8. Norman Studio ST40 Folk
After receiving over 50,000 votes across 11 categories, this year's Total Guitar readers' polls were fiercely competitive. Now, the results have been tallied, and we're ready to announce what you voted the finest gear and guitarists of 2015.
The acoustic guitar continued its unstoppable rise in 2015, thanks to a bevy of high-profile stars and their strummers. We've seen some cracking instruments come through our doors this year, from downsized dreadnoughts to USB-equipped electros, starting with…
Norman Studio ST40 Folk
At the top of Norman's line is the Studio range, tipping the scales at just over a grand. It's a slightly trimmer collection, with just six models offered – five dreadnoughts, including two cutaways, and this lone folk-size, which is also the one to come with a slotted headstock and no pickguard.
Based on classical guitar proportions, as you'd expect, it's instantly at home as an in-front-of-the-TV picker.
"It has buckets of character and we'd favour it for more traditional picked, arpeggiated accompaniments."
FULL REVIEW: Norman Studio ST40 Folk review
7. Sigma DME
As acoustic players, we've never had it so good. Take the Sigma brand. The company's had a very interesting time since it returned three years ago, re-establishing the former Martin brand's reputation with an impressive value-packed range since its purchase by German firm AMI.
Though the Martin link has ended, the iconic company's influence on the range is tangible. Sigma's SDM and DR dreadnoughts offer a budget alternative to Martin's D15M and D28, but this DME fits in at the entry level even by Sigma's standards. For tonewoods, we have laminated mahogany back and sides with a solid Sitka spruce top and a solid mahogany neck.
"At this price, we were surprised by the DME's performance, and if you're new to acoustics, this is an inviting guitar for the home and open-mic stage."
FULL REVIEW: Sigma DME review
6. Vintage VEC501BGB
The decision to buy an electro-acoustic is usually a commitment to having a guitar you can use live.
It keeps your options open, with a guitar capable of being more than a go-to for the house.
But Vintage's latest model wants to expand your horizons even wider with USB connectivity, which throws an additional recording option into the mix.
"If the new year brings with it resolutions to get out there and play as an acoustic troubadour or band leader, the VEC501 could certainly help make them a reality."
FULL REVIEW: Vintage VEC501BGB review
5. Cordoba Fusion 12 Maple
The concept behind the Fusion series is simple enough: to create a nylon-string guitar that feels like a steel-string. Okay, a standard concert classical nylon-string is quite a beast, not least its neck.
While a modern steel-string electro might have a 44mm nut width or thereabouts, the classical is typically 50 to 52mm. String spacing is therefore a lot wider, and with a flat fingerboard and often quite flat-backed U-shaped neck, it can feel dramatically different to the more familiar steel-string.
"If you fancy broadening your acoustic voice, this Fusion range is one of the best places to start looking."
FULL REVIEW: Cordoba Fusion 12 Maple review
4. Yamaha SLG200S Silent Guitar
It's a home truth that we all need to practise to get better. So check this out - an electro-acoustic guitar that barely has any acoustic volume, so you won't disturb anyone with your ham-fisted strumming or picking.
Put a set of headphones on and you'll hear your playing with a studio-quality acoustic sound and posh effects. Oh, and you can plug in your mp3 player, too. You might never leave the couch...
"The ultimate practice tool? The new Silent Guitar is better than ever."
FULL REVIEW: Yamaha SLG200S Silent Guitar review
3. Martin Dreadnought Junior
Slightly smaller but perfectly formed, Martin's Dreadnought Junior has 'electro-acoustic of the year' written all over it. Can it really be that good?
So, where does this new Martin fit into all of this? Well, exactly midway between Ed Sheeran's Little Martin and a full-size Martin dreadnought. But it's not just size at play here.
"Faultless in both concept and execution."
FULL REVIEW: Martin Dreadnought Junior review
2. Martin GPX1AE
Although from 22 new Martin models and limited editions released so far this year, only four have three-figure prices, it's those that will be unquestionably the biggest selling.
Ed Sheeran's X Signature and the slightly down-sized Dreadnought Junior have certainly grabbed the headlines, but two other X Series models, released earlier this year at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, are far from insignificant.
The GPX1AE is the first Grand Performance shape in the X Series and, not counting the $10,999 SS-GP42-15 NAMM Show Special, is the only non-cutaway in this shape. It's an electro with a USB recording output, and while it doesn't come with a gigbag, it retails at a very tidy £559.
"Superbly built and a surprisingly good sound for live or recording duties. The GP is a great bet for a main guitar choice, or a second as a spare or alternately tuned."
FULL REVIEW: Martin GPX1AE review
1. Taylor Big Baby Taylor-e
Time flies, eh? It's hard to believe that Taylor's diminutive three-quarter-size Baby was introduced back in 1996. It's a much copied 'travel' or 'mini' guitar that is arguably more relevant today thanks to the likes of Ed Sheeran.
'But he plays a Martin,' you say. Yes, a small one, and this year Martin launched the Dreadnought Junior, which, with its 15/16th size is, ahem, rather similar to the Big Baby. Taylor hasn't rested on its laurels, however, and for 2015 the Baby gets an optional electronics upgrade to the ES-B system, which employs a pickup very similar to the ES2 pickup rolled out on Taylor's 2014's 800 series. "The guitar uses the ES-B pickup," Taylor tells us, "which, while it does have elements of the ES2 design, it is not completely identical."
"15 years on, and now with the ES2-like ES-B pickup, the 2015 Big Baby is better than ever. An excellent introduction to Taylor, and an ideal second, starter or traveller guitar, too."
FULL REVIEW: Taylor Big Baby Taylor-e review