As bassist-turned-guitarist, I’ve always felt at home using my fingers instead of a pick. Tactile feedback equates to oneness with an instrument. Through my years of folksy pursuits, I experimented with many brands and body sizes to find the best fingerpicking guitar.
Spoiler alert – our top pick is my personal favorite, the 000-15M by Martin Guitars.
Before we start, let’s clear up one thing. You can fingerpick on any steel or nylon string guitar. But some guitars are decidedly better than others. Attributes like size, shape, body depth, nut width, and string-spacing matter. So, investing in a high-quality guitar is half the battle won.
Generally, OM or 000 guitars have the perfect tonal balance and volume for fingerstyle moves. For Taylor fans, that’s the Grand Concert and Grand Auditorium models. Anything smaller (parlor guitars, 0, or 00) can be too soft or too niche. Not unworkable but not favored in general.
Big-body acoustics like dreads, slope-Ds, and jumbos are hit-or-miss, generally favored for boom-chick, chugging, or bluegrass. Their heavy bass response drowns out melodic lines. That leaves us with mid-sized acoustics, and I know five that can beef up your fingerstyle pursuits.
What are the Best Guitars for Fingerstyle Playing?
TheMartin 000 15M Acoustic Guitaris our top recommendation for fingerstyle players. It’s a marvelous fingerstyle acoustic guitar with rustic looks, husky tones, and ‘C.F. Martin’ on the slotted headstock. A hard case is included, but no electronics, which is how some of us prefer it.
We recommend theGuild OM-150CE Acoustic Electric Guitaras our Best Value pick if you favor something less dusky than Martin Guitars but not laced with top-end sparkle. This all-solid wood guitar has the spruce-rosewood combo with a playing feel and sounds that make you double-check the price tag.
For those who fancy brighter tones, consider the Taylor 214CE-K SB acoustic-electric guitar for fingerstyle guitar playing. It’s a gig-ready, plugged-in pleasure with sounds that sit comfortably in any mix. Moreover, it’s one of the most affordable fingerstyle guitars in the Taylor catalog.
Here are the five best fingerstyle acoustic guitars in the current market:
This steel-string 000 guitar features a mahogany top/body with a non-cutaway design, a mahogany neck, and a 25.4″ scale length. The mahogany neck has a modified low oval profile with a 16″ radius. The Rosewood fingerboard houses 14 clear frets (20 in total) with diamond inlays. Other notable features include a Rosewood bridge, ebony bridge pins, Butterbean tuning keys, pinstripe rosette, dark tortoise pickguard, nitrocellulose finish, and bone nut/saddle.
Body Shape: 000, non-cutaway
Solid Mahogany top, back, and sides.
East Indian Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
4” scale length, 1.69″ nut width
Hard Shell Case Included
Despite its modest adornments, it’s hard to fault this 000 on build quality and materials. From the kerfing to the A-frame bracing, it’s one of the best examples of craftsmanship laid bare in mahogany. Also, these Martin Guitars boast more 5-star reviews than any of the competition. Based on customer reviews, they are the best fingerstyle guitars in the market today.
This acoustic is compact, well-balanced, and a joy to fingerpick or strum anytime, anywhere. The neck profile and string spacing are a treat for fingerstyle. The playability and refined sounds galvanize you to pick it up and play longer. Moreover, it is worth considering the 000-M15 if you are into open-tuning or slide guitar.
Martin guitars are the endgame for a fingerstyle guitarist who fantasizes about mahogany tones. It boasts rich, husky, and slightly mid-forward sounds, rich and balanced. The guitar has a characteristic warmth but no sag or honk in the mid-range, making it ideal for fingerstyle guitar playing. It’s particularly suited for singer-songwriters and vocal accompaniment, but there’s scope for just about everything.
If you love throaty mahogany tones, there is no better acoustic guitar to chase after at this price point. These Martin Guitars can’t dish out dread-like volume, but they sound tuneful and responsive with every move your throw at it. Also, if you prefer a road-worn look, you can shell out another $100 for the Street master model with a gorgeous aged Mahogany burst.
Get the legendary, balanced, unique tone of an orchestra acoustic guitar with the Guild OM-150CE. This robust acoustic-electric guitar features a solid spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides for full, rich acoustic tone.
The Guild OM-150CE Acoustic-electric features a solid Sitka spruce top, cutaway Rosewood body, and African mahogany neck. It also sports a Rosewood fingerboard with 20 frets and Mother-of-Pearl dot inlays. This acoustic-electric guitar has a scale length of 25.5″ and nut width of 1.75.” Other notable features include scalloped Sitka spruce bracing, open-gear tuning machines, bone nut/saddle, and a rosewood bridge. The acoustic ships with D’Addario (12-53) strings and a high-quality padded gig bag.
Solid Sitka Spruce top w/ Rosewood body
Rosewood Fingerboard and bridge
Nut Width: 1.75″
6” scale length, 1.75” nut-width
Electronics: Fishman Sonicore GT-3 pickup system
Deluxe gig bag included
This all-solid acoustic guitar has an understated aesthetic and a top-notch build. Despite being an import model, Guild doesn’t skimp on materials or quality to cut costs. The guitar has a bone nut/saddle, Rosewood Bridge, and other fine appointments rarely found at this price point.
The OM-150CE is a robust solid wood acoustic-electric guitar with a wide nut-width and deep cutaway from playing up and down the board. The size, shape, and depth make it an exceptional choice for flatpicking, fingerstyle playing, and strumming. The wide nut, in particular, makes this guitar one of the best OMs for fingerstyle players.
This acoustic guitar boasts a rich, balanced, and full-sounding unplugged tone. It’s not as mid-forward as parlor guitars, but it has more depth in the highs and lows than Martin Guitars. Tonally speaking, Expect sweet, mid-forward sounds that bring out the nuances of leads, melodic lines, and fingerpicking. It also delivers incredible sustain and resonance for open tunings.
The OM-150CE guitar sports a Guild/Fishman Sonicore pickup system. It includes an under-saddle pickup, preamp, and built-in tuner. The pickup system infuses the electro experience with the best bits of its unplugged sound. The amplified sound is clear and dynamic, with soundhole-mounted tone controls to sculpt tones on the fly.
The Guild OM 150CE is a no-frills acoustic that delivers plugged-in or unplugged. Moreover, the solid wood body ensures it will endure and yield richer tones as it ages. It carries excellent value for the asking price with one caveat. The guitar only comes with a deluxe gig bag. A hard case would make this a five-star fingerstyle guitar that blows the competition out of the water.
3. Taylor 214CE-KSB Acoustic Electric Guitar (Premium Choice)
The Taylor 214ce-KSB is an eye-catching example of Taylor’s dedication to quality sound and unbeatable playing experience. It’s made with premium materials — a solid Sitka spruce top paired with layered koa back and sides.
Taylor 214CE-KSB guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top, layered Koa body with a Venetian cutaway, and tropical mahogany neck. Its ebony fingerboard houses 20 frets with Acrylic dot inlays. The scale-length and nut-width are 25.5″ 1.68,” respectively.
Other notable features include X-bracing, white binding, chrome tuners, Graph Tech nut/saddle, and ebony bridge. The 214CE-KSB ships with Elixir Phosphor Bronze strings and a soft case.
Solid Sitka Spruce, Layered Koa body
Ebony fingerboard and bridge
6” scale length, 1.68” nut-width
Electronics: Taylor ES2 pickup system
Deluxe gig bag included
This fingerstyle acoustic guitar plays well out of the box but may need a setup to suit your playing style. The build quality and finish are immaculate, and the ebony ‘board and edge burst finish give it a first-rate visual appeal. That said, the Taylor 214-CE-KSB lacks back bracing and comes with a soft case. For those reasons, I recommend investing in a hard case shell – stat!
This lightweight GA acoustic-electric has all the hallmarks of a stage and studio-ready instrument. The curved neck profile and string spacing will please fingerstyle players, and the Venetian cutaway encourages adventures in the higher registers. The guitar’s shape, size, and depth make it comfortable to play, regardless of size or stature.
The tonewoods and GA body shape team up beautifully to deliver powerful lows and top-end shimmer. Concisely, the guitar tone is bright, with rich mids and a sparkly overall character. It has an excellent projection for strumming and note definition for fingerpicking and melodic lines.
Solid Hawaiian Koa is an excellent tonewood for fingerstyle acoustics, but laminate Koa (with an inner layer of Poplar) doesn’t have a comparable resonance and midrange response. You can move upstream to the 300 or 500 series for solid wood Taylors for a steep uptick in the price.
ES2 electronics promise a transparent reproduction of the acoustic tone while retaining the organic elements of the sound. The system includes three pickups under the saddle, a preamp, and a built-in tuner. Thereof, you can sculpt a wide range of tones well-suited for strumming and fingerstyle arrangements with this guitar.
The Taylor 214CE-KSB looks stunning, feels robust, and can be a great primary instrument. We think fingerstyle guitarists will appreciate the tonal versatility, build quality, and affordable price tag. We aren’t putting it forth as the best guitar for fingerstyle, not even the best Taylor acoustic. But it’s is offers the Taylor experience without breaking the bank.
#4 Seagull Maritime SWS CH CW Presys II Acoustic-electric Guitar
Seagull Guitars is a Godin brand with a solid reputation in the acoustic guitar community. While there are several fantastic guitars in their catalog, our top pick for fingerstyle guitarists is the Maritime SWS, a concert-sized acoustic-electric that punches above its price.
The SWS CH CW acoustic-electric guitar features a solid Spruce top with increased projection and resonance. It has a mahogany body, a cutaway design, and a 25.5″ scale length. The D-profile neck houses a Richlite fingerboard with 21 frets. Other notable features include fan bracing, white binding, Tusq nut/saddle, closed gear tuners,
Body Shape: Concert Hall w/ cutaway
Solid Spruce top and mahogany body.
Richlite fingerboard and bridge
5” scale length, 1.72″ nut width
Electronics: Fishman Presys II pickup system
Hard Shell Case Included
This no-frilled Seagull acoustic has a premium look with excellent fit and finish, evident in the semi-gloss polish, neat corners, and ebony bridge. The slender neck and cutaway give you access to the whole fingerboard, and the body depth makes it comfortable to play sitting or standing. A hard case shell is the only thing missing to help it endure the rigors of gigging.
Seagull guitars from S6, Maritime, and Artist series are known for excellent playability. The fit and finish are on the money, and the guitar is comfortable to play for long periods, sitting or standing. Fingerstyle players will appreciate the D-profile neck and 1.72″ nut width.
Tonally speaking, the acoustic guitar sounds warm and clear, with rich overtones to color the sound. It has rich lows, springy mids, and loads of top-end shimmer. The acoustic sparkles when strummed and responds with clarity to the lightest touch in fingerstyle play. Moreover, the compact body delivers a tight/focused sound with excellent individual note definition.
This Seagull SWS CH CW features the Pre SYS II pickup system – an under saddle piezo, onboard preamp, and built-in tuner. Plugged-in, the guitar sounds bright, retaining most of the organic, woody sounds of the unplugged experience. The pickup system is excellent for the price, but it’s not as refined as the Taylor ES2 or aftermarket systems like K&K.
The Seagull Maritime SWS Guitar is arguably one of the best solid wood guitars for fingerstyle around the $1000 mark. These Concert-style guitars are close to the Taylor experience and far removed from Martin guitars. They score a solid A on playability, comfort, tone, and build. Despite lacking a free gig bag, we recommend investing in this over big-name laminate guitars.
The Takamine GN93CE is an acoustic-electric guitar with a NEX-style shape (small jumbo), solid Spruce top, black walnut back and sides, and a 3-piece walnut/maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Other notable features include scalloped X-bracing, gold die-cast tuners, Laurel bridge, synthetic bone nut and saddle, a pin-less bridge, and nickel-silver frets with dot inlays.
Solid Spruce top w/ Black Walnut body
East Indian Rosewood Fingerboard
4” scale length, 1.68” nut-width
Electronics: Takamine TK-40D pickup system
Hard Shell Case Included
This small-bodied acoustic is comfortable and easy to handle. The slim neck profile and string spacing make it an excellent guitar for fingerstyle playing. The cutaway design allows access to the higher register, making it easy to play up the fretboard. Moreover, the pin-less bridge system keeps the tuning stable and may come in handy for a quick string change during a performance.
Despite being compact, it delivers a full-sized sound with a rich resonance, an earthy midrange, and a slightly dark top-end shimmer. It has fantastic projection and sounds very loud and resonant unplugged. At the same time, it’s tonally versatile, making it ideal for a wide range of fingerstyle moods ranging from soft touches to digging in.
The GN93CE features a TK-40D preamp system that includes an under-saddle pickup, 3-band EQ (active shelving with bass, mid, and treble), and a built-in tuner. The preamp features a gain knob, a low battery indicator, and active-shelving EQ. The amplified output is clear and well-defined, and the EQ makes it easy to shape your tone onstage.
Takamine isn’t a big name, but the GN93CE is a fantastic fingerstyle guitar. It has three things that work in its favor – a) solid build, b) high-quality unplugged sounds, and c) clear-sounding amplified output. It’s not comparable to a Taylor, Guild, or Martin, but this guitar delivers the best bang for your buck, particularly if you switch between strumming and fingerpicking.
What is a fingerstyle guitar?
A fingerstyle guitar is a steel or nylon string acoustic guitar with attributes that support a specialized playing technique. Fingerstyle guitars have wide string spacing, neck width, and other features that improve playability and comfort. Also, a fingerpicking guitar should have the appropriate body shape to bring out the timber of picked notes.
Can you do fingerstyle on any guitar?
You can do fingerstyle on any steel-string or nylon-string acoustic guitar. Electric guitars are not considered for this playing style, but exceptions exist. Among acoustic guitars, OM, 000, 00, and parlor guitars are considered the best body sizes for fingerstyle playing. Nylon string acoustic guitars are also popular for a Western Classical repertoire.
Why is fingerstyle guitar so hard?
Fingerstyle guitar involves complex arrangements based on intermediate and advanced right and left-hand techniques. You need to develop finger independence and often play the bass, rhythm, and melody simultaneously, which can be challenging. However, this style is not easy or hard, as every guitar-style demands consistent practice to attain effortless mastery.