So, time to get yourself a new guitar. And rather than head out shopping blindly, it behooves you to first take a look at the best acoustic guitar for the money options available for less than $500.
Here are our picks for best acoustic guitar under 500.
Quick Links To Our Top Under $500 Acoustic Guitar Recommendations
- Yamaha FS850 Acoustic Guitar – OUR TOP CHOICE! These acoustic guitars have excellent sound and tone, quality wood top and sides, easy to play neck, and comfortable body. All for a great price!
- Epiphone EJ-200SCE – our runner up instrument choice. Second on the list because of how good this guitar is for the budget.
- Taylor GS Mini
- Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic
- Takamine GD20-NS
- Sigma SF18CE
- Seagull S6
- Ovation Celebrity Elite
- Alvarez AG75CE
- Blueridge BG 40
- Quick Links To Our Top Under $500 Acoustic Guitar Recommendations
- Our Under $500 Acoustic Guitar Reviews
- What To Expect From An Acoustic Guitar Under $500
- Under 500 Acoustic Guitars Conclusion
Our Under $500 Acoustic Guitar Reviews
Yamaha FS850 Acoustic Guitar
Take a standard dreadnought, shrink it down to a 000-size, and then spice it up with a few mid-60s touches; that’s the Yamaha FS850 in a nutshell. It’s a concert-style acoustic with an all-mahogany body tailored for a warm tone with emphasis on mids and highs. So, a perfect choice if like to dabble in blues and/or folk music.
The FS850 is closely related to the company’s FG Series, the genesis of which dates back to the Yamaha FG180 acoustic guitar of the late 60s. It is slightly smaller than the current generation of FGs; the body is slimmer and shallower by 10mm and 8mm respectively. It’s this compact profile that accentuates the upper end, all while making the guitar easier to handle for younger players. Yamaha have fitted the FS850 with a new scalloped bracing to keep the top board stable and help bring out more of the guitar’s natural sound.
- Nato neck with 25″ scale
- Rosewood fingerboard; 20 frets
- TM29T Die-cast Chrome tuners
- 6 Strings
The FS850 acoustic guitars look quite classy, especially with the tobacco sunburst finish. This pairs nicely with the abalone soundhole inlay as well as white coach line on the fingerboard. Other finish options include turquoise, natural and autumn sunburst.
Handling is just as splendid; the FS850 acoustic guitars are a very user-friendly guitar, as highlighted before. The compact body makes it comfortable to play in a seated position, but it doesn’t feel cramped at all. If you’re looking for a decent practice ax that won’t break the bank, the Yamaha FS850 is definitely worth a try.
- Good for children or anyone with smaller hands.
- The spruce top on the Yamaha FS850 provides an exceptional resonance, while the mahogany body offers a rich and warm tone.
- Depending on your playing style you may find that the neck size and shape are too small for your hand.
Check out our full review of the Yamaha FS850 here.
It’s been called “The King of Flat Tops.” A guitar so legendary that Elvis had one with his name on the fretboard. We’re talking about the EJ-200SCE’s granddad, the Gibson J-200. The world’s first super jumbo, it had a range of projection well beyond any other acoustic in existence.
As you’d expect, the Gibson J-200 acoustic guitars command a king’s ransom. But that’s not to say you cannot get a piece of the magic. The EJ-200SCE is inspired by the former and built by Gibson’s sub-brand.
- Hard Maple neck; 25.5-inch scale length
- Fretboard: Pau Ferro; 20 frets; Pearloid Crown inlays
- Electronics: Shadow eSonic2 HD Stereo Pickup
- Hardware: Grover Rotomatic Tuners with 18:1 Ratio
So, how does the Epiphone EJ-200SCE guitar compared to its venerable ancestor? For the most part, it’s the same jumbo-sized ax built with a humbler range of tonewoods. The top is solid spruce, while the rest of the body is made of laminate maple. The neck features Gibson’s signature SlimTaper-D profile, and there’s a cutaway to let you access the upper frets easily.
If you’re wondering, ‘jumbo-sized’ means enlarged dreadnought. There’s enough wood on the EJ-200SCE to build a dog kennel. And that translates to loads of volume and projection — you could play this guitar unplugged on stage and still be heard. Just be sure to have ear plugs on.
On a serious note, the EJ-200SCE sounds much better than you’d expect. The large body generates lots of bass, but the mids and trebles still cut through. It’s balanced enough for most styles, and you can always tailor the sound with the onboard guitar pickup.
- Great sound.
- Amazing action.
- Intricate inlay pattern.
- Fret buzz on the E string but can be fixed with a setup job.
Check out our full EJ-200SCE review as well.
Taylor GS Mini
Taylor Guitars wowed the world when they introduced the Baby Taylor back in 1996. A three-quarter sized dreadnought, it proved that mini acoustics could play and sound just as good as their ampler cousins. The GS Mini aims to take the concept even further, packing a lot more oomph into a similarly compact profile.
- Scale length: 23.5 inches
- 20 frets with dot inlays
- Die-Cast Chrome tuning machines
A scaled-down version of the company’s Grand Symphony profile, the Mini is dressed in a solid mahogany top, with laminated sapele on the back and sides. Taylor’s Relief Rout Bracing ensures the unbound guitar body remains in one piece. Sapele and ebony are used for the neck and fingerboard respectively.
A price tag indicates that the GS Mini should handle and sound like a proper acoustic guitar. Indeed, Taylor brought in their signature NT neck design to keep the action low and even, with 6 Exilir strings allowing easy chord progressions. A deeper lower bout relative to the Taylor Baby ensures that the Grand Symphony voice doesn’t get watered down — at least not to the extent of diluting the harmonic potential. The bass has plenty of drive, and mids are as silky of those of a standard GS. The high end is equally impressive; silky and well-pronounced.
All in all, the GS Mini is much more than a dwarfed-down travel-style guitar. It’s an ax you can pick up and get lost with. And with the optional ES-Go humbucker, you will have a reliable performance tool.
- Beautiful and rich tone quality.
- Tight bass notes, crispy trebles.
- Looks and feels amazing.
- Super easy to play, feels like a natural extension of your body.
- Not as loud as other guitars in this price range.
Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic
Meet the latest addition to Fender’s bestselling dreadnought line. The CD-60S is dressed in a mahogany body with a solid spruce top (hence the ‘S’ in the name; the old CD-60 had a laminate top). The 25.3″ scale neck is also crafted of solid mahogany. A 20-fret rosewood fingerboard sits atop the guitar neck.
Cosmetically, the CD-60S guitar isn’t much of a stunner. The black/natural finish does make for an imposing dreadnought, but there’s nothing particularly interesting to set this axe apart. Not that there’s much wrong with that. If anything, the understated look allows you to focus more on stuff that actually matters.
You know, stuff like handling; it’s here that the CD-60S starts to come alive. Fender have employed what they call a ‘Comfort Neck Carve’ — a slim-contour profile with rounded fingerboard edges to let you glide over the frets smoothly. The guitar also comes with low string action from the factory, providing a stepping stone for players transitioning to steel strings.
But it’s in sound delivery that the axe really shines. The dreadnought body yields a hefty voice, which is further boosted by the scalloped X-bracing that pushes more air as you play. Meanwhile, the spruce top injects a whiff of brightness that’s nicely complemented by the mid-character warmth of mahogany. The result is a balanced mix of crisp highs and naturally-deep lows that’ll find use in practically every genre. The Fender CD-60S is well within the reach of most budgets.
- Great sound and tone.
- Solid build quality at a low price point.
- Looks are not too flashy but also not too generic.
- No cutaway which means you can’t reach high frets.
Another Japanese manufacturer with yet another take on the classic dreadnought style. Takamine made their mark on the landscape pioneering the acoustic-electric concept in the late 70s. But with the GD20-NS, they’re proving that they too can make a brilliant pure acoustic; probably as fine as the Gibsons and Washburns of this world.
Or perhaps not? It’s hard to dismiss the skeptic feeling that comes to mind once you spot the guitar price tag. Thoroughbreds aren’t supposed to be that… cheap? ‘Affordable’ seems more appropriate, given that the ax has an all-solid wood construction. Cedar makes up the top, with mahogany completing the back and sides.
And what comes with a classy tonewood recipe? A sumptuous sound — the GD20-NS has a rich, warm voice that’s deep on the low end, but still bright enough at the top. The set-in neck, another mahogany piece, ensures that every vibration captured is conveyed to the body. As a result, this guitar comfortably achieves a resonance that models twice the price can only wish for. No wonder it’s been christened the ‘dirt-cheap luxury.’
- Scale Length: 25.3 inches
- Fingerboard: 12″ radius; 20 frets; Pearloid dot inlays
- Chrome die-cast tuners
- Synthetic bone nut & bridge saddle
The GD20-NS is equally impressive as far as guitar playability goes. Its C-shaped neck lets your fret hand navigate effortlessly up and down. And because the action is set low, you don’t experience any strain playing barre chords. You could even play this ax blindfolded if you’re confident enough.
- It’s Takamine, a name with an excellent reputation for quality.
- It’s “a straightforward acoustic guitar that is easy to play and sounds great”.
- The guitar has a natural, mellow tone that is perfect for strumming and fingerpicking.
- The craftsmanship of this instrument is impressive for the price point. The “neck feels great” even with its thin profile.
- It doesn’t include electronics or cutaway features, which some people may want in an acoustic guitar.
Forget everything you’ve heard about Sigma before. The brand has endured its fair share of ups and downs, but it’s as reliable as ever. Sigma guitars have always been regarded as some of the best value-for-money acoustics on the market, and no amount of upheaval is going to change that.
With that out of the way, we can now take a close look at the SF18CE guitar. It’s an OO-style folk model with a body slightly smaller than the company’s dreadnoughts, and a facade that hearkens back to the mid-century. The diminutive body will yield a tighter tone that leans more on the upper side. To allow for a bit of vibration, the solid Sitka top and mahogany back/sides are held in place by a forward-shifted X-bracing system. As a result, you’ll find the SF18CE a little more lively than most other mini dreadnoughts.
Elsewhere, the guitar features B-BAND’s SET65 dual pickup system with a 3-band EQ and Presence Control. This not only recreates the guitar’s tone when plugged in, but it also gives you plenty of room to tailor the sound for any style you want. A digital backlit tuner is provided to help in that regard, as is a notch filter.
With 6 D’Addario EXP Strings, the SF18CE offers a relatively low action with the ability to handle big open-chord strumming. It feels tactile enough for finger-style folk, although there’s a strong hint that it can go the distance too. If you’re impressed, it should seal the deal.
- Sigma is well known for making high quality guitars.
- This is a heavy and durable guitar, which will allow it to withstand the everyday wear and tear that comes with playing your instrument.
- The neck on this model has a more traditional feel to it.
- There have been some issues with the tuning pegs on this guitar.
Contrary to popular opinion, not every decent sub-$500 ax is manufactured east of the Greenwich Meridian. The Seagull S6 is hand-built in a small village in Eastern Quebec. We might just go ahead and proclaim it the top acoustic guitar under $500 based on that fact.
Or shouldn’t we? The S6 has consistently been the highest-rated acoustic model in the intermediate range. And it’s not that hard to see why — pick it up and you immediately fall in love with the finely-crafted dreadnought-style acoustic guitar body. The solid cedar top is gorgeous enough, but it’s the lustrous, gently-waving grain on the wild cherry sides/back that does the trick. With a custom polished semi-gloss finish topping off the look, even the most unimpressible eye is bound to be smitten.
- Silver leaf maple neck; 25.5″ scale
- Rosewood fingerboard; 21 frets with dot inlays
- Die-cast chrome tuners
- Double-Action Truss Rod; Tusq nut & Compensated saddle
The Seagull S6 sounds even better than it looks, thanks to its stellar craftsmanship. The set-in neck works hand-in-glove with the body for maximum harmonic vibration. The top is pressure-tested to ensure it holds up properly in that regard. Cedar provides a warm timbre, while the wild cherry on the back/sides injects clarity and brings out the high ends. Also, the dreadnought shape is modified to cut out unwanted booming whilst still providing a solid bass response. The overall result is a full-bodied sound with impressive sustain, plus enough tonal balance to suit most genres.
- Quality for the price.
- Not too much: as the name implies, it’s a guitar for beginners who have just started to learn but is not bad for players with more experience.
Ovation Celebrity Elite
It’s 1966 and a team of aerospace engineers embark on a mission to revolutionize the acoustic guitar. Not that there’s any evidence calling for the wheel’s reinvention. Acoustics of the day, such as Gibson’s legendary Hummingbird, are flying of the shelves, going on to punctuate some of the decade’s iconic tunes.
Fast forward 6 decades, and Ovation Guitars are still strumming to their own metronome. The Celebrity Elite still features the Lyrachord construction pioneered in ’66. Lyrachord is a glass-resin composite that, unlike wood, can be molded to any acoustic profile.
A profile like the CE’s round-back parabolic body; this exacts a smaller weight penalty than a typical dreadnought, while delivering much more projection and sustain. Still, innovation and user-friendliness don’t always go hand-in-hand; the CE’s unusual shape takes a while to get used to. And you might need another guitar stand to accommodate it properly. But if it’s any comfort, Ovation have used familiar materials elsewhere (nato neck, solid spruce top, and rosewood fingerboard).
- Scale length: 25.25 inches
- Fretboard: 10″ radius; 23 frets marked by ABS white inlays.
- Special electronics: OP-4BT preamp with Ovation Slimline Pickup, 3-band EQ, and onboard tuner.
- Chrome hardware
Guitars from Ovation are noted for their expressive tonal character and ample resonance — the Celebrity Elite is no exception, as pointed out earlier. With its edgy construction and onboard pickup system, it should sound great both plugged in and unplugged. It is perfectly suited for any gigging guitarist who wants a proper acoustic-electric hybrid.
- Sounds great!
- Easy to play.
- No dots on fingerboard.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another manufacturer with a product line as diverse as that of Alvarez Guitars. Based in St. Louis MO, the company offers everything from 4-string ukuleles to full-size baritones. The AG75CE is part of their award-winning Artist Series, a line that aims to provide the “high-end, handmade acoustic vibe at affordable prices.”
- 25.5″ Scale
- 21 frets with Abalone & Mother of Pearl Inlays
- Electronics: LR Baggs StagePro EQ with Element Pickup
- Hardware: Premium Die Cast Tuners
- Strings: 6 D’Addario EXP16
A Grand Auditorium acoustic guitar model, the AG75CE features the same general shape as a standard dreadnought. You will however note that the body is slightly smaller, with the waist slimmed down to accentuate treble notes. The narrower mid-section also improves handling, with the cutaway offering easier access to the upper frets. Other aspects remain unchanged, including the 25.5-inch scale length and hefty lower bout. And so, you can think of this guitar as the perfect middle ground between the jumbo Dreadnought and the petite Grand Concert.
As you can imagine of such a synergy, the AG75CE acoustic guitar offers a warm, powerful sound with nicely-balanced bass and treble registers. That’s mostly because Alvarez chose the perfect tonewoods for the job; the cedar top provides warmth, while rosewood back and sides help bring out the projection. And since all woods are solid, you can rest assured that sonic performance won’t falter as the guitar ages. AG’s FST2M bracing system ensures that your ax won’t fall apart either. What more could you want?
- Great sound.
- Nice feel to it.
- Good-looking guitar with a nice, natural finish.
- Great tone for the price (considering it’s an acoustic).
- Slightly neck heavy (you’ll notice this more if you’re prone to having your guitar slip out of your hand).
Blueridge BG 40
Though you won’t find the BG-40 acoustic guitar on Blueridge’s Historic Series, it actually pays tribute to an icon from the past. Pundits have noted its striking resemblance to the Gibson J-35. And crucially, a company representative was quoted saying that the design “pays respect to a certain model made by Gibson for National in the 1950s.”
Sounds good, but what are you supposed to make of that? Well, you can expect the BG 40 to match the lofty standards set by the J-35, if user feedback is anything to go by. The sound is full and punchy on the bass, but with well-defined mids and highs, plus enough sustain to go on forever. One particularly pleased fellow noted that he couldn’t recall “another acoustic that holds sustain like this one does.”
And what’s the BG-40’s secret? A solid Sitka spruce top held in place by the forward-X bracing mechanism. This provides rigidity whilst still keeping the top flexible enough to balance the tone. For the sides/back, you can choose between Santos rosewood and mahogany; the former if you want an abundance of overtones, or the latter if you prefer oomph and punch. The neck’s a mahogany piece dovetailed in for optimal transfer of vibrations.
- Scale length: 24.75 inches
- Rosewood fingerboard; 19 frets; Bespoke Diamond-and-Snowflake inlay motif
- Open-back vintage tuners
- Dark-tortoise pickguard
All in all, the Blueridge BG-40 acoustic guitar should be a good pick. It’s about as close as you can come to a flagship without burning a hole in your wallet.
- Comfortable neck profile.
- Lacks projection and volume when playing fingerstyle arrangements or chords.
What To Expect From An Acoustic Guitar Under $500
At $500, buying an acoustic guitar can be a daunting and confusing task. What are you getting for your money? How does it compare to other similarly priced acoustic guitars in the market? Which is best suited to your needs and budget?
There are some things to keep in mind when choosing a guitar in this price range. To begin with, expect to get a guitar that is mostly made with laminated wood.
Laminated wood is not as good as solid wood but it is both cheaper and lighter. Some of the cheaper guitars in this price range may have some cheap parts, but chances are that if you are buying an acoustic guitar for less than $500, you are not going to be playing it too much.
If you do play your guitar often or perform a lot with it, then definitely look into getting a higher grade instrument. There are many options out there, but a better quality guitar will generally have better sound and playability.
So when choosing between a laminated or solid wood instrument, what do you need to consider? A laminated one is going to be lighter and cheaper. But solid wood guitars have a warmer tone with more sustain. Both can sound good, but the manufacturer of the guitar could choose from a wider selection of woods so it is wise to ask about that.
If you are going to get an acoustic guitar, then you might as well get one that is versatile. The guitar can be played and enjoyed in many ways and having an instrument that plays well in different styles of music is a good idea.
Here are the most common types of wood used for soundboards: Sitka Spruce, Adirondack Spruce, and Engelmann spruce. All three varieties of spruces sound quite similar and all are considered high quality. The sound board is the top, flat surface of the guitar and it is usually made of Sitka Spruce. Another wood that may be used for sound boards is cedar and it will have a different tone than Sitka or Adirondack spruce. Cedar gives a guitar a mellower tone than sitka or Adirondack spruce. Cedar also has very good acoustic properties.
Under 500 Acoustic Guitars Conclusion
So, there are your choices for the top acoustic guitar under $500. We’ve covered practically every shape and form available; from minis to jumbos, to 6- and 12-string models, to pure acoustics and hybrids. By now, you should have found an ax that fits your style and budget.
Having said that, you shouldn’t feel pressured to choose anything you’re not fully comfortable with. In fact, we recommend visiting shops to get a test drive before committing to a purchase. Feel free to ask as many acoustic guitar questions as you want — it’s the things you learn along the way that’ll help you make an informed decision.
Also, if you are looking for something a bit better and have more of a budget, consider this best acoustic guitar under 1000 post or our article on the best acoustic electric guitars under $500 or the best classicals under 500.