Our pitch to makers was simple: Send us a guitar that uses no rosewood and has a real-world cost of $500–$1,500. Since some makers have many models that qualify, we limited each brand to one guitar of any shape or size, with or without electronics or a cutaway. Laminated and solid woods were okay, but no composites such as carbon fiber (that’s a roundup for another time). What you’ll see over the following pages are a dozen acoustic guitars, presented alphabetically, that show off some of the delightful choices available in this popular price range.
The partnership between Yairi and Alvarez goes back several decades, with the Alvarez-Yairi stamp reserved for Alvarez’s finest instruments. While much of Alvarez’s line is manufactured in China, the Yairi-branded guitars are made in a small shop in Kani, Japan, where modern power tools are eschewed in favor of hand tools, like spokeshaves for carving necks, and hide-glue construction is standard throughout.
Introduced in 1968 as a special-order version of the 6-string F-50R, the Guild F-512 had varying appointments, including Brazilian rosewood backs and sides, before it became a regular model in 1974—and a go-to instrument for players such as Pete Townsend, Brian May, Tim Buckley, John Denver, and Dan Fogelberg.
The all-solid-wood CSF3M boasts scalloped bracing for enhanced tone, projection, and loudness; the TransAcoustic-equipped FG-TA dreadnought responds well to fingerpicking and flatpicking in standard and open tunings
Taylor Guitars has built its empire on changing how guitars are made—from the way forests are managed to instrument construction to sales. As it has shown before with its bolt-on neck and CNC-made models, players will show up if the guitars play and sound great. With its new V-Class bracing,…
In an era when tropical tonewoods such as mahogany and rosewood have become increasingly regulated and scarce, it makes perfect sense to make a guitar entirely from North American woods. The Model America 1 is based on the stalwart D-18, but with tonewoods that can be found in Martin’s—or maybe even your own—back yard.
Throughout the history of guitar making, collaborations between luthiers and guitarists have influenced the discipline and produced spectacular instruments. A brilliant example of this practice is the new Collings Julian Lage Signature OM1 JL, based on a deep exchange of ideas between the late builder and company founder Bill Collings and contemporary guitar phenom Julian Lage.
This stunning 12-string Galiano could be singled out for its craftsmanship and design alone, but the instrument’s importance is elevated by a direct connection to a towering 20th-century guitar maker and the community of immigrants that trained him.
How do you choose which guitars to review? Our writers are guitar fanatics, just like you. They’re always on the lookout for new or updated offerings to recommend. We’re sometimes asked why we don’t publish negative or one-star reviews – there are so many great guitars being produced today that we’d rather share our balanced opinions on the instruments we do think you should consider.
Do companies pay for you to review their instruments? No. We are proud of the firm separation between advertising sales and editorial coverage that we’ve held strong since our founding in 1990. We only accept endemic advertising – meaning, you won’t see ads for products or services unrelated to making music with an acoustic guitar; inevitably that means we’ll review products made by companies who advertise with us, but you’ll see just as many reviews by companies who do not. We have never (and will never) take money or gifts in exchange for a favorable review.
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