Best Acoustic Guitars for the Money

A list for people looking to get the best guitar for what they can afford. Everyone knows a Gibson Hummingbird or a Martin D-28 is a great guitar. But that is irrelevant when you can't afford one. Don't just put a brand. That may cover a price range of thousands and a wide range of quality. A series, like the Yamaha FG800 series, that would include the FG800, FG820, FG830, and their acoustic-electric counterparts is good, though. Anything that is basically different versions of the same guitar.
The Top Ten
1 Larrivee D-03

This is my favorite guitar. The only better guitars I've ever heard were hand-made Lowdens or Santa Cruzes that cost four times the price. The rosewood-backed version is my personal favorite, but the mahogany-backed one is also awesome sounding, and it costs a couple hundred less. This is a solid wood guitar, no cheap laminates, and everything on it is very high quality.

If you like a 1+3/4" nut width, instead of a standard, check out the L-03 instead. Either way, Larrivee's unique symmetrical X-bracing gives it a tonal balance like no other guitars made. The D-03R is nicknamed the D-28 killer by Larrivee fans because it is considered superior to the Martin D-28 at less than half the cost. Prices on Larrivees have risen dramatically in recent years, but they are still a great buy for the money.

If you shop around for a used one, you can find some amazing bargains. Check out Jarvis jamming out. When he gets to the fingerpicking part, I get downright weak-kneed. That is beautiful, way beyond just recording quality. Prices on Larrivees can vary by hundreds of dollars from dealer to dealer, so check a few places before buying.

2 Blueridge BR160
3 Guild D-140

This is a Chinese version of the US Guild D-40. It is all solid wood and has a high-quality Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, and is built like a tank! I own a lot of guitars, and have owned a whole lot more in the last forty years, but I never owned one as solidly built as my Guilds. It's like they built them to last a century. And with proper care, they should. You can pick one up for around $750, including a lightweight hard case and various goodies.

Or, if that's too high for your budget, they make the D-240e version, with laminated mahogany back and sides, electronics to plug in, and a high-quality Guild gig bag with lots of goodies included like picks and a tuner for $399. The D-240e also has Guild's iconic arched back, which they introduced in 1954. So, even though it's a laminate back, the arch gives it exceptional projection, and looks way cool.

4 Yamaha FG800 series

The Yamaha FG700s was one of the first guitars I ever bought, probably the fourth. They were the best guitar made in my price range back then, and I was a huge fan. I bought two, plus the FS650, and an FG160-1. When the FG800 came out, I had to try it, and it did not disappoint.

The new bracing pattern brought out a deeper bass end, and it was picked on almost everyone's Best Guitars of 2016 lists. A solid Sitka spruce top and an advanced scalloped bracing system starting at $199 for the base model, that's pretty impressive. Fender, Washburn, Takamine, and Epiphone certainly couldn't touch it at that price.

5 Alvarez Artist Series
6 Luna Art Nouveau

I would not have believed I would put a Luna on the list six months ago. Of course, I had never heard one. Just imagine a grand auditorium acoustic-electric guitar with a solid rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, and an ebony fingerboard and pins, a black Tusq saddle and nut, and a beautiful art nouveau design. What would you expect a guitar like that to cost, with a lightweight case thrown in? If it was a Taylor, I would guess about two thousand dollars. But this cost me $499, new! Who else sells an all-solid guitar with a rosewood back for that kind of money?

The upgrade from mahogany to rosewood costs almost that much on high-end guitars. And this guitar not only sounds amazing, it looks even more amazing. It is the ultimate guitar for women. Not only is it the perfect size for a woman, it will go with whatever they wear, including nothing. My girlfriend loves this guitar, and so do I.

7 Guild F150 Jumbo Rosewood
8 Michael Kelly Forte Port

This has to be the most unusual guitar I've ever owned, or even played. With its offset soundhole, side port, and pinless bridge, it is something to look at, especially with all of the heavy 'silking', or cross-grain on the top of mine. When you play it, it proves that it's not just another pretty face. At around $300, it costs about the same as the Alvarez AD60. While they are very different sounding guitars, they are both very worthy of your consideration. The Forte Port is not the heavy-duty RnR workhorse the AD60 is, but it is exquisite sounding for fingerpicking, and is one of the few laminated back guitars that I think is recording quality.

9 Blueridge BR140
10 Seagull S6

For around $400, you can pick up a high-quality Canadian made solid spruce or cedar topped guitar that sounds really better than most guitars in its class. It's laminated, but all three layers are wild cherry, which works better than guitars that put a thin veneer of mahogany on the inside and out, then fill the inside with poplar or sawdust. Simon and Patrick, another Godin offshoot, also make some excellent bang for buck guitars.

In fact, I think their higher end guitars are better, if less well known and harder to find in the US. Both are superior to Godin's Art and Lutherie branch.

The Contenders
11 Ibanez IJV-50
12 Ovation Celebrity
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