Naturally, everyone has a different opinion on what makes the best guitar.
It’s pretty subjective, but that’s how it should be.
To some players, finding the best guitar means seeking the most high-end and tricked-out model. On the other hand, some players find pleasure in simple, inexpensive guitars that help them learn as they embark on rehearsals with a new band.
Either way, the ‘best’ means different things to different people, and picking the right guitar for them is a personal choice.
Nonetheless, we can’t simply discredit the fact that price does matter to some extent.
Below $200, you’re at a much greater risk of running into guitars with dodgy frameworks, unplayable action, and overall quality issues. Generally, at this price point, it’s much harder to come across quality guitars.
There’re exceptions, though, but most guitars at this price point will be of low quality, sound rubbish, and probably won’t stay in tune.
On the other hand, between $200 and $1,000 or higher, there’re a huge number of great guitars to grab that won’t break apart on stage.
However, regardless of the pricing, some guitars offer the “bang-for-buck” factor- in terms of playability, quality-of-life features, and more.
I’m referring to the best guitars for the money.
There’re several things which guitars for the money nail, at any price point; they’re well-built, they sound great, and they’re a joy to play.
Of course, underneath that, there’re countless variables, falling into the realms of subjectivity and genre specificity.
But all the same, the best guitars for the money are as they sound-they offer real value for your money.
And for this roundup, we’ll present what we consider the best guitars for the money. Our choices cover a wide spectrum of genres, playing levels, and prices to help you choose the right ax for you.
Table of Contents
The Best Guitars for the Money
#1 Seagull S6 - EDITOR'S CHOICE
If you sift through acoustic guitar forums often, you probably have come across a name you’re not too familiar with-Seagull.
While the brand is certainly no Fender, Gibson, or Gretch in popularity levels, they’ve a unique character of their own.
Personally, I’m all sold out to this brand because of its reputation of producing high-quality, reliable, and easy-to-use guitars.
The Seagull S6 is no different, and in the review below, we shall see why many players are going gaga over the guitar.
Features and Benefits
The first time I came across Seagull S6, it didn’t strike me as anything unique, but once I held it in my hand, I was impressed with the guitar’s craftsmanship.
Players appreciate how great the model is, particularly the attention to detail and quality craftsmanship.
It is also easier to play and sounds better.
The neck feels better in my hands, and unlike other guitars, it seems easier for me to find my way around.
And oh yeah, it comes with a fantastic gig bag to boot! The bag’s back is highly padded and quality to protect by guitar during transit, especially when attending live gig events.
Overall, I’m super impressed with the design and would recommend it to anyone.
I know this might sound interesting, but the choice of material affects the sound produced by a guitar.
For our case, S6 uses quality, locally sourced Canadian hardwoods.
The laminate sides are cherry, the top is cedar, and the back is book matched cherry.
While a laminate may give you pause, it’s actually stronger than a single piece of wood and less prone to warpage.
More importantly, it has a distinct tone.
Cherry is a wonderful tonewood, and the folks at Seagull claim it falls in between the warmth of mahogany and the brightness of maple.
It rings out clearly and loudly like maple but sounds warm and full like mahogany.
Equally, the neck is maple-made, meaning it’s quite dense and stout, perfect for transferring vibration to the body well, sounding clean and clear.
Neck and Headstock
The Seagull S6 offers a dreadnought-style body, so it has a relatively large body.
While the 1.8” wide neck is ideal for players with large hands, my 13-year-old daughter has a problem playing the guitar.
The guitar has a slightly larger nut width than your typical guitar, making this guitar great for players with large hands and people who play fingerstyle.
Additionally, the large body size translates to better sounds, especially emphasizing the midrange and treble, with less rumble in the bass frequencies.
This feature makes the guitar a great fit for fingerpickers, who need a bright, clear voice with plenty of articulation.
Before getting the S6, I read reviews, and all of them were positives, with many players claiming the guitar sounded like a high-end model.
That’s so true!
The S6 is so “alive” with sound, and if blindfolded, I bet you’d believe you’re playing a $1,000 plus guitar.
The sound quality is fantastic, with its upbeat tones sound just as energetic as the high-end options.
#2 Fender CD-60SCE - Best Entry-Level Guitar
Fender is synonymous with their electric models, but this world-famous guitar brand can also make mean acoustics.
The CD-60SCE is a case point, and this model should intrigue those looking for their good first guitar.
It’s an excellent entry-level option designed for ease of use and playability.
More importantly, it offers a beautiful range of tones, especially when connected to an amp.
In fact, we were surprised as to how loud and powerful the guitar is.
We can also not argue with the price, as you get a lot of value for the dollar.
Finally, CD-60SCE is a Fender- I mean, you’re assured of performance and durability as with all Fender products.
Features and Benefits
Nearly everything about this guitar is classic.
Fender has opted for the familiar dreadnought shape, unostentatious black pickguard, and a clean look for sprucing it up.
Overall, it looks well-designed, and it’s befitting for the players who need an aesthetically-pleasing instrument.
CD-60SCE is tailored for beginners, and it’s easy to see why.
First, when I got to play the guitar, the action was set up properly to play.
I know my comments may sound ridiculous at first, but not all guitars come ready to play. In fact, hardly any suits me.
CD-60SCE doesn’t take a lot of tweaking or tightening up in various places for you to start playing.
I also liked the guitar because the soft fingertips, the ‘C’ shaped neck, and low action tips.
The guitar is as comfortable as it gets, and it doesn’t punish your fingers when pressing down harder. It’s an important element, especially in the early stages of learning, when you require your instrument to be ready when you pick it up.
CD-60, CD-60SCE’s predecessor, has been one of the popular models in the C-series range of guitars, but Fender has upgraded it on the new model.
For instance, on the CD-60SCE, the laminate top is replaced by solid spruce. A pick-up is also thrown in the design to help you plug the guitar into an amp.
Before we move to the sides and back, it’s worth noting that the laminating-free top gives the guitar a nice pure and crisp sound when unplugged.
It’s not a surprise considering Spruce is almost a standard tonewood for the top nowadays.
The back and sides haven’t changed any bit, coming with a mahogany construction.
Now, spruce and mahogany are common pairings that work for more resonant sound than laminate wood.
Another wonderful feature on the CD-60SCE is the full-length neck with 20 frets that have been given rolled fingerboard edges.
It’s a nice addition, especially for beginners, as it helps with “rolling over” the fingerboard when making chords.
Simply put, the strings are separated for easy picking, while the tuning pegs offer better playability once broken in.
Thought that material is only used to make the guitar look nice?
In reality, the materials are crucial for their sounding.
In our case, the spruce top helps CD-60SCE sound more resonant.
On the other hand, the cut-out body makes the bass less strong and more balanced, adding to a more harmonic feel to the guitar’s sounding.
Of course, you won’t get anywhere close to a concert-quality tone, but its sound easily ranks among the best in its price range. It even rivals acoustic going for twice as much.
#3 Cordoba C5 - Best for Students
While Cordoba is new to the guitar marker-having only been around for two decades- they’ve become one of the best manufacturers in town.
They’ve become an excellent option for beginner classical guitarists and veterans alike.
The C5, for instance, sets the standard for inexpensive classical guitars, and you may be forgiven to think it really should be more expensive than its sounds.
Features and Benefits
If you’re looking for a guitar you could recommend to a student or beginners and be confident that they would enjoy playing it, then C5 is the one.
I’ve had it for several days now and can’t say enough about this guitar.
It feels nice and has everything a student could ever want.
For instance, the body has no imperfections or bowing. The bridge is well in place, while the neck feels great.
The neck isn’t as thick as a typical classical, but just as wide, so students won’t have any problems drawing the strings.
Overall, C5’s build quality is fantastic, the finishing is perfectly consistent and smooth, and the guitar is playable right out of the box.
The only quibble with the design is it lacks a straps button, but this isn’t enough to knock off a star from its rating.
As with all our other reviewed options, the C5 has well-matched wood that delivers a certain sound level when you strum the guitar in tune.
The solid cedar top offers a well-balanced sound and plenty of sustain.
The guitar resonates well; the sound opens up and conducts a tone that’s more than a pitch.
Overall, C5 offers a fuller sound when plugged, and it’s quite exciting to listen to.
It’s easy to get misled with C5’s price point in thinking it’s just a beginner guitar.
In reality, it’s such an incredible-sounding guitar for the money and plays great for all experience levels.
For instance, the action is low, and the tone is excellent across the range from bass to treble.
Additionally, having the electro option makes this instrument qualified for a wide range of venues and musicians, whether for classical, folk, jazz, etc.
The tunes on the guitar are actually nice and well like.
When plugged, it sounds pretty good. Though not super good, it’s exactly what it should sound at a price.
I can tell you that it beats nearly 90% of the classical guitars and many of just acoustic guitars in general.
#4 Yamaha TRBX174 - Most Versatile
The heroes of budget instruments give beginner bassists a versatile and unpretentious model, the Yamaha TRBX174.
The model is an intriguing option for those in possession of a musical appetite that includes everything from chugging rhythms of metal to sweet melodies of jazz.
And as with all Yamaha models, this model is reliable and takes to deliver amazing sounds.
Features and Benefits
The first thing I love with the Yamaha TRBX174 is the style of the body and head.
It has a nice clean, modern look to it, and I’m happy to have it displayed on its stand in my living room as it makes me want to pick it up and play.
Secondly, the build quality is great, the paint on the body is amazing, and the nice deep metallic blue that photos don’t do any justice.
The neck is full length with 24 frets and has a nice smooth satin finish. The fret ends are smooth, with no sharp edges, while the chrome tuners and hardware feel soft to the touch.
However, it’s not as beginner-friendly as the Cordoba as it did require some setup as the action was a bit high.
It’s not a deal-breaker, though, and the quality of the instrument is great.
For the price, Yamaha TRBX174 is a fantastic instrument, fine for beginners or anyone.
TRBX174, with a mahogany construction, has a sporty and comfortable shape.
In particular, the fast-action playing capabilities along with a P/J arrangement provide a punchy and robust sound.
With this arrangement, you get a lot of flexibility in tone, perfect for use in different music genres.
The only quibble I had with the guitar’s build is it’s a bit heavier than other guitars in its class. But the good news is the controls are all spot-on sensitive, and adjustable to the sound that many players are looking for.
For the price, this bass is excellent! It looks and feels excellent and sounds great too.
It’s a unique model in that it has no pickup switch but instead has control knobs for adjusting the mix.
The switch select is handy for allowing me to switch from solo to finger, flat, pick, and slap bass, so the guitar covers any music style.
The EQ features sound interesting, and they do actually make a difference in the sound.
Overall, I can’t imagine a better bass anywhere in this range.
#5 Ibanez AEG10NII - Best for Smaller Players
For a long time now, Ibanez has been associated with hard rock, heavy metal, and iconic virtuosos such as Joe Satriani.
However, the brand also focuses on offering a range of classical nylon-stringed guitars built to perform.
The Ibanez AEF10NII is one such instrument.
It’s a performance-oriented guitar, ticking on all the right boxes for the best guitar for the money.
Features and Benefits
The EG10NII is about as far away as you can get from the classical guitar while remaining as a classical.
It’s nice and compact, and the finish is simply gorgeous.
As you might expect from a brand primarily known in the metal world, it sticks two fingers to traditional classical design.
In addition, it incorporates stellar electronics and a slightly reduced size.
Overall, the instrument is ideal for finger-picking a variety of tunes, particularly Spanish tunes.
I’m impressed with this instrument, and the nylon is a lot more fun since you can do bends easier.
EG10NII’s body’s design is cut from the same cloth as its steel-stringed broth, the EG1II.
Both have a relatively traditional look and slender feel.
With a slim 2.75” body depth and generous sing-cutaway, it’s easy to see why this little beauty is geared towards performance.
As with all our previously reviewed options, it also has some good tonewoods- there’s mahogany on the back and sides and a spruce top.
Combined, the materials help in delivering better sounds and helping the guitar resonate even better.
The guitar is not only a beauty to look at; it sounds great.
It offers a great sound to play in a small room. But where it shines is when it’s plugged into an amp. The sound is just fantastic and with minimal feedback.
Plating without the electronics offers a well-balanced and crisp sound. It’s not overly deep and no sparkling trebles.
Of course, the slimmer body limits the sound produced, but it doesn’t take too much away from the volume.
Even better, the EQ and other controls will allow you to tweak the sound to achieve whatever sound or tones you need.
Best Guitars for the Money Buying Guide
In the text below, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide outlining everything you need to know about selecting the best guitar for the money.
Here, we shall expound more on some of the critical features you need to consider before purchasing.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Guitar for the Money
Style of Music
To narrow things down in your quest for the best beginner guitar, the first thing you need to ask yourself is what sort of music you want to play.
Answering this question will help you in directing you to the best model for your playing needs.
To give you an idea of what sounds guitars offer, we shall breakdown the different types of guitars, focusing on the sound they produce and their target group.
Acoustic guitars are the favorite of folk singers.
They’re a pretty decent option for those searching for playability, ad players into traditional aesthetics, and reliable construction.
Electric guitars come in different shapes and sizes and are at the more expensive end of things.
Each of the electric guitar designs is built with a specific purpose and player in mind.
They’re great options for those into modern specifications and, in particular, the metalheads.
Bass guitars are generally bigger and with thicker strings.
They’re versatile instruments, fitting into the playing needs of any band.
Most of the classical guitars are inexpensive, so they are great for those on a budget.
They come with nylon strings, so they’re a little easier in terms of playability as they don’t require as much effort from your fingers as the steel strings.
Does Brand Matter?
There have been a lot of discussions whether brands matter when selecting a guitar.
While most iconic models are made for top guitar brands, they always come at a hefty price tag.
On the other hand, the big brand’s cheaper models are not necessarily any better than those of well-known brands.
As a beginner, it’s more than likely that you’ll fall in love with a guitar from a smaller brand. And in that case, you should go for it.
However, for the established players who know what they want in a guitar, they are likely to go with the more reliable brands such as Yamaha or Seagull.
The benefit of choosing a guitar from a reliable brand is they’ve a history of reliability, and in most cases, you’ll find a guitar that matches your needs.
But for the newer brands, it’s a matter of luck. By any chance, you might come across a reliable model, but there’s also a high chance of picking a low-quality guitar.
It’s always good to pick a guitar you like the look of.
Obviously, the color or design changes little in consideration of what makes a great guitar for the money.
However, if you want to feel comfortable with your instrument, having a guitar that looks cool can help.
When choosing a guitar, it’s always good to consider the ergonomics.
See, even a complete novice will know which shape and size feel good in their hands.
Choose a guitar that feels comfortable in your hands. It shouldn’t feel big, nor should it be much of a stretch to place the four fingers.
For guitarists, especially beginners, the keyword should always be playability.
If your guitar isn’t playable, it’s unlikely you’ll go far in your musical journey.
Regardless of the type of guitar you choose, pick an option that is easy to play, and consider a guitar you’ll actually want to play once you’ve taken it home.
This depends on your budget and what you’re willing to pay,
Prices for guitar stretch from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
But the good thing is our list has the best guitars for the money, and we’ve carefully selected guitars that will offer the best value for your purchase on each price range.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Coming up with a winner on our reviews of the best guitar for the money was a bit of a hard call.
Every item on our list brings something unique to the table, and even better, they all offer value for money.
However, we feel the Seagull S6 sets itself apart from the rest.
It has a nice feel to it and is easy to use.
The sound and tones are truly awesome, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Sure, it may not come from a recognizable brand in the guitar industry, but the board has a unique character.
It ticks on all the right places and has everything you need for a better-sounding instrument.