They say the formula for how many guitars to own is n + 1, where n equals the current number of guitars you already own. Now that we know that you’ll be buying another guitar, I’ve put together a list of the top acoustic guitars for under $500. (If $500 is too much to spend, check out my guide on the best beginner guitars that come in under $300.)
The $300-$500 price range of acoustic guitars is perfect for all levels of players. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, this price point gets you a good guitar that will sound great while not breaking the bank. While you won’t find any American made acoustics under $500, you will find some by popular American brands offering cheaper versions of their high end guitars that are made in Mexico or China.
Every guitarist needs that one acoustic to take on trips, take camping or pull out at parties. If it gets damaged or destroyed, it’s not the end of the world!
The Loar guitars are crafted after the classic guitars of the 1920’s and 30’s. Cited by many owners as a great singer songwriter guitar, the LH 200 is a small body folk style acoustic. It does not have the volume of a dreadnought style body, but this guitar is described as having a warmer tone. It has a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides.
So if you fancy yourself a singer songwriter, this may be a great choice for you. It’s the best small body acoustic guitar under $500, in my opinion.
Another great option if your budget for an acoustic is $500 or less is the BG 40 from Blueridge. It has a sitka spruce top with mahogany back and side. It features scalloped bracing for a clean and crisp tone. Owners describe it’s tone as loud and bassy, and compared the neck width to that of an electric. This could be a plus for those with smaller hands.
This guitar also features a bone and nut saddle and East Indian rosewood fingerboard for smooth playability. Based on customer feedback, this is a great budget choice that won’t let you down.
The Alvarez AG75CE is on the upper range of $500 acoustic guitars. This particular model is a cedar top with rosewood back and sides. It also features scalloped and forward shifted bracing which makes for a bigger sound. Owners of this guitar are posting rave reviews citing it’s quality of build and great tone. The cutaway is a nice feature for those that want to reach the upper register of the guitar, and it looks cool too!
It is a grand auditorium body, which does not quite have the bass of a dreadnought but offers a more balanced sound. Great for singing along. This guitar is a great choice for intermediate players looking to not break the bank. Check it out here.
Here we have a Taylor guitar for under $500. Taylor is known for their high quality, and expensive guitars. It’s great that they are offering a lower priced model so more players can enjoy their great sounding guitars. The Big Baby is a 15/16 dreadnought sized guitar which is slightly smaller than a full sized. Perfect for those that want that dreadnought sound but want a little smaller body. The top is sitka spruce and the back and sides are sapele.
Owners are saying that the guitar has a very warm and full bodied tone, and that it does not sound like a cheap guitar. This is no surprise given that it is made by Taylor. This is another great choice for those with smaller hands, as Taylor’s are known for their great necks and amazing playability. See more info including more pictures here.
Update: I recently bought one of these for myself, and it’s amazing. Check out my full review of the Big Baby Taylor.
This guitar is one of the most popular choices for those looking for a quality acoustic guitar under $500. It comes in a dreadnought size or concert (smaller body) size. It also comes in a variety of colors (10 at time of writing). Some of the features of this acoustic are: Spruce top, rosewood back and sides, new scalloped bracing.
Owners describe the sound of this guitar as full, bright, and balanced. It will surely bring a smile to your face as you strum chords for hours while learning new songs. See all the available color choices for this guitar here.
Sigma Guitars look strangely similar to Martin guitars. This folk style acoustic electric cutaway meets our budget of $500, and people are saying good things about these guitars online. It’s my pick for the best folk guitar under $500.
The model SF18CE features a grade A sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides. It also boasts a hand finished scallop bracing system. Its sound is described as tighter and higher than similar quality dreadnoughts. This guitar will have a warm and open tone, according to the manufacturer. Get more info here.
This is our top pick for the best dreadnought guitar under $500. It has the looks of something you’d see in a honky tonk bar. It is a really cool looking acoustic guitar. It is a classic with it’s sunburst color and decorated hummingbird pick guard. It is the more affordable version of the Gibson Hummingbird. It has a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides. It also has a pickup so you can amplify it for gigs.
Owners describe it as having a big sound with great playability. Nice low action will make playing much easier. The tapered neck is great for beginners and makes forming chords less difficult. See more pictures of this guitar here.
Yes, a Martin guitar under $500. The Martin LX1E features a sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides. It carries the Martin name, which means high quality is expected. Being that it is closer to our $500 limit, you can expect this guitar to deliver on tone.
This one is a direct competitor to the Baby Taylor. People that own both have said that they like the sound of the Martin better, describing it as bright and crisp. The tradeoff is the playability is not rated as high as the Taylor. For even less money, you can get the Martin LX1 without electronics. See more pictures and reviews of the guitar here.
Takamine has been known for their high quality and highly affordable guitars for years. Their GD51CE comes in just under $500, and is a cutaway dreadnought. It is my top pick if you are looking for the best cutaway acoustic guitar under $500. It has a slim neck for great playability, something that beginners and experts both love. It has a spruce top with rosewood back and sides.
You will also be able to amplify this guitar, as it is an acoustic electric. It comes in natural or sunburst finishes. Owners describe it’s sound as loud and balanced, which is expected of a dreadnought cutaway. You can’t go wrong either, as it has an onboard tuner. See more pictures and reviews of the guitar here.
The Seagull S6 is another very popular choice for those looking for an affordable but great sounding acoustic. Owners claim it sounds as good as guitars in the $800-$1500 range. The S6 has a cedar top with cherry back and sides. It features a wider nut, which means this guitar will be a great choice for those playing finger style or that have larger hands.
Owners of this guitar are singing it’s praises, saying that they have no regrets. The sound of this guitar is big, yet soft. Described as being “alive” with tone. Seagull has been making quality guitars at an affordable price for many years, so the S6 will not disappoint. See more on this guitar here.
This Ibanez has a flamed sycamore top, and delivers a well balanced sound unplugged or plugged in. It has a great finish that is referred to as vintage violin. Owners of this guitar say it sounds great as the similarly priced Seagulls and Yamahas.
The onboard pre amp contains a tuner, which is nice for beginners to always stay in tune. The slim neck will also make for great playability. Click here for more pictures and details.
Ovation makes a great acoustic electric that is only $469. It has a spruce top with a lyracord bowl back. Some people don’t like the rounded back as it’s hard to keep it in your lap, so a strap may be needed if you should choose this guitar.
The onboard pre amp has a built in tuner which makes staying in tune very simple. It’s nice not having to keep up with a separate tuning device. The reviews for this guitar are positive, citing great tone and playability. Click here for more information and pictures of this guitar.
The EJ-200SCE is a great acoustic under $500. With a spruce top and maple body, it offers a great tone for the money. It comes highly recommended from other owners, who say it sounds as good as a Gibson for 1/10 of the price. It also has an onboard pre amp with a built in tuner for plugging in.
It’s perfect for playing gigs or at church. It has the SlimTaper neck which will be very easy to form chords on with smaller hands. The cutaway is nice for getting those up the neck solos easily, and of course it looks great as well. Check out more pictures of this guitar here.
If you are feeling lucky, you can purchase any one of these guitars online. I personally like to sit in a store and play the actual guitar I’ll be taking home. That way I can see if the action is set too high, how it feels, and most importantly how it sounds.
You can without a doubt find a great acoustic guitar for under $500. Don’t rule out the option of buying used. You can find a guitar that retails for $900 for maybe $500 used on sites like craigslist.org or reverb.com.