Best Acoustic Guitar for the Money (Under 500 or Much Lower)

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What is the best acoustic guitar for the money (under 500 or much lower) of beginners, intermediate or advanced players? Such is what’s featured in this guide, and reviews are included too. Below, there is also a table that compares important features against one another.

Top 10 Acoustic Guitars (Mostly Under 500 or Much Lower)

GuitarSkill LevelString TypeElectronicsSizeHand Orientation(s)Price
Fender Squier BundleBeginnerSteelNoneFullRight$
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Seagull S6 Original QIIntermediateSteelWith electronicsFullRight and left$$$
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Seagull S6 OriginalBeginner to intermediateSteelNoneFullRight and left$$$
Check the exact price
Yamaha JR1 BundleBeginnerSteelNone3/4 or travelRight$
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Taylor GS Mini-e RWIntermediateSteelWith electronics7/8 or travelRight$$$
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Taylor GS MiniBeginner to intermediateSteelNone7/8 or travelRight and left$$$
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Martin Steel BackpackerBeginner to intermediateSteelNoneTravelRight and left$
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Martin Classical BackpackerBeginner to intermediateNylonNoneTravelRight and left$
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Yamaha C40 PackageBeginnerNylonNoneFullRight$
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Martin HD-28Intermediate to advancedSteelNoneFullRight$$$$$
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Acoustic Guitar Reviews

Below are reviews of some of the acoustic guitars in the table above. Demo videos are included, but the sound quality may be inaccurate due to your audio hardware and other uncontrollable factors. If you’re looking for a classical guitar, check out the Yamaha C40 review.

Best Beginner Acoustic Guitars

What follows is a review of one of the best beginner acoustic guitars around. Check back here regularly to see additional reviews of more novice friendly options. For the meantime, you could read other people’s critiques by following the links in the table above.

Fender Squier Review

If you’re just starting out, it may seem impossible to find a good beginner acoustic guitar – something affordable but sounds great. But there are indeed such things, and the Fender Squier Bundle is a great example. The bundle comes at a price that beginners would be comfortable to pay for. Yet, it also comes with a guitar that doesn’t sound like it’s cheap. Below is a video of the Squier in action:

The bundle includes accessories needed to quickly start learning. Considering that the guitar is already worth the price, the accessories are a really nice bonus. To know more about what’s included in the bundle, read more Fender Squier reviews here.

Best Intermediate Acoustic Guitars

What follows are reviews of the best intermediate acoustic guitars. For their side by side comparison, refer to the table above.

Seagull S6 Original Q1 Review

Usually, when hunting for a better instrument, intermediate players look for the best acoustic-electric guitar under 1000. But for only around 500, the Seagull S6 Original Q1 is arguably the best upgrade that anyone could have. The Q1 has rotary volume and tone controls and a built-in digital chromatic tuner with a LED display. And there’s a version for everyone — it’s available in right and left hand orientation. And so, it’s quite popular among lefties, and many consider it as the best left handed acoustic guitar under 1000.

Since the cost is barely above half a grand, you’d be left with funds for an amplifier and other equipment. To know the QI’s extra features (like battery life), check out more Seagull S6 reviews below.

Taylor GS Mini Review

For beginners who want better, or intermediate players on a budget, acoustic guitars under 500 are perfect. Among such, the Taylor GS Mini delivers the most bang for the buck. The Mini has a full sized sound despite its 7/8 size. And its size is kind of like a sweet spot, it’s comfortable for the average adult yet playable for smaller people. Below is a high quality demo by Italian artist Matteo Gobbato:

Taylor is a revered brand – you won’t look like a beginner, or an intermediate player being cheap. The Mini is available in left and right hand orientation, and there’s an electric version for the latter. To learn more about such options, read other Taylor GS Mini reviews below.

How to Buy a Guitar: Acoustic Types and Features

There are a lot of guitars out there, and each has a bewildering set of features. This guide will help you decide on the most critical features — those that are fixed or can’t be adjusted easily. Some of the advice here could be debatable, but they are the ones that work for most people, so they’ll likely work for you too.

Steel vs. Nylon: Acoustic Guitar Strings Guide

Acoustic guitars may be classified according to their strings, which is either folk (steel) or classical (nylon). And contrary to popular belief, they are not interchangeable (switching could damage the instrument). Hence, your choice of string is irreversible and should be decided upon carefully.

A common advice is that beginners should get a classical. Nylon is said to be softer and is therefore less painful on the fingers. The same is said at the site of CoachGuitar, an app that teaches to play songs without needing music theory. But it also adds that classicals have wide necks that may be difficult to play for some. Others also argue that the difference in ease of playing is minimal, and is usually due to comparing to a poorly setup folk instrument.

Another advice is to choose a string based on your musical interests. Nylon is recommended for classical, flamenco or Latin music. Meanwhile, steel is suggested for most other genres. But “playing classical guitar doesn’t necessarily mean playing classical music,” says Vasily Yurin of the Orlando Music Institute.  Indeed, there are popular musicians that have in fact mixed the instrument types and genres successfully.

Electronics and Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Acoustic-electric guitars are those that come with integrated electronics (e.g. pickups). You could also install such on plain acoustics, but it would usually involve some drilling that should ideally be done by professionals. Hence, you could decide to get onboard electronics from the start to avoid the trouble later.

Electronics allow you to shape the tone and plug in to an amplifier for more volume. Due to such capabilities, it is usually recommended for intermediate and advanced players. Nonetheless, beginners might want to get an acoustic-electric to delay the need to upgrade. Generally though, most novices initially get the more affordable plain acoustics.

Best Acoustic Guitar

Right vs. Left Handed Acoustic Guitars

Majority of acoustic guitars are right handed. Most right oriented people will choose them without thinking about it, and it will usually work out just fine. On the other hand, left handed people have four choices:

  • convert a right handed into a lefty by restringing
  • play upside down, with the low E string at the bottom
  • use a right handed instrument
  • use a left handed acoustic guitar

Though the first choice is doable, it’s difficult and is not without issues. The second and third have already been tried by many lefties, but the performance results were mixed. The fourth choice seems to be the best, but it also has its own disadvantages in terms of available options, prices and flexibility (e.g. if you try to borrow an instrument, you would likely be offered with a righty).

The advice that seems to work well for most people is to listen to your body. As one guitar lessons site says, the most important is “to feel comfortable with your guitar.” To know what’s comfortable, doing air guitar (pretend playing) is suggested by Neal Beedie of LeftyFretz. It seems to work well for most people, even those who are mixed handed, ambidextrous or with injuries.

Full Size vs. Travel or Small Body Acoustic Guitars

Obviously, size is a feature that is fixed. Hence, you will have to buy a new instrument if you get bothered by it. Novices would likely be bothered by it because the wrong size could add to the challenges of learning.

The advice that generally works is to choose the size based on your age or height. CyberFret.com, an online lessons site, recommends smaller guitars to smaller people to reduce the learning curve. Meanwhile, if you’re an adult at least 5 feet tall, a full size instrument will likely fit, according to the Hunterdon Academy of the Hearts. Lifestyle could also be taken into consideration — small or travel acoustic guitars will certainly be beneficial to frequent fliers and backpackers.

Size has an effect on tone — treble notes usually become more emphasized as the acoustic guitar becomes smaller. Hence, advanced players with specific purposes are likely to sacrifice comfort or convenience to get the sound that they want.

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