If you’re wondering what the most versatile acoustic guitar is, you’ve come to the right post!
Is There Such a Thing as the Most Versatile Acoustic Guitar?
Before I get into this topic, there’s something I want to point out. There is no such thing as an acoustic guitar for all genres. Sure, you could play a variety of genres on one guitar. But it doesn’t mean that it will always be the best guitar for every situation.
Secondly, the issue of versatility in acoustic guitars is a topic many guitar players discuss. Likewise, of course, there’s also no official consensus. Plus, the player has a lot to do with the sound. One might use a certain acoustic guitar model for a variety of genres. Meanwhile, another guitar player won’t find any use for it.
So there’s no one-size-fits-all kind of thing here. However, each acoustic guitar model will have its scope of potential genres. And of course, it will depend on how you use it. With all this said, it’s still fun to speculate on what are some of the most versatile acoustic guitars.
Let’s dive in.
What Makes an Acoustic Guitar Versatile?
If you want the simplest answer, I believe more or less neutral-sounding acoustic guitars are the most versatile. Additionally, an instrument should also feel ergonomic. This provides the option to play more complex lead parts.
As far as the body shapes go, it’s really hard to say which would be most versatile. One thing that I’d add is that it would be a good idea to have one cutaway. This makes it easier to access higher trets, increasing the instrument’s potential.
Overall, steel-string guitars tend to cover a much wider scope of genres. There’s also a completely different dynamic to them. This doesn’t mean that nylon-string guitars are worse. They’re just usually used for more specific purposes.
(If you want to learn more about the difference between nylon and steel string guitars, check out this post.)
For the most part, nylon-string guitars are for classical music. But some models show could show more versatility.
Talking about materials, I usually like to have a mix. A softer top and harder back and sides. This is usually the standard variant of a spruce top and mahogany sides. That said, an all-mahogany guitar can also work well.
Lastly, I’d always recommend getting an acoustic guitar with a piezo pickup. Preferably, you’ll want active electronics. This will open up more options, making it easier to record or perform live through a PA.
Some Versatile Acoustic Guitar Examples
With this context, let’s explore some of the great examples on the market. Bear in mind that this is my choice. From my experience, these guitars show a lot of versatility.
Seagull is probably the safest choice. These guitars aren’t that expensive, they’re reliable, and they sound pretty great. S6 is a go-to model for guitar players of any level.
They usually come with a solid cedar top. There’s also a variant with a spruce top. They all come with cherry back and sides. This is a pretty interesting combination. You don’t see it within this price range.
S6 finds its way into various genres. From my experience, it handles nearly anything where you need a steel-string acoustic guitar.
Overall, the tone is pretty balanced and rich. They’re especially useful for fingerpickers.
Although Martin is famous for their traditional guitars, I’d like to include something a bit different. SC-10E comes with an offset-shaped body and a deeper, almost square-like, cutaway.
This one comes with a spruce top and koa back and sides. The resulting tone is slightly brighter. However, it’s all incredibly rich and resonant. It also comes with Martin’s incredible bracing, giving it great stability.
Its mahogany neck is a whole different story. Combined with the cutaway and the 16-inch fingerboard radius, it’s really easy to play.
It’s also very dynamically responsive. This all works great with Fishman MX-T electronics.
Taylor 814ce is just something else. The instrument comes with a solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides. Then we have a mahogany neck equipped with an ebony fretboard and 20 frets, all with a scale of 25.5 inches.
The guitar’s strong point is its so-called V-Class body bracing. Aside from enhancing its structural integrity, it also affects the tone and sustain. Then we have a few great ergonomic features. The slope on the body edge allows a more comfortable position for your picking hand.
Its shape is a grand auditorium one with a cutaway. However, the depth is like a dreadnaught. This gives a slight boost to the higher-ends. Nonetheless, the guitar’s tone is pretty balanced.
Finally, it’s equipped with Taylor’s ES-2 electronics. Plug it directly into a PA and it will sound almost as good as a microphone.
This guitar has it all. It’s loud, you can hear and feel every note under your hands, and it sounds incredible. In my opinion, it’s the most versatile guitar on the market. The only downside, however, is its price. But you can’t expect anything else from a pro-level instrument.
Gibson Songwriter Standard EC
While we often focus on Gibson’s electric guitars, we shouldn’t forget their incredible acoustics. One such example is the Songwriter Standard EC model.
This is another example of a guitar with a spruce top and rosewood back. It’s a dreadnaught with a cutaway. So you could expect a similar tone to the previously mentioned Taylor 814ce.
It feels a bit different though. Here we have Gibson’s so-called Comfort Contour neck profile. There’s also a 12-inch fingerboard radius. All of its features kind of make it feel like one of Gibson’s electric guitars. What’s more, it even has that classic Gibson headstock.
Along with a slight boost to high-ends, it makes for a great lead guitar. But once again, we have a pretty expensive guitar. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely worth it. Although it’s not exactly beginner or intermediate-friendly.
I’d also mention another great Taylor here. The company’s 524ce is, in a lot of ways, similar to 814ce. However, the main difference is that it’s an all-mahogany guitar. Well, except for its ebony fretboard.
There’s also the same type of body shape, a shallower grand auditorium. But it still sounds a bit smoother. This is due to its all-mahogany build. Other than that, we also have the V-Class bracing. As I mentioned, this makes it more structurally stable and adds sustain.
Although we have the same tuning machines and electronics, there are some noticeable differences. Firstly, it comes without that ergonomic body slope. And secondly, it lacks some of the aesthetic details.
Nonetheless, this is an incredible instrument. It’s slightly cheaper than 814ce. And its tone is slightly smoother and more balanced. This also makes it pretty versatile serving you well for almost any genre.
I hope this article has helped you think through some versatile guitars and which might be best for you.
And if you want to read more about guitar recommendations on this blog, check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have more questions about this or another guitar-related topic!