9 Top-Rated Acoustic Guitars Under $500 – Looking For Value

Best-Acoustic-Guitar-Under-$500

Last Updated: Feb-05-2018
Our chart full of magnificent mid-range acoustics needed a bit of a refresh after plenty of price and model changes in the past few months. We removed a few of the more dated models, including the Luna Fauna Phoenix and Fender’s Stratacoustic Plus, and replaced them with the Epiphone Hummingbird, The Loar LH-204 Brownstone, the groovy Fender Sonoran SCE, and our new top spot, the excellent Yamaha L-Series LS6.

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.

Let’s check them out!

Top 9 Acoustic Guitars Under $500:

ImageAcoustic Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Yamaha L Series LS6 Yamaha L Series LS6

Total of 4.88/5  

An electro-acoustic with a truly premium tone.

+ - Seagull S6 Seagull S6

Total of 4.88/5  

The S6 is a proven quality guitar with great price.

+ - Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

Total of 4.67/5  

The AEW40ZW makes use of exotic zebrawood for a true eye-catching look.

+ - Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Total of 4.72/5  

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

+ - Fender Sonoran SCE Fender Sonoran SCE

Total of 4.75/5  

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

+ - The Loar LH-204 Brownstone The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

Total of 4.72/5  

A pre-war inspired blues machine from The Loar.

+ - Blueridge BR-43 Blueridge BR-43

Total of 4.42/5  

The guitar produces traditional sounds enhanced with a modern touch.

+ - Gretsch G5022CE Rancher Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

Total of 4.65/5  

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

+ - Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic

Total of 4.42/5  

It is not for everyone, but for those who are looking for this kind of instrument.

Yamaha L Series LS6

Yamaha L Series LS6

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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.

Seagull S6

Seagull S6

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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.

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW40ZW

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Spruce and cedar too bland for you? You’ll be keen to read more about this eye-catching Ibanez AEW40ZW, which makes full use of exotic zebrawood on the top, back and sides. With a distinctive jumbo body shape and soft Florentine cutaway, this electro-acoustic model also features a satin-finished C-shaped mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 easily accessible frets. As for electronics, the AEW40ZW comes loaded with an Ibanez-designed AEQ-SP2 preamp with a Fishman Sonicore pickup. This system includes simple volume, bass and treble controls, an on-board digital tuner, and both Balanced XLR and 1/4” outputs for plenty of versatility. It looks great, plays great, and offers a big vibrant tone with plenty of brightness.

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

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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!

Fender Sonoran SCE

Fender Sonoran SCE

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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.

The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

The Loar LH-204 Brownstone

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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.

Blueridge BR-43

Blueridge BR-43

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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.

Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

Gretsch G5022CE Rancher

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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.

Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic

Washburn Vintage Series R314KK Acoustic

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With the Vintage Series of guitars Washburn is going for a used but not abused look and feel. They are resurrecting their original designs from the late 19th and early 20th century. The Washburn R314KK is a parlor sized instrument with a spruce top and trembesi back and sides. The mahogany V-shaped neck has an ebony fingerboard. 1800s style inlays are used to further that old look that Washburn has captured so well. The hardware is distressed and the finish has a vintage look to it. The tone is very good and it projects well. If you are looking to add a parlor style acoustic then the R314KK is a great addition to anyone’s collection.

$500 budget? Here’s What To Look Out For!

In this price bracket are some real good guitars that are stage worthy. They are made with nicer materials and better quality, which means better tone. These guitars will also be dressed up better with nice rosettes, abalone accents, and better wood grains. In this price range good is the norm and not the exception.

Those who are buying in this range are new students who want to start out on a better guitar, performers looking for something that has good tone and sturdy construction, and hobbyists who want more than an all laminate to play around on. These guitars can cover all those wants and needs, and even provide a bit more if you take your time and research your purchase. This is where guitars really start to get good. Also don’t forget to check out our article on the best classical guitars under $500.

Don’t be afraid to make aftermarket upgrades to your new guitar. If you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, then find a good tech to do the work for you. Don’t make the upgrades with an eye to sell the guitar for more money. Do the upgrades to make the instrument work better for you. What you might think is an upgrade someone else may not like or they might want an unmodified version to do their own upgrades to it.

Should I Buy A Used Guitar?

Buying used is definitely an option, but I would definitely suggest you do your homework. A new guitarist might want to take along a friend who knows more about what is out there, than going it alone. Stay off the auction sites, and stay away from pawn shops. Take the time to go to your local music store, and talk to someone who works there. They are interested in having you coming back so they aren’t going to sell you a piece of junk just to make a commission.

You can a get a bit more guitar for your money by going used, but you are taking a risk. Not everyone is good about taking care of their stuff. Stay away from the obviously used and abused. Be ready to pull the trigger on a used guitar when you find it since there is no guarantee that it will be there the next time you go back. Be smart and you just might get a really good deal.

Before You Go…

The under $500 models are really good with plenty to crow about. You can get an instrument that sounds fantastic, looks great, and has all the bells and whistles you want without breaking the bank. The premium models have not changed much over the years, but this mid-range group is having a revolution of quality and tone. The winners are us, the guitar buying public. You can even look into getting electro-acoustic guitars, but remember you will have to think about an amp, cables, and possibly pedals. Take your time, look through our list, figure out what works for you, 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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