Know Your Instrument

Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200 in 2018

Musicians looking for the best acoustic guitar under $200 are in for a treat. We have not one, not two but six excellent models from the top brands in the industry. It’s really amazing how companies such as Fender and Yamaha are able to offer quality acoustic guitars at budget-friendly prices. And when we say quality, we’re not just referring to looks but also playing comfort, construction, intonation and the overall package.

If you’re a beginner, choosing from these models will get you an acoustic guitar that’s more than suitable as a starter instrument. Keep reading to find out more!

Our Top Acoustic Guitars under $200

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Yamaha FG800
Yamaha FG800 Acoustic GuitarRepresenting Yamaha’s top-selling FG series of guitars is the Yamaha FG800, which features a solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped bracing for maximum resonance. The back, sides and neck are made of nato wood, which shares similar sonic qualities with mahogany. This is a simple but superb dreadnought that’s great for beginners, intermediate players and pro musicians alike.



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Fender FA-100Fender FA-100 Acoustic GuitarThe Fender FA-100 often comes up as a recommended acoustic guitar for beginners, and for good reason: it’s pocket-friendly, has a great tone, is extremely well-built and playable plus it’s made by a trusted brand. Affordability and quality in one neat package - it’s quite hard to believe that this full-sized dreadnought guitar costs less than $200!
Epiphone DR 100Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic GuitarComing up next in our list of best acoustic guitar models under $200 is the DR-100 dreadnought from Epiphone. It’s one of the company’s bestsellers and beginners aren’t the only ones who love it because of its affordability. Even pros consider the Epiphone DR-100 to be a quality acoustic because of its excellent build, balanced sound and amazing playability.



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Yamaha FD01SYamaha FD01S Acoustic GuitarWith affordable quality acoustic guitars like the FD01S, it’s no wonder than Yamaha has gained the respect and trust of musicians all over the world. It combines quality craftsmanship, superb tone and excellent value. The Yamaha FD01S has a solid spruce top so it will sound better every time it’s played, and makes for a great first or backup guitar.
Fender CD 60sFender CD-60s Acoustic GuitarFender is making its guitars more accessible to a greater number of people and we’re thrilled to have another Fender in this list. The Fender CD-60s costs less than $200 but it sounds like a guitar twice or even thrice its price. Among the things that make it an awesome guitar are a good build, impressive tone and excellent playability.



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Oscar Schmidt OG2SMOscar Schmidt OG2SM
Acoustic Guitar
Another fantastic acoustic, the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM is more than just a starter guitar. This striking dreadnought has a spalted maple top with standard X bracing, laminate catalpa sides and back, a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. This guitar has a bright sound and articulates individual notes very well. The OG2SM is ideal for beginners and advanced players alike.

The Yamaha FG800 folk guitar is a direct upgrade to the company’s best-selling FG700 model. It still has the same dreadnought body shape, solid Sitka spruce top and crisp sound, but it now has a new scalloped bracing for improved projection, a punchier tone and a more robust low end.

The FG800’s back and sides are made of nato wood, also known as Eastern mahogany for a warm, resonant acoustic sound that brings the low and middle frequencies forward. Nato actually has a similar tonal quality and appearance as mahogany but is less expensive. By using nato, Yamaha is able to offer a more affordable acoustic guitar that doesn’t sacrifice looks or tonal output.

The neck is also made of nato wood and is topped with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck now has a slimmer, tapered profile and sports a satin finish, and the fretboard edges are rounded for a smoother, more comfortable playing experience.

The Yamaha FG800 is a versatile acoustic guitar, suitable for a variety of playing styles. This is an ideal model for beginners who are just starting to explore and practice strumming, flatpicking and fingerpicking techniques. It’s also great for guitar players looking for a backup instrument.

  • Solid top
  • Slim and fast-playing neck
  • Plenty of projection with a rich sound
  • High action - setup necessary to lower the action
  • May be too plain-looking for some

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Fender FA-100

It’s unbelievable how $200 can get you an authentic Fender acoustic guitar, but it’s true. In fact, even if you buy the entire guitar bundle, it would still cost you less than $200. The package includes a padded gig bag, a guitar strap, a clip-on tuner, an extra set of strings and some picks – everything you need to start playing!

The Fender FA-100 dreadnought features a sturdy laminated spruce top with X bracing for a rich, full and resonant sound. The X bracing adds to the FA-100’s projection and stability, so if you want to bring this guitar to and from lessons, you won’t have to worry about it suffering damage along the way.

It also has a rosewood fingerboard, maple neck, rosewood bridge with a compensated saddle and basswood back and sides. The neck has a C-shaped profile for a more comfortable grip. The die-cast tuning machines are great at keeping the guitar in tune for many hours.

The combination of tonewoods gives the Fender FA-100 a warm and rich tone with plenty of resonance and projection. Each note is clearly articulated and the overall sound seems like it’s coming from a guitar with a higher price.

  • Amazing feel and sound for the price
  • Comes with accessories
  • More than suitable as a beginner guitar
  • Factory setup of string action is too high - adjustment is necessary
  • Medium-gauge strings may be too heavy for beginners

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Epiphone DR 100

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The DR-100 is one of Epiphone’s top-selling acoustic guitars and it’s easy to see why. It not only has the looks and craftsmanship one would expect from a trusted brand but also the sound quality that Epiphone is known for. This is an excellent acoustic for first-time players and seasoned musicians alike.

The classic dreadnought shape makes the DR-100 versatile and suitable for a number of genres, from folk and country to bluegrass and rock. There’s plenty of projection to go around with aggressive playing, and with the guitar’s well-balanced sound, you won’t have a hard time hearing yourself even if you’re just playing softly during your downtime. No matter the volume, the DR-100 is definitely one of the best-sounding guitars you can buy for less than $200.

The Epiphone DR-100 boasts a select spruce top that begins to improve and sound better the more the guitar is played. The back, sides and neck are made of mahogany while the fingerboard and bridge are made of rosewood. The neck has a SlimTaper profile for fast and easy playing. The guitar is fitted with die-cast premium tuning machines on the iconic Epiphone sloped dovewing headstock.

  • Easy to play
  • Great sound for the price
  • Full and rich dreadnought sound
  • Sharp frets need to be filed down and smoothed out
  • Tuners and strings not the best; replacement is advised

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Yamaha FD01S

The Yamaha FD01S is another outstanding guitar you can get for less than $200. It has the quality build and sound that Yamaha acoustic guitars are known for, making it a great beginner guitar. It’s also great as a backup or second guitar, something you can definitely bring along with you on road trips.

The specs are pretty simple: a solid spruce top, nato neck, nato back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, natural finish. But don’t let those simple specs fool you, because this is a really great-sounding, easy-playing guitar that will surprise you. It may not look that fancy, but the sound is superb. The solid top projects sound well, and will give the guitar a sweeter, brighter tone every time it is played.

The size of the Yamaha FD01S is slightly smaller than a full-sized dreadnought, making the FD01S more comfortable to hold for petite players. The guitar plays well and stays in tune – another plus for first-time players.

You can also get more value when you purchase the Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe package, which comes with the Yamaha FD01S acoustic guitar, a gig bag, picks, replacement strings, a guitar strap, a tuner and an instructional DVD.

  • Stays in tune for a long period
  • Amazing sound for the price
  • Solid top for a more authentic acoustic sound over time
  • Saddle and nut are brittle and may need to be replaced
  • Initial setup to adjust the action is advised

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Fender CD 60s

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The Fender CD-60s is a high-quality dreadnought without the price commonly associated with a Fender. But the craftsmanship, tone and playability are spot-on Fender – superb and definitely impressive.

For this list of the best acoustic guitars under $200, we’ve selected the all-mahogany version of the Fender CD-60s, which sports a solid mahogany top with quartersawn scalloped X-bracing, a mahogany neck as well as laminated mahogany back and sides. The use of mahogany results in a warm, rich, balanced and full-bodied tone with a lot of volume and midrange resonance.

The solid mahogany top is also highly responsive to different acoustic playing styles, from aggressive strumming and flatpicking to more delicate fingerpicking. The laminated sides and back add to the instrument’s durability and resilience against changes in temperature and humidity, making the Fender CD-60s something you can take along with you anywhere you go.

The neck is designed to be easy to play and features rolled fingerboard edges for maximum comfort when fretting chords. The fingerboard is constructed from rosewood and features pearloid dot position inlays. Tuning stability is guaranteed by chrome die-cast tuning machines. Overall, the CD-60s looks, feels and sounds like a more premium instrument from Fender.

  • Design is simple but elegant
  • All-mahogany construction
  • Awesome sound
  • Advanced players and professionals may find the sound lacking in depth
  • Not for professional work

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Oscar Schmidt OG2SM

The first thing you will immediately notice when you see the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM acoustic guitar is its spalted maple top. The distinct coloration of the wood is due to fungal growth. However, you don’t have to worry about this damaging the guitar as the wood has undergone treatment and has been lacquered.

The top also has standard X-bracing, making it more sturdy and durable. Because the wood grain varies, no two spalted maple tops are alike, making each and every Oscar Schmidt OG2SM unique.

The sides and back of this dreadnought are constructed from laminate catalpa wood. Catalpa sounds a bit like spruce and has a lot of resonance. The neck is made from mahogany and it’s topped by a smooth, fast-playing rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is also made from rosewood. The body has been given a high gloss finish to enhance its look.

The maple top gives the OG2SM a nice bright sound, which is tempered by the catalpa back and sides, resulting in a well-balanced warm and mellow sound. Being a dreadnought, the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM has a big voice with a crisp tone and good resonance. At less than $200, this guitar is a steal.

  • Spalted maple top means no two OG2SM guitars are the same
  • Stays in tune well
  • Good balance between bright and mellow tones
  • Spalted maple look not to everyone’s taste
  • Tuners can be improved
  • Only one strap button at the lower bout

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Our Tips for Buying and Acoustic Guitar under $200

A premium guitar sound at a low price

If you see a $200 acoustic guitar, you would surely keep your expectations low – after all, you get what you pay for, right? While this may be true in some cases, in our list it’s the other way around. The guitars we’ve selected exceed expectations and leave you wondering if they are really priced that low.

All of the guitars we’ve mentioned are considered the best in their price category in terms of looks, build, playability, sound and overall quality. You would be hard-pressed to find anything better at the same price point. With that said, yes there may be other guitars that look, play and sound better, but at the $100-$200 price tier, the Yamaha, Fender, Epiphone and Oscar Schmidt guitars on this list can’t be beat.

There’s also plenty of room for improvement in these guitars, which means you can tweak or make adjustments to them as you go along to make them sound and play a lot better.

Adjustments and upgrades

Guitar companies do a lot to keep costs down and make more of their products more accessible to people. There are many good guitars out there that won’t break the bank, and the primary differences between those and more expensive guitars are the materials used.

Guitars on the lower end of the price tier would be made of alternative or lesser-quality tonewoods and components, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sound good – as you can see from this list.

However, you also don’t have to settle for the sound that a $200 acoustic guitar already has, because there are things you can do to get the best sound that your guitar can produce. Here are a few small upgrades that can completely optimize the sound of your guitar.

Give it a new set of strings. Factory-installed strings may not be all shiny and new and may make a guitar sound dull. Having new strings put in, usually a lighter gauge, can make an acoustic guitar not only play better but sound better too. See what strings or string gauges are recommended for your guitar and give those a try. Avoid putting heavier-gauge strings that the guitar may not be designed for and may cause excessive tension on the top of the guitar.

If you play your guitar every day, it’s recommended to put in a new set of strings every two or three weeks for the best tone. Give the strings time to properly stretch.

Upgrade the components. The plastic nut, saddle, bridge and bridge pins can all be replaced with materials of a better quality, like bone or Tusq. Upgrading these components can also make a difference in how your guitar sounds and stays in tune. It can enhance the instrument’s tone, giving it a richer and more balanced sound. As a general rule, anything that comes into contact with the guitar strings influences the instrument’s tone.

Replacing plastic nuts with a different kind of material such as graphite or synthetic bone enables the guitar strings to slide more freely with the slots of the nut. This does wonders to improve the intonation of a guitar. The same goes for the saddle.

Check the string height at the nut. A high string action at the nut can make it difficult for you to make chord shapes, which can affect your overall playing and the sound of the guitar. Have the action adjusted to a height you are comfortable with but it shouldn’t be set too low that you’ll get fret buzz.

So that’s our list of best acoustic models under $200 and our tips for making them sound their best. Of course, the best way to sound great regardless of the price of the guitar is to play well, so keep practicing!