Thomas Smolen is a street musician and the Author of 99 Buskers of London: Through the Eyes of London’s Street Musicians, which invites you to explore the world of one of the city’s most iconic subcultures through the eyes of the street musicians themselves. He also checked out their equipment, leading to a lot of knowledge about the guitars buskers use!

Also, once you’ve got your guitar, see our huge list of the best amps for street musicians.


I’ve been a street musician in the UK for about eight years. Last year I went around London interviewing local buskers about their lives and music. I also wanted to find out what kind of gear people were using. While some prefer prefer to play acoustically, most guitar-singers nowadays use an electro-acoustic guitar plugged in to some kind of amp, especially in high-stakes locations like Leicester Square or London’s South Bank.

Having the right set-up for your location is paramount. Luckily, guitar manufacturers are jostling for position in street music market and there is a wealth of well-built, busker-friendly guitars out there for as much or as little as you’re willing to pay.

Below is a list of all the acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars that are most popular with London’s street performers — and why they’re the guitars of choice!


1. Martin Guitars

For a generation of singer-songwriters, Martin is the go-to name for high-quality electro-acoustic guitars. Famously endorsed by ex-busker Ed Sheeran, Martin produce a range of quality models from about £500 and upwards. It’s not the kind of cash to splash lightly, but many would consider it a worthy investment for a decent guitar that will last. Just be sure to look after it!


Martin LX1E Electro Acoustic Guitar

Price: £630 GBP ($778 USD)
Weight: 3.76 kg (8.3 lbs)
Size: 98 x 46 x 16 cm (8.3 x 38.22 x 17.94 in)

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Martin Guitars GPCPA5 K Koa Acoustic Guitar

Price: £900 GBP ($1111 USD)
Weight: 4.63 kg (10.2 lbs)
Size: 116 x 44 x 16 cm (10.2 x 45.24 x 17.16 in)

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2. Taylor Guitars

If Martin is the Coke of the London busking scene, then Taylor could be the Pepsi. With a range models in the £500 and up range, both are aimed at the mid-high end of the market. Many who have played both prefer the sound of Taylors and find them more versatile, but perhaps it’s just a matter of taste. The GS mini is a great looking electro-acoustic guitar made with the travelling musician in mind.


Taylor 114e Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Price: £800 GBP ($988 USD)
Weight: 5.44 kg (12 lbs)
Size: 122 x 53 x 23 cm (12 x 47.58 x 20.67 in)

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Taylor GS MINI-E KOA Acoustic Electric Guitar

Price: £790 GBP ($975 USD)
Weight: 2 kg (4.4 lbs)
Size: 90 x 35 x 15 cm (4.4 x 35.1 x 13.65 in)

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3. Seagull Guitars

These guitars are recognisable by their slimline headstocks. Similarly to Faith guitars, this lesser-known brand produce good, solid-body guitars with a distinctive style and good value for money. The S6 is certainly as fine a guitar as any street musician would ever need and is available in straight acoustic or electro-acoustic models.


Seagull S6 Original Guitar

Price: £479 GBP ($591 USD)
Weight: 4.54 kg (10 lbs)
Size: 117 x 47 x 19 cm (10 x 45.63 x 18.33 in)

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Seagull S6 Original QIT Electro Acoustic Guitar

Price: £720 GBP ($889 USD)
Weight: 3.27 kg (7.2 lbs)
Size: 110 x 45 x 17 cm (7.2 x 42.9 x 17.55 in)

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4. Washburn Guitars

Generally priced between £150-£500, a Washburn is often considered a first “step-up” when a performer decides to take their music to the streets. Or, if you’re lucky, they make an excellent first guitar. They have a loyal following and are arguably the best value for money of all the brands here, being robustly built and offering great sound quality. Because they don’t require you break the bank, you don’t have to worry so much about it taking the odd knock. The EA20 looks different, sounds different and, in my experience, plays flawlessly.


Washburn EA20 Electro Acoustic Guitar

Price: £259 GBP ($320 USD)
Weight: 2.27 kg (5 lbs)
Size: 103 x 47 x 14 cm (5 x 40.17 x 18.33 in)

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5. Yamaha Guitars

Yamaha produce guitars across the whole range of sizes, types and prices, from £20 kids’ models to high-quality classical guitars going on for £1,000. They always provide value for money, so it’s one of the most popular all-around guitar manufacturers. For many street musicians they are a decent low cost or mid-range guitar (£60-£300). The cheapest models will provide you with a passable instrument that you don’t have to worry about if it gets confiscated by the police or suffers an accident during some lively late-night busking. They also produce an affordable nylon-string electro-acoustic, which is great if you want the amplified sound of a nylon-string but don’t want the faff of installing a specialist pick-up system.


Yamaha F310 – Full Size Steel String Acoustic Guitar

Price: £149 GBP ($184 USD)
Weight: 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs)
Size: 89 x 12 x 11 cm (5.3 x 34.71 x 4.68 in)

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Yamaha CX40 Full Size Electro Nylon Classical Guitar

Price: £139 GBP ($172 USD)
Weight: 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
Size: 102 x 46 x 13 cm (3.3 x 39.78 x 17.94 in)

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6. Takamine Guitars

Perhaps not quite as prolific as Yamaha, Takamine is another popular Japanese brand that produces guitars across a whole range of styles and prices. Their electro-acoustic guitars, in the £150-£300 range, are particularly popular with buskers. They also have the “Taka-mini” series, which is a quality ¾ size electro-acoustic guitar. Ideal for the nomadic musician.


Takamine GX11ME NS (Taka-mini) Guitar

Price: £315 GBP ($389 USD)
Weight: 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs)
Size: 104 x 46 x 15 cm (9.9 x 40.56 x 17.94 in)

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TAKAMINE GD20NS – Grey Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Price: £250 GBP ($309 USD)
Weight: 3.18 kg (7 lbs)
Size: 112 x 51 x 15 cm (7 x 43.68 x 19.89 in)

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7. Guild Guitars

Guild have produced some pretty flashy high-end guitars, but they have a number of models in the £300-£400 that don’t skimp on quality and are popular among street musicians. These beautifully finished instruments are known for their clarity and full sound. Great for folk musicians.


Guild D-240E Guitar

Price: £386 GBP ($477 USD)
Weight: 2.23 kg (4.9 lbs)
Size: 107 x 40 x 12 cm (4.9 x 41.73 x 15.6 in)

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8. Epiphone Guitars

Epiphone produce a massive range of electric and acoustic guitars, but their classic dreadnaught model is one of the most popular guitars for street musicians on a budget. You’ve probably seen them with the characteristic “E” stuck on the scratch plate. It’s affordable and it does the job, and for many buskers that’s all you need.


Epiphone DR-100 Dreadnaught Acoustic Guitar

Price: £121 GBP ($149 USD)
Weight: 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
Size: 106 x 47 x 14 cm (2.2 x 41.34 x 18.33 in)

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9. Tanglewood Guitars

Among buskers, Tanglewood are perhaps best known for their “Crossroads” model, a decent electro-acoustic with a distinctive flavour, and good value at under £150. Most Tanglewood guitars are of the folk-bluesy variety. They’ve also released an all-mahogany travel guitar for under £200.


Tanglewood Crossroads TWCR O E Electro Acoustic Guitar

Price: £149 GBP ($184 USD)
Weight: 0.9 kg (2 lbs)
Size: 104 x 48 x 14 cm (2 x 40.56 x 18.72 in)

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Tanglewood TW2 T Travel Acoustic Guitar

Price: £169 GBP ($209 USD)
Weight: 4.54 kg (10 lbs)
Size: 114 x 51 x 15 cm (10 x 44.46 x 19.89 in)

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10. Blueridge Guitars

Total Guitar magazine named this brand “the toast of the bluegrass market”. They produce a number of guitars from £300 upwards, all with a no-frills appearance, and boasting a rich, balanced sound. Among the UK buskers I’ve met, I’ve only ever come across a couple of these guitars, but they sounded great to me. Perfect if you want to bring that Appalachian flavour to the busy streets of the city of your choice.


Blueridge BR-43 Contemporary Series 000 Guitar

Price: £349 GBP ($431 USD)
Weight: 1.81 kg (4 lbs)
Size: 102 x 41 x 13 cm (4 x 39.78 x 15.99 in)

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11. Fender Guitars

Nowadays Fender have their fingers in pies throughout the guitar industry: amps, strings, t-shirts, FX pedals, you name it. They’ve been making quality electric guitars since the 1950s, but since then the name has become more synonymous with affordable, mass-produced starter models. Their value for money makes them ideal instruments for the thrifty busker. If you want a budget electro-acoustic for the streets you could do a lot worse than a Fender dreadnaught.


Fender Dreadnought Cutaway Electric Guitar

Price: £102 GBP ($126 USD)
Weight: 0.9 kg (2 lbs)
Size: 111 x 43 x 15 cm (2 x 43.29 x 16.77 in)

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Thomas Smolen is a street musician and the Author of 99 Buskers of London: Through the Eyes of London’s Street Musicians, which invites you to explore the world of one of the city’s most iconic subcultures through the eyes of the street musicians themselves.