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The Top 20 Very Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under 500 Bucks

Why Invest in an Acoustic Electric Guitar?

Acoustic electric guitars offer the versatility of being played acoustically or amplified, making them a great choice for performers and recording artists. These guitars come equipped with built-in pickups and preamps, allowing you to plug into an amplifier or PA system. This makes them ideal for live performances, studio recordings, and even casual jamming with friends.

Key Factors to Consider Before Purchasing

1. Pickup System

The pickup system is crucial in an acoustic electric guitar as it captures the sound and translates it into an electric signal. Look for guitars with high-quality pickups that provide a natural and balanced sound. Common types include piezo pickups, which are known for their bright and clear tone, and magnetic pickups, which offer a warmer sound.

2. Body Type and Wood

The body type and wood used in an acoustic electric guitar significantly impact its sound and playability. Dreadnought bodies are known for their loud and bold sound, while concert and parlor bodies offer a more balanced and intimate tone. Woods like spruce, mahogany, and rosewood are popular choices, each contributing unique tonal qualities.

3. String Quality

String quality affects the sound and feel of the guitar. Consider guitars with high-quality strings that are easy to play and offer good tone and durability. Some guitars come pre-strung with well-known brands, while others may benefit from a string upgrade.

4. Fretboard Material

The fretboard material influences the playability and comfort of the guitar. Common materials include rosewood, ebony, and maple. Rosewood is smooth and provides a warm tone, while ebony is harder and offers a brighter sound. Maple fretboards are known for their clarity and

Top 20 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $500

Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under 500

The Fender CD-60SCE has been a staple in my collection for its versatility and reliable performance. This guitar features a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fingerboard.

Right out of the box, the build quality impressed me. The solid spruce top delivers excellent resonance and projection, giving the guitar a rich and vibrant tone that stands out among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Solid Spruce Top: The resonance and projection are fantastic, providing a rich and vibrant tone.
  • Comfortable Neck Profile: The neck is easy to navigate, making it comfortable for extended playing sessions.
  • Reliable Fishman Electronics: The built-in Fishman preamp and tuner work flawlessly, offering a natural and clear amplified sound.

Cons:

  • Action Adjustment: I found the action slightly high out of the box, but a quick setup adjusted it to my preference.
  • Narrow Neck Width: While comfortable for me, players with larger hands might find the neck a bit narrow.

The Yamaha APXT2 is my go-to travel companion. Its compact size makes it incredibly portable without sacrificing sound quality.

The ART-based preamp and System 68 contact pickup deliver excellent amplified sound, making it a strong contender among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Compact Size: Perfect for travel, it’s lightweight and easy to carry around.
  • Good Amplified Sound Quality: Despite its smaller body, the amplified sound is surprisingly rich and full.
  • Easy to Play: The shorter scale length and comfortable neck make it ideal for players of all ages and skill levels.

Cons:

  • Limited Acoustic Volume: The smaller body naturally limits the acoustic volume, which is noticeable when not amplified.
  • Not Ideal for Large Venues: While it performs well in small settings, it might not project as well in larger venues.

The Gretsch G5021E Rancher Penguin Parlor is not just a guitar; it’s a statement piece. The distinctive design and excellent build quality immediately caught my eye. The solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a rich and balanced tone, making it one of the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Unique and Stylish Design: The unique design turns heads and sparks conversations wherever I play.
  • Rich and Balanced Sound: The combination of spruce and mahogany offers a warm, balanced tone with great clarity.
  • Quality Fishman Pickup: The Fishman electronics ensure that the amplified sound is true to the guitar’s natural tone.

Cons:

  • Higher Price Within Budget: It’s on the higher end of the budget but worth every penny for its unique features and quality.
  • Limited to Parlor-Sized Body Preferences: The smaller body might not be comfortable for everyone, especially those used to larger guitars.

The Fender FA-235E Concert quickly became a favorite for its stunning looks and reliable performance. The flame maple top, combined with mahogany back and sides, provides a bright and resonant tone. The Fishman preamp system ensures great amplified sound, making it a reliable option among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Stunning Flame Maple Top: The aesthetic appeal is undeniable, making it a beautiful instrument to own.
  • Comfortable Concert Body Shape: The smaller body shape is comfortable and easy to play for extended periods.
  • Reliable Electronics: The Fishman preamp and tuner work seamlessly, providing accurate tuning and excellent sound quality.

Cons:

  • Laminate Top: While visually appealing, the laminate top doesn’t resonate as well as a solid wood top.
  • Smaller Body Size: Players looking for a fuller sound might prefer a larger body size.

Takamine’s GD71CE-NAT is a workhorse that delivers consistent performance. With a solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides, it offers a rich and resonant sound. The TP-4TD preamp system is easy to use and provides great control over the amplified sound, making it one of the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Excellent Build Quality: The craftsmanship is evident in every detail, ensuring durability and reliability.
  • Rich and Resonant Sound: The combination of spruce and rosewood produces a full-bodied sound with great projection.
  • Reliable Electronics: The TP-4TD preamp system is intuitive and provides excellent sound control.

Cons:

  • Slightly Higher Action: The action was a bit high out of the box, but a quick setup adjustment fixed it.
  • Design Preferences: While I love the classic design, it might not appeal to everyone.

The Martin LX1E is a compact powerhouse. Its solid sitka spruce top and Fishman Sonitone electronics make it a versatile option for travel and small performances. Despite its size, The Martin holds its own among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • High-Quality Materials: The solid sitka spruce top and HPL back and sides ensure durability and great tone.
  • Excellent Travel Guitar: Its compact size is perfect for traveling musicians.
  • Reliable Fishman Electronics: The Sonitone system ensures clear and natural amplified sound.

Cons:

  • Smaller Size Limits Volume: The smaller body naturally limits acoustic volume, which is noticeable when not amplified.
  • Higher Price Within Budget: It’s on the higher end of the budget, but the quality justifies the price.

The Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE is a joy to play. With a solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides, it delivers a bright and resonant tone. The SYS550 electronics offer great control over the amplified sound, making it a versatile choice among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Solid Spruce Top: Provides a bright and resonant tone with excellent projection.
  • Quality Electronics: The SYS550 preamp offers precise control over the amplified sound.
  • Great Playability: The neck is comfortable, and the action is set up well for easy playing.

Cons:

  • Larger Body Size: The jumbo body might not be comfortable for all players, especially those with smaller frames.
  • May Require Setup Adjustments: Some players might need to adjust the setup to suit their playing style.

The Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK surprised me with its performance. It features a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, delivering a balanced and pleasant tone. The built-in preamp and tuner are convenient, making it a solid choice among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Good Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced and pleasant tone.
  • Built-in Tuner: The built-in tuner is convenient and ensures you stay in tune.
  • Affordable: It’s a budget-friendly option that offers good features.

Cons:

  • Sound Quality: While good, the sound quality is not as refined as higher-end models.
  • Basic Electronics: The electronics are functional but not as advanced as those in more

The Jameson Guitars Thinline is a great budget option. With its slim body and easy playability, it’s a fantastic choice for beginners. The built-in preamp and tuner make it convenient to use, earning it a place among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Slim and Lightweight: The thinline body is comfortable to hold and play.
  • Affordable Price: It’s one of the most budget-friendly options on the list.
  • Good for Beginners: The easy playability and included accessories make it a great choice for new players.

Cons:

  • Basic Build Quality: The materials and construction are adequate but not as high-quality as more expensive models.
  • Average Sound Quality: The sound is decent but lacks the richness and depth of higher-end guitars.

The Vangoa 41 Inch acoustic electric guitar offers a lot of value. The solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a good tone, while the 4-band EQ and built-in tuner offer control over the amplified sound. It’s a well-rounded option among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Solid Spruce Top: Offers a bright and clear tone with good projection.
  • Built-in Tuner and EQ: The 4-band EQ and tuner provide excellent control over your sound when amplified.
  • Good Value for Money: It’s a well-rounded guitar that offers great features for its price.

Cons:

  • Setup Required: The guitar may require a setup adjustment out of the box for optimal playability.
  • Sound Quality: While good, the sound quality is not as refined as more expensive models.

The Ashthorpe Thinline stands out with its slim design and ease of play. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a decent tone, and the built-in preamp ensures good amplified sound. It’s a solid choice among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Slim Body Design: The thinline body is comfortable and easy to handle.
  • Affordable: It’s an economical choice that offers good value for money.
  • Good Playability: The neck is comfortable, and the action is set up well for easy playing.

Cons:

  • Basic Electronics: The preamp is functional but not as advanced as those in higher-end guitars.
  • Average Sound Quality: The sound is decent but lacks the depth and richness of more expensive guitars.

The Best Choice Products 41 Inch guitar is a fantastic starter kit. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides offer a balanced tone, and the full set of accessories make it a great value package for beginners, solidifying its place among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Full Accessory Kit: Includes everything a beginner needs to get started, including a case, strap, picks, and more.
  • Solid Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced and pleasant tone.
  • Good for Beginners: It’s an all-in-one package that’s perfect for new players.

Cons:

  • Basic Electronics: The electronics are functional but not as advanced as those in more expensive models.
  • Average Sound Quality: The sound is decent but lacks the richness and depth of higher-end guitars.

13. Donner Guitar Kit

The Donner Guitar Kit offers everything a beginner needs. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a good tone, and the complete set of accessories make it a convenient choice. The built-in preamp and tuner are also a plus, making it one of the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Full Accessory Kit: Comes with a gig bag, strap, tuner, capo, and more.
  • Built-in Tuner: The built-in tuner is convenient and ensures you stay in tune.
  • Good Value for Money: It’s a well-rounded guitar that offers great features for its price.

Cons:

  • Average Electronics: The electronics are functional but not as advanced as those in more expensive models.
  • Sound Quality: While good, the sound quality is not as refined as more expensive models.

The Vintage Historic Series ‘Parlour’ guitar is a beautiful instrument. The vintage-inspired design and solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides offer a warm, balanced tone. The Fishman electronics provide great amplified sound, making it a standout among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Vintage Design: The aesthetic appeal of the vintage design makes this guitar stand out.
  • Solid Spruce Top: Provides a bright and resonant tone with excellent projection.
  • Quality Fishman Electronics: Ensures that the amplified sound is clear and natural.

Cons:

  • Smaller Body Size: The parlor-sized body may not be comfortable for all players.
  • Limited Volume: The smaller body size limits the guitar’s acoustic volume.

The Squier SA-105CE offers good value for its price. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced tone, and the built-in preamp and tuner make it convenient to use. It’s a solid choice among the best acoustic electric guitars under 500 bucks.

Pros:

  • Affordable Price: Offers good value for its price, making it accessible to beginners.
  • Decent Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced tone.
  • Convenient Electronics: The built-in preamp and tuner are convenient for on-the-go adjustments.

Cons:

  • Basic Sound Quality: While good, the sound quality is not as refined as higher-end models.
  • May Require Setup Adjustments: Some players might need to adjust the setup to suit their playing style.

The Vintage Statesboro – 12 String Electro Dreadnought is perfect for those seeking a fuller sound. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a rich tone, and the quality electronics ensure great amplified sound. It’s a unique option among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Full 12-String Sound: The 12-string setup offers a rich, full sound that stands out.
  • Good Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced and pleasant tone.
  • Reliable Electronics: The preamp and tuner ensure great amplified performance.

Cons:

  • Higher String Tension: The 12-string setup means higher string tension, which might be challenging for beginners.
  • Larger Body Size: The dreadnought body might not be comfortable for all players.

17. Blue Lava Original Freeboost

The BLUE LAVA ORIGINAL FREEBOOST stands out with its innovative Freeboost technology. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides offer a versatile sound, making it one of the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Innovative Freeboost Technology: Allows for effects without an amp, adding versatility to your sound.
  • Good Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced tone.
  • Versatile Sound Options: The Freeboost technology adds unique sound possibilities.

Cons:

  • Higher Price Within Budget: It’s on the higher end of the budget.
  • Limited Traditional Sound: The innovative features might not appeal to traditionalists.

The Gear4music Student Electro Acoustic is designed with beginners in mind. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides offer a balanced tone, and the built-in preamp is convenient. It’s a solid option among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Affordable Price: It’s budget-friendly and accessible for beginners.
  • Built-in Preamp: The preamp is convenient and ensures good amplified sound.
  • Good for Beginners: It’s designed to be easy to play and handle.

Cons:

  • Basic Sound Quality: While good, the sound quality is not as refined as higher-end models.
  • Limited Features: It lacks some of the advanced features found in more expensive guitars.

The Washburn C5CE is a classical guitar that offers a lot of value. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a warm tone, and the built-in preamp ensures good amplified performance. It’s a unique choice among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Classical Guitar Design: Offers a warm, rich tone that is characteristic of classical guitars.
  • Good Build Quality: The spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide a balanced tone.
  • Reliable Electronics: The preamp ensures great amplified sound.

Cons:

  • Limited to Classical Playing Styles: It’s best suited for classical music and fingerstyle playing.
  • Basic Features: Lacks some of the advanced features found in more expensive models.

20. Lava Music ME 2

The Lava Music ME 2 offers a unique design with a one-piece carbon fiber body. Its built-in preamp and tuner provide excellent amplified sound, making it a standout among the best acoustic electric guitars under $500.

Pros:

  • Unique Carbon Fiber Body: Offers durability and a unique aesthetic.
  • Excellent Amplified Sound: The preamp and tuner provide great control over the amplified sound.
  • Durable Build: The carbon fiber body is durable and resistant to changes in temperature and humidity.

Cons:

  • Higher Price Within Budget: It’s on the higher end of the budget.
  • Non-Traditional Design: The modern design might not appeal to traditionalists.

Ever wondered what goes into making an electric guitar? Check out our step-by-step guitar-building post.

Additional Considerations When Choosing a Guitar

When choosing the best acoustic electric guitars under $500, consider your playing style and preferences. Think about the body size and shape, as well as the type of wood used. Try to play several models before making a decision to find the one that feels and sounds best to you.

Care and Maintenance of Your Acoustic Electric Guitar

Proper care and maintenance are crucial to keep your acoustic electric guitar in top condition. Regularly clean the body and fretboard, change strings as needed, and store the guitar in a case to protect it from dust and damage. Additionally, ensure that the electronics are functioning correctly and replace batteries when necessary.

Conclusion: Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under 500 Bucks

Choosing the best acoustic electric guitars under $500 involves considering various factors such as build quality, sound, and playability. Each guitar on this list offers unique features and benefits, making them excellent choices for different playing styles and preferences. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there’s a guitar here that will suit your needs and budget. Happy playing!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best wood for an acoustic electric guitar?

The best wood depends on personal preference, but common choices include spruce for the top and mahogany or rosewood for the back and sides. Each wood type offers different tonal qualities.

Do I need an amplifier for my acoustic electric guitar?

While you can play an acoustic electric guitar without an amplifier, using one enhances the sound, especially in live performance settings.

How often should I change the strings on my guitar?

It depends on how often you play, but a general guideline is to change strings every 3-6 months for regular players.