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In this roundup we're looking at the best acoustic guitars under 3000 dollars, targeting popular brands and the highest value models within that price range. Given a cap on our budget, we'll need to establish a floor as well, which we'll set to provide a $500 range to work with:
- Bottom price: $2500
- Top price: $300
We'll only recommend guitars within this price range.
At $3000 you're firmly into what we would consider the professional-grade price range, where you shouldn't see any kind of cost-cutting or "economy" measures being taken by instrument manufacturers.
Many of the acoustic guitars in this price range will be made by hand, entirely of solid tonewood, and will perhaps even be individualized to specific spec requests.
As such, I'll assume that you're not a beginner looking for a $3000 acoustic guitar, but if you do need to brush up on some acoustic guitar basics, refer to our main acoustic roundup:
Read more: Best acoustic guitars overall
If you have questions throughout this roundup, feel free to drop them into the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.
Best Acoustic Guitars Under 3000 Dollars (top 5 picks)
Use the compare buttons to see basic specs and price comparison. You can scroll down below for a more thorough rundown of each guitar. Note that while we make every effort to keep these pages updated, pricing and availability of acoustic guitars can change rather quickly.
1. Martin D-28
The Martin D-28 is one of the more bass-heavy acoustic guitars in this price range, and one of the best strumming guitars we can recommend. With a dreadnought body shape and no cutaway, you get a much heavier and robust tone, especially when you compare to something like the Taylor concert acoustics with venetian-style cutaways. Those guitars are brighter and more brisk than the Martin dreadnoughts, despite many of them sharing a similar tonewood profile.
You'll find that with acoustic guitars, the shape of the body has a lot to say about the type and style of tone, while the tonewood has more to say about the overall sound quality.
If you're looking for a rhythm-leaning acoustic with a lot of bass in the EQ, the D-28 gives you all-solid tonewood and a natural resonance that can't be matched by acoustic guitars in lower price ranges.
Note that this particular acoustic guitar does not come with electronics, meaning it will need to be mic'd or have an external pickup added.
This helps maintain the purity of the guitar's natural tone and is generally going to be preferred for this type of guitar in this price range.
IDEAL FOR: Rhythm, lower frequencies, strumming, and microphone recording
2. Taylor 714
Like the D-28, the Tonewood recipe is a mixture of Spruce on the top and Rosewood for the back and sides, all solid (Lutz Spruce and Indian Rosewood). However, the resulting tone profile is significantly different because of the body shape of the 714ce compared to the D-28.
Read more: What it Lutz Spruce?
The 714 is a concert body shape or what Taylor refers to as "Grand Auditorium."
These acoustic guitars have a thinner waistline which means they lose a significant amount of size, especially on the lower bout, between the soundhole and fretboard. This is also where the cutaway is positioned, which further reduces the body size.
As a result, these guitars are easier to hold and maneuver but also tend to produce a much brighter tone profile.
This is the biggest difference between the 714ce and the D-28.
Another significant difference is that the 714ce has the Taylor Expression System, which is Taylor's in-house electronics package. This is a pickup and preamp that allow you to connect directly to an amplifier or PA sytem.
Read more: Best Taylor acoustic guitars
IDEAL FOR: Lead acoustic styles, performing, and recording
3. Taylor 514
We like the 514ce for fingerstyle guitar players, and those who play more subtle styles, because of the red cedar top. This departure from Spruce along with the Mahogany back and sides creates a nice volume and midrange boost, along with plenty of sustain.
Read more: Acoustic guitars with Cedar top
The 514ce sounds great with fingerpicking patterns on the higher register, and seems fairly balanced in a strumming context as well.
Once again, we have the concert body style and sloped cutaway, just like the 714.
But it's the red Cedar top that really takes over projection and tone duties in this guitar.
While it can work in just about any context, we're big fans of the 514ce for fingerpicking and softer playing styles, just because of the high midrange in the EQ and the nuance you get from finger scrapes and subtle movement.
Once again, the ES2 expression system (pickup and preamp combo) is included.
IDEAL FOR: Fingerstyle, recording, right hand dynamics, and subtle playing styles.
4. Gibson J-45
Though a traditional-looking acoustic at first glance, a closer look shows us that the J-45 actually has more in common with the Taylor acoustics than the Martin D-28. It's loosely a dreadnought shape, though a slimmed-down variation that feels much smaller than a full dreadnought and mimics that thinner waste line with see in the 714 and 514 Taylors.
There's no cutaway, which leaves us with a full Sitka Spruce top and Mahogany back and sides.
Like the Martin, it's a bit on the warm side of the tone spectrum, but with plenty of balance for both lead and rhythmacoustic styles.
We'd recommend it for folks that don't want a strictly rhythm or lead acoustic.
With the J-45 you'll have a lot of flexibility between the two disciplines.
Lastly, you get an LR Baggs VTC pickup system which does an excellent job of capturing this guitar's natural tone and getting it into an amp or PA system. This makes it a particularly good pick for recording artists and studio projects.
At the end of the day it's hard to go wrong with Gibson acoustics.
IDEAL FOR: Recording and lead/rhythm hybrid styles
5. Martin CEO-7
The Martin CEO-7 picks up where the Gibson J-45 leaves off.
While it doesn't mention the word "parlor" in the product description, it's about as slim and small as an acoustic guitar can get without officially being called a "3/4" or parlor acoustic.
Like the J-45, it's still technically a dreadnought acoustic shape, but comes extremely close to the concert body style with a thin waist (above and below the sound hole) and a reduced lower and upper bout.
Also following the J-45, we get a solid Spruce/Mahogany tonewood combo that should improve and break-in as it's played.
The tone profile is definitely high-midrange, and what I'd call "bluesy" especially on the upper register.
It doesn't have as much sustain as something like the Taylor 514, but that's mostly a naturaly feature of the smaller body size. Vintage acoustic tones - which the CEO-7 is modeled after - were heavy on midrange but a little lower on sustain, which was just a character of that sound.
Also note, in typical high-end Martin fashion, there are no electronics in this guitar.
If you're looking for a bluesy acoustic guitar that can handle fingerpicking or traditional playing styles, the CEO-7 is a great landing spot.
IDEAL FOR: Microphone recording, performing, and balanced playing styles (also good for those wanting a smaller body size)
Which brands should I target in this price range?
As I've already mentioned, $3000 is a lot of money no matter what you're buying. As such, you need to make sure and stick to reputable brands or to focus on boutique companies that you know well and trust.
Since we try and focus on more popular brands here, I'll mentioned the brand names we trust most that will be suitable for the widest range of situations and potential buyers:
These brands are all fairly mainstream, but they're reliable and consistent when it comes to their acoustic models, especially in these higher price ranges.
Read more: Best acoustic guitar brands
Why are these guitars so expensive?
Acoustic guitar pricing goes up primarily because of the type of tonewood, the grade of that tonewood (rarity, quality), and the amount of by-hand labor required to build them.
While it depends on the company, many guitars in this price range have a lot of by-hand attention, and are assembled in the United States.
Other factors like binding, interior electronics, and hardware (tuning machines) have additional (though less significant) impact on the cost of these guitars.
- Tonewood type
- Tonewood grade (rarity/quality)
- Manufacturing location (in-house or outsourcing?)
- Manufacturing method (factory or handmade?)
- Electronics inclusion and type (in-house or third party?)
- Exterior trimings (tuning machines, binding, fretboard, etc.)
- Interior bracing structure
All of these factors have an impact on your acoustic guitar's price. Though in this price range, you can bet that no guitar manufacturer worth their salt - certainly not the ones we've listed - are skimping on any of these features.
You get what you pay for.
Are $3000 acoustic guitars worth it?
It's difficult to answer this question for everyone because each situation is unique and musical needs/wants change from person to person.
To be fair, I know proficient players who spend a lot less on their guitars.
I also know casual players who spend $3000 or more on their instrument, simply because they can.
So there's no rule to say for sure whether or not a $3000 guitar is "worth it" in your situation, though I can give some general rules when it comes to assessing worth and value and determining how much you should spend.
Those who spend this much money on a guitar are usually going to be involved in some kind of performance-oriented environment. This could be church, bar gigs, or semi-professional recording and session work. In other words, your involvement in music should probably be more than just a hobby or casual.
You should view this as an investment in what you do, not simply as a hobby to enjoy every once in awhile.
Again, the bigger question is whether or not you can afford it.
But as a general rule, I'd only recommend spending this much money if you need to deliver musical quality in some performance or recording capacity, especially if you get paid for said quality.
What about other acoustics in this price range that you didn't mention?
I've stuck to brands and models that I have some first-hand experience with. This means that I shy-away from including acoustic guitars that I haven't tried or at least know somebody who has.
Obviously, that excludes a lot of brands and guitars from this list.
Thus, it's important to point out that there are other acoustic guitars under 3000 dollars that are absolutely worth your consideration. What we've done here is given you a starting place, a way to gauge the market, and a guide to figure out where to go and what to look for.
My guess is that if you stick with our price range - and the quality brands we've recommended - you'll have a hard time finding a bad acoustic guitar.
If you have $3000 to spend on an acoustic guitar, you're a fortunate human being. Take your time, explore your options, and find something awesome.
Again, you're unlikely to end up with a lemon in this price range.
But keep the features and brands we've mentioned in mind as you browse and use them to settle on something that works for you and that you can make your own. Remember, these guitars improve as they age, especially with all solid tonewood, so make sure that this acoustic guitar purchase is one that you can stay in for the long haul.
As always, if you have questions - or just want to share your experience - drop me a note in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.
We'll see you there.
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