Ultimate upgrades to set you up for life
You’ve put in the time with your hand-me-down guitar, the beginner pack that’s served you well or the one you’ve “borrowed” from your friend (and failed to give back for 3 years). You know pretty much every Oasis and Led Zeppelin song there is. Heck, you’ve even started your own band, crafted your own songs and watched your first guitar become part of you. But now it’s come to that time in your musical journey where you face the “upgrade”. This is where you push yourself into the upper echelons of music mastery and purchase that high-end acoustic guitar. It’s like graduation day for a musician, and the start of your GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) which will undoubtedly lead to many more guitars over the years. Trust, me it’s going to happen. But where do you start?
You have your own acoustic and you love it, but you need to upgrade to better, longer lasting parts, more resonant woods and a higher quality build. Well, look no further. We’re going to look at some of the best high-end acoustic guitars’ money can buy. These models are perfect for those who want to upgrade or take the next step with their guitar. So, here’s the top 5 high end acoustics for the guitarists who wants to get serious with their playing, in price descending order.
1. Taylor K24CE Electro Acoustic
We’ll kick things off with the Taylor K24CE Electro Acoustic Guitar. Built using resplendent Hawaiian Koa with an eye-catching shaded edge burst finish, the K24CE is endowed with a luxurious timbre that is fit for any studio recording or stage performance. The soundboard is reinforced using Taylor’s CV binding with relief rout, which allows the top to retain an agile flexibility for improved resonance whilst maximising structural integrity.
Paired with the body is a sturdy yet undeniably comfortable mahogany neck that has been afforded a smooth satin finish for an effortless feel in the hand. Married to the neck is a glorious ebony fingerboard, which is adorned with an intricate “Island Vine” inlay pattern. Complementing the high-quality finish are premium appointments that include gold tuning machines and an ebony bridge with bone saddle for impeccable performance.
Taylor’s Expression System 2 electronics system allows you to take command of your tone when playing via an amplifier. With deft precision you can attenuate your output to suit any performance environment or playing style. Each model is supplied with a Taylor hard case to keep your model in pristine condition at home or on the road. Quite simply, you’d be hard pressed to find a more glorious model than this.
2. Gibson SJ-200 Standard Electro Acoustic
Now we’ll move on to what so many regard to be the holy grail of acoustics, the Gibson SJ-200 standard. This absolute beast of an acoustic guitar goes by the name “King of the Flat-Tops” and with one strum, you’ll hear why. Since 1937, the Gibson SJ-200 has been the go-to guitar for the discerning guitarist, from country, to blues to rock and anything in between. There’s no style of music this guitar can’t play with. In fact, you’re likely to find one of these on many records you own.
The latest incarnation, the Gibson SJ-200 Standard appears with a maple back and sides as well as a solid Sitka spruce soundboard that sounds better the more it ages. This guitar comes with the upgraded L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup for when you want to plug-in onstage. Plus, a hardshell case, so you can take it with you on the road, on the plane and wherever your music takes you. As far as high-end acoustic guitars are concerned, the Gibson SJ-200 is a must have or at the very least a must play before you die type of guitar.
As well as the 2019 Standard, we offer a selection of J-200s for you to get your hands on.
3. Martin D-18E Retro
If you like guitar-based music, you’ll have heard a Martin Dreadnought before through luminaries such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, Noel Gallagher, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Kurt Cobain and countless others. Martin have been crafting guitars since 1833 and still create world renowned models that push the envelope when it comes to superior tone, resonance and playability. Their D-18E Retro Electro Acoustic Guitar resurrects classic style and sound for modern players.
Employing solid mahogany for the back and sides creates a gorgeous low-end sound not often seen in acoustics whilst the Sitka spruce top does a fantastic job of creating bright, rich resonant tones. Reinforced using “X”-scalloped forward-shifted bracing, you can rest assured that the soundboard can resonate freely whilst remaining fully supported. This guitar only gets better with age (hence vintage ones go for thousands) and will undoubtedly be handed down generation to generation. When you make the upgrade to a high-end acoustic, this must be on your list of “must try’s”.
4. Avalon Pioneer S2-20C Acoustic
With our next offering we’re departing from the established brands to explore a model from a relative newcomer by comparison. However, it must be stated that their models are no less impressive! Avalon Guitars are hand built by master luthiers (that is master guitar builders) with nearly 100 years’ experience between their small, tight-knit team. From the overall construction to the deftest of finishing touches, every detail is pored over with affection and respect for the craft.
The Avalon Pioneer S2-20C Concert Cutaway is a compact model that is perfect for everyone from collector to touring professional. The feel, fit and finish are on another level, offering a supportive playing experience with a tactility that is beyond compare. Indian rosewood has been employed as the body tonewood, which imbues a hearty energy infused with warmth. The solid spruce soundboard is reinforced by meticulous hand-carved bracing and resonates with impunity to project an enthusiastic character that is fit for any stage or studio. The elegantly shaped neck and ebony fingerboard partnership offer a sumptuous touch that will keep you playing for hours and hours.
Each model is supplied with a standard hard case to protect your pride and joy at home or on the go.
We offer a selection of Avalon guitars for you to explore. Try one out for yourself and see why so many musicians have taken one for themselves. This includes Damien Dempsey, Joe Elliott, David Gray, James Morrison, Andy McKee, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran and more!
5. Taylor 914CE V-Class Electro Acoustic
We started with a Taylor, so let’s close with a Taylor and the superior 914CE V-Class Electro Acoustic. We’ve waxed lyrical on the subject on Taylor’s V-Class Bracing but to give you the gist, they broke from tradition to create a bracing system that improves intonation whilst delivering emphatic projection. Therefore, it is fair to say the 914CE is somewhat of a souped-up model with improvements across the board.
Boasting a Grand Auditorium body shape the 914CE is fortunately endowed with the best of both worlds. Not only does it deliver the goods with regard to output power, but the sound is superbly nuanced to complement fingerpicking and flatpicking styles equally. The Venetian cutaway affords ready access to the highest frets for those who like to make the most of the neck. Pairing Indian Rosewood back and sides with the Sitka spruce top the richness of the guitar’s timbre runs deep.
As ever, ornate finishing touches features across the body and neck with Ascension inlays to guide your way and a smooth arm rest to provide comfort. Innovative Expression System 2 electronics translate the acoustic timbre and your playing style transparently with the option to sculpt the output to suit any venue. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Get Your Upgrade
When you want to upgrade your guitar, view the full range of acoustic guitars at the Dawsons website here. Alternatively, head to your nearest Dawsons Music Store where one of our instore specialists will be more than happy to help you out.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.