The 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200 (All Budgets, Levels & Styles)

No other instrument has had such an impact on the second half of the 20th century! Propelled to center stage by rock’n’roll, the guitar conquered young people and established itself as a symbol of pop culture .

Easy to take everywhere, it also embodies conviviality: it is the instrument of the tribe, which brings us together around a song or a campfire.

Whatever your experience, it can be difficult to navigate the abundance of models and brands that abound on the Internet.

To help you, we have made a selection of the best sellers, in a price range that will suit the most modest budgets and the most demanding musicians.

martin smith acoustic guitar

Trying does not always mean persisting, so it is generally advised not to invest too much in a first instrument.

For ten years, the English brand Martin Smith has specialized in affordable guitars designed to facilitate learning for beginners .

The W-500 includes a nearly complete “ready-to-play” kit for a smooth take-off. Spare strings , picks , strap : the essentials are there. The featherweight of the instrument and an optimized grip allow you to practice your hand without exhausting yourself.

The problem with entry-level guitars is often their sound. We tend to tell ourselves that it’s not a big deal at first, because we don’t know how to play well anyway. However, pleasant acoustics help to develop a taste for the practice.

Precisely, this folk guitar is distinguished by a remarkable sound for the price . It’s not the ideal instrument for long solos on stage, but its beautiful resonance makes it perfectly suited for training and accompaniment.

Admittedly, the wood color edged in black on the sides is a bit dull, but at least it has the advantage of its classicism . The finishes aren’t flawless either, but for the price, we’re not going to quibble.

Also be careful not to abuse your strings too much: changing them requires being a bit of a handyman.

What we like:

  • guitar for small budgets ;
  • Designed to make it easy for beginners;
  • Light , with a very good grip;
  • Great sound for the price;
  • 4 strings , 2 picks and a strap included.

What we like less:

  • Changing the strings is a bit complicated;
  • The finishes leave something to be desired;
  • According to some buyers, the clip for the strap is sometimes missing from the package.

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martin smith w101 rd pk

This big sister to the W-500 is a bit more expensive, but much prettier. It is especially accompanied by a very complete kit .

This time, everything is there: the strings, the pick, the strap, but also the case , the tuner , a foldable stand and even 2 months of free online lessons.

This last point can make the difference in terms of motivation: rather than trying 50 online courses, you just have to follow the guide! This turnkey kit makes the W-101-RD-PK an ideal gift, including for teenagers .

With its classic silhouette, designed for comfortable playing, this folk guitar is easy to tame. All in wood , it is as light as it is pleasant to handle. The sound, natural if not unforgettable, is quite correct considering the price.

When you see all these options, you suspect that the manufacturer had to plan a little on the finish and the solidity.

The gig bag and strap won’t stand up to a world tour, and you better not abuse the guitar itself too much. In addition, it tends to go out of tune quickly, which is sure to annoy the impatient.

What we like:

  • Very good value for money ;
  • It’s the ideal guitar to take your first steps;
  • It sounds really good for the price;
  • All necessary accessories are included;
  • 2 months of free access to online courses.

What we like less:

  • She goes out of tune quickly ;
  • We have seen better in terms of finishes;
  • The instrument and the accessories are quite fragile .

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3. Yamaha C40M: the reference classical guitar

yamaha c40m

We change range with this Yamaha. This name sounds more like synthesizers than guitars, but don’t let that fool you.

Since its founding in 1887, the Japanese brand has had time to forge great expertise! His classical guitars are particularly renowned, including this model, which is among the most affordable .

The folk guitar is more rock’n’roll, but it may be better to start with a classical guitar. In any case, this is the opinion of many music teachers.

Indeed, the strings are more flexible, therefore more nuanced and easier to “sound” . The C40M is very popular with novices, but only comes with a pick. The brand does offer kits for beginners, but they are sold separately.

Materials and finishes are often the weakest link in entry-level guitars. Here, nothing to complain about.

Admittedly, with a spruce top, the sound carries less than with a hardwood top. But it is renowned for its great finesse . It is not uncommon, moreover, to hear experienced players speak nostalgically of their first C40M.

On the other hand, these same players agree on one point: once you have developed your technique, you quickly get tired of this model. Depending on your pace, you can bet on 1 or 2 years of use . Then, it will probably be necessary to think about going upmarket.

What we like:

  • The quality/price ratio is optimal ;
  • Round and present bass;
  • good instrument for beginners ;
  • The finishes are remarkable for an entry-level model;
  • very elegant design .

What we like less:

  • Those who progress quickly will tire of it quickly;
  • The wood quickly loses its color on contact with the fingers ;
  • The string set is a little weak.

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4. Harley Benton D-120CE: your first electro-acoustic guitar

harley benton d120ce

As its name does not indicate, Harley Benton is a German brand. Founded by the famous Thomann instrument boutique, this label is part of a tradition of excellence established since 1954.

The D-120CE BK is a good entry-level for those who want to try their hand at the joys of electro-acoustic guitar right from the start.

Even though electric guitars are what make you tick, it’s hard to skip the acoustic stage when you’re just starting out .

The electroacoustic guitar is a good way to combine business with pleasure. The principle is simple: an instrument that works just as well with amplification as without .

In addition to varying the pleasures, this system also facilitates recordings. On the other hand, you will need to bring an amp to benefit from the electric option.

The D-120CE is aimed more at experienced players , but it is not very complicated to start with. The very reasonable price will encourage you to do so.

If you’re a budding rock star, know that the power is there. Even in unplugged mode , you will be heard from afar! You’ll also love the imposing silhouette of this glossy black chest, adorned with elegant cream-coloured mesh.

Be careful with your fingers, however: as on a folk guitar, the strings are made of metal. Here, they are particularly rigid, which can confuse some novices. They are also quite complicated to change . It may take you a while to tame this wild animal, but you won’t regret it.

What we like:

  • An instrument suitable for experienced players, for the price of an entry-level product;
  • Powerful and clear sound ;
  • The varnish finish is very popular with aesthetes;
  • Easily connects to an amp;
  • An equalizer built into the sound box.

What we like less:

  • The battery safe cover sometimes has the bad idea of ​​vibrating when you play .
  • The metal strings are a little hard and quite difficult to change.
  • White plastic parts tend to yellow over time .

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harley benton custom line clj 412e

We stay with Harley Benton, but we go up a range with this 12-string electroacoustic guitar . Players who change their style and mood will appreciate the blend of delicacy and power of this versatile instrument.

With the CLJ-412E NT, we enter the big leagues! The price remains very reasonable, hence the success of this model. Better to have a certain level to get something out of it. But if you love blues , classic rock or country , this is the instrument for you.

This electro-acoustic guitar is ideal for the impatient. For one thing, if you’re already comfortable on 5 or 6 strings, moving up to 12 is remarkably easy. On the other hand, you do not need to toil to prepare your instrument.

It is set by the manufacturer to be ready to use right out of the package . The icing on the cake: an electronic tuner is included.

We regret the absence of a cutaway , which would make it easier for those who like to tickle the bottom of the handle. Seasoned players also deplore a somewhat “floating” tuning.

It’s not top-of-the-line in terms of finishes either. That said, it’s a guitar with a dignified look and the flavor of America.

What we like:

  • A guitar well tuned from the start by the manufacturer;
  • It plugs very easily into an amp;
  • It is really easy to play for a 12 string;
  • A very balanced sound;
  • Electronic tuner included .

What we like less:

  • The materials and finishes are of questionable quality.
  • The tuning lacks precision .
  • The power leaves something to be desired in terms of acoustics.

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harley benton gs travel e mahogany

For a last dance with Harley Benton, we stop on the GS-Travel-E Mahogany. Designed to follow you everywhere, this electro-acoustic guitar is moderate in everything. Its imposing silhouette is combined with a featherweight .

This instrument is really affordable for the quality offered. First of all, you can’t miss his style, a little cowboy , but in all elegance.

Then it’s a guitar for everyone. Beginners will have no trouble getting something out of it, and experienced players will know how to exploit its potential.

It is a very sensitive instrument: the body and the strings react to the slightest sliding of the fingers .

Jazz lovers, renowned for their high standards, will not be disappointed! The sound is rather discreet, but audible. On the other hand, in electric mode, the shoe pinches a little in terms of possible settings.

There remains the question of resistance, since this guitar is supposed to go on tour with you . Good news is that it doesn’t go out of tune easily. That said, its solidity is not foolproof.

Certainly, mahogany is a tough wood, but it is still better to provide a good cover . The real Achilles heel of this instrument is everything that goes beyond. Especially the plastic parts break more easily than you would like.

As the guitar itself is cheap, some users do not hesitate to customize it. Indeed, you can replace the pegs and saddles at a lower price with materials of better quality.

What we like:

  • It’s a really pretty guitar ;
  • The preamp is very easy to use;
  • very nice sound for this price range;
  • The tuning holds well over time;
  • An instrument that is suitable for both beginners and experienced players .

What we like less:

  • The sound lacks bass power .
  • A model that may require a little customization or refrettage.
  • Despite the manufacturer’s promises, its lifespan can be quite short with heavy use or repeated travel.

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lava music lava me freesboost bk

Lava Music is the archetype of the “small start-up that goes up that goes up”. The company was founded in 2013 by two American musicians passionate about technology.

Their observation: the big brands rest a little too much on their laurels. Their idea: to fit in with the times by focusing on technical innovation and super stylish designs . The Lava Me Freeboost BK is one of their biggest hits.

So it’s true, we’ll have to take out the wallet. On the other hand, it’s an instrument you won’t soon forget, and neither will your audience. With its racy silhouette, this black guitar seems taken from the movie Matrix. But make no mistake: you are not dealing with a gimmick!

The Freeboost range does nothing like the others. The one-piece carbon fiber construction gives this instrument a unique sound , which spreads throughout its structure.

This results in a very round acoustic, with a long sustain. And while you can obviously plug it in, this futuristic electro-acoustic guitar uses its own bottom as a speaker .

Thus, reverb, delay or chorus effects can be used even in unplugged mode! And despite its small size, your Freeboost will amaze you with its power.

It will take some time to get used to its unique size and unusual effects . Not everyone finds their account, but if you are not afraid to experiment a little…

Like all hi-tech objects, this one is fragile. Clearly, this isn’t a guitar you’ll be playing on the beach, and it better be well protected if you’re going on tour.

What we like:

  • A very, very beautiful guitar .
  • It is particularly easy to amplify.
  • It sounds great acoustically, with effects normally reserved for amplification .
  • The battery holds up once charged.
  • The finishes are impeccable .

What we like less:

  • In amplified mode, the sound and effects are not unanimous.
  • Warning: Fragile  ! And given the price, better be careful.
  • Even if you are an experienced player, it will probably take you some time to master all the intricacies of this instrument.

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8. Fender CD-60S All Mah: the excellence of a big brand at a low price

fender cd60s all mah

We will end this overview with three models from a brand that alone embodies the American dream: Fender.

Creator of the legendary Stratocasters and Telecasters , Fender is to the guitar what Rolls-Royce is to the automobile, minus the price. Thus, the CD-60S All Mah offers you the best of acoustic guitar, but without breaking the bank.

As we are at Fender, we will immediately evacuate the question of sound. Yes, this guitar has a nice voice. 100% acoustic , it combines power and precision, and works just as well in the studio as on stage. The chords have an exceptional amplitude.

Novices will slide on the frets and will have no trouble making their instrument “sound”. Advanced players won’t be disappointed either.

Side looks, it’s a very nice guitar. Mainly made of mahogany , it imposes with its solid and classic look.

So, of course, it remains an entry-level product. We will therefore not expect super cheesy finishes.

What we like:

  • Authentic , clear and powerful sound .
  • A guitar that is suitable for both beginners and experienced players.
  • Solid mahogany is always appreciated.
  • It really is a top level instrument for this price range.
  • An instrument suitable for studio recordings.

What we like less:

  • The finishes leave a little to be desired.
  • The handle is very thin, so quite fragile .
  • High notes are a little hard to get at first.

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fender cd140sce nat

We go upmarket with an electroacoustic guitar easy to handle. With the CD-140SCE Nat, Fender offers an instrument of extraordinary standing for its price (some comparable models cost 3 times more).

The design is ultra-classic and the quality literally jumps out at you. A light shaded wood , with an orange red tint to the back and subtle finishes.

A massive table, certainly quite heavy, but balanced by a thin handle, very comfortable to browse with your finger. This instrument will give you a class of hell on stage  !

But don’t be fooled by this apparent sobriety: this Fender has the blues in its soul. If you like a little “dirty” sounds and crying guitars, you’ve come to the right place!

The harmonic palette is rich, with cold highs , pervasive lows and a beautiful sustain in open tuning. In electric mode, you have a large selection of buttons to play with the sound to your liking.

On paper, the CD-140SCE Nat is intended for novices as well as experienced musicians. True beginners may struggle with very stiff strings that are rather complicated to adjust.

On the other hand, the integrated tuner will make your life easier. Once your fingers are “done”, you appreciate the possibilities offered by this instrument. Small significant bonus: a tuning fork and a cover are included.

What we like:

  • An aggressive and warm sound .
  • A beautiful harmonic palette.
  • A much better instrument than what you usually get for this price.
  • Built-in tuner, case and tuning fork are included.
  • The handle is thin and pleasant to use .

What we like less:

  • The strings are quite difficult to adjust, and a little too firm for beginners .
  • The case is not very sturdy.
  • The wood is easily marked by small shocks.

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fender pm1std dreadnought mah

We end in style, with a model that may not suit all budgets, but which remains of an extraordinary quality/price ratio.

With its vintage look , it looks like it came straight from the 60’s. Mahogany looks so natural it looks like it’s barely been cut from the tree. The PM-1 STD looks and sounds like an authentic acoustic guitar, too!

Lovers of harmonies will obtain ample and clear chords , with deep bass . But if you have the funk, you will have in your hands a rhythm guitar very appreciated for its precision. The frets are narrow, for a subtle game.

In summary, the PM-1 STD meets the expectations of accomplished musicians, especially if they like to chain irresistible grooves, complex melodies and brilliant solos.

Like the Fender CD-140SCE Nat, this model is distinguished by an imposing top and a long, thin neck , all for a featherweight. The exterior finishes are particularly chic, but those who take a look inside will be disappointed.

The pitch is also a bit long for beginner players. But the unique sound and style of this guitar will quickly make you forget its few imperfections.

What we like:

  • A design that dazzles;
  • An excellent rhythm guitar ;
  • A very thin and handy handle;
  • Versatile sound for all types of playing ;
  • A case included.

What we like less:

  • The finishes are not perfect, which becomes annoying in this price range.
  • The handle is quite long, and the distance between strings and key rather important .
  • An included preamp would have been a must.

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The buying guide: how to choose your acoustic guitar?

It is sometimes said that to buy a guitar is to make a new friend . So let’s take stock of the criteria to focus on, and the mistakes to avoid.

choose acoustic guitar

Why choose an acoustic guitar?

First because it’s ideal for beginners . But also because it is a light instrument, which remains at your service at all times without requiring amplification.

If a Jimi Hendrix sleeps in you, however, you can cut the pear in 2 with an electroacoustic, which will allow you to alternate between unplugged and amp .

What budget do you have?

The good news is that you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars for the correct equipment.

  • For less than 100 € , some models combine quality craftsmanship with pleasant acoustics.
  • For more experienced musicians, a few hundred euros are enough for reputable guitars and big brands.
  • If you’re a professional, you’ll likely spend $700 or more .

What size and what shape do you prefer?

The more your acoustic guitar will impose, the more you will obtain a deep sound, which will carry. Keep in mind, however, that the choice of a guitar depends on your build .

If you’re just starting out, don’t neglect comfort. The total weight, the volume of the body, the circumference and the length of the handle are therefore to be taken into consideration. Also consider the cutaway , which facilitates access to the highest frets of the neck.

Finally, find out about the different types of guitars (Dreadnought, Jumbo, etc.). Do not hesitate to test different templates in store before deciding online.

guitar depends body size acoustic guitar

Which materials to choose?

Nylon or metal, you have to choose your strings . Question of sound and level. Nylon is more suitable for real beginners, who need to “do their fingers”. The sound is also softer.

With metal you have to overcome string stiffness , but you get a more dynamic sound.

Regarding the trunk, you have the choice between different types of wood, the density of which impacts the sound. Find out about the acoustics you are looking for.

There are of course other alternatives, like with the futuristic Lava Me Freeboost BK , but these are aimed at musicians who know exactly what they want.

To simplify the task, how far?

Take the time to take a look at the specs and customer reviews. As we mentioned above, some instruments may be of good quality, but require some skill for their maintenance .

Complicated tuning, hard-to-change strings, keys that break or unscrew easily are all puzzles for a beginner to solve. If you’re a handyman, anything goes. But if you prefer to focus on your learning, you might as well opt for simplicity  !

Accessories supplied or not?

Depending on the model, your guitar can arrive bare as a worm or fully equipped . The purchase of additional accessories does not represent a big budget, but you still have to know how to choose them.

If you’re getting started, it’s therefore best to have picks , a strap and a tuner that are perfectly compatible with your instrument. A few spare strings and a case are also nice.

choose according to acoustic guitar accessories

Is design a sign of quality?

A beautiful guitar is admired by friends and gives confidence in public . Keep in mind, however, that some manufacturers try to hide the flaws in their products behind a seductive look.

The finishes, in particular, can leave something to be desired. It is not uncommon to be confronted with badly glued elements or traces of glue everywhere, which do not appear on the photos.

Prioritize reputable brands and, if in doubt, take a look at the negative reviews of buyers who have gone before you. If many of them complain that the instrument was already damaged in its box, this is not a good sign.

Prioritize sound or solidity?

Some of the models presented here combine resistance and acoustic qualities . But, regardless of price, many instruments require care.

The acoustic guitar is an accessory that we like to take everywhere: on a trip , on the beach , in the evenings … Beware of woods that are too sensitive to humidity and metals that rust.

Also watch out for sand that gets stuck in your buttons, or scratches that damage your beautiful instrument. Choose a model adapted to the use you will make of it!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=WNJfPSF7HHg%3Ffeature%3Doembed

And now it’s up to you !

Martin Smith and Harley Benton are renowned for reliable entry-level instruments. Fender is a legendary brand, which has nothing more to prove. As for Lava Music, we couldn’t resist presenting this innovative challenger to you.

Our selection will save you from getting lost on the threads of the web. Whatever your needs and your level, making a choice is now up to you!

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