You have decided that you would like to play folk music on guitar. Folk music is one of the oldest styles of music on the guitar and when played it’s a very fulfilling and satisfying experience. If you’re like most people, you’re on a budget of some type so pricing is going to be vital for our purchasing decision.
Don’t worry, we are here to sift through and sort out what are the best folk guitars for under $500.
Best Folk Guitars
This guide contains a selection of the best folk guitars for under 500 dollars that are available. There are many to choose from but we will break it down by selecting our top choices and discussing the pros and cons of each. Let’s take a look at our top choices for best folk guitars.
Seagull is a Canadian Company and a sub brand of Godin Guitars that has been making quality guitars since 1982. The S6 model is made from cedar wood which creates a nice warm tone while playing folk guitar. As the guitar ages the guitar will sound better with each passing year.
Cedar wood is a softer wood which can cause some surface scratches over time.
The Seagull S6 offers comfortable playability and an easy neck to navigate around. They are also known for having the action already set up which is one less thing you would need to adjust.
From a tonality perspective, Seagull’s offer nice sharp and clear tones if you are playing with a guitar pick or if you fingerpicking it offers a warm sound that is perfect for playing folk music.
The tuning pegs are also of great quality which means these guitars are made to stay in tune.
With such a beautiful sound and at a reasonable price, Seagull makes some of the best folk guitars out there.
- Made in North America
- Will sound better as cedar top ages
- Easy to play featuring a comfortable neck
- Stays in tune
- Perfect for folk playing with a guitar pick or fingerstyle
- High quality at a reasonable price
- Cedar tops are soft which can cause scratches over time
This grand auditorium features a mahogany body with an all spruce top.
This versatile guitar creates an excellent choice for those aspiring folk players. It’s a little smaller than a standard size guitar which also makes it super comfortable to play.
With a nice and bright sound, Orangewood guitars are great for fingerpicking folk style play or if you like your folk mixed with some rock and therefore would want to use a guitar pick.
Setup could vary so the truss rod may need to be adjusted.
Being lightweight it’s able to sustain the desired sound that you are looking for when researching best folk guitars.
The clarity of chord playing will really allow you to hear the tones this guitar has to offer. It also comes with a gig bag that Orangewood is known for including with each guitar purchase.
- Features a bright and full sound
- Quality spruce top
- Comes with a gig bag
- Designed in Los Angeles, California
- Comfortable to play
- Truss rod may need to be adjusted
For those unaware, dreadnought bodies are larger and more broad. With mahogany neck, back, and sides along with a rosewood fingerboard it’s a nice looking guitar.
The guitar has a warm, deep, and full sound while also displaying a crispness that’s ideal for fingerpicking folk style guitar. It’s also a lightweight guitar which makes it easy to play and carry around.
With an open pore finish the more sound is able to resonate.
The tunes do present some slack so at times the tuning and it’s precision can be difficult.
The guitar’s wide neck makes it easy to play chords. You can also remove the pickguard which enhances the overall sound.
Having a high quality build and featuring a very reasonable price, this guitar is good for both beginners and advanced players.
- Features a beautiful natural finish
- Solid mahogany body
- Has a nice full tone and volume
- Comfortable neck for chord playing
- Comes with a removable pickguard
- Reasonably priced
- Action may be high so truss rod adjustment may be needed
- Tuning mechanisms may be stiff
It’s a great guitar that won’t break the bank. It features great playability with a bold musical tone.
The 800 series for Yamaha is meant to be louder and stronger so you can clearly hear the low and mid-ranges.
This series also has a scalloped bracing pattern which allows the guitar durability.
This will also help bring out more of the natural sound of the guitar.
Again, at a price like this, the Yamaha is a great beginner guitar or could work for a high tier intermediate player.
With it’s loud tone, it’s great for folk style music. This way it accents the quiet nature of fingerstyle play. Of course, playing with a pick will provide a nice loud sound.
A Solid Sitka spruce top, rosewood fretboard and bridge, and die-cast tuners makes this very reasonably priced guitar one worth looking into.
- Great for beginners
- Rich and full tone
- Nice construction and design
- Bright and bold sound
- Great for fingerstyle
- Reasonably priced
- Action made need to be adjusted
- Strings may need to be changed
The Fender CD-60SCE is a dreadnought style and is an acoustic-electric.
This cutaway creates easy access to your higher frets. It has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and side. The fingerboard has rolled edges so it makes it easy to play.
This bundle also comes with a hard case, tuner, cable, strap, strings, picks, and DVD. Playing folk on this guitar (as well as other styles) will get you a nice clean and bright sound.
You can also purchase the items in the bundle separately so you do not need to feel obligated to go the route of a bundle.
Bundles are convenient for sure, but you can also survive without them.
With a built-in tuner you will be able to tune up quickly and play for your family, friends, and audiences.
- Rolled edge fretboard for easy playability.
- Bundle includes all you need to get started.
- Good for beginner and intermediate players.
- Built-in tuner.
- Bright and full sound.
- Action may need to be adjusted.
- Pickup may eventually need to be upgraded.
Best Folk Guitars Buyer’s Guide:
We just looked at some of the best folk guitars out there and I’m sure you still might have some questions when it comes to moving forward with a purchase.
It’s important to do your research before deciding on anything. Let’s now take a look at some other important questions that are common.
Do you need an acoustic guitar to play folk music?
That’s a common question. Folk music isn’t limited to just the acoustic guitar.
There is folk rock and you will see bands plug in and use electric guitars. However, for the intimate and more traditional style of folk that utilizes fingerpicking then you would want an acoustic guitar.
What is a folk guitar?
Remember that folk is a genre of music. So there isn’t much (if any) difference between a folk and acoustic guitar.
A folk guitar is essentially any guitar that a guitar player chooses to play folk music on. Then if you think about folk music and how it is more acoustic then that is where any acoustic guitar comes into play.
What should you look for in a folk guitar?
From our reviews earlier, there are quite a few qualities to look for when discovering which guitar is best for your folk playing style.
If you focus on fingerstyle and Travis picking then you are going to want to make sure the guitar possesses a nice and bright sound that in time will sound better.
Folk style and fingerpicking creates a quieter atmosphere and overall volume.
The brightness of the guitar will be essential so you can accent your playing and still be heard.
Is type of wood important?
The type of wood that makes the guitar body do have an effect on the overall sound. In particular the type of wood used on the top of the guitar. Let’s look at some of them below:
Spruce – the most common and produces lots of clarity in tone.
Mahogany – another popular option that produces a warm and responsive tone.
Cedar – provides a very balanced and lush tone.
Much of this depends on the tones you are trying to receive. In the beginning of your playing however, I wouldn’t focus too much on the tones as I would focus more on playing and the understanding of the guitar.
Does acoustic guitar body shape matter?
This more pertains to the size if anything. There are dreadnoughts (large and broad body) and grand concerts (smaller and curvier).
In all honesty it depends on how comfortable one feels. I personally have always liked a bigger style as it really gave me the instrument feel however, everyone is different with their preferences.
Is the guitar’s set up important?
Yes it is especially with folk style playing guitar. Remember that the “action” of the guitar is the distance of the strings from the fretboard.
With folk style playing/fingerstyle you are going to rely on precise coordination and hand strength. The safety of the guitar pick will not be there for you.
It’s best to ensure that the action is set up properly and the strings are the appropriate distance to the fretboard to make it easier to play. Your hand and fingers will thank you for this.
It can be a possibility that your guitar comes and it will require some adjustment. To adjust the action on the guitar is easier than you might think. It will just require you locate the truss rod and then use an Allen wrench.
OrangeWood Guitars has a great article on how to adjust your guitar’s truss rod.
You can view that by clicking here: How to Adjust Your Guitars Truss Rod.
What do you not need?
Another good question right here as it’s really what can we do without when looking at folk guitars. Overall appearance for the guitar is important but having all the fancy mother of pearl inlay is not essential.
The electric capability may be desired by some but you don’t have to go that route and you can eventually add a pick up to your acoustic guitar.
The most important thing is the sound and how you feel playing the guitar.
Once you have established those factors then you can eventually figure out the rest.
Best Folk Guitars Conclusion
We reviewed the top five guitars for best folk guitars and looked at their features and examined the qualities.
We also looked at the pros and cons of each of these and hopefully you now feel that you have enough information to make a logical purchase.
There is a lot of factors to think about but to make it simple, I think it would be best to focus on sound and playability. Sound and tone is important especially with fingerpicking and folky style guitar.
Playing folk guitar is super fun and something that you enjoy immensely. Once you find the guitar that best suits your needs, it will be a fun journey so enjoy the ride.