8 Best Fingerstyle Guitars for Beginners and Pros: A Complete Guide 2024

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Any guitar could be considered the best fingerstyle guitar, depending on who you speak to. However, certain tonewoods, shapes, and designs lend themselves to being better for this fantastic playing style than others.

As an experienced fingerstyle acoustic guitar player of over 20 years, I understand the importance of choosing the right instrument to achieve your musical goals.

In this post, I will share my expertise and insights on the best fingerstyle acoustic guitars designed for intermediate to advanced players like myself. With my firsthand experience and in-depth analysis of reading hundreds of reviews and watching countless videos, you can count on this article to find the perfect guitar to take your fingerstyle playing to the next level.

Let’s get started!

The Quick Answer:

Regarding price, playability, sound, and construction…the best fingerstyle guitar is the Taylor 300 series solid mahogany guitar (go to full review).

The best budget fingerstyle guitar is the Taylor Academy 12 (go to full review).

-Brad Johnson (Founder/Writer of Song Production Pros)

Best Overall: Taylor 300 Series Mahogany

Best Overall
Taylor 300 Series Mahogany
  • Solid-wood Mahogany
  • ES2 Electronics System & 2-Band EQ
  • V-Class Bracing
  • Ebony Fingerboard
  • Made in USA
  • Multiple Shapes and Body Styles to Choose From
  • Includes Premium Hardshell Case

Regarding price, playability, sound, and construction...it's hard to beat a Taylor 300 series solid mahogany guitar for your go-to fingerstyle instrument.

The Taylor 300 Series Mahogany guitars are the perfect choice for fingerstyle guitar players looking for a high-quality, sustainably sourced instrument that will last a lifetime. With its patented V-Class bracing and all-mahogany solid top, back, and sides, this guitar produces rich, warm tones with minimal overtones, keeping your fingerpicking notes articulate, clear, and focused. 

  • Taylor's patented V-Class bracing deepens and strengthens sound and note sustain, making softly plucked notes project out and sing more than ever before
  • The 300 Series plays like a dream but is on the bottom end in regards to price for their premium all-solid wood guitars
  • Taylor's manufacturing process is impeccable, and you won't get a lemon
  • The neck is a bit chunky and may be uncomfortable for players with smaller hands
  • Deciding on which guitar in the series to buy
Taylor 300 Series
For Picks4.3
For Fingerstyle5
For Recording5
For Travel/Gigging3.5
8:06 is where you can hear Cooper put this thing through its fingerstyle paces

Full Review:

I’m going with a series of guitars for the best fingerpicking guitars on the market. The Taylor 300 Series Mahogany guitars are impeccably made, sound fantastic, and play like a dream.

First, Taylor’s patented V-Class bracing deepens and strengthens sound and note sustain. This makes softly plucked notes project out and sing more than ever before.

Second, the all-mahogany solid top, back, and sides produce rich, warm tones with minimal overtones. This helps keep your fingerpicking notes articulate, clear, and focused. I’ve always enjoyed how mahogany has a natural way of compressing the sound and will create more consistency with fingerpicking patterns.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Taylor 322ce. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.

There are many variations of the 300 series Mahogany guitars. There’s the classic grand auditorium shape (which you’ll see me playing here), a 12-fret option, baritone(!) a concert-style, and grand pacific (their version of a dreadnought acoustic guitar).

While many of these instruments will give you a great fingerstyle guitar playing experience, if I chose one as my fingerpicking guitar, it would be the 322ce 12-Fret. The enhanced midrange and “slinky” feel of this design sits in the pocket of fingerpicking goodness 🙂

Read the Rest of the Review…

The ebony fingerboard paired with the mahogany neck allows you to move up and down the neck easily, and I find switching between different chords and finger positioning is effortless with this construction and tonewood combination.

The nut width on most 300 series models is 1.75 inches, giving plenty of space for your fretting hand and helping you from muting or sounding the wrong string while playing.

These fingerstyle acoustic guitars come equipped with Taylor Guitars’ proprietary ES2 pick-ups, which help keep the guitar’s acoustic sound intact when amplified. While you can take this guitar on the road, the solid-wood design and light finish may make this a better at-home guitar than gigging guitar.

I’ve played countless Taylor guitars, and their consistency and quality are always top–tier. So while I would hesitate to spend thousands of dollars on a guitar from an online store, I’d confidently purchase a Taylor from a reputable dealer like Sweetwater.

Also, Taylor Guitars is leading in guitar manufacturing for sustainable wood sourcing and practicing ethical business practices when building their guitars.

While the best Taylor guitar for fingerstyle is subjective, the Taylor 300 Series Mahogany is the kind of fingerstyle guitar you will own for the rest of your life and pay a reasonable amount. The sheer beauty of the wood will turn heads and create conversation for years to come!

Oh yeah, these also come with a hardshell case.

Original Audio Samples

Taylor 324ce Fingerstyle Audio Example #1
Taylor 324ce Fingerstyle Audio Example #2

Best Tone: Martin 000-15

Best Tone
Martin 000-15
  • Solid-wood Mahogany
  • Smooth low-oval neck profile and Plek'd frets
  • Made in USA
  • 1.6875" Nut Width and 25.4'' Scale Length
  • Has a left-handed option
  • Bone nut and saddle

Martin produces some of the world's best-sounding acoustic guitars. 

The 15 Series, with its 000 body shape, is perfect for expressive fingerstyle playing. The 000-15 model has an auditorium body style with a pinched-in waist, creating balance and clarity for arpeggiated notes. The solid mahogany body produces a rich, mid-forward sound, making it an excellent choice for fingerstyle playing. 

  • Martin guitars tone will always be a classic
  • The craftsmanship of the instrument will last you a lifetime
  • The sound is warm, rich, and balanced
  • It doesn't come with any built-in electronics
  • Out of the box, the action feels a little high, and the fretboard is slightly "grainy"
Martin 000-15
For Picks4.3
For Fingerstyle4.8
For Recording5
For Travel/Gigging3

Full Review:

Martin guitars are one of the world’s most popular acoustic guitars. Martin is a family-run business that began making guitars back in 1833. Martin knows how to make a great acoustic guitar.

The 15 Series guitars are one of Martin’s most popular acoustic guitar lineups. The 000 body shape tailor-makes it for expressive fingerstyle playing.

The 000-15 model has an auditorium body style with a pinched-in waste. This helps focus the sound and create the balance and clarity needed for arpeggiated notes.

The solid mahogany body looks gorgeous and reinforces the body style to produce a balanced, rich, and mid-forward sound. Mahogany tops create less dynamic range than other tonewoods like solid Sitka spruce tops, making a good fingerstyle guitar tonewood.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Martin 000-15M StreetMaster. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.

As I played the 000-15 StreetMaster, I immediately felt like I was playing a guitar that had soul and history baked into it. A solid-Mahogany Martin has a specific tone that is familiar and inviting. While I am a huge Taylor fanboy, you can’t deny how great and distinct a Martin sounds.

Read the Rest of the Review…

While the 000-15 looks like a relic of the past, the neck is surprisingly flat (16” radius). This lends itself to playing more intricate leads up and down the neck than a rounder neck profile. As I tested this guitar, I had no problem feeling confident with more complex fingerpicking patterns.

However, the smaller nut-width (1.6875”) may feel cramped if you have larger fingers and you want an acoustic guitar with a wider neck.

While the tone on this acoustic guitar is second to none, the playability isn’t as strong as others on this list. While my top-rated pick makes playing feel like butter, this one felt more “grainy” to my touch. This could be due to the action on the particular guitar I played or how they finished the solid East Indian Rosewood Fretboard. Either way, I’ve found this to be a consistent issue (though not a deal breaker) with Martin guitars I’ve played.

With this said, the Martin 000-15M is an excellent steel-string acoustic guitar. It should be a serious consideration if you want to add a wonderfully balanced and vintage tone to your fingerstyle playing.

Original Audio Samples

Martin 000-15 fingerstyle audio example

Best for Blues & Folk Guitar: Gibson L-00

Best for Blues & Folk
Gibson L-00
  • Solid-wood Sitka Spruce Top & Mahogany Back/Sides
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Made in USA
  • 1.725'' Nut Width, 12'' Radius, and 19 Frets
  • LR Baggs Electronics
  • TUSQ Nut and Saddle
  • Comes with Hardshell Case

Gibson guitars are the sound of acoustic blues and rock and roll, and the L-00 is no exception.

With its vintage parlor-style look and small body type, this guitar produces a very focused and worn-in sound, making it an excellent choice for fingerstyle blues and folk playing.

  • Gibson Acoustic guitars are beautiful, handcrafted instruments
  • Produces a rich, vintage sound
  • Great for recording 
  • You'll find yourself feeling more creative and inspired when you play this guitar
  • The L-00 isn't a tonally versatile guitar
  • The guitar can feel "cramped" for players with larger hands
Gibson L-00
For Picks3
For Fingerstyle4.8
For Recording4.8
For Travel/Gigging3.8

Full Review:

Gibson is the sound of blues and rock and roll. Gibson dates back to the late 1800s, and legendary musicians have made classic music on Gibson guitars for years.

The L-00 has a vintage parlor-style look, and this small body shape creates a very focused sound, which you look for in a good fingerstyle guitar.

The top wood on this guitar is a solid Sitka Spruce. This dynamic-sounding top wood creates a very expressive acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing. While I find that spruce can be too touch-sensitive regarding fingerstyle playing, the sound of the L-00 helps reign in the high-end sparkle that is likelier to poke out to a listener.

The neck width at the nut comes in at 1.725”, making the string distance for the fretting hand more cramped than other guitars on this list. This could be an excellent option for players who have smaller hands.

Read the Rest of the Review…

With its smooth hand-sprayed finish and faux tortoise pickguard, this guitar looks like it was made a century ago and makes anyone holding it look cool and rugged.

It comes equipped with an LR Braggs Element Bronze acoustic system which helps to recreate the acoustics of the guitar while plugged in faithfully. It also comes with a hardshell case for safe travel.

While each L-00 is hand-made in Montana, some critics of Gibson Guitars state that the quality control can be inconsistent.

From my experience, I’ve owned a Gibson electric that I never really connected with. Still, then I played Gibson’s, which I thought was flawless. At the end of the day, Gibson is a well-respected guitar manufacturer. You will strike gold if you go with this recommendation and purchase through a reputable dealer, and better yet, first, play one of these parlor guitars before you buy. 

Budget Gibson Alternative: G-00

Gibson G-00 Guitar

The G-00 is the same body type and tonewood combination (except the neck is utile). This guitar falls under the Generation Series, a new Gibson Acoustics series released in 2021.

What makes these guitars unique is the “Player Port” on top of the guitar. This port pushes sound upwards toward the player. It helps connect you with the vibrations of the acoustic guitar in a more intimate way.

This guitar is handcrafted in the USA but does not come with pick-ups or a hardshell case.

This guitar is a great value fingerstyle acoustic guitar option for those looking for a Gibson Acoustic but doesn’t want to pay the high price for the L-00 and don’t mind the stripped-down natural finish looks.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Gibson G-00. He is wearing a brown sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.
Me demoing the Gibson G-00

Best for Environment: Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE

Best for Environment
Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE
  • Solid-wood Myrtlewood Top, Back, and Sides
  • Forward-Shifted Sitka Spruce X-Bracing
  • Made in USA
  • 1.75'' Nut Width, 16'' Radius, and 18 Frets
  • LR Baggs Electronics
  • TUSQ Nut and Saddle
  • Ebony Fretboard
  • Comes with Hardshell Case

The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE is a sustainably sourced, handcrafted acoustic guitar made with Mertylewood, providing an earthy midrange presence perfect for planet-conscious guitar players.

With its slim C-shaped neck profile, this guitar plays like an electric guitar, making it an excellent choice for those transitioning between electric and acoustic during live performances. The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE a must-have for environmentally conscious fingerstyle players.

  • Sustainably sourced for the planet-conscious player
  • Handcrafted in the USA
  • Great for those who are used to electric guitars but want to transition to playing an acoustic guitar
  • Plays with ease and comfort
  • The innovative pinless bridge system helps with tuning stability and makes changing strings super easy
  • Breedlove doesn't have as good of a resell value as other more prominent brands
  • Expensive choice, especially with the other options in this price range
Breedlove Oregon Concertina
For Picks3.5
For Fingerstyle4.3
For Recording4.1
For Travel/Gigging3.8

Full Review:

The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE is a handcrafted, sustainably sourced acoustic guitar 100% made in the USA. This great fingerstyle guitar is made with Mertylewood, which provides an earthy midrange presence and is a perfect choice for the planet-conscious guitar player.

The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE will be great for those who are used to playing electric guitars but want seamlessly transition to playing an acoustic guitar. The guitar’s slim C-shaped neck profile plays like an electric guitar. This is also excellent for players who often transition between electric guitar and acoustic during a live performance.

Read the Rest of the Review…

The 12-Fret design gives the guitar a comfortable, relaxed string feel that is perfect to play fingerstyle guitar on. The 12-Fret design accentuates the mid-range, the much-needed “heart” you want from a fingerstyle guitar. The cutaway in the body also makes it easy to play up the fretboard and reach those upper frets.

Another thing that I enjoy about the Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE is The innovative pinless bridge system. I found this system helps keep your guitar tuning stable, and changing the strings is super easy with this setup.

Breedlove makes sustainability the center of its business model. They created the Tonewood Certification Program that inspects where all materials are sourced to ensure everything is done sustainably and ethically. They even make guitars made from salvaged timber!

The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE is an acoustic guitar that will compliment all environmentally conscious fingerstyle players and is worth checking out!

Budget Alternative: Breedlove ECO Pursuit Exotic S Concertina CE

As of 2021, Breedlove has released a new budget guitar series that gives you all the benefits of a premium Breedlove guitar at a fraction of the price.

The ECO series is 100% sustainable and will suit many guitarists playing fingerstyle or wanting to learn.

What you’re giving up is the solid wood construction found in the Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE. Still, the money you save, with the quality, could make this the best choice for earth-friendly fingerstyle guitar players.

  • Save money on your instrument
  • Be eco-friendly with your purchase
  • Get the sound you love without breaking the bank

I was pleasantly surprised by the tone and playability of this guitar when demoing it at my local guitar shop. I wasn’t expecting it, but it punches well above its weight.

Best Value for Money: Taylor Academy 12

Best Value for Money
Taylor Academy 12
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Ebony Fingerboard & Maple Neck
  • 1.6875'' Nut Width, 24.875'' Scale Length, and 15'' Neck Radius
  • Comes With Gig Bag
  • Grand Concert Body Shape
  • ESB Electronics (Paid Upgrade)

The Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar is an excellent choice for fingerstyle players looking for the best value without sacrificing quality or playability.

With its solid Sitka spruce top, ebony fingerboard, and ergonomic design elements, this guitar provides dynamic range and a clear tone, making it easy and fun to play.

  • A high-quality acoustic guitar that is affordable
  • Easy to play, which allows you to focus on your creativity rather than technique
  • Excellent dynamic range and clear tone
  • The armrest provides maximum comfort
  • Solid construction
  • You have to pay extra for the electronics system, which makes this guitar pretty expensive
  • Lack of cutaway makes accessing the upper frets difficult
Taylor Academy 12
For Picks4
For Fingerstyle4
For Recording4
For Travel/Gigging3.5

Full Review:

The Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar is one of the best fingerstyle guitars for acoustic players looking for the best value. The best part about this model is that you don’t have to sacrifice quality or playability when purchasing.

The story behind the Academy Series of guitars at Taylor started with head luthier Andy Powers challenging himself to make a quality guitar for a great price. He left what was necessary to create a great guitar-playing experience while leaving out all the bells and whistles into higher-end guitars.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Taylor Academy 12e. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.

For fingerstyle guitarists, the Academy 12 is built with a genuine solid Sitka spruce top that provides lots of dynamic range and a clear tone. The shorter scale gives the strings a more “slinky” vibe, making playing this guitar easy and fun.

Read the Rest of the Review…

One of my favorite things about Taylor Guitars is how buttery and perfectly set up the neck feels. The Academy 12 features an ebony fretboard with the same playability you would get on their more expensive models.

This guitar is a great entry point for intermediate acoustic guitar players looking for a no-frills and fantastic playing fingerstyle guitar. It definitely punches above its weight.

It also comes with a premium gig bag which is rare for a guitar in this price range. You can also get it with Taylor’s ES-B electronics with a built-in tuner to take your fingerstyle songs on the road. However, this adds $150 to the price tag.

It’s also available as a left-handed acoustic guitar for Southpaws.

Original Audio Samples

Taylor Academy 12 fingerstyle audio example

Best Nylon String: Taylor Academy 12 Nylon

Best Nylon String
Taylor Academy 12 Nylon
  • Solid Lutz Spruce Top
  • Ebony Fingerboard & Sapele Neck
  • 1.875'' Nut Width, 25.5'' Scale Length, and 20'' Neck Radius
  • Comes With Gig Bag
  • Grand Concert Body Shape
  • Slot Head Tuners and Pearloid Buttons
  • ESB Electronics (Paid Upgrade)

For classical guitarists or those looking for a more organic and subdued sound with modern playability, the Taylor Academy 12 Nylon Acoustic Guitar is an excellent option.

With the same great tone, playability, and consistent quality as the steel-string version, this guitar is perfect for fingerstyle playing without the pain on the fingers from nylon strings.

  • An excellent choice for classical guitarists or those seeking a more organic and subdued sound with modern playability
  • With nylon strings, this guitar offers the same great tone, playability, and consistent quality as the steel-string version but with less pain on the fingers
  • Wide neck and flat radius makes fingerstyle playing comfortable and easy
  • The armrest provides maximum comfort
  • You have to pay extra for the electronics system, which makes this guitar pretty expensive
  • Lack of cutaway makes accessing the upper frets difficult
Taylor Academy 12 Nylon
For Picks3.5
For Fingerstyle5
For Recording3.5
For Travel/Gigging3.5

Full Review:

Ok, not everyone the best steel-string guitar for fingerstyle playing. Often, a nylon string acoustic guitar is a more appropriate option for classical guitar playing and those who want a more organic and subdued sound (think Jose Gonzales).

We are hitting Deja Vue here with the Taylor Academy 12, except this version is a nylon string acoustic guitar. You get the same great tone, playability, and consistent quality as the steel-string version but less pain on the fingers from the nylon strings.

While there are many other more affordable nylon string guitars out there, if you’re looking for an instrument you can grow with and play like a premium acoustic guitar at an intermediate price, there isn’t a better option.

Best for Travel & Kids: Taylor GS Mini’s

Best for Travel & Kids
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
  • Mahogany Top, Back, and Sides
  • Ebony Fingerboard
  • 1.6875" Nut Width & 23.5'' Scale Length
  • Comes With Softshell Case
  • ESB Electronics (Paid Upgrade)
  • Mini Grand Symphony Body Shape

The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany is a fantastic guitar, marrying portability, playability, and sound quality. 

Despite its small size, this guitar is not cramped and is perfect for playing on the couch or being within reach of a work desk. The fretboard is not large and chunky, perfect for younger children or those with smaller hands. An excellent choice for travel, recording, or at-home practice, the GS Mini Mahogany offers impeccable Taylor playability, tone, and construction, making it a sure-fire winner.

  • The small size does not compromise its sound quality, making it perfect for younger children or those with smaller hands who may find full-size guitars challenging to learn fingerstyle
  • The GS Mini covers tons of use cases, including travel, recording, or at-home practice guitar, making it a versatile instrument
  • It sounds like a full-size guitar and not like a boxy toy, making it perfect for all types of players
  • You have to pay extra for the electronics system, which makes this guitar pretty expensive
  • Non-cutaway design makes reaching the upper frets difficult
  • It's pricey for a mini guitar, also considering the construction is laminate
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
For Picks4
For Fingerstyle3.5
For Recording4
For Travel/Gigging4.5

Full Review:

The Taylor GS Mini are some of the best acoustic guitars…period. Taylor’s innovation and forward-thinking found a way to marry portability, playability, and sound quality.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Taylor GS Mini Mahogany. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.

Even though the GS Mini is a small guitar, I didn’t find it too cramped when I demoed it for fingerstyle playing. I think this would be a fantastic guitar around the house for playing on the couch and being in close reach of my work desk.

The GS Mini Mahogany has all the remarkable sonic characteristics from this classic tonewood. Natural compression, a warm tone, clarity, and articulation. All things that make for a beautiful fingerstyle guitar.

Read the Rest of the Review…

The challenge with some full-size guitars is that the fretboard can feel large and chunky. This is true with the Editor’s Choice 300 Series from Tayler. So this can make learning fingerstyle challenging for younger children or those with smaller hands.

The GS Mini Mahogany is a perfect guitar for these types of players as this thing sounds like a full-size guitar, not a boxy toy that other small guitars can sound like.

I’m a massive fan of the GS Mini, and this covers tons of use cases as a travel guitar, recording guitar, or at-home practice guitar. And as always, you get that impeccable Taylor playability, tone, and construction that makes this a sure-fire winner.

Original Audio Samples

Taylor GS-Mini Mahogany fingerstyle audio example

Best Premium: Taylor 514CE Urban Red Ironbark

Best Premium
Taylor 514ce Urban Red Ironbark
  • Solid Torrified Sitka Spruce Top & Urban Red Ironbark Back and Sides
  • Ebony Fingerboard & Mahogany Neck
  • 1.75" Nut Width, 25.5'' Scale Length, & 
  • Comes With Premium Hardshell Case
  • ES2 Electronics
  • Grand Auditorium Shape
  • Gloss Finish

For acoustic players or songwriters looking for a high-quality fingerstyle guitar to pass down to future generations, the Taylor Guitars 514CE Urban Red Ironbark is the perfect choice. 

With a sustainable Urban Red Ironbark back and sides and torrified Sitka Spruce top, this guitar offers a dynamic, responsive, and inspiring playing experience.

  • The use of sustainable Urban Red Ironbark tonewood for the back and sides, paired with a torrified Sitka Spruce top, creates a dynamic and responsive playing experience
  • The guitar's balanced and responsive tone, combined with V-Class bracing, is perfect for fingerstyle playing
  • Overall, a must-have for anyone seeking a high-end and forward-thinking traditional guitar that will last a lifetime
  • It's expensive
  • Uses Spruce instead of Cedar (an excellent tonewood for fingerstyle), which used to be a common tonewood for the 500 series
Taylor 514ce Urban Red Ironbark
For Picks4.8
For Fingerstyle4.8
For Recording4
For Travel/Gigging3.5

Full Review:

Suppose you are an acoustic player or songwriter looking for the best high-end fingerstyle guitar that you will want to pass down to your children or have buried with you in your grave. In that case, the Taylor Guitars 514CE Urban Red Ironbark is the guitar for you.

This is a photo of Brad Johnson, the writer and owner of Song Production Pros playing a Taylor 512ce Urban Red Ironbark. He is wearing a white sweatshirt and hat in a guitar shop room.

In true Taylor fashion of pushing the envelope, Taylor has sourced a new kind of tonewood called Urban Red Ironbark to construct the back and sides of the guitar. This is a sustainable wood that has a sweet and creamy tone and sustain to it.

This, matched with a torrified solid Sitka Spruce top, creates a dynamic and responsive playing experience.

Read the Rest of the Review…

As a proud owner of a 500-series Cedar Top guitar (which is fantastic topwood for fingerstyle playing), I was slightly bummed when the 500 series pivoted to Spruce. You can still find Cedar Tops, but they seem to be fewer as Taylor continues its pursuit of sustainability.

However, after demoing the Urban Red Ironbark guitar at my local guitar shop, I was pleasantly surprised by how balanced and responsive the guitar was with a light touch. While I don’t usually love Spruce for a primary fingerstyle guitar, this combination, with the V-Class bracing, hit all the right notes for me (pun intended).

This great fingerstyle acoustic guitar has a hardshell case to ensure the instrument stays safe during transport. It also has Taylor’s patented ES2 electronics so players can amplify their sound without purchasing additional equipment.

Overall, the Taylor 514ce is one of the best high-end and forward-thinking traditional guitars today for anyone who wants a guitar to take to their grave

Original Audio Samples

Taylor 512ce Urban Ash Ironbark fingerstyle audio example

Buyers Guide

Didn’t see the fingerstyle guitar you’re looking for on this list? Here is a quick rundown of what you should be on the lookout for when deciding on the best acoustic guitars for fingerstyle are for you.


You first need to decide how much money you will spend on your fingerstyle acoustic guitar. This will help narrow down the list of options available to you.

For this article, I have chosen guitars that range from about $500 to $3000, so there should be something for everyone depending on their needs.

However, it’s worth noting that acoustic guitars that are under $500 should be carefully considered, even for beginners. They tend to have high action (string distance from the fingerboard) and can be extremely uncomfortable and challenging to play.

They also lack quality in big ways. I know that $500 can be a lot to invest in an instrument, especially for beginners. Still, if you purchase something like the Taylor Academy Series, you will have a better resell value if you decide playing guitar isn’t right for you.

Guitar Size (Scale Length)

I like 12-fret guitars instead of 14-fret guitars to play fingerstyle guitar. The reason for this is that 12-fret guitars have less string tension.

With 12-fret guitars, you have less distance from the saddle to the neck. Also, with these designs, the saddle is pushed back more on the guitar’s body, which some guitarists say creates a warmer, intimate sound.

This is because the neck is shorter-scale (distance front saddle to fingerboard edge), which means strings will carry less tension.

Shorter scale fingerstyle guitars can give playing a more “slinky” feel, making pressing down and plucking strings easier. These guitars are good fingerstyle acoustic guitars and great for players who suffer from arthritis or tendinitis.

Typical guitar scale lengths are around 25.5”, while great fingerpicking guitars will be around 24.75”.

However, this doesn’t mean a full-scale, 14-fret guitar should be avoided. The added tension may be preferred by experienced players and those with larger hands.

Nut Width

Nut width is the length of the nut that holds the strings where the headstock and neck of the guitar meet.

A wider nut width will create more string distance for the fretting hand for open chord positions and single-note plucking. This give’s your fretting hand more “breathing room” and can help you avoid hitting notes you’re not trying to play.

However, wider nut widths can also be challenging for individuals with smaller hands or those who have not built up enough muscle in their fretting hand.

The typical nut width for an acoustic is around 1.75”; however, for some fingerstyle guitars, it can go up to 1.875”!

Like the other factors, this is something to be aware of when deciding which fingerstyle guitar will work best for you.


The construction of the best guitars for fingerstyle varies greatly. There are generally three different types of constructions to look out for.

Solid wood construction

This is the construction of a premium guitar. The benefits of solid wood construction are that it is more than likely hand-crafted by a luthier. Also, the guitar sounds will be more balanced and rich, and the tonewood will age and become better with time.

Consider a solid wood construction when deciding what acoustic guitars for fingerstyle will be best for you. This type of construction creates the best guitars you will want to own forever.

If you go with a solid wood guitar, you should invest in a good guitar humidifier to ensure that your guitar doesn’t crack or warp.

Laminate Back and Sides

To create a more affordable guitar, a manufacturer will opt-in for a layered wood construction on the sides and back of a guitar to cut production costs.

The quality of laminate varies greatly. While some manufacturers will use a combination of different types of woods, some brands will use plastics, Formica, and other types of material that aren’t wood.

Acoustic guitars created with laminate back and sides will vary greatly in quality depending on who manufactured them.

However, the one benefit of a laminate guitar over a solid wood construction is they are generally more durable and less prone to warping from humidity.


When shopping for the best fingerstyle guitar for your needs, it’s critical to consider whether or not you will need built-in electronics or not.

Acoustic-electric guitars are the norm with high-end instruments, but if you aren’t planning on gigging out, then you can save quite a bit of money by opting-out of the electronics.

For example, the Taylor Academy Series can be purchased as an acoustic or acoustic-electric guitar; the price difference is $150.

Also, in cheaper-made guitars, the electronics system isn’t usually that great, and the inclusion of it is often at the expense of other important design details like a solid wood top.

I’ve also found that the top fingerstyle guitars are the ones that are made of all solid-wood and have a light finish. This makes them more delicate and prone to warping, so they don’t make great traveling guitars, which is why you would want an acoustic-electric guitar.

Type of Tonewood

Acoustic guitars for fingerstyle playing generally gravitate towards particular tonewoods and tonewood combinations.

Cedar is often associated with a great top wood for fingerstyle because it’s a softer wood that is less bright and creates an intimate tone. Cedar is often paired with mahogany which has great mid-range warmth and provides durability to Cedar.

Mahogany also makes a great top-wood for the fingerstyle technique because it has earthy overtones and great midrange clarity. Mahogany also has a less dynamic range than other top woods, which can be a big advantage for creating a consistent sound while fingerstyle playing.

Certain woods like a solid spruce top often found on a dreadnought acoustic guitar have lots of projection and dynamic range. While this is great for a more versatile guitar, while playing fingerpicking guitar, this dynamic range can make your playing sound uneven if you don’t have a lot of practice and control.

Koa wood is another up-and-coming tonewood that has similar characteristics to mahogany. However, Koa-constructed guitars are often pricey.

Body Style

When selecting the best acoustic guitar for fingerstyle, you want to ensure that the guitar will have a great tonal response and sustain.

From my experience, the best body types have a cutaway in the body. The reason for this is that you can access the entire neck with ease.

However, some guitarists argue that a cutaway reduces the bass response and can make the guitar have a brighter sound. But this should be taken with a grain of salt because some could argue that it gives a guitar a more balanced tone.

Most fingerstyle guitars that you will find on my list are ones that have a smaller body shape. A smaller body generally has less projection but is more focused and articulate in its sound. This feature makes a fantastic acoustic guitar for fingerstyle because you want all the strings to be audible and balanced.

Also, when the body has more curves, it helps focus the sound and creates excellent articulation in the individual notes.

Larger body styles like a dreadnought acoustic guitar project well but have less articulation when playing arpeggios.

Curves and Cutaways create a more focused and articulate guitar but have less projection.

A dreadnought guitar style has more projection but can have less articulation in picked notes.


Acoustic guitars are made of natural wood, and it’s important that, as consumers, we don’t contribute to over-harvesting.

You must research and find acoustic guitar brands committed to working with sustainable or recycled wood and only work with companies with high ethical standards.

Even if you are paying a little more for the best fingerstyle acoustic guitars, it is worth the price to support the efforts being made by the manufacturer to make a positive difference in the timber industry.

Also, companies with high ethical standards generally make the best guitars that will last you a lifetime.

The Guitar Finish

The finish on a guitar is more important than you think. While a great finish might draw your eye to a particular instrument, it directly affects the tonal characteristics of your guitar.

A guitar finish is designed to protect your instrument, enhance the resonance of the soundboard and give you a better feel.

Certain companies like Taylor have perfected a manufacturing process with an ultralight polyester finish that helps the guitar resonate better and makes the guitar more durable.

A quality fingerpicking guitar is built with attention to detail.


The following section will answer common questions asked about the best fingerstyle guitars.

What is Fingerstyle Guitar?

Fingerstyle guitar is the act of playing the guitar primarily by plucking, or “picking”, each string with one’s fingers like a piano. This technique also resembles that of other instruments like the mandolin and banjo.

Primarily the thumb plays the bass notes, while the other fingers will play the higher notes of the melody.

Also, “fingerstyle guitars” is often interchangeable with “fingerpicking guitars.”

What makes a good acoustic guitar for fingerstyle?

One of the biggest issues for fingerstyle guitar players is that it can be difficult to articulate the high-frequency sounds in chords due to their low volume. This leads to a horrible mix where bass notes overpower higher-pitched lead notes.

Great fingerstyle guitars generally have a smaller body and scale length to help create a more focused and balanced tone when played at softer volumes.

Is fingerstyle guitar hard?

Yes. There is a lot of finger coordination that has to happen between your fretting and picking hand.

If you are new to guitar, then the advice in this article is beyond your scope. Playing fingerstyle acoustic is an intermediate to advanced technique.

However, as you practice and improve, it will become second nature, and you’ll soon discover a strong preference for this playing style.

Should you new or used acoustic fingerstyle guitars?

It depends. Purchasing a used guitar could be a great option if you want a solid wood guitar. You often can get the guitar for a cheaper price than if it were new, and you get the added benefit of the aged wood.

However, if you purchase cheaper used acoustic guitars, be aware that if the guitar isn’t taken care of, it could come with many problems. These problems are often poor intonation and high action.

Why didn’t you include any 12-string acoustic guitars on your best of list?

While there are some great 12-string fingerstyle guitars, I didn’t include any 12-string acoustic guitars on my list because they are specialty-style instruments with different use cases.

To Wrap Up

Playing fingerstyle guitar is one of the most incredible sounding ways to play guitar. Finding the best acoustic guitars for fingerstyle isn’t a difficult decision, and you shouldn’t worry about purchasing “blind” from the internet.

From my research and testing, the best fingerstyle guitars overall are the Taylor 300 Series Mahogany. This is based on price, playability, features, innovation, and sustainability. These guitars have beautiful sound quality and will be an excellent purchase for fingerstyle guitarists who want a dedicated instrument to hone their craft and sound.

Thanks for reading!

A picture of Brad Johnson (Owner & Writer of Song Production Pros) playing and testing a guitar at the Sam Ash Westminster Store. The guitar being played is a Taylor 814ce.

Why you can trust our content

Brad Johnson, the creator of Song Production Pros, researches and writes these reviews.

He's been playing music since he was nine and has played, used, and owned many instruments and pro audio gear. His reviews are based on hands-on experience, user-generated reviews, and subject matter expert reviews.

Please refer to our page, Our Review Process, for more details on how we approach writing our review articles.

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Brad Johnson
Brad is the creator of Song Production Pros. He writes songs and surfs on the weekends when he's not too busy with family or this website. He writes music under the moniker FJ Isles, and can be heard on all streaming services.