If you have ever been interested in getting an acoustic-electric guitar, there has never been a better time than now. A quality guitar was an investment at one time, and you couldn’t get anything half decent for less than $1,000. Now, you can get an excellent guitar for under $500. So, if you want a good quality acoustic-electric guitar at an affordable price, many options are available. Acoustic-electric guitars are ideal for anyone who wants to get more volume when playing, and having the built-in tuners really comes in handy. Today, we will look at some of the best acoustic-electric guitars under $500. Let’s get started.

Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $500: Reviews

We already told you that many great acoustic-electric guitars are available for less than $500. We will give you a few examples of some of our favorites. These guitars are great for musicians of all levels and can easily go from a backyard barbecue jam to the stage. So check out these fantastic acoustic-electric guitars that aren’t going to break the bank.

Epiphone J-200 EC Studio

Epiphone J-200 EC Studio

Specs

  • Type: Jumbo
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Select Maple
  • Neck: Hard Maple
  • Scale: 25.5”
  • Fingerboard: Pau Ferro
  • Frets: 20
  • Tuners: Grover Rotomatic 18:1
  • Finish: Black, Natural, Vintage Sunburst, Vintage Natural

If you love the look of a Gibson guitar but don’t love the price, the Epiphone J-200 EC Studio is the next best thing. This guitar has a great sound and looks fantastic, and it comes at a fraction of the price of a Gibson Les Paul. In fact, it offers the same features as the Gibson J-200, including the tortoiseshell style pickguard and Pearloid crown inlays, and it is probably one of the best acoustic-electric guitars in this price range.

This guitar has excellent playability, and it also has a bottom end that is deep and balanced. The sound quality is fantastic. In fact, this is such a great guitar that you will think you are playing an actual Gibson.

Pros

  • Available in left-handed models
  • Great tones
  • Classic Gibson styling

Cons

Some people don’t care for the large size

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Martin LX1E Little Martin

Martin LX1E Little Martin

Specs

  • Type: Modified 0-14 Fret
  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Back and Sides: High-Pressure Laminate Mahogany
  • Fretboard: FSC Certified Richlite
  • Scale: 23”
  • Frets: 20
  • Tuners: Gotoh Nickel
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonitone

While this guitar is just over the $500 price range, it is not too much over and often can be found for less than $500. This guitar comprises man-made materials, and it can have a very basic feel. But, once you hear the fantastic tones that only a Martin guitar can offer, you will fall in love with this instrument.

This guitar offers bright tones and classic Martin tones, and it is actually louder than many bigger guitars. This may be the guitar you never even knew you wanted until now. So whether you are going on the road or just want to jam with your friends, this is a budget-friendly guitar with plenty of appeal.

Pros

  • Well-built
  • Sounds great when plugged in
  • Ideal travel guitar

Cons

Sound is relatively conventional when plugged in

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Yamaha STORIA III

Yamaha STORIA

Specs

  • Type: Concert
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Scale: 25”
  • Frets: 20
  • Tuners: Open Gear Champagne-Gold
  • Electronics: Yamaha Passive Undersaddle Pickup

You can’t go wrong with a Yamaha guitar, especially at this price. The whole idea behind the STORIA line was to create a guitar that takes a regular acoustic guitar and turns it into a “one-of-a-kind statement piece.” Yamaha definitely made it happen with this guitar. This compact concert body guitar is easy for anyone to play, even children who have smaller hands and shorter arms.

The interior is red wine, and the appointments are champagne-gold, so this instrument has a look that appeals to many musicians. In fact, you don’t often see guitars that look this beautiful at such a low price.

Pros

  • Beautiful appearance
  • Solid top
  • Looks and feels like a much more expensive guitar

Cons

Not available in left-handed models

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Washburn Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE

Washburn Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE

Specs

  • Type: Orchestra
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ovangkol
  • Scale: 25.5”
  • Frets: 20
  • Tuners: Chrome Die-Cast
  • Electronics: Fishman Presys II 301T Preamp with Tuner

This guitar has the classic Martin OM shape and sub-dreadnought dimensions with amazing highs. It also has a very controlled bottom end. The fact that it is made from mahogany is part of the reason for the superb tone, and it is ideal for anyone who enjoys fingerpicking. The preamp allows you to achieve the same sound as a traditional acoustic guitar, and there are controls for bass and treble.

We really love this guitar because it has relatively low action, making it easier to play, especially if you are doing leadwork. In addition, it has a C-profile neck with a satin finish, so your hands will just glide along the neck as you play. This instrument feels as great as it looks, and we think it is one of the best acoustic-electric guitars you can get in this price range.

Pros

  • Ideal for fingerstyle guitarists
  • Great highs and tight lows
  • Slim neck
  • Low action

Cons

  • Not available in left-handed models
  • Some people do not like the three-piece neck

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Guild M-240E

Guild M-240E

Specs

  • Type: M-Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro
  • Scale: 24.75”
  • Frets: 20
  • Tuners: Guild GBB1 Butterbean Nickel
  • Electronics: Guild/Fishman Sonitone GT-1

If you are looking for a smaller-bodied acoustic-electric guitar, the Guild M-240E is an excellent choice and available at less than $500. This guitar can be compared to many Martin and Taylor guitars, both in appearance and sound quality, not to mention playability. However, if you are looking for something just a bit different, this is an excellent guitar to consider.

This acoustic-electric guitar is made of solid spruce and mahogany. It looks just as great as it sounds, with a punchy tone and a nice low-end. This is the ideal guitar for solo artists who want a deep, rich tone to accompany their voices. It is also great for those who play in bands and just want something that will bring a little something extra to the show.

It has a comfortable C-shaped neck, and the body is a smaller “M” size, making it ideal for travel and beginners, particularly children who have smaller hands and shorter arms. In addition, the Fishman Sonitone pickup gives it a bigger sound than other similar guitars.

Pros

  • Beautiful appearance
  • Great playability
  • Big sound

Cons

  • Not available in left-handed models
  • Some people do not care for the smaller body

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Buyers Guide

Aesthetics

Obviously, the way a guitar looks will play a significant role in anyone’s decision about buying any guitar. However, the appearance is pretty much the same for acoustic-electric and acoustic guitars, so this isn’t going to be an issue. Both guitars are made from the same types of wood, and they have similar shapes and finishes.

Both guitars are available in the same shapes and sizes. The one advantage the traditional acoustic guitar has is that more models are scaled-down in size, so they are more comfortable for beginners and those with shorter arms, including children.

On the other hand, when using a regular acoustic guitar, you have to rely on the size and shape for sound projection. In this case, we prefer the acoustic-electric guitars.

Playability

Acoustic-electric and acoustic guitars are pretty much tied when it comes to playability, with the only difference being classical guitars, which have nylon strings that are easier to play on.

However, both acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars can be played with light gauge strings, and you can get both types of guitars with low action, making it easier to press down at the frets. While the nylon strings are easier to play, you can’t beat steel strings if you want to toughen up your fingers, which is necessary if you are playing a lot.

Portability

While the acoustic-electric guitar is excellent because it can be plugged into an amplifier, it isn’t always the most convenient. After all, you can’t just pick up your guitar and go – you also have to drag a heavy amplifier with you. On the other hand, if you are going to be playing backyard parties, bonfires, etc., nothing beats a traditional acoustic guitar.

You can take it anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about plugging it in. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to plug in an acoustic-electric guitar, but you may not want to take a guitar with electronics to beach parties. The acoustic is the winner in this case.

Price

There are several ways to look at the price point. On the one hand, both guitars are pretty much in the same price range. But, when you are talking about acoustic-electric guitars, you are also talking about needing an amplifier.

In this case, you will pay extra for an amp, patch cords, etc. So, even though both types of guitars run around the same price, you will save money by purchasing a traditional acoustic guitar.

FAQ

What is an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

An acoustic-electric guitar is basically a regular acoustic guitar, but it has one feature that traditional acoustic guitars do not have: a pickup system or an onboard microphone.

So, you can plug this guitar into an amplifier to be played through a speaker. Or, you can even run it directly through a PA system. This is great for anyone who wishes to play on stage. Instead of having to mic the guitar and then stand in one place so the mic can pick up the sounds from the guitar, you have the freedom to move around with all the amplification you need.

Most acoustic-electric guitars also have built-in tuners, so you don’t have to worry about bringing along a clip-on or another type of tuner or having to use a tuning app. You also don’t have to worry about tuning by ear, even though it is essential to know how to do this.

Why Should You Buy an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

Any acoustic guitar can be fitted with pickups, but why bother when you can purchase one that already has them built-in? There are a few advantages to having an acoustic-electric guitar. For instance, we already mentioned that you can plug it right into an amplifier or PA system.

When you plug into an amp, you will get a much more consistent sound than just using a microphone. This is a huge help to anyone playing live because there’s no need to adjust the microphone before shows. Plus, as we mentioned, it allows you to move around while playing.

Another great advantage is that you don’t have to worry about setting up a microphone that ensures there will be no feedback or noise from other acoustic sources. Sure, there is the advantage of getting a better sound with a quality microphone that is properly positioned. But, when you can move around and not have to just stand there and play, it more than makes up for it.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

While there are many advantages to having an acoustic-electric guitar, there can also be disadvantages. For instance, if the guitar has a preamp system, you need a 9V battery.

So, while it doesn’t need to be replaced often, chances are it will need to be replaced when you really need it and do not have an extra battery on-hand. So, it is always a good idea to make sure you have at least one spare battery with you, just to be on the safe side.

Another disadvantage is that the direct pickup system will affect the acoustic guitar’s natural tone. But, this is not a huge problem considering there are so many advantages of using an acoustic-electric guitar on stage. The best option is still to mic the guitar rather than use the onboard electronics in the studio.

Finally, one more disadvantage to using an acoustic-electric guitar is feedback. Obviously, this can be a problem with a microphone, but it is more of a problem when using onboard electronics. One way to overcome this issue is to use a feedback buster. This is simply a rubber plug that is placed inside the soundhole.

Which is Better: Acoustic or Acoustic-Electric?

Some musicians swear by acoustic guitars and don’t feel that you get the same sound quality from a guitar with built-in electronics rather than one that is mic’d.

Others prefer to plug an acoustic-electric guitar in and move around while playing without worrying about losing volume because they aren’t near the microphone.

In the end, it’s about personal preference. But, there are some definite advantages and disadvantages to both guitars, particularly for beginner guitar players.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the fantastic acoustic-electric guitars you can find for less than $500. These guitars are great for musicians of all levels, and they are all ideal for beginners. If you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money, but you want a good-sounding guitar to learn on, any of these guitars will be ideal for you. Of course, when you are making any type of investment such as this, shop around to make sure you get what you are looking for at a price you can afford.

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