Best Steel-String Acoustic Guitars in 2020

Fender FA-115 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Sunburst Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Picks Review:

I'm very happy with this purchase. I'd never picked up a guitar before and this bundle has just about everything you need to get started! The DVD is helpful and explains all of the basics like care, tuning, reading tabs, and playing chords. The guitar itself is beautiful and sounds great, though a bit more challenging to play than I anticipated-- my hands are smaller than I thought and it took a lot of patience to learn how to strengthen my grip and extend my reach. My Fender also came with one month of free online lessons through their website. I haven't taken advantage of it yet, but it's a nice addition for those who want to use it.

Totally recommend this to other grown ups like me who are just getting started.

Jasmine S34C NEX Acoustic Guitar Review:

The Jasmine S34C is an outstanding value.

I'm still having a bit of a diffiuclt time reconciling the guitar I received with the amount of money I spent for it.

Mine arrived earlier this date, with the factory box inside a larger Amazon box and more than adequately cushioned from movement with plenty of crumpled packing paper.

The guitar inside the factory box proved to about as perfect in build quality as human hands and machines can make such a thing out of the materials it is made from. I inspected mine very throughly before tuning it to pitch and trying it out -including examining the body interior with the sort of inspection mirror used in automotive repair. I looked for flaws, expecting to find some, but I didn't

THE NECK: The tuning machines on my example have a positive feel with no backlash in the gears. The nut on my example is of the correct height and is correctly slotted. The fingerboard is a very nice piece of rosewood. The dot inlays on it were correctly done. The frets on mine are all level, properly crowned, polished, and end-dressed. The binding on the neck was skillfully and correctly applied. The neck appears to have been set at an appropriate angle. The satin-matte finish on the neck makes it a fast and smooth thing to slide the hand upon. There is a metal strap button applied in the exact spot I'd have put one on the neck heel myself had one not have been supplied.

THE BODY: The laminate sapele on my example is all uniform in general color, with beautifully figured grain. The binding on the body is perfectly executed. Inside the body, everything is neat and tidy -no globs of glue, no whiskered wood. The top on the insturment is often billed as "select spurce." It is a laminated top, but on my example, you have look very, very closely at the end grain of the wood around the sound hole to tell. It appears to be a solid, voidless board, faced top and bottom with almost paper-thin spruce veneers. The laminated top on this instrument reminds me of the tops used on the old "Nippon Gakki" Yamaha instruments. The satin-matte finish so perfectly and evenly applied to the back and side of my example was equally well done on my instrument's top. The simple inlaid black and white ring celluoid or abs rosette around the soundhole was flawlessly done, too. My instrument came with the pick gaurd installed, but I removed it immediately upon completing my inspection of the instrument. It was easily removed by simply slowly peeling it off the sound board, leaving no residue behind. I wrapped it in wax paper as soon as I removed it, so it could be re-installed later, if someone was inclined to do so. I bought this guitar to do lead work on and for that, I generally pick with my bare thumb, index, and middle finger, rather than use a plectrum, so the "scratch plate" isn't something I need on this instrument -hence my desire to remove it.

INITITIAL IMPRESSIONS: This is a light and shockingly resonant and responsive instrument and it is pretty much tailor-made for my style of play. Where responsiveness to picking and pick attack is concerned, I couldn't be more pleased. It has very even volume response up, down, and across the fingerboard with equal attack equalling equal volume wherever a note is fingered. Mine has a substantial amount of sustain, too. I tuned it to pitch and played it for about an hour and a half, using the whole neck, and playing pieces with plenty of single string and double-stop bends, lots of hammer-ons and pull offs, and etc. I'm having a hard time believing that a new guitar would stay in tune through all of that, but it did.

Tone-wise, I would describe mine as "sweet" and "clear" without being overly "tinny" or overly accentuating the high-end of the tonal spectrum.It has very good note separation, too, in spite of having almost too much sustain. It seems to generate enough volume when picked with the bare flesh of my thumb, index, and middle fingers to work well with microphones -something I'll have a go at tomorrow. Strummed with a plecturm or flat-picked, it puts out a lot of volume for an all-laminate body instrument.

It reminds me of everything I liked about my first guitar -an Ovation Balladeer, being similar to that in terms of response to pick attack, even volume and sustain response all over the fingerboard, and being close in terms of tone. What I am still amazed by as I write this is that when I first started playing guitar back in 1980, $30.66 had the same buying power then that the price I paid for my S34C has today, but back in 1980, there wasn't such a thing as a playable guitar to be had for that kind of money.

In sum, the Jasmine S34C I received isn't just "a good guitar for the money." It's just a good guitar. Period and full stop.

The only "con" to it that I can come up with is that it shipped to me with insanely high string action. I can remedy this easily enough through simply sanding a few thousanths of an inch off the bottom of the bridge. And it isn't really a "con" per se, because even expensive guitars need a "set up".

Otherwise, it seems entirely well suited for what I bought it for -an insturment for finger-picked acoustic lead or solo guitar. It isn't something I'd want to flat-pick fiddle tunes on or back a bluegrass jam with as it lacks the "punch" and powerful bass of a good dreadnaught-style guitar. But it seems all peaches and sunshine for what I bought it for and hoped it would do.

My expectations were high based on the number of positive reviews this instrument gets. My example has exceeded those expectations.

UPDATE 3/7/2016: After giving the instrument some time to acclimate to its new surroundings, I set the insturment up to my taste, tweaking the truss rod a little to get exactly ten thousandths of an inch of neck relief and popping a lower saddle in the bridge to get the string height over the 12th fret where I like it -using a U.S. quarter-dollar coin as a height gauge. I then strung it up with Ernie Ball Earthwood extra-light silk and steel. I only thought I was impressed with instrument as it came from the box. After setting it up and re-stringing it, I am even more impressed than I was initially. This instrument simply doesn't play or sound like the "cheap plywood box" that it essentially is. It is a highly resonant, sweet singing, responsive guitar, even when strung with extra-light silk and steel strings, and even when picking it with my bare thumb, index, and middle finger as I am wont to do. Tuning stability has also proven to be really good so far. Since receiving this, I've already gigged it, where it took nothing more exotic than a humble Sure SM-57 aimed at the 14th fret to get stellar live sound. I've also found that it records really well. To say that I am amazed with this instrument is a bit of an understatement. I'm so impressed with mine that I have literally just purchased another Jasmine S34C from Amazon! Having a second one will allow me to have one in standard tuning and another in altered tuning, and alternate between them in live performance, instead of having to constantly re-tune just one of them. If this second one that I have just ordered is as good as the first one I received, the plan is to put K&K pickup systems in both of them.

UPDATE 8/13/2018: I now have several of these instruments. All of them were purchased from Amazon and all arrived on my doorstep in perfect condition, albeit in need of a truss rod and saddle height adjustment. I absolutely could not be more pleased than I am with these instruments. I am something of a guitar geek -the kind who goes to brick and mortar stores and plays everything they've got, but I have yet to play an acoustic guitar that I like better than this model, regardless of price, or who made it, or what it is made from. It plays, sounds, and stays in tune every bit as good as instruments costing significantly more and, as such, this instrument has to be one of the best "bang for the buck" values in music today. In fact, it plays, sounds, and stays in tune better than a whole bunch of guitars costing a whole bunch more money. If I had more space to keep them, I'd buy a few more. Yeah, it's a cheap plywood box and it doesn't have the "solid board" back, sides, and top that so many players think a great guitar has to have. I could care less what the thing is made from or what it looks like. What I absolutely DO care about is sound, and how easy it is or isn't for me to get what I hear in my head out to the ears of an audience. These things do what I want a six-string acoustic guitar to do. There generally no other six string acoustic guitar that I would rather play instead. The more I have played them, the more I appreciate them. The "honeymoon phase" ain't over yet. I have installed K&K pickup systems in two of these for convenient and decent live sound. I use the external K&K pre-amp and the result is something that needs no improvement.

Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar with Gig Bag and Legacy Accessory Bundle Review:

I got this for my five-year-old son's birthday. He's interested in music and always wants to play my guitar (and drums). So I did some research about kids' guitars, and came to the realization that most "kids'" guitars aren't of the best quality, and don't even stay in tune.

Hence my purchase of the Yamaha JR1. It's not a kids' guitar, it's just a 3/4 size acoustic built of the same quality as comparably priced full-sized guitars. And it's Yamaha, a company I have always had good luck with and have no reason to doubt the quality of the instrument.

This guitar provides a huge value for the money. The extras that came with it also sweeten the deal. While my son hasn't yet started to learn seriously, he has fun with this and I know that soon we'll be playing music together.

Great purchase for kids . . . .or if you just want a travel guitar for yourself.

Beginner 36” Classical Acoustic Guitar - 6 String Junior Linden Wood Traditional Guitar w/Wooden Fretboard, Case Bag, Tuner, Nylon Strings, Picks, Cloth, Great for Beginners, Children - Pyle PGACLS82 Review:

I had started to learn how to play guitar when I was a teen and recently became more interested, however, I remember it was difficult for my fingers to comfortably reach all of the strings/frets. A friend who plays actually recommended that I start on a half or 3/4 size so I am not focusing on the reach as much as learning the actual chords and that was the best suggestion ever! If you have small hands or have a child/teen looking to learn I would suggest something along this size. So far it is perfect for what I need. It came packaged very well and arrived at my home safely. It actually comes with a soft case bag to carry it in, a tuner (which I definitely need) , a cloth and picks. I have nails that are a little longer so I def need the picks and would recommend using. The nylon strings also help save your fingers while learning. It looks like it is an expensive guitar but actually affordable so when my friend who is teaching me asked how much I paid I wouldn't tell him hahhaha. The sound it produces is great, and my friend was jamming out on it and I honestly couldn't tell the difference in sound between his expensive one and this one so I say its a win!

Fender FA-115 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Black Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Picks Review:

I'm very happy with this purchase. I'd never picked up a guitar before and this bundle has just about everything you need to get started! The DVD is helpful and explains all of the basics like care, tuning, reading tabs, and playing chords. The guitar itself is beautiful and sounds great, though a bit more challenging to play than I anticipated-- my hands are smaller than I thought and it took a lot of patience to learn how to strengthen my grip and extend my reach. My Fender also came with one month of free online lessons through their website. I haven't taken advantage of it yet, but it's a nice addition for those who want to use it.

Totally recommend this to other grown ups like me who are just getting started.

Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar for Children and Beginners, (Green) Review:

I waited a few months to write this to make sure not to "honeymoon" this review.

When you purchase this guitar, realize you are not buying a guitar from a large name manufacturer, but from a company that used kickstarter to get themselves off the ground.

I would put money on the fact that Loog drop ships the guitars purchased from Amazon and other online retailers, so they are getting to you pretty much right from the factory.
The guitar may still smell like lacquer (only for about a week or two until it finishes curing), may have a bump or large dent in the shipping packaging (mine did), and may not have the same Q/C as say a PRS custom shop - it's ok.

It's a SMALL guitar for kids under $100 made over seas, for a small/newer musical supply company, shipped to your door, and not tested or q/c'd buy a reseller - like say sweetwater.
It may sound "boxy" or like a plastic Ukelele, but the guitar IS IN FACT the same size as a Ukulele and has a fair amount of finish on it...

Now that we are on the same page, I love this thing.
I literally keep it sitting either on my ottoman or on my desk in the office
Mine stays in tune rather well and I rarely tune it while living in humid south Florida.
I did have to get the nut and bridge filed as the action is very high.

I bought this guitar for myself to travel with or sporadically jam on.

Other than the action being high, it is a great beginner instrument - minor adjustments needed.

Yamaha Fd01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar (Amazon-Exclusive) Review:

Let’s look at some of the materials & measurements of the Yamaha FD01S. It has a solid spruce top (that means not laminate) that measures 3mm thick. The grain on my Yamaha FD01 measures11 grains per inch. A spruce top with 10 – 14 grains per inch is considered to be pretty good, while less than 10 is “lower grade” quality. Tonewoods are rated by tightness of grain, stiffness, and appearance (coloring, streaks, wavyness of grain).

Please note, the sides and back of a (lower end) Taylor 110 model guitar are ply (laminate or “layered”.) of Sapele (wood) with Poplar sandwiched in between. The Yamaha FD01S sides & back are Nato (or Mora) ply/laminate. I don’t know what’s inside the layers. Both Sapele and Nato look like Mahogany, but Nato is harder than both, and is reddish-brown in color. A guitar manufacturer can get 8 times as much usable material from a log when it’s used as laminate. The neck is Nato too. The head is glued on to the neck with a scarf joint. The fretboard & bridge are Rosewood. The width of the nut measures 1 11/16 The width of the lower bout measures 15 ¾”, depth = 4 5/8”, body length = 20”, fret scale = 25 ½”. The braces of the "X" brace are narrow and tall with a peaked crest (like the top of a gable roof house).

The saddle and nut on the Yamaha FD01S are made from a hard, white plastic that is somewhat brittle… you may want to replace them. The tuning machines are similar to Grover style, with enclosed backs. They're probably made by Shenzhen or Gotoh. The sound quality is much better than any laminate top guitar.

First Act Acoustic Guitar FG127 Review:

Fantastic little starter for your Child! Hands down, it plays easily, tunes easily and your beginner student will be on their way to strumming chords in no time! I highly recommend as a First Guitar for your 5-9 year old.
I’m 42 and LOVE sitting and playing this little thing! The fact that it’s plastic kinda freaked me out, till I tuned and played it. Great Fun! My Daughter loves it!😎✌🏽