Finally, you’ve mastered a lot of guitar chords and refined your strumming technique, and you’re in the market for a brand new acoustic guitar that feels better than your beginner one and also produces a much better tone.
Your first one has served you well, but you’re no longer a beginner, and it’s time that you move on to something that will last you through your intermediate years and beyond. This guide will help you find the best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars, allowing you to sound better than ever.
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How To Find The Right Acoustic Guitar
Good acoustic guitars don’t have to cost a fortune! Some of the top brands with models that cost thousands of dollars, like Taylor and Martin, also offer steel-string guitars that still offer reliability and affordability.
Just like my guide on the best electric guitars under $500, this one provides a selection that is around a specific range, which makes them competitive.
In addition to covering a lot of brands, the perk of a few of these is that they are acoustic-electric guitars. Do you intend on doing some small shows in the future? You may benefit from one of the few acoustic-electric guitars. This is just one example of ways you can narrow things down.
However, if you don’t want to deal with any electronics and want a standard model, there are also those on this list. Nonetheless, you will get a fantastic steel-string acoustic sound with any of these choices.
Taylor BT2 Mahogany
Taylor is renowned across the globe as being one of the greatest and leading manufacturers of acoustic guitars. With that territory, they are also known for producing some very expensive ones. If you’re on a budget, don’t worry; there is a Taylor out there for you that won’t cost you every cent to your name. There is a reason this made it to this guide for the best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars.
Meet the Baby Taylor (BT), a 3/4-size dreadnought-style guitar, which, if you’re unfamiliar with the acoustic guitar terminology, refers to a body type that is large and robust, only coming second to the “Jumbo” styled bodies. Jumbos usually have a narrower waist than dreadnoughts, however.
These are some of the basic features of the BT2:
- Tropical Mahogany Top
- Sapele Back & Sides
- 22.75-Inch Scale Length Maple Neck
- 19-fret Ebony Fretboard
The way this guitar is constructed gives it a very rich and vibrant sound; the body is well-made and contributes the most to it, and the ebony fretboard adds to the tone as well and creates a faster and more comfortable playing experience. This one definitely lives up to the Taylor reputation, and it wouldn’t be an acoustic guitar guide without one of their guitars at least mentioned.
Like Taylor, Martin is also one of the most talked about acoustic guitar brands. Short for C. F. Martin & Co., Martin guitars actually have a very long history of putting out the wonderful flat-top acoustics that just about everyone loves.
This includes the Martin LX1 from the Little Martin series, a dreadnought that has few similarities and differences with the Taylor in terms of price and features:
- Sitka Spruce Top
- HPL (High Pressure Laminate) Back & Sides
- 23-inch Scale Length Rust Birch Laminate Neck
- 20-fret Richlite Fretboard
A 23-inch scale length is on the shorter side for all guitars, but this comes with its own set of benefits. A shorter scale means the instrument is smaller overall, making it great for travel. Additionally, the frets are shorter as well to accommodate this. This is actually nice regarding playability and still makes the Martin LX1 suitable for beginners.
Richlite, which is what this guitar’s fingerboard is made from, is actually unique in that it looks and sounds a lot like ebony wood, but it is a man-made composite. Richlite isn’t actually solid wood; instead, it is made from paper and glue and is a good environmentally-friendly alternative since ebony trees are endangered.
I don’t think you should be put off by this because, at its core, this is an excellent-sounding acoustic guitar. As mentioned before, most of the guitar’s tone comes from the tonewoods in the body, and in this case, it is rich and full of life, and you will get a lot out of it for its mid-range price.
While Ibanez is a well-known Japanese guitar brand that prides itself on creating some of the best electric guitars on the market to accommodate a lot of people’s budgets, their acoustic guitars sometimes go unnoticed, but they’re no exception.
Their AC340 guitars are one of these acoustics and a great one you can get for under 400 bucks due to its rich and resonant sound coming from its features:
- Okoume Top
- Okoume Back & Sides
- 25-inch scale maple neck
- 20-fret Ovangkol fingerboard
I also like that the overall aesthetic stands out from a lot of guitars in this price range. Spruce is easily the most popular tonewood used for acoustic guitar tops for many reasons, and that’s also evident from this list, but darker woods like Okoume and Mahogany look and sound great, too.
It also has a grand-concert body shape is also a nice change of pace as it’s one that’s more typically seen on classical guitars. Nonetheless, it provides a cozy playing experience that you’re sure to love.
Yamaha is another Japanese brand that is probably most known for their starter, entry-level guitars that provide an excellent bang for your buck!
Here, we have the Yamaha FGX800C which is an awesome acoustic-electric guitar, the first in this list, and one that I’ve also recommended in my guide to the best acoustic-electric guitars. Here’s what it’s made from:
- Solid Spruce Top
- Nato/Okoume Back & Sides
- 25.5-Inch Scale Length Nato Neck
- 20-Fret Walnut Fretboard
Overall, this guitar is larger than some of the earlier choices and ideal for someone who is searching for a fuller-sized acoustic guitar. Like a lot of other acoustic-electric guitars, this one also has a nice cutaway in the body, giving you comfortable access to the higher frets.
The lovely natural tone from this guitar can be amplified with its built-in electronics – it comes with a piezo pickup and a preamp that also includes an EQ and a tuner for your convenience. This feature makes it one of the best-value acoustic guitars in this price range.
Fender kind of has that same Yamaha treatment where they are mostly known for their electric guitars while having good acoustic ones that have a tendency to get overlooked. Can you blame people, though? The Fender Stratocaster is a timeless model that has been instrumental (pun intended) in the creation of music for many generations.
Enough about the Strat, though, and let’s talk about Fender’s 140SCE acoustic-electric guitars. Unlike all of the instruments that we’ve gone over, you have the option of choosing which body style you want in this series – you can pick a concert, dreadnought, or nylon-string models!
However, for a little variety from all of the dreadnoughts, here, I’ll be recommending their CC-140SCE, which is their concert-bodied guitar with features such as a:
- Spruce Top
- Ovangkul Back & Sides
- 25.3 Inch Scale Length Mahogany Neck
- 20-Fret Walnut Fingerboard
In addition to the cutaway, the fretboard on here has rolled edges, and the neck has Fender’s “easy to play” shape, making this a super comfortable acoustic guitar to play on. The Fishman electronics also sound great and make a fine addition to this very affordable instrument!
Now that I’ve shown you some the finest acoustic guitars for under 500 dollars to choose from, you can compare each of them to see what suits you best.
Also, before we close this one out, I want to mention that while some of these guitars include cases with them, some also do not. If you see something you like, verify if it does or doesn’t come with one. If one is not provided to you, various affordable options are always available, and I have some acoustic guitar case recommendations here.
I understand that it will be an annoyance and inconvenience having to shell out some more money, though. I think it’s more important that you get the exact instrument you like the most rather than having a case be a deal-breaker, and you end up settling on something you don’t want. You’ll be happier and not experience “buyer’s remorse.”
Essentially, a case is one of the most essential accessories for acoustic guitars, but you can always get one on the side if you absolutely need to.
I hope this acoustic guitar guide has been helpful to you, and I certainly hope that whatever you choose will be a significant improvement over your old instrument if you’re a beginner. Perhaps you’re an experienced player who is just adding to your existing collection, and that’s cool too! That’s what makes them the best acoustic guitars for the money – they can make excellent upgrades or additions to a big, happy guitar family.