So, I used to play acoustic guitar quite a bit until I outgrew my 3/4-size toy model, then I would just borrow guitars whenever I needed to play for whatever reason (of course I am not talking professional gigs whatsoever--just church stuff, hanging out with friends, etc).
I have been focusing most of my adult life on playing piano professionally, teaching, etc, so that is where my instrument-purchasing knowledge is (pianos).
I have had chances to play guitar more frequently lately, and I have been inspired to put more serious time into the instrument like the old days. Where piano is a serious instrument for me, it would be nice to have a hobby instrument, and guitar would be it.
The problem is that my own guitar is still that 3/4-size toy in my closet, and the only guitar to borrow is my mother-in-law's rickety old thing she used to play for elementary school music 20 years ago. I plan on borrowing her guitar again in the meantime, but...
I would like to purchase a new guitar for myself.
I would love to be able to spend $3000 on a nice acoustic guitar, but I can't. So I have to settle for a cheap one: I am hoping in the under-$500 range. If I find it to be impossible to find something nice in that price range, then I will just put it off until some day in the future.
Anyway, so how do I shop for a nice sub-$500 guitar? My friend who just bought a $200 guitar has been trying to give me advice, but she is a total beginner whereas I have playing off and on for 25 years...so while her advice is appreciated, she can't really offer me much other than "I got a super awesome guitar for $200! You should get the one I have!"
Anyway, my main concern is that the cheap guitar is in tune with itself...can guitars that cheap be tuned? I am not talking about just tuning the strings, I am talking about where a tech services the thing and does whatever-it-is-called so that it is in tune with itself. (Is there a correct term for this?) My toy in the closet was never in tune with itself--the strings would be in tune perfectly, but it was still not in tune with itself, so I am extremely sensitive to this, of course.
I am just going to be playing so-so often when I can; not classical playing (I wish), and nothing fancy--just to entertain myself, my kid, and maybe jam with some friends like I used to in the old, old days.
I know there are some very serious guitar people on FOO, so any suggestions? I hit up Google, but you know how that goes...it seems like all theory and no reality. When sites talk about "inexpensive models" costing "around $3000" then I know it's time to FOOgle, instead.
Thanks in advance....
In return, if anyone wants piano, violin, or slide-whistle buying advice, let me know.