Not every guitar is designed to play fingerstyle. Since this technique is about plucking the strings directly with the fingertips or fingernails, not with a pick. First, it was heavily used in folk music only, however, now this style has reached across all music genres.
In standard guitars, the strings and the frets are too narrow. They don’t suit fingerpicking style at all, as the best guitars for fingerstyle have slightly different anatomy. They are built in a way that provides more resonance and brightness in the sound.
Also, they are great for using non-standard tuning. which is essential to achieve full, rich texture music. Their strings provide easier action, compared to general classical models. It is easy to switch positions and press the strings to make different notes’ sounds.
Best Fingerstyle Guitars – Buying Guide
If you are still confused and thinking about what makes the best guitar for fingerstyle playing. Keep on reading. We have compiled a simple and straightforward guide that will help you in choosing the right fingerstyle guitar to meet your specific needs.
A Cutaway Design
A cutaway guitar design provides easy access to the upper frets.
When it comes to fingerstyle, this feature makes a huge difference. Since this technique of playing is more about playing the upper frets. This design produces a slightly brighter sound compared to other guitars without a cutaway. Besides, there are two cutaway designs – ‘Single Cutaway’ & ‘Double Cutaway’.
The single-cutaway design is a common lower cutaway design, whereas the double-cutaway design has the cutaways on both sides. It reduces the body size but it is also detrimental to sound quality. It often used in the rock music category only.
For the fingerstyle technique, opt for a single cutaway. It not only gives your hand a few extra frets but also allows you to reach the high notes.
Wider Spacing Between Strings
In guitars, the string spacing is highly important.
It is measured from the center of one string to the center of another. Wider spacing between the strings assists you to get your fingers in between for rapid arpeggios.
This is something which is not possible with a classical guitar as the space between the strings aren’t enough, and it isn’t easy to pluck them either.
Tighter (closer) string spacing have its benefits which is hard to achieve with wider spacing, such as ‘Accuracy’. The accuracy and the depth in the notes will be incredible, however, the playability of extremely complicated melodies would be tough.
It can only be achieved with wider space. Wider spacing lets you play difficult harmony lines and melodies with the necessary speed.
Steel VS Nylon Strings
It is a matter of personal preference.
Both strings have their specific benefits. For example, steel strings are good for rock, country, and many other styles of music. They have a crisp and bright tone and they offer more volume and power too.
Apart from this, steel strings don’t require too much attention. Once they are settled, you don’t have to tune them again and again.
On the other hand, nylon strings are traditionally used for classical kind of music, like jazz and bossa nova. They have a lighter attack in sound compared to the steel strings. You have to tune them often too as they are made out of a softer material to complement soft notes.
Though both strings are good for fingerstyle playing, nylon strings have one edge. They are more flexible and under less tension, therefore, you can run them easily.
Top 3 Guitars For Fingerstyle Technique under $500
It is not only about the guitarist; it is about the appropriate guitar too for the particular technique. Below are the best guitars for fingerstyle technique; they are from the best brands in the biz and exceptional both physically and sound-wise. From beginners to seasoned professionals, everyone can count on them.
Fender CD-60SCE Electric Guitar
It is a quality instrument at a fantastic price.
We particularly love our bodies. It is comfortable but feels exclusive in your hands. The dreadnought cutaway body style has good space between the strings and the tuners are stable and smooth too. Experts call it Venetian-cutaway body style also as it provides easy upper-fret access.
The best thing about this fingerstyle electric guitar is it is designed by the Fender Company. It is a very well-known name in the guitar industry that always exceeds expectations with its performance.
For instance, they have introduced a solid spruce top in this model that increases volume and crisp sound. For that reason, even the mellow tones are beautiful and sound awesome.
If you want the quality of a world-famous brand in the mid-range of the price, we will recommend Fender CD-60SCE Electric Guitar. It has an easy-to-play neck, making it perfect for fingerpicking, and gives an overall solid sound performance, especially in live sessions.
- The built-in tuner gives easy playability.
- It is an ideal model for beginning to intermediate level players.
- The tone is much better than old classical guitars.
- The lower, mid, and upper-level notes are rich.
- String spacing makes it perfect for fingerstyle technique.
- It has a slight string buzz when playing power chords.
Takamine GD20-NS Acoustic Guitar
This guitar was better than expected.
It allowed us to play fingerstyle techniques so well because the strings are more comfortably spaced apart from one another. They give amazing sound quality and playability.
Compared to Fender, we believe it is much easier to use fingerstyle techniques on it, and the sound is deeper and cleaner too. The detailed tone is terrific and works beautifully for a wide range of musical styles.
Perhaps, for this reason, it is a tad more expensive.
If you are a professional player who is looking for a guitar that produces different sounds for fingerstyle skills, this is definitely for you. You will especially love its slim shape of the neck, and your hand won’t feel fatigued. You can keep on practicing on it for hours.
- It is perfect for all levels of musicians.
- The neck design allows comfort and plays at a faster tempo.
- It provides unique, rich, and full sound.
- The tonal quality alone worth several thousand dollars.
- It has an elegant natural satin finish.
- No cutaway feature in its design.
The Big Baby Taylor, Natural
If you require bright and sweet tones mixed with soft mid-tones, get the Big Baby Taylor.
Legendary & professional guitarists like Don Felder of The Eagles love the Taylor Guitars also. He has a special place for this companies’ guitars among his touring gear since they do justice, especially the Big Baby Taylor, to the whole range of frequencies.
The sheer tonal quality of this fingerstyle guitar is equal to the Takamine GD20-NS. It is bright and rich and outplays many big and famous models in the market. Musicians who have used this guitar consider it the best sounding instrument.
We agree, it looks smaller, but it is not too small that it loses the quality of its sound. If you want to step up from the beginner model, this is for you.
- It is from one of the world’s leading manufacturers.
- It is a choice of many professional musicians like Dave Matthews and Taylor Swift.
- It is slightly smaller in size but produces surprisingly full voice.
- You can use it for a broad dynamic range.
- It is easy to play fingerpicking on it.
- You can face neck twisting issues.
Fingerstyle Guitars – Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to best guitars for fingerstyle, we know there can be a lot of information to digest.
There are so many resources that it can be difficult for a beginning guitar player choosing where to begin. This section will help you try and find those answers that clear all the misconceptions.
They are not guitar FAQs, they are indeed guitar beginner FAQs.
Is it necessary to grow your nails for fingerstyle guitar?
Yes, it is.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t play it with just your fingers. The only issue is playing with your fingertips give a dull, less-lively sound. But long nails give a crisp and louder sound and they are recommended for fingerstyle technique too.
Does the genre matter?
The most important factor is always what you want to play. For that reason, genre matters. If a genre consists of warmer, mellower tones, you prefer nylon strings; in case it is more into rocks and bluegrass, steels strings would be more well-suited.
Can you change the strings?
Every guitar body is designed for its unique string and sound. The strings aren’t interchangeable on a guitar. If you would try to use steel strings on a guitar that supports nylon or nylon strings on a guitar that supports steel, you will damage your instrument.
Fortunately, all the models listed in our list fall in a professional category. They have high-quality material and they don’t break the bank either.
Besides, if you have the opportunity, first experiment with all the options available in the local music store. You understand the different tones and the feel of the strings. This ensures the guitar you pick is perfect for you!