Best Acoustic Guitar For The Money

best acoustic guitar for the money under 500

In this post, you’ll find the best acoustic guitar for the money of beginners, intermediate and advanced players. Reviews of options within different price ranges are included, and there is also a guide to features below. This is to help anyone avoid the bad guitars, not to mention the regret from accidentally buying one.

To pick out the good ones, I evaluated five important factors, namely: playability, electric option, price, sound and looks. I also considered other people’s reviews, so only the top rated acoustic guitars are included here. To quickly scroll down to sections of this post, click the links on the table of contents below.

Acoustic Guitar Comparison

Below is a chart comparing the top acoustic guitars with each other. If you’re viewing it on a mobile device, swipe left or right on the second column to see more options. Below the names of the guitars, click the links to quickly scroll down to their review / demo.

OptionBest forPlayabilityElectric
Version
Price
Jasmine S35Jasmine S35
Read the review
BeginnersFull sized,
right handed
None$
See the
exact price
Yamaha JR1Yamaha JR1
Read the review
Beginners3/4 sized,
right handed
None$
See the
exact price
Seagull S6 OriginalSeagull S6 Original
Read the review
Beginner,
intermediate,
& advanced
Full sized,
with right and left
handed versions
Yes (for both hand
orientations)
$$
See the
exact price
Taylor GS MiniTaylor GS Mini
Read the review
Beginner,
intermediate,
& advanced
Between full and
3/4 size,
with right and left
handed versions
Yes (for right
handed version
only)
$$
See the
exact price

Best Acoustic Guitar Under 200

Below are reviews of two of the top acoustic guitars under $200. For a side by side comparison, see the chart above (which you may have missed if you got here via the shortcut link).

Jasmine S35 Review

In this Jasmine S35 review, we size up the value offered by the instrument for the little money it asks.

It is said that you get what you pay for, and that’s often true for guitars. That said, a high price doesn’t always mean better quality. Conversely, there are times when the bang is surprisingly more than the buck. The Jasmine S35 is exactly the latter – an affordable guitar that doesn’t sound cheap. At its relatively low price, nothing sounds as warm and full as the S35.

The S35 is a full sized guitar, so petite people might need to stretch to reach its parts. And it’s only available in right hand orientation, so lefties are kind of left out. I also noticed a few people saying that the action is a bit high. While certainly not ideal, it isn’t a deal breaker either. It’s cheap to have it corrected, and cases of having to do so seems few and isolated anyway.

The S35 has a matte finish so it doesn’t show finger prints unlike black, glossy guitars. I think it looks beautiful, and most people do too. To read other people’s reviews of the Jasmine S35, click here.

Yamaha JR1 Review

When shopping for a guitar, beginners tend to focus on the price tag. But an equally critical factor is the guitar’s playability.

Among the things that affect playability, size is probably the biggest factor. For those with relatively small hands, it might be more comfortable to use a 3/4 sized guitar. That’s what the Yamaha JR1 is. Moreover, it’s a guitar with an equally small price but a surprisingly great sound.

The JR1 has a good balance of bass and treble. Hence, it is less prone to feedback onstage and it could produce a cleaner recording. And contrary to what people would expect, small guitars can surprisingly have more volume. But despite the great tone and projection, the JR1 could be had for a relatively low price.

The JR1 has a gloss finish and a natural color that most people find appealing. To see what else people say about the Yamaha JR1, click here.

Best Acoustic Guitar Under 500

Below are reviews of the top acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. For their side by side comparison, check out the chart near the top.

Seagull S6 Original Review

The Seagull S6 Original is an acoustic guitar that seems to always get very positive reviews. Which isn’t surprising actually, since it’s an award winning model from a top acoustic guitar brand.

The S6 can be bought in right or left hand orientation, and there’s an electric version for each. For beginners, having the option to get the more comfortable orientation could boost learning. Also, the options arguably makes the model the best intermediate acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, pros will find it as a great backup that’s affordable yet sounds nice. It sounds slightly bright and has a bluesy boxy bass.

The S6 is a full sized dreadnought with a slightly wider and thicker neck. Ironically, that doesn’t seem to bother people with slightly smaller hands. It’s likely because of the ergonomic neck shape, and the shorter scale also helps. But if you really have small / short hands, or if you’re buying for someone with such, a smaller guitar is a safer bet.

The S6 looks standard, but it does have a nice wild cherry grain. What’s remarkable is the craftmanship — people hardly find rough edges on the S6. To read more people’s reviews, and to see the current price, click a version below:

Taylor GS Mini Review

The Taylor GS Mini is perfect for novices who want better, or advanced players on a budget. It’s an award winning model from a top brand, and is probably the best intermediate acoustic guitar.

For a little more atop its regular price, you can get the electric version of the Mini. There’s also a left handed model (no electric version though). But what makes the Mini really playable is its size, which is somewhere between a 3/4 and a full size. It’s comfortable for a typical adult, and is convenient to travel with. It’s also very much playable for those with relatively smaller hands. But despite its diminutive build, the Mini sounds like a full sized guitar.

Flatpicking the Mini produces crisp, clear and very melodic notes. It also has a considerable sustain — notes can hold up for as long as typically desired. When strummed, the Mini has an even, balanced toned. It slightly prefers the mid-range, but the trebles are bright and the bass is rich. Furthermore, its projection can hold up really well in a small group or venue.

Lookswise, the Mini is a bit simplistic. Nonetheless, it would get second looks because of the brand, which is endorsed by the likes of Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz. To read more about the Mini, and to see the current price, click a version below:

Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

Full Size or Small Body Acoustic Guitar?

You can’t grow or shrink a guitar — you’re stuck with the size that it comes with. Therefore, it’s important to get the appropriate build right off the bat. For beginners, doing so would result to an easier playing or learning experience.

Generally, an acoustic’s size should fit its player’s height. For people that are at least 5 feet tall, a full size dreadnought will usually be fine. Meanwhile, shorter people would most likely be comfortable with small body guitars. But besides height, lifestyle may also be considered. If you’re a road tripper, frequent flier, or a backpacker, smaller instruments are obviously more convenient to take along.

On the other hand, advanced players might consider size in a different viewpoint. Size affects tone — the smaller the guitar, the more enhanced the treble notes are. Hence, pros looking for a specific sound might put less weight on comfort or convenience.

Right or Left Handed Acoustic Guitar?

Most acoustic guitars out there are right handed. Often, right handed people will get one without realizing it is so, because it would feel just “right.” In contrast, left handed people have some choices to contemplate about:

  • Get used to a right handed acoustic. The effect on performance is debatable, but it makes you more flexible. If you ask for a guitar anywhere, you’ll likely be offered a right handed one.
  • Play upside down (low E string at the bottom). You’re still flexible, and you’re also following your natural orientation. The downside (literally) is looking at and executing notes / chords in reverse.
  • Restring a right handed guitar upside down. It’s doable, yes, but it’s a lot of effort and is best left to professional guitar techs.
  • Get a left handed acoustic guitar. It usually costs a bit more, and you won’t be as flexible. But it’s the most comfortable and many lefties report a positive effect on performance.

According to a guitar lessons website, it’s important to “feel comfortable with your guitar.” But if you don’t have access to one, how do you know which is comfortable? Neal Beedie of LeftyFretz.com recommends performing air guitar (realistic pretend playing). If you are more comfortable picking or strumming with your left hand, then you’re a bonafide lefty.

Acoustic or Acoustic-Electric?

An acoustic-electric guitar is pre-installed with some form of electronic pick-up system. This allows players to plug into an amplifier or PA system and tweak the tone and sound louder. Hence, it is often more useful to advanced guitarists who might be performing live already.

Nonetheless, there’s no harm for beginners to opt for an acoustic-electric too. It’s not necessary, and electronics can be added to any guitar anyway (some models don’t require professional installation). Regardless, it would be fun to hook up to an audio interface to record practice sessions.

Acoustic Guitar Prices

There are really no clear cut divisions that group acoustic guitars based on price ranges. Different combinations of features or “bells and whistles” always blur the lines between price brackets. But it is generally accepted that under $500 is budget range and above a thousand is high end.

Now, $500 might still seem like a lot, specially if you’ll give away the guitar as a present. In that case, check out the cheaper, yet equally cool ideas in my post about gifts for guitar players.

Getting the Best Sounding Acoustic Guitar

When I check an acoustic guitar’s sound, I listen to two things: tone and quality. For me, tone is the “personality” of the sound, and it’s what makes each acoustic guitar audibly unique. Meanwhile, quality is the accuracy of the notes and the absence of any undesirable sound.

Personally, I think of tone as the feeling or idea that you get when listening to an acoustic. It is described subjectively — warm, rich, held back, etc. Such kind of descriptions, I believe, are born out of the combination of several characteristics:

  • Timbre — Is the sound biased towards the bass or the treble, or is it balanced?
  • Separation — Do you hear each note in a chord, or is the sound fuzzy?
  • Projection — Is the guitar loud or shy? How does it sound from different vantage points?
  • Sustain — Do notes linger too long or too short?
  • Dynamics — Does it sound different when you play hard, medium or soft?

In turn, such characteristics are due to the guitar’s features, e.g. the tonewoods used. For example, Rosewood is known for the saturated feel that it contributes to tone. But that’s not to say that it’s easy to ascertain a guitar’s sound based on its features. It is still better to hear the instrument or to ask someone who did so and is knowledgeable.

With regards to quality, the things to consider are intonation and if there are dead frets or buzzing. It’s important that everything sounds as they should, unless you intend to sound like you’re scratching a turntable.

Online Shopping Tips

Today, most things can be bought through the internet, including acoustic guitars. If you’ll buy one online, below are some tips on how to do so. They’re from the website of the Washington Attorney General, and you can check out the full list there.

  • Safeguard your personal details. Steer clear of sites without a privacy policy. Look out for phishing.
  • As much as possible, use a credit card. Check the statements often to monitor its usage.
  • Fight for your rights. If your order does not arrive on time as promised, or within 30 days, you can cancel and get a refund.

Getting What Fits You Best

With the help of this guide, you’ll likely end up with the best acoustic guitar for your money. Regardless if it’s under $200 or $500, it should suit you as a beginner, intermediate or advanced player. Because when you get what fits you as a player, that’s when you truly get your money’s worth.

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1 Comment / Add your own comment below

  1. ‘Because when you get what fits you as a player, that’s when you truly get your money’s worth.’ That’s the best thing anyone has said in any review I’ve read, and I’ve read hundreds of guitar reviews over the years. Thank you. I’ve picked up and tried out many guitars, it’s a bug, and I’ve ended up with quite a few in my collection over the years. With a variety of prices, I love em all, but a couple of times I’ve purchased very low price instruments, and I own three of them all costing less than £200. A Walden, which is absolutely brilliant. A (don’t laugh) James neligan, which everyone who hears it compares with their own Martin. And, last of all, my latest buy, a Sigma. All dreadnaughts and ill never part with any. The Walden is my favourite. Cost me £69, if it was new its about £150. D560T. It’s personal. Bob.

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