5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Intermediate Players in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Intermediate Guitar Player Playing Acoustic Guitar

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If you are in a hurry and want to find out what is the best acoustic guitar for intermediate players, I recommend: Zager EZ-Play ZAD20. It’s an American made high-quality guitar with comfortable playability and sound of a more expensive guitar. Plus it has a Lifetime Warranty.

If your budget is tighter, I would recommend a Yamaha APX-600 for you.

You have been playing for a while and now it’s time. Time for a new guitar. But your target is more specific than ‘’a good acoustic guitar’’. You want the best acoustic guitar for an intermediate player. 

And that’s what you need. The best guitar as possible, a guitar that fits your needs, and I will help you find that guitar.

It’s impossible to pick just one best acoustic guitar, and that’s why I included 3 different steel-string acoustic guitars and 2 nylon-string classical guitars to choose from.

I’m going to recommend/review the following guitars:

Before we look closer at these fine guitars, let’s quickly talk about the qualities an intermediate player should look for from an acoustic guitar.

Use the table of content to jump to the section you want:

What Intermediate Player Should Look For?

I recommend that you look for an acoustic guitar that:

  • Fits your needs (playstyle, experience, weak and strong points) 
  • Is comfortable to play
  • Is high-quality as possible
  • You can play the music you love with it
  • Is versatile

I hope that all this makes sense to you. With these points, you can find an excellent instrument that helps you to progress.

Also, remember to buy the best guitar you can afford. A guitar which will serve you for years to come. And after… let’s say 10 years, you will be happy that you bought the best guitar possible.

I hope that you have at least some idea about what you need. And if not…No problem. You can still look at my recommendations and progress from there.

Now it is time to take a closer look at these sweet guitars. First, I reveal my 3 favorite steel-string acoustic guitars from different price points. After that, I’ll show 2 different nylon-string acoustic guitars for you.

 

Best Steel-String Acoustic Guitars for Intermediate Players

Best Budget Steel-String – Yamaha APX-600 – Electric Acoustic

Yamaha APX-500 is easily one of the most sold electric-acoustic guitars ever. 

I played the Yamaha APX-500 first time in the summer of 2018. It was so easy to play, due to the thin body and neck, and the sound was still good.   

Yamaha APX-600 is an upgraded version of APX-500. And it’s even better. APX-600 is a great option if you have a tighter budget.

Sound:  Main upgrades of APX-600 are a less boxed tone, increased low end-,  and a stronger mid-range sounds. 

This guitar has a spruce top. The Sound is clear and warm, but it’s still slightly boxed. It’s not a big deal, but a small flaw still. 

For the price, I’m satisfied with the sound.

Hear how this one sounds yourself: 

Playability: Nut width is 1.69 inches (43 mm). So it’s narrow. Easy to play. If you place your thumb in the right place, you can reach frets quite easily.

This one also has a slightly shorter scale than 500 and string spacing is narrower too.  These make playing even easier.

The neck is thin, but the body is too. This makes overall playability better, and moving from electric guitar to this is smooth.

But, the out of the box action is not so good….it’s only OK. A little bit too high for me. This depends on your personal preference of course.

You can lower action, but there is no truss rod. So be careful if you are going to sandpaper the saddle yourself. Because when you lower it, you can’t make it back higher without replacing the saddle. 

If you are a beginner, I recommend that you let a professional handle action setup if that is needed.

Quality/looks: There is not much to complain about the quality and looks. 

Solid finish all around.  Everything looks and feels smooth. Stays in tune well. But there is something to complain about…

Out of the box strings are not the best. Pretty hard for your fingers. You can totally play with these, but if you buy a set of lighter strings, playing will be easier. I would recommend you to first try the original strings out, and buy new strings if needed.

A built-in tuner is a nice bonus. It’s powered by 2 AA batteries. Really easy to use, works great.

Pros:

  • Sounds good without and with the amp
  • Thin neck, easy to play.
  • The body is small, helps with the overall playability
  • Built-in tuner
  • Great quality 

Cons:

  • Action is only OK
  • Out of the box strings are not the best
  • Sound is slightly boxed
  • No truss rod, adjusting the action is harder

Summary

With a comfortable neck, easy playability and great sounds, APX 600 is a great option for you. 

I’ve said this before on my site, but again: When I manage to reach 30 blog posts on this site, I’m going to reward myself by buying this guitar for me! 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

 

Best Mid-Priced Steel-String – Washburn Comfort Series USM-WCG20SCE – Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Name states ”Comfort”…but is it really comfortable? And can you get good sounds with comfort? Let’s find out.

Sound: With a solid spruce top and mahogany sides, this guitar provides smooth and clear sound. Especially the high tones come out bright and sparkling.

The mid-range is really articulate. The low end is OK, but it’s a little bit too quiet in my opinion. Of course with your playing, you can make it louder.

If you are playing gentle fingerstyle the sound can sometimes be a little bit weak. But usually, this guitar handles a great variety of tones well.

Hear how this one sounds:

Playability: It’s a comfort series guitar. And yes. It’s comfortable.

Nut width is 43mm(1.69 inches), so the neck feels familiar to electric guitar players too. This makes this guitar really easy to play. Even for people with small hands.

The neck is smooth and frets are easy to access if you use your thumb correctly.

You probably need to adjust the action a little bit with a truss rod, but some action adjustments are almost always needed with acoustic guitars. So no big deal.

Carving on the side and top of the guitar makes playing more comfortable than with a regular body. You can access the frets easier with your pick hand. You can especially notice this when playing fingerstyle.

Playability is excellent for the price.

Quality/looks:

Guitar’s whole body, tuning machines, and electronics are really great in quality. Nice consistent finish, stays in tune well and electronics work like a charm.

But original strings and the built-in tuner are a little bit weak. You can play with the strings, but replacing them from the start is probably a wise thing to do. The tuner is OK, but sometimes it’s a little bit inaccurate.

I really like the looks of this guitar. Carved edge gives this one a nice modern look. Definitely a treat for your eyes.

Pros:

  • Sounds solid, especially mid and high tones are sparkling
  • Really comfortable everywhere, easy to play
  • Quality is great
  • Looks beautiful and modern
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • The tuner is sometimes inaccurate
  • Original strings are weak
  • Low-end tones could be stronger

Summary

Really good choice for intermediate players. Best guitar for this price range in my opinion, and definitely comfortable as the name states.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

 

Best Overall Steel-String – Zager EZ-Play ZAD20 Acoustic Natural Dreadnought

Zager Guitar from Lincoln Nebraska has made guitars since 1969. But how is the quality in 2020? Is the ZAD20 from Zager Guitars worth-a-buy?

Sound: This guitar has a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides. The sound is really gentle and rich. You can spot almost every detail in it. 

Sound is bright, but not too bright. The mid-range is excellent, but low tones are the weakest spot. That’s a little bit weird because the spruce top should provide really nice punchy tones. This is a really minor flaw, but it’s something.

Guitarists usually say that Zager guitars have a sound of a more expensive guitar. And I think that’s true. You can find better-sounding guitars if you are willing to pay a lot more, but for this price, this is the best sounding guitar in my opinion.

And from this post, I think that the Zager ZAD20 is the best sounding guitar.

Hear  how this sounds:

Playability: The nut width is 44mm(1.75inches), so it’s not the narrowest but not the widest either. 

This guitar has these nice qualities:

  • slightly wider string spacing
  • low action and low string tension

These things make Zager ZAD20, a lot different and easier to play than other similar sized or even smaller guitars. Number 1 thing is how easy the notes are to hit. You have fewer problems with buzzing the strings while playing notes, and pressing the strings also takes less effort.

The guitar comes with a truss rod, so adjusting the action to your own preference is quite easy.

Quality/looks:

Quality is excellent. And the makers of Zager guitars are pretty confident about this because they promise a lifetime warranty for this guitar. That’s rare but awesome.

And I honestly can’t find any issues about the quality. Great American made instrument.

Looks are pretty basic. I’m personally OK with that. But some might not be. 

Pros:

  • One of the best out of the box action and setup
  • Strings are easy to press down because of low tension
  • Wider string spacing makes hitting notes easy
  • Sound of a lot more expensive guitar
  • Great quality for the price
  • This guitar has a Lifetime Warranty

Cons:

  • Nut width is too much for some players(not too bad)
  • Lower end tones are the weakest aspect of the sound
  • Some might not be OK with the basic look (I’m OK with that)

Summary

I’m interested in buying this guitar in the future. Great sounding American made guitar with easy playability. Guitar sounds and feels better than many more expensive guitars. If you don’t have a super tight budget, this might be a great option for you! 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best Classical Guitars for Intermediate Players

Best Mid-Priced Classical – Yamaha CG182C

Yamaha CG182C is mid-priced instruments and music stores state that it gives you features that you usually found from more expensive classical guitars. Let’s find out if that’s true.

Sound: Solid cedar top with rosewood back and sides provide really full and warm sound. To be honest, I was not expecting sounds this good.

Really steady tones from low to high ends. This is a really consistent and well-balanced guitar sound-wise. 

The sound would be just perfect in my opinion if there would slightly more brightness on it. 

There is a solid spruce top version of this guitar available. In this case, the spruce top provides more brightness but the overall sound is not so full, open, and warm. That’s why I prefer the cedar top version. 

Hear how the both, Cedar-, and Spruce top sound:

Playability: Nut width is 52mm(2.05inches).  The neck is slightly thinner than in classical guitars in general. 

This guitar is not super easy to play. Especially if you have been playing an electric guitar before, I would maybe look for a guitar with a smaller neck. 

But this guitar is still comfortable and fun to play. No question about it. 

I own a Yamaha C40(my review about it), and it’s a really comfortable instrument when you get used to it. You can expect even more from the CG182C. Because of better materials, more detailed finish, and a thinner and narrower neck.

So if you are willing to practice, you can learn to play this guitar really smoothly. It’s a typical classical guitar in good and bad(with a slightly thinner neck).

Quality/looks:

Yamaha is known for its high-quality instruments from every price range. And Yamaha CG182C is definitely like that. Highest quality as possible for this price point.

The finish is solid, no rough edges, stays in tune and will serve you for a long time.

It looks like a typical classical guitar. But when I compare this to my cheaper Yamaha C40, I can see the difference. Especially the rosewood sides look really pleasant to my eyes. The overall finish is really beautiful.

Pros:

  • Really well-balanced sounds
  • The neck is slightly thinner than in classical guitars usually
  • High quality
  • Great bang for your buck

Cons:

  • Little bit more brightness on the sound needed (please Yamaha!)
  • Not super easy to play (but not too hard either)

Summary

This Yamaha is a great classical guitar. It’s not easiest to play, but still comfortable. Sounds are solid and well balanced. Can you find a better classical guitar from this price range? I don’t think so. At least it will be really hard.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best Budget Classical – Yamaha C40

If you are looking for a budget classical guitar, I have nothing else to say to you than Yamaha C40. It’s definitely the best tight-budget classical guitar out there. I have owned it for 9 years, I play it almost every day and it still sounds great.

You can read my full review of  Yamaha C40 here: Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar Review – Before You Buy

And you can check the price on Amazon by clicking here.

 

Best Overall Classical – Cordoba C9 Crossover

This guitar is for those who have a slightly bigger budget and want a really comfortable classical guitar playing experience.

Sound:

C9 Crossover comes with a solid cedar top with a mahogany back and sides.

This guitar offers great steady sounds from high- to low end. Rich and clean. This one is not one of those ‘’oh, it sounds 10 times better than more expensive guitars!!’’. But still, sounds are really great for the price.

I would be 100% happy with the sound if it would be just a little bit warmer. Juust a little bit. But this is no game-breaker.

Hear how the Cordoba C9 Crossover sounds:

 

Playability:

Usually, Cordoba makes guitars that are a pleasure to play. And C9 Crossover is no exception.

What makes the C9 so great, is the crossover neck. It’s closer to the neck of a steel-string acoustic. Nut width is only 48mm(1’78). So the neck is narrower and also thinner than in most classical guitars. This makes the transition from electric- or steel-string acoustic guitar to this one pretty easy.

Out of the box action is good. Adjustments are easy to make because this guitar has a truss rod built into it.

All these features make this a great choice for intermediate players who are looking for an easy to play regular-sized classical guitar.

Quality/looks: 

Usually, when we are talking about acoustic guitars from this price range the quality is really good. And it should be. Always. And Cordoba C9 Crossover is definitely a high-quality guitar.

It’s hard to find any mentionable flaws from the quality. To be honest, I didn’t find any.

The guitar looks like a classical guitar. What else could I say? Or what else could I expect? I like the looks of it. Especially the shapes around the soundhole look really nice.

Pros:

  • Narrower and thinner neck than in regular-sized classical guitars usually.
  • Comfortable and easy to play
  • Sounds really good 
  • Amazing value for the money
  • Setup is usually spot on

Cons:

  • Sometimes small adjustments to action are needed(depends from you playstyle)
  • The sound could be just a little bit warmer

Summary

Cordoba C9 Crossover is one of the best classical guitars I know of. If you can afford it, it’s a great choice. It will offer you easy playability and great tones for years to come.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Conclusion

That was it! Every one of these has some small flaws(almost every guitar does), but overall, these were the best guitars for intermediate guitar players in my opinion. Really great instruments.

If I had to pick just one and had a loose budget, my pick would be :

Zager EZ-Play ZAD20

American made high-quality guitar with comfortable playability and sound of a more expensive guitar. Plus a Lifetime Warranty. Hopefully, I can own this guitar somewhere in the future.

If I had a tighter budget, my choice would be:

Yamaha APX-600

Really easy to play, good Yamaha-quality, and sounds great. Slightly boxed sound is a small minus.  I’m going to buy the Yamaha APX-600 for me later this year. I love it already…

I hope that this post gave you useful info and helped you to choose the right guitar for you. If you have any questions or thoughts about this topic, leave a comment down below. And feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu Suomala

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