We have quite the surprising lineup of acoustic electric guitars in this price range.
It required a very close eye to detail since each and every guitar was well apt to be pitted against each other.
We’re excited to reveal the Top 7, but don’t be a hater if you don’t agree. We’ve got a full explanation of why they’re ranked and placed where they are.
Let’s get this started!
The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars for Under $500
Our lineup might not reflect the same rankings from other guitar gurus, but we’ve got good reason to back up our actions. We took quality, value, and popularity into consideration, and we were stringent and impartial when it came to splitting hairs over very slim and tight margins.
In this price range, you’ll be introduced to the high-end of entry level guitars. While they may be premium instruments for the content beginner, we’re also concerned about how an intermediate player would benefit from putting down this amount of cash.
Keeping all this in mind, we were brutal in our rankings. Here’s the results!
|Seagull S6 Original QI||Body: Laminated/Solid|
|Godin QI System||Check Price|
|Fender CD-140SCE||Body: Spruce|
|Fishman Presys||Check Price|
|Martin LX1E||Body: Mahogany/Spruce|
|Fishman Isys T||Check Price|
|Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat||Body: Mahogany|
|Fishman Isys III||Check Price|
|Epiphone DOVE PRO||Body: Spruce|
|Fishman Sonicore||Check Price|
|Epiphone EJ-200SCE||Body: Maple/Spruce|
|Takamine GD30CE-NAT||Body: Mahogany/Spruce|
|Takamine TP-4TD||Check Price|
Our 7 Top Electric-Acoustic Guitars Less Than $500
Seagull S6 Original QI – Best Under $400!
This guitar is one of the cheaper options in this lineup, but it’s in no way a cheap guitar. It’s still out of the price range for a beginner player, but its quality is something that will make any skilled player a proud owner.
The Seagull S6 Original QI is a North American-made instrument with a solid cedar top. While the back and sides might be made of laminate, it’s still 3-layered wild cherry wood that produces a unique signature indicative of the Seagull S6.
It gets our number 1 spot for a few reasons. There’s no legitimate complaint about the solid Seagull. It’s made in North America, and its unique features such as the 3-layer laminate and the reverse headstock make it worthy of a high quality guitar. Seagull has done well with matching value and performance here. We acknowledge the quality.
The ratings are high and the complaints are low – two vital factors we look for in guitar that takes the second rank. Even better, the Fender CD-140SCE acoustic electric guitar comes with an accessories bundle included in the purchase. Has it got value? It seems so, but what about the quality of the guitar?
With a solid spruce top and laminate back and sides, you’re getting what you should expect for the price. However, with that said, it’s one of only a rare few that offers a solid top in this price range from the brand when comparing it to the laminate bodies of the Fender T-Bucket 300CE and the CD-60CE guitars.
When it comes to sound, it will be more than adequate and enough to sate the expectations of all buyers. However, the guitar as a whole is more inline with what a beginner guitarist would be looking for. A beginner guitar on the premium end is a deal worth taking advantage of!
We know what you’re thinking? A Martin guitar in this price range? The catch is it’s not a full size acoustic electric guitar, it’s more of a travel/parlor size instrument. How can that be useful? If you plan on hauling your guitar across state, this is the one you want to pack, not your $2000 Martin!
Sure, you’d be compromising on sound, especially on a travel size guitar, but with the Fishman Isys T electronics, you won’t have to worry about not being heard. Besides, it’s still a Martin!
But, why didn’t a Martin land in first in the rankings? The honest answer: it’s not a full-size guitar, it doesn’t have a “real” wood fretboard, and it’s pretty pricey considering. But, it does land in third because buyers are extremely impressed with the mini Martin. It also has a left-hand model available, it’s extremely durable and portable, and it’s a perfect alternative as a practice guitar to avoid wear-and-tear on your more valuable instruments.
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat – Under $400
This is on the cheaper end of the lineup, but with an all-mahogany build, you know the sound impact is going to be dynamic! As a tribute guitar to a famed musician, you might appreciate the custom work put into this beauty. Does Tim Armstrong or Rancid ring any bells?
With a satin-finished neck, feel free to shred as much as you think you can. Although it’s not a Black finished guitar, iconic of Tim Armstrong’s trademark, the Natural and Ruby Red finishes does the guitar justice with its vintage appeal.
But, the guitar does nail it with the custom inlays. It’s by the far the most popular aspect of the instrument. With little to risk when it comes to price, and everything to gain when it comes to quality, the Hellcat could be yours, and you might be the next cats-meow!
Epiphone DOVE PRO
Who has a couple thousand to drop on a guitar? Certainly not the majority of guitar players. In fact, it’s why Epiphone came out with the Pro Hummingbird and Dove guitars. It rivals the Gibson Hummingbird, but it tacks on a ton value for the best price in this budget range.
It’s a well-made guitar with an excellent reputation that exudes vintage appeal. Everything about it from its dreadnought shape, SlimTaper D profile neck, pearloid parallelogram inlays, and extremely detailed pick guard falls right into line with its custom theme.
With Shadow’s influence in the preamp and pickup systems, you know sound is never going to be an issue. Besides, if this Epiphone is going to be a look-alike, it should resemble in sound to the Gibson guitar too, right? Legendary musicians strummed the Gisbon, are you good enough to play its affordable counterpart?
If you can’t afford the revered “King of the Flat Tops” Gibson J 200 guitar, then settle for its more affordable twin, the Epiphone EJ-200SCE. Like its famous originator, it’s a jumbo guitar with booming sounds and lots of impact – definitely not for the timid.
However, the price is timid compared to the potential the EJ 200 offers. In fact, you can likely find it online at well under $400, otherwise, the predictable price is around $400.
The excellent combination of the eSonic preamp with both Shadow’s NanoFlex and NanoMag pickups makes for live and distinct characteristics that no other guitar can duplicate. The EJ200 projects full sound packed with full value!
From the brand name alone, it’s not hard to see why this Takamine made the grade. But, how did it rank so low in this lineup? Considering all the factors that came into play to piece together this lineup, it landed in at number 7, only because its popularity isn’t where we’d like to see it – yet.
However, this affordable Takamine guitar is finally in your budget range. Yes, you read that right – a Takamine in your budget range. There are a few compromises in quality that allows a variety of players to finally own a Tak, but it had to happen, and that too played a part in the ranking system.
But, with a solid spruce top, the Takamine TP-4TD preamp system, and the soft Venetian-style cutaway makes for an awesome playing experience. If you know anything about Takamine electronics, you know you won’t ever expect problems. It’s a Tak, an affordable Tak at that!
What to Expect in this Price Range
Expect a little more in quality and reputation when you spend in and around 500 bucks for a guitar. In this price range, you’ll see more and more brand names, solid wood tops, and better electronics. What you shouldn’t see is quality control issues when it comes to dropping more than a few hundred bucks. So, here’s the do’s and don’ts of what to look and what to avoid.
- Tone woods: Solid tops are expected in this higher end of the budget. Laminate back and sides are the norm.
- Quality: There should be no complaints about quality in this price range. However, there might always be some evidence of a quality control complaint, but if it’s not the trend, you’re good to go.
- Sound: Being more aware of how a guitar in this price range will sound is key to getting the best buy. Ensure you are alert to its tonal abilities and/or the lack of.
- Electronics: You should notice a difference in quality in the preamps and pickups in this price range versus cheaper guitars. Better sound systems typically comes from better brands.
- Accessories: Additional accessories and equipment are going to be scarce in this price range. However, if you’re getting a package for a steal, take it and improvise.
- Brand: More well-known and respected brands are going to start their entry-level guitars in this price range. Ensure warranties are in order to protect your investment.
- Value: Ensure the features, such as electronics, choice of tone woods, finishes, and size all match the price the guitar. Without acceptable features, the guitar will lack value – even if it’s a $500 brand-name guitar.
The High-End of Entry-Level Guitars!
How do you define entry-level? Well, it really depends on brand and quality. In this price range, you’ll get a taste of a quality guitar that might just be the foot in the door to a world-class brand. To these brands, that’s what entry-level is.
However, here, it’s just an underestimated term to define beautiful simplicity with enormous potential. The kind of potential that can help you grow into a legendary musician!