What is the Best Acoustic Guitar Under $500? – 2017
Time goes by and everything changes in this world. Some 10 years ago you just couldn’t afford yourself a decent acoustic guitar for a few hundred dollars. And it’s not because of the inflation. The industry was different back then.
Nowadays, the competition between the manufacturers is ever strong, so that’s why they started to price their product more reasonably.
Top 5 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500
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Another contributing factor is the growing demand for the affordable acoustic guitars. More and more people are turning to guitars as their hobby, and they would mostly shop in the $300-500 price range.
What it means for us is that these days you have a vast selection of great quality instruments that fall just below the $500 mark. For this money, not only you can get a decent home guitar, but also a reliable instrument for the local gigs and even some recording.
Whether it’s your first-ever acoustic guitar or you’re looking for an upgrade from your current one, 500 dollars is more than enough to satisfy your needs and even get some extra.
Sure, some manufacturers do want to raise the product price above the acceptable level simply because it’s B.C. Rich. However, in this roundup, I will ignore such brands and concentrate mainly on the instruments that offer a good balance between the price, quality, and the brand.
So, without further ado, let me introduce the highlights of today’s program – best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars list, go! We’ll take a quick look at what they are first and then go into an in-depth review of each guitar below.
Which One Is Suit For You?
Kicking off our best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars list is the mighty Taylor. This guitar is peculiar in so many ways that I don't even know where to start from, making it a strong contender for the title of best acoustic guitar for the money.
First of all, I don't believe it's a guitar at all. It might as well be a con or some social experiment by Taylor (offering great guitars at unbelievably low prices to see how people ready), considering how good this guitar is. Taylor Big Baby is a bigger-size companion of the Baby Taylor. This guitar is indeed a little smaller than a regular guitar (hence the same).
It has a 15/16-scale Dreadnought-style body with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck and Sapele-laminate back and sides. The fretboard is ebony. There's no need to go on about the overall quality and feel - it's the real Taylor. Big Baby not only looks great but plays smoothly as well. It sounds nowhere near cheap.
The sound is bright, crisp, and clear, with a very warm, full-bodied tone. Fret buzz is minimal, even on the upper frets. Is there anything not to like about Taylor Big Baby? Unfortunately, yes.
- First of all, there are no electronics – if you want to go “plugged,” you will have to pay an extra 100 dollars but that will send you over the $500 price range. There are cheaper acoustic guitars with electronics on the market and Taylor should be aware of that.
- Secondly, it’s the size of the guitar – what some people may consider extremely fitting other people would find disappointing. Big Baby is simply not big enough for those who played full-size guitars before.
- Bright and crisp sound with no fret buzz
- Excellent price/quality ratio
- Quality materials, feels very solid
- Relatively small for people who are used to play full-sized guitars
VERDICT – 9/10
Overall, it’s a great guitar for the money asked. I can’t see a better entry- to mid-level acoustic guitar.
Another anomaly on our list – just like Taylor Big Baby, this guitar is definitely a bang for the buck. Interestingly enough, even the prices are the same.
Seagull S6 Original is a solid Cedar top guitar, which adds a lot of warmth to the sound. Cedar is not the first choice wood for most manufacturers, but it’s definitely worth it. No other wood can produce such a deep, warm tone – you’ve got to hear it to believe it.
The neck is made of silver leaf maple, while the back and sides are wild cherry, which is, again, quite unusual. On top of that, there’s a rosewood fretboard. The semi-gloss finish adds a nice touch to the overall gorgeous look and feel of this guitar.
So, how does Seagull S6 Original sound? Very deep, soft, and warm is the answer. Its sound is much different than that of the other guitars on the list (due to the solid Cedar top), and that’s what I like most about Seagull S6 – this guitar really stands out.
Another great thing is the headstock design – it’s very slim and beautiful. The pain and finish are also near-perfect.
However, for a near $500-guitar, Seagull does not stay in tune as well as you would expect it to. The frets are smaller than on most guitars, which may also be a problem for people with big hands and fingers.
- Deep, warm tone (very different from most guitars on the market)
- Has electronics installed
- Great design and look
- Does not stay in tune that well
- Small frets
VERDICT – 8/10
If you want a truly remarkable entry-level acoustic guitar with deep, rich, and warm sound, go after Seagull S6 Original.
“Wait, this guitar is over $500 – why is it even on this list?” you may ask. Hold on a second and I’ll explain why you might want to cough up additional 50 or so dollars to get this guitar. So, up next on our best acoustic guitar in the under 500 dollars list is the Blueridge.
Blueridge BR-143 is a smaller-size sibling of BR-162, one of Blueridge’s flagship guitars. For some reason, I can’t help feeling nostalgic every time I play this guitar. Everything about it speaks vintage – the look, the decoration, and, finally, the sound.
BR-143 features solid Sitka spruce body with choice solid mahogany for the back and sides. The fingerboard is made of East Indian rosewood, and the neck is carved mahogany.
I guess it wouldn’t be a surprise if I said that this guitar is the ultimate folk and country instrument. However, don’t let that fool you – it’s actually much more versatile than that.
The sound of Blueridge BR-143 is the epitome of what an acoustic guitar should sound like – bright, crisp, with just enough highs to make it cry and enough lows to make it resonate through your soul. It’s equally great for strumming and fingerpicking alike.
Are there any flaws to Blueridge BR-143? Well, yes. Unlike Seagull S6 guitars (which are US-made), the fact that this guitar is made in China, which does affect the overall quality a little bit, I have to admit. Also,the nut is a bit wider than on other guitars (1 and ¾ inches wide), which may feel uncomfortable for some players.
- Bright and crisp sound, with deep lows and pronounced highs
- Very versatile, suitable for most music styles
- Some minor production and finish flaws
- Wide nut
VERDICT – 8/10
If you have an extra $60 to spend on a guitar, I strongly suggest you get Blueridge BR-143 – it’s the most versatile acoustic guitar you’ve played for the money.
With just a dollar south of a $500 mark, Yamaha LL6 stands proud against it competitors by offering a great quality acoustic-electric guitar at a “musician-friendly price.”
Yamaha LL6 is a jumbo-style body guitar. It features solid Engelmann spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and mahogany/rosewood neck. The fretboard is, of course, rosewood.
The overall sound is somewhat huge and massive for an acoustic guitar – it’s very resonant, I have to say. This may have something to deal with the patented A.R.E. (acoustic resonance enhancement) system used in Yamaha LL6 – this nifty thing gives the instrument it big, auditorium-quality sound.
There are some electronics featured as well – Yamaha LL6 has a passive SRT Zero impact pickup (requires external preamp for plugging in) to complement the electric-acoustic side of this guitar.
However, this guitar (just like any other) does not come without flaws. First, you may find it a little hard to do bends and vibratos on this guitar, even with the lighter strings. The action is relatively high, so some people would want to adjust it before playing. Also, Yamaha LL6 is hardly a perfect choice for people with smaller hands due to the neck curve design.
- Huge, auditorium-quality sound of jumbo guitar
- Excellent electronics (A.R.E.)
- Action is not perfect, requires adjustment
- Unusual neck curve, may be unsuitable for people with smaller hands
VERDICT – 7/10
If you want to sound big even in the small room, go for the Yamaha LL6 at a “musician-friendly price.”
And finally, summing up our list of best acoustic guitar under 500 dollars is the Alvarez.
Apart from the hand-selected cedar top, everything else in Alvarez AF75 seems to be made of rosewood. That includes the back, sides, neck, and fretboard.
The 1 ¾ inch nut makes it equally good for strumming and finger style while the fretboard design makes it easy for those with smaller hands to fret chords (especially barre chords). There’s nothing bad to say about the finish and build quality – they seem to have no flaws.
The sound is somewhat generic, though, with no distinct highs or lows – it’s all somewhere in the middle. That’s why I couldn’t rate this guitar as highly as four previous ones – for such price, you would expect something brighter and clearer.
- Feels very comfortable when playing, especially for people with smaller hands
- Great build quality
- Lacks distinct, pronounced lows and highs
VERDICT – 6/10
If you’re afraid to invest much in the acoustic instruments, grab an Alvarez Artist Series AF75 – it does the job of a great entry-level guitar quite nicely.
And that wraps it up, folks! We hope you enjoyed the ride, make sure to consult our Best Travel Guitar list as well!