Learning to play an instrument has several associations with brain improvements, including enhancement of cognitive skills and even raising IQ in both children and adults.
Aside from benefiting your mind, it can be fun. Have you ever wished you could play your favorite song? It likely has guitar music in it. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started with the guitar.
Before you know how well you will enjoy an instrument, it can be a wise choice to find a decent option with an affordable price tag. That’s why I rounded up the best cheap acoustic guitars—all of which are very affordable at the time of this writing.
This full-size, 41-inch acoustic guitar features the classic Dreadnought body style with bright, rich sound. I like this set for true beginners, as you get the full bundle of accessories included, and position marks are on the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth, and seventh frets.
The steel strings are excellent for those who want a sharper sound and plan to play more rock, pop, or country style music in the long run.
The plywood material makes this guitar one of the most affordable on the list. So, you can toughen up your fingers and get contemporary sound without breaking the bank.
- Super affordable
- Guitar case, strings, capo, strap, pick, and digital tuner included
- Four color options on the guitar body
- Steel strings
- Ideal for beginners just learning guitar
- Not for smaller individuals or guitarists with smaller hands.
- Can de-tune quickly
This Dreadnought acoustic guitar is another full-sized, 41-inch model. If you’re looking for a larger acoustic guitar with a full accessory set, this is another excellent option to consider.
This set comes with the instrument (in a sleek, matte black finish), along with a case, strap, capo, digital clip-on tuner, picks, extra strings, and polishing cloth
This guitar is a little more than the Best Choice Products model, but the back and sides are AAA quality mahogany wood for a rich sound. Fret position markings are inlaid on this guitar, also. This model also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and free returns.
- Genuine wood (spruce and mahogany) body
- A full accessory bundle included
- Metal strings
- Retains tune well
- Excellent for beginners
- Not for smaller individuals (difficult to properly hold the guitar) or left-handed players
- Only available in full black color
Yamaha is known for its excellent production of instruments. So, if you’re looking for an affordable acoustic guitar in a smaller size from a brand name with a decent reputation, this is an option to consider.
This 1/2 size guitar features a classical body style and all nylon strings (some are half nylon and half steel), making it ideal for kids. The pliable strings are more comfortable for many children to handle while learning.
The solid spruce top and rosewood fretboard provide quality sound and a beautiful look. The guitar comes with a gig bag, extra strings, a digital tuning clamp, polishing cloth, and a guitar essentials book.
- Comes with a bundle of accessories
- Ideal for kids
- Reputable brand
- Meranti sides and back with a spruce top
- Not the most affordable of the bunch
- Can de-tune quickly
For those who want a beautiful, classical guitar at an affordable price, this model is worth taking a look. The nylon strings on this piece make it ideal for beginners or those who want a more mellow sound. The cutaway body offers style in a budget-friendly guitar.
This model is a full-size 39-inch acoustic, but a 1/2 size, 34-inch, and 3/4 size 36-inch are also available. The mahogany back and sides provide robust acoustics. A padded gig bag comes with the guitar, helping to protect it from bumps and scratches. As a bonus, Hola! Music offers two months of free live guitar classes to get you started.
- Available in full-size, 1/2 size, and 3/4 size
- Comes with a voucher for two months of free lessons
- Padded carrying bag included
- Mahogany back and sides
- Nylon strings and cutaway body for classical, flamenco-style music
- Does not include extras such as capo, clip-on tuner, or extra strings
- Does not provide a sound as sharp as steel strings
For those who are particular about having a stand-out style in their guitar, but don’t want to pay top dollar, the WINZZ beginner acoustic is an excellent option.
This model comes in three variants: deep green, black, and red. The cutaway body has a hand-rubbed finish to show wood grain with color for a retro, stylish look.
This guitar comes with a full bundle, including a padded bag, clip-on digital tuner, a strap, three picks, a soundhole pickup, and even a guitar stand for display. The top and body are Linden plywood, and this model has quality steel strings for a contemporary sound.
- Attractive, stylish look in three color options
- Steel strings
- Includes full package of accessories
- Features soundhole with good pickup
- Strings can occasionally break
- Slightly pricier than some options
This Thinline guitar features a cutaway body for classical style, available in four color options: classic brown, black, red, and sunburst. The pine spruce wood body combines rich sound with affordable materials.
This guitar is ideal for those who want acoustic but are also searching for a model with a pickup. The on-board, four-band pickup allows for hooking into an amp, and this guitar comes with a bundle that includes a pickup, strings, picks, a strap, and a gig bag. For more of the best acoustic electric guitars, go here.
- Includes bundle with accessories
- Four-band pickup (presence, treble, mid-range, and bass)
- Steel strings
- Four color options
- Not the highest quality model on the market
- Soundboard is faulty in rare instances
If you’re looking for a slightly smaller beginner acoustic guitar, Master Play makes an exceptionally affordable option in a classic style. The sunburst finish is eye-catching, and the body is genuine wood for rich sound.
This mix of steel and nylon strings make this model excellent for beginners to get used to strings without as much pain as all-steel versions.
At 38-inches, this guitar is an ideal size for youth and teens. An accessory kit comes with this guitar that includes a gig bag, extra strings, picks, and a strap.
- Genuine wood top and body
- Includes extra strings, picks, strap, and guitar bag
- Well-rated by users
- Tuning pegs occasionally loose
- Only one color and size option
Amazon has come out strong with their line of products to compete with bestselling models in a variety of categories, and guitars are no exception.
For a reasonable price, AmazonBasics designed this full-size, 41-inch acoustic guitar in a clean, Dreadnought style with a spruce and Okoume-wood body and a mahogany neck.
AmazonBasics included a bundle with this guitar, including a gig bag, extra strings, picks, a clip-on tuner, and a strap. While this is a beginner guitar, it is full-size and has all-steel strings, so it may take more getting used to than guitars with nylon strings.
- Genuine wood in a clean, contemporary finish
- Steel strings
- Accessories included
- Backed by Amazon’s one-year warranty
- Not for left-handed playing
- Only one size/color option
If you are searching for a very affordable beginner’s guitar for youth or teens, this is one of my favorite options. The price is fantastic.
While you are not going to get top-of-the-line quality in a guitar for this price in the way you would, for example, with a $700 guitar, this is still a fantastic piece on which to start playing.
This guitar has steel strings so that it will offer a more contemporary sound. The tuners on this piece take a little getting used to, but for an acoustic guitar at this price point, it holds the tune a bit better than some competitors. With four color options, your child or teen is likely to find one they like among the blue, pink, black, or natural finishes.
- Super affordable
- Ideal for kids and teens
- Wood body and top with steel strings
- Bundle includes gig case, extra strings, strap, pick, and pitch pipe
- Four color options
- Not the highest quality
- Not ideal for more serious, long-term use
How to Choose the Best Affordable Acoustic Guitar
Before you jump into purchasing your first acoustic guitar or getting one as a starter guitar gift for someone, you’ll want to decide on a few features.
If you are looking for a cheaper acoustic guitar, you don’t have to worry as much about the different woods used, or if it’s laminate or solid wood. It’s not going to be a solid wood construction in almost all cases, because solid wood guitars cost far more than laminate or partial laminate (layered wood).
Laminate may not sound quite as rich as solid wood guitars, but laminate is more durable and can withstand more humidity. So, don’t feel bad about not having a solid wood instrument. A few things you will need to decide on include the string type, body style, size, cost, and which accessories are most important to you.
Steel Strings Vs. Vinyl / Nylon Strings
One of the most important features you should look at when buying a new guitar, especially if you’re a beginner, is the type of strings it has. Guitars have either steel strings of vinyl strings, and while they look similar at first glance, they provide a different experience while playing.
Vinyl or nylon strings are more common in music, such as flamenco. The sound you’ll get with vinyl strings is more mellow than that of steel. You might think it is just the strings that are different when picking this feature, but the shape of the guitar will often vary depending on the string style.
The type of strings you select will remain on the guitar you choose because they are not interchangeable. With vinyl strings, which you will frequently find on classical style guitars, the neck is typically shorter and wider. This shorter, wider neck provides more room in between strings, and a more compact space between frets.
Steel strings can take more getting used to than vinyl strings, especially for beginners. The strings can feel sharper to the touch because of the material. Additionally, steel strings are strung tighter than vinyl, which makes them more challenging to press down or “properly fret.”
Steel strings can require a bit more skill, but with either type of string, your fingers will eventually adapt. The most crucial part of selecting the type of string should be in the sort of sound and music you want to play as you progress.
Vinyl strings are more common in some traditional styles of music, such as flamenco. Steel is more prevalent in rock, pop, and country music.
Body Styles of Acoustic Guitars
If you’re brand new to guitars, the general shape might look the same to you. However, there are differences in shape and size, and each style will produce its specific type of sound.
While there are several body styles of guitars in the acoustic world, the Dreadnought is the most popular. The brand Martin created this body style just over 100 years ago, in 1916. In a Dreadnought, you’ll find a deep body with a broader “waist” than other models. Dreadnoughts produce deep yet bright sound with plenty of projection.
In jumbo acoustic guitars, you get a loud, booming sound thanks to the extra-large bottom of the body. Jumbos have a slimmer waist than Dreadnoughts but a more substantial lower portion of the body.
An auditorium or “orchestra” acoustic guitar has a similar style to the Dreadnought but features a smaller waist cut in the middle of the body. If you see an acoustic guitar with 12 strings, it will often be a jumbo or auditorium body. As you might expect from the name, these guitars feature booming sound—they also have excellent balance in both treble and bass.
The concert or grand concert acoustic guitar also plays with lots of projection but has less “boomy” sound on the low end. However, the bass on concert guitars is still robust, but typically a cleaner, deeper sound.
If you could picture someone plucking a guitar from the 1800s into the early 1900s in a parlor or receiving room for guests, you would likely envision a parlor acoustic guitar. The body style of parlors is smaller and slenderer with a rounded shape. People often used these guitars in a plucking style, instead of strumming.
Mini Acoustic Guitars
If you have kids getting started on guitar, or if you are very petite yourself, a mini acoustic can be an ideal option. Most full-sized acoustic guitars range between 38 to 41 inches. With minis, you can get 3/4 size, 7/8 size, and even 1/2 size for little ones.
I love minis for kids to help them learn more comfortably without having to struggle with an instrument that is too cumbersome for their build.
Do You Need to Spend a Lot of Money on a Guitar?
Instruments, aside from a plastic recorder or a cheaper harmonica, are often expensive. Guitars are certainly no exception and can run you well into the hundreds, even over one thousand dollars.
So, what is the average price of an acoustic guitar? The average price of an acoustic guitar is around $700 if you factor in sales of both affordable models alongside the most expensive ones. That’s a lot of money if you’re just starting and don’t know how much you’ll love playing in the long run.
Plenty of guitars cost far less than $700 and still produce a sound that is just as good as more expensive brands. If you’re searching for an acoustic guitar with a particular sound, whether it be more “boomy” or mellow, you may even find the audio on more affordable models works better for you.
So, do you need to spend a lot of money on an acoustic guitar? No. Several models will work well for several years that cost under $200. For beginners, I recommend looking for an acoustic guitar under $200 that you will feel comfortable learning on and won’t be afraid to pull out often to practice.
Helpful Accessories to Have When Learning Guitar
You don’t have to go out and purchase every last accessory you can find when you’re first learning to play the guitar. A few helpful tools can make life—and practicing—easier, though.
It’s a good idea to have a few guitar picks on hand for when your fingers are adapting to strumming. Guitar picks can alleviate some of the pain you can experience when your skin is toughening up from all that practice.
Using a guitar pick correctly will also provide a slightly different sound than finger plucking or strumming, so it can be interesting to try them out.
Guitar Case / Gig Bag
A guitar case is a must, in my opinion. If you ever need to transport your guitar, you’ll want to have a gig bag to protect your guitar, prevent it from getting scratched, and to strap it over your shoulder. Many guitar cases also have a pocket to zip up your sheet music or tablet (whichever you use with which to learn).
Even if you’re storing your guitar in your house, a case can prevent dust from collecting on your instrument (let’s hope you play it enough that doesn’t happen) and will protect it from UV damage if you set it somewhere that gets a lot of sunlight.
Down the road, if you want to experiment with more and more songs, you’ll probably want a great capo. A capo is a clamp that holds down all of the strings within a particular fret. This clamping technique shortens the part of the strings that vibrate, creating higher pitches to each string.
Extra strings are fantastic if they come with the guitar you select. You’re probably not going to jam out so hard when initially learning to break a string, but you never know for sure when you’ll need one. If a string had a tiny flaw when the guitar was crafted, it could break on you, even if you take good care of your instrument.
Digital Clip-On Tuner
Digital clip-on tuners are not a requirement with smartphones around. You can download a tuning app, such as GuitarTuna or Fender Tune, that picks up on the sound of each note you play to help you tune with precision. However, if you’re playing somewhere without a phone, or your battery dies, a clip-on tuner is fantastic to have around.
Many affordable acoustic guitar bundles include one, so keep an eye on the package sets if you like to have some extra accessories.
There are several options for every type of beginner or experienced guitar player looking for an affordable acoustic guitar. Thanks to the exceptionally high ratings and the decent construction for the price, our two favorites are the Master Play 38-Inch Guitar and the AmazonBasics Beginner Full-Size Acoustic Guitar.
You will tend to get a higher quality product if you spend just a little more on an acoustic guitar, but if you’re looking to learn and your budget is tight, you can still find a decent option cheaply. For new guitar players, budget might be the most important factor, but you also want a guitar that can grow with you a bit.
Regardless of the type you buy, you’ll need some help to start playing if you’re a newbie. If you don’t know where to begin, you can find lessons on YouTube, and there are tons of online guitar resources that make it easy to get started. Now get strumming!
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.