Buying stuff for cheap is always risky business- let alone musical instruments. I’ve found that most beginners want to get the cheapest and best acoustic guitars under $200 (which is frankly a reasonable budget for most people just starting out), but more often than not- they end up with an instrument they won’t like in the near future.
The reason? Most beginners have no ideas what to look for in a budget guitar- and if you are looking for a budget acoustic guitar that is going to be a huge part of your guitar journey, knowing a few things about acoustic guitars certainly helps. Everybody wants to improve rapidly on the guitar and having the right piece of gear can be instrumental when you are trying to find the fastest way to get better at guitar.
Since we’re talking about budget guitars, there are obviously going to be a few compromises, but for a beginner-intermediate who would be delighted to own a cheap guitar that’s ideal for practice, these guitars will be just perfect. That is, in fact, exactly what you should look for in the price range.
In this short post, I am going to walk you through a well-researched list so you can walk away with the best cheap acoustic guitar for under 200$. I’ve also included a short buying guide at the end, so feel free to look around.
Best Value – Ibanez IJV50
Budget Pick – Jasmine S35
Fantastic Tone – Epiphone Songmaker DR-100
Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars under $200
Jasmine S35 | Budget Pick
What We Think
Top of the list, we’ve got the beautiful Jasmine S35 acoustic. Jasmine guitars are Chinese instruments produced by KMC music but in the past, they used to be produced and marketed by Takamine. (the Japanese high-quality guitar manufacturer)
The dreadnought-style Jasmine S35 features a solid spruce top and eastern Mahogany back and sides that bring out the best of its resonance. Not only is it very durable (advanced X bracing) but it also looks rather tasteful- thanks to the rosewood bridge and saddle, elegant bindings and beautiful sound hole decorations.
The rosewood fingerboard paired with a Slim neck profile and satin finish for excellent playability and a smooth experience.
It’s easily one of the best cheap acoustic guitars under 200$ if you can overlook the dreadnought form factor, which – I don’t think most players would mind at all.
- Dreadnought form
- Spruce top, mahogany back and sides
- Advanced X-bracing
- Satin Finish & rosewood frets
- Excellent construction
- Satin finish and rosewood frets
- Lovely sound
- Full 25 1/2″ scale length
- Our Budget Pick!
- Would consider changing stock strings
- Dreadnought takes some time to get used to
Ibanez IJV50 Acoustic Guitar | Best Value
What We Think
The Ibanez IJV50 is one of the guitars on this list that you can blindly go after, and not be disappointed afterward.
The beautiful guitar features a mahogany neck with a spruce top and Agathis back and sides. You may not be a fan of Agathis but trust me, the tonewood combination works quite well for the tone on this acoustic guitar.
The playability is good, the value is excellent and it looks fantastic but what I like most about the Ibanez IVJ50 acoustic guitar is the included accessories. You get a gig bag, tuner, and a strap which means that you can get on to playing it right when it gets delivered to you. Sweet!
- Ibanez brand
- Included gig bag, tuner, and strap
- Sounds wonderful
- Comfortable fretting
- Beautiful Dreadnought form
- Comes bundled with accessories
- Excellent value for the price
- Built on a budget
- Some string buzz – just use lighter gauge strings, it’s also easier on the fingers
Yamaha JR1 ¾ scale acoustic guitar | Short-scale with rosewood frets
What We Think
If you are thinking about getting your kid an acoustic, you will hardly find a better deal on kids’ instruments than the Yamaha JR1 acoustic!
The JR1 acoustic guitar by Yamaha is not only a good-looking one that features a Spruce top with Merati back and sides- and I kid you not, it’s an excellent first instrument for a child to learn on. It’s a hundred times better than wasting your money on some toy guitar that your child will get bored of. Having an actual instrument will certainly motivate kids to learn and practice more- and the gift of music is something that never goes unnoticed.
You also get a rosewood fingerboard and a slim neck so it’s easy for beginners to grip and fret the neck.
I also love that the Yamaha JR1 comes with free accessories– a gig bag, strings, tuner, as well as a DVD that’s fun and instructional for kids. You can probably save a couple of bucks that you would otherwise have to spend on lessons but eventually, you will want to get a good teacher for your improving guitar hero!
It’s not just a kids’ instrument- if you’ve got small hands or would just like a short-scale guitar that sounds great, the Yamaha JR1 would be just the ideal instrument for you.
- Spruce top with Meranti back and sides
- Rosewood frets
- Slim neck profile
- Free accessories and instructional DVD
- Easier to fret for kids and people with small hands
- Great first instrument for your child
- Good quality materials
- Freebies- tuner, gigbag, strings and instructional DVD
- Not a full-scale instrument
Rogue RA-090 | Best for practice
What We Think
While the Rogue name may not ring a bell to you, the brand has been around for over two decades now- and produces fantastic budget guitars worth the price.
The Rogue RA 090 acoustic guitar features a Dreadnought body made out of whitewood and the back, and sides made out of Nato.
You will also love the black aesthetic on this. It looks quite good, and the best part is- that you won’t have any issues with the way it sounds.
As much as I would like to recommend this guitar for advanced players, I do want to add that it’s built on a budget- and while it’s a great practice guitar it won’t fare that well as a performance guitar. Still an excellent purchase on a budget!
- Dreadnought model
- Whitewood top and Nato back and sides
- Good for practice
- Excellent value for beginners and intermediates
- Looks neat and sounds nice
- No issues with the build for beginners
- Reflects the price
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought | Best Build
What We Think
The FA 100 Dreadnought acoustic is an absolute banger for the price! Not only is it a Fender (which just screams quality) but it’s also got a strong projection which is great for singers and buskers who could use the big sound.
The Fender guitar does have a neck shorter than the standard 25-inch scale length but it does compensate for that in terms of the decent build quality (internal X bracing) and rosewood frets and rosewood bridge.
For the price, you can’t really complain about what you’re getting. Of course, it’s got a plastic nut but the Spruce back and sides paired with an Agathis top makes for a fantastic combination for a wonderful tone.
- Dreadnought model
- Agathis top with Spruce back and sides
- Strong sound
- Easy to grip
- Internal X bracing for a durable build
- Fantastic value for money
- Slightly short neck means it’s easier for beginners
- Beautiful aesthetics
- Slightly slimmer Dreadnought design
- Gig bag comes free
- Fender quality
- Need to change strings
- Could swap the stock nut with a bone nut
Epiphone Songmaker DR-100 Acoustic | Fantastic tone
What We Think
If you would like to get a quality guitar model without any flaws that most budget guitars tend to have, you should consider looking into the Epiphone DR 100 acoustic guitar.
The best thing about the Epiphone Songmaker DR 100 acoustic guitar has got to be the mahogany body, back, and sides paired with a Spruce top- add the rosewood frets to that, and you’re looking at hands-down one of the best acoustic guitars under 200$.
You also get a rosewood bridge, and the quality tone will have you wondering how this acoustic guitar is so cheap! Epiphone DR 100 is ideal for both beginners and experienced players which makes it a very versatile instrument in my books.
- Fantastic Dreadnought model
- Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides
- Rosewood frets
- Ideal for both beginners and pros
- Great value
- Good quality
- Beautiful aesthetics
- Mahogany wood in construction
- Good for both beginners and seasoned guitar players
- Frets could use some dressing
Choosing the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitar Under 200$ (Buying Guide)
Guitars are just instruments that have a hollow resonating chamber for amplifying the sound produced due to string vibrations. There are many different kinds of guitars including cigar box guitars, seven and twelve-string guitars, the 36-string some djenty boys use- as well as the gorgeous electric guitar.
It’s hard to put a number on the kinds of guitars there are, but generally, it’s played with picks. When you are using fingers to play certain notes, you call it the fingerstyle method of plucking the strings.
The most common guitar in the market today is the humble wooden guitar though many variants out of carbon fiber and plastic are also available. By acoustic, it just means that the instrument doesn’t have electronic circuitry to amplify the sound, unlike an electric guitar that does have intricate circuitry to make sure what you are playing is audible.
These are the things that you should be mindful of when looking for the best cheap acoustic guitars on a budget:
As a guitar player, you need to be aware of your skill level and know what guitar would be the best suited for your current needs. If you are just starting out and have yet to learn your first chords, you can get any cheap guitar and drill the chord shapes till it gets well embedded into your muscle memory. The wood choices and tone are less important to a beginner as you just need to know the basic chord shapes. As you get better on the guitar and get started with minor and pentatonic minor scales, a budget guitar will still be adequate to keep your curiosity satisfied.
It’s been said by many players that the skill of a player is more important than the quality of the instrument itself. A good musician can work with any instrument and pull off great chops with little to no effort. That said, if you are an intermediate level and don’t think you could get good value out of a budget guitar and would instead like to get something a bit more expensive, you should be ready to invest in that.
A budget guitar, like the ones on this list is ideal for beginners as well as intermediates who don’t plan to use it on stage or studio recordings any time soon. If you regularly gig around your place, you might be much better off getting an expensive guitar while using a budget guitar for practice.
You might also need a couple of essential guitar accessories to make sure that you are improving at a rapid pace and not making silly beginner mistakes.
Most guitarists don’t pay much attention to string gauges early on in their playing. I was guilty of this too.
I started learning on medium gauge strings and after about two years of sticking to the same strings, when I eventually switched to lighter gauge strings, it was a game-changer. The lighter strings were easier to press on and even easier to bend accurately.
Some players do think that thicker strings have more tone juice inside and the pain is worth it but personally, I find lighter strings the way to go. If you need to record, it might matter a lot but if you are just using it for practice, you should certainly get lighter string gauges. Many players do perform with lighter string gauges, so you can do so too. I would recommend Martin light as I’ve been using these for years.
There are generally two kinds of strings out there in the market- nylon strings and steel strings. Classical guitarists use nylon strings while most acoustic players, as well as acoustic-electric players, use steel strings. I would suggest you experiment with these strings to see which ones you like best. I find that nylon strings are harder to bend but sound punchier when playing fingerstyle. The tone is just different and you might like it.
The type of bridge on the guitar can also vary based don’t the kind of strings you have on your guitar. The standard acoustic guitar bridge is one where you have six pins that just go into the holes on the bridge- and this ensures that the ball ends of the steel strings remain in place. Nylon string guitars have a different kind of bridge where string ends are tied around the bridge.
Nowadays, manufacturers do produce nylon strings with ball ends- so you can easily put nylon strings on your steel string acoustic guitar too. It’s just a matter of preference and it won’t damage your neck in any way. That said, putting steel strings on a nylon-string classical guitar is a bad idea as the nylon-string guitar is built to withstand much less pressure from the string.
Regardless of the budget guitar you get, it’s generally a good idea to change the strings after buying it. Most stock strings are crap and just changing the strings can help you achieve better tone and sound quality.
The most common issue on budget guitars is the build. If you take a look at what most brands are offering in their cheaper acoustic guitars, you will find that laminated wood is used quite often for the top and Nato for the back and sides. It’s not that common to see rosewood frets on the fingerboard as it does add up the costs in the manufacturing process.
Personally, I like guitars with advanced X-bracing which just means that the top is supported by X-shaped wooden struts underneath. It’s also a good idea to go for thin neck acoustic guitars as those are easier to play.
You should expect to get a synthetic or plastic nut instead of bone nut. It can be hard to judge which acoustic guitars have a decent build and which ones are just poorly made, so the above list should give you a rough idea as to which ones will last for a long time.
You’ll be surprised by how nice the quality of some of these instruments is- and it’s proof that if you know where to look around, you can find something of value.
While most of the budget guitars on the list won’t hold a candle to guitars that studio musicians use for recording parts of songs, you can still find great use out of cheap acoustic guitars. Since these are inexpensive, they are accessible to beginners who aren’t sure if they will stick with the instrument. If you’re trying to learn percussive fingerstyle or want to practice for many hours on end, you will find that having a practice instrument that doesn’t cost much can really motivate you to learn new tricks on the guitar.
Most of these guitars are in a dreadnought form factor which does look beautiful but if you haven’t gotten used to it, it can feel quite odd. I prefer slimmer models as these have cutaways and are more comfortable to hold but to each their own, I guess.
If you’ve got the budget and reason to, I would advise you to look into guitars that cost a bit more. The difference in quality might be significant to somebody who has been playing for quite some time. But for somebody who just wants to have fun and learn the basics of chords and things like pentatonic scales without paying for much, these acoustic guitars would be just perfect.
I hope you have found this post informative. If you enjoyed reading our list of the best cheap acoustic guitars under $200, please share it with your friends and others who might find it interesting and helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best cheap acoustic guitar for under 200$?
I would suggest checking out the Jasmine S35 acoustic guitar as it’s not only a gorgeous instrument with quality build materials and construction but it also features a satin neck which is the best thing you can have as far as the playability is concerned.
The dreadnought form of the Jasmine S35 acoustic guitar might take some time to get used to, but it’s a solid investment you will love to pick up every day.
Is an acoustic-electric guitar the same as an acoustic guitar?
An acoustic guitar is just an instrument with a hollow resonating chamber that does the amplification part. So, the loudest it can go is already determined at its build time.
An acoustic-electric, on the other hand, is an acoustic guitar that has some sort of electronic amplification built into it. You could have piezo-electric pickups that pick up the string vibrations as well as a jack that you can hook up to an amp to get as loud a sound you want.
Generally, it’s a good idea to not get an acoustic-electric in the budget range as the electronics are mediocre. It can be a great tool for practice though.
Is a nylon string guitar better than a steel-string acoustic guitar?
It’s a matter of preference- while most classical guitars play on nylon strings all the time, doing so may not be in your best interests if you are thinking about getting into rock and blues genres.
Nylon strings do have a characteristic sound but it does come at the compromise of not being able to bend the strings as much as you could on a steel string acoustic.
Do I need to have a tuner if I am to learn the acoustic guitar?
Absolutely! You can also get by with a tuner app on your phone but I would recommend that you get a separate tuner that registers the notes you are playing.
If you are new to playing guitar, tuning your guitar every time before you play is also a great habit to work on.