If you have officially set your spending cap for your next guitar at $1000 USD, let me congratulate you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner looking for that first guitar or a seasoned musician on the market for a new axe… prices that come close to the 4-figure mark can get you some amazing guitars.
That tells me you are quite serious with your musical journey, so I’m glad you’re here.
Through my experiences as a touring musician, gear-obsessive, and a regular music-store-goer, I have put together this list of awesome guitars, and how to pick the right one for you based on the pros and cons of each one.
So, without more to add… here are the 5 best acoustic guitars under $1000:
Table of Contents
One of the lower-priced Martin’s is an Electro-Acoustic, all solid beauty that incorporates sustainable materials.
Top Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce
Back & Sides: Solid Sapele
Nut & Saddle: White Corian/White Tusq
Fretboard: Black Richlite
Body Type: Dreadnought
If you are set on getting a Martin, don’t want to get one of the small-sized Little Martin’s but don’t want to break the bank either, the DRS2 is a model you need to seriously look at.
Martin’s road series have the look and sound of the classic dreadnought with which C.F. Martin and Company introduced this extremely popular guitar body shape to the world. It is made with traveling in mind without compromising on the high-quality standards that make Martin so special. In other words, it is a tough-built guitar that you can travel with, but also has a very warm tone and a premium-like playability.
What does premium-like playability even mean? It means you won’t get tired of playing it due to its smoothness and comfort, unlike a cheap guitar that you probably have to work harder to get a decent sound out of.
But I digress. Among the road series, the DRS2 really impressed me because of its all-solid body featuring rarer woods like Sapele, which is supposed to be similar in tone to Mahogany.
Both Taylor and Martin have been incorporating this fast-growing wood due to its higher sustainability. So if you care about conscious shopping even when selecting a guitar, this one’s got that extra. It also has FSC certified (the Forest Stewardship Council certifies that the product comes from responsibly managed forests) materials on the bridge and fingerboard.
It’s also an electro-acoustic! I know I know. This isn’t a “Best Electro-Acoustics Under $1000” article, but considering the quality/price relation in the DRS2, the fact that it incorporates a Fishman Sonitone System is merely a nice extra to have.
As far as the sound goes, the DRS2 has a really mellow tone that sits right between too fat and too bright. If played properly, all notes coming out of this guitar sound crystal clear and well-balanced. There’s no booming lows overlapping the high’s or vice versa. It sounds amazing both strummed and finger-picked. For a Martin, it definitely has too. The price though, is very worth looking into.
And speaking of bright sounds, let’s go into…
Back & Sides: Solid Mahogany
Nut & Saddle: Compensated Tusq
Body Type: Dreadnought
Although it may not have a brand name as resonant as Martin or Taylor, Seagull guitars are highly revered among guitar connoisseurs and enthusiasts. It’s also one of the few guitars under the $1000 dollar mark to feature and all-solid body. That’s why the feel and the sound are so warm and surprising.
If you go to any local music shop, play with the guitars that are within your designated budget, the Artist Mosaic is sure to stand out. It just sounds like it should be way more expensive. That big dreadnought body does wonders for the low end and if the guitar is well adjusted, the high notes are crisp and almost tear-jerking.
It’s got a really nice artisanal feel to it too. The headstock’s design is very likely to stand out and all of its hardware seems really premium. There are many more variants in the Artist series so you can also take a look at their other models in case you’re looking for a concert-bodied guitar, an electro-acoustic or a cutaway. Even if the Artist series, which is the most revered line of guitars from Seagull, seems a little pricey to you; I’d definitely recommend checking out some of their other models. Primarily the S6.
In case you want to stick with the more popular brands though, let’s take a look at the next guitars on our list.
This stand-out model from Taylor’s modestly priced 100 series is a comfortable and visually-stunning alternative to larger dreadnought bodies.
Top Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce
Back & Sides: Layered Sapele
Nut & Saddle: Tusq/Micarta
Body Type: Grand Auditorium With Venetian Cutaway
Due to its conservative choice in woods, the 100 series from Taylor is the cheapest among the brand’s entry-level ranges of guitars. If you consider only the materials and what you read on the specs, you might be wondering why a Taylor Acoustic-Electric with laminated back and sides is priced exactly the same as a Martin Acoustic Electric with all solid materials.
You really can’t justify the price until you see this guitar live. Taylor’s are famous for their handcrafted woodwork and the level of attention they place to the art of building each guitar. The 114CE is no exception. It just feels like this thing was put together with love and tremendous attention to detail. The binding is just perfect and every finish looks like it was made very delicately.
Visually, it’s certainly one of the most appealing guitars on this price range. The subtle varnish lets you appreciate the grain on the solid Sitka Spruce top. While it also lends itself to being more vulnerable to scratches and signs of use, that can certainly look poetic on a guitar that you’ve owned for years. It certainly beats the glossy finishes of some guitars.
To me, it has an overall elegant look to it. With its black pickguard, its venetian cutaway (which means you can reach those higher notes above the 12th fret) and the contrast of the Ebony fretboard with the natural-colored Sitka Spruce.
In terms of sound and playability, it certainly delivers a grade-A sound and comfort. Taylor’s have a reputation for delivering a bright-trebly sound. The 114CE does hold up well on the low end, but it’s way more accentuated on the midrange and high frequencies than most guitars on this list. On this guitar the smaller-sized body means that you can be a bit more aggressive while playing it and it won’t be too loud. If you like playing rough then this model is certainly worth looking at.
#4. Yamaha FG800
The new version of one of the most popular acoustics in the world is a bargain that delivers professional sound and playability.
Top Wood: Solid Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Nato/Okume
Nut & Saddle: Urea
Body Type: Dreadnought
I know. The price drop from most of the guitars we’ve seen on this list to this is quite dramatic. But the Yamaha FG800 is just a killer guitar way under $1000. Introduced in 2016, it’s the new version of the classic FG700, a guitar that’s often referred to as the most popular acoustic in the world and the best deal you can get for an entry-level guitar.
However, once you look beyond the price tag and actually play this thing, you may find that it surprisingly does stack up against much more pricier guitars. The new version features a scalloped bracing pattern that allows for more projection, volume and a big low end.
The top is Solid Spruce and the back and sides are Nato, which is sometimes referred to as “Western Mahogany”. This classic combination of tonewoods makes up for a very warm tone, great sustain and all the volume that you’d expect from a dreadnought guitar. Another new feature are the rounded edges of the fretboards, which make the FG800 very comfortable and smooth to play. Even if you’re set towards spending more on your next guitar, I truly recommend giving it a look if you have the chance.
And for our final acoustic under $1000…
This californian-style acoustic-electric from Fender strays away from what you expect from an average acoustic, in a good way.
Top Wood: Solid Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Mahogany
Nut & Saddle: Bone/Synthetic Bone
Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
Body Type: Fender Style Dreadnought Cutaway
Fender is much more famous for its revolutionary electric guitars and basses than it is for making classic acoustics. That’s precisely why the Sonoran SCE, and every way in which it stands apart from average acoustics, is just spot-on brilliant.
This guitar is a recent addition to Fender’s line of “Californian” acoustics. These are guitars inspired on the Southern California lifestyle and the carefree vibe that it tends to encompass.
As such, the Sonoran is a cool-looking dreadnought cutaway, except that it is slightly smaller that an average Martin dreadnought. The guys at Fender decided to develop their own tighter take on the dreadnought guitar and the result is a lightweight guitar that almost plays like an electric. It’s even got a largened stratocaster-style headstock.
It’s comfortable to hold due to its small size, practical to carry around and it’s got all the makings of good Fender craftsmanship. Although the sides and back are laminated Mahogany, the Solid Spruce Top and the scalloped bracing below give it an amount of volume and projection that is more than satisfactory. It also incorporates elements of some of the older Californian Fender Acoustics, like the C-shaped maple neck that is very comfortable to play.
Simply put, if you’re staying with an “under $1000” budget for your next acoustic but you would like an Acoustic that you can carry around and that plays like an electric, definitely check this guitar out.
So there you have it. Those are my personal picks for guitars under $1000. If I was about to purchase a new acoustic anytime soon, these are the ones that I would take the time to try again and pick from, depending on what I want from this next particular guitar.
I decided to go wide with this selection, including some cheaper guitars and others that are barely below the $1000 mark, in order to give you a broad idea of what’s out there for this particular budget.
Some honorable mentions that I considered but did not include here are the now-discontinued Yamaha L series LL6 and the Fender CD-320ASRW. I just mention them because they were strong contenders on this list but weren’t as widely available as the others, and at least on this list, I wanted to recommend guitars that you can find easily. That being said, if you ever come across one of these by mere chance, be sure to give them a shot.
Good luck on your next guitar purchase!