The 10 Best Acoustic Guitars For Intermediate Players (2023)
Every intermediate guitarist feels that their beginner guitar is not enough at some point and seeks a higher-quality instrument to satisfy their needs. Intermediate guitars are more versatile, have better playability, and sound better than beginner guitars, which can help guitarists grow faster.
The market is filled with amazing guitars for intermediate-level players, ranging from professional, higher-end acoustic guitars to more cost-effective models, to give you the sound and playability you need. The purchase of a new guitar, especially the first high-quality one, marks a milestone in every guitarist’s career.
My top pick is the Martin Guitar X Series D-X1E, a high-quality acoustic guitar with a great balance of price, sound, and playability from one of the most renowned acoustic guitar brands.
My budget pick is Yamaha APX600 NA, as Yamaha is known for its highly cost-effective acoustic guitar models. This one is no different, with so much value for so little cost.
- The Best Acoustic Guitars For Intermediate Players (2023) – At A Glance
- 1. Martin Guitar X Series D-X1E
- 2. Yamaha APX600 NA
- 3. Cordoba C9 Crossover Classical
- 4. Fender Newporter Player
- 5. Takamine GD11MCE-NS
- 6. Yamaha FG850
- 7. Epiphone Hummingbird PRO
- 8. Yamaha CG182S
- 9. Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat
- 10. Martin LX1 Little Martin
- What makes a good Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players?
- How to choose a good Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players?
- What to look for in an Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players when buying?
The Best Acoustic Guitars For Intermediate Players (2023) – At A Glance
And now onto the full list:
1. Martin Guitar X Series D-X1E
When talking about top-quality acoustic guitars, Martin is one of the first brands to mention. But luckily, you do not have to break your bank account to have a Martin, thanks to the Martin Guitar X Series D-X1E. This guitar brings the Martin quality to your hands for a fairly reasonable price.
- Classic Martin quality and appeal
- Versatile, good for many styles
- Highly playable neck
- Well-balanced tone
- Soft case included
- HPL construction decreases the visual and sound quality slightly
The guitar features a High-Pressure laminate construction, Rust Birch laminate neck, and a Richlite fingerboard. The guitar looks pretty good with a dark brown color, while the sound is balanced with a present midrange and sparkling high ends.
As the construction is HPL, one of the reasons behind the low price of the guitar, the low-ends, and the overall volume is not what you truly expect from a dreadnought guitar. But, still, the guitar sounds quite impressive and is highly versatile for playing many different genres.
It also features Fishman MX electronics for playing plugged into an amp, and the guitar sounds quite balanced and well with the amp. The neck is one of the shining stars of the instrument as it is highly playable and feels fast and fluid in hand.
|Material||High-pressure Laminate Body, Rust Birch Laminate Neck, Richlite Fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Fishman MX electronics, Softshell Case|
Overall, this is a great guitar for beginners and intermediate guitar players. As it is much cheaper than other Martin guitars, it has some drawbacks, but you would not feel them if you are not a professional guitarist.
2. Yamaha APX600 NA
Yamaha is famous for its great acoustic guitars with affordable prices for beginner and intermediate players, and Yamaha APX600 NA is no different. The slim body guitar features quality woods such as a Sitka Spruce top, Tonewood back and sides, Nato neck, and Rosewood fingerboard, along with a piezo pickup, providing you with a clean and well-balanced sound for a great price.
- Highly clean, well-balanced sound
- Great value for the price
- Portable design
- Ideal neck for younger players and smaller hands
- Different finish options
- Slightly boxy sound
- Not the most comfortable neck for larger hands
Yamaha offers five different finish options with black, natural, old violin sunburst, oriental blue burst, and vintage white colors. The guitars look nice with a high-quality finish and the slim design makes it perfect for traveling.
Although the sound is surprisingly good for a slim acoustic guitar, it sounds a bit boxy compared to full-size acoustic guitars like dreadnoughts. However, this is not a dealbreaker as it sounds good enough for most occasions.
The neck is comfortable but players with larger hands might find it hard to get used to as the neck radius is slightly shorter than regular acoustic guitars.
|Material||Sitka Spruce top, Tonewood back and sides, Nato neck, Rosewood fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||System 65A Preamp with Piezo Pickup, Built-in Tuner|
In short, if you are looking for a quality acoustic guitar at a highly affordable price, the Yamaha APX600 NA might be the ideal choice. It is perfect for younger guitarists and small-handed players, while it can be a great travel companion for experienced guitarists.
3. Cordoba C9 Crossover Classical
The Cordoba C9 Crossover Classical is a guitar with a perfect mix of traditional hand artistry and modern technology. It is a Spanish-style nylon-stringed classical guitar with high-quality tonewood, including a solid cedar top, mahogany back and sides, carved mahogany fusion neck, and rosewood fingerboard.
- Top-grade playability
- Great build quality with high-quality tonewoods
- Attractive look
- Great tone, resonance, sustain, and overall sound
- More of a classic guitar than an acoustic guitar
The guitar’s playability is very high thanks to the carved neck, smaller nut width, and radiused fretboard, providing a smooth playing experience that most intermediate guitarists would appreciate. Hence, the guitar combines the playability of an acoustic guitar with the sound of a classical guitar.
With the quality of tonewoods, the guitar offers a sweet and warm sound, especially for fingerpicking-style playing. The cedar top offers the pluck, while the mahogany back and sides balance the tone with warmth.
Furthermore, the guitar looks quite attractive with the orchestra body shape, vintage ebony design, and natural high-gloss finish. Plus, it comes with a polyfoam softshell case.
|Material||Solid Canadian Cedar top, Solid Mahogany back and sides, Mahogany neck, Rosewood fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Polyfoam Softshell Case|
The Cordoba C9 Crossover Classical is a great guitar for intermediate players who want the advantage of both worlds of classical and acoustic guitars. It is a high-end instrument, but you truly get what you pay for.
4. Fender Newporter Player
The Fender Newporter Player is a relatively new, unique design from Fender geared toward players switching from electric guitars to acoustics. The Newporter body shape features a single cutaway with an auditorium body type and a shallower design than a dreadnought, which sits comfortably on the lap.
- A highly comfortable slim neck
- Bright sound with a rich, balanced tone
- Ideal for guitarists switching to acoustic from electric guitars
- Great looks with modern design
- Not very loud when played unplugged
The guitar’s neck is where the guitar shines as it has the Strat-like slim-tape C profile, which makes it highly convenient for any style and electric guitar player. The feel is quite close to the electric guitar, and the playability is pretty high with this neck.
The sound is quite bright without deep low-ends but with a rich and balanced tone. The overall volume is not very high when played unplugged, but this is normal for a medium-sized thin acoustic guitar. When plugged in, the true potential of the guitar’s sound is more apparent, thanks to the Fishman pickup system.
The guitar also responds well to different playing styles and changes in dynamics. You get good results with this guitar by fingerpicking, flat-picking, or strumming.
|Material||Solid Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, Mahogany neck, Walnut fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Fishman electronics|
The Fender Newporter Player may not be for everyone in terms of looks and design, but it is a great acoustic-electric guitar with good tones and very high playability, especially for guitarists who are used to electric guitars.
5. Takamine GD11MCE-NS
If you are familiar with acoustic guitars, you probably heard about the famous Japanese manufacturer Takamine. The GD11MCE-NS model is an all-rounder dreadnought with a single cutaway and one of their cost-effective models, which features a Spruce top and Mahogany neck, Sapele back and sides, and Laurel fingerboard.
- Takamine build quality
- All-around dreadnought guitar with high versatility
- Good tones with sweet midrange and high sustain
- Comfortable playability with a slim neck
- Takamine TP-4T electronics with built-in chromatic tuner and EQ
- May need some setup adjustment out of the box
- Does not come with a case
Thanks to the mahogany top, the guitar has a balanced sound with sweet midranges and bright tones. The sustain is quite high, which is great for an acoustic guitar. It also features the Takamine TP-4T electronics to play the guitar with an amp for live performances or recording in the studio. The preamp offers a 3-band EQ along with a built-in chromatic tuner.
The guitar has a slim neck profile, giving way to a comfortable and fast playing experience. The cutaway is great for easier higher frets access, and the guitar looks beautiful overall with the satin finish.
|Material||Spruce top, Sapele back and sides, Mahogany neck, Laurel fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Takamine TP-4T electronics|
It is a great guitar with a cost-effective design for all-level guitarists. It can be a great intermediate-level or beginner guitar as well as a backup or travel guitar for professional musicians. You can play any style or genre because this is a highly versatile guitar.
6. Yamaha FG850
The Yamaha FG850 is a beautiful acoustic guitar with Yamaha’s new bracing system offering richer sound along with the great looks of a solid mahogany body and natural finish. The guitar offers the mahogany’s characteristic thick, present midrange and meaty overtones, as well as the new scalloped bracing providing great low-ends.
- Deep and full-sounding acoustic guitar
- Richer sound with a new bracing system
- High-quality tonewoods
- Attractive looks with a solid mahogany body and natural finish
- May need some setup adjustment out of the box
- No preamp
- Comes with relatively low-quality strings
The guitar features high-quality tonewoods, especially when its price is considered. The mahogany top, back, and sides not only look great but also offer great tones. The nato neck and rosewood fingerboard also offers decent playability with a standard-shaped neck.
The dreadnought shape increases the overall volume, which is great for jamming and live performances, as the guitar does not have a preamp system. Also, the guitar needs some care out of the box as the setup is quite high, and the string could be of better quality. With the changes, it performs much better.
|Material||Solid Mahogany top, Mahogany back and sides, Nato neck, Rosewood fingerboard|
The Yamaha FG850 is overall a good guitar for intermediate players with its beautiful look, good sound, affordable price, and decent playability. This might be the ideal choice for you if you are after a traditional dreadnought guitar.
7. Epiphone Hummingbird PRO
The Epiphone Hummingbird PRO is one of the iconic acoustic-electric guitars that actually is the newer and cost-effective version of Gibson’s classic acoustic model of the 1960s. The original model has been used by many rock legends like Keith Richards and Lenny Kravitz throughout history.
- Iconic design
- Great build quality
- Good overall sound
- Great value for the price
- High playability
- Not the best low-end
- No built-in tuner
The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro features a Solid Spruce top, a Mahogany back, sides, and neck, Pau Ferro fingerboard, offering great tones and superb playability. You get the Fishman Sonitone pickup for live performances, which performs okay but lacks some richness and a tuner.
One of the greatest points of this guitar is its iconic vintage look. The finish, the color, and the engravings on the pickguard take you back to the 60s and 70s rock scenes.
While the guitar’s sound is good, where the guitar shines is its playability. The D profile neck is very comfortable and allows you to play fast licks as you like. The sound is also sweet and warm unplugged, and highly natural when plugged in.
|Material||Solid Spruce top, Mahogany back, sides, and neck, Pau Ferro fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Epiphone Preamp system|
So, if you like the iconic Gibson Hummingbird acoustic-electric guitar but do not have the budget for it, this is a great replacement to get you close enough.
8. Yamaha CG182S
The Yamaha CG182S is one of the most popular classical guitars on the market, thanks to its high-quality parts and construction as well as its great price point when its features are considered. It provides great volume and projection thanks to the quality tonewoods such as Solid European spruce top and Rosewood back and sides.
- High-quality construction
- Greatly comfortable ebony fingerboard
- Nicely balanced, robust tone with great mid-ranges
- Plenty of projection
- No pickup system
Classical guitar enthusiasts always say that a good classical guitar should have an ebony fingerboard. So, that’s what Yamaha went for with the CG182S. The fretboard feels great and smooth, increasing the instrument’s playability to high levels. The neck’s thing and light construction also contribute to the feel.
The sound is also nicely balanced, with a robust tone and emphasis on great mid-ranges. The overall volume and projection are enough to fill a small or medium-sized room, which is impressive for a classical guitar in this price range.
|Material||Solid European spruce top, Rosewood back and sides, Nato neck, Ebony fingerboard|
Overall, the Yamaha CG182S is a great classical guitar for intermediate players to jam, practice, and play small to medium-sized concerts. It is a slightly higher-end guitar compared to other ones on the list, but the quality is worth the price.
9. Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat
The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat takes the vintage looks of Tim Armstrong’s iconic guitar from the 60s and adds some modern features to create a great-sounding and looking acoustic-electric guitar. The guitar sounds warm, plugged and unplugged with quality woods like mahogany.
- Warm tones with quality tonewoods
- A great blend of vintage looks and modern features
- Great playability with a maple neck and walnut fingerboard
- Small shape ideal for younger players
- Good pickup system
- No cutaway for easier higher-fret access
- May feel small to people who are used to the dreadnought shape
The instrument offers great playability with a maple neck, walnut fingerboard, and concert body shape, smaller than dreadnoughts. This way, the grip is more comfortable, and players get more control over the guitar.
The small shape, however, does not affect the sound as the guitar sounds strong, rich, and balanced with good overall volume. The Fishman Isys III pickup system is also great for live playing in larger rooms as it greatly reproduces the guitar’s natural tone and offers good sound tweaking options.
|Material||Solid Mahogany top, Laminated Mahogany back and sides, Maple neck, Walnut fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Fishman Isys III electronics|
Another great aspect is the guitar’s looks with unique inlays, natural mahogany wood, and black headstock. The guitar pleases the eyes and the ears at the same time for a great price. For beginners and intermediate-level players, it is a great guitar to purchase without hesitation.
10. Martin LX1 Little Martin
As the name suggests, the Martin LX1 Little Martin is a small acoustic guitar, perfect for younger or small players as well as traveling musicians. The guitar features the Martin build quality along with a Spruce top, Mahogany Pattern HPL back and sides, Rust Stratabond neck, and Richlite fingerboard, which are all high-quality tonewoods for such an affordable guitar.
- Compact and small shape for younger and small-handed players
- Portable guitar for traveling musicians
- Great build quality
- Nice and balanced tone with great sustain and resonance
- Great value for the price
- Not the best low-ends
- Overall volume is not very high
- No inlays on the fretboard
The guitar may be small, but its sound quality is just like a regular guitar. It has a nice, warm, and balanced tone with great sustain and resonance that you would not expect from a tiny body. Combined with a small yet comfortable neck, the guitar offers great sound and playability for beginner and intermediate-level players.
However, the body shape affects the guitar’s low-end ranges as it does not get as deep as dreadnought or larger guitars. Also, the overall volume of the guitar is not as powerful as larger guitars. Another drawback is the lack of inlays on the fretboard, which may be hard for guitarists who are used to navigating their hands with inlays on the fingerboard.
|Material||Spruce top, Mahogany Pattern HPL back and sides, Rust Stratabond neck, Richlite fingerboard|
|Bonus Features||Gig Bag|
If you are looking for a high-quality travel guitar, a convenient guitar for a younger player, or a small guitarist, this is one of the best guitars you can get in the price range.
What makes a good Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players?
As tonewoods are crucial for an acoustic guitar’s sound, the material and build quality are the two key factors of a high-quality acoustic guitar. So, the material and construction are highly important both for sound and playability. Higher quality tonewoods like mahogany will result in better guitars.
How to choose a good Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players?
The best way to choose an acoustic guitar is to try it yourself to hear its sound and feel its body and neck to decide if it is suitable for you. While you can look at the specs and decide if it is a high-quality guitar, the final decision should be made by you meeting with the guitar physically.
What to look for in an Acoustic Guitar for Intermediate Players when buying?
When buying an acoustic guitar, the specs you should look for are the tonewood materials, playability, sound quality, and price. A good acoustic guitar should have a good balance between these aspects.
The tonewoods affect the sound and playability significantly. Higher quality tonewoods like mahogany results in better-sounding acoustic guitars, while neck material and construction directly affect the playability.
While higher-end guitars will have better quality material, you should consider your budget and choose the ideal one in your price range.
There are many great acoustic guitars on the market today for guitarists who want to upgrade their beginner guitars. Depending on your playing style, aesthetic and sonic taste, and budget, you can choose any of the guitars on the list without hesitation, as they are some of the best instruments in their price ranges.
My top recommended acoustic guitar is the Martin Guitar X Series D-X1E as it features the Martin quality and high versatility to play different genres in different styles.
My second recommended acoustic guitar is the Yamaha APX600 NA, a highly cost-effective guitar with a clean sound and a smaller neck for more comfortable playability.