Acoustic Guitars for Fingerstyle Playing: Features and Top Picks-:Complete Guide

Are you an aspiring fingerstyle guitarist wanting to know more about the different types of acoustic guitars? Our complete guide on acoustic guitars for fingerstyle playing will provide you with the details and tips to choose the best guitar.

Explore our top picks and features to find your perfect fit!

If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain why fingerstyle requires specific features in an acoustic guitar, list the top qualities necessary for a great playability, and review some of the best acoustic guitars available.

Since fingerstyle makes more use of strings and force than strumming or pick playing, certain features are necessary to ensure clear and balanced sound. This guide will help you understand what those features are and make proper decisions when searching for the perfect instrument. We’ll also point out important factors such as string gauge, neck-body junction details, wood type, and pickups system.

Following the theoretical overview of essential factors affecting sound reproduction with fingerstyle playing, we’ll take a closer look at some of the bestselling instruments from premiere brands in terms of playability and tuning stability. Finally, after presenting our picks for each price range category (budget/mid-range/high-end), we’ll sum up our findings before offering readers practical advice for keeping their guitars well maintained. So let’s get started!

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Acoustic Guitar Brand

When looking for an acoustic guitar suitable for fingerstyle playing, there are several factors to consider. While some brands may have higher-quality guitars, the most important factor is to find the instrument that best suits your individual style and needs. To help determine which guitars and features make sense for your situation, here is a list of the main factors to evaluate when selecting the best acoustic guitar brand:

– Body Size: A larger body size tends to resonate more sound and bass, typically making it preferable for fingerstyle players who need bright sounds with plenty of low end. However, if you want easier playability or a more portable instrument, a smaller body shape such as a folk or travel style could be better suited for your needs.

– Tonewoods: Different materials used in guitar construction will affect not only the sound but also the feel of an instrument. Generally speaking, tonewoods like mahogany and rosewood produce warmer tones with less attack while lighter woods like maple tend to have brighter tones with more attack. Different tonewoods can also affect how easily one string can be heard over another, which can be helpful in picking individual notes on intricate passages.

– Playability: The neck and fretboard should feel comfortable when playing; wider frets can offer more precision while narrow frets might make faster passages easier. The action (or height of strings from frets) should also be taken into consideration; setting it too low could cause buzzing issues while setting it too high could make playing difficult or uncomfortable. Other features like truss rods (which adjust bow in neck) or strings that come equipped with different types of windings (coated vs regular) can also alter playability and tone.

– Special Features: For those looking to get creative with their techniques on an acoustic guitar, some models offer special features such as cutaways – single cutaway allows access to higher frets – adjustable bridges – adjustable intonation – electronics pickups – tuners – stepwise compensation setup etc., that assist in producing unique sounds not available on standard units.

-Price Range : Finally price should not be overlooked since acoustic guitars come in all shapes sizes and price points; some are meant for hobbyists while others are tailored towards professionals. Depending on your skills level budget constraints consider investing more in quality components like better strings woods tuning pegs that can upgrade its playability tone considerably across the board.


When shopping for a guitar, budget is always a factor. Before we get into our recommendations, it’s important to note that there isn’t one “right” answer when selecting an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing. Like any other instrument, the best choice depends on your individual playing style and the types of music you plan on performing. That being said, there are still certain features that any good fingerstyle guitar should possess, such as:

  • A cedar or spruce top
  • An open pore finish that doesn’t mute the tone
  • A wide nut width (1 3/4″ – 2 1/8″) for better string spacing
  • 12th fret neck joint design to provide easy access to higher frets
  • Low action setup for easier fingering and string bending

Below are some of our top picks for budget friendly acoustic guitars suitable for fingerstyle playing. All of these guitars offer quality construction and exceptional playability in comparison to their price point.

Skill level

  1. Instrumental playing demands more complex techniques than strumming chords, so the skill level of the guitarist should be taken into account when selecting the best acoustic guitar for fingerstyle. Beginner and intermediate players may feel overwhelmed by deep body styles with wider string spacing, longer scale lengths and higher action. On the other hand, advanced players looking to refine their technique might find these attributes to be beneficial for their playing styles. Understanding what makes a good acoustic guitar for fingerstyle can help you find a model that’s well-suited to your own needs.

Purpose of the guitar

When selecting an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing, it is important to understand the features that define this type of instrument and what makes it unique. Fingerstyle guitars typically have a rounder, fuller sound than other steel-string acoustics as a result of their construction. This can be attributed to a few key traits that give fingerstyle players the desired tone.

The body size of a typical fingerstyle guitar is often larger than those preferred for strumming and flatpicking—typically, the Dreadnought body shape with the Grand Auditorium and Grand Concert sizes just slightly smaller than that. These larger body styles increase the amount of internal soundboard made available for sound wave transfer thus giving a greater range in tone as well as volume potential. The extra space also allows strings to ring out longer providing more sustained notes while also allowing deeper bass tones on the lower strings. Furthermore, Fingerstyle guitars usually have higher string action leading to less string buzz enabling better articulation of notes.

In addition to these physical components, certain woods are favored over others when choosing wood materials for Fingerstyle guitars. Sitka Spruce is found most often on fingerstyle acoustic guitars due to its very even and balanced tone across all frequencies while producing more volume than other spruce species like Engelmann or Adirondack red spruce which tend to emphasize higher-end tones like chime and sparkle with less resonance across all frequencies Meanwhile, Rosewood has long been used as it’s known for both its bass response when paired with Sitka Spruce but also complex midrange and treble characteristics which helps accentuate picking techniques like tremolo effects or harmonics in melodies played with fingers on steel strings instead of nylon.

Type of wood

The type of wood used for an acoustic guitar significantly affects its sound. Tonewoods are chosen for their ability to vibrate when played, creating resonance and a broad range of thickness in tone. Broadly speaking, there are two types of woods commonly used in acoustic guitars: solid wood and laminated wood.

Solid wood: Solid woods typically produce the warmest tones with deep resonance and complex overtones. Spruce, cedar and mahogany are popular choices for fingerstyle players because they capture subtle tones while adding considerable vibration to the soundboard without sacrificing projection.

Laminatedwood: Laminated woods are composed of multiple thin layers of various tonewoods laminated together under high pressure. The benefit of laminate is less expensive than solid wood while providing more durability and less risk of damage due to environmental changes such as humidity or temperature fluctuations. Laminate components generally deliver a brighter tone with less resonance than their solid counterparts—not necessarily ideal for fingerstyle playing.

Sound quality

One of the most important considerations when selecting an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing is sound quality. An instrument suitable for fingerpicking should have a strong, mellow, full-bodied tone that allows each string to sing on its own; this is best achieved with guitars made of tonewoods such as spruce and mahogany. Low action, proper intonation, and quality craftsmanship will also determine how well the instrument produces sound.

Be sure to try different guitars in different price ranges to get a good idea of what works best for you. Playing close attention to tonal subtleties can inform your decision even further and help you find an instrument that is good for fingerstyle playing. For more in-depth information regarding tonewoods and other features that contribute to sound quality, check out our guide “The Science behind the Best Acoustic Guitar for Fingerstyle Players”

Brand reputation

When considering an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing, brand reputation can often be a reliable indicator of quality. Although big-name brands may come with a larger price tag, you can be sure you’re investing in a well-made instrument that’ll stand the test of time. Some reputable brands to look into include Taylor Guitars, Martin Guitars, Gibson Acoustics and Fender Acoustics.

For more budget-friendly options, Epiphone have retail prices that are much more dependable with their construction quality remaining strong. Yamaha also produce some excellent options and Ibanez have some great beginner guitars for those on a more restricted budget.

Availability of accessories and replacement parts

When selecting an acoustic guitar for fingerstyle playing, it’s important to consider the availability of accessories and replacement parts. There are a variety of items that come with most guitars such as strings, picks, capos, plecs etc., but what about when those accessories need to be replaced?

It’s essential to have a guitar that can be easily serviced or have parts replaced. Depending on the make and model of your guitar, some models may be harder to find parts for than others. It is always a good idea to research the availability of replacement parts before purchasing a guitar. This will save you time and money in the long run as your instrument ages and requires periodic maintenance or repair.


Whether you’re a novice or an experienced musician, the type of acoustic guitar that you choose will have an impact on your playing. Fingerstyle players require an instrument with certain features that enable it to cope with their chosen playing style.

It’s important to factor in the cost of purchasing and maintaining an acoustic guitar as well as researching methods for care and maintenance. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what feels comfortable for you to play.

We’ve looked at some of the most popular acoustic guitars designed for fingerstyle playing. Research reviews from other players and listen to sound samples on YouTube before deciding which one is right for you. The choice is yours!


What style of acoustic guitar is best for fingerstyle?

Generally, a guitar with a wider nut width and a bigger body is preferred for fingerstyle playing. This provides more space for fingerpicking and better resonance.

What are the features of fingerstyle guitar?

Fingerstyle guitar playing involves plucking the strings directly with the fingers, rather than using a pick. It often emphasizes complex fingerpicking patterns and can involve the use of percussive techniques.

What tonewood is best for fingerstyle guitar?

There is no one “best” tonewood for fingerstyle guitar, as it often depends on personal preference. However, tonewoods like spruce, cedar, mahogany, and rosewood are commonly used and can produce warm and rich tones.

What should I look for in a fingerpicking guitar?

When looking for a fingerpicking guitar, it’s important to consider factors such as the size and shape of the body, the type of wood used, and the overall sound quality. A guitar with a wider nut width and a slimmer neck can also be beneficial for fingerstyle playing.

Are light or heavy strings better for fingerstyle?

Lighter strings are generally better for fingerstyle playing, as they are easier to pluck and produce a softer, more delicate sound. Heavier strings can be more difficult to play and may produce a louder and more aggressive sound.

Is it better to play acoustic guitar with a pick or fingers?

Whether to play acoustic guitar with a pick or fingers depends on personal preference and the style of music being played. Fingerstyle playing is often associated with more intricate and delicate playing, while using a pick can provide a brighter and more defined sound.

What tuning is best for fingerstyle?

There is no one “best” tuning for fingerstyle guitar, as it often depends on the song being played and personal preference. Common tunings include open D, open G, and dropped D.

Should I have long or short nails for fingerstyle guitar?

Having slightly longer nails on the plucking hand can be beneficial for fingerstyle playing, as it can produce a brighter and more defined sound. However, the length of the nails should be comfortable and not interfere with playing.

Does Ed Sheeran play fingerstyle guitar?

Yes, Ed Sheeran often plays fingerstyle guitar and is known for his intricate and rhythmic fingerpicking patterns.

What strings are good for fingerstyle?

Light gauge strings with a phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze composition are often preferred for fingerstyle playing, as they produce a warm and balanced tone and are easy to play. Brands such as D’Addario, Elixir, and Martin are popular among fingerstyle guitarists.

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