Acoustic for the Professional

It is a strange thing to realize that no matter how much you are willing to pay, there will always be a better guitar out there. This bothers me a lot because I want every one guitar I ever speak of to be the best guitar. So when I spend several days freaking out about this new instrument I found that is exceptional in every way and then one of my friends shoots me an email or message about a guitar that is much better, I get a little frustrated. Thankfully the prevalence of this problem becomes less immediate in the range of mid to high end. Which is why I am so excited to be talking about the 10 best acoustic guitars under 2000 – all of these guitars carry the weight of being incredibly good. In this range really, the sky’s the limit, and by the sky I mean the number 2000 and by the limit I mean beyond that we’re entering the range of “the best acoustic guitars ever”. Fair warning: you will find me freaking out about those, because what man doesn’t freak out when he exits the stratosphere?

Anyway, the problem of owning the best guitar shouldn’t bother you as much as it does me. You are not someone who reviews guitars, you are someone who plays them and if you really think about it, for each musician the “best” guitar, or instrument in general, is a highly subjective idea.

Top 7 Best Acoustic Guitars Under 2000

ImageGuitar Model
Rating
Check Price
Martin Custom D Classic Mahogany5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)Check on Amazon
Taylor 317e Grand Pacific with V-Class Bracing4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
Martin D-414.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
Takamine Pro Series GB7C Garth Brooks with Case4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
Blueridge BR-180 Historic Series Dreadnought Guitar4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)Check on Amazon
Prestige Guitars Eclipse Spruce/Rosewood, Auditorium Body 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)Check on Amazon
Composite Acoustics Cargo Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)Check on Amazon

Martin Custom D Classic Mahogany Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.9 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars
Average:4.9 out of 5 stars

Check on Amazon

Full Review

 

Dreadnought guitars are something we can never say no to, especially in the high-end range. Though they will sound wonderful even at a low price tag, they gain an extraordinary appeal once they get a bit more expensive. Martin guitars are renowned for their quality and their Custom D isn’t an exception by any means. It features the tonewoods that you’re likely to encounter at every step of the way: it has spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. Its non-cutaway design adds even more character to the guitar and turns it into an unforgettable treat. Tortoise pickguard is there to protect your instrument from scratches that may appear from your pick (heavy strummers will get what I’m saying). Though there is nothing extraordinary about the design, you’ll definitely be amazed by the sound; this puppy has accentuated low-end, but it still manages to retain the brightness that’s needed for producing rounded, well-defined tone. If you’re ready to splurge and invest in a mesmerizing guitar, Martin Custom D is definitely the one!

Pros:

  • Wonderful tone
  • Perfect volume
  • Well-balanced lows and highs
Cons:

  • Too much low end for recording

Taylor 317e Grand Pacific with V-Class Bracing

Build Quality:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars
Average:4.7 out of 5 stars

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Full Review

It’s not unusual to expect a certain pattern of behavior from different brands. When it comes to guitar manufacturing, most of the companies have their niche sound – a tone that can be discerned even in the crowded mix. But sometimes they decide to spice things up and develop something innovative. That’s what Taylor did when they came up with the idea to utilize V-class bracing in their 317e Grand Pacific. This puppy will deliver the sound that you wouldn’t expect from the brand, which is a wonderful thing, in my personal opinion. You’ll hear deep and saturated basses here, yet the aim of this guitar is to create a balanced sound. That’s what it achieves with its solid Sitka spruce top, sapele back and sides, and non-cutaway body. 317e also comes with ES2 (Expression System 2), which is Taylor’s distinctive pickup system. Behind-the-saddle pickup is comprised with three individually calibrated sensors, all of which have a specific location. This way the dynamics of your sound is fully recognized and conveyed. Whether you are into Taylor or not, this one is worth a shot!  

Pros:

  • Innovative V-Class bracing
  • Rounded, yet expressive tone
  • Wonderful build quality
Cons:

  • Dynamics are compromised with heavy strumming

Martin D-41

Build Quality:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars
Average:4.7 out of 5 stars

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Full Review

Martin D-41

Somewhere in the afterlife Mr. Christian Frederick Martin walks proudly among his peers, knowing that his company has made one of the best high end acoustic guitars that will ever grace the market. The beautiful and impressive D-41 Martin Dreadnought, the golden dragon among acoustic guitars, stands as one of the best ever made. The price tag reflects that, but don’t let it scare you, this beast can sound both quiet and loving, as well as loud and demanding, repaying your every cent and more with every note played. A solid spruce top with a radiant rosewood side and back produce a resonant sound that sticks to the ear and the heart easier than the blame to the devil. The Rosette and Ebony fretboard is inlaid with brilliant Abalone, making it positively scrumptious to look at. This guitar will stretch the strings of any person’s heart tighter than the strings stretched across the guitar itself, letting you play them louder and clearer than the first lover’s longing sigh ever did.

Pros:

  • Amazing Sound
  • Beautiful
  • Great Build
Cons:

  • Expensive

Takamine Pro Series GB7C Garth Brooks with Case

Build Quality:5 out of 5 stars
Hardware:5 out of 5 stars
Sound:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars
Average:5 out of 5 stars

Check on Amazon

Full Review

Takamine Pro Series GB7C Garth Brooks with Case

Garth Brooks is a big name in the United States. So making a guitar that bears his name means a lot of responsibility. This is easy for Takamine as showcased by their Pro Series GB7C Garth Brooks guitar. The solid cedar top of the guitar creates a beautiful resonance, emphasizing the bright sounds of the mid and high tones. The guitar produces an incredible, bright sound that remains precise and sustain free no matter how fast or hard you play. The guitar, because of its unique sound-hole, looks as unique as Garth Brooks’s music combining rock and roll with country does. It is incredibly easy to produce the country sound that so many people pursue for so long, thanks to this guitar being made in mind with a country sound.  The perfect mid range priced guitar for your high end musical needs, such as the ones Garth brooks would approve of.

Pros:

  • Full sound
  • Comfortable
  • Good construction
Cons:

  • Price might be a bit high for beginners
  • Might want to restring

Blueridge BR-180 Historic Series Dreadnought Guitar

Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.9 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars
Average:4.9 out of 5 stars

Check on Amazon

On the quest of finding the best acoustic guitar under 2000, we can’t help encountering wonderful models from Blueridge. Their Historic Series has always been inspiring, as it provides us with guitars that know what to do and how. BR-180 is yet another exciting example. It’s built with traditions in mind, and comes with certain features that have proven to be really useful throughout the time. This bad boy has a classic dovetail joint that turns it into a more durable piece. The top is made from solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are built with Santos rosewood. These woods compliment the qualities of one another, delivering a powerful, rich tone as a result. One-piece mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard are extremely smooth to the touch, turning the whole experience into a real pleasure. The nut might be a bit narrow for those of you who have bigger hands, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it after some practice. Overall, BR-180 is an excellent guitar with an amazing price. 

Pros:

  • Great tone
  • Excellent build quality
  • Simple and attractive design
Cons:

  • You’ll need initial setup with it
  • The nut might be too narrow for big fingers

Prestige Guitars Eclipse Spruce/Rosewood

Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars
Average:4.9 out of 5 stars

Check on Amazon

 

You know what is the best feeling when you search the market? – it’s finding jaw-dropping guitars from lesser known brands. They usually provide us with the opportunity to play with impeccable craftsmanship for a price that will surprise you to say the least. Prestige Guitars is one of those manufacturers. They set a bar really high when it comes to the tone and construction be it their acoustic or electric models. We’ll leave the latter for some other time, since now we’re looking at their Eclipse Spruce Rosewood guitar. Not only is it built with solid spruce (top) and solid rosewood (back and sides), but it’s also extremely attractive. Mother of pearl binding, inlays and headstock logo add an expensive touch to the design and force you to stare at this piece interminably. No matter what style you prefer – the tone is versatile enough to handle anything. Eclipse Spruce Rosewood is something you should check out if you want to avoid the beaten track. 

Pros:

  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Versatile tone 
  • Appealing design
Cons:

  • It’s really hard to get your hands on this baby (it’s made in limited amounts)

Composite Acoustics Cargo Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar

Build Quality:4.6 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.6 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars
Average:4.6 out of 5 stars

Check on Amazon

Full Review

One thing we can hardly avoid is the environmental changes that always affect our guitars. Yeah, yeah, I know, there are countless accessories that help us in that process. But we can’t neglect what a pain in the neck that process can be. Those who will never play a guitar unless it’s wooden can definitely skip this one. I, myself, was shocked when I played Cargo for the first time. Peavey’s Composite Acoustics makes guitars from carbon fiber and, as surprising as it may sound, they sound mesmerizing. Cargo itself is a travel-size guitar that definitely sounds bigger than its body. It can be utilized plugged in or acoustic – it will deliver beautiful results either way. You can forget about humidity with this one, since environmental factors don’t affect its sound. You can also forget about truss rod adjustments, which is a huge virtue on its own. Not only is it handmade, but it has a unique design too – uniquely placed soundhole will attract your attention from the very first glance. Cargo is unlike any other guitars out there in so many different aspects!  

Pros:

  • Can’t be affected by the environment
  • Won’t even scratch if you drop it
  • Flexible and smooth to play
  • Wonderful sound
Cons:

  • Hard to change the pickup battery (but you won’t be needing that anytime soon)
  • Not for wood lovers

2000 vs 500

A lot of the time people have trouble understanding what the difference between an expensive and relatively affordable guitars is. You will see many proponents of the “all guitars sound the same” theory and you might feel inclined to agree with them. I used to agree with them too because I had a hard time imagining that different types of body or nut material might produce a different sound.

I only realized how wrong I was after I had the chance to compare the two types of instruments myself. I had spent the day at a musical instrument shop “helping” a friend of mine pick out a new drumset. By helping I mean letting him talk to the assistant while I walked around the acoustic guitars section and tried every single instruments my hands could reach. Don’t judge me, he had been looking for a new drumset for months and I couldn’t take any more of him blabbering on about how specifically he wanted it, so yes I ran away to a better place.

I first tried a bunch of guitars on the affordable side, in the range of 500-800. These were extremely nice guitars, all of them sounded really good, something I would expect out of a guitar. Then, I saw, hanging on the wall, a guitar that was worth about 2000. Curious, I got my hands on it and played. The thing is I had grown accustomed to good sound, but this was something else. It had a deeper bass response than what I was used to, more emphasized high tones than what I had expected. It was overall warmer, more comfortable. It felt like for the first time in my life I actually sounded as good as I thought I always did.

This was thanks to the guitar made of higher quality materials.

Laminated and Preserved or Well Aged and Full Bodied

I covered a little information about the types of materials used for the body of an acoustic guitar and their effects in an earlier article, when talking about beginner guitars. The thing is, these are not beginner guitars, and there is a large difference between laminated and natural materials.

Laminated materials often used in affordable acoustic guitars sacrifices some resonance to tones for the sake of cheaper materials that could potentially last longer, unchanged. The sound remains crisp, but the effect of the laminated material is limited, taking away the uniqueness of the instrument’s sound.

Natural, non laminated materials that are used in higher end guitars such as the ones above are different. These guitars usually use high end materials with superior resonance, such as Engelmann Spruce or a any number of other, rarer materials. This results in a deep bass response and precise high tones that resist the extra sustain of the strings when the guitar is played faster.

These non laminated woods also tend to age over time, further enhancing the sound of the guitar. While a brand new Engleman Spruce guitar might sound crisp and exceptional and aged one will have grown into its sound, becoming more “full bodied”. This brings a guitar into the same realm as that of aged wines – when cared for and aged properly, a guitar only becomes better as it becomes older.

Conclusion

Every instrumentalist finds that the best guitar, or any other instrument, is the one they love playing. A whole lot of things other than the specs go into enjoying what you play. The history of the instrument or how it fits into your hands or how you feel holding it are much more important for the “best guitar” you will own than what material it is made of. It might be true that best high end acoustic guitars are superior in many ways to the best acoustic guitars that are priced just under 500, but one thing is omitted when considering such superiority.

The first acoustic guitar I ever bought was not worth much more than 300. That was too long ago to talk about out loud, but ever since then I have bought other guitars. Some of them have been just under 500 and some of them have been way more than that. The thing is my first acoustic guitar still remains as my favorite acoustic guitar. It is best guitar I ever owned, hands down. That is not because it sounds the best or because it is the most comfortable to play, but because it now has character. It is infused with memories of hours spent practicing with or without my friends. Every time I pick it up and play it, I can’t help but remember that one time when I was playing in the underground and some drunk guy started dancing to my music. It has all the ugly stickers and all my teenage angst compounded into so much love and hate that this guitar took. Years of abuse and years of attempting to preserve its character, originality and form, because at some point it was about to fall apart.

This isn’t to say that it beats the best acoustic guitar under 2000 in sound. In fact it is much inferior. What I am trying to say is that it beats them in character, because these guitars, until you’ve played them are plain blank.  A guitar on this list might end up being your favorite, or it might not, it is entirely up to you. The thing is you have to play it to make it the best.

Good Luck!

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