it’ll take some time to get familiar with the barren fingerboard. In addition, the HPL surface is brittle and will leave you with hard-to-repair sharp edges if the guitar suffers any dings.
While a smaller instrument like the Little Martin is very convenient, it cannot be expected to match the projection and loudness of a larger instrument that uses solid tonewoods.
How To Choose Acoustic Guitar
Choosing the right acoustic guitar is a very delicate process and requires your utmost attention. First, you must be clear about why the guitar is required. The answer to this question will shape your decision and will help you pick out the guitar that can serve you for years to come.
One of the most important aspects of an acoustic guitar is the material used in its construction. An acoustic guitar’s body has a top, a back, and sides which could be made from the same material or a combination of different types of wood depending on the goal in terms of sound.
Some guitars are made of solid wood, while others are made from laminate, where different layers of wood are pressed together to form a single layer. While solid wood has a richer sound, laminate is more long-lasting and is unaffected by harsh weather and humidity.
Since different tonewoods offer different sound characteristics, you need to know what kind of sound you’re after. That will surely narrow it down to a handful of instruments to make your decision easier. Some popular wood choices are listed below, with a brief overview of their tonal abilities:
Pale complexion with a light grain.
Commonly used for top and bracing. Has a balanced tone with warmth, bright resonance and good sound projection/volume. Combines well with other wood types.
Darker complexion, denser than Spruce.
Warm and mellow tone. Commonly used on nylon string guitars.
Darker wood with a more obvious wood grain.
Very warm sound with pronounced bass, punchy wooden tone with a lot of projection. Ideal for fingerpicking style of playing.
Dark appearance with a wider grain. On the expensive side.
Commonly used for guitar back, sides, fingerboard and bridge. Offers great reverb with complex harmonics.
Much lighter appearance, hard and dense wood.
Bright punchy tone with great clarity and loads of projection.
Darker wood with a mild grain.
Brighter than mahogany, sound delivery gets even better with age.
So, once you’re reasonably sure which combination of tonewoods will get you the sound you want, the next step would be to surf the internet and shortlist some guitars (ideally 2 – 3), so you can try them out at your local guitar store.
Before buying, make sure the guitar looks brand new without dings or scratches. Also, quickly check all the notes on the fretboard to ensure no buzzing. Finally, check the sides of the nut and frets to make sure that there aren’t any sharp edges.
The neck needs to be inspected thoroughly so you can identify if it is warped or has other issues that may grow into bigger problems in the future. Finally, the ultimate test would be to play the instrument and see if it delivers the sound you’re looking for.
So now you know what each acoustic guitar brings to the table. The smaller-bodied guitars like the Little Martin, Yamaha Jr-1, and Taylor BT2 can be great guitars for younger players and musicians who are on the move and need a travel-ready guitar.
If you want to experiment with a different shape and the sound variation that comes with it, the Jasmine S34C, Gretsch G9500, Epiphone J-45 Studio, Guild M-20, and Ibanez PC12MH are all great choices.
Acoustic guitars like the Fender CD-60S, Martin D-15M, and Yamaha FG830 all come in a pure dreadnought shape and offer a bigger, more profound sound delivery. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your preference and requirement. Any of these guitars can be a good companion and help you in your quest to become an exceptionally good guitar player.
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Sultan Zafar is a guitar player from Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been playing music with various mainstream musicians for over 20 years. He is a song writer and music producer. These days he spends his time exploring different music genres and collaborating with fellow musicians on various projects. Read more..