7 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500 in 2020 (Review)
Purchasing an acoustic guitar, especially over the internet, has become more and more difficult. For one, most of the guitars under $500 are acoustic/electric, and that may not be what you’re looking for. Companies started doing this because they realized the demand was higher for guitars that could plug into an amp. Sometimes, however, that can take away from the natural sound of the regular acoustic guitars.
Two, there are so many brands of acoustic guitars that it can seem almost impossible to decide on the right one. That’s why we’ve found the best-sellers for you and created a list of the 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500 in 2020.
Every single guitar in this review is backed by positive consumer feedback, careful research, and mindful explanations to help you make your decision. We will then go on to discuss price differences and what $500 is going to get you in terms of quality.
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The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500
1. Seagull S6 Acoustic Guitar
The Seagull S6 brand is notorious for their tapered headstocks – a feature that isn’t commonly found amongst other acoustics. The head is curved and rounded, similar to a cone. The reasoning behind this is that it allows for more precise tuning.
Aside from the headstock, there is more about this guitar that makes it unique from its counterparts. For one, the sides are made from a wild cherrywood, which makes for a nice grain. Secondly, the rosewood fingerboard gives the guitar an almost reverb-like tone. The has a solid cedar top, which should lend to a warmer tone, but with this model you’re getting a brighter sound because of the rosewood neck. This is a great choice for a solid wood acoustic guitar under $500.
With the original color, you’re not seeing anything new. It’s a very basic guitar aesthetics-wise, which certainly doesn’t take away from its sound. The Seagull brand is more about sound than they are about how their guitars look. This model, however, has some color options to choose from (some include unique pick guards).
2. Taylor GS Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor GS mini mahogany might be smaller, but that doesn’t take away from the sound. This is an incredible small body acoustic guitar under $500. Taylors are known for having brighter-sounding guitars, typically because of the materials used. Ebony is great for players who are consistently practicing, because it’s easy on the fingers. It is also less porous, so the grease from your fingertips isn’t going to seep into the wood as much as it would with rosewood.
The top of this model is made from mahogany, which is a flat-range sounding wood. That being said, if you’re looking for a warmer sounding guitar, this one isn’t for you. The sparkling sound it does have, however, is ideal for performers. Each note is going to sound clear on its own, almost separating itself from the other notes being played.
The smaller size of this guitar makes it great for portability and travel, and it still has 20 frets (a standard number for many classical guitars). You’re essentially getting a normal-sized fret board with a smaller body.
3. Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor
If you’re looking for a nicer-quality guitar for a beginner, it doesn’t get much better than the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor. With this baby acoustic guitar, you will see the ebony fingerboard again, perfect for practice-happy players. The top of the guitar and the neck are both made from solid mahogany, but the sound produces a bright, sparkling tone rather than a warm one. This guitar is fantastic for those aspiring to be lead guitarists. Because of the smooth neck and the sunny sound, each note will ring out, and you won’t hear any buzzing on the frets (even if you were to use extra light strings). It is also easy to slide your fingers up and down the fretboard, creating or practicing solos. With a nice solid top acoustic like this Taylor, it’s hard to go wrong.
Baby Taylors have also been known to last for many, many years, without any issues with a twisting of the neck or splitting of the fingerboard grains. This is a very low-maintenance guitar.
4. Yamaha FS850 Acoustic Guitar
The Yamaha FS850 is a great guitar for beginners and one of the best acoustic guitars for under $400 thats available. It comes with everything you need to get started, including a gig bag, strap, and an extra set of strings.
The gig bag is quite a bonus because it’s high quality and built-to-last. The strings it comes with (Fender) aren’t the greatest quality, so keep in mind that they’ll need replacing within 6 weeks. It also comes with a tuner, something every musician (not just the beginner) needs.
Newly developed scalloped bracing makes this guitar stand out a bit from others in its class, allowing the model to have a bass-rich sound quality. This doesn’t make the guitar ideal for recording, but it makes it nice for performances. The mahogany exterior also makes it nice for vocalists. This would suit all beginners from the age of 10, depending on the size of the child. It works well for adult beginners, as well. It has what is known as a small-size body, so it’s also nice for travel.
5. Martin LX1E
While Taylors are known for their bright-end sound, Martins are infamous for their warmth. This Martin LX1E is built with a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany high-pressure laminate sides, making it an ideal fit for those who like warmer, blended tones.
This is another small guitar, but the tone comes out like a full-sized. There are typically two main purposes for buying a smaller guitar. The first is that it’s great for smaller hands, and the second is that it’s great for portability. This guitar can easily be stored in the overhead bin of an airplane, with its 14-fret neck and slimmer body. Because of the way the truss rod is fitted, it is slightly difficult to change the bowing. A longer tool is needed, but easily obtained. This type of truss rod and neck do well with heavier gauge strings, like .12-.13. This doesn’t mean light strings or extra light strings won’t work, it just means that you might get a little buzzing on the fretboard.
If you’re wondering whether or not this guitar is great for adults, it’s a good thing to note that famous musicians such as Ed Sheeran use ¾ sized guitars quite frequently. In fact, he has been known to use this specific model on stage (and for good reason). This is one of the top acoustic guitars under $500 that you can find. It is also going to be the best sounding acoustic guitar under $500 in this review.
6. Martin LXM Little Martin
The Martin LXM Little Martin has a similar idea to the Baby Taylor: small in size, big in sound. The main difference you will hear is the tone, which as we have discussed, will be warmer with the Martin brand.
Again here, we have the Sitka spruce and mahogany blend with an ebony fingerboard and easy-to-tune pegs. Another main difference between the little Martin and the baby Taylor acoustic guitar is the weight: this model is nearly 4 lbs. heavier than its Taylor counterpart. This is a positive thing for those who would like something studier to cling to, and is often thought of as a positive attribute. Sometimes, with a smaller guitar, it can be difficult to hold for adults. It will slip off the lap and there can be a lot of a readjusting. With the heavier weight of this model, that problem dissipates slightly.
7. Yamaha FG850
This Yamaha FG850 actually comes in two styles: concert body and dreadnought body. The biggest thing you need to know before buying is that the dreadnoughts are typically larger, particularly around the bottom part of the body. The concert-style guitars a slimmer. It’s really just a matter of personal preference, so it’s a great feature choice that Yamaha has offered with this model. Sometimes, the sound of the dreadnought acoustic can also carry a bit more than the concert, though that isn’t the case with this Yamaha.
This a full-sized guitar, great for beginners who don’t want a mini or a ¾ size. The rosewood fingerboard and mahogany back and sides are great features, and they make this guitar a good one for vocalists. That being said, this particular model doesn’t have the best quality of those woods, so you’re not getting the same rich tone that you’d get with a Martin or a Taylor. For a guitar at this price and this size though, it’s a good deal.
What Sort of Acoustic Guitar Can You Expect to Get for Less Than $500?
When you’re looking at budgeting for a beginner, picking an acoustic guitar for under $500 is standard. There are some great acoustic guitars under $300 that you can find, and they’ll do the job, but they don’t have the same sound quality. They also won’t last as long because the money used to produce them often goes into the design rather than the materials.
It’s also important to remember that just because a guitar is at a certain price range, that doesn’t make it high-quality or low-quality. The materials used are a big component of the build quality.
The great thing about the guitars we’ve reviewed in this article is that they are completely universal. They work great for beginners, but they also work for advanced players. They work for smaller children, but they also work perfectly for adults who like smaller sizes. A couple of the Martins and Taylors are even used by professionals on the road because the sound quality is so phenomenal and they’re easy to travel with. So, when you’re looking into this purchase, keep in mind that the reason these are best-sellers is because they’re all great choices – they’re made with quality materials and they’re built to last.
The main reason these are considered acoustic guitars for beginners is because they’re easy to play. It has nothing to do with the quality of the guitar. These guitars can take a player from beginner to intermediate, and from intermediate to advanced. Many of them are lifetime guitars, especially the Martins. If you’re looking to purchase an additional guitar for yourself and you’re not a beginner, or if you’re looking for a travel-size, you’ll like these.
Should I Be Budgeting to Spend up to $1000 Instead?
As mentioned earlier, guitars around $500 are perfectly reasonable and can last a lifetime. So, what do you get with an acoustic guitar under $1000? For one, you’re going to get a lot more options with size and design. Many of the guitars in this review are mini guitars or ¾ size. When you start getting up to the $1,000 price range, the guitars become full-sized. They also come with quite a few features like fretboard designs, abalone inlays and nuts, high-quality tuning pegs and more. These things are not necessarily needed.
The price does not always affect the sound. If you purchase one of the Martins in this review and compare its resonance to one that is $500 more, you won’t notice a huge difference.
Though the difference between $500-$1,000 is not significant enough to justify for a beginner, it is worth noting for advanced players. More expensive acoustic guitars come with features you may want or need. There may be a guitar or a brand you’ve always wanted and had your eye on. When you start getting even higher than $1,000 in price, the materials become rarer, they sound even better, and they become even more beautiful instruments.