The Best Gibson Acoustic Guitar for the Inspired Songwriter

For Budget
G-00
G-00
  • American handcrafted, solid wood Gibson for an affordable price
  • Short scale neck is perfect for beginners
  • Has a nice, punchy, articulate sound
Editor's Choice
50's J-50 Original
50's J-50 Original
  • Beautiful, powerful, and traditional acoustic sound
  • Rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck has a silky feel
  • It looks timeless and is perfect for your collection
For Strummers
SJ-200 Studio Walnut
SJ-200 Studio Walnut
  • It has an amazingly balanced but meaty tone
  • Gorgeous and classic Super Jumbo design
  • Can cut through a busy mix with ease

In the market for a Gibson acoustic but don’t know where to start?

Gibson guitars need no introduction. If you found this article, it’s because you’re looking for an acoustic guitar that is rugged, not overly bright, and looks great while playing.

Gibson is a favorite for guitarist for a reason.

I’ve used my 20+ years of guitar playing knowledge to study the best Gibson acoustic guitars for various playing styles and needs. However, in terms of affordability, playability, construction, and appearance, the 50s J-50 Original is the most outstanding choice for that vintage Gibson sound.

However, I understand that as guitarists, we all have unique requirements and tastes. As a result, I’ve included a beneficial buyer’s guide to assist you in finding the best Gibson for you if you don’t see the one you’ve been searching for on my list.

Let’s get started!

The Best Gibson Acoustic Guitars at a Glance

Editor's Choice
50's J-50 Original
  • It has a timeless appearance and feel of the golden era of acoustic guitars
  • Classic Gibson round-shoulder dreadnought body style
  • Built with solid wood that has a powerful and classic sound
  • It's a timeless piece of art that you can enjoy for years to come

When purchasing a guitar for your collection, you usually aren’t selecting Gibson for its modern features, bright treble, and frills. You’re looking for a guitar that looks tough, has some low-end tonal heft, and has vintage appeal.

The 50s J-50 Original is the Editor’s Choice because it meets all of these criteria.

The J-50 is a Gibson acoustic-electric guitar with the timeless appearance and feel of the golden era of acoustic guitars. It features rounded shoulders, which distinguishes a Gibson dreadnought from others, while the natural finish gives it an antiqued look.

This guitar has a powerful and traditional acoustic sound with a wide dynamic range. This is thanks to its solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides.

The 12″ radius, solid rosewood fingerboard, and mahogany neck is a timeless wood combination. It’s an incredibly comfortable neck to play if you have slightly bigger hands but may feel somewhat uncomfortable for those with tiny hands.

This Gibson has an understated charm, robustness, exceptional sound, and contemporary features like the LR Baggs VTC pickups for playing gigs. All these things make this guitar a winner.

Best for Budget: G-00

Best for Budget
G-00
  • Get an American handcrafted Gibson without breaking the bank
  • Solid wood construction, with an articulate and punchy sound
  • The neck is extremely comfortable, making it a fantastic option for beginner/intermediate players
  • Player Port gives you an immersive playing experience

There isn’t such a thing as a budget Gibson guitar model. Still, the G-00 is your guitar if you want an American handcrafted, solid wood Gibson for an affordable price.

This small-bodied acoustic guitar is crafted from a solid Sitka spruce top and solid maple back and sides. This tonewood combination results in a guitar with a broad dynamic range and an immediate and punchy tone.

The short-scale neck makes fretting simple for intermediate and small-handed guitarists. The flatter neck radius makes this acoustic play feel more like an electric guitar and won’t feel bulky in your hands.

This no-nonsense guitar design is ideal for players who live in small apartments and more intimate settings. Guitar players that want a more defined sound with less projection from their instrument will also love this guitar.

Gibson’s are a premium instrument that comes with a premium price. If you want to get your hands on a guitar that plays and sounds like these iconic acoustic instruments, then you should check out my Epiphone Acoustic Guitars Buyer Guide Here.

Best for Fingerstyle: 1942 Banner LG-2

Best for Fingerstyle
1942 Banner LG-2
  • It has a rich and intimate sound
  • A beautiful instrument with its nitrocellulose and vintage sunburst finish
  • The tone is crisp, clear, and pure; perfect for fingerstyle
  • Vintage headstock with old-school Gibson logo

The 1942 Banner LG-2 produces a sound of an old-school vintage guitar. The rich and intimate tone is created by the solid mahogany back and sides and solid spruce top.

The shorter scale and tonewood, combined with a narrow waist, give this acoustic guitar an astonishing clarity across all notes and strings.

With a light touch, the Gibson LG-2 projects well without the need for amplification. This makes it ideal for fingerstyle players who play in small settings such as coffeehouses and concert halls.

The bottom line, this is a guitar that is meant to be played without a pick.

Gibson offers acoustics that has a vintage, warm, and worn-in tone. Some fingerstyle players may want something that is a little more bright and modern. I’ve created a resource to help you decipher the best fingerstyle acoustic guitars if this is what you’re looking for.

Best for Flatpicking and Strumming: SJ-200 Studio Walnut

Best for Flatpicking and Strumming
SJ-200 Studio Walnut
  • Rolled-edged mahogany neck makes for a smooth playing experience
  • The best guitar for strumming and picking
  • Has a big, bold sound that will cut through a dense mix

The SJ-200 (Super Jumbo) is considered the “King of Flat-Tops” and is one of Gibson’s most famous acoustic guitar designs.

This modern take on the model uses a solid Sitka spruce top and maple back and sides that create a balanced but meaty tone that’s a great fit for country, pop, rock, blues, and bluegrass.

This, however, is not the best acoustic guitar for a player with a light touch. This guitar requires effort, power, and swagger. This guitar shines in creating big, bold chords and digging in with your pick for classic lead lines.

It’s a beautifully designed guitar with a timeless look that will turn heads wherever you play it.

Best for Recording: L-00 Standard

Best for Recording
L-00 Standard
  • Comfortable, elegant, and an inspiring vintage tone
  • The present midrange is charming and delightful, especially for recording
  • Solid Sitka spruce allows for excellent playing dynamics and punch

Recording artists will find the L-00’s warm vintage tone and present midrange charming and delightful.

The guitar’s pinched waist allows for clean recordings with excellent articulation and note separation.

The solid Sitka spruce top allows guitarists to play dynamically with ease, seamlessly transitioning from loud to soft. The mahogany back and sides add to the warmth, durability, and sustain of this guitar.

Despite its small size and understated design, the guitar can project a decent amount of low-end power, unlike other small-bodied guitars.

Suppose you’re a recording artist looking for a comfortable, elegant, and vintage-inspired acoustic instrument. In that case, the L-00 Standard should be at the top of your list!

Best for Gigging: J-185 EC Modern Rosewood

Best for Gigging
J-185 EC Modern Rosewood
  • This is an excellent guitar for playing for extended periods
  • Great tone and playability
  • LR Baggs VTC electronics help your acoustic sound natural when you plug it into an amplifier

The J-185 EC Modern Rosewood acoustic-electric guitar is perfect for any player looking for excellent tone, comfortability, and playability.

The guitar has a 24.75″ scale length solid Mahogany neck and a 16″ radius solid rosewood fingerboard. This beautiful neck design allows you to play both cowboy chords and lead melodies easily. Making it an ideal instrument for lengthy performances.

The smaller 16″ body reduces boominess and hugs your body while projecting a forward midrange warmth.

Furthermore, when amplified through LR Baggs VTC electronics, the sound of the classic Sitka spruce top and rosewood back and sides maintain their rich tone. The Mini Rotomatic tuners from Grover keep the instrument in tune and assist with excellent intonation.

Best Premium Option: 1942 Banner J-45

Best Premium Option
1942 Banner J-45
  • You'll feel the rich history of Gibson the moment you pick it up
  • It's beautiful and timeless
  • This guitar has a big, warm, and inviting sound

The Gibson J-45 is the most popular and one of the best acoustic guitars from Gibson. It’s a reliable performance instrument that players in the folk, country and bluegrass musical genres adore.

Suppose you want to fully utilize Gibson’s timeless, vintage sound when performing live or recording your next hit. In that case, the 1942 Banner J-45 is the guitar for you.

This guitar has that understated classic look with a vintage sunburst finish that adds to its coolness factor. The Adirondack red spruce top and mahogany body and neck produce a big, warm sound that reaches out and hugs you. When you play this guitar, you hear the distinctive low-end girth of a Gibson guitar, yet without any muddiness.

The wood of this beautiful instrument is torrefied by Gibson to make the instrument sound like it was created in the 1940s. While the V profile mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard is silky smooth with perfect action right out of the case.

The 1942 Banner J-45 is a piece of acoustic history that you won’t want to put down.

Best Classic Body Style: Southern Jumbo Original

Best Classic Body Style
Southern Jumbo Original
  • This guitar has a very responsive sound, and it adapts to different styles effortlessly
  • You'll own a piece of acoustic guitar history
  • It has a great vintage tone and playability

The Gibson Southern Jumbo Original is a beautiful guitar that has a range of tones. It’s perfect for players who’ve played for years and want to own a piece of acoustic guitar history.

The Southern Jumbo has a very responsive sound, and it adapts to different styles effortlessly.

This guitar has a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The mahogany ensures the durability of the guitar, so it will not be easily damaged with time. The mahogany also contributes to the sound of this great guitar. It has a mid-forward weight with gorgeous overtones that can be heard in every strum.

The Gibson Southern Jumbo has a comfortable slim taper mahogany neck. The Slim Taper neck is wider at the nut for effortless fretting of cowboy chords while being smooth to play higher up the neck. This design allows guitarists to milk as much as they can out of their guitars.

The Southern Jumbo Orignal doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a guitar that will still look and sound good when your children’s children play it!

Buying Guide for the Best Gibson Acoustic Guitars

Suppose non of the Gibson acoustics mentioned above was an exact match for you. In that case, the following buyer’s guide should help steer you towards finding the best Gibson Acoustic guitar for your needs.

Body Styles

There are many different body shapes for guitars, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. You must consider your playing style before making a purchase of any one type.

Some people may want an intimate parlor-style instrument with more focused projection, slinky playability, and articulation between notes. This would be an excellent choice for recording musicians and players who aren’t gigging out a lot.

While others might be looking for something that is loud and will project across a room like a Super Jumbo. A great choice for players in a loud band who need to cut through the mix.

I’ve provided a list of all the Gibson acoustic body types with some strengths and weaknesses.

L-00 (Small Body)

The L-00 is often referred to as a Parlor body style. However, in Gibson’s lineup, the L-00 is not considered a parlor guitar, even though it most resembles a traditional parlor guitar.

Confused? Don’t worry; we will discuss Gibson’s version of a parlor later, but in this section, we will refer to the L-00 as a parlor in its traditional sense.

The parlor is a smaller-bodied guitar with a narrow waist and shorter scale length and has seen a resurgence in popularity. 

These guitars aren’t loud instruments. However, what they lack in volume, they deliver in punch and articulation.

Guitar enthusiasts love parlors for being easy to play and effortless to get a great tone out of.

A guitarist who plays fingerstyle, folk, blues, and records themselves will appreciate the worn-in tone of a parlor guitar. However, you often lack a big low-end and volume that won’t project over a band with smaller-bodied guitars.

G-00

L-00 Deluxe

Dreadnought vs. Jumbo

The dreadnought body style was brought to market by Martin Guitars in 1916 and is the most iconic acoustic body style ever created.

The dreadnought acoustic guitar is a large-bodied guitar with a wide dynamic range and the capacity to project sound across a room. Bluegrass musicians love dreadnoughts because they can project over other loud instruments.

However, the midrange on dreadnoughts is often described as “muddy.” It may not be the best acoustic instrument for recording or fingerstyle players who need more articulation and clarity.

Gibson’s response to the dreadnought was to create variations of it, but instead of calling it a dreadnought, they called it a Jumbo. So essentially, a Jumbo body style is the same as a Dreadnought.

Another change that Gibson made, in the beginning, was giving their Jumbos round shoulders instead of the square shoulder that Martin manufactured. However, in the ’60s, Gibson released square-shoulder guitars with their Hummingbird and Gibson Dove guitar models.

J-45

Songwriter Standard EC Rosewood

Super Jumbo

The Super Jumbo body design is like a dreadnought on steroids. It has a bigger body but a narrower waist than a dreadnought, giving the sound more focus and articulation.

One thing with a Super Jumbo is it was designed to be loud!

If you’re looking for a guitar that will project across a huge room and allow you to play with a heavy hand, then a Gibson Super Jumbo is the guitar for you.

However, because the body size is so big, guitarists who play fingerstyle or have a light touch will not find a Super Jumbo a good fit for them. You need to dig in to get this body type to sing.

SJ-200 Studio Rosewood

G-200

Gibson Parlor

The Gibson Parlor is essentially a modernized Super Jumbo. It’s got a slim body and with more curvature in the waist.

Gibson is trying to redefine what small-bodied guitars are known for. The Gibson parlor was created to feature a compact guitar with more projection, low-end, and volume.

A Gibson “Parlor” is a versatile and comfortable playing acoustic guitar that will make a great stage guitar and recording guitar. However, because of the shorter-scale length of these body shapes, you may find it challenging to keep open-tunings in tune.

J-185 EC Modern Rosewood

J-185 EC Modern Walnut

Tonewoods

A guitar’s tonewood can make a world of difference. Tonewoods are the material from which your instrument is constructed. Knowing how they affect tone will help you choose the best Gibson acoustic guitar for your needs.

Spruce Tonewood

The Soundboard (Top Woods)

The most essential tonewood for an acoustic guitar is the soundboard (or top wood). It will have the most significant influence on the projection, playability, and dynamics of your instrument.

However, selecting the best Gibson acoustic guitar based on the top wood isn’t a tough decision. Most Gibson acoustic models are made out of Spruce (besides the odd special edition).

Spruce is the most popular tonewood for acoustic guitar soundboards, and its sound features are:

  • High Dynamic Range
  • Warm Overtones
  • Scooped Mid-Range
  • Emphasized Lows and Highs

Body Woods

Arguably the most crucial tonewood for a Gibson acoustic guitar. Since 98% of their guitars use Spruce as the top wood, the body and sides will alter the sound character of the acoustic you’re shopping for.

The following body woods are common in the Gibson acoustic line. We’ll dive into how each alters the sound so you can choose what is suitable for you.

Mahogany Tonewood

Mahogany

Mahogany is a hardwood that has a full mid-range and warm sound. Mahogany paired with Spruce lends itself to a more vintage tone.

There is a natural compression of sound that happens with mahogany. It is a great tonewood choice for recording players with less dynamic control with their strumming hand.

Rosewood Tonewood

Rosewood

Rosewood back and sides are becoming rare in guitars. Rosewood has been over-harvested, and some popular species used for guitars are on the endangered species list.

However, rosewood and Spruce is a classic tonewood combination that adds a “scooped” midrange that is great for singer/songwriters.

Gibson acoustics still makes guitars with a rosewood back and sides, but you will pay a premium for it.

Maple Tonewood

Maple

Maple wood generally has a big, bright tone with less tendency to color like other tonewoods. It’s known for its brightness and clarity, which makes it an excellent choice when you want a more upfront, “in-your-face” sound.

Maple generally creates fewer overtones than other tonewoods on this list which will help separate notes within chords.

Often, maple is found on more performance-oriented “Original Collection” Gibson acoustic guitars like the Super Jumbos.

Walnut Tonewood

Walnut

Similar to maple, but a little more woody and warm. Walnut back and sides are often found in Gibson’s “Modern Collection” guitars for more performance-oriented models.

If you’re looking for a tonewood that doesn’t color the guitar’s tone much and provides great projection, then a Walnut body and sides might be what you’re looking for.

Gibson Acoustic Guitar Collection

Gibson puts their guitars in different types of “collections.” The following section describes what each of the collections offers.

Original Collection

The original collection represents all of the famous Gibson acoustics of days pasts. They are built with history in mind but with a modern guitar-building approach.

The vital thing to note is that these Gibson guitars are inspired by vintage models but aren’t built to replicate any particular year.

Modern Collection

The Gibson Modern Collection features acoustics designed for the modern age. These guitars include contemporary features such as pickups and electronics and stylish design elements for playability and beauty.

These guitars pay homage to the past while looking toward the future.

Artist Collection

The Artist Collection is a line of premium Gibson guitars that are signature models of famous musicians.

They are based on Gibson’s other models but have some unique design features, and some are limited in production.

These guitars are more novelty guitars that act more like a collector’s item than a guitar you would purchase and play.

Generation Collection

The Generation Collection debuted in 2021 and is a no-nonsense version of their most popular guitar shapes and designs.

Generation Collection guitars include a solid spruce top, walnut back and sides, and the Gibson Player Port as its main features.

The Gibson Player Port is on top of the body and faces towards the player. This is intended to provide you with a more immersive playing experience with your guitar.

If you’re sold on buying a Gibson, but at a more affordable price, then the Generation Collection is a series that you should be looking into.

The Historic Collection

If you’re looking to get your hands on a vintage Gibson, but want the warranty, then this series is calling your name.

Most of these Gibson guitars are built with an Adirondack spruce top and rosewood back and sides with a nitrocellulose lacquer finish that looks beautiful. Gibson marketing claims that this enhances the tone.

The wood is put through a process called Torrefaction to age it. This gives the acoustic that vintage, authentic sound that sounds like it was handmade many decades ago.

These are premium acoustic instruments and come with a hefty price tag and are only for the most die-hard of Gibson fans.

Electronics and Pickups

Most of Gibson’s line of acoustic guitars come equipped with L.R. Baggs VTC under-saddle pickups.

L.R. Baggs VTC under-saddle pickups use a thin-film sensor to amplify the natural resonance of your acoustic guitar.

They are high-quality pickups and will help maintain the integrity of your guitar’s tone when plugged into an amp or PA.

However, some models like the Gibson SJ-200 (Modern Collection) have a simple under-saddle piezo pickup, which generally results in an ok sound when plugging into amplification.

Gibson History

Gibson is an iconic American guitar producer founded initially by Orville Gibson in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Originally started as a builder of mandolins, Gibson went on to create acoustic flat-top guitars and electric guitars, becoming one of the most popular guitar brands in the world.

Gibson is most famous today for the Les Paul series of guitars released in 1954. Les Paul is now one of the most iconic guitar models in history.

Gibson has a factory in Boseman, Montana, where they exclusively handmake all their acoustic guitars.

FAQ

Some of the most commonly asked questions around Gibson guitars.

The Gibson SJ-200 is the most iconic and popular Gibson guitar on the planet. It’s considered the “King of the Flat-Tops” and is one of the most played acoustic guitars on the market.

However, Gibson’s J-45 is their best-selling acoustic and is called the “workhorse” for its balanced tone, bass-heavy sound, and excellent projection.

Are Gibson acoustic guitars worth the money?

For high-end acoustic guitars, Gibson will be a purchase that most guitar players will love. However, some think their standards in construction quality have slipped over the years.

So it depends on how much you really want a Gibson. If you are brand agnostic, you might be able to find a better quality guitar for a better value.

Are Gibson Acoustic Guitars better than Martin Guitars?

This is a subjective question. Both guitars have their advantages, but I would go with a Martin Guitar if you want the most outstanding overall guitar in terms of history, construction, and sound.

Does Gibson make good acoustic guitars?

Gibson has been creating guitars for over a century and is one of the most well-known guitar companies in the world.

People who love Gibson…love Gibson.

Some may argue, however, that their guitars’ quality control has deteriorated in recent years. Their production method has a lot to be desired, and some of the construction is questionable, especially given the price.

So Gibson does make a beautiful acoustic guitar. However, a peak on the insides has left some luthiers less-than-impressed(1).

What is the Gibson Sound?

Gibson guitars generally have a more “worn-in” and vintage tone. They are extremely popular for blues, rock, country, and bluegrass.

The Bottom Line

Gibson guitars are some of the most sought-after instruments in the world. These acoustic guitars offer players a vintage tone, excellent playability, and a beautiful look that is hard to find with other guitar brands.

The 50s J-50 Original is one of the best all-around options for the finest Gibson has to offer that ticks all of the boxes of a great Gibson acoustic.

Editor's Choice
50's J-50 Original
  • It has a timeless appearance and feel of the golden era of acoustic guitars
  • Classic Gibson round-shoulder dreadnought body style
  • Built with solid wood that has a powerful and classic sound
  • It's a timeless piece of art that you can enjoy for years to come