Buying cheap acoustic guitars is not a problem. There are plenty of starter kits out there that come with six strings installed and a decent sound. But you shouldn’t set your target range too low.
With some of the best budget acoustic guitars, you can have more than a decent instrument. Something that should last a long time and sound impressive too.
7 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200
Here are some of my personal favorites that I think might interest you, if you’re shopping in this price range.
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Epiphone makes its fair share of affordable acoustic and electric guitars. The DR-100 is a budget-friendly acoustic guitar sporting the vintage sunburst look. It can be found in different colors too, just none that is overly eye-catching.
The unique design of the headstock allows for more pressure at the nut. I like this feature as it gives you more reliable tuning options as opposed to what most cheap acoustic guitars can offer. The brighter tone is not a bad thing either.
The body is large and the guitar comes with a 25.5” scale length. It’s not particularly good for kids, unless they know their way around the instrument. The mahogany body and the extra width of the resonator box give the DR-100 its unique tone and plenty of volume.
Although it’s a cheap and light acoustic guitar, you’ll still have access to 20 full frets that shouldn’t impede your creativity.
Another great thing about the DR-10 is its ambidextrous design which allows you to swap string positions while maintaining the same neutral feel. No matter which way you hold the guitar.
2. Yamaha FG800
Made with a solid Sitka spruce top and Nato back and sides, the Yamaha FG800 is another personal favorite that gives guitarists enough freedom and variety at low cost.
The rosewood fretboard has 21 full frets and dot inlays up to the 17th fret. The rosewood bridge offers a bit of extra durability and tuning sustain as well as add another eye-catching piece to the build.
The die-cast chrome tuners are very reliable, also capable of maintaining the tuning for longer than you would expect. The FG800 should be able to at least last for a couple of sessions without the need for major adjustments.
When it comes to the finish, it’s all natural. But, what makes things interesting is the fact that the FG800 comes in two models: dreadnought and concert-style. This should accommodate more people that are particular about their hold.
Also as a result of the two-model availability, you would be able to be more picky in terms of tone, as the two models sound considerably different. The concert-style model is brighter and clearer and won’t cost you too much over the classic model.
There’s cheap and then there’s filthy cheap. Getting a cheap acoustic guitar is one thing but getting a complete bundle with everything you need to start learning or playing to a crowd is another. The Fender FA-115 bundle lets you do just that.
The bundle comes with a full-sized acoustic Fender guitar. It has a 20-fret fretboard made of rosewood and classic dot inlays. A synthetic bone saddle reinforces the bridge section and ensures tuning resistance.
Along with the guitar, this bundle also includes quality strings, a gig bag, tuner, strap, picks, as well as an instructional DVD. The DVD has very beginner-friendly lessons and also delves into some intermediate lessons too.
Mind you that this is not a kid-friendly guitar. It’s full-sized and slightly heavy. But it may be the best solution for a teenager or an adult looking to pick up the instrument. It may also serve you well if you need a complete acoustic setup for the road or friendly backyard jam sessions.
4. Yamaha FD01S
The Yamaha FD01S offers a good combination of quality tone, materials, and craftsmanship. It features a solid spruce top with mahogany on the back and sides. A high quality rosewood has been used for the fretboard and the bridge.
Speaking of the fretboard, you’ll get more creative freedom out of it seeing as it has 23 full frets. The tone is warm but also has very good definition in the mid to high frequency range.
Apart from the quality of the wood, the FD01S also features impressive hardware. The guitar is equipped with die-cast chrome tuning machines. The design is also ambidextrous which makes things even more interesting.
Due to both the quality of the tone and the impressive build, this guitar is perhaps best-suited for someone who performs regularly. The guitar can handle heavy use and has plenty of volume as well as clarity.
Not the best for recordings but it will fare well in any indoor and outdoor live setups. Although it doesn’t come with a case, a bag, or even a professional setup, the target audience it’s made for can surely handle setting it up to strict specifications.
5. Ibanez IJV50
Ibanez acoustic guitars seem to be making a comeback. But for the purpose of this article, there’s really only one Ibanez guitar that could make it on this list and it’s the Ibanez IJV50.
This ambidextrous acoustic guitar comes with a complete kit, which includes a tuner, five picks, a strap, a and a soft gig bag. There’s a lot of value packed into a budget-friendly bundle.
Perhaps a standout feature for some would be the narrower fretboard. It should accommodate both beginners that need less string separation and also advanced players that want to play with extra speed.
The fretboard is smooth and makes it easy on players to slide and bend. Another interesting feature is how well the guitar is set up straight from the factory. Other than tuning it, you won’t need to adjust much else.
The string action is just right for a standard E tuning and the sustain is good too. Of course, with the clip-on tuner there’s no need to worry about making minor adjustments on the fly.
6. Rogue RA-090
Although the RA-090 may seem like a classic dreadnought acoustic guitar, there’s more to it than meets the eye. For starters, the RA-090 comes in a wide range of colors and finishes. A lot more than what you may find elsewhere.
It also has a 25 3/8” scale length, which makes it ideal for people with bigger hands. It has a comfortable playing style for intermediate to advanced players, as well as for those with long fingers.
The Nato neck is a common feature in most affordable acoustic guitars. It’s a reliable choice that does very little in altering the feel or sound of a well-crafted guitar.
The whitewood body is an interesting choice. It gives the guitar a very clean and smooth look. But it does give it a unique tone too. The tone is warm and very well-suited for folk players. If you’re looking for a brighter tone, then the RA-090 might not be the ideal fit for you.
But, at a price that’s well below the targeted range for this article, the Rogue RA-090 is something I strongly advise considering. Especially if you don’t have money to throw around or if you want a solid practice instrument.
7. Jasmine S-35
As previously mentioned, I have a fondness for guitar starter kits, especially when shopping on a budget. The more you can get the better, and the Jasmine S-35 kit certainly offers some nice incentives alongside the guitar itself.
The S-35 is a classic full-sized dreadnought model. It has a vibrant tone, not super clear, but still very good for the money. It can be used in almost any genre and that’s saying a lot.
With the S-35, you can also get a pretty complete bundle of accessories, such as a strap, picks, an MBT gig bag, Martin strings, and a clip-on tuner. The tuner is a Matrix tuner and does a very good job in any environment.
The guitar is on the lighter side, which makes it an even better starter choice. The build is a combination of spruce and Nato. Nothing too out of the ordinary, though it’s worth mentioning that the build is thinner than most.
This still allows the S-35 to give you great volume. On top of all that, you can play on 23 frets which won’t stunt your practice or creative process.
Can Cheap Acoustic Guitars Do Your Playing Justice?
The answer to this question really depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If you want to play with your band in a large venue or on an outdoor stage, then cheap acoustic guitars may not be the solution.
However, if you’re looking for a guitar you can keep at home to practice on or even entertain a few guests, then a cheap acoustic guitar will do just fine. As long as it has a good build, a decent resonator box, and a professional tune-up.
How Many Frets for Your Guitar?
Assuming that you’re not looking for a kid-sized guitar then you should aim for at least 21 frets on the fretboard. There’s no need to stifle creativity, even when you’re shopping on a very low budget.
I personally prefer at least 23 frets. But, remember that in this price range, playing notes on the last two frets might not be as satisfying as you would like. And yet, it’s still better in my opinion to go for more than 21 frets, at least so that you can practice your neck length scales and licks.
Bells and Whistles
Bells and whistles are accessories that you may not need to be able to play a guitar. Since acoustic guitars tend to come in the dreadnought style, having a strap wouldn’t hurt. Neither would having a gig bag or case to store the guitar properly.
When shopping in this price range, it’s important at times to see just how much extra stuff you can get along with your guitar. Some budget-friendly acoustic guitars come in bundles that include picks, straps, tuners, and other accessories.
You might as well get your money’s worth whenever possible. Especially if you’re buying your first guitar. It’s unlikely that you’ll have other reusable accessories on hand.
Volume or Tone?
Obviously, having the best of both worlds would be ideal. But, expect to be slightly underwhelmed in one area when buying low-end guitars. Some manufacturers trade one feature over another in order to make a guitar more affordable to the user and to mass produce.
Ideally, in this situation it’s often best to opt for more tonal clarity than sheer output. Even if it’s for jamming purposes or practicing, playing an instrument that renders clean notes will help you play better in the long run.
And, good tonal clarity means that it’s also easier to put your guitar in front of a microphone and sound as loud as you want, without sacrificing too much clarity.
How Much Do Brands Matter?
As you can see in this article, brands don’t matter as much when it comes to cheap guitars, as opposed to expensive guitars. Sure, some household names will likely make better instruments. But, sometimes the premium you pay for the brand name could leave you with a less-impressive guitar.
And this pretty much goes for anything you buy whether it’s a music instrument or something else.
Shop Smart to Sound Good
If you previously weren’t able to find the best acoustic guitar under $200 for you, hopefully by now your job has gotten much easier. Although each guitar in this article is one I can personally recommend, don’t forget to use the tips in the guide to narrow down your search so that you can get the most bang for your buck.