Best Cheap Acoustic guitar
The Taylor GS Mini
Note that a "cheap" acoustic guitar does not necessarily mean a "beginner" acoustic. The Taylor GS Mini is cheap, but can fit a wide range of skill levels and playing styles. It's one of our top recommendations overall and a fantastic value. It's more of a balance of low price and high quality. If you want something that focuses more on a lower price, take a look at the Yamaha FG800
In this article we're rounding up a few of our favorite cheap acoustic guitars, meaning guitars that are between the price points of $200 and $600. Any lower than $200 and you get into some serious quality/value concerns, and above $600 you start to lose most people when it comes to their definition of "cheap."
Between $200 and $600
Thus, it's important to mention that these are not simply the cheapest guitars available. That would be easy to find and, frankly, unhelpful. It would also probably involve Walmart, which is terrible to think about. These are guitars on the cheaper end of the spectrum that are both really popular and really nice. They give you value for what you pay and are worth the small investment required to own each one.
Read more: Best acoustic guitars overall
How We Chose the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars
So how exactly did we chose the best cheap acoustic guitars?
It's important to point out that our own personal experience and testing of guitars plays a major role in the guitars we choose to highlight. If we haven't gotten our hands on one, or communicated with someone who has, we typically don't recommend an instrument.
Otherwise, we're looking for community popularity, a good record of third party reviews, and a few distinct features.
Which features matter most?
Primarily we're looking at the following features in each cheap acoustic guitar:
- Top tonewood (solid is preferable)
- Electronics and pickup system
- X-bracing and route relief
- Quality tonewood on back and sides
All of these features should matter, even when we get down into cheaper acoustic guitars. We'll address them in the four guitars we've chosen.
Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars (our top picks)
Use the compare buttons in this table to view pricing and basic specs of the four guitars we've recommended. You can also use the Sweetwater links for more information on a particular guitar.
Taylor GS Mini
Martin LXK2 Little Martin
Compare More Acoustic Guitars
If you want to add more acoustic guitars to the comparison bar at the bottom of this page, you can launch the search box and add them here. We don't have everything, but we have a lot, including most of the major brands and popular models. We're also adding to it regularly.
We link to products on Sweetwater that help support our site and keep the lights on. If you click through our orange buttons, we might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you all for your generous support over the years! ~ Bobby and Danielle
1. Taylor GS Mini
Of the four cheap acoustic guitars recommended, the Taylor GS Mini is the least cheap, but is probably the nicest of the four. You have several different tonewood flavors to choose from, including Spruce, Koa, Mahogany, and Rosewood, though all versions of the GS Mini have a solid top. It produces a bright and brisk tone, which is melodic and responsive to fingerpicking, though there's a warmness to the resonance as well. The GS Mini is a great couch guitar that can also handle gigging and recording duties. It's easily one of our favorites in this price range.
The Ideal Fit
For those willing to spend a little more, the GS Mini can handle a wide range of skill levels and musical duties. Everything from bedroom jamming to semi-pro level recording jobs is fair game.
Read the full review: Taylor GS Mini
IDEAL FOR: Everything, but especially melodic, right-hand focused playing styles.
- Lots of tonewood combinations to choose from
- Tone sounds both bright and warm, striking a nice balance
- Perfect for melodic styles and fingerpicking
- For a Taylor with a solid wood top, the price point is golden
- Pickup/preamp is included
- Not much to complain about for the price
2. Taylor BT2
The smaller and far cheaper (at least cheaper than the GS Mini) Taylor BT2 is a 3/4 scale acoustic that comes in an electronic and non-electronic version. It's smaller than the GS Mini and would certainly be well suited for those wanting to avoid the full dreadnought design in favor of something smaller. Surprisingly, you still get a solid top which is a sheet of Mahogany that gives you a large and full tone profile. It doesn't sound quite as good as the GS Mini, but it's definitely in the conversation.
Who is it ideal for?
If you like the smaller size, that's the real benefit of the BT2. The 3/4 scale body is easy to hold and even feels better when you're standing and playing. For those wanting the small guitar with more travel and even performance flexibility, we like the BT2.
Read the full review on Medium: Taylor BT2
IDEAL FOR: Those looking for the small 3/4 scale size, kids, beginners, practice, and travel.
- Mahogany top is a solid piece of wood (surprising in this price range)
- Version available with or without Taylor ES-B
- Great for kids, beginners, and travel
- Easy to hold sitting down or standing up
- Tone is a little weaker than the GS Mini
3. Yamaha FG800
The Yamaha FG800 is one of the cheapest acoustic guitars we've ever been able to find that still has a solid top. In most acoustic guitars under $300, that feature gets downgraded to a sheet of laminate, leaving no solid wood in the guitar.
It's a Spruce top, same as the Taylor 114ce, giving you a major upgrade in tone and natural resonance. For $200, you'll have a hard time doing much better. As with the BT2, there's an electric and non-electric version, where the electronic version is a little more expensive.
IDEAL FOR: Beginners and lower budgets
- Price point is amazing
- Solid Spruce top
- Looks and plays like a midrange acoustic
- Resonance and punch is good coming off the solid top
- String will def need changed
- Tone thins out a bit on lower chords
4. Martin LXK2 Little Martin
The Little Martin - the LXK2 - is another 3/4 scale acoustic that is made entirely of high-pressure laminate (no solid tonewood). However, it's made out of Koa which is typically a harder and heavier tonewood, so the punch and balance of tone is still decent. The LX1e is the electronic version, which has a pickup and preamp system built in.
For couch strumming, travel and basic practice, the LXK2 is one of the most popular guitars and is extremely easy to play and transport. Sound quality is similar to the FG800. In fact, we'd say the LXK2 sounds a little better, even without the solid top. We like it for any situations calling for a mobile acoustic that doesn't cost much.
IDEAL FOR: Small hands, travel, beginners, and simple practice.
- Comes with a gig bag (travel plus)
- Interior Spruce bracing system is strong and feels solid
- Ideal fit for kids, beginners, and travel
- Great price for a Koa guitar
- No solid wood
Some frequently asked questions
When looking for a cheap acoustic guitar, there are several important factors to consider. First, evaluate the type of wood used for the guitar's top, back, and sides, as it can significantly affect the sound quality. Second, stick to reputable acoustic guitar brands like we've mentioned here. Third, consider the guitar's playability (if you get a chance to test it first), including how the neck feels in your hands (if buying online, you can look at nut width, radius, and shape on the specs sheet). Lastly, don't forget to assess the guitar's build quality and craftsmanship, which can usually be determined by brand and body type.
Steel-string and nylon-string acoustic guitars are two distinct instruments with unique characteristics. Steel-string guitars are known for their bright and vibrant sound, making them suitable for a wider variety of genres like folk, rock, and country. Nylon-string guitars, on the other hand, produce a mellower, classical tone, ideal for classical, flamenco, or fingerstyle playing. When choosing between the two, consider the type of music you want to play and your personal preferences, but note that nylon-string acoustics are almost always associated with classical playing styles.
Absolutely! In fact, most budget-friendly acoustic guitars are well-suited for beginners, specifically. Look for guitars with a comfortable neck design and low action, as they are easier for beginners to play. Brands like Yamaha and Epiphone are good places to look. And don't forget to consider a bundled package that may include essential accessories like a gig bag, tuner, and picks, which are even more convenient for beginners.
Are cheap acoustic guitars worth buying?
Are cheap acoustic guitars even worth it? That all depends on which brand you're going after and the model within that brand. That's why lists like this can be so helpful, in that they narrow the pool you have to choose from. But if you can target the right brand and the right acoustic within that brand, cheap acoustic guitars are absolutely worth buying.
Read more: Best acoustic guitar brands
You just want to make sure the guitar is nice enough that it doesn't detract from your experience of playing the instrument, especially if you're in the beginner stages.
Do expensive acoustic guitars really sound better?
Another important question: Do expensive acoustic guitars actually sound better?
In most cases, yes. Expensive guitars will have nicer tonewood and parts, meaning their natural resonance and sound is fuller and just better, overall. But that doesn't mean you can't have cheap acoustic guitars that also sound good.
Will they sound as good as the $1200 acoustic?
But they'll sound appreciably similar, and give you a true, positive experience with the instrument.
Best under $500?
If you need to stay under the $500 price point, we'd recommend the Taylor BT2.
Best under $300?
For those trying to stay under $300, we'd recommend the Yamaha FG800.
Cost and Value
Since we've given a final grade to all four acoustics in this list, we can cross them with pricing to get a value measurement compared to the other guitars in the list. In the chart, you can see that the BT2 reaches a happy medium between cost and price, landing lower on the price scale but with a decently high rating. It strikes the best balance between price and quality.
Questions and comments
Do you have questions about our best cheap acoustic guitar recommendations? If so, drop them in the comments section below. I'll jump in there myself and help as much as I can. Again, we've used these guitars. So I can speak from first-hand testing, with plenty of real-life experience to back up what I'm saying. If you need anything, I'll see you there.