How To Find The Best Affordable Acoustic Guitar For You

The-Best-Acoustic-Budget-Guitars-600x268

Last Updated: April 18, 2017
In the budget acoustic guitar market things change all the time. So we have mixed things up too – removing a couple of older models such as the Fender Squier SA-50 and Hohner HC06, and adding some newer popular models that are very worthy of inclusion! These include the superbly innovative Epiphone PRO-1, the performance-orientated Rogue RA-090 Concert, and the very familiar classical Lyons Classroom Guitar.
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
Epiphone PRO-1Epiphone PRO-1
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
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
Rogue RA090Rogue RA-090
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5
Jasmine JO-36 OrchestraJasmine JO-36 Orchestra
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
IbanezV50_new_1Ibanez IJV50
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
GRETSCH270-4000-503bGretsch G9500
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
Rogue RA-090 Concert CutawayRogue RA-090 Concert Cutaway
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
JAS555-0137-132bJasmine S34C NEX
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5

Epiphone PRO-1

Epiphone PRO-1

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

This innovative PRO-1 acoustic from Epiphone is loaded with tech and quality components, and has been designed to be both super-affordable and very beginner-friendly. With a choice of colors, there’s a laminated select spruce top, and a laminated select mahogany back and sides. The mahogany neck sports Epiphone’s EZ-Profile C shape, which is very comfortable for smaller hands, and also shows off a well-lubricated rosewood fretboard and 20 JumboPRO frets – another addition that makes fretting simple. As for hardware – as we highlight in our full review of the Epiphone PRO-1 – there’s plenty on offer, including a rosewood bridge, upgraded tuners with a smooth 18:1 gear ratio, and even a humidifier to help condition your guitar. For the price, this really is a great buy.


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?


Rogue RA-090 Concert Cutaway

Rogue RA-090 Concert Cutaway

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

An electro-acoustic acoustic for around $100? It must be garbage, right? If you’re talking about the RA-090 Concert Cutaway, you’d be wrong. Very similar in build and style to the RA-090 that also features on this list, this model features a laminated whitewood top, back and sides, with a glossy finish and a range of color choices. There’s also a comfortable C-shaped nato neck, with a ‘simulated rosewood’ fretboard and 20 frets. As we mention in our complete review of the RA-090 Concert Cutaway this guitar is fitted with a simple but more than functional Eden MET-A06 undersaddle pickup system, allowing a versatile experience when plugged in to an amp – controls include volume, 3-band EQ, and an on-board tuner.


Jasmine JO-36 Orchestra

Jasmine JO-36 Orchestra

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Models from Takamine’s budget subsidiary Jasmine appear several times in this chart, and for good reason – they show great value. And the highly-playable JO-36 Orchestra is another guitar that’s worthy of your time, whatever your skill level. With a 24.75” scale length, the JO-36 sports a comfortable orchestra body shape, and is crafted with laminate select spruce on the top with laminate sapele back and sides. The neck is made from nato and houses a rosewood fretboard, with 20 frets. Hardware is decent and includes a rosewood bridge and die-cast chrome tuning machines, while the sound is very acceptable – rich enough in tone, but well-balanced with plenty of projection. You can read more about Jasmine’s JO-36 Orchestra in the full review .


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.


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.


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.


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
61XfP-Nn8QL._SL1200__new_1Ibanez GA3
4.4 Stars
Total of 4.4/5
Lucero LC100Lucero LC100
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5
Lyons Classroom GuitarLyons Classroom Guitar
4.1 Stars
Total of 4.1/5

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.


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.


Lucero LC100

Lucero LC100

Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.4 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

The Lucero LC100 is a super affordable nylon-stringed guitar that shows off good looks, with a traditional classical body and 25.5” scale length. Coming in a choice of either a glossy black or natural finish, the body is made with a laminated spruce top, and laminated mahogany back and sides. There’s also a mahogany neck, sporting a rosewood fretboard and 18 frets. A comfortable guitar to play, and perfect for beginners. The guitar’s hardware is nothing special, but does the job – including a rosewood bridge and chrome open-geared tuners. We highlight in our full review of the Lucero LC100 that it sounds pretty good, especially after a string change. Quite toneful and resonant, with enough warmth for all beginners to enjoy.


Lyons Classroom Guitar

Lyons Classroom Guitar

Body&Neck:3.9 Stars
Hardware:3.9 Stars
Sound:4 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.2 Stars

The Lyons Classroom guitar may be as basic as they come, but for around $60 you’d be hard-pushed to find a better model. Built to withstand the knocks and drops of a typical classroom, this full-sized nylon-stringed guitar feels durable and sports traditional looks (smaller sizes are available). The body is made entirely of laminated wood, with a laminated spruce top and glossy finish. There’s a painted maple neck that features 19 frets, and dot markers on the side. It offers a clear enough sound with plenty of volume for any beginners, whether strumming or playing with fingers. You can read more on the wallet-friendly Lyons Classroom guitar in the compete review.


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 Epiphone or Cordoba!

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!