Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Taylor 214ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar Pack
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.