Registered User
Join date: Feb 2010
111 IQ
I was wondering what the best acoustic guitar is that I can buy for under $500.
I don't want it to be imported (meaning that I want it made in the USA or Canada), that's really all.


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d[-.-]b Asian Audiophile.
Join date: Apr 2007
1,602 IQ
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Registered User
Join date: Jul 2009
10 IQ
It's difficult to say which is "best," because best can vary between individuals. Without knowing a lot about the types of music you play, your technical proficiency, your personal biases with regard to size, shape, weight, etc., your preferences with regard to tone, etc., what you're really asking is for people to tell you what they like.

Which is okay. But I just wanted to make clear that the perfect guitar for me may not suit you all that well, and vice versa.

Anyway, all that having been said, I like Seagull guitars. Unfortunately, for under $500 you probably won't be able to get a solid wood Seagull, but honestly I've heard some Seagulls with solid tops and laminate sides/back that sounded great.

I happen to like how the Seagull S6 Original looks, plays, and sounds. It ought to run you about $400 new. It's made in Canada. Maybe you'll have to spring for a set-up, too. Maybe not. But that's true with pretty much any guitar.

While the least expensive Taylors and Martins fall within your budget, I'm less impressed with them. Yes, in the $1200+ price range, they turn out some great guitars. But in the sub-$500 price range, their guitars strike me as being inferior to some of the competition. They're still good guitars, just not quite as good as what $500 will buy you from someone else. However, by all means give them a try - maybe they'll really appeal to you.

I would add that you've limited your choices dramatically by specifying that the guitar be made in the US or Canada. That's your privilege, of course. But it does rule out many fine guitars from Yamaha, Washburn, Blueridge, etc.

It's also worth noting that your $500 will buy you a whole lot more guitar if you're willing to buy used, than if you insist on a brand new instrument.

Could you tell us which guitars you're considering, and precisely why they appeal to you?
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2009
149 IQ
I'm not a huge guitar critic, but last time I was at a guitar shop I was playing around with the acoustic's and played a brand called "Art Lutherie" They are made in Quebec canada, they sounded great and they are right in the price range you're looking for. I believe they are solid tops, sure sounded like it. But most american made stuff you'll want will be way to expensive. Thats just how it is.

edit: Michael said it, You'd be able to get a much better guitar for your price range if you didn't mind going out of american/canadain made. Ovation makes great guitars as well, thats what I have and I love it.
Last edited by etceteranough at Feb 18, 2010,
slow and low
Join date: Nov 2009
67 IQ
Try a Seagull or an Art and Lutherie, both made by Godin. I'm not sure of too much else in your range that is North American made. Takamines in this price range are pretty awesome in my opinion but they are usually made in numerous Asian countries
I do sure love me them Gibsons boy
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2009
10 IQ
etceteranough - Godin has several lines of guitars. Art and Lutherie is their least expensive line. Seagull is also made by Godin. So are Simon and Patrick, and La Patrie (classical).

While I would defend with my life (well, okay, not my life) your right to like Ovation guitars, I can't stand them. I generally loathe their design, and don't much like how they play and sound.

Which is a perfect illustration of what I was saying in my previous post, about how what's "best" for one person, may be a terrible choice for another.

Just out of curiosity, Rothtech, do you insist on US or Canadian made because you have a desire to support US and Canadian industry? Or out of a sense that the US and Canada make better quality guitars than those made in Asia? Do you require that the US or Canadian guitar use only US or Canadian woods, or would you accept a guitar made in the US, with wood from India, tuners from China, and strings made in a factory in Indonesia?

I'm not asking just to give you a hard time; I'm honestly curious as to what's motivating you, and where you choose to draw the line.
Acoustic Goddess
Join date: Jun 2009
2,885 IQ
if you're only looking for a north american guitar, the answer is seagull - although a canadian product brought into the u.s. is still imported. art & lutherie are well made guitars with no issues, but the seagulls sound better. the original or slim s6 if you like cedar for a dread, the coastline s6 if you prefer spruce. if you want a smaller guitar, the seagull coastline folk or grand (which is a parlor) are the way to go.

i believe that the taylor big baby, the martin dx1, 00x1 and 000x1 are made in mexico. the martins have more bass than the seagulls, but are made of martin's hpl - not everyone likes that.

i'm also curious about the reason for u.s./canada only since you'll be missing out from the 2 other best guitar brands in your price range: blueridge and yamaha.
Last edited by patticake at Feb 18, 2010,
Registered User
Join date: May 2009
522 IQ
Shop around craigslist, and you should find a pretty decent deal. I just picked up a Seagull S6 CW Acoustic Electric for $300, which normally sell new for about $600.
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2010
10 IQ
I just recently purchased a Taylor 214 BIN off of eBay for only a little bit above your price after using Bing Cashback (if you don't know what it is, read about it, it helps a LOT on large purchases). I'm extremely happy with it. Since it's a pre-2007 model, it's got solid Sapele back and sides instead of a Rosewood laminate, and has great tone and sustain. With the new Taylor line, the closest you can get to that is the GA3 (also solid Sitka top and solid Sapele sides and back, with no electronics), which costs almost twice as much at $1000.
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2009
22 IQ
Youre best bet is to find a great deal on Craigslist. You could easily pull down a 1000 dollar guitar for 500 dollars and usually get all the goodies along with it like a hard case and strap and what not. Alot of people don't like scratches on their guitars when they buy them, but I've seen tons of guitars for sale on there that look brand new. The only think is that you really need to check out the guitar before paying.

If you don't like the used route, Seagull is a great option. I didn't get the chance to try one for a while and I really thought that everyone here was just silly and infatuated with the brand because they offer all solid wood guitars at a great price and figured that they probably had shoddy workmanship and poor quality materials. My local guitar center got a bunch of them a few months back and they truly are great guitars. I've played some in the 350 ish range with solid tops and they played great, tuned up well, sounded amazing. The only thing is that if you find one with a wider neck and don't like it, they have many models with regular width necks. Find the right one for you.

Yamaha also makes great guitars in that price range, if you're willing to buy an imported guitar.

Try to stay away from the cheaper fender acoustics, they should really just stop making acoustics unless they are really going to put some effort into it.

Ibanez acoustics are ery flashy and fun to look at, and some in your price range aren't terrible guitars, but they are very hit or miss and usually comprised of subpar materials. You dont get your money's worth like you do with a seagull or yamaha.
Registered User
Join date: Nov 2005
32 IQ

I am not sure on conversions but you can pick up a used Martin DX-1 or 000X-1 for £300 (under $500 i think) in the UK. This is a US made guitar. Yes it is not solid wood but it is very good value, it does sound great and a second hand one in good condition is well worth a look.

You have limited yourself by wanting an American guitar for that money. For example you can get some solid wood guitars from the far east to match your budget. Tanglewood springs to mind. Some of them are very good and probably sound better than a DX-1 or 000X-1 (and seagull/simon&patrick). I would seriously recommend you spend some time in a shop and have a play of a few. You can very much tell the difference between a solid wood and just a top.

If you have to stick to American and can't up your budget i would go for DX-1 or 000X-1. Very good guitars, i have owned both of these and then moved up to a D-15.
Acoustic Goddess
Join date: Jun 2009
2,885 IQ
i believe the martin x series is made in mexico, not the u.s.
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2005
3,126 IQ
Quote by patticake
i believe the martin x series is made in mexico, not the u.s.

You are correct in that the new ones are made in Mexico. However, I believe some of the older ones are USA made (my brother's 000x1 was purchased a few years ago and was made in USA).

Not sure if where they were made makes too big of a difference though. I've played several 000x1 in stores that were made in Mexico and I thought they were comparable to my brother's 000x1.
'50s National Archtop
Squier Classic Vibe '60s Tele
Squier Affinity Strat
Gibson Melody Maker
Vox AC-15
50s Stella Parlor Acoustic

I was there
Registered User
Join date: Nov 2005
32 IQ
Sorry i forgot the new ones are. My one was made in the USA. You should still be able to pick up a used one. I urge to at least try one and see what you think. The sad fact is if you buy a new guitar for $500 that is made in the USA it's not going to be great. If you go used you will get a much better guitar for your money.

Just my opinion. Good luck with the search
Last edited by JimmyTone at Mar 1, 2010,