Finding quality acoustic guitars can be tricky. There are a lot of great ones out there and a lot of junky ones too.
Finding the best acoustic guitar for under $300 isn’t impossible if you know where to look.
There are a few choices I’ve recommended to my students over the past 10 years, and one of the most popular ones is the Alvarez Artist Series AF30.
This folk guitar has some great features for an affordable price which I’ll go into detail on in this article.
Let’s dig into this Alvarez Artist Series AF30 review and see why it may be the best acoustic guitar under $300 for you.
Alvarez Artist Series AF30 Folk Guitar
This guitar by Alvarez Guitars is a folk style guitar. It has the standard shape you’d expect from a standard guitar only a little smaller. This folk style makes it easier for most people to play.
As an acoustic folk guitar, it’s focused on creating the best natural sound possible for the price without any electronic pickup or tuners.
Alvarez has a long-standing tradition of creating quality guitars for every level. The AF30 specifically fills the need of the entry-level guitar.
Unlike other entry-level guitars, Alvarez doesn’t sacrifice quality to get a lower price. They pack in their design and materials where possible to create this guitar.
With the excellent reputation Alvarez has built, you can rest easy knowing that looking at their guitar is a good place to start when looking for the best affordable acoustic guitar.
But do the specifications and design elements actually make a great guitar? Let’s take a look.
What We Liked:
- Rich, deep sound
- Great volume potential
- Slightly smaller than average making it really easy to play
- Really affordable price
- Nice clarity of sound
- Low action for easy playability
What We Disliked:
- Neck may bend more easily under pressure if you’re not careful
- Materials are more vulnerable to changes in humidity
In this section, we break down the key features of the Alvarez AF30 guitar and explain how they impact the guitar’s sound. Check out the specifications section below for a quick breakdown on the guitar.
Solid Sitka Spruce Top
Stika spruce is the wood of choice for affordable acoustic guitar tops. The material is affordable, but it still provides a good sound when compared to other wood materials for guitar tops such as simple spruce and composite wood.
Most people, myself included, describe the sounds from a solid Sitka spruce top as clear, bright, and strong.
Mahogany Back And Sides
To contrast the Sitka spruce top, Alvarez chose to make the body of the guitar out of mahogany. This is the wood of choice for many upper levels guitars, so it’s nice to see it on an acoustic guitar for under $300.
Mahogany is tough and looks great. But most importantly, mahogany provides a richer sound in the middle and low ranges of the guitar making it sound more full overall.
The mahogany for the neck doesn’t provide as much benefit to the sound, but it matches the back and sides of the guitar in look making it seem like a much more complete guitar.
Mahogany is a tough wood a common choice for necks.
Rosewood for the fingerboard is a common feature on all acoustic guitars. The wood is very durable and looks great.
You need that durability in the fingerboard because that’s where your fingers and strings will be touching all of the time. Sweat and contact can wear down lesser materials, so Alvarez’s decision to make it out of rosewood is a great one.
Bone Nut And Saddle
At the lower price ranges for acoustic guitars, the nut and saddles are often made of plastic. The downside to this is that they are extremely prone to chipping and cracking.
Real bone has been one of the standards for a long time, but it’s more expensive. You can tell Alvarez really cares about making a durable folk guitar when they include this in their design.
Premium Chrome Tuners
Tuners are an area that many people forget about when it comes to picking a guitar. Everyone pays attention to the woods, but they just assume that the tuners will work correctly.
This is not the case.
A poor quality tuner won’t keep the guitar in tune for long and you’ll be constantly returning the guitar (sometimes in the middle of a set).
Fortunately, Alvarez knew this and chose their premium chrome tuner for optimal tuning and durability. I’ve known people who play casually to tune this guitar once, and it stays in tune for a month.
Premium PE High Gloss Finish
Wood is a sensitive and fickle material. It produces great sound but it’s really vulnerable to sweat, grime, and moisture.
Alvarez attempts to give the AF30 some more protection by finishing the material with their Premium PE High Gloss.
This works well on protecting the guitar from sweat although you still want to watch the air humidity.
Specifications For The Alvarez Artist Series AF30
Look at this table below for a quick look at all the specs for the guitar.
|Feature||AF 30 Specification|
|Top Material||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Back and Sides||Mahogany|
|Bracing||FST1 – Hand finished|
|Inlay||Green abalone and mother of pearl|
|Headstock plate||2 mm rosewood|
|Nut and saddle||Real bone|
|Tuners||Chrome, Premium die cast|
|Finish||Premium PE high gloss|
What Customers Are Saying
Looking at what others had to say about the product, we noticed some common ideas.
Many customers thought that the sound of the guitar was comparable to that of other acoustics that normally sell for around $1,000.
The AF30 was very easy to play because of its slightly smaller folk size and the good, low action design. It also stayed in tune very well over time and playing.
The guitar looks great which was important to many of the customers.
A few of the customers complained that over time the neck started to warp. This may be from the customers not using dehumidifiers in their cases or storing the guitar properly, or it may a manufacturer problem.
Many people were impressed by the strength and depth of sound from the smaller, affordable guitar.
Take a listen to the guitar’s sound and decide for yourself.
The Alvarez Artist Series AF30 review shows that this guitar would be perfect for anyone. It has a great sound, durability, and playability making it one of the best acoustic guitars for under $300.
Specifically, this is a great choice for any beginner or intermediate player that just wants an affordable but solid guitar.
Even advanced players should be pleased with this guitar, especially if you wanted one to travel with and you were afraid of damaging your expensive one on the trip.
Advanced and professional level players may want to go with a guitar that has a bit more quality of sound to it, like the Alvarez AF66. It’s built on the same successful design but a step up on the features. If your budget is under $300, you need to check our article here to see what other options are available at this price range.
Now get out there and start playing!