Best Acoustic Guitar Under $1000 (our top pick)
The Taylor 114e and CE
We think the Taylor 114e and CE are two of the highest-value acoustic guitars on the market, especially considering they can still be had for less than $1000. If you're looking for the quick answer, that's what we'd recommend for most people.
Updated on October 25th, 2023
We've checked product links to make sure all the guitars are still available and condensed some of the copy down to make it easier to read. Feel free to ask questions via the comments section below.
We're focusing on the best acoustic guitars under $1000, with a floor price of $750.
Please note that we base these selections off of personal experience.
If I haven't personally played the acoustic guitar in question - one of the models I'd like to recommend - I make sure and consult with someone who has. We're not writing these lists blind without experience in the industry. I've played guitar for nearly 25 years, and have worked with folks in music gear retail for the past 10, so I've been able to get familiar with these brands and can make recommendations from first-hand experience.
For acoustic guitars near the $1000 price point, we're looking for the following:
- Brand reputation (community consensus)
- Solid wood (as opposed to laminate)
- Reliable electronics (pickups and preamp)
- Reliable construction
- Good natural tone and open-air sound quality
These are the markers we look at when picking out the best acoustic guitars under 1000 dollars. And while there are a ton of great acoustic guitars in this price range, these are the ones we've tested and can vouch for personally. If you have questions about our review process or how/why we selected these specific guitars, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below. We'll see you there.
Read more: Best Acoustic Guitars Overall
Best Acoustic Guitars Under 1000 Dollars (top 5 picks)
Taylor GS Mini-e Koa
Martin D-10E Road Series
Seagull Maritime SWS CH CW QIT
Washburn Comfort G25SCE
1. Taylor GS Mini-e Koa
The Mini Koa checks off a handful of boxes that we mentioned earlier, including solid tonewood (a top Hawaiian Koa piece), and the Taylor ES-B preamp. Normally we'd prefer to see a preamp/pickup system from Fishman or LR Baggs, but Taylor has improved their in-house solution over the years, and it does a good job of capturing the natural resonance of the guitar. Given the smaller body size, this could be a good fit for younger or just smaller players, though that doesn't make it a kids guitar by any stretch. Here's how it looks in the hands of an adult:
Taylor acoustics have a naturally brighter tone, especially compared to something like a Martin Dreadnought or Seagull Maritime (both of which we'll look at later). Combined with the small body size, you'll get a lot of crispness out of your tone that makes the Mini Koa a good fingerpicking acoustic.
It can still function really well as a more traditional strumming acoustic guitar, but we'd argue the Mini Koa sounds best and most expressive through single-note runs, arpeggios, and fingerpicking patterns. Given our price point, it's one of the most popular options and easily one of our favorites to recommend.
IDEAL FOR: Fingerpicking, performances, and higher-register playing styles
- Solid Koa top (laminate Koa back and sides)
- Size is comfortable and easy to maneuver
- Leaving the cutaway out is a good move here (helps warm up the tone)
- The ES-B system does a good job of capturing the "open air feel" of the Mini Koa
- Ships with Elixir acoustic strings
- An amazing fit for finger picking or those wanting a brighter tone profile
- It can strum, but it's not our top pick if you want more of a traditional strumming acoustic
- Preamp knobs still aren't labeled
2. Taylor 114e
The 114e is actually comparable to the smaller Mini Koa, except the 114e (and the CE version with the cutaway) are full-sized concert style acoustic guitars. Like the Mini, the 114 has a brighter tone profile and is particularly strong with fingerpicking and lead acoustic styles. This has often made the cutaway version a more desirable alternative, though both the E and CE versions are quite similar.
We also see a return to the more common solid Spruce top, as opposed to the Koa in the Mini.
In our experience, there isn't a ton of difference between these two tonewoods.
You might say the Spruce is a bit warmer, but that's just our impression and could be due to the larger body size in the 114.
The 114 also uses Walnut for the back and sides, which can also contribute to a warmer profile. On the spectrum of warmth versus brightness, the 114e definitely leans warmer than the Mini, but is still bright by comparisons to other brands and models.
Read the full review: Taylor 114ce (applies to the 114e version as well)
IDEAL FOR: General use, recording, performing, fingerpicking and lead acoustic styles
- Solid Spruce top
- Walnut top and sides help balance the tone profile
- Can handle pretty well in both a strumming and lead acoustic context
- ES-2 expression system sounds decent
- For years, this has been one of the best-value acoustic guitar models available
- Like the ES-B system, the ES-2 does not label its three control knobs
3. Martin D-10E Road Series
As we move away from Taylor acoustics we get into a very different type of guitar.
The Road Series from Martin is - in a lot of ways - the polar opposite of what we see in the Taylor GS Mini and 114e.
It's an entirely solid Sapele body, which is going to produce a warmer and more "earthy" response. And where the Taylors are uniquely good with fingerpicking and lead acoustic styles, the Road Series - and Martin guitars in general - are exceptionally good when it comes to strumming and warmer tones.
Though it's worth noting: The D-10E comes in a version with a Sitka Spruce top instead of Sapele, like the 114e. When purchasing one, you can choose between the two. And if you get the Spruce model, it'll brighten things up and give you more of a balanced tone response.
Note that the D-10e is also a regular-sized acoustic in the dreadnought body shape, where the Taylor models were the concert-style shape.
Here are a couple graphics that show the difference.
Concert acoustic shape first:
And then the dreadnought:
To put it simply, the dreadnought body shape is just bigger and feels larger in your hands, especially if you're playing the guitar sitting down.
In the Road Series, this all works quite nicely with the warmer tone and the strumming-friendly resonance. Martin gives you a very traditional acoustic guitar with Fishman electronics, but that also sounds its best when it's not plugged in and simply enjoyed in open air.
For folks who want to prioritize a strumming acoustic, this would be our first stop.
IDEAL FOR: Strumming, rhythm, recording, performing, and open air playing
- All solid tonewood (Sapele)
- Choose either Sitka Spruce or Sapele for the top piece
- Warmth and strumming response sound great
- Fishman electronics
- Better price point than the Taylor acoustics
- None for the price
4. Seagull Maritime SWS CH CW QIT
While it's at the top of our price range (hovering around $950), it's possibly the nicest guitar on this list.
If I could pick one, this would probably be it.
The top is solid Spruce - same as the Taylor models - while the back and sides are solid Mahogany, leaving no room for laminate. Like the Road Series, everything is solid tonewood.
Its tone profile is on the warmer side, but also has some brightness on the higher register thanks to the Spruce top and the slimmed concert body style. This all makes it a little closer to the Taylor's tone and sound than the Martin Road Series, but we'd argue it does a good job of walking a fine line between the two.
To top things off, the Godin QIT preamp and pickup system does a great job of reproducing the guitar's natural resonance in an electric signal and also has a built-in tuner.
Read more: Acoustic guitars with built-in tuners
For that reason and for the balanced tone, we're a big fan of this acoustic in the studio.
IDEAL FOR: Balanced tone, studio/recording, pretty much everything
- Solid Spruce and solid Mahogany makes us happy
- We're big fans of Godin's in-house preamps
- Seems to handle bright and warm equally well
- Aesthetics are lights out
- Headstock design helps with tuning stability
- Tuner in the preamp
- At the top of our price range
5. Washburn Comfort G25SCE
The Washburn Comfort is a guitar that hasn't been on our radar for as long as the other models on this list, but we got a chance to try one at a Guitar Center (we go to the one by my in-laws in Chesterfield Virginia), and it's just a fantastic acoustic guitar, especially on the lead acoustic and fingerpicking side.
Like the Seagull, it's at the absolute top of our price range. In fact, it's $50 ahead of the Maritime.
From a tone perspective it's closer to the Taylor 114e, with a brighter resonance that comes through even on strumming patterns.
Here's a breakdown of the tonewood mixture:
- Sitka Spruce top (solid)
- Pau Ferro sides
- Pau Ferro back (maple/mahogany split)
The main reason I don't like this model quite as much as the Seagull is because it only gives you the solid top, without mentioning the type of Pau Ferro or Maple used on the back and sides. When they don't mention solid or laminate, it's safe to assume you're dealing with laminate construction.
If you recall, the Seagull Maritime is entirely solid construction - and $50 cheaper - which we think makes it a higher-value option than the Washburn Comfort.
Still, the Comfort is an excellent acoustic and worthy of inclusion in our list.
We love the aesthetics with the arm rest design piece and venetian cutaway.
It's an especially good fit for lead acoustic styles and those looking for a brighter tone.
IDEAL FOR: Lead acoustic, fingerpicking styles, live performing
- Arm rest design is awesome
- We love the aesthetics of the maple and pau ferro
- Great for lead acoustic styles
- Fishman preamp/pickup system is one of the best available
- At the top of our price range
- Would be nice to have solid back/sides at this price point
Should I hold out for solid tonewood?
Within our price range, we would absolutely recommend holding out for at least a solid top piece. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a guitar near $1000 that doesn't have a solid top.
Back and sides are a different story.
While it's certainly a huge plus for an acoustic guitar to have a solid back and sides, it's not something we would consider completely critical.
The closer you get to $1000, the more you should look for it - and that's why we recommend guitars like the Martin Road Series and Seagull Maritime. These acoustics have solid tops and solid pieces for their backs and sides, and it's no coincidence that they're two of the best-sounding guitars on this list.
So definitely be sure and get the solid top, while remaining flexible - but hopeful - for the back and sides.
Which guitar from this list would we choose?
Of the five listed, I would personally take the Seagull Maritime. In fact, if I buy another acoustic guitar in the near future - that will likely be more first pick.
How did we test these acoustic guitars?
As I've mentioned previously, we've built this list - and others like it - based on first hand experience. This means all five of the guitars on this list have been at least tested by me, or one of the folks I consult with.
This also explains why we make smaller lists (five guitars instead of 10) and why some worthy acoustic guitars are not included.
If we can't vouch for the brand and the model specifically, we leave it out.
This means that there are a ton of acoustic guitars under 1000 dollars on the market that could potentially be good fits for this list. However, we limit our selections to the models we're most confident in.
From these, testing is as simple as sitting down with an acoustic guitar, playing it, and taking a few notes.
We sincerely hope this is helpful to you as you search for your own acoustic guitar.
Questions and Comments
Do you need help finding your best acoustic guitar under 1000 dollars?
Maybe you have questions about the models we've listed or our review process.
If so, feel free to leave those in the comments section below. If you do, I'll be happy to jump in and help out personally, as best I can.
We'll see you there.
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