Hey all. My family was talking this weekend about what we all want for Christmas and my brother is jonesing for an acoustic guitar. I've played electric guitar off and on for the past 7 years and bass for 4 years somewhere in there, but I've never owned (or honestly even been interested in) an acoustic guitar.

My mom and I talked and we have kind of a floating budget of somewhere in the ball park of ~$300. We don't want to buy him a really expensive guitar and have him lose interest in music right away, but we also don't want a POS that he just wont want to learn to play either. Is around $300 an acceptable budget for a beginner?

Yes, I did find the acoustic basics FAQ or whatever, and found it pretty helpful, but I just wanted to make this thread and ask a few specifics before I head down to Guitar Center and pick one up. My buddy suggested Takamine, so I am a bit biased to them. Of the recommended guitars in the FAQ I read, I was actually scoping a few of them, and would like you all to weigh in. I was looking at these:

-Fender DG100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - $250
-Takamine G340SC Solid Top Cutaway Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - $300
-Alvarez RD210 Regent Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - $250
-Yamaha FG730S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar - $300

Now I know that I am going to have to play them and let the tone and playability speak for itself, but I was kinda wondering for some general considerations going in. Is there a clear favorite quality wise for any of these and/or this price range? Any other considerations? Or should I go 100% by how it plays and sounds? Or is there a guitar slightly cheaper that would be just as good of a guitar, but maybe then we can get him some accessories and stuff too? I'd hate to just go and buy the best sounding guitar and not have it hold a tune or fall apart in three weeks, you know? Set the acoustic noob straight!
Fingers -> Schecter Damien FR -> Fulltone OCD -> ABY Box -> Bugera V22 / Peavey 6505+
takamines are pretty good, actually. i personally can't stand fender acoustics, but there's nothing strikingly wrong with them.

i really can't think of any reason a beginning acoustic guitarist would need a cutaway. still, i'd probably side with the takamine.
I wouldn't worry about tone too much initially. The guitar that hurts to play and isn't fun to play is the guitar you will waste 300$ on. I can play a 99$ POS that sounds like garbage but if it's easy to play, I'll play it. However I won't 'hurt' myself to play guitar.

Find something that plays easy and their is a better chance he'll stick with it. Let 'him' worry about tone down the road. But at the same time don't get something that sounds like a toy from walmart.
the alvarez is a laminate top, the fender is... well, a fender. the lower priced taks don't have the "life" in their sound that the solid top yamahas do. i'd go with the yamaha fg730s or the fg720s, which is a little smaller. you could try the yamaha fg700s, although i find it doesn't sound as good as the other 2.
Well thanks for the great answers everyone! I'll head to GC sometime in the next couple weeks and give them a try. I'm kinda heading into it looking more specifically at the Yamaha and Takamine, but I'll play a few and try to keep an open mind. Thanks again!
Fingers -> Schecter Damien FR -> Fulltone OCD -> ABY Box -> Bugera V22 / Peavey 6505+
If I had my pick out of those I would go with Yamaha. Solid top better build quality. I would probably use the Fender as firewood though.
I do sure love me them Gibsons boy
For what it's worth, I wanted to bring some closure to this thread, just incase someone were stumble upon it later.

I went to my favorite GC and played I think like 9 or 10 guitars. My friend there suggested the Yamaha FG730S, but brought a bunch of others to play. Most guitars I played were pretty so-so, not bad but not exceptional either. They each seemed to have one or two things I didn't like, but others I did. The one thing I will say though, the Alvarez was piss poor at best, by far the worst I played.

The FG700S was definitely on the lower end. It wasn't quite as sweet sounding, and didn't play too well. The Takamines in that range were a bit better sounding if memory serves, but they were by far the ugliest (if that matters or not). Oddly enough the Fender was probably number 3 or 4 of the ones I tried, I didn't think it was too bad. The FG730S was the best at first, but it was a bit disappointing in playability, and it was pretty quite as outlined below. It was also STUNNINGLY beautiful. The others were pretty lackluster, not very memorable at all.

A common problem with all of them was the sustain and volume. It seemed that each of them really needed to be strummed hard to get any kind of sound out of them, then with a lot of them the sound died quite soon after. Each suffered to a different degree, but it was a problem of each... that is until I found the Mitchell.

The guitar I ended up settling on was the Mitchell MD200S. It's a solid spruce top guitar with Rosewood back and sides, basically a clone of the FG730S. This guitar was BY FAR the best guitar there for that price range. It played the best hands down and had the same sweet sound of the FG730S, but without the need to really wank on it to get that sound. It also had a pleasant amount of sustain, not enough to be annoying but the sound didn't die right away either. The only area I would say it wasn't #1 was in looks, but it was a close second for sure.

Anyway, it definitely blew everything else out of the water... I'm half considering getting one for myself. I've always told myself that if I wanted an acoustic bad enough I'd get a Martin like my buddy has, but I could save about 3/4 of the price and still get a rocking guitar with this Mitchell, so I might just do it.

Thanks again for all the help everyone!!
Fingers -> Schecter Damien FR -> Fulltone OCD -> ABY Box -> Bugera V22 / Peavey 6505+