Determining the best acoustic guitars for you to check out will vary depending on your skill level, use case, budget, and age.
Acoustic guitars are one of those instruments where spending a few extra dollars can go a long way in playability and sound. However, there is a point where you hit diminishing returns with what you pay.
Understanding the fundamentals of what makes an acoustic guitar affordable or expensive can go a long way in helping you research and find the perfect instrument.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the average price of guitars in different skill brackets. I’ll also discuss what components make up expensive and affordable acoustic guitars. This way, you can make an informed decision and maximize your dollar as you invest in your guitar playing.
This will be fun, so grab your favorite drink and let’s get started!
How Much Does a Good Acoustic Guitar Cost 2023?
Let’s cut right to the chase; there are four main “tiers” for acoustic guitars:
- Beginner Guitar & Bundles ($100-$300)
- Intermediate “Value” Guitars ($300-$1,000)
- Professional Acoustic Guitars ($1,000-$2,000)
- “Forever” Acoustic Guitars ($2,000+)
Each category has its strengths and weaknesses, as well as its hidden gems. It can get confusing fast on why one guitar costs $100 on Amazon and comes with all accessories while another is $400 and doesn’t even come with a case.
Understanding the quality difference between a $1,000 and a $3,000 acoustic guitar can get even more anxiety-inducing. It can be tough to know if the extra money is really worth it for most players.
The challenge with acoustic guitars is you can’t upgrade components like on an electric guitar. While an electric guitar’s tone is predominantly shaped by the pickups, an acoustic guitar is all about the wood used and how it was constructed.
So knowing how to use your dollar wisely when looking at beginner or professional-level acoustic guitars is crucial.
Now let’s break down the price points and discuss some of the pros and cons of each.
Beginner Acoustic Guitars and Bundles Price Range (>$500)
Statistically speaking, 90% of beginning guitar players will quit playing within three months. It doesn’t make sense for most people to invest much money into their first acoustic guitar.
However, when looking at an acoustic guitar below 300 dollars, you have a higher chance of purchasing a guitar that will work against you in terms of learning.
Guitars in this price range are often hard to play (even for an experienced player), have tuning issues, bad strings, and won’t sound very good. Suppose you purchase a random brand from Amazon because it’s a cheap guitar with all the accessories. In that case, you’re most likely investing in an instrument that will not inspire you to want to play.
While I don’t recommend you spend much money on a hobby that you’re not sure you will stick with, investing a little more towards $300 in something that feels good to play can go a long way to making you excited to push through the pain period of learning.
With that said, you can get a decent acoustic guitar without picking up a second job. I’ve created a few resources that cover some of the best acoustic guitars for players on a budget.
- The Best Inexpensive Acoustic Guitar Under $300
- The Best Acoustic Guitar Between $300-$500 [An Expert Review]
It’s worth noting what some of these guitars on this list sacrifice, including a gig bag and other accessories, to keep the cost low while still producing a good acoustic guitar. Some of these guitars may go over your budget if you want to properly care for them.
At the end of the day, if you want to start playing guitar, stick to this price range. Just be strategic, and you’ll find something you can grow with.
- It sounds great, looks good, and is a joy to play
- Modern and balanced tone with glassy high-end response
- You'll be impressed with the high-quality construction
- Great guitar for all playing styles and skills levels https://amzn.to/3eBhnUH
- You'll be able to create beautiful recordings with the Guild D-240e
- It's incredibly adaptable and will work well with a wide range of playing techniques, from strumming to fingerstyle performances
- The pickups are surprisingly good for the price range
- Guild creates classic guitars that will never go out of style
- The dreadnought body style gives the guitar a big, bold, and projecting sound
- Easier to play for beginners and those with smaller hands
- The high-end is slightly "rolled off" for a vintage-inspired tone
- The Hummingbird is a beautiful guitar that oozes character and tone
Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Price Range ($500-$1,000)
The $500 – $1000 range for an acoustic guitar is a sweet spot for functionality and price. At this range, you begin finding more solid wood options, which adds to the guitar’s responsiveness and depth of sound.
In this price range, you’ll also see almost every model has a preamp and electronics to plug into a PA, audio interface, or acoustic amplifier. However, some of the best deals will be had if you get a guitar without electronics. There is money to be saved here, and you can find fantastic all-solid wood guitars under $1,000 if you opt out of the bells and whistles.
You’ll also gain access to acoustic guitars from all the premium guitar manufacturers like Martin and Taylor Guitars.
Suppose you’re a guitar player looking to upgrade your beginner guitar to a more playable and vibrant-sounding instrument. In that case, you can’t go wrong with the right guitar in the $500 to $1,000 price range, like an Epiphone Acoustic guitar.
There are many options in this price range, so to help you with your search, I’ve created a resource to help narrow down some of the best acoustic guitars in the sub $1,000 price range:
- Get all the Taylor quality you know, love, and want for a great price
- The perfect guitar for smaller spaces and intimate settings
- It has buttery playability that makes it hard to put down
- The short scale length is easy on the fingers, making it better for long recording sessions
- The all-solid Sapele design naturally compresses the sound, giving you a more even recording
- It's got that classic Martin tone that you know and love
Professional Acoustic Guitar Price Range ($1,000-$2,000)
This price range is when things start to get really fun!
The options in this price range are vast, and you can find an instrument that will suit all use cases and playing styles. An excellent guitar in this price range will often be made of all solid wood, have built-in electronics, a hardshell case, and be playable without a setup.
You also will get more options in terms of tonewood combinations. This will give you the ability to find an acoustic guitar that is expressive and helps you to develop your sound.
I always think of guitars in this price range as the kind that will grow as you grow. These instruments don’t cut many corners and won’t hold you back from becoming an experienced guitar player.
Often guitar’s in this price range make for great everyday guitars for gigging, recording, and practice. Also, a new guitar in this price bracket is usually mass-produced and easy to find. If you find a particular model that works well for you, if you need to replace it later due to wear and tear, you won’t have difficulty replacing it.
However, it’s worth noting that acoustic guitars between $1,000-$2,000 may still be made overseas. So if having authentic USA-made Taylor, Martin, or Gibson guitars is what you’re after, you may need to go towards the $2,000 range to get it.
For further research into the best acoustic guitars in the $2,000 range, please refer to my article:
- Taylor guitars are some of the best acoustic guitars on the market
- It has an easy-to-play, slinky feel that will make you want to play all day long
- Taylor's Expression System 2 Electronics allows you to bring the guitar's tone to the stage
- It has a beautiful, rich sound that's perfect for any style of music
- All solid wood, handcrafted Japanese instrument
- Excellent value for the money
- The guitar has a warm, full, and open tone
- The SRT2 pickup system is ideal for live performance
- Every note feels like it has depth, heart, and nostalgia wrapped around it
- Feel connected to your instrument more than ever before
- Comes with an LR Baggs VTC electronics/pickup system that sounds fantastic for live performance
- Great guitar for folk, blues, and roots music
You “Forever” Acoustic Guitar Price Range ($2,000+)
Acoustic guitars in the “Forever” price range can start at $2,000 and go up to $10,000+.
I consider these “Forever” guitars because if you buy one, you usually hold on to it for life. The only players who should buy high-end acoustic guitars like this are those with years of experience and dedication under their belt.
These guitars are often works of art and can have incredible details in the inlays, bindings, and hardware. You can also find rare tonewoods used on these guitars that will give the tone of your instrument that extra edge compared to the $1,000-$2,000 range.
Guitars in this price range aren’t designed to cut corners. Great manufacturers consider every detail and deliver an exceptional guitar that will only improve with age if properly taken care of.
So, is a $3,000 guitar that much better than a $1,500 one?
Well, the answer to this depends.
Both instruments will sound really good. However, once you get into the $2,000+ range, you’re paying for premium design flourishes, tonewoods, and in-house built guitars (no overseas factory stuff). The differences these make are subtle but noticeable to experienced guitarists.
So if you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it, it isn’t. When it’s worth it, you’ll know why and then you’ll be ready to put down the big bucks for your “forever” guitar.
If you’re looking to take the plunge into finding your “forever” guitar, I’ve made a resource just for you. Check out my article for further research:
- The guitar's tone is clear, crisp, and high-fi
- Taylor is one of the most creative and cutting-edge guitar builders today
- This guitar is easy to play and sounds excellent amplified
- It's an investment that will last you a lifetime
- A guitar with a rich tone that sounds familiar and inviting
- The neck profile is more comfortable and less bulky than a vintage instrument
- OM body style adds articulation, focus, and punch to the sound
- A beautifully built guitar with a vintage look, but modern playability and design features
- The Thinline body type is comfortable and easy to play for long periods
- Play with confidence, knowing that your on-stage tone will be perfect
- Handcrafted in Japan with impeccable construction and an eye for detail
- Great projection from all Maple construction
Custom Shop Acoustic Guitars
Custom shop guitars are exactly what it sounds like. You work with a guitar manufacturer that does hand-made custom builds, and you get something designed to your specifications.
While getting a unique guitar specifically designed for you is fantastic, you will pay premium dollars. If you aren’t sure what you want from a guitar, you are better off purchasing a great high-end model instead of custom-ordering your own.
However, if you’re a professional guitarist who has played many different types of guitars for decades and you know exactly what you want out of a guitar, then a custom shop could be the way to go for your perfect musical instrument.
Remember, the quality becomes subjective when you get above $2,000+ on high-end acoustic guitars. You’re no longer buying objective quality but an emotion.
Things to consider in your purchase price
When making an acoustic guitar purchase, there may be hidden costs that go beyond the sticker price of the instrument itself. Being aware of some additional costs that you may incur can help you decide whether a particular guitar will go outside of your budget or not.
If you are a first-time guitar buyer, you should consider purchasing a few different kinds of accessories.
- A guitar capo
- Gig bag or case
- Guitar picks
- A guitar strap
- A guitar stand
- A guitar cable (if you have electronics and want to plug into an interface, PA, or acoustic amp)
- Extra strings
- Wire cutters (for string changes)
- A peg winder (for string changes)
These items are inexpensive, but if you want the complete setup for your new instrument, these things will add up.
This is why guitar bundles are extremely popular, as you get most of these items with the guitar purchase. However, for beginner guitars, I’d shy away from cheaper bundles as everything that comes in these bundles (including the guitar) is low quality.
Solid wood vs. laminate
Solid wood is the preferred acoustic guitar construction for traditional acoustic guitars. It resonates better, produces a richer sound, and is lightweight. Solid wood guitars also age and will sound better with age.
Solid wood guitars can be found in all price ranges, but it’s the most common in the $1,000+ range.
The challenge with solid wood is that it’s more prone to weather changes, and you need to be vigilant about taking care of your instrument to prevent cracking and warping.
Laminate, on the other hand, is much more durable. However, it has a flatter and duller sound. Laminate is popular for more affordable guitars and gigging guitars. This is because they can take a beating and are less likely to be affected by environmental changes.
Often a guitar manufacturer will build their intermediate guitars with a solid wood top and then make the back and sides of the guitar laminate. This way, you get the strength and durability of the laminate but the extra resonance of the solid wood top.
Pickups and electronics help you plug into amplification or to record your acoustic guitar through your interface.
Electronics are standard in modern high-end acoustics. However, for more mid-tier acoustics ($500-$1,000), you often get a better guitar for less when you opt out of the electronics (some models have two versions).
If your only plan is to play and practice in the comfort of your own home, then you don’t need this feature.
While you can find plenty of free resources online to teach you guitar, I suggest a structured program you can follow for the first year of playing. This will help keep you focused and disciplined.
Many great options, like Fender Play, are affordable and quickly get you off the ground. It’s also worth mentioning that Fender Play comes free for a few months if you purchase a Fender acoustic or electric guitar.
For beginner-level acoustic guitars, you often will have playability issues that can be addressed by getting a professional guitar setup.
A setup can cost around $100 but will make your instrument sound better, play better, and last longer.
For maintenance, you’ll also want to invest in a guitar humidifier to ensure that your guitar doesn’t warp or crack due to extreme weather changes.
Are expensive acoustic guitars worth the price?
This depends. If you’re an experienced guitar player, then absolutely! An expensive guitar has better resonance and construction and is often more expressive than a decent acoustic guitar.
What about acoustic-electric guitars?
Acoustic-electric guitars are acoustic guitars with built-in electronics. Purchasing a guitar with electronics will increase the purchase price of a guitar.
For mid-priced guitars ($500-$1,000), you often can get a great guitar that punches well above its weight if you find one that values the guitar’s construction and wood choice over bells and whistles like electronics.
How much should beginners spend on an acoustic guitar?
This depends on the person and their budget. If you want the best bang for your buck, purchase a guitar that doesn’t come in a bundle for around $200-$300.
While you won’t get all the accessories that come in a bundle, you will get a guitar that will be better made and easier to play. This is critical for beginners as you are more likely to quit if your guitar is a pain to play.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there is quite a range in prices for acoustic guitars.
While “Forever” Acoustic Guitars may be on the higher end, they offer unique features and designs worth the investment for serious players.
If you are starting out, there are options that won’t break the bank and still give you a quality guitar that will inspire you to keep practicing and improving.
No matter your budget, there is an acoustic guitar out there that is perfect for you. Check out my resources in this article for exact recommendations of the best acoustic guitars at each price point.