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So, you're looking for a new guitar, and have a budget of $500, huh?

Well, you've come to the right place.

We've compiled a list of the best acoustic guitars under $500 to help you make the best selection for your money.

While you can easily spend more than $500 to get the best acoustic guitar out there, it's still possible to get a great sounding instrument on a budget.

How we compiled this list.

So, what gives us the right to say which guitars are best? What gives our opinions so much weight on this topic?

Nothing.

That's why rather than using our own opinions, we compiled a list of every guitar mentioned on forums like gear sluts, reddit, and Seymour Duncan's user group forum where people are asking what the best acoustic guitar under $500 is. After that, we tally up how many times each guitar was recommended by an owner of that guitar.

So the results below are an organized list of guitars that are most recommended by users of these forums who actually play the guitars they recommended.

So instead of relying on our opinions, you're putting your trust in other musicians who spend their time online helping others find the best gear.

For each guitar, we looked at a number of text and video reviews online to compile the best information available for each one.

Before we jump into the list, let's go over a few things you should keep in mind when looking for a new guitar.

What should you look for in an acoustic guitar?

When buying a guitar, you want to make sure you get the best for the money. To do that, here are some things you should consider looking at when purchasing a new guitar at any price point.

Sound - This is the most important factor - the guitar has to sound good to you. It doesn't matter what anyone else says if you don't like the instrument. I bought pickups for my guitar that everyone else hated, but I love them, and that's what matters. If you can't find the guitar and play it at a local music store, check out some YouTube videos that feature demos of the guitar in question. If you're liking the sound, and want to play it but can't get your hands on it locally, get it at an online retailer like Amazon who has a consumer friendly return policy.

Wood - Different woods have different sounds. Mahogany is the most popular in high end instruments for it's bright tonality, while basswood is common in low end instruments and sounds pretty level across the board. For more info on how wood affects guitar tone, check out this guide.

Solid top vs. laminate top - Having a solid top gives many guitars an incredible advantage over lower end and beginner counterparts. Solid top guitars resonate more freely than laminate top guitars, so they can produce a more full sound on all levels. For beginner guitarists who are learning to play, laminate tops are fine, but they'll eventually develop an ear that seeks a real wood tone if they pursue guitar playing long enough.

Playability - If you like the sound of the guitar, great! However, you want to make sure the guitar is playable as well. How high are the strings? Is there a lot of buzzing happening when you fret a chord? Some of these can be fixed with a setup from a guitar repair shop, such as action (how high the strings are from the frets) and fret buzzing (how level the frets are across the fretboard), but it's best to purchase a guitar with these things taken care of upon manufacturing.

Type of usage - Are you using the guitar for recording? Live performance? Just for practice? Keep these things in mind when making your purchase.

Intonation - It's one thing for a guitar to be in tune when striking an open note, but does the guitar stay in tune as you move up the fretboard? If you get your guitar set up properly, this shouldn't be a problem, but some guitars go out of tune quite easily. Just something to keep an eye out for.

Now that we've covered what you should keep in mind when looking for a guitar, let's dive into the list.

Is there a clear winner?

In this case, it seems like there is a clear winner when it comes to acoustic guitars under $500, and that's the Seagull S6.

This guitar was the most recommended on every forum we looked at for guitars under $500. Many guitarists said that this guitar plays and sounds like a guitar in the $1000 price range. It's easy to see why when you look into it - the combination of a solid cedar top with a cherry back, maple neck, and a glossy finish give the guitar a crisp midrange and tight bottom end that give clarity and definition to chords and individual notes.

The only complaint about this guitar was the high action, but this is easy and inexpensive to fix at a local guitar repair shop.

If you're looking for the absolute best value guitar for under $500, this is the one.

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Top 10 Acoustic Guitars Under $500

Seagull S6

Far and away the most recommended guitar under $500. Not only is it a great looking guitar, but many mention how it sounds as if they're playing a $1000 guitar. In a blind test, you may not be able to guess that you can score this guitar at a budget. Ask anyone who has played it, and they'll probably tell you (based on our research, anyway) that it feels and sounds like a high end guitar.

This guitar features a solid cedar top with a cherry back, maple neck, and a glossy finish. Combining these woods give the guitar a crisp midrange and tight bottom end, so when you strike a chord or play individual notes, you'll be able to feel and hear the body of the guitar with clarity. Many musicians have mentioned that this guitar sounds better as it ages because of the wood used.

Combined with the woods, the dreadnaught body shape gives the guitar a lot of low end body to it's sound, but allows the guitar to push out a crisp top end tone as well.

A few people have noted that this guitar has slightly high action (how far the strings are away from the neck), but you can easily get this fixed at a local guitar repair shop pretty inexpensively.

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Taylor Big Baby

Taylor was one of the most recommended brands among guitar players, and within Taylor brand guitars, the Big Baby was the most recommended guitar in the under $500 price range. This is the biggest small-body guitar Taylor makes.

As far as woods go, this guitar is built with Sitka Spruce on the top, and layered Sapele on the bottom.

Sitka is used in 80-90% of the guitars taylor makes, and gives this guitar a broad dynamic range and crisp articulation. Every playing style, from aggressive strumming and flatpicking to fingerpicking, will sound great with this guitar.

Sitka Spruce is used in many of Taylor's more affordable guitars to maintain durability and tone in a cost effective way.

This guitar has been said by reviewers on YouTube to have a nice thin neck and great action, which make it very playable. They've also mentioned that because of its size, it's easy to travel with.

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Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a great looking, great sounding guitar for the price.

The guitar is made with solid spruce on top, with select mahogany making up the main part of the body. This gives the guitar a bright, articulate tone that allows it to cut through when playing with a full band. Note that these woods are not the same level of quality as the more expensive versions of this guitar, but the still give this guitar a great sound for the price.

This guitar also features an adjustable truss rod and rosewood bridge ensure stable intonation and action. This makes the guitar ideal if you're looking to play leads.

Many buyers of this guitar have mentioned that there was a bad amount of fret buzz or that the action was too high out of the box, so if you decide to go with this guitar, take it to your local guitar repair shop to have it properly set up before you make your final judgements.

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Blueridge BR-43

Another highly recommended guitar among guitar players is the Blueridge BR-43.

Blueridge guitars are said, among guitarists, to have very consistent quality in this price range, so check out other models from this brand if you're interested, but this is the one that was most recommended among guitar players.

Because of the body shape, size, and build, the guitar has a very traditional, midrange focused sound, and is said among reviewers to be great for finger style guitar playing. The neck is quite narrow, so it's going to be comfortable to grip on to at any spot, making it easier to reach some of those higher notes.

The guitar is built with a solid spruce top, and mahogany back and sides with vintage-style scalloped braces usually found on more expensive instruments. This combination of woods and build is what gives it a bright, midrange focused sound.

Keep in mind that the woods aren't the same level of quality as on the more expensive guitars, but they still deliver an awesome sound for the money.

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Yamaha FG800

It's been said among guitar players on the forums that they've never played a bad Yamaha guitar, and among Yamaha guitars in this price range, the best came out to be the Yamaha FG800.

This guitar contains a solid, full, and balanced spruce top with scalloped bracing to give it a fat, loud tone. The back and sides are made with eastern mahogany to give the guitar some brightness to its otherwise low end projection.

Many reviewers say this guitar sounds like a much more expensive instrument - often mentioning the $1000+ range. Also frequently discussed is the smooth neck with low action, and the fact that it stays in tune very efficiently - with the right strings.

Some other buyers, however, have often commented on the high action. If you buy this guitar and find that the strings are too high from the neck, that can be fixed with a good setup at a guitar repair shop. Playing a guitar with high action can cause bad habits, like maintaining a tight grip, so it's best to take care of this sooner rather than later.

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Takamine GN30-CE

Featuring a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides, this guitar can maintain a full and balanced sound. Owners of this guitar often talk about how it is great for beginners for its price. The 12" radius and slim mahogany neck of the guitar makes it very playable.

Having a solid top gives this guitar an incredible advantage over lower end Takamine models. Solid top guitars usually resonate more freely than laminate top guitars, so they can produce a more full sounding tone. Often times, beginner guitarists won't notice this difference, but if you're wanting to step up your tone by moving out of the beginner guitar phase, this might be the guitar for you.

Reviewers praise this guitar for its build quality and tone in this price range. This guitar includes a split saddle design at the bridge that allows for more precise compensation for each string to keep the guitar intonation in tact so everything sounds in tune all the way up the neck. The neck is also very thin so you can comfortably play the guitar for a while without exhausting your hands.

Takamine has included their NEX body style into this guitar, and has included their proprietary electronics in it, including a preamp system with a 3 band EQ, a built in tuner, and a master volume control. With these electronics, this guitar can easily be used for live performances by plugging directly into venue speakers.

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Martin LX Little Martin

If you're a new guitarist looking for something that will stay in tune longer, is easier to play, and will simply last much longer than an ordinary beginner guitar, the LX Little Martin is what you're looking for. Learning your first song is hard enough, learning on a guitar that has trouble staying in tune or has other issues can only make that experience more frustrating.

This is a great guitar for beginners who are still learning their first few songs and getting started with chords. The Little Martin, according to reviewers, is more able to stay in tune and is more easily playable than most guitars in its price range. The guitar has a mahogany pattern HPL (high pressure laminate) textured finish, solid sitka spruce top, and a shortened, 3/4 scale neck to make learning easy. For newer guitarists, the smaller neck will help them master their techniques more quickly since they won't have to keep their hands as tight to fret out chords.

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Alvarez AP66ESHB

The Alvarez AP66ESHB sports a solid mahogany body, giving this guitar resonance and punch. Because of this, this guitar is also said to sound better as it ages. Alvarez notes that they designed the forward shifted braces and mahogany back and sides specifically to allow the top to resonate better - allowing the instrument to make full use of the solid top. With a mahogany top, this guitar will have a warm midrange tone.

This guitar is also equipped with electronics that make it stage ready. The electronics include an LR Baggs StagePro EQ and Element Pick Up, and a built in tuner.

The guitar has a traditional style mahogany neck which joins the body at the 12th fret, with a short 24" scale for easy playability.

If you're looking for a reasonably priced solid top acoustic-electric guitar, then the Alvarez AP66ESHB is worth considering.

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Taylor GS Mini

You may have to stretch your budget a bit, or look for this on used, but the Taylor GS Mini is great guitar that would be at the top end of your budget. This guitar features a solid mahogany top, back, and sides to give it a rich, beautiful, full tone - all in a travel friendly size.

Guitarists everywhere talk about how great any Taylor guitar is. Taylor pays careful attention to detail in the construction of their guitars to make sure they're all made of the best material and put together with great attention to detail.

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Breedlove Discovery

This guitar consists of a solid sitka top with mahogany back and sides, giving it a strong low end and midrange tone. This guitar is ideal for entry level players who want access to the clarity and sustain of a Breedlove brand guitar.

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Conclusion

Hopefully this list gave you some information to help you find the best guitar for your budget. While a low budget like this makes it difficult to find the perfect guitar, it is possible, as you can see from above. If you do end up purchasing a guitar for under $500, it's possible that the strings will feel very high, or that the frets might buzz a bit. If this is the case, take it to a local guitar repair shop before you decide to return the instrument, because in most cases they can fix this kind of thing.



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