Shopping for new acoustic guitars that are discounted is a nice way to save money without sacrificing quality sound and a beautiful look. Whether it's a steel string or classical nylon, there's a quality discount guitar to fit your budget.
What to Look For in Cheap Acoustic Guitars
When investigating cheap acoustic guitars, musicians need to be aware of several characteristics that come with the territory of acoustic guitars that are discounted. There are many things to look for in an affordable acoustic guitar.
Spruce tops, mahogany bodies, and rosewood fingerboards are examples of good woods for acoustic guitar.
A Good Setup
This means when you pick the guitar up for the first time:
- It is in tune.
- It stays in tune consistently even after you tune it.
- There is not much buzzing on the frets as you press the strings to play notes.
If your guitar has a poor setup, however, do not lose heart. A quick "tune-up" at your local guitar shop to improve any deficiencies in your setup will not break the bank.
Good Action Between the Strings and Frets
Good action has several characteristics.
- The strings aren't sitting so high above the frets it takes all of your strength to get a clear note.
- They're not sitting so low that they just buzz all day whenever you try to play anything.
- They should sit just far enough from the frets you can comfortably depress them and get a clear tone without buzz or rattling.
Finding the Perfect Guitar
The following tips will help you find the perfect discounted guitar.
Ask the Guitar Store for a Free Setup
If you pick up a discounted new acoustic guitar that's under $200, and you notice any of the buzzing or poor intonation issues above, before you purchase it ask the store to either give you some money off the selling price or a free setup before you take the guitar home. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Some shops might be willing to do some quick setup work for free if it means moving some inventory.
Play the Guitar Before Purchasing if Possible
Musicians should always play the guitar before purchasing it. Each individual's playing style and skill will affect how the guitar sounds, and it is a wise idea to try several guitars before choosing one that fits both the budget and the musical ambitions of the guitarist.
Consider Travel Acoustic Guitars
These guitars are 3/4 of the standard sized guitar, and they are made to be compact for traveling. This also means they're often cheaper than standard guitars, yet retain a high quality.
Where to Buy an Affordable Discount Guitar
The following retailers have cheap acoustic guitars known for quality and good value.
Looks can be deceiving. Music 123's site might look like a large, impersonal enterprise, but the website is the online outgrowth of a 75-year-old family-run music store that has spanned four generations. It prides itself in offering quality instruments at low prices. They offer a 45-day lowest price guarantee: if you find a lower price elsewhere within 45 days of buying a guitar from them, they will refund the difference.
Cheap guitars on the site include:
- Epiphone, Ibanez, Jasmine, Luna, Rogue, Fender steel-string guitars and Valencia classical nylon guitars
- The prices for these low-cost models range from about $100 to $150.
The site has dozens of low-cost acoustic guitar models. Granted, most of the reviews on the site are highly positive but occasionally there's a report of poor quality control and a guitar arriving in bad shape. This happens with any online retailer, and you should always read up on Music123's return policy through the links above before ordering.
A highlight of Music123 is its offering of Valencia models. If you're interested in classical nylon guitar, Valencia has decent guitars that sound remarkably good for the price. The following video review demonstrates a Valencia classical.
SamAsh.com is a trusted, popular online retailer for musical instruments, and it has a large inventory of discount acoustic guitars and brands (i.e. Gretsch and Cordoba) that discount retailers such as Music123 do not have.
Models include the following:
- Fender, Gretsch, Epiphone, Yamaha, Ibanez steel-string and Cordoba nylon guitars
- Prices for the quality discount acoustic brands listed above range from about $100 to $200.
- Sam Ash has a nice sidebar option selection menu that allows you to see different "savings" such as "Price Drop" or "Restock," which could give you the chance to snag a more expensive acoustic guitar for a discount price.
This video from Sam Ash demonstrates one of their affordable Epiphone acoustic guitars:
World Music Supply
World Music Supply, while similar to other online music retailers already mentioned, is worth bookmarking because of its closeout deals. These deals often include $500 Washburn or Alvarez guitars-both decent discount brands-in the $200 to $250 range, give or take.
For example, one guitar that has been featured in their closeout section is the Alvarez AD60 with its Advanced Tonal Response design. As you can see in the following video, it is a quality guitar for only about $260 on World Music Supply's closeout page.
Guitar Center stands out from other popular online retailers because of the size of its inventory. It has hundreds more quality acoustic guitars in the low-priced $100 to $200 range than Musician's Friend or Sweetwater. Guitar Center doesn't always have as many sales as Musician's Friend for all acoustic guitar types, but it tends to have more price drops.
- Discounted acoustic models include: Fender, Luna, Ibanez, Dean, Bristol and many others
- You can often find about 700 to 800 discount guitars in the $100 to $200 range.
The video example below demonstrates the Safari Fantasy Travel Guitar, which is sold on Guitar Center's site. It is called "the greatest hits of Luna guitars," features a laser burn-etch of a fantasy design without any clear-coating so you can feel the contour of the etchings. It's a 3/4 travel size with spruce top and mahogany body and sides. It costs about $170.
Sweetwater's Deal Zone
Sweetwater has a handy little secret corner of the internet for acoustic guitars called the Deal Zone. Sweetwater takes more expensive guitars and offers them at discounted prices. While the prices are a bit higher than most of the discount sites mentioned above, you can find some high quality acoustic guitars, such as an Ovation Celebrity Standard, in the low $300 range.
That is worth mentioning because Ovation is one of the premier acoustic guitar makers in the world, right alongside Martin and Taylor. The following video demonstrates the gorgeous tone and quality of an Ovation Celebrity Standard.
Musician's Discount Warehouse
Musician's Discount Warehouse features the R. W. Jameson, specifically the Jameson 900 series guitars. While the previous retailer (Sweetwater) represented the highest range of costs in these shopping examples, Musician's Discount Warehouse represents the lowest, with most of its guitars around or just under $100.
A few things about the 900 Series to note:
- Is Jameson a quality brand? You might feel a little suspicious about the guitar if it is being sold for less than $100.
- This brings up an important point: While it's great finding cheap acoustic guitars, when you look at guitars below the $100 range you will often find guitar-shaped toys with incredibly cheap components and not actual instruments that are worth your time and money.
- Jameson does not fall in that cheap toy category. The 900 Series model has a spruce top, nato body, rosewood fingerboard, a solid neck, 3-inch body thickness and a high gloss finish.
- In product reviews, the guitar is praised for its decent quality and playability.
- The guitar comes in pink.
The following video gives you a demonstration of the Jameson guitar.
When Low-Priced Acoustic Guitars Make Good Investments
Choosing discounted acoustic guitars can be a budget-friendly way to develop a new skill without breaking the bank. And if a cheap instrument is the catalyst for a long and fruitful guitar-playing life, then it becomes a wise investment.