8 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300
Don’t be fooled by pushy salesmen; it’s entirely possible to get a fantastic acoustic guitar for under $300. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy to find terrible guitars in this price range. And telling one from the other isn’t always straightforward.
That’s where our years of experience come in handy. Let us help you separate the best from the rest. Read on for eight inexpensive guitars that punch well above their price tag.
The 8 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300 in 2020
You shouldn’t need to sacrifice sound or style if you’re on a budget. Here are eight of the best acoustic guitars under $300 that are guaranteed to deliver on both fronts.
Breedlove Guitars was founded by two former Taylor employees to fuse traditional luthier skills with modern technology, and the remarkable results have garnered much acclaim (1). Luckily for beginner players or those on a budget, the entry-level Discovery series offers the same impeccable craftsmanship as the higher-end models at a fraction of the cost.
Even though Breedlove’s history isn’t as long as some of the classic names in American guitar manufacturing, the company has capitalized on creative designs and fearless expansion to carve its own niche.
What better way to enter a competitive market then by being more creative than the others? Breedlove’s designs definitely speak to that rule.
Their acoustic guitars tend to be particularly beloved by fingerstyle players, and this one is no exception. The concert body is smaller and more slender than a dreadnought, perfect for holding snug to the body. The slim neck profile facilitates fast play, which is enhanced by the hand-rubbed semi-gloss finish.
This model pairs a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides, a classic combination that produces the full and well-balanced acoustic sound you crave. The high notes are crisp, the mid-range is warm and rich, and the bass is powerful without being boomy.
If you’re worried that the smaller body won’t project with the strength of a dreadnought, you’ll be happy to hear that Breedlove uses a pinless bridge to improve resonance and give this guitar a bigger-than-expected sound. It also makes swapping out the strings a breeze.
Who was it made for? Though priced low, this acoustic guitar will appeal to beginners and experienced players alike, thanks to its tonewoods’ rich sound and its easy playability. Fingerstyle players will be incredibly happy with its compact and comfortable size.
Japan-based Takamine specializes in high-end steel-string acoustics, for which they’ve quickly garnered a loyal fanbase of professional musicians and amateurs alike (2). The GN10 is an entry-level model, but it still benefits from Takamine’s experience crafting premium guitars, making it an incredible value.
For the tonewoods, a select spruce top is paired with mahogany back and sides. While we prefer solid wood, the GN10 still delivers a full and balanced sound thanks to Takamine’s manufacturing skill.
Compared with others in this price bracket, it’s a stylish guitar, with Pearloid dot inlays, chrome die-cast tuners, and a natural satin finish. The pinless bridge gives excellent intonation and makes string changes easy. Hail to that!
The NEX body is a proprietary design that blends a jumbo shape with the dimensions of a dreadnought. The result is the rich and full projection of a jumbo with the comfort and playability.
Who was it made for? The GN10 is for bargain hunters who love the thrill of getting more than they paid for. While it won’t age as well as its solid wood counterparts, this is a better-than-average introductory guitar with incredible value for money.
The FG800 is the latest update in Yamaha’s popular Folk Guitar series. Like its predecessors, it offers excellent value for money, with a few new updates making it an even better bargain. This pack also includes strings, a strap, a set of picks, a string winder, a microfibre cleaning cloth, and cleaning solution. It’s a practical and inexpensive way for a beginner to get everything they need.
This guitar is excellent for plucking and strumming thanks to the solid spruce top, which provides excellent sustain and bright notes. The sides and back are laminated nato and Okoume, inexpensive hardwoods similar to mahogany that give a balanced warm tone and beautiful look.
New to this model is a scalloped bracing design rarely found in guitars at this price. Awesome, right? It allows for better projection and greater dynamic range, which is excellent for playing to a crowd. There’s also a slimmer tapered neck, with rounded edges and a smooth satin finish, for more comfortable and faster play.
Who was it made for? With its value pricing and extra accessories, this acoustic guitar pack is for the new player, but that shouldn’t make you question its quality. It offers excellent sound, built upon many iterations of the FG line.
The Alvarez AD30 is the cheapest model of the Artist Series, but it still benefits from many of its pricier brethren’s advanced features. Though designed with beginners in mind, it offers enough premium components to appeal to the intermediate player on a budget as well.
The AD30 is cut slightly thinner at the top, giving it a more pronounced treble range that shines in folk and bluegrass music.
The Sitka spruce top is solid wood with a gorgeous semi-gloss finish, providing a high-end sound that will improve with age, and the sides and back are laminated mahogany. The laminate keeps costs reasonable but still adds a beautiful warm tone to the sound. We can’t argue with that choice! The hand-sanded scalloped bracing inside is a fantastic feature for a low-cost instrument. It lends this dreadnought a tremendous projection.
The Artist Series is renowned for its premium hardware, and that extends to the base model. The AD30 features a bi-level rosewood bridge for perfect intonation, light and playable D’Addario EXP strings, and chrome die-cast tuners.
Who was it made for? This guitar was made for beginners, though you wouldn’t know by looking at it — or playing it. It’s a versatile instrument, but lovers of folk guitar, in particular, will enjoy its modified dreadnought shape.
The FS820 continues Yamaha’s tradition of producing high-quality guitars at affordable prices. In this case, it’s a smaller, concert-size guitar that’s perfect for fingerpicking or young players.
The FS820 has a high-quality solid spruce top, which sounds great the first time you play it. And just like good wine, the older the FS820 gets, the better it sounds because the spruce opens up over time to provide a richer sound. The sides and back are laminated mahogany, a common choice for adding warmth and depth to the tone. The result is a versatile guitar with well-articulated treble notes and a surprisingly powerful bass.
The concert body style is smaller and thinner than a dreadnought, making it ideal for complex fingerstyle play. This is aided by a comfortable and easy-to-play nato neck with rosewood fingerboard. Fans of bluegrass, folk, and country will adore this guitar, though rockers shouldn’t overlook its charms.
Who was it made for? This little guitar is for fingerstylists, smaller players, or anyone who prefers their guitar comfortably hugged against their body. The easy-playing neck and crisp upper register make it particularly suitable for bluegrass, folk, and country music.
It can be challenging to get the sound projection needed from an acoustic guitar to really wow an audience. But the Washburn WLD10S has a fantastic tone and superior sound that will thrill to the back of the room. This is difficult to find at any price, let alone in a budget guitar.
It has the classic dreadnought shape, which balances strong projection with comfort and playability. The body consists of a solid Sitka spruce top, always a nice find at this price, paired with mahogany back and sides. These tonewoods provide a rich and full tone, with a lovely warmth and fantastic balance between treble and bass. Quarter-sawn scalloped X-bracing enhances resonance and improves the tone (3).
The WLD10S is an elegant looking guitar, always a bonus in an instrument destined for the stage. The slim neck has a rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, the tuners are die-cast chrome, and the rosewood-binding is a refined touch rarely seen in a mass-produced instrument at this price.
Who was this made for? The WLD10S is an ideal choice for the acoustic stage performer, whether it’s a coffee house gig or a church hall. This versatile instrument sounds great strummed or played fingerstyle, and it has the elegance and tonewoods you’d expect of a higher-price guitar.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, a fingerstylist, or a strummer, you’ll find something to love about the versatile Ibanez Artwood AW54. The Artwood Series respects the rich traditions of luthiers while incorporating modern technology’s useful aspects, and the results are stunning.
The AW54 is the series’s entry-level model, but it offers enough premium features to make it an incredible deal. The soundboard is solid wood, in this case, mahogany, which guarantees it will age well, and it has been paired with mahogany for the back and sides. All-mahogany guitars produce a uniquely warm, rich, and inviting sound, with strong mid-tones and lingering sustain.
This is a stylish guitar with a classic dreadnought shape. The mahogany’s naturally beautiful wood grain is emphasized by the open pore natural finish and accompanied by a retro-style tortoiseshell pickguard. The rosewood fingerboard features Pearloid dot inlays marking the frets. Apart from making this guitar excellent for jam sessions, chrome die-cast tuners adorn the headstock.
Who was this made for? This versatile acoustic guitar is for anyone who loves the uniquely warm sound of an all-mahogany guitar. The low price makes it suitable for beginners, but the high-end tonewoods and beautiful design will appeal to advanced players.
If you want to turn your acoustic guitar up to 11, there’s no better choice than a jumbo acoustic. These large-bodied guitars project a full and robust sound unmatched by any other. Epiphone’s AJ-220S model would be a great example of the style at any price, but it’s a downright steal for under $300.
It uses high-end solid Sitka spruce for the soundboard, which gives it a bright and vibrant sound, with crisp articulation and excellent projection. The choice of solid wood means that the tone will improve with age, maturing into better balance, and enhanced harmonics. The mahogany back and sides add depth and warmth for a classic acoustic sound.
Jumbo guitars can be difficult to play for smaller players because their sheer size makes it challenging to fit them against the body comfortably. Epiphone adds some much-needed playability to the AJ-220S by incorporating their popular SlimTaper neck design, a profile ideal for beginners, and those with smaller hands.
Who was it made for? This guitar is for bluegrass, country, and rock lovers who want the full-bodied voice that only a jumbo can deliver. With its discount price and yet surprisingly high-end tonewoods, beginners and intermediate players will appreciate the AJ-220S.
How to Choose the Best Acoustic Guitar Under $300
Choosing the best acoustic guitar under $300 is about knowing where to splurge and where to skimp. You want great sound, comfortable play, and cool style, and you want it without breaking the bank. We get that, so we’ve compiled a couple of helpful hints.
Look for a solid wood soundboard.
The tonewood of the soundboard, known as the topwood, is the essential component determining an acoustic guitar’s sound.
If you’re sticking to a budget of less than $300, you’ll need to decide between a solid or laminate top, and we strongly suggest solid wood. A solid wood soundboard resonates better than a laminate. It will be a bit more expensive, but it’s a worthwhile place to splurge. Solid wood guitars sound better right away, and they improve with age (4).
Today, solid top guitars are essentially an industry standard, even for budget-grade acoustics. A guitar’s topwood profits immensely from the more resonant qualities of solid wood.
The exception to this is a situation in which your guitar undergos frequent climate changes, either through travel or the weather. In this case, the laminate guitar will be more durable, as laminated layers better withstand swelling and shrinking without splitting or cracking.
Now that you’re sold on a solid soundboard, what kind of wood should you get? The two most common options are spruce and mahogany. Both can produce beautiful sounds, and your selection is a matter of personal taste. Spruce top guitars have a brighter, crisper sound, with well-articulated treble notes. Mahogany lends a darker, warmer sound, with strong mid-tones and rich, full bass. The two are often used in combination, with spruce for the top and mahogany for the back and sides, to produce an exceptionally balanced tone.
Expect laminated wood for the back and sides.
You are almost sure to find laminate wood used for the back and sides of the guitar at this price level. And that’s totally fine. This is the place to make a sacrifice to save money.
Compared with the top, the woods used for the back and sides have far less impact on your guitar’s sound.
If your ear is good enough to distinguish between an all-solid-wood guitar versus a guitar with just a solid top, you probably deserved to spend a bit over $300 for your acoustic. Take a look at some of these great models, or check these higher-end guitars if your budget is around $1000. But if you can spend another thousand, our list the best acoustic guitars under $2000 might suit your preference better.
Body style affects sound and playability.
An acoustic guitar’s body style affects both its sound and its playability, so it’s an important consideration for buyers (5).
Acoustic guitars rely on the instrument’s body to act as a resonating chamber that projects sound, which means that the size and shape of the body impact the tone and volume of the guitar. But playability is just as important as sound quality. You need a guitar that fits comfortably, so you can strum, pick, and make chords without causing undue strain in your hands and shoulders.
Jumbo guitars have a big, beefy sound, with full bass and enough volume to reach the cheap seats. However, they’re very difficult for a small player or a child to handle, and you’re likely better off buying a smaller acoustic-electric with an amplifier. Or consider Takamine’s unique NEX body, which puts the voice of a jumbo in an acoustic size.
A dreadnought is smaller than a jumbo but still projects a loud and rich sound. It’s the most popular acoustic guitar shape because it offers the best balance between full sound and comfortable size for an average size player.
For a small player, even a dreadnought may feel unwieldy. Smaller guitars, such as concert and parlor styles, will be a better fit, though you will make a sacrifice in terms of volume and the bass’s power.
What style of music do you like to play?
The more you learn about the guitar, the more you’ll realize that different guitars suit different music styles. You’ve probably noticed that heavy metal players favor the electric guitar while bluegrass players favor the acoustic, but there are also more subtle preferences between various acoustics. Or, if you’re perhaps interested in plugging in your acoustic guitar, try searching for the best acoustic electric guitar.
If you play fingerstyle, you’re better off with a guitar with a smaller and/or thinner body, like a concert. Ideally, it’s paired with a wide but low-profile neck and sleek fretboard to facilitate fast finger movements.
If you love the big sounds of rock and country, you might prefer a jumbo guitar. These are known for sounding great under heavy strumming, with a full sound, rich bass, and strong projection.
If you’re not sure of your musical inspiration, opt for a dreadnought. Dreadnoughts are perfect all-around guitars, well-suited to any genre.
An acoustic guitar is easier to play if it has a smaller body, lighter strings, and lower action, but it depends on the player.
Older acoustic guitars sound better because solid wood dried out and becomes lighter and stiffer over time, which leads to better resonance (6).
Guitars are not usually a good financial investment, though they’re a great investment in your happiness and personal growth. Though solid wood guitars sound better over time, they rarely appreciate in value (7).
- Gerken, T. (2020, May 4). Made in Oregon: The First 20 Years at Breedlove Guitars. Retrieved from https://acousticguitar.com/made-in-oregon-the-first-twenty-years-at-breedlove-guitars/
- Dickson, J, Yates, H. (2019, March 29). How Takamine acoustics became the hardest-working guitars in music. Retrieved from https://www.musicradar.com/news/how-takamine-acoustics-became-the-hardest-working-guitars-in-music
- Roman, E. (2007). Quartersawn Lumber for Guitars. Retrieved from http://www.edroman.com/techarticles/quartersawn.htm
- Tyler, M. (2017, January 24). Laminate vs. Solid Wood Acoustic Guitars. Retrieved from https://reverb.com/ca/news/a-breakdown-of-laminate-vs-solid-wood-acoustic-guitars?locale=en-CA
- Boak, D. (2009, July 22). (Acoustic) Size Matters. Retrieved from https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/_Acoustic_Size_Matters
- Wilson, A. (2019). Why Acoustic Guitars Sound Better With Age. Retrieved from https://midlifeguitar.com/why-acoustic-guitars-sound-better-with-age/
- Park, M. (2017, April 26). Guitars As An Investment. Retrieved from https://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/community/entries/guitars-as-an-investment
I found music through childhood piano lessons but was lucky enough to learn guitar on my dad’s vintage ‘60s Gibson acoustic. These days I’m more of a music appreciator than a music player, and I’m fortunate to live in a place with a great indie scene. In my spare time, I love trail running, rock climbing, drinking coffee, doing crossword puzzles, and hanging out with my quirky little dog.