15 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500 – Detailed Reviews

How many times have I pulled down a guitar off the wall at a music store? Whether I’m just looking or trying to find the next addition to my collection. It is a moment that is filled with so much potential. There was something about the instrument that caught my eye, will it live up to the potential I saw in it? I won’t know until I start playing the opening riff to “Silent Lucidity” (my go to riff when trying something new).

Before you start pulling down guitars take the time to learn a bit more with us. We will compare different models, show their ratings, plus we have links to extended reviews to dig into each instrument some more. After all that we have some tips and tricks to get the most out of your new guitar purchase.

Top 15 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

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AR RATING 92/100

  • Impressive build quality all around.
  • One of the best sounding compact acoustic guitars out there.

AR RATING 91/100

  • Standard Yamaha build quality which is hard to beat.
  • An interesting choice of materials which work well together.

AR RATING 91/100

  • One of the more comfortable dreadnoughts due to its size.
  • Great build quality as expected from a brand like Taylor.

AR RATING 90/100

  • Standard Martin level of quality and finish.
  • Great sound coming from an interesting choice of materials.

AR RATING 90/100

  • A proper jumbo build with a massive sound and projection.
  • Great choice of materials all around.

AR RATING 89/100

  • Hand built by some of the best luthiers in North America.
  • Seagull uses a unique type of tonewood that works great.

AR RATING 89/100

  • Great choice of tonewood which is exotic but works.
  • Good build quality all around makes this a true workhorse.

AR RATING 88/100

  • Rock solid build quality as expected from Yamaha.
  • Great choice of materials which stand out from the usual.

AR RATING 87/100

  • Awesome build quality courtesy of Seagull's luthiers.
  • Decent choice of materials all things considered.

AR RATING 87/100

  • Classic orchestra body style that's comfortable but also great tone-wise.
  • Great build quality overall, especially for such an affordable guitar.

AR RATING 92/100

  • Impeccable build quality as expected from Yamaha.
  • One of the best combinations of tonewood in this category.

AR RATING 91/100

  • Put together manually by some of Europe's best luthiers.
  • Great selection of tonewood especially for the shell.

AR RATING 90/100

  • Great build quality all around and an awesome finish.
  • Intricate rosette design with plenty of details.
  • Absolutely one of the best bang for the buck options.
  • Great selection of tonewood as well as hardware.

AR RATING 86/100

  • One of the best bang for the buck options available.
  • Great build quality with a decent selection of tonewood.

AR RATING 92/100

Taylor guitars are by far some of the best on the market. This brand has been around for long enough to become a proper authority in the industry. Taylor GS Mini represents a great mid range model which brings a number of interesting features to the table. This one's especially attractive if you have smaller hands and need something compact.

When it comes to tonewood, Taylor took a slightly unorthodox path. They went with a solid mahogany top paired with layered sapele back and sides. That's right, this guitar features laminate back and sides, however that isn't all that bad. Taylor's laminate is different from your regular budget laminate. That's why Taylor GS has a really powerful and wide sound.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Impressive build quality all around.
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    One of the best sounding compact acoustic guitars out there.
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    Great hardware that has no trouble retaining a key.
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    Very refined tone which really is full of details.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Use of laminate in this price range although it works.

AR RATING 91/100

Compact acoustic guitars have a very real purpose and place in the world. Comfort is one of the most important, but often overlooked aspects of playing guitar. A compact acoustic guitar can make a difference between a good experience and a painful one. Yamaha FSX830C is a model which really drives this point home. It's built well and sounds great.

Yamaha went with a solid Sitka spruce top but paired it with rosewood back and sides. That is an interesting combo to say the least. Sitka is soft and mellow while rosewood is hard and snappy. Overall, you are getting a strong but warm sound which propagates with ease. On top of that you also have a System 66 amp.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Standard Yamaha build quality which is hard to beat.
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    An interesting choice of materials which work well together.
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    Massive sound for a compact guitar thanks to rosewood.
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    System 66 electronics which do a great job with sound.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    A proper setup job will definitely bring up the performance.

AR RATING 91/100

Big Baby Taylor has become a household name by now. It's one of those guitars which isn't really fitting the norm, but one that is widely accepted. What Taylor did with Big Baby Taylor is quite interesting. It's a dreadnought body that has been scaled down some. It's not a 2/3 scale but rather 15/16 scale acoustic guitar

When it comes to materials and build quality, you are looking at standard Taylor craftsmanship. However, this is another model where Taylor went with laminate sapele back and sides over a solid spruce top. Again, this choice isn't really affecting the sound and performance although we would definitely appreciate real wood instead. Even so, BBT is on point performance wise.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the more comfortable dreadnoughts due to its size.
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    Great build quality as expected from a brand like Taylor.
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    Great sound with plenty of warmth as well as volume.
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    Awesome aesthetics making it among the best looking models available.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Although BBT sounds great, we'd like to see real wood.

AR RATING 90/100

If Taylor is the Ying of the acoustic guitar world, Martin is the Yang. Martin LX1E represents their take on compact acoustic guitars designed for younger players as well as those who have smaller hands. Martin's focus here was to deliver as much of their authentic tone as possible in a format which compact. In a way, they have succeeded.

Another interesting fact about this Martin is the fact that they have also used laminate materials for this build. In Martin's case, we have the mahogany HPL, or High Pressure Laminate. All things considered it doesn't take away much from the whole experience especially considering how well the entire guitar is built. Needless to say, this is one awesome guitar.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Standard Martin level of quality and finish.
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    Great sound coming from an interesting choice of materials.
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    Good hardware all around, allowing it to easily retain key.
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    One of the most comfortable acoustic guitars out there.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Use of laminate wood can be a turn-off for some.

AR RATING 90/100

Takamine's offer in this price range is quite diverse to say the least. There are models such as the Takamine GN30CE-NAT which really take the cake in terms of bang for the buck. As you can probably tell, this is a legit jumbo guitar with a cutaway and a built in preamp setup. At this price, it is a bargain.

Their choice of materials is pretty interesting as well. Takamine went with a solid spruce top for that mellow, warm sound. However, they've paired it with a mahogany shell which introduces a lot of punch into an already massive tone. Fortunately for us, the TP-4TD preamp system has no trouble taking care off and translating that tone to the amp.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A proper jumbo build with a massive sound and projection.
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    Great choice of materials all around.
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    Built in electronics which complement the acoustic performance quite nicely
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    Overall good build quality and attention to details.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    It would sound better with a high-end set of strings.

AR RATING 89/100

Seagull is quickly becoming one of the most popular brands in the mid range segment of the market. A good amount of that popularity can be attributed to Seagull S6 and the way it spearheaded the assault on the market. To quickly summarize what makes these guitars so awesome, lets just say that they are hand built in North America.

That isn't all, though. Seagull uses select tonewood which is mostly exclusive to Canada, where this brand is from. While their choices of tonewood may not be standard, the level of quality you get is quite up there. Seagull S6 is a proper workhorse which sounds awesome for a dreadnought, and packs a little extra in terms of raw performance.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Hand built by some of the best luthiers in North America.
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    Seagull uses a unique type of tonewood that works great.
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    The sound it offers is wholesome and pretty impressive.
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    Great hardware which holds a key without an issue.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Definitely benefits from a change of strings.

AR RATING 89/100

Whether or not Ibanez can compete with the absolute elite of the acoustic guitar world is up for debate. However, their ability to design and produce awesome guitars is indisputable. Ibanez AEW40ZW-NT is a very interesting looking guitar which features a modified orchestra body with a shallow cutaway. Looks aside, Ibanez really spiced things up when it comes to tonewood.

What we have here is a solid zebrawood top as well as back and sides. Aside from being quite exotic, this type of tonewood has a peculiar impact on the performance of the guitar. Then we have the AEQ-SP2 preamp system that is both functional and practical. Overall, this guitar brings a great combo of sound, aesthetics and raw value.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great choice of tonewood which is exotic but works.
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    Good build quality all around makes this a true workhorse.
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    Interesting sound profile that might need some getting used to.
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    On board electronics capable of rendering an authentic sound.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    This guitar definitely benefits from a proper setup job.

AR RATING 88/100

Considering how saturated the market for acoustic guitars is these days, there's nothing wrong for a proven model. Yamaha's FG series has been considered to be a go to choice for just about ever. If you need a solid workhorse dreadnought, Yamaha FG840 is a great option. It's one of those guitars that isn't too exotic but is simply reliable.

As you can probably tell, it's a simple Dreadnought design. The build quality is top notch as we're used to seeing from Yamaha. They went with a solid spruce top over maple back and sides. This combo gives FG840 a pretty warm tone that is wide and malleable. It's easily one of the absolute best dreadnoughts in this price range.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Rock solid build quality as expected from Yamaha.
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    Great choice of materials which stand out from the usual.
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    Awesome sound which is much warmer than most dreadnoughts.
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    Great attention to detail and awesome finish make it attractive.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Factory strings don't do this guitar justice.

AR RATING 87/100

Another Seagull model that's well worth the mention is the Seagull Entourage. This guitar is not as popular as the famous S6, but that doesn't mean that it has nothing to offer. On the contrary. You're looking at a dreadnought design made using some of the best materials available in Canada. It also helps that Seagull's luthiers are top notch.

Seagull went with their usual pressure tested solid cedar top, but paired it with a laminated Canadian wild cherry for the back and sides. While we definitely don't prefer the use of laminated wood, Seagull's creation has proven to work just fine. Overall, the build quality, fit and finish are all on point. As expected, the sound is also impressive.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Awesome build quality courtesy of Seagull's luthiers.
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    Decent choice of materials all things considered.
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    Great sound for what is essentially a value workhorse.
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    Good key retention thanks to solid hardware choices.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Use of laminate wood is a bit disappointing.

AR RATING 87/100

Last but not least we have an awesome Takamine to show you. This guitar has vintage written all over it and it looks simply amazing. Takamine went with a standard orchestra body over a more modern dreadnought, which makes GN51-BSB more comfortable to play for an average player. The fact that you have more expressed bouts also means deeper lows.

When it comes to tonewood, you've a solid spruce top paired with rosewood back and sides. The neck is also a mahogany piece with a standard 12" rosewood fretboard. That radius is definitely among the more comfortable options available. The sound you can look forward to is full of warmth but is also wide. Takamine definitely delivered with this one.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Classic orchestra body style that's comfortable but also great tone-wise.
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    Great build quality overall, especially for such an affordable guitar.
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    Impressive sound with plenty of warmth and power.
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    Great hardware starting with their split saddle.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    You might need to do a full setup job.

AR RATING 92/100

Yamaha's classic guitar series include quite a number of awesome models. One that really takes the cake in this price range is Yamaha CG182C. It barely fits our criteria with its price tag, but we just couldn't skip it. This bad boy is just an amazing example of what a proper workhorse should be about, especially if you its tonewood.

Speaking of which, Yamaha went with a combination of a solid American cedar top paired with a rosewood back and sides. Overall, this is a pretty tame and familiar choice, but one that really works well with all kinds of playing styles. The sound is warm, agile and pretty powerful. Needless to say, Yamaha did a really good job here.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Impeccable build quality as expected from Yamaha.
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    One of the best combinations of tonewood in this category.
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    Great sound that is both warm and full of power.
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    Good hardware which ensures good performance.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    A proper set of strings will do wonders for it.

AR RATING 91/100

To say that Cordoba is one of the best brands in the classical guitar category would be an understatement. Because of that, it's easy for Cordoba C7 SP to basically dominate its immediate competition. This guitar really defines the term value for the money. Cordoba's guitars are hand crafted for the most part, which only adds to the whole experience.

In terms of tonewood, Cordoba went with solid European spruce top and paired it with Indian rosewood back and sides. It is also worth mentioning that their bridge design is a bit different compared to most modern solutions. When it comes to performance, this guitar is an absolute beast. The depth of tone, warmth and color it offers is

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Put together manually by some of Europe's best luthiers.
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    Great selection of tonewood especially for the shell.
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    Rock solid hardware that ensures key retention and precision.
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    Overall sound which is full of range, depth and color.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Gig bag which comes with it isn't padded the best.

AR RATING 90/100

Classical acoustic electric guitars are becoming more and more popular these days. If you are interested in this type of instruments, then Alvarez AC65HCE is a model you should definitely check out. You're looking at an orchestra body with a cutaway which packs a great set of electronics. On top of that, Alvarez did a great job with build quality.

When it comes to tonewood, they went with Sitka spruce top over mahogany back and sides. Considering the size of the bouts, that combo yields quite a powerful sound. It is fairly warm, pretty powerful while the projection is there is as well. The built in preamp has no troubles translating the acoustic sound through an amp with great accuracy.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality all around and an awesome finish.
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    Intricate rosette design with plenty of details.
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    Good selection of tonewood all around.
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    Sound which is really impressive, especially when amplified.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Might require a setup upon arrival.

AR RATING 87/100

While Alhambra Classical 1OP-US is not as popular of a guitar as some of the models it is competing against, it is a proper classical guitar. Alhabra was fairly straight forward with this one. The build quality, selection of tonewood and overall setup are average. It is that non exotic nature which is arguably one of its biggest pro's overall.

Alhambra used a solid Red Cedar top for this build, pairing it with a set of mahogany back and sides. The finish is a pretty natural one that's refreshingly transparent. While this takes away that deep brown classical look, it does look very fresh. Look aside, this guitar sounds simply amazing. If you're after a budget solution, this is it.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Absolutely one of the best bang for the buck options.
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    Great selection of tonewood as well as hardware.
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    Refreshing finish which looks good and is easy for maintenance.
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    Sound that makes this model an awesome value overall.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The strings are easily its weakest point.

AR RATING 86/100

Trying to find a decent mid range classical guitar on a budget can be tedious. Then again there are companies like Takamine which offer awesome solutions in this price range. Takamine GC5-NAT is a fairly straight forward model which offers the core of what makes a good mid range choice. Additionally it has that classic Spanish guitar look and finish.

Here's the rundown of the specs. Takamine went with a standard solid spruce top over rosewood back and sides. In other words, it's packing plenty of volume but also that authentic warmth that only a classical guitar can produce. Hardware is on point as well, with a set of die-cast tuners and a rosewood bridge. Overall, its a true performer.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best bang for the buck options available.
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    Great build quality with a decent selection of tonewood.
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    A sound which definitely doesn't disappoint no matter what.
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    Rock solid hardware capable of good key retention.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Might require a setup right out of the box.

At this price point acoustic guitars really start to get good. A well-built instrument using quality parts will be leaps and bounds over the entry-level guitars at cheaper prices. These are guitars that built for the stage ready to get to work and slog through a long set.
Generally guitars in this range will have solid tops and laminate back and sides. This makes for a more durable instrument sacrificing some tonal character. Necks will be made of good quality tonewoods, and cutaways will make the higher frets more accessible.
These guitars will work well in live situations. They will have a good sound, and you won’t be fighting them to play them. They can take a bit more punishment, and survive the rigors of a live show. Some will have preamps and pickups so that they can be played to venues of all sizes.

The $500 Price Range

At these prices you won’t be risking an expensive instrument at a gig. Playing live puts your prized possessions in places where they can get damaged, broken, or stolen. A guitar at this price point will be very playable, but won’t be a devastating loss if it doesn’t make it home after the show. To be honest, the average attendee to a show won’t know the difference between the sound of an $1800 instrument and one you paid less than $500 for.

If this is your first instrument check the article for buying acoustic guitars under $300 for some of the things you will need to buy. I won’t repeat that information here.

The nice thing at this level gig bags and sometimes hard-shell cases are included in the price of the guitar. You won’t have to worry about finding a case to match the size of your instrument. This can be especially frustrating if the instrument has an odd size.
Potentially you can spend as much for an acoustic amp as you did for your guitar. The right amp can be all you need to gig, which is a very good thing. Some have additional channels to add vocal mic(s) or additional instruments. Most acoustic gigs are intimate settings that don’t require a large PA system, you can get by on just a small investment. If you are in a band that has a mixing board, then make sure to pick up a direct input (or DI) box.

The Acoustic-Electric Route

By going electric you potentially open yourself up to buying guitar pedals. There are plenty of these boxes that will appeal to the acoustic player. There are loopers, delays, reverbs, choruses, and myriad of other sounds you can add to your repertoire. It all depends on how traditional or non-traditional you want to get.

The more you spend at this level the better and more professional instrument you will find. All solid wood instruments become available the more you are willing to spend. These are instruments that will have more complex sounds that will appeal to the ear. The dynamic range of these instruments is better than inexpensive models. This can add to the dramatics of a live show. The electronics will be top quality with plenty of tonal control that will deliver a great amplified sound.

Price Matters, Wood Matter

The more expensive instruments will look fantastic. You start getting more exotic woods, detailed inlays, and bindings that are more decorative. It is all a matter of what you want.

There is some good value in the guitars that are priced lower. You might be surprised at what you find. A guitar could be bought for less, then upgrade certain parts to make it more of what you need. If the bones are good, but it needs new tuners and a preamp it is possible to spend less and get an instrument that is better suited to you.

The tones are not as complex in a guitar with laminate woods, but in the mix of a band’s performance details get lost. Subtleties don’t play out well unless you are a solo artist. If the overall tone is good that is what the audience will hear.

Used Guitars Are Also An Option

If you have the time and patience, you might be able to find a good used instrument. A guitar that is priced above your budget would become available in the secondary market. Go over the instrument well to make sure that there is no damage or problems with it.
If the guitar is not your primary instrument this is a very good price range to be in. Singers will find a very good instrument to add another dimension to their bands live show. Those that want to expand into playing guitar from their main instrument will be very much at home with guitars at this price.

If you buy an electric/acoustic it will also be a very good writing tool. You will be able to get good recordings to get your ideas down or to make demos. You won’t have to buy expensive microphones to get a good quality recording.

Do Your Best To Try The Guitar

The most important thing you can do when picking out an acoustic guitar is to play it. An electric guitar can have its voice changed with the swapping of pickups or the right amp. An acoustic guitar lives and dies by the materials that it is built out of. You cannot hide the tone of the guitar behind an expensive amp or a bunch of pedals.

I cannot stress enough to play as many instruments as possible. Trying a more expensive instrument may inspire you to save a bit more before buying a new guitar. A lesser priced instrument might surprise you with how good it is, which will save you some money. No Youtube video or Amazon review can really replace playing the instrument for yourself. They can help you narrow your choices, but hands on is where it’s at.

The $500 Acoustic Guitars Roundup:

These are guitars that are built to play live on stage. They are workhorses. They may not be what you are looking for, check out some of our other best of articles to find a better match, let say a top rated $1000 acoustic guitar. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with AudioRumble, we are interested in guitars as much as you are. Stop by regularly to see what new things have caught our eye. Until next time, may your arpeggios shimmer and your melodies be mesmerizing.

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The appropriate research can do wonders if done properly. We are here to help you and save your time and money at the same time. In our website you will see our personal recommendations based on our knowledge and extensive research. What we base our rating using the product details and customer feedback.