best acoustic guitars under 500

Strum With Style: The 7 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

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Finally, you’ve mastered a lot of guitar chords, 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 onto something that will last you through your intermediate years and beyond. This guide will help you find the best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars for you, which will allow you to sound better than ever.

 

An Overview of the Acoustic Guitars In This Guide

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 certain range, which makes them competitive.

Yes, a $200 guitar is obviously less than 500 bucks, but it won’t nearly have the quality as another one that is closer to the $500 mark. Hence, the importance of keeping them competitive in the $400 to $475 price range.

These are all great-sounding steel-stringers that we will be going over:

  • Taylor BBT “Big Baby Taylor”
  • Martin LX1E
  • Yamaha LS6 ARE
  • Ovation CS24P-FKOA
  • Fender CD-140SCE
  • Seagull S6 Original
  • Blueridge BR-42 Contemporary Series

In addition to covering a lot of brands, the perk of a few of these is that they are acoustic-electric guitars. However, if you don’t want to deal with any electronics and just want a standard model, there are also those in this list. Nonetheless, you will get a fantastic steel-string acoustic sound with any of these choices.

 

“What Is The Best Acoustic Guitar Under 500 Dollars?”

In the previous segment, I listed out the acoustic guitars that have earned a spot as the top ones in the $400 to $475 price range. In this section, we will take a look at each of them to help determine which one is best for you. However, this also depends on your personal needs and goals.

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. With that said, let’s talk about the first acoustic in this series!

 

Taylor BBT “Big Baby Taylor”

Taylor is renowned across the globe as being one of the greatest and leading manufacturers of acoustic guitars. With that territory means that 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 Taylor BBT, a 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 BBT:

  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Sapele Back & Sides
  • Sapele Neck
  • Ebony Fretboard
  • Ebony Bridge
  • 24 7/8ths-Inch Scale Length

The way this guitar is constructed gives this guitar a very rich, vibrant sound and definitely warrants the “big” in its name. While the body is well-made and contributes the most to its tone, the ebony fretboard does add to the tone as well and creates a faster and 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.

 

Martin LX1E

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 LX1E, from the Little Martin series, which also happens to be the first acoustic-electric guitar that we will be discussing. Other than being a dreadnought, this instrument has a few similarities and differences than the Taylor:

  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back & Sides
  • Rust Birch Laminate Neck
  • Richlite Fretboard
  • Richlite Bridge
  • 23 Inch Scale Length

23 inches is on the shorter side when it comes to all guitars, but this comes with its own set of benefits. With a shorter scale means that 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 LX1E 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 actually a man-made composite. Richlite isn’t actually wood; instead, it is made from paper and glue.

It sounds strange, but it works! In fact, Gibson started using richlite on their new Les Pauls. Overall, I think richlite is a good environmentally-friendly alternative since ebony trees are now 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. With its other features, like the Fishman Sonitone pickup and preamp, the Martin LX1E is probably the best acoustic guitar for the money. You get a lot out of it for its mid-range price.

 

 

Yamaha LS6 ARE

Yamaha is a brand that is probably most known for their starter, entry-level electric guitars, such as the Pacifica, but often forget that they make some good acoustic guitars too. In my opinion, their acoustic guitars, like the LS6, are actually better than their electric ones.

The Yamaha LS6 utilizes A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement), which alters the wood by controlling things like humidity, temperature, and pressure in the atmosphere, and therefore, makes the guitar more resonant. I think it’s a pretty cool process and since Yamaha holds the patent for it, you’ll only find it on their instruments like the LS6 ARE. Here’s what this guitar is made out of:

  • Engelmann Spruce Top
  • Rosewood Back & Sides
  • 5-piece Mahogany/Rosewood Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • 25.56 Inch Scale Length

Despite having a longer scale than the previous guitars, the body on this guitar is smaller than a dreadnought type, and can sometimes be called a Grand Concert body, or even just a “small-bodied guitar” to keep things simple.

The combination of spruce and rosewood on this acoustic-electric guitar makes it sound lovely which can be amplified with its SRT Zero Impact Pickup. Because of the ARE technology, you may also find that this guitar sounds a bit more vintage right out of the gate, which usually takes years for other ones to achieve.

 

 

Ovation CS24P-FKOA

Interestingly enough, I first heard about Ovation acoustics from Yngwie Malmsteen, who is mostly known for his work on the electric guitar. The model he uses is completely different than the one we are going to talk about here, but I just really wanted to share that fun fact with you before we get into this one.

The Ovation CS24P-FKOA (Celebrity Standard Plus – Figured Koa) is an acoustic-electric guitar, but it is the first in this list that offers a cutaway which grants the player easier access to those high-register notes that can be kind of tedious on acoustics that don’t have one. In addition to this, there are some other aspects about its construction that stand out from the ones that we’ve seen thus far:

  • Figured Koa Top
  • Lyrachord (Fiberglass) Bowled-Body
  • Nato Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Walnut Bridge
  • 25.25 Inch Scale Length

I love how this Ovation acoustic guitar looks and sounds! From its finish to the abalone fret markers, this one looks like it could be at least two to three hundred dollars more expensive than what it actually is. Not only that, it comes with Ovation electronics in it, specifically a Slimline pickup and an OP-4BT preamp, which comes with various controls.

This is an instrument that will last you many years and will help you sound great if you play gigs, which makes it one of the best acoustic guitars under 500 bucks.

 

 

Fender CD-140SCE

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 in many generations.

Enough about the Strat though, and let’s talk about Fender’s CD-140SCE acoustic-electric guitar. Unlike all of the instruments that we’ve gone over, you have the option of choosing which body-style you want. You can pick a concert, dreadnought, parlor, travel, and even 12-string and nylon-string models! With all of them having a cutaway like the Ovation, here are some basic specs for this guitar:

  • Spruce Top
  • Rosewood Back & Sides
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard with Rolled Edges
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • 25.3 Inch Scale Length

As mentioned before on the Yamaha, I think that spruce and rosewood sound great together, which I suppose is another parallel with each other, in regards to both brands being in similar situations by being mostly known for their electric guitars.

It wasn’t produced with ARE technology like the Yamaha LS6, but it does offer rolled edges on the fingerboard for super-comfortable playing as well as a Fishman pickup and preamp to step up your sound if you need to. Though they are two different animals, Fender CD-140SCE will be just as reliable as any Stratocaster, in my opinion.

 

 

Seagull S6 Original

Breaking away from the trend of acoustic-electrics in this article, we are returning to the roots with a standard acoustic guitar with no electronics whatsoever. This isn’t a bad thing though, and in most cases, having pickups and preamps won’t be used too often unless you are playing a show. You’ll do just fine without them in just about every other situation.

This acoustic by Seagull is dreadnought guitar, so it already has some things in common with the other ones here; however, it’s choice of wood is different than what we’ve seen so far, which contributes to its uniqueness. Here’s how the Seagull S6 is made:

  • Cedar Top
  • Laminated Wild Cherry Back & Sides
  • Maple Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • 25.5 Inch Scale Length

While spruce is often the go-to tonewood for tops, cedar is probably the second most popular wood. It can be described as both darker in how it looks and how it sounds. Cedar is also regarded as being great at projecting sound, which is another reason why electronics aren’t necessary with this particular instrument. This wood has also been used a lot for classical guitars, so if you plan on fingerpicking a lot, this may be the best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars for you.

Another nice touch about this guitar is that it has Tusq nuts and saddles, which is supposed to help with intonation stability even more. Some people say that they are more reliable than bone or other nuts, in that they don’t need to be lubricated or not as often, but I am not 100% on this, so don’t quote me on that. All I know is that I love the sound of this one, and I think you will too!

 

 

Blueridge BR-42

Finally, we’ve reached the last in our guide to the best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars, and instead of going out with a giant bang, I’m going to give you a smaller one. Don’t be fooled though and put your guard down, this one has an impressive sound and has a lot of the things you’d expect in good acoustic guitars.

Blueridge is a manufacturer of some pretty high-end acoustic guitars, yet, their affordable BR-42 holds its own against some of the other big names and models from Taylor and Martin. Why is that? Well, it’s because it has some things in common with them:

  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back & Sides
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • 25.6 Inch Scale Length

With the Sitka Spruce top and Mahogany back and sides, I kind of see this as a hybrid of the Taylor and Martin guitars that we talked about earlier in this article. This guitar has a longer scale than them, but overall it is a smaller guitar.

This is a 000 guitar, which can also be called an “orchestra model,” or OM for short. Some people may prefer a smaller body over the large dreadnought style. If an instrument is more comfortable to play than another, that is a huge perk, and it can be what really sets this guitar apart from Martin and Taylor.

On the other hand, if you’re hunting for a rich sound with a great balance between bass and treble, the Blueridge BR-42 is a fantastic choice. Smaller guitars don’t always have weaker tonal quality, and if you pick up this one, you’ll have a versatile instrument that sounds great and won’t break the bank!

 

Summary and Conclusion

Now that I’ve given you 7 of the best acoustic guitars for under 500 dollars to choose from, you can compare each of them to see what suits you best. Other than some being acoustic-electrics, we have seen all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Let’s look at all of the guitars once more:

In this group of 7, you’ve got an assortment of different tonewoods that contribute a lot to each of their sounds. If some have similar, or even the same, kinds of woods there will usually be something that makes it special. In my opinion, they all sound amazing – if they didn’t they wouldn’t be here, right? Just pay attention to the little extra quirks and characteristics to find the one that matches your preferences.

Also, before we close this one out, I want to mention that while most of these guitars include cases with them, some do not. If you see something that you like, verify if it does or doesn’t come with one. If one is not provided to you, cases and gig-bags are always available, like this one by Gator that I really like that I got from Amazon.

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 that you like the most, rather than having a case be a deal-breaker and you end up settling on something you don’t actually want. You’ll be happier and not experience “buyer’s remorse.”

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.