So, you’re looking to buy an acoustic guitar. You’ve seen some of the best ones that are priced in the thousands of dollars. You want an amazing guitar, but don’t want to or can’t fork out that kind of money. The good news is that there are so many great guitars out there that are budget-friendly. Whether you have a little or a lot, there is a guitar that will be suitable for you. Let’s get on with looking at the best acoustic guitars under $2000.
How to Choose an Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitars come in all shapes and sizes. That’s besides different materials that influence the sound and even the longevity of the guitar too. Then there’s the aesthetic element too.
Steel String or Classical Guitar
When people refer to acoustic guitars, they usually mean steel string guitars. Nylon string guitars are called classical guitars. Having said that, classical guitars can also be acoustic or acoustic electric a.k.a. semi-acoustic. But they aren’t what people refer to as acoustic guitars as such. If you’re rather looking for a nylon string guitar, you can check out our best picks here.
Type of Guitar- Size
The type of guitar largely determines the size. There are quite a few inches difference in size between a concert guitar vs a dreadnought guitar. If you’re a smaller person, a smaller guitar like a parlor guitar, concert guitar, or a grand concert guitar may suit you better. They have smaller bodies that are narrower in the middle and they’re also thinner.
I’m a small person (5ft1) and have a dreadnought, the third biggest acoustic guitar, and it’s quite uncomfortable to play when sitting down. I love it, wouldn’t trade it, but I could have done with a smaller guitar. Medium guitars include the auditorium and grand auditorium guitars. Large guitars include grand symphony, dreadnought, jumbo, and grand orchestra.
Guitars in order of size:
- Parlor guitar
- Concert guitar
- Grand concert guitar
- Auditorium guitar
- Grand auditorium guitar
- Grand symphony guitar
- Dreadnought guitar
- Jumbo guitar
- Grand orchestra guitar
Type of Guitar- Sound
If you enjoy louder guitars, you want to look at one of the bigger guitar types. The bigger the guitar, the louder it is. That’s because the bodies resonate better. They also generally sound fuller since they have a lot more low-end. They’re great for strumming. Not that you can’t do any fingerstyle stuff on the bigger guitars. In fact, fingerpicking songs sounds beautiful on any guitar. But they really shine when it comes to strumming.
Small guitars are quieter. Because of this, they’re generally better suited to fingerstyle playing. They don’t sound as full, but the mids and highs sound pretty good with these guitars. You can strum these guitars. By all means, go wild. Just be aware that you won’t get as much low-end with these. For some people, this may be a plus.
While smaller guitars are audible in smaller settings, you aren’t going to get them to be as loud as the bigger guitars by strumming hard. If you love the sound of the smaller guitars but want volume, consider a semi-acoustic version rather.
Cutaway or Non-Cutaway
If you’re into fingerstyle guitar or just love to play up in the higher frets in general, a cutaway body shape is a must. The cutaway shape allows easy access to the higher frets. Tone-wise, there is a very small drop in the amount of low-end you get. Not so much so that I would make that a consideration, not unless you really love your low-ends. I do, and while I prefer my non-cutaway dreadnought, my husband has a cutaway grand auditorium guitar, and it still sounds beautiful.
Of course, it’s also down to aesthetics, maybe you prefer the look of one or the other. All types of acoustic guitars come in either a cutaway or non-cutaway body shape, so that makes it even easier if you have your heart set on a particular type of guitar.
Type of Wood
When it comes to acoustic guitars, the type of wood affects the sound. Woods allow different frequencies through based on their density, hardness, etc. Often different woods are used on the back and sides to the top to create a complimenting sound. The combination of tonewoods (what we call wood used to construct a guitar), bracing, and strings, all work to create the sometimes unique sounds of different guitars.
How different woods affect the tone:
- Rosewood: Rich, clear and bright tone, sometimes with more enhanced lows and highs.
- Sapele: Dark, complex, with enhanced low frequencies, mid-range frequencies, and high frequencies.
- Mahogany: Dark, complex (harmonies), punchy, colorful tones with a boost in the lows and mids that change (mostly for the better) with time.
- Maple: Short decay on notes resulting in clear, transparent tones. It’s also loud and bright.
- Spruce: Responds immediately, loud, provides a powerful, balanced tone with very little complexity
- Cedar: Quieter, rich in overtones, full of character.
- Koa: Initially very bright, mellows over time, enhanced highs
- Walnut: Fairly bright tone that warms with age, slightly enhanced mids and lows
- Basswood: Enhanced mids, warm tone
Laminate or Solid Wood Body or Combo
Laminate wood refers to layers of wood that have been stuck together. Guitars that are made from laminate wood are strong and durable, less susceptible to humidity and temperature changes, and are generally cheaper. Many beginner guitars are constructed from laminate wood for this reason. These days, laminate wood guitars can sound really good, so it’s not always a sign that the sound will be subpar.
Solid wood sounds exactly like what it is. Guitars that are made from solid wood typically resonate better and in many cases, the sound just keeps getting better. But they are expensive and more susceptible to temperature and humidity, just as wood generally is.
Some guitars have a solid top and laminate sides and back. Most of the tonal quality comes from the top. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds. The laminate back and sides provide strength and durability, while the top provides a more complex and beautiful sound.
There are several different finishes used on guitars. The finish is for protection and aesthetics. You may prefer a matte look or a glossy look. But these finishes can also have different effects on the sound.
Matte finishes are known as satin finish guitars. This coating is thin and doesn’t affect the resonance or sound of the guitar.
Glossy finishes however, can be problematic if applied too thickly. This is because all that lacquer can diminish the resonance. Better quality guitars can have a glossy finish, but most will have a thinner layer of glossy lacquer. Cheaper guitars often have thicker layers of lacquer.
Many luthiers today use polyester or polyurethane lacquers as these are stable and have longevity. An older type of lacquer that you may still find on some guitars these days is nitrocellulose which was used in the 50s and 60s. Be careful about the type of case you get. Foam can ruin a nitrocellulose finish.
Nitro can toxic though, so it’s not common today. But if you do get a guitar with this type of lacquer, be aware that you’ll likely need to get it patched as time goes on as it tends to flake off as it ages. Also, be careful about the type of case you get. Foam can ruin a nitrocellulose finish. You may also occasionally come across guitars with shellac lacquer which is a good option especially on classical instruments. It’s not so popular on steel string guitars.
The Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000
Here is a list of some of the best acoustic guitars under $2000. It includes various brands, full size and ¾ guitars, and a wide range of looks. I’ve left out semi-acoustic guitars and kits, although some of the guitars listed come with a bag or case.
Fender FA-15 3/4 Acoustic Guitar
If you are a smaller player or you want to get a guitar for a child, this is a good option. Very budget-friendly and from a big name in the industry, this guitar is a smaller version of a regular steel-string acoustic. It’s constructed from agathis, sapele, and nato with a walnut fingerboard. It has a scale length (distance the strings from the nut to the saddle) of 23.3 inches. Ideal for those with shorter reach.
You can choose between natural, black, sunburst, red, moonlight burst, and blue. It also comes with a guitar bag. Fender offers a 2-year warranty on their acoustic guitars. Most people enjoy the sound, saying it’s surprisingly good for such a small guitar. Many say that the action is low enough straight out of the box and that the frets are well made. Some people complained that the tuning machines aren’t great.
Jasmine S35 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The Jasmine S35 is aimed at beginners, but the quality is very good. The specs on the website vary from those on Amazon slightly in terms of material. It’s constructed from spruce, mahogany, and nato with a rosewood fretboard. It has a scale length of 25.5 inches. Unlike many other acoustic guitars, it has a strap button on the side of the neck at the bottom for a comfortable fit.
The guitar has a lovely satin finish, which feels great, and it provides better resonance. Being a dreadnought, it already has the benefit of a bigger body with a more balanced sound good low-end resonance. It also has advanced X-bracing for better resilience and sound. This guitar only comes in natural. Jasmine offers a lifetime warranty on their acoustic guitars.
Most people say this guitar sounds very good and plays very well once set up. Some people even liked it straight out of the box and feel that the quality is very good for a guitar at this price point. The sound has been described as warm. There were some complaints about fret buzz (which can be sorted out during setup) and in some cases bigger defects.
Fender CD-60S Mahogany Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
If you enjoy the look of wood, this guitar is a great option. It’s aimed at beginners and intermediate players. It’s constructed from mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard and the wood is displayed in all its glory. The top is solid and the back and sides are laminate. This guitar has a glossy finish.
The scalloped X bracing provides resilience and good sound. The scale length is 25.5 and the neck and fretboard are designed with optimal playability in mind. Fender offers a 2-year warranty on their acoustic guitars.
Most people are happy with the sound of this guitar and the finish. The sound has been described as bright and rich. There are a few complaints however, about the frets being uneven causing fret buzz and hampering playability.
The CD-60S is also available in natural and black that have mahogany sides and back, solid spruce tops, and walnut fretboards.
Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
The Baby Taylor isn’t a toy guitar, but it is quite small. It’s best suited to small people and even children. If you travel a lot, you may find this to be a suitable travel guitar too. It has a scale length of only 22 inches. The top is mahogany while the back and sides are sapele. The fretboard is ebony. This guitar comes with a guitar bag. Taylor offers a limited lifetime warranty (for the original owner) on their guitars.
Most people enjoy using this guitar for travel, but find the Taylor quality good enough for playing at home or in smaller public settings too. Playability is good. The volume is loud for this little guitar, but the tone is best when playing higher up in the fretboard. It’s not the best for strumming as it doesn’t have a full sound.
Rogue RA-090 Concert Acoustic Guitar
This is a dirt cheap guitar aimed at beginners, but it may surprise you. It’s a good option if you want something cheap but decent enough to start on or intend to upgrade as a project. It’s constructed from mainly from laminate rosewood with a little nato. The concert body is good for smaller people and for those who like to pick. The finish is glossy. Choose from natural, black, or sunburst.
Most people are happy with the playability and sound, but definitely feel that it needs to be set up, especially with better strings.
Jasmine S34C NEX Grand Orchestra Acoustic Guitar
If you’ve been looking out for a cutaway guitar to reach those higher frets easily, and a grand orchestra for big sound, here you go. This guitar has a laminate spruce top and sapele back and sides. The fretboard is rosewood. It has a glossy finish that shows off the wood beautifully. The advanced X bracing further helps the sound.
While aimed at beginners, you could play this guitar as an intermediate player too, and even beyond. Many people love the sound which is sweet, clear, and well-balanced, even with the factory strings. The guitar’s sound improves, as any would, after setup. Most of the few complaints are because the guitars arrived damaged, perhaps due to poor shipping practices.
Jasmine offers a limited lifetime warranty on their acoustic guitars.
Fender FA-125 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
This is another one of Fender’s offerings aimed at beginners, but that can be enjoyed by all players. It has a laminated spruce top, laminated basswood back and sides, and a nato neck. The fretboard is walnut. As with most dreadnoughts, the sound shines in the lows and mids. The scale length is 25.3 inches, not too different from the standard 25.5 inches for full-size guitars. Choose between black, natural, and sunburst.
Most people are happy with the way this guitar sounds. The quality is good, and the guitar is beautiful. 99% of complaints are about the free online lessons by Fender sticker on the pickguard. It leaves a sticky residue that’s hard to remove. Best to use an alcohol swab to remove it. Fender offers a 2-year warranty.
Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Here’s another Fender guitar for smaller players and those who love fingerstyle guitar. It has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides with scalloped X bracing. This guitar has a glossy finish. Choose from natural or sunburst. Overall, this guitar has warm mids and is suitable for all types of picking. And while you won’t get the kind of strumming power of the bigger guitars, this one does okay in that department too.
The scale length is 24.75 inches. People with small hands should find this guitar easier to play as it has a thinner neck with a rolled fretboard for comfort. Most people love the sound and quality of this guitar. There are a few complaints, but that is about some factory defects. Someone complained that the sound isn’t full, but you aren’t going to get the fullest sound with a guitar this small. Fender offers a 2-year warranty.
Fender CC-60S Concert Acoustic Guitar
Aimed at beginners, this concert guitar is great for fingerstyle guitar. It has a solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides with a glossy finish. It has scalloped X bracing. The neck is 25.3 inches long with a rolled fretboard for comfort. Choose from natural or sunburst.
Most people enjoy the quality, sound, and size of this guitar. The sound is described as clear and crisp. While it’s aimed at beginners, guitarists with more experience also enjoy this guitar. It also has the sticker on the pickguard for the Fender online lessons, be sure to remove it with an alcohol swab. Fender offers a 2-year warranty.
Oscar Schmidt OG1FYS-A-U 3/4 Size Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Oscar Schmidt is a brand under Washburn, so the quality is decent. Aimed at younger and smaller players, this ¾ size dreadnought has a scale length of only 20 inches. It has a spruce top with catalpa sides and back with a high gloss finish. Choose from natural, transparent blue, transparent red, pink, and flame yellow burst. This guitar is also available in a left-hand model from the supplier.
This guitar comes without a pickguard, so be aware that if you strum enthusiastically, you may end up scratching the body of the guitar. When I first learned to play, it was on my grandfather’s concert guitar without a pickguard, I still feel bad to this day. It looks terrible.
Most people find that the sound is surprisingly good for a guitar this size. So much so that adults, and even experienced musicians at that, find it to be a suitable travel guitar. Most of the complaints have to do with issues that are easily solved during setup such as truss rod adjustment and letting the strings stretch (which takes a week or two). Oscar Schmidt offers a limited lifetime warranty.
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany Acoustic Guitar
This is a mini grand symphony guitar. Overall, it’s 36 inches in length. The scale length is 23.5 inches. Despite its small size, the GS Mini projects quite well thanks to the X bracing, mahogany top, and satin finish. The back and sides are laminated sapele. The fretboard is ebony. It’s available in a left or right-handed model. You get a gig bag with this guitar. Taylor offers a limited lifetime warranty.
Most people love the sound and construction quality. The sound has been described as rich, warm, balanced, and sweet with good sustain. As with most guitars, this one needs a bit of set up, but after that it plays well and works great for smaller players and as a travel guitar.
You can buy it at Sweetwater here.
Yamaha FG800 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The FG800 is an upgrade to the FG700 but still at a very affordable price and is aimed at beginners. It has a solid spruce top, nato back and sides, with scalloped X bracing for enhanced lows and good projection. The neck has a satin finish that allows for easy gliding while the body has a glossy finish. It’s been designed to be louder with a warm sound and good lows and mids.
Most people feel this is a well-made guitar and that it sounds decent. There are a few complaints, but this seems mostly to be about damage caused during shipping and a few about needing to be setup. Yamaha offers a limited lifetime warranty on their acoustic guitars.
Yamaha FS800 Concert Acoustic Guitar
The FS800 has pretty much the same features as the FG800, but with a concert guitar body. You have the same solid spruce top and nato back and sides. The scalloped X bracing still enhances the tone, although with the smaller body, naturally you won’t get the enhanced lows and projection of the dreadnought. Still, it’s a great guitar for smaller guitarists and as a travel guitar.
Most people love the sound and quality feeling that it sounds like a more expensive instrument. There are a few complaints about the tuning machines and damage due to shipping. There is a limited lifetime warranty on Yamaha acoustic guitars.
Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar
Martin is quite a good name in the industry. You can bet you’re getting a good quality guitar when you purchase a Martin, and yet, this one is under $2000. This auditorium guitar is constructed from solid mahogany with a satin finish. It has X bracing and a scale length of 25.4 inches. You can choose from mahogany, mahogany burst, and natural (natural in this case is mahogany colored). It comes in a left-handed or right-handed model. This guitar comes with a case.
People can’t rave enough about the tone of this guitar, calling it unique. It’s rich and warm with good sustain. The build quality is outstanding. No one has a bad word to say about this guitar. Martin offers a lifetime limited warranty on their guitars.
You can purchase it from Sweetwater here.
Yamaha FG820 12-String Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Finally, a 12-string guitar on the list. The FG820 is very affordable and good quality, like most Yamaha instruments. It has a solid spruce top with mahogany backs and sides, and scalloped X bracing for a warm full tone and good projection. The shape of the neck and rosewood fretboard allows for easy playing.
People enjoy the balanced tone and build quality. Once the guitar is set up, particularly in terms of lowering the action, the playability is great. There are hardly any complaints, just one that I found that may have been a defect. In that case, no amount of tweaking could eliminate the buzzing. Yamaha has a limited lifetime warranty on their acoustic guitars.
Guild F-1512 Jumbo 12-string Acoustic Guitar
For bigger guitarists who want big sound, this F-1512 Jumbo 12-string will do well. With the large body of this guitar along with the complexity in the tone you get from the 12 strings plus the scalloped X bracing, this guitar sounds really good. It has a solid spruce top with solid rosewood back and sides and a glossy finish. The scale length is a full size 25.5 inches.
Guitarists are impressed with the build quality and enjoy the rich, full sound of this guitar. No one has a bad thing to say about this guitar. Guild offers a limited lifetime warranty on their guitars.
You can purchase it as Sweetwater here.
There you have it, 16 of the best acoustic guitars under $2000. There is something for everyone. Happy guitar shopping and happy jamming!
Cheanné Lombard lives in the home of one of the new Seven World Wonders, Cape Town, South Africa. She can’t go a day without listening to or making music.
Her love of music started when her grandparents gave her a guitar. It was a smaller version of the full-sized guitars fit for her little hands. Later came a keyboard and a few years after that, a beautiful dreadnought guitar and a violin too. While she is self-taught when it comes to the guitar, she had piano lessons as a child and is now taking violin lessons as an adult.
She has been playing guitar for over 15 years and enjoys a good jam session with her husband, also an avid guitarist. In fact, the way he played those jazzy, bluesy numbers that kindled the fire in her punk rock heart. Now she explores a variety of genres and plays in the church worship group too and with whoever else is up for a jam session.