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5 good, cheap acoustic guitars

Fender CD-140S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Sunburst

Acoustic guitars are fun. Buy the right one, and it's a great songwriting guitar.

I'm going to state two things about this list up front.

  1. None of these acoustics are acoustic-electric. I will do an acoustic-electric list at a later time. If you like any of these and want to electrify it, get a Seymour Duncan "Woody" pickup. It goes right in the sound hole. Simple and easy.
  2. The price range of the guitars below starts at $82 and ends at $200. Yes, that means every single guitar you see below at the time I write this is between $82 to $200. And they're all good.

With that said, here we go.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar, Natural
Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone really knows how to build a good, cheap acoustic, and it doesn't get much better than the DR-100. While most who play solid-body electric guitars scoff at the design of the headstock ordinarily, it looks right at home on an acoustic body.

The only really bad part about the guitar is that "E" logo on the pick guard. But that's nothing you can't replace or put a black sticker over to cover it up.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with Gig Bag - Natural
Fender FA-100

While not your typical dreadnought shape (it is a bit squared off,) this is a very comfortable player when sitting. Also take notice of where the strap buttons are, as this is a very easy guitar to play standing up as well.

Yamaha F335 Acoustic Guitar Natural
Yamaha F335

When it comes to "looks expensive," the F335 from Yamaha nails it. Very nice acoustic that projects well and looks upscale, especially with the "Y flower" graphic on the headstock. This is one you'd be proud to have on your guitar stand.

Fender CD-140S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Sunburst
Fender CD-140S

This particular Fender comes in 3 colors, but the best of the lot is the sunburst. It's not the same as the FA-100 as you'll notice it has a slightly more curvy shape to it, and for the price, you really can't get a better sunburst on an acoustic.

Kona K1TRD Acoustic Dreadnought Cutaway Guitar in Transparent Red Finish
Kona K1TRD

I list this for only one reason. It has a cutaway body shape. Some players like having the cutaway to get easy access to the higher frets. The best part about this guitar is its price. This is the $82 acoustic at the time I write this. And surprisingly, it gets really good reviews for an acoustic that sells for this low.

Rich's picks

My first pick is the DR-100. While it may have that dopey "E" on the pick guard, it's a traditional dreadnought, easy-to-play and has very predictable playing characteristics. I like the fact this is cheap enough to be a "throwaway" acoustic, meaning you can bang the crap out of it and not care. It may only last 4 or 5 years, but that's fine.

My second pick is F335. It's more than the Epiphone is, but a great looker, and Yamaha builds some darned fine acoustic guitars. This is the guitar that could last you 10 years or more easily, which is a pretty sweet deal considering how low in cost it is.

Is there that much of a difference between the way Epiphone and Yamaha make acoustic guitars? In my experience, yes. The reason Yamaha acoustics last longer isn't because of wood choice but rather how their acoustics are made.

Does Yamaha use more glue or some kind of bracing that makes their acoustics last longer? I don't know. What I do know is that the only thing on Yamaha acoustics that usually breaks down first are the bridge pins (easily replaceable and dirt cheap) and the frets after years of play. So after something like 7 years, you can level the frets, get the guitar refretted or just buy another acoustic at that point. Either way, you get a lot of guitar for the money.

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