Gear of the Year 2018: Best affordable acoustic guitars

Having a good-quality affordable acoustic in the house is essential. Here are our picks of 2018's best boxes.

Eastman E1d

WINNER: Eastman E1D

There was a time when a sub-£500 acoustic guitar would be an unpleasant mix of cheap woods and slapdash build that often resulted in a poor-sounding and difficult-to-play mess. Brands such as Eastman have dramatically changed this perception, however, and the E1D is a remarkable testament to how good a guitar can play, sound and look at this price point nowadays. A powerhouse dreadnought in the most enjoyable way, there aren’t many better ways you could spend £500.

Read our full review here or watch our video demo below:

Runners-up

Alvarez AD60

Alvarez AD60

The AD60 is part of Alvarez’s entry-level Artist series although, based on first impressions, the AD60 looks anything but budget. Boasting sleek, simple lines and ‘less-is-more’ decoration, the AD60 is an uncomplicated dread. Alvarez’s plan here appears to be to place emphasis on quality materials and construction techniques rather than unnecessary bling.

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In terms of its dimensions, the AD60 is every inch a full-bodied dreadnought. Side by side with a Martin D-18, the AD60 is identical, but from having a deeper body by two millimetres.

Read our full review here.

PRS SE T40E

PRS SE T40E

The T40E offers a lush, plump bass response – not dissimilar to black walnut, but with a little more in the midrange. The levels of volume and sustain are excellent and, with PRS’s ever-superb factory setup, the T40E is a very enjoyable guitar to play.

We noticed, too, that the T40E responds particularly well to alternate tunings. Taking the sixth (bottom E) string down a tone to D really opens up a treasure chest of deep overtones and tonal nuances. The T40E is a good-looking, all-round-capable guitar suitable for a wide range of disciplines and venues.

Read our full review here.

Faith Legacy Neptune

Faith Legacy Neptune

The Neptune, described as a mini-jumbo in its body size, sits somewhere between its siblings – the Mars and Earth – tonally speaking. Capturing the best of both worlds, the Neptune combines precision with boom, and we’d suggest that this particular model would be well suited to an all-rounder, that is someone who plays a bit of everything and feels the most versatile and adaptable. The Neptune handles strumming, soloing, choppy riff work and fingerpicking admirably and we’d suggest is the pick of the Legacy bunch.

Read our full review here.

Art & Lutherie Legacy Tennessee Red

Art Lutherie Legacy Tennessee Red

The Legacy’s younger brother, the parlour Roadhouse, had a mid-range tonality that, although perfect for bluesy fingerstyle, lacked a little versatility. The Legacy definitely has a more expressive, versatile tonality to it, but the two guitars are very much cut from the same cloth.

The larger body size offers more projection and volume than the Roadhouse, but essentially the timbre is very dry and woody which, as you’d expect, makes this guitar perfect for bluesy-style fingerpicking.

Read our full review here.

Looking for other gear? Check out our roundup of the best amps, accessories, pedals and electric guitars of 2018.

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