Best budget acoustic guitars

19th Nov 2012 | 09:30

Best budget acoustic guitars
Best acoustic guitars under £500
Here's our pick of the crop

ACOUSTIC WEEK: So, you want to buy an acoustic guitar?

We've plucked the best guitars we've reviewed over the last three years to show you the very best of what's out there.

We're starting today with guitars under £500 (that's around $790), for those among you who don't have too much cash to splash.

How did we choose these guitars?

Every guitar in this guide has been reviewed within the last three years and has gained a minimum of a 4.5 star rating. That means we feel their build quality, sound, playability and value for money are not in question at their relative price points.

Scale length

A guitar’s scale length is important because it has a direct effect on the tension of the strings and therefore how the instrument feels to play: the longer the scale length, the higher the tension of the strings for a given pitch.

In terms of tone, all things being equal (which they rarely are!) a longer-scale-length guitar will tend to have more pronounced string separation and clarity to single notes; compare a Martin 000-28 with an OM-21 for example. To measure a scale length, measure from the inside edge of the nut to the centre of the 12th fret, then double it.

Nut widths

We’ve quoted the nut widths for every guitar, as it’s a significant factor in playability. To the right are common widths in both metric and imperial sizes – different makers use different units. You’ll be amazed how different a millimetre or two across the nut can feel!

A note on prices

The prices we’ve quoted are the manufacturers’ suggested retail prices, correct at the time of the original review. Some official SRPs will have gone up slightly, while many advertised/web prices from retailers will be lower.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Lag Tramontane T66A
£179 / $280 (approx)

Looks and performance needn't cost a packet

Type: Auditorium-sized acoustic
Top: Laminated spruce
Back/sides: Laminated mahogany
Nut/scale: 43/650

We said: Don't for one minute dismiss the T66A because of its laminated top. It should easily go the distance against similarly priced solid-top rivals, making it something of a snip. This Tramontane is a real find among budget folks. Full Lag Tremontane T66A review.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Lag Tramontane T100D
£299 / $470 (approx)

High-class features at a reasonable price

Type: Dreadnought acoustic
Top: Solid red cedar
Back/sides: Laminated mahogany
Nut/scale: 43/650

We said: As dreadnoughts go, this is a bit of a belter. It's loud, quick on the attack and packs a decidedly healthy dollop of warmth-infused bottom end without muddying the overall delivery. Full Lag Tremontane T100D review.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Yamaha APX500II
£320 / $505 (approx)

Knockout performance for the money

Type: Medium-bodied electro
Top: Laminated spruce
Back/sides: Laminated nato
Nut/scale: 43/634

We said: The guitar is a decidedly capable performer. Acoustic volume, if not blastingly loud, is up to par for the body size, with reasonable dynamics and sustain, and the tone is smooth and fluid with an agreeable degree of lower-end warmth and sweet-edged highs. Full Yamaha APX500II review.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Sigma DR-28
£348 / $550 (approx)

A superbly well-built dreadnought bursting with tone

Type: Dreadnought acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Laminated rosewood
Nut/scale: 43/645

We said: With the DR-28, Sigma has raised the bar of what can be expected from a solid-topped laminate back and sides guitar and if it becomes widely available, this model could just become one of the guitars of 2012. Full Sigma DR-28 review.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Ibanez EX20ASE-NT
£378 / $599 (approx)

A lot of guitar for the money

Type: Jumbo electro-acoustic
Top: Laminates quilted ash
Back/sides: Laminated quilted ash
Nut/scale: 43/641

We said: Flashy guitars around this price would normally have the 'style over content' alarm bells ringing, but there's little technically awry with the EW20ASENT. Full Ibanez EX20ASE-NT review

Best budget acoustic guitars
Yamaha FGX720SCA
£419 / $664 (approx)

Quality sounds, both acoustically and powered

Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Laminated nato
Nut/scale: 43/650

We said: Quality sounds both acousticaly and powered. It's a great all-rounder, but let's up the preamp beef please.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Takamine EG360SC
£419 / $660 (approx)

Buoyant, sustainful sounds

Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Laminated rosewood
Nut/scale: 43/644

We said: Offers a rewarding powered performance, with plenty of warmth on tap from the bass slider. Full Takamine EG360SC review

Best budget acoustic guitars
Epiphone DR-500MCE VS Masterbilt
£449 / $710 (approx)

The essence of a vintage acoustic captured in a modern guitar

Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Solid mahogany
Nut/scale: 43/648

We said: Epiphone, as ever, has produced a great vintage-looking guitar that benefits from a little modern technology. It might not be the most flexible guitar on the market, but what it does, it does well. The DR-500, with its solid back and sides and Shadow NanoMag system, is excellent value for money. What's not to like? Full Epiphone DR-500MCE VS Masterbilt review

Best budget acoustic guitars
Vintage VE2000GG Gordon Giltrap
£479 / $759 (approx)

A unique looking signature acoustic for under £500

Type: Grand Auditorium/000 Hybrid
Top: Solid red cedar
Back/sides: Laminated mahogany
Nut/scale: 46.5/642

We said: A visually unique, tonally balanced and capable little cracker complete with a specially built Kinsman hard shell case - all for less than £500! Now that's a real recession-busting price. Full Vintage VE2000GG Gordon Giltrap review

Best budget acoustic guitars
Taylor GS Mini
£499 / $790 (approx)

It might be small, but it demands your attention

Type: Small-body acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Laminated sapele
Nut/scale: 43/597

We said: This is a guitar with its own vibe and voice - and both are very appealing. Of course, the guitar is compact and built to a price, but Taylor's vast experience in production guitar manufacturing ensures that these 'economies' don't get in the way of the important things: playability and sound. Full Taylor GS Mini review

Best budget acoustic guitars
Yamaha FSX730SC
£499 / $790 (approx)

A fine looking folkster

Type: Folk-sized electro-acoustic
Top: Solid Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Laminated rosewood
Nut/scale: 43/632

We said: An ideal guitar for the stage; looks, build quality, onboard wizardry - it has it all.

Best budget acoustic guitars
Vintage Paul Brett 12
£499 / $790 (approx)

A 12 string parlour acoustic from a man who knows

Type: 12 string parlous electro
Top: Solid spruce
Back/sides: Laminated rosewood
Nut/scale: 48/648

We said: A gift of a guitar for songwriters on the go and anyone who ever wished that those pre-war guitars had more playable neck profiles. Full Vintage Paul Brett 12 review

Apps you might like:

Most Popular

TopView classic version