Best Fingerstyle Guitars
Fingerpicking is a style that allows players to create very interesting arpeggiated patterns that result in beautiful and sometimes quite intricate textures. This makes fingerpicking one of the most rewarding techniques to learn, since it unlocks many possibilities that you can use to expand your musical vocabulary- and it’s also very fun to play! If you’re thinking about starting to play in this style beware- it’s a little more challenging to master than it seems at first sight! But don’t worry, if you take some time to learn some fingerpicking patterns and practice them consistently you will get them under your fingers in no time, and the best part is that you will be able to incorporate these ideas into your own style, allowing you to create more compelling arrangements.
The first thing you should consider when starting to play fingerpicking style is to get a proper fingerpicking guitar, that unlike regular dreadnought acoustic guitars it is built in a way that provides more resonance and brightness, which are essential qualities of a proper fingerpicking sound.
- 1 Our Top Choices for Fingerstyle Guitars in 2019
- 2 What are the differences between fingerpicking style guitars and regular acoustic guitars?
- 3 Features to Consider When Choosing a Fingerpicking Style Guitar
Our Top Choices for Fingerstyle Guitars in 2019
Choosing the right fingerpicking style guitar can be challenging, with so many different brands and prices available in the market.
Sometimes it’s hard to know how a certain model compares to other similar models in the same price range.There will be instances when you might find a guitar has a great tone but it’s very uncomfortable to play and you must sacrifice comfort for sound.
However, there are many fingerpicking guitars in the market that both sound great and feel comfortable enough to play for hours without feeling pain or discomfort. We listed some of the best affordable fingerpicking guitars that offer comfort and sound quality.
The first guitar we will be reviewing in this list is the Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor. If you haven’t heard about Taylor before (which is unlikely), you should know that Taylor guitars are widely known for their masterful design and their clear, crisp tone, what makes them one of the most popular brands among professional musicians across all genres. Though Taylor manufactures several types of dreadnought acoustic guitars, their fingerpicking models are famous for their great playability, durability and sound. Now, Taylor guitars are not exactly known for being of the ‘budget-friendly’ kind, and some of their top models can get quite pricey-around $20,000 USD. However, they also manufacture fantastic dreadnought and fingerstyle guitars that still pack the classic Taylor sound but at a much affordable price. A great example is the Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor. Despite the compact size, the Taylor Baby performs as good as larger dreadnought models, delivering a powerful, balanced sound that resonates perfectly across the whole frequency spectrum, giving you a rich tone that sounds full and crystal clear no matter where you’re playing.
Featuring sapele back and sides and a solid Sitka Spruce body, the Taylor Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar is somewhat lighter than a regular Taylor dreadnought guitar, but it doesn’t lose the classic bright, warm tone Taylor guitars are famous for. At a 24 7/8-inch scale length, the Taylor BBT Big Baby is very comfortable to play, the 1 11/1 nut width allows players with small hands to reach the frets easily. If you are looking for a slimmer neck you can even find a smaller Baby Taylor model, but that one is better suited for children and players with small hands and it doesn’t provide as much punch and resonance as the Taylor Big Baby.
Even if this is one of the low-end models Taylor Guitars manufactures, you can be sure that it won’t disappoint in terms of performance and durability, besides offering much more than other fingerpicking guitars in the same price range.
- 15/16 Size Dreadnought
- 1 11/16 inch Nut Width
- 24 7/8 inch Scale Length
- Solid Sitka Spruce Body
- Sapele Back/Sides
The next guitar we’ll review in this list is the Yamaha L-Series LL6 Acoustic-Electric Guitar, a wonderfully sounding instrument that is conveniently quite comfortable to play as well; the 5-ply neck with high comfort traditional profile allows you to effortlessly press the strings against the rosewood fretboard and to easily take your hand up and down the neck when playing scales or licks. The Yamaha L-Series LL6 Acoustic-Electric Guitar sets a new standard in terms of craftsmanship; besides posing a great shape with Rosewood back and sides, the hand-selected premium solid Engelman spruce top is treated with an original wood reforming process developed by Yamaha called A.R.E (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement), which notably enhances the transmission of sound across the wood, so vibrations are transferred with greater accuracy and result in a harmonically rich, balanced sound coupled with excellent sustain. The improvement is so notorious that we wouldn’t be surprised if this revolutionary process gets adopted by other guitar manufacturers in the future, if it isn’t already.
The SRT Zero Impact passive Pickup accurately captures the sound of the strings and enhances the tone in way that allows the Yamaha L-Series LL6 Acoustic-Electric Guitar to deliver an excellent performance when plugged in to an amplifier as well. So many acoustic/electric guitars that sound amazing when played acoustic but sound terrible when plugged in to an amp, this is commonly due to low quality electronics which fail to faithfully capture the sound of the strings and to deliver a balanced, clean tone. Fortunately, you won’t have that issue with this guitar. It’s a great deal for what you’re paying- you get a beautiful instrument that looks great and resonates like no other at a very affordable price.
- Hand-selected premium solid Engelmann Spruce top treated with A.R.E.
- R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) reforming technology developed by Yamaha
- Rosewood Back & Sides
- 5-ply neck with high comfort traditional profile
- SRT Zero Impact (passive) Pickup
Fender is one of the most recognized and trusted brands among guitarists all around the world; for decades they have provided high quality instruments that offer great performance at reasonable prices. Their electric guitars are sought after by millions of guitarists who like the warm, vibrant tone and sleek design of their signature models like the classic Fender Stratocaster or Fender Telecaster.
But Fender also manufactures quality acoustic guitars that compete directly with guitars in higher price ranges in terms of tonal quality and design. Fingerstyle models like the Fender CD-60SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar feature both playability and a solid sound. Th CD-60SCE Acoustic-Electric guitar is easy to play and delivers a rich, full sound that resonates beautifully through the dreadnought style mahogany body. The slim neck with rolled fingerboard edges makes the CD-6SCE a great intro fingerpicking guitar, but more experience players will also like the warm tone and comfort of this guitar.
The Fishman low-profile pick/up preamp the Fender CD-6SCE features captures the vibrations of the strings and produces a warm, crunchy tone when the guitar is plugged in to an amp, while cleaning the signal and reducing harsh frequencies and unwanted noise. While other pickups used in the construction of fingerpicking guitars of the same line often have issues like distortion and unwanted resonances and often end up being replaced for better ones, the Fishman pick/up preamp of the Fender CD-6SCE used for this guitar rarely presents any of those issues and is known for its reliability and solid construction. You can always get better pickups for your guitars, but the Fishman pickup sounds so good it’s not even worth replacing. So, if you want a guitar that sounds well when played both acoustic and electric, looks great and at a budget-friendly price, you can’t go wrong with the Fender CD-6SCE. Fender has always been regarded as a guarantee of quality and excellence in manufacture, and that’s for a reason.
- Dreadnought cutaway body style
- Fishman low-profile pickup/preamp
- Solid spruce top with scalloped “X”-bracing
- Mahogany back and sides
- ‘Easy-to-Play’ neck with rolled fingerboard edges
Founded in 1962, Japanese company Takamine was one of the first brands to introduce the idea of acoustic-electric guitars and today it is one of the world’s leading companies in the manufacture of acoustic guitars, known for their high-quality instruments and affordable prices. The Takamine Pro Series 3 P3MC OM is the perfect example. The high-quality materials employed in its construction are the same materials employed in the construction of guitars in higher price ranges, so the Takamine 3 P3MC is a great option if you want great quality in terms of sound and design without having to spend too much money. The wood used for the construction is top quality; featuring a solid sapele back, mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard with wood dot inlays, this guitar offers both comfort and durability.
The Takamine Pro Series 3 P3MC also excels in terms of design; the gold tuners and amber buttons and the natural satin finish give the Takamine Pro 3 P3MC a stylish modern, look. You certainly don’t see fingerpicking guitars of such quality in a price range like this every day! The body is slightly bulkier than the ones of the rest of the fingerpicking style guitar in this list so it doesn’t have the portability of the Baby Taylor for example, but this is only an issue if you’re specifically looking for a very portable guitar. No matter if you’re just starting to play fingerpicking style or if you’re already a seasoned player, this guitar is definitely a great option and a chance to get your hands on an expertly crafted, high-quality product at a very reasonable price.
- Solid sapele back, mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard with wood dot inlays.
- Gold tuners with amber buttons.
- Natural satin finish.
- Case Included
- CT4B II preamp system with three-band EQ, volume control and built-in tuner.
What are the differences between fingerpicking style guitars and regular acoustic guitars?
As stated in our intro paragraph above, there are a number of differences that set apart fingerstyle guitars from regular acoustic guitars; the body is usually wider which allows the guitar to resonate, and the neck profile of a fingerpicking guitar is also slimmer than the one of a traditional dreadnought acoustic guitar.
You also need to consider what type of strings you will be using- There are two general types of strings, nylon and metal. Usually, nylon strings are much more comfortable to play and they provide a beautiful sound. Classical, Flamenco and Bossa Nova players prefer nylon strings almost unanimously for the warm, mellow tone these strings provide. But if you are looking for a brighter sound with lots of resonance you might prefer steel or bronze strings, which suit better styles like country, jazz/blues and folk players.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Fingerpicking Style Guitar
How does the guitar neck feel against you fingers? Is the neck too wide or too slim? This may be a matter of personal preference, just keep in mind that you should get a guitar that feels right in your hands and that you can play for extended amounts of time. Also, remember that most guitars need to be calibrated after being purchased in order to get both comfort and a good sound.
The bulkier the body the more resonance the guitar has, so keep that in mind if you are thinking about buying a small sized guitar. Portability might be important for some buyers who are looking for a compact guitar that they can easily take on the road and store away, and small-sized guitars are indeed perfect for that purpose. But all things come at a price- if you’re also looking for a guitar with a good amount of resonance, you probably won’t find it in small sized models.
As with any musical instrument, the higher the quality of the materials (see our recent piece on Alvarez guitars) and the more complex the design, the higher the price will be. Fortunately, the models listed in this list fall in a category that you might call ‘professional sounding acoustic guitars that don’t break the bank’. Sure, you will usually find more quality in higher price ranges, but there’s nothing worse than investing in a guitar that doesn’t sound nearly as good as professional models and regretting it later.