By Adam Perlmutter
It used to be that when you bought a budget guitar, you tended to get what you paid for: an instrument with suboptimal playability and intonation and a little muffled sound. But these days, affordable instruments generally hold up much more favorably than their counterparts with four- or even five-figure prices.
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This month here on HERWe’ll be reviewing all sorts of relatively inexpensive gear (guitars, amps, accessories, etc.) that our reviewers have reviewed for your benefit. We’ll start with a few small-body guitars, which have gained renewed interest in recent years, all priced well below a large one.
While larger guitars like dreadnoughts are preferred for their powerful tones, especially in bluegrass, more compact models offer advantages. They can be great for players with small hands, are sometimes more sonically balanced than big guitars, and can also be used as travel instruments.
Starting at street $499, Taylor’s GS Mini—a cut-down offering in size and price—is a perennial favorite. Our reviewer found the guitar to be ideal for road warriors and couch potatoes.
Ornate embellishments were once reserved for the more expensive 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 a look.
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More spartan in appearance, Recording King’s Dirty 30s Deluxe Single 0 ($349) has a cool, old-school vibe and offers a lot for the money. Like many of the other guitars featured here, it’s gig-ready with built-in electronics.
For a little more dough, at $599 street, Breedlove’s Organic Signature Concert Copper CE gives you an all-solid guitar crafted with sustainably harvested tonewoods, smooth cutaways, and integrated electronics.
If you’re looking for something different and fun, then the new Gretsch G9520E Gin Rickey ($249) might be just the ticket. This electro-acoustic comes with a DeArmond-style magnetic pickup and is, to quote our review, a “blues monster”. What’s not to like about that?