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The 12 best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: the best options for beginners and experts

The 12 best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: the best options for beginners and experts
(Image credit: Future)

In the market for one of the best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000? Lucky you! There’s a ridiculous amount of acoustics in all shapes and sizes for less than a grand that will blow your mind.

We’ve got the very best ones listed here. We did have to miss a few absolute stonkers out just because of space, but we hope you can forgive us. C’mon, Martin’s Dreadnought Junior, a scaled-down exemplar of Martin’s more affordable guitar making, or the Epiphone J-200 SCE, a jumbo stunner in it’s own right? We absolutely love them - but they’re not here (but they do feature in our guides to the best acoustic guitars for beginners and the best acoustic guitars overall).

What we do have is a selection of acoustics of all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, there’s something for everyone in here. You might even have plenty of change to buy an acoustic guitar amp too if you’re lucky.

If you’re looking forward to reading our expert buying advice, click the ‘buying advice’ tab above. If you’re here to browse some products, then keep scrolling.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: MusicRadar's choice

The Academy Series has been a definite winner for Taylor, with the Taylor Academy Series 12E our pick of the bunch. It has a quiet, unassuming look about it but pick it up and the quality will blow your mind. The grand concert body shape is nice and compact but it has plenty of guts and a super-lively response that should reward fingerpickers and flatpickers alike. And the price is ridiculous.

Another impressive acoustic with a tone much larger than anticipated is the smartly appointed Martin Road Series 000-10E. An all solid-wood build, with its sapele construction offering a dash more brightness than its more conventional mahogany- based brethren. The build quality and playability is what you’d expect from any Martin - exceptional - and fingerpicking is a joy.

The best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: Product guide

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Taylor Academy Series 12e

(Image credit: Taylor)

1. Taylor Academy Series 12e

The best Taylor under $1,000 = the best acoustic guitar under $1,000

Price: $649/£549/€699 | Type: Grand concert | Top: Sitka spruce | Back & Sides: Laminated sapele | Neck: Hard rock maple | Scale: 24.875” | Fingerboard: West African ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome die-cast | Electronics: Taylor ES-B | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Natural, satin varnish

The ES-B system is incredible at this price point
It’s a very comfortable guitar to play
Bright, sparkly tones
Quality build and immaculate finish
Visually it’s a little plain

The Academy 12E is number one but in truth it could be a toss up between this and its sibling, the round-shouldered 10E dread. They share so much DNA. There has to be a winner though, and here we’re going with the grand concert-sized model, and with no regrets. 

Both offer well-balanced tones, with the 10E offering a little extra heft in the low end, the 12E a more exuberant treble. Maybe that is what sold us on the 12E – it’ll really make your fingerstyle pop.

It’ll happily handle most styles, though, and strummers will love the rasping upper-midrange and how it articulates your every grace note between chord changes. The 12E is lively and dynamic, and the onboard ES-B pickup and preamp system does an excellent job in translating this when plugged through your amp.

At this price point, Taylor’s Academy Series is knocking it out the park. Now, one could make the argument that the design could do with a little more hot sauce, but frankly we like the clean lines, the rosette detail is a nice touch. And you may be too distracted by the tone and the feel. The Academy 12E might not shout fun but it is; with the armrest on the lower bout and the slim neck profile making it a joy to play.

Read the full Taylor Academy Series 12E review

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Martin Road Series 000-10E

(Image credit: Martin)

2. Martin Road Series 000-10E

A giggable, eco-friendly Martin for under a grand

Price: $759/£839 | Type: Auditorium | Top: Solid sapele | Back & sides: Solid sapele | Neck: Select hardwood | Scale: 25.4” | Fingerboard: Richlite | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome, closed-gear | Electronics: Fishman MX-T | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Satin

A very fun, curvy acoustic
Well-balanced tone that’s exceptional for fingerpickin’ detail
Solid-wood build
Eco-friendly
You want the deeper boom of a dread

Solid sapele makes a solid choice for this little beauty. It’s a sustainable tonewood choice and makes an excellent alternative to mahogany, deep-grained, with a lighter reddish hue, and often presenting with a subtle tiger stripe in the wood’s pattern. 

Sound-wise, it has the low-end depth to fill out the compact dimensions of the 000 body shape, but there’s an effervescent treble to this that makes it ideal for fingerpicking. The eco-friendly appointments continue with a corian nut and GraphTech White Tusq compensated saddle, and a bridge and fingerboard fashioned from Richlite, an FSC-certified material that’s manufactured using recycled paper and a very viable alternative to ebony.

As with anything new related to guitar design, it might take some time for players to buy into it, but having played many Martin guitars of the X and Road series, the Richlite holds up. Elsewhere, there’s a “select hardwood” neck, which allows Martin to hedge its bets and use whatever’s available – it’s sure to be comfortable though, carved into the Performing Artist profile with High Performance Taper. The hand-rubbed satin finish feels just lovely. Topping it off you’ve got an excellent Fishman MX-T electronics, featuring an upgraded Sonicore pickup, a tuner, and controls tucked away in the soundhole.

Read the full Martin Road Series 000-10E review

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: Epiphone 'Inspired By Gibson' Masterbilt Hummingbird

(Image credit: Epiphone)

3. Epiphone ‘Inspired by Gibson’ Hummingbird

Get hold of an icon without the eye-watering price

Price: $799/£699/€766 | Type: Dreadnought | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce | Back & Sides: Solid Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.7” | Fingerboard: Indian Laurel | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Epiphone Deluxe | Electronics: Fishman Sonicore w/Sonitone | Left-handed: No | Finish: Aged Cherry Sunburst, Natural Antique

Masterbilt range even higher quality than normal
Aged finishes look awesome
Humongous tone 
Not far off Gibson money 

Epiphone’s ‘Inspired by Gibson’ ranges have been well received by guitarists all over the world, allowing them to get one step closer to the Gibson quality and styling without the price tag. The Hummingbird in particular is an iconic Gibson model, so the chance to own an icon without breaking the bank is incredibly enticing.

The classic combination of a solid Spruce top and Mahogany back and sides is the Hummingbird’s calling card, and it’s great to see that it’s not been scrimped on here. The construction is all-solid, as to accurately accentuate the huge depth of tone that this guitar possesses, while not leaving behind the punchy jangle that the Hummingbird has become known and loved for. 

Fishman has supplied their Sonicore pickup and Sonitone preamp for this model, and although we all have preconceived notions of under-saddle pickups, this hummer sounds as natural as ever amplified. Topped off with the classic split parallelogram inlays and the famous Hummingbird pickguard, you’ve got a pretty convincing classic for under a grand.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000 - Gretsch G5022CBFE Rancher Falcon Jumbo

(Image credit: Gretsch)

4. Gretsch G5022CBFE Rancher Falcon Jumbo

Strum up some big noise with this jumbo bird

Price: $699/£579/€595 | Type: Jumbo cutaway | Top: Solid spruce | Back & sides: Laminated maple | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25" | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 21, Vintage Style | Tuners: Deluxe Die-Cast | Electronics: Fishman Isys | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Gloss Polyester

Great-sounding jumbo tones
A very playable neck
It’s great value
Electronics aren’t the best

Nobody is going to miss you when you rock up at the open mic with the Rancher Falcon Jumbo. They’ll see you from the back of the room. They’ll hear you in the next room. This is a big ol’ jumbo, retro-styled and with all of Gretsch’s vintage mojo poured into its design.

Look at the gold embossed headstock. It’s a little much don’t you think? No? Exactly, this isn’t for the shrinking violets, and we can think of few jumbos on the market at this price point that perform better for country strumming and rootsy southern rock styles.

The Fishman pickup can be a little on the quacky side but that’s easily tamed via the 3-band EQ on the preamp, and once you find the sweet spot the Falcon will offer you some big, wide and vibrant tones coming out of that unique triangular soundhole. The build and performance will blow you away. Heck, it’s just so cool.

Read the full Gretsch G5022CBFE Rancher Falcon Jumbo review

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: Yamaha CSF-TA TransAcoustic

(Image credit: Yamaha)

5. Yamaha CSF-TA TransAcoustic

Small guitar, big sound

Price: $759/£663/€614 | Type: Parlor | Top: Spruce | Back & Sides: Mahogany | Neck: Nato | Scale: 600mm (23.6 inches) | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Die-Cast Chrome | Electronics: TransAcoustic | Left-handed: No | Finish: Natural

TransAcoustic tech is very impressive 
Exceptional bass response for a Parlor 
Shorter scale for comfort
Slightly novel, perhaps? 

Yamaha’s TransAcoustic range has taken the acoustic guitar world by storm as of late, and definitely outraged some purists in the process. Yamaha are pretty fantastic when it comes to innovating new ideas, and we think this (frankly mind-blowing) tech is fantastic too. 

Essentially, the CSF-TA features an actuator fitted to the inside of its back panel that vibrates in response to the vibration of your strings. The actuator’s vibrations are then conveyed to the guitar’s body, the air inside your guitar, and then your ears. Pretty mental, isn’t it?

Independent of this incredible tech, the CSF-TA still holds its own. With a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides, you can expect plenty of punch and clarity from this little guitar. Don’t judge though - for a parlour to have this much depth of tone, it’s impressive to say the least. It’s a pickers’ dream, with an exceptional amount of tonal balance.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: Martin D-X2E

(Image credit: Martin)

6. Martin DX-2E Dreadnought

Martin's Mexican model makes magical music

Price: $599/£625 | Type: Dreadnought | Top: Sitka Spruce | Back & Sides: HPL | Neck: Select Hardwood | Scale: 25.4” | Fingerboard: Select Hardwood | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome enclosed gear | Electronics: Fishman MX | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Sunburst, Natural

Martin build quality is impeccable
Great value for money
HPL is durable and eco friendly 
Not all solid wood - Purists beware 

Martin’s X-series is part of the furniture when it comes to acoustic guitars under $/£1,000. The pairing of high quality solid tops and HPL (High Pressure Laminate) has proven to be a fruitful one for Martin - and the D-X2E carries that torch. 

Said top is crafted from solid Sitka Spruce, delivering clarity, punch and brightness. Coupled with the Mahogany-patterned HPL back and sides, you’ve got a very well balanced dreadnought. The HPL provides a tad more brightness than a standard Mahogany back and sides would, and this means that the D-X2E avoids the overwhelming ‘boom’ that a standard, all-solid dreadnought might suffer from. 

The electronics are simple, but Fishman’s MX pickup compliments this X-series very nicely. It aims to retain the natural warmth and resonance of your guitar, while avoiding that dreaded ‘crispiness’ that some under-saddle pickups can create. Luckily, the MX does this well. It’s not quite a blendable pickup, but for this price, we’ve got no complaints.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Fender Paramount PM-2

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender Paramount PM-2

A quite brilliant parlour that’s ideal for travel

Price: $799/£609/€699 | Type: Parlour | Top: Solid Sitka spruce | Back & Sides: Solid Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75” | Fingerboard: Ovangkol | Frets: 19 | Tuners: Nickel, open-gear | Electronics: Fishman PM preamp w/2-band EQ | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Natural, gloss polyester

A well-designed little acoustic with heaps of charm
Big sounds from a small body
Solid-wood build
Very playable and big fun
Sometimes you need a boomier, larger-bodied acoustic

Sometimes you need a small-bodied guitar. You might be travelling. You might just need something manageable and fun to knock around in the house or the studio. Well, the Fender’s superlative Paramount Series has you covered. 

The PM-2 has an all solid build, with solid Sitka spruce on the top, solid mahogany on the back and sides. The short-for-Fender 24.75” scale gives it a very easy feel, so too the neck profile. Quite simply there is nothing to be intimidated by here. For young players with some growing to do, and who are serious about the instrument, this would be an excellent second guitar – a “first proper guitar,” if you like.

The onboard Fishman pickup and preamp has a 3-band EQ and is more than fit for purpose. It was designed for this body shape and does a good job of translating the PM-2’s bright and dynamic acoustic tone for the amplifier. We also love the open-gear tuners and the checkerboard purfling, rosette and binding. There’s a deluxe hardshell case included too. Quality.

Read the full Fender Paramount PM-2 review

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Yamaha Red Label FSX3

(Image credit: Yamaha)

8. Yamaha Red Label FSX3

The artificially aged spruce/mahogany acoustic with a vintage vibe

Price: $999/£879/€1,155 | Type: Concert (small) | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce | Back & sides: Solid mahogany | Neck: African Mahogany | Scale: 25” | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Gotoh open-gear | Electronics: Yamaha Atmosfeel pickup and preamp | Left-handed: No | Finish: Varnish, semi-gloss

Lovely warm, balanced tone
Suitable for all styles, especially friendly to fingerpickers
Top class build
Good price
It looks a little staid

The Red Label FSX3 does a very decent impression of the classic Yamaha FG acoustics of the ‘60s, but rather than ape them outright it looks to build on the legacy. The FSX3 gets the fundamentals just right. It has a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides combo – the classic configuration for steel-string acoustics, with the mahogany rounding out the bottom end and low-mids and the spruce vibrating in all the right ways for your mids and highs to articulate the nuances in your playing. 

The FSX3 features Yamaha’s A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) wood ageing process, again replicating the tone of an acoustic that has done some living. But that said, vintage acoustics tend not to be fitted with tech such as Yamaha’s Atmosfeel pickup and preamp, which offers controls on the guitar’s shoulder for mic/pickup blend, tone, and volume. The scalloped bracing pattern is new, too.

It all adds up to a very impressive instrument and there is something about this unadorned acoustic that is so persuasive. It’s the vintage tone and the feel, the matt finish on the C-profile neck, the quality of the build, and the production line price doesn’t hurt.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: PRS SE Angelus AE50E

(Image credit: PRS)

9. PRS SE Angelus AE50E

The best acoustic under $/£1,000 for an electric guitar feel

Price: $899/£799/€777 | Type: Angelus cutaway | Top: Solid Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Figured maple laminate | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25.25” | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome, PRS-designed | Electronics: Fishman GT1 | Left-handed: No | Finish: Varnish, Gloss

The neck is a winner for fans of PRS electrics
Meticulous build
Quality hardware, with bone nut/saddle
Electronics are not the most exciting

“I’ve always said from the beginning that an electric guitar is first and foremost an acoustic guitar.” That’s Paul Reed Smith himself talking about the SE range of acoustics, which take their bracing patterns from PRS Private Stock models and bring a lot of that PRS feel to acoustic guitar design.

One quick way of doing that is using the same “Wide Fat” neck profile as the electrics. It’s a clever move, making the Angelus a real treat to play, and an obvious staging post for died-in-the-wool electric players going unplugged.

The traditional PRS flourishes elevate it further. There are the real abalone shell bird inlays, with the decorative shell reprised in the binding and rosette. The back and sides of the guitar comprise figured maple laminate. While we’d be expecting solid woods at this price, the flame maple is quite exquisite, and lends this cutaway electro-acoustic a sparkle and definition. 

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Taylor Academy 12e-N

(Image credit: Taylor)

10. Taylor Academy 12e-N

A fantastic nylon string electro-acoustic in this price range

Price: $699/£779/€749 | Type: Grand Concert electro with armrest | Top: Lutz spruce | Back & sides: Layered sapele | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25.5” | Fingerboard: West African ebony | Frets: 17 | Tuners: Classical Nickel | Electronics: ES-B preamp system w/ built-in tuner | Left-handed: No | Finish: Varnish

You need a quality nylon-string
The finish is bang-on
Welcoming neck profile
It’s a lot of Taylor for the money
Nylon is not your thing

Taylor’s Academy range is the gift that keeps on giving to guitarists on a budget, and this entry-level nylon-string presents great value, with an impeccably put together instrument that’s very welcoming to those just making the transition from steel to nylon.

The Grand Concert is Taylor’s smallest full-scale body shape, and with the contoured armrest, it won’t be beaten on comfort. With the adjustable truss rod, the gentle radius on the fingerboard, and a fingerboard that’s around an 1/8” narrower than the typical classical, it is a “crossover” nylon.

But it’s bright and lively voice will get you ball-park flamenco tones, and open up all kinds of possibilities for jazz, fusion, and classical styles. It’s crisp, it’s classy, and you might not want to go back to the steel-string any time soon.

Read the full Taylor Academy 12e-N review

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000: Ibanez AE275BT

(Image credit: Ibanez)

11. Ibanez AE275BT

The finest baritone option for under a grand

Price: $699/£542/€749 | Type: Grand concert cutaway | Top: Solid Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Laminated Okoume | Neck: Nyatoh | Scale: 27” | Fingerboard: Katalox | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome, die-cast | Electronics: Ibanez AP11 pickup and Custom preamp | Left-handed: No | Finish: Varnish, Natural Low Gloss

Very comfortable neck and fretboard feel
An impressive baritone at a very accessible price
Solid build
Vine inlay is a little OTT

And now for something completely different. There are a number of baritone options on the market but, for the money, the AE275BT is tough to beat. It strikes the balance between the longer 27” scale, which makes the baritone a little intimidating at first, and the grand concert cutaway body, which never feels too cumbersome.

The build is exceptional. You’ll immediately note the wooden vine inlay on the ebony-esque katalox fretboard, and it is certainly a feature (maybe it’s a little too ostentatious but that’s a matter of taste), but wrapping your hands around the fretboard and it is in the finish, in the rolled edges and the feel that the quality presents itself.

The “comfort grip” neck is svelte by most standards, measuring 21mm thick at the 1st fret, 22mm at the 7th; just the thing you need when adapting to the more expansive geography of a baritone instrument. Elsewhere, you’ve got a bone nut and compensated bone saddle, Ibanez’s Advantage bridge pins, which have a stopper on the bulb to make them easier to work with, a lightweight scalloped bridge, and Ibanez’s very decent AP11 pickup.

Best acoustic guitars under $/£1000: Gibson Montana G-45 Studio

(Image credit: Gibson)

12. Gibson Montana G-45 Studio

A sumptuous US-built Gibson dread for under a grand

Price: $999/£799/€888 | Type: Round-shoulder dreadnought | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce | Back & sides: Solid Walnut | Neck: Utile | Scale: 25.5” | Fingerboard: Walnut | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Mini Grover Rotomatic | Electronics: Fishman Sonitone | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Satin, nitrocellulose

A US Gibson at this price? Yes please!
It’s a solid all-rounder
Solid-wood build
Flawless finish
Electronics are fine but lack wow factor

A genuine USA Gibson acoustic, straight from the Montana factory, and offering change from a grand? The G-45 Studio is too good to be true. 

It has a solid-wood build, with walnut on the back and sides offsetting a lovely solid Sitka spruce soundboard. That walnut is reprised on the fingerboard, and makes an appearance on the headstock too. The fit and finish of this guitar is impeccable.

It has an all-over satin feel and is finished in nitro. Should cork sniffers direct their noses to the neck joint, they’ll surely savour the heady scent of hide glue. Lovely stuff. And Gibson’s entry-level US acoustic delivers a well-balanced dread tone, with a weighty enough boom and a generous helping of harmonics and treble-forward highs. 

The Fishman Sonitone system is a ubiquitous choice, and perhaps it would have been nice to have something more upscale here. But that’s churlish to complain. You can always upgrade the electronics, and plugged in or acoustic the G-45 Studio nails the aspirational vibe Gibson is going for.

Best acoustic guitars under £/$1,000: Buying advice

Best acoustic guitas under $/£1,000 Buying Advice

(Image credit: Future)

First off, it’s interesting to note that the majority of the acoustic guitars in this list do not usurp the whole budget. That is testament to everything manufacturers are doing right now in keeping the mid-priced instrument category so keenly contested. 

But what should you expect for $/£1,000 or less? In this price category, we should be looking for more ‘all solid’ builds, that is acoustics that are built entirely from solid wood as opposed to laminated woods. Now, there’s nothing wrong with laminated wood, and some of our favourite acoustic guitars are made with laminates - but the true character of the wood comes through best when it’s solid.

Of course, there are some laminated builds here. As with any instrument, there are trade-offs to be made with the spec, and often they are done for good reason. Take the PRS Angelus AE50E. It is an exceptional acoustic electric guitar, and it uses flame maple laminate on the back and sides. 

The AE50E sounds and looks incredible, but there’s no way PRS could use solid flame maple on a guitar at this price. Crucially, the top is solid wood; and here we have all solid wood on the soundboards. This is key if you want one of the best acoustic guitars under $/£1,000 - as a huge amount of your acoustic guitar’s tone comes from the top. 

CITES has changed the game for a lot of acoustic guitar builders when it comes to choosing tonewoods. Restrictions on woods such as rosewood have now been slackened for instrument manufacturing (note: it was the luxury furniture market that caused the problem in the first place), but we are seeing new woods being used all the time - more sustainable alternatives than the likes of rosewood and ebony.

We are seeing sapele being used as an alternative to mahogany. We’ve also got Richlite (an FSC-approved composite material) and katalox both substituting for ebony. These choices may be made with a nod to the environment and cost of manufacturing, but an unintended consequence is that there is more variance in guitar building nowadays, with more alternatives than ever to the classic spruce top, mahogany back and sides combination.

That said, the classics never go out of style. This guide definitely contains some brilliant examples of Sitka spruce and mahogany combining to make sweet, sweet music.

Body shapes

As for body shapes, we’ve got guitars at all sizes, from Fender’s quite exquisite parlour, the Paramount PM-2, to the Gretsch Rancher Falcon Jumbo. The smaller body sizes are typically brighter, ideal for fingerstyles, while the larger sizes tend to suit strummers that bit better, with extra volume and bass-heavy tone putting them apart from the smaller-bodied instruments.

In between those sizes we’ve got grand concert and auditorium models, and the classic dreadnought, characterised by its well-balanced frequency response and booming midrange projection.

What about the pickups?

All of our picks have pickup and preamp systems. Many will have a tuner, also, secreted somewhere besides the preamp controls in the soundhole or on the guitar’s shoulder. 

What to usually look for in an acoustic guitar pickup is transparency. You don’t want the pickup masking your guitar’s acoustic tone. Of course, having some control over the EQ can be invaluable, allowing you to make adjustments when playing with other instruments or in a crowded venue. Yamaha’s TransAcoustic is the only product here that breaks the mould slightly, with the whole idea being that it adds something new and extra to your tone. That being said, it still sounds fundamentally like one of the best acoustic guitars you can get your hands on with no effects engaged.

At this price point, the very best pickup systems – the likes of the LR Baggs Anthem and Fishman Matrix Infinity VT – are out of reach, but there are still some very impressive electronics here. Taylor’s ES-B setup is part of the reason why the Academy Series is such a persuasive option for players shopping in this price range.