Best Intermediate Acoustic Guitar

Quick Answer: The best intermediate acoustic guitars offer a balance of quality, affordability, and features that cater to growing musicians, like solid tops and comfortable neck profiles.

Key Takeaways:

  • Intermediate acoustic guitars balance quality and affordability, offering features like solid tops for better resonance and built-in electronics for amplification, catering to the needs of developing musicians seeking to enhance their skills.
  • Key considerations when selecting an intermediate guitar include body shape for comfort and sound projection, tonewood for tonal characteristics, and neck profile for playability, ensuring the instrument complements the player’s style and physical attributes.
  • Proper maintenance, including regular cleaning, string changing, and attention to humidity levels, along with the right storage solutions, are essential to preserve the guitar’s condition and sound quality, contributing to a rewarding playing experience.

Table of Contents

Top 7 Intermediate Acoustic Guitars Reviewed

When you’re ready to step up from a beginner’s guitar, the choices can be overwhelming. Intermediate guitars offer a balance between quality and affordability, and the right one can significantly enhance your playing experience. Let’s dive into the details of seven top-notch acoustic guitars that stand out for their build quality, sound, and features, making them ideal for intermediate players.

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar – The All-Around Performer

The Seagull S6 is a testament to superb Canadian craftsmanship. With a solid cedar top, this guitar produces a warm, rich sound that resonates with every strum. Its dreadnought shape is modified for comfort, making it versatile for various playing styles. The Silver Leaf maple neck not only adds to the guitar’s aesthetic but also enhances playability. Recognized with industry awards, the Seagull S6 meets the needs of intermediate players seeking a dependable and versatile acoustic guitar.

Martin LXK2 Little Martin – The Compact Choice

Don’t let the size fool you; the Martin LXK2 Little Martin packs a punch. Its compact and travel-friendly design is perfect for players on the go. Constructed with HPL, it stands up to the rigors of travel without losing tone. The modified X-bracing helps project a full sound, and the shorter scale length is a boon for those with smaller hands. It’s a small guitar that’s big on quality, ideal for the transitioning player.

Takamine GN93CE – The Stage-Ready Workhorse

For those who shine under the spotlight, the Takamine GN93CE is a dream. Its built-in preamp and tuner make it ready for any stage. The NEX body shape offers a comfortable cutaway design without sacrificing sound quality. With a solid spruce top and a beautiful rosewood and quilt maple back, it delivers a resonant tone that’s both clear and rich. Takamine’s reputation for crafting stage-worthy guitars is well represented in this model.

Epiphone EJ200SCE – The Classic Look with Modern Features

The Epiphone EJ200SCE is a nod to the classic Gibson J-200 with a modern twist. The eSonic2 preamp system and accessible cutaway make it a contemporary performer. Its solid spruce top and maple body ensure a bright and powerful sound. This guitar is a favorite among intermediate players who value a blend of timeless design and modern functionality.

Seagull Performer Series CW Flame Maple QIT – The Canadian Craftsmanship

The Seagull Performer Series CW Flame Maple QIT showcases exquisite Canadian craftsmanship. The Quantum IT electronics offer excellent amplified sound for live performances. Its solid spruce top and compound curve top design not only look stunning but also enhance sound projection and stability. This guitar is a prime choice for intermediate players who appreciate handcrafted quality.

Taylor Academy Series 12e – The Entry to Premium Tone

The Taylor Academy Series 12e brings premium sound within reach. The solid spruce top and Taylor-engineered armrest ensure comfort and quality. The ES-B pickup system with a built-in tuner is perfect for the stage. Taylor’s commitment to quality is evident, making this guitar an excellent option for intermediate players who seek a comfortable and high-quality instrument.

Taylor GS Mini-e Solid Koa Top – The Portable Quality Option

The Taylor GS Mini-e with a solid koa top offers a beautiful sound that gets better with time. Its Grand Symphony body shape ensures a powerful sound from a portable instrument. Equipped with ES-B electronics, it’s ready for any performance. This model is perfect for intermediate players who need a portable guitar without compromising on quality.

Each of these guitars brings something unique to the table, whether it’s the Seagull S6’s all-purpose excellence or the Taylor GS Mini-e’s portable quality. They all support skill development and offer great value for money, making them solid choices for anyone looking to upgrade from a beginner guitar.

How to Choose the Right Intermediate Acoustic Guitar

Selecting the right acoustic guitar as you move into the intermediate stage of your playing is a pivotal decision. It’s about finding the perfect balance between quality and affordability, and understanding how different aspects like body shape, tonewood, and budget influence your instrument’s sound and feel. Here’s how to navigate these waters and emerge with a guitar that feels like an extension of your musical soul.

Understanding Guitar Body Shapes and Sizes

Acoustic guitars come in various shapes and sizes, each with its own impact on sound and playability. The dreadnought is a common choice, known for its robust sound projection and volume, ideal for strumming and rhythm playing. The concert size is more comfortable for many players, with a balanced tone that suits fingerpicking. The grand auditorium strikes a middle ground, offering versatility for different playing styles. When choosing a body shape, consider:

  • Sound projection: Larger bodies like dreadnoughts project more, while smaller bodies offer a more controlled sound.
  • Player comfort: The guitar should feel comfortable to hold and play, not too large or too small for your frame.
  • Musical style: The music you play can guide your choice. For example, fingerstyle guitarists often prefer concert or grand auditorium shapes for their clarity and balance.

The Role of Tonewoods in Guitar Sound

The wood used in constructing a guitar greatly affects its tone. Spruce is a popular choice for tops due to its bright, versatile sound. Mahogany provides a warmer tone with less emphasis on high frequencies, often used for the back and sides. Rosewood is known for its rich, resonant qualities. When considering tonewoods, think about:

  • Resonance and sustain: Different woods can change how long a note rings and how the guitar resonates.
  • Musical genres: Certain woods may complement specific genres better. For example, spruce is great for a wide range of styles, while mahogany suits blues and folk.
  • Ethical sourcing: With the importance of sustainability, look for guitars made with ethically sourced woods.

Electronics: When and Why They Matter

For those who perform or record, built-in electronics in an acoustic guitar can be a game-changer. A preamp and pickup system allow you to amplify your sound without losing quality. Piezo pickups are common and capture the vibration of the strings, while magnetic pickups are typically used for a warmer, electric-guitar-like sound. Consider electronics with:

  • Volume control and tone shaping capabilities for live settings.
  • Onboard tuners for convenience during performances.
  • The type of pickup that best suits your sound and playing environment.

The Impact of Neck Construction and Playability

The guitar’s neck is crucial for playability. The material, shape, and joint type all play a role. A comfortable neck width and fingerboard radius can make a big difference, especially for players with smaller hands. A well-set action—the distance between the strings and the fretboard—makes it easier to press the strings down without extra effort. Look for:

  • Neck construction that feels good in your hand and allows easy access to all frets.
  • Neck width and fingerboard radius that match your hand size and playing style.
  • An action that’s low enough for comfort but high enough to avoid buzzing.

Budgeting for Quality: What to Expect at Intermediate Price Points

Your budget will largely determine the guitars available to you. As the price increases, so do the quality improvements—better tonewoods, superior craftsmanship, and enhanced features. However, there’s a point of diminishing returns where the price may not reflect significant improvements in quality. Aim for the best value within your budget, considering:

  • Price points that align with the features you need.
  • Long-term investment in a guitar that will grow with you as a musician.
  • The balance between cost and the quality improvements that matter most to you.

Choosing the right intermediate acoustic guitar is about more than just the price tag or the brand name. It’s about how the guitar feels in your hands, the sounds you can coax from it, and how it inspires you to play. Take your time, play many guitars, and trust your instincts. The right guitar will speak to you.

Features to Look for in an Intermediate Acoustic Guitar

As you progress in your guitar journey, the features of your instrument become increasingly important. Intermediate acoustic guitars offer enhancements that can significantly impact your sound and playability. Understanding these features will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your musical aspirations.

Solid Top vs. Laminate: What’s Best for You?

The debate between solid top and laminate guitars is a common one. Solid tops are prized for their ability to resonate more freely, resulting in a richer and more complex tone that improves with age. Laminate tops, on the other hand, offer durability and are less affected by changes in humidity and temperature, making them a practical choice for travel and varied environments. Here’s how to decide:

  • Choose a solid top if you’re looking for improved sound quality and resonance.
  • Opt for laminate if you need a more rugged guitar that’s also more affordable.

Acoustic-Electric Guitars: Exploring the Benefits

Acoustic-electric guitars are a versatile option for the intermediate player. They provide the best of both worlds: the rich sound of an acoustic guitar with the ability to amplify it for larger venues or recording. These guitars often come with built-in electronics, including EQ controls and features to reduce feedback. They’re an excellent choice for:

  • Musicians who perform live and need to plug in.
  • Home recording enthusiasts who want a clean, controllable sound.

Cutaways: Style and Access to Higher Frets

A cutaway design not only adds a sleek look to your guitar but also offers practical benefits. It allows easier access to the upper frets, which is essential for certain playing techniques and soloing. However, it’s important to note that cutaways can slightly affect the guitar’s sound and volume. Consider a cutaway if:

  • You frequently play lead or need access to higher notes.
  • You prefer the modern style that a cutaway provides.

Bracing Patterns and Their Influence on Sound

The bracing pattern of a guitar is like its skeleton, providing structural support and shaping its sound. X-bracing is the standard for many acoustic guitars, offering a balanced tone. Scalloped bracing removes some wood from the braces, allowing the top to vibrate more and produce a louder, more open sound. When choosing, think about:

  • The type of resonance and tonal balance you prefer.
  • The genres of music you play and the sound they require.

The Importance of a Comfortable Neck Profile

The shape of the guitar’s neck, or neck profile, can greatly affect your comfort and ability to play different techniques. Options include:

  • C-shaped: A comfortable, rounded profile suitable for most playing styles.
  • V-shaped: Often preferred by players who like to wrap their thumb around the neck.
  • Slim-tapered: Ideal for fast playing and those with smaller hands.

A comfortable neck profile helps with smooth chord transitions and reduces hand fatigue. Your choice should support your playing style and physical comfort.

When searching for the best intermediate acoustic guitar, prioritize the features that meet your specific needs. Whether it’s the warm sound of a solid top or the versatility of an acoustic-electric, the right guitar will enhance your playing experience and support your growth as a musician.

Improving Your Guitar Skills with the Right Instrument

The journey from an intermediate to an advanced guitarist is exciting and filled with discovery. The right acoustic guitar can be a catalyst for musical growth, serving as a tool that responds to your touch and brings out the nuances in your playing. It’s not just about practicing; it’s about practicing smartly, with an instrument that inspires and grows with you.

Practice Techniques That Maximize Your Guitar’s Potential

To truly harness the capabilities of your guitar, consider these practice techniques:

  • Focused practice sessions: Dedicate time to specific areas, such as chord transitions or fingerpicking patterns.
  • Exploring different genres: Broaden your musical horizons by playing various styles, which can enhance your versatility.
  • Incorporating new playing techniques: Use the features of your guitar, like a cutaway for reaching higher frets, to challenge your skills.

Setting clear goals and tracking your progress will help you see the fruits of your labor and keep you motivated.

The Importance of Regular Practice on Sound Development

Developing a rich sound is a result of regular practice. Here’s why consistency matters:

  • Muscle memory: The more you play, the more your hands and ears tune into subtle nuances of tone and technique.
  • Practicing with a metronome: This simple tool can vastly improve your timing and rhythm.
  • Recording your sessions: Listening back can reveal areas for improvement and track your growth.

Creating a practice schedule that fits your daily life is key to steady improvement.

How the Right Guitar Can Inspire Your Musical Journey

Playing an instrument that truly resonates with you can have a profound impact on your creativity and motivation. The right guitar should:

  • Encourage you to experiment with new sounds and techniques.
  • Feel like a natural extension of your musical expression.
  • Inspire you to play more often and with greater joy.

Remember, a guitar that feels and sounds great can be the difference between a routine practice and a transformative musical experience.

Online Resources and Communities for Intermediate Guitarists

The internet is a treasure trove of online resources for guitarists looking to improve. Here are a few to explore:

  • Guitar forums: Places like Ultimate Guitar or The Acoustic Guitar Forum are great for advice and support.
  • Video tutorials: YouTube channels like JustinGuitar offer lessons for various skill levels.
  • Learning platforms: Websites like JamPlay provide structured learning paths and interactive tools.

Engaging with guitar communities can offer new perspectives and keep you inspired. Don’t hesitate to share your progress and learn from others who are on the same path.

Caring for Your Intermediate Acoustic Guitar

A well-maintained guitar is a musician’s best friend. Proper care not only ensures your instrument lasts for years but also keeps it sounding its best. Whether you’ve just upgraded to an intermediate acoustic guitar or you’re looking to maintain your current one, understanding the essentials of guitar maintenance is key.

Essential Maintenance to Prolong Your Guitar’s Life

Regular maintenance is crucial for any guitar. Here are some tasks you should perform to keep your guitar in top shape:

  • Guitar cleaning: Wipe down your guitar with a soft cloth after each use to remove fingerprints and dust.
  • Restringing: Change your strings regularly to maintain tone and playability.
  • Fretboard conditioning: Use a specialized conditioner to keep the wood from drying out and cracking.

Be on the lookout for signs of wear, such as buzzing strings or difficulty tuning, which may indicate it’s time for a professional setup or repair.

Humidity and Temperature: Protecting Your Guitar’s Wood

The wood of your guitar is sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. To prevent damage:

  • Monitor the humidity levels in your guitar’s environment, aiming for a range of 45-55%.
  • Use humidifiers or dehumidifiers as needed to maintain stable conditions.
  • Store your guitar in a case with built-in humidity control when not in use.

When moving your guitar to a new environment, allow it to acclimate gradually to avoid shocking the wood.

String Changing and Guitar Setup for Optimal Performance

A fresh set of strings and a proper setup can make a world of difference in how your guitar plays and sounds. Consider these factors:

  • String gauges: Choose thicker strings for a fuller sound or lighter ones for easier playability.
  • Guitar setup: Adjust the action, intonation, and truss rod to ensure your guitar plays well and stays in tune.

If you’re not comfortable making these adjustments yourself, a professional setup can be a worthwhile investment.

Storage Solutions: Cases and Stands to Keep Your Guitar Safe

How you store your guitar can affect its longevity and condition. Here are some storage options:

  • Hard cases: Offer the best protection against physical damage and environmental changes.
  • Gig bags: Provide a lighter, more portable option but less protection than hard cases.
  • Guitar stands: Keep your guitar accessible but can leave it exposed to environmental factors and accidents.

Choose a storage solution that fits your lifestyle and provides the level of protection your guitar needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Can intermediate guitars be used for live performances or are they just for practice?

Answer: Intermediate guitars, especially those with built-in electronics like preamps and tuners, are well-suited for live performances as well as practice.

Question 2: How often should I replace the strings on an intermediate acoustic guitar?

Answer: Strings should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, depending on usage and sound quality preference.

Question 3: Are cutaway designs on intermediate guitars purely aesthetic, or do they serve a functional purpose?

Answer: Cutaway designs provide easier access to higher frets, serving a functional purpose for certain playing styles.

Question 4: What is the benefit of having a solid top on an intermediate acoustic guitar compared to a laminate top?

Answer: A solid top offers better resonance and a richer tone that improves with age, while laminate tops are more durable and less sensitive to environmental changes.

Question 5: Is it worth investing in a hard case for my intermediate acoustic guitar?

Answer: Yes, a hard case offers superior protection against physical and environmental damage, making it a worthwhile investment for preserving your guitar.