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Roundup: Ten High-End Acoustics

January 30, 2014
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Anyone who has ever shopped for an acoustic guitar knows that you can spend a bundle on an instrument made by a premium brand. A high-end guitar has certain attractions that begin to emerge the minute you catch a whiff of the nitro lacquer. Aged solid woods, gleaming frets, superb playability, and a sound that stirs your soul the second you give it a strum are some of the obvious things. But there’s also the “X” factor that comes with having an instrument that a celebrated builder had their hands on. After all, what great classic acoustic guitar was ever designed by a committee? Whether you’re talking about C.F. Martin or Orville Gibson—or one of the modern-day masters like Dana Bourgeois, Bill Collings, Richard Hoover, or Bob Taylor—the instruments with these guys’ fingerprints on them have stood the test of time, achieving the honors awarded them because top players have proven that they rule.

Guitars priced at or above the $2,000 mark are desirable for reasons that range from the purely aesthetic (as in the beauty of the woods, binding, and inlays) to the practical (great tone and playability) to the existential, as in finding a 6-string soulmate that makes you feel good about yourself. Those fortunate enough to be able to spend whatever it takes to reach acoustic nirvana definitely have a lot of choices these days. And while we didn’t purposely seek out the costliest models that are out there, this roundup definitely goes uptown with a spectrum of guitars that range from the $2,849 Taylor 714ce to the $8,900 McPherson Camrielle 4.0.

Each of these guitars has its charms that might sway you one way or the other, but all of them are pro-grade affairs, as confirmed by our evaluations of their construction, playability, sound, and, of course, the amorphous “vibe” factor that always plays a role in any guitar purchasing decision.

As we’ve pointed out in past roundups of “budget” acoustics, you don’t have to spend like a drunken sailor to get a happening guitar, but how sweet it is to dip in the high-end pool! —ART THOMPSON

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