Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

The Epiphone Hummingbird is my pick for the best acoustic guitar under $500 because it offers reliable construction and a sweet tone for the price.

This post contains affiliate links (learn more in my disclosure).

Are you looking for a high-quality acoustic guitar that won’t break the bank? With so many options available in the market, finding the perfect instrument under $500 can be a daunting task. However, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability.

Audio summary:

YouTube player

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best acoustic guitars under $500, helping you discover the ideal instrument to suit your playing style and budget. From well-known brands to hidden gems, we’ll cover a range of guitars that offer exceptional sound, comfort, and craftsmanship. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, read on to find the perfect acoustic guitar that delivers outstanding value for your money.

Brogan’s Quick Take

The best acoustic guitar under $500 is a subjective choice, as it depends on individual preferences and playing style. However, there are several reliable options available within this price range, such as the Epiphone Hummingbird Studio, Yamaha APX-600, Yamaha FG830, Epiphone J45 Studio, and Alvarez AP66 Parlor. Each of these guitars offers a unique blend of quality materials, craftsmanship, and sound to suit a variety of music styles and player preferences. It’s essential to try out different guitars in person to find the best one for you.

5 Best Acoustic Guitars Priced Under $500

My top picks for the best acoustic guitar under $500 include:
  • Epiphone Hummingbird Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Yamaha APX-600 Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Yamaha FG830 Folk Acoustic Guitar
  • Epiphone J45 Studio Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
  • Alvarez AP66 Parlor Acoustic Guitar

Each of these guitars brings a unique blend of quality materials, craftsmanship, and sound to suit a variety of music styles and player preferences. The best guitar for you depends on many factors, so try to play different cheap acoustic guitars in person before taking the plunge.

1. Epiphone Hummingbird Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Epiphone Hummingbird Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar is a fantastic choice for guitarists looking for a high-quality instrument. This guitar delivers exceptional sound, playability, and features that make it stand out from other acoustic-electric guitars in its class.

The Epiphone Hummingbird Studio boasts a solid spruce soundboard that produces a rich, balanced tone. The mahogany back and sides contribute to the guitar’s warm, resonant sound. The SlimTaper “D” neck profile ensures comfortable playability for hours of enjoyable strumming and fingerpicking. When you need to plug in, the Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup system provides clear, natural amplification.

Key features of the Epiphone Hummingbird Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar:

  1. Solid spruce soundboard for excellent tone
  2. Mahogany back and sides for warmth and resonance
  3. SlimTaper “D” neck profile for playing comfort
  4. Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup for clean amplification
  5. Iconic Hummingbird pickguard design
ProsCons
Outstanding sound qualitySlightly pricier than some entry-level models
Versatile acoustic-electric capabilitiesMay benefit from professional setup
Classic Hummingbird aestheticsNo cutaway body shape
Durable, high-quality construction

When compared to other acoustic-electric guitars in its price range, like the Yamaha FGX830C and the Fender CD-60SCE, the Epiphone Hummingbird Studio shines due to its superior tonewoods and craftsmanship. The solid spruce soundboard, paired with the mahogany back and sides, produces a rich, balanced sound that outperforms many laminated wood guitars. Moreover, the Fishman Sonicore pickup ensures a clear, natural amplified tone, making it a perfect choice for recording and live performances.

In conclusion, the Epiphone Hummingbird Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar is an exceptional instrument that delivers top-notch sound quality, comfortable playability, and timeless design elements. Its high-quality construction and versatile features make it an excellent option for both novice and experienced guitarists.

2. Yamaha APX-600 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Yamaha APX-600 offers impressive sound quality, playability, and features at an affordable price point.

The guitar has:

  • Thin-line cutaway body for comfort and access to upper frets
  • Spruce top and nato back and sides for a balanced tone
  • 25″ scale length and narrower string spacing for easy fretting
  • Built-in System65A preamp and pickup for plugged-in performance
ProsCons
Great value for the priceNo case included
Versatile and easy to playLaminate back and sides
Good plugged-in soundNon-standard string spacing

Compared to competitors like the Fender CD-60SCE or Epiphone PR-4E, the Yamaha APX-600 stands out for its combination of sound, feel, and affordability. The solid spruce top produces a clear, articulate tone, while the nato body keeps the price down without sacrificing much resonance. The System65A electronics are simple but effective, making this a solid choice for gigging and recording.

Overall, the Yamaha APX-600 is a well-built, great-sounding guitar that punches above its weight. It’s an excellent option for beginners and intermediate players looking for a reliable workhorse instrument.

3. Yamaha FG830 Folk Acoustic Guitar

The Yamaha FG830 delivers superb sound quality and playing comfort at an affordable price. Its solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides produce a rich, warm tone with plenty of projection and sustain. The FG830 also features:

  • Newly developed scalloped bracing for improved resonance
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge for enhanced sustain
  • Diecast tuners for precise and stable tuning
  • High comfort traditional neck profile

Here is a table summarizing some key pros and cons of the Yamaha FG830:

ProsCons
Excellent sound qualityNo pickup system
High-quality tonewoodsSome may prefer a cutaway design
Comfortable neck profileNo hardshell case included
Affordable price

The Yamaha FG830 acoustic guitar has an impressive sound. The combination of the solid spruce soundboard and rosewood body creates a rich, resonant tone with ample dynamic range. Compared to other guitars in its price range like the Fender CD-60S or Epiphone DR-100, the FG830 stands out for its superior craftsmanship and sound projection.

While all solid wood construction would be ideal, the FG830’s solid top paired with laminate back and sides still delivers excellent tone while keeping the price reasonable. The guitar’s newly designed scalloped bracing enhances its natural resonance.

In terms of playability, the Yamaha FG830 is a joy. Its traditional neck profile feels smooth and comfortable in the hands. The guitar’s rosewood fingerboard and bridge add warmth and sustain to each note you play.

Overall, the Yamaha FG830 is a fantastic value, providing the sound and feel of a much more expensive instrument at a highly affordable price point. Beginners and experienced players alike will appreciate the FG830’s easy playability, rich tone, and reliable construction quality from a trusted brand like Yamaha. While it may lack some premium features like a built-in pickup, the FG830 nails all the acoustic guitar essentials and would make an excellent choice for any guitarist.

4. Epiphone J45 Studio Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

The Epiphone J45 Studio Solid Top Acoustic Guitar is another great choice for an acoustic guitar under $500. This guitar delivers rich, full sound thanks to its solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The J45 Studio also features a comfortable SlimTaper neck profile, making it easy to play for extended periods.

Some of the key features of the Epiphone J45 Studio include:

  • Solid Sitka spruce top for enhanced resonance and projection
  • Mahogany back and sides for warmth and depth of tone
  • SlimTaper neck profile for comfortable playability
  • Fishman Sonitone pickup system for reliable plugged-in performance
  • Vintage-style Epiphone Deluxe tuners for precise tuning stability
ProsCons
Solid top for improved sound qualityNo case included
Comfortable neck profileLimited color options
Built-in pickup systemNo built-in tuner
Affordable price point

Compared to other acoustic guitars in its price range, such as the Yamaha FG800 and the Fender CD-60S, the Epiphone J45 Studio stands out for its solid top construction and Fishman Sonitone pickup system. The solid Sitka spruce top offers superior resonance and projection compared to the laminated tops found on many entry-level guitars. Additionally, the built-in pickup system allows for easy amplification without sacrificing the guitar’s natural acoustic tone.

The Epiphone J45 Studio Solid Top Acoustic Guitar is a reliable instrument that provides aspiring and experienced guitarists alike with a high-quality playing experience. Its combination of top-notch materials, comfortable playability, and versatile sound makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a dependable acoustic guitar.

5. Alvarez AP66 Parlor Acoustic Guitar

Alvarez AP66 from zZounds

Last on my list of best acoustic guitars under $500 is the Alvarez AP66. This instrument features a solid Sitka spruce top, which produces a bright and dynamic tone. The mahogany back and sides add warmth and depth to the overall sound. The AP66’s construction includes scalloped bracing for improved resonance and projection.

Some key features of the Alvarez AP66:

  • Solid Sitka spruce top for excellent tone and projection
  • Mahogany back and sides for warmth and balance
  • Scalloped bracing for enhanced resonance
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge for smooth playability
  • Diecast tuners for reliable tuning stability
  • Attractive natural gloss finish

Pros and Cons of the Alvarez AP66:

ProsCons
High quality tonewoodsNo electronics for amplification
Excellent craftsmanshipSome players may prefer a cutaway body shape
Affordable price point
Great projection and resonance

The Alvarez AP66 compares favorably to other guitars in its price range like the Yamaha FG800 and the Fender CD-60S. While those models also use spruce tops and mahogany back and sides, the AP66’s scalloped bracing and overall build quality help it stand out. The diecast tuners are another nice touch not always found on budget-friendly acoustics.

In summary, the Alvarez AP66 delivers the sound and feel of a much more expensive guitar. Its combination of solid tonewoods, quality construction, and player-friendly features make it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced guitarists alike looking for a reliable workhorse acoustic instrument.

Budget Guitars: Compromises and Considerations

While budget guitars like the Epiphone Hummingbird offer excellent value for money, they often come with certain compromises.

Laminate construction, which involves layering thin sheets of wood, is commonly used in budget guitars to reduce costs. Although laminates can be durable, they may not provide the same level of tonal richness as solid woods.

Synthetic materials, such as plastic nuts and saddles, may also be used to keep prices down. Factory setup, the adjustment of the guitar’s action, intonation, and other parameters, may not be as precise on budget instruments, potentially requiring additional setup by a professional.

However, cost-effective options like the Yamaha FG800 and Fender FA-115 demonstrate that affordable guitars can still deliver good sound and playability.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Acoustic Guitar

Tonewoods, the materials used to construct an acoustic guitar, significantly impact its sound and performance.

Spruce, a common top wood, provides clarity and projection, while mahogany, often used for back and sides, offers warmth and depth.

Body styles, such as dreadnought, jumbo, and parlor, each have distinct characteristics that suit different playing styles and musical genres. Dreadnoughts are versatile and popular for their powerful sound, jumbos offer deep bass and volume, and parlors are compact with a balanced tone.

Bracing patterns, the internal support structure of the guitar, also affect tone and projection. The neck profile, such as the SlimTaper found on the Epiphone Hummingbird, contributes to the instrument’s playability and comfort.

Pros and Cons of Budget Acoustic Guitars

When considering the purchase of a budget guitar, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision. Here’s a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of opting for a budget-friendly instrument:

Pros:

  1. Affordability: Budget guitars offer aspiring musicians the opportunity to start playing without a significant financial investment, making the hobby more accessible to a wider range of people.
  2. Suitable for beginners: For those just starting to learn the instrument, a budget guitar can be an excellent choice, as it allows them to explore their interest without committing to a high-end, expensive guitar.
  3. Variety of options: Many reputable brands, such as Epiphone, Yamaha, and Fender, offer a range of budget guitars, providing buyers with a diverse selection of styles, tonewoods, and features to choose from.
  4. Adequate sound and playability: While budget guitars may not offer the same level of tonal richness and playability as their premium counterparts, many models, like the Epiphone Hummingbird, still deliver a satisfying sound and comfortable playing experience.

Cons:

  1. Compromises in materials: To keep costs down, budget guitars often feature laminate construction instead of solid wood tops, backs, and sides, which can impact the instrument’s overall tone and resonance.
  2. Lower-quality hardware: Budget guitars may use synthetic materials or lower-grade hardware for components like nuts, saddles, and tuning machines, which can affect the guitar’s tuning stability and durability.
  3. Inconsistent craftsmanship: Due to mass production and cost-cutting measures, budget guitars may have inconsistencies in build quality and attention to detail, leading to issues like poor fret work or imprecise intonation.
  4. Limited longevity: While budget guitars can serve well for beginners and casual players, they may not withstand the rigors of frequent playing, gigging, and touring as well as higher-end instruments, potentially requiring earlier replacement or upgrades.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a budget guitar depends on individual needs, skill level, and long-term goals. For beginners and casual players, a budget guitar like the Epiphone Hummingbird can be an excellent starting point, offering good sound and playability at an affordable price. However, as players progress in their skills and require better tonal quality and performance, they may eventually need to invest in a higher-end instrument.

Final Thoughts on the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500

The Epiphone Hummingbird stands out as the best acoustic guitar under $500 due to its impressive combination of tonewoods, comfortable neck profile, and iconic design. While it may have some of the compromises associated with budget guitars, its solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides deliver a sweet, well-balanced tone that punches above its price point.

Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500: FAQ

Below are a few frequently asked questions about acoustic guitars under $500:

Are budget acoustic guitars suitable for beginners?

Yes, budget acoustic guitars like the Epiphone Hummingbird are an excellent choice for beginners. They offer an affordable way to start learning the instrument without a significant financial investment, allowing new players to explore their interest and develop their skills.

What are the main compromises in budget acoustic guitars?

Budget acoustic guitars often feature laminate construction instead of solid wood, which can impact the instrument’s tone and resonance. They may also use synthetic materials or lower-grade hardware for components like nuts, saddles, and tuning machines, potentially affecting tuning stability and durability.

Can a budget acoustic guitar sound as good as a high-end one?

While budget acoustic guitars may not offer the same level of tonal richness and complexity as high-end instruments, models like the Epiphone Hummingbird can still deliver a satisfying and well-balanced sound that is more than adequate for beginners and casual players.

How long will a budget acoustic guitar last?

The longevity of a budget acoustic guitar depends on factors like build quality, materials used, and how well it is maintained. While they may not withstand the rigors of frequent playing and gigging as well as higher-end instruments, with proper care and maintenance, a budget guitar can last for several years.

Can a budget acoustic guitar be used for recording?

Yes, a budget acoustic guitar can be used for recording, especially in home studio settings. However, keep in mind that the overall sound quality may not be as rich or detailed as what you would get from a high-end instrument, and you may need to spend more time on post-production to achieve the desired results.

Is it worth upgrading from a budget acoustic guitar?

As you progress in your skills and develop a more discerning ear for tone and playability, you may find that upgrading from a budget acoustic guitar to a higher-end instrument is worth the investment. However, this decision ultimately depends on your personal goals, playing style, and financial situation.

Can a budget acoustic guitar be set up to play better?

Yes, even budget acoustic guitars can benefit from a professional setup. A qualified guitar technician can adjust the action, intonation, and other parameters to improve the instrument’s playability and overall performance, helping you get the most out of your budget guitar.

Further Reading