If you’re reading this guide, it’s likely because you’re in the market for an acoustic guitar.
And, you might be on a bit of a budget, in which case you’re in the right place at the right time.
Today, there is a big selection of quality guitars you can get in this price range.
Here you will find our top picks for acoustic guitars under $/£500.
Standard 6-String Acoustic Guitars
We have quite a few guitars to cover in this guide, so we thought we’d place them under broader categories to make scanning easy.
We could have organized guitars by body shape (dreadnought, jumbo, auditorium, etc.) but that seems a bit excessive for a list like this.
So, in this section, you will find what we could consider relatively standard six-string acoustic guitars.
Some are strictly acoustic. Others are acoustic-electric and have built-in pickup systems.
Here are the best acoustic guitars in this category.
Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic/Electric Guitar
No list like this would be complete without an Ibanez acoustic, as Ibanez has been making great quality midrange acoustics for a while now.
The Ibanez AW54CEOPN acoustic-electric comes with a cutaway dreadnought body, solid mahogany top, mahogany back and sides, ovangkol fretboard and bridge, white dot inlay, chrome die-cast tuners, Ibanez T-bar Undersaddle Pickup, Ibanez AEQ-TP2 preamp with onboard tuner and balanced 1/4” and XLR outputs.
We think this might be one of the best sounding guitars on this list.
Its natural tone is warm, rich, clear and nicely separated.
The pickup sound is decent, but we feel that’s where it falls short a little bit.
The pickup seems to “crunch” the sound of the guitar, reducing it to its plucky high end, leaving its fullness in the dust.
It’s not a bad pickup by any means – but it doesn’t do the acoustic sound of the guitar justice.
For a better electric sound, you might consider finding a good aftermarket pickup.
Overall, the guitar holds the Ibanez reputation solidly in place – they offer great bang for buck with their products.
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
The Canadian-made Seagull S6 dreadnought comes in a few different configurations, but the S6 Original Series is a solid offering all its own.
This award-winning guitar comes with a solid cedar top, wild cherry back, silver leaf maple neck and a semi-gloss finish.
Seagull’s most popular and best-selling guitar also features a double action truss rod, tapered headstock for precise and stable tuning and a Tusq nut and compensated saddle for better intonation.
The skinny neck is home to die-cast chrome tuners, and the design also helps keep the guitar in tune.
We find the guitar offers a good, balanced tone if a bit on the scratchy/bright side of things, which is mostly due to the woods used on the back and sides.
No, it certainly doesn’t sound big, but it has a good, cutting tone.
In our opinion, it sounds better picked than strummed (most acoustic guitars are better for one or the other), though some might disagree with that assessment.
As a general observation, we find that Canadian-made guitars – especially brands owned by Godin – are great value for the money, and this Seagull is no exception.
Buyers are mostly delighted this this guitar, though some say it’s a beginner guitar at best.
You can’t argue with the price, though.
Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic/Electric Guitar
The surprisingly affordable Epiphone Hummingbird PRO comes with a solid spruce top, select mahogany on the body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, SlimTaper “D” Profile neck and adjustable truss rod.
The fingerboard and back of the body feature one-ply white binding, while the top of the body comes with five-ply white/black binding.
It also comes with Grover 14:1 machine heads, and a Shadow ePerformer HD Preamp and Shadow NanoFlex HD pickup system for plugging into your favorite DI, pedal, amp or PA system.
The Hummingbird is a country/rock classic thanks to players like Keith Richards, Noel Gallagher, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock, who popularized the Gibson model it was based on.
The guitar has a good midrange push, which gives it a relatively balanced tone.
Gibsons and Epiphones generally aren’t bright to begin with, but this guitar has good cut without sounding harsh.
If anything, we feel the bass could be a little warmer, as that’s what you’d naturally expect from the manufacturer.
But we simply can’t deny its overall appeal and agreeable price point, so you’ll continue to see Epiphone guitars on most lists we make.
Epiphone EJ-200SCE Acoustic/Electric Guitar
The Epiphone EJ-200SCE features a historic “Jumbo-200” style design with a solid spruce top, select maple for the body and hard maple for the neck and a 1960s SlimTaper D-shape neck.
It comes with a Shadow eSonic-II HD Stereo Pickup System, Shadow NanoMag and NanoFlex pickups, Grover Rotomatic machine heads with 18:1 tuning ratio, pearloid “crown” inlays and a two-way adjustable truss rod.
Available in Black, Natural and Vintage Sunburst finishes, this guitar features a cutaway, which can help with accessing higher frets.
It’s a great looking guitar and thanks to the pickup system, it’s also versatile.
The NanoMag and NanoFlex pickups can be used independently, or simultaneously, through the same amplifier or PA system or through two separate speakers, for more flexibility.
This guitar sounds great strummed, and it offers a nice, warm tone.
And, it can even give you a bit of cut if you need it.
The tone has a certain thickness to it, but not as much as you might expect from a guitar of this size.
But whether you’re playing folk or jazz, you can probably find plenty of usable tones.
This is another Epiphone worth a look.
Yamaha L-Series LS6 Concert Size Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Yamaha L-Series LS6 concert size acoustic-electric guitar is made of hand-selected, premium solid Engelmann Spruce top treated with A.R.E.
It also features rosewood back and sides, five-ply neck with high comfort traditional profile, SRT Zero Impact Pickup and comes equipped with Elixir strings.
The five-ply neck offers more durability and increased tuning stability, and this allows Yamaha to set the string height low out of the factory.
In case you’re wondering what “A.R.E.” is, it stands for Acoustic Resonance Enhancement treatment, which has been applied to the tonewood of the guitar.
The idea is that aged wood sounds better on an acoustic guitar due to fuller, richer tones.
With A.R.E., Yamaha managed to accelerate the aging process on the woods, giving the guitar more of a vintage tone.
The spruce top offers enhanced roundness and midrange, as you might expect.
But for a guitar of its size and in its price range, it certainly sounds big.
The high-end “pluck” is also nice, making this a good guitar for funky and groovy musical styles.
At this price range, the Yamaha is simply hard to ignore.
If you want to get your money’s worth, this is a good place to start.
Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar
The Fender CD-60S dreadnought style acoustic guitar comes with a solid spruce top and scalloped “X”-bracing, mahogany back and sides, Sonokeling with Urea Compensated Saddles, “easy-to-play” neck with fingerboard edges and one-year warranty.
Generally, we’re a little skeptical of Fender acoustics but they often make for good beginner instruments.
Overall, the neck is comfortable to play, as it’s neither too thin nor too thick – we like what Fender has done here.
The guitar has reasonably good body and a bit of that characteristic round, spruce tone.
Its most attractive quality is probably the sparkly high end, but this does mean the bass is lacking a bit of warmth.
And, it sounds better picked than strummed, at least in terms of note separation.
But we still think the Fender is a good sounding guitar and since it has a solid top, it should get better with age.
It plays good out of the box and customers tend to agree that it’s a solid choice.
Taylor Academy 10 Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor Academy 10 was built with beginners in mind.
It comes with an armrest, so if you’re not used to handling dreadnought guitars, you can use this feature to get comfortable on the instrument.
This guitar features a solid sitka spruce top, layered sapele back and sides and doesn’t come with cutaway or electronics.
The guitar has a full, rich, round tone rarely heard on beginner level guitars.
The Academy 10 sounds good picked or strummed, which is also surprising.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, nice-sounding acoustic with Taylor’s trademark neck style, you’ll love this axe.
Most customers love the sound and build quality of this guitar, and we don’t find that the least bit surprising.
The Taylor serves its purpose well.
Takamine GD20CE-NS Dreadnought Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Takamine GD20CE-NS dreadnought guitar comes with a solid cedar top, quatersawn “X” bracing, pin-less rosewood bridge and Takamine TP-4TD preamp system with built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls.
In general, we find Takamine guitars sound bright and cutting, which makes them great for performance, especially in a band context.
At the same time, we often find that the treble needs to be dialed back a bit for achieving ideal tone.
This guitar certainly has the signature Takamine twang, but its tone is also round and full, and it sounds great strummed or picked.
To us, it almost sounds like a spruce top guitar as opposed to a cedar top one.
That’s a comment on its natural tone.
Its plugged-in tone features quite a bit more high end, which is what we’d expect.
Customers love the Takamine tone and playability.
Ovation AE44II-5 Applause Elite 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Ovation guitars are considered somewhat niche because of their odd, rounded bodies and design that make them better for the stage than for casual playing (not that you can’t play them unplugged, mind you).
The Ovation Applause Elite features a layered spruce soundboard, Ovation X bracing, Lyrachord body, mahogany neck, ovangkol fretboard, ABS white inlays, ABS ivory binding, ovangkol bridge, Ovation die-cast black tuners, CE304T preamp and CT-600A pickup.
Acoustically, the guitar offers a bright tone with good separation.
Plugged in, you can expect more of a midrange boost without losing its natural clarity.
This is a great guitar for live performance, but of course if you’re willing to spend more, you can find Ovations that are built with better quality materials and are even better sounding.
And, while we do like the Ovation, we know the rounded back isn’t for everyone.
If you’re not familiar with how it feels, we’d suggest trying an Ovation at your local guitar store before settling on one.
Ovation CE44-1 Celebrity Elite Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Ovation CE44-1 acoustic-electric features a classic mid-depth Lyrachord cutaway body, solid sitka spruce top with Elite multi soundhole design, scalloped “X” bracing, mahogany neck, ovangkol fretboard, ABS white inlays, ovangkol bridge, OP-4CT preamp and CP-100 pickup.
This is a bit of a step up from the Applause Elite we just looked at.
We find the guitar has good separation, even played acoustically.
Plus, it still offers plenty or richness and body.
Again, as with the Applause Elite, plugging it in will give your midrange a serious boost.
The high-end sparkle, of course, also makes it great for live performance.
We can’t recommend the Ovation to everyone based on its rounded back, but otherwise we find it to be a great acoustic-electric option with a relatively low price tag.
Parlor, Travel & 3/4-Size Guitars
The travel and small guitar market have grown considerably.
There are several factors for this, not the least of which is Ed Sheeran, who had a hand in popularizing the Little Martin.
Small guitars are portable and convenient, high-quality and sound good, especially for what they are.
They can be good for live performance too, especially if you buy one with electronics.
Here we will look at three smaller guitars that are worth the asking price.
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor GS Mini is a parlor guitar with a big attitude.
Highly portable, this model features tropical mahogany on the top, layered sapele back and sides, ebony fingerboard, Nubone Nut/Micarta saddle die-cast tuners and a custom-designed aftermarket ES-Go pickup.
Thanks to the tonewoods, the GS Mini has a balanced tone with quite a bit of midrange push.
The high end is clear without being brash, but to our ears the bass sounds a little thin.
Additionally, it doesn’t necessarily have great string separation.
When you consider the size of the guitar, that minor inconvenience is forgivable.
This would be a great guitar for traveling, and if you don’t feel comfortable sitting with a full-sized acoustic, you’ll love this little axe.
There are lots of rave reviews for the Taylor, although some customers seem to prefer a Martin in the parlor acoustic guitar space.
Either way, we think it’s tough work making a small guitar sound good, so it’s deserving of a place on this list.
Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar
When it comes to smaller guitars, many prefer the Martin LX1.
This guitar features a solid sitka spruce top, mahogany pattern high pressure laminate textured finish, Rust Stratabond neck, shortened to 3/4 scale, chrome small-knob tuners, Tusq saddle, solid Morado or East Indian rosewood fingerboard and a padded gig bag.
Popularized by Ed Sheeran, many tend to look at the LX1 as a travel guitar, and it can certainly work for that, but in this price range, it still stands as a great option for casual and professional use.
Overall, the Little Martin sounds like a small guitar, and all frequencies have about the same amount of body to them.
And, there isn’t much separation, though happy customers who say it has good headroom would disagree with us.
We think what makes the Martin a great pick is its size, portability and durability.
If you’re a beginner with smaller hands, this is worth a look.
Taylor BT2 Baby Mahogany Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor BT2 Baby Mahogany is a mini dreadnought that was originally designed with young students and travelers in mind.
Since then, it has been adopted by a variety of musicians and has been used in unexpected and creative ways that prove its versatility and value.
The 3/4-size dreadnought comes with tropical mahogany on top, layered sapele body woods, die-cast chrome tuners, Nubone nut/Micarta saddle and a gig bag.
This guitar does not come with electronics or a cutaway, and in that sense it’s traditional and classic.
All things considered, the guitar has a full sound, and the mahogany (versus spruce) gives it a slightly darker tone.
It’s fun to play and it sounds decent enough.
Baritone guitars are tuned B to B and are pitched somewhere between standard acoustic guitars and basses.
In that sense, they could be considered niche guitars.
They can be great for a lot of applications, whether it’s for solo performances, fingerstyle blues and jazz or even acoustic rock riffs.
Baritone guitars generally cost more, because they are specialty guitars, but there is one in the relevant price range, so we thought we’d talk about it here.
Alvarez ABT60 Artist Series Baritone Acoustic Guitar
The Alvarez ABT60 comes with a solid A+ grade sitka spruce top with a gloss finish, mahogany back and sides with semi-gloss, FST2M forward shifted, scalloped bracing, mahogany neck with semi-gloss, 12th fret inlay, rosewood fretboard, premium die-cast tuners, bi-level rosewood bridge, real bone nut and saddle, ivory ABS binding and D’Addario EXP strings.
That’s all good and well but how exactly does the guitar measure up?
This is a relatively unique guitar in the sense that it’s a baritone guitar, which aren’t exactly common.
A baritone guitar sits somewhere between a dreadnought and an acoustic bass in terms of pitch and tone, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about buying this one.
We’d generally view this as a nice addition to your collection rather than your mainstay, because you probably wouldn’t use it for everything.
If you got creative with a capo, however, you could probably get away with using this guitar in a variety of musical contexts.
Further, fingerstyle blues and jazz players would likely find a lot of use for this guitar.
As you can imagine, due to its jumbo body and lower tuning its sound is dark and warm, but we also find it has good clarity and attack.
We think the Alvarez is a super cool guitar in this price range.
It can be tricky finding 12-string guitars in this price range, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
A 12-string guitar, like a baritone guitar, could be considered a niche guitar because they aren’t used for everything.
But there are plenty of famous songs that feature 12-strings, whether it’s The Eagles’ “Hotel California”, Led Zeppelin’s “Over The Hills And Far Away” or Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”.
A 12-string guitar functions a lot like a mandolin, where each string gets a complementary octave string that increases the output and enhances the frequency spectrum of the guitar.
There aren’t a ton of options at this price point, but here’s a 12-string that might strike your fancy.
Takamine G Series GD30CE-12NAT Dreadnought 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Takamine GD30CE-12NAT comes with a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, satin-finished mahogany neck, ovangkol fingerboard, quartersawn “X” bracing, all in the popular dreadnought cutaway body shape.
Thanks to the 12 strings, the guitar has a full, if somewhat “clangy” sound.
For basic 12 string needs, it should more than do the trick and the pickup with built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls makes it great for live performance.
Most customers are satisfied with their purchase, and we agree – for a 12-string with this price tag, it could be a lot worse.
Classical guitars are sometimes considered an instrument category all their own.
We at Guitar Aficionado basically look at them as nylon-string acoustic guitars (as opposed to steel-string acoustics), but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t play one with different technique.
Although we won’t be looking at a lot of classical guitars here, we thought it would be worth covering at least one.
Here’s our top pick in this price range.
Yamaha NTX700 Acoustic Electric Classical Guitar
The Yamaha NTX700 is somewhat of a unique classical guitar because of its body shape.
It features a thin body cutaway (NTX) body, solid spruce top, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard and a ART two-way pickup system with an onboard tuner.
This guitar was designed for a myriad of playing styles and genres for those looking to incorporate that nylon-string sound into their music.
In that sense, this could be thought of as a good guitar for those who already know how to play steel-string but have never played a nylon-string acoustic before.
We find the guitar has nice midrange projection along with a warm tone.
The thin body and cutaway make the guitar easy to play, and it’s an attractive-looking instrument to boot.
If you’re looking for a guitar that’s going to be a little easier on your fingers (nylon strings don’t dig into your fingers as much), you might consider the Yamaha.
To round out this list, we went and found a few highly rated budget acoustics that are a little easier on the wallet.
Let’s keep in mind here that you can’t spend less and ask for the world.
These guitars will do fine in a pinch, sound decent enough and play relatively well but may not be ideal for professional use.
These are all important criteria, as it doesn’t make much sense to buy a low-priced instrument that doesn’t even meet a few basic benchmarks.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few budget options.
Bristol BD-16 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The Bristol BD-16 is at the higher end of budget guitars but not cost prohibitive.
It features a spruce top, mahogany back and sides, slim mahogany neck and chrome-plated 14:1 die-cast machine heads.
The guitar certainly doesn’t boast the richness of a more expensive guitar, but there is something to be said for its clarity and note separation, which is good.
And, you do get quite a bit of high end out of this guitar, without sounding unpleasant.
The all-laminate construction should hold up to considerable abuse, though you should always care for your instruments and not subject them to undeserved torture.
We feel the Bristol is a good choice if your budget is on the smaller side.
Most buyers like the smoothness of the guitar’s tone but note that it can’t measure up to more expensive guitars.
Yamaha FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
The Yamaha FD01S is a good choice for beginners, with a solid spruce top with Nato (Eastern mahogany) back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
The guitar has surprisingly balanced tone, and it sounds great strummed or picked.
None of the frequencies sound overkill and the midrange is relatively strong.
Again, we don’t recommend this guitar if you’ve got more to spend, and you want a nice-sounding guitar that lasts you for longer.
But this is still a solid choice for the money.
And, most reviewers agree – this is a good guitar for beginners.
Jasmine S-34C NEX Acoustic Guitar
The Jasmine S-34C NEX guitar features a Grand Orchestra body style, spruce top, Jasmine advanced “X” bracing, sapele back and sides, gloss finish, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, pearloid dot inlays, synthetic bone nut and saddle and chrome hardware.
The body size and look of the guitar have instant appeal and give the instrument a more expensive look.
The guitar sounds surprisingly good.
It has far more warmth than you might expect across the sonic spectrum.
It doesn’t have huge high-end cut, but the treble still sounds balanced enough to offer clarity.
The midrange is a tad unnatural and “boomy”, so that’s probably its main downside.
Overall, the Jasmine is good guitar for the money and may even be one of the best in this general category of budget/beginner/beater guitars.
Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
It doesn’t get much cheaper than the Rogue RA-090 dreadnought, and we’re not sure you’d want to spend any less.
But in case you were curious how little you could spend and get away with it, this would probably be the limit.
This guitar comes with a dreadnought body style, whitewood body and nato neck.
When played, it sounds like a cheap guitar (as you would expect), but it’s not all bad.
It has a decent amount of headroom, it has a gentle tone, some warmth and a decent amount of clarity.
So, again, surprisingly good.
Out of the box, it has decent action, but it could be better.
You might consider bringing it to a tech for optimal string height and playability.
Otherwise, the Rogue is about as cheap you can go and still get a decent acoustic guitar.
So, Which Acoustic Guitar Under $/£500 Is Right For Me?
We’ve got dreadnoughts and jumbos, acoustic-electrics and 12-strings, 3/4-size guitars and baritones.
And, we know that doesn’t make the selection process any easier.
Not to worry, however, as we’ve narrowed down the most important criteria and offer a detailed explanation of each below.
Let’s get into it.
If you like how your guitar sounds, you’re more likely to play it.
And, the more you play, the better you will get at it.
A great tone can also be helpful when you’re playing live or recording in the studio – it can give you added confidence, which can help you perform better overall.
The size and shape of the guitar are factors, and the electronics are also important if you’re thinking about getting an acoustic-electric guitar, but by far the biggest factor is tonewood.
At this price point, you won’t find too many guitars made of high-quality rare woods, though you can find solid top guitars.
With that in mind, there are some impressive sounding spruce and mahogany guitars on this list, even though it’s one of the most commonly used woods for guitars.
If tone is a serious consideration for you, then you should buy a solid top guitar.
You probably won’t be able to find a guitar that’s made entirely of solid wood unless you spend considerably more, but fortunately, solid tops aren’t that hard to come by.
Plus, solid tops only get better with age whereas the sound of laminate guitars aren’t going to change that much, even if they are more durable.
Features You Need
There are a few things to think about here.
The first is cutaway or no cutaway.
Cutaways give you access to higher frets, which can be especially helpful for lead guitarists.
This isn’t to say that guitars with cutaways are exclusively for lead guitarists, and that guitars without are solely for rhythm guitarists.
That simply isn’t the case, because other factors might outweigh the need for a cutaway.
If, for example, you’re a lead guitarist and you came across a guitar that didn’t have a cutaway, but you loved how it played, felt and sounded, you might get the guitar anyway.
The next factor is electronics – in other words, pickup or no pickup.
In most cases, I like buying acoustic guitars that have electronics in them as it gives me more flexibility.
An acoustic-electric guitar is great for live performance, so I can bring it to an open mic or gig.
But there are others who prefer acoustics, and that’s fine too.
If you only intend to use the guitar for practice or you plan to mic it up when necessary, you should be fine without a cutaway.
The third factor is strings.
Here we’re not talking about the specific brand or model of strings but rather what kind of strings the guitar is equipped with.
In this guide, we’ve looked at one 12-string and one classical guitar.
Not surprisingly, a 12-string guitar comes with 12 stings, and a classical guitar comes with nylon strings.
Those are the only exceptions here, as all other guitars come with six steel strings (though the baritone guitar comes with thicker than normal steel strings).
If you think of yourself as an acoustic guitarist, then 12-string and classical guitars often make nice additions to your collection but may not become your main workhorses.
Meanwhile, classical guitarists will favor nylon-string acoustics over steel-string acoustics.
Finally, we have standard or baritone guitars.
Again, the baritone acoustic is a bit of a novelty.
It’s great for some things but not for all musical situations.
In most cases, like 12-string and classical guitars, a baritone guitar will be an addition to your collection rather than its centerpiece.
A Playable Instrument
There are several factors affecting playability.
If we were to break it down, it would basically be:
- The neck profile or size and style of the neck.
- The neck’s finish.
- The height of the strings.
Although other factors can come into play, these are the main ones to consider.
We favor guitars that play and feel nice in our hands, which can be harder to find with cheaper instruments.
And, based on the criteria mentioned, the only factor a tech can correct is the height of the strings.
In some instances, you might be able to replace the neck, have it refinished or even have the shape of it altered.
But this isn’t often done, and we think it defeats the purpose of buying a guitar in this price range.
An instrument’s playability is harder to assess without giving it a spin but you can always check online reviews to see what others have had to say about it.
The Right Size
We’ve looked at a few different sizes of guitars in this guide, including parlor, 3/4-size and more.
Technically, most acoustic guitars have one of the following body types:
- Dreadnought variant.
- Grand Auditorium.
But there are others out there.
And, there isn’t a right or wrong.
We know that doesn’t make your purchase decision any easier, but it’s just a fact.
The main ones I’ve owned and played are Jumbo, Grand Auditorium and Classical.
I don’t necessarily have a preference, because they’re all great in different ways.
To me, it’s always been about playability and tone, which I tend to prioritize over other factors.
If I like how the guitar sounds and plays, that’s often good enough.
If it looks cool, that’s just a bonus.
Meanwhile, if you’re a younger student or if you have small hands, it can’t hurt to give the smaller guitars a try.
When you’re first getting started, holding a guitar can be a bit of a challenge never mind trying to play it with correct technique.
So, purchase based on your needs.
Although we haven’t covered a huge price range in this guide, budget stands as an important consideration.
We suggest buying a guitar that’s well within your price range.
This can also help you narrow your options in a world where there are so many.
Get a guitar that suits you.
Should I Get An Acoustic Or Acoustic-Electric?
I’ve already shared my preference with you, which is to get an acoustic-electric over an acoustic, because it’s more versatile.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and what you intend to use the guitar for.
Technically, guitars with pickup systems have less wood than their counterparts, which could affect tone.
We don’t think it’s significant enough to have an argument over, but it’s worth acknowledging.
Something worth thinking about is how the guitar is going to be used.
If you love the acoustic tone of an instrument and will mostly be using it at home, for casual social outings and recording with a quality microphone, then you don’t necessarily need a pickup.
If you know you’re going to be playing out a lot, whether it’s open mics, jams, singer-songwriter circles or gigs, it’s nice to have the flexibility of a pickup.
And, if you have an acoustic amp or plan on buying one, you should get a guitar with electronics.
But again, you’re not required to get one or the other.
Consider what you’re going to be using the guitar for, as well as the other factors already mentioned, and purchase based on what works best for you.
Solid Top Or Laminate?
We’ve talked a lot about tonewood and guitar construction throughout this guide, and that may have left you with some questions.
While there are some exceptions, almost all guitars are made of wood, whether laminate or solid wood.
Solid wood is generally affected by weather, temperature, humidity and climate.
Laminate – less so.
In thinking about whether to buy a guitar with a solid top or laminate top, this is important to know.
Wood requires a certain amount of care and attention and you may want to use a humidifier or even put your acoustic guitars in a humidified room.
I think too much humidity in harsher climates can be a bad thing, as you take your guitar out to a friend’s house or a gig and watch as the body involuntarily cracks the moment you take it out of its case.
I’m not saying this is inevitable, but I have seen it happen.
Generally, acoustic guitars require some care and maintenance.
With that in mind, it’s solid wood guitars that require more care and attention.
Laminate wood holds up to more abuse, whether it’s climate or general dings and bumps.
For younger students, laminate guitars can be great, as they may not know how to care for the instrument just yet, and may even drop or bump their guitars, even if it’s completely involuntary.
And, laminate is generally cheaper, so if you’re looking to save on your guitar, you might look for a laminate top over a solid one.
Solid top guitars typically sound nicer and richer and, in theory, will only sound better as they age.
These are the basic factors to consider as you think about which acoustic guitar to buy.
We find that purchase decisions are often made emotionally and sometimes impulsively.
It’s human nature to make an emotional purchase decision and to justify it with logic and rational thinking later.
And, that’s perfectly fine.
What is music if not emotional?
If you plan to play guitar over the long haul, you must build a strong relationship with your instrument.
The better you feel about it, the better you’ll play, and the better experience you will have overall.
So, while it’s good to scan and consider the options, don’t be afraid to dive into a purchase if it feels right to you.
What works for you may not work for another, and again, that’s perfectly fine.