GUITAR GUIDES

Top 11 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

  • Donner DAG-1C
  • Epiphone DR-100
  • Fender FA-100 Dreadnought
  • Yamaha FG800
  • Ibanez AW54CEOPN
  • Fender CD-60SCE
  • Taylor Baby Taylor BT1
  • Seagull S6
  • Martin LX1E
  • Ibanez AC2400PN
  • Yamaha FSX830C

For a budget guitar with some nice build quality, features, and great sound, you can't beat the Seagull S6 (check price on Amazon). We highly recommend the Seagull if you're trying to stay in a budget and want decent tonality and performance straight away.

And if you really want to go all out with the best guitar right out of the box, you'll want to grab the Yamaha FSX 830C (check price on Amazon). It has a good action, clear intonation, and bass-heavy warm tones that take your sound to the next level.

A guitar can be one of the best purchases you’ll ever make.

Once you spend a few weeks learning how to play, you’ll have a musical companion for life that'll share your moods and help you express yourself. All of this while giving you thousands of hours of entertainment.

Acoustic Guitars Next to Table

It’s no surprise then that stringed instruments now represent a billion-dollar industry with hundreds of different models at a variety of price points.

Whether you’re buying your first or picking up a new toy for your upcoming gigs, I’m going to walk you through the best acoustic guitars under $500.

While more money will get you more features and (in general) a higher performing model, all the options on our list are perfectly suitable for most needs, so without further ado, let’s get started.

What to Look For Before Buying

You’ll want to be looking at two things: body shape, and scale length or size.

Body shape is the lesser of the two and is mainly for aesthetic purposes, but it can have an impact on your level of comfort when playing as well.

Acoustic Body Shape Chart

Guitar Body Shape Chart

Image Source : Guitar Size Color by Larry Jacobson is Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Try to estimate whether you’ll be playing more often sitting down or standing up, and find a body shape that suits that position best (i.e. an acoustic body that's comfortable resting on your knee).

Scale length, on the other hand, is a bit trickier.

Beginners, especially those with small hands, can find full-sized guitars rather large which affects their ability to properly play notes and chords.

Smaller scale lengths means a smaller guitar, which in theory makes it easier to play but doesn’t really help you get accustomed to playing regular guitars since your hands are never forced to adapt to the size of the instrument.

For this reason, it’s usually recommended that you stick to a full-sized model.

That decision will be yours to make but try to hold yourself to no less than ¾ scale length if you choose to downsize.

Remember that guitar is all about muscle memory, so compromising now can lead to having to re-learn the fundamentals if you decide to upgrade later down the line.

The Best Acoustic Guitars (Ratings)

Note: All prices were recorded at the time of writing this article. Prices may fluctuate. 

Under $200 Price Range

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Acoustic Guitar Rating

Summary

Check Price

Donner DAG-1C Icon

Donner DAG-1C

Incredible value for beginners. A budget guitar that doesn't compromise on performance.

Epiphone DR-100 Icon

Epiphone DR-100

High quality acoustic great tone and resonance. Body is slightly larger than standard full-size.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Icon

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought

A light, powerful instrument great for beginners. The strings it comes with play naturally brighter tones.

Yamaha FG800 Icon

Yamaha FG800

Light and balanced guitar that's comfortable to play standing up. Great tone, volume, and acoustics.

$200 - $400 Price Range

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Acoustic Guitar Rating

Summary

Check Price

Ibanez AW54CEOPN Icon

Ibanez AW54CEOPN

An acoustic-electric guitar with remarkable projection both plugged in and unplugged.

Fender CD 60SCE Icon

Fender CD-60SCE

Arguably one of the most beautiful guitars on this list due to its grained mahogany wood. The wide fretboard is easier for beginners.

Taylor Baby Taylor Icon

Taylor Baby Taylor BT1

The 3/4 scale length is good option for women or younger players with smaller hands. Rich sound. 

Seagull S6 Icon

Seagull S6

This guitar produces soft notes and tones and isn't too punchy. It's great for players with larger hands or more experienced players due to a larger fretboard.

$400 - $500 Price Range

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Acoustic Guitar Rating

Summary

Check Price

Martin LX1E Icon

Martin LX1E

An amazing guitar that produces an incredibly balanced tone. The bass response of this acoustic is stellar, without compromising on the higher notes. 

Ibanez AC2400PN Icon

Ibanez AC2400PN

Sounds as good as a guitar 3-4x the price. Produces punchy, rich tones with great volume that can fill even a large-sized room with its nice balanced sound.

Yamaha FSX830C Icon

Yamaha FSX830C

This is the complete package. Right out of the box it has good action, clear intonation, and produces bass-heavy warm tones. Powerful projection.

In-Depth Review: The Best Budget Acoustic Guitars (Under $500)

Donner DAG-1C

Donner DAG-1C Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

If you buy intelligently, the cheapest option doesn’t have to be the worst one.

At this price range, Donner offers some incredible value to beginners with their DAG-1C, a budget focused entry that doesn’t compromise on its performance.

Its bright, clear tone will ensure that any flaws in your playing are yours alone and not the fault of the guitar, which is crucial to players trying to improve their skills (and ears) by taking lessons either online or in person.

Out of the box, its action and intonation are quite good which means it’s vibrant, loud, and easy to play without taking some extra steps to set it up.

That’s a good thing because, with the high-quality strings that are included, your hands will want to be making their way around the fretboard for hours as soon as you open the box it comes in.

Check out the Donner DAG-1C on Amazon

Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar

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Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Epiphone has made their reputation by offering incredible price-to-performance ratios.

That prowess is on display right here with a high-quality product that provides tone and resonance that will blow your expectations out the water, even if you’re used to higher end models. 

While it uses high-quality materials in the construction of the body and the neck, they are rather thin. It won’t break and it shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but you should know that your sustain and tone won’t be quite as powerful if you plan on lugging the DR-100 on stage with you.

That being said, some aftermarket strings do go a decent way into rectifying some of these issues by offering brighter, crisper notes.

That does tack on a few extra dollars to your purchase, but since you’ll want to be switching your strings out sooner rather than later, it’s probably best to just get it out of the way early.

Do note though that this Epiphone has a slightly longer scale length of 25.5, which makes it somewhat larger than standard acoustic sizes.

While this is better than going too small on your first purchase, it can still throw you off if you were expecting something a bit smaller, so buyer beware!

Check out the Epiphone DR-100 on Amazon

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

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Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Fender may not be the powerhouse in the acoustic world that they are in the electric one, but with good entry level models like this, that should change soon.

It will probably need to be set-up out of the box, but once that’s out of the way you have a light, powerful instrument that will accurately reflect your playing while staying in tune through hours of heavy picking.

The notes that it plays tend to be on the higher side which is great for strumming along to happy songs, but you can always balance it out with some aftermarket strings later down the line to tack on some added bass.

Ultimately, this is a great beginner’s guitar since it’s affordable, easy to fret, and features an adjustable truss rod for some quick at-home maintenance.

While the body is made of pure laminate wood, it’s quite sturdy and will survive getting knocked around, which means you can expect some good longevity from your purchase.

Check out the Fender FA-100 Dreadnought on Amazon

Yamaha FG800

Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar

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Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

They don’t have the name recognition among casual guitar fans, but Yamaha produces some extraordinary models at all price ranges that I strongly encourage you to check out.

Their FG800 is a light and balanced guitar which goes a long way to ensuring comfort if you tend to play standing up. It's a design that prioritizes playability.

Its matte finish on the rosewood neck helps resist sweaty hands, and the guitar itself has absolutely wonderful acoustics.

Not only does it get quite punchy and loud, but its true to life and carries a great tone. This acoustic won’t give you any string or fret buzz, provided you stretch the strings out beforehand.

That’s a recurring problem on this model, but is quickly solved if you know what you’re doing and is generally a good sign that the strings are new and just haven’t had the chance to settle.

This means your strings will last longer and give you hours of play-time before needing to buy a second set.

Check out the Yamaha FG800 on Amazon

Ibanez AW54CEOPN

Ibanez AW54CEOPN Acoustic Guitar

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Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Our first acoustic/electric hybrid on this list comes from Ibanez, who crafted a model that’s worthy of inclusion thanks to its remarkable projection both plugged and unplugged that truly gives you the best of both worlds. 

The electronics are high quality and result in great clean sounds coming out of the amplifier, and even if you’re using it unplugged, the sound hole is no slouch either. 

The notes and chords it produces are rich and detailed, and will serve you well whether you’re practicing or performing live.

If you do opt for this model though, I highly recommend you look at two things: the intonation, and the action.

Both are easy to inspect, but it’s not uncommon for mass-produced guitars to require a quick set-up before revealing their true potential.

It’s not mandatory, but if the action is high it can make playing it harder than it should be, which you shouldn’t have to deal with considering just playing the instrument properly is frustrating enough sometimes.

Check out the Ibanez AW54CEOPN on Amazon

Fender CD-60SCE

Fender CD-60SCE Acoustic Guitar

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Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Looks are subjective, but the Fender CD-60SCE is arguably one of the most beautiful guitars on this list thanks to its use of nicely grained mahogany wood.

These same production standards for their materials apply to the rest of the body and neck which results in a durable guitar that has some nice heft in the hands and feels great to play.

Its wide fretboard is nicely filed making it easier on the hands of more novice players, and while it might take some getting used to, it makes picking much more forgiving and easier since the strings are further apart, making it a great guitar to learn on and practice with.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad for more experienced players though.

Compared to some low-end cheaper models, this Fender provides a fantastic, full tone across all six strings.

Chords ring out beautifully both plugged and unplugged, which makes it extremely versatile for intermediate players looking to take a step up from their beginner rig.

Check out the Fender CD-60SCE on Amazon

Taylor Baby Taylor BT1

Taylor Baby Taylor BT1 Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Offering something a little different for those that are convinced they need something smaller, the ¾ scale length Baby Taylor is a good option for women or younger players with smaller hands who need some help getting used to moving around the board.

I mentioned early that it’s preferable to stick to full-sized models, but the reason this Taylor bucks that trend on this list is because the rest of the package is so high quality that upgrading won’t necessarily be essential later down the line.

It sounds as rich as a full-sized acoustic, and provides a great sound out of the box thanks to some good action and a great set of included strings.

Just note that when it comes time to change them, smaller guitars require larger gauges to get the same sound as on their full-sized cousins. Aside from being harder on the fingers at first, there’s nothing to be worried about.

Just make sure you don't forget about the string gauge difference in this smaller scale length guitar - if you happen to forget, the strings won’t give you the clarity and volume you’re looking for when you strum a few notes and you'll notice.

Ultimately, this Taylor won’t be for everyone, but does a great job filling the role of a full-sized Dreadnought, as well as that of a travel guitar with very few compromises made on performance, so it should feature quite highly on your own personal list if it meets your criteria.

Check out the Baby Taylor BT1 on Amazon

Seagull S6

Seagull S6 Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Sitting at the top of this intermediate price range, the Seagull S6 is a top of the line Made in America guitar that looks to give you the value of a $1000-dollar axe at a fraction of the price.

Unfortunately, that also means it has some nifty little features that are less likely to be appreciated by beginners.

For example, it’s larger nut width spaces the strings and fretboard out further apart, making it great for players with large hands that are comfortable stretching.

​Its double action truss rod does a great job at relieving bowing pressure on the neck from the strings over years of use.

They’re fantastic added value to those looking for it, but might not make it your first choice for a beginner guitar unless you really want to spring for something nice.

If you go this route though, you’ll be very pleased with the sound provided that you’re not looking for something too punchy.

The actual notes this guitar produces are rather soft, making it ideal for players who are itching to jam out to some ballads, rather than some classic rock.

It can still be used for all songs, but might not give you the exact tone you’re looking for if playing to a crowd.

Check out the Seagull S6 on Amazon

Martin LX1E

Martin LX1E Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

Martin makes some absolutely incredible instruments played by professional musicians around the world like Ed Sheeran, so you know that by ponying up the added dollars that you’re getting a guitar that punches far above its small size and weight class.

The electronics built into the body are perfectly serviceable for plugging into an amplifier if that’s what you want, but this guitar really shines with some thicker gauge strings played acoustically.

The bass response is stellar without compromising on the treble which gives it a balanced tone that really resonates when you start to strum with some added force.

While the tone itself is great, its ¾ scale length means it can’t get quite as loud as a full Dreadnought.

Still, the sound clarity is just as good, and this one has the added benefit of being more travel friendly.

If you find yourself on the plane a lot, then give this Martin a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out the Martin LX1E on Amazon

Ibanez AC2400PN

Ibanez AC2400PN Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

I’ll cut right to the chase on this model and say that if you’re an experienced player looking to upgrade your gig bag with a new guitar, then this Ibanez is what you want.

Not only does it sound as good as a guitar three of four times the price, but the crisp clean sounds resonate even as you begin to play louder and louder, which is a great thing since this Ibanez has a bigger voice than anything else on this list.

Strum with some real authority and you and your audience will be greeted with punchy, rich tones that fill even a large sized room with a well-rounded, balanced sound.

Its 1-¾ inch nut makes it great for bigger hands or fatter fingers, and gives the guitar some incredible sustain that makes it ideal for blues or rock music.

Ibanez modeled this guitar after older orchestral models, and they did a bang-up job because this model belongs in your hands playing to hundreds of people in a live venue. 

Check out the Ibanez AC240OPN on Amazon

Yamaha FSX830C

Yamaha FSX830C Acoustic Guitar

Feature

Rating

Performance

Sound Quality

Value

It’s the most expensive guitar on this price range for a reason, since the FSX830C is the most complete package available for purchase at this price.

Right out of the box, it has a good action, clear intonation, and bass-heavy, warm tones, but can be pushed even further if you want to take your sound to an even higher level.

While the build quality is great, some smaller parts like the saddle and nut are cheap, plastic variants (after all, they had to cut corners somewhere!), but thankfully these are easy to replace, either by taking it to a shop or learning how to do it yourself.

If you kit it out with higher quality components for just a few extra dollars, you’ll easily take this Yamaha from a $500-dollar guitar to a $1000-dollar guitar.

It’s balanced, can be played by all hand sizes, and sounds great in both small and large rooms thanks to its powerful projection, which all come together to give you a versatile instrument that will be by your side for decades.

Check out the Yamaha FSX830C on Amazon

Best Bang for Your Buck

While this is a subjective category that will differ based on needs and budget, it’s hard to go wrong with the Seagull S6 (check price on Amazon).

Its build quality, features, and superb sound result in an instrument that is very hard to find flaws with.

More expensive models might result in more varied, complex tones but those are incremental upgrades that costs hundreds of dollars more, which isn’t exactly a cost-effective trade-off.

Unless you need those hard sounds for professional recording purposes, you really can’t go wrong.

A guitar is something you buy for life, which means that nobody wants to make a mistake on something that they may regret.

Thankfully, this list provides you with a selected round-up of options that are all high-quality to suit different budgets, and should ease some of that pre-purchase anxiety.

Ultimately, remember that buying a guitar is an investment!

Don’t cheap out on features that you need, or you’ll be disappointed and less likely to play.

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