What Is The Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners? – Recommended Instruments To Learn On!

Last Updated: April 04, 2017
Several acoustic guitars in this article had fallen out of production or were no longer widely available, so we replaced them with some newer models, which are all equally beginner-friendly – the slim-bodied Yamaha APX500III Thinline electro-acoustic, the cool nylon-string Ibanez AEG10NII, along with the more traditional Cordoba Protege C1 in the classical section.
Even if you are a complete stranger when it comes to guitars, armed with dedication and the right information, you will be able to find a great instrument that will help you learn and grow into a great player.

Before we begin looking at some of the best on the market today, make sure to check out our list of recommended online acoustic guitar lessons for some good courses to get you started.

Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners:

Image
Acoustic Guitar
Summary
Rating
Seagull S6Seagull S6 OriginalAn excellent steel-string model from Seagull.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Taylor Guitars GS Mini 300Taylor Guitars GS MiniGreat sound for a travel-friendly guitar.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Yamaha FG730SYamaha FG830A very popular model from Yamaha – real affordable quality!
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat 300Fender Tim Armstrong HellcatBig looks, sound and attitude from the Rancid frontman’s signature acoustic.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
BristolBd16Blueridge BD-16A very good price for such an easy playing instrument.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Fender CD60CE Fender CD60CEAn affordable electro-acoustic packed with quality components.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Yamaha APX500III ThinlineYamaha APX500III ThinlineAffordable, attractive and beginner-friendly, this is a real winner from Yamaha.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Luna Safari Supreme 75Luna Safari SupremeGreat attention to detail on this cute travel guitar.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
alvarez ad30 300Alvarez Artist AD30The AD30 has plenty of style for such a good price.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Rogue-RA-090 Review PictureRogue RA-090Big value for money for players on a tight budget.
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5

Seagull S6

Seagull S6

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

The Seagull that began it all! The S6 is a popular steel-string acoustic that’s often touted as one of the best models for learning to play guitar – and we’re inclined to agree. Crafted with quality body woods, it features a solid cedar top with a wild cherry back and produces a dynamic sound with a good mid-range that projects wonderfully. Sitting at the top is a distinctive, tapered headstock, which allows for greater tuning stability, while the hand-finished silver leaf maple neck – with rosewood fretboard – is slightly fatter than other acoustics, and is great for fingerstyle guitarists. While the price tag may seem a little high for a beginners model, it’s a guitar that will keep you playing for years. Check out our full review of this super Seagull.


Taylor Guitars GS Mini

Taylor Guitars GS Mini 300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

As we mention in our full review, the GS Mini is a steel-string masterpiece from Taylor, combining a huge sound into a tiny package. The Mini truly lives up to its name, with a scaled-down Grand Symphony laminated Sapele body, featuring either a solid spruce or mahogany top. There are a smooth Sapele neck, ebony fretboard and 20 frets – a very comfortable neck on which to play. The body and neck enjoy a full varnish, which provides durability, although they are thin enough for the wood to resonate. While the guitar is compact and travel-friendly, the sound retains the warm tone and dynamic range you’d expect from a GS. Well worth trying out, and a perfect guitar for beginners and intermediate players alike.


Yamaha FG830

Seagull S6

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

Yamaha’s FG series has been around for fifty years and remains one of the best-selling acoustic to ever hit the market. So it’s no surprise that we happily recommend the FG830 to beginners looking for an attractive, comfortable and great sounding guitar at a very reasonable price. The guitar features a naturally finished solid spruce top with rosewood back and sides, as well as a nato neck, smooth rosewood fretboard, and 20 frets. For an affordable guitar, the sound is surprisingly high-end, with excellent projection, a rich tone, and good dynamic range. It’s comfortable to hold and very slick to play, while the advanced scalloped bracing enhances the sound quality and adds reinforcement to the soundboard. Be sure to check out our full review of the FG830.


Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat 300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

If you’re looking for something a little different, you may just find it with Fender’s Tim Armstrong Hellcat – reviewed in full here. The signature guitar fuses Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong’s punk core with his acoustic roots and results in an affordable acoustic which oozes attitude. The guitar features a naturally finished solid mahogany top, with scallop bracing, as well as mahogany back and sides. There’s a maple neck with satin-finished rosewood fretboard, decorated with a Hellcat and double-skull inlays, with Tim’s signature adorning the headstock. In short, it looks awesome! And it sounds pretty great too, partly thanks to the Fishman Isys III pickup system with active onboard preamp and tuner, with volume, bass, middle and treble controls. Big tone, big attitude, good price.


Bristol by Blueridge BD16

BristolBd16

Body&Neck:4.3 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

If you’re on a budget and looking for your first guitar, or just something new to practice on, the Bristol BD-16 from Blueridge packs quality sound and feel into a very affordable acoustic. The guitar sports a sturdy mahogany back and neck, with a spruce top – it feels robust, but is light to hold. It’s naturally finished and shows off good craftsmanship, while the slim mahogany neck features a smooth rosewood fretboard, and is fast and fun to play. The mahogany and spruce combine for a bright, full-sounding guitar with excellent projection. For such a good price, the comfort and the playability on offer make the BD-16 a winner for any beginner. Check out the full review of this superb model.


Fender CD60CE

Fender CD60CE

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Electronics:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

If you’re after an affordable steel-string electro-acoustic, the Fender CD-60CE – which we have reviewed in full – is a very good choice. The dreadnought body – which comes finished in natural, black or sunburst – features a laminated mahogany back and sides, with a laminated spruce top, enhanced with scalloped X-bracing. There’s a nato neck, with a rosewood fretboard and 20 easily accessible frets, thanks to the single-cutaway design. It’s built with quality components that are usually found on more expensive models and, as such, give this budget guitar a premium feel. The CD-60CE is voiced by Fishman Isys III electronics and has an array of volume and tone controls, as well as a quality built-in tuner. The dreadnought body provides a deep, crisp sound, with warmth and clarity in equal measure.


Yamaha APX500III Thinline

Yamaha APX500III Thinline

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Another Yamaha entry for our chart, which isn’t surprising as the Japanese brand love the beginners market. And this thinline steel-stringed electro-acoustic has plenty to offer both beginners and experienced players alike. Coming in an array of colors, it features a slim single-cutaway body with a spruce top, while nato is used on the back, sides and neck, and rosewood for the fretboard. The APX500III offers a well-balanced tone with good low end, and is loaded with Yamaha’s System 66 pickup system with an under-saddle piezo pickup. This system is easy to get to grips with, with simple controls and an on-board digital tuner. Check out our full review of the APX500III for all the details of this excellent model.


Luna Guitars Safari Supreme

Luna Safari Supreme 300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

With the Safari Supreme, Luna has managed to create a gorgeous travel guitar that looks and sounds a lot better than the price would suggest. While it’s very compact, it still manages to offer a solid spruce top, which provides good tone. The Safari Supreme also features rosewood back and sides, with a mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, and a full 20 frets. The design and attention to detail are perfect, with pearl ‘moon phase’ inlays on the fretboard, gold-plated tuning machines, and a henna-inspired rosette around the soundhole. Due to its size, it’s naturally quieter and less resonant than some of the others on this list, but it still gives you a good platform on which to practice on the go. Check out our full review of this lovely acoustic.


Alvarez Artist Series AD30

alvarez ad30 300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Although the AD30 is the entry-level model in Alvarez’s renown Artist Series, it still offers a huge voice and superb build at excellent value. With an attractive traditional dreadnought body, the guitar is crafted with a quality solid Sitka spruce top, and mahogany back and sides. With a dovetail joint, the mahogany neck sports a wide profile, and playing on the rosewood fretboard is a joy. As for the sound, the tonewoods – combined with the size and scalloped bracing – give an impressive projection, with a high tonal range. At such an affordable price, this is a valuable selection for any beginner on the quest to discover their style. Make sure to read more about the AD30 in our full review.


(Updated) The Best Cheap Beginner Guitar:

Rogue RA-090-Dreadnaught

Rogue RA090

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.0 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.3 Stars

On a strict budget? Not even sure if the guitar is the right instrument for you? Then the RA-090 from Rogue, with its very inexpensive price tag, will suit you perfectly. It features all the design points you’d expect from a traditional steel-string acoustic guitar, with a nice dreadnought body shape and three finishes to choose from (natural, sunburst, and black). The body is made from whitewood, while the nato neck is home to a painted maple fretboard with 20 frets. Nothing premium about this guitar, but together the woods and build quality provide a decent sound with good projection and clarity, that allows any beginner to start playing with confidence. Make sure to read our full review of the Rogue RA-090.


Top 5 Best Classical Guitars For Beginners:

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Acoustic Guitar
Summary
Rating
Cordoba C5Cordoba C5The C5 sets the bar high for affordable classical guitars.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Yamaha NCX700 300Yamaha NCX700A quality electro-acoustic classical guitar from Yamaha.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Ibanez AEG10NIIIbanez AEG10NIIA stylish electro-acoustic classical guitar with lots to offer beginners.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Yamaha CG172SF 300Yamaha CG172SFAnother fantastic flamenco model with real style.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Cordoba Protege C1Cordoba Protege C1Cordoba’s Protege line impresses with this affordable model, perfect for beginners.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5

Cordoba C5

Cordoba C5

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

As we move onto classical guitars, let’s begin with a beautiful model from Cordoba’s Iberia series. The C5 is a full-sized nylon string guitar, handmade in the traditional Spanish style, and both looks and sounds superb. There’s a solid Canadian cedar top, with laminated mahogany back and sides, finished in a natural high gloss. The neck is crafted from mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard and is thin and comfortable – a joy to play. The C5 – as we highlight in our full review – offers very good projection, thanks to the tonewoods and the fan bracing, and a warm, well-rounded tone that lends itself well to everything from classical music to jazz. This Portuguese-made jewel comes at a very affordable price and offers exceptional sound to beginners and advanced players alike.


Yamaha NTX700

Yamaha NCX700 300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

If you’re looking for a classical guitar that packs some punch, you’ll be wise to check out our full review of this excellent NTX700 from Yamaha. The slim body, with a naturally finished solid spruce top and nato back and sides, looks beautiful while the single-cutaway design allows ample access to all 22 frets of the rosewood fretboard. The slim nato neck almost feels like a steel-string guitar to play – very fast and comfortable. This electro-acoustic model is stage-ready and features Yamaha’s ART pickup system, with good volume and tone controls for lots of versatility, whatever your style. Acoustically it is warm and resonant, even with its reduced size, while playing through pickups it sounds fantastic – especially when combined with an acoustic amplifier from this list.


Ibanez AEG10NII

Ibanez AEG10NII

Features:4.8 Stars
Controls:4.6 Stars
Performance:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

While the slimline body and the black color-scheme of this Ibanez doesn’t exactly scream ‘tradition’, this model certainly has plenty to offer the beginner guitarist – as we highlight in our full review of the AEG10NII. The classical guitar features a thin body making it comfortable to hold, while a deep cutaway allows easy playing of the highest frets. The satin-finished mahogany neck is also an excellent feature and a joy to play. The tonewoods are very good too, with a spruce top, and mahogany back and sides that make for a well-balanced sound. This is an electro-acoustic classical guitar, and therefore features electronics – Ibanez’s versatile AEQ-SP1 preamp, with a Fishman Sonicore pickup, solid controls, and a handy built-in tuner. Very good.


Yamaha CG127SF

Yamaha CG172SF 300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Another awesome flamenco guitar to add to the list, this time from Yamaha – the kings of quality on a budget. This excellent CG127SF – reviewed in full here – provides the flamenco-style look and tones on offer from more expensive models at an affordable price, that would suit any beginner. It’s sleek and stylish, with a solid European spruce top accompanied by a cypress back and sides. It also features a very playable nato neck – which is slightly wider than usual – and a rosewood fretboard. The body also sports transparent flamenco scratch plates to protect the wood, which is a nice touch. It sounds bright and resonant, with natural flamenco tones, although would work well with many other styles.


Cordoba Protege C1

Cordoba Protege C1

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

This impressive full-sized C1 from Cordoba’s wallet-friendly Protege line combines great style, sound and value, and proves a solid choice for any beginner. With a traditional non-cutaway body shape, the top is made from laminated spruce with fan bracing, with the back and sides crafted from mahogany, all featuring a high-gloss polyurethane finish. There is also a mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets. In all it’s a very playable guitar and, even though it comes from Cordoba’s Chinese workshop, it shows off good craftsmanship. As we mention in our full review of the Protege C1, the sound is more than suitable for any beginner – well-balanced and articulate, with ample projection.


The Right Approach!

While it’s hard to resist jumping straight in and buying the first acoustic guitar you see, it’s crucial to think long-term when making your choice.

As a beginner, you will want something that first and foremost feels comfortable and fun to play, sounds good and will hold its tuning reasonably well. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive guitar, although you will find significant differences between a guitar in the $100 region and one nearer $400.

Unless you aren’t sure that playing guitar is for you, don’t make a short term investment with your first purchase – take into consideration the fact that a quality beginner guitar can grow with you as you become more experienced. The majority of guitars we’ve highlighted above would please an experienced player as much as a beginner.

After all, you may not know how long it will take to learn guitar, so you want something well-built to last you a while.

Solid or Laminate Top?

There’s a difference between the two and, as you may have guessed, a solid wood option – like you’d find mentioned in our Seagull S6 review – is better at providing more resonance and greater depth in tone.

However, even lesser tonewoods or laminated tops, when combined with good craftsmanship, can still provide excellent sound quality. So if you are just starting out, there’s no need to worry too much about whether a top is solid or laminated. Go with the guitar that suits your needs and fits your budget.

Steel or Nylon Strings?

There’s a common belief that certain strings are better for beginners than others. While nylon strings can be easier on beginner’s fingers, the main thing that matters when it comes to guitar strings is the style of music you are planning to play, because the difference in feel and sound between the two materials is significant – even for a beginner.
Nylon strings are essential for any classical instrument, and if you are planning to play classical music or Latin styles such as flamenco, a nylon string guitar is the way to go. Steel strings are more appropriate for rock, pop, blues, and pretty much everything else that doesn’t fall under the classic umbrella.

Remember that if you are looking towards eventually performing and recording with your new acoustic, you’ll want to get hold of either a nylon or steel string guitar with electronics to give you the ability to plug into an amp.

A word of general advice – never use steel strings on a classical guitar, as the high-tension strings will damage the instrument. You have been warned!

What to Avoid When Buying an Acoustic Guitar

There are a couple of important things to look out for when buying an acoustic guitar for the first time, one of which being plastic hardware – especially if it’s used on the bridge or the tuning pegs. Unless you are paying less than a hundred dollars for the instrument, there’s no reason why a good beginner guitar should have a plastic bridge or saddles, which aren’t particularly durable and do nothing for the instrument’s tone or sustain.

If you are on a very strict budget and need something low cost to get started, check out the Jasmine S35 review, which proves a magnificent pick for beginners.

We’ve covered just a few aspects of what to look out for when shopping around. However, there are hundreds of online videos that offer good advice on choosing and buying an electric guitar, including this one

Elsewhere, The Acoustic Letter is a very helpful YouTube channel run by professionals that enjoy what they are doing. Here’s a useful video from these guys:

Buying an Acoustic for a Child

Bear in mind that a full-sized acoustic will not be the best guitar for children – unless they do some quick growing!

Thankfully there are different sized guitars that suit all ages. As a general rule, a ¼ size guitar will suit anything from the ages of 2 to 5, a ½ size guitar is good for 5 to 8 year-olds, while a ¾ guitar will suit those from ages 8 to around 12. However, if you can get your child to try a few, you’ll be able to see the best fit for them.

Final Considerations

Buying an acoustic guitar is a great experience and one that could prove to be life changing! So when looking to purchase your first one, take your time. Watch plenty of videos, read our articles, and speak with experienced guitarists, before making your final selection.

Passion is a vital factor, especially for beginners, and hating your musical instrument from day one will not get you very far in the long, occasionally frustrating journey you are about to begin. If you feel unsure about a model, just skip it and move on to the next one. You’ll soon find something that fits.

When you have your guitar, the fun of learning the instrument can start. Make sure to check out our page for how to start learning guitar online for lesson reviews and tips. Good luck and happy shopping!

Comments

  1. George A. Marlow says:

    I purchased a Dean Performer Plus -acoustic/electric with cutaway; the top is sitka spruce and the back & sides are mahogany;the fretboard & bridge are rosewood, the saddle is bone, the nut is tusq… now I am not saying this guitar sounds like my Martin – BUT – it does sound awfully good. I would highly recommend this for beginners & intermediates. The action on the neck is extremely good for a low budget guitar. They list for under $400. If you get a chance check one out… see how it matches up against your list of guitars. I hope this was helpful- especially for the beginners. Sincerely > George M.

  2. Hey,
    I would like to hear your opinion about Stagg guitars, please? 🙂
    I want to get a guitar (never had one). Thinking about an acoustic guitar, but I don’t know anything about Stagg (is it good brand or bad). Also these guitars aren’t the cheapest.
    One guitar catched my eye: Stagg SA30D
    Thank you

  3. Hi
    Thank you for the information.
    I am as a beginner looking for Yamaha FG800 and Yamaha FS800.Can you please tell me the difference and can you tell which is the superior in these two.
    I know FS800 is having small body. Does it alter the sound of the guitar?

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