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The Art Of Fingerpicking – The Best Fingerstyle Guitar Shootout

BEST CHOICE

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic
Our Rating:
4.7/5

PREMIUM PICK

Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Our Rating
4.9/5

BEST VALUE

Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Pack

Fender CD-60S Dreadnought V2 Acoustic Guitar Pack
Our Rating
4.5/5

Table of Contents

If you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, learning the art of fingerpicking is a great way to go. There really isn’t anything that can compare to a delicate and emotional fingerstyle arrangement, especially when played on an acoustic guitar that has great tone.

Not all acoustic guitars suit fingerpicking, though. Specifications such as the width of the neck at the nut, the string action and the overall responsiveness to the player’s touch all need to be factored in for comfortable playability.

In this roundup, I’m taking a look at 8 of the best fingerstyle guitars available. Some are big, some are small, some are pricey and some relatively cheap.

One thing they all have in common: they’re all designed to be comfortable pickers.

Let’s jump right in.

The 8 Best Fingerstyle Guitars:

ImageAcoustic Guitars
Seagull S6 Original AcousticSeagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric GuitarTaylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Fender CD-60S Dreadnought V2 Acoustic Guitar PackFender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Pack
Breedlove Pursuit Acoustic-Electric GuitarBreedlove Pursuit Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic-Electric GuitarYamaha APXT2 3/4 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Martin Ed Sheeran 3-Divide Signature EditionMartin Ed Sheeran 3 Divide Signature Edition
Taylor Academy 10E DreadnoughtTaylor Academy 10E Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Ovation Celebrity Elite PlusOvation Celebrity Elite Plus Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar

The Seagull S6 Original has earned the top spot on the list because it has just about everything a good fingerstyle guitar should, including a decent price.

The S6 Original features a dreadnought style body with a solid cedar top and laminated wild cherry for the back and sides. Those are unique choices for tonewoods, but the result is a very warm and balanced tone.

The full-sized body projects a good amount of volume. This is really important if you tend to play with a lot of dynamics.

Silver leaf maple is used for the neck and a solid rosewood fingerboard helps to add to the S6’s overall sonic quality.

Ease Of Use
4.9/5
Sound Quality
4.8/5
Features
4.3/5
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic

Playability out of the box is spot on, thanks to decent string action and a 1.805-inch (45.5mm) nut width.

The S6 isn’t the most expensive guitar on the list, but it isn’t the cheapest either. If you value quality construction in your acoustic guitars, this is definitely one to look at. It would be even better if they included a gig bag or protective case. Unfortunately that’s something you’ll need to shell out a few extra bucks for.

Positives

  • Full-size dreadnought guitar offering good volume projection, just what you need in a good fingerstyle guitar
  • Smooth playability makes fingerstyle passages a breeze to pull off
  • Well balanced tone thanks to unique tonewood selections

Negatives

  • No guitar case or gig bag is included within the purchase price

Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Taylor Guitars is certainly one of the best brands for acoustic models. The 214ce in particular is a nearly perfect mix of upper level features and excellent value.

The body on the 214ce has a Grand Auditorium shape. It offers good sound projection, despite having different proportions to that of a full dreadnought guitar. It has a solid spruce top made from Sitka and layered Hawaiian Koa on the back and sides. 

The neck is made from sapele with an ebony fingerboard, providing strength and stability while contributing to the overall sound. It features Taylor’s Standard Profile, offering comfortable playability — a key consideration when purchasing any guitar.

Ease Of Use
4.9/5
Sound Quality
5/5
Features
4.9/5
Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

One particular high point on the 214ce is the Taylor Expression System 2 (ES2) configuration. It’s different from most undersaddle piezo setups. The elements are behind the bridge, allowing a more natural transfer of the string’s vibrations. This results in an amplified sound that better represents the true tone of the instrument.

Yes, this acoustic guitar is on the higher-end of the price scale compared to others on this list, but the Taylor 214ce is a prime example of getting what you pay for.

Positives

  • Grand Auditorium design with impressive tonewood choices provide a well balanced acoustic guitar tone without being harsh or boomy
  • Traditional Taylor quality offers playability levels that are ideal for fingerstyle guitar players
  • The Taylor ES2 electronics setup minimizes many of the shortcomings present in traditional piezo acoustic guitar systems

Negatives

  • No built-in tuner; it’s not a complete deal breaker, but it would be a welcomed level of functionality
  • Comes with a gig bag instead of a hard shell Taylor guitar case

Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Pack

If you’re looking for a budget acoustic guitar that plays well and sounds good, the CD-60S V2 Acoustic Guitar Pack from Fender definitely fills that bill. 

The CD-60S is a dreadnought guitar with a solid Spruce top, a feature that is almost unheard of for any other acoustic guitar in this price range. Sure, it uses laminated mahogany for the back and sides, but many guitars that cost far more have a similar construction.

The mahogany neck and Fender’s Slim profile is a great choice for comfort while playing fingerstyle pieces. The CD-60S also has a solid rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays for easy positioning.

The CD-60S doesn’t have any kind of  pickup or preamp, which can be a drawback for live gigs or recording.

Ease Of Use
4.9/5
Sound Quality
4.3/5
Features
4.6/5
Fender CD-60S Dreadnought V2 Acoustic Guitar Pack

One of the benefits of buying an acoustic guitar pack are all the included accessories. Included are a strap, strings, pick and a gig bag. The only thing that would have made this package better is a tuner.

Overall, considering everything that comes with this guitar bundle, it’s offers excellent value.

Positives

  • Exceptional value in a convenient package, featuring a great acoustic guitar along with a wide range of accessories
  • Well crafted entry level model guitar which delivers a great tone and easy playability

Negatives

  • Does not include a tuner, which would make this a very well-rounded package

Breedlove Pursuit Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Having an easy-to-play fingerstyle guitar that sounds good is certainly a priority, but when it has the looks to match, it’s definitely a bonus.

Breedlove’s exclusive body shape is designed for the comfort and balance that all fingerstyle guitar players will appreciate. A unique feature is the use of myrtlewood for the top, back and sides. Not only does it provide an exceptional tone, it also has a rich figured look that really grabs attention.

Breedlove also uses a slim profile for its nato neck, making for an extremely playable guitar that’s perfect for fingerpickers.

Additional features include a pinless bridge design that makes string changes super easy.

Ease Of Use
4.6/5
Sound Quality
4.7/5
Features
4.9/5
Breedlove Pursuit Acoustic-Electric Guitar

It also includes the Breedlove Bridge Truss (BBT) system which reduces tension on the soundboard and enables extra sustain for better tone enhancement.

As good as it sounds unplugged, the LR Baggs undersaddle pickup system does a great job whenever you feel the need to go live. If I had to nitpick a little, it would be better if there was an EQ adjustment (instead of just  volume) to help shape tone. There isn’t an onboard tuner either.

Aside from that, Breedlove’s lineup is clear proof that fingerstyle guitars don’t have to look boring. This model is definitely one to check out.

Positives

  • Features the unique Breedlove body shape perfect for fingerpicking
  • Myrtlewood is used exclusively for the body construction, giving an exceptionally balanced and warm tone
  • Advanced design elements such as the Breedlove Pinless Bridge and the Breedlove Bridge Truss

Negatives

  • No EQ adjustment options for the onboard pickup system
  • No built-in tuner

Yamaha APXT2 3/4 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Younger players and those that find full-size guitars a little too hard to handle may find 3/4 size guitars like the Yamaha APXT2 to be more accommodating to their needs.

This guitar may be small, but it still packs a punch. Featuring a spruce top with a Meranti back and sides, the 3/4 sized guitar body is also thinner and more comfortable to play. The nato neck has a nut width of 43mm (1-11/16-inches), which is the same as you’d find on many full size guitars. That helps with the overall playability for fingerstyle as well.

The APXT2 comes equipped with the Yamaha System 68 contact pickup system and an onboard chromatic tuner along with single volume and tone knobs.

Ease Of Use
5/5
Sound Quality
4.2/5
Features
4.3/5
Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

While the APXT2 is a good fingerstyle guitar for the price, the small size is limiting. Tone isn’t as deep and the volume projection isn’t as strong as that of a full-size acoustic. You may not be able to fight physics,but if you’re in the market for a smaller acoustic, then the Yamaha APXT2 might be the one.

Positives

  • Compact size accommodates fingerstyle guitar players of all shapes and sizes
  • Comes with a Yamaha System 68 contact pickup system with a built-in tuner

Negatives

  • The smaller size may give tone that can’t compete with full-size acoustic guitars

Martin Ed Sheeran 3 Divide Signature Edition

The Ed Sheeran 3 Divide is one of Martin’s more advanced mini guitar models, and it’s not too expensive either.

Based on the proportions of the Martin LX1E (Ed’s preferred model), the 3 Divide has a solid Sitka spruce top with laminated Mahogany for the back and sides. Despite being a smaller acoustic-electric guitar, it still manages to deliver a fairly balanced and warm tone.

Martin uses a ‘modified low oval standard taper’ for the profile on the mahogany neck which increases comfort and overall playability. Along with the 43mm nut width, the overall effect makes this a great choice for fingerstyle work.

Ease Of Use
5/5
Sound Quality
4.8/5
Features
4.8/5
Martin Ed Sheeran 3-Divide Signature Edition

It also sounds superb when plugged in thanks to the Fishman Isys T onboard pickup/preamp system. It’s simple, but it gets the job done. You’ll find a chromatic tuner along with three knobs: volume, contour (for tone shaping), and phase (for feedback control).

I’ve got to give kudos to Martin; it included a gig bag! I’ve always thought having a way to protect your investment (no matter the price) is important, and it should be a standard feature with all guitar purchases.

Positives

  • Traditional Martin build quality and tone in a smaller-sized acoustic guitar
  • Unique neck profile and standard-sized nut width allows for easier fingerstyle playing
  • Fishman Isys T preamp system offers flexibility with a simple set of controls
  • It comes with a gig bag

Negatives

  • Tuning stability may be a concern

Taylor Academy 10E Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Taylor Guitars are usually very expensive but the Academy 10E is a perfect example of being all-Taylor-all-the-time without the hefty price tag.

It’s a dreadnought guitar constructed with a solid Sitka spruce top, just like many other Taylors at the higher end. Both the back and the sides are made from layered sapele.

The same sapele wood is used for the neck with Taylor’s Standard Profile to allow for a smooth fingerstyle string action. A genuine African ebony fretboard with dot inlays also helps to create that hallowed Taylor sound.

The electronics on the Academy 10E are a bit different from other Taylor guitars, but in a good way.

Ease Of Use
4.7/5
Sound Quality
4.8/5
Features
4.4/5
Taylor Academy 10E Dreadnought

The pickup elements are behind the bridge saddle, just as they are with the ES2 system. The difference is that the 10E uses the ES-B preamp which means only one knob to adjust. There’s also a built-in tuner, which helps.

Positives

  • The dreadnought body design offers excellent volume projection when played unplugged
  • The easy to play neck profile makes for a smooth playing experience, a must-have for any decent fingerstyle guitar
  • Taylor ES-B preamp system is a great lower cost option that still gets the job done

Negatives

  • Overall the tone is good, but it may be slightly substandard to more expensive Taylor guitars

Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus Acoustic-Electric Guitar

If you’ve never played an Ovation guitar before, it’s a somewhat different experience. Traditional construction is just not in its playbook, but what it delivers in both sound and quality works for a lot of guitarists. 

The Elite Plus features a quilted maple top that has 15 (yep – that’s right) smaller sound holes located on the upper and lower areas instead of the typical big hole in the middle.

The back and sides you’d normally find on an acoustic are replaced with a scooped bowl design made out of a material called Lyrachord. Some players feel that the shape is more comfortable, and it does give the Elite Plus that Ovation sound.

It’s certainly not bad in any way, it’s just different to anything else out there.

Ease Of Use
4.5/5
Sound Quality
4.9/5
Features
4.8/5
Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus

Nato is the tonewood of choice for the neck, and it has a true rosewood fingerboard which helps add character to the overall tone experience. One thing about Ovation is it has a unique level of clarity. Single notes are well defined, making the Elite Plus a superb option for fingerstyle guitarists.

Topping things off is an Ovation Slimline pickup with an OP-4BT preamp system. Putting all of the pieces together, the Celebrity Elite Plus is one of the more unique fingerstyle guitars out there.

Positives

  • Attractive quilted maple top with unique soundhole patterning
  • Mid-depth Lyrachord bowl helps to bring out that Ovation sound, which can add a different flavor to your fingerstyle playing
  • Ovation electronics are excellent for playing live or recording direct

Negatives

  • May have issues with staying in tune; a professional setup along with different tuning machines may help
  • The shape is somewhat like marmite — either you love it, or you hate it

What does playing fingerstyle mean?

The terms ‘fingerstyle’ and ‘fingerpicking’ pretty much mean the same thing. While your fretting hand does the same job as always, the difference is what your picking hand does.

Playing fingerstyle means using individual fingers to pluck the strings instead. 

You can use your thumb and several fingers to pluck several notes individually or at the same time all while holding a single chord. 

Fingerstyle can be relatively simple and easy to play, but can become complex quite quickly. Pretty much everything Chet Atkins played included some form of fingerpicking. I know I’m going WAY back in history here, but Chet was an incredible finger picking guitarist.

It’s important to know that fingerpicking isn’t great for every style of playing. Alternate picking for example, can be tricky, especially when playing multiple notes on the same string. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it does take a lot of practice.

Learning to play fingerstyle guitar is one of the best ways to take your playing to the next level, and it will set you apart from the pack as you progress.

What should be considered when choosing a fingerstyle guitar?

Volume can be a biggy, and by that I mean how loud an acoustic guitar is without being plugged in or having a microphone placed in front of it. Typically, with fingerstyle playing, you tend to ‘pluck’ the strings more than ‘strike’ them as you would with a pick. 

Having a fingerstyle guitar that projects better means you won’t have to put in too much effort. It’s much easier to play at any volume and be heard.

String action (the physical height of your strings to the fingerboard) is important too. More advanced fingerstyle playing can involve a lot of movement with your fretting hand, as compared to just holding a few simple chord shapes. Lower action on your strings makes it easier to shift chords and it improves overall playability.

The width of the neck at the nut is important as well. Everything is subjective to the individual player, of course, but thinner nut widths on fingerstyle guitars may make it harder for some players to easily maneuver around the neck since the strings will be closer together.

Choosing the best guitar for fingerstyle techniques will always be a personal choice. Always go for the option that feels most comfortable in your hands.

Can I use an electric guitar for fingerpicking?

If you’re just getting started, an electric guitar may be harder to play fingerstyle than an acoustic that’s designed specifically for that purpose. The nut width will typically be narrower, which means the strings will be closer together.

With an acoustic guitar, you can dig into your strings a little bit more aggressively and the sound won’t be affected.

While it’s more common to use acoustic guitars for fingerstyle, there are a lot of songs which have finger picked passages on electric guitar and they sound pretty good. But, it’s kind of hard to whip out your electric guitar around the campfire and play some sweet fingerpicked songs. 

An acoustic guitar may be better suited for the job but, again, it comes down to personal preference. Whether you choose an electric, acoustic or an acoustic-electric model, try to find the best fingerstyle guitar to fit your own unique playing style.

Bottom Line

Choosing among the many options for fingerstyle guitars can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you should be looking for.

The best fingerpicking guitar will always be a personal choice, but I really love the Seagull S6 as a pure acoustic option. The overall playability and tone is pretty impressive considering the price. That being said, if you have a little more to invest, the Taylor 10E or the Breedlove Pursuit Exotic Concert are incredible options too.

I’ve touched on only a few of the fingerstyle guitars out there, but the ones that did make the list are, in my opinion, the best. All are reasonably priced and highly playable, which hopefully helps you to find the model that will make you the best fingerstyle guitarist you can be.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

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