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.
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.
For example, we've pulled this list primarily from our best acoustic guitar parent page, which is stocked entirely with instruments we've tested first-hand.
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.
Supporting Guitar Chalk
Note that in the table below, we use Sweetwater links to recommend gear at no extra cost to you. However, these links help support us if and when you buy something through them.
Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.