If you’re in the market for an acoustic guitar but don’t want to break the bank, don’t go any further down the guitar purchasing rabbit hole!
Today, I’ve compiled a top 5 list of guitars under £500 which will hopefully help you on your way to a suitable guitar. I’m going to cover a few different price points and talk about the pros and cons of each model.
Let’s get into it…
First up – and possible the best value for money acoustic guitar on the list – is the Yamaha FG800M MK2. Currently costing £229, the FG800M is a dreadnought by Yamaha which is super comfortable to play and sounds very well balanced. This is due to the fact that Yamaha have equipped the guitar with a Solid Sitka Spruce top, a feature you’ll be very hard pressed to find on any other acoustic at this price point.
Yamaha’s FG series has been in production for over 50 years and they have plenty of experience in making very high quality, durable acoustic guitars and the FG800M is no exception. The back and sides of the FG800M is made of Nato tonewood. Nato is very similar to Mahogany in tonal characteristics but is more readily abundant than Mahogany and is considered as a more economically friendly alternative, so it’s good for your wallet and the environment!
There is a slim neck profile with a satin smooth neck which makes playing very comfortable. It’s a great guitar for both beginners and intermediaries alike. The FG800M is purely acoustic, there is no pickup installed so you can’t plug it in and get loud, which could be a potential drawback for some people.
The Tanglewood TW4 E has also made my list, coming in at £389 for the Autumn Vintage Sunburst model. There is a lot of guitar here for the money. The TW4 is Tanglewood’s Super Folk Cutaway body type, which is a slightly smaller shape than the dreadnought. Tanglewood invented the Super Folk Cutaway three decades ago and have been improving on it since.
As expected on a more expensive guitar, the TW4 is finished with a bit more detailing. It has a ‘high gloss finish’ over a solid mahogany top, which looks great. It is also equipped with Grover machine heads and Tanglewood’s Premium Plus EQ pickup system, so unlike the FG800M, you can plug into your local pub’s PA system and belt out a few tunes.
For an all mahogany guitar, the TW4s tend to be quite bright, in my humble opinion. I personally prefer a bright guitar and I think they sound great. This could be down to the Elixir strings that they come out the factory with, so if you’re after something a bit mellower, I’d put a set of Martin MA540’s on.
Breedlove have also made the list with their Discovery Concerto model. Coming in at £299, the Discovery Concerto is going for its own style. The Concerto body shape is Breedlove’s attempt to surpass the infamous Dreadnought. No small feat considering the longevity of the Dreadnought. Breedlove state that the Concerto doesn’t only elicit as much volume as the dreadnought but it displays a lot more tonal complexities. Bold statements indeed! I don’t necessarily think the Breedlove’s Concerto shape is necessarily better or worse than the traditional dreadnought but it is pleasingly different.
The concerto feels slightly smaller, making it a comfortable big-bodied guitar to pick up and play. Perfect for the more petite people out there. The slightly smaller shape allows the Discovery Concerto to sit in a different register than a dreadnought and it is quite pokey in the mid-range.
Breedlove’s quality control always seems to be very accurate and their guitars tend to show up in the condition we’ve come to expect. There isn’t a pickup in this model, so bear that in mind if you have your eye on it.
Something quite different from the previous Breedlove is the Epiphone J-200 EC Studio. This is Epiphone doing the famous Gibson SJ-200 and they do it really well! The J-200 EC Studio comes with a Solid Sitka Spruce top and due to the sheer size of the body, is loud. If you’re after more volume than the guitar produces, it comes equipped with Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Presys preamp with built-in tuner. Out of all of the electro-acoustic guitars on my list, I think this one sounds the best plugged in. I do enjoy a Fishman pickup!
The Epiphone also comes with all the flashy details that the Gibson does: the moustache-shaped bridge, the floral detailing on the pickguard, and the pearloid crown inlays are all included. Perfect for the aspiring Noel Gallagher fan who’s not on the chart topping budget. You can pick up this model in Vintage Natural, Vintage Sunburst and Ebony.
Taking up last spot on my list is the Takamine GN71CE. Takamines are known the world over for being very good quality, sleek guitars. The GN71CE keeps that reputation alive and is a very good looking guitar. If you’re looking for something that is going to be comfortable playing onstage then the GN71CE is a really good option. On this model you have Takamine’s slim tapered neck with a 12” radius bound rosewood fingerboard that provides a very natural feel. Oh, it’s £459 by the way.
This model is also an electro acoustic and although I think the Fishman Sonicore is my favourite sounding pickup on this list, the Takamine TK-40D Pre-amp system is definitely the most customisable. There is a an in built tuner, 3 band EQ and gain controls, mid-contour switch, notch filter and an EQ bypass switch. Super versatile and controllable; perfect for those who love tweaking with their sound. If you prefer something simpler, this probably isn’t the guitar for you.
The GN71CE has Takamine’s NEX body shape, which gives it a nice loud and well-balanced sound when you’re playing acoustically as well. The Solid Spruce top with the black walnut back and sides really make for a rich and detailed sound.
There are of course other suitable guitars out there, however this top five are all guitars I think you should consider. Happy Shopping!