7 Best Low Action Acoustic Guitars (All Budgets)

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  • What are the considerations for low-action guitars?
  • What are the best low-action guitars?
  • Can any guitar player use a low-action guitar?
  • You might want to also check out our post on the best guitars with thin necks!

Low-action acoustic guitars make up a large proportion of conventional guitar models.

Guitar players generally have different action preferences depending on their style, skill level, and playing habits.

A solid action height can turn a guitar into an irreplaceable tool, while sloppy action can completely destroy its playing potential.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best low-action guitars on the current market. These acoustic guitars are compiled to suit a wide range of playing circumstances and budget levels. 

Low Action On Guitars Explained

The action on a guitar refers to the spacing between the strings and fretboard. A lower action refers to less space and a higher action to more space.

If a guitar has too high an action, it can make a guitar difficult to play comfortably. High action can also cause a guitar to lose sustain and deaden its tone. 

Several guitar players will have their new or used guitars calibrated at a trusted guitar shop or parts dealer.

After a few years of focused playing, most players will have a general idea of their preferred action.

A comfortable low-action guitar is usually much easier to use for chordal and intensive lead work on a guitar, especially on acoustic guitars. 

Who Do Low-Action Guitars Suit Best?

There are no definitive reasons for purchasing a low-action guitar other than personal playing preference.

Some players know the exact configuration their guitars need to be for them to optimize their playing potential.

If you are unsure about the correct action for your playing, you can contact your local parts dealer for some hands-on advice

What Are The 7 Best Low Action Acoustic Guitars? 

OUR PICK
Taylor Academy 10e

Taylor's Academy 10e boasts many of the same player-friendly features that have made the brand legendary. These features include an extremely comfortable and fast-playing neck profile, bracing patterns that enhance the guitar's natural voice, and solid Sitka spruce and ebony tonewoods used in the construction.

Why We Love It:
  • Well-rounded
  • Fantastic tone
  • Great playability
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BEST VALUE
Ibanez AE245

The Ibanez AE245 provides clear bottom and crispy treble sound with trimmed warm mid-range, yet also a wide dynamic range and high response.

Why We Love It:
  • Durable
  • X-M Bracing
  • Comfortable grip
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PREMIUM OPTION
Martin DJr-10E

The Martin D Jr-10E is a stellar junior-sized dreadnought that offers younger players or adult players wanting a smaller acoustic an incredibly comfortable playing experience. 

Why We Love It:
  • Delivers superior tone
  • Comfortable
  • Great playability
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It’s practically impossible to hand the title of best low-action acoustic guitar to a single model.

While there are some top-shelf models that are undoubtedly the best options in their price range – certain guitarists may have personal preferences between them.

With that being said, there are specific guitars in each tier that are well worth considering as a personal purchase. 

We’ve made a shortlist of the best low action guitars on the current market below:

  1. Taylor Academy 10e Dreadnought (Our Pick)
  2. Ibanez AE245 Acoustic-Electric Guitar (Best Value)
  3. Martin DJR-10E (Premium Option)
  4. Fender CD-60 SCE
  5. Yamaha FG800
  6. Washburn WD20 Series WD20SCE
  7. Donner Acoustic Guitar Kit For Beginner Adults

Ever wondered the difference between Martin 00 and 000 body sizes? Check out our guide here!

1. Taylor Academy 10e Dreadnought

OUR PICK
Taylor Academy 10e

Taylor's Academy 10e boasts many of the same player-friendly features that have made the brand legendary. These features include an extremely comfortable and fast-playing neck profile, bracing patterns that enhance the guitar's natural voice, and solid Sitka spruce and ebony tonewoods used in the construction.

Why We Love It:
  • Well-rounded
  • Fantastic tone
  • Great playability
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Taylor is a long-trusted brand by both amateur and professional guitarists.

They have shown particular prowess in the acoustic guitar department, and the Taylor 10e Dreadnought is one of their most popular sellers.

Features

  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Body: Layered Sapele
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard:Ebony- 22 Frets
  • Electronics: ESB Preamp System

Review

The dreadnought shape is one of the oldest builds in guitar tradition, and Taylor has done well to uphold this guitar’s heritage while still giving it a modern edge

Its Sitka Spruce top is a commonly used textile, due to its projection qualities.

The layered Sapele wood gives the guitar an added tier of durability, but this wood is still soft enough to allow for reliable resonance.

The ESB Preamp System used in their guitar pickups comes with a three-band eq, as well as a built-in tuner which makes it extremely handy in live performance and studio situations.

Taylor’s 10e is a very solid investment choice for anyone that is thinking about taking their guitar playing more seriously.

Searching for a Dreadnought style acoustic guitar? Check out our review of the Yamaha FG830!

2. Ibanez AE245 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

BEST VALUE
Ibanez AE245

The Ibanez AE245 provides clear bottom and crispy treble sound with trimmed warm mid-range, yet also a wide dynamic range and high response.

Why We Love It:
  • Durable
  • X-M Bracing
  • Comfortable grip
View Product On Ibanez

The combination of textiles used in the Ibanez AE245 form and exotic combination give this guitar a unique character in feel and sound performance.

Features

  • Top: Solid Okoume
  • Body: Solid Okoume
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Fretboard: Katalox – 20 Frets
  • Electronics: Ibanez Custom Electronics

Review

Solid Okuome wood has been used for the top, back, and sides of this guitar. This wood is renowned for its durable and tensile nature even in the harshest environments.

The body of this guitar features a sleek cutaway that allows easy access to the final fret on the Katalox fingerboard. 

Ibanez has made a habit of using their own electronic and pickup systems in a lot of their guitar builds.

This tradition has been carried on the AE245 build, and the custom Ibanez pickup system delivers a lively and reactive tone that fits well in a variety of performance settings.

The overall action on the AE25 comes in quite low, at under 2. mm on the low E string, but still gives full tonal resonance without any fret buzz or dead notes

3. Martin DJR-10E

PREMIUM OPTION
Martin DJr-10E

The Martin D Jr-10E is a stellar junior-sized dreadnought that offers younger players or adult players wanting a smaller acoustic an incredibly comfortable playing experience. 

Why We Love It:
  • Delivers superior tone
  • Comfortable
  • Great playability
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Martin guitars are often found on the top tier of most guitar displays and have a sense of class and quality that suits their higher asking price.

The Martin DJR 10-E features incredible action that is consistent across the Rosewood fingerboard.

Experienced players will immediately notice the ease of access and fluidity that the DJR 10E delivers

Features

  • Top: Sapele
  • Body: Sapele
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Rosewood – 22 Frets
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonitone Pickup

Review

Martin has used a high-grade Sapele to construct the entire body of this acoustic guitar.

Sapele has a proposal, spongy nature that does a great job of deadening overly harsh or bright notes from excessive playing.

The true tonal quality of the DJR 10E comes out when the guitar is plugged into a speaker or preamp for studio recording.

The guitar’s Fishman Sonitone pickups do an amazing job of enhancing expressions and articulations to create a dynamic sound quality. 

4. Fender CD-60 SCE 

Fender CD-60SCE

The CD-60S Dreadnought hits every note when it comes to what new or emerging players require on their journey toward mastering the guitar. 

Why We Love It:
  • Great playability
  • Forgiving on less experienced hands
  • Ful-bodied tone
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Beginner guitarists that have gone through the building blocks of learning their first open chords might be looking for a guitar to use for their first gig or open mic performance.

The Fender CD-60 SCE has been found commonplace in these types of settings, thanks to its no-nonsense tone and high level of playability

Features

  • Top: Laminated Mahogany
  • Body: Laminated Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut – 20 Frets
  • Electronics: Fishman CD-1 Preamp

Review

A Mahogany laminate acts as the main housing for this guitar’s back, sides, and top. The Mahogany has a dark finish that meets the guitar’s tone when plugged into a PA or Amplifier.

Thanks to the trusty Fishman CD-1 Pickups, the Fender CD-60 delivers a confident and fully rounded tone over most good speaker systems.

The guitar comes with a relatively low action out of the shop and features a warm walnut fingerboard that is forgiving on less experienced hands

5. Yamaha FG800 

Yamaha FG800

The FG800 is the ideal tool for beginners looking to brush up on their playing with convenient access to tips, FAQs, and even a built-in automatic tuner.

Why We Love It:
  • Great for fingerpicking styles
  • Scalloped bracing
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The Yamaha FG800 is one of the company’s longest-standing designs and has been used for a dizzying list of classical and pop recordings throughout music history.

Features

  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Body: Nato
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood – 20 Frets
  • Electronics: None

Review

This guitar has been constructed with the original classical dreadnought body shape, which is made up of nato wood and supported using scalloped bracing.

It’s this exact bracing that gives the guitar a larger-than-life resonance which can be heard best in the auditorium-type settings. 

A Rosewood fingerboard contrasts the light Spruce top used in the Yamaha FG800 build – both in aesthetic and contrast.

Thanks to its classical design, the guitar is a wonderful choice for anyone that enjoys playing fingerpicking styles of music such as flamenco, bluegrass, or folk.

Yamaha has opted to use no pickup system in this guitar build, but performers can still get a reasonable sound by placing microphones around the soundhole and 12th fret. 

6. Washburn WD20 Series WD20SCE

Washburn WD20 Series WD20SCE

The D20SCE blends of solid Sitka spruce and Pau Ferro to create a tone well suited to bluegrass flat-picking and hard strumming. It is both full but clear and articulate. 

Why We Love It:
  • Features exotic Pau Ferro wood
  • Lightweight
  • Superb tone
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When it comes to low-action fretboard designs, there are fewer necks that carry as prestigious a reputation as the Washburn Wd20.

Features

  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Body: Pau Ferro
  • Neck: Satin Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ovangkol – 20 Frets
  • Electronics: Fishman Presys II 301T w/tuner

Review

This acoustic guitar is one of the best-kept secrets of the instrument world, but well-researched players understand the value in its craftsmanship.

An extremely exotic Pau Ferro wood makes up this guitar’s body and provides a stunning, boomy resonance even over light fingerpicking or strumming.

The body feels soft to the touch and makes the guitar noticeably lighter than most acoustic guitars without compromising on tone or durability

The Washburn Wd20 comes with an Ovangkol fretboard that is just as rare as the wood used for the body.

The fingerboard feels strangely absorbent and should be easy for players of any skill level to navigate and master.

The neck is supported with a two truss-rod that is significantly important for keeping your preferred action in place after long periods of use. 

7. Donner Acoustic Guitar Kit For Beginner Adults 

Donner Acoustic Guitar Kit for Beginners
$165.99

The Donner DAG-1C acoustic guitar is a perfect beginner acoustic guitar with well-made craftsmanship, rich warm clear sound, and great playability. 

Why We Love It:
  • Great for kids and beginners
  • Warm, clear sound
View Price On Amazon
12/07/2022 10:57 pm GMT

Children can benefit greatly from low-action guitars, as they tend to have weaker fretting hands than adults.

Placing a regular guitar in a young person’s hands can camper their progress and sometimes lead to injury.

Fortunately, Donner guitars have a range of beginner guitar packages that are suited to kids and young adults.

Their Beginner Adult model features a traditional dreadnought shape with a cutaway on the bottom end to allow players to reach higher up on the fretboard. 

Features

  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body: Laminated Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Purpleheart – 20 Frets
  • Electronics: None

Review

The Donner Beginner Adult guitar does not come with an electronics system, which is a shame as the guitar’s impressive natural tone would sound great if plugged into a speaker system. 

The fingerboard is made of unique purpleheart wood that can tend to be more slippery than standard guitar fingerboards.

However, if beginner guitarists manage to master the basics of the Donner Beginner Adult guitar kit, they should have very little trouble progressing with their next upgrade

How to Lower The Action On Your Acoustic Guitar

  • Adjusting the action on your guitar will require you to adjust it at either the saddle or the nut. To find out which side needs adjusting, measure the heights at either end to see which side is too high. 
  • The average height for most guitars is 2mm at the low E string, and 2.8mm at the high E string. Any action higher than this can be comfortably lowered. 
  • You will need to remove your strings to adjust either the saddle or bridge. It’s recommended to change to new strings every time the action is adjusted. 
  • When adjusting the saddle, be sure to only shave away minor edges at a time and to constantly check your proportions with each shave. 
  • The nut sits above the 1st fret and is the leveraging joint where the strings pass over to the headstock. The action on a guitar can be lowered by slowly and carefully deepening the grooves that are on the nut, while frequently checking for height. 

Final Thoughts

Low action on a guitar is crucial for any player that wants to enjoy hours of comfortable, expressive playing without the risk of fret-hand injury.

Acoustic guitars benefit especially from low-action as they require as much natural resonance and sustain as possible. 

Every player will have a different set of action needs and requirements. Their choice of action will depend on their fret-hand strength, level of skill, and their knowledge base of their instrument.

Overly low action can cause unpleasant fret buzz across certain spots on the fingerboard. On the other hand, high action can seriously diminish a guitar’s playability. 

When purchasing a low-action guitar, always make sure to cross-reference your inspection with a trained professional.

Action is a guitar factor that is easy to misread, and the wrong setting could stutter your playing progress. Finally, try to have your guitar’s action set up by a certified parts dealer or repair shop if possible.  

FAQ’s

What is the lowest action on an acoustic guitar?

The lowest standard action on an acoustic guitar sits at around 0.5mm. This measurement equals 1/16th in unit terms.

Any action lower than this will cause fret buzz and is sure to be unplayable. 

What are low-action guitars?

Low-action guitars are just like regular guitars, but with a smaller spacing in between the strings and fingerboard.

These guitars are customized in this fashion to allow certain players a higher degree of expression and freedom of movement while playing.

How do you get low action without fret buzz?

The overall action on a guitar requires a balance of several factors: the height of the bridge, fret spacing, the tension of the neck, and the gauge of a string being used include these factors.

By balancing these components correctly, it’s possible to achieve a low action on a guitar without any noise of fret buzz. 

Is high action on a guitar bad?

High action on a guitar can make it tricky for guitar players to hold down and sustain notes while playing.

High action can also interfere with chord changes and stutter a guitarist’s fluidity while moving across the fretboard.