Know Your Instrument

The Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars Under $100 in 2018

Cash-strapped beginners can get started playing guitar with the best cheap acoustic guitar under $100. Make no mistake, being on the lowest end of the price range doesn’t mean these guitars are junk. On the contrary, the guitars we’ve picked out have received top ratings in their category.

Beginners on a budget will certainly find these guitars to be more than enough for their needs in terms of comfort, playability, reliability and sound. These inexpensive acoustic guitar models are far from being considered cheap! If your spending limit is $100, cut your shopping time by choosing from these affordable acoustics.

Our Top Picks for the Best Acoustic Guitar under $100

ImageGuitarSummaryPrice Check
Jasmine S35Jasmine S35 Acoustic GuitarGetting started with playing guitar doesn’t have to be an expensive affair with the Jasmine S35. This budget dreadnought features a laminate spruce top, agathis back and sides, a nato neck and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. It has a balanced tone and an overall great sound for its price. The Jasmine S35 is highly recommended for beginners on a budget.
Jasmine S34CJasmine S34C Acoustic GuitarAnother quality entry-level acoustic from Jasmine is the S34C, a grand orchestra-style guitar with a cutaway. This guitar has a select spruce top, sapele back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge as well as a nato neck. For a budget of $100, you get a well-built guitar that’s easy to play and sounds like a more expensive instrument.
Maestro by GibsonMaestro by GibsonThe Maestro by Gibson Innovations is available either as a dreadnought or a parlor-size guitar. For this list we’ve chosen the full-size dreadnought, which offers incredible value especially for beginners on a tight budget. An impressive instrument for the price, this warm-sounding guitar features a laminated spruce top, laminated kauri back and sides, a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard.
Rogue RA 090Rogue RA-090 Acoustic GuitarAnother top pick for the best cheap acoustic guitar is the Rogue RA-090. This low-cost but mighty dreadnought produces a balanced tone with lots of projection. It has a spruce top and whitewood body, which offers plenty of punch in the midrange. For less than $100, you get a reliable starter guitar that can get you playing in no time.
Lauren LA125Lauren LA125 Acoustic GuitarOur last top pick for the best cheap acoustic guitar under $100 is the Lauren LA125. This dreadnought has an exceptionally good tone for the price. It has great playability as well, with string action just the right low height for fingers just learning to play. The Lauren LA125 has an agathis body with a nice and smooth satin finish.

Jasmine S35

First-time guitar players can find it difficult to find an acoustic guitar that’s both affordable and sounds good. It’s really hard to expect much from a cheap acoustic guitar after all. Many budget guitars turn out to be awful instruments because they not only sound tinny but are also hard to play. The Jasmine S35 is an exception because it does not have the negative qualities commonly associated with cheap guitars.

The Jasmine S35 has a vibrant, clear-sounding laminate spruce top with an advanced X-bracing system that features a forward-shifted bracing pattern. The bracing produces a more lively and more open sound and makes the top more sturdy. The bracing, along with the dreadnought body style, gives the guitar a big and full sound.

The sides and back are made from agathis. The slim-profile nato neck is topped with a smooth rosewood fingerboard that has pearloid dot position inlays. The bridge is also made from rosewood while the nut and compensated saddle are made from synthetic bone. The guitar also has chrome-plated tuners that are easy to adjust and keep the strings in tune well. The smooth satin finish lets the wood resonate naturally, letting the sound shine through.

  • Great sound for the price
  • Easy to play and has a good feel
  • Recommended for practicing and traveling
  • Intonation issues
  • Initial setup necessary

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Jasmine S34C

Jasmine really knows how to make good budget guitars that won’t let you down. The Jasmine S34C is another prime example that shows you don’t have to spend a fortune on a quality acoustic for beginners. This guitar shares many similar features with the S35 but there are also notable differences.

The Jasmine S35 is a dreadnought-style guitar while the S34C has a grand orchestra body style. The latter also has a Venetian-style cutaway for easy upper-fret access. Like the S35, the Jasmine S34C also has a select spruce top with X-bracing, nato neck and rosewood fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays.

However, in the S34C the back and sides are made of sapele, not the agathis used in the S35. Sapele is often compared to mahogany because it is similar in tone and appearance. Sapele produces a brighter sound and is a bit darker than mahogany. Spruce also creates a bright sound, which means the Jasmine S34C has a clear, sweet and bright tone.

Like the S35, the Jasmine S34C has a slim neck profile, making the guitar easy and comfortable to play. Beginners will surely love the guitar’s playability, smooth fretboard, impressive sound and overall quality.

  • Superb workmanship for a budget acoustic
  • Resonant and responsive
  • Good tuning stability
  • Not the best factory-installed strings
  • String action too high for some players

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Maestro by Gibson

This value-packed acoustic guitar is made by Gibson Innovations, the consumer electronics division of Gibson Guitars. The design of this acoustic is based on traditional Gibson Guitar designs so you can be certain it wasn’t made on the fly using the Gibson brand.

The Maestro dreadnought features a laminated spruce top. For the back and sides, Gibson used kauri wood. Kauri belongs to the genus Agathis (Kauri is the Maori name for the Agathis australis tree). This tonewood produces a clear and warm sound with good note separation and sustain. With its full-size dreadnought shape, this guitar delivers a big sound that can compete with guitars on a higher price range.

This acoustic guitar also has a sturdy maple neck and a smooth, fast-playing rosewood fingerboard. The fingerboard features ivoroid dot position markers. The ivoroid markers complement the body’s white binding and gloss finish. The Maestro holds its tuning well, thanks to quality die-cast tuners.

The Gibson Maestro is available bundled up with a guitar strap, an extra set of strings, guitar picks and an instructional DVD – just what first-time guitar players need to get started!

  • Good tuning stability
  • Affordable guitar package with accessories
  • Easy to play
  • Factory-installed strings not that good
  • Not recommended for recording, performance or professional work

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Rogue RA 090

Many people stay away from cheap guitars because they doubt the quality. It’s understandable because there are guitars at rock-bottom prices that can hardly be called decent. The Rogue RA-090 is not one of those guitars.

The top, back and sides of this guitar are made of laminated whitewood while the neck is made of solid maple and topped with a painted maple fingerboard. Its dreadnought body produces a lot of projection and a well-balanced sound. The nato neck adds to the instrument’s robustness and sustain. The whitewood body generates plenty of punch in the midrange, while the painted maple fingerboard and bridge enhance the guitar’s clarity of tone.

Covered tuners contribute to tuning stability, but it is recommended to change the strings for a richer sound.

The Rogue RA-090 sounds good for an introductory guitar, but is it easy to play? You bet. It has an grip-friendly C-shape neck and a slim nut width to make it easier for beginners and young guitar players to form chord shapes across the frets.

Obviously, though it sits at the lower end of the price scale, the RA-090 from Rogue offers quality features that won’t make you regret purchasing it.

  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Looks like a more expensive guitar
  • Great as a starter and beater guitar
  • Has only one guitar strap button
  • Factory-installed strings not good

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Lauren LA125

Some guitar brands are not as popular as others, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make quality guitars you’ll be proud to have. Take the Lauren LA125 for example. It won’t usually come up in lists of popular beginner guitars, but this is a real gem that even intermediate and advanced players can add to their arsenal of acoustics. This guitar is for everyone, from first-time players to those wanting to have an inexpensive guitar with them when they travel.

This guitar has a body that is constructed from agathis, which is similar to mahogany in terms of appearance and sound but is less expensive. It has a good resonance, and coupled with the dreadnought body style, the Lauren LA125 produces a substantial volume that’s awesome to have in a low-cost guitar.

The neck and fretboard are made of maple, which also contributes to a bright and zesty tone as well as a good sustain. The Lauren LA125 also has chrome plank-style tuning machines, nickel/silver frets and black body binding. The guitar has been given a nice satin finish. It may look like a student guitar, but it certainly sounds a lot more than just that.

  • Great sound quality
  • Good construction
  • Plays well with a low action
  • Slight fret buzz
  • Intonation issues require professional setup

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The Best Cheap Guitar under $100 Buying Guide

Can you get a good acoustic guitar for under $100? As our list shows, yes!

Aspiring guitar players would often find it a challenge to find a good guitar at a price that won’t break the bank. Investing in an expensive instrument may not be feasible at this point – after all, you’re just starting out and you’re not keen on spending hundreds of dollars on a guitar just yet. Besides, it may be financially impossible anyway.

At the same time, you don’t really want a guitar that sounds terrible and will give you a hard time playing. The quickest way to make someone lose interest in playing the guitar is to give them an instrument that feels and sounds like random bits of wood glued together.

Fortunately, there are acoustic guitars that offer a fantastic combination of affordability, sound quality, playability and build quality. The guitars we’ve listed above show that pocket-friendly can also mean play-worthy. So yes, it’s definitely a yay for cheap acoustic guitars – well, the ones on this list anyway. These guitars are cheap, but we only mean that in terms of price, and not of quality.

3 Top Tips for New Guitar Owners

Cheap but quality acoustic guitars under $100 can get you started playing right away. However, as a guitar owner, you also need to make sure your investment – no matter how small – is worth it. Your guitar may not look or sound like a high-end Taylor or Martin guitar but there are improvements you can do to your guitar to make it sound and play better as well as last longer.

Get a guitar case.
Some beginner acoustic guitar packages include a soft gig bag while some don’t. If your guitar doesn’t come with a case, it would be a good idea to buy one. A case will not only protect your instrument from nicks, dents and scratches but also offer an easy way to carry your guitar.

If you live in a place that experiences constant changes in humidity and temperature, you might want to go the extra mile and purchase a hardshell case for your guitar, which provides a controlled environment provided you also get some humidifiers (when the air is too dry) and dehumidifiers (when there’s a lot of moisture in the air).

Being exposed to changes in humidity and temperature can do damage on your guitar, so protect it with a good case. Make sure your guitar fits nice and snug so it doesn’t get jostled around in its case.

Give it a new set of strings.
Factory-installed strings on production guitars can be a hit and miss. Some strings are new and sound sweet when played while others are rusty and make the guitar sound dull. If your guitar comes with strings that look discolored and/or are hard to play, it’s recommended to replace the strings with a new set.

There are many kinds of guitar strings you can choose from depending on gauge and coating. For steel-string acoustic guitars, it’s often recommended to use light gauge strings if you’re a beginner because you won’t have to press down on the fretboard as hard when you’re forming chords. They’re also easier on the guitar because there is less tension on the neck. Try different strings and see which kind works for you.

Replace plastic parts.
Budget acoustic guitars usually have parts that are made of plastic. While plastic as a material works well, you can make your guitar sound better when you upgrade plastic components to bone or graphite. Many musicians have found that swapping out plastic parts for bone (or synthetic bone) results in a better acoustic tone with more sustain and clarity.

For beginners, it’s worth taking your instrument to a guitar tech for a professional setup to make sure your guitar plays and sounds the best it can. You may have to spend on a new set of strings, replacement parts and labor, but the expense will be worth it when you receive your guitar and it sounds more like a high-end instrument than a $100 guitar.