The Best Fingerstyle Guitars for Acoustic Players and Songwriters

TLDR: My Top Pick
Taylor 322ce 12-Fret V-Class

Taylor 322ce 12-Fret V-Class

The tone of this instrument is beautiful. The guitar produces a warmer sound with its blackwood sides and mahogany top while still perfect for fingerstyle playing!

It also comes with 12 frets which make transitions easier on your fingers as well- no sacrifice in quality or playability here; it's one excellent acoustic stringed instrument that will have everyone asking when you started sounding so good!

The Challenge of Online Guitar Buying

Buying an acoustic guitar online can be difficult, especially if you look for something specific, like fingerstyle guitars. 

These days it’s tough to find the right fingerstyle guitar in your local music shop, and you often have to resort to purchasing one blind online. This can be extremely nerve-wracking.

This is where I come in. I’ve done all of the research for you by analyzing every major acoustic guitar brand and model on the market today. I then narrowed down the findings so you can find your perfect fingerstyle guitar easily.

I’ve found that the Taylor 322ce 12-fret V-Class is the best fingerstyle guitar overall. The short-scale all mahogany top and blackwood sides and back help create an articulate and warm tone that naturally compresses the notes while being really easy to play. This guitar sings and has a consistent bass response that won’t overpower the treble strings.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other great fingerstyle guitar options to choose from. This review will cover many use-case scenarios to ensure that you find your perfect match.

Let’s get started!

The Best Fingerstyle Guitars at a Glance

Best Overall:Taylor’s 322ce 12-Fret V-Class Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Best Tone:Martin 0MC-15ME

Best for Blues: Gibson Acoustics L-00

Best for Environment:The Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE

Best for Budget:Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar

Best Premium: Taylor 512ce 12-Fret V-Class

Best Overall
Taylor 322ce 12-Fret V-Class
  • You'll be able to play fingerstyle guitar with a new depth of expression.
  • Impress your friends with a guitar that sounds like no other
  • Play more effortlessly with less practice
  • You'll always want to pick up your guitar because of how easy it is
  • Play with less effort, expression, and more incredible speed
  • Feel good about your purchase, knowing it's supporting a sustainable business

Taylor’s 322ce 12-Fret V-Class Acoustic-Electric Guitar is the best overall fingerstyle guitar on the market. It features Taylor’s patented V-Class bracing that deepens and strengthens both sound and note sustain. This makes softly plucked notes project out and sing more than ever before.

Its Mahogany top and Tasmanian blackwood sides produce rich, warm tones. This great tonewood combination naturally compresses the sound and will create more consistency in your fingerpicking.

The 12-fret neck creates less string tension making this acoustic guitar more effortless and fun to play. The ebony fingerboard paired with the mahogany neck allows you to move up and down the neck with ease, and switching between different chords and finger positioning is effortless with this type of setup.

The neck-width is 44.5mm, giving plenty of space for your fretting hand and help you from muting or sounding the wrong string while playing.

The guitar comes equipped with Taylor Guitars’ proprietary ES2 pick-ups, which help keep the guitar’s acoustic sound intact when amplified.

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

Taylor is highly innovative when it comes to its manufacturing. They are known for consistency and quality. When you purchase a Taylor (especially blindly online), your chances of getting a guitar that you love are pretty much guaranteed.

The Taylor 322ce 12-Fret is the kind of fingerstyle guitar you will own for the rest of your life, and the sheer beauty of the wood is sure to turn heads and create conversation for years to come!

Oh yeah, it also comes with a hardshell case.

Taylor Guitar’s are fantastic instruments. If you want to see a list of the best Taylor’s for use-case please check out my articleThe Best Taylor Acoustic Guitars For All Styles and Budgets

Best Tone
Martin OMC-15ME
  • Martin guitars tone will always be a classic
  • The craftsmanship of the instrument will last you a lifetime
  • You'll be proud to show off your new guitar on stage or in the studio
  • You'll feel the history in your hands every time you play it
  • The sound is warm, rich, and balanced

Martin guitars are one of the world’s most popular acoustic guitars. Martin has been a family-run business that began making guitars back in 1833. It goes without saying that Martin knows how to make a great acoustic guitar.

The 15 Series guitars are one of their most popular acoustic guitar lineups. The Martin 0MC-15ME features a solid Mahogany body, an all-solid Mahogany neck, and a Rosewood fingerboard with 20 frets.

This model also has an orchestral model cutaway to make it easier to play higher notes on the fretboard.

The solid mahogany body looks gorgeous and helps produce a balanced, rich, and mid-forward sound. Mahogany tops create less dynamic range than other tonewoods like solid Sitka spruce top, making a great acoustic guitar for fingerstyle. This works in a player’s favor because they don’t need to be as consistent with their fingerstyle playing to create a clean and consistent sound from the acoustic guitar.

This Martin guitar has a 44.4mm neck length at the nut, which will help guitar players only sound the strings they are trying to play.

The Martin comes equipped with a Fishman pick-up system and a hardshell case, so you can travel and gig with this acoustic guitar with ease.

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 a bit more “grainy” to my touch.

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

Martin is one of the best and most revered guitar makers on the planet. If world-class construction and tone is what you’re after, then check out my article “The Best Martin Acoustic Guitars for the Tone-Obsessed Player”

Best for Blues
Gibson Acoustic L-00
  • Gibson Acoustic guitars are beautiful, handcrafted instruments
  • Get the sound of your favorite artists in your hands
  • Great for recording 
  • You'll find yourself feeling more creative and inspired when you play this guitar
  • Produces a rich, deep, and vintage sound

Gibson Acoustic guitars are some of the most well-known and respected brands in the music industry. Gibson is the sound of blues and rock and roll. Gibson dates back to the late 1800s, and legendary musicians have made classics on their guitars for years.

The L-00 has a vintage parlor-style look, and this small body type creates a very focused sound which is excellent for recording.

The top wood on this guitar is Sitka Spruce. This very dynamic-sounding top wood creates a very expressive acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing.

The sound on this model is slightly dark, rich, and vintage, making it perfect for blues musicians who want a good fingerstyle guitar that has more character.

The neck width at the nut comes in at 43.8mm, making the string distance for the fretting hand a little more cramped than other guitars on this list. This could be a great option for players who have smaller hands.

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 faithfully recreate the acoustics of the guitar while plugged in. 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 a bit inconsistent.

From my own experience, I’ve owned a Gibson electric that I never really connected with, but then played Gibson’s that I thought were flawless. At the end of the day, Gibson is a well-respected guitar manufacturer, and I’d bet you’re going to strike gold if you go with this recommendation.

Gibson G-00 Guitar

Budget Gibson Alternative: G-00

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

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

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

This guitar is a great value acoustic guitar for those who play around the house and don’t mind the natural finish compared to the hand-sprayed finish.

Gibson is one of the most popular guitar manufacturers on the planet. If the rugged, classic, and vintage tone is what you’re aspiring for, then check out my article “The Best Gibson Acoustic Guitar for the Inspired Songwriter”

Best for the Environment
Breedlove Oregon Concertina CE
  • 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

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. This is because the guitar’s slim C-shaped neck profile plays like an electric guitar. This is also an excellent choice for players who transition between electric guitar and acoustic often.

The 12-Fret design gives the guitar a comfortable and relaxed string feel that is perfect for a fingerstyle guitar. Also, the cutaway in the body makes it easy to play all the way up the fretboard with ease.

The innovative pinless bridge system helps keep your guitar tuning stable and changing 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 that everything used 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
Best for Budget
Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar
  • 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

The Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar is one of the best fingerstyle guitars for acoustic players on a budget. The best part about this model is you don’t have to sacrifice quality or playability when making this purchase.

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.

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

This guitar is a great entry point for a beginner or intermediate acoustic guitar players. It definitely punches above its weight.

There is a built-in armrest for maximum comfort and also comes with a gig bag for traveling musicians.

There isn’t a pick-up system in the design of this budget fingerstyle guitar, so you will have to either install one yourself or rely on a mic if you’re playing live.

The Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar comes with either steel strings or nylon strings for playing a classical guitar.

Best Premium
Taylor 512ce 12-Fret V-Class
  • The guitar has low action and is super easy to play
  • It sounds and looks beautiful
  • This guitar has a beautiful tone and sustain
  • Your fingers will love the smooth feel of the fretboard as you play it for hours on end

Suppose you are an acoustic player or songwriter looking for a high-quality 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 512ce 12-Fret is the guitar for you.

This guitar is made with a solid cedar top and mahogany sides and back. The wood is sustainably sourced and gives this fingerpicking guitar a warm mid-range presence that looks as beautiful as it sounds.

Cedar is a softwood that naturally suppresses high frequencies and is considered one of the best tonewoods for fingerstyle picking. This is a great-sounding guitar for any musician who plays pop, jazz, or folk music.

The neck width at the nut is 44.5mm, which will give your fretting hand enough room between strings to play the notes you intend to play.

The patented and revolutionary V-Class bracing gives this guitar great sustain, projection, and note articulation even with soft-picked notes. This makes this the best acoustic guitar for fingerstyle guitarist on this list.

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

Overall this is one of the best high-end guitars on the market today for anyone who wants to play fingerstyle guitar.

Buyers Guide

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

Budget

The first thing you need to decide is how much money you are willing to 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-$3000 so there should be something for everyone depending on their individual 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, but 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)

As you can see from this list, a majority of the guitars are 12-fret guitars instead of 14-fret guitars. 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 types of designs, the saddle is pushed back more on the body of the guitar 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 guitars can give a more “slinky” feel to playing and make pressing down and plucking strings easier. These guitars are not only good fingerstyle guitars but also great for players who suffer from arthritis or tendinitis.

Typical guitar scale lengths are around 25.5”, while great fingerstyle guitars are around 24.75”.

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 for those who have not built up enough muscle in their fretting hand.

The typical nut width for an acoustic is around 43mm, however, for some fingerstyle guitars on this list go up to 45mm.

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

Construction

The construction of acoustic 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 sounds of the guitar are going to be more balanced and rich, and the tonewood will age and become better with time.

When deciding on what acoustic guitars for fingerstyle will be best for you, consider a solid wood construction. This type of construction creates the best guitars that you will want to own forever.

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 down production costs.

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

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 compared to other types of top woods which can be a big advantage for creating a consistent sound while fingerstyle playing.

Certain woods like a solid spruce top that are 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.

Body Style

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

From my experience, the best body types are ones that have a cutaway in the body. The reason for this is because 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 also argue that it gives a guitar a more balanced tone.

Most guitars that you will find on my list are ones that have a smaller body shape. A smaller body generally has less projection but are more focused and articulate in their sound. This feature makes a great 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 guitar project well, but have less articulation when playing arpeggios.

Curves and Cutaways create a more focused and articulate guitar, however, they have less projection.

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

Sustainability

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

It’s important that you research and find acoustic guitar brands that are committed to working with sustainable or recycled wood, as well as, only work with companies that have high ethical standards.

Even if you are paying a little more for your guitar, it is worth the price to support the efforts being made by the manufacture to make a positive difference in the timber industry.

Also, companies that have 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 actually has a direct effect on 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 that has an ultralight polyester finish that helps the guitar resonate better, as well as, make the guitar more durable.

Quality acoustic guitars are built with attention to detail.

FAQ

The following section will answer common questions asked around 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.

Fingerstyle is often interchangeable with fingerpicking.

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 easy?

Not at first. 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 get better at it, it will become second nature and you’ll soon discover a strong preference for this playing style.

Should you new or used acoustic guitars?

It depends. If you are looking to purchase a solid wood guitar, then purchasing a used guitar could be a great option. 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 are purchasing cheaper used acoustic guitars, be aware that if the guitar wasn’t taken care of, it could come with a lot of problems. These problems are often are poor intonation and high action.

To Wrap Up

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

From my research and testing, the best fingerstyle guitar overall is the Taylor 322ce 12-fret V-Class. This is based on price, playability, features, innovation, and sustainability. This guitar has beautiful sound quality and will be an excellent purchase for any guitarist who plays fingerstyle or wants to get better.