Last Updated: Aug-29-2018
As some guitars were no longer widely available, we revamped this important beginner-friendly chart with some updated models for 2018. For example, we removed the Taylor GS Mini and replaced it with the superb Taylor Academy A12e, while we also included the Luna Gypsy Muse Student Guitar and the Fender CD-60S. The buyer’s guide was also extended.
Table Of Contents
Before we begin looking at the models we recommend, make sure to check out our list of recommended online acoustic guitar lessons for some good courses to get you started. So which guitar is the best for beginners?
|Image||Acoustic Guitar / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Taylor Academy A12e |
Total of 4.80/5
The perfect guitar for beginners? We think so!
|+ -|| Seagull S6 |
Total of 4.88/5
An excellent steel-string model from Seagull.
|+ -|| Yamaha FG830 |
Total of 4.70/5
A very popular model from Yamaha – real affordable quality!
|+ -|| Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat |
Total of 4.77/5
Big looks, sound and attitude from the Rancid frontman’s signature acoustic.
|+ -|| Blueridge BD-16 |
Total of 4.63/5
A very good price for such an easy playing instrument.
|+ -|| Fender CD-60S |
Total of 4.67/5
A vibrant and easy-playing solid-topped acoustic from Fender.
|+ -|| Luna Gypsy Muse Student Guitar |
Total of 4.65/5
A sophisticated parlor guitar that’s perfect for students.
|+ -|| Yamaha APX500III Thinline |
Total of 4.63/5
Affordable, attractive and beginner-friendly, this is a real winner from Yamaha.
|+ -|| Alvarez Artist Series AD30 |
Total of 4.55/5
The AD30 has plenty of style for such a good price.
|+ -|| Rogue RA-090 |
Total of 4.22/5
Big value for money for players on a tight budget.
|Body And Neck:|
Taylor’s A12e takes the words ‘entry-level’ and flips them upside down. Because, as entry-level beginners’ models go, this is more premium than the rest of the guitars on our chart.
The downside is you do pay a considerable sum for the pleasure! Still, the playability, comfort and tone on offer from is exceptional – as we highlight in the complete Taylor A12e review. It sports a Grand Concert body made from solid Sitka spruce on the top, with laminate sapele back and sides, along with a mahogany armrest for optimal ergonomics.
While electrics aren’t a necessity on beginner acoustics, we appreciate the quality of Taylor’s built in preamp, offering very simple controls and a handy built-in tuner. An exceptional choice.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
Part of Fender’s Classic Design series, the CD-60S is a good-looking, comfortable dreadnought guitar, with a tone that really impresses – as we highlight in the full CD-60S review.
With Fender’s trademark quality and sleek playability, this model features the classic pairing of solid spruce on the top, with mahogany back and sides. The ‘Easy-to-Play’ mahogany neck is fitted with a 20-fret rosewood fretboard that is rolled for added comfort. The hardware is good for the price, and comes with several convenient accessories (depending on the marketplace you purchase from).
The tone is well-balanced between bright and warm, and offers a robust projection – great for strumming and fingerstyle. A real solid offering from Fender, but would you expect anything less?
|Body And Neck:|
Made specifically for beginners heading to lessons, this Muse from Luna’s cool Gypsy series is a real treat. With an affordable price tag, Luna still offers an end-product that feels high quality in terms of look and feel.
With a lightweight and comfortable parlor body, the Gypsy Muse is made with spruce and mahogany laminates, and features a lovely sleek satin mahogany neck, with a full 20 frets.
Playability is great, as is functionality. Instead of a full-blown preamp, this model includes a simple but effective built-in digital tuner, while the rest of the hardware is pretty solid for the price. Be sure to read all the details in the full review of the Luna Gypsy Muse.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
|Body And Neck:|
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.
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.
There’s a difference between the two and, as you may have guessed, a solid wood option – like you’d find mentioned in our Taylor A12e 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.
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. You can check out our article on the best classical guitars for beginners.
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!
There are several different popular acoustic guitar shapes, most of which will be pretty easy for a beginner to get to grips with. Most of the respectable acoustic guitar brands have a plethora of beginner friendly solutions.
However, we suggest avoiding a Jumbo acoustic, which is a popular style with country players. This style of guitar is very big and bulky, and ultimately adds an extra consideration that beginners just don’t need.
For somebody just starting out, it would be easier to learn on a dreadnought or an orchestra model, or – if you are particularly small – a parlor guitar.
Whichever acoustic you end up purchasing, the setup and strings play as big a part in the overall playability of the guitar. Technically, you could spend $1,000 on a beautiful acoustic, but if the action is too high and the strings are rusty, then you will struggle to play smoothly.
The solution is to get your guitar properly set up after purchasing. This is easy to do yourself if you have a spare 30 minutes and can follow simple YouTube videos such as this one:
It’s a good question, although one with no definitive answer. Ultimately, learning on a $5,000 Martin would probably be very beneficial due to the quality, tone and playability of such a premium instrument – but this is probably overkill, considering most experienced guitarists don’t even have one of these!
The best advice we can give you is to look at your aspirations and enthusiasm. Do you really have your heart set on learning how to play the guitar? If so, then it would be wise to invest at least $100 to $200 on an affordable acoustic that looks, feels and sounds better than an entry-level budget model.
Buying the highest quality guitar you can afford will encourage you to practice and will feel more comfortable to hold and play.
With this in mind, if you are going to dedicate your life to playing the guitar (and you have the budget), then spending up to $500 on a good mid-range model – something like an entry-level Taylor – certainly won’t harm and will be an instrument that will stay with you for a long time.
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:
If you are just starting out and have purchased an acoustic-electric (better known as an ‘electro-acoustic’) guitar, you may be wondering whether it will work without an amp.
The good news is that you do not need an amplifier to hear the guitar. Without being plugged in, an electro-acoustic works just like a regular acoustic guitar. In fact, you never have to plug in an electro-acoustic if you don’t want.
However, manufacturers charge extra for adding electronics (in the form of pickups and preamps) to their acoustics, so to buy one and never plug it in would be a waste of money. A small acoustic amplifier would work well if you just want to practice with others, although you would need something bigger for performances.
If you are still deciding whether or not to purchase an electro-acoustic, we recommend you stick with a regular acoustic if you are a complete beginner. The reason being that, as a beginner, you don’t really need to amplify your performances, as you won’t be performing much until after a few months of solid practice.
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.
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!