Searching for the best acoustic guitar under $500 can present many challenges. It’s no secret that there are thousands of guitars in this category, all of varying sizes, shapes and quality.
Now, if you’re new to the acoustic guitar market this can be overwhelming and quite frankly, confusing.
However, you needn’t worry, as in this article you will learn what the best acoustic guitar under $500 is, as well as a whole host of information about other price-competitive axes that are guaranteed to keep your bank balance in check and keep you feeling satisfied!
Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500
Yamaha is one of the premier musical instrument manufacturers. Based out of Japan, Yamaha create everything from Flutes, Ukuleles, Guitars and Brass instruments.
They’re known for making instruments that are always competitively priced and extremely well made.
The Yamaha is the best acoustic guitar under $500 in our eyes, let’s find out why.
The Yamaha FG820 is a fantastic acoustic guitar that would be the perfect upgrade for beginners who are starting to take the instrument more seriously.
In terms of specifications of the acoustic guitar, we’ve got a 25 and 9/16″ scale length, solid Sitka spruce top, laminate mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard and a Nato neck.
As well as this, the nut and saddle and bridge are made out of Urea, whereas the bridge pins are made out of black plastic and the tuners are a stylish die-cast chrome. As far as acoustic guitars under $500, this is really great value for money.
The main aspect that makes this acoustic guitar stand out from the rest is Yamaha’s new scalloped bracing. Essentially, this means that the guitar has more bass and projection compared to previous incarnations and is also a lot more durable according to Yamaha.
The main downside of this acoustic guitar is that it doesn’t have an electro-acoustic pickup, however, at this price range, we can’t really hold that against it.
Overall, if you’re looking for one of the best acoustic guitars under $500, you should really check out the Yamaha FG820.
- Traditional dreadnought body style allows for a warm and bold sound.
- Features a solid Sitka spruce top.
- Walnut fretboard and bridge and laminated mahogany back and sides enhance the overall tonal quality of this instrument.
- It’s finished extremely well for a guitar within this price range.
- Gloss finishes can feel a little cheap, however, within this price range, this type of finish is to be expected.
Best Parlour Guitar Under $500
PRS SE PE20 Parlor Tonare
Although PRS is probably more famous for its link with the rock and metal market, similar to Ibanez guitars, they also have a knack for designing and making instruments at a variety of budgets.
Noting famous players such as Santana, Mark Tremonti and Bernie Marsden, you can always really on PRS’s commitment to quality and value.
One of their best acoustic guitars is the PRS SE PE20 Parlor Tonare. Let’s find out why it is the best acoustic guitar under $500 in the parlour category.
The PRS SE PE20 is an extremely attractive guitar with smooth playability and a great sound. Boasting an all-mahogany construction, this acoustic is an extremely high-quality guitar at a great price.
The solid mahogany woods give this modern guitar a sweet mid influenced tone that works great for a variety of acoustic styles. As well as this, the unique classical bracing system allows the top of this acoustic guitar to resonate more and gives you a stronger, more direct tone.
Similar to the baby taylor, the small nature of this acoustic guitar means that playing the guitar is extremely easy. Although the smaller body size does take some getting used to, once you’ve played its slim neck and petit body, you soon discover that this is a really beautiful guitar.
Some players may not like PRS’s bird inlays and unfortunately, this acoustic guitar doesn’t come with electronics, however, where PRS do shine with this model is that it comes with its own gig bag. That’s rare at this price range and is definitely a huge tick in PRS’s favour.
Overall, if you want an affordable guitar that has a well-balanced sound, then the PRS SE PE20 Parlor Tonare is a great choice.
- Solid mahogany top, back and sides give the guitar a deep mid-range that is perfect for light strumming and fingerpicking.
- The small body shape is ideal for children, women or guitarists with small hands.
- Extreme detail and attractive looking woods.
- PRS is known for quality, so you’re guaranteed a great instrument at a reasonable price.
- Small bodied acoustic guitars such as parlour can lack fullness compared to other body shapes.
- The bird inlays aren’t everyone’s cup of tea
Best Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Under $500
The sister company of Godin, Seagull guitars specialise in hand-making guitars in Canada. Never compromising on quality, Seagull guitars are fantastic instruments at a great price point.
As well as this, if you’re conscious of the environment, one of Seagull’s best attributes as a company is their dedication to keeping the manufacturing of their guitars sustainable and manageable. Seagull do this by using local employees and reclaimed wood.
One of their best guitars in our humble opinion is the Seagull S6, let’s learn more about it.
The Seagull S6 is easily one of the best acoustic guitars under $500. Boasting a solid cedar top, high-pressure laminate wild cherry sides, maple neck and a rosewood fretboard, this acoustic guitar features some interesting tonewoods that make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Tonally, the dreadnought style body allows the acoustic guitar to have a warm, deep sound whereas the solid cedar presents a unique tone that is bright and present.
The neck is extremely easy to play, its small diameter and finish mean it’s smooth and fast and makes playing chords and lead lines a breeze. However, it must be stated that the 45mm nut may be too large for some players, if you’re an electric guitarist, we suggest looking at the 43mm version.
As well as this, the Seagull S6 is extremely well finished, and the low action that it comes with really shows the attention to detail that Seagull has achieved with this model.
Our only criticism is that the headstock and tuners can take a little getting used to, however with a bit of practice, you’ll soon be tuning in no time. As well as this, if you want to amplify your acoustic, you will have to pay extra for a piezo pickup.
Despite all of this, we still think the Seagull S6 is the best dreadnought guitar on the market and is well worth checking out if you want a decent guitar that will last a lifetime.
- The solid cedar top is a unique tonewood that provides the acoustic player with a unique tone.
- Handmade in Canada from local woods. This is simply unheard of in this price range.
- The semi-gloss finish feels classy and not overdone.
- The smaller neck feels extremely comfortable under the fingers and adds increased playability.
- The nut is on the large side at 45mm, however, Seagull does offer a 43mm version.
- No electronics on cheaper models.
Best Acoustic Travel Guitar
Martin LX1 Little Martin
Martin guitars make some of the best acoustic guitars in the market. From users as famous as Elvis, Willie Nelson, Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Kurt Cobain, Martin are known for making great sound guitars of extremely high quality.
Although most of Martin’s models are above $500, they do offer a couple of traditional acoustic guitar models in the sub $500 market.
One of our favourite affordable acoustic guitar models is the Martin LX1 Little Martin, let’s learn about it further.
The Martin LX1 ‘Little Martin’ is a great small body acoustic guitar that suits a wide range of players. It may not be the best affordable acoustic guitar, as some may consider this to be expensive for what it is. However, for a travel model, this is one of the best acoustic guitars under $500.
In terms of features, this guitar has a scale length of 23 inches, FSC certified rich lite, birch laminate neck, mahogany high-pressure laminate and a solid spruce top. As well as this, this model comes with a carry case, which is quite rare compared to other guitars in this price range.
Despite this being a small guitar, this cute but compact axe has a strong mid-range, with a warm resonance and richness. Although some users may frown against the use of HPL woods, one of the advantages of this instrument is that it is extra resilient to climate changes and can endure the ever-changing atmosphere of gigging and home environments.
Just like its rival the baby taylor, the LX1’s small size means that it is extra portable, meaning you can easily take it on your travels. So whether you just want a guitar to use on the beach or for a quick impromptu jam session, the LX1 is a great acoustic guitar for this type of situation.
Sometimes you when you play guitar models in this price range, the playability can vary. However, this isn’t the case with the Martin LX1. The hand-rubbed finish and low oval neck are extremely comfortable and make acoustic playing a breeze.
Overall, this acoustic guitar produces a sound that is much larger than its size might suggest. So if you want one of the best sounding acoustic guitars under $500, give this acoustic guitar a try.
- Mahogany pattern high-pressure laminate and a solid spruce top ensure that this acoustic guitar has fantastic sound quality.
- Smaller-scale length can mean ease of playability and is a perfect guitar for young guitarists who want to upgrade from their first acoustic guitar.
- Excellent fit and finish for a mini guitar in this price range.
- The intonation and setup of this guitar are of excellent quality.
- The small size of the guitar may not suit taller people.
- Some may consider this to be an expensive guitar for what it is.
Best Classical Guitar Under $500
One of the most popular classical guitar manufacturers is Cordoba. Although they aren’t based in Spain, Cordoba makes great-sounding guitars at an affordable price.
One of the main selling points of Cordoba is that they offer traditional style classical guitars with modern twists such as pickups and slimmer necks.
One of their best models under $500 is the Cordoba C5-CE, let’s learn about it further.
The Cordoba C5-CE is a fantastic nylon-string guitar that is affordable and sounds great. If you’re a budding classical guitarist who wants something that has more of a professional aura than a beginner model, the Cordoba C5-CE is a great choice.
One of the main attractions of these musical instruments is the use of tonewoods. This acoustic guitar body is made of a solid western red cedar top, mahogany neck, back and sides, and a Pau Ferro fretboard. This gives the instrument a warm balanced sound that is perfect for classical music, bossa nova and jazz.
In addition, the saddle and nut are made of bone which increases the resonance of this guitar and the Cordoba Gold tuning machine heads look classy and keep the tuning extremely stable.
The overall fit and finish of this guitar are excellent. The neck is a lot slimmer and is, therefore, easier to play than most acoustic guitars in this style. The gloss finish looks elegant but is very thick. Some might say that this is reminiscent of a cheap acoustic guitar, however, we think it improves the overall quality of the instrument.
However, one negative aspect of this guitar is its setup. Some users have mentioned that the action is extremely high, the intonation is off and there are sharp fret ends. Although we understand at this price range there are corners to be cut to guitar building, this shouldn’t be the case on an instrument that is above $300. A little more care from Cordoba would go a long way and would make this budget guitar stand above the rest.
Despite this, with a little bit of work for Cordoba C5-CE is one of the best acoustic guitars under $500.
- The Fishman presys pickup perfectly reproduces the warm sound of the nylon strings.
- Solid western red cedar top and mahogany back and sides enhance the sound produced by this iconic instrument.
- A dual-action truss rod ensures that you can set up this guitar to optimum playability
- Some quality control issues such as sharp fret ends, guitar not tuning correctly and a high action. However, if taken to a luthier these could be sorted relatively easily.
- Cutaway acoustics aren’t for everyone, some players may prefer a full-sized guitar.
Best Auditorium Style Guitar Under $500
Washburn Heritage Series HG12S
With a rich history in acoustic guitar making, Washburn was one of many companies designing and releasing acoustic guitars in the 1910s. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Washburn is known for creating a number of types of guitars at a wide range of prices.
One of their best acoustic guitars is the ‘Washburn Heritage Series HG12S’, let’s learn more about this cool auditorium-style axe.
The Washburn HG12s is easily one of the best acoustic guitars under $500. The guitar itself features a mahogany neck, solid mahogany top, back and sides as well as an Ovangkol fretboard, chrome hardware and a graph tech nubone nut. The specification alone on this instrument makes the price of admission worth it and Washburn have really punched above their weight here.
Tonally, the use of darker woods allows the HG12s to be strong in the mid-range with a warm deep tone that works perfectly for blues and roots music. This instrument is perfectly at home strumming chords as it is fingerpicking and the ovangkol fingerboard is smooth.
Out of the box, the HG12s comes with relatively low action, meaning that playing chords and single notes are simply effortless. This makes it one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners as we all know how difficult playing guitar can be in the early stages.
The dark colour of the woods is aesthetically pleasing and the addition of Washburn’s own heritage rosette has a vintage vibe that perfectly compliments the overall style of this acoustic guitar. In addition, Washburn’s diecast tuners hold their tuning incredibly well, meaning you can keep playing your new favourite axe without the hassle of constantly tuning.
Finally, this comes stock with D’addario EXP light gauge strings, which is a nice touch from Washburn. Usually, guitars in this price bracket often come with poor quality strings, so with the addition of D’addario strings on this from the get-go, this really stands out as the best acoustic guitar with an auditorium body style.
The main downside to this instrument is that it doesn’t come with a bag or an onboard pickup system, however, if you’re not bothered by these features, this is easily one of the best acoustic guitars under $500.
- Solid mahogany top and back and sides allow for a warm, deep tone.
- Grand auditorium style is fantastic for strumming and fingerpicking styles.
- The addition of a rosewood fingerboard enhances the tonal quality of this acoustic.
- Cathedral Peak Scalloped-X bracing offers extra resistance and added tonal enhancement.
- No gig bag with this acoustic guitar.
- No electronics.
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $500
Takamine is easily one of the unsung heroes of the acoustic guitar world and is known for creating high-quality guitars in the mid-priced acoustic guitar market. Based in Sakashita, Japan and have been creating guitars since the late 1950s and have had many notable users over the years including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Nancy Wilson.
One of their best acoustic guitars is the Takamine GD93CE, let’s learn more about one of the best electric-acoustic guitars under $500.
One of the best electro-acoustic guitars under $500 is the Takamine GD93CE. Compared to other models on the market, what makes this acoustic guitar stand out from the rest is the addition of Takamine’s own preamp the TK-40D which features a built-in tuner. This pickup system features a three-band EQ, gain controls, mid contour switch, notch filter and EQ bypass switch, meaning you get the ultimate versatility in tonal shaping.
As well as this, the body woods are of extremely high quality and would not look out of place on an acoustic guitar three times the price. The 3-piece black walnut and maple featured on the back and sides look stunning, and the mahogany neck and spruce top complement the overall tone of the instrument.
Guitarists who love to strum chords will be pleased as the dreadnought body allows this instrument to have warm lows with exceptional volume. As well as this, if you like to play solos, the GD93CE has a cutaway that allows you to reach the higher frets with ease.
The overall finish of the guitar is generally good. The black walnut headstock veneer, abalone rosette, gold-plated hardware and fretboard binding all make the guitar look extremely classy.
To conclude, If you’re a gigging musician who wants something that looks, sounds and feels great, this is one of the best acoustic guitars under $500.
- Spruce top with a 3-piece black walnut and maple back and sides.
- Mahogany neck and laurel fingerboard
- The addition of a cutaway means lead players can access the higher frets with ease.
- The Takamine TK-40D preamp with a built-in tuner means live players can easily amplify their acoustic and keep in tune without the need for additional mics or pedals.
- Some users have expressed intonation issues in the upper frets, as well as minor issues with frets not being completely level and being sharp.
Best Best Budget Acoustic Guitar
Fender is easily one of the most iconic companies in the music world. Whether it’s the Stratocaster, Telecaster or Jazzmaster, their guitars have been at the forefront of popular music since the 1950s.
Leo Fender’s designs have stood the test of time and are still popular to this day. However, over the years Fender has broadened their horizons by designing other acoustic instruments such as Ukuleles, Acoustic guitars, nylon-string guitars and mandolins.
Although Fender’s acoustic instruments are arguably not as popular as their electric models. They still make some fantastic acoustic guitars. One of their best beginner guitars is the Fender CD-60s. A great guitar that is inexpensive and comes with a whole host of accessories.
If you’re looking for an excellent dreadnought guitar at an affordable price, the Fender CD 60s is a great choice. This is one of the best acoustic guitars under $500 and has a whole host of quality features that will make playing the guitar much easier.
Featuring a spruce top, mahogany body, walnut fingerboard, rolled fingerboard edges and scalloped X bracing, this is a really good guitar that would suit most beginners. As well as this, this guitar comes complete with all the accessories needed to make the perfect start to your guitar journey. This includes a hard case, which is a welcome upgrade from a paper-thin gig bag that usually comes with other guitars at this price range.
However, this isn’t just one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners, it’s also a fantastic option for intermediate and advanced players who want a less expensive instrument to use around the campfire or for jam sessions.
In terms of sound, the Fender CD 60s has a welcome bright, vibrant tone. Some players may find this a bit abrasive at first, however, after a few weeks of playing this soon mellows out. The dreadnought body style means that you get plenty of bass end and warm trebles.
In addition, there are a number of finishes available on this model. Including a natural, black and a rather attractive dark mahogany. This makes the guitar look aesthetically pleasing and will make you want to keep playing it for days.
As expected, there are some minor setup issues included on some models, such as sharp fret ends and a couple of dead frets. However, this is soon sorted with a quick setup.
If you want something that is of great quality at an affordable price, the Fender CD-60s could be the right acoustic guitar for you.
- Comes with a guitar strap, tuner, hard case, picks, spare strings, instructional DVD and polishing cloth.
- Available in a range of colours such as black, natural or sunburst.
- Spruce top, walnut fingerboard, mahogany and back and sides.
- Rolled fingerboard edges and scalloped X bracing enhance the overall volume and sound quality of this instrument.
- The gloss finish can feel a little cheap.
- A dreadnought acoustic guitar can be too big for some players.
As a buyer, it can often be extremely challenging to find a decent acoustic guitar in the $500 and under price range. However, there are some key factors that you can look out for.
In this buying guide, we’re going to break down the core features of an acoustic guitar, what type of body shapes you should be looking for, what different wood types offer and other contributing factors that will help you master your acoustic guitar purchase. Let’s dive in.
Acoustic Body Shapes
There are many body shapes available, from small to large. These all produce slightly different tones and can work well for a variety of genres.
Let’s learn more about the main types of acoustic body shapes.
This is the smallest body shape of all acoustic guitars. They work fantastically for styles of music such as folk, blues and fingerpicking. Popular models of this guitar include the Martin LX1, Baby Taylor and Fender PM-2.
The smaller nature of these guitars means that the acoustic body shapes work well for children or females. Tonally, these guitars are much brighter and have a focused midrange, however lack the bottom end found on larger bodied guitars.
This is easily the most common guitar shape and was famously used by guitarists such as Johnny Cash, Neil Young and John Martyn.
This type of guitar has a much larger body than triple 0 and parlour guitars, therefore resulting in a much louder instrument with an increase in bass frequencies.
Grand Auditorium style guitars were famously made and designed by Taylor guitars and boast a more modern design.
These guitars aren’t as cumbersome as a dreadnought, however, their unique design enables them to retain a tight bass, with present mids and sparkling highs.
This style of guitar is the choice of axe for artists like James Taylor, Tori Kelly and Jason Mraz.
Jumbo guitars are the largest acoustic guitars available. Some popular models include the Epiphone Hummingbird and Guild F250E. As you might have guessed, this guitar has the largest sound out of all our body types. With such a full-bodied sound, these types of guitars are a great addition to any player arsenal of guitars.
Body Wood Types
In the acoustic guitar world, there are many different types of woods used. However, the main types are:
All of these woods provide the player with different tonal qualities that enhance the overall musical experience. Let’s learn more about each wood type.
Spruce is regularly used as a top wood on many acoustic guitars. Tonally, it has a fairly neutral sound. Although this might sound like a negative, what it does mean is that you can use a more tonally prominent wood on the back and sides to enhance the overall frequency spectrum of the instrument.
Rest assured, if you end up purchasing a guitar with a spruce top, you are in safe hands.
Mahogany is a very dark wood tonally and has a rich mid-range. This is often used on smaller-bodied guitars such as parlours as it gives the tone of the acoustic guitar more focus and direction.
Rosewood is extremely popular as a tonewood. It’s used frequently on the back and sides and has a rich sparkly tone.
In the under $500 range, it would be rare to see a fully solid version of this wood as it can be very expensive, however, you may see a laminate version or cheaper alternative such as east Indian rosewood.
As well as this, a rosewood fingerboard is also extremely popular on many instruments.
Maple is the brightest of tonewoods, although it isn’t often used as a top wood. It’s frequently used as a side wood to brighten up larger-bodied guitars such as jumbo style guitars.
A tonewood hailing from Africa, Sapele is very similar to mahogany, and as a result of this shares similar tonal traits.
Its mid-range and low end are extremely prominent making it a very versatile wood for acoustic guitars.
The mid-range makes this a great guitar for strumming, soft playing and lead parts
Walnut is a wood that sits somewhere between mahogany and rosewood. Just like many kinds of wood, walnut tends to get much better with age and has a lovely warm tone.
This type of wood is often featured on lower budget guitars as it is easy to access and work with.
Laminated or Solid Woods?
There is often a regular debate between which wood type is better, solid or laminate?
Laminate woods are often used to bring the costs down on acoustic guitars. All this means is that thinly veneered layers of wood are used to create your acoustic guitar. These are glued together to create a thick surface. The tone of laminate wood isn’t as loud as a solid wood guitar, however, if you’re happy with the tone of your laminate guitar, who’s to say you need anything else?
However, one downside of laminate woods is that cheaper woods are often covered up by fancy finishes. This isn’t great and is something to watch out for.
Solid woods are generally a good investment and if you’re serious about your acoustic guitar playing, there are worse things you could spend your money on.
What about electro-acoustic guitars?
Electro-acoustic guitars are a must if you’re a gigging musician. Having the ability to plug straight into the PA system/recording interface is a fantastic feature.
However, if you just want something to jam with at home, you might not need it. Opting out of this can save you money too.
What is a good $500 guitar?
There are many great dollars in the $500 range, however, some of our favourites are:
- Epiphone Hummingbird.
- Fender CD60s.
- Taylor Baby Taylor.
How much is a decent acoustic guitar?
For a decent acoustic guitar, you can pay anything between $300 to $500. However, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes models within this price range can vary in quality.
As always, when buying a product like this, do your research, look at reviews on Amazon, YouTube and other well-known sites. And if you can, try it out in a guitar shop before you purchase it.