Best Acoustic Guitar Under $300 (2016)
Inexpensive Acoustic Guitars
If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar for the money, $300 will get you a lot more than you think. Top-name brands, the same companies that make expensive guitars for veteran players, feature acoustic guitars that look good, sound great and still fit into your budget. These are quality instruments, not low-grade junk for beginners.
But even if you are a beginning player, you’re always better off spending a little more on a guitar made by a well-known manufacturer instead of purchasing some cheap no-name starter guitar from a big-box store.
Not only will a better-quality guitar have higher resale value should you decide the instrument is not for you, but you are more likely to be motivated to learn if you are playing a solid instrument.
In this article we’ll look at a several different guitars from the best guitar builders in the world that will keep you under your budget and still meet your needs.
I’ve researched dozens of acoustics, and narrowed the search down to a few that I would consider well worth their price tags in the $200-$300 range.
Yes, you can buy a great instrument without remortgaging your house! Your search for your new guitar starts here!
If you are a newbie looking for your first guitar you might want to check out the following article:
Three Classic Acoustics
First we’ll take a look at three very similar guitars. The reason they have so much in common is because they are all based around a classic design. The dreadnought guitar shape is a standard acoustic shape, and allows an instrument a tremendous amount of sound projection and volume.
Of course the tonewood influences the sound too. All three guitars are all made with spruce tops. Two feature rosewood back and sides, and one uses mahogany. This combination of the warmth of rosewood or mahogany, and the crispness of spruce, gives these guitars beautiful depth and clarity.
For the necks, these manufacturers have chosen mahogany (or nato, in the case of Yamaha, which is sometimes referred to as eastern mahogany). Finally, rosewood fingerboards allow notes to ring velvety and smooth.
Mahogany is a heavy wood that offers deep, rich tone. Rosewood too has a deep tone with good bottom, but many players feel it presents more clarity to the notes. Whichever you choose is up to your personal preference, but if you are new to the guitar you shouldn't lose any sleep over the difference.
This combination of shape and tonewoods has been tried and tested over generations of guitar players. Even with such low price tags, these instruments are built to sound incredible.
Newbies can start out knowing they are playing a guitar that sounds like an acoustic guitar ought to, and veterans will appreciate a well-made guitar for such a low price.
Some cheap, budget guitars tend to have high action, making it tough for beginners to learn the instrument. In fact, when strings are hard to press down, it can be frustrating for players of any skill level.
All three of these acoustic guitars feature fully adjustable truss rods, which makes it easy for a professional guitar tech to adjust the instrument, and set it up so that it’s easiest to play.
These are not only great budget acoustic guitars for serious beginners, but also among the top acoustic guitars for intermediate players. Read on for my top picks for acoustic guitars under $300!
Yamaha is one of the most respected instrument makers in the world, specializing in everything from bass guitars to pianos. Their high-end acoustic guitars are exceptional, but they have a lot of offer in the lower price ranges as well. The Yamaha FG Series are among the most popular guitars of all time.
It’s easy to see why. The Yamaha FG830 routinely receives high ratings for its ease of play, great sound and value. It’s an outstanding guitar for serous beginners or intermediate players, or for a veteran guitarist who would like an extra acoustic guitar around for jamming.
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Notes: Available in Natural, Tobacco Sunburst, Autumn Burst and Dusk Sun Red
Yamaha is the brand I always recommend for beginners and intermediate players looking for a great guitar for the money. Particularly with their FG Series, they have really done a great job of bringing a quality instrument down to a very affordable price. They make more expensive guitars too, but Yamaha really shines in the low-mid-level markets.
More on Yamaha FG Series Acoustic Guitars
Everybody knows Fender as the guitar company that makes the legendary Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. These are some of the best electric guitars in the world, but when it comes to acoustics Fender makes some cool and innovative designs as well.
Of course some of them are pretty expensive, but Fender also has some excellent entry-level acoustic guitars. The CD-60 is a good-looking guitar, and great choice to get started on.
Because it’s made by Fender you know it’s going to sound good. It’s not a high-end guitar like a Stratocaster, but it’s definitely one of the best acoustic guitars under $300 you’re going to find.
Top: Laminated Spruce
Back/Sides: Laminated Nato
Bridge: Rosewood with compensated saddle
Notes: Also available as an acoustic-electric model and an all-mahogany model.
Somehow it seems easy to overlook Fender in the acoustic guitar market. They do make some of the best electric guitars for rock, country and blues, and some fine higher-end acoustics, but I've always been impressed with their acoustic guitars in the $300 range as well. Don't pigeonhole them as a guitar company that specializes only in electric guitars until you check out their acoustic lineup!
Hear the Fender CD-60
Washburn is another big name in acoustic guitars, and they make some great starter instruments as well are premium models. Washburn has been around since 1883, and has been making quality instruments ever since. Back then it was acoustic guitars, mandolins and banjos.
These days, in addition to acoustic guitars, they’re known for awesome basses and signature-model electrics. The Washburn WD10S is another dreadnaught-shaped guitar with a classic tonewood profile. Like the others, it looks great and is fun to play.
This Washburn acoustic would make a great first guitar for a newbie musician or a second guitar for more experienced player.
Top: Solid Alaskan Spruce
Neck: Mahogany w/satin finish
Notes: Rosewood-capped headstock w/MOP logo and inlay.
Washburn is a bit of a dark horse, but in my opinion you ought to check them out. Of course they wouldn't have made my list if I didn't think so! A guitar that looks this good for such a low price is truly hard to come by.
More on the Washburn WD-10
Taylor Baby Taylor
You’ve seen the top picks for traditional acoustic guitars under $300. Here are a couple of guitars that set themselves apart from the standard design, and may appeal to some players who like to march to different drummers.
If you know anything about acoustic guitars you are probably familiar with the Taylor name. Taylor guitars are among the best in the business, and some of their models cost thousands of dollars.
It might seem like a lot, but veteran musicians find them well worth the cash. Of course that puts most Taylor guitars are well out of the price range for most beginners and intermediate players.
But Taylor does make the Baby Taylor, a cool little guitar with a ¾ size body. It’s not exactly a beginner’s guitar; it’s more like a travel guitar. But it’s still a great guitar to start out on, and you can land yourself a real Taylor while staying under your $300 budget.
There are two flavors of Baby Taylor: the B1 natural, and B2 mahogany. The B1 features a Sitka spruce top with sapele laminate back and sides and a sapele neck with ebony fingerboard. Sapele is a tonewood similar to mahogany, and ebony is a wood with a bit more bite than traditional rosewood.
The B2 is the same guitar with a mahogany top. The B1 will sound a little brighter and punchier, where the B2 will have warmer tone.
These guitars are very cool, whether you are a smaller-bodied player who would prefer a smaller guitar, or a seasoned pro who just wants a great guitar to carry around for jamming.
Acoustic Guitar Magazine Reviews the Baby Taylor
The Last Word
So what’s the final verdict on the best acoustic guitar you can get while sticking to your $300 budget? If you don’t mind the smaller body style, I would recommend the Taylor Baby Mahogany. This is just a super-cool guitar for players of any ability, and even if you are a beginner you’ll want to keep it around for the rest of your career.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a more traditional guitar, it’s hard to argue with the stunning reviews the Yamaha FG830 receives. It’s built itself a strong reputation as the best inexpensive guitar you can buy.Any time I have played a Yamaha acoustic guitar I have been impressed.
But you really can’t go wrong with any of these guitars. After all, if they weren’t the best acoustic guitars under $300 I could find they wouldn’t have made this list!
If in doubt, go out to a music store, find them and play them until one rises above the others.
While you’re at it, be on the lookout for other up-and-coming guitar brands that may be good deals.
You might get lucky and find a new guitar by a young luthier looking to make a name for himself.
Good luck in your search!