Are More Expensive Acoustic Guitars Easier To Play?

If you are looking for a new acoustic guitar you may be wondering, “Are More Expensive Acoustic Guitars Easier To Play?” Let’s take a look at some common questions people ask about acoustic guitars and get you the answers you are looking for.

Are More Expensive Acoustic Guitars Easier To Play?

Just because you spend more money on an expensive acoustic guitar will not guarantee the guitar will be easier to play. The way an acoustic guitar is built and set up will primarily affect the guitars playability. Are more expensive acoustic guitars easier to play? Yes. Well-built acoustic guitars will cost you a little more money than a cheap acoustic guitar, but you do not need to overspend either. You generally get what you pay for.

The Difference Between Cheap And Expensive Acoustic Guitars

So, what is the difference between cheap and expensive acoustic guitars? Let’s take a look.

Tone Wood And Bracing:

The type of wood the guitar is made from will make a big difference in the way an acoustic guitar sounds and cost.

Inside An Acoustic Guitar

Tone woods and the inner guitar bracing will play a huge role in the way an acoustic guitar sounds and resonates or projects sound.

Many acoustic guitar manufactures have patents on their bracing and build specs. The way an acoustic guitar is built separates the good sounding acoustic guitars from the not so good.

The type of wood the acoustic guitar is made from is very important. Different kinds of woods resonate and project sound better than others.

The type of wood the manufacture chooses will also affect the cost of the guitar.

A well-made acoustic guitar will have quality tone woods, proper interior bracing, and will always sound better than a cheaper acoustic guitar.

Mass Produced VS Attention To Detail:

Some of the cheaper acoustic guitars are mass produced and there is very little attention given to the quality of the final product. Most companies could care less about that $200.00 acoustic guitar you are about to spend your hard-earned money on.

My advice is don’t spend your money on this guitar.

Some manufactures will use top quality woods and bracing / build techniques.

These acoustic guitars are somewhat mass produced, but the company will spend time and money on quality control and make sure the guitar is properly assembled and somewhat set up properly.

Some companies will make sure a full set up has been performed on every guitar that comes off the production line.

This cost companies extra money, and the cost gets passed on to you.

This is well and good if you want a good sounding and good playing acoustic guitar.

Video Credit: Rhett Shull

Do Expensive Acoustic Guitars Sound Better?

Do expensive acoustic guitars sound better? Yes. The more expensive acoustic guitars most definitely sound better.

This goes back to what we were talking about. The tone woods, the build design, the bracing, and the way the acoustic guitar is set up will affect the way an acoustic guitar sounds.

Expensive Acoustic Guitar

Do yourself a favor and the next time you are in a music store where there are acoustic guitars hanging on the wall, walk down the line and just pluck the low E string and let it resonate.

You will hear a lot of the cheaper built acoustic guitars will have a dead plastic thud sound with very little clear resonating.

You will hear a crystal-clear low E note that will allow you to experience the guitars wood and internal bracing at work in a well-built guitar.

I always do this with acoustic guitars. You will be amazed at the different tones and lack of tones in the guitars being sold side by side.

Pick the one that resonates and sings out to you.

Is It Easier To Play A More Expensive Acoustic Guitar?

Is it easier to play a more expensive acoustic guitar? The answer is yes. It is almost always easier to play a more expensive acoustic guitar.

You may be wondering why it is easier to play a more expensive acoustic guitar. The answer is that the guitar is built better, it has better action, holds its tune better, and has a proper setup.

The way an acoustic guitar is built will make a huge difference in the playability of the acoustic guitar.

A quality neck with proper frets will ensure the neck is comfortable to play.

Is It Easier To Play A More Expensive Acoustic Guitar

The scale length, saddle and nut will all work together to make an acoustic guitar more comfortable to play.

If the saddle and nut are set up properly, you will have lower action and the guitar will hold its tune better.

The scale length of the acoustic guitar will affect the string action to some degree as well.

Good tuners are important as well because they help hold the strings in tune.

The way an acoustic guitar is built adds up to cost to you.

Better woods, better hardware, a better-quality neck all come with a cost.

Try not to skip on cost if you want a good playing and sounding acoustic guitar.

What Makes An Acoustic Guitar Easier To Play?

There are several factors that make an acoustic guitar easier to play.

We touched on some of the ease of playability factors above. Let’s take a more in depth look at what makes an acoustic guitar easier to play.

Neck Width:

The Width of the guitar neck will make a difference in how comfortable the acoustic guitar neck feels in your hand.

When we talk about a guitars neck width it is generally measured by the width of the nut.

The Nut is the thin piece of bone or synthetic bone that separates the guitar neck from the headstock. The guitar strings pass through the nut and on to the guitar tuners.

The most common nut sizes for a traditional acoustic guitar are 1 11/16″ (43mm) and 1 3/4″ (44mm).

Classical acoustic guitars usually have a little wider nut width at 1 7/8″ (47mm) to 2″ (51mm). The classical style guitars have a little wider nut because the classical guitarist does a lot of finger picking.

The wider spaced nut gives you a little more room between the strings for finger picking.

Neck Thickness:

The thickness of the guitar neck is measured between the back of the neck to the top of the fretboard.

This is the area of the guitar neck that you wrap your hand around and your finger curve around to the fretboard.

There are 8 common neck thickness for guitars.

  1. C-Shape: The C shape guitar neck is one of the most common guitar neck thicknesses. The C Shape guitar neck is also one of the thinnest guitar neck shapes.
  2. C-Chunky Shape: The C Chunky guitar neck is very similar to the C Shape guitar neck. It’s just a little thicker.
  3. D-Shape: The D shape neck is similar to the C-shape neck but has a little flatter back and more pronounced shoulders.
  4. V-Hard Shape: The V hard shape neck has a very pronounced V shape.
  5. V-Soft Shape: The soft V shape neck has more curve to the back of the neck than the V hard shape neck.
  6. U-Shape Neck: The U Shape neck is a very thick and round neck with very pronounced shoulders.
  7. BB-Shape Neck: The Baseball Shape neck is also a very thick and rounded neck. The shoulders are not as deep as the U-Shape neck.
  8. Asymmetrical Shape Neck: The Asymmetrical neck is cut off axis. This means the neck is not evenly curved like a C-Shape or D-Shape. The low E end of the neck is thicker, and the curve thins out as it reaches the high E string side of the neck. This makes it easier to wrap your fingers around the upper side of the fretboard.

The most common neck styles you will find on acoustic guitars are the C-Shape and D-Shape.

Guitar Neck Shapes Chart

Fret Height:

Fret Height refers to how tall a fret is from the fretboard.

There are two factors that involve fret wire size on the upper fretboard: The crown width and the crown height.

A taller fret may give you easier playability and more sustain because you don’t have to push the string all the way down to the fretboard.

A shorter fret will actually make it easier to push the string down against the fretboard.

The most common fret wire sizes are: (The first number is the crown width, and the second number is the crown height.)

  1. Small Fret Wire: .078″ X .043″
  2. Vintage Jumbo: Much wider than the small fret wire but not as tall .102″ X .042″
  3. Modern And Tall: Currently very popular .090″ X .055″
  4. Jumbo: The largest fret wire available .110″ X .055″
  5. Medium Jumbo: Not quite as big as the Jumbo .106″ X .036″

The size of the fret wire used on the acoustic guitar can affect the way your fingers feel when you are playing the guitar. I personally like the medium jumbo frets.

To be honest the fret wire size really hasn’t affected my choice of guitars.

Action:

The Action is the distance you have to push the guitar strings down to get a clean note sound.

The action can be set by adjusting the saddle, the nut, and the truss rod.

When the action is set properly you will not have to work as hard to press the strings down on your guitar.

Most guitar players prefer a lower action setup on an acoustic guitar.

Scale Length:

The Scale Length of a guitar neck is the part of the neck where the strings vibrate.

This is the area between the saddle and the nut.

A longer scale length will give you more room between your frets. This is good for people with longer fingers.

A shorter scale length will give you a little less room between your frets. This is good for people with shorter fingers.

String Gauge:

String Gauge refers to the thickness of the guitar strings.

Most acoustic guitars are strung with 10 gauge – 14 gauge strings.

The smaller the number gauge of strings the easier the strings are to push down and bend.

The thicker the gauge of strings the beefier the strings will sound on an acoustic guitar.

If you are new to playing acoustic guitar you may even want to select a set of 9-gauge strings to start out.

The 9 gauge acoustic strings will have a nylon string mix. As your fingers toughen up you can step up your string gauge.

How To Make Your Acoustic Guitar Easier To Play

If you are just starting out on the acoustic guitar, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to make your acoustic guitar easier to play.

If you already own an acoustic guitar and have been playing for a while you may also want to know if there are any tricks that will make your acoustic guitar a little more comfortable to play.

Here are some things you can do to make your acoustic guitar easier to play.

1. String Gauge: The thicker the strings you have on your acoustic guitar, the more difficult the strings will be to push down.

Thicker strings like 13 gauge – 14 gauge strings will sound fuller and have a better low-end response.

Lighter gauge strings like 11 gauge – 12 gauge strings will be easier to push down and bend.

Extra Light gauge strings will be 10 gauge strings and these will be the easiest gauge strings to play on your acoustic guitar.

Keep in mind that the lighter the string gauge on an acoustic guitar, the thinner the sound will be. 10 gauge strings will sound good while you are learning but you will get a fuller sound using 11–14 gauge strings on an acoustic guitar.

2. Adjusting The Action On The Guitar: The guitar action is the height that the guitar strings sit above the fretboard. The following are ways that you can adjust the action on your acoustic guitar.

Adjust The Nut: The nut is the bone or synthetic bone piece that sits behind the first fret and separates the fret board from the headstock. The guitar strings pass over the nut and travel on to the guitar tuners.

If you lower the nut on your guitar this will also lower the string action. There is a specific way this needs to be done and sometimes the nut will not need to be adjusted to lower the action on your acoustic guitar.

Adjust The Saddle: By lowering the Saddle on the acoustic guitar you can also lower the action on the guitar.

There is a specific way the saddle needs to be lowered on your acoustic guitar. If you lower the saddle or the nut too far on your acoustic guitar you may end up with string buzz.

Be sure and look into this further before you start trying to adjust your own saddle and nut on your acoustic guitar.

Adjust The Neck: The way that you can adjust the neck on your acoustic guitar is by adjusting the truss rod that runs down the inside middle of your guitar neck.

A guitar neck should have a little bit of a bow in it. You won’t want your guitar neck to be perfectly flat because this can cause the strings to buzz when you play the guitar.

Working On A Acoustic Guitar Neck

Having just a little bit of a bow in the neck helps prevent string buzz.

By tightening the truss rod, you will take some of the bow out of the guitar neck.

If you loosen the truss rod you will create more bow in the guitar neck.

Good Tip: When you adjust the nut it can affect the way the strings travel down the neck to the bridge.

When you adjust the saddle, it can affect the way the strings travel down the neck to the nut.

When you adjust the truss rod in your neck it will affect the way the strings interact with the neck.

It’s best to have a little training before you try to make these adjustments yourself.

I like to take my guitar to the local luthier or music store and have the adjustments done by a professional. It usually cost somewhere between $40.00 – $75.00 dollars and is well worth the money.

An acoustic guitar with a proper setup will play much better than an acoustic guitar that has not been properly set up.

Check out the video below to learn how to set up your acoustic guitar.

Video Credit: StewMac

Should I Buy A Cheap Acoustic Guitar?

You may be wondering, “Should I Buy A Cheap Acoustic Guitar?” The answer is NO.

Here’s why, A cheap acoustic guitar is going to be a hassle to play and keep in tune.

You can have a setup done on a cheap acoustic guitar and it will play better but will not improve the tone.

It may not be able to have a proper setup done on it without buying a good nut, bridge, tuners, and possibly will need the frets reworked.

Don’t waste your money on a cheap acoustic guitar. Save up and get a better-quality acoustic guitar. It will sound and play much better.

One thing that stunts the growth of new guitar players is trying to learn to play on a cheap, crappy guitar. I know because I’ve been there and done that.

You don’t have to bust the bank on a nice acoustic guitar, but I do not recommend going the cheap route. You will regret it.

Should A Beginner Buy An Expensive Guitar?

I think a beginner should spend a little extra cash for a good acoustic guitar.

Taylor and Martin make some very good entry level acoustic-electric guitars in the neighborhood of $600 – $1,000.00 dollars.

If you are just starting out on the acoustic guitar, I would not spend more than this to get started.

Taylor 110 models are very high-quality acoustic-electric guitars and sound amazing.

Martin makes some great entry level acoustic-electric guitars. The Martin D-X1E is high quality and sounds great.

I’m not saying you have to buy a Taylor or Martin, but I do know both of these companies make excellent acoustic guitars.

Acoustic Guitars Hanging In A Music Store

Spend a little money and get yourself a decent acoustic guitar. You won’t regret buying a good quality acoustic guitar that will be around for years to come and be a joy to play.

You be the judge of what acoustic guitar suites you best.

Don’t forget to give it the string pluck test I told you about. Pluck the low E string on an acoustic guitar that’s hanging on the wall and just listen to how the guitar resonates.

If it sounds thin, plastic like, and dead, move on. If it rings out with a nice clear tone, pick it up and try it out.

Taylor, Martin, Cole Clark, Gibson and some other acoustic guitars pass the string pluck test almost always.

Why Are Acoustic Guitars More Expensive Than Electric Guitars?

There are several reasons why acoustic guitars cost more than electric guitars.

1. Tone Woods: Acoustic guitars need to ring out with excellent sound. One of the things that is a large cost factor is the type of wood used on acoustic guitars. Quality tone woods cost more than some woods used on electric guitars.

2. Labor: It takes more labor to produce an acoustic guitar. The top, the back, the inner braces, and the sides of the guitar have to be cut, shaped, and glued together.

3. The Amount Of Wood Needed To Build The Guitar: Most acoustic guitars have a much larger body than electric guitars and require more tone woods to create. Most quality acoustic guitars will use tone woods for the top, back, sides, and neck.

Should I Get An Acoustic Or Acoustic Electric Guitar?

If you are considering getting an acoustic guitar you may be wondering, “Should I Get An Acoustic Or Acoustic Electric Guitar?”

My answer to you would be, get an Acoustic-Electric Guitar.

Why? Because the acoustic electric guitar will not cost you much more and you will wish you would have got an acoustic electric guitar down the road.

Let’s say you are a new guitar player or already playing guitar but considering an acoustic guitar.

Taylor 110E Acoustic Electric Guitar

There will come a day when you need an acoustic guitar for a stage performance. It’s much easier to plug in an acoustic electric guitar to an amp or PA system than it is to mic up an acoustic guitar.

The sound dynamics on a live stage will be a sound engineers’ nightmare to mic your acoustic guitar on the stage.

All the other instruments will bleed into your acoustic guitar microphones and sound terrible.

Do yourself a favor and get an acoustic electric guitar. You will thank me later.

Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

If you are wondering, “Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?” the answer is: Some Of Them Do.

I have a Taylor 110E acoustic electric guitar. This guitar sounds phenomenal unplugged. I mean it really sings out and outperforms some of my friends really expensive acoustic electric guitars that don’t sound so great unplugged.

It really depends on the guitar manufacture and the way the guitar was made.

Keep in mind this is an entry level Taylor acoustic electric guitar. I would not hesitate to brag to anyone about my cheap little Taylor guitar.

When I plug into my PA System, she can sing like a Gypsy on Nickel Night! I’ve had more compliments on the way this guitar sounds than I can count. Well done Taylor Guitars!

I mentioned a list of great acoustic electric guitars above. Be sure and check them out.

The Taylor acoustic electric guitars always pass the “Pluck The Low E String Test!” It’s the way they are built.

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“Higher end guitars are usually built better. This means that you’re less likely to experience fret buzz, even with a lower action. Hence, this can make it easier to hold a note and puts less pressure on your fingers.”https://prosoundhq.com/why-are-some-guitars-easier-to-play/
“The answer is yes, expensive guitars will most likely always be of better quality than cheaper guitars. The detail in which the guitars are made, the type of materials used and how well the adjustments are made is what increases the quality of a guitar, therefore the price.”https://rockguitaruniverse.com/expensive-vs-cheap-acoustic-guitars/
“Under-budget instruments — churned out in great numbers without sufficient care given. They are never worth buying. They are not even worth owning second-hand at no cost, as they will give you bad habits.”https://www.quora.com/Are-more-expensive-acoustic-guitars-easier-to-play
“Beginners should avoid buying an expensive guitar if it is their first or second guitar. The reason is they may not commit to learning the guitar for the long term. Secondly, they have not developed the skill or experience to make the most of the instrument. Beginners should purchase a guitar around $200 – $800.”https://tonetopics.com/should-beginners-buy-an-expensive-guitar/
“With any guitar, acoustic or electric, in order to make it easy to play and to make it play in tune, you should take it to a professional luthier or guitar repair techician and pay them for a setup. Based upon the gauge and type of strings you select to use on the guitar, and in response to questions about your playing style, the technician will make adjustments to the nut, truss rod, bridge and bridge saddle(s) and if necessary file down and shape the frets, in order to achieve the optimal “action” for you.”https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/9403/some-acoustic-guitars-are-easy-to-play-but-some-arent-what-affects-playability
“I would say that different types of guitar may be easier to play depending on the individual. This will depend on the weight of the wood, the shape of the neck, width of the fretboard etc.”https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=372933
“Cheap acoustic guitars can be harder to play because of issues in manufacturing. Common problems include high action (larger distance between the string and fretboard), sharp frets (making it difficult to hold strings down), and warped bodies. These can make playing painful for beginners.”https://sandymusiclab.com/are-cheap-acoustic-guitars-harder-to-play/
“Expensive guitars are expensive usually because of the brand name, the higher quality control, and the pricey woods/materials and electronics.
The price of the guitar dosnt necessarily reflect the playability or tone of the guitar.”
https://www.reddit.com/r/Guitar/comments/5xpfrp/newbie_are_expensive_guitars_easier_to_play_or/
“Beginner guitars can represent good value for money, as the manufacturers often skimp on visual features to give you a cheap and reasonable sounding guitar. However, they are often harder to play than expensive guitars since less time is spent in the factory on their final setup.”https://guitardivision.com/are-beginner-guitars-good/
“A really good setup goes a long ways, but I think there CAN be some attributes to a high end guitar that allows for its overall playability to be superior to a low end guitar.
Maybe how straight the neck is? How evenly the frets are leveled?”
Playability inexpensive vs expensive acoustics – The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Conclusion

In Conclusion I would say that more expensive acoustic guitars are better built, sound better, and are easier to play.

Keep in mind that all guitars can be made to play better with a proper setup.

I would avoid cheap acoustic guitars in the $200 – $400 dollar price range. Yes, there are always exceptions, but my experience has not been very good in this price range.

I think you will be better off if you purchase an acoustic electric guitar in the $600.00 – $1,000.00-dollar price range.

This may seem a little expensive to some of you but, this is a price range where you can get your hands on some really nice acoustic-electric guitars.

If you want to learn about some of the most versatile electric guitars you may enjoy my article: What Is The Most Versatile Guitar?

If you are interested in writing music, playing, recording, and producing your own music, take some time to look around my website.

I have a lot of great articles to help you get started with your own home recording studio setup. I also have some great articles on different kinds of recording gear and instruments that you will find very helpful.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. I’m always happy to help out and enjoy your feedback.

Thanks,

Mitch@homerecordingstudiosetup.com

6 thoughts on “Are More Expensive Acoustic Guitars Easier To Play?”

  1. I mean it makes sense for a more expensive guitar to sound better. Quality is expensive. I have been looking to get myself a guitar as I want to make it a hobby. I will look into purchasing one of these guitars and I will let you know if I am happy with the product or not 

    Reply
    • I think you hit the nail square on the head.  Quality is expensive.  Of course, there is no need to overspend unless you want to.  

      I think you can get a very good quality acoustic-electric guitar in the neighborhood of $500 to $1,000.00 dollars.

      Let me know which acoustic guitar you decide on.  I’ll be curious to know.

      You might also be interested in my article about: What is the Most Versatile Guitar?  Be Sure and Check It Out!

      Reply
  2. I was asking myself this question concerning more expensive guitars. I have a cheap guitar and have been learning the basics. But we have just arrived at the notes that contain bars (B, F, their minors, Cminor). And I am having a nightmare. So, your post has encouraged me to buy a new guitar!

    Reply
    • A new guitar that is properly set up may make your learning a little easier.  It will certainly make things a little easier on your fingers.

      I have another article you may be interested in especially if you are thinking about getting a new guitar: What Is The Most Versatile Guitar?.  Be sure and check it out. 

      Reply
  3. I ran across your article while considering buying my teenager a guitar for Christmas.  It has helped me adjust what I am looking for.  The acoustic guitar I was looking at was due to its price but I think I am going to scrap that and start looking at something of better quality.  My kid will appreciate this article!

    Reply
    • I’m glad the article was helpful to you.  I truly believe a lot of aspiring guitar players quit before their true potential is realized because they were trying to learn on a cheap guitar that was not set up properly and did not sound good.

      You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nice guitar.  

      Merry Christmas To You And Your Family!

      Reply

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