The price range of under $500 is basically a bridge between budget and boutique. While the former relates to some of the cheapest, usually beginner guitars, the former relates to professional models that offer top performance at the cost of a smaller fortune. The under $500 is a sort of a compromise between quality and affordability.
That being said, picking a decent model under 500 bucks shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Or should it? This is the most populated area of the guitar market, so you might find that differentiating ‘decent’ models from the best ones isn’t as easy as it initially seems. Regardless, we’ve taken the liberty to pick out the best acoustic guitars under $500 for your convenience.
Top 8 Best Under $500 Acoustic Guitars for 2020
While we were searching for the best acoustic guitar models under 500 dollars, we’ve come across various models from famous brands and underdogs. Some looked good, others were very playable while most of them sounded pretty decent. However, the best acoustic guitar under $500 needs to have all of these qualities.
The models that we’ve handpicked possess these qualities without exception. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look.
Here are the best acoustic guitars under $500:
- Fender CD-60SCE
- Yamaha JR2
- Squier by Fender SA-150
- Martin LXK2 Little Martin
- Yamaha APX600
- Fender Redondo Player
- Donner DAG-1M
- Fender Malibu Player
1. Fender CD-60SCE
Fender’s guitars are amazing, and it’s not rare to find their premium models in the budget section of the market. A perfect example of Fender’s quality is CD-60SCE dreadnought, a beautiful acoustic guitar with a versatile performance.
It was designed with a single cutaway, allowing you to access the upper frets a bit more easily. On top of that, its playability is generally pretty high due to the comfortable neck and clearly visible inlays. The CD-60SCE dreadnought also holds the tune pretty well.
In terms of construction, the Fender CD-60SCE packs back and sides manufactured from high-quality mahogany and a spruce top. Though this particular combination of tonewoods is relatively common, the warmth of mahogany and the brightness of spruce sound incredible when pieced together.
This guitar also features a beautiful finish and a wide variety of complementary features, including a hard-shell carry case, a guitar strap, a cable, several picks, Austin Bazaar’s guitar essentials, a chromatic tuner, and a set of replacement strings.
The Fender CD-60SCE is perfect for guitarists at all skill levels. While beginners love its playability, more experienced players will benefit from its versatile performance and a very nostalgic sound.
- Excellent intonation.
- High level of playability.
- Looks amazing.
- Perfectly balanced tone with a rich soundstage.
- Superb value for the money.
- Initially comes with a very low action, so you should expect plenty of buzz when you hit the notes.
Overall, the CD-60SCE dreadnought is definitely one of the best acoustic guitars under 500 dollars. It sounds great, it’s highly durable, and it comes with plenty of complementary features. However, if you’re a bit more experienced you probably already have the carry case, a strap, and a tuner. The only thing we didn’t like so much about it is the ultra-low action, but this problem is easy to fix at least.
2. Yamaha JR2
Next up is Yamaha’s JR2 junior-size acoustic guitar. Although it has a slightly smaller scale, the JR2 is actually a great intermediate-level acoustic guitar.
It packs a spruce top, back and sides made from mahogany, a Nato (Eastern Mahogany) neck, and fingerboard and bridge made from rosewood. In essence, the warmth of JR2 resembles Fender’s CD-60SCE quite a bit, although the different type of design (different soundhole, body, and size) makes it sound makes quite a gap between them.
Just like our previous pick, this guitar comes with a variety of guitar accessories (strings, instructional video, gig bag, picks) which are perfectly suited for beginners. Most people would get a notion that this guitar is for starters exclusively due to its smaller scale length (and beginner’s complementary gear), but it’s actually perfect for intermediate-level players as well.
On top of sounding great and coming with plenty of complementary features, the JR2 excels in aesthetics too. It rocks a beautiful Sunburst finish, so you’re bound to catch the attraction of your audience if you intend to play it live. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t hold the tune as good as CD-60SCE, for example, but it still has a pretty solid intonation.
- Excels in aesthetics.
- Comes supplied with a plethora of complementary features.
- Predominantly warm, authentic sound.
- Improved playability due to smaller scale length.
- Highly durable construction.
- Potential problems with holding the tune.
At the end of the day, Yamaha’s JR2 is a junior’s acoustic guitar which is more than capable of going toe to toe with some of the finest models in the price range of under $500. With a beautiful body and outstanding sound quality, it’s a must-have for beginners and some more experienced players.
3. Squier by Fender SA-150
We’re looking at another Fender, but this time around it’s a classic. The Squier is probably the most famous Fender guitar, and it’s no surprise that thousands of people consider it as the best acoustic guitar under $500.
The Squier SA-150 features an all-laminate construction complemented with a Lindenwood top, plus the mahogany back and sides. It has a predominantly bright sound despite the fact that the mahogany ‘warms it up’ quite a bit. On top of that, it features a scalloped bracing which significantly boosts its responsiveness and overall volume.
Being as loud as it is, Fender’s Squier is generally best for live performance musicians. It packs a slim neck which offers plenty of playability, it sounds absolutely amazing, and you’ll have all you need to hit the stage with the gratis picks, strap, gig bag, and tuner.
- Ideal for live performance, but suitable for beginners too.
- Comes outfitted with several beginner features (gig bag, strap, strings, picks, tuner).
- Classic, authentic sound.
- Louder and more bassy than most acoustic guitars due to scalloped bracing.
- Exceptionally durable construction.
- The louder sound of the Squier makes it a bit inconvenient to use at home for some.
All things considered, Fender’s Squier is one of the most iconic acoustic guitars ever built. Apart from being built like a brick wall, it sounds phenomenal and looks just the part.
4. Martin LXK2 Little Martin
The LXK2 Little Martin is one of the best sounding guitars in our review. It’s mostly made of Koa material, which is usually a type of tonewood you’d use for a ukulele. Basically, Koa originates from Hawaii and it’s considered as one of rarer tonewoods. It’s incredibly durable and sounds quite warm, although it could welcome a bit extra bass.
The LXK2 has a high level of playability with a slightly lower action and very comfortable neck, although certain beginners might not find it as appealing due to the lack of inlays on the fingerboard. It comes outfitted with premium-quality hardware which does wonders for its intonation quality.
One additional benefit Little Martin brings to the table is the fact that it’s a highly compact guitar. You can take it anywhere you want without fretting about hauling it from one place to another, and in terms of storage space it shouldn’t give you any problems.
- Strong, recognizable Martin sound.
- Ultra durable construction.
- Small and compact, easy to carry around.
- Great intonation and playability.
- Not so well suited for beginners due to the lack of inlays.
In summary, the LXK2 Little Martin is a wonderful guitar for a travelling player. With a compact, yet incredibly robust body and an excellent choice of tonewoods, the LXK2 holds a huge value for the buck.
5. Yamaha APX600
Yamaha’s APX600 is basically a semi-acoustic guitar which sounds so great unplugged that it’s easily one of the best acoustic guitars under $500. It packs a single-cutaway mahogany body and boasts a lightweight, yet firm construction.
There is just so much natural reverb in this guitar due to the special Abalone sound-hole that all the notes and chords you play will appear a bit more airy than average. The warmth of mahogany is all too present in the tone and gives off a nostalgic ‘80s vibe. Then again, this guitar was built with classic specs.
To top it all off, the APX600 comes supplied with Piezo pickups which dramatically enhance its volume (when plugged, of course) without compromising the least bit of clarity.
- Single-cutaway style, easier to access upper frets.
- Predominantly warm sound with plenty of natural reverb.
- Superb sustain.
- Lightweight yet durable.
Yamaha’s APX600 can easily pass for a beginner’s guitar – it’s light, has clearly visible inlays, and its playability is decent, to say the very least. Conversely, it’s also great for more experienced players because it’s highly versatile as well. Regardless of your skill level, this is a wonderful guitar which packs quite a bang for the buck.
6. Fender Redondo Player
Even though it might be one of the less famous Fender’s eye candies, the Redondo Player is a true masterpiece. One of the best things about this guitar is that it comes in so many unique color variations, such as the Cosmic Turqoise, the Hot Rod Red Metallic, Candy Apple Red, Aqua Splash, and others.
Apart from excelling in aesthetics, this guitar packs a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, following a recipe which withstood the test of time. It also rocks a C-shaped mahogany neck which provides a drastic boost to playability.
Though it might not be a beginner’s guitar per se, it’s pretty safe to say that it could accommodate pretty much any music style and guitarists of all skill levels.
The only problem with the Redondo Player is that it’s not as portable as some of the guitars we’ve covered so far. It weighs approximately 9.5 pounds, which is relatively close to being heavy in a sense. Even so, its huge playability and exquisite tone shine above this small flaw, making it more than worth the money.
- One of the most beautiful Fender guitars to date.
- Exceptionally durable and sturdy.
- Available in different color variations, each rocking a slightly different design.
- Matching headstock and body.
- Excellent playability.
- Relatively heavy with 9.5 pounds of weight.
If you’re looking for a guitar that sounds as good as it looks, you’ve found it. The Redondo Player is one of the highest-value options in the price range of under $500, boasting a superb sonic performance, durability, and playability.
7. Donner DAG-1M
Donner’s dreadnought acoustic guitar is a classic model with classic specs. It features a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, so tone-wise it sound resembles Fender and Yamaha models the most. It’s also fairly durable, big, and surprisingly enough, pretty light since it weighs only 7.5 pounds.
With a c-shaped neck and plain dotted inlays its playability is fairly high. One of the best things about this guitar is that it comes outfitted with a variety of beginner’s accessories, such as the cap, tuner, replacement strings, a couple of picks, a cleaning cloth, and a gig bag.
The Donner’s dreadnought is certainly best suited for beginners, mainly because of its simplistic design and the complementary features bundle. However, it holds the tune quite great, it sounds great for the buck, and it’s generally a bit better than most similarly priced models.
Last, but not least, the Donner’s dreadnought is available in a couple of color options. You’re also able to choose between semi-cutaway and regular design types. The former allows you to reach the higher notes a bit easier.
- Available in a variety of colors.
- Holds the tune quite well.
- Balanced action.
- Well-rounded performance.
Even though this guitar might not appear as anything too special, its simplicity and actual lack of major flaws is what makes it so great. It packs all you need to jam straight out of the box, it’s light and durable, and it will serve you for years and years to come.
8. Fender Malibu Player
Let’s wrap it up with Fender’s Malibu Player acoustic guitar. Basically, people often compare Malibu to the Redondo Player as they sport the same type of design. However, there are quite a few differences between them.
The first and most notable thing about the Malibu Player is that it packs a relatively small body. Some people think that this guitar was designed for the ladies as its smaller scale and lighter body perform a bit better in the hands of the gentler gender. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to be true. It comes in a variety of colors, most of which are unisex, in a sense.
Speaking of which, each of the color variations look equisite – the Ice Blue reflects the guitar’s bright sound, the Bronze brings out its classiness, the Burgundy appeals to its retro-style specs, and perhaps the most iconic one, the Midnight, looks absolutely unique.
The Malibu Player features a spruce top and mahogany back & sides, as well as a mahogany neck. The neck packs a C-shaped profile, which basically means that its playability is guaranteed to be good. Further on that note, it initially comes with a well-balanced action, so its intonation isn’t compromised in the slightest.
- Exceptional sound quality.
- Looks absolutely amazing, available in several iconic color variations.
- Huge sustain.
- Well-rounded sonic performance, great playability.
- Terrific intonation.
- Slightly smaller than average body.
All things considered, it doesn’t get much better for the money. The Fender Malibu Player is truly a piece of art that sounds, looks, and performs unique. There are, perhaps, just a handful of guitars that can accommodate all playing styles, all music genres, and players of all skill levels as much as this one. It holds a substantial value for the money in our book.
The best acoustic guitar under $500 needs to sound great, withstand years of use, hold the tune, be playable, has the right action, and, on top of that, it needs to look like a decently priced guitar. Now, having all of these qualities in one place is often more than one would hope for, but we’re glad that we’ve proven that it’s possible.
All of the acoustic guitar models in our review have passed the tests using the aforementioned criteria with flying colors, so all you have to do is kick back and take your pick. We wish you all the luck in finding the guitar that suits your needs the best. Feedback is always welcome, so feel free to his us up or share this guide through your social channels. Stay safe, folks!