The acoustic guitar remains a constant for spontaneous creativity. From the classic to the quirky, here are our top 10 acoustic guitar picks of 2020.
Our 2020 list of the best electric guitars saw the innovations made in tuning up and rocking out. But nothing beats the warm embrace of the acoustic guitar. When you pick or strum its six strings, you are at the mercy of the tonewoods it’s been crafted from — the way it resonates, the way it feels. This quality makes every acoustic guitar unique.
This year saw one of the biggest guitar purchases ever with RØDE Microphones owner Peter Freedman cashing in $6million for Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged guitar. And why not? The Unplugged series put the acoustic guitar back on the map in the ’90s after the excessive heights of electric guitar mayhem were reached in the ’80s. The acoustic guitar is a reminder of a simpler time and provides a more personal playing experience.
Jeff Bridges’ Signature Oregon Concerto Bourbon CE
‘The Dude’ abides by our first entry on this list. The academy award-winning actor had already shown off his musical chops in the 2009 film Crazy Heart, but when actor Jeff Bridges revealed his signature acoustic guitar it still turned many heads. It was made in collaboration with Breedlove Guitars for his ‘All in this Together’ project to benefit the Amazon Conservation Team.
Located out of the High Desert in Oregon where some of the best woods can be sourced, this guitar continues Breedlove’s long-running reputation for tonally pleasing, outstanding dreadnought acoustics. Bold and loud, this particular model has the unique tonal qualities of myrtle with deep rosewood-like bass response, the clarity of mahogany and the shimmer of koa. It’s the perfect guitar for the back porch as you watch the sun go down.
Read more at Breedlove.
Carbon Fibre Acoustic
It’s been quite the year for eccentric guitars. The wild Circle Guitar was a peculiar innovation, to say the least, and things got heavy with the rocking Concrete Guitar. But out of his workshop deep in Northern California, Burls Art found creative ways to make six-string instruments. The man that seasoned our senses with an Esquire made out of Salt also gave us an interesting take on the acoustic: the Carbon Fibre guitar.
Using thick layers of carbon fibre sheets and twill weave for structural integrity, Burls Arts produced his first acoustic guitar with some unique design qualities like a bolt-on bridge for less string tension. And it sounds great! While he’s only made the one so far, I’m sure if you asked him nicely on Instagram to make you one, you’ll be a huge hit at the next campfire.
See more on this unique design and more at Burls Art
Takamine makes some of the best and most sought after acoustics around. The P3NY or the ‘New Yorker’ is Takamine’s smallest full-scale guitar. This charming acoustic has solid sapele back, mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard.
But don’t underestimate its size. The P3NY is comfortable to play for beginners right through to the pro shredders. Its tone is sweet and clear and its frequency range will stand out in the mix on stage and in the studio. And it’s perfect to pack on the next road trip. They say the best things come in small packages.
Explore the world of Takamine guitars on their website.
Yamaha FG820 12-String Acoustic Guitar
The 12 string acoustic is a great weapon to pull out for the next open mic night. Their full-bodied tone and double octave string setups are a force to be reckoned with. One player can sound like many — perfect for the solo singer/songwriter.
The Yamaha FG820 12-String Acoustic Guitar is a great, affordable way to dip your toes in the sonic possibilities of an extra set of strings. the FG820-12 is known for its exceptional tone and playability with an excellent build featuring mahogany back and sides. You can’t have enough strings!
Read more about Yamaha guitars here.
Art & Lutherie Roadhouse
The Roadhouse is a special acoustic guitar. It harkens back to the days before electric rock and roll, where folk players hopped on freight trains from town to town and blues pioneers hitchhiked up and down Highway 61.
Whether you’re fingerpicking delicate melodies or thrashing out power chords, the Roadhouse provides excellent playability with a vintage vibe. Plugin with an inbuilt pickup or let the wild cherry wood resonate beneath your fingers wherever you may roam.
Read the full write up at Art and Lutherie Guitars.
Washburn Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE
A true American original, Washburn Guitars are innovators of quality guitars, banjos, and mandolins. The Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE is the peak in blending affordability, elegance, sound and stability.
The WLO12SE is a solid top Orchestra body guitar handcrafted with a Walnut binding. It boasts a solid select grade Mahogany soundboard with ‘Cathedral Peak’ scalloped-X bracing. Finished off with mahogany back and sides, the result is a tonally versatile guitar. Its rich, beefy, and harmonic at the same time. Perfect for fingerpicking.
Read the full specs at Washburn Guitars.
Yamaha SLG200S Silent Acoustic Guitar
This innovative design from Yamaha is a glimpse at the possibilities of where the acoustic guitar can go. The SLG200S is a first of its kind — a silent acoustic guitar. Light and compact, this silent guitar is suited for travel, practice and live performance.
Acoustically, it’s ultra-quiet. But with its built-in Studio Response Technology Powered preamp system, you’ll get the natural acoustic tones you’re used to through headphones or the line output. There are even onboard studio-quality effects to enhance your playing and a line input that lets you jam along to backing tracks. It’s ideal for those late nights where creativity strikes — and you don’t want to wake up your housemates!
Find more about this model at Yamaha.
Epiphone’s Inspired by Gibson Hummingbird
When Gibson rose from the ashes of bankruptcy in 2018 thanks to James Curleigh, their first mission was to reinstate themselves as leading guitar luthiers. To do this, they turned to their sister company Epiphone to create authentic yet affordable recreations of Gibson classics like the SG and released the ‘Inspired by Gibson’ range for 2020.
Gibson extended this to their famous acoustic models with the Hummingbird finally receiving a defining model that won’t break the bank. From Keith Richards to Taylor Swift, the Hummingbird is one of the most recognisable and remarkable acoustic guitars ever built. The Epiphone Hummingbird continues this legacy with a blend of vintage and modern features.
Find the entire collection of Inspired by Gibson on Epiphone.
Orianthi’s Signature Gibson J-200
Orianthi is a homegrown Australian shredder who has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Steve Vai and Alice Cooper. Her team-up with Gibson has resulted in a highly anticipated guitar set for release early next year that boasts a bold and heavy timbre.
From its debut back in 1937, the Gibson J-200 set an unmatched standard for flattop guitars. Orianthi’s take on the classic features a striking red finish and a Gibson ES-345 neck that not only makes it perfect for lead runs but marks a first of its kind — a Gibson hybrid. Orianthi is a self-confessed hippie at heart, so the pick-guard is decorated with amethyst and citrine crystals. You can hear the guitar’s incredible tone below.
Follow Orianthi on Instagram to not miss any updates on her signature guitar.
Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster
Fender has graced us with a unique hybrid that offers up the best of electric and acoustic worlds: the Acoustasonic Telecaster. This Tele-inspired instrument is surprisingly loud for its unconventional acoustic shape and works well in intimate settings as well as on stage.
It’s a versatile tone machine with the electric pickup that can be played solo or blended with an acoustic voice to create new sonic possibilities. The leading innovators of the guitar are always a hard act to follow.
Read the full write up from Fender.