Whether you’re looking for a soulful, raw sound or want to get down to your country roots, a high-quality guitar can help you hit the notes you’re looking for. However, you don’t have to make the same salary as a country star to be able to afford one. This article will present you with much more affordable options with some of the best acoustic guitars under $500.
Not only will we be giving you a list to choose from and the details about that buy, but we’re also going to break down the various features you need to know about how to get the best quality when it comes to choosing your product. A few important features of this unique instrument, which make it perfect for all levels—from beginners to professional—and capable of delivering deep and touching sounds, include the scale length, the body, the number of fret and strings, and the warranty.
Top 5 Acoustic Guitars Under $500 Review 2020
Whether you’re going to be jamming out at your local open mic night or practicing a few scales, our research can help you find the perfect match for you. From hours of our research over various sources to your screen, we’ve structured a table, in-detail reviews of each product, and a buying guide at the end to help you choose the right guitar to buy.
Taylor BT2 – Editor’s Choice
- Scale length: 22.75”
- Body: ¾ dreadnought, mahogany top
- Frets: 19
- Strings: 6
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: x bracing, sapele neck, west African ebony fretboard, layered wood construction, gig bag included
The Taylor BT2 is one of the best mahogany-top guitars not only made by Baby Taylor but also in general. With its darker and earthier tone, the wood truly makes a difference—producing a much lower sound than the spruce top from Baby Taylor.
The Taylor BT2 has a pint-size mini-Dreadnought, which makes it perfect for beginners, smaller-handed players like children, or even starter-size travel companions. Although you may think it’s quite small, it still produces a large amount of tone. The ¾-size Dreadnought can be played from high-stringing it to setting it up to play lap slide.
As we mentioned before, the authentic guitar sound comes in a small package—convenient for traveling. What also is another pro from this guitar is its actual gig bag that it comes with, allowing for transportability and compatibility.
The shape is the key component in its sound, as well as the type of wood. The Taylor BT2 is designed with Tropical Mahogany as its top wood, which produces strong fundamentals, clarity, and focus. The Layered Sapele is another hardwood top which gives this guitar its unique sound. The layered wood construction also makes the guitar much more durable and is actually even more affordable.
The Taylor BT2 comes designed with a clean, symmetrical look of a traditional acoustic guitar.
- The model has a large amount of volume
- It is compact enough for travel
- The fretboard is smooth and polished
- Sounds like a full-sized acoustic guitar
- Some players said the tone was inconsistent
- The open chords are not so clear
Fender CN-140SCE – Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $500
- Scale length: 25.3’’
- Body: concert, solid cedar top
- Frets: 18
- Strings: 6
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: Fishman Classic Design pickup/preamp system, rosewood back and sides, hardshell case included, mahogany neck, volume, treble, mid, bass controls
The Fender CN-140SCE is a great choice for an acoustic-electric guitar. Whether you are looking for something more classical or you wan to play steel-string music, this affordable, nylon-string guitar is the right choice.
The Fender CN-140SCE is designed with thin-line construction and narrow nut width that play ideal performance—even if its for live music.
This guitar has a body concert style with a solid cedar top. This top has natural projection and produces warm and detailed sound. From the Fender CN-140SCE, every note will sound like it pops.
Instead of the traditional acoustic sound, the Fender CN-140SCE is designed with Fishman electronics, built right into the system. That way you can get the perfect combination between the classical-guitar sound and a steel-string feel.
The Fender CN-140SCE is built with excellent stability and projection, with a 25.3” scale-length neck and 1.69″wide nut. These sizes are the best balance between comfort and string spacing.
The wood of the Fender CN-140SCE is uniquely designed with rosewood back and sides and a mahogany neck. The body is also finished with comfortable rolled fingerboard edges and elegant pearloid inlays for a classy touch.
- Fretting and fingering is easy with the thin and narrow neck
- Small and lightweight for compatibility
- Sounds like a full-bodied guitar.
- The built-in tuner is high-quality
- Hard to not mute some strings
- The tone of the guitar is a little thin
- Not exactly pro-quality
Yamaha FG840 – Best Acoustic Guitar Bundle Under $500
- Scale length: 24.84’’
- Body: dreadnought, solid spruce top
- Frets: 20
- Strings: 6
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: rosewood bridge, hard case, tuner, polishing cloth included, scalloped bracing, flamed maple back and sides
The Yamaha FG840 is a great bundle order to get—especially if you are looking to just get started playing guitar. Although it’s not highly set apart from the other Yamahas in its class, there are a few features of the guitar that make it stand out.
With its unique design, from its rosewood bridge to its flamed maple back and sides to its scalloped bracing, the Yamaha FG840 not only looks good—it sounds good, too.
With its unique design, this guitar is perfect for picking, strumming, and any kind of playing. It produces clear and consistent notes. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this guitar is the perfect instrument for both beginners and intermediate guitarists.
It delivers high-end appearance and transparent sound, perfect for all kinds of music types. With its solid spruce top, its newly-developed scalloped bracing, and traditional Western body, the entire style of the Yamaha FG840 is a great fit for any artist and instrument.
It boasts the dreadnought body size and shape and a die-cast chrome tuning machine. It also comes with a urea saddle and nit, with a matte neck finish.
- The build is sturdy, withstanding scratches and blemishes
- The solid spruce top produces high-quality sound
- Stays in tune
- Produces clear notes and balanced sounds
- Smooth and comfortable playing
- High-quality tone from the flamed maple laminate
- Less sustain on the tune when compared to other models on the market
- Only comes in natural finish
Ibanez PN15 – Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Under $500
- Scale length: 24.4’’
- Body: parlor, spruce top
- Frets: 12
- Strings: 6
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: mahogany neck, back and sides, rosewood fretboard and bridge
The Ibanez PN15 is a high-quality beginner guitar that is priced under $500. With its compact size, spruce top, and mahogany back and sides, the classic look of this guitar is the perfect instrument for beginners.
This Ibanez guitar has the best-quality of the Ibanez name and is delivered at a compact size. Not only is it backed by a quality brand name, it is all delivered in a compact size, with a build of high-quality wood and structure. The Ibanez PN15 is designed with a spruce top, and mahogany back and sides.
Although it is compactly built, it still generates a surprising amount of volume for such a small body. Even though it is great for transportability and travel, you can still keep it handy in your living room.
Easy to play as it is easy to travel, the PN15 has a comfortable and smooth, mahogany neck. The sound is smooth from the rosewood fingerboard. Its die-cast tuners are perfect for getting the best, precision tuning. The Ivorex II nut and saddle can handle any note thrown at it, sustaining it for a long time.
The guitar poses a Parlor Body, a spruce top, a black and white multi-rosette design, with chrome die-cast tuners, and bridge pins.
- It is extremely fun to play
- Portrays high-quality audio
- Has a good feel
- It stays in tune for a long time
- The factory setup is not the best quality
- The case is sold separately
Epiphone DR-100 – Budget Pick
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Body: dreadnought, spruce top
- Frets: 20
- Strings: 6
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: okoume neck, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard
The Epiphone DR-100 is designed as one of the best budget-friendly guitars on the market. With its dreadnought body and spruce top, this guitar not only has the look but also the body to play optimal sound.
The high-quality design has optimal performance—whether in the hands of beginner to a professional. If you are looking into playing bluegrass, folk, rock, country, and anything else, this guitar can be the perfect instrument.
The dreadnought sound produces a commanding, balanced sound. It also comes with a Limited Lifetime Guarantee and high-quality customer service.
As a budget-friendly guitar, the Epiphone DR-100 is perfect for beginners not only through the price but also for your fingers since it is easy to press down on the strings.
Even for a budget-friendly choice, this guitar sounds great for an acoustic sound. It is designed with a Spruce Top, Mahogany Body, and a Rosewood fretboard.
You’ll also be impressed to know that its stays in tune for weeks without having to adjust while you’re playing or in between plays. The high-quality die-cast tuners take care of that, as well as the 14 degree bent headstock.
- The guitar is kept in tune for a long time
- The quality is smooth and fast
- Comes with a gig bag case for transportability
- Doesn’t come with a hard-shell case
Let’s sound anew – what to expect from budget guitars
If you’re on a budget, you might think that you won’t be able to afford a high-quality guitar. Fortunately for under $500, you can still get great guitars that are worthy of playing live on stage.
These guitars are designed with better quality, better tone, dressed with rosettes, abalone accents, and quality wood grains.
Whether you’re a beginner or if you’re on a budget, these guitars will be great picks.
Shape it up – acoustic guitar body styles
To help you learn your way around an acoustic guitar, here are a few types of acoustic guitar body styles:
- Parlor Guitars: One of the smallest sizes, these guitars are light in weight and produce a balanced and focused sound. You should look into investing in a parlor guitar if you want to get into fingerpicking.
- Concert/Model “O” Guitars: For a balanced tone, these guitars are a bit bigger than the parlor type. They are great models for fingerpicking and produce deep bass tones.
- Grand Concert/Model “OO” Guitars: For an even bigger size but with the shape of a classical guitar, this model is extremely quiet, with its solid mid-range feel to get that perfect balance between bright and boomy.
- Orchestra Model/Grand Auditorium/Model “OM” or “GA” Guitars: Defined as a mid-size guitar, it doesn’t project much heavy base but still has a large amount of projection. You should invest in this particular style for solo play.
- Dreadnought: Like the Yamaha FG840, the dreadnought is one of the most common shapes. It is large in size, with a load of bass response, and perfect for strummers and singer-songwriters,
- Jumbo and Super-Jumbo Guitars: If you want the biggest kind of guitar, this style is the perfect size. These super-sized guitars have a large amount of bass response. It is perfect for country music.
Acoustic guitar maintenance tips
To keep an acoustic guitar performing optimally, here are some maintenance tips:
- Keep it in a consistent temperature and humidity: The temperature and humidity can affect your instrument. Keep your guitar in the case, use a humidifier, and use air conditioning.
- Keep it clean: You don’t need to clean the guitar using any sort of harmful chemicals. Clean your guitar with a soft and damp cloth—but make sure it isn’t wet. If you want to use polish, opt for one without silicone compounds. Avoid polishing the fingerboard or bridge.
- Keep it in its case: To try and avoid scratches or nicks of any kind, being gentle and keeping your guitar in your case when not in use or when traveling is the best.
Consider the following features to choose the perfect acoustic guitar under $500
To choose the perfect acoustic guitar, here are the most important features:
The wood can make a huge difference when it comes to sound and playing style.
In just one guitar, the top, the back, the neck, and the sides can be all different types of wood—with the combinations making extremely different types of sound.
Here are a few of the types of wood:
The body shape also makes a huge difference in the type of sound you get when you play. The different components of the body are the top—which is also known as the soundboard, the internal bracing, the sides, and the back. The guitar then goes on to the upper bout, the hollow body, and the lower bout.
As we just mentioned, the neck is one of the vital parts of the guitar. It is the section that joins the body to the headstock. You will need the neck to access the fretboard, which will be where you actually play the guitar.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, you’ll most likely see a set neck, which can hold up to 20 frets, like the Epiphone DR-100. This set neck is actually glued onto the body.
Another type of neck is the bolt-on neck (which will normally be found on an electric guitar).
Since the neck is configured onto the body—whether by being glued or through the bolt—this will help prevent it from bowing and twisting.
The scale length of the guitar will vary in thickness and width, and actually the size of the guitar itself. Even though the length will differ from guitar to guitar, the measurement actually does not affect the sound. Instead, it has a major effect on the comfort level that you have with your guitar.
As we just mentioned, some common, acoustic guitars will have 12-14 frets, like the Ibanez PN15, however, it can reach out to be 20 frets. If you have smaller hands, a shorter neck with fewer frets can make it much easier to play (and learn).
One of the most iconic symbols in a guitar that you can recognize—even if you aren’t a musical artist, is the sound hole. The bridge, another part of the guitar, can be located according to the location of the sound hole—it’s right below it.
The bridge is responsible for keeping the strings in place and helping transport that sound from the vibrations to the soundboard and then into the air around.
The bridge also comes with bridge pins, which is where the strings are anchored. You’ll find that some pins are made of plastic while others are made of ebony.
Normally, most beginners are advised to start with nylon strings on their guitar because they are often conceived as being easy to play and easy on the fingers. However, some guitars don’t come compatible with nylon strings so actually, at the end of the day, you need to choose strings based on compatibility—from the guitar to yourself.
Nylon strings will often produce a much softer tone. Steel strings, on the other hand, will produce a brighter, louder tone (one often associated with acoustic guitars).
If you’re a leftie, you need to restring the guitar you purchase all by yourself. However, there’re special left-hand acoustic guitars that don’t require any additional efforts on your part.
It is important to know what you’re getting included with your purchase. A few accessories that are available with a guitar package, like the Yamaha FG840 are picks, a strap, a set of strings, a book, and even a capo. The more accessories included with your purchase—the better!
Only one of these guitars on this guide comes with a lifetime limited warranty, the Epiphone DR-100. The rest of the guitars, including the majority of guitars on the market, will only come backed with a 2-year guarantee—which is normal for this budget.
For some of your last minute questions, here are our FAQs answered:
Depending on what your overall goal is as an artist, investing a budget guitar under $500 can be a blessing in disguise. Although it might be seen as rather cheap for a standard acoustic guitar, these instruments come with quality sound and are designed with high-standard material—great for beginners and all levels.
There are a few acoustic guitars on the market that are upgrade-compatible. Especially if you are a buying a guitar early on in your artistry, making sure that your guitar is upgradeable is extremely important—especially if you want to grow as an artist.
Especially as a beginner, you might not be familiar with the ins and outs of how your guitar should sound. Here is a video to help you:
If you’ve skipped over everything on this guide, here is a quick summary of the top three acoustic guitars:
The Taylor BT2 is our Editor’s Choice for best guitar—with its 2-year limited warranty, it is backed not only with a guarantee but also with high-quality features like x bracing, a sapele neck, a West African ebony fretboard, layered wood construction, and even a gig bag included.
The Fender CN-140SCE is our best acoustic-electric guitar. It is also backed with a 2-year limited warranty and designed with features like a Fishman Classic Design pickup/preamp system, Rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck, and volume, treble, mid, and bass controls. It even comes with a hardshell case.
If you are on even more of a budget, the Epiphone DR-100 is our Best Budget-Friendly Acoustic Guitar. Made with a spruce top and designed with a dreadnought style, this guitar has a lifetime-limited warranty and features an okoume neck, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fretboard.
Before you rock, get informed—we hope that this article has helped you pick out the best acoustic guitar under $500 for your budget and your playing style.