10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300 in 2020 (Review)
If you want to learn how to play the guitar, your budget is a critical consideration. You don’t want to dish out thousands of dollars for a new hobby, but you also don’t want to end up with a sub-par instrument.
Fortunately, there is a wide selection of decent guitars available that are affordable for beginners and casual guitar players. To help you find the best one for your skill level and style, we’ve compiled a list of the best acoustic guitars under $300 in 2020.
We’ll also take an in-depth look at considerations to ensure that you find optimal durability, sound, and overall quality without breaking the bank. Keep reading to learn more.
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The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300
1. Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar
The first thing to note about the Fender FA-115 is the brand. Fender is a popular guitar manufacturer associated with excellent tone quality and construction. The high-quality standards of Fender apply to instruments in this price category as well, so the FA-115 offers superb value.
This model features a classic dreadnought style, all-laminate construction, and materials of the highest quality. It includes a Lindenwood top, Mahogany back and sides, and a dark-stained Maple fingerboard. Like most other steel-string guitars, the FA-115 features X-bracing as internal reinforcement that contributes to the instrument’s stability and balanced voice.
Because of the FA-115’s construction and design, it produces a warm, rich tone that sounds great with all playing styles, from hard strumming to delicate fingerpicking.
The guitar is also available as part of a comprehensive kit. You will receive a gig bag, clip-on chromatic tuner, Fender acoustic guitar strings, and a string winder.
2. Jasmine S34C Acoustic Guitar
The Jasmine S34C acoustic guitar is a worthy option for guitar players who are looking for a well-balanced sound at an affordable price. Unlike most other acoustic guitars, this model features a grand orchestra layout and not a dreadnought style. This design is relatively thin at the waist. It makes this guitar ideal for fingerpicking.
The Jasmine S34C also has a Venetian-style single-cutaway that gives you access to the higher frets. As a result, it is possible to reach all tones, which makes this model ideal for beginners. Construction features of the S34C include a spruce top with X-bracing, Sapele back and sides, a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and a natural satin finish.
Jasmine shifted the quarter-sawed X-bracing slightly forward to provide additional structural support to the top. This alteration gives the instrument a lively sound with an enhanced definition. This guitar produces amazing tone quality with clear highs and thick lows. The mid frequencies tend to be muddy, but you can correct this with proper tuning.
3. Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar
The Epiphone DR-100 is a beautiful ebony acoustic guitar with a select spruce top, mahogany sides and back, and a dreadnought shape. The instrument also has a SlimTaper neck shape to make playing easier for young players and beginners. Other notable features of the DR-100 include a 25.5” scale length, a rosewood bridge, and beautiful Pearloid dots as fingerboard inlays.
In terms of sound and action, the DR-100 doesn’t disappoint. There are no dead spots on the fretboard, and it produces a rich sound. As the instrument’s wood components mature, the sound will become fuller.
Like most other guitars in this price category, the mid frequencies don’t sound as good as the bass and treble frequencies. Over time and with careful attention to tuning, however, you will be able to get more definition from the mids.
This model is suitable for beginners and professionals, as it has a durable construction, comfortable feel, and excellent tone. In this price category, the DR-100 provides excellent value.
4. Fender CD-60S
The Fender CD-60S is a model that makes it possible for beginners to learn to play on an iconic American brand. This instrument may have a low price tag for a Fender, but it still offers the playability and tone that one expects from this manufacturer.
The CD-60S is part of Fender’s Classic Design series and is ideal for beginners who want an instrument that will grow with them. This guitar has a classic dreadnought shape with a 25.3” scale length. Its tonewoods include a spruce top, laminated mahogany sides and back, and rosewood fretboard with rolled edges for added comfort.
Because of the spruce and mahogany pairing, the CD-60S has a balanced and lively tone. The dreadnought shape ensures optimal projection, while the solid woods add authenticity to the sound. Thanks to the high production standards, there are no dead spots or muddy mids.
The CD-60S is available in a kit that includes a hard-shell case, a clip-on tuner, picks, a strap, and an extra set of strings.
5. Yamaha FG830
No acoustic guitar list would be complete without a model from the Yamaha FG series. The Yamaha FG830 acoustic guitar is an excellent option to consider if you have a limited budget. Despite its relatively low price tag, it offers a wide range of high-end features, a pure tone quality, and rich projection.
The FG830 has a conventional dreadnought style and a solid Sitka Spruce top. Yamaha also improved the internal bracing of this model to enhance its sturdiness and give the instrument a punchy projection and warmer tone.
This guitar has rosewood back and sides. The neck, on the other hand, is made of eastern Mahogany and is solid with a smooth satin finish for comfortable hand gliding as you play.
Other high-quality features of this guitar include diecast tuners, cream binding along the body, fingerboard, and headstock, and a tortoiseshell pickguard. There is also beautiful abalone inlay work around the soundhole.
6. Yamaha APX500III
The most notable feature of the Yamaha APX500III is its lightweight, well-balanced body with a thin-line design and a single cutaway that gives access to the higher frets. The thin profile allows for a comfortable playing experience, and beginners will be particularly pleased with how easy the instrument is to hold.
The APX500III is not American-made, but its craftsmanship and quality compare to that of entry-level models that are made in the United States. With a spruce solid top, rosewood fretboard, and eastern Mahogany back, this guitar delivers a rich, full sound that only improves with time.
As an electro-acoustic guitar, it features a system-66 pick-up system also from Yamaha. This system consists of an under-saddle piezo pick-up and a simplistic preamp with straightforward controls and mid-range frequency control. Even as a beginner, you will be able to achieve the sound you want with these intuitive controls.
This model is suitable for beginners who want to learn, but professionals may also enjoy the fast action and compatibility with different picking styles and genres.
7. Bristol BD-16
The Bristol by Blueridge BD-16 is an acoustic guitar that offers several high-value features, but it has a relatively low price. If you are looking for the best value for money, this instrument is a worthy consideration.
The BD-16 has a traditional dreadnought style with seven-ply body binding for added strength and durability. Components of this guitar include a solid top and Mahogany back, sides, and neck. The peghead is rosewood with a decorative silk-screened design.
With this option, you get decent sound that will improve as the wood matures. The entire body has a natural gloss finish. However, some players may not like the finish as it tends to compromise the grip you need to maintain a comfortable playing position.
The BD-16 has a consistent action with no dead zones and responsive intonation. The guitar is comfortable to play and ideal for beginners. A high-end chrome-plated 14:1 diecast machine head allows for precision tuning, and it has a smooth, quality feel.
8. Takamine GD20-NS
If you are looking for the highest possible sound quality and best playability in this price bracket, consider the Takamine GD20-NS. This guitar has a dreadnought body shape and is one of the best alternatives to a hand-made instrument due to its carefully selected materials and durable construction.
The GD20-NS features a solid cedar top, mahogany sides and back, and a slim satin-finish mahogany neck for smooth hand movements along its back. The fingerboard is 12-inch rosewood, as is the pin-less bridge. The bridge also has a split-saddle design.
With this bridge it is easier to change the strings, and you also get better intonation for chords and single-note runs. Other high-value features of the GD20-NS include Pearloid inlays, a rosewood head cap, and chrome diecast tuners for accurate tuning.
This guitar produces a sound that is warm and clear, even at higher volumes. Overall, this is a great guitar and a viable option for beginners and seasoned players alike.
9. Ibanez AC240OPN
The Ibanez AC240OPN is one of the models in the brand’s Artwood series, which are descendants of old orchestral acoustic guitars. The instruments in this series feature the manufacturer’s traditional design elements as well as contemporary materials. The result is a well-rounded blend of attributes that include a warm, rich tone, excellent playability, and a beautiful appearance.
The AC240OPN has a grand concert body style with a solid mahogany top, back, sides, and neck. The shape of the neck provides players with a comfortable grip, and the scale length of 24.9” makes the guitar suitable for a wide range of genres and fingerpicking styles.
In addition to a solid top, sides, and neck, the AC240OPN also has a rosewood fretboard and bridge. This guitar is an open-pore model, which means the sound quality increases as the guitar ages.
You can expect the sound of the instrument to remain consistent over time. There are no muddy tones or dead zones, and it produces a clearly defined sound.
10. Alvarez Artist Series AF30
The Alvarez Artist Series AF30 is a famous folk guitar in this price category. This instrument features a standard shape, but its dimensions are proportionally smaller than average. The AF30 produces a natural, authentic sound with excellent volume potential, and it is easy to play.
It has decent quality, especially if you take its relatively low price into account. You get a wide range of high-end features, including a solid spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, and a mahogany neck. The guitar also has a rosewood fingerboard, which is durable and contributes to the instrument’s quality feel.
In addition to solid wood construction, this guitar also features premium chrome tuners, green abalone, and mother of pearl inlays, and FST1 hand-finished bracing. The entire instrument also has a premium PE high-gloss finish. With a guitar like this, you will never even miss the audio interfaces of an acoustic-electric.
The Alvarez AF30 is quite small, but it can produce a powerful, warm sound. This guitar’s playability and price make it ideal for beginners, and its sound quality and longevity make it suitable for serious players.
What Sound Quality Can I Expect from a $300 Acoustic Guitar?
Many factors affect an acoustic guitar’s sound quality, including the body style, the choice of wood, whether or not the neck is open pore, and the guitar’s construction method. Generally speaking, the lower the price of a guitar, the lower the sound quality you can expect. That’s because the manufacturer’s input cost per unit is lower in these brackets, which means cheaper materials, construction methods, and so on.
When it comes to top acoustic guitars under $300 from high-end brands, however, you can expect the same sound quality of instruments in higher price brackets. Manufacturers such as Fender, Ibanez, and Yamaha have an economy of scale, which means they distribute their fixed manufacturing costs over more units. As a result, they can maintain their high-quality standards without experiencing an increased input cost per unit.
Additionally, these manufacturers apply the same means of production across the board. The difference between affordable and expensive models mostly comes down to things such as the country of origin, the binding along the neck, and the quality of the finish. At some point, these factors start affecting sound quality, but they are insignificant below the $1,000 price point.
A guitar from a top manufacturer that costs between $200 and $300 will typically produce a sound quality that is sufficient for beginners or casual guitarists. The instruments we’ve listed in our acoustic guitar under $300 review all have a decent sound quality that will only improve over time. The sound quality of some of these guitars is also suitable for casual or private performances.
If you have budgetary constraints and want to ensure the best possible sound quality, limit your selection to guitars with solid wood construction, and don’t consider instruments from unknown brands. Inferior quality guitars typically have dead zones and muddy tones, and they don’t deliver the same projection, warmth, and rich tones as high-quality guitars in this same price bracket.
Are Lower Budget Acoustic Guitars Still Durable?
Ideally, you want a guitar that is not susceptible to damage as the result of accidental drops, high humidity levels, and temperature fluctuations. As a beginner, you want a guitar that you can keep playing, even after mastering the instrument a few years from now. Check out our article on acoustic guitars suited for beginners to learn more.
Warping, cracks, and bending will not only affect the sound quality of your instrument, but also its playability and the overall long-term value that it has to offer.
As is the case with sound quality, the price may affect a guitar’s durability indirectly. Cost-saving during production means cheap, low-quality materials, the use of unskilled labor, and poor-quality control. Guitars that cost less than $100 are typically not durable, and they have limited lifespans.
However, instruments between $200 and $300 can still be durable, provided that they are from reputable brands and made with high-quality materials. If you are looking for low-budget guitars that are durable, take a look at our article on cheap acoustic guitars. All the guitars in this review guide are also durable, and they will maintain their playability and sound quality for years to come.
What Difference in Quality Can You Expect from a Higher Price Range Guitar?
To understand the difference in quality you can expect from a guitar in a higher price range, it may be worth looking at factors that affect quality.
The quality of tone-wood a guitar has is one of the most significant factors in its sound quality. Wood transports sound waves better than synthetic materials, and they create warmer overtones. Guitars in higher price ranges typically have denser wood to achieve a better sound resonance.
Expensive guitars also have tone-wood with better structural value. Strings exercise a lot of pressure on a guitar’s body, so the wood has to withstand this pressure without cracking or snapping.
Expensive wood types don’t necessarily have a higher price because of their tonal value, their structural value, or their weight. Some wood types are expensive simply because they are rare or endangered, but they have the same value material-wise as more affordable wood varieties.
Another noticeable difference between low- and high-priced models is the quality of the machine heads or tuning pegs. These mechanisms are mounted on the head, and they keep the guitar strings in tune. Low-quality tuning pegs tend to be temperamental, and they don’t maintain a tuning for long, especially if the instrument is subjected to fluctuations in temperature.
If you continuously have to retune your guitar, it can be a source of frustration, especially if you are busy with a performance or you are busy with guitar lessons. Chrome or diecast tuners are typically decent quality and often found on higher price range guitars.
The bridge of a guitar stabilizes the strings above the fretboard. The height of the bridge primarily determines the instrument’s action and, consequently, its playability. The bridge also affects a guitar’s intonation, which is the optimum position of each string to ensure that the strings are in tune with one another.
An acoustic guitar’s bridge consists of a saddle that keeps the strings at an appropriate height and a tie block that secures the strings to the acoustic guitar. Guitars in higher price ranges will typically have bridges that are made of ivory or real bone nut, while cheaper options feature synthetic materials such as plastic. There are, however, high-end models that feature plastic bridges.
Quality as Buying Consideration
If you are looking to buy an acoustic guitar that you can play for life, consider an instrument in a higher price bracket. For the highest possible durability for casual playing in private settings, take a look at our article on acoustic guitars that cost around $500.
On the other hand, if you are a professional guitar player and need a high-quality guitar that you can connect to a PA system for performances, read our article on more expensive acoustic guitars.