Best Acoustic Guitar For Country Music – A Detailed Review

Best Acoustic Guitar For Country Music – A Detailed Review

Technically, you can play country music on any type of acoustic guitar. However, if you are an artist who wants to specialize in country music, it's a good idea to choose a guitar that is especially suited to the genre. It's possible to specialize even within country music--many players choose dreadnoughts for their versatile, well-rounded acoustic sound, but players who primarily strum may find the big, boomy sound of a jumbo suits them better. In this article, we'll tell you our top picks and offer some advice for choosing the best acoustic guitar for country music.

Quick Comparison: Top Picks For Best Acoustic Guitar For Country Music
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  • Jumbo body is good for country music using percussive fingerpicking or for strumming
  • Solid spruce top and solid flamed maple back and sides sound better than acoustic guitars built with laminated
  • Mahogany neck adds the right amount of warmth
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  • All-solid construction makes this guitar a great value given its price point
  • Medium jumbo acoustic body is easy to play
  • a.R.E. technology offers incredible acoustic tone
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  • All-solid spruce and mahogany build delivers a classic, warm acoustic tone
  • Hand-scalloped Advanced X-bracing balances resonance and sustain
  • World-class electronics are perfect for performers
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  • Ebony fingerboard looks and plays great
  • Nitrocellulose gloss does not interfere with sound or tonewood aging
  • Gotoh tuners and bone nut and saddle support flawless intonation and keep you in tune
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  • Classic SJ-200 acoustic guitar looks and sound at a lower price point
  • Quality electronics for easily playing live music
  • Solid spruce top responds to nuances in playing
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  • Spruce and rosewood build offers classic acoustic beauty and tone
  • The jumbo body is great for country leads or strumming
  • The ebony fingerboard is highly playable
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  • Versatile body shape makes it a great guitar for country music
  • It's a great collector's piece for fans of Johnny Cash
  • HPL top, back and sides make it resistant to weather changes
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  • Included tremolo gives you room for expression in your music
  • Fideli'Tron pickup is great for experimenting with country tone
  • Vintage look suits many country players
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  • This is a very affordable acoustic guitar given its build quality
  • Solid cedar top gives you warm, full acoustic tone perfect for country music
  • Distinctive finish is a great fit for country
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  • Rosewood fingerboard is beautiful and comfortable to play
  • Bone nut and saddle and Gotoh tuners help support great intonation
  • Smaller 1.688" nut width is easier for those with smaller hands to handle
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  • It offers excellent value for the relatively low price
  • Unique-looking triangular soundhole enhances the tone
  • Rosewood fretboard is beautiful and highly playable
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  • This is one of the best affordable guitar options
  • Included Fishman electronics with tuner make it easy to play live
  • Body style is effectively a mix of dreadnought and jumbo tones
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Review of our Top Picks

Gibson J-185 -- Best Guitar For Strumming

Important Features

  • Scalloped X bracing gives you deep lows and shimmering highs
  • Jumbo body shape offers big acoustic sound perfect for country
  • High-quality electronics have controls located in the soundhole, so you don't need to deal with the look of an unsightly preamp
  • Slim-taper neck is easy to play, even for fast-paced country music

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Jumbo body is good for country music using percussive fingerpicking or for strumming
  • Solid spruce top and solid flamed maple back and sides sound better than acoustic guitars built with laminated
  • Mahogany neck adds the right amount of warmth
  • High-quality electronics make it a great guitar to play live

Cons

  • It's one of the more expensive acoustic guitar options on the list
  • Some players may prefer the warmer acoustic tone of rosewood or mahogany

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Gibson's Jumbo is an acoustic guitar with an incredibly rich history--this guitar has been played by the likes of Gene Autry, Pete Townshend, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, and even Elvis. Gibson's newly re-released J-185 offers country music players of today the same signature booming tone of the original J-185 of the early 1950s.

This guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top for responsive, balanced sound. The back and sides are made of flamed maple, which is both visually striking and sonically powerful--it projects well and has a crisp, sharp attack.

The slim taper neck is easy to play even with small hands, and the top-notch L.R. Baggs VTC makes the amplified sound just as natural as the acoustic sound. This instrument's great looks make it an ideal guitar for country music, too--its beautiful natural finish and parallelogram inlays give it just the right amount of sparkle.

Our Star Rating

This guitar's top-quality build and jumbo body style make it the best acoustic guitar for strumming country music. We give it five out of five stars.

Yamaha L-Series LJ16 -- Best Value Guitar

Important Features

  • All-solid construction gives you a fuller, richer acoustic tone than that of guitars with laminate back and sides
  • a.R.E technology makes it play like a seasoned acoustic guitar right out of the box
  • Jumbo body style is especially good for strumming but also adds depth to fingerstyle playing
  • Medium jumbo body is easier to handle and play than larger acoustic bodies

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All-solid construction makes this guitar a great value given its price point
  • Medium jumbo acoustic body is easy to play
  • a.R.E. technology offers incredible acoustic tone

Cons

  • Traditional acoustic guitar neck profile may be harder to play than a slimmer neck for some people
  • Jumbo body may not be best for music with a lot of fingerstyle playing as well as a dreadnought

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Yamaha's LJ16 is another jumbo-style acoustic guitar. Its spruce top comes treated with Yamaha's a.R.E. treatment, which effectively ages wood so even a new guitar will play with the same warmth and resonance as a guitar that's been played for years.

This guitar has a hand-selected Engelmann spruce top. Compared to Sitka spruce, Engelmann spruce is lighter in weight and vibrates more freely, giving you fuller tone. The back and sides are made of solid rosewood, which creates overtone-rich acoustic sound with detailed highs and lows.

If you're looking for a guitar for country music that offers more warmth and less decay than one made with maple, the LJ16 is an excellent choice. The traditional profile mahogany/rosewood neck is suitable for most players, and the ebony fingerboard is fast and easy to play. This acoustic guitar also comes equipped with Yamaha's acclaimed SRT electronics, making it easy to plug in and play live.

Our Star Rating

This acoustic guitar's great build quality and relatively low price point make it the best value on the list for players of country music. We give it five out of five stars

Gibson Sheryl Crow Country Western Extreme -- Best Electronics

Important Features

  • It's a mainstay guitar in Sheryl Crow's collection
  • Construction with hide glue enhances sustain, tone, and durability
  • Thermally aged Sitka spruce top gives it the sound of a played-in acoustic
  • Amulet M all-analog pickup system produces exquisitely authentic live sound

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All-solid spruce and mahogany build delivers a classic, warm acoustic tone
  • Hand-scalloped Advanced X-bracing balances resonance and sustain
  • World-class electronics are perfect for performers
  • Rosewood fingerboard, Gotoh tuners, bone nut and saddle, and other high-end appointments round out the package

Cons

  • Its very high price puts it out of reach of many players
  • Players with smaller hands might prefer a slimmer neck profile

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Even casual country fans have heard of Sheryl Crow. But whether you're a fan or not, you're sure to love this all-solid, wonderfully built instrument. Its world-class Amulet M pickup system is made of multiple transducers, each of which has its own preamp. Plus, its all-analog circuitry makes its sound as close to unplugged as possible.

This dreadnought is built with Gibson's famous hide glue, a glue that can enhance expression and sustain. And since it has a thermally aged Sitka spruce top, this guitar also has a vintage sound and appeal from the start. The back and sides are made of solid genuine mahogany for a wonderfully warm yet still detailed sound. This is a very expensive guitar, but its impeccable build and incredible electronics make it a performer's dream.

Our Star Rating

We think that this stunning, great-sounding dreadnought has the best electronics on the list, and we give it five out of five stars.

Guild F-55E -- Best High-End Guitar

Important Features

  • Solid tight-grained Sitka spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides look as good as they sound
  • LR Baggs Anthem electronics give you stunning live sound
  • Scalloped Adirondack spruce bracing maximizes both resonance and projection
  • The C-shaped mahogany neck plays quickly and comfortably

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Ebony fingerboard looks and plays great
  • Nitrocellulose gloss does not interfere with sound or tonewood aging
  • Gotoh tuners and bone nut and saddle support flawless intonation and keep you in tune
  • Adirondack spruce bracing is generally considered to be superior to other types of spruce

Cons

  • It is very expensive and may be out of reach for some players
  • The very strong sound may be overpowering when accompanying a soft-voiced singer

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The jumbo body style is inextricably linked with country music. And this high-end jumbo from Guild is a wonderful instrument for serious country musicians. Though Guild guitars have suffered a bit of a hit to their reputation in recent years, the F-55E is a spectacular comeback. This all-solid guitar has Indian rosewood back and sides for highly detailed sound with a deep bass that's perfect for hybrid picking.

The C-shaped neck with ebony fingerboard plays exquisitely, too -- the combination of slick ebony and a thin profile makes even complex runs easy. Plus, the mahogany neck has a walnut center stripe for classy visual interest. If you need a jumbo that projects effortlessly and can keep up with a country or Western swing ensemble, this guitar is a must-have.

Our Star Rating

We think this beautiful all-solid guitar from the Guild is the best high-end instrument on the list. We give it 4.5 out of five stars.

Epiphone EJ-200SCE - Best Affordable Jumbo Guitar

Important Features

  • Solid spruce top is highly responsive regardless of the music you play
  • Jumbo body style provides an impressive low end
  • Hard maple neck is extremely durable
  • Classic SJ-200-style pickguard offers a look that's perfect for country
  • Epiphone electronics give you great live acoustic tone

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Classic SJ-200 acoustic guitar looks and sound at a lower price point
  • Quality electronics for easily playing live music
  • Solid spruce top responds to nuances in playing
  • Vintage look suits many country players

Cons

  • Laminate back and sides aren't as natural-sounding as all-solid guitars
  • Some country players might prefer the more versatile dreadnought acoustic shape

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Plenty of players who love Gibson guitars but who are on a budget turn to Epiphone, Gibson's budget brand. However, Epiphone guitars are worthy in their own right, especially if you choose carefully.

This guitar is a more affordable version of Gibson's SJ-200. And like many jumbos, it has a solid spruce top and maple back and sides. If you want to play country music and are looking for a classic acoustic, this is a great guitar to choose.

The EJ-200SCE acoustic guitar comes with a slim-taper neck for ease of playing, and it's made of hard maple, which resists warping and other issues. And if you're hoping to play live music, the Epiphone eSonic II Stereo electronics let you plug in effortlessly.

Our Star Rating

This guitar's quality sound and affordable price point make it the best affordable jumbo for country music. We give it four out of five stars.

Martin M-36 -- Best All-Acoustic

Important Features

  • It combines Martin's signature deep bass with the already-bassy jumbo body style
  • Modified Low Oval neck with High-Performance Taper plays like a dream -- even for players who have smaller hands
  • Aging toner on the top means that as it ages, it starts to look like a well-cared-for vintage jumbo
  • Scalloped, forward-shifted X bracing helps further bring out the bass

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Spruce and rosewood build offers classic acoustic beauty and tone
  • The jumbo body is great for country leads or strumming
  • The ebony fingerboard is highly playable
  • Bone nut and saddle support excellent sustain and vintage-inspired tone

Cons

  • The lack of electronics may be an issue for some players
  • It's very expensive and may not be feasible for many players to buy

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The name of the Martin M-36 isn't quite as easily recognizable as the D-18 or D-28. That's because it's a jumbo. Martin is certainly more famous for their dreadnoughts than they are for their jumbos, but that doesn't mean that the M-36 is inferior in any way.

The M-36 is perfect for the country. Jumbo guitars like this one have the bass and projection the genre requires. The forward-shifted scalloped X bracing helps increase the bass response even further, and the responsive spruce top yields crisp and sparkling highs. The result is an instrument that can easily handle solos, flatpicking, fingerpicking, and strumming.

It's important to note that, like many of Martin's high-end instruments, the Martin M-36 does not come with electronics. For those who play unplugged, this is a great feature -- all of the guitar's price goes towards the quality of craftsmanship, with none going to electronics.

Our Star Rating

We think that this is the best acoustic guitar for country music if you prefer instruments without electronics. We give it four out of five stars.

Martin DX Johnny Cash -- Best Tribute Guitar

Important Features

  • Dreadnought acoustic body suits country or any other style of music
  • HPL body resists changes in humidity and temperature
  • Unique look lets you stand out in any crowd
  • Fishman electronics give you quality tone for playing live music

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Versatile body shape makes it a great guitar for country music
  • It's a great collector's piece for fans of Johnny Cash
  • HPL top, back and sides make it resistant to weather changes
  • It comes with quality electronics

Cons

  • All-laminate construction doesn't offer the best acoustic sound
  • Included electronics don't have the same natural acoustic tone as those of a higher-end guitar

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Johnny Cash has inspired countless country players, and this stunning guitar pays tribute to the Man in Black himself. This guitar is also designed to be an affordable choice for country music players--it's made of Martin's high-pressure laminate for durability. Its birch laminate neck has Martin's Performing Artist profile, which is slimmer than most guitar necks for easy playability.

When it comes to looks, this acoustic guitar is a standout--it has an eye-catching black satin finish, and the Richlite fretboard is inlaid with stars and a special "Cash" inlay at the 17th fret. It also comes equipped with Fishman MX electronics for live playability

Our Star Rating

This guitar's truly distinctive look and excellent playability make it the best country tribute model on the list. We give it three and a half out of four stars.

Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher Dreadnought - Best Unusual Guitar

Important Features

  • Traditional Gretsch Rancher build has the right tone for country
  • Pickup and Bigsby tremolo make it suitable for many types of music
  • Vintage and triangular soundhole look suit the country aesthetic
  • Dreadnought body responds equally well to strumming or fingerstyle music

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Included tremolo gives you room for expression in your music
  • Fideli'Tron pickup is great for experimenting with country tone
  • Vintage look suits many country players
  • Dreadnought body is good for most types of music

Cons

  • All-laminate build won't have the same acoustic tone as an all-solid guitar
  • Some players may find this guitar's unusual appearance off-putting

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Gretsch is a brand that is intimately connected to country and rockabilly music, and the Rancher acoustic is one of the company's flagship models. If you want to make the Gretsch sound your own, you can do so with this truly unusual edition of the Rancher.

As soon as you see this guitar, you'll notice something is different--it comes equipped with a tremolo system, something almost never seen on the acoustic guitar. It also has an arched top for rich and distinctive acoustic guitar tone.

The G5034TFT also comes equipped with a Fideli'Tron humbucker, which gives you versatile tonal options--when plugged in, you can easily go from sparkling clean acoustic sound to a distinctly dirty tone.

This guitar has a laminated maple top for a crisp sound, and the laminated mahogany neck, back, and sides add a degree of warmth to your sound. This isn't your average dreadnought acoustic, but it might be the right guitar if you want something different.

Our Star Rating

This guitar's truly unique build makes it the best unusual country guitar on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

Seagull S6 Limited Edition -- Best Finish

Important Features

  • Cedar top is warm and mellow, and it's especially good for country music that includes a lot of fingerpicking
  • Unique finish makes it a good fit for country
  • Quality build gives you great country acoustic tone
  • Affordable price point makes it one of the best accessible guitar choices for many country players

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • This is a very affordable acoustic guitar given its build quality
  • Solid cedar top gives you warm, full acoustic tone perfect for country music
  • Distinctive finish is a great fit for country

Cons

  • Some players may prefer a spruce top to cedar when playing country music
  • It does not come with electronics

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

You might not think of Seagull when you picture a guitar for country music. Seagull is a fairly new company, so its guitars don't enjoy the storied history of some older brands. However, music is about finding your own style, and you can do just that with Seagull's affordable yet well-built S6 guitar.

The S6 is an acoustic guitar for those who want to step away from the mainstream--you've likely noticed that most guitars on the list have a spruce top. Sitka spruce and other species of spruce are often chosen for their sonic versatility, but sometimes, players want a guitar that has a darker, warmer sound than a spruce top can offer.

This guitar has a solid cedar top, which creates a mellow, beautifully warm country tone. It also has a body made of laminated wild cherry, which is similar to maple in terms of tone. The silverleaf maple neck is incredibly durable, and Seagull's signature tapered headstock helps preserve tuning stability.

This limited edition acoustic model comes in a stunning Tennesse Red finish with a white pickguard. It's a unique, vintage-inspired look that makes it a great option for players of country music.

Our Star Rating

This guitar's beautifully unique good looks make it the guitar with the best finish on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

Guild Jumbo Junior -- Best for Smaller Players

Important Features

  • A smaller jumbo body style with an arched back is more manageable for smaller players
  • Satin-finished, slim C neck is fast and easy to play
  • Solid Sitka spruce top is highly responsive and sounds even better with time
  • Laminated flamed maple back and sides look beautiful and support great note definition

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Rosewood fingerboard is beautiful and comfortable to play
  • Bone nut and saddle and Gotoh tuners help support great intonation
  • Smaller 1.688" nut width is easier for those with smaller hands to handle
  • Distinctive arched back helps increase resonance without increasing body dimensions

Cons

  • The Sonicore pickup isn't the best one on the list
  • To some players, the sound of a smaller jumbo may not be quite the same as that of a larger jumbo

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This guitar is another Guild guitar, but Guild instruments tend to be a bit overlooked in the world of country music. The brand is commonly associated with bluegrass, but Guild's jumbos in particular have a sound that will appeal to many country players.

However, the larger jumbo guitar bodies can prove to be a real challenge to handle if you're a smaller player. These large acoustics aren't necessarily very heavy, but they can be very bulky. If you're small in stature but love the sound of a jumbo, the Guild Jumbo Junior may be just right. This scaled-down jumbo has a solid Sitka spruce top and laminated flamed maple back and sides, so it offers the projection you need.

The fairly affordable Jumbo Junior also includes reliable electronics -- the AP1 preamp is a combination of Fishman and Guild engineering, and the included piezo pickup is a Fishman Sonicore. And if you have smaller hands, you'll love the lightning-fast slim C neck profile, too!

Our Star Rating

We think that this instrument is the best one for smaller-sized players on the list, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Gretsch G5022CE Rancher Jumbo Cutaway -- Best Historic Model

Important Features

  • Solid spruce top and jumbo body deliver classic country sound
  • Scalloped X bracing enhances resonance and bass response
  • Fishman Isys+ preamp and Sonicore pickup give you high-quality live sound
  • Neo-classic thumbnail inlays, triangular soundhole, and distinctive soundhole give it a distinctive look

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It offers excellent value for the relatively low price
  • Unique-looking triangular soundhole enhances the tone
  • Rosewood fretboard is beautiful and highly playable
  • Scalloped X bracing allows for enhanced soundboard vibration

Cons

  • The Sonicore undersaddle pickup is a relatively low-end one
  • The laminated back and sides don't sound quite as good as solid wood

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Gretsch is definitely better known for their hollow and semi-hollow electric guitars than they're for their acoustics. But the brand's Rancher acoustics have a lot of historical significance. This design rose to prominence in the 1950s, and today, the Rancher jumbo cutaway is an excellent choice for country artists who like vintage-inspired sound.

Part of this guitar's powerful and unusual sound is due to the triangle-shaped soundhole. This design feature helped Gretsch acoustics stand out in the 50s, and it certainly helps the Rancher stand out now. A Venetian cutaway grants easy fret access, and a synthetic bone nut and saddle help make the tone incredibly rich.

Our Star Rating

We think that the unusual-looking Rancher is the best historical guitar on the list. We give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Washburn WCG66SCE-O - Most Comfortable Guitar To Play

Important Features

  • Built-in armrest gives you the best comfort on the list
  • Cedar top offers warm tone
  • Auditorium-style body is a departure from most country guitars
  • Cutaway gives you easy, comfortable fret access

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • This is one of the best affordable guitar options
  • Included Fishman electronics with tuner make it easy to play live
  • Body style is effectively a mix of dreadnought and jumbo tones
  • Built-in armrest makes it very comfortable

Cons

  • Laminated back/sides won't create the same full acoustic tone as an all-solid guitar
  • Traditional country players might prefer to play a dreadnought or jumbo, as this body style isn't the best for country music

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Sometimes, platers want an acoustic guitar that's a little different from the rest. This Washburn acoustic is built with comfort in mind. Washburn has been a renowned guitar builder since the 1800s. Some of their guitars, like this one, combine classic design with modern innovations.

This is an auditorium-style acoustic, so the body projects like a jumbo but doesn't have all of the boominess. It has a solid cedar top, making it warmer than most country guitars with a Sitka spruce top. The body is made of beautiful laminated spalted maple.

The mahogany neck adds some warmth to the tone, and this guitar comes with a unique feature--a built-in armrest on the lower bout. It has a Venetian cutaway for easier fret access, and it comes equipped with Fishman Presys+ electronics.

Our Star Rating

This guitar's built-in armrest and cutaway make it the most comfortable guitar to play on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

Buying Guide: How Do You Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar for Country?

Country music is a beautifully broad genre. Whether you want to play old-style music like Johnny Cash, play newer music like Jason Aldean or Maren Morris, or create your own country songs, the right guitar for country music will help you do that. Here are some things to consider when choosing your own country guitar.

Think About Body Styles

Ultimately, the best guitar for playing country is the guitar that sounds best to you. That said, you may want to start by looking at some of the body styles commonly used in country music. The jumbo is a classic choice--these guitars have deep, booming bass, and they respond especially well to strumming. If you want a guitar that is very versatile, the dreadnought is also a great choice--this guitar style has a balanced tone that also responds well to fingerstyle playing and picking and is used in all music genres. In fact, when the dreadnought was first released, it was very popular with country performers.

Choose Your Tonewoods

Just like with body style, you'll want to choose a guitar with a tonewood configuration that sounds good to you. However, it's a good idea to know a little about the types of wood you'll find on your guitar search:

  • Spruce--There are many species of spruce, but Sitka spruce is the most common. Sitka spruce and other species are used for guitar tops because of their responsiveness and versatility, and spruce tops often have a brighter tone than most other woods. This makes them suitable for most types of music.
  • Cedar--Cedar is commonly found in classical guitars and those meant for fingerstyle playing. However, cedar can be a great top material in a guitar used for country music. Cedar is mellower and warmer than spruce, making it a good option for those who want something with less brightness.
  • Maple--Maple has a sharper attack than most woods. It also causes each note you play to decay rapidly, eliminating the risk of excessive overtones. It is often used in the backs and sides of jumbos, although it's found in guitars used for any type of music.
  • Mahogany--This is a warm, midrange-focused wood. It's often used for guitar backs and sides, and many necks are also made of mahogany.
  • Rosewood--This is a beautiful and balanced wood that creates detailed, textured tones. It's used for the backs and sides of all body styles.

Do You Need Electronics?

Having an acoustic-electric guitar can be very useful. If you want to play live, it eliminates the hassle of having to mic your guitar. However, if you don't intend to play live music, it's helpful to remember that electronics add to the price of a guitar.

If you do choose an acoustic-electric guitar, make sure the electronics are of high quality. Poor-quality electronics tend to sound unnatural when your guitar is plugged in. Ideally, you want a beautiful acoustic tone, and you want the amplified music to sound just as natural as when you play the guitar acoustically.

In Conclusion

We think every guitar on the list is a good choice when it comes to playing country. However, our top pick is the Yamaha LJ16. this guitar is easily the best value on the list--it's made of all solid wood, it comes with quality electronics, and Yamaha's a.R.E. technology gives you the sound of a seasoned guitar without the waiting time.

If you have a little more to spend, the Gibson J-185 is a worthy runner-up. It offers vintage tone and a look that's likely to please even the most discerning country player. Whichever guitar you choose, remember to carefully read specifications and listen to sound demos--this will help make sure you choose the best guitar for your music and playing style.

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