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If you’re in the market for a new acoustic guitar, one of the first things that inevitably comes to mind is the possible cost. Rightfully so, especially if you have a smaller budget to work with but still want to find the best guitar possible.
Fortunately, a highly playable acoustic guitar can be relatively affordable. The guitar market has a sort of hierarchy of how guitars are priced, with each price range being targeted to different types of players.
Read on to learn how to decipher this market and understand the reasoning behind the cost of an acoustic guitar. We will include some examples of acoustic guitars available to supplement the information provided.
Lower Budget Acoustic Guitars
If you’re just starting out on the guitar, or perhaps buying a child their first guitar, a lower-priced acoustic guitar is likely going to be the most suitable for you. Why is this?
One of the main reasons that a lower-priced guitar is an ideal option is due to the fact that, quite often, a beginner doesn’t make it beyond the initial stages of learning the instrument. Although this is a fairly sad reality, the benefits of this route ensure that you haven’t spent an exorbitant amount of money on something that isn’t getting used.
However, if the new guitarist has the time-tested dedication and their skill level has progressed beyond their instrument, a higher-priced guitar is a worthy upgrade. This not only rewards the dedication, but the guitarist will feel that they’ve worked for and earned the guitar.
What You Can Expect with a Low-Budget Acoustic
Acoustic guitars priced in this range have a reason for being priced affordably. Much of this has to do with inexpensive components, less attention to detail due to mass production, and the fact that the guitar was likely manufactured in a facility with affordable labor.
This is not a phenomenon that is unique only to the guitar industry, as nearly every industry provides products at different price points. Generally speaking, products that tend to have more features or a better build quality tend to be higher in price.
The price range for low-budget acoustic guitars usually spans between $100-$350, with the overall quality of the guitar likely to be reflected in the price.
The materials used in the construction of the acoustic are likely to be of more abundant and cheaper woods. Some low-budget guitars actually have a body made of synthetic laminate to help keep the consumer cost down.
The hardware on the guitar is also likely to be of a lesser-grade quality, with nuts and saddles likely to be made of plastic.
When it comes to the overall craftsmanship of the guitar, low-budget guitars are simply not given the same critical eye that more expensive guitars receive. These guitars are usually built in massive quantities, with the sole intention of being suitable for a beginner.
A hands-on experience with these guitars is likely to involve a number of different potential issues including:
- Tuning instability
- High playing action (string height)
- Possible sharp fret ends
However, to think that these affordable guitars are not playable would be an incorrect assumption. While there are some guitars that provide the absolute bare minimum for a playable guitar, there are quite a few excellent low-budget guitars available that outperform the standard for this price range. The following guitar is a great example of this.
The Yamaha FD01S is a very affordable guitar in the low-budget range, ideal for a beginner’s first guitar. The FD01S is a testament to Yamaha’s reputation for producing high-value instruments for every price and skill level.
The FD01S stands out amongst other guitars in this price range, boasting a body with the back and sides crafted from Nato (also known as Eastern Mahogany). The top of the guitar is made of solid spruce, which is a rare sight in a price range largely dominated by laminate tops.
The FD01S also has a 20-fret rosewood fretboard and a neck also made from Nato. The nut and the saddle of the guitar are made from plastic.
Overall, the Yamaha FD01S is a great value. This is a guitar built with quality (yet affordable) materials, resulting in a balanced tone and excellent projection that matures into a rich sound as the guitar ages.
Item Weight: 6.49 pounds
Package Dimensions: 42 x 18.5 x 5.7 inches
Medium-Budget Acoustic Guitars
Acoustic guitars that are priced between $350 (on the low side of the price spectrum) to $750 (on the high side) are generally considered to be medium-budget guitars. Guitars in this price range tend to be best suited for intermediate players, although a professional could easily use a medium-budget guitar on stage without any issue.
For the most part, a medium-budget acoustic guitar has a very good possibility of being the only acoustic guitar you’ll ever need. Much of this depends on what you are using the acoustic for, as regular stage performing professionals may have an easier time with a higher-budget acoustic.
What To Expect with a Medium-Budget Acoustic
As would be expected, the acoustic guitars in this price range have a better overall build quality than those found in the low-budget price range. This includes both materials used as well as the craftsmanship put into the guitar.
Many acoustic guitars in this range will still tend to have wood from a more abundant source or a body made with laminate and/or synthetic materials. The fretboards will tend to also be of higher-grade materials.
These acoustic guitars will also tend to have slightly better hardware components on the guitar. Quite often, while nuts and saddles can still be plastic, there are other synthetic options available in this price range, many of which simulate the qualities of a bone-crafted nut.
The playing experience with these guitars will usually be considerably better than low-budget acoustic guitars. The playing action (string height) of the guitar will be far more accessible, with less energy exertion required for proper fretting.
Medium-budget guitars will also have a richer tone than low-budget guitars. This is likely due to higher construction quality and higher-grade materials that have a better resonant profile. Guitars in this range are likely to have acoustic-electric capabilities with a built-in pickup and preamp system.
The following guitar is a great example of a medium-budget acoustic guitar that is ideal for intermediate-level players, as it provides a fertile playground for learning guitarists to continue developing their skills.
Yamaha FSX820C Cutaway
Another fine example from Yamaha’s acoustic guitar line is the Yamaha FSX820C. This guitar is a noticeable step above the aforementioned lower-budget acoustic, yet still built to provide extreme value and playability for the intermediate-to-professional level player.
The FSX820C’s body consists of a back and sides made from Mahogany, and a top made of solid Spruce. The body itself is constructed using Yamaha’s newest scalloped bracing method, resulting in a wide tonal range with a richer EQ in the low and mid ranges.
The neck of the guitar is made from Nato, with a 20-fretted Rosewood fretboard. Due to the cutaway style of the guitar, the frets are easily accessible in the higher ranges.
If you’re looking to play live, the FSX820C is ideal, as it comes equipped with a Yamaha System-66 pickup and preamp system.
This guitar also has an upgrade in the hardware used as well. The FSX820C has die-cast chrome tuning machines, as well as a nut and saddle made from Urea (a carbon-based synthetic chemical compound).
The FSX820C also has an attractive rosette along with cream binding on the edges of the guitar.
Overall, the FSX820C is a highly playable guitar, fully-equipped to suit the needs of any intermediate player who has aspirations of performing live.
Item Weight: 6.84 pounds
Package Dimensions: 41.6 x 19.1 x 6 inches
High-Budget Acoustic Guitars
If you have a larger budget for an acoustic, you have access to acoustic guitars of premium build quality. These high-budget guitars have a large price range of $700-$1800.
For the most part, these guitars are usually best suited to those that have a time-tested dedication to the instrument, as well as those who are professional musicians regularly performing on stage or in the studio. Guitars priced in this range tend to be overkill for the beginner, in both price and quality.
What To Expect With A High-Budget Acoustic
As you might have guessed, high-budget guitars are generally crafted from top-notch materials, with a critical eye for detail given to each instrument. You will likely not encounter the issues that you would with a low-budget guitar, and the overall quality compared to a medium-budget guitar will be noticeable.
Some of the benefits you can expect with a high-budget guitar include:
- Premium wood selections
- High-quality hardware
- Rich tone
- Increased resonance
- Increased sensitivity
- Easier playability and lower action
- Higher quality decorative features
- Generally, comes with a hardshell case or protective gig bag
To give an example of a high-budget acoustic guitar, the following guitar is a popular choice for many guitarists. Take note of the difference in materials used compared to the low-budget and medium-budget acoustic examples previously given.
Taylor 214ce-K Grand Auditorium
The Taylor 214ce-K’s body has sides and back crafted from Koa, with a top made from resonant Sitka Spruce. The body itself features X-bracing architecture to accentuate the tonal properties of the wood combinations.
The neck of the 214ce-K is made of Sapele and features a 20-fret fingerboard crafted from West African Ebony. The bridge is also made from Ebony.
This guitar also boasts chrome tuning machines as well as a nut and saddle made of either Tusq or Micarta (which resemble bone).
Electric playing is accommodated with an ES-2 pickup and preamp which delivers a pristine tonal balance. Included with the guitar is a high-quality gig bag.
Item Weight: 12 pounds
Package Dimensions: 45 x 19 x 8 inches
Exotic/No Budget Acoustic Guitars
Generally, any guitar priced at $2000 and beyond is considered to be an exotic guitar. These guitars are absolutely ideal for those with no budget, those with a professional need, or those who view guitars as an investment.
Acoustic guitars priced in this price range are some of the finest instruments you can buy. Most high-value vintage instruments will also fall into this price category, as these types of purchases are not the most economic for beginners or intermediate players.
What To Expect With Exotic/No Budget Acoustics
Reflecting the price of exotic guitars, the overall quality compared to other lower-priced guitars will be (or should be) far superior. Quite often, these guitars will be crafted from the very best of materials available.
Each of these instruments is likely to have been crafted with a high level of detail, often by a master guitar luthier. The result is a rare guitar that has qualities far beyond a guitar model of mass production.
Quite often, guitarists looking for an exotic guitar will have a custom guitar built for them from an independent luthier or well-known guitar company. By doing so, the guitarist will receive a guitar that is built to their own desired specifications, and tailored to their own unique playing style.
Martin guitars are well-known to be of the highest quality acoustics available, and the Martin 000-28 is a great example. This guitar is completely handcrafted with some of the finest materials available.
The body of the 000-28 has sides and back made of East Indian Rosewood, with a solid Sitka Spruce top. The construction of the guitar body features scalloped X-bracing for greater definition and resonance.
The 000-28 has an Ebony fretboard with 20 frets. However, this guitar has been given a critical eye with a Plek machine to ensure that each fret has consistent accuracy.
This guitar also has high-grade hardware components. The nut and saddle are both crafted from bone, and the tuning machines are made of nickel.
Overall, the 000-28 Martin Guitar is a beautiful instrument that has been crafted with care. A highly decorative herringbone binding outlines the body of the guitar, and an inlay is featured on the back of the guitar.
Item Weight: 17.6 pounds
Package Dimensions: 47 x 20 x 9 inches
How Much Does An Acoustic Guitar Cost? Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, the affordability of an acoustic guitar ultimately depends on a combination of your financial situation (and what you deem to be affordable) as well as your personal capability and requirements for the instrument.
Just like any skilled profession, it goes without saying that someone who makes a living playing guitar is going to have an easier time with a better-crafted instrument. Fortunately, there are guitars available for every price range and skill level, ensuring an accessible level of entry for those who wish to play the instrument.
Last Updated on January 13, 2022.
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