Our Top Picks

In an ever-changing cultural landscape, one thing remains the same– music can heal and inspire. Whether you’ve been spending your days hooked on YouTube live concerts or feel inspired by the careers of recently lost legends like John Prine, you might be considering learning to play an instrument as a productive, creative outlet that can help to pass the time.

Enter the acoustic guitar, a satisfying instrument that is more accessible and easy-to-learn than the electric guitar. During the learning phase, acoustic guitars are less frustrating. With just a few simple chords under your belt, you can quickly learn to play songs, even without professional lessons. It is a hobby that never requires a sunny day, expensive equipment, or a green thumb to enjoy.

With that said, many acoustic guitar models available on the market today can cost upwards of a grand. However, there is no need to spend a fortune to attain the best acoustic guitars in Canada. You can get an incredibly lovely guitar that’s perfect for beginners or hobbyists for well under $500. You need to know where to start.

To guide you through the myriad of options when looking for the best acoustic guitars,  we rounded up the best axes available today. Any budding Bob Dylan will enjoy the picks chosen below. To round out the best of the best, we focused on critical elements such as body style, tonewoods impact, fingerboard material, tuning, and overall sound.

Our choices for the best acoustic guitars in Canada should prove more than ample for musicians, novice and experienced alike.

Our List of the 5 Best Acoustic Guitars in Canada for 2020

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural

The Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar is designed explicitly with beginners and hobbyist musicians in mind. While this guitar may be geared toward a more novice set, it is a guitar that will work perfectly fine for those with a bit more experience. If you’re on a budget seeking a guitar that boasts bold sound, this affordable dreadnought-style 6-string guitar could be for you. With full-body binding and a rosewood fretboard, you’ll find that this guitar sounds just as good as it looks.

In terms of the body, the Jasmine S-35 acoustic guitar does boast a standard dreadnought sized body, which is the most common size for acoustic guitars. The overall scale and style of the Jasmine offer good natural projection and adequate volume. Dreadnought style guitars tend to be favoured by country players or anyone seeking a full and robust sound that fills a room. Despite the price, the top of the model is crafted from hand-selected spruce. We found that it offers warm, balanced tones that present good sustain and above-average resonance.

One thing to keep in mind is that the S-35 spruce top on the guitar is not a solid piece. Instead, the top is made from two pieces of select spruce rather than one lone piece. This comes with both advantages and disadvantages. The significant advantage is cost. With select spruce, the wood used to create the guitar is not from that same piece of wood. A two-piece guitar allows manufacturers to save money. Thus they can pass those savings onto the customer directly. The downside of a two-piece design is a slight loss in tonal fidelity. The seam that connects the two disparate pieces can interrupt the vibrations of the guitar. As a result, there can be some degradation in the overall tone.

Let’s talk about the neck of Jasmine S-35. The neck itself is made of Nato, which is similar in appearance and tonal sound to mahogany. With a slim profile, beginners will find that the guitar is easy to navigate and hold. A smooth satin finish makes the guitar easy to play and holds well for those who like to play fast. The full scale is 25.5 inches with a standard 20 frets. A rosewood fretboard is braced with Pearlized dot inlays. The fretboard radius is a generous 12 inches, which makes this guitar suitable for strumming or playing simple chords.

For an acoustic guitar in this price range, you’re not going to get the sound quality of a Martin or a Gibson. However, the Jasmine S-35 does offer a remarkably balanced tone front treble right to the bass. This is an excellent guitar for beginners, travel, or just for practicing at home. Though it may feature a more standard appearance, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Even more experienced guitar players would deem this one of the best acoustic guitars in Canada.

Pros

  • Solid tonal quality for treble and bass
  • Select spruce top for durability
  • Thin neck with 12-inch fretboard radius
  • Good natural projection and fidelity

Cons

  • Two-piece design may cause vibration
  • Appearance is rather unremarkable
Check the price on Amazon

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar, Vintage Sunburst

Epiphone is a brand that is seriously making waves in the guitar market due to their reputation for building quality yet affordable guitars. These aren’t copies of famous brands like Martin or Gibson; the Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar is an elite guitar that can hold its own against competitors without the steep price tag. Unlike similar guitars in this range, the Epiphone DR-100 features a gorgeous mahogany back and sides along with a solid spruce top to limit vibration. With good tonewoods, the guitar tone only improves as the years wear on. This is an excellent option for anyone seeking a well-rounded acoustic guitar. Let’s dive into the details.

What initially stood out to us when testing the Epiphone is that this is a guitar that works for both beginners and seasoned players. This is primarily due to the SlimTaper neck shape. This neck makes the guitar more comfortable to play, while still boasting an ambidextrous design that’s compatible with both left and right-handed musicians. While playing, we noticed that the guitar offers up a warm and melodic sound without compromising on a bit of grit. The sound itself is rich and full, free from issues such as buzzing or dead frets.

Thanks to the unique combination of both rosewood and mahogany, we found that the guitar produces very complex highs and thick resounding lows. The solid spruce top makes for clear sounds, even though we did find that the mid-tones can be a bit lacking. Still, this is a solid dreadnought style guitar that creates bright, balanced tones due to the use of rosewood, spruce, and mahogany. The mahogany neck is resilient and does include a truss rod for added support. We found the string gauge to be relatively light yet easy to strum smoothly. This makes for an epic jam guitar that feels expensive without bearing the thousand dollar price tag of a Martin or custom build.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed playing the Epiphone and found it to be a quality choice for both beginners and seasoned players. For those with a varying collection already, this would make an excellent guitar for travelling or hitting the road.

Pros

  • No dead spots or buzz when being strummed
  • Crafted from mahogany, rosewood, and spruce for adequate tone
  • Solid spruce top for clarity
  • Ambidextrous design for right and left-handed players

Cons

  • Frets are quite sharp for beginners
  • Tuning peg could be more responsive
Check the price on Amazon

Donner DAG-1C Beginner Acoustic Guitar Full Size

In the grand scheme of things, Donner is a relatively young company, especially when compared to juggernauts like Martin, Fender or Gibson. However, this is one brand that has proven time and time again that they know what they’re doing. The Donner DAG-1C Beginner Acoustic Guitar is all the proof one needs. First things first, it is essential to touch on the fact that this is not a solo guitar. When you buy the Donner Beginner, you’re getting a bundle deal that includes a gig bag tuner, capo picks, and a handy strap string in addition to the full size 41” cutaway guitar. It comes with everything you need to get started.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of this guitar. The body itself is laminate made. Though Donner does boast an extensive ageing process for the tonewoods used in crafting their instruments, the solid wood build was not extended to this model, likely to keep the price low enough for beginner musicians. Still, the back and sides of the guitar are wrapped in mahogany laminate while the face is topped with laminate spruce. The expertly crafted c-shape mahogany neck connects seamlessly to the stained headstock with steel diecast tuners. A stellar Woodbridge is completed with black bridge pins and white Pearloid dot inlays. This is a 20-fret brass fingerboard guitar.

How does it sound? We found when playing the Donner DAG-1C that the instrument produced bright tones that still evoke a certain warmth and grittiness, which is what most people want from an acoustic guitar. Though the laminate construction did not make quite as much resonance or projection as a solid-top guitar, it was still an excellent performer with a clear sound free from buzzing or a litany of vibrations. While this guitar does not boast the sound quality of a Martin, the low price tag and easy-design make it an excellent choice for the best acoustic guitars Canada when it comes to beginners.

Pros

  • Full-size cutaway dreadnought guitar
  • Bundled accessories to get started
  • 20 bass frets with fret position marks
  • Easy right-hand design

Cons

  • Not solid wood construction
  • Stock strings aren’t high-quality
Check the price on Amazon

Fender CD-60 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle

There’s a reason the name Fender is synonymous with quality guitars–they make some of the best on the market today. A marvellous acoustic guitar can be pulled out and enjoyed in any situation. That’s what Fender was hoping to accomplish with their CD-60 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle. The goal was to produce a quality dreadnought style guitar with a solid spruce top that was easy-to-play and lightweight enough to be taken anywhere. Whether sitting around a campfire or hanging out on the back porch, we found that the Fender CD-60 Acoustic Guitar is the do-it-all option for those who like to be on-the-go.

The first thing we noticed about the CD-60 is that despite the under $200 price-point, this is far from a cheap or “budget” looking guitar. Instead, the instrument features a quality laminated spruce top, laminated mahogany sides and back, and a slim rosewood fingerboard. Unlike similar low-cost guitars, this model also comes equipped with innovative scalloped X bracing and a dual-action truss rod. We found that the tuning machine was far from stiff and that the wonky bridge pins that can plague many budget guitars were thankfully absent.

In terms of sound, it is one of the better sounding guitars in this price range. Though you’re not about to get a concert-hall grade sound, the dreadnought shape and laminate body offer a rich tone with characteristic depth and warmth. When being strummed, the guitar creates that bold yet gritty tone that most expect from an acoustic instrument. Where the Fender CD-60 missed the mark is in terms of finger-picking. We found that finger-picking tends to lack clarity and definition in the individual notes. This is a problem that is not seen in higher quality guitars.

Despite this, the CD-60 should work well for beginners and feels durable enough to withstand the rigours of life. The polyurethane finishes and doesn’t yield easily to scratches or bumps. Since this is a bundle deal, you will also get a hard-shell case at no extra cost, which means you can protect your guitar for the long haul. Whether you’re a total novice or know your way around an instrument, this guitar does prove it’s an excellent value for the money purchase. With a good setup and high-quality strings, you can get started right away with little overhead.

Pros

  • Dreadnought style guitar with spruce top
  • Included bundle options provides full starter kit
  • Easy-to-play neck with hand rolled finger-board edges
  • Responsive to most playing styles

Cons

  • Clarity compromised if finger plucking
  • Frets can produce some buzzing
Check the price on Amazon

Jasmine S34C NEX Acoustic Guitar

Jasmine has been the talk of the town among musicians looking for a budget-friendly option that rips as well as its higher-priced counterparts. The Jasmine S34C NEX Acoustic Guitar isn’t just one of the best acoustic guitars Canada. Still, many feel as if it could be a contender for the best acoustic beginner guitar in general. This dreadnought styled 6-string acoustic guitar with a spruce top and a nato back/sides. It includes full-body binding and a classy rosewood fretboard for comfortable playing. Though this is primarily considered a starter guitar, we could easily see anyone enjoying the sound and clarity that the S34C NEX produces.

Let’s get into what makes this guitar shine. First things first, the body is ergonomic. That isn’t always a guarantee with budget-friendly guitars. It is made to naturally fit the contours of your body, which ensures that you’ll be comfortable when playing for long periods. The overall dreadnought style shape of the instrument and savvy strap connection locations are what makes this feature possible. It might not seem like a big deal, but to those putting in the hours to learn the craft, comfort is everything. Convenience aside, the Jasmine S34 is also beautiful in aesthetics. It has a classic look paired with a smooth blonde finish that embodies everything you would want from an old-style acoustic guitar.

There are several materials at play here, but the primary element is rosewood and spruce. Rosewood is heavily implemented throughout the actual design. Rosewood makes the guitar play better while still proving reliable enough for everyday use.  In terms of quality, the design does lend itself to a robust sound, especially given the price tag. In terms of durability, the Jasmine S34C isn’t built with the solidity of a Martin, but we found that it can take some abuse without showing any physical signs of wear.

We found that the Jasmine produces a warm and rich sound with clear tones that rival those of pricier competitors. There is little vibration given the overall design, and you should be able to strum or finger pluck without sacrificing sound quality. We found plenty of great things to rave on about with the Jasmine 34C. However, one thing we weren’t particularly thrilled with was the tuning pegs. We did find them to be a bit flimsy and loose. Keep in mind, tuning pegs can easily be replaced, so this isn’t a big deal.

While this isn’t a concert-quality guitar, you’re getting a great bang for the buck. Sound quality is good, and the instrument itself should stand up to several years of play. As mentioned above, the only real downside we found was the tuning pegs, and some hardware were quite loose.

Pros

  • Classic design with rosewood and mahogany
  • Dreadnought style with 6-strings
  • Full-body binding for ease of play
  • Ergonomic design for full-body comfort

Cons

  • Lacks rich concert-quality sound
  • Tuning pegs can feel quite loose
Check the price on Amazon

How to Choose an Acoustic Guitar

Starting the process of learning an instrument can be exciting and fulfilling, especially when it comes to acoustic guitars. More comfortable to play than their electric counterparts, acoustic guitars tend to have a better learning curve. This means that even those with little-to-no musical experience can learn a few chords and start jamming. If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitars Canada, you’ll quickly find that the process of picking out the right guitar can be overwhelming. With so many body shapes, styles, and brands to choose from, where do you even begin? Below, we’ve crafted a handy buyers guide to help you choose the right acoustic guitar for your journey into music.

Get To Know Tonewoods

Before you can choose the right acoustic guitar, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with tonewoods. Tonewoods can alter the overall sound of the guitar and how you play. For example, a fingerstyle player will want a wood that responds to delicate playing as opposed to a wood that requires more force from a pick. The wood chosen for your guitar is often the most critical factor in determining how the instrument will sound.

When it comes to tonality, the top, back, sides, and neck are the most important in terms of quality. Woods used for bracing, binding, bridge, and fretboard can also alter the tonal effects of an acoustic guitar’s other woods. Still, they generally do not define the overall sound of the guitar itself. Remember, wood species are only responsible for some aspects of tone. Design, manufacturer, and quality of the wood are also to be considered. However, tonewood selection is an excellent place to start.

The Key Types Of Tonewoods

Spruce

Generally speaking, spruce is a very standard material used for acoustic guitar tops. You’ll find this on most beginner guitars because it is relatively cost-effective and easy to attain. It has very high rigidity combined with lightweight features that make for a naturally high velocity of sound. It is excellent at maintaining clarity when strumming.

Cedar

Cedar is a great wood choice for producing a very balanced and warm sound. This is often favoured by fingerstyle players because it has a rich response to the lighter playing style.

Mahogany

Guitars complete with a mahogany top tend to boast strong, punchy tones that are well suited to playing country music or the blues. When used on the back and the sides, it has a high velocity of sound, which can contribute to colourful overtones.

Maple

Most species of maple (sugar, big leaf, bear claw) tend to be very acoustically transparent. They have a lower response rate because of internal damping, which allows for the tonal characteristics of the top to be heard without any additional tonal coloration.

Rosewood

Rosewood is often used in guitars because it has a very high response rate and allows for a broad range of overtones. It has a strength and complexity in the bottom, while boasting an intriguing darkness in the rt of the spectrum. Rosewood also makes for strong mids and highs, for rich upper registers.

What To Look For In An Acoustic Guitar

When looking to buy an acoustic guitar, there are several key factors to keep in mind before you make that final purchase. Below, we’ve laid out the most essential things to bear in mind when choosing an acoustic instrument.

Body Style

Much like people, acoustic guitars can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You’ll find everything from small travel size guitars to dreadnought to jumbo-sized guitars. While body style may not seem important, it can determine the guitar’s sound projection and overall tonal emphasis.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the right body style for you are tonal quality and playing comfort. Many acoustic guitars come in a single-cutaway or double-cutaway design. These grant access to the upper frets while all impacting sound.

Electronics

Think electronics don’t matter when it comes to an electric guitar? Think again. Many acoustic guitars come equipped with pickups or preamplifiers built right in. These make them ideal for playing larger venues where you will need to fill the room with sounds.

Some have handy preamps mounted into a small hole cut right in the side of the instruments. Others mount just inside the soundhole. If you’re planning on mostly playing at home or with friends around the campfire, electronics probably won’t matter much. However, if you plan on playing venues for gigs, you may want to keep these features in mind.

Neck

Choosing the neck of a guitar rests heavily upon the size of your hand. You’re going to want something that fits comfortably. Typically, the thickness and width of the acoustic guitar neck is based on the overall size of the body of the instrument and the number of frets the neck contains.

Usually, you’ll find 12-fret or 14-fret guitars, though you can get 20-fret options as well. This refers to the number of frets clear of the body but not the number of frets overall. Choose a neck that feels nice in your hand while still boasting the ideal number of frets.

Intonation

If you’re a beginner, you may not be familiar with intonation. Intonation simply determines whether or not the notes you hit will play in tune as you move up along the neck. If the distance between the frets is off, the guitar will not play in tune and will be pretty useless as an instrument.

Tonewood

As mentioned above, the wood your guitar is crafted from can determine the overall sound the guitar produces. Different types of wood end up having different tones, yet most manufacturers and guitar makers believe that the top is the most crucial factor in determining overall tonal quality.

For the most part, spruce is the standard material used on guitar tops, especially those that are more budget-friendly. The overall cost of an acoustic guitar will jump exponentially based on the rarity of the tonewoods being used. The goal is to choose a guitar with tonewoods that suit the sound you’re going for while also playing into your overall style.

Bridge and Fingerboard

Bridge and fingerboard are essential, but the wood used to create them will not have an impact on the overall sound. Still, it is vital to keep both bridge and fingerboard in mind when making your buying decision.

Finish

Believe it or not, the finish on your guitar does more than just protect the instrument. The type of finish used can also affect the way the wood vibrates, which can affect sound. However, nearly every finish chosen by a guitar manufacturer will be thoughtfully chosen to reflect the sound they want the guitar to make. Still, it is essential to keep the finish in mind as some lower-priced models may utilize a less than desirable finish to keep pricing low.

Acoustic Guitars Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why are some acoustic guitars more expensive than others?

Generally speaking, some acoustic guitars are more expensive than others for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, the cost has to do with where and how an acoustic guitar is made. If a guitar is handcrafted in the US or Canada, rather than being built overseas, it is going to cost a lot more.

Additionally, wood selection can play a massive role in the cost of a guitar. Some manufacturers will create limited-edition instruments using “choice” pieces of wood or rare woods. The rarity of a given timber or the level of detail on the grain can also affect the overall price of the guitar.

Most budget guitars utilize laminated wood or a series of wood layers to create the top rather than one solid piece. Sometimes, laminate wood cannot vibrate as well or maintain the same sound characteristics as a solid top guitar. However, laminate players love that these guitars work well in changing climates and a variety of environments.

Typically, price has to do with the wood, the manufacturing process, and the general artisan nature of the guitar itself.

Q: How much should I spend on my first guitar?

If you’re looking into buying your first guitar, know that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to learn the craft. Generally speaking, we recommend that a beginner spend anywhere from $150 to $800 on a first guitar. Keep in mind that spending more won’t necessarily make you a better player. You can learn just as well on a $150 bundle deal as you can on a more expensive guitar that you may not even enjoy playing. Get to know your preferences and stylistic leanings before you invest in an expensive guitar.

Q: Are expensive guitars easier to play?

Expensive guitars typically bear a higher cost because of rare or exclusive woods, higher quality control, electronics, and the brand name on the guitar. However, the price does not necessarily reflect the playability or overall tone of the guitar. With that said, expensive guitars are not necessarily easier to play than their cheaper counterparts.

There are custom guitars that cost thousands of dollars yet may be inadequate when it comes to playing actual music. If you care about honing in on your skills and getting into the craft, buy a guitar that you really like the look of and that you enjoy playing on, regardless of what it costs. Take it to a reputable technician for setup and get to work. The guitar itself doesn’t make the instrument easier to play; only practice and dedication can do that.

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