Buying a new acoustic guitar can be a real pain, especially if you are not an expert, and if your budget is somewhat limited. There are a lot of things to know and look for, such as a large number of different models and manufacturers, different materials and features, and much more.
All of this can be quite overwhelming to newbies, as well as to some experts. There is so much to think about, so people often forget about certain factors. We’ll start this article by diving straight into reviews on my favorite guitars, but if you want to learn more before reading reviews, I recommend checking out our acoustic guitar buying guide on the bottom of the page here.
This should help you to decide what type of acoustic guitar you need to buy, so if you are interested to know more, stay here, and let’s begin!
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Estimated Price||Full Review|
|1. Seagull S6 Cedar Original||Body Style: Dreadnought Electronics: No||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Taylor GS Mini Mahogany||Body Style: Mini Grand Symphony Electronics: No||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Taylor Baby BT2||Body Style: 3/4 size Dreadnought Electronics: No||$370||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Yamaha FG800 Dreadnought||Body Style: Dreadnought Electronics: No||$200||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Takamine GD30-CE||Body Style: Dreadnought w/ cutaway Electronics: Yes||$500||Read Full Review Below|
|6. Taylor BBT||Body Style: Dreadnought (15/16th) Electronics: No||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Martin LX1E Little Martin||Body Style: Concert / O Electronics: Yes||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Fender CD-60S||Body Style: Dreadnought Electronics: No||$380||Read Full Review Below|
|9. Alvarez Artist AJ80CE||Body Style: Jumbo Electronics: Yes||$500||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Mitchell MX420||Body Style: Grand Auditorium Electronics: Yes||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Mitchell T333CE-BST||Body Style: Auditorium Electronics: Yes||$300||Read Full Review Below|
|12. Jasmine S-34C||Body Style: Grand Orchestra Electronics: No||$120||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Alvarez AF60GD Sunshine Shadowburst||Body Style: Folk / OM Electronics: No||$400||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Alvarez LJ2E Travel||Body Style: Mini Jumbo Electronics: No||$360||Read Full Review Below|
|15. Recording King RPS-7-FESTS||Body Style: Parlor size Electronics: Yes||$230||Read Full Review Below|
|16. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro||Body Style: Dreadnought Electronics: Yes||$370||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500
1. Seagull S6 Cedar Original
Estimated Price: $450
Top: Cedar (completely pressure tested)
Back and Sides: Wild cherry laminate wood
Body Style: Dreadnought shape
My Review: Seagull S6 Original is valued as one of the best, if not the best entry-level acoustic guitars that have ever come from that manufacturer. It feels really comfortable, and fun to play. Because of its top that is made of cedar, and back and sides that are made of wild cherry, you’ll be able to feel quite nicely detailed and soft tones, without having to experience strong bass. This kind of setup is great no matter the music genre you want to play. And since the product comes from one of the most trusted manufacturers in the world, you can expect excellent features at a quite affordable price.
Build Materials: Topside of the guitar is made of solid cedar, while back and both sides are made of wild cherry that had been laminated, which makes this guitar produce wonderful tones. The neck of the guitar is made of silver leaf maple, to allow more stable performance. As for the fingerboard, it is made of rosewood, while the inlay is covered in dots. Apart from that, it also features a TUSQ nut, as well as a compensated saddle, which gives you to option to create precise and colorful sound.
Finish: Seagull S6 Original comes in natural color, and with the semi-gloss finish, which makes it look very pretty and classy.
Who Will Use This the Most: Seagull S6 Original is perfect for both professional players, and people who are just starting to learn. Also, due to the nut size, it is great for people with large hands. One thing to note though is that this guitar can only be properly used by right-handed people.
Bottom Line: All in all, Seagull S6 Original is an excellent dreadnought shaped acoustic guitar that is capable of producing high-quality tones, as well as being very comfortable to use.
2. Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
Estimated Price: $450
Top: Tropical mahogany
Back and Sides: Sapele
Body Style: Mini Ground Symphony
Strings: Total of 6 steel Elixir NANOWEB Medium Gauge strings.
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: GS Mini from Taylor is a great mix between the very well-known Grand Symphony and the Taylor sound performance. Even though it’s very compact and portable, which is where the ‘Mini’ nickname comes from, this guitar will blow your mind with how good it sounds, and how high tones it can produce, despite its size. In fact, it produces great sound because it is a version of Taylor Grand Symphony guitar, just smaller. And we all know how good and popular that model is.
Build Materials: Topside is made of the highest-quality tropical mahogany, while the neck is constructed from Sapele. As for the back, it is made of layered Sapele, just like the sides of the instrument.
When it comes to the fingerboard and bridge, they are both completely made of ebony, while fingerboard inlay is in the form of dots. There are a total of 6 strings, and all of them are made of steel.
Finish: Taylor GS Mini comes with a varnish finish, and natural color, making it look pretty decent, without being too flashy and colorful.
Who Will Use This the Most: Due to the smaller size, this guitar is perfect for performers who need to travel a lot, as well as for casual people who simply like to go camping with friends.
Bottom Line: Taylor GS Mini is an excellent acoustic guitar, which, despite its size, manages to compete with larger guitars when it comes to the sound properties because of the high-quality materials and grand symphony shape.
3. Taylor Baby BT2
Estimated Price: $370
Top: Mahogany, Sapele, and Ebony
Back and Sides: layered Sapele
Body Style: 3/4 Dreadnought shape
Strings: 6 Elixir NANOWEB Light Gauge steel strings, with dimensions of 0.012-0.053
Frets: 19 frets
My Review: Taylor Baby BT2 looks similar to dreadnought shaped guitars, with the addition that it is not full-sized, but only 3/4 of the common dreadnought acoustics. It is very compact and can fit almost anywhere, so if you need to take it with you all the time for live performances or hanging out with friends, this guitar is perfect for it. With the top made of solid mahogany, BT2 has a pretty decent and attractive look because of the darker complexion. Also, even though it is a bit shorter than a full-size dreadnought, BT2 is capable of producing powerful tones, while also being easy to carry.
Build Materials: Taylor BT2 is built of a variety of materials, depending on the part. Sides and back are made of layered Sapele. As for the neck, it is built from the tropical American mahogany, while the top side of the instrument is made of the same material. Apart from that, the headstock overlay is Lexan, while the bridge and fretboard are ebony. Along with that come TUSQ nut, and micarta saddle.
Finish: BT2 comes in natural color, with a varnish finish and dots in the shape of pearls in the fretboard inlay. All of this makes this guitar look very pretty, with a bit darker tone because of the mahogany top.
Who Will Use This the Most: Taylor BT2 is a good choice for everyone who is looking for the best quality acoustic guitar at an affordable price, whether you’re playing guitar just for hobby, or you are a professional musician. BT2 is also quite useful to those who need to move a lot since it is quite easy to transport.
Bottom Line: Even though BT2 is not full of full dreadnought size, it can still hit a punch, and produce high-pitched tones, while keeping the precision and clarity, due to the excellence of the Taylor manufacturing skills.
Popular Related Article: 17 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1000
4. Yamaha FG800 Dreadnought
Estimated Price: $200
Top: Solid Spruce
Back and Sides: Eastern Mahogany, otherwise known as Nato Wood, and Okoume
Body Style: Dreadnought shaped body
Strings: 6 strings made of steel
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: As one of the best-selling Yamaha acoustic guitars, FG700 earned its place in the legend. However, there is more! We present you FG800, which is an improvement from the previous version. Just like FG700, this updated model has a dreadnought body, making it quite comfortable to play on. However, FG800 features improved bracing, allowing you to have a more precise projection, which is very useful, especially if you need a new guitar to record new tracks, or to perform live concerts.
Build Materials: Yamaha FG800 is built from several different materials. Its back, as well as sides, are made of the eastern mahogany, otherwise known as nato wood, and Okoume. The neck is also made of nato, with the satin end, which adds to a more comfortable experience. Topside, however, is built from solid spruce, which allows the instrument to produce a better bass effect. Fingerboard and bridge are both made of walnut, which gives louder and clearer tones, while both nut and saddle are built from urea.
Finish: FG800 has nice natural coloring, alongside gloss finish, which makes it look very nice, even without fancy and flashy colors.
Who Will Use This the Most: Acoustic guitars from the FG series from Yamaha are definitely the most in-demand products from Yamaha. That’s because they are a good choice for everyone, pros and beginners alike because they are comfortable to play, while also being able to produce excellent tonality.
5. Takamine GD30-CE
Estimated Price: $500
Top: Solid Spruce
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Body Style: Dreadnought W/Cutaway body shape
Strings: 6 D’Addario EXP16 light-gauge steel strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Takamine GD30-CE is capable of improving your performance on stages and in concerts by providing you with high and vivid tones, as well as with classic appearance. Because of its top that is made of quite solid spruce, as well as back and sides assembled with mahogany wood, this acoustic guitar features stable vibrations and nice tones. Apart from that, we have to say that it’s quite an enjoyment to play GD30-CE because of its fingerboard that is made of rosewood. In order to improve the tonality, and give you a better natural feeling, this acoustic guitar comes with the TP4T preamp.
Build Materials: GD30-CE benefits from some of the best tonewoods and materials. Top of the guitar is assembled from the finest solid spruce wood, while its sides, neck, as well as back, are built from beautiful mahogany wood, all of which enable this guitar to deliver clean sound.
Fingerboard and bridge are made from the same material, which is rosewood, while nut and saddle are built from the synthetic bone.
Finish: Takamine GD30-CE includes pretty common natural coloring, that looks quite nice, as well as a gloss finish, to make it smooth in your hands.
Who Will Use This the Most: Coming from one of the most trusted manufacturers, who has been on the market for more than 50 years, this guitar is perfect for people who want to get a mix of an acoustic and electric guitar.
If you are a live performer, who is playing multiple genres, this guitar is a perfect choice for you. If you need more power, you can use the preamp and tune the instrument. If you, however, prefer classical and lighter tones, you can use this guitar as well.
Bottom Line: GD30-CE is a pretty good acoustic-electric guitar with a well-balanced performance between the classical acoustic tones, and more powerful sound effects due to the electric component.
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6. Taylor BBT
Estimated Price: $450
Top: Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides: Laminate Walnut
Body Style: Dreadnought (15/16) body shape
Strings: 6 Elixir Phosphor Bronze Lights steel strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Another great baby coming from Taylor. Big Baby Taylor, or shorter BBT, is one of the most popular guitars from Taylor. It has one of the largest bodies compared to all other baby designs in Taylor’s catalog, hence the name. However, it is still smaller than most guitars from other manufacturers. What makes BBT good and extremely popular is the fact that despite its size, it still has great tonality, meaning that it can produce quite strong sounds, while also keeping a clear tone, without too high vibrations.
Build Materials: Sides and back of BBT are constructed from the laminate walnut, while the top is made of Sitka spruce, which is a combination that allows you to make all sorts of tones, as well as having nice general looks. BBT has a hard rock maple neck, combined with ebony fingerboard, with the Italian acrylic dots for fingerboard inlay. Apart from that, there are NuBone nut, as well as Micarta saddle. All of these parts combined together work quite well, which offers a perfect balance of tones, as well as good old classy look Taylor is known for.
Finish: For more comfortability and prettiness, BBT features a satin finish, with completely natural and classic coloring, as well as X-Bracing.
Who Will Use This the Most: Considering Taylor’s popularity and quality, you could say that BBT can be used by anyone. It is a good choice for professionals because it is compact, comfortable, and allows you to create wonderful tones, despite being smaller than other acoustic guitars. On the other hand, due to its properties, BBT is also often preferred choice for beginners, who wants to have a comfortable guitar to learn how to play.
Bottom Line: Big Baby Taylor is amongst one of the most in-demand Taylor’s guitars. Even though it’s relatively smaller, it can still provide a nice and steady punch, while maintaining clean tones, and without the need to be too loud. Therefore, it’s great for anyone, from regular performers to people who enjoy hanging out with friends and family.
7. Martin LX1E Little Martin
Estimated Price: $450
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Body Style: Concert/O body shape
Strings: 6 steel Lifespan 2.0 Medium, 92/8 Phosphor Bronze strings.
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Coming from one of the oldest and well-established brands, LX1E Little Martin is a pretty good acoustic-electric guitar for everyone who appreciates close to perfect tonal properties in a guitar that is generally smaller in size. It is extremely durable and comfortable, while also being simple to play, which improves overall user-experience. Little Martin is very popular amongst the younger population, such as students, because it is easy to simply take it on the trip and play awesome music with your friends. Furthermore, due to the Fishman Sonitone pickup, Little Martin will make such sounds, that it can be compared to much larger competitors tapped into amplifiers.
Build Materials: Different parts of LX1E are built of different materials, which results in the guitar’s ability to produce a wide range of different tones, making it more versatile. It features a solid Sitka spruce top side, with the rust stratabond neck that has a shape of the modified low oval. Sides and back are built from mahogany with the HPL pattern. Headplate is made of mahogany as well, with the HPL patter, and carefully printed logo. Furthermore, there is richlite fingerboard, and the white Corian nut, as well as a bowtie plate made of graphite. One-style belly bridge is constructed with the combination of solid Morado and solid east Indian rosewood, while the saddle is white TUSQ.
Finish: Coloring of LX1E is natural, with the hand-rubbed finish. Along with that comes gold foil interior label, on which you can see patent and serial number. Overall looks are also improved by inlaid Boltaron rosette with the red fiber, as well as mahogany HPL pattern on the head plate, which has the printed logo on it. Apart from that, there black and white dots on the bridge itself, as well as on end pins. All of this gives LX1E a natural, yet modern look, making it very pretty.
Who Will Use This the Most: Martin LX1E is suitable for everyone because it is easy to get into, even if you are just a casual player. Apart from that, it offers additional features, that could help you tweak the settings according to your personal preference.
Bottom Line: LX1E from Martin is a well-crafted, high-performance, and durable acoustic guitar that will let you play different varieties of tones while maintaining the quality of every sound you make, whether you are using pickup and tuner to boost the power for live performances, or simply casually playing with your friends.
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8. Fender CD-60S
Estimated Price: $380
Top: Solid Spruce
Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
Body Style: Dreadnought body shape
Strings: 6 Fender Dura-tone 880L strings made of steel
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: This bundle from Amazon gives you one of the most popular acoustic guitars that have ever come from Fender, along with a large number of accessories, to improve your overall playing experience. The CD-60S model is very beautiful. It has a dreadnought body made almost entirely out of spruce and mahogany and features a completely natural wood finish. In the bundle, you also get an original hard-shell case from Fender, strap, and picks for the guitar, backup strings, as well as a digital tuner. Overall, considering the quality of this acoustic guitar, as well as everything else that comes with it, we could say that this product is worth the price.
Build Materials: Fender SD-60S is a very beautiful model, which is completely made of mahogany, with the top being strengthened with the solid spruce, which is a good combination with dreadnought shape since it lets players achieve longer and deeper tones without losing the clarity of the sound. It features Fender Easy to Play nato neck with 6 strings, along with the hardtail bridge made of walnut, for a comfortable experience. Nut and saddle are made of plastic, which is not great, but it’s probably done to reduce the costs of production, and it doesn’t affect the performance that much.
Finish: CD-60S comes with the gloss polyurethane finish, and the natural wood color, making it look very nice and classy, and yet managing to keep the modern touch.
Who Will Use This the Most: Fender CD-60S is a pretty good choice for all those who are between the beginner and intermediate levels. People who are looking for a high-quality product that is also versatile should definitely consider getting this model.
Bottom Line: CD-60S model is a really good and affordable acoustic guitar that is capable of providing very clear sound, as well as use digital tuning that comes in the package to boost the power even further. It’s pretty, it has good performance, and it is very affordable. Get it.
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9. Alvarez Artist AJ80CE
Estimated Price: $500
Top: Sitka spruce
Back and Sides: Maple wood
Body Style: Jumbo body shape
Strings: 6 strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: AJ80CE model from the Alvarez Artist series is a quite big jumbo acoustic-electric guitar that is built of high-quality materials, which combined with the large body, will let you feel the energy and vibrations coming from the tones you’re playing. You can feel the warmth and full energy and bass while playing this guitar. However, they are perfectly balanced, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by one or another. It’s made of materials that are completely natural, amongst which are a mother of pearl, real bone, and abalone, as well as Sitka spruce and rosewood.
Build Materials: In order to get more power, and look beautiful at the same time, this guitar is assembled from different materials. It features solid Sitka spruce top, with the scalloped, and hand-sanded bracing, while sides and back are completely made of maple wood. Furthermore, there is an Alvarez bi-level bridge crafted from rosewood. The fingerboard is crafted from the same material as well. Along with that comes dovetail neck joint, as well as nut and saddle made of real bone, while there are also paua abalone and mother of pearl inlays.
Finish: AJ80CE model features natural coloring with the premium high-gloss finish, making the guitar very beautiful.
Who Will Use This the Most: Considering the features and everything that comes with this acoustic guitar, it is the most suitable for people who are looking for a professional acoustic guitar that can produce a lot of power and offer loud, but clear tones.
Bottom Line: Alvarez Artist AJ80CE is a high-quality jumbo-sized acoustic-electric guitar that offers a strong and loud sound and is made of top-grade materials, to make it sound natural and look very beautiful, despite being a bit big.
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10. Mitchell MX420
Estimated Price: $450
Top: Quilted Ash
Back and Sides: Quilted Ash
Body Style: Grand Auditorium body shape
Strings: 6 strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: MX420 model is an expansion on already popular Mitchell’s MX400 series. It is an acoustic-electric guitar that allows great comfort and superior playability, as well as decent looks, while also not being too expensive. Due to the grand auditorium body size, and high-quality materials, this model is capable of delivering excellent tones, with wider sound projection, making it perfect for large live performances. And with Mitchell’s original preamp, you will be able to customize the tone settings the way you want it.
Build Materials: The body of this model is mostly made of the top-grade quilted burl ash. That includes the top, sides, and back of the guitar.
Apart from that, the dovetail neck is made of mahogany, while the fingerboard is ovangkol, which all put together looks very beautiful.
Finish: This Mitchell guitar comes with a gloss finish for both body and neck, along with the pretty black-white-black coloring of the neck binding, and the natural dark tone of ash wood. It’s simply a pleasure to look at it.
Who Will Use This the Most: Just like most other guitars from Mitchell, this model also includes a professional setup, if you live in the United States, so you wouldn’t have to spend the money on it separately. That said, this grand auditorium acoustic guitar is perfect for performers who often have live shows and concerts in front of a large number of people, thanks to the general build of the guitar, and the influence of the top-notch wood from which it is built.
Bottom Line: MX420 is a direct improvement of the MX400 series, from performance to the general look. Thanks to the high-quality tonewoods it’s made of, this model looks extremely pretty, as well as sound even better, especially if you tune it up a bit, with the Mitchell original preamp that comes in the package.
11. Mitchell T333CE-BST
Estimated Price: $300
Top: Solid Mahogany
Back and Sides: Striped Mahogany
Body Style: Auditorium body size
Strings: D’Addario EXP16 strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: In order to learn how to play guitar, you should start with the proper one. For that purpose, you can choose the T333CE-BST model from Mitchell’s Terra Series. This model is one of the few from Terra Series that have a solid top made of mahogany and back and sides made of striped mahogany as well. That, along with the satin finish of the body allows this guitar to look so damn good, and not just that, but the sound is also incredible. Apart from that, since we are talking about Mitchell, you can expect that this guitar is acoustic-electric, which means that it has some relatively simple electronics, along with the pre-built preamp, with the equalizer.
Build Materials: T333CE-BST is mostly made of mahogany, with the solid striped mahogany on the top, and just striped mahogany on the back and on the sides of the guitar. That offers the rich and stable sound quality, with minimum vibrations, while also making the instrument look very nice. It features a slim neck built from mahogany wood, as well as rosewood bridge and fretboard, which, when put together, increases the comfort and lets you play without getting tired for a long time.
Finish: This model has a natural body color, with the nice open pore finish, combined with the X-Bracing from shifted from the forward, to give you improved resonance.
Who Will Use This the Most: Literally, everyone can use this model from the Terra Series, from complete beginners to already seasoned professionals.
Bottom Line: Mitchell T333CE-BST from the Terra Series is an excellent entry to intermediate level auditorium-size acoustic-electric guitar, built from the top-quality mahogany and rosewood, capable of delivering the maximum performance and sound quality, while also looking pretty good, and all that at the very affordable price.
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12. Jasmine S-34C
Estimated Price: $120
Back and Sides: Sapele
Body Style: Grand Orchestra body shape
Strings: 6 Phosphor Bronze Light Gauge strings (0.012-0.053)
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Jasmine S-34C model is a very pretty acoustic guitar, with grand orchestra style look, that is capable of delivering extremely rich, and yet very balanced tone. It is great for everyone who is looking for a guitar that is well-made, and easy to use, while also being quite affordable. It is also great for the people who are just starting to play, or for those who tend to travel a lot because it has a very slim neck that is only 25.5” long, which will allow you to comfortably play for hours. Because of the spruce top the satin finish, as well as the Sapele sides and back, this model is capable of producing extremely good tones, with the optimal resonance.
Build Materials: S-34C is made of a couple of different tonewoods. Back, as well as sides are built from Sapele, while the top is assembled of spruce.
Also, this model features a rosewood bridge and fingerboard, as well as a nato neck, with both body and neck gloss finish. The nut is 44mm wide, and made of synthetic bone, just like the compensated saddle.
Finish: Both body and neck finish are gloss, with the position inlays being in the Pearloid dot shape, and the very nice natural color overall, make this model very classy and good-looking.
Who Will Use This the Most: Since S-34C model is very affordable, and yet manages to offer pretty good performance, it is most suited for beginners, or people who just want casually play guitar from time to time. However, if you are more of a professional musician, and you need to get a guitar for, not just casual play, but for recording or live performance, you should look for a bit better product.
Bottom Line: Jasmine S-34C is a very affordable, good-looking, and well-made grand-orchestra acoustic guitar that is pretty good in delivering nice and stable sound. It is perfect for students and people who are just starting off the path towards becoming pro guitar players.
13. Alvarez AF60GD Sunshine Shadowburst
Estimated Price: $400
Top: ATR thermo cured Sitka Spruce top
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Body Style: Folk/OM body shape
Strings: 6 D’Addario EXP strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: If you are looking for some unique, and interesting-looking acoustic guitar, then AF60GD Sunshine Sadowburst from Alvarez is something you should definitely be checking out. It is one piece of the Grateful Dead Series, which Alvarez released in 2019, for the reason to celebrate the Grateful Dead artwork. This is one of the two unique guitar designs with different artwork on it. This Sunshine design has some of the most interesting artwork of the GD skeletons. It shows us a skeleton guitar player, who is currently sitting on the rock, while dressed in blue, red and white, and wears a top hat with the same colors. The idea originated in the mind of Tim Truman, and it’s quite colorful, in order to represent the summer vibe since the name of one of the tracks in that album is ‘Here Comes Sunshine’. This amazing artwork combined with Alvarez’s manufacturing skills, gave us this AF60GD model, which not just looks good, but it is also capable of delivering high-quality tones, along with the optimal sound response.
Build Materials: This interesting acoustic guitar features a high-quality Sitka spruce top, which, while the back of the instrument, as well as the sides and neck, are made of mahogany. Bi-level bridge and fingerboard are made of the engineered rosewood (catalpa), while this guitar also features a mother of pearl inlays, and very nice MSTI tapered X-bracing, which has pretty good-looking asymmetric tone bars.
Finish: The body has a top gloss finish, combined with the Grateful Dead artwork, while the neck is a traditional dovetail with a semi-gloss finish.
Who Will Use This the Most: Needless to say, this model will probably be appealing to the fans of Grateful Dead, but even though it sounds very good, there are better options if you simply want to get a higher-quality guitar for casual and professional play.
Bottom Line: Alvarez AF60GD Sunshine Shadowburst is a pretty decent acoustic guitar, with unique artwork, and overall good performance, which will mostly be appealing to the hardcore fans of Grateful Dead.
Related Article: 17 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $500
14. Alvarez LJ2E Travel
Estimated Price: $360
Top: A-grade Sitka spruce wood
Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
Body Style: Mini jumbo body shape
Strings: 6-strings acoustic guitar
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: LJ2E model from Alvarez features a little jumbo body size, and it is capable of giving you the excellent projection, and the overall balance of the sound. It features a top-notch top made of Sitka solid wood, and it is specifically made to allow optimal performance, even though it is smaller than regular jumbo acoustics. The problem with some smaller guitars is that they often sound really weird, with unclear and buzzy tones, which is definitely not the case with this model. LJ2E belongs to the Artist Series, which is specifically designed to be smaller on the one side and to maintain the high-quality of the sound on the other side. This is where the success of this model lays.
Build Materials: LJ2E is made of several different materials. Saddle and nut are made of bone, while bridge and fingerboard are completely made of rosewood. Top, on the other hand, is made of the best-quality Sitka spruce, while the guitar’s back, as well as sides, are made of laminated mahogany.
Finish: This model features satin body finish, which combined with the other elements mentioned above, makes it look very pretty, and comfortable to use.
Who Will Use This the Most: As the name itself suggests, LJ2E is best suited for people who need to carry it a lot, whether it is on travels around the country and world, or somewhere else because it is very small and compact, and yet, you can use it for smaller live performance as well.
Bottom Line: Yet again Alvarez managed to surprise us and create a smaller, but very efficient acoustic-electric guitar, suitable for traveling, and often performance, as well as for casual playing, and learning the craft in the first place.
15. Recording King RPS-7-FESTS
Estimated Price: $230
Back and Sides: Whitewood
Body Style: Parlor size
Strings: 6 strings
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Coming from the Dirty 30’s line, Series 7, this model is a pretty good acoustic guitar that has the tonality that is almost unbelievable, compared to the price. It features extremely well-made cross-lap bracing that is super clean, which is one of the main characteristics of the Recording King brand. Apart from that, it is made of excellent materials, combined with the Tobacco Sunburst finish allowing you to have the optimal experience. All that is framed and surrounded with the checkboard binding, which, along with the Harmonella stencil fretboard makes everything even prettier and more functional.
This Recording King acoustic guitar features a topside that is made of high-quality spruce, with the cross-lap X bracing pattern, to improve tonality. Nek wood is thin C-shaped and it’s made of nato, while the fingerboard is built from the top-notch rosewood. As for the bridge, it is also assembled from the rosewood, while saddle and nut are both made of bone, which makes this guitar look and sounds decent.
Finish: As for the finish, this model features a Tobacco Sunburst satin body finish, as well as satin neck finish. Also, the headstock overlay is black, which makes this instrument look quite pretty when combined with other elements it offers.
Who Will Use This the Most: This particular model from the Dirty 30’s Series 7 is suitable for everyone, both beginners and professionals alike because it is quite durable, easy to use, and offers great sound performance, with minimal effort.
Bottom Line: Recording King RPS from the Dirty 30’s series 7 is a very well-crafted acoustic guitar that is capable of producing well-balanced tones, as well as it looks really good because it is made of the fine materials.
16. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
Estimated Price: $370
Top: Solid Spruce
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Body Style: Drednought
Strings: 6 steel strings with the dimensions of .012-.053
Frets: 20 frets
My Review: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a very traditional-looking model, that you can easily recognize whenever you see it because of the distinctive markings. This guitar is an acoustic-electric model, and it features 6 strings. Its top is made of solid spruce, while the rest of the body is built from mahogany, including the neck. That allows it to create really nice, distinctive, and completely pure sound, which can further be customized with the Grover tuners. It has a very well-crafted faded cherry sunburst finish, as well as the ornate sight of the hummingbird pickguard, which makes this guitar look even classier than it already is.
Build Materials: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is crafted with very decent materials. This dreadnought acoustic-electric guitar features solid spruce topside, with the mahogany back and side parts. The neck is also built from mahogany and it features Slim-taper D shape, while the bridge, as well as fingerboard, are made of rosewood, with the fingerboard inlay being in the shape of Pearloid parallelogram. Nut and saddle are both built from the bone imitation material, with the nut being 1.68” wide.
Finish: As for the body style and finish, this model features no cutaway body style, as well as pretty decent faded cherry sunburst coloring, with the polyurethane gloss finish. Apart from that binding also has different coloring. It is white 1-ply on the fretboard, white and black 5-ply on the body, and white 1-play on the back.
Who Will Use This the Most: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is usable by everyone, since it is quite comfortable to play on, and it is not hard to set it up, even if you are a beginner.
Bottom Line: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a pretty good acoustic-electric guitar, that offers great sound performance, and tonality, as well as having a really distinctive look that makes it look very unique and classy.
Now, let’s start with the general guide on how to choose the best acoustic guitar under $500. There is a lot to cover, such as the material it’s built of, the size of the guitar, as well as some general guidelines that should help you ask the right questions in guitar shops.
So, as you can see, price is not everything. You need to understand the very core of acoustic guitars, learn what tonewoods are good with different music genres, what types of strings you should use, why does the shape matter, and what is the difference between the solid wood and laminate.
After that, we’ll focus on some general tips on how to test guitars in shops, and
Things to Know When Buying Acoustic Guitar
Before you see some awesome acoustic guitars under $500, let’s discuss important factors you should consider, if you decide to buy a new acoustic guitar.
There are a lot of factors to consider, but in the end, if you don’t know what every feature represents, and how it can fulfill your needs, then you won’t be able to properly select the best acoustic guitar for yourself.
So, in order to help you to learn more about basic and advanced features of every acoustic guitar, we’re going to mention the most important ones, and explain what they mean.
After you read this part of the article, you will be familiar with the following:
- What are steel and nylon strings, and what is the difference between them,
- What different acoustic guitar shapes and sizes exist,
- How tonewoods impact the guitar sound,
- The main difference between the solid wood and laminate, and how they affect acoustic guitar,
- What is an acoustic-electric guitar
Without any further delay, let’s start answering all these questions, shall we?
Steel vs Nylon
Guitar strings are one of the crucial parts of every guitar. Different types of strings produce a different sound, some strings are more durable, some not. Today, you’ll learn what are the key differences between steel and nylon strings. All strings look more or less the same, but they are actually very different.
Steel strings are generally used on electric guitars, but you can also find acoustic guitars with the steel strings as well. They produce the sound of the higher volume and allow your guitar to have more power, which is very important in certain music genres, such as rock’n’roll, for instance. To achieve that, steel strings must be a bit harder, so you need to apply more force and tension, in order for them to work properly. Also, steel strings are often mixed with nickel, from which the plating is made. That nickel plating is usually put on about three the strongest and thickest steel strings. However, since recently, more and more strings are made just from one material, without putting a differently built plating.
Nylon strings, on the other hand, are mostly used on classical guitars, which generally have a lighter brace, so you should never attach strings made of metal on these guitars. However, in the past, mostly around 50-60 years ago, some musicians were doing this, and it worked well. But, depending on the genre, it may backfire, since nylon strings produce the sound of a lower volume, which, in some genres, is a death sentence. That said, nylon strings are great for playing slower music, such as flamenco, or classical music. They are quite gentle and will feel really comfortable when playing. In the end, the choice between the nylon and steel strings will depend on your personal preference, and the music genre you like to play.
Different Shapes and Sizes
Another factor that is very important when it comes to the type of sound you can get is the shape of your acoustic guitar. How does it work? Well, when you’re playing the guitar, you are sending vibrations throughout the entire body. The number of vibrations, and the sound volume, will also depend on the size of your guitar’s body. If the body is larger, bracing and wood are usually better, which means that the sound you produce will be higher and more powerful. However, the smaller body size is beneficial for giving you a more comfortable experience, at the expense of stronger sound. Let’s see what are the most common shapes for the acoustic guitar body, and learn something more about each of them.
If we went all the way back to 1916, we would be able to meet the first acoustic guitar body shape we’re going to describe first. Dreadnought has been made by the popular Martin brand, and it is one of the most popular shapes of acoustic guitar, even today, after more than 100 years. It’s present in almost all types of music. Basically, this acoustic guitar body shape is what you think of when you imagine a guitar in your head. The body itself is quite deep, and these guitars have a wide waist. Because of that, the projection of the sound is very well-balanced, with powerful, and yet quite clear tones.
2. Auditorium and Grand Auditorium
One of the most commonly found acoustic guitar body shapes for orchestras is an auditorium and grand auditorium. The auditorium is not so large. Quite the opposite, guitars with this body shape are medium-sized, and they look like dreadnought guitars because they are almost as wide as them. However, auditorium guitars have a bit tighter waist, which means they will allow you to make high-pitched tones with a great balance between treble and bass. Grand auditorium pushes things even further. Its waist is also thinner than a dreadnought, but it comes with a body that is relatively wider, which allows you to have higher volume and tonality. Both auditorium and grand auditorium are common body shapes for guitars that have 12 strings, alongside jumbo. You can play these guitars the same way you would play those with 6 strings, with the difference being that they offer quite a good chorus effect.
One of the most popular acoustic guitar body shapes from the end of the 19th century, and the early 1900s is the parlor. The name comes from the name of the room where nobles and aristocrats had guests, reception room. In this room, musicians played guitars shaped like this, which is why this shape is named as it is. Guitars with the parlor shape are usually smaller than other guitars, and you could say that they are quite slender. Apart from that, they have bodies with a round top, which makes them extremely easy and comfortable to play. As for the tonality, parlor guitars produce very dynamic sound, which is wide and have a higher volume, while also keeping a gentle and warm feeling.
If you ever wanted a guitar that provides excellent acoustic effect, then you should definitely look for the one with the jumbo body shape. It has a more round-like main part of the body, which is also a bit larger and wider. Because of shape like that, they can play louder tones, while also maintain a clear sound overall. Jumbo guitars are a good choice especially if you want to have more energetic sound, but without using the electricity.
5. Concert and Grand Concert
Just as their name suggests, guitars with these body shapes are excellent for concert stages. They are fairly similar to each other, with a couple of differences. Concert guitars are comfortable and compact to use. They produce several variations of sound, mostly with the ending that is quite ample. Also, the end will never be explosive, which is perfect for concert stages, depending on the music genre. The grand concert is somewhat similar to the concert, except it is a bit larger. Also, its ending is almost the same as concerts, but the difference is that the grand concert comes with a bit more powerful bass.
Just as their name suggests, mini-acoustic guitars are quite smaller than other guitars, which makes them perfect for newbies and children who are just starting to play. However, that doesn’t mean that these guitars are not suitable for older people. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They can be played by anyone, both kids and adults alike. So, even if you simply want to have a more comfortable experience, you can use mini-acoustic guitars, and enjoy all the comfort. As for the sound, these guitars are relatively similar to all standard acoustic guitars. Also, they are perfect for people who are used to playing guitars whose bodies are thinner, like an electric guitar for example.
Now that we’ve covered all acoustic guitar shapes, let’s talk about what different tonewoods there are, and how they affect the performance of your guitar. So, first of all, how about we answer the question of what tonewoods are? There are different types of wood, each with its own sound properties. These are called tonewoods, and depending on the species, and materials, they are good for various musical instruments. Every characteristic of tonewood matters, from the thickness to the weight. These and some other factors help in creating the shape of the sound. Let’s take a look at what tonewoods are most commonly seen in acoustic guitars, and what are their main characteristics.
Spruce is one of the most common tonewoods used for acoustic guitars. There are several different spruce species, such as Sitka, Adirondack, as well as Engelmann, and all of them are a very popular material for the production of acoustic guitars. A lot of acoustic guitars that use strings made of steel tend to use the top made of some subspecies of spruce. This tonewood is relatively tough, but it is also extremely light. Because of it, its price is quite high. As for the sound, guitars made of spruce offer dynamic tones that are relatively balanced.
Another fairly used material for acoustic guitars is walnut. It is capable of giving you the more powerful tones, due to the density of the body. You will see that walnut is quite similar to mahogany, with the addition that the end will allow you to make clearer and more precise tones. Walnut guitars are most effective at the medium range while being a bit finicky at close and long-range, with less clear tones.
There are different subspecies of rosewood, like for example, the ones from Brazil and India. What is interesting about them is that, even though they look fairly different from one another, they come with almost the same sound properties. Usually, sides and back of a large number of guitars are made of rosewood, which allows you to have overtones with high complexity, as well as prolonged duration. Apart from that, that, the bass response rosewood can give you is the most powerful compared to all other tonewoods. Also, rosewood and its Mexican subspecies called Granadillo, are a very popular material for making bridges, as well as fingerboards.
Just like walnut, mahogany is a tonewood with extremely high density, which allows you to level the sound dynamic more naturally. Mahogany is mostly used as material for a guitar body. In most cases, the mahogany body is mixed with the top made of spruce. However, you can also find acoustic guitars with a mahogany top, which usually allows you to produce tones that are a bit tougher and more explosive.
Unlike mahogany, cedar is a relatively soft material, which allows the production of lighter tones that are very responsive. This makes guitars with cedar parts very popular for the people who like to use fingerstyle as their main type of playing. Apart from that, most classical, as well as flamenco guitars, use top that is made of cedar, making the tonality more responsive. This is perfect for classical genres because their music is usually more delicate, and requires a special touch, in order to achieve the perfect sound.
The Difference Between Solid Wood and Laminate
When people talk about what type of materials acoustic guitars are built from, you often hear the expression of solid wood and laminate. In order for you to get a better understanding of acoustic guitars, which should also help you to choose the best acoustic guitar for yourself, let’s talk about these two terms, and figure out what are the main differences between them.
When you say that acoustic guitar is made of solid wood, that means that the wood is gotten from a single, precise cut.
Laminate wood, on the other hand, is when a couple of layers of wood had been cut and combined together, in order to build a guitar.
One of the most noticeable differences between laminate and solid wood is the price. The price of solid wood is much higher, simply because it is not so easy to find solid wood of high quality.
To reduce the costs, a lot of guitar manufacturers tend to use both laminate and solid wood to make a guitar.
It is known that a part that impacts the guitar sound and tonality the most is the top of the guitar, which is why a large number of manufacturers make the top out of solid wood while using laminate for the guitar body.
Also, not only that solid wood is prettier than laminate, but also provides the tone quality that ages like a high-quality wine.
As time passes, guitars made of solid wood tend to improve the sound quality, which is why a lot of older guitars are in very high demand on the market.
So, why would they even use laminate to make guitars if solid wood is so good?
Well, as stated above, solid wood is much more expensive and harder to find, so almost nobody would be able to afford the guitar made completely of solid wood. Therefore, laminate wood is a cheaper option.
Apart from that, laminate wood offers more stable tones, without vibrating too much, meaning that it is capable of producing deeper sound without the need to be too loud.
Guitar made of laminate wood is also better suited for people who need to travel a lot since it is more adaptable to different climates and weather changes.
Many manufacturers also tend to combine different materials, such as sawdust, wood chips, and even paper, thus creating a material that is cost-effective, as well as durable and eco-friendly at the same time.
This material is called composite wood, and it is made by combining and pressing these couple of things with some sort of adhesive, as well as resin.
This helps manufacturers to reduce the costs of production. For example, since ebony is quite expensive, manufacturers, such as Martin and even Gibson, tend to use a substitute in the form of composite richlite.
Nowadays, a large number of acoustic guitars tend to use different types of built-in electronics that will help you boost the guitar performance simply by using external amplifiers.
This can be quite useful for concerts, as well as it can be utilized for recording purposes, which makes it easier to adjust the settings the way you want.
This type of guitars is known under the name acoustic-electric guitars, and they’ve become quite popular lately.
Depending on the brand and features, these guitars can offer tonality that is better or worse, than on normal acoustic guitars.
Those that are more expensive usually come with the natural-like sounds, with the addition that you can amplify its, by using already built-in electronics.
Testing an Acoustic Guitar
A lot of people tend to make some mistakes when buying an acoustic guitar for themselves. For some reason, people are afraid to test the product in the store.
Usually, they either buy it from the internet or rush the buying process in the store itself. Rather than doing that, you should test the guitar for yourself.
Everything you might need, from the amplifier, tuner, or oven just a simple strap, you can get from the employees in the store.
Even if you are just a beginner, you should test different acoustic guitars and see which one feels the most comfortable in your hands.
Try to play something, no matter what it is, even some small and easy to play cords will do. This will help you familiarize yourself with how the guitar you’re holding sounds, and whether it is well-suited to satisfy your needs.
Asking Questions While Buying
Directly related to the previous topic, if during your testing, you encounter something that is not familiar to you, you should definitely not be afraid to ask the store employees to help you out.
Some people tend to do their own research on the internet as well. Even though it is a good thing, reading a couple of articles about acoustic guitars on the internet will not make you a guitar expert.
Instead, years of practice are necessary, so even if you’ve read several articles in, let’s say, two or three days, your knowledge about guitars is still insignificant.
Therefore, you should ask the staff about everything you need to know. About every feature, and every potential problem.
Check out Various Models of Acoustic Guitar
Another common mistake that a lot of people make when buying the best acoustic guitar is that they read about features of the certain guitar and think to themselves “Ok, this is good, I’m going to buy it”, without even trying the guitar.
Different guitars have different sounds, so in order to find the best guitar for your purposes, you should always try various guitar models, even if you think some of them might be irrelevant because you might be surprised.
Try to think about what you need, and do proper research, to find the most suitable acoustic guitar that is capable of fulfilling those needs.
For example, if you simply like to travel with your friends, going camping, and playing cheerful music in their company, you should think about getting a bit more compact, light, and comfortable guitar, that can sustain the sound quality in different weather, such as the laminate wood guitars.
How to Get the Best Possible Deal
Since some high-quality acoustic guitars can be quite expensive, you should always keep one eye to monitor the market, in case there is a big sale incoming.
When there is a sale, it is possible to get pieces that are usually like $1,500 or even higher, for less than $500, which can save you a lot of money, and give you the acoustic guitar of excellent quality.
Apart from that, most retailers, such as Amazon, for instance, have a money-back-guarantee option, allowing you to get your money back, in case you are not satisfied with the product.
Also, just like you can give old phones and get a discount when you buy a new one, you can do the same when buying an acoustic guitar.
If you have some older or malfunctioned guitar that you want to replace, some stores and retailers offer a discount on the new products, in case you bring some old piece or even some other guitar gear, such as backup strings, amplifiers, and similar.
Using Online Lessons to Get Better
Apart from just buying the product itself, a lot of manufacturers offer CDs or online guides on how to get better when playing the guitar.
If you are a newbie, you should definitely take advantage of this, and try to get some tutorials that might prove to be useful for learning how to play an acoustic guitar.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high quality music related content as well as some of the most accurate and in-depth gear review and demo information on the internet.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 (over 15 years now) and am an avid collector of all thing’s guitar. Amps, Pedals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Microphones, Studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University and with my engineering experience I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.