10 Best Dreadnought Guitars
Are you on the hunt for a dreadnought guitar? Call off the search. Whatever your budget, this article has the best dreadnought guitar for you.
Martin pioneered the dreadnought in 1916. The design revolutionized acoustic guitars forever and has since become the archetypical acoustic.
Most manufacturers have tried their hand at the iconic dreadnought guitar shape. You’re overloaded with options, so how do you separate a good dreadnought from an awful one?
In this guide, we’ll review 10 of the best dreadnought guitars on the market to help you decide which is the best for you. We’ll look at guitars in various price ranges by the most reputable brands in the industry, allowing you to identify the perfect guitar for any budget.
Let’s get started!
What is a Dreadnought Guitar?
The dreadnought is one of the most common acoustic guitar shapes. Pioneered by C. F. Martin in 1916, he named this guitar after the battleship because of its firepower. This style of guitar has a loud projection with rich and bold delivery. Dreadnoughts flourish when strummed and compliment vocals across the genres.
The Best Dreadnought Guitars
- Martin D-15M – Best Overall
- Epiphone DR-100 – Best for Beginners
- Yamaha FG-800 – Best Under $200
- Martin D-X1E – Best Under $500
- Takamine P3DC Dreadnought – Best Under $1,500
- Martin HD-28 – Premium Pick
- Taylor 210ce – Best Value
- Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best for Small Hands
- Fender CD-140SCE – Best for Intermediate Players
- Takamine GD30CE-12 – Best 12-String
Martin D-15M – Best Dreadnought Guitar Overall
What better way to start? As the creators of the dreadnought, Martin is a company that knows what they’re doing.
Their guitars balance peak performance and craftsmanship, one reason they’re market leaders. Problem is, you’ll have to fork out the bucks. So, is the D-15M worth the price?
In short, yes! The D-15M is a prime example of why Martin guitars are the gold standard of acoustics. So let’s clarify why this guitar wins the prize of Editors Choice.
The D-15H continues the legacy of the 15 models circa 1940s. With a mahogany top, you’ll struggle to find a more stunning tone. The mahogany offers a darker tonal variation compared with a conventional spruce top.
This guitar will complement your voice and deliver solo performances with professional articulation. For a singer-songwriter, you’re onto a winner.
Radiant with minimalist allure, this guitar is elegant. The smooth satin finish shows us how premium guitars should appear. So sleek, it begs you to grasp it in your hands and play, and when you do, you’ll experience unrivaled playability.
The D15-M boasts artful looks; sweet sounds and dreamlike playability, it’s hard to write anything bad. The hardware is of excellent stock and the craftsmanship exhibits what you’d expect from a Martin.
Consider that there’s no preamp with the DH-15M. If you want connectivity to a PA or amp, you’ll need to acknowledge this in your budget.
The price point is a big stumbling block with the DH-15M. Not everyone can afford such a price tag. If you can—this guitar sits at the summit of dreadnought guitars and it’ll feel like money well spent. But if you can’t—add it to your bucket list and let’s read on for more affordable alternatives.
- Martin excellence
- Crafted in the USA
- Elegant dreadnought body
- Smooth satin finish playability
- Material list: Solid mahogany top, neck, back, and sides with Indian rosewood fingerboard.
Epiphone DR-100 – Best Dreadnought Guitar for Beginners
So what makes a good beginner’s guitar?
Let’s start with affordability. There’s no need to splash big bucks on a guitar that you’ll be honing your craft on.
Like any instrument, learning guitar requires patience. For some beginners, the process can test resolve to the limit. If you’ve spent a large sum, it’s money down the drain if you throw in the towel. So keep it sub $250.
Coming in at under $150, the Epiphone DR-100 ticks that box and more.
With cheap guitars, things get a little precarious. Poor craftsmanship and out-of-the-box playability can suffer. This is the next thing to look for as a beginner—playability.
You might have got yourself a bargain. But it’s no use if the guitar is difficult to play. It’s a quick-fire way to get disheartened.
The body of the DR-100 is a perfect entry-level introduction to dreadnoughts. A slim tapered neck and a scale length of 25.5″ offer comfort and wriggle room. The large frets are manageable and you won’t overstretch your hand.
But what about sound?
The spruce top delivers a bright tone. It sparkles with all the qualities of a guitar that could retail for around $400.
There are a few minor complaints, but considering the price, they’re small imperfections. The stock strings aren’t the best. In due course, it’s worth replacing them.
The out-of-the-box action is good on the whole. Some stock might need you to adjust the truss rod. But don’t stress, it’s easier than you think.
While this guitar doesn’t sound like a premium pick, its value for money is quite astonishing. With playability, affordability, and tone, the Epiphone DR-100 behaves beyond the price point. As a beginner, you’ll struggle to put it down.
- Bright sparkling tone
- Tonewoods mature with age
- Playability of slim taper neck
- Material list: Spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, mahogany neck, back, and sides.
- Poor stock strings
Yamaha FG800 – Best Dreadnought Guitar Under $200
The Yamaha FG800 proves that a great acoustic guitar doesn't need to cost a fortune. It has excellent playability, tone, and overall build quality all for an entry level price.
Priced under $200, the
Yamaha has been developing the FG series since the 60s. While features have evolved throughout this period, this take on the dreadnought is a nod to the past. This guitar bellows a vintage tone like a 60s instrument—it’s full at the low end.
No corners are cut with the solid spruce top, and the scalloped bracing is a key feature. So why does it matter?
The bracing allows for more movement and vibration. So you can expect the FG800 to open up and deliver its stocked tone with loud projection.
Solid back and sides are a feature reserved for more expensive acoustics. Using laminates in these areas is a common way to keep production costs down.
But the laminate back and sides on the FG800 aren’t without their charms. Although at the expense of some resonance, the laminate wood is at the benefit of durability. Robustness is another area where the FG800 excels. Hard-wearing, it’ll be in your collection for many years.
The slim tapered satin neck is comfortable on the palm. The finish is a feature that could have you mistaking it for a more expensive guitar.
Interestingly, the fretboard is flatter than most with a radius measuring 15”. This is a characteristic often found on vintage guitars. This suggests who the
While the out-of-the-box action can be high, if you pay for a solid setup, you’ll have a gem of a guitar. For big bold retro strumming, the FG800 is perfect and considering the price—it’s a steal.
- Full and bold sound
- Scalloped bracing for a punch
- Tapered neck with a quick satin finish
- Material list: Solid spruce top, nato neck, walnut fingerboard, nato/okoume back and sides
- High action on some stock
Martin D-X1E – Best Dreadnought Guitar Under $500
What’s not to like about a Martin for under $500? Right off the bat, if you’re sold on a Martin but buying on a budget, this is your guitar.
So let’s dive deeper into the Martin D-X1E because they’re some unique selling points.
A standout feature on the Martin D-X1E is the Richlite fingerboard. So what is it? Richlite is a resin-infused paper material.
You may question the use of paper on a guitar, but let’s put you at ease. Richlite is a premium material with applications used far and wide. Its use in aerospace goes a long way to tell you about its durability.
Its endurance is something to celebrate, it won’t chip. So down the line, if you opt for a re-fret, you needn’t concern yourself with cracks. It’s a nonporous material, so you’ll be safe from the damages of moisture and temperature. Think about sweaty stagehands.
Richlite also has no grains, so it’s as smooth as they come. Bending notes and shaping chords will be easy on the fingertips.
But what about sound? Richlite fingerboards have very similar tonal qualities to ebony. The crisp attack of the fingerboard compliments the low-end focused body. The D-X1E has an all-encompassing warmth with sparkle.
For plugged-in performance and recording, the D-X1E is complete with Fishman MX electronics. This pickup translates the sweet tones with accuracy. Hiding away in the soundhole, the controls are out of sight.
A guitar with the long term in mind, all the materials used are laminate. While this works wonders for robustness. If you like your tonewoods true, resonate, and to age like a fine wine, then this isn’t for you.
This is a guitar of personality. It’ll suit an intermediate, but professionals should take note. Available in natural mahogany, spruce, koa, and jet black—there are finishes to suit. Most important of all, the name on the headstock says it all, it’s every inch a Martin.
- Fishman MX pickup
- Warm and mellow tone
- Scalloped X bracing for improved projection
- Eco friendly and durable Richlite fretboard and bridge
- Material list: Rust birch laminate neck, Richlite fingerboard, high-pressure laminate top, back, and sides
- Less resonate laminate tonewoods that won’t mature in tone
Takamine P3DC Dreadnought – Best Dreadnought Guitar Under $1,500
When your budget is near $1,500, you can get your hands on an exceptional guitar. So why is the Takamine P3DC worth the price point?
The P3DC is part of the Pro Series, and this is a clue to who this guitar appeals to. For a professional gigging musician, it’s a top performer.
Takamine Guitars have a trademark sound. Focused, bright, in-your-face with tonal depth. If this sounds like something that’ll suit your style, consider the P3DC.
The DC in the model name refers to the dreadnought cutaway body. The Venetian cutaway is easy on the eye and serves a purpose. Allowing you to let your fingers flow up to the high frets along the bound rosewood fingerboard.
The pinless rosewood bridge makes changing strings easy. It’s a welcome feature that assists players who find string-changing an arduous task.
String breakage onstage is a nightmare for players. If you don’t have a roadie on hand to do your dirty work, the bridge allows for a quick change. In heated moments when tools aren’t available, it’s one less thing to worry about.
The CT4B preamp is another feature that makes this an ideal guitar for the live performer. It’s a top-of-the-range preamp that maintains the purity of tone.
With control of low, midrange, and treble frequencies, you can calibrate the tone to suit. The built-in tuner is on hand for high-pressure situations.
If strumming is your thing and you like to give it some, this guitar doesn’t have a scratchplate. Something worth considering for long-term protection.
With the Takamine crisp sound, smooth playability, and top build quality, The P3DC is a hit. Including a sturdy hardshell case, you’ll be gig-ready. Without a doubt, this is a pro guitar that’ll meet the demands of a pro performer.
- CT4B preamp
- Takamine focused tone
- Includes hardshell case
- Playability and feel of satin top, neck, back, and sides
- Material list: Solid cedar top wood, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, solid sapele back and sides
- No scratchplate
Martin HD-28 – Best Premium Dreadnought Guitar
By now you’ll understand the credentials of Martin guitars. So what happens when they set their mind to making a premium guitar?
Well, what you get is a guitar so good, some users claim it as the best.
The HD-28 balances past and future to perfection. This guitar looks like a vintage guitar from the golden era of Martins. It’ll draw you in with its beauty.
The vintage open-back tuners, the herringbone trim, the antique logo, the dreadnought curves. It’s a take on the classic D-28 and has all the design qualities that made it a time-honored guitar.
But where the HD-28 has evolved from the D-28 is playability. A huge contributing factor to this is the neck—it plays like a dream. Low oval and tapered, it’s extreme comfort on your hand.
The black ebony fingerboard is responsive and allows your fingertips to glide. This guitar has all the beauties of a vintage guitar but with modern playability.
So what about sound? To the untrained ear, it’s difficult to separate an expensive and cheap guitar. But you’ll notice the audible difference of the HD-28.
As pioneers of the dreadnought, they know the shape better than anyone. The shape alongside its internal bracing serves up an open tone with tons of projection.
The Sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides provide a sweet, deep, and balanced sound. It’s a tone to stop you in your tracks. One strum will captivate an audience.
So what is the downside of this guitar? The standout negative is its huge price point. While on sound alone it’s worth it, it’s a price tag that’ll deter most guitarists.
But to own a top-of-the-range premium guitar, you’ll have to be ready to part with big bucks. If you’re ready to part with the cash, your reward will be one of the most beautiful sounding guitars ever made.
- Martin build-quality
- Includes hardshell case
- Beautiful sweet premium tone
- Vintage look with modern playability
- Material list: Sitka spruce top, select hardwood neck, ebony fingerboard, East Indian rosewood back and sides
Taylor 210ce – Best Value Dreadnought Guitar
Put an acoustic guitar aficionado on-the-spot. Ask them to name the three top acoustic guitar manufacturers. Chances are they’ll mention Taylor.
So it’s no surprise Taylor has found itself on this list of best dreadnoughts.
The 210ce offers definitive value for money. So why is it such good value?
Well, let’s start with the basics— it’s a Taylor. The 210ce showcases all the attributes that make Taylor such a beloved brand. The design, the hardware, and not least Taylor’s trademark tone.
You won’t find any laminate tonewoods. There’s a Sitka spruce top with Indian rosewood back and sides. The rosewood on the back has a striking authentic grain.
Then there’s a neck of tropical American mahogany and an ebony fingerboard. We’re talking premium tonewoods.
The 210ce doesn’t cut back on the preamp. The Expressions System 2 is an innovative tech for guitar amplification. Its patented behind-the-saddle design has three pickup sensors that deliver a hot signal. All sensors are fitted with precision to achieve a heightened dynamic range.
The Expression System 2 is the perfect way to deliver the articulate voice of this Taylor. There are dials for volume, bass, and treble. Its controls are simple and look tidy. So if you’re not a fan of over-complicated weighty pickups, it’ll be a refreshing change.
Why isn’t this guitar in a higher price bracket? The hardware is awesome. The tuners will last, and the mother-of-pearl inlays are elegant.
You’ll have to dig deep to find its faults. Made of cheap plastic, the binding could be better. And while the satin finish looks the part, a bit of lacquer would’ve increased its shelf life.
These are minor discrepancies on an exceptional guitar. Considering the price, the 210ce offers serious value. This is a guitar that could rival premium-priced instruments, but without the expense.
- Expression System 2 preamp
- Venetian single-cutaway body
- Balanced tone, full low end, and crisp highs
- Taylor build quality including excellent hardware
- Material list: Sitka spruce top, tropical American mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, Indian rosewood back and sides
- Cheap plastic binding
Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best Dreadnought Guitar for Small Hands
The Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 is Taylor's ultra-portable travel mate belies its size with a sweet, full voice and great tone.
Read our full Taylor Baby BT2 Review
For guitar players with smaller hands, or if you’re of a slighter build, a full-scale guitar can be a tough nut to crack. This is where a ¾ length guitar can help your cause.
A shorter guitar has broader appeals than first thought. Ed Sheeran’s loyalty to ¾ length guitars has increased their universal appeal.
So what’s the best small-scale guitar?
The Taylor Baby BT2 should be in the conversation. Offering Taylor quality and increased playability for smaller-handed players—there’s a lot to like.
The entry-level price makes this a perfect option for the beginner. With its playability, you’ll make strides with your learning.
The mahogany top and neck offer a warm and balanced tone that more progressed players will love. With a rounded midrange and sparkling highs, the tone has a bluesy feel.
Its shrunken, dreadnought body shape makes it portable, but this comes at the expense of some low end. Sat in a studio as a writing aid or as a travel guitar, it’ll fit the bill.
Let’s not forget this is a Taylor, so you can predict the quality of craftsmanship. On the whole, it’s everything you’d expect. The top tonewoods and the durable varnish finish will extend its lifespan.
That said, the two screws on the 16th fret look cheap and somewhat of an eyesore. But at this price point, expect imperfections.
It’s manageable for smaller hands and comes complete with the Taylor seal of approval. With its polished tone, the BT2 is the affordable guitar for all wanting a ¾ scale guitar in their collection.
- Bluesy tone
- Ideal travel companion
- 3/4 size dreadnought guitar
- Material list: Tropical American mahogany top and neck, layered sapele back and sides, ebony fretboard
- Two screws on the 16th fret
Read Also: The 10 Best Guitars for Small Hands
Fender CD-140SCE – Best Dreadnought Guitar for Intermediate Players
Good guitarists never stop learning. An intermediate player is the halfway point between beginner and pro. For example, you may have chords locked down but have yet to crush the art of solos.
If this sounds familiar—what type of acoustic guitar will suit you? The Fender CD-140SCE springs to mind as a top intermediate pick.
Why? It covers all bases. The solid spruce top works alongside the ovangkol back and sides. These tonewoods deliver a full midrange with scintillating highs. Then the dreadnought body offers solid lows—chords sound awesome.
As your playing matures, this guitar will match your progression. The responsive mahogany neck and the walnut fingerboard will aid you as you master the art of the riff. The deep cutaway provides access to higher notes as you learn to solo or grasp complex barre chords.
Once you’re crushing solos, you’ll want to showcase your skills. A live show or recording will translate through the Fishman CD pickup.
Fishman pickups are a go-to for many artists at the top of their game. While the CD pickup isn’t one of their premium products, it amplifies a sweet acoustic tone.
There are options to tone shape to suit with bass, treble, and volume dials. And a built-in tuner gives you speedy tuning capabilities.
This guitar is an ideal option for beginner to immediate players. The out of the box action can vary and as your demands grow, this might pose a problem.
But as you progress towards the upper end of intermediate, don’t retire the CD-140SCE. A little fine-tuning from a guitar shop will have it ready to meet your higher demands.
The CD-140SCE is a leading Fender at this price point. It has playability surpassing cheap beginner options. As you develop as a player—it will still be a sidekick you can trust.
- Fishman CD pickup
- Includes sturdy hardshell case
- Single cutaway dreadnought body
- Playability of rolled edge neck shape
- Material list: Solid spruce top, mahogany neck, walnut fingerboard, laminated ovangkol back and sides.
- May need fine-tuning for improved action
Read Also: The 10 Best Intermediate Guitars
Takamine GD30CE-12 – Best 12-String Dreadnought Guitar
Although less common than their six-string counterpart, don’t disregard the twelve-string guitar.
They are much more than a novelty. In fact, every studio performer should have one on hand. What they offer is a stunning chorus-like chime that is hard to replicate. A fresh coloration is an important attribute for any recording guitarist.
But for what you may deem as an experimental instrument, you don’t want to break the bank. The Takamine GD30CE-12 is affordable but doesn’t compromise on quality.
The GD30CE-12 is part of the Takamine G-Series. This collection of acoustic guitars has proved to be a blessing for guitarists on a budget. Their performance and durability earn them high praise.
The GD30CE-12 stands testament to the excellence of the G-Series. Its robust design has staying power. Whether it’s a part player or subject to frequent use, it’ll stand the test of time.
In tone, this guitar has a snappy definition. With twelve strings in play, tones can get muddy, but there’s no such problem with the GD30CE-12. It has all the jangling enchantments of a twelve-string, but with warmth and resonance.
Twelve-string guitars can be difficult to play. If craftsmanship isn’t on top form and strings of the same note are too far apart, playability suffers.
Attentive craftsmanship means this isn’t an issue on the GDCE-12. The transition from six to twelve-string won’t be a huge jump. Effortless playing is further assisted by the ovangkol fingerboard.
You’ll also have connectivity through the TP-4TD preamp. This preamp is all singing and dancing with an appealing amplified tone to boot.
The TP-4TD is a common preamp used throughout the G-Series. It has a built-in tuner with a turnoff feature. This can annoy as its timing caters for 6 strings, so can often cut off when more strings need tuning.
The Takamine GD30CE-12 is a super way to add a twelve-string to your collection. It won’t break the bank, it’s well built and if you’re new to the joys of double the strings—there isn’t a leap in difficulty.
- TP-4TD preamp
- Single cutaway dreadnought body
- Classic twelve-string jangle and chime tone
- Material list: Solid spruce top, ovangkol, fingerboard, mahogany neck, back, and sides
- Tuner power off during tuning
What Are Dreadnought Guitars Good For?
The dreadnought is a guitar shape favored by a myriad of players ranging from Elvis to Cobain. With a louder projection than smaller-bodied guitars, it’s at home within a band set up. Rich in bass and with a warm midrange, it’s a perfect guitar for strumming. Acoustic rock, bluegrass, country, and pop all profit from dreadnought characteristics.
Dreadnought Vs Concert Guitars: What’s the Difference?
The standout difference between a dreadnought and a concert guitar is shape and size. Dreadnoughts have larger and broader bodies than concert guitars. The size difference results in different nuances in tone. Dreadnoughts have more low end and projection, lending themselves to strumming. The qualities of a concert guitar suit them to more finger-based playing.
Read Also: Dreadnought Vs Concert Guitars: What’s the Difference?
How to Choose The Best Dreadnought Guitar – Buyer’s Guide
Materials & Build Quality
When paying thousands of bucks, you’ll have peak materials and build quality. The selection of tonewoods will be solid and prepared with pinpoint precision.
That said, all guitars in this article have gone through meticulous research. Even with a lesser budget, the guitars reviewed will have top build quality and materials.
Cheaper guitars use laminate or layered woods to keep costs down. Although less resonant, they are a durable alternative.
When manufacturing takes place in North America, there’s strict quality control. Overseas the quality control can be less rigid because of the speed of manufacture. The consistency in quality can suffer.
If you fall victim to a dud guitar. This is where a positive return policy will help. Guitar Advise links to sites that protect your investment should you need to return.
Regardless of your skill level, playability is all-important. If you’re at comfort with your instrument, the learning process will be easier. Likewise, professionals who find a guitar easy to play can produce a top performance.
So what is good playability? It’s as simple as comfort. What forms peak comfort varies from player to player. But here are some things to consider:
- Body size – So you’ve decided on a dreadnought. Except for the jumbo, dreadnoughts are bigger than most guitars. They still come in different dimensions and scale lengths. Consider a cutaway if you hope to play high on the fretboard.
- Neck profile – Profiles will vary from brand to brand. Slimmer necks will be easier to wrap your hand around. Larger-handed players can find bigger necks more suitable. Manufacturers will cite neck profiles in the specs.
- Action – A common term amongst guitar geeks. It refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard. High action is hard to play, as you’ll need more pressure to press the notes and form chords. Low action is more forgiving, resulting in minimal hand fatigue. If you’re unhappy with the action, a guitar tech can address this.
- String gauge – Different thicknesses of string can affect playability. Some players prefer the bolder sound of heavier strings, but they can be more difficult to bend. Lighter strings have less weight but can suit fast playing.
There are commonalities throughout dreadnought guitars. With a bigger body, there is more room for the acoustic sound to reverberate. So the dreadnought is louder than most acoustic guitars. A solid and full tone will be on the cards.
Slight nuanced differences will come from the varying woods. Solid spruce, mahogany, and cedar woods feature as tops in this article.
Here is what each wood will offer in tone:
- Laminate wood – Made by bonding several thin layers of wood, this is the cheapest option. Although laminate wood might not provide the best tone, it helps with affordability. Often manufacturers use this on the back and sides and use solid top wood to compensate.
- Cedar – This wood has been a go-to for classical guitars. But its popularity is increasing on steel-string guitars. Less dense than spruce, it provides darker overtones.
- Mahogany -This dense wood has a slow response with a meaty midrange. Ideal for earthy genres like blues. Often used for back and sides but when placed on top its qualities thrive in genres that need a big midrange.
- Spruce – The most common top wood. Light yet durable, it responds to both subtle and assertive playing. Plenty of dynamic range and resonance makes it suitable across the board.
For plugin capabilities, consider the pickup. They can vary in quality, so be sure to listen to examples of it plugged in to ensure you’re happy.
So now onto the biggest deciding factor of all. Your budget. We’d all love a premium guitar, but for many, it’s a distant fantasy.
Don’t let it demoralize. There are some great dreadnoughts available despite the budget. Have a price in mind and don’t bankrupt yourself.
Remember, many amazing timeless songs were born on some of the cheapest guitars.
Read Also: How Much Does a Guitar Cost?
Recap of the Best Dreadnought Guitars
|Martin D-15M||Editor’s Choice|
|Epiphone DR-100||Best for Beginners|
|Yamaha FG-800||Best Under $200|
|Martin D-X1E||Best Under $500|
|Takamine P3DC Dreadnought||Best Under $1,500|
|Martin HD-28||Premium Pick|
|Taylor 210ce||Best Value|
|Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2||Best for Small Hands|
|Fender CD-140SCE||Best for Intermediate Player|
|Takamine GD30CE-12||Best 12-String|
So which dreadnought will it be? Regardless of budget, there’ll be one on this list to perform to your every need.
I hope you now have the courage of your conviction and become the proud owner of a top dreadnought.