Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
Fender CD-60S Guitar Pack
Table of Contents
From rock to reggae, acoustic guitars can be used in every genre. But with premium acoustics costing thousands, it can be tough for guitarists to find a solid axe on a tighter budget.
While cost does vary, most of these guitars are priced well under the $500 mark. Even the more expensive premium models offer fantastic value at a reasonable price tag.
We’ve selected the Seagull S6 Original as the best cheap acoustic guitar for players in all genres. Its versatile dreadnought shape and brighter voicing offer focused sound across all musical styles.
If the S6 Original isn’t for you, worry not. We’ve highlighted eight other amazing options so, no matter your budget or playing style, you’re sure to find a cheap acoustic that you love.
The 9 Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars:
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Finding one cheap acoustic guitar to suit every genre can be tough, but with its balanced, versatile performance for beginners and seasoned players alike, the Seagull S6 fills the bill.
This dreadnought acoustic combines a solid cedar top with layered wild cherry for the back and sides. The wider body maximizes projection and resonance, while the cedar top provides some warmth and smoothness.
The wild cherry is a sustainable tonewood grown in Canada where Seagull guitars are made. It lends the S6 a bit of midrange punch and crispness, in a similar way to mahogany back and sides. You also get a silver leaf maple neck with a 25.5-inch scale length to maximize overtones and harmonics.
The focused, brighter sound of the S6 makes it great for playing fingerstyle or with a pick. It’s got enough projection for a campfire jam session (thanks to the large body), but it’s also articulate enough to record with.
Fender CD-60S Guitar Pack
Fender’s CD-60S is one of the best cheap acoustic packs with everything you need to start playing. The dreadnought provides a solid spruce top with laminated mahogany back and sides. It’s punchy and bright, with lots of ringing sustain.
You also get a walnut fingerboard with rolled edges to smooth sharp frets and rough wood. These features make the CD-60S a perfect fit for new guitarists who are worried about poking their hands.
The brighter, more upfront voicing also makes single-note lines sound airy and clear. String separation isn’t bad, and you get a durable, smooth finish across the body, mahogany neck and fingerboard.
To round out the package, you’ll find a gig bag, strap, picks and a set of spare strings.
Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
The Big Baby Taylor might sound like a children’s guitar, but don’t let the name fool you. This acoustic provides the power and tone of vintage dreadnoughts in a more comfortable, affordable package.
This guitar uses a traditional dreadnought shape and 25.5-inch scale length, but it’s built with a 15/16 body. The slimmer body is more comfortable without sacrificing the booming projection of a standard dreadnought.
You get a solid Sitka spruce top, with layered walnut back and sides. The Sitka spruce top is bright and chiming, with lots of clarity and string separation; the walnut layering provides a hit of midrange warmth and presence.
There are also a few thoughtful twists that set it apart from other small-body acoustic guitars. The back features a slight arch, which aids treble projection and emphasizes tonal balance. You’ll also find some stunning figuring on the walnut back and sides, for a premium look to match the sound.
Ibanez AW54OPN Acoustic Guitar
Mahogany’s broad, woody tone makes it a classic wood for acoustic guitars of all shapes. The AW54OPN combines a solid mahogany top with okume back and sides and a nato neck for the most cohesive, dynamic playing experience possible.
The broad, square-shouldered dreadnought body projects well, with plenty of booming bass and sharp trebles while the ovangkol fretboard and bridge smooths out the tone.
The AW54OPN also offers a light open-pore finish that contrasts the thicker glossy finishes found on a lot of cheap acoustic guitars.
With less lacquer filling the wood pores, you may find some extra resonance. Despite their tonal properties, the finish is stunning for a cheap acoustic.
Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar
Epiphone’s beginner acoustic guitars have served thousands of new and advanced players alike over the years.
The DR-100 is the company’s best cheap acoustic model. The combination of a spruce top and mahogany body makes this a hardy guitar with projection and balanced tone for any situation. You’ll also find a mahogany neck with Epiphone’s custom SlimTaper “C” profile.
The dreadnought body has plenty of headroom for hard strumming and enough touch and articulation for fingerpicking.
This neck is thinner and shallower than some other cheap acoustic guitars, which sets it apart among bargain options. Paired with the narrower 1.69-inch nut width, this is a fantastic guitar for learners who want full-size sound with a bit more comfort.
Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha has built its 50-year reputation on providing some of the best cheap acoustic guitars to beginners and pros alike. Its FG800 is no exception.
As part of the company’s “folk guitar” series, the FG800 melds Yamaha’s traditional styling with modern sound and build quality.
The solid spruce top and nato back, sides and neck provide a traditional tonal combination similar to the spruce top and mahogany bodies found in the best acoustic guitars. The FG800 also offers refined, upscale styling for a timeless look.
Inside the guitar is modern scalloped bracing for a more resonant, sensitive response. This helps the top vibrate naturally and makes it transmit more high-end frequencies without dampening the tone.
The walnut fingerboard with rolled edges helps you play as comfortably as possible, with a warm and dynamic response. You also get a set of Yamaha die-cast tuners.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Acoustic Guitar
Whether you want a special guitar for blues and slide or just want the best acoustic to play around the house, the Jim Dandy offers tones that rival more expensive competitors in a bargain package.
It’s a parlor guitar with a basswood top, back and sides and a nato neck. With a smaller body, it’s easy to play on the couch or wherever you love to practice.
The walnut fingerboard sounds great with a rich palette of tones, from smooth and glassy slide to boxy, raw blues. You also get a 24-inch scale, which helps with quick passages and soulful bends.
The Jim Dandy’s smaller size, distinctive tones and vintage look make it one of the most appealing songwriting instruments that you’ll find anywhere. It’s also a fantastic option if you want a dedicated slide guitar.
Oscar Schmidt OG2SM Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
If you want a cheap acoustic that can still turn heads, the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM is your best bet. This guitar has a spalted maple top and mahogany back and sides, for a distinctive combination that looks and sounds breathtaking at its price.
The spalted maple top is similar to spruce and brighter than cedar, with more sparkle and treble clarity. It’s a versatile choice, particularly when paired with the mahogany back and sides. These provide a warm midrange boost to complement the maple and improve the tonal balance of the guitar.
The rosewood fretboard helps you play smoothly and cleanly, while the die-cast tuners and rosewood bridge keep your tuning stable.
The OG2SM also offers interior “X” bracing for strong, punchy projection. Its wide dreadnought body can get loud, which makes this guitar great for playing live or at jam sessions.
Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar
Fender’s FA-115 dreadnought offers build quality and value to rival any cheap acoustic guitar. Best known for their electric guitars, Fender’s acoustic line-up provides durable, workhorse axes perfect for new and experienced players.
With a spruce top and mahogany body, the FA-115 delivers classic tones with lots of presence for loud strumming.
You also get a rosewood fretboard, which mellows out your tone and provides a smooth surface for fretting notes and chords.
Like the CD60S, the FA-115 also includes a gig bag, strings and a strap to get you started playing. If you need a starter guitar but don’t have the budget for extra accessories, this package saves you money without sacrificing quality.
How to Pick a Budget Acoustic Guitar
Sometimes, searching for budget acoustics can feel like navigating a minefield — with so many junk guitars on the market, it’s important to know how to pick the best from the rest.
Thankfully, our buyers’ guide walks you through each step of selecting a budget acoustic axe, so you can get a great model with minimal hassle.
Nylon vs. Steel Strings
While you can technically play any type of music on either guitar, steel-string and nylon-string models are built for different genres. Steel-string acoustics are more versatile than nylon-string models. The extra string tension makes them sound brighter and snappier, with more pick attack and a punchier presence.
That extra presence makes steel-string guitars sound louder, particularly when you’re strumming full chords in country or rock music. Steel-string acoustics tend to use thinner necks as well, which makes it easier to fret chords. Because of these features, they’re the default choice for a guitar in almost any style outside of classical and bossa nova.
Nylon-string guitars (also known as “classical guitars”) sound smoother and warmer, with a woody, rounded tone that’s perfect for flamenco, classical and Brazilian guitar. If you’re focused on these genres and want a wider neck for fingerstyle, a nylon-string guitar will do the trick.
For new players, a thinner neck makes it easier to wrap your hand around the neck without straining your fingers. Check out our list of the best acoustic guitars with thin necks for a more in-depth guide.
String action measures the distance between the strings and the tops of frets. The lower the action, the less effort you need to fret a note cleanly.
The best cheap acoustic guitars feature low action, so you can play quickly without fret buzz. We’ve also written an article on the best acoustic guitars with low action, so you can find the easiest acoustics to play at any price.
While the cheapest guitars won’t be handmade by a single luthier, many budget acoustics still feature outstanding build quality. These tend to come from established brands like Yamaha, Epiphone or Seagull, which can use their size to obtain quality tonewoods and contract with established factories at lower prices.
If you want to get the best build quality, there are also a few specific features to look for.
A solid top is one great example; they resonate better than laminate tops and provide extra volume and clarity. They’re standard on expensive acoustics, but affordable models like the Yamaha FG800 and Ibanez AW54OPN include them as well.
For better resonance, also look for scalloped interior bracing. This lighter style helps the top vibrate more and increases sustain.
Finally, search for guitars with rolled fretboard edges. This smooths out the edges of the neck, and prevents any sharp fret edges from poking your hands while you play.
Which Cheap Acoustic Guitar is Best for Beginners?
Beginners need a guitar with the right combination of size, sound and value to get started playing. Thankfully, a couple of models on the market check all the boxes for new players.
First, a beginner shouldn’t get a guitar that’s too big for them to hold comfortably. While this isn’t an issue for adults, younger players might need a short-scale or 15/16 model such as the Gretsch Jim Dandy or Taylor Big Baby to help them feel comfortable at the start.
As far as sound goes, a steel-string guitar like the Epiphone DR-100 is a versatile pick that sounds great for the price. While many players learn guitar on a nylon-string acoustic, steel-string beginner acoustics translate more easily to modern guitar music.
Steel-string guitars also offer narrower necks, making it easier for beginners to fret chords quickly. Of course, if you want to focus on musical styles like classical and bossa nova, a nylon-string guitar will suit you better.
It’s also important to consider the value of a beginner acoustic model. Because new players need to purchase a lot of equipment, a pack like the Fender CD60S bundle might save you some money in the long run.
If you plan on gigging in the future, you might also want to check out an acoustic electric guitar to get started. Acoustic electric guitars include built-in pickups, so you can plug your axe directly into an amp or PA system.
Overall, the Seagull S6 Original takes the top spot as the best cheap acoustic. No competitor could match its quality tonewoods, dynamic voicing and playable setup.
For a durable alternative that combines classic and modern features, check out the Yamaha FG800.
What’s your favorite acoustic body shape? Do you see any other fantastic cheap acoustic guitars we should have included? Let us know in the comments below.