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The 6 Best Bluegrass Guitars Reviews

Best Bluegrass Guitars
Photo by Lucas Leon

Does your list of favorite guitarists include Norman Blake, Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Andy Falco, and Bryan Sutton? If so, then it’s understandable if you’re looking among the best bluegrass guitars.

It’s true that it’s theoretically possible for you to play bluegrass music with any random guitar. But it’s also true that you should go with a guitar that suits the bluegrass playing style and sound.

Check out our list of recommended guitars to give you an idea of what you ought to look for. Also learn facts about bluegrass in general that should help you make the right choice among our top picks.

Top 6 Bluegrass Guitars: Comparison Chart

Guitar Model Top Wood Back and Sides Freebies? View on Amazon
Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Lindenwood Mahogany gig bag, extra strings, strap, clip-on tuner, DVD, and picks Check Price
Yamaha F325D Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Laminated Spruce Meranti gig bag, extra strings, strap, clip-on tuner, DVD, and picks Check Price
Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe Acoustic Guitar Solid spruce top Nato gig bag, extra strings, strap, clip-on tuner, DVD, and picks Check Price
Fender CP-140SE Acoustic-Electric Guitar Bundle Solid spruce top Laminated rosewood hard case, strap, strings, picks, and instructional DVD Check Price
Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural Whitewood (tulipwood) Mahogany None Check Price
Yamaha FG840 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar Solid Sitka Spruce Top Flamed maple None Check Price

Best Picks of Bluegrass Guitars

# 1. Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Features
  • Full-size steel-string acoustic that offers big sound at a small price
  • All-laminate construction with lindenwood top and mahogany back and sides
  • Scalloped "X"-bracing, mahogany neck and a durable dark-stained maple fingerboard
  • Slim, easy-to-play neck
  • Full-bodied dreadnought tone

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a bestselling guitar, since it’s one of the best bluegrass guitars for beginners. It offers a lot of freebies for your money, as you get a gig bag, extra strings, a clip-on tuner, a strap, and several picks.

You even get an Austin Bazaar DVD with instructional lessons so you can learn the right way. But even when you think you’re past the newbie stage, you can stay with this guitar once you decide you want to learn how to play bluegrass.

This comes with mahogany sides and back. That’s the wood you want for your tone wood, as you get a nice warm tone that bluegrass players tend to like.

The strings are also full-sized steel, which give you that nice twangy sound. It gives you the classic dreadnought tone for bluegrass, along with the X-bracing pattern that was developed for bluegrass all the way back in the 1850s.

You’ll find this easy and comfortable to play, which is understandable as it was designed for beginners in the first place. The neck is quite slim, which increases the comfort factor.

If you’re buying a guitar for bluegrass, this makes perfect sense because of its price and versatility. You can always use it to teach others about playing the guitar, while you teach yourself how to play bluegrass properly.

Highlighted Features
  • Lots of freebies in the package
  • Mahogany wood at the back and sides
  • 6 steel strings (with extra strings included)
  • Durable maple fretboard
  • X-bracing pattern
What I Like
  • Very affordable
  • Comes with many features that are standard in bluegrass guitars
  • Easy to play
  • Comes with lots of accessories that make it easier for you to learn
What I Didn’t Like
  • You may want to change the light-gauge strings to a medium-gauge
  • You have Lindenwood top instead of spruce

#2. Yamaha F325D Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Features
  • Perfect for students and beginners
  • Dreadnought body
  • Spruce top
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Chrome tuners

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This also comes with a dreadnought body that suits bluegrass music just fine. This is another guitar that’s meant for new players, and it also comes with plenty of free accessories that give you an easier time learning how to play.

Again, even when you consider yourself past the beginner stage, you may still want to stick with this guitar once you wish to try bluegrass. It saves you money, since this dreadnought also offers features that do well for bluegrass.

Most notably, this comes with a spruce top. Bluegrass guitars are noted for the use of spruce for the top wood.

Spruce enhances the responsiveness and sustain of the guitar. Also, it enhances the quality and power of the tone.

Having the Yamaha brand on the guitar is also a good sign, and it’s not about being a brand snob. It’s just that Yamaha has earned a well-deserved reputation for producing high quality musical instruments (such as pianos and guitars), and they’re not about to sully that reputation by offering a substandard guitar no matter what the price.

With its affordable price (and the bundle that comes with it), this is a great bang-for-the-buck option for learning bluegrass. If you bought this for just learning to play the guitar in general, then you don’t need a new guitar for bluegrass.

Highlighted Features
  • Comes with a gig bag (there’s an option for a hardcase)
  • You also get a clip-on tuner, picks, a strap, extra strings, and DVD lessons
  • Laminated spruce top
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Dreadnought body
  • Steel strings
What I Like
  • Comes with several traditional bluegrass features (spruce top, dreadnought body style, steel strings)
  • Very playable
  • Excellent deep, fuller tone
  • Keeps its tuning well
  • Very durable
  • Yamaha quality
What I Didn’t Like
  • The picks feel somewhat cheap (though there are 3 of them in different sizes)
  • Meranti for the back and sides

#3. Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe Acoustic Guitar

Features
  • Package includes guitar, gig bag, tuner, strap, strings, picks, and instructional DVD
  • Yamaha FD01S acoustic features spruce top and nato sides/back
  • Qwik Tune QT-11 guitar tuner with pitch pipe function
  • DVD covers basics such as tuning, picking, changing strings, and common chords
  • The acoustic guitars need a professional setup out of the box to achieve the player's preferences.Everything you need to get started playing acoustic guitar

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Don’t be surprised about another Yamaha making the list. It’s a famous brand for very good reasons, including the high quality of their guitars.

Your money also gets you the Gigmaker Deluxe Acoustic Guitar Package, which gives you the DVD for lessons, picks, a strap, a tuner, a gig, and replacement steel strings.

If you buy this, you won’t really need to buy anything else to get started. In fact, for the most part you get Yamaha guitars that have already been set up properly so you can just take it out and start to play.

In this package you get the Yamaha FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar. The sound quality here is great, especially when you compare it to other guitars in this price range.

The tone is quite warm, thanks to the solid spruce top. The tone is bright and deep.

The action here is also well suited for bluegrass picking. It’s very comfortable to hold and use, as it’s meant for newbies.

All in all, while this is a guitar for newbies you won’t feel bad playing this if you’re a much better guitarist. Go ahead and try this for bluegrass, and the Yamaha quality will carry you through.

Highlighted Features
  • Comes with Gigmaker Deluxe package
  • Solid spruce top
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • X-Bracing that suits bluegrass play
  • Typical Yamaha high value for money
What I Like
  • It has that Yamaha high quality you’ve come to expect
  • You get lots of freebies for immediate playing
  • Already set up right out of the box
  • Has features that suit bluegrass
  • Great action for bluegrass
What I Didn’t Like
  • Nato laminate sides and back
  • Strings may need a bit of break-in

#4. Fender CP-140SE Acoustic-Electric Guitar Bundle

Features
  • Travel body style with easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges
  • Solid spruce top with scalloped "X"-bracing
  • Rosewood back and sides
  • Fishman Presys pickup/preamp
  • Bundle includes Hard Case, Strap, Strings, Picks, and Instructional DVD

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fender is one of the most famous brands in the industry, and they can offer beginning bluegrass guitar models that are just as good as their iconic electric guitar models.

Again, you get the Austin Bazaar bundle here, which really boosts the value for money proposition. The package includes picks, extra strings, a strap, a clip-on tuner, a hard case, and a nifty instructional DVD.

But what about the guitar itself? This is the CP-140SE, with the “C” denoting that it’s meant for concerts, while the “P” indicates that you get a parlor body.

While you don’t get that dreadnought body, you do have other features that go well with bluegrass. These features start with the scalloped X-bracing that’s a classic for bluegrass guitars.

You also get the classic solid spruce wood for the top. As this is the acoustic-electric model, you can use an amp for this to get your volume up for really bawdy playing.

At the sides and back, you get laminated rosewood. This is a popular choice for bluegrass as you get a lot of resonance with a deep bass response.

Try it out for bluegrass, and the fact that it’s made for beginners will also let you start learning bluegrass without too much difficulty. It helps that the shape of the neck is in what Fender calls the “Easy to Play” shape as well.

Highlighted Features
  • Solid spruce top
  • Laminated rosewood for back and sides
  • Lots of freebies in the bundle
  • X-bracing
  • “Easy to play” shape
What I Like
  • Meant for beginner guitarists
  • Comes with a hard case (instead of gig bag)
  • Lots of resonance
  • Spruce for top wood
What I Didn’t Like
  • Not in classic dreadnought body shape

#5. Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural

Features
  • 6-string
  • Dreadnought design
  • Whitewood body
  • 25-3/8" scale length
  • Nato neck

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Admittedly, this is a guitar suited for the beginner who doesn’t have much of a budget to work with. However, despite the low price you get quite a lot of surprisingly good features here that you don’t normally expect in this price range.

As a guitar for newbies, Rogue did well in making sure that it is very easy to play. The C-shaped neck is known for easy playing even for beginners.

However, this is a dreadnought body style, which isn’t too easy for kids. However, this is the body style that’s also commonly associated with bluegrass music.

It’s still a lightweight guitar, with a nice balance and feel. For its price, it also doesn’t sound and you get very prominent mids.

Highlighted Features
  • Whitewood top
  • Mahogany for sides and back
  • Dreadnought body style
  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight
What I Like
  • Won’t cost you a lot
  • Plays easy for beginner bluegrass guitarists
What I Didn’t Like
  • Lacks the resonance that you need for bluegrass music
  • No freebies

#6. Yamaha FG840 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

Features
  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Flamed Maple Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • Diecast Tuners
  • this guitar has an adjustable truss rod

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is actually a very versatile guitar that works very well for bluegrass, country, and folk music. This can even be among the best bluegrass guitars for rock.

You’re also able to use this nicely for flatpicking, fingerpicking, and general strumming. Surprisingly, you’re able to distinguish individual notes when you strum a chord.

This has the dreadnought shape you want for bluegrass, plus the Sitka spruce that really transmits sound. You also have flamed maple for the back and sides, along with a new X-bracing design that brings out the sound while boosting the durability of the top board.

All in all, you don’t really need freebies to make this an attractive choice. It plays very well for bluegrass, with resonant bass, good mids, and crisp highs.

Highlighted Features
  • Dreadnought body style
  • Solid Sitka spruce for top wood
  • Flamed maple back and sides
  • Rosewood fretboard
What I Like
  • Really good for bluegrass and similar music genres
  • Sturdy neck
  • Awesome string action
  • Clear notes with amazing sustain
What I Didn’t Like
  • No free accessories
  • May be a bit more expensive than the others

History of Bluegrass Guitars

Bluegrass music started in the hills and mountains of the American South, which were mainly settled by immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland. The isolation of these areas kept the music largely unchanged until the 20th century.

For the most part, guitars for bluegrass were mostly the fiddle and the banjo. But until the 1920s, these instruments were largely in the background, playing second fiddle to other instruments or to vocals.

However, with records coming out bluegrass music became more known. Bluegrass guitarists emerged bringing with them new styles.

But it was Doc Watson in the 1960s who started the more widespread popularity of bluegrass guitars. His flatpicking style of playing was picked up by the kids of the time, and today these guitars are never out of style.

Where are Bluegrass Guitars made?

There was a time when every bluegrass brand guitar was based in the US. After all, for many years it was mainly popular in the rural areas of the American South.

Today, however, plenty of guitar brands in all parts of the world make guitars that are suited for bluegrass. The demand for such guitars is quite constant, and plenty of these brands are willing to meet the demand.

What Makes the Best Bluegrass Guitars for the money?

Aside from the price, here are some characteristics of bluegrass guitars that give you a lot of bang for your buck:

Comfort

It’s crucial that you’re comfortable when you’re playing your guitar. The bluegrass style won’t be easy (especially at first if you’re a newbie), but you make it a lot more difficult for yourself if you’re not truly comfy with the guitar you’re playing.

Tone

The wood used for the guitar, along with the kind of strings you put on, will also help determine the tone of the guitar. This will depend on your personal preferences.

Loudness

Since these guitars are acoustic rather than electric, you need an instrument that people can hear especially out in the open.

The design of the guitar, the kind of wood used, and the quality of the strings can help determine how well the guitar transmits sound.

Durability

You’re obviously wasting your money if the guitar you buy doesn’t last for a long while. To get full value for your money, the guitar ought to last for years.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Bluegrass Guitars

When you read specs and Bluegrass Guitars reviews, make sure you note the following factors so you have a better idea of how a particular guitar will perform for bluegrass music.

Acoustic instead of Electric

Bluegrass is rooted in traditional hill music, so the best guitar for bluegrass will be an acoustic.

6 Steel Strings

The guitar should also use 6 strings, and they ought to be steel to give you that traditional twangy sound of bluegrass. Medium gauge strings are the most popular options, and they’re generally in phosphor bronze or 80/20 brass.

Flattop instead of Archtop

This means your guitar has a round hole, with the bridge glued directly to the guitar top. You have an archtop if your guitar has f-holes, a tailpiece, and a carved top.

Dreadnought Body

Google the body style of the classic Martin D-18 and D-28 guitars, so you know exactly what body shape you need.

However, smaller-body guitars are also popular. They’re great for kids who are learning to play, and many adults like the comfortable, banjo-like feel.

Tonewood

The tone wood is the wood parts of the guitar that greatly determine the overall tone of the instrument. These make up the sides and back of the guitar.

Mahogany was the tonewood of choice for Doc Watson, and you don’t have as much overtones and bass response. The sound is often described as warm and woody, with bright and clear treble.

The other main option is rosewood, which Tony Rice uses. A lot of bluegrass players like its deep bass response, and the tone is generally considered darker than mahogany.

Top Wood

This is the soundboard, which affects the sustain and responsiveness of the guitar. It also influences the quality and power of the guitar’s basic tone.

Generally, spruce is the main top wood option. Sitka spruce is popular for the top bluegrass guitars, as it is lightweight and transmits sound very well.

Another option here is Adirondack, or red spruce. It’s a lot more expensive as it’s rare, but you get high volume with clear tones.

Tips for Using Bluegrass Guitars

  • Use a metronome
  • Start by mastering rhythm playing
  • Learn a new passage very slowly, so you can commit it to muscle memory
  • Learn standard songs like “Salt Creek,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “Fireball Mail”
  • Experiment by changing the angle of the pick against the guitar strings, to get a wider range of tones
  • Keep your muscles relaxed

Final Verdict

Just get the Yamaha FG840 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar. It’s true that the beginner guitars are good and offers great value, but this FG840 feels like it’s meant for bluegrass.

It seems that each feature it has coincides with how a traditional bluegrass guitar is supposed to look like and sound like. Besides, it’s a Yamaha—they’re famous for high quality musical instruments in general.

At least you get the best bluegrass guitars that can fit your budget here with our list. We just recommend that you stretch that budget a bit, as the FG840 is simply terrific for bluegrass.

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