How many times have I pulled down a guitar off the wall at a music store? Whether I’m just looking or trying to find the next addition to my collection. It is a moment that is filled with so much potential. There was something about the instrument that caught my eye, will it live up to the potential I saw in it? I won’t know until I start playing the opening riff to “Silent Lucidity” (my go to riff when trying something new).
Before you start pulling down guitars take the time to learn a bit more with us. We will compare different models, show their ratings, plus we have links to extended reviews to dig into each instrument some more. After all that we have some tips and tricks to get the most out of your new guitar purchase.
Top 10 Acoustic Guitars For 500 Dollars:
Top 5 Classical Guitars Under $500:
At this price point acoustic guitars really start to get good. A well-built instrument using quality parts will be leaps and bounds over the entry-level guitars at cheaper prices. These are guitars that built for the stage ready to get to work and slog through a long set.
Generally guitars in this range will have solid tops and laminate back and sides. This makes for a more durable instrument sacrificing some tonal character. Necks will be made of good quality tonewoods, and cutaways will make the higher frets more accessible.
These guitars will work well in live situations. They will have a good sound, and you won’t be fighting them to play them. They can take a bit more punishment, and survive the rigors of a live show. Some will have preamps and pickups so that they can be played to venues of all sizes.
The $500 Price Range
At these prices you won’t be risking an expensive instrument at a gig. Playing live puts your prized possessions in places where they can get damaged, broken, or stolen. A guitar at this price point will be very playable, but won’t be a devastating loss if it doesn’t make it home after the show. To be honest, the average attendee to a show won’t know the difference between the sound of an $1800 instrument and one you paid less than $500 for.
If this is your first instrument check the article for buying acoustic guitars under $300 for some of the things you will need to buy. I won’t repeat that information here.
The nice thing at this level gig bags and sometimes hard-shell cases are included in the price of the guitar. You won’t have to worry about finding a case to match the size of your instrument. This can be especially frustrating if the instrument has an odd size.
Potentially you can spend as much for an acoustic amp as you did for your guitar. The right amp can be all you need to gig, which is a very good thing. Some have additional channels to add vocal mic(s) or additional instruments. Most acoustic gigs are intimate settings that don’t require a large PA system, you can get by on just a small investment. If you are in a band that has a mixing board, then make sure to pick up a direct input (or DI) box.
The Acoustic-Electric Route
By going electric you potentially open yourself up to buying guitar pedals. There are plenty of these boxes that will appeal to the acoustic player. There are loopers, delays, reverbs, choruses, and myriad of other sounds you can add to your repertoire. It all depends on how traditional or non-traditional you want to get.
The more you spend at this level the better and more professional instrument you will find. All solid wood instruments become available the more you are willing to spend. These are instruments that will have more complex sounds that will appeal to the ear. The dynamic range of these instruments is better than inexpensive models. This can add to the dramatics of a live show. The electronics will be top quality with plenty of tonal control that will deliver a great amplified sound.
Price Matters, Wood Matter
The more expensive instruments will look fantastic. You start getting more exotic woods, detailed inlays, and bindings that are more decorative. It is all a matter of what you want.
There is some good value in the guitars that are priced lower. You might be surprised at what you find. A guitar could be bought for less, then upgrade certain parts to make it more of what you need. If the bones are good, but it needs new tuners and a preamp it is possible to spend less and get an instrument that is better suited to you.
The tones are not as complex in a guitar with laminate woods, but in the mix of a band’s performance details get lost. Subtleties don’t play out well unless you are a solo artist. If the overall tone is good that is what the audience will hear.
Used Guitars Are Also An Option
If you have the time and patience, you might be able to find a good used instrument. A guitar that is priced above your budget would become available in the secondary market. Go over the instrument well to make sure that there is no damage or problems with it.
If the guitar is not your primary instrument this is a very good price range to be in. Singers will find a very good instrument to add another dimension to their bands live show. Those that want to expand into playing guitar from their main instrument will be very much at home with guitars at this price.
If you buy an electric/acoustic it will also be a very good writing tool. You will be able to get good recordings to get your ideas down or to make demos. You won’t have to buy expensive microphones to get a good quality recording.
Do Your Best To Try The Guitar
The most important thing you can do when picking out an acoustic guitar is to play it. An electric guitar can have its voice changed with the swapping of pickups or the right amp. An acoustic guitar lives and dies by the materials that it is built out of. You cannot hide the tone of the guitar behind an expensive amp or a bunch of pedals.
I cannot stress enough to play as many instruments as possible. Trying a more expensive instrument may inspire you to save a bit more before buying a new guitar. A lesser priced instrument might surprise you with how good it is, which will save you some money. No Youtube video or Amazon review can really replace playing the instrument for yourself. They can help you narrow your choices, but hands on is where it’s at.
The $500 Acoustic Guitars Roundup:
These are guitars that are built to play live on stage. They are workhorses. They may not be what you are looking for, check out some of our other best of articles to find a better match, let say a top rated $1000 acoustic guitar. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with The Guitar Files, we are interested in guitars as much as you are. Stop by regularly to see what new things have caught our eye. Until next time, may your arpeggios shimmer and your melodies be mesmerizing.