The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Acoustic Guitars for Under a Grand
If you are a guitar player planning to spend around $1000 on a new acoustic guitar you want to get the best instrument you can for your money.
You have a lot of choices, from iconic brands like Martin and Taylor to overseas companies such as Yamaha, and even small luthiers who may build exactly what you’re looking for.
A thousand dollars is a big chunk of change, so choose wisely! I think there are three main things we need to consider when deciding on a guitar in this price range.
- Quality: Of course this is first and foremost. When you are dropping this much cash you need to know you are getting a solid instrument. You'd think a grand would get it done, but some of the guitar companies in this review offer instruments costing three, four and even five times as much. When they put out what they consider "budget" instruments you want to know you're getting their best effort.
- Value: You can certainly spend more if you really want to, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice your life savings to find everything you’re looking for in a new instrument. Some of the same companies that make expensive instruments also make more affordable guitars for the veteran picker or semi-pro musician. That's what you are looking for in this price range.
- Sound: You know you need a guitar that sounds greats, is fun to play, and will get the job done for years to come. You want an instrument you’ll love, and one that meets your expectations for sound quality and craftsmanship. At this price, you have a right to be choosy.
In this article, you’ll read about ten great acoustic guitars (plus one bonus) that I think make the cut. You really can't go wrong whichever you choose, but each guitar is unique in its own way.
And, it doesn't hurt that they're made by some of the world's best acoustic guitar brands. These are names you can take to the bank, and when you're parting with this much coin that's important.
1. Seagull Maritime SWS
My top recommendation is the Seagull Maritime SWS. Seagull is a Canadian company known for making outstanding mid-level guitars such as the S6 Original. The Seagull Maritime SWS is the perfect example of an all-solid-wood guitar that’s made in North America for a great price.
The Seagull Maritime SWS starts with a dreadnought body with a solid spruce top. The back, sides, and neck are all mahogany, a warm and resonant tonewood. This combination creates a deep, rich sound that will make the Mosaic stand out.
It’s a traditional tonewood profile, but solid woods here make a big difference. The ebony fretboard adds some crispness to the tone and helps to bring out a little high-end clarity in individual notes.
Seagull guitars feature tapered headstocks, designed to bring the middle strings closer together and improve tuning stability. But this certainly isn’t the only unique thing about the appearance of this guitar. With clean basic appointments the Maritime SWS really looks incredible too!
Seagull guitars are a bit off the beaten path, but definitely worth checking out. With some of the big, famous brands, sometimes you’re getting a guitar with cost-cutting measures and paying something for the name on the headstock.
With Seagull, a guitar like the Maritime SWS represents their best effort, and it really shows.
2. Martin DX1AE
The Martin DX1AE gets the next spot on my list and for good reason. When I went shopping for a guitar in the $500-$1000 range a few years back this is the instrument I chose. It’s also one of the most affordable instruments on this list.
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Martin acoustics are some of the best in the business, and the C.F. Martin Company has been around for over 150 years. These are high-quality, American-made instruments, manufactured in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Most Martin guitars will put you well over your spending limit. But Martin does have some compassion for those of us on a budget and puts out a few great guitars you ought to be able to grab for under a grand if you're patient.
The DX1AE is one of the guitars.
The Martin DX1AE features a dreadnought, D-14-style body with a solid Sitka spruce top, HPL back and sides and rust birch laminate neck. This provides a nice combination of depth, volume, and clarity.
The fingerboard and bridge are FSC Certified richlite, an interesting choice in a guitar at this price point.
While a guitar company known for high-end acoustics would typically cut a lot of corners on lower-priced instruments, here we see some excellent appointments, including a well-concealed Fishman electronics package.
Alternative tonewoods and materials like Richlite and HPL might give pause, but really they shouldn't. The over-harvesting of traditional tonewoods is a serious issue. Brands like Martin and Taylor have become leaders in the responsible management of wood resources.
So, particularly when you look at guitars at this price range and lower, don't be surprised to see some alternative tonewoods used. That's okay, and it's something we all need to get used to.
Check out my full review of the Martin DX1AE for more of my thoughts on this guitar.
3. Taylor 114ce
Taylor is another high-end guitar company known for its incredible instruments. This is an American company based out of El Cajon, California; however, some models are assembled at their Mexico plant. This shouldn’t be a turnoff, though. It’s still a Taylor!
The Taylor 114ce has Grand Auditorium body shape with a Sitka spruce top and layered walnut back and sides. Again, alternative woods and materials are nothing to be concerned about, in my opinion. A laminate build, as opposed to solid wood, keeps costs down and is more sustainable.
The neck is hardrock maple and the fingerboard is ebony which, along with the spruce top, will add some bite. The 114ce also features the Taylor Expression System 2 pickup system.
I always suggest that guitar players who feel the electric part of their acoustic-electric is extremely important to consider Taylor because they really do a good job here.
Top-end Taylor guitars can cost many thousands of dollars, but it’s nice to see an affordable instrument from this company. Like Martin, they’ve learned how to bring lower-cost instruments to intermediate players without sacrificing sound, quality, and style.
You really can’t go wrong with a Taylor guitar. Even though they’ve kept the price down the 214ce is still a guitar that lives up to the name on the headstock, and one of the best acoustic guitars under a grand out there today.
You might also check out the Taylor 110ce if you prefer a dreadnought-style body.
4. PRS SE Angelus A55E
PRS guitars are known as high-quality instruments. Most notably, their electric guitars command big bucks from discriminating players who want top-notch sound and performance. But some years back PRS took a step to satisfy those among us with lighter wallets by introducing their SE Series.
SE Series instruments bring all the good stuff PRS is known for in a more affordable package. In this case, we are looking at a fantastic acoustic guitar, the SE Angelus A55E.
This is a guitar with a solid Sitka Spruce top, quilted maple back and sides, mahogany neck, and an ebony fingerboard. It’s an interesting tonewood profile, with the warmth of the mahogany, the brightness of the rosewood and punch of the spruce combining for a crisp acoustic tone. However, this is a guitar with a few tricks up its sleeve.
The single-cut design isn’t just attractive; it makes the guitar more comfortable to play in the higher registers. A bone nut and saddle let notes ring crystal clear. Those PRS birds as fretboard inlays are pretty cool too.
If you’re looking for something just a little different than the typical dreadnought-style acoustic guitar this is one worth considering. I’ve always loved PRS gear, and the PRS SE Angelus A55E won’t disappoint.
5. Yamaha A3M ARE
It’s impossible not to bring up Yamaha when it comes to acoustic guitars. Yamaha is a Japanese musical instruments company that most players are no doubt familiar with. They make all kinds of instruments, from basses to pianos to woodwinds.
Along with their other accomplishments, these guys are known for top-quality acoustics and the A3M is a single-cut dreadnought acoustic-electric guitar that lives up to the reputation.
The A3M features a solid Sitka spruce top that will make the treble tones sing. Solid mahogany sides and back, and a 3-piece mahogany neck add some resonance and depth to the sound.
Along with the ebony bridge, this setup will bring out the crisp, deep traditional acoustic tones many players covet, and the SRT2 preamp gives you total control over your sound.
Yamaha acoustic guitars are high-quality instruments that sound amazing and offer tremendous value. It’s tough to get an all-wood guitar from a big-name manufacturer in this price range, but Yamaha delivers.
This attention to quality and performance is what makes the Yamaha A3M one of the best acoustic guitars for intermediate players you’re going to find. If you do your homework you ought to be able to find one for a great price online or at a local shop.
6. Guild Westerly Collection F-150
Just about every guitar in this review has a dreadnought body shape, so here’s a cool option for those more interested in large, jumbo-bodied acoustics.
Guild is a guitar company with a strong reputation, known for its quality acoustic instruments. Like Taylor and Martin, they make some outstanding instruments at high price points. But, through their Westerly Collection, they present some great acoustics that are affordable for working players.
The Westerly F-150 is a jumbo acoustic with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides. It’s a great tonewood combination with plenty of warmth and articulation, and the jumbo body really allows the notes to ring strong and clear.
And that’s one main reason some guitarists prefer a jumbo body. While dreadnoughts certainly have strong projection and an excellent sound throughout the tonal spectrum, jumbo guitars take it a step further.
This has made them a favorite of performing musicians, from country pickers to rock stars to singer-songwriters.
The F-150 also features an Indian rosewood bridge and fingerboard to round out an outstanding tonewood profile. Should you consider a jumbo-bodied guitar? That’s up to you, but if you decide to take the plunge take a good look at the F-150.
7. Breedlove Solo Concert
I really like Breedlove guitars. They sound great, and they are beautifully made. One of my local shops carries them and every time I go in there I have to check them out. Their guitars are also fairly affordable, with many models in this price range and below.
The Solo Concert is one of those guitars. It has a concert-style body with Breedlove’s signature upper bout design, which, in my opinion, looks amazing. It also has a unique feature with the Side Monitor Soundhole, so you can hear yourself no matter the setting.
The tonewood profile features a solid red cedar top with ovangkol back and sides, okume neck and ebony fingerboard, and bridge. Again, don’t freak out over alternative tonewoods. With some of the restrictions on classic tonewoods, we are going to see more and more of these materials used in guitar construction.
Breedlove is an Oregon company that has been around since 1992. Still, I consider them an up-and-coming brand, and well-deserving of the attention they are getting in recent times. Check one out and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
8. Washburn Comfort G55CE Koa
Here is a guitar that’s a bit different than the rest in this article, made by one of the best acoustic guitar brands in the world. Washburn makes excellent instruments that look amazing, sound great and offer tremendous value. The G55CE is one of those guitars, with some unique appointments.
The G55CE Koa features the Fishman Presys+ pickup system and a pretty single-cutaway, grand auditorium design. The top and sides are koa, and the back is koa with a maple/mahogany/maple center strip.
Koa is a gorgeous tonewood from Hawaii that combines the sweet warmth of rosewood and the edge of maple. The neck is mahogany and the fingerboard ovangkol. The body and headstock are bound in pretty mahogany/maple, and the rosette and lack of fretboard markers make the guitar look so classy.
Washburn has a way of making beautiful acoustic guitars that seem like they ought to cost way more than they do. A quality koa guitar at this price point is pretty impressive. Part of the “comfort” designation means a sculpted lower bout to make room for your elbow. You’d think that would hurt the look of the guitar, but it somehow makes it even better.
9. Fender Paramount PM1
You can’t talk about the best acoustic guitars in the world without including Fender. While this is a company mostly known for its incredible electric instruments, they create some awesome acoustic instruments as well.
Like the Washburn above, the Fender Paramount PM1 is a bit different than most of the other guitars in this review. It’s a dreadnought design with an all-mahogany build. That means solid mahogany top, back, sides and neck along with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
I love this tonewood profile I’ve loved ever since I owned a Martin D-15M. You’d think an all-mahogany guitar would sound muddy and boomy, but done correctly you’ll get an incredibly rich tone. Granted, it is probably better for flatpickers than fingerstyle players, but in my opinion, it sounds amazing.
So, if warmth and depth are what you want out of an acoustic guitar, the Fender Paramount PM1 is a solid choice.
10. Blueridge BR140
Blueridge is a guitar brand owned by Saga Musical Instruments. They’re made overseas, but Blueridge guitars have been gaining a reputation in recent years for great sound, and great value.
Blueridge specializes in pre-war reproduction guitars, and the BR-140 is part of their pre-war series. What the heck does that mean?
Prior to WWII acoustic guitars were made to somewhat different specifications. Some materials they used are no longer cost-effective due to overharvesting, but most notably the solid woods and sturdy inner bracing techniques make pre-war guitars desirable for their tone.
Some also believe the construction methods themselves were superior, as they relied less on machines and more on people.
The BR-140 utilizes a solid Sitka spruce top along with solid mahogany back, sides and neck and rosewood fingerboard. This is a combination that lends to both depth and projection, and mahogany is a beautiful wood.
If you don’t mind buying an instrument made overseas, the BR-140 is a great guitar for a great price. The saved cost of production allows them to use higher-quality materials, and you end up with a guitar that probably should cost a few hundred dollars more than it does.
Players who are into bluegrass may particularly appreciate this guitar for its projection and solid construction.
Ovation Standard Elite
I know I’ve already named the top 10 acoustic guitars for under $1000, so consider this one a bonus. I’ve written before about how I played an Ovation guitar in an acoustic duo at one point in my life. I really liked that guitar, and I do think Ovation, in general, is somewhat of an underrated guitar brand.
That’s probably because they are so different than other acoustic guitars out there. Ovation guitars utilize a synthetic material called lyrachord for their backs and sides, which are bowl-shaped. The top and neck are still wood, and Ovations are still acoustic guitars, but they are really meant to be plugged in.
That means if you are looking for a guitar to play acoustically without amplification then Ovation is probably not for you. They sound a little thin unplugged. However, if you intend to play in a band or any other situation where you will plug into an acoustic guitar amp or soundboard, I would seriously consider Ovation.
With powerful electronics onboard you have total control over your sound, and with thin bodies and necks, Ovation instruments feel similar to electric guitars. If that appeals to you, check out the Ovation Standard Elite.
Keep on Playing!
Remember this is all based on my opinions and experience. As always, I invite you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. Be sure to check out each guitar manufacturer for the latest info on their instruments.
I also have to say that it was incredibly hard to rank these guitars. I feel like each of them has something unique about them that could have put them in the number one spot. So, consider this a loose ranking. Better still, tell me in the comments which guitar you think deserves the top spot.
Someday you may decide to move up to a Martin, Taylor or Gibson that costs several thousand dollars, but chances are you’ll be afraid to take it out of the house! You may end up feeling like your guitar is better off in a museum than on your lap.
And don’t even think about the look your spouse will give you when you tell them you’re dropping $4000 on a new guitar!
Around a thousand dollars is just about the right price for getting a quality guitar you won’t feel guilty about owning. These guitars are players, and they look good and sound amazing.
Of course, you can pay a lot less too and still feel pretty good about yourself. There are some great acoustic guitars under $500 that sound amazing. After you’ve been playing for a while you start to realize that gear only goes so far, and the real sound is in the player. Expensive guitars are nice, but really it’s the musician that makes the music.
You can really drive yourself crazy worrying about gear, tonewoods and guitar brands. The time you spend worrying about that stuff is time better spent practicing. Choose your new instrument wisely, find the best guitar for under $1000 you can, and play on.
You’ll get great value and a guitar that will last for the rest of your life.
Top Acoustic Guitar Brands Under $1000
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Are Washburn acoustic guitars any good?
Answer: I think so. I especially like their Woodline Series for intermediate players, and they have some all-solid-wood guitars in their Heritage Series for well under $1000. I would check out Washburn if you are looking for a new guitar.
This is a brand that has been around for a long, long time. I remember them being very prominent back in the 1980s, but the company was actually founded in the 1880s! They’ve had their ups and downs, but they always seem to have some quality, affordable gear in their lineup.
Remember that whether a guitar brand is good or not is a matter of opinion. I can only tell you what I think, and I’ve always liked Washburn. It’s important to do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
Andy Stagger on June 23, 2019:
Godin guitars make Art & Lutherie acoustic guitars .... it will shame any Taylor or Martin .... for around $550 with a cutaway and electronic pick up ... I have a dreadnaught in bourbon burst that is a dream... I own about 8 acoustic guitars... Fender..Taylor... Yamaha ... Alvarez... Martin... I have to say Martins are way overrated and overpriced... my Yamaha sounds as good as my Taylor for Half the price... and Art & Lutherie guitars are stellar I dare anyone to play one and compare it to any guitar costing thousands of dollars... not to mention it has solid wood cherry back and sides and a torrified spruce top ...
Armando on October 28, 2017:
I like the taylor the best, the seagull is great quality for sure and is probably my second choice but I find taylor guitars so easy and comfortable to play.
Gerardo on April 12, 2015:
I heard every guitar on this article and I fell in love with the PRS. I bought it right away and it sounds amazing. Second place goes to Yamaha, loved that one too, but maybe I got a little bit too carried away about the PRS brand.
C-Dog on April 05, 2015:
What about the 2015 Breedlove Stage or Studio Dreadnought lines? All solid woods this year, US engineered/QA but built in Korea.
sergio on December 15, 2014:
What about the PRS SE Angelus? Beautuful guitar with a very round tone. It comes with a case and everything too!
John on November 21, 2014:
From top to bottom the Seagull line is a tremendous value. Outstanding
fit and finish with no frills. The Mexican made Taylors and Martins do not have a very good tone acoustically, and when you can buy an all solid wood guitar made in Canada for less than a laminated guitar built in Mexico or China, that is a plus in my book.
Guitar Gopher (author) on October 12, 2014:
Thanks for some great advice, Jeff! Epiphone is very underrated, especially their higher-end instruments.
Jeff on October 11, 2014:
I'll put any of the Epiphone Masterbilt guitars up against these fine guitars. The Masterbilt line is Epiphones top of the line acoustic guitars, you can purchase the EF models for about $700 while the DR models will cost you about $599 although I have found some excellent "B-Stock" Masterbilts for around $450. These really are fantastic acoustic guitars! all solid-wood, bone nut/saddle, Grover tuners and a great preamp (esonic2) pushing 2 pickups. These are beautiful guitars that truly sound as good as they look. They have a clean crisp sound, excellent necks and they ring out and sustain for days! If your looking around for a new acoustic don't let the name fool you, yes it's an Epiphone but these are a totally different animal! If your budget challenged like me this is a great buy.
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on June 13, 2014:
I'll take that Blueridge every single time....but then again, I've never seen or heard of a Bedell or a Recording King. I think what the major distributors carry is different region to region, but then again I haven't got to go "kick tires" in a big guitar store in a few years.