With $500 in your pocket, you’ve got some room to start playing with some big boy brands.
We bring in Yamaha, Martin, Taylor, and others to show you what 500 bucks can buy you.
We’re not yet dealing with overloaded, premium guitars yet, but you will get a tease of what it can feel like and sound like in this price range.
This is your introduction to the higher-end market. Are you ready to get strumming?
The Best Acoustic Guitars for Under $500
|Seagull S6 Original||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Yamaha FG850||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Ibanez Artwood AW4000-BS||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Taylor GS Mini Mahogany||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Takamine GD93||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Martin LX1 Little Martin||VIEW ON AMAZON|
Our 6 Top Acoustic Guitars Less Than $500
This price category offers a lot. You have higher quality guitars for beginners that will last a long time throughout their learning curves and growing talent. Intermediates and advanced players often buy a guitar in this price range to play around with something that’s not an all-laminate machine. These are also the guitars that are decent enough to play with onstage if you can land an audience that is.
The quality of the guitars is going to be much better. You’ll almost always have a solid top guitar, better hardware, and dressed-up rosettes, inlays, and headstocks. Craftsmanship will start to be on-point in this price range, some may even have custom hand touch finishes.
With guitar quality offered for this price, you can get creative with some aftermarket touches to customize the guitar for you. Avoid doing this if you’re planning on selling it after some time since not everyone will appreciate your custom add-ons.
Tone, resonance, and playability will be much better here than what you’re seeing with the cheaper budgets. Specific tonewoods will offer their own characteristics, personality, and sound. Feel free to really take your time to shop through the guitars that will suit your playing style and the sound you’re after.
Without further ado, let’s strum on!
Seagull S6 Original
This guitar may not be screaming with all the bells and whistles, but it sure has high quality where you want to see it. It’s why this guitar has stayed near the top of the ranks for such a long time.
Made with a pressure-tested solid cedar top and laminate wild cherry back and sides, it sings with honest tone, rich sustain, and a pleasant chiming ring. There’s no room for tinny-sounding notes when you’re dealing with Seagull. They make their guitars with the finest craftsmanship that North America can provide.
It holds its value for a long time, and it’s a guitar that you simply can’t outgrow. This is a lifetime keeper whether it’s your first-time buy or first Seagull buy.
You can’t go wrong with Yamaha, and at some point in an aspiring musician’s life, they’ve handled and mastered a Yamaha guitar somewhere down the line. They’re often a brand that beginners tend to lean towards for their guitar diversity and low prices, but they also know how to deliver mid-range quality for those on a budget.
The FG850 is new to the FG series, and it features their advanced scalloped X bracing, solid mahogany top, and full-size dreadnought body. As is usual for Yamaha, they offer this guitar in multiple finish options with spruce tops, but this is the only model with a mahogany soundboard.
Its dark-stained appeal may resemble every other brown guitar, but when you strum it, you can hear the difference. Perhaps because it’s a Yamaha.
Ibanez Artwood AW4000
Ibanez has made several of our lineups with models from their Artwood Series, and they’ve done it again here with their Artwood AW4000 acoustic guitar.
They nail it every time they offer up a guitar to the market. They’ve won us over, and the AW4000 is tough to beat. It’s an all-wood guitar with solid tonewoods at an unbelievable price. This is true premium quality for 500 bucks.
With a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides, the sound is incredible and rich. It has classy touches that includes a backs strip inlay, stunning sunburst finish, and Ibanez Advantage bridge pins. Ahem, did we mention this is an all-wood guitar? You won’t find that anywhere else in this price range.
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
We see Taylor enter what they consider to be the low price range with their GS Mini Series. The quality is great for beginners and first-time buys, but it’s also a brand-name travel-size guitar that’s great for hitting the road without compromising on sound and quality.
We see a solid mahogany top on its scaled-down body that still has power and drive to cut through the thick air of a waiting audience. It has triple-layered back and sides for added strength and the look of exotic sapele. An ebony fretboard dons the neck.
The GS Mini guitar is a favorite of many an artist and amateur. No matter what skill level you’re at, the GS Mini can be yours.
Takamine enters the playing ground when you have $500 to play with. Their GD93 acoustic guitar is a gorgeous beauty that may give off a first impression of being simple in flair and style, but with closer inspection, there are some serious high-end features to look out for.
It has a solid spruce top with a dark wood rosette and a split saddle on the bridge. It has rosewood back and sides on a dreadnought body, but with a turn and spin, the back reveals a luxurious 3-piece rosewood and quilt maple inlay.
Gold die-cast tuners, a bound rosewood fretboard, and a natural finish is more proof that Takamine likes to show off their stuff. This guitar must be seen in the hands of a true musician. Do you have what it takes to own one?
Martin LX1 Little Martin
We see Martin offer an entry-level guitar in the entry-level price range with everything but entry-level quality. Martin never does anything half-pie, so expect to get a whole lotta everything with only 300 clams in your pocket.
The LX1 is a concert body guitar with a solid spruce top. Yes, compromise has been made with laminate back and sides and a Richlite fretboard, but you’ve got that iconic Martin sound and X bracing to make up for it.
While there are plenty of travel guitars in the market a lot cheaper than this one, the LX1 is definitely at the top of the guitar chain. Ed Sheeran made his music groove with one. Why can’t you?
What to Expect in This Price Range
We’ve talked a lot about higher quality and more attention to cosmetic details on this guitar. Hardware should be an improvement from what’s seen on cheaper guitars, and solid tops should be the standard here.
Where $500 is a lot to the average buyer, it’s also the entry-level market for well-known brands. If you’re after a brand-name guitar, then you’re most likely looking at mini and scaled-down models. However, you can stretch every dollar you have with guitars that offer the best of the best of what they have.
- Tone woods: Solid tops are the norm in this price range. You may be lucky to find a couple gems with solid back and sides, too.
- Bracing: Better quality bracings are important to support a solid soundboard. X bracing, forward-shifted, and scalloped are all key features to keep an eye out for.
- Quality: Quality can mean many different things to manufacturers. But here, we’re talking about craftsmanship, hardware, and tonewoods. You can have the best guitar components, but if it’s not made or put together well, it’s just a pile of wood. Look for a trend history in quality control to determine a specific model’s quality.
- Accessories: Most guitars in this price range will come without any included accessories. If they do, it may just be a case or a few picks, something like that. Some cheaper guitars may come with an option to purchase the complete accessories or bundle kit, but they may push you closer to the expensive end of your budget.
- Value: You can measure value by craftsmanship or by brand and cost. We do both. All these guitars have excellent value for their price. The quality is right on par with what you should expect, and there’s also value in landing a brand-name guitar in this budget range.
Warning: May Cause an Addiction
These guitars offer a lot of value to the average buyer who wants high quality without going broke. But, you’re getting just a taste of what high-end really looks like. Any guitar in this lineup will encourage you to want more, and it may put you on the path of buying even more expensive models.
Is it an addiction? No, it’s a passion. Despite the better guitars that are out there, these are favorite instruments that can do it all for every player of any skill level.