Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500 – Premium Guitars At Mid Range Pricing

There are many reasons one might need to consider spending under $500 on a guitar.

Do any of these sound like you?

You have a limited budget.

You are wanting to get started playing for the first time.

You’ve lost a guitar and need a reliable, cheap replacement.

You’re a seasoned musician looking for a solid workhorse.

Whatever your reason may be, I think it is important to remember that we live in the golden era of guitars. Every year there are better and better guitars being built at lower and lower prices. There are a lot of guitars between the price range of $300-$500 worth looking into.

Here are my top picks!

Snapshot: Top 6 Acoustic Guitars Under $500

  1. Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought
  2. Gretsch 5024E Rancher Dreadnought
  3. Taylor BT2 Baby
  4. Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE Jumbo
  5. Takamine GC5CE-NAT Classical
  6. Breedlove Pursuit Concert

Researching Acoustic Guitars Under $500

Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500

Yes! There are great guitars within every price range and this one is no exception. I’ve played a $500 guitar next to a $2,000 guitar and wondered why someone would think to spend so much money when great, cheaper alternatives exist out there.

The important thing to remember is that every guitar is different. Price often discerns value, but it doesn’t necessarily discern quality, or how much you will enjoy the guitar. It is up to you to decide what kind of acoustic guitar is going to fit your character and needs while staying within your budget.

Fair Warning: This price range does include some less than stellar instruments. It becomes more important in this price range to do your research so you can avoid buying a dud. Keep the quality of materials in mind and listen intently to the reviews available. If at all possible, try them out in person before buying online.

With that warning out of the way, you can expect to find acoustic guitars of all shapes and sizes here.

Let’s see what is out there!

The Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500 In 2020

1. Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought Review

Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic/Electric Guitar - Open Pore Natural
  • Dreadnought body with cutaway
  • Solid mahogany top
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Rosewood bridge and fretboard

I was thrilled to come across this model. Of all the guitars on this list, the Ibanez Artwood Dreadnought offers some of the highest quality materials and a crazy satisfying tone as a result. This guitar sounds and plays like a guitar that costs twice as much as it does.

Body/Neck

As the name states, this Ibanez comes in a dreadnought body shape with a cutaway for easy access to the higher frets. Ibanez uses quality, solid mahogany for the top and layered mahogany for the sides and neck. It also has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, making for an understated and mellow combination.

I think what elevates this guitar above many in its class is the open pore natural finish. This light finish lets the wood breath and resonate freely, as compared to gloss finishes that are often over applied and constrict the guitar’s voice.

Hardware/Electronics

This guitar comes standard with Ibanez’s own onboard AEQ210TF preamp system and tuner, coupled with the always reliable Fishman Sonitone pickup. The two band EQ, along with the phase switcher to reduce feedback, are especially useful in gigging situations. If you are looking for a dependable workhorse to take out gigging every night, this is an option worth considering.

Sound

The Ibanez Artwood Dreadnought is the fullest and most natural sounding acoustic on this list to my ear. I think that the high-quality wood selection, body shape, and natural finish really contribute to a guitar that breaths and responds to your touch.

The Fishman pickup and Ibanez preamp are a dynamic duo that sound as good as any other out on the market. I would recommend combining it with Acoustic profilers available online to really take it to the next level, but if that doesn’t interest you the onboard electronics will be plenty pleasing to your audience.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Fishman Sonitone with Ibanez AEQ210TF preamp
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

A dark, mellow, all mahogany acoustic at an unbelievable price

Final Thoughts on the Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought

I’m not surprised that Ibanez was able to deliver an all mahogany acoustic guitar at under $500. This is another example of them making a great guitar at an affordable price. Whether you are in need of a guitar for gigging or writing, this is a solid choice.

2. Gretsch 5024E Rancher Dreadnought Review

Gretsch Guitars G5024E Rancher Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar Sunburst
  • Body
  • Body Material: Solid Spruce Top with Laminated Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Body Back: Arched Laminated Mahogany

If the Rancher Electro-Acoustic I reviewed for under $1,000 was either out of your price range or just too niche of an instrument, but you still like Gretsch’s aesthetics, then this is a guitar worth looking into. The Rancher Dreadnought has one foot in traditional design and the other in the future.

Body/Neck

This beauty is made with a solid spruce top and laminated mahogany back/sides in a sunburst gloss finish. The triangle soundhole is a unique design choice that will either make you fall in love with the guitar or send you running.

The neck is also mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. The Neo-Classical thumbnail inlays are another unique appointment. I find the design to be a little distracting while playing the low strings, but I’ll chalk that one up to personal preference. The bridge is rosewood and has a compensated design for perfect string tension and intonation across all six strings.

Hardware/Electronics

This Rancher is ready for campfires and open mic nights alike with its Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickups and Isys preamp. The tone can be manipulated using the volume, tone and phase controls onboard, as well as stay in tune with the onboard tuner. Compared to other Rancher offerings from Gretsch, this is a much simpler guitar overall.

Sound

I was really impressed with the low-end response in this model. I imagine that this is due to the dreadnought body shape. I find the midrange and high end to be slightly squeezed, possibly as a result of the soundhole design or glossy finish. Even with that, the Rancher is articulate and the spruce top lets it sing loud and clear.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back/sides
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Fishman Sonicore w/ Isys preamp
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

An articulate guitar for traditionalists and free spirits

Final Thoughts on the Gretsch 5024E Rancher Dreadnought

Gretsch is one of those companies that manages to make a plethora of different instruments well. Instruments like this one give me faith that they can deliver for just about any kind of customer. This is a unique guitar that is sure to please both traditionalists and free spirits alike.

3. Taylor BT2 Baby Review

Sale
Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar, Mahogany Top
  • 6-string Acoustic Guitar with Mahogany Top
  • Layered Sapele Back
  • Sides - Natural
  • Neck Width 1-11/16 inch

This is another guitar from the folks at Taylor that can be included on multiple “Best Of” lists, considering that it is a practical solution for so many players. Whether you are looking for a travel guitar, learning guitar, or daily player, the Baby Taylor is an easy and fun to play acoustic guitar that is at a quality beyond its price point.

Body/Neck

The most apparent quality about the Taylor BT2 is its smaller size. The BT2 is a ¾ size dreadnought shaped guitar with sapele back/sides paired with a mahogany top. This wood selection makes the guitar appear to be an all mahogany guitar even though it uses sapele.

The good news is this saves you money without sacrificing tone. The neck is mahogany like the top, and is set to a 22.75” scale length, making it a really easy guitar to play.

Electronics/Hardware

While there are versions of the BT2 that feature electronics for live performance, the price range of Baby Taylor does not feature such technology. The saddle is made of new bone and it comes with closed gear tuners that are sure to keep your guitar in tune for years to come. This is a simple guitar that helps you get right to what matters: playing music.

Sound

Though the ¾ body size does make the guitar sound smaller, it still has an apparent resonance and wide frequency range that makes playing the guitar a satisfying experience. I have personally opted to use this guitar in the studio for its tight low end response and attack.

It projects loud enough to be heard in small group settings, while also remaining quiet enough for routine home practice. Personally, I prefer the mahogany top to the sitka spruce top for its added warmth.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Sapele laminate backs/side with mahogany top
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Pickups: ES-B electronics available on BT1e only
  • Bridge: Ebony

The Baby Taylor will always be your baby

Final Thoughts on the Taylor BT2 Baby

The Baby Taylor is a guitar that I have personally owned and played for over a decade. This is a great guitar to leave out on the wall or on a stand if you are looking for a fun guitar to keep you motivated. Maybe it’s the size, but it’s fun and inviting. It’s been one of the most inspiring guitar designs for almost twenty years now for a reason: it’s a good guitar.

4. Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE Jumbo Acoustic Review

Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE Jumbo Acoustic - Electric Guitar, Natural/Gloss Finish
  • Hand selected, ‘A’ grade, solid Sitka spruce top
  • Hand sanded, scalloped bracing
  • Maple back and sides
  • Paua abalone and mother of pearl inlays

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from the Baby Taylor is this jumbo guitar from Alvarez. You read that right: a JUMBO guitar for under $500. This is an awesome option for all the aspiring country players out there. If you’re looking for inspiration to play a jumbo check out Luke Comb’s Livestream concert.

Body/Neck

This jumbo guitar is made from a big piece of solid sitka spruce for the top and maple on the back and sides, as is tradition for this style of acoustic. The neck is also maple with Indian laurel on the fingerboard and bridge.

If you have never played a Jumbo acoustic guitar, definitely try one out before you buy it. It may be difficult to play if you are a smaller person, but some larger folks find it to be the perfect guitar to sling under their arms.

Hardware/Electronics

The Alvarez Artist Series Jumbo comes with an LR Baggs Pro and Element pickup system. Whereas many pickups on the market can sound unnatural or like they are emulating acoustic guitars, the LR Baggs Element is one of the most authentic and organic sounding pickups. I was not up to speed on these until I reviewed this instrument and I was blown away.

Sound

This jumbo guitar sounds as big as it looks. It is loud and has a really satisfying bass response to it. The maple back and sides also make for a snappy high end that cuts through a mix. The pickups are sure to pick up all of this character live too, so this thing is going to sound good plugged in or on its own.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Sitka spruce top, maple back/sides
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian laurel
  • Pickups: LR Baggs Pro Element
  • Bridge Material: Indian laurel

A BIG guitar for little money

 

Final Thoughts on the Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE Jumbo Acoustic

When it comes to jumbo acoustic guitars, Gibson takes credit for the design and hogs the spotlight. As a result, fetching a jumbo Gibson can be difficult and expensive. The fact that there is a jumbo available under $500 is pretty wild, so I’m excited that Alvarez has created an attainable alternative that sounds huge.

5. Takamine GC5CE-NAT Acoustic Electric Classical Cutaway Guitar Review

Takamine GC5CE-NAT Acoustic Electric Classical Cutaway Guitar,Natural
  • With deluxe appointments, solid-top construction and great performance features including a Venetian-style cutaway and Takamine electronics system, the GC5CE is an acoustic-electric classical guitar...
  • Ready for the demands of any performance situation, the GC5CE features a fan-braced solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides that produce warm, rich nylon-string sound
  • The slim mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability
  • Takamine TP-4T preamp system gives you a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls for rock-solid amplified performance and versatility

 Takamine is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands for budget classical guitars. The GC5CE-NAT is a beautiful, traditional nylon string guitar design with onboard electronics that makes this a great option for gigging.

Body/Neck

A fan braced, solid spruce top and rosewood back/sides make up the body of this classical guitar. The natural finish gives the topwood a little warmth in hue and contrasts against the rosette, making a beautiful guitar that isn’t distracting. The Venetial style cutaway also allows for easier access to the higher frets. The neck is a slim cut of mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard, making for a smooth feel and easy playability.

Hardware/Electronics

If you are in need of a classical guitar to play at weddings or solo gigs, then this guitar is ready to work for you. This guitar comes with Takamine’s TP-4T preamp system and 3 band EQ with tuner. You will have clear direct sound (no need for a microphone) and control of your tone and tuning. The tuners are standard rear design. Nothing fancy, just practical and effective!

Sound

The combination of spruce top and rosewood back/sides has proven time and time again to be an ideal combination for fingerstyle playing. The warmth of nylon strings is balanced with high end and responsiveness of spruce, while also having the low end supported and deepened by the rosewood. This guitar sounds great both acoustically and plugged in. I was impressed by the preamp system as it represented the natural tone of the guitar well.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, rosewood back/sides
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: Takamine TP-4T
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

The perfect gigging classical guitar

Final Thoughts on the Takamine GC5CE-NAT Acoustic Electric Classical Cutaway Guitar

This is a familiar design that delivers in every way that a classical guitar should. It is a rich sounding guitar for the price range and is an excellent option for anyone that needs a nylon string to take out to gigs, or for learning on. Another great offering from Takamine.

6. Breedlove Pursuit Concert Review

Breedlove Pursuit Exotic Concert CE Engelmann Spruce - Striped Ebony Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Body Body type: Concert/O Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Englemann Spruce Back & sides: Striped Ebony Bracing pattern: Info not available Body finish: Natural Gloss Orientation: Right handed Neck Neck...
  • "For players seeking a sparkling, clear tone, both acoustically and plugged in, the Pursuit Exotic Concert Engelmann Spruce a" Striped Ebony is a true reflection of BreedloveaTMs Distinctively Crafted...
  • The bell-like overtones of Engelmann spruce pair perfectly with the bass resonance of ebony for a warm, musical tone overall
  • Like all Pursuit instruments it includes a built-in USB port for easy interfacing with recording software

Nylon string guitars are not the only option for those who need a good fingerstyle guitar. Case and point: the Breedlove Pursuit Concert. This steel string guitar is responsive in sound and plays like a classical guitar, while giving you the steel string sound for your next composition.

Body/Neck

The Breedlove Pursuit Concert comes with a solid cedar top and mahogany back/sides. Though not the typical matchup for a classical guitar, these tonewoods work in a similar way to spruce/rosewood. It has a concert shape with a cutaway for access to the higher frets. The neck is made of Nato with an Ovangkol fingerboard and bridge.

Hardware/Electronics

Perhaps the coolest hardware feature is Breedlove’s pinless bridge system. No need to keep track of bridge pins anymore! Just pull your strings through and they are nicely secured. This bridge also had a truss for fine adjustments. The guitar comes with chrome mini tuners fitting of the small headstock, which are discrete and functional.

Breedlove also included a Fishman Isys pickup and USB port onboard. This guitar can be connected to a computer or PA system for whatever playing situation you may find yourself in.

Sound

I find that the Pursuit Concert has a crisp and earthy tone to it. It has a smaller sound that is typical of concert guitars, but this guitar will manage to stand out in a mix should you use it in a band setting. It reminds me of a Spanish style guitar more than anything else, but I could hear it working in just about any fingerstyle application.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Solid cedar top, mahogany back/sides
  • Neck Material: Nato
  • Fingerboard Material: Ovangkol
  • Pickups: Fishman Isys/USB port
  • Bridge Material: Ovangkol

A steel string guitar for classical players

Final Thoughts on the Breedlove Pursuit Concert

Breedlove has created a guitar that looks and feels like a boutique build, at an unbelievable price. I think it is an awesome option for fingerstyle players that may already have a nylon string guitar, but would like to dabble in adapting their compositions to steel string without having to break the bank. The bridge design is something that I can’t believe isn’t on more modern guitars and the USB port makes for easy recording.

Diamond in the Rough

As I mentioned before, this price range starts to allow for less than playable guitars to become apparent options for a guitar buyer. My advice is to stay vigilant and to do your research. There are guitars for under $500 that are totally worth playing, and there are some that aren’t.

It was my goal to show you some of the diamonds in the rough out in the guitar market. Every single guitar on this list could be someone’s ideal guitar.

Some expectations may need to be managed. These may not all sound like boutique instruments, but what matters is that they sound good enough and play well enough to serve their purpose. You don’t have to spend $5,000 to get an enjoyable and practical guitar.

Sometimes you only need to spend $500. Maybe even less. You may just end up with an instrument that connects deeply with you, therefore making it priceless.

Happy Guitar Hunting!

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