It’s not easy to be a beginning guitarist.
The first year of playing is filled with hurdles that must be cleared in order to improve and continue.
The first and most important of these is picking out your first guitar.
It’s easy to end up with a poor-quality or unplayable instrument when you aren’t sure what you’re shopping for, in the first place.
Today, we’re meeting here to help you make an informed decision about that all-important first guitar and show you some acoustic instruments that will get you going in the right direction.
Why acoustic? Because a basic wood-and-wire guitar is the simplest and least costly way to get going.
Plus, an acoustic will keep you focused on getting your hands and ears to work, not electronic gadgetry.
Ready? Keep reading top see the best acoustic under $500.
Quick Top 5 Best Acoustics Under $500:
Keep reading for the full reviews!
The Best Acoustic Under $500
- Back & Sides: Canadian Wild Cherry, Finish: Semi-Gloss...
- Neck: Silver Leaf Maple Integrated Set Neck
- Fingerboard & Bridge: Rosewood
Seagull is a Canadian guitar company well-known for making excellent instruments for all levels of players.
The S6 in particular is the best acoustic under $500 that you can find.
Keep reading to learn why!
Seagull is also known for being an exceptional value and being one of the only North American guitar makers who can compete with brands that have off-shored production.
The Seagull S6 Original acoustic guitar is a fine example of what the company has to offer the beginning guitar student.
The S6 is a dreadnought-sized instrument, which is the most common type of acoustic guitar in the modern world.
It features a solid Cedar wood top and Canadian Wild Cherry back and sides.
A solid, as opposed to laminated, wood top, is one of the most important attributes an acoustic can have and contributes much to both tone and volume.
The neck is crafted from Silver Leaf Maple and is set into the body.
The fingerboard and bridge are both Rosewood, and the nut and saddle are both from Graphtech, which is a much better choice than the generic plastic ones with which many guitars are originally equipped.
The whole guitar is done in a custom semi-gloss finish that looks great and will feel the same under your hands.
It’s a very thin finish that allows the woods to vibrate properly but is still durable enough to stand up to long practice sessions without looking like Willie Nelson’s old Martin.
The overall tone of the S6 is crisp in the mids with a tight and snappy bottom end that never turns to mush.
Styling is basic and clean, the way most folks prefer their acoustics, and is topped off with Seagull’s signature headstock, which is one of the most identifiable in the guitar business.
The S6 Original is Seagull’s best-selling guitar and is expected to remain so.
It’s one of those instruments that’s hard to beat.
It delivers a tremendous bang-for-the-buck and easily handles all the tasks at which a steel-string acoustic needs to excel to become your new best friend.
If an S6 Original is your first guitar, you’re getting off to a great start.
Take a listen to the S6 Original in action!
Epiphone is one of the most famous guitar brands there is and has long been the quickest way to get into a Gibson-style guitar while on a budget.
Epiphones have been used by all manner of rock and blues legends from The Beatles to Iron Maiden to John Lee Hooker and are a solid choice for guitarists at any stage of their game.
The Epiphone Hummingbird PRO acoustic/electric guitar is an affordable model based on its famous Gibson namesake that’s just as beautiful as its famous cousin and comes stock with a pickup to get you amplified from the jump.
The Hummingbird PRO is built on a solid Spruce top and Mahogany sides and back, which is one of the all-time best tonewood combinations for an acoustic guitar.
The fingerboard is Rosewood, another well-loved traditional choice.
The Style Department is where this bird starts to get hot.
It comes resplendent in the legendary Hummingbird sunburst finish and ornate pickguard.
The fretboard is also done in the lovely Gibson-esque pearled split parallelogram inlays to max out your stage appeal.
The most significant additions to the Hummingbird PRO are the new Shadow performer preamp and Shadow Nano Flex pickup system that are installed on it.
An onboard pickup system definitely places the PRO a bit above unamplified entry-level guitars and makes it an instrument that you won’t outgrow.
As your skills improve, you may want to give an Open Mic Night a shot or just jam with friends, and factory electronics make both super easy.
The PRO is a wonderful and affordable 21st Century re-telling of the original Hummingbird introduced by Gibson in 1960.
It packs the same square-shouldered cool as it did when Keith Richards was making rock history with one but also functions as a fine student or gigging guitar that includes the features modern players have come to expect.
The Epiphone Hummingbird PRO is a good first guitar for anyone strongly influenced by Classic Rock or Country sounds and will make you feel like a legend at every lesson and session.
Dig the Hummingbird for yourself!
Martin is considered by many to be the ultimate acoustic guitar maker and has a proud history going back to 1847.
Choosing a Martin X Series LX Little Martin Acoustic Guitar as your very first ax puts you in line with that beloved American tradition right away.
This is an especially good pick for kids and smaller adults, as it’s the most compact guitar Martin makes.
Scale length is a paltry 23”.
The Little Martin is big on tone and playability, however, and anyone who gets one of these won’t be disappointed.
What’s different about it besides its small stature is that the back, sides, and top are not made of wood but of a high-pressure laminate or HPL material and the neck from a synthetic called Stratabond.
This makes it especially durable.
It also features Sustainable Wood Certified parts, namely a Richlite bridge, which gives it some Green appeal.
Cosmetically, it comes in any color you like, as long as that’s basic black.
The Little Martin is a fun and simple guitar for just about anyone.
There are no electronics or any other options, quite honestly, it really doesn’t need any.
It’s perfect at being what it is, which is a small-but-toneful instrument well-suited for students, travel, camping or for players who simply prefer a more diminutive guitar.
Any Martin guitar is always worthy of consideration, and this little one is a strong contender for a place on anyone's short list.
Just listen to what the Little Martin can do!
- Dreadnought cutaway body style
- Fishman Classic Design pickup/preamp
- Solid mahogany top with scalloped "X"-bracing
Fender isn't always the first brand name guitarists think of when shopping for acoustic guitars, but it would be a mistake to consider The Big F an electric-only company.
Fender actually makes many fine and affordable acoustic instruments such as the Fender CD-60SCE All Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Guitar.
The CD-60 is loaded with features that make it a breeze to play.
Its all-Mahogany back, sides, and solid top give it a warmer tone than Spruce-topped guitars and its Mahogany neck has the rolled edges we all love and that make it feel vintage right out of the box.
The body also sports a treble-side cutaway for all you aspiring soloists out there and a Fishman Classic Design preamp and pickup is also included.
These two features make the CD-60 more than a pure entry-level guitar and give you plenty of room to grow as your skills improve.
Styling is pretty traditional, but the Mahogany top will make you stand out from the Spruce-topped hordes at your local jam night.
Body binding and a pearloid rosette are nice finishes, as well.
The Fender CD-60SCE is kind of a sleeper in the crowded acoustic guitar market, but it gets very high marks from those who gave it a shot.
It has a warm and balanced tone, a neck that practically plays itself, and genuine Fishman electronics.
A CD-60 as a starter guitar will keep you going for a long time to come. It’s always wise to buy for the future, not just the present, and this fine Fender shows the wisdom behind that thinking.
Watch this to get a taste of the CD-60’s power:
- Distinctive headstock bridge and pick guard designs...
- Dreadnought guitar with a Spalted Maple top, Catalpa...
- Fully adjustable truss rod and Chrome die Cast tuners
Oscar Schmidt guitars are some of the absolute best values in affordable instruments.
Part of the Washburn family, Oscar Schmidts are true entry-level guitars that still play well, tune up, and will get any new guitar player off and strumming without breaking into their piggy bank.
The OG2SM-R-U is an excellent beginner’s dreadnought that provides a ton of value.
It has Catalpa wood sides and back and a Spalted Maple top, a Maple variety with a dramatic figure to it that will help you stand out in any playing situation.
The OG also proudly displays Oscar Schmidt’s distinctive headstock and pickguard designs, which add to its upscale look.
This guitar is tailor-made for a new player looking for a starter instrument made from quality materials at a reasonable price.
Oscar Schmidt makes these offshore but each guitar is fully inspected, and setup in the USA by a proper guitar technician to guarantee your new instrument will give you the smooth playing feel and sonorous tones you need to stay inspired.
The OG is an actual beginner-level guitar and has no electronics or other luxury items aboard.
This one is made to get you playing, plain and simple, although its modern looks will still turn some heads.
The OG2SM-R-U is the type of instrument that many new players earn their first blisters on and will serve you well if you choose it as your first six-string partner.
You may grow beyond it, but you'll never forget it. Give it a serious look.
Become amazed by this bad Oscar’s tone right here:
How To Choose An Acoustic Guitar
Choosing your first acoustic guitar can be a little overwhelming.
There are so many brands, styles, and options available that it can be hard for a new player to know what’s important.
The good news is that you don’t really need to concern yourself with most of them.
A first guitar is all about the basics.
The most important thing is to fit the size of the guitar to the person.
Acoustic guitars come in many different sizes, just like people do, and it’s crucial to get one that physically fits you and doesn’t feel too big or too small when you hold it in playing position.
A guitar that's too big often feels like a wrestling match to a beginner, and they soon get tired of the fight.
Also, do the best you can to make sure the size of the neck fits your fretting hand.
As a beginner, everything will feel a little weird and new but just see if the neck feels drastically too large or small for your grip.
No matter what guitar you buy or where you buy it, be sure to take it to a guitar tech in your area for a fresh setup.
This will make sure your new friend is properly dialed in and adjusted to play and tune up as well as it possibly can be.
You’ll thank me later for that advice.
How Much Does A Good Acoustic Guitar Cost?
It used to be true that good guitars weren’t cheap and cheap guitars weren’t good.
That's not the case here in the 21st Century, and there are plenty of excellent and affordable guitars on which to learn to play.
A good name-brand acoustic guitar can certainly be had for $500 or less, often much less.
Learning guitar is one of those areas where spending a bunch of money isn’t going to make the task at hand any easier or take less time.
Plus, an expensive guitar can put a lot of pressure on a student to improve more quickly than is reasonably possible.
Spend enough to get a well-made guitar that can be set up to play properly and worry about the fancy stuff later.
Spend a good couple of years in the woodshed, and your playing will be what people notice, not the brand of your guitar.
Do make sure you buy a case, though. Your teacher will always hassle you about coming in for your lesson with a naked guitar on a rainy day.
Acoustic vs. Electric
Back in the old days, the prevailing wisdom regarding learning guitar was to give the new kid the cheapest, most difficult-to-play instrument available and see if they could beat it into submission.
That, more often than not, meant an acoustic guitar.
Many of us old-school types came up that way and learned to play perfectly well.
These days, however, there are lots of great beginner instruments, so playing a piece of junk just isn’t necessary.
We do still debate the acoustic or electric question for new guitarists, though, and there are strong opinions on both sides.
My advice as a guitar instructor is to get the guitar that inspires you to pick it up and play it.
If the music you long to play is CSN, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen, an acoustic guitar will make you feel the way you need to feel to keep practicing.
If all you think about is Metallica and Slipknot, you’ve got to roll electrified. Nothing else will do.
Your guitar has to able to make the sounds you aspire to learn about, and it has to make you feel cool when you strap it over your shoulder.
The reason this is so vital is that learning to be a guitarist, even an average one, is not easy and will require you to stay inspired and keep practicing through some long, difficult periods.
The bottom line is that you’ve got to want to play your guitar every day you breathe air, so get the one that points to the musical future you want to have.
It will make it much easier to keep your head in the game and get to where you want to be.
I hope you enjoyed this article on the best acoustic guitars under $500.
All of the guitars discussed today are quality instruments from good companies, and any of them would make a good choice for a first guitar.
I also hope you learned a bit about what makes a good beginner guitar and maybe even got an idea about which one you want to get for yourself.
Practice for a while as you should, and you'll learn that any guitar is pretty cool once you can actually play it.
See you next time