Revealed: 17 best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars

Best acoustic guitars under $500: a Yamaha acoustic guitar
Best acoustic guitars under $500: a Yamaha acoustic guitar

Today there is a huge range of great-quality but reasonably-priced acoustic guitars available to musicians.

In fact, pound for pound, you’ll probably get more value for money from the best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars than you would for the best ones over 1,000 dollars.

But the amount of choice means choosing a guitar for under 500 dollars can be difficult. 

Quality isn’t the only factor. There’s a huge range of different sounds and styles available. 

Are you strumming or fingerpicking? Will you go electro-acoustic? Will you go all mahogany or a more traditional maple top?

We’ve created this list to help you choose. Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first guitar or an experienced player looking for a step-up guitar, you’re sure to find something here.

About this list of best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars

This list isn’t comprehensive. There are loads of great acoustic guitars under 500 dollars that didn’t make the cut – we simply didn’t have space to include all of them.

Instead, this is a list of the best acoustic guitars for certain uses.

We also haven’t included any classical acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. We’ll create a separate list for those.

If you want more acoustic guitar recommendations, check out our list of 12 best acoustic guitars. Or you can read our round-up of the best acoustic guitar brands.

Or if you want to find out about electric and acoustic guitars, check out our list of best guitar brands.

Epiphone J-200 cE Studio

J200ec acoustic guitar
J200ec acoustic guitar

Best looking guitar

Pros

  • Amazing looks
  • Some of the J-200 sound for a fraction of the price

Cons

  • Hard for beginners to handle
  • Tone isn’t well-balanced

Gibson’s J-200 is considered one of the best acoustic guitars of all time. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the price and the J-200 is too expensive for most guitarists. 

Enter the Epiphone J-200 CE Studio. This is a budget-friendly take on the classic guitar. It doesn’t replicate the J-200’s amazing sound and feel, but it will get you some of the way there for a fraction of the price.

All the iconic J-200 features are there, including the super jumbo body size, the famous mustache bridge and the tortoiseshell pickguard with beautiful graphics.

The aged gloss finish and gold hardware give the guitar a vintage look that reflects the J-200’s history.

Overall, this guitar looks amazing. 

It has a solid sitka spruce top and maple body, while the neck is two-piece mahogany and has a laurel fretboard. 

Tone-wise the guitar has a nice, big clean sound. It lends itself more to strumming than more intimate fingerstyle play. This makes it a quality guitar choice for singers who want to bash out chords to sing over.

The cutaway is a nice modern touch, although the guitar’s sound isn’t ideally suited to these higher notes.

Surprisingly the branching hasn’t been scalloped. This means the guitar doesn’t resonate that well. It has very deep bass and sweet highs but not much middle. This makes it good for styles like ragtime and country. 

The pickup is good, although the sound from it is a little brittle. The EJ-200ce might not be the best guitar for beginners. It’s not always comfortable and requires string hands to play. 

Overall, the EJ-200 CE Studio is great if you want to replicate the sound of a legendary guitar. But it has a few flaws that mean not everyone will like it.

Yamaha FG830

Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar

Best guitar for upgrades

Pros

  • Better sounding than the FG800
  • Great looks
  • Comfortable to play

Cons

  • More expensive than an FG800
  • Not the best guitar for strumming

Is the FG800 too basic for you? Got an extra $120 to spend? Then you may want to consider the FG830.

On the surface, the FG830 seems similar to the FG800. It’s a dreadnought with a solid spruce top. 

But look a little closer and you’ll see a number of upgrades that improve the guitar’s sound and playability. 

First, it’s not actually a full-sized dreadnought but a folk guitar.

It has rosewood sides and back and a rosewood fretboard. The nut and saddles have been upgraded to urea. This gives it a richer, punchier sound than the FG800.

The nut is also a bit narrower and the neck is satin. This may make it easier for beginners who don’t want to stretch their fingers too far.

The looks have also been upgraded. This means it may be suitable for performers looking for a guitar that stands out on stage.

The FG830 has a responsive high end and rich low end. It’s quite a tight sound, which makes it ideal for fingerpicking—but strummers may prefer a full-sized dreadnought. Because of this, it is well suited for bluesgrass players.

Ibanez AEWC11

Ibanez AEWC11 acoustic guitar
Ibanez AEWC11 acoustic guitar

Best acoustic for sleek, modern looks

Pros

  • Sounds amazing plugged in
  • Thinline body is very comfortable
  • Cool, modern look

Cons

  • Doesn’t sound great unplugged
  • Plastic nut

Ibanez is probably better known for its awesome electric guitars. They are popular with shredders the world over.

Their acoustic guitar ranges are less well-known and less consistent in terms of quality. But they still have some gems.

The AEWC11 is one of them.

Like all Ibanez acoustic guitars, it looks stunning and comes in various finishes.

But while it looks great and is low-cost, it doesn’t kick out much volume. It’s fine for playing at home, but not for unplugged performance.

This is a guitar that’s geared towards being plugged in. The Fishman acoustic guitar pickup sounds great and it has a built-in tuner and pre-amp. Sound-wise it’s the best you’ll get plugged in for this price range. And best of all, no feedback!

It’s also very comfortable to play. It has a light, thinline body and a very smooth satin c-shaped neck. 

The bridge and fingerboard are made of walnut. The bridge is pinless, meaning it’s bolted to the body and the strings are secured by holes in the bridge, similar to an electric guitar. This makes it much easier to re-string and I’m surprised you don’t see this on more acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. Unfortunately, the nut is made of plastic—but you can’t have it all, right?

Sigma JM-SG45

Sigma JM-SG45 acoustic guitar
Sigma JM-SG45 acoustic guitar

Best J-45 copy

Pros

  • Great for J-45 and Martin guitar fans on a budget
  • Perfect for playing chords

Cons

  • Plugged in sound falls short

Sigma started life as a sister brand to Martin, producing inexpensive versions of their acoustic guitars. 

The JM-SG45 is essentially a budget version of the iconic J-45. At just under $500 it’s a great way to experience this historic guitar.

It features a solid sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, Grover tuners and a vintage-style bridge. 

The JM-SG45 is fine for finger-picking. But strumming is where this guitar’s strengths are—chords sound clear and balanced, while the slope-shouldered dreadnought shape gives it a nice big sound. The neck is quite chunky but is still nice to play. 

Plugged in, it loses some sound quality. But it has a Fishman Sonitone pickup and electronics so it still sounds pretty good.

To top it all off, it also looks great. The cream binding makes the vintage sunburst color pop.

It’s obviously not as good as the J-45 Martin acoustic guitar when it comes to sound. But for this money, it’s close enough. 

Sigma DM-SG5 

Sigma DM-SG5 acoustic guitar
Sigma DM-SG5 acoustic guitar

Best Hummingbird copy

Pros

  • Amazing sound for chords
  • Close to the original Hummingbird in terms of sound
  • Sounds nice plugged in

Cons

  • A bit quiet

Another Sigma! Remember when we said earlier in this list that this brand started out producing budget versions of Martin acoustic guitars?

Well, make copies of classic models from other big brands—including Gibson.

The DM-SG5 is a take on Gibson’s famous Hummingbird. It features a solid sitka spruce top, a mahogany neck and mahogany back and sides. It also has a number of premium features like Grover tuners, bone nut and saddle and Fishman Sonitone electronics.

The guitar has a vintage tone, with warm rounded highs and thick meaty lows. The action is well-balanced, but it’s not very loud or responsive. This means that it might be more suited to players who want to strum chords with a pick. Fingerpicking and strumming without a pick will still sound nice—you just won’t be very loud.

This guitar features a Piezo pick-up that sounds better than most when plugged in.

As a more affordable version of the Hummingbird the question is—how does it compare to the Epiphone version? The Epiphone version is in a slightly lower price bracket. This means you get a lot less sound and quality for your money. The DM-SG5 on the other hand, gets you much closer to the sound of the Gibson.

This goes for the looks too. The iconic hummingbird scratch plate is here and the heritage cherry sunburst color looks classy. It doesn’t look quite as stunning as real deal but it’s a bit more refined than the Epiphone model.

Taylor Academy 12 Grand Concert Acoustic guitar

Taylor Academy 12 Grand Concert acoustic guitar
Taylor Academy 12 Grand Concert acoustic guitar

Best first acoustic guitar for kids

Pros

  • Perfect for small hands and beginners
  • Armrest bevel improves comfort dramatically
  • Nice sound

Cons

  • Looks a bit plain

The Taylor Academy 12 Grand Acoustic is a small, lightweight guitar that is ideal for younger, smaller or beginner guitarists. 

It also has a slim neck and short scale—meaning the frets are closer together. This smaller size means it’s easier to play than larger acoustic guitars and is great for fingerpicking.

Beginner acoustic guitars are usually use cheap materials have an inferior build quality. Not so with the Taylor Academy 12! It features a maple neck, ebony fretboard and Taylor’s NT neck joint.

This means that it’s great for beginners who are serious about learning guitar and want an instrument that is higher quality than usual.

The Academy 12 features laminate sapele back and sides. This gives it a vibrant balanced tone that’s warm with a slight brightness.

It also features scalloped bracing. This is critical on a guitar of this size as it helps it produce more volume and aids resonance.

It has ES-B electronics that include a preamp and a tuner. These are the same electronics you’ll find on other premium Taylor guitars—so you won’t be losing out here either.

But one of the guitar’s best features is its armrest bevel. It makes the Academy 12 extremely comfortable to play. You’ll never want to play a guitar without one again!

The Academy 12 only has one downside—it looks a bit plain. But it more than makes up for this in terms of playability and quality.

Taylor GS Mini Rosewood

Taylor GS Mini Rosewood acoustic guitar
Taylor GS Mini Rosewood acoustic guitar

Best guitar for small hands

Pros

  • Great for travel
  • Ideal for kids
  • Lots of high quality features

Cons

  • Not suitable for serious performers

The Taylor GS Mini Rosewood is an unusual size. Essentially it is a scaled-down grand symphony. It’s wider than a dreadnought at the bottom but thinner at the top and then shrunk in the wash.

It also has a slightly shorter scale meaning the frets are closer together. Overall, this makes the guitar a good choice for those looking for a portable guitar for younger or smaller players—perfect for children who want a decent guitar that they can carry back and forth to lessons. 

It has a solid spruce top and sapele neck. It also has layered laminate rosewood back and sides. The rosewood build looks amazing but it also means that the guitar is very strong—making it even better as a travel guitar. 

It has an ebony fingerboard and bridge, while the nut and saddle are made of tusk. It’s incredible that Taylor have been able to include premium features like this on a guitar of this size. 

In terms of sound, it has a bright sound and deep lows. It has a proportionately bigger sound hole and X bracing so that it can project sound beyond its size. This makes it great for fingerpicking.

Another great smaller guitar from Taylor!

Martin LX1RE 

Martin LX1RE acoustic guitar
Martin LX1RE acoustic guitar

Best small guitar for plugged in performance

Pros

  • Sounds good plugged in
  • Portable and suitable for smaller hands

Cons

  • A few poor-quality features
  • Strange weight distribution

The Martin LX1 Little Martin has become famous in recent years as Ed Sheeran’s instrument of choice. The LX1RE is a variation on this. 

Like the LX1, it’s very small with a ¾ sized body and 23-inch scale. 

It has a sitka spruce top, birch laminate neck and rosewood HPL back and sides.  

The fingerboard is made of black richlite, which feels great and is almost indistinguishable from ebony.

It has tusq saddles but the nut is made of plastic—this might put off some players who may expect or prefer a more resonant material at this price point. 

Because of the guitar’s small size, it uses x-bracing to help with the volume—but it’s only just suitable for performance. 

Plugging it in is a different story. The built-in Fishman electronics sound great—so maybe this is what led Ed Sheeran to perform with this guitar.

Unfortunately, the size means this guitar has a strange weight balance and it is slightly uncomfortable to play. The tuners also aren’t always reliable.

This guitar is made in Mexico, but the build quality is still excellent and its unfinished aesthetics look great.

Overall, the LX1RE has some downsides but it’s great plugged in and perfect for travel.

Taylor BTe Baby Taylor, Koa

Taylor BTe Baby Taylor, Koa acoustic guitar
Taylor BTe Baby Taylor, Koa acoustic guitar

Best sounding small guitar

Pros

  • Ideal for travel and younger players
  • Looks nice
  • Sounds lovely

Cons

  • None!

Like the LX1RE, this is a ¾ sized dreadnought. This means it’s ideal for travel, home practice, younger players or those with smaller hands. 

It sounds nice but it looks incredible. This is probably the best-sounding travel guitar on this list.

With it’s easy to play short scale and slim, tapered neck, it’s also ideal for beginners looking for a more stylish guitar.

As the name suggests, the top is solid koa, while the back and sides are layered koa. This gives it a really sweet sound that’s brighter than mahogany but also richer than spruce. This is good for such a small guitar as it gives it a lot more warmth. It also has incredible sustain—you can let notes ring out for ages!

Like other Taylor acoustic guitars, the fretboard and bridge are ebony, but the saddle and nut are synthetic bone. 

It features an ESP pick-up that sits behind the saddle. This is found on some of the most expensive Taylor acoustic guitars. It has a lovely, clear sound. The electronics also include a pre-amp and tuner.

Acoustic uitars this small obviously can’t output as much sound as their larger counterparts. Taylor have added an interesting feature to the Baby Taylor Koa make up for this—the back is arched, which gives the body more area and therefore more volume.

Fender CD-140SCE 

Fender CD-140 SCE acoustic guitar
Fender CD-140SCE acoustic guitar

Most surprisingly good guitar

Pros

  • Comfortable neck
  • Looks nice

Cons

  • Other acoustic guitars under 500 dollars have a richer sound

In recent years, Fender has improved its range of acoustic guitars under 500 dollars.

The CD-140SCE is a perfect example of this. 

It’s a full-sized dreadnought with a solid spruce top and laminate ovangkol back and sides—pretty standard. But it’s the attention to detail that gives this guitar an excellent playing experience.

The neck has a tapered profile with rolled edges and very slightly shorter scale than usual. This makes the neck extremely comfortable to play. 

The walnut fretboard and bridge, combined with the synthetic bone nut and saddles give it a clear, resonant sound.

The electronics are by Fishman. Pretty standard stuff for acoustic guitars in this price range. Until you find out that this pick-up has been designed specifically for Fender to match this guitar.

The guitar on it’s own would look fine. But Fender has added a pearloid rosette and tortoise-shell pickguard which really helps the aesthetics to pop.

The CD-140SCE is $100 more than its cheaper cousin, the CD-60SCE, but I’d say this is money well spent if you can afford it.

Fender CD-60S All Mahogany

Fender CD-60S All Mahogany acoustic guitar
Fender CD-60S All Mahogany acoustic guitar

Best acoustic guitar for durability

Pros

  • Inexpensive and durable
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • There are better sounding guitar
  • More experienced guitarists will be looking for more

Let’s face it, when it comes to looks mahogany acoustic guitars stand out. And the CD-60S All Mahogony is no exception. 

The S stands for solid top. This means the top is made from a single piece of mahogany, giving it greater resonance. 

However, the CD-60S is still a very affordable guitar. This is achieved by having a laminate back. This construction doesn’t sound as good but it does make this a very durable guitar.

This dreadnought-size guitar has a modern, sparkly sound. It also has a shorter scale and thinner neck than other drednoughts. This means there is less tension in the strings and smaller frets. 

These points make the CD-60S All Mahogony a great choice for beginners looking for a good quality starter guitar. 

Yamaha FG800

Yamaha FG800 acoustic guitar
Yamaha FG800 acoustic guitar

Best guitar for upgrades

Pros

  • Nice, big vintage sound
  • Smooth neck

Cons

  • Chunky neck may feel uncomfortable to beginners

The FG800 is a dreadnought-size guitar that has been in production since the 1960s. It is the successor to the FG700, which has the honor of being the best-selling guitar of all time. 

The main difference between the two acoustic guitars is that the 800 has scalloped bracing. This gives it a louder, more resonant and robust sound. 

It has a solid sitkis spruce top and mahogany neck and back. This gives it a full, warm, vintage sound with plenty of low end.

The FG800 has a traditional C-shaped neck and longer scale. This means the neck feels very large, which means that it might not be suitable for some beginners. It has a nice, smooth satin neck.

Overall, the FG800 is ideal as a step-up acoustic guitar. If you’ve had time to build-up strength in your fingers and want to find an affordable acoustic guitar with good sound and build quality that will last for many years, this may be one of the best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars for you.

Fender CC-60SCE

Fender CC-60SCE acoustic guitar
Fender CC-60SCE acoustic guitar

Best acoustic guitar for comfort

Pros

  • Small and lightweight
  • Comfort neck and cutaway make this very comfortable to play

Cons

  • This is a budget acoustic guitar—experienced players may want more
  • Some cheap materials used

What’s in a name? Quite a lot for the Fender CC-60SCE.

The name describes all of the acoustic guitar’s features. CC is for concerto cutaway, describing the body shape. S is for its solid spruce top and the e is for electro.

The CC-60SCE features Fender’s comfort neck. This has a slim taper and the edges of the fretboard have been rolled—this makes it more comfortable for beginners. The cutaway also helps players access the higher frets.

The result is an affordable acoustic guitar that is light, small and comfortable to play. The only downside is that the action is slightly higher than we would like. Acoustics never sound that great when plugged in, but the CC-60SCE has a Fishman electonics inside which do a pretty good job. As a bonus, it also includes a built-in tuner.

Scalloped bracing means it’s one of the best acoustic guitars of this size for volume and tone.

The cost of the guitar is kept down by its plastic nut and saddle pins, along with a laminate back and side.

Tanglewood TWCRD

Tanglewood TWCRD acoustic guitar
Tanglewood TWCRD acoustic guitar

Best guitar for upgrades

Pros

  • Incredible value for money
  • One of the the best-sounding budget acoustic guitars you’ll find at this price

Cons

  • Cheap materials
  • Seasoned guitarists will want a better quality, better sounding instrument

Tanglewood is well-known for balancing budget with quality—but this acoustic guitar takes that to another level.

The TWCRD looks great, costs very little and (for the money) sounds amazing.

The acoustic guitar is made entirely of laminate mahogany which gives it a full, warm tone, while keeping the price low.

CRD stands for Crossroads Dreadnought guitar, which gives you an idea of what it is and what is made for. It’s big and it’s for playin’ the blues.

The finish is a rustic whiskey barrel satin design which looks excellent.

Finally, the slim neck and low action mean this is one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners—although we’d encourage anyone on a budget to give it a go.

The downsides? It’s cheap and cheerful. Seasoned guitarists who are used to using higher-spec acoustic guitars will have played better-sounding, more comfortable instruments. 

Nevertheless, this acoustic guitar offers outstanding value for money.

Yamaha F310

Yamaha F310 acoustic guitar
Yamaha F310 acoustic guitar

Best acoustic guitar for adult beginners

Pros

  • Great beginners’ acoustic guitar
  • Affordable
  • Good sound
  • Loud

Cons

  • Sound quality isn’t particularly rich
  • Might be too loud for quiet voices
  • Not a particularly good looker

Yamaha is well-known for producing top quality budget instruments—think the Pacifica, for example. The F310 is its budget acoustic guitar. 

It’s a square shouldered dreadnought with a warm sound but with a bit of brightness. But more than anything, it’s loud. Very loud.

It has a well-blanced action and thin neck. The neck is satin, which makes it very comfortable to play. The body, on the other hand, is high gloss, making it durable.

It also has a slightly shorter scale than normal, meaning the frets are also slightly smaller than usually found on a dreadnought like this. 

This means the F310 is a perfect beginners’ acoustic guitar: affordable, durable, easy to play and a decent level of build quality.

The volume also means it’s a good acoustic guitar for strumming chords and accompanying singers. But it’s also surprisingly articulate for an acoustic guitar of this price. This means it can be played fingerstyle too.

We’d recommend that beginners start with this acoustic guitar and move on to the FG800 as they improve. 

It’s available in tobacco sunburst and natural colours. Beginners can buy the 310 natural as a starter package which includes a range of useful accessories.

Takamine GN93CE NEX

Takamine GN93CE NEX acoustic guitar
Takamine GN93CE NEX acoustic guitar

Best design features

Pros

  • Comfortable to play
  • Looks great
  • Lots of tonal options when plugged in

Cons

  • Other acoustic guitars under 500 dollars have a richer sound

The GN93CE NEX is a smaller bodied acoustic guitar—about the size of a grand auditorium, only with a thinner waist to make it more comfortable to play. 

It’s made in China, but don’t let that fool you—this is an excellent, well-built acoustic guitar.

It features a solid spruce top, mahogany tuners, Gotoh tuners and a cutaway to access the higher frets.

The acoustic guitar’s back is particularly impressive and features a walnut back and sides with a stunning maple strip down the middle. With the tortoiseshell pickguard on the front, this acoustic guitar looks really nice.

It has a 12-inch neck radius and a 25.4-inch scale, which makes it easy to play and great for people with smaller hands. Consider this with the thinner waist body and it’s clear that Takamine had comfort in mind when designing this acoustic guitar.

The GN93CE features Takamine’s popular TK40D electronics (not Fishman? Sacrilege!). This includes a three-band equalizer that gives players a lot of sound options. Like most of the best acoustic guitars, it sounds better unplugged but this is still a cool feature.

This acoustic guitar features a split saddle—a rare feature on acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. This allows for more accurate tuning.

Ibanez AW54CE Open Pore

Ibanez AW54CE acoustic guitar
Ibanez AW54CE acoustic guitar

Best underdog

Pros

  • Amazing, unique sound
  • Amazing looks
  • Amazing price

Cons

  • Sound isn’t so good when plugged in

If you’re on a budget but looking for something unique then this might be for you. 

The AW54CE has an all-mahogany body with open pores. The open pores allow the wood to breathe, making it sound better and look incredible.

This acoustic guitar sounds incredible. It has a full, rich tone that is surprisingly bright for a mahogany acoustic guitar, without being harsh. This means that it has excellent mids and the ovangkol fretboard and bridge add to this.

In terms of playability, it has a nice low action and a comfortable, slim, satin neck, meaning it’s easy to pick up and play any time. It’s particularly good for finger-picking.

The only thing that lets this acoustic guitar down is its electronics. It has Fishman pickup behind the bridge. It sounds ok for an electro-acoustic guitar. But it doesn’t match the unplugged quality.

Overall, this is one of the best budget acoustic guitars you’ll find in this price range and punches well above its weight.

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