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.
1. Epiphone AJ-210CE Electro Acoustic Guitar Outfit
The Epiphone AJ-210CE Electro Acoustic Guitar Outfit may bear the lowest price tag of our selection, but that only serves to make this even more of an outstanding bargain! Boasting the same credentials that we’ve come to expect from the team at Epiphone, the AJ-210CE adheres to a solidly built dreadnought profile with single-cutaway for effortless access to the highest frets. Select mahogany has been used to construct the body, which establishes a dense mid-range tonal foundation that is delivered with clarity and power by the select Sitka spruce top. As you glide along the sublime mahogany neck, your fingers are afforded a sumptuous touch across a rewarding rosewood fingerboard with understated dot position inlays guide your way. To enable the rich acoustic timbre to be heard on the larger stage, Epiphone have fitted a Shadow Performer preamp that is paired with a NanoFlex pickup. The electronics partnership not only translates your tone beautifully, but it also includes features such as a built-in tuner to help you stay in tune without any fuss.
As this is an outfit model, Epiphone have included a hardcase to keep your pride and joy safe on the road, it is strung with acclaimed D’Addario strings to get you up and running immediately, and even includes Epiphone’s warranty for peace of mind.
When it comes to gig-ready electro acoustic guitars, as well as this absolute beauty, Epiphone have a vast selection to choose from.
2. Marina MR-06CE Electro Acoustic Guitar
When it comes to buying a guitar there is no shame in plucking for an established brand for that added level of comfort in familiarity. However, there are times when the comfort zone needs to be left well behind and a punt taken on a lesser known name. With this in mind, the next on our list is the heavenly Marina MR-06CE. For the unacquainted, Marina produce affordable models that boast a level of craftsmanship that belies their price tag.
The MR-06CE is shaped to an all-purpose Grand Auditorium body profile, which sets it at smaller than a dreadnought without going too far down the parlour route. The benefit here is that whether you favour a fingerstyle approach or err towards enthusiastic strumming – or anywhere in between -, you can switch back and forth with ease. The shapely curves and single-cutaway profile make it comfortable for anyone guitarist to get to grips with. The laminated tonewoods (mahogany back and sides with spruce on top) give the model incredible resilience when it comes to handling changes in humidity and temperature – ideal for touring artists travelling far and wide. The elegant nato neck and sonokelin fingerboard have been finished to an exceptionally high standard, with satin applied to encourage a delightfully smooth feel.
The Marina MR-06CE is fitted with a Fishman Isys T pickup system, which features a built-in tuner and low battery indicator to keep you on top of your game. The Isys T translates the tonal breadth and depth of the guitar with sparkling clarity to capture the subtle nuances of your playing style. From simple strumming to elaborate two-hand tapping, the Marina MR-06CE Electro Acoustic Guitar invites you in for a play and once you get going you’ll never want to put her down.
3. Tanglewood Discovery Electro Acoustic Guitar
Tanglewood have gained a reputation for building exquisite guitars that range from affordable beginners’ models to functional mid-weight to elaborate showpieces with all the accoutrements a professional could desire. The Discovery is a fantastic model that is a feast for the sense, plays like a dream, is solidly built and won’t break the bank. The Super Folk body profile is ideal for fingerstyle players but is no less accommodating for strummers. Crafted using walnut for the body to create a stirring character couple with a spruce soundboard for epic projection, a natural gloss finish accentuates the mesmerising grain of the woods.
Coupled with the body is a sturdy yet responsive mahogany neck that provides a supportive feel in the hand. Married to the neck you’ll find a rosewood fingerboard with deftly applied maple binding that enables seamless transitions between frets for unrivalled comfort. Tanglewood entrust their own specially-designed TEQ-3BT electronics system with the task of delivering the rich acoustic timbre, which it does with aplomb. The built-in tuner keeps you in check, whilst a useful three-band EQ allows you to tailor the output of your guitar to suit the performance environment or tweaking for stylistic purposes. As we’ve come to expect from a Tanglewood, the Discovery is home to reassuringly durable hardware that upholds intonation and sustain with precision.
4. Yamaha APX600 Electro Acoustic Guitar
When it comes to consistency, there are few companies let alone instrument manufacturers that have the same pedigree as Yamaha. Their APX Series has been going for a couple of decades now and the APX600 doesn’t just benefit from years of road-tested trial and error but a constant desire to do better. The APX600 is designed for those who need a gig-ready model that doesn’t cost the earth, looks as good as it sounds and can go the distance when it comes to hectic and lengthy tour schedules.
The thin body depth is paired with a single-cutaway profile to enhance playability whilst accommodating players both big or small, young or old. The soundboard is reinforced using a redesigned bracing pattern that lifts the bass response for a fuller-sounding timbre. The generous scale length supports greater consistency and improved transient response for peerless sustain, whilst the narrower string spacing makes it much easier to stretch and execute complex chord shapes. The stage-focused pickup system allows you to get on with the job of performing, simply plug-in, turn up and play!
5. Farida D-10CE Electro Acoustic Guitar
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 D-10CE Electro Acoustic.
Shaped to the classic dreadnought profile with single-cutaway for improved upper fret access, the natural finish is complemented by subtle binding around the body top. Mahogany generates an enviable tonal engine within the body, whilst the solid Sitka spruce top projects a magnificent output. The D-10CE is fitted with a Fishman electronics system with active pre-amp and undersaddle piezo pickup for sublime acoustic response when plugged into an amp. There are Bass, Middle, and Treble EQ controls, Brilliance and Master Volume, all of which allow you to shape and tweak your output to suit any performance environment or playing style. The battery indicator reduces the chance of you forgetting when you need to swap it out for a fresh one – and Farida kindly supply you with a battery so that you can hit the ground running.
View a complete range of acoustic guitars at the Dawsons website.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.