9 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500 – Looking For Value

Best-Acoustic-Guitar-Under-$500

Last Updated: February 5, 2019
In our most recent refresh, we removed two older models that were proving a little difficult to find. In their place we added the popular J-200 remake, the Epiphone EJ-200CE, as well as a brand-new guitar from Breedlove, the Discovery Concerto.

With $500 in your pocket, you suddenly open yourself to some of the best acoustic guitars available. While we aren’t yet in the premium market, the guitars in this category sure do feel a lot higher-end, with some punching well above their weight in terms of look, feel and tone.

Whether you have your heart set on a big brand name like Fender, Epiphone or Seagull, or are happy with whatever seems like the best bang for your buck, you’ll probably find it on our chart below. The ten acoustics we’ve highlighted give you a great taste of what’s on offer in this mid-range price bracket.

Note that, on this page, we are only looking at steel-string acoustics. For nylon-stringed models, be sure to check out our article on the best classical guitars under $500.

Let’s check them out!

Top 9 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500:

ImageAcoustic Guitar / Rating.SummaryCheck Price
+ - Yamaha L Series LS61. Yamaha L Series LS6

Total of 4.88/5  

An electro-acoustic with a truly premium tone.

+ - Seagull S6 Original2. Seagull S6 Original

Total of 4.88/5  

The S6 is a proven quality guitar with great price.

+ - Epiphone Hummingbird Pro3. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Total of 4.72/5  

Epiphone’s Hummingbird delivers affordable vintage class with modern upgrades.

+ - Breedlove Discovery Concerto4. Breedlove Discovery Concerto

Total of 4.80/5  

A big, complex tone on offer from this unique acoustic.

+ - Fender Sonoran SCE5. Fender Sonoran SCE

Total of 4.75/5  

Surf’s up with this cool Fender electro-acoustic!

+ - The Loar LH-204 Brownstone6. The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

Total of 4.72/5  

A pre-war inspired blues machine from The Loar.

+ - Epiphone EJ-200SCE7. Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Total of 4.55/5  

A modern take on an iconic jumbo.

+ - Blueridge BR-438. Blueridge BR-43

Total of 4.42/5  

The guitar produces traditional sounds enhanced with a modern touch.

+ - Gretsch G5022CE Rancher9. Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

Total of 4.65/5  

A brilliant cowboy classic electro-acoustic from the kings of retro.

Best Overall Pick

1. Yamaha L Series LS6

Yamaha L Series LS6

Body And Neck:
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Sound:
Value:

Moving into top spot in our chart is the incredible Yamaha LS6, which is part of the brand’s luxurious L Series. And, after reading our full review of the LS6, it should be no surprise to see why! It features an all-round awesome look, feel and sound, which truly edges on the premium.

The sound in particular is a highlight, as the LS6 boasts a rich tone akin to something you’d find on a solid-topped guitar aged for a decade or two – partly thanks to the A.R.E technology used on the solid Engelmann spruce top.

The 5-ply mahogany/rosewood neck is also a joy, while the electronics are subtle but effective. It’s seriously hard to fault this acoustic for the sub-$500 price.

Best For Beginners

2. Seagull S6 Original

Seagull S6 Original

Body And Neck:
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Seagull is making great guitars and the S6 Original is no exception. It has a solid cedar top with Canadian wild cherry back and sides. The wood is highlighted with the semi-gloss finish.

The neck is silver leaf maple with a rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is also made of rosewood. It has a strong and bright sound with the boom-y-ness contained by the modified dreadnaught style body. The neck is slightly wider than a standard acoustic, and finger pickers will really enjoy the extra spacing.

There is also a “slim” version with a narrower neck for those who prefer a slimmer neck width. Additional options include adding electronics, a left-hand version, or a case. This guitar is the overall winner in the beginners acoustic guitars chart as well.

Best Value Pick

3. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Body And Neck:
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Value:

Cut from the same cloth as the iconic Gibson Hummingbird, Epiphone’s affordable electro-acoustic Hummingbird PRO proves an excellent guitar for rock, blues and pretty much anything else you can think of.

With the classic 1960s square-shouldered dreadnought body, the guitar features a solid spruce top, while the back and sides are made of select mahogany. Mahogany is also used on the SlimTaper D-shaped neck, which has a rosewood fretboard and 20 frets.

As mentioned in our full review of the Hummingbird PRO the guitar comes fitted with the Shadow ePerformer preamp, with some versatile controls to tweak the naturally rich sound. Throw in the familiar Hummingbird pickguard, a rosewood bridge, and quality Grover tuners, and you have a pretty great electro-acoustic!

4. Breedlove Discovery Concerto

Breedlove Discovery Concerto

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New for 2019, Breedlove has released their new Concerto-sized guitar into their respected Discovery Series, allowing you to try it out at a price that most people can afford.

It features a unique body size, which delivers the boominess and volume that dreadnought and jumbo guitarists love, yet with a more comfortable shape for enhanced playability. With a top made from solid Sitka spruce and a slim nato neck, the materials and craftsmanship make this hard to pass up.

The sound is indeed big and bold, but it doesn’t compromise on tonal complexity – for a guitar on the affordable side of midrange, it really is surprisingly deep. You can read more on Breedlove’s Discovery Concerto in the complete review.

5. Fender Sonoran SCE

Fender Sonoran SCE

Body And Neck:
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Fender aren’t particularly famous for their acoustic guitars, but their Sonoran SCE is one cool electro-acoustic that thoroughly deserves its place in this chart thanks to the awesome looks, sound and playability on offer.

There’s no doubting this is a Fender-designed model, with a fast-playing 20-fret maple neck, a pallete of color choices, and the iconic Stratocaster headstock up top. With a groovy vintage vibe, the single-cutaway dreadnought body features a top made of solid spruce, with laminate mahogany back and sides, while the decoration – including the unique checkerboard rosette – is top notch.

As we mention in the full Sonoran SCE review, the Fishman electronics are versatile and really help this acoustic sing.

6. The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

Body And Neck:
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The LH-204 Brownstone is an excellent mid-range small-bodied acoustic from the Chinese brand, The Loar. The company’s focus is on producing authentic pre-war inspired acoustics, and they succeed with the Brownstone.

For obvious reasons, it’s generally lacking much in the way of decoration, but it impresses in pretty much every other area including upgraded hardware and a solid build quality. It features a brown-stained solid Sitka spruce top with laminated mahogany back and sides, and produces a wonderfully woody and mellow tone – perfect for the blues.

The C-shaped mahogany neck feels very playable, and sports a padauk fretboard with 19 medium frets. There’s more on this cool vintage guitar in the LH-204 Brownstone’s full review.

7. Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Body And Neck:
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Sound:
Value:

Another epic Epiphone to grace this list is the EJ-200CE, which is a modern tribute to Gibson’s J-200 – also known as the most famous acoustic guitar in the world.

This Epiphone remake features similar distinctive details, such as the jumbo body size, the elaborate pickguard and the moustache bridge. The body is made using solid spruce on the top, as well as a hard maple neck with 20 frets, accessible via the cutaway.

As we mention in the main EJ-200CE review, this electro-acoustic features some very respectable and reliable components, such as the Shadow eSonic-II pickup system as well as Grover Rotomatic tuners. The big, booming sound comes as standard.

8. Blueridge BR-43

Blueridge BR-43

Body And Neck:
Hardware:
Sound:
Value:

The BR-43 is a ooo body sized acoustic by Blueridge. The ooo body style is the original folk size brought to you by Martin during the prewar era. The top is solid Sitka spruce with mahogany back and sides. The bracing is forward X-pattern that is consistent with the vintage body style.

The slim neck is made of mahogany with an East Indian Rosewood fingerboard. Mother of Pearl inlay is used for both the dot inlays and headstock ornate inlay.

Southpaws will be able to enjoy this guitar too since it comes in a left-handed model as well. The sound has a focused midrange tone with plenty of vintage vibe.

9. Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

Body And Neck:
Hardware:
Sound:
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Inspired by the 1950s cowboy classic 6022 Rancher, this modern G5022CE Rancher electro-acoustic from Gretsch offers retro style in bucket loads, with an eye-catching Savannah Sunset finish, distinctive triangular soundhole, gold-plated machine heads, and thumbnail inlays among other vintage additions. The guitar itself has a jumbo body with a deep single cutaway.

The top is crafted from solid spruce with laminated flamed maple on the back and sides. The neck is mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard and 21 frets. Acoustically it sounds bright and vibrant, although can be a little quieter than you’d expect.

However through the Fishman Isys III preamp system this is less of a problem. Make sure to check out the complete review of the Gretsch G5022CE Rancher.

What Kind of Guitar Can You Get For $500?

In this price range you can find some excellent acoustics for $500, usually with some change left over from that amount!

Compared to the majority of acoustic guitars coming it at under $300, these sub-$500 acoustics offer more choice and higher quality. This can include more choice in guitar shape/size, as well as different designs, nicer rosettes, and better overall detailing.

A solid top – usually spruce, mahogany or cedar – is now standard practice, even though the back and sides of the guitar will still usually be laminated. Of course, along with better materials and craftsmanship usually comes better tone – bigger and more nuanced than what is common in the lower price ranges.

Who Should Buy a Guitar in this Range?

With a midrange price that most people can afford, you will find pretty much every kind of guitarist buying in this category. Beginners who don’t want to go with something in the entry-level ranges will be rewarded with better comfort and playability, while experienced players will find the upgraded components and – if it’s an electro-acoustic – upgraded electronics more suitable for stage performances.

They are also great guitars for casual players who want more than an all-laminate acoustic to play around on. For many, a model in this range will be a second guitar, having learned and progressed on something more basic.

Are $500 Guitars Upgrade-able?

Of course! While the hardware is usually better than what you would find on a guitar in the lower ranges, you can turn a good guitar into a great one by making some changes.

While it may seem complicated at first, there is no need to be afraid of making aftermarket upgrades to your new guitar – whether something as simple as a new nut/saddle or an advanced preamp system. Naturally, if you don’t have the confidence to do it yourself, then find a good tech to do the work for you.

However, don’t make these upgrades with an eye to sell the guitar for more money – it’s better to do the upgrades to make the instrument work better for you. What you might think is an upgrade, someone else may not like!

Should I Buy a Used Guitar?

Buying used is definitely an option, although if you are going down this route, we suggest doing your homework.

Firstly, stay away from auction sites and stay away from pawn shops and flea markets – while there are decent bargains to be had here, there are equally as many pitfalls of buying from unreputable sources.

Instead, head to your local guitar store, who probably have a selection of good-quality used acoustics. Alternatively, use a good online store like Amazon or Guitar Center, who have solid returns policies, should you encounter any problems. A new guitarist might want to take along a friend who knows more about what is out there, rather than going it alone.

If you find a used guitar you like, be ready to pull the trigger since there is no guarantee that it will be there the next time you return. Keep your wits about you and you just might get a really good deal!

The Final Word

The models under $500 are generally superb, with plenty to crow about. In this range, you can have an instrument that sounds fantastic, looks great, and has all the bells and whistles you want, without breaking the bank. While higher-end acoustics may not have changed much over the years, this midrange group is having a bit of a revolution – and the winners are us, the guitar buying public.

Ultimately, take your time, look through our list, figure out what you like, then go and buy the right guitar for you. Just remember, guitars are like potato chips – you can’t have just one!


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