5 Budget Acoustic Guitars with Personality

Though acoustic instruments are simple, there are still many variables to consider when making a purchase. Tonewoods, construction methods and body shapes all have an impact on the sound and feel of an acoustic guitar. It’s also true that a quality acoustic could cost more than your entire electric rig, but you don’t have to go that route to find a cool instrument that fits with your vibe.

Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160E and Inspired by 1964 Texan

Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160E

Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160E

Legions of teenage girls screamed and fainted when they saw The Beatles perform, but guitar players get weak in the knees when they look at pictures of the prized guitars John, Paul and George used to write and play their legendary tunes. And while the actual guitars used by Beatles members may be out of reach for most — John Lennon’s famed Gibson J-160E recently sold for $2.4 million at auction — Epiphone has done you a solid by creating two cool replicas you can take onstage.

The EJ-160E features a magnetic pickup with tone and volume controls on the body of the guitar, remaining true to the original. It looks rad, and you may even want to experiment playing through an amplifier and effects just because you can. The Inspired by 1964 Texan is modeled after the model McCartney famously played. This version features a more discrete Shadow NanoFlex pickup system with a soundhole volume control. Both guitars will run you a few hundred bucks, and you’ll be hard pressed to find an acoustic of equal coolness in the price range, especially if you’re a Beatles fan.

Godin 5th Avenue Archtop

”Affordable” and “acoustic archtop jazz” aren’t usually terms that go in a sentence together, but Godin has other ideas. The snazzy looking 5th Avenue Archtop has a beautiful cherry burst finish and is made in Canada with attention to detail, offering up satisfying old school tones and incredible looks. This is the perfect guitar for the player looking to venture into new musical territory or who just wants to add something unique, yet useable, to their collection.

Gretsch Ranchers

Gretsch Ranchers

Gretsch Ranchers

Gretsch isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of flat-top acoustic guitars, but they’ve got some options available for the adventurous picker. The Rancher series offers cutaway jumbo models available in classic Gretsch orange or the White Falcon color scheme.

Both feature electronics ensuring you’ll be able to deliver your sound to the masses. The Rancher dreadnought is a quirky animal complete with a Filter’Tron pickup and old-school Bigsby vibrato arm. Not many players rock a White Falcon acoustic, so slick back your hair, put on your leather jacket and show the people why you’re the coolest guitar player in town. Or do none of those things and just play it in your room. Whatever you do, give a Gretsch acoustic a try, because like that one new kid who showed up at your high school, they are super weird but cool as hell.

Kay/Silvertone

Kay Parlor Acoustic Guitar

Kay Parlor Acoustic Guitar

There are various models of these guitars available for a couple hundred bucks, but buyer beware: they may not be in playable condition. When I was in college, I rented out an old woman’s basement. One day, she heard me playing guitar — through a Kay amp, coincidentally — and came down the stairs. I thought she was going to shoosh me, but instead, she handed me an old Kay acoustic. She had it for years and never knew what to do with it, which probably had something to do with the action being a mile high. She turned it over to me and I had a lot of fun using it as an acoustic slide guitar. Some of these guitars are useable, and even if they’re not, they make a great piece to put on the wall.

Taylor GS Mini

The GS Mini defies logic by being a totally giggable, great sounding acoustic that has a small body and price. Based on its big brother, the Grand Symphony, it sounds like a little piano and is perfect for smaller players, beginners or guitarists looking for something that’s easy to travel with. Like other Taylor guitars, it is very user-friendly (see: incredible playability) and comes with options for electronics as well as various limited edition incarnations featuring different tonewoods.

If you’re in the market for a unique acoustic guitar, check out one of the aforementioned models. Find the one that fits your style and make it your own. If nothing else, it should hold you over until you can take a swing at something a little more spendy, but you may just find that it’s all you ever need.

Quality Acoustics Under $500 Shop Now
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