Anyone that grew up in the 90’s will remember how popular unplugged CD’s were. It seemed like every great rock act was putting one out as fast as you could finish checking out the last one. Great artists like Eric Clapton and Nirvana created some memorable versions of some of their best songs using only acoustic guitars and percussion instruments. The results were nothing short of amazing and they reminded us that sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics.
These sessions are what inspired my love for the acoustic guitar and if you’ve had a similar experience you might be considering finding yourself a guitar right now. There’s a lot of choices and something to fit pretty much any budget.
What holds back a lot of people thinking about picking up a guitar is what they perceive as an expense they simply can’t justify. That’s not true at all. There are plenty of affordable acoustic guitars to choose from and many of them are priced under $150. Acoustic guitars are versatile instruments and they come in many different shapes and sizes. There is an acoustic guitar out there waiting for you to pick it up for the first time – you just have to make the decision to turn your guitar daydreams into a reality.
Our focus in this article will be only those guitars that can be purchased, brand new, for less than $150. If you’re thinking that’s probably a pretty small list you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised. It’s our intention to provide you all of the background information you need to make a sound purchasing decision and we’ll do this in a series of mini reviews that discuss some great options.
We’re going to talk about the various materials these guitars are made from, their body styles, and many other components that will give you a great overall picture of what makes each guitar special. So sit back and enjoy the read. We’ll take it from here.
1. Epiphone DR-100
The Epiphone Dr-100 is one of the best guitars you’ll find anywhere priced under $150. In fact, its sound quality matches or exceeds many guitars that cost twice as much. It features a Select Spruce top and Mahogany that produces a nice clean sound with the ability to make people around you stop and listen. It comes in different colors, but the sunburst option is my own personal favorite. This is a well-made guitar with style.
If you’ve ever heard an acoustic guitar played and wondered why it made such an annoying buzzing noise you’re probably not alone. Normally this is because there isn’t enough pressure on the nut to stretch the strings out nice and tight and give you a nice clean sound. This Epiphone acoustic has a 14 degree headstock which puts more pressure on the nut, eliminating that annoying buzzing noise. You won’t be disappointed with the sound quality of this one and you won’t have to put up with the buzzing.
2. Fender FA-100
The dreadnaught was a revolutionary type of battleship first introduced in the early 20th century that was much larger than anything that had come before it. Dreadnaught style guitars were also given this distinctive nickname because they were larger than any typical acoustic guitar that had come before them. With a larger sound hole than traditional guitars, they’re capable of creating much deeper, richer, and more powerful sounds. The Fender FA-100 is a great example of a Dreadnaught style guitar and it produces the nice rich sounds you’d expect.
This guitar has a natural gloss spruce top with a basswood back that creates a sound that’s comparable to other more expensive models. The maple neck, along with a 20 fret rosewood fingerboard is ideal for anyone just starting out as it’s quite forgiving. It features many genuine Fender parts including a Fender headstock and Fender pick guard.
3. Oscar Schmidt OG2SM
Every once in a while we come across a product that’s simply a little different from anything else on the market and when it comes to affordable acoustic guitars that product is the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM. What makes this guitar such a standout is its highly unique look that’s highlighted by a Spalted Maple top. It creates a very rustic look that’s almost reminiscent of a marble texture. It’s not just a good looking guitar though – it’s also capable of making some great music.
This is a Dreadnaught style guitar with the deep rich tones you’d expect from such an instrument and nice resonance. The side and back are made from Catalpa wood which is a nice soft wood that creates some great acoustics. The bridge and fingerboards are made from Rosewood and there are 21 frets on the fretboard, with 14 of them coming before the body.
4. Yamaha FD01S
When I think Yamaha I instinctively think electronic keyboards, but they also make a lot of great guitars and the Yamaha FD01S fits clearly in the under $150 category. This is a great starter guitar in the popular Dreadnaught style that has nice rich tones. It measures about 39 inches in height so it’s definitely an adult guitar, but still a great one for older children to learn on as well. This is a good looking and finely crafted guitar that certainly doesn’t look like it’s priced so affordably.
The top of the guitar is made from solid Spruce and the back and sides are made from Nato wood, which is a type of Mahogony. The tuning pegs are made from a durable chrome and the fingerboard and bride are made from rosewood. It doesn’t hurt that it also comes with a lifetime warranty if anything ever goes wrong.
5. Jasmine S34C NEX
If you want to mix your acoustic play with a little bit of rock lead you may want to take a close look at the Jasmine S34C NEX. This guitar does have a Dreadnaught body like most other popular acoustic guitars these days, but it also has a cutaway that leaves more of the fretboard exposed and easy to access – they call it a grand orchestra-style guitar. It’s ideal for practising your lead play on an acoustic guitar, especially if you don’t own an electric one. With this guitar you get the best of both worlds.
It has a laminate Spruce top with a natural gloss finished that’s actually quite sharp looking. The back and sides are made from Sapele which is not an overly common choice for guitars, but it still produces some nice rich tones. It also has a slim neck for an acoustic guitar which makes fingering a lot easier.
It’s Time to Play!
One of the greatest achievements of my life was the first time I played a song on the guitar that actually sounded like music! It’s a great feeling and one I encourage everyone to experience. There are plenty of guitars to choose from priced under $150 and we’ve reviewed some great ones in this article. There’s no reason to put off your own personal musical experience for another day when a quality guitar is right there at your fingertips and easily affordable.
If you’re ready to take the next step and move past just thinking about picking up a guitar, give careful consideration to the style you want to play before you buy a guitar. Standard Dreadnaught acoustic guitars can produce beautiful sounding songs, but they’re not easy to play lead on. If you have your heart set on an acoustic guitar, but you also see yourself trying a little lead guitar in the future look for a guitar with a cutaway. This style of guitar leaves more frets open before the body making them easier to reach.
Find a Friend
If you’re still not sure you want to spend even $150 on a guitar there’s a way to find out if it’s really for you before you spend the money. Most of us know someone that owns a guitar so reach out to them and see if they’ll let you try it out and maybe teach you a couple of chords. That way you can get a feel for whether the guitar is really for you without being out of pocket. There’s a good chance you’ll want to get your own anyway, but it’s a good way to find out for sure.
Once You Start You’ll Never Stop
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of playing the guitar it’s that once you have the bug it never goes away. You’ll likely go through periods where you don’t play as much, but you’ll always come back to it eventually. Life will get in the way from time to time and that’s okay. Your guitar will be right there waiting for you when you’re ready to play. The only thing that will get in your way is if there isn’t a guitar around to play, so stop hesitating and go get one.
P.S. Decades ago, when you wanted to start playing guitar and couldn't afford an electric one, people started playing on acoustic until they save some money and buy an electric guitar. The latter could end up 2-3-4 times more expensive than acoustic guitars. These times are long gone, so if you want to start playing electric guitar, you can buy it right away - today they cost the same, and you can find a plenty of great affordable electric guitars under $200 in our guide.