Are you an aspiring folk musician looking for a guitar that’ll help bring your songs to life? Finding the best guitars for folk musicians can be quite a challenge. More than likely, you want to find something that looks great, sounds fantastic, and won’t hurt your wallet too bad.
Of course, you probably have a few questions if you’ve never bought a folk guitar before. What should you look for in a guitar if you’re going to play folk? What are some of the most popular brands and models? And how much should you expect to pay? These are some things you should consider when shopping for the best guitars for folk music.
What Should You Know About the Best Guitars for Folk Musicians?
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Here are a few things every folk musician should know when shopping for their next guitar.
What should you look for in a good folk guitar?
As you probably already know, the entire folk genre is all about acoustic guitars. Therefore, this is primarily what you’ll be looking for. That said, having an acoustic guitar with electric capabilities also opens up new possibilities. These guitars have a built-in pickup and preamplifier, and they can be useful when playing onstage or in a band.
Whenever possible, you want to try a guitar out in person before buying it. Watch out for any potential fret buzz. That could indicate bad intonation, but it could also indicate a bad guitar. In any case, make sure you get your guitar set up before making a purchase. That will ensure the guitar sounds great and is comfortable to play. Also, while nylon strings sometimes work for folk music, you’ll generally want to stick with steel strings.
Regardless of anything else, you want to make sure you pick a guitar that feels right to you. Don’t get too hung up on big brand names. More importantly, you should choose a guitar that feels comfortable and sounds good to your ears.
What are some of the different kinds of folk guitars?
The best acoustic guitars come in all different shapes and sizes. The Dreadnought shape is especially popular today. These guitars are known for having big soundboards which give them a big sound. Auditorium guitars are also very popular among folk musicians today. These are similar to Dreadnought guitars, but they have a smaller waist. These guitars are known for their large volume and balanced tone.
Cutaways are also common on many acoustic guitars, regardless of shape. The cutaway allows you to access the upper frets much more easily. That is definitely something you should look for if you plan on playing leads with your instrument.
Where can you buy the best guitars for folk?
Luckily, you can find many of the following guitars in most local music shops. In particular, most Guitar Centers will have an entire section of acoustic guitars for you to try out. You can also find them in several different places online. Sweetwater.com, guitarcenter.com, musiciansfriend.com, and Amazon are all excellent places to shop for acoustic guitars.
How Much Should You Pay for a Good Folk Guitar?
The price of an acoustic guitar can vary quite dramatically. The best guitars for folk can cost anywhere $500 to $5,500. The differences in price are due to the types of wood used, the level of detail involved, and the sophistication of its electronics. Naturally, the brand name is also a factor. The differences in sound between a cheap guitar and an expensive guitar might seem subtle to a beginner, but it’s readily apparent to an experienced musician. Therefore, serious musicians should expect to pay a decent amount of money.
How We Reviewed
We primarily used sweetwater.com, guitarcenter.com, and musiciansfriend.com to find the basic features and specifications when reviewing these guitars. Our opinions of these products were also heavily informed by customer reviews from those sites, as well as reviews from customers on Amazon. When choosing the guitars for this list, we tried to keep a range of different budgets and skill levels in mind. That will help you find which guitar is best for you.
The Best Guitars for Folk Musicians
Here are a few of the best guitars for folk musicians on the market today.
Martin D-28 Natural
Of course, Martin is one of the most popular acoustic guitar brands, and the Martin D-28 Natural is one of their best guitars. This guitar is well-known for its warm tones and deep bass. Its construction consists of a solid Sitka top and solid East Indian back and sides. It also has a black ebony fretboard. Other features include open-gear tuners, aged toner top, a faux tortoise fingerguard, and antique white accents.
Customers have absolutely raved about this guitar. They especially loved its incredible tone and comfort when playing. The highs, lows, and midrange are all crystal clear. Complaints were few and far between. A few customers felt the guitar’s newer features were unnecessary. But of course, the main complaint was about the price.
You can expect the Martin D-28 Natural to cost between $2,500 and $3,000. Naturally, a premium guitar is going to have a premium price. Unfortunately, that means this guitar will simply be outside of many people’s budgets. That said, it is one of the best guitars you’ll find anywhere if you can afford it. Customers on Sweetwater.com gave this guitar 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
- Body Body type: D-14 Fret Cutaway: Non-cutaway Top wood: Sitka Spruce Back & sides: East Indian rosewood Bracing pattern: Non scalloped X-type Body finish: Gloss Orientation: Right handed Neck Neck shape: Low profile Standard Taper Nut width: 1.69" (43mm) Fingerboard: Ebony Neck wood: Select Hardwood Scale length: 25.4" Number of frets: 20 Neck finish: Satin Electronics Pic
- The tone of the Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar is what separates it from all other guitars
- It has a solid Sitka spruce top with glossy finish, special East Indian rosewood for the polished back and sides, and genuine ebony fingerboard and bridge
- With its rich, resonant warmth and punchy volume, the D-28 is particularly well-suited to music styles requiring loud, powerful rhythm accompaniment
- Includes Martin deluxe hardshell case and limited lifetime warranty
Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition
The Taylor K14ce Builder’s Edition is one of the best guitars from another highly respected brand in folk guitar. It features the state of the art V-Class bracing. That gives the guitar a greater balance between volume and sustain. It also makes the notes more in tune with each other. This guitar has a torrefied Sitka spruce top, Hawaiian koa back and sides, and a tropical mahogany neck. It also features Taylor Expression System 2 electronics in case you want to plug in and play.
Virtually all customers have loved this guitar. They felt the V-Class bracing improved its sound quality, and the harmonics are fantastic as well. Furthermore, they thought it was a beautiful guitar that’s also extremely comfortable to play. One minor complaint is that you have to play it for a while before the bass fully opens up. The other major issue is the price.
This guitar is going to cost between $4,500 and $5,500. That makes it the most expensive guitar on this list. That will be a serious investment. It’s undoubtedly one of the best guitars in the world if you can afford it. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to seriously consider whether or not it’s within your budget. Sweetwater.com gave it 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
- Builder's Edition 6-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Koa Back Sides
- Sitka Spruce Top with V-Class Bracing
- Tayl ES2 Electronics
- Ebony Fingerboard
- Mahogany Neck
The Takamine EF341SC is one of the best guitars if you’re looking for something that can go both acoustic and electric. Its Dreadnought shape gives it a powerful projection and crystal clear tones. It also has a cutaway that gives you easy access to the upper frets. Its top is solid cedar with a maple back and sides and a mahogany neck. This guitar also features Takamine electronics and a CT4B II preamp for when you want to plug in.
Customers loved this guitar because it looks great and sounds great. Many felt it was the best action they’d ever seen on an acoustic guitar. They also enjoyed its electric functions. For these reasons, many customers made it their main guitar for gigging. Overall, there have been very few complaints. However, there were a handful of customers who questioned whether it was worth the price.
This guitar will cost between $1000 and $1500. That makes it an excellent upper midrange guitar. It’s one of the best guitars if you want to upgrade from a beginner guitar but still can’t afford the more expensive brands. It’s also excellent if you want a great acoustic guitar with electric functions. This guitar has 5.0 out of 5.0 stars on sweetwater.com.
The Seagull S6 is one of the best guitars if you want a quality guitar with a more affordable price. It features a Dreadnought shape that helps prevent boominess. This guitar also has an integrated set neck that improves the tone and keeps the action consistent. It also helps prevent warping. The construction consists of a solid cedar top and laminated maple back and sides. The neck is silver maple.
Many customers were pleasantly surprised by the quality of this guitar considering how affordable it is. They thought it was an excellent value for the price. Its one of the best guitars for people who are just getting started. On the downside, it can’t compare to more expensive guitars. Some customers felt it required frequent tuning, and its performance might suffer in bad weather conditions.
The Seagull S6 will only cost between $350 and $500. Again, it’s an excellent choice if you or a loved one would like to learn how to play guitar. Unfortunately, guitarists who’ve been playing for a few years will probably require something a little more expensive. Sweetwater.com gives it 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
- Made in North America
- Select Pressure Tested Top
- Double Action Truss Rod
- Tapered Headstock for precise and stable tuning and great for open tunings
- Tusq nut and compensated saddle for better intonation
The Fender CD-60SCE is another one of the best guitars for beginners. It has a Dreadnought body that gives a nice, full sound and a cutaway shape that lets you easily reach the upper frets. It also features a Fishman pickup, preamp, and tuner for when you want to go electric. This guitar has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It also has a mahogany neck.
Most customers felt this was an excellent guitar for beginners and intermediate players. They said it was incredibly comfortable and sounded fantastic. Overall, they believed it compared very favorably to similarly priced guitars. But once again, it doesn’t compare to more expensive brands. In particular, several customers complained about the guitar buzzing on certain frets. It also has a bit of tinny sound compared to pricier guitars.
This guitar is going to cost between $250 and $375. Again, this guitar is potentially an excellent choice for beginners. However, it’s not really appropriate for more experienced guitarists. In these cases, you’ll probably want to stick with a Martin or a Taylor. Sweetwater.com gave this guitar 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
- A Venetian-cutaway body for easy upper-fret access
- Solid spruce top with scalloped "X"-bracing
- Mahogany back and sides
- Easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges
- Fishman Classic Design pickup/preamp
Yamaha A5R ARE
The Yamaha A5R ARE is an excellent Japanese-made guitar. It features scalloped bracing which gives the highs and lows greater resonance. It also makes use of a high heat treatment known as ARE torrefaction. That provides the guitar with greater stability and a beautifully aged color. Furthermore, it features the SRT2 pickup system with volume, treble, and bass controls. This guitar has a solid Sitka spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, and an African mahogany neck.
Most customers loved how resonant this guitar is. It’s a beautiful guitar with a very big sound. They also thought it sounded just as good when it’s plugged in as when it’s unplugged. That is sometimes a problem with acoustic guitars. Complaints about this guitar were exceedingly rare. However, there was at least one complaint about the guitar feeling uncomfortable to play. This experience was not typical for most players.
This guitar will cost between $900 and $,800. It is one of the best guitars you can find in this price range, and it compares very favorably to some of the more expensive guitars. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for anyone with a few years of guitar playing experience. Customers on sweetwater.com gave it 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
- Body Body type: Folk Cutaway: Single Top wood: Solid Sitka Spruce Back & sides: Solid Rosewood Bracing pattern: Scalloped Body finish: Gloss Orientation: Right handed Neck Neck shape: Info not available Nut width: 1.69 in. (43 mm) Fingerboard: Ebony Neck wood: African Mahogany Scale length: 25.6 in. Number of frets: 20 Neck finish: Satin Electronics Pickup/preamp: Yes Brand: Yam
- "Yamaha's A-Series A5R Cutaway Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar features all-solid rosewood back and sides married with a hand-selected Sitka spruce top that has been enhanced by Yamaha's original A
- wood-torrefaction technology
Taylor 224ce K DLX
The Taylor 224cd K DLX is another one of the best guitars from one of the most popular acoustic guitar brands. This guitar has a Grand Auditorium body shape. It has many of the same advantages as the Dreadnought but with more treble. It also has ES2 electronics which has tone controls for the highs and lows. This guitar has an all-koa body with a Sapele neck.
Most customers could tell the difference in this guitar’s koa body. Many described it as the best looking and best sounding guitar they own. It projects very well, and the highs, lows, and mids all have incredible clarity. Again, the complaints were almost non-existent. That said, some construction issues made some customers question how long it will last.
You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,800 for this guitar. It’s not cheap, but there are certainly much more expensive guitars out there. For the most part, it’s another great midrange product. It’s one of the best guitars if you want to upgrade to a higher quality guitar but can’t afford the pricier models. This guitar has 5.0 out of 5.0 stars on sweetwater.com.
- Grand Auditorium Body w/Solid Hawaiian Koa Top & Layered Koa Back/Sides
- 25.5"-Scale Sapele Neck w/Ebony Fingerboard w/1-11/16" Nut Width
- Taylor Expression System 2 Electronics
- Full Shaded Edgeburst Gloss Finish, Chrome Tuners, Ebony Bridge w/Micarta Saddle, and Tusq Nut
- Includes Deluxe Hardshell Case.
Of course, Gibson is one of the most famous guitar brands out there, and the Gibson J-15 is one of their best guitars for folk musicians. It features a round shoulder Dreadnought shape that gives it a warm, full-bodied sound. The round shoulders also make it a very comfortable guitar to play. It also features LR Baggs Element electronics with removable volume control. This guitar has a Sitka spruce top, walnut back and sides, and a mahogany neck.
Customers have loved this guitar and said it compares very favorably to Martin and Taylor. The electronics were extremely efficient, and the highs, lows, and mids all sounded clear as a bell. There were virtually no negative reviews for this guitar. Of course, the only real potential complaint would be the price.
A Gibson J-15 will typically cost between $1500 and $2000. While it’s not as expensive as some of the previously mentioned guitars, this is still quite an investment. Then again, you get what you pay for. That is a truly excellent guitar, and it’s generally a bit cheaper than some of the more expensive Martin and Taylor models. This guitar has 5.0 out of 5.0 stars on sweetwater.com.
- Sitka Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides
- Grover Rotomatic tuners
- LR Bags Element VTC pickup system
- Mother-of-Pearl Dot inlay
- Vintage Sunburst finish
Which Guitar is Best for You?
As you can see, a folk musician has plenty of great guitars to choose from. So which one is best for you? Naturally, your budget is going to be a major deciding factor. The Martin D-28 Natural and Taylor K14ce are the cream of the crop if you can afford them. But of course, many people simply won’t have the money. In that case, you might be better off going with the Takamine EF341SC, or Yamaha A5R ARE.
Skill level is also going to be a major deciding factor. The Seagull S6 and Fender CD-60SCE are two of the best guitars for beginning folk musicians. However, you’ll probably want to invest in something with more quality if you have more experience. Keeping these things in mind will help you find your next favorite guitar.