What exactly can you get for under £500?
With the amount of guitar makers out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re looking to step up to a gig-worthy instrument. Renowned brands like Gibson and Martin tend to dominate the acoustic market, so understandably many players would naturally settle for nothing less; but at a more affordable price point there are some serious contenders you may not have even heard of. It’s definitely worth going out there and trying as much as you can, so here, VGB's James has put together a short guide of acoustic guitars under £500 worth your time.
Fender Ron Emory Slope Shoulder DreadnoughtIn recent years Fender have honoured a select number of punk icons with signature acoustic guitars. Notable mentions go to Matt Skiba’s Malibu and Tim Armstrong’s popular Hellcat models, but I think the Ron Emory Loyalty deserves a little more illumination. Emory took inspiration from one of Fenders earliest acoustic instruments, the Palomino. You can see how the Loyalty harkens back to this forgotten guitar, and the era in which it originated. It oozes Americana with a vintage style pickguard, bridge and logo, and the ornate Sailor Jerry style 12th fret inlay. The guitar is kept beautifully trim with herringbone binding to compliment the instruments curves.
The Loyalty feels like a quality instrument, it’s a comfortable size with a lovely slim neck and feels responsive and resonant. A combination of Spruce and Mahogany (or Ash in the Butterscotch Blonde option) offer a balanced response. Clear highs, pronounced mids and subtle lows make the Loyalty a great fingerstyle player. The guitar also features Fishman electronics, some of the best in the business, that will project chords across any stage you take it to.
Seagull S6 Original (Electro acoustic)
Seagull are a relatively new brand on the market, under the Godin umbrella they continue the Godin ethos of high quality instruments being constructed by a dedicated team of Canadian luthiers. Seagull instruments are designed with very some very smart features that help make them fantastically performing guitars.
The S6 Original is a perfect example of Seagull’s ability to merge cutting edge innovation with exceptional value. The S6 has a solid Cedar top, which produces a subtly warmer tone than Spruce, along with very eye catching cuts of Wild Cherry back and sides to tighten up the bottom end. The S6 doesn’t have the most pronounced bass response, but is ideal for delicate folk patterns. The slim, flat neck and wide nut also place the guitar firmly in this style. The Seagull is a great option for the player who predominantly sticks to electric guitars looking to step further into the acoustic world. The tapered headstock design also has a very important purpose. You’ll notice straight string pull over the nut, which help maintain tuning stability and relieve string tension behind the nut.
It’s definitely worth taking a look at the S6 when you get the chance, you’ll find in your hands a lovingly crafted piece of quality Canadian ingenuity that feels like a solid, high end instrument.
Faith Naked Neptune (Electro acoustic)
Patrick James Eggle is one of the countries finest luthiers. But of course, not everybody can afford master grade instruments created by such legends in the bespoke guitar industry. Enter Faith guitars. Founded in 2002 by a small collective of guitar experts led by Eggle, Faith’s mission statement was to produce high quality instruments of the finest cuts of 100% solid wood at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent spec American or luthier made instrument. Eggle and his team set up a family run workshop in Indonesia for production of Faith instruments, teaching the local workforce to become skilled makers, which boosted local economy, created jobs, and brought the cost of manufacture down to a level that wasn’t so far out of reach.
The Naked series is Faith’s entry-level series; that being said they are far from entry-level guitars. The idea behind these guitars is that all embellishments have been stripped away, leaving a bare bones guitar that has all the core features of what a quality instrument should have at the most affordable price point possible. Instead of intricate trimming and high gloss finish you get solid wood throughout, and a natural satin finish that feels smooth and responsive to the touch. The Naked series are available in a number of body shapes including the Parlour-esque Mercury; Concert sized Venus and the Baby Jumbo Neptune. In this instance we’ll focus on the latter of the three.
The Naked Neptune has an attractive minimalist look; opting for an elegantly rustic, natural finish. It feels great in the hand; a slim, rounded neck profile lends itself to forming chord shapes that punch the air in the room. You can really feel it in your ribcage when you play this guitar, the solid wood allows for better energy transfer throughout the instrument, resulting in more resonance and a fuller sound than laminate counterparts. The Neptune has a wonderfully deep bass response, and a clear definition that doesn’t muddy up when you really go for it; perfect for the big strummers out there. It’s hard to fault the Neptune; it easily stands up to guitars in and above its own price bracket, this guitar would be the perfect companion to someone looking for an instrument to record and play shows with on a budget.
Vintage acoustic guitars under £500
If vintage is more your thing, we currently have a great selection of Harmony Stella parlours. These charming little flat-tops poured out of the Chicago factories in their thousands throughout the mid 20th century and were the mainstay of many a street-corner bluesman and star-struck teenager alike. Despite their simple design and rudimentary construction, they can be quite addictive bluesy finger pickers, songwriting guitars, or just cool couch guitars, and they record very easily.
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About the blogger - James Stitt
Originally from the North West, James is a musician with over 12 years of playing experience on a number of instruments, he also holds a bachelors degree in guitar making. A keen player and pedal collector, James also acts as guitar tech to VGB.