The Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars For Under $500

Ordinary acoustic guitars can project a lot of volume from them, but sometimes, you need extra help to take your sound further. 

Acoustic-electric guitars allow you to plug into an amplifier, which means that not only you can go louder if you want to, but you can also take advantage of amp effects and features that tend to be built into these guitars, like onboard preamps, EQs, and tuners.

These aspects of acoustic-electric guitars can give you much greater customization of your sound, and in this article, I will share with you some affordable acoustic-electric guitars you can find for under 500 dollars.

Yamaha FGX800C

Suppose you’ve ever happened to read any of my other articles. In that case, you’d know that I have a strong appreciation for Yamaha guitars because they make affordable guitars that are suitable for all kinds of players.

The Yamaha FGX800C is one of those guitars, and it’s a great acoustic-electric guitar whose price point is accessible to many beginners but with quality that intermediates and advanced players can enjoy.

The FGX800C is a dreadnought-style acoustic that has other features such as:

  • Spruce top
  • Nato back and sides
  • Nato neck
  • Walnut fretboard
  • Yamaha System-66 preamp and piezo pickup

The dreadnought body on this Yamaha can project a lot of volume on its own; however, the built-in electronics can assist you even further and give you even greater control over the guitar’s tone. If you prefer concert body styles, there is also the FSX800C you can check out, which has pretty much the same specs.

Fender CD-60SCE

The Fender CD-60SCE is another dreadnought acoustic-electric guitar that rivals the Yamaha FGX800C in many ways.

Firstly, at around $300-350, they are priced competitively with each other, but when it comes to specifications, they still have plenty of common ground. They are so similar that it will almost come down to your personal brand preference.

This Fender acoustic electric consists of a:

  • Spruce top
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Walnut fingerboard
  • Fishman pickups and preamp

Although the main difference between the Fender and Yamaha is the nato and mahogany, they’re similar tonewoods and don’t look that much different from one another. However, there is another version of the same guitar that comes in all mahogany in case you want something different than the spruce top, as well as one with a black finish as opposed to a natural one.

Washburn Bella Tono Vite S9V

While the previous acoustic-electric guitars had a lot of similarities that can make it hard to decide between them for some people, the Washburn Bella Tono Vite S9V is the first one in this guide that really stands out from the pack.

At around $300, this acoustic-electric guitar looks much more expensive than it actually is; you don’t see many instruments with exotic colors and other design choices, such as the cool vine inlay across the fingerboard, at this price point.

Unlike the previous two, this isn’t a dreadnought body style; instead, this acoustic uses a smaller Washburn Studio shape that’s capable of producing a pleasantly balanced tone. Of course, this guitar’s tone is also attributed to its features such as:

  • Spruce top with a glossy charcoal burst color
  • Walnut back and sides
  • Okoume neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Barcus Berry LX4 preamp and pickup

The ebony fretboard is also something that stands out to me, as this is a tonewood that’s not typically seen on budget instruments like this one. Not only does it contribute to the beauty of this instrument, but ebony also adds some brightness to this acoustic guitar’s tone to complement the natural mids and bass frequencies from the body, which you can accentuate further with the built-in electronics.

Ibanez AEG70

Sure, as you may know already. Ibanez is best known for their superstrat electric guitars meant for shredders, but they also make some affordable acoustic guitars that are very enjoyable to play on. 

This includes the AEG70, which has a gorgeous top like the Washburn and coincidentally also comes in a charcoal burst color, but you can also grab one of these in a stunning vintage violin sunburst finish too.

Like the Washburn, this guitar has its own unique AEG body style, rather than your standard dreadnought or concert shape, and it’s built from these specs:

  • Flamed maple top
  • Sapele back and sides
  • Nato neck
  • Walnut fretboard
  • Ibanez AEQ-TTS preamp and pickup

The Ibanez AEG70 typically runs for about $400, and like basically all Ibanez guitars, this one is extremely comfortable to play on and sounds fantastic, so I think it’s well worth it. It’s also worth noting that the preamp is more simplified than others in this guide, and some people will like that, but others might want a bit more depth and have more EQ control.

Ibanez GA35TCE

While they’re the most common ones, not every acoustic-electric guitar is a steel stringer, and this guide wouldn’t be complete without some nice nylon string guitars that you can amplify.

Let me introduce you to another great Ibanez, the GA35TCE, an acoustic-electric nylon string guitar with a cutaway that comes in a beautiful dark violin sunburst color. The body and neck of this guitar are quite compact and slimmer than similar instruments, which is something fingerstyle players who gig often can appreciate.

At around $300, here are some other features that the Ibanez GA35TCE has a:

  • Spruce top
  • Sapele back and sides
  • Nato neck
  • Walnut fingerboard
  • Ibanez AEQ210T preamp and pickup

Now, while this instrument is a joy to play, it has more of a modern take on nylon string guitars, so if you’re looking for one that looks more like a traditional classical guitar, the next one might be more up your alley.

Fender CN-140SCE Nylon

As promised, the Fender CN-140SCE nylon-string acoustic-electric guitar is one that looks more similar to your ordinary classical guitars out there with its natural finish.

However, it still has plenty of modern features that aren’t standard on classical guitars, like the cutaway, for instance, and a thinner neck and tighter string spacing, akin to steel-string acoustic guitars. Authentic classical guitars usually have pretty wide necks and string spacing.

Still, a lot of the materials the instrument is made from are quite typical of affordable classical guitars on the market. The Fender CN-140SCE features a:

  • Cedar top
  • Ovangkol body and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Walnut fingerboard
  • Fishman CD preamp and pickup

At just under $500, this acoustic-electric classical guitar is easily one of the best ones you can get at this price point. But if you’re willing to shell out a little bit more, you could also look into a Cordoba, which is a brand that pretty much exclusively makes nylon-string and classical guitars.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a steel string or a nylon one, there is an amazing acoustic-electric guitar that can work for you and your budget, and I hope this guide will lead you to one that resonates with you.

With the right guitar and an acoustic guitar amp, you can take a more relaxed approach to your playing without unnecessarily pushing yourself to produce extra volume. This is especially true with nylon-string guitars, which are naturally quieter than their steel-string counterparts.

Nonetheless, no matter if you prefer to strum your acoustic with a pick or play fingerstyle, these acoustic-electric guitars will help you reach a wider audience and customize your sound with their built-in electronics that make these guitars special.