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7 Best Mid-Priced Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500) – 2019 Update

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If you’re looking for a great sounding guitar without spending a lot, the best mid-priced acoustic guitars (between $200 to $500) will make you happy.

In this price range, you can find quite a few fine quality guitars with great tone and playability. 

It’s worth spending a little more to get better quality guitar than opting for a low-priced guitar (under $200) designed primarily for beginners.

Update Notes: 

This article was updated on September 9, 2019. 

The Breedlove Pursuit Concert CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar was replaced with the Breedlove Discovery Concert CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar.

Reviews of the 7 Best Mid-Priced Acoustic Guitars from $200 to $500

All seven acoustic guitars I’ve reviewed are beautiful, high-quality guitars with excellent tone, solid construction, and designed for comfortable playability.

Many of the guitars are acoustic-electrics, meaning they come with a built-in pickup and preamp for recording or connecting to amps or PA systems.

Here are the guitars:

Best Mid-Priced Acoustic Guitars from $200 to $500

Prices accurate as of:

Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide

Before we get to the reviews, it’s essential to understand the different styles and types of acoustic guitars, the types of woods used, and more.  With this information, you can make a more informed buying decision.

For a complete overview of acoustic guitars, from construction, body styles, woods, playability, plus tips on choosing the right acoustic guitar, please see my Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide.

7 Best Mid-Range Acoustic Guitars ($200 To $500) Reviews

Martin LX1E Little Martin Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Martin LX1E Little Martin Electric-Acoustic Guitar - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

F. Martin & Co. is one of the industry’s most revered acoustic guitar manufacturers.

Based in Nazareth, PA, Martin Guitars started as a fine furniture cabinet maker in the 18th century and has been creating premium quality acoustic guitars and strings since 1833.

Martin guitars are handcrafted in Nazareth, PA, using many of the original designs and processes conceived and implemented by founder Christian Frederick Martin.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it!

Each guitar takes more than 300 steps to complete, from shaping the raw wood through applying the guitar’s finish.

Overview

The Martin LX1E is a small size 6-string electric flat-top acoustic guitar, and it’s one of the most popular acoustic-electric guitars on the market today.

Much of its popularity is due to Ed Sheeran and other well-known performers who perform and record with an LX1E.

The guitar is known as the Little Martin because it’s Martin’s smallest acoustic guitar, but in Martin’s words, it’s, “very big on tone, quality, and versatility.”

Size-wise it’s like a very large ukulele, but despite its diminutive stature, it has that big warm tone you expect from a Martin guitar!

Construction

The LX1E has a solid wood spruce top and high-pressure mahogany laminate sides and back. This combination of woods delivers a warm tone that is pure Martin!

Plus, the very dense pressure laminate mahogany helps the guitar maintain its tuning despite changes in temperature and humidity you may encounter while traveling.

The neck is made of a birch laminate, and it’s shaped into a modified low oval taper, making it very comfortable to play.

Sustainable Wood Certified Fretboard

Many guitar fretboards are made of rosewood, a wood that’s increasingly becoming scarce and criticized for being harvested in a non-ecological and non-sustainable manner.  The LX1E’s fingerboard is made of FSC® Certified Richlite, a product that’s actually constructed of resin-infused paper!

While this seems a dubious choice for a guitar neck, the end result is a very high-quality fretboard.  You can learn more at Richlite.com/fretboards

What’s more, the FSC® certification “ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.  FSC® Certified means that all of the wood components of a guitar meet the stringent requirements of responsible forest management set forth by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC).”

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

The guitar comes with a Fishman Isys pickup and preamp with a built-in tuner. 

There are controls for volume as well as phase, which helps fix noise/hum issues when plugging into a PA. There’s also a Tone Contour button that provides EQ tone shaping.  The preamp uses one 9V battery that lasts about 100 hours.

How Does It Sound?

The LX1E has the warm, detailed sound that you would expect from a Martin. 

Martin LX1E Electric-Acoustic Guitar

Overall

The LX1E is a great small sized guitar with excellent tone and playability.  While the overall tone and sound are what you’d expect from a Martin, it doesn’t quite have the depth that full size (and much more expensive) Martins have.  But for a small size Martin priced well under $500, it’s hard to beat!

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings are recommended.

PROS

  • Excellent travel size guitar
  • High-quality Fishman Isys pickup system
  • Well-padded gig bag included
  • One-year manufacturer’s warranty
S

CONS

  • Small size doesn’t provide the same depth of sound as a regular size Martin

Martin LX1E Little Martin Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Taylor Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar

Runner Up: Taylor Baby Taylor

A similarly priced alternative to the Martin LX1E is the Taylor Baby Taylor.  It’s also a small size guitar with great tone and playability.

You can check out a comparison between the LX1E and the Baby Taylor below:

Martin LX1E and Taylor Baby Taylor Comparison

Taylor Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Breedlove Discovery Concert CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Breedlove Discovery Concert CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Breedlove has been making guitars since 1992.  Their mission is to craft ”the best sounding, best playing, and most enjoyable acoustic guitars” on the market.  And given their broad base of satisfied guitar users, Breedlove looks like they’re achieving their goal.

All of Breedlove’s guitars incorporate their Tonewood Certification Project and innovative sound profiling technology. These initiatives combine science and design to achieve warm, balanced tones from crafted tonewoods using environmentally-friendly sustainable sourcing methods.

Their proprietary Sound Optimization™ Process and hand voicing are used to pair and shape tonewoods to perfection. The result is excellent sounding hand-crafted guitars that are a joy to play.

Overview

The Breedlove Discovery Series of acoustic-electric guitars consists of a variety of Concert and CE (cutaway with electronics) models.

Though the Discovery line of guitars contains their entry-level models, you wouldn’t know it from their sound and playability.

The Breedlove Discovery Concert CE is a concert-style cutaway acoustic-electric guitar.  It’s designed to be well-balanced, comfortable, and provide a full tonal range, and it’s become a favored choice for guitarists both starting out and those with more experience.

Breedlove gives the Concert CE a Versatile Playing Style designation, meaning it’s a great all-purpose guitar with a balanced sound that’s at home being strummed or fingerpicked.

Construction

Concert CE guitars are designed and engineered in Breedlove’s Bend, Oregon facilities, and undergo a 25- to 30-point quality check.

The Concert CE has a solid Sitka spruce top and layered mahogany (okoume) sides and back.

The neck is okoume and has a dovetail neck joint. The 20-fret fretboard is ovangkol (a sustainable relative of rosewood) with a 25.5” scale length and a 1.6875” nut width.  The bridge is also made of ovangkol.

The slim-profile neck, low action, and semi-gloss finish help make the neck feel smooth and have ideal playability.

The Breedlove Bridge Truss (BBT) reduces tension on the soundboard, giving it structural stability as well as optimal sound.

The innovative Breedlove Pinless Bridge makes changing strings faster. This innovative bridge allows the guitar to have a thinner top that creates more vibrant tone and sustain.

It also reduces saddle strain and eliminates lost, worn, or broken bridge pins.

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

The Concert CE comes with a Fishman T pickup/preamp system, a high-quality combo used in many professional-level guitars.

How Does It Sound?

The Discovery Concert CE has a beautiful warm tone that compliments just about any musical style.

Breedlove Acoustic Guitars: Discovery Concert CE Guitar

Breedlove Discovery Concert CE Sunburst

Overall

Musicians worldwide are partial to Breedlove Discovery models for their superior sound and playability at affordable prices. With its premium woods, warm tone, and easy playability, the Discovery Concert CE is a top pick.

PROS

  • Beautiful sounding guitar that’s designed for both fingerpicking and strumming styles
  • Rich, balanced tone
  •  Soft gig bag included
  •  Limited lifetime warranty
S

CONS

  • None

Breedlove Discovery Concert CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Electric-Acoustic Guitar - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

Fender Musical Instruments, based in Scottsdale, AZ, USA, needs no introduction. This iconic brand is synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, jazz, and country music dating back to 1946.

Never heard of Tim Armstrong?  Tim is the Grammy Award-winning founder of punk band Rancid and is known for his distinctive sound.

The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat is a retro-styled concert size acoustic-electric guitar that’s based on his iconic 1960’s Fender instrument buts adds modern touches like high-quality onboard electronics.

It’s an ideal guitar for all styles of music with a sweet tone and smooth playability.

Construction

The Hellcat has a natural-finish solid mahogany top and laminate mahogany sides and back.  It uses scalloped X bracing which allows the top to freely resonate, providing better tone, more nuance, and greater projection.

The maple “C” shape neck has a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with vintage-style open-gear tuners and a dual-action truss rod. The nut and bridge are made of Graph Tech® NuBone™, a premium material used in hi-end guitars. 

The Hellcat features a 1970s inspired F-style rosette and pearl acrylic inlay with the Hellcat logo on the 3rd, 5th, and 7th frets.  It also includes Tim Armstrong’s signature decorations – a pair of pearl acrylic inlay skulls on the 12th fret.

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

Each Hellcat is equipped with a Fishman® Isys III system with active onboard pre-amp.  The Isys III includes a built-in tuner plus volume and tone controls.

How Does It Sound?

The Hellcat delivers an amazing vintage tone that matches the cool retro vibe of the guitar.

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Overall

The Hellcat has won over many fans for its vintage looks, well-balanced tone, and smooth playability.  As a smaller concert guitar, it’s an excellent pick for those will small hands but want a big sound.

The pickup and electronics are high-quality, and the included tuner is a nice bonus.  It’s an incredible value at its price that’s well under $500!

PROS

  • Excellent sounding guitar that’s a pleasure to play
  • Includes a Fishman Isys III pickup system with built-in tuner
  • Available in 6- or 12-string versions
  • Includes Tim Armstrong custom “LET’S GO” guitar strap
  • Fender 2-Year Limited Warranty
S

CONS

  • A few complaints about an imperfect finish
  • Guitar’s color is lighter than the pictures show

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Electric-Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Ovation Celebrity Standard CS24 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ovation Celebrity Standard CS24 - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

Since their introduction in the 1960s, Ovation guitars have been in high demand with both beginners and pros alike, and include noted players such as Josh White and Glen Campbell.

Ovation Guitars has always marched to its own drum.   Soon after setting up shop in 1964, founder Charles Kaman assembled a group of aerospace engineers to revolutionize how the acoustic guitar was made.

Kaman’s group created an innovative parabolic round-back acoustic guitar design

The bowl-shaped guitar body was constructed of Lyrachord, a material made of glass and resin that was initially produced for helicopter parts! 

The parabolic design produced a well-balanced tone with greater volume, projection, and sustain than conventional dreadnought guitar designs.   

Ovation went on to create other innovations, including being the first manufacturer to introduce pickups and pre-amplifiers in an acoustic guitar. 

Overview

The Ovation Celebrity Standard CS24 is a single-cutaway acoustic-electric guitar with a built-in pickup.

Construction

The CS24 has a natural gloss, solid spruce flat top that comes in four striking colors that make quite a visual statement:

  • Natural
  • Black
  • Ruby Red
  • 2-Color Sunburst

It also has the innovative mid-depth Lyrachord resin bowl body that brings increased projection and tonal richness. 

The CS24 features a modified quartersawn scalloped X bracing design that combines past and modern-day technology to create warm tone, optimal response, and maximum power.

The thin satin-finished nato mahogany neck has a smooth 20-fret rosewood fingerboard. Chrome die-cast sealed tuners provide hold tuning without slippage.

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

The CS24 features an Ovation Slimline pickup and OP-4BT pre-amp electronics system for live stage or recording uses. It includes a 3-band EQ to adjust bass, mid-range, and treble frequencies, plus a 12+db volume/gain control.

It also includes an onboard tuner and low-battery indicator light.

How Does It Sound?

The CS24 has the classic Ovation sound – warm, punchy and well-balanced.

Ovation Celebrity Standard CS24

Overall

The CS24 brings the classic Ovation sound and quality to guitarists looking for a very affordable option.  The CS24 doesn’t disappoint with great looks, sweet tone, and clean playability.

PROS

  • Great tone and playability
  • Nice volume and projection
  • Lightweight
S

CONS

  • None

Ovation Celebrity Standard CS24 Electric-Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Washburn Heritage Series HG12S Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar

Washburn Heritage Series HG12S Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

Washburn Guitars has been a leading maker of guitars, mandolins, banjos, and ukuleles going back to 1880s Chicago.

More than 135 years later, they continue their tradition of making quality acoustic-electric guitars for both beginners and professionals alike.

Washburn guitars have been the guitars of choice for some of the biggest names in folk, blues, and rock such as Bob Dylan, Greg Allman, Nancy Wilson, Robbie Robertson, Don McLean, Joe Perry, John Hiatt, Hank Williams Jr, and more.

Overview

Introduced in 2016, the Washburn Heritage Series HG12S is a grand auditorium, six-string acoustic guitar. It’s a beautiful sounding guitar in gorgeous dark wood mahogany.  It’s an ideal guitar for both strumming and fingerpicking in any style.

Construction

The HG12S has a solid mahogany top, back, and sides, plus a satin-finish mahogany neck. The all-mahogany construction gives this guitar a rich, deep tone that sounds like a much more expensive guitar!

Adding to the sweet tone is Washburn’s cathedral peaked advanced scalloped-X bracing design that provides extended tonal balance and optimal response.

A 20-fret rosewood neck and rosewood bridge, custom designed rosette, and chrome diecast tuners round out this high-quality guitar.

How Does It Sound?

The Grand Auditorium style has a larger bout (rear) than a concert guitar.  Because of its bigger body, the guitar has a beautiful rich tone.

Plus, mahogany imparts a warmer tone than cedar or spruce.  And the solid wood top will improve the guitar’s sound as it ages.

The following demo shows off this guitar’s lovely tone.

Washburn Heritage Series HG12S

Overall

The HG12S Grand Auditorium usually sells for around $300.  It’s a great-sounding guitar for the price, and will only improve with age.

This guitar is a highly recommended if you’re looking for an inexpensive great sounding acoustic guitar.  However, it is not an acoustic-electric; you would have to add a pickup later.

PROS

  • Beautiful, well-balanced tone
  • Very comfortable to play
  • Lifetime warranty
S

CONS

  • Case sold separately

Washburn Heritage Series HG12S Grand Auditorium Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Washburn Heritage Series HG12S Bundle

Prices accurate as of:

Yamaha L-Series LL6M/ LS6M ARE Acoustic-Electric Guitars

 

 

Yamaha LL6M Acoustic Guitar - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

The Yamaha Corporation, started by producing pianos and reed organs back in the late 1800s.  Today, Yamaha is the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments and is a leading maker of both acoustic and electric guitars.

The Yamaha LL6M ARE and LS6M ARE guitars are part of Yamaha’s high-end L Series acoustic guitars.  All L-Series acoustic guitars use the latest technology combined with traditional hand-craftsmanship to produce high-quality instruments that meet the demands of today’s players.

The L-Series underwent an upgrade in 2014 to include some premium features not usually found on guitars in this price range.

Of note is that both guitars incorporate Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) technology.  A.R.E. is a proprietary wood enhancing technology Yamaha uses on their high-end guitars.

In Yamaha’s words,

“Through precise control of temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure, the molecular properties of the wood can be manipulated into a more acoustically ideal condition, similar to the molecular characteristics of woods in instruments that have been played for years.”

The following short video shows the difference in sound quality:

Secret of Yamaha Acoustic Sound Projection

The result is a guitar with a rich vintage tone that sounds like a much older (and more expensive) instrument.

Overview

The LL6M is a dreadnought size acoustic-electric guitar, while the LS6M is a smaller concert-sized guitar.  Both guitars have a beautiful tone and are a joy to play.

Both models are available in 4 colors: natural, brown sunburst, black, or dark-tinted.

Construction

The LL6M and LS6M both have a hand-selected, solid Engelmann spruce top that has been treated with Yamaha’s A.R.E. wood reforming technology for enhanced tone and projection.  Englemann spruce is quite expensive and is typically found on higher-priced guitars, so this is an excellent addition!

Both models have mahogany sides and back for a rich tone.

The neck is Yamaha’s newly developed 5-ply mahogany and rosewood combo that provides smooth playability. It contains a double-action adjustable rod that creates strength and stability.

Yamaha also redesigned the neck’s components (string spacing and height, neck taper, and fingerboard binding) for modern playing techniques.

The LL6M and LS6M have rosewood fingerboards with 20 frets, and large rosewood bridges that allow excellent string vibration transfer, clear mid-range, and balanced tone.

They also come with gold-plated hardware, die-cast tuners, and a tortoise pickguard.

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

Both models come with a newly-developed SRT Zero Impact piezoelectric pickup system.  It’s a passive type pickup (no electronics) designed to minimize the pickup’s impact on the guitar’s tone and appearance.  Each string has an individual piezo pickup element to provide superior tone and dynamics.

How Does It Sound?

As you can hear below, these are great sounding guitars.

Yamaha LL6M Review

Yamaha LS6M Review

Overall

The LL6M and LS6M are premium-quality guitars that incredibly cost less than $500.

Both models come very well set up from the factor with low action, making them very playable right out of the box.  They make excellent guitars for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced players.

For many players, these Yamaha guitars will be the only guitars they’ll ever want!

PROS

  • Well-balanced tone and response
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) technology
  • SRT Zero Impact pickup
  • Deluxe hard-shell case included
S

CONS

  • None

Yamaha L-Series LL6M ARE Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Yamaha L-Series LS6M ARE Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Takamine GD30CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Takamine GD30CE Electric-Acoustic Guitar - Best Acoustic Guitars (From $200 to $500)

Takamine (est. 1965) began as a family-run guitar business in Sakashita, Japan.  Starting with its first acoustic-electric model introduced in 1979, Takamine has been producing premium quality guitars used by studio players, touring musicians, and top artists such as Bruno Mars, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Glenn Frey, and John Bon Jovi.

Takamine prides themselves on quality craftsmanship.  For example, while many large manufacturers use machinery to speed up production, Takamine still finetunes the bracing and voicing of each guitar by hand.

Different Models

There are several models available in the GD30 acoustic guitar line. 

The GD30 is a non-cutaway acoustic model and is available in natural wood (GD30-NAT) or black (GD30-BLK).  This model is priced well under $500.

I’m reviewing the GD30E, a cutaway acoustic-electric model and is available in natural wood (GD30E-NAT) or black (GD30E-BLK).  While more expensive, the GD30E still sells for under $500.

The GD30E is also available in a left-handed model.

Overview

The Takamine GD30CE is a dreadnought cutaway acoustic-electric guitar that’s been a favorite with guitarists for many years.  Its mellow vintage tone is perfect for singer-songwriters or softer, more intimate type playing.

Construction

The GD30CE features a natural gloss-finished solid spruce top and gloss-finished mahogany sides and back.   It uses quartersawn X-bracing to enhance the guitar’s beautiful tone.

The 20-fret slim neck is satin-finished mahogany and has an ovangkol wood fingerboard with excellent feel and playability.

Takamine guitar necks are designed to be very comfortable for all playing styles with an ergonomic “C” shape that’s slightly thinner on the bass strings side of the neck so that it fits the natural curve of your hand.

Takamine uses a laser-guided fret finishing system that achieves accuracy to within 0.0001” of perfect alignment.  The result is greater clarity of pitch with both fretted notes and chords.

One unusual feature is that Takamine uses a pinless bridge system that allows you to change strings much easier and faster than with conventional bridges.

The GD30CE comes with chrome hardware and die-cast tuning machines.

Built-In Pickup and Preamp

The guitar comes with the Takamine TP-4TD preamp system which includes a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls.  It provides excellent amplified performance and versatility that sounds like a much more expensive guitar.

How Does It Sound?

I would describe the tone of this guitar as natural and slightly vintage.  It produces somewhat muted highs and lows with a pronounced midrange.  The result is a warm, intimate tone.

Takamine GD30CE Electric-Acoustic Guitar

Overall

The Takamine GD30CE offers a mellow vintage tone that is hard to find in a guitar in this price range.  Plus, it’s an exceptionally easy guitar to play with its honed C shaped neck.

PROS

  • Warm vintage tone
  • Takamine quality workmanship
  • Limited lifetime warranty
S

CONS

  • Case sold separately

Takamine GD30CE Electric-Acoustic Guitar

Prices accurate as of:

Takamine GD30CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar Bundle

Prices accurate as of:

Final Thoughts

The seven acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars I’ve reviewed are all top picks in the $200- $500 range. 

All these guitars have excellent tone, are solidly constructed, and are very easy to play, so your choice will come down to personal preferences and playing style.   

My advice is to go with the guitar that best speaks to you, even if you have to push your budget a little.  A year or two from now, you won’t remember spending a little more to get the best guitar for you.

Good luck with your guitar search!

Have you decided on your first guitar? Let me know in the comments below which one you chose, or if you’re a seasoned player, what’s your favorite acoustic guitar?

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