Best Acoustic Guitar for Fingerstyle
Taylor 314ce Acoustic Guitar, the regular or nylon string verion.
Taylor guitars are known for having a brighter tone profile, what some describe as a "sparkle" on the high end, making a lot of their guitars good fits for fingerstyle picking. We've settled on the 314ce for the V-class bracing, concert body shape, and all-solid tonewood. Together this gives the 314ce some nice sustain and brightness, even when softly brooding over fingerpicking patterns.
Taylor acoustics dominate the top-sellers list on Sweetwater and are popular for a wide range of acoustic guitar styles. The reason I like them for fingerstyle is their typically brighter and more nuanced tone that projects a lot of finger scrapes and right hand movement.
Concert body styles (smaller bodies in general) and cutaways also contribute to more of a lead acoustic tone profile. I like the 300 series for the solid tonewood and V-class bracing system, which pushes out a lot of sustain and some extra volume.
Of course, this all assumes you want a fingerstyle acoustic that's on the brighter side.
If you want something warmer, there's actually a nylon string version of the 314ce.
Either of these guitars are great for fingerstyle, depending on the type of music you want to play.
We'll compare the 314ce and some alternatives in the table below.
More acoustics we like for fingerstyle
Martin and Taylor absolutely dominate the acoustic guitar market, and the fingerstyle category is no exception. The following table contains our four top picks, including the Taylor 314ce. Note that we are treating the Taylor 314ce and 314ce-N as a dual recommendation.
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Cordoba GK Pro Negra
Compare More Acoustic Guitars
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Our Recommendation Methodology
For fingerstyle acoustics, we're looking primarily at the following features:
- Body style and shape (concert body style and cutaway)
- Brighter tone profile (though warmer can work as well)
- Nylon string acoustics should be an option based on musical style preference
- High-quality bracing (V class bracing in the Taylor 314ce)
- Trustworthy brand
When searching for an acoustic guitar with these features, we focus on brands and models that we have the most familiarity with. Guitars with the features we're after are listed only from the brands we we trust.
From there, we aim for acoustic guitars we've played/tested, and/or have the most experience with.
This means our recommendations are based on personal experience.
We never use third-party marketing firms and definitely not AI to write our content.
In other words, you're always hearing from real guitar players and musicians.
Taylor 314ce Price Guide
This sections contains a pricing table that is updated live from multiple retailers. The 314ce is not particularly cheap, nor does it fluctuate in price very often. Though we have seen it at some slightly different prices depending on the retailer and when you're looking. Always keep in mind that pricing is subject to change depending on time and retailer.
Prices updated on Tue, March 28th, 2023.
Features of the 314ce
The 314ce checks off the main boxes we wanted, including a brighter (right-hand emphasizing) tone, high-quality bracing system, smaller body shape, and a cutaway. The nylon string version provides a nice alternative for those wanting a warmer tone fingerstyle guitar, or want to play a classical style of music.
However, your particular needs and priorities might differ, so it's important to look for features that are best suited to your situation. There are a lot of different acoustics that can fit well into the fingerpicking style, so do your research before you buy.
As for the 314ce, here are the pros and cons we'll mention:
- Nylon string version opens up an incredibly wide tone range
- Easier to get your arms around than a dreadnaught
- Solid Spruce
- Bracing is stiff, but generates a lot of volume and sustain
- ES2 preamp knobs aren't labeled
Is there a difference between fingerstyle and strumming acoustic guitars?
There aren't really a lot of technical differences between a fingerstyle and strumming acoustic guitar. Because you can strum or finger pick any acoustic guitar, as they aren't really categorized by how you can play them. Fingerpicking is a playing style and not a category of guitar.
By the same token, you don't really have soloing electric guitars, or power chord electric guitars.
The differences come from more nuanced considerations, most of which we've already covered.
For example, we'd recommend a concert body shape instead of dreadnought, because the concert body is easier to wrap your arms around, which makes fingerpicking much easier. That said, you can still play fingerpicking styles on a dreadnought acoustic, if that's just what you prefer.
So no, there are not technical differences between fingerstyle and strumming acoustic guitars.
What brands should I focus on?
As mentioned, Taylor and Martin dominate the acoustic guitar market. Taylor, in particular, is known for their brighter tones and lead-friendly acoustics.
Other honorable mentions would include Godin (Seagull), Cordoba, and Takamine.
If you're going after a warmer tone, aim for the Cordoba nylon strings.
For a cedar top acoustic, look at Godin/Seagull acoustics.
- Taylor: Brighter, lead tone
- Martin: Warmer steel string sound
- Cordoba: Warmer, subtle nylon string sound
- Godin/Seagull: Cedar top
- Takamine: Honorable mention
Cedar tonewood and fingerpicking
For a lot of acoustic players, Cedar tonewood is an acquired taste. However, i's used often in classical and fingerpicking styles because of its unique sound. It's light and airy, but also somehow warm and inviting.
By virtue of being softer, you get less volume, but some prefer this since it opens you up for more intense picking patterns.
It basically just gives you a little more headroom.
We only listed the Cordoba C7 in the above table, but here is a curated list of Cedar top acoustics that you might want to consider.
Read more: Acoustic guitars with a Cedar top
Are nylon strings a better option?
I think if you want to go with nylon strings that should be based primarily on the style of music you want to play.
Nylon strings feel a lot different, and produce a much softer, more subtle sound. So nylon strings aren't necessarily going to be better, but they're certainly going to be more conducive to certain styles, depending on what type of music you're looking to play.
Remember, fingerstyle isn't really a "style" in and of itself.
Using a pick feels different than using your fingers. I'd recommend giving your right hand (picking hand) more room to wrap around the body of the guitar, as I mentioned with the concert body style.
Smaller guitars like 3/4 or parlor acoustics can also be great fits, though you might not want to go that small.
I would recommend avoiding dreadnoughts for this particular style, though that can also just be an issue of preference.
Another consideration when buying any acoustic guitar is whether or not you want to look for one with a pickup and preamp. This goes for any acoustic guitar purchase, since the preamp and electronics add cost.
Preamps and pickups in acoustic guitars typically account for a $100 to $200 increase over a non-electric version of the same guitar.
The main consideration is whether or not you want to record and/or perform with the guitar in question.
If so, we'd recommend at least having the option of plugging in.
Otherwise you'd be relying on some kind of microphone, which is a decent option for recording, but not so great for performing.
Look at Cordoba for nylon strings, and Taylor or Martin for steels strings. Remember, fingerstyle can work with most acoustics, so include other factors in your decision that matter to you.
If you have questions, jump into the comments section.
I try to keep up there, so I'll do my best to help out.
Thanks for reading and hanging out.
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