Whether you’re a beginner hunting for an entry-level guitar or a seasoned player looking for an inexpensive addition to your arsenal, picking a new acoustic guitar is not as straightforward as it may seem. Build quality, timbre, size and price are all important factors you’ll need to weigh before making your decision.
To help you out with the process, we’ve shortlisted 12 instruments here. These guitars may not feature exotic tonewoods, choice hardware or cutting-edge technology, but they still check all the boxes where tone, playability and value are concerned. Here are our picks for the best affordable acoustic guitars under £650.
With the amount of attention given to innovative build features, it’s no surprise this D-18 lookalike sounds more pricey than its £299 price tag. A main contributor to the AD60’s resonant tone is Alvarez’s innovative FST2 bracing pattern, a forward-shifted version of the classic X-bracing. This design frees up the soundboard area behind the bracing, letting it move more freely to generate more volume and response.
The guitar also features Alvarez’s ‘bi-level’ bridge, which creates a greater a string break angle by setting the scooped-out bridge pins lower than the bone saddle. Owing to a more steeped string break angle, the guitar’s output and overall performance have been greatly enhanced.
Retails at £299. Check out our full review here.
In recent years, Eastman has bridged the gap between affordability and quality with their range of hand-made acoustic guitars. The E1D is no different. At just £499, you’d be getting an all solid wood dreadnought with bags of volume and projection.
The guitar owes its tonal excellence to high-quality materials rather than aesthetic embellishments. The E1D’s excellent construction of a solid Sitka spruce top along with solid Sapele back and sides combine for a voice that just might make you forget all about mother-of-pearl inlays, Grover tuners and Tusq nuts.
Retails at £499. Check out our full review here.
Art & Lutherie Legacy Tennessee Red
This £399 OM-shaped model pairs vintage aesthetics with versatile tone. The guitar gets its balanced feel from a three-layer wild cherry laminate at the back and sides. Art & Lutherie have also opted for Adirondack spruce for the instrument’s scalloped bracing, which adds a nice ‘springy’ touch to the overall sound.
Fans of the blues will also take a particular liking to this guitar, with its dry and woody timbre making it perfect for those laid back finger-picking styles. But even with a pick in hand, you’ll find that this Legacy model responds well to dynamics, whether you’re digging in or lightly strumming.
Retails at £399. Check out our full review here.
Fender Paramount PM-3 Standard
Boasting solid-wood construction and well-rounded tone, this lovely 000 cutaway will set you back £519. It features excellent tonewood choices in the form of a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck as well as a rosewood fingerboard. Tone-wise, the PM-3 stands out with a firm bass as well as an oomph in the lower positions’ midrange. The last tonal feature is best-taken advantage of by plectrum-picked notes and soft fingerpicking.
Retails at £519. Check out our full review here.
PRS SE T40E
You won’t find Private Stock embellishments on this workhorse of an SE piece, and rightly so, as it’s designed to be a tool of the trade. The £649 T40E is versatile enough to be used for writing, rehearsing, performing and recording. The acoustic guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top paired with layered ovangkol back and sides touted to produce a rich bass. It’s also noted to handle alternate tunings well. The drop D tuning, in particular, unlocks a trove of rich and deep overtones.
Retails at £649. Check out our full review here.
Andrew White Cybele 100J Jatoba
Hailing from West Virginia, guitar builder and designer Andrew White has spent over two decades perfecting his acoustic guitars. While White has more exclusive lines like the Luthier’s Collection and Decker’s Creek Series, it’s the £500 production-line Cybele 100J that fits the bill for our affordable guide.
A key aesthetic feature of this acoustic is its all-solid Jatoba body, which gives the guitar a lovely dark and rich hue. Though the Cybele 100J is a small guitar – slightly larger than a parlour-sized instrument – it is still able to project a loud, bright sound with a high-end sweetness akin to that of a mahogany or koa top. Other notable tonal features include a boxy kick in the low mids – thanks to the body shape – as well as a ringing quality to the notes contributed to by harmonic overtones.
Retails at £500. Check out our full review here.
If you’re on the hunt for vintage Epiphone specs at a wallet-friendly price, this slope-shouldered beauty is for you. The AJ-45ME/VSS boasts a smorgasbord of classic Epiphone appointments, including an asymmetrical, humped shape headstock reminiscent of the 1930s, open-back Grover tuners recalling the pre-war era as well as an upside down belly bridge featured on post-1950 models.
This acoustic isn’t a mere vintage throwback, it’s also designed for excellent playability. The low vintage-gauge frets, SlimTaper D neck profile and well-rounded fingerboard edges all contribute to an instrument that plays like a dream. And it sounds like one too: the instrument offers an open, loose feel, and produces a fatter tone when dug in with a heavy-gauge pick.
Retails at £439. Check out our full review here.
Taylor GS Mini
No list of affordable acoustics would be complete without Taylor’s hugely popular GS Mini. Branded by the company as a “marvel of scaled-down design”, the GS Mini is the downsized sibling of the Taylor GS (grand symphony). Though it’s compact in form, this acoustic delivers a rich, full voice that belies its small stature. This fullness in tone is no doubt aided by a solid choice of tonewoods, including a Sitka spruce top and layered Sapele body woods.
Another benefit of the GS Mini’s scaled-down frame is its portability. Travelling is made simple with the guitar’s nimble body, so you won’t have to jostle with the crowd too much on the way to your next gig.
Retails at $499/£499.
Taylor Academy 10
Taylor’s Academy series was made for the student guitarist. This model offers a full-bodied dreadnought tone and remarkable playability for only $499. The acoustic instrument is rendered more playable due to Taylor’s trademark Academy neck, which has a slimmer neck profiler and shorter scale length of 24.86 inches. These appointments help to facilitate easier string-fretting, chord formation and note-bending. Taylor has also equipped the Academy 10 with an armrest, helping beginners to adjust to the dreadnought’s larger shape.
In terms of tonewoods, the Academy 10 features a solid spruce top and layered Sapele back and sides, effectively producing a warm sound with defined lows, singing highs and a punchy midrange.
Retails at $499/£499.
Martin LX1E Little Martin
Another must-have on an affordable acoustic list is the LX1E Little Martin. For $559, you’ll be getting a lightweight, travel-sized guitar that’s still big on tone and quality. The acoustic is crafted from a good selection of tonewoods, including a solid Sitka spruce top as well as mahogany high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides. These tonewoods, along with Martin’s certified craftsmanship, are the bedrock of this acoustic’s large sound.
Like the Taylor GS Mini mentioned earlier, the LX1E is also a great travel companion. Its small frame makes it super portable, letting you carry it to your next gig with ease.
Lists at $559.
With a bevy of inspired tonewood selections, this made-in-China Sigma draws comparisons to the revered Martin OM. The 28V features a fine-grained solid spruce top, laminated Indian rosewood at the back and sides with a greyish brown hue, as well as a natural-coloured rosewood with abalone diamond inlays.
Sound-wise the instrument is as impressive as it looks, bringing to the fore a bright, loud sound that’s infused with particularly expressive mids. Though there’s a bit of boxiness to this OM clone’s tone, it’s still great for fingerpicking with a capo and general pick and finger duties.
Retails at £399. Check out our full review here.
Launched back in 1966, Yamaha’s FG series has gained repute as a no-frills acoustic workhorse for contemporary players. This dreadnought model carries that same DNA, but adds a newly formulated scalloped bracing pattern to shore up the solid spruce top and facilitate better low-to-midrange projection. The guitar’s midrange also has a warm and rich character to it, contributed chiefly by Nato/Okume used at its back and sides.
Retails at $369.
Read our picks of premium acoustic guitars here.