6 Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars Under $200 In 2020

As I’m sitting here writing this article, I find myself, like many of you, in a state of isolation. I have been spending much of my newfound time at home playing guitar, and apparently a lot of others out there are doing the same thing.

According to Reverb.com, one of the trends they are seeing out in the market during these times is an increase in first time buyers. As people are spending more time at home their desire to learn guitar in their living room has increased. In turn, cheap acoustic guitars are selling like crazy right now.

Even if you don’t relate to this situation (or you are reading far enough out into the future that COVID-19 is less of a threat), there are many reasons one would be interested in the value of cheap guitars. Maybe you’re a beginner, your budget is tight, or you need a “beater” guitar to take around with you everywhere.

Whatever the case may be, there are guitars available that are cheap in price, while still having great value in playability.

Here are my picks for the best cheap guitars under $200.

Snapshot: Top 6 Cheap Acoustic Guitars of 2020

  1. Yamaha FG800
  2. Jasmine S35
  3. Vangoa Electric Acoustic
  4. Hola HG-39GLS Nylon String
  5. Fender FA-115
  6. Gretsch Jim Dandy Flat Top

Priced Cheap Without Playing Cheap

As you look at guitars priced under $200, the guitar designs become all about the essentials. What is the bare minimum that a guitar needs to be both playable and enjoyable?

Compared to acoustic guitars that cost more, you will notice that “cheap” guitars often trade out solid woods for cheaper laminate woods. Laminate woods allow for manufactures to have a greater yield of guitars for their raw materials, but they also change the tonality of the instrument. Using them for back/sides is a common practice but using laminate woods on the top normally makes the guitar sound choked or smaller. If you can find a guitar with at least a solid wood top in this price range, then that’s a great value for the price.

The majority of guitars on this list are made overseas for a fraction of the cost it would take to make them here. They are made in bulk with sturdy, but cheap materials so that you can have guitar in your hands for minimum dollar out of pocket. This can be seen as a good thing, because if you were to lose or damage any of the guitars on this list, they could be easily replaced.

Many of the guitars on this list could be or have been included in other “top guitar” lists we have here on MagicInstruments, including best travel acoustic guitar or best acoustic guitars for beginners. Cheap guitars have a plethora of good uses. Even though they may not always be the most unique or best sounding guitars, they can still play a valuable role in your life as a musician.

1. Yamaha FG800 Review

Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
345 Reviews
Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
  • Solid sitka spruce top
  • Nato back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Rosewood bridge

While the majority of this list is in no particular order, in my humble opinion, this is the absolute best full size acoustic guitar in this price range. It reigns supreme in terms of tone, playability, and even for its understated looks.

Body/Neck

What really sets the Yamaha FG800 above the rest is its use of solid sitka spruce for the top. Its quite rare to find a guitar in this price range that utilizes any solid woods. While this is the only instance that solid woods are being used on this instrument, it makes a huge difference in the tone and look of the guitar. This is further worth investing in as the topwood will continue to evolve and sound better with age.

The back and sides are made of Nato (Eastern Mahogany) to compliment the sitka spruce top. The neck is also made of Nato and is finished with a satin finish. Satin finishes are my favorite for necks because they have a natural feel to them, like an aged vintage guitar, and won’t get sticky when played on hot summer days. The fretboard and bridge are made of rosewood, rounding out the high-quality materials used on this instrument.

Hardware/Electronics

I find it common that budget guitars worth having often have one main feature that makes them great and cheap. Because this guitar has a solid top, there are no electronics that can be afforded. Yamaha does make guitars in their “F” series with electronics, but you will have to pay just a little bit more for them. The tuners are the same diecast tuners found on the rest of Yamaha’s guitars.

Sound

This is the best sounding steel string guitar on this list. There’s no contest. It’s all due to the solid wood top, which gives the Yamaha FG800 its natural, open tone. The Nato back/sides do a great job of complimenting the high-end resonance of the topwood and give it some beefy low end. The dreadnought body shape is a great option for singers/songwriters and soloists alike.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Solid sitka spruce top, nato back/sides
  • Neck Material: Nato
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: None
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

“Best in Class Acoustic” under $200

Final Thoughts on the Yamaha FG800

I find Yamaha to be to budget guitars what Taylor and Martin are for expensive guitars. Yamaha is one of the best within its market. The entire “F” line of guitars from Yamaha is full of reliable, great sounding guitars that make the company worth having a reputation for. I don’t think you can do much better for a full-size guitar at this price range.

2. Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar (Bundle) Review

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Strings, Tuner, Strap, Picks, Instructional Book, DVD,...
41 Reviews
Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Strings, Tuner, Strap, Picks, Instructional Book, DVD,...
  • Spruce top with Jasmine Advanced "X" Bracing
  • Agathis back and sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
  • Slim neck profile

Jasmine was once owned by Takamine guitars, who have made it onto almost every one of my “Top Acoustic Guitar” lists. Even though they are now owned by KMC Music Company, the quality has not changed, making the Jasmine S35 an guitar one of the best under $200.

Body/Neck

The S35 features a “select” spruce top, which is another word for laminate. The back and sides are made with agathis. Jasmine shoots to make the design as straight forward and user friendly as possible. This is most apparent in the neck, which is a slim profile nato neck with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The slim profile and satin finish make for easy playability across the entire neck. Jasmine’s Advanced X-bracing adds the stability, giving you a dependable acoustic guitar.

 

Hardware/Electronics

With the guitar clocking in at under $100 on its own, there’s no feasible room for pickups to be installed. That being said, you still have a very usable guitar. The S35 has a synthetic bone nut and saddle, giving you bone’s similar feel and sound for a fraction of the cost. The chrome closed tuners offer no fuss and work well.

If you opt for the bundle (still under $200!) then you get a lot more equipment. The bundle includes a second set of Martin strings, clip-on tuner, strap, picks, cloth, and even an instructional DVD and book. You get everything you need as a beginner while still remaining in budget.

Sound

For being a guitar made entirely of laminate woods, I find it to still be a very responsive guitar. If you want it to be bright, use a flat pick and strum away. If you want it to sound a bit warmer, use your fingers. It will react to either playing style very well. The woods make it sound a little bit thinner than even acoustic guitars in the $300 range will sound. You will need to do a proper setup to make it sound its best, but that is common among guitars within this price range.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Laminate spruce top, agathis back/sides
  • Neck Material: Nato
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: None
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

Best under $100, or a great bundle under $200. Win-Win!

Final Thoughts on the Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar (Bundle)

I firmly believe that this guitar would be as good as the Yamaha FG800 if it had a solid top… but it doesn’t.

That being said, the guitar alone costs under $100. That’s insane! For being so cheap this thing sounds and plays great once it is set up. The tradeoff between this and a guitar like the Yamaha is that you can get a bundle and still be under budget. This is one of the best options out there for a beginner that needs all the extra gear needed to begin learning to play.

3. Vangoa Full-Size Electric Acoustic Review

Electric Acoustic Guitar, 41' Full-Size Guitar Acoustic Electric Natural Guitar Cutaway Beginners Bundle Kit, by...
244 Reviews
Electric Acoustic Guitar, 41" Full-Size Guitar Acoustic Electric Natural Guitar Cutaway Beginners Bundle Kit, by...
  • ✔ Great Design Guitar: We built the truss rod into a guitar neck, so you can keep guitar neck always in the state of straight, so you can make a great playing with the right sound.
  • ✔ Portable & Lightweight- 41-inch full-Size guitar, suitable for outdoor perform or outgoing practice and it has a full and vibrant tone.
  • ✔ Easy to Play: Our electric acoustic guitar built in 4-band EQ, so you can easily tune and get a good sound that is not too high pitched.
  • ✔ Best Beginner Guitar Kit: when you receive the guitar which comes with accessories, so you can play immediately

Is being able to play live, plugged straight in to a PA, the most important thing to you? There is a guitar out there that has an onboard pickup system and bundle for around $125. Surprised? Yeah, me too.

Body/Neck

This is a full sized, cutaway acoustic guitar made of basswood for the top, back and sides. The neck is all walnut, including the fretboard and bridge. I was expecting this guitar to be a ¾ size in order to allow for electronics at this price range. It turns out Vangoa does offer a travel size guitar with electronics, though it is currently out of stock.

The guitar has binding around the entire instrument not only to protect your instrument, but to offer protection as well. You can also get this acoustic in one of three colors, including blue, natural, or red. All of these are finished in a lacquer finish, which offers great protection, but does affect the overall tone.

Hardware/Electronics

The electronics are what make this guitar worth getting. It has a 4 band EQ (Bass, Mids, Treble, and Presto) as well as a volume control. The pickup works well enough and gives you ample control over your tone so you can give yourself the best tone possible for whatever venue you might find yourself in.

The Vangoa also comes with a bountiful bundle that includes a tuner, strap, capo, picks, cable and gigging bag. You will have literally everything you need to play your first open mic night.

Sound

The dreadnought body shape gives the guitar a deep low-end character to it. It is warm and balanced from the all basswood body. It isn’t a lush tone by any means, as the lacquer chokes off any overtones, but whatever changes you want to make to the tone in a live scenario can be controlled by the onboard EQ. I would recommend it as a good strumming guitar.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Neck Material: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Material: Walnut
  • Pickups: Vangoa 4 Band EQ
  • Bridge Material: Walnut

The perfect “Live Acoustic” starter pack

Final Thoughts on the Vangoa Full Size Electric Acoustic

If you are looking to get started playing in coffee shops or open mics nights and you are able to plug into a PA, then this is a great guitar to learn the “live” ropes on. I don’t think it is suitable for professional touring, but even for professionals it could serve as a functional beater or backup guitar to always have on hand. The fact that the bundle gives you literally everything you need to get started at such a low price point is also commendable.

4. Hola HG-39GLS Nylon String Review

Classical Guitar with Soft Nylon Strings by Hola! Music, Full Size 39 Inch Model HG-39GLS, Natural Gloss Finish -...
192 Reviews
Classical Guitar with Soft Nylon Strings by Hola! Music, Full Size 39 Inch Model HG-39GLS, Natural Gloss Finish -...
  • Hola! Music Full Size Classical Guitar HG-39GLS features: Spruce top, Mahogany back, sides and neck
  • This classical guitar provides the perfect combination of style, sound, and savings
  • Small and light, but produces big, beautiful melodies. Nylon strings give you a sound that’s perfect for jazz and classical music
  • Glossy finish gives this guitar a touch of glamour. FREE padded gig bag included!

Classical players also have an excellent budget guitar option in the Hola HG-39GLS Nylon String guitar. Hola makes this model in three sizes, so there is a perfectly fit guitar for whoever you are buying for.

Body/Neck

The Hola! HG-39GLS sports a spruce top with mahogany back, sides, and neck. The fingerboard is made up of walnut. As is typical with most classical guitars, the neck is slightly wider than steel string acoustic guitars. This is a good thing for beginners with bigger hands, as it gives a little bit more room between the strings, so your hands won’t feel cramped. This can be challenging for those with smaller hands, though it can teach you to stretch those fingers out. It’ll pay off in the long run!

This guitar is also great for beginners because it is available in full, ¾, or ½ size.

Hardware/Electronics

No electronics here. Just a classical guitar.

The bridge is made of walnut, like the fretboard. The saddle is made of tusq and there is an adjustable trussrod so you can adjust how close the strings are to the frets (also known as the “action”).  The tuners are routed through the back, as is typical for classical guitars.

Sound

The tone is warm from the nylon strings. The high end often found on steel strings is shelved off and the low end is nice and boomy. I find that nylon strings do not sustain for as long. This is ideal for fingerstyle/classical playing but may not be ideal for strumming.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Spruce top, mahogany back/sides
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Walnut
  • Pickups: None
  • Bridge: Walnut

A budget nylon string guitar in any size

Final Thoughts on the Hola! Model HG-39GLS Nylon String Guitar

Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned classical player, or a steel string player looking for a nylon alternative, Hola makes dependable and beautiful sounding classical guitars at an attainable price point. The fact that it comes in different sizes, a padded gig bag, and online lessons add to the value of this guitar. I’m pretty surprised that this guitar is as cheap as it is considering how great it sounds and plays.

5. Fender FA-115 Bundle Review

Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, Picks, and Austin Bazaar Instructional...
1,638 Reviews
Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, Picks, and Austin Bazaar Instructional...
  • Everything you need to start playing straight out of the box
  • Full-size dreadnought body for full and vibrant tone, suited for all styles of music
  • 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
  • Rosewood bridge with compensated synthetic bone saddle

Fender doesn’t just make some of the best electric guitars in the world, they also make acoustic guitars for those on a budget. Case and point: The Fender FA-115. This dreadnought brings you a timeless body shaped guitar with a dependable build quality without dipping too far into your wallet.

Body/Material

The Fender FA-115 features a laminated spruce top with agathis back and sides. The neck is also agathis with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. All of these materials are shaped into a big dreadnought bodied acoustic guitar that is ready to accompany you in your next song. Though the materials may not be the nicest in the world, what you do get is Fender’s excellent build quality. You won’t need to worry about this guitar falling apart on you, and if something does happen to it Fender will be able to send you the exact same guitar.

Hardware/Electronics

This is another budget guitar that is worth buying for the included bundle, making it a great option for beginners. Along with the guitar you receive an instructional DVD, gig bag, tuner, strings, strap, and picks to get you learning fast. The tuners are Fender’s own and will keep your guitar in tune well.

Sound

The sound of a dreadnought body shape makes the FA-115 a suitable guitar for just about any genre, so if you aren’t sure what kind of music you want to play this is a good starting point. I find that this guitar does sound a bit boxy. I think this is due to the all laminate woods used in its construction.

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Laminate spruce top, agathis back/sides
  • Neck Material: Agathis
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: None
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood

A guitar with build quality only Fender can give

Final Thoughts on the Fender FA-115

The FA-115 from Fender definitely has its shortcomings. Its neither the prettiest nor the best sounding guitar on this list. I would caution people from buying guitars for the brand name alone, but you do get Fender’s build quality with this guitar. It is a well-built guitar that can be easily replaced, making it a great road companion or beginner guitar.

6. Gretsch Jim Dandy Flat Top Review

Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar 2-Color Sunburst
189 Reviews
Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar 2-Color Sunburst
  • Parlor-size agathis body
  • X-bracing
  • Screened white purfling and rosette
  • "C" shaped neck

All the guitars on this list are awesome, but they all look like “typical” acoustic guitars. If you want something with some aesthetic and a historical look to it, while still keeping to a conservative price point, then look no further than the Gretsch Jim Dandy Flat Top.

Body/Neck

The Gretsch Jim Dandy is a parlor shaped all agathis body with a noto neck and rosewood fretboard and bridge. These parlor guitars were popular at the beginning of the 20th century with blues musicians, making this a bit more of a niche guitar. The neck is C shaped and will feel familiar to just about every guitarist. Parlor guitars are great for beginners because they have a smaller body but are still full-sized guitars.

Electronics/Hardware

There are no electronics on this model. Perhaps the most period correct aspect of this guitar is the open gear tuners, which not only look cool but work well too. Beyond that, this guitar is straight forward and won’t distract you too easily, allowing a beginner to do what is most important: play.

Sound

While I am a fan of parlor guitars, I have to say that I have heard better models. This guitar does sound like it fits its price point. It’s a small sound and not the most resonant. In the hands of the right player, however, the Jim Dandy guitar can sound like it has a unique voice. It’s all in the fingers!

Spec Summary

  • Body Material: Agathis
  • Neck Material: Noto
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Pickups: None
  • Bridge: Rosewood

Take home a little piece of blues history from Gretsch

Final Thoughts on the Gretsch Jim Dandy Guitar

A parlor guitar like the Jim Dandy model is fitting in this price range. Blues players back in the day weren’t going to be able to afford expensive instruments with the great depression and low paying gigs happening. Gretsch has taken a historically inspiring instrument and kept it in the price range is should be.

The Time Has Never Been Better to Buy A Budget Guitar

If none of my other articles prove it, then this one should. There are fantastic instruments in every price range. A cheap guitar doesn’t have to play or sound like it’s cheap, and guitar builders know it. I find it encouraging that guitar builders like Fender, Gretsch, and other great brands that I am discovering through these articles are making it their mission to make guitars worth having at unbelievable prices.

As strange as these times we live in are, at least there are cheap guitars out there to keep us company and to keep us optimistic. Stay happy and healthy everyone and play more guitar!

Further Reading:

Last update on 2020-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Davis Bader

Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.

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