How To Find The Best Affordable Acoustic Guitar For You

The-Best-Acoustic-Budget-Guitars-600x268Last Updated Nov-30-2016. As a beginner, finding the best acoustic guitar to suit you isn’t an easy job. The market is full of low quality instruments that are advertised as bargains and, in many cases, you could end up paying $100 for something that has a true value of around $40.

So, if you are in the market for a budget acoustic guitar, it’s important to try out as many as you can, in particular the models you are considering purchasing. However, it can be tricky to try every guitar on your shortlist, which is why reading reviews – like those outlined below – can really help.

We have tried, tested and reviewed some of the most popular steel and nylon-stringed acoustic guitars on the market, rating them on what we liked and what we didn’t. The charts below feature guitars that offer both quality and value that are perfect for beginners, or experienced guitarists looking for something to practice on or travel with.

The 10 Best Budget Acoustic Guitars:

Image
Acoustic Guitar
Summary
Rating
Fender FA-100Fender FA-100
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
37244_lEpiphone DR-100
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
Jasmine S35Jasmine S35
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
IbanezV50_new_1Ibanez IJV50
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
$_1Fender Squier SA-50
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
GRETSCH270-4000-503bGretsch G9500
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
oscar_schmidt_og1_dreadnought_acoustic_guitar_high_gloss_2Oscar Schmidt OG2
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5
Rogue RA090Rogue RA-090
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5
JAS555-0137-132bJasmine S34C NEX
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5
MI-KN-K1TRD_new_2Kona K1
4.2 Stars
Total of 4.2/5

Fender FA-100

Fender FA-100

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.4 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

There are few better budget steel-string acoustics on the market today than this offering from the legendary Fender. The FA-100 gives great value, while offering good looks and sounds for beginners and experienced players alike. It sports a traditional dreadnought body shape, made from basswood on the back and sides, with a natural gloss-finished spruce top, with X-bracing. There’s a good maple neck, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. Although the sound has its limitations, there’s crispness and clarity, which is perfect for beginners. For the price, you are getting a versatile guitar that works well for strumming or plucking. Fender also offer their limited lifetime warranty, even for its cheapest models, which makes for a risk-free purchase! Check out our full review of the FA-100.


Epiphone DR-100

37244_l

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.4 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Just like Fender, Epiphone – the Gibson subsidiary – know a thing or two about budget acoustics, and this DR-100 (reviewed in full here) more than proves that! With a range of finishes, the DR-100 features a classic dreadnought body shape, with back and sides made from laminated mahogany, with a select spruce top, and black pickguard sporting Epiphone’s iconic E logo. The neck is also constructed from mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets. The tuners leave a little to be desired, but hold their tuning well enough, while the carved rosewood bridge is a nice touch. As for sound, it has enough tone for beginners and offers plenty of punch – well balanced and good for everything from blues to bluegrass!


Jasmine S35

Jasmine S35

Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Takamine’s subsidiary Jasmine have put together a fantastic budget model in the S-35, which we review in full here. For such an affordable guitar, the look is very classy – a natural satin-finished dreadnought shape body, with a spruce top and advanced X-bracing, with agathis back and sides. You’re getting a big sound for your money, with the finish and bracing going a long way to adding stability while allowing the top to vibrate more, providing good resonance. There’s also a slim nato neck, with a slick rosewood fretboard and 20 frets, while the hardware is chrome and the bridge is rosewood. It’s suitable for beginners, looks great, has a big sound, and is very affordable – what’s not to love?


Ibanez IJV50

IbanezV50_new_1

Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

While Ibanez have a great history in the electric guitar market, their acoustic offerings are also very good, and the IJV50 is their budget model that stands up to the rest on this page. The guitar features the classic dreadnought body, mixing a spruce top with agathis back and sides. It also sports a mahogany neck, with rosewood fretboard and matching rosewood bridge. At the bridge, the IJV50 also features Ibanez’s Advantage bridge pins, which help make changing the strings an easier process. There’s an excellent tonal quality that would please any beginner. In all, this is a great value model from Ibanez, proving they are a force to be reckoned with in the acoustic market. Make sure to check out the full review of the IJV50.


Fender Squier SA-50

$_1

Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Here’s another Fender acoustic on this budget list, this time from their popular Squier subsidiary. Slightly cheaper than the FA-100 above, this SA-50 is one of the most valuable acoustic finds on the market today, as we highlight in our full review. The guitar’s construction packs a lot of potential, offering a steel-string dreadnought body made from laminated basswood on the back and sides, with a laminated spruce top with X-bracing, and a high gloss finish. There’s a smooth, C-shaped basswood neck with a nice rosewood fretboard that will more than please beginner fingers, as well as a rosewood bridge. The sound is big and resonant, thanks in part to the X-bracing, and demonstrates that Squier have the know-how in this budget market.


Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy

GRETSCH270-4000-503b

Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

If you’re looking for an affordable vintage acoustic, this gorgeous guitar delivers. The modern G9500 Jim Dandy from Gretsch stays true to the classic Rex parlor guitars of the 30’s, with its two-color sunburst parlor body, featuring an X-braced agathis top, back and sides. There’s a semi-glossed steel-reinforced nato neck, which is slightly shorter than others and has an easy playing C shape, and a rosewood fretboard with 18 frets. With screened white binding, purfling and rosette, this retro beauty looks great and sounds the part too, with a warm tone that’s perfect for blues and fingerstyle players. For the avid fan of vintage acoustic tones, this budget Gretsch is the best thing to get you started – as we highlight in the full review of this great guitar.


Oscar Schmidt OG2

oscar_schmidt_og1_dreadnought_acoustic_guitar_high_gloss_2

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.2 Stars
Value:4.5 Stars
Average:4.3 Stars

Washburn’s Oscar Schmidt do some wonderful things with guitars on a budget, and this OG2 steel-string acoustic is more than worthy of a place on this list. As we have highlighted in the detailed review, the OG2 is a full size acoustic with a dreadnought body shape, crafted from mahogany on the back and sides, with an X-braced spruce top. It looks great with a natural finish, although more extroverted colors are available. The neck is mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard, while the bridge is also made with rosewood. In all, it’s hard to fault the craftsmanship – as good as you’d expect from Oscar Schmidt. It sounds lovely too – very crisp and powerful, with great resonance. While it’s a beginners’ guitar, it’s one that would satisfy players for years.


Rogue RA-090

Rogue RA090

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.3 Stars

The RA-090 from Rogue is one of the cheapest steel-string acoustics on this list, but in this case cheap doesn’t mean bad – anything but! It sports the traditional dreadnought body shape with a lovely natural finish (although other colors are available), with the top, back and sides constructed with whitewood. This RA-090 (reviewed in full here) also features a very playable nato neck, a painted maple fretboard, and 20 frets, with a painted maple bridge. For such a budget guitar, the projection is pretty good, and the tone is crisp, clear, and well-balanced, working well for strumming, plucking and fingerstyle. Whatever your style, this guitar is well worth considering, especially if you are on a tight budget.


Jasmine S34C NEX

JAS555-0137-132b

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.3 Stars

Here we have another beautiful budget jumbo acoustic from Jasmine – the S-34C, which is a true performer. It features a very attractive satin-finished grand orchestra-style body, crafted with a select spruce top (featuring Jasmine’s Advanced X-bracing) with sapele back and sides. The neck is slim and comfortable to play, and has a rosewood fretboard with 21 frets – all easily accessible thanks to the deep Venetian-style body cutaway. The jumbo body, paired with the top bracing and satin finish, combines for a big, resonant sound that would please guitarists of all levels. Superb value for an acoustic that looks and sounds a lot more expensive than it is. Make sure to check out the full review of this jumbo beauty.


Kona K1

MI-KN-K1TRD_new_2

Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.2 Stars
Value:4.5 Stars
Average:4.2 Stars

The relatively new American manufacturers Kona bring a popular steel-string acoustic guitar to the budget market, and just had to make this list. For such a low price, the package on offer is worth your attention. As we state in our full review of this K1, the single-cutaway body has a dreadnought shape, which comes finished in a striking red or transparent blue, although the natural look is just as attractive. With a satin finish, the guitar has a laminated spruce top with nato back and sides, and offers good resonance and projection. The 20 frets of the rosewood fretboard are all easy to access, and the rosewood bridge – cut to Kona’s unique style – adds a little individuality to the look. It sounds good, and beginners will appreciate its comfort and quality.


Top 5 Best Cheap Nylon-String Acoustic Guitars:

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Acoustic Guitar
Summary
Rating
YAMAHA-C40-CLASSICAL-GUITAR-DerringersMusic__52406_zoomYamaha C40
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
Cordoba CP100Cordoba CP100
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
hohner_hc06_full_sized_classical_nylon_string_guitar_1Hohner HC06
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
61XfP-Nn8QL._SL1200__new_1Ibanez GA3
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
Amigo-AM15-2_new_1Amigo AM15
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5

Yamaha C40

YAMAHA-C40-CLASSICAL-GUITAR-DerringersMusic__52406_zoom

Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.1 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Are you really surprised to see Yamaha on a list of quality budget guitars? You shouldn’t be, because they are masters in this area. And this popular nylon-string C40 is an excellent offering from the Japanese manufacturers. It sports an authentic classical design, with a spruce top and meranti back and sides. The neck is made from nato, and connected to the body with a dovetail joint. The guitar offers a full range of classical tones, and is warm and resonant making it perfect for classical and jazz styles. For such an affordable price, you get an instrument that can offer an excellent playing experience, and one that will accompany you for years to come. You can find more details in our review of the C40.


Cordoba CP100 Guitar Pack

preview

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.4 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Cordoba’s CP100 is a fantastic affordable startup nylon-string guitar that comes bundled with a range of essential accessories, including a travel gig bag, a digital clip-on chromatic tuner, plectrums, and a tutorial book. The guitar in this great value set has a beautiful pale, satin-finished look, with a spruce top and nato back and sides. There’s also a good rosewood bridge, and a nato neck with rosewood fretboard, which is wide and easy to play. The guitar provides a mellow sound with good projection, that’s more than suitable for beginners. It looks great, and the craftsmanship – for such a ‘cheap guitar’ – is very notable. This convenient pack (which is reviewed in full here) offers beginners everything they need to start playing.


Hohner HC06

hohner_hc06_full_sized_classical_nylon_string_guitar_1

Body&Neck:4.3 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Part of Hohner’s student series of classical guitars, the HC06 is naturally a very good nylon-string acoustic on which to learn, and offers true value to any beginner. The body construction of the HC06 – as we mention in our full review – is very admirable, and is crafted using a fine mix of woods. There’s a spruce top with a catalpa back and sides, with solid binding and a high gloss finish. The mahogany neck has a wide and comfortable profile, with an easy playing hardwood fretboard – another reason why this guitar is good for beginners. The sound is rich and well-balanced, so is suitable for any style of nylon stringed music. While this is great for beginners, advanced players would enjoy practicing on this model too.


Ibanez GA3

61XfP-Nn8QL._SL1200__new_1

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Although they have rock in their hearts, Ibanez show off their classical side with this super affordable GA3 – with style, tone and attitude in equal measure. With a traditional classical body, the guitar is crafted with a spruce top, and agathis back and sides, finished in a natural high gloss with a classical mosaic rosette. The eye-catching Ibanez-branded red headstock features chrome classical tuners, and sits atop a mahogany neck, with rosewood fretboard – all comfortable to use and offering easy playing. This attractive guitar is clear and well-balanced in sound, and would work well for a beginner learning their first chords, licks and riffs. Take a look at the full review to find everything you need to know about the GA3.


Amigo AM15

Amigo-AM15-2_new_1

Body&Neck:4.1 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.2 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

If you are buying a child their first guitar, it’s useful to have an option that’s both affordable (in case they don’t want to play!) and of good quality. And this Amigo AM15 – as we highlight in the complete review – would be an excellent fit. It’s a ½ sized nylon-string classical guitar, which would serve as a good companion on any child’s path to learning and improvement. At an affordable price, you get an authentic sounding instrument which packs impressive tone and good comfort. The guitar features a solid spruce top and beech back and sides, with a comfortable little neck. As you’d expect, it’s not as loud as a full size guitar, but there’s a good amount of projection and resonance, thanks to the quality of the woods used in construction.


You’ll notice throughout the summaries, we rarely used the word ‘cheap’. That’s because the word is usually associated with things that are low-quality, plasticky and easy-to-break. Thankfully, none of the guitars on the list above fall into any of these categories, and – as such – are better described as ‘affordable’, ‘value’ or ‘budget’.

The reason there are so many good quality, affordable entry-level acoustics these days is because some of the biggest brands have entered this budget market, producing guitars of quality and durability. Beginners no longer have to settle for a generic ‘Acoustic Guitar’ when they can have a real Fender or Washburn!

What to Look for in a Budget Acoustic

Firstly, you’ll want to decide whether you want a nylon-string or steel-string guitar, as they are technically two different instruments.

The easiest way to determine your instrument is to figure out what style of music you’ll be playing. If you are planning to play classical music or Latin styles such as flamenco, a nylon-string guitar – with it’s mellow, rich tones – is definitely the way to go.

However, if you are looking to learn rock, pop, country and blues, a steel-string acoustic will suit you best, as you get that lovely crisp, clear, twangy sound. If you can’t decide, go with a nylon-stringed guitar – they are slightly easier on beginners’ fingers, and much more comfortable to learn and progress on.

If you are a beginner, you may have heard of electro-acoustic models. In the future you may want to consider one of these, as they will allow you to plug into an amplifier and project your sound across a room, concert hall or stadium (well, you have to dream big!). However, for now it’s wise to stick with a solely acoustic model, which will be cheaper and less complicated to use.

It’s also worth looking out for – and avoiding – guitars with plastic components, such as tuners, bridges and saddles. While very cost-effective, they are prone to snapping and offer nothing when it comes to tone. Steer clear!

Final Considerations

If you are on the hunt for a low-cost entry-level acoustic, chances are it’s either your first one, you are looking for something else to practice on, or you want a travel guitar.

Whatever your reason, as you have seen, there are some fantastic affordable guitars out there, that look and sound great. Having a cheaper guitar is good, as it won’t bother you if they get scratched, dinked or dropped (although you’d prefer this didn’t happen!).

However it’s worth considering whether you can stretch your budget further, because buying in a slightly higher price range can give you a better selection of styles, construction methods, tone woods, and playability, than the variety you’d find in the budget bracket.

Buying cheap, just because it’s all you can afford at the moment, may end up being false economy if you find yourself wanting to upgrade in the next year after you progress with the instrument. Whatever price range you choose, good luck with your new purchase!