best acoustic guitar for intermediate players

10 Best Acoustic Guitar For Intermediate Players In 2021

When you are ready to make the transition from a beginner player to an intermediate guitarist, you want an acoustic guitar that will not only help you play effortlessly with your newly-built skills but one that will challenge you and adapt to your playing as you improve further. In this list, we have compiled the best acoustic guitar for intermediate players that you should look into.

Quick Links To My Top Acoustic Guitars For Intermediate Players Recommendations

One of them could just be the perfect guitar for you.

My Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Reviews

Fender Malibu Classic – California Series Acoustic Guitar

The Fender Malibu Classic is a stunning piece of art. It is non-traditional but it can deliver the type of performance you have come to expect from the brand. It offers both quality and great value.

Performance and Playability: The Malibu Classic delivers a balanced frequency response and a sweet tone that matches fingerstyle players. The body is smaller but its acoustic volume is not to be ignored. Plugged-in for stage performances, it holds its own with its increased treble output, so expect feedback-free playing even at higher volumes. It also has a preamp/pickup system that offers controls for volume, bass, and treble. It also features a tuner and has a battery compartment close to the output jack. Easy to play and handle, with the looks to match at an affordable price.

Looks: The Malibu Classic sports the iconic Fender profile that every rock n’ roll fan recognizes. It features a smooth finish with a gold pickguard, back binding, white top, and a solid six-on-a-side headstock. The Malibu Classic is offered in four glossy poly finish – Arctic Gold, Jetty Black, Aqua Splash, and Candy Apple Red.

Build: The Malibu Classic is a medium-sized guitar that features a slim lower bout with squarish shoulders and a non-cutaway design. It has solid spruce top, sides, and back, and a mahogany neck. It also has walnut bridges and fingerboards. It has a slender C-shaped neck, 20 frets, and a 24.1″ scale.

Pros:

  • The Fender Malibu Classic guitar features a solid top and back, which will give you a nice rich and warm sound.
  • This guitar also has excellent projection, which means that it will carry well in a small or big room.
  • Has great tone for beginning players that are just starting out.

Con:

  • It is more expensive than other guitars on the market.
Our Rating -
5/5

LAVA ME 2 Carbon Fiber Guitar

Carbon fiber guitars have actually been around since the 1960s, although they were combined with wooden parts for necks and tops. LAVA is a relative newcomer to guitar manufacturing and their ME 2 is one of their best offerings. What’s impressive about it? It does not only sound great but is also temperature-adaptive.

Performance and Playability: This guitar is easy to play and melodious to boot. Although it has a dynamic range, its midrange shines best. It has a wide tone that is clear and crisp, so you can deliver single notes that are distinct and solid. It produces a consistent tone with clear high notes and strong bass notes. The ME 2 has the L2 pickup and preamp system that lets you control volume, effect, and reverb.

Looks: Many instruments made from carbon fiber are usually dark-colored but not the ME 2. They offer the limited edition model in bright red and in a number of other colors. It sports a rather unconventional shape with its near-perfect horizontal top and a non-voluptuous profile. It has striking looks that’s guaranteed to turn heads.

Build: The LAVA ME 2 has a single-molded carbon fiber construction with minimal gluing. This makes for a very solid, tight, and strong guitar. Due to its material, the LAVA ME 2 also remains reliable in high or low humidity, capable of withstanding dry conditions and humid conditions. It can also withstand temperatures that range from a low -20°C to a high of 90°C. If you will be traveling from one performance to the next, this is the perfect instrument for you. It is also light, making it the perfect guitar for tours.

Pros:

  • The guitar is pretty lightweight and easy to transport.
  • It has a very nice, high quality finish.

Cons:

  • The price is on the higher side for an acoustic guitar.
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Takamine GD93CE-NAT Dreadnought Cutaway

The Takamine GD93CE-NAT is one of the most popular models in the brand’s intermediate series. It is a small guitar that delivers excellent sound and playability. A favorite due to its full-bodied resonance, this acoustic-electric guitar delivers an excellent performance and is just in the $700 range.

Performance and Playability: The Takamine GD93CE produces pure acoustic tone even when plugged – exactly what an intermediate player would want. With its TK-40D preamp that has a 3-band EQ, the GD93CE creates clear and rich amplified sound. It benefits from the solid spruce top that delivers high resonance and excellent projection and volume.

Looks: The Takamine GD93CE is understated but elegant. It comes in natural wood color with a glossy finish. The back and sides are made from black walnut. It is light with a solid feel – perfect for private practices and stage performances.

Build: The body is single cut, featuring back and sides made from rosewood, while the quilted piece is maple. The top bridge is made from rosewood, as well. It has a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. It also comes installed with the TP-4T preamp from Takamine. It has preamp, volume, and tone controls, and a built-in tuner. It is held tight and secure together by the scalloped X-brace top made from solid spruce.

Pros:

  • This cutaway allows you to get to the upper frets without frustration.
  • Sounds great when plugged in, with more than enough power provided.
  • Comes with a knowledge base of information on how to care for and maintain the guitar, as well as useful guides on basic chords and songs.
  • Durable; this is a guitar that will last you for years to come, even if it’s not always treated properly. The finish is also excellent quality and looks amazing on stage or during recording sessions.

Cons:

  • This is not a particularly good guitar to travel with, at least not in terms of being able to withstand the elements.
  • A bit heavy for a beginner, but an experienced player should be fine with it.
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Guild Guitars DS-240 Slope Shoulder

The DS-240 is proudly made in America by one of the leading guitar makers in the country. This is a guitar that will help you transition from a beginner to an intermediate player with ease.

Performance and Playability: The C-shaped profile of the DS-240’s mahogany neck is enhanced by a pau ferro fingerboard. This creates a guitar that is readily responsive and has a beautiful tone that will improve over the years. Its mix of mahogany and solid spruce creates high resonance with a rich voice. It has excellent projection and volume, thanks to its dreadnought body. It owes its clarity and sustain power to its Nubone saddle support and nut. You will love its high and midrange tones and the lush base tone.

Looks: The Guild DS-240 is the classic dreadnought with a slope shoulder that features a simple but elegant design. It features a red tortoiseshell pickguard (so 60s) and a mother-of-pearl rosette detail. The whole vibe is classic but the capability is decidedly modern.

Build: The Guild DS-240 comes with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck, back, and sides, and a scalloped-X bracing. Small-bodied with open-backed tuners, this guitar feels rounder and smoother, thanks to the careful thought given in the design and production of its neck. This is the perfect guitar for players who are heavy on picking and strumming.

Pros:

  • The guitar is made of mahogany, and features a slope style that is easy to play.
  • Boast an impressive tonal range with crisp highs and deep lows.

Cons:

  • This model lacks the projection needed for larger venues.
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Breedlove Pursuit Concert CE

The Breedlove Pursuit is a classical guitar inside the body of a non-traditional-looking guitar. Affordable, smooth, easy to play, and an excellent performer, the Pursuit is a 20-fret concert guitar that you will love to play over and over again. This beautiful piece even comes protected by a limited lifetime warranty.

Performance and Playability: The Breedlove Pursuit boasts of the ideal combination of tonewoods to produce a well-balanced symphony of highs, lows, and mids, with a clear note and sustain projection. Its tone is warm and smooth, a great match to its built-in ISYS electronic system. It retains the natural tone of the guitar while amplifying it without distorting its sound. It performs well as an acoustic guitar but also shines just as brightly when plugged in.

When you play the Pursuit, you will love the slim neck that is comfortable and easy to grip, so you can play for hours without discomfort. Players with small hands could move their fingers with ease when playing. Thinking of recording your music? The Pursuit comes with a USB port built into the instrument so you can connect to your laptop or smartphone.

Looks: This full-sized guitar is perfect for you if you want a non-traditional profile. If there is something different with its fretboard, it’s because of the East Indian rosewood material. It renders a deep yet warm color contrast to the light wood top. The aesthetics are simple but this is one guitar you will not ignore.

Build: The Pursuit has a single cutaway body, with laminated mahogany back and sides, and a top made with solid cedar. It has mini chrome tuners and a pin-less bridge that let changing strings more convenient. Well-crafted for its sole purpose and that is producing beautiful, crisp tones and wonderful music.

Pros:

  • The guitar has a rich, full sound that is more suited to those who play fingerstyle.
  • The guitar is lightweight and sounds great without amplification.

Cons:

  • The build quality is not as good as other brands on this list.
Our Rating -
4/5

Gretsch Guitars G5031FT Rancher

The G5031FT Rancher looks like a prop for a high school musical show but it is actually a great sounding acoustic-electric guitar. It delivers a beautiful performance and is stylish to boot. It is an acoustic guitar that can do a complete 180 when plugged in via the Fideli’Tron pickup. Go country, go blues, go rock – this guitar will take you anywhere.

Performance and Playability: A guitar that looks cool should also sound cool, and the G5031FT meets that criteria. It produces optimum intonation, a rich tone, and excellent tonal balance. It also delivers in terms of projection, thanks to the scalloped X-bracing on top. It boasts of a humbucking pickup from Fideli’Tron, so you are assured of well-articulated tones when the guitar is plugged in. With this hardware built-in, the Rancher produces a clean, sweet sound that works well for different music genres.

Looks: The steampunk-ish vibe may attract some and perplex others but this is a guitar that deserves attention. Gretsch’s Product Manager, Adam Bowden-Smith shares that the idea for the guitar actually began when they thought of equipping an acoustic with a Bigsby. Doing so meant they had to build a guitar with a sturdy top brace and succeeded. The final product is a bit hefty but the extra hardware simply amps up its functionality.

Build: This is not a lightweight guitar, thanks to its extra hardware. The body is an all-laminate construction and has two rather thick longitudinal braces to hold the top. That, along with the reinforcement plates that keep the bridge in place, ensures that the instrument is sturdy and solid. The top has a red finish while the sides, back, and neck sport a mahogany color.

Pros:

  • Sounds great acoustically as well as when plugged in.
  • No problems with feedback.
  • You can leave it out in the rain and it won’t be ruined.

Cons:

  • Some people find the action (how easy is it to press down on the strings) too high.
Our Rating -
4/5

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE T40E Tonare

PRS is one of the most respected manufacturers of guitars. They have built their reputation on creating guitars that not only sound good but look good as well. Their SE T40E is one of those guitars. It’s an all-business, no-nonsense guitar that is built to be played and enjoyed… and at an affordable price, too.

Performance and Playability: The first time you will hold a T40E in your hand, you’ll notice its big neck. The chunk actually has a name – Wide Fat. It will take some getting used to but it actually makes the neck stable and has a positive effect on sustain. In terms of performance, the T40E is capable of impressive projection that is consistent and reliable. It shows off a solid bass response with a good midrange. Its sustain and volume are also impressive, making this one guitar that tells you you have made it to the next level.

Looks: The T40E has the Tonare shape, so expect plenty of real estate at the belly area. Contrast is created with the white and black double rings that adorn the soundhole. The fingerboard is dark ebony that features bird inlays in place of the usual marker dots. The birds are a company signature design. The guitar is simple, with very little bling, except for the soundhole rosette and the acrylic body purfling. Unassuming but a beauty nonetheless.

Build: The T40E sports a solid spruce top and ovangkol (African rosewood) sides and back. Ovangkol gives this guitar a better midrange. It is built with care, with an eye for finish and presentation. It also has a bone nut and saddle, and chrome enclosed tuners.

Pros:

  • Great for recording as it sounds especially well.
  • Really competitive price point considering the quality of the sound.
  • Easy to play, especially if you have smaller hands, as the neck tapers to a thin D-shape profile.

Cons:

  • The satin finish may not be to everyone’s taste.
Our Rating -
4/5

Yamaha L-Series LL16M

Yamaha remains one of the most trusted brands in musical instruments because their products are reliable, sturdy, and affordable. Their LL16M is big, bold, and beautiful, capable of well-balanced tone and excellent projection. Its performance is improved greatly by Yamaha’s wood torrefaction process. Known as Acoustic Resonance Enhancement or A.R.E., it modifies the wood materials in the guitar to give it that mature, aged tone.

Performance and Playability: The Yamaha LL16M delivers the power you want but with the warm tone you expect. Thanks to the A.R.E. treatment process, every guitar sounds like it has been making music for a long time. The design considerations made for the neck, including string height and spacing, and fingerboard binding, ensures a stable grip, so you are assured of smoothness and comfort. The LL16M owes its form and tone to the SRT Zero Impact Pickup, a system that produces a dynamic sound that allows the guitar to shine even when played with a group or a band. This guitar delivers a powerful projection due to the steel-strung bracing and the classical fan bracing that holds the belly. With its rich harmonics and volume capabilities, this is not a guitar for the shy player at all.

Looks: The LL16M is a non-cutaway guitar that owes its beauty to Yamaha’s renowned craftsmanship. This is an L-series guitar, so expect a hefty size in this second level model. It has solid rosewood back and sides, and comes in natural finish. The spruce top is hand-selected, so the beauty that is this guitar did not come by accident. This will make the perfect guitar for the intermediate player.

Build: The LL16M features a non-scalloped bracing pattern, solid mahogany sides and back, and a solid Engelmann spruce top. The neck is made of 5-ply mahogany while the fingerboard and bridge are made of ebony. It has a urethane finish and yes, it comes with its own hardshell case.

Pros:

  • Neck is slim and fast.
  • Solid, stable body.
  • Gorgeous, natural wood finish.

Cons:

  • No cutaway for upper fret access.
Our Rating -
4/5

Taylor Academy Series Academy 12 Grand Concert

The Taylor Academy 12e Grand Concert is an excellent option for transitioning to more advanced guitar playing. Taylor guitars are well-known for excellent craftsmanship and this option from their Academy series will make a great guitar purchase.

Performance and Playability: Do not let the small body deceive you because the 12e Grand Concert is capable of big sound. It does prefer a lighter touch, which means it is at its best when fingerpicked. It produces a warm, voluptuous tone that makes it perfect for jazz and folk music.

The 12e also carries the brand’s ES-B electronics. It has an easy-to-use preamp, tuner, and pickup combination that provides volume and tone control. Overall a fine guitar for both beginner and intermediate players.

Looks: The 12e was designed by the company’s luthier, Andy Powers who envisioned a minimalist guitar that is simple yet handsome. It has a clean face and body and the absence of ornamental detail makes the small design considerations stand out, such as the black heel cap and the wooden rosette.

Build: The soundboards are made from solid Sitka spruce while the sides and back are built from layered sapele – durable yet cost-effective. The bridge and fretboard, on the other hand, are made of ebony. The Academy 12e also features an ergonomically-designed armrest – best for playing and practicing for hours without straining your arms and fingers. The finish is smooth matte varnish. Overall a clean-built guitar.

Pros:

  • this guitar sounds great!
  • really versatile and durable
  • Taylor guitars are very well made and have quality hardware
  • this guitar has a crisp, sweet sound that is a bit more “jangly” than other guitars
  • the Grand Concert body style is a nice middle ground between the traditional Dreadnought (larger) and the smaller Baby Taylor body style (better for traveling, concerts, etc.)

Cons:

  • I’m not sure if there are any cons!
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Blueridge BR-40T

The BR-40T from Blueridge is one of the most popular products of the brand. It disappeared for a while but due to its popularity, Blueridge reproduced and reintroduced it. It is a classic guitar, an O-sized tenor that will make a perfect instrument for the intermediate player.

Performance and Playability: This O-sized tenor is an affordable acoustic guitar that produces bright, beautiful sounds. It is very comfortable to play, so you are assured hours of fun without cramping or unnecessary extensions. It produces a strong and even tone, and with its tenor DNA, its voice is clear and crisp. Impressive with remarkable value.

Looks: The solid spruce top on the BR 40T is adorned by a dark acrylic pickguard. It is simple but gorgeous, thanks to its multiple-ply tortoise body binding. It also sports a natural high-gloss finish that brings out the beauty of its natural grain.

Build: The top is made from selected solid Sitka spruce, supported by parabolic X-braces (hand-carved, no less). It has mahogany sides and back, and East Indian rosewood bridge and fingerboard. It also features a bone nut and saddle.

Pros:

  • Full, warm sound.
  • Great to play live.

Cons:

  • High action height on the low E string means it might be difficult for beginners to fret notes on that string.
Our Rating -
4/5

How To Choose An Acoustic Guitar For Intermediate Players

So you have been playing for awhile and are considering upgrading your acoustic to a more intermediate level instrument. What features do you look for to choose the right one?

The following are some of the basic features to consider when choosing an acoustic guitar for intermediate players:

  1. Size – Acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When you are first starting out, you may want to purchase a smaller acoustic that is easier to handle and play. But as your skills develop, so can the size of your guitar. However, after a certain point, the size of the guitar may no longer be an important consideration.
  2. Guitar quality – The quality of the acoustic guitar you choose should depend on your budget and your playing style. There are many options when it comes to acoustic guitars with varying levels of quality. If you want to play classical music, you might want to purchase a high-quality classical guitar built by a respected instrument maker.
  3. Acoustic guitar tonewood – There are a variety of types of wood used to make acoustic guitars that can enhance or change the way your guitar sounds and feels. Some woods will increase the volume while others will give the guitar a nicer sound quality.
  4. Pickup system – Some acoustic guitars have a pickup system built into the bridge of the guitar while others have pickups mounted on the soundboard to add sound to your acoustic playing.
  5. Accessories – The accessories you choose for your acoustic guitar will vary depending on your needs and wants. Some people want a stand to hold their guitar while they play, others would rather play without an amplifier or electric guitar, etc.
  6. How the guitar is made – The guitars your choose to build can be made in a variety of different ways. Some are hand-crafted and some are mass-produced. An handmade acoustic guitar may cost more, but the quality will be far superior to a poorly made machine-made instrument.
  7. The how it sounds – The sound that your acoustic guitar produces is what will determine how you and your audience perceive the sound. Some people like bright or louder sounds while others prefer softer, mellower sounds.
  8. Price – Some people prefer to spend more money on their acoustic guitar because they want it to last a long time and sound great. Other people are willing to spend less money on an acoustic guitar but would still like the high-quality tone they expect from a better instrument.
  9. Your playing style – If you play classical music, a high-quality classical guitar might be a good choice for you. But if you play country music, the selection of acoustic guitars will be wider than if you played rock or jazz music.

Intermediate Acoustic Guitars Conclusion

Finding the perfect guitar that matches your ability and offers value can be difficult. It may even be tempting to simply stick to the beginner guitar you got when you started learning. However, progress demands a good challenge and when you are ready for the next level, so should your guitar. Choose the guitar that is compatible with your ability, playing preferences, habits, and budget. With the choices we have listed above, you will find the guitar that you will treasure and enjoy as you develop further as a musician.

About The Author - Dan Harper
About The Author - Dan Harper

My name is Dan and I have been playing guitar for about 35 years. Over the years, I have taught guitar, played in a number of bands and owned and played a ton of gear.
When not playing guitar, I like to travel with my family, grill good food and go to concerts!

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