Gear advice: how much do you need to spend to buy a 'decent' acoustic?

Every month, Guitar Techniques attempts to answer guitarists' questions with expert and practical advice. In this new regular slot we bring you some timeless nuggets of gear buying wisdom from our archives. First up, some acoustic advice…

The question:

Dear GT

I realise that it's probably not an easy question to answer, but I want to know roughly what sort of money I'd have to spend to get a decent acoustic guitar.

When I say 'decent' I'm not talking silly money top-of-range Martins but just something that would sound good enough to play for my own pleasure. I'm not intending on doing gigs, I just want to play songs by my favourite artists like James Taylor and Paul Simon at home and make a reasonably good job of doing so.


The answer:

The quick answer here would be to spend as much as you can afford, Freddie. The sky's the limit as far as acoustics go and so our advice would be to settle on a price band, stick to it and go shopping with your ears.

It's only by auditioning the different models that fall within your budget that you will find something suitable. Do some research, too; eavesdrop on guitar-based forums or even join one and ask for an across-the-board set of opinions from people who have already trodden the path you're on.

It's still true to say that you get what you pay for in today's market and so we're surprising no one by saying that there is a big difference between an acoustic weighing in at £3000 and one that costs £300.

If you want to optimise your choices consider looking in the £400 to £800 price range as this will include some of the lower-end Martins, a lot of Yamahas, Arias, Faiths, Fenders, Epiphones, Washburns and some of the newer makes like Freshman, Breedlove and Stonebridge.

If you're not looking to do gigs then we can assume that you don't want an electro-acoustic, which will cut down on some of the cost.

Even acoustics in the £200 to £300 bracket have improved enormously of late, so makes like Tanglewood and Crafter may well provide you with something that fits the bill perfectly.

Make sure you go for a solid top on your guitar as this means its tone will improve with age. Don't ignore the second-hand market either as there are always bargains to be had.