What comes to mind when you think of the American South? Perhaps you think of NASCAR racing, or maybe delicious, southern soul food springs to mind! As for me, it always makes me think of country music.
Believe it or not, the same chords that form the backbone of those toe-tapping country tunes are also central to rock, blues, and folk. So, if you’re interested in learning to play acoustic guitar, country music is the perfect place to start.
From catchy harmonic snaps to playful percussive twangs, there’s no denying that the iconic ‘country sound’ is one that can be difficult for players to emulate. Until now!
Here at Strummingly, I’ve been searching for the best acoustic guitar for country music and I hope I can help you find the guitar your collection is missing.
Whether you’re new to the instrument or you’ve been playing since you were a child, this guide has everything you need to help you decide which acoustic is right for you, as well as some helpful tips and tricks along the way. Guitar picks at the ready...
IN A HURRY?
If you’re already a fan of country, chances are you’re keen to try your hand at those string popping, catchy fingerpicking licks.
And there aren’t too many acoustic guitars out there that are more closely associated with the sounds of country music than the Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar.
Here’s why it’s my number one recommendation:
- It is handmade in Canada, so you do not have to worry about any damage or mistakes to the design that could occur in mass-production.
- Offering plenty of tonal versatility, the higher chords deliver a bright, colorful sound, while the root notes lend the guitar’s sound a thicker accent.
- The cedar top responds very well to finger-picking patterns, licks, and arpeggios.
- It has a natural, subtle twang that will suit the style of country music perfectly.
Need some more convincing? Just check out this video, which displays the rich tone of the Seagull S6. Make sure to listen out for that twang I mentioned!
OUR TOP PICK
On the hunt for an ‘authentic’ acoustic sound for your country music? Look no further than the Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar.
Compared to most mass-produced guitars from China, this guitar is handmade in Canada, which indicates its quality and reduces the chances of any damage or flaws that many mass-produced guitars can have.
While it may seem like your typical, standard acoustic guitar upon the first impression, this is far from the case. The S6 is leagues ahead of competitive models due to the quality of materials that you can feel and hear.
Its silver leaf maple neck and custom polished semi-gloss finish give the S6 a rustic character, while the pressure tested cedar top lends the guitar a rich and warm tone.
Seagull are also an environmentally-conscious brand and are committed to reducing their brand impact on the environment. For this reason, the S6 features sustainably sourced wood. You can check out Seagull’s pledge to sustainability here.
When put to use, this durable yet light design allows the S6 to project with a bright midrange and sharp bottom end; making it a tonal must-have for country players of all levels.
For its back and sides, Seagull has used Canadian Wild Cherry rather than using a laminated coat, which ensures a rich and warm tone you’d expect to find in more expensive models. Paired with that cedar top mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to achieve varying tonal qualities that will help the guitar’s sound ripen over time.
Our favorite quality of the S6 is the distinctive, subtle twang you can expect to hear upon your first time playing! It has a full-bodied resonance and exceptional sustain that ensures that it will respond very well to all finger-picking patterns and arpeggios commonly found within the country music style.
Though it may be deemed as too ‘bright’ for some players, I think that this will help to create the sweeter, more airy sounds that characterize the country genre.
With regular use, you’ll notice that the S6’s tone will develop and become more full, while the base notes allow for a deeper, thicker sound that can be used to create the foundations of a melody.
- Bright, vibrant sound with exceptional clarity
- Handmade in Canada for quality you can put your confidence in
- The small, tapered headstock and thick neck allows for quick and easy fine-tuning
- Doesn’t feature any laminated areas for a more authentic acoustic sound that will complement the country style
- Pricier than the average acoustic guitar
Featuring a timeless and minimalistic 25” non-cutaway dreadnought body, the FG800 is simple, well-built and a great option for playing country music on.
It’s made with a hardy combination of scalloped-braced Sitka spruce along the top, and laminated nato across the back and sides that will be able to withstand heavy-handed playing or the occasional knock. Accidents happen, right?
As far as dreadnoughts go, the FG800 is comfortable to hold and boasts a refined, glossy finish, black and white multi-ply binding, and a faux tortoiseshell pickguard on the face that gives it a vintage character many country players will appreciate.
From experience, I find the FG800 to be a very well made model, something which isn’t always the case with budget acoustics. Besides being sophisticated to look at and able to withstand regular use, it also has a fantastic sound considering its price point!
Upon playing, you’ll notice that it has a very loud and resonant sound that competes with the likes of an electric-acoustic guitar, which is all thanks to the benefit of the dreadnought shaped body and scalloped bracing.
I will say, however, that though the FG800 is slightly less powerful in tone than its more expensive brother, the Rosewood-backed FG830, it’s still very sweet and warm, with a good balance of brightness and clarity that you’ll need to create those distinctive country pops and runs.
Check out this video to hear the sweet, warm tone of this guitar for yourself.
- The scalloped bracing and dreadnought shape is great for achieving the country tone
- Creates a rich and warm sound
- An ideal pick for those on a budget
- The laminated sides won’t offer the same acoustic tone as a solid, wooden guitar
Sometimes all you need are the basics, and the Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar demonstrates this.
The Fender CD-60S is ideally suited to beginner-intermediate players who want a versatile, high-quality acoustic guitar that isn’t going to break the bank.
This guitar looks just as good as it sounds! Its stunning all-mahogany finish, chrome turning knobs, and “mother of pearl” acrylic coating around the soundhole lends this model a decadent edge.
The dreadnought cutaway style body allows for easy access to the lower frets, while the scalloped "X"-bracing provides extra resonance and richness when you play.
Whether you’re still getting the hang of playing without a capo or you simply want a smoother playing experience, you’re in luck with the FENDER CD-60S!
The neck features Fenders’ very own ‘Easy-to-Play’ dreadnought shape which consists of a rolled fingerboard edge. It allows the fretting hand to intuitively move up-and-down the neck for more cohesive playing.
When used for country music, it produces a bright sound that will project itself beautifully in a room, ensuring all styles of strumming and fingerpicking resonate.
As for tone, the rosewood fingerboard compliments the mahogany neck to deliver sweetness and warmth for a truly authentic country sound.
It’s a tried and true choice for acoustic players of all styles worldwide and, for the price point, is astounding.
Have a listen here.
- Mahogany body and rosewood fingerboard will deliver a rich and warm acoustic tone
- The vintage look will suit many country players
- The dreadnought cutaway style allows for easier navigation of the frets
- Laminate sides may diminish the acoustic sound
RECOMMENDED FOR BEGINNERS
Finding a quality guitar with a thousand dollars in your pocket is an easier task than finding a quality acoustic while on a budget! However, cutting through the vast sea of options is the Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar.
The S35 features an attractive 25.5” scale length dreadnought body made from X-braced laminated spruce on the top and combined with laminated nato back and sides.
The neck is also made from nato and capped with a rosewood fretboard and simple Pearloid dot inlays.
The sound is pretty good and, though it doesn’t offer the rich depth of an all solid wood acoustic, the Jasmine S35 does offer good tone and sweetness from the rosewood fretboard.
Sure, it’s no Fender or Martin, but the tone is very well balanced and the projection is loud and clear.
Whether you’ve been playing country for years and want a model you can practice on, or you’re a newbie and want to start off small, the Jasmine S35 is a hard offer to pass up!
Take a listen here.
- Ideal choice for beginners or those on a budget
- Rosewood material delivers a sweet, ‘chimey’ sound
- Lacking in warmth and richness
As a slight alternative to a standard acoustic, why not rev things up a bit with an acoustic-electric guitar? The Epiphone EJ-200 SCE Acoustic-Electric is a known favorite in the country community.
One of the most common questions I get asked is, ‘can an acoustic-electric guitar be used in the same way as an acoustic?’ If you’ve been wondering this, the answer is yes!
One of the main reasons many players choose to go for an acoustic-electric is so that they can play to a crowd without having to use an electric guitar, which has a different sound. Award-winning writer Joobin Bekhrad summarises it pretty well here.
If you regularly play at country festivals or bars, this particular model features an eSonic2 preamp system which provides gorgeous tone and generous sound-shaping controls.
It’s a jumbo guitar, which is essentially the same as a dreadnought acoustic, except it’s bigger and has more resonance.
One of the main features that stand out to us about the EJ-200SCE is the cutaway, which is unusual to see on a jumbo and provides easier access to the frets.
The Grover Rotomatic tuners will ensure quick and easy tuning, while the synthetic bone nut and saddle will deliver a harmonic-rich tone that lasts.
Upon playing, you’ll notice how the Epiphone EJ-200SCE has a warm and balanced tone with considerable depth. It’s pretty punchy too, especially when playing the lower end.
Check out how it sounds both plugged and unplugged here.
- Ideal for country players who often perform to a crowd
- Has a rich and sweet sound
- Features an advanced preamp with a flexible sensing material that will pick up the tone of the guitar body and strings
- The jumbo design may be difficult to use for players with small hands
Best Acoustic Guitars for Country Music [Buying Guide]
Country music incorporates a variety of strumming styles and fingerpicking patterns (including arpeggios) which help to create the distinctive sound we all know.
For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that the acoustic guitar you select is able to offer enough resonance so that it can project in a room (especially when fingerpicking) without being so punchy that it compromises on warmth.
(That could also be useful if you're ever playing in a church.)
A good indicator of a rounded, mellow sound is a guitar that contains a neck and fingerboard made of mahogany or rosewood.
The next point to consider is how easy the guitar will be to play!
You could be one of the most skilled players in the world, but if you select a guitar that’s too small, or choose a model that makes it difficult for you to easily reach the lengths of the fretboard, you won’t be able to play to your ability!
Your acoustic guitar should be comfortable and easy to play. It shouldn’t feel too big or small, you should be able to reach the upper and lower frets with ease, while your hand should be easily able to hover over the soundhole so that you can pick the strings.
If you’re a beginner and would like some help getting the hang of fingerpicking, check out this easy to follow tutorial, made specifically for country music:
If you’re an intermediate to advanced player, click here to try your hand at 20 of the most authentic country licks.
The Type of Guitar Top
In acoustic guitars, their tops are commonly made of spruce, cedar, or rosewood, while the back and sides are usually made of mahogany, maple, or synthetic materials like laminate.
Here are the differences between guitar tops, and how their individual differences can benefit your style of play:
Spruce is the most common kind of guitar top. It has an excellent weight-bearing capacity that makes it possible for the top to be thin yet still resonant.
Spruce tops can take whatever you dish out and will remain responsive even when played very hard. For this reason, spruce tops are perfect for strumming and fingerpicking styles.
Cedar tops are easy to spot, as they have a reddish hue that sets them apart from spruce and rosewood guitar tops.
Cedar responds nicely to less intense playing styles and is an excellent choice for fingerpicking, as well as low tension tunings. If played too hard, cedar tops can lose their integrity, and cause the sound to compress.
Our favorite for country music, this dark-colored wood delivers a warm and deep richness to the tone of a guitar.
Rosewood is durable and ideal for strumming and picking, the only downside is that rosewood can be hard to come by, which makes it more expensive than the other two types.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are acoustic guitars important in country music?
An electric guitar is one of the first things you’re likely to hear in any country track! In fact, the unmistakable twang of a Telecaster has become synonymous with the genre of music itself, and is often the instrument used to create solos.
However, the acoustic guitar is equally as important as an electric guitar. Besides laying down the foundation for country ballads, acoustic guitars serve as a way for players to enjoy a more ‘stripped back’ style of country.
How can I improve my guitar tone?
One of the easiest ways to improve the tonal quality of your guitar is to switch up the kind of strings you’re using. For country music in particular, round-wound strings are one of the most popular types of string types, and are able to deliver impressive resonance and clarity.
Learn more about how to improve your guitar’s tone here.
Though the best acoustic guitar for country music doesn’t have to be the flashiest or most expensive, it does need to deliver brightness and articulation so you can achieve that distinctive country ‘twang’.
Each guitar I’ve recommended will help you to do just that, but if you’re ever in doubt, just bookmark this article and refer back to it whenever you need guidance. Happy strumming!