It once was that when you bought a budget guitar you tended to get what you paid for: an instrument with suboptimal playability and intonation and a small, choked sound. But these days, affordable instruments in general stand up much more favorably to their counterparts with four- or even five-figure price tags.
Here we’ll be looking at some small-bodied guitars—instruments that our reviewers have scrutinized for your benefit, all priced at well under a grand.
While larger guitars like dreadnoughts are preferred for their powerful sounds, especially in the bluegrass realm, more compact models offer advantages. They can be great for players with smaller hands, are sometimes more sonically balanced than bigger guitars, and can double as travel instruments.
From $499 street, Taylor’s GS Mini—a scaled-down offering in terms of size and price—is a perennial favorite. Our reviewer found the guitar to be ideal for road warriors and couch potatoes alike.
Ornate decorations were once reserved for the most costly instruments, but if you’re looking for an affordable guitar with a bit of bling, Washburn’s Bella Tono Elegante S24S ($469–$499) and D’Angelico’s Premier Tammany LS acoustic-electric ($299) are definitely worth checking out.
More spartan in appearance, Recording King’s Dirty 30s Deluxe Single 0 ($349) has a cool old-school vibe and offers lots of bang for the buck. Like many of the other guitars featured here, it’s gig-ready with its onboard electronics.
For just a little more dough, at $599 street, Breedlove’s Organic Signature Concert Copper CE gets you an all-solid guitar made with sustainable harvested tonewoods, a soft cutaway, and built-in electronics.
If you’re looking for something that’s different and fun, then the new Gretsch G9520E Gin Rickey ($249) might be just the ticket. This acoustic-electric comes complete with a magnetic DeArmond style pickup and is, to quote our reviewer, a “blues monster.” What’s not to like about that?