High quality, mid-budget guitars that won’t ever let you down
If you collect guitars only to leave them in their case for their entire lives choosing to play them ONLY when the lighting is “just right” with no chance of harmful UV rays or pesky onlookers asking “can I have a go?”, then this blog is probably not for you. For those who want sturdy, hardworking acoustic guitars that you can rely on at all times and don’t mind playing the hell out of them, then we’ve compiled the perfect list for you. This blog is all about super high quality acoustic guitars that you can tour with for a million years, guitars that you can rely on from the first time you step on a stage to the last radio session at the end of an 18-month tour, 10 years into your career.
Some acoustic guitars are made to be played every day, to be thrown around onstage and used for everything from radio sessions to those impromptu jams in the back of a van after rolling around in a case for weeks, whereas others are made to be played at home and polished afterwards, only to be carefully placed back in the case – but when you’re a touring band, forking out nearly 4k for a guitar you don’t want to damage is a little bit silly, so with that in mind we’re going to discuss some of the best professional acoustic guitars perfectly crafted for years of hard touring. These are the guitars that you’ll never want to retire as they’ll become a part of your stage show, the writing process and your life due to their longevity and quality of sound. These are the best high quality, affordable, mid-level budget guitars well under £1,000 that certainly won’t let you down on or offstage.
The fender Paramount range of acoustic guitars represents the world renowned brand’s re-entry into the land of professional quality acoustics. It’s fairly safe to say that Fender acoustics have lacked a little of that “panache” that other brands have seemed to get right over the years, but with this new range, they not only came to the table with a quality product, but kicked the table over and busted out a guitar solo in your face. This is by far their best run of acoustics ever. Not only does the Fender Paramount sound great thanks to the Solid spruce top, solid mahogany back, sides and neck as well as a comfortable and hardy ebony fingerboard with 20 frets to play with and Fender Fishman Paramount electronics, but the Deluxe edition looks amazing too. The mother of pearl / abalone concert tone inlays and little details really stand out without becoming overbearing, plus they look cool on stage or during acoustic performances. The included hard-shell case will also keep your guitars safe when touring too. Overall, the Paramount series is a great investment as they are reliable, strong and great sounding guitars that won’t break the bank or your heart if someone else decides to have a go – they’re made to work.
One of the main issues when playing an acoustic set, or jamming with friends, especially if there’s a cajon or drumkit involved, is getting your guitar to stand out in the mix – and not only stand out but be heard clearly, with all the subtle nuances catered for. Yamaha understand that the touring musician or at the very least, the performing acoustic artist needs that extra power to stand out whether it’s in the confines of an unforgiving stage or an open room with terrible acoustic treatment. So with this firmly in their minds, Yamaha have created the TransAcoustic LS-TA Electro Acoustic Guitar that effectively enhances the overall sound output wherever you play thanks to the in-built Actuator that reacts to the vibrations of the strings and essentially makes your guitar louder – the same thing used in some of their pianos. The other cool thing about the LS-TA is the fact it goes through the rigorous A.R.E (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) treatment process during construction. This process improves overall tone giving you those coveted full bodied tone whilst encouraging the wood to get better with age, meaning it sounds better the more year play it and the older it gets – ideal for those who want a go-to guitar for years on the road. The SYSTEM70 TransAcoustic+ Piezo pickup works in conjunction with the Actuator when plugged in, furthering the resonance of this great guitar. It’s also a little slimmer compared to a dreadnought guitar, making it a great travel companion! An even cheaper yet just as reliable option also comes in the form of the Yamaha FS850 Acoustic Guitar – well worth checking out too.
Farida guitars have quietly become a go-to brand for the discerning guitarist who wants superior quality without a shock inducing price tag. Throughout the years, the brand has gone from strength to strength with high profile musicians/bands, such as Frank Turner, Wolf Alice and Two Door Cinema Club, to name a few, happily endorsing and playing them onstage. The Farida range are all high quality options but one of the clear front runners for best low budget guitars that doesn’t skimp on quality is the B-52E Electro Acoustic. It’s one of the striking Bluegrass series models with slope shoulders, decorative Ivory/Black/Mahogany binding as well as abalone soundhole rosette for extra effect – not that you’ll need more convincing considering the sunburst colour (pictured) is striking enough! The combination of solid spruce and rosewood tonewoods offer clear projection and a versatile tonal range. Frequent players will love the sturdy mahogany neck that is as comfortable as it is strong – no flimsy necks here, whilst the Fishman Prefix Plus-T preamp handles the onboard electronics allowing you to plug into an amp when needed. The Farida B-52E also includes a guitar case to keep it safe when you’re on the road – perfect.
Merida prove with their range of electro acoustic guitars that high quality doesn’t always involve a higher price tag. A brand favoured by sessions musicians all over the world (Rod Stewarts guitarists use them) they’re slowly seeping into the professional touring circuit due to their high build quality and their stunning presentation. Before you’ve even heard the Merida Alcazaba A17-DCES, you’ve probably fallen in love with it, and you’d be forgiven due to the fact the 20 fret rosewood fingerboard features a gorgeous vine inlay, the bridge and headstock; a two tone cedar/rosewood mix and the soundhole is adorned with yet more beautiful intricacies. It’s simply stunning. Fortunately, it sounds as good as it looks! The solid cedar and rosewood top and back (respectively) combination is renowned for producing impressive tones and resonance allowing the sound to carry well. The cut out offers guitarists the option to reach the higher frets and the Fishman/Merida Standard electronics allow you to plug into an amp when you need to. It looks, professional, it sounds amazing and it will get better with age – this is a great option for those touring guitarists who want a professional product at a lower price without skimping on quality.
Finally, we have the Taylor GS Mini-E Electro Acoustic Guitar (pictured here in Mahogany) – a perfect combination of outstanding construction quality meets superior sound capabilities in a portable, solid form that won’t take up too much room in the van, on the plane or at home. Although it’s a “mini” guitar, don’t think for a second that it won’t stand up against the larger dreadnought style guitars when it comes to projection. The Solid Tropical Mahogany is a beautiful, dense tonewood that provides a bright and punchy sound at first, but as the guitar ages, you will notice the warmer, richer tones start to come through – yet another guitar on our list that is just asking to be played all the time. It also makes our list due to the fact the back and sides are constructed from a Sapele laminate which is known to be a little more resilient compared to solid tonewoods when it comes to frequent or sudden changes in humidity – if you’re taking it on a plane or storing it in a van overnight for example, which makes it a perfect travel companion. It’s a serious powerhouse thanks to the onboard Taylor ES-2 electronics system with built-in preamp, but even if you don’t plug it in, you’ll appreciate the full bodied acoustic voice and comfortable playing feel. This is the type of guitar that stays with you for life, taking on it’s own personality the more you play it – just make sure you play it as much as you can!
View a complete range of acoustic guitars at the Dawsons website.