The Top 6 Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500

Hi there, folks! Here we go again to look for the best acoustic guitar that can satisfy are never-ending G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) for a while. I have listed down the top 6 best acoustic guitar under $500, in my opinion, that are really worth your money.

I can say that these guitars are still for beginners and does not have the best professional qualities but can be still used on-stage, gigs, or playing with friends. Recording-wise, you MAY NOT able to achieve the sweet tone you are looking for unless you have the best recording studio and very skillful guitar player. But that is just MY OPINION.

Acoustic guitar with microphone and some guitars at the back

I would still buy guitars at this price range and still use it. I often play on-stage and I’m satisfied with the amplified sound so you shouldn’t worry about wasting your money. I’m just saying that you should be ready to spend a lot if you want to have a real good recordings. Okay, before going to the list, I want you to know what factors should you consider before buying.

Key features considered:

I am going to assume that some of you here have already a guitar in mind but still undecided if you are going to purchase it or not and you are looking here if it is included in the list. If your guitar is not included here, worry not. It doesn’t mean that it is not good. But let me help you decide if it is really worth your money by giving you some things to consider.

Worth seeing: Acoustic guitars under $200

1. Sound quality

At this price point, it shouldn’t sound cheap. Try it in the nearest music store and play it or have someone play it for you. However, if you are not able to test it on your own, you should look at customer reviews. Just do a little research and make sure that most people are satisfied with it.

2. Built quality

Let me tell it to you straight, Solid Top wood is the necessary top wood at this price range. If it is Laminated, or some guitar makers conceal the term by saying “select wood” or any other term, you should avoid it. Guitar manufacturers will tell that it is a solid wood if it is a solid wood because that is best wood you can use.

Laminated back and sides and even the fretboards are common at this price range so do not expect pure solid wood guitars. Those will be priced higher, around a few grand. Take a look also at the tuners, bridge and nut. They might not be of the best quality, but they should not be of cheap quality either.

3. Playability

Playability is debatable because it can be easily fix by professionals. Intonation, action or any other minor problems you may encounter can be fixed but if it will be an issue for you, you should carefully inspect the guitar before buying it. Check always the fret buzz so that you can avoid getting annoyed.

Top 6 Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500

1. Yamaha LS6

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Pros:

  • Yamaha A.R.E or Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (more to this below)
  • Handcrafted guitar of Yamaha
  • Relaunched in the beginning of 2014 and been better than before (more to this below)
  • Uses 5 ply guitar neck
  • Zero Impact Pickup meaning no tonal difference compared to a pure acoustic guitar

Cons:

  • Some are not satisfied with the amplified sound of the pickup
This is the Yamaha LS6 Concert-Sized Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha LS6

Yamaha LS6 is one the Luxury Series (LS) of Yamaha which has been around for a long time. This series of Handcrafted Premium Guitars have been relaunched in the beginning of 2014 and did major improvements that really made this guitar worthy of your money. Some improvements are:

  1. Yamaha A.R.E (Acoustic Resonance Enhacement)
  2. 5 ply guitar neck
  3. Yamaha SRT Zero Pickup

As I mentioned in the full review of Yamaha LS6, Yamaha A.R.E is one of the best improvement on this guitar. As we all know, a guitar with a solid top tends to sound better as it age. The A.R.E, through the help of modern science, pre-ages the wood and make it like it has been more than a decade worth of wood. Out of the box, it’s like that you have been using a guitar with more than a decade worth of sound. Pretty cool, right?

5 ply guitar neck, which is previously 3 ply only, make the neck more sturdier and holds the tune for a really long time.

Yamaha SRT Zero Impact Pickup boasts of its “zero impact” to its tone compared to the Acoustic-Electric guitars with installed on-board pre-amp that affects the tone of the guitar itself. The pickup is amplifying sound naturally but, in my opinion, lacks bass response.

Playability is good and ready to use right out of the box. Due to its CONCERT SIZE BODY, this guitar tends to perform well when doing fingerstyle. Every tone is heard and resounds well. Light strumming works better than aggressive strumming so if you are an aggressive strummer, it may not be for you, try looking deeper in the list.

You may encounter Yamaha LS6M version and be confused. The only difference is that LS6M uses Mahogany on back and sides while the LS6 uses Rosewood.

2. Seagull S6

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Pros:

  • Handcrafted in Canada
  • Neck has a slim version and wide version: 1.72 inches and 1.8 inches respectively
  • Bright sounding but not too much
  • Good value for the money
  • Action is perfect out of factory

Cons:

  • Most model have no pickup/preamp included
  • Finish can be damaged easily
This is the Seagull S6 Original Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with guitar stand and hardcase

Seagull S6 Original

Seagull S6 is the most popular acoustic guitar of the Godin company. It is a fantastic guitar that is for entry-level and intermediate players and also a product of North American craftsmanship, meaning it is a handcrafted guitar made in Canada.

It has a Dreadnought body size featuring a solid cedar top and laminated wild cherry back and sides, that’s why this guitar has a warm sound. The neck, the S6 Silver leaf maple neck, is very easy to play with. It is mentioned in the my complete review of Seagull S6 that the action is low right out of the box so combining the slim profile of the neck and its low action, changing chords and running across the fret board is never been so easy.

Sound is very pleasant to the ears. Its bright and rich sound are thanks to the tone woods used and it will sound better as it age because it has a solid top wood. Pick-up, in my opinion, is not really special but it is doing the job well.

There are Seagull S6 that has no pickup included. So always check it before purchasing if what you need is an Acoustic-Electric guitar. Most of the available Seagull S6 has no pickup just in case you are having a hard time finding one.

At this price point, the Seagull S6 is really worth the money as you can’t expect this beautiful guitar, being handcrafted well and having a quality tone wood, an easy find on the market.

3. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Pros:

  • Gibson Hummingbird version of Epiphone
  • Neck uses the Epiphone SlimTaper D-shaped profile
  • Sound is warm and has rich tones
  • Loud and has good low end tones

Cons:

  • Pre-amp has no tuner included
This is the Cherry Burst Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Acoustic Guitar

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone has a version of the popular Gibson Hummingbird which is cheaper but not lacking in sound quality. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro retains the 1960’s Classic Design which features a Dreadnought body with square shoulders. The wood used in the body is the combination of a solid spruce top and laminated back and sides which is one of the best combination of tone woods.

Neck comes with the popular SlimTaper D-shaped profile that allows chord transition easy. Action is slightly high, in my opinion, so I made few minor adjustments and this guitar can really sing well.

Shadow ePerformer pre-amp and Nanoflex under-the-saddle pickup is used to amplify sound which is a fantastic guitar pre-amp/pickup for me. It sounds natural by tweaking a liitle to the controls. However, it has no built-in tuner and that is bad news for me since I often forget to bring tuners.

Sound quality is perfect when on-stage and sits perfectly in the mix. Unplugged sound is also beautiful. Each notes can be heard even when played all together. This is a win for me since I play fingerstyle in some cases but this guitar really kills when strummed. You can read more here about this guitar if you are interested.

4. Takamine GD51CE

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Pros:

  • Perfect for Gigging
  • Rich Tones and Long Sustains
  • Wood Chosen is High Quality
  • Slim Neck
  • Split Bridge Saddle for better intonation
  • Aesthetically Beautiful
  • Price is good for its quality

Cons:

  • Pickup/Preamp is decent
  • Stock String is in Heavy Gauge (Preferably, in Light Gauge)
This the Takamine GD51CE Acoustic Guitar in Natural Finish with guitar stand and hard case

Takamine GD51CE

Takamine is one of my favorite guitar makers out there. I love their guitars especially this one, the Takamine GD51CE. This guitar has a Dreadnought body and features a solid spruce top and laminated black walnut back and sides which is also a popular combination of tone woods. It also has a split bridge saddle which allows intonation to be more accurate.

Takamine GD51CE uses the TP-4TD Pre-amp with built-in tuner which amplifies natural sound accurately and lots of people are very happy using this on-stage.

Action and intonation are near perfect so it needs minor adjustments for it to be perfect. Light gauge strings sound better in my ears compared to the stock strings that are in heavy gauge. This is highly subjective and up to your preference so I suggest that you experiment with it.

Sound is perfect for gigs and on-stage performances. Plugged or unplugged, this guitar is worth every penny and definitely one of the best acoustic guitar in this price point.

5. Taylor Big Baby

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Pros:

  • One of the cheapest Taylor Full-scale guitar
  • Considered as travel guitar which means easier to bring in a lot of places
  • Despite the smaller body size, it’s still sounds full but not like the dreadnought
  • Layered back and sides add resistance for humidity
  • Has very sweet sound perfect for every songs

Cons:

  • The Acoustic-Electric Version is hard to find
  • May not sound enough for you if you like the Dreadnought full sound
This is the Taylor Big Baby in Natural Finish

Taylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar

Big Baby Taylor is one of the cheapest Taylor guitar out there. Its body size is slightly bigger than travel guitars but smaller than a full-sized guitar. It sits right in the middle of both size. However, this guitar is still considered a travel guitar because it is easy to bring.

Big Baby Taylor features a solid sitka spruce top and layered sapele back and sides which is more resistant to humidity. This added resistance is convenient for those who travel often. While its size is just 15/16th of a Dreadnought, it has a very slim body. For how it affects the sound, it will be discussed below.

Action is perfect, given that it is made by Taylor. One thing you may notice is that the neck is connected to the body using two screws which is clearly visible on the top of the fretboard. This might bother you but it is not a “bad” design. Aesthetically, it may not look good but it is doing its job well. Many travel guitars have this kind of design also.

For the sound, it doesn’t sound full if you compared it to a Dreadnought, but it is doesn’t have a big difference. The richness and sustains is perfect which compensate to what it lacks especially in the low end tones. It is understandable, since most travel guitars out there doesn’t sound full but it sound sweet and perfect for gigging. You can learn more about BIg Baby Taylor here.

6. Martin LX1E (Little Martin)

Place to buy: Amazon
My Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Pros:

  • Electronics is superb in on-stage performances
  • Perfect Travel Guitar which can be put in Airplane Compartment
  • High quality tone woods are chosen
  • High pressure Laminated Mahogany for added resistance to humidity
  • Quality materials was used in Bridge, Saddle and Nuts
  • Playability is good
  • Action is low
  • Luxury gig bag that is perfect for travelling

Cons:

  • Not a budget guitar
  • Depending on the user, sound might be too bright for you when unplugged due to its small body
This is the Martin LX1E "Little Martin" Acoustic Guitar in Natural finish

Martin LX1E Little Martin


Martin LX1E is one of the best Travel guitar which is often compared to Baby Taylor. It is the littlest guitar made by Martin so travelling with it often has always been so easy. This guitar also has a limited edition of Ed Sheeran Signature model so you might want that especially if you are a fan but it is often out-of-stock. There is no tone difference between this and the standard model.

Martin LX1E features a solid sitka spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. Because of the small body, it clearly lacks bass but it is compensated by the beautiful mid tones and clear high tones. This guitar uses the Fishman Pickup which is a decent pickup, nothing special in my opinion.

Playability is for small players and young ones and you might have a hard time playing this if you have big hands as the frets have smaller spacing compared to full-sized guitars. This is designed for travelling that’s why it was made to have a smaller body

Bonus Fact! Travel Guitars today is becoming more and more popular because of the portability and very convenient to use

One thing you should know before buying this guitar, there are no indicators in the frets to lessen the decoration. If this is something you want then you must think carefully before buying it. Check my complete review of the Little Martin, The Martin LX1E

Final Thoughts

These guitars are my top 6 best acoustic guitar under $500. There are a lot of guitar to choose from but these are what stood out for me. In terms of the sound quality, built quality, and playability, these guitars are the best. If I will rank them, which is hard because of the intended use and design of these guitars differ from each other, this is my recommendation:

1. Big Baby Taylor – 4.5
2. Yamaha LS6 – 4.4
3. Seagull S6 – 4.3
4. Takamine GD51CE – 4.3
5. Martin LX1E – 4.2
6. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro – 4.2

This is based on my opinion and your favorite guitar might not be on the list but it doesn’t mean that those guitars are inferior to what is on the list. Again, the best thing you can do is to research carefully on its features and test them all and let some of your gut feeling do the decision for you.

If you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

Happy Guitar Buying!

14 comments on “The Top 6 Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500

  1. Todd Matthews

    I’m digging the look of the Takamine. Not just that, it seems like it’s the most stage ready from the guitars you’ve reviewed, but I like the Taylor a lot, too. It also seems like the Taylor can be versatile as well and the smaller size makes it easier to handle. Overall, their pricing is rather affordable, so as long as they hold up, would make awesome additions for any acoustic guitar player. 

    Reply
  2. Merlynmac

    Thank you for this great post!

    I took guitar lessons, way back, when I was a kid.  I’ve been itching to start playing an instrument again but I think I’ll have to start all over.  I never really go far back then anyway.

    I really appreciate the time you took to provide this overview and then to offer full reviews on each independently.  I didn’t realize the quality differences out there.  I kind of figured, a guitar is a guitar.  Thanks for setting me right.

    I’m actually surprised that the one you gave the highest rating to wasn’t the most expensive.  I’m going to check the Taylor out now and see if that’s the one for me.

    Thanks again,

    Scott

    Reply
  3. Tony Champ

    I like the way you explained things about your guitars and it was good that you were honest about some being your opinion. I to have a acoustic guitar that I bought with an electric plugin, and love it even thou it is not a brand name like Yamaha or others It still sounds great. So your right about guitars have their own unique sound and it counts when you know how to adjust them.

    Reply
  4. mohammadahm1

    After reading your article I have benefited greatly.You discuss in your article aboutTop 6 Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500. You also said top 6 Acoustic Guitars details and added nice video.That’s really amazing. After reading your article i have learned in this topics clearly. So, Thank you very much for sharing your article.

    Reply
  5. Josh

    I’ve always been interested in learning to play any guitar in general, but my favorite has always been the acoustic guitar. The hardest part is knowing which one isn’t going to break the bank while still having good quality sound.

    Your list of best acoustic guitars really has helped me narrow down the ones that I should be focusing on. I personally probably lean towards going with the Yamaha because I’ve heard of their brand in guitars before, and have seen many people use them.

    Is there really a big difference between your #1 and #2 choice or are they close enough that I can feel comfortable going with the Yamaha?

    Thanks for the informative post and look forward to your response.

    Reply
    1. Vincent Post author

      It depends on your purpose. If you are going to travel with a lot, the Taylor will be much more convenient

      Reply
  6. Hal

    Hi Vincent –

    Great article! As a musician and guitarist, myself… I have tried many guitars and I know lots of guitarists, so I’ve played, seen and heard many guitars in action. So, I must commend you for your final choices. They are pretty spot on. For the money, I’ve always found Yamaha to be at the top of the heap, but a good Epiphone is pretty close. That Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is  pretty sweet.

    In my case, I just had to spend slightly more and I ended up with an Epiphone Masterbilt DR-550-MCE, I was originally going to buy an Ovation (so glad I didn’t) as a backup while I took my other, older Ovation in for repairs. While I was in the acoustic guitar room testing out the Ovations, there was a guy in another area of the room testing out a $3000 Taylor and the Epiphone Masterbilt. That Epiphone caught my ear, because it sounded as nice as the Taylor!  I ended up leaving the store empty handed. I didn’t have the money for the Epiphone Masterbilt, so I decided to come back in a week or so after my next gig and buy it. At the time, an Epiphone Masterbilt was $599. I think they’re $699 now. I would still highly recommend one, but if you’re dead set on staying under $500, then I definitely agree with you –  a Yamaha LS6 would be the way to go. Your 4.4 rating is about what I’d rate it, too! 

    Just out of curiosity, what are your favorite brand and gauge of acoustic guitar strings. Let me know if you do ever do a string comparison!

    Thank!

    Hal

    Reply
    1. Vincent Post author

      As of now, I love the D’addario coated phospor bronze in light gauge. It’s life is very long and it has a balanced tone in it. But soon I will be trying the elixir when I will change my strings. 

      Reply
        1. Vincent Post author

          I tried the elixir this week. It has higher price compared to d’addario but it sounds better in my ears. One thing I will observe in the next couple weeks is how long will these strings last. D’addario coated strings have long life and according to what I read, it is longer than elixir. But let me see how long will the elixir lasts.

          Reply
  7. Daniella

    Hi there,

    Awesome list of acoustic guitars!

    My son is learning guitar with a private teacher and he suggested him to buy an acoustic guitar. So I was searching on the net and that’s how I found your website. The Yamaha is the guitar the teacher recommended to my son. I will show it to him and see what he will tell me about it. Is there a warranty that comes with the guitar? I suppose there is one, but what his limit time?

    Is there a possibility to return the guitar if there is a defect?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Vincent Post author

      The guitar has a 30 day return policy. If nothing happened after those days, then your guitar is goos to go

      Reply
  8. Robert Trevor

    I have always preferred, the tones of acoustic guitars to electric,they have a more full bodied sound,right through the range, and to me they are more attractive.

    I have a Kawai twelve string guitar, which I have enjoyed playing for many years, which gives a great full sound, and is very pleasing,to listen to.

    It is more challenging to play,and your chords must be struck just right, or you will get buzzing,it also has a wide body, which can be difficult to accomodate sitting down,but it looks and sounds really good.

    My choice of those guitars presented is the Yamaha LS6,Yamaha is a well known and trusted maker,whose products are really good,the improvements in the neck,make it stronger which is good for travelling,and also its great tones,which you need for an audience.

    It’s technical setup is appreciated, for the ease of finger style, for doing lead breaks,and for the resonance when playing dramatic chords.

    Reply

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