10 best acoustic electric guitars under $500 [2017 guide]

Acoustic guitars are more popular than ever, especially in the Church.

Ever since the advent of charismatic and evangelical styles of worship, there are hundreds of worship leaders and musicians out there who either play or are learning to play the acoustic guitar

This popularity is not surprising.

Here’s why:

Unlike a keyboard, the acoustic guitar is conveniently portable. Unlike an electric guitar, it doesn’t need an amplifier (for small groups at least) or processer pedals. I also love how it doesn’t get in the way—like the keyboard does for example—when facing a crowd.

The acoustic guitar is also the simplest musical instrument to handle on or off the stage and helps keep the worship leader’s attention on the worship and the congregation without worrying about much else.

In recent times, the prices of preamps and pickups of acoustic guitars have also become more and more affordable without compromising sound quality.

All of which make the acoustic-electric guitar a compelling proposition for the aspiring worship leader.

And these are the 10 best ones I could find under $500. Please note this article considers only steel-stringed guitars, not classical ones.

The top 10 best acoustic-electric guitars

10. Takamine GN30-CE natural Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Takamine GN30-CE natural Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: NEX “small jumbo”
  • Scale length: 25.3″
  • Top: solid spruce
  • Bracing: quartersawn X
  • Back and sides: 3-piece rosewood with quilt maple center + rosewood sides
  • Neck: mahogany
  • Nut width: 1.69″
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Takamine TK-4D Preamp with Built-In Tuner

With a Venetian style cutaway and proprietary Takamine electronics, the G-Series provides impressive feel and easy playability.

A solid guitar that can be counted on both on and off the stage, the sound is consistent with a nice bright tone. It’s versatile enough to respond well to both finger picking and heaving strumming.

The build is also solid and can be expected to last long too. There’s not much to be disappointed with here.

As far as I know, it comes strongly recommended by Takamine owners!

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9. Fender T-Bucket 300CE Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Fender T-Bucket 300CE Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: single-cutaway dreadnought shape
  • Scale length: 25.3″
  • Top: laminated quilted maple top
  • Bracing: quartersawn Scalloped X
  • Back and sides: laminated mahogany back and sides
  • Neck: C-shaped mahogany neck
  • Nut width: 1.625″
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood with compensated saddle
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Fishman Isys III system

If you want the best looking guitar under $500, the Fender T-Bucket 300CE would probably get the most votes—it looks gorgeous!

However, if you get this one, then buy a scratch guard too—it scratches very easily.

The tuners could also be better (you can always swap them with something else). Otherwise, it’s a terrific guitar.

And it doesn’t skimp on sound quality either. This guitar produces good tone especially when plugged in and is a safe buy for its price.

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8. Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: Full-size dreadnought body
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Top: solid spruce
  • Back and sides: select maple
  • Neck: hard maple with Slim Taper “D” profile
  • Nut width: 1.68
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood with “Dove”shaped pearloid inlay
  • Hardware: nickel
  • Number of frets: 20, medium
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonicore (under saddle) pickup + Fishman Sonitone soundhole preamp

 

The Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic Electric Guitar is a feature-rich, easy-to-play guitar with excellent resonance.

The good quality electronics deserve a special mention—when plugged in, the Dove Pro sounds great—far better than what its price tag might suggest.

You might want to adjust the action to your liking though—the factory setup may not always be 100% satisfactory.

For the price, it’s a fantastic guitar providing great value for money and will be a dependable companion for live playing.

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7. Applause Ovation AB24-4 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Applause Ovation AB24-4 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: mid-depth cut away
  • Scale length: 25.25”
  • Top: spruce with natural finish
  • Bracing: quartersawn spruce, Ovation scalloped X pattern
  • Back and sides: lycrachord
  • Neck: nato neck with satin finish
  • Nut width: 1.69”
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: pinless
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Slimline pickup and OP-4BT preamp with tuner

As a brand, Applause is well respected for innovative guitars and the AB24-4 is no exception. This guitar is just the right one for people who like to get creative and try out new styles.

The tone is distinctively Ovation’s and is sure to please your ears. The sound is well balanced and the guitar itself is quite quick and easy to play on.

You’ll find very few flaws with this one (you’ll want to replace the bridge for example).

The AB24-4 is good looking, lightweight and produces wonderful sound.

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6. Ibanez Artwood Series AC240EOP Grand Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ibanez Artwood Series AC240EOP Grand Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: grand concert
  • Scale length: 24.96”
  • Top: solid mahogony
  • Bracing: scalloped X bracing
  • Back and sides: mahogany
  • Neck: mahogany
  • Nut width: 1.77”
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonicore Pickup + Ibanez SST Shape Shifter Preamp with onboard tuner

People who have used the AC240EOP swear it sounds as good as more expensive Taylors!

While the lows can be slightly mild when played acoustically, it can easily be compensated when connected.

It’s a good looking guitar with a durable finish, easy to carry around and comfortable to use in both small and large group meetings.

The supplied electronics make this a strong guitar on stage—in addition to the regular 1/4″ output jack, a balanced XLR jack is also provided if you ever want a direct connection to the PA system.

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5. Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: concert
  • Scale length: 25.3″
  • Top: solid mahogany
  • Bracing: Fender advanced scalloped bracing
  • Back and sides: mahogany
  • Neck: maple
  • Nut width: 1.69″ (43mm)
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: traditional
  • Hardware: chrome
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Fishman Isys III System with Active On-Board Pre-Amp and Tuner

Considered to be an acoustic electric guitar with attitude, the design of the Hellcat is based on an old 60’s guitar that Tim Armstrong (Rancid) wrote his songs on.

The smaller size doesn’t quite have the same volume level of a regular dreadnought, but it’s good enough. It does sound better when plugged in though.

With an easy-to-play neck, the sound is crisp and a beauty to look at too!

The hellcat is enjoyable to play, produces a balanced, warm tone and is especially great for strumming.

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4. Seagull S6 Original Q1 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Seagull S6 Original Q1 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: Basic dreadnought shape (smaller headstock)
  • Scale length: 25.5”
  • Top: solid cedar (pressure tested)
  • Bracing: scalloped, adirondack spruce
  • Back and sides: Canadian wild cherry
  • Neck: silver maple leaf
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood
  • Number of frets: 21
  • Electronics: Quantum Electronics (includes digital tuner)
  • Dual function truss rod

One of the most popular acoustic guitars around, the award-winning Seagull S6 Original Q1 is built with superb craftsmanship and brilliant tone—sometimes you might wonder why the price is so low!

The cedar wood makes this guitar a joy for finger picking and arpeggios.

When strumming, the tone is a bit brighter (more of highs) than thicker. But when plugged in, you can adjust the tone to your preference—it’s a near perfect guitar for Church worship.

But make no mistake, with respect to sound quality, this Seagull punches way above its weight and can stand head-to-head with guitars twice its price.

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3. Yamaha FG Series FGX720SCA Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Yamaha FG Series FGX720SCA Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: standard dreadnought (cutaway)
  • Scale length: 25.9”
  • Top: solid sitka spruce
  • Bracing: non-scalloped X
  • Back and sides: nato
  • Neck: nato
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: System 55T 1 way (Yamaha proprietary) with built-in tuner

If you like the legendary Yamaha FG700S, then you’ll love the FGX720SCA.

A very durable and sturdy guitar that sounds first-rate regardless of your style of music. It’s one of those guitars that’s pleasing to listen to both acoustically or plugged in.

Apart from the high quality of materials (including a beautiful high gloss finish), its exceptional workmanship and versatile tone make it a strong option in this list.

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2. Vintage Gordon Giltrap Signature Ve2000GG Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Vintage Gordon Giltrap Signature Ve2000GG Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Body style: grand auditorium Hybrid
  • Scale length: 25.27”
  • Top: solid North American red cedar
  • Back and sides: mahogany
  • Neck: mahogany
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Sonicore undersaddle pickup and the Presys Blend preamp

One look at this guitar and you know there’s nothing ordinary about it!

The sweeping lines and narrow waist make for an unusual shape, almost pear-like—apparently, it’s a design template borrowed from a guitar purchased by Gordon Giltrap from Rob Armstrong.

Surprisingly lightweight, the Ve2000GG performs like a star—you can throw any musical style at it and it responds brilliantly!

Rich in bass and dynamic in midrange, the sounds are sweet when played acoustically.

Plug it in and it turns into a different animal capable of holding its own in a live show—thanks to the top-notch pickup and preamp from Fishman.

All-in-all, a unique and splendid guitar from the stables of Vintage—you can’t go wrong with this one!

1. Breedlove Pursuit Concert Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Guitar

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  • Body style: concert
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Top: solid mahogany
  • Back and sides: mahogany
  • Neck: mahogany
  • Nut width: 1.69″
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: pinless
  • Number of frets: 20
  • Electronics: Fishman ISYS+ USB

One of the more affordable models from Breedlove, Pursuit Concert Mahogany sounds magnificent and has killer looks!

This guitar produces a pleasant tone that has lovely warmth with excellent bass response and comfortable action right out of the box. The sound quality is comparable with far more expensive Martins!

Preferred more by finger pickers, the Pursuit Concert can handle strumming with ease too. The build quality is right up there with the best and should last as long as you need it to.

And the USB connectivity is an awesome bonus especially if you’re into recording.

Overall, a classy guitar that you’ll fall in love with immediately!

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And that’s it for now!

Hope you enjoyed reading this list and it helps you decide on an acoustic electric guitar that you need at an affordable price point.

Do leave a comment and let me know what you think. Any suggestions to add to this list are also welcome!