As seen on
reverbnation logo guitar tricks logo Entrepreneur logo take lessons logo truefire logo

Which Is The Best Fingerstyle Guitar In 2018? We Reviewed The Top 8

Fingerstyle is one of the most enjoyable ways to play a guitar. But it turns out that not every guitar is suited to this style. Yes, you can fingerpick on any guitar and it will sound ok, but some guitars are particularly suited to this style. We went on a mission to locate the best fingerstyle guitar.

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying a fingerstyle guitar 

  • One feature to look out for is a cut out in the body. Being able to access those high frets is really useful if you play classical music, and you don't want to have to break your wrist when you're trying to play triplets on the 15th fret and beyond.

  • Also important is size. The body of a fingerpicking guitar is typically one that is slightly smaller than a standard guitar, and is often referred to as an 'Orchestra Model'. As a finger style guitarist you'll be able to produce less force with your picking hand than guitarists who use a plectrum, so a smaller body helps to off-set this by making the guitar more responsive. They also tend to have better balance between the bass, treble and mid tones, which you'll need for complex arrangements.

  • Another feature you should look out for is a slightly wider spacing between the strings than you would commonly find on a normal acoustic guitar. This will really help you to get your fingers in between for rapid arpeggios. Combine this with a very light gauge of strings and you'll be able to play even extremely complicated melody and harmony with the required speed. Be warned that a light strings and low action will quickly ruin your playing with buzzing if you go for tunings lower than DADGAD.

  • The best fingerstyle guitars are also defined by the choice of wood in their construction. The majority of your tone comes from the top board of the body, but the choice of wood for the neck also makes a significant contribution. Unfortunately, it's impossible to say which particular wood or combination of wood is the best, as this will depend heavily on personal taste and the style of music you play. With that in mind, you'll want to experiment with rosewood, ebony or combination both for the neck and consider using a maple/mahogany body. These are just some starting suggestions, so feel free to find one that suits your own taste (and budget!)

8 Best Fingerstyle Guitars

OK, time to look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action.

1) Martin GPCPA5K Performing Artist Series Acoustic Electric Guitar

Martin GPCPA5K Performing Artist Series Acoustic Electric Guitar

Martin guitars have long held the throne as the king of acoustic guitars, and they work hard to keep it that way. In terms of tone, notes in all ranges resonate well, and mid tones have a nice sustain for helping to keep your harmony sections flowing all the way through.

It has a plug in option, so it’s perfect for those open mic nights you’ve been planning on playing, and its sikta spruce top offers a superior quality sound.

  • Acoustic-electric, so you'll be able to play in crowded venues with plenty of other noise just as easily as you whip it out around the campfire
  • Sitka spruce top gives a bright resonance.
  • Cutaway for those high frets
  • Bass notes are noticeably weaker than in other guitars to avoid creating feedback when playing plugged in.
  • Use of Koa veneer over a high pressure laminate for the back and sides rather than genuine Koa.
  • Very high action makes it harder to pull off fast arrangments or flamenco without adjusting it first (don't try to do this yourself unless you've done it many times successfully.)
  • The price - quite a bit higher than the rest on this list.

2) Taylor BBT Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar

Taylor BBT Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar

Taylor are another range of guitars renowned for their quality. The Big Baby is larger than most guitars you would normally consider as a fingerstyle player, but it's still among the best fingerstyle guitars.

The ebony neck is great for speedy playing and has an aesthetic quality which shouldn't be overlooked.

The body uses Sitka and layered Sapele, which combined with the ebony gives a very bright sound that makes this guitar great for solo playing, which you'll like if you prefer to do your own thing rather than play with a band like many fingerpicking guitarists do.

  • High quality tonewoods produce some great sounds.
  • The price tag is lower than what you would normally expect from a guitar with such high quality materials.
  • Very strong mid tones will help to carry your harmony that little bit further.
  • Doesn't feature a cut out.
  • Acoustic only, so you'll need to rely on a mic if you're playing larger venues.
  • The larger body is fine for most needs, but isn't ideal for fingerstyle.

3) Fender CD-60 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Fender Beginner Acoustic Guitar CD-60 - Natural - Dreadnought - With Case

This is a very affordable option if you aren't willing to spend more than a couple of hundred. There's nothing particularly brilliant about this guitar, but in the hands of a talented musician it will perform just as well as a more expensive option.

‘Fender’ guitars are renowned for their resilience and reliability. This will hold its tune well and will take a bit of a bashing.

Great for the more rocky player who dabbles with fingerstyle.

  • Much cheaper than many other high quality guitars, but plays quite well in comparison to those with much higher prices.
  • Rosewood fretboard helps to absorb some of the tinnier high tones.
  • Hard shell case included which means it'll arrive in one piece and make it safer to bring along wherever your muse takes you.
  • The tones are a little unbalanced, with the high being too bright in relation to the mids and bass.
  • Rounded fret board means that it's not as slick for playing fingerstyle, and would be better suited to other styles of play.

4) Takamine GD20-NS Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Takamine GD20-NS Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The Takamine is a little different from most of the other guitars on this list. Aesthetically it's very pleasing and understated, giving it a 'secretly luxury' appearance, whilst maintaining a low end price.

The guitar is all solid woods (cedar top, mahogany back and sides) which brings a resonance to the guitar that can't be achieved using laminates.

Simply a beautiful bargain!

  • Dirt cheap for the quality.
  • Solid woods bring your tone to life, the cedar/mahogany body and the rosewood neck work together beautifully to bring out the full range of tones.
  • Beautifully designed, it works just as well as a home decoration when not being played.
  • No cut out, limiting easy playability to the 12th fret and below.
  • The slim neck certainly makes it easier to play, but if you've never used one of these before it make take some time to overcome the muscle memory of using a thicker neck.
  • The full bodied dreadnought size helps to give a more powerful sound, but is less suited to the needs of a fingerstyle player.

5) Washburn WD7S Harvest Series (Budget Choice)

Washburn WD7S Harvest Series Solid Sitka Spruce/Mahogany Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Natural Gloss

This guitar boasts a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides, so has a strong combination of tone woods with no low quality materials. Visually very appealing, with a similar understated finish that's similar to the GD20-NS.

There are chrome diecast tuners, for stability of tuning, and a rosewood fingerboard for a smooth playing experience.

  • Can handle low action without buzzing, which will make it much easier when you're trying to hold down strings four frets apart.
  • Full sound thanks to the use of only solid woods for construction.
  • Narrow neck makes it easier if you have small hands, or need to play arrangements with dramatic distances between the notes on melody and harmony lines.
  • No cut out.
  • Dreadnought sized.
  • No plug in options.

6) Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02 Folding Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar

Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02 Folding Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar

This guitar is unique in the last as being the only one that FOLD. Yes, folds! In half!

The model is designed with air transport in mind and, due to its ability to half in length, it can be carried as hand luggage!

You’d expect the quality to suffer, but fear not. This guitar has a Rosewood fretboard, is made from mahogany and holds its tune surprisingly well.

It also comes with a really cool bag, including a laptop compartment!

The perfect for the traveling fingerstyle guitarist.

  • Folds up for easy transportation
  • Mahogany neck, back and sides.
  • Wide spacing between the strings - great for arpeggios!
  • No cutout
  • Thick neck might take some getting used to.
  • No plug in options.

7) Yamaha FSX820C Small Body Acoustic-Electric Guitar Bundle (Editor's Choice)

Yamaha FSX820C Small Body Acoustic-Electric Guitar Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Instructional DVD, Strings, Picks, and Polishing Cloth - Brown Sunburst

Yamaha make some great acoustic guitars, and this small bodied one is great for finger picking.

Like the Martin, there’s a solid sikta top - for great resonance - and this guitar also has a cutout body, making frets beyond 12 easy to reach.

It comes as part of an impressive bundle, including a case, tuner, strap and more, so you have everything you need to get started right away!

  • Solid Sitka top gives the guitar a superior resonance
  • Case, tuner, strap, strings and more included - so you can go gigging straight away… plugged in!
  • Cutout body - great for reaching the high notes!
  • May need setting up
  • The solid spruce may take time before it sounds its best
  • You may wish to upgrade the case to a hard shell case.

8) Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium - Natural, Rosewood Back & Sides

Taylor 214ce DLX - Layered Rosewood Back and Sides

OK so we know we’ve already included one Taylor model here, but this is another option by the reputable make, that you may find even more suitable.

It has a cutout shape, so the high frets will be no problem, and is made from layered rosewood for a very rich tone.

It’s not cheap, but this is the obvious choice for the professional or semi-professional fingerstyle guitarist.

  • Cutout shape - so you can reach the high frets!
  • Layered rosewood gives it a rich tone
  • Comes with a hardshell case - so you can take it out without worrying about scratching the beautiful thing!
  • No plug in option
  • More expensive than the others on the list
  • May need setting up

So which should I buy?

All of the guitars mentioned here are real contenders for the best fingerstyle guitar.

However, the Martin, Yamaha and Taylor models particularly shine for us.

The Yamaha is our number one choice, due to the resonance provided by its solid sikta top, and the all inclusive bundle it’s a part of!

These 3 models, as well as the fold-up Voyage Air all have cutaway bodies, which are a must if you want to get high!

If you’re happy staying below the 12th fret, and prefer a chunkier sound, the dreadnought bodies in the other five models are perfectly suitable, though. And there are some great sounding dreadnoughts on the list, which you can finger pick on perfectly well!

The Martin and Yamahas both have plug in options, so those who wish to play to larger audiences without micing up may have to try both and see which they prefer the feel of, in order to make their decision.

Oh and as for the Voyage Air… If you’re a traveller, just wow! The case it comes with, too - it’s almost as impressive as the guitar itself! A stylish backpack with a pocket for a laptop/books/whatever you like. This is more than just a novelty product - it’s genius!

Whichever guitar you decide is right for your own fingerpicking journey, we hope that this list has helped you to reach an informed decision, and we wish you a happy playing experience!  🙂

Roz is a music teacher and our go-to person for anything music theory! When she’s not teaching or writing for Zing, Roz writes and plays in alternative/ psyche /art rock band The Roz Bruce Infusion.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment