So, how much are acoustic guitars? This is something that it can be very helpful to know when first looking to buy an acoustic guitar. Is that $20 guitar a cheap pile of wood, or an averagely priced acoustic guitar?
The first thing you should know, is that how expensive a guitar is depends on your budget. There is, in fact an entire range of prices of guitars- from $30 budget guitars to $600 top end models. Even if you’re just starting out, I honestly wouldn’t recommend going as low as $20!
For the complete beginner, there are a number of guitar sets that will come with the basic accessories that you’ll want to start out with (picks, case, tuner, strap etc.).
Then, there are more high end guitar models, and these will usually start at around $80 and go up from there. To a certain extent, you do get what you pay for, so avoid the really low priced guitars that are sold in generic (i.e. non-guitar or non-music) stores.
Price Range for Beginner Acoustics
The best thing for starting out would be if you can find a “starter set”, which generally start at around $40. I really wouldn’t recommend going much lower that this, if you want something of any quality at all.
As I mentioned, acoustic guitar starter sets will provide you with most of the things you need to get going.
Just watch out that you don’t go spending a few hundred dollars on one of these, only to find that you’re not really that into guitar anyways!
What are you paying for?
Well, if just want a cheap, acoustic guitar beginner’s kit, not much- just the basics (which is why it’s important not to pay over-the-top prices for them). These starter kits are also great for teaching yourself, as they provide almost everything you may need.
However, if you’re looking at something a little more advanced, there are a few important factors that will affect how much acoustic guitars are.
Tonewoods affect the price of the guitar by quite a bit. This is especially true for rarer or more “choice” woods (believed to create a better tone).
These woods really can make a difference- even when the guitar is otherwise the same. This is because the sound of the guitar is produced, not only by the strings, but by the wood resonating also.
This is especially true with laminated woods, that are comprised of several layers of wood, put together. This type of wood doesn’t resonate so well, but it is generally better at staying consistent due to temperature or atmospheric changes- which can seriously affect the tuning stability of some guitars.
Also, the wood used for the soundboard or “top” usually affects the tone most. This is the piece of wood on the front of the guitar, with the soundhole in. The soundboard is the main part that resonates (hence the term “soundboard”) because it’s what is directly attached to the strings via the bridge.
These are the things such as the machine heads, bridge and nut etc. (see parts of the guitar). While they can add a significant amount to the price of an acoustic guitar, they don’t affect the tone as much as the wood.
Tuning pegs are an important thing to look out for! They shouldn’t be too tight because this makes the guitar more difficult to tune, but they also shouldn’t be too loose- because this will cause the guitar to slip out of tune too easily.
Chrome machine heads look great- but don’t affect the tone. Similarly, the material used for the fretboard or bridge rarely makes a significant difference to the sound of the guitar (as contrary to what some believe, the strings touch the frets, not the wood of the fretboard). Of course, these things do affect the look of the guitar, so they are not unimportant.
The final bit of hardware that may affect the price is whether or not the guitar is fitted with electronics. Electro-acoustic guitars enable you to play through an amp, which is great news if you want to play louder. However, this can add to the price- so choose wisely!
Aside from the obvious build quality issue (checking for rough joints etc- as with any other wooden product that you might buy), a badly made acoustic guitar will suffer when it comes to intonation, and staying in tune.
You see, acoustic guitars are made to specific ratios- all the lengths of each part have to be in certain proportions (which is why a skilled luthier is a valuable person to know). If the guitar has been poorly constructed, or sometimes just cheaply machine made, these ratios can be off. It literally only takes a few millimetres of error and the guitar wont ever be tunable.
The quality of manufacture will also affect the action of the guitar. This is the distance between the strings and the fretboard, and- if it’s too far- can make the guitar much more difficult to play. A well made guitar usually has a lower action, without being too low as to hit against the frets when you play it.
Just how much are acoustic guitars?
In conclusion, how much are acoustic guitars? As I stated at the start of this article, you can find acoustic guitars ranging from $30 to $1000, but what really matters is how well the instrument is made and the materials used.
Don’t make mistake of paying more just for a well known brand- if you do this blindly, you may just be paying for the brand label! As a rough guide, you should be able to find a beginner acoustic guitar set for $30 to $80, or a great guitar for anything up to $600.