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Here are few suggestions. Let me also say to never go with a cheap, low-end guitar. You want to buy something decent so that if you continue to play guitar, you won't wind up buying guitar after guitar after guitar trying to buy the best inexpensive guitar you can find soon afterward (my mistake).

I play my Epiphone Les Paul Standard more so than I did my Fender Gemini II (a discontinued model from the 1980s) that I had that was starting to get really worn out beyond inexpensive repair (the neck was also starting to warp so the action was getting terrible), and I started looking around for a cheap replacement. I went with a Ibanez PF, but here are the guitars you should try to hunt down and check out.

  • Ibanez PF6: The price tag on mine was $200 (I paid $100 for mine because I offered my old Gemini II as a trade), good tone, decent action, good quality. For the price, I can't beat mine. It doesn't offer so much of a high clear tone as it does a deep, rich tone.
  • Fender Malibu: Fender no longer makes horrible acoustic models. An acoustic-electric Malibu CE model will run about $249 from Musicians Friend. I've played a few at a local guitar shop. It offers nice tone that moves to the opposite end of the spectrum versus my Ibanez.
  • Epiphone Hummingbird Artist Limited Edition: I originally set out to buy an Epiphone Hummingbird when I was looking to replace my Gemini II. The Hummingbird, however, was $349 at the time, so it was just a few bucks out of my price range. Epiphone recently released a $249 version that has a few of the more expensive features of the standard Hummingbird deleted for a cheaper price (detailing mostly, like the pickguard inlay). This guitar offers a tone that is a little more neutral than the other two, not as deep and "bassy" as the Ibanez and not as high and "trebley" as the Fender.

I would also suggest you check out a few Alvarez guitars as well.

If you spend about $250, you can buy a good guitar with a sold top, back, and sides. Anything around $150 bucks isn't of the best quality you can buy on the entry-level end of the spectrum.

Avoid names like Johnson, Cort, etc. Nothing but junk.

If you don't mind to buy used, buy a Sigma acoustic guitar. These are made by C.F. Martin guitars and offer the same, traditional, amazing tone of a Martin at a lot less money. You can score one at a flea market or pawn shop around $250.

Edited by whiteknight
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Thanks a lot WN. How are Seagulls and Fenders?

Fender makes decent acoustic guitars and they've really come a long way in terms of tone and construction. Like I said earlier, the Malibu is a great, inexpensive Fender acoustic that I would recommend.

However, Fender has always primarily been about electric guitars from the very beginning. After all, they made the first mass-produced solidbody electric guitar ever (Fender Telecaster) and they make the most recognized, most imitated electric guitar ever (the Stratocaster). Fender only started making acoustic guitars during the 60s when CBS (yep, that CBS) bought them out and took over. So the downside here is that Fender doesn't have the utmost experience in building acoustic guitars that, say, Epiphone (which is really Gibson) does.

I have never played a Seagull, but it sounds like a name I would personally avoid.

Edited by whiteknight
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Looking over the specs, a Seagull actually doesn't seem too bad. North American-made, solid wood construction, cherry back and sides, cedar top ... I'd have to have some fret time to know if it would be a guitar I would recommend to anyone, but it looks really nice on paper for that price.

Edited by whiteknight
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Yes it is a Canadian company. Which ones from the ones you mentioned above are NA made?

None of them.

I think the cheapest U.S. made dreadnought acoustic guitar is the Martin DX1. Musician's Buy is selling them for $499. They do have a decent tone, but I'm not fond of a guitar with pressed laminate sides and back. The top is solid spruce, though, but still. By any other brand, this guitar would substantially less.

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One more thing I noticed is that the left handed guitars are more expensive than the right handed ones. Good to be shafted for not being part of the herd.

I am going to go to a local store and try the Seagull and also try the other ones.

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