How to Rate Acoustic Guitars

Learn how to create your own "personal rating system" for acoustic guitars - so that what you end up playing /buying is right for you...

Acoustics come in (2) two main types, the classical, and the steel-string acoustic. But, choosing a guitar will depend upon a number of factors.

This post is designed to both help you rate the type of instrument for the type of playing you enjoy, as well as, address the level of guitarist that you are right now.

Armed with that information, you can go forward and match the "correct" acoustic guitar for your personal playing style and the specific playing level your at along with the right price point.


First, let’s break down guitar types:
Classical (Acoustic) Guitars:
The classical guitar is built to use plastic guitar strings only, (stringing one with steel would damage these guitars). The classical is generally constructed with a smaller body size, using a deep sound chamber. They also will tend to not come with any built-in electronics (for plugging them into an amp, or into a PA).

What Classical Guitars do offer, is easy playing action, and a wider neck for an easier time playing the basic chords, (making classical an excellent guitar for beginners). Plus, the Classical Guitars wider neck also makes these instruments fantastic for doing finger-plucking (as would be the case if you were studying a more classical guitar finger-picking repertoire).

Another name for 'classical guitars' is that of also calling them “nylon string” guitars. Although these two names are often used inter-changeably, the classical is generally thought of as the standard regular body without any electronics, and the nylon is the guitar type that often (but not always) has a cut-away body, and includes electronics for amplification.

The classical /nylon design of guitars range in price from as low as, $120 to well over $9000. And, their price point depends largely upon the guitars; build quality, the types of woods used in the construction, as well as the quality of the; tuners, the nut, and the design and build of the bridge and saddle.

When playing these types of acoustic guitars, (for the most part), we do not use a guitar pick. Instead, we play them with our fingers. The structural design of these guitars tends to promote players sitting down when playing them, (rather than standing).

The classical /nylon string's wider neck and lower tension creates an easier time for making chords. Since these guitars are not restricted to just playing classical music, if you string them with normal tension nylon strings, they make an excellent guitar that’s perfect for beginners.

Next, let’s jump into the world of “Steel-String” guitars. 

Steel-String Acoustic Guitars:
This category of guitar is also part of the acoustic family. And, just like the classical, the body of an acoustic steel-string uses an open / hollow acoustical chamber for naturally amplifying the sound you create from the instrument.

These guitars can cost between $130 up to way over $10,000. Yes, you heard that right! The new Martin “OM-Arts and Crafts,” has a price tag of over $11,000 dollars!

Rating the differences between a guitar that costs $130 to a guitar that costs 100x that amount is like trying to compare the build of a $12,000 Nissan Versa sedan, to a $13 Million dollar Rolls Royce Sweptail.

The fit and finish, the amount of time that goes into the assembly and the quality of every piece involved in the construction all plays a big factor in where the costs come from.

But, guaranteed, the $11,000 guitar has an incredible dedication to detail that the $130 guitar simply won’t have.

Your Guitar Rating System:
We need to constantly evolve our own personalized guitar rating system, because not all of us will be walking into a music store ready to buy a guitar that costs over $11,000. You’ll need to determine your price point, and what you’re willing to spend to get the guitar that will be best for you at your stage of playing.

Are you a beginner, or are you an intermediate player? Or, perhaps you've played awhile now and you’re more advanced. In that case, (more advanced) you’ll be looking for different quality and builds of guitars.

These points are a particularly serious factor in your rating system. Plus, you’ll need to spend time playing a lot of different types of guitars before you buy.

You might think that a $300 guitar is maybe too low priced for you, until you so happen to pick-up that one $300 acoustic and fall in love with the action and the tone.

You’re going to have to play a lot of guitars before you actually zone into what is going to offer you’re your highest rating for what you like the feel and the sound of.

Armed with all this information, you should now be fully capable of going shopping for a classical or nylon string guitar and be able to rate it from a scale of 1 to 10 with respect to how it fits your individual playing needs.

In developing your personal rating system for acoustic guitars, I want to leave you with one last group of ideas to consider. The first being wood used in the construction.

The most common are; Spruce, Cedar, Mahogany, Maple and Rosewood. As you’re developing your rating system, be sure to try out these different woods and determine which ones appeal to you the most.
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Next, is deciding whether or not to go with a plain acoustic guitar, or an acoustic-electric guitar. The electronics will certainly add more cost, but if you won’t use the electronics on a regular basis, it might be best to skip that set-up.

The next area for your rating system would fall under brands. You might determine that a Martin, or a Yamaha is the right make for you. Or, maybe not... Maybe Taylor’s or Gibsons are the right maker and those are going to be the brands for you.

Perhaps, you play an Ovation and determine that make and that style is the best for you. Regardless, you’ll need to try out a number of guitars before you settle on the brand that you decide you like the best.

The final area of establishing your rating system is going to be learning to zero in on your personal favorites when it comes to everything relating to the shape and the guitar’s build hardware.

This includes; the feel and shape of the neck, the tuning machines, the fingerboard design, and the woods and electronics from the guitars nut all the way down to the bridge.

You’ll want to become familiar with what sound you personally enjoy the most. Whether that’s a playing comfort thing, or a resonance thing, where you decide you like mahogany better than spruce. Or, you like a rosewood bridge over an ebony bridge.

After some time, you’ll make a lot of detailed distinctions about the build and the hardware. These personal distinctions will play a huge factor in your rating system for the guitars that you’ll consider purchasing over the years ahead.

Thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at

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I've worked on these courses since 1992 and I feel that all together they're the best guitar program you'll ever find. The courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense.

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As always, if you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more, until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now!



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