Gear of the Year 2018: Affordable acoustic guitar nominees

Here are our five nominees for the best affordable acoustic guitars under £1,300 of the year.

Drawing this week’s edition of our Gear of the Year 2018 series to a close are the nominees for the best affordable acoustic guitars. The six-strings here won’t burn a massive hole in your pocket but they are not to be overlooked. Made by some of the best in the business, some of these affordable models have even found their way into the hands of touring musicians.

The actual winner will be announced in our January issue, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, here are the nominees:

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.

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.

Eastman E1D

Tonally, the E1D’s sapele and Sitka spruce pairing combine to produce a recognisable midrange, punchy timbre that would be particularly well-suited as a songwriting tool.

Choppy chord work, as well as soloing duties, are all handled admirably, although the lack of a cutaway means solos are prevented from extending too far up the higher reaches of the neck.

All things considered, the E1D is a well-built, all-solid powerhouse of a dreadnought. Consumers with £500 to spend on an acoustic have a wealth of choices, but this guitar has enough about it to make it stand out from the crowd.

Read our full review here.

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

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

As reported in our November issue, 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.