Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Guide

I’ve been playing acoustic guitar for almost 20 years now and the acoustic sound is one of my favorites. It’s clean, natural and pleasing to the ears.

Acoustic guitars are a great starting point for most beginner guitarist. They offer incredible tone and don’t require additional equipment like amplifiers and cables. The problem is that there are literally hundreds of options for acoustic guitars at music stores, so what’s going to give you the best “bang for your buck”?

Below is a helpful comparison chart of the Top 5 Acoustic Guitars for beginners followed by a guide to help you choose what’s right for you.

Top Beginner Acoustic Guitars

ImagesGuitarTypeSpecsPros/ConsPriceRatingBuy Now
The beautiful Big Baby Taylor beginner acoustic guitarTaylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar6-string Dreadnaught Acoustic GuitarSitka Spruce top
Sapele back & sides
Pros: Excellent sound, solid body and a well-respected name. This is the best upper-end beginner guitar on the market.

Con: Higher price tag, no electronics.

Read the review of the Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar
$$$$4.7 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Fender FA-100 Acoustic guitar for beginnersFender FA-100 Beginner Acoustic Guitar6-string Dreadnaught Acoustic GuitarLaminate Spruce top
Laminate Agathis back & sides
Pros: Excellent price point for beginners. Decent quality, good for children. Pack comes with picks, gig bag, strap and more.

Con: Laminate body produces lower-quality sound. Playability isn't as good. No electronics.

Read the review of the Fender FA-100 acoustic guitar
$
4.2 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Yamaha APX500ii acoustic electric guitar for beginnersYamaha APX500II-OVS Acoustic-Electric Guitar6-string Dreadnaught Acoustic-Electric GuitarLaminate Spruce top
Laminate Nato back and sides.

On-board electronics.
Pros: Great sound that can be plugged in for use on stage. Perfect option for entry-level acoustic/electric.

Con: Laminate body produces a lower-quality sound.

Read the review of the Yamaha APX500ii acoustic electric guitar
$$$4.4 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Takamine G Series Acoustic guitar for beginnersTakamine G Series Acoustic (G260C-BSB)6-string Thin-body Acoustic-Electric GuitarLaminate Spruce top
Laminate Nato back and sides.

On-board electronics.
Pros: Thin body is perfect for smaller players. On-board electronics allow it to be plugged in.

Con: Great sound but it's still a laminate body. Thin body produces "twangy" sound.

Read the review of the Takamine G Series acoustic guitars
$$$4.5 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
The Seagull S6 Acoustic guitar for beginnersSeagull S6 Acoustic6-string Thin-body Acoustic GuitarSolid Cedar top with a wild cherry back and sides.Pros: Thin body is perfect for smaller players. Excellent quality of guitar for the price. Comes with free gig bag & guitar stand.

Con: Higher price tag and no electronics.

Read the review of the Seagull S6 acoustic guitar
$$$$4.8 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic GuitarTaylor GS Mini6-string Mini Acoustic GuitarSolid Sitka Spruce top (Mahogany optional)

Sapele back and sides (Rosewood optional)
Pros: Gorgeous sound, Taylor quality, and the best mini-guitar available.

Con: Higher price tag and no electronics.

Read the review of the Taylor GS Mini acoustic guitar
$$$$4.8 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Yamaha FG700S acoustic guitarYamaha FG700S6-string Acoustic GuitarSolid Sitka Spruce top

Nato back and sides

Rosewood fretboard
Pros: Excellent sound for the price thanks to a solid top.

Con: No electronics and a very traditional look

Read the review of the Yamaha FG700S acoustic guitar
$$4.5 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Washburn D10S acoustic guitarWashburn D10S6-string Acoustic GuitarSolid Sitka Spruce top

Mahogany back and sides
Pros: Lowest priced solid-top guitar available on the market

Con: Unfortunately there are no electronics or cutaway options

Read the review of the Washburn G10S acoustic guitar
$$4.4 out of 5 StarsBuy Now on Amazon
Taylor-110ceTaylor 110ce6-string Dreadnaught Acoustic-Electric Guitar (Grand Auditorium style also available)Solid Sitka Spruce top

"Layered Sapele" back and sides (Taylor's term for laminate wood)
Pros: Taylor's cheapest full-size guitar. Offers excellent, full-body sound.

Con: High price tag. Laminate back and sides (albeit high quality)

Read the review of the Taylor Taylor 100 Series acoustic guitar
$$$$4.9 out of 5 StarsCheck pricing on Amazon

Beginner Acoustic Guitar Buyers Guide

The beautiful Big Baby Taylor beginner acoustic guitar

When it comes to acoustic guitars, there are still many variables that you need to keep in mind as you look to purchase either for yourself or someone you love. To make this easy to consume, I’ve broken up these different characteristics as such:

  • Size of the guitar: full size, jumbo, or 3/4?
  • Type of wood: it affects the quality of your sound
  • “Action” of the guitar: how easy is it to play the guitar?
  • Guitar finish: does it look shiny or natural?
  • Electronics: can you plug it into a sound system?
  • Brand: buy name brand or not name brand?

Size of the Guitar

As you shop around for the best budget guitar, size should be one of the first things you think about. Is this guitar for a child? A grown man? Somebody with fat fingers?

Acoustic guitars have many different-sized bodies (thin-body and jumbo being the extreme) and there are even some acoustic guitars that are miniature in size for kids. You first need to determine what size is needed for the height of the person.

The size of the guitar also affects the sound it creates. A larger-body guitar as a more full sound with more bass while a smaller, thin guitar will tend to lose much of the bass, making it sound a bit higher in tone.

Type of Wood

Once you’ve narrowed down the size guitar you want, the next step is to figure out what your budget will allow you to purchase. The majority of what makes the prices of guitars so different is the quality of construction and type of wood.

Most guitars are made of three different woods: one for the top (usually a spruce), the back & sides (usually the same wood) and the neck/fretboard (usually rosewood). For the purposes of a beginner, a simple spruce top with maple back and sides will produce a great sound.

One more key characteristic of woods is whether it is a laminate or a solid wood. Less expensive guitars use what is known as a laminate wood while the more expensive guitars use a solid piece of wood. The solid wood produces a better sound and is a better investment but most beginner guitarist won’t be able to tell a difference at first.

Guitar Action or Playability

Measuring the action of your guitarThe action of a guitar is usually defined by how far the strings are set from the neck of the guitar. The closer they are (without actually hitting the frets and buzzing), the easier it is to play since you don’t have to press your fingers down so hard.

Generally speaking, the more expensive the guitar, the better the action or “playability”. Some beginner acoustic guitarist begin on a guitar with poor action and either get discouraged and quit or build up their finger strength quickly.

Others invest more money up front to begin on a guitar with better action. You can usually get your chords to sound better in a faster amount of time in this way.

Guitar Finish

The type of finish on the guitar has absolutely no affect on how it sounds, so this is all a matter of preference! Some people prefer a glossy finish (so that it shines) while others like more of a natural, flat look.

There are also some specialty finishes that will set your guitar apart from all the others. One of my favorites is what as known as the “sunburst” finish that is darkened around the edges. If you prefer, there are some guitars you can buy that are solid color finishes, the most popular being black and red.

On-Board Electronics

On board electronics on a guitarIf you plan to be playing as part of a band or foresee any need to plug your guitar into a sound system, you will likely need to buy an acoustic-electric guitar. These are guitars that are the same as every other acoustic guitar except that they have the option to be plugged in directly.

As a side benefit, some electronic components actually come with a tuner, like what you see to the right.

Most beginner guitarist won’t have the need for electronics but it’s nice to have available. If you decide against electronics now (to save money, perhaps) and then find you need to plug in later, there are what is known as soundhole pickups that you can purchase that will do the trick.

Name Brand? New or Used?

When it comes to buying a beginner guitar, it’s tempting to want to buy used. I would recommend against that, only because beginner guitars are already cheap and there are so many unseen problems with used instruments that could get you in trouble.

When it comes to name brand, take a step back and remember why you want to buy a guitar. What fits your style best? What has the best playability? Name brands (Fender, Yamaha, Takamine, Epiphone, etc) are reliable options that offer great value for beginners. Don’t get disappointed with a no-name guitar that sucks!

 

21 Responses to Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Guide

  1. Brad says:

    I have attempted to use different guitars as a beginner.
    I would like a 3/4″ body with low action and good mid to low bass. I am willing to spend up to 200.00 for an acoustic and would like to know the one you would suggest?
    Also I would be carrying the guitar with me when I travel one Harley.
    p.s. I have little patients when it comes to my slow progress, any “helpful” suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Brad

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hey Brad, with that budget I would suggest the Yamaha FG700S listed above. It fits your price range and has decent action (you shouldn’t expect awesome with a $200 budget) and overall good tone. Hope that helps!

  2. guitarmesh says:

    If you’re a beginner, it can be hard to know where to start. Buying a first guitar can be confusing, frustrating, and difficult.I think the Taylor GS BBT Guitar is great. I absolutely love the sound it makes.

  3. Rosemary says:

    My grandson, a very gifted 3 year old is getting either a 1/2 size acoustic guitar or a ukelele for his birthday. I want to buy him an electronic tuner. What would be the best one to purchase.

  4. Rosemary says:

    Josh, I’m looking for a tuner, my son’s buying the guitar or ukelele. I’m not sure what he’s getting.

  5. Staci says:

    Hi Josh,
    I am trying to but guitar for my husband for Christmas. He has played in the past but I would say he is still a beginner. Is a Fender Squire Acoustic a good choice? I have about $200 to spend. Thanks

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hi Staci, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you’re looking at a possible guitar for your husband. With a budget of around $200 to spend, your options are limited but I certainly think that the Fender Squier acoustic and the Fender FA-100 aren’t bad options to get him back in the saddle. Once he gets into it more, though, he’ll want to upgrade in the next year or two (just warning you! 🙂

  6. Alex says:

    Hello, I’m a complete beginner but would rather not buy something to cheap. In fact and if possible I’d like something for a beginner yet good enough to get me through intermediate levels should I excel fast. I’m contemplating the Taylor Big Baby (maybe e model) and the Seagull S6 original / Seagull S6 Mahogany Deluxe.
    Second part of this is that I’m also going to buy an electric guitar as well, I know perhaps it sounds weird but I really like both acoustic and electric sounds.
    I’m looking at the Epiphone Les Paul Standard or Les Paul 100?, Epiphone G-400 PRO, or one of the Fender Squire Strat models. I’m not entirely sure of the exact sound I’m looking to create on an electric which is why I’m all over the place with my options. Perhaps whichever of the models that will allow me to experiment with all sounds and not be limited if that makes sense. Thank you.

    • Josh Summers says:

      Hey Alex, thanks for your comment!

      As far as acoustic guitars go, I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Seagull or the Taylor Big Baby. You might even look at the Taylor 100 series, although at that point you’re getting a bit more expensive.

      Your electric selections are solid as well. I personally recommend the Les Paul Standard, although the LP-100 is a great choice as well. Either will provide some good versatility if you like the hollow-body electric. I hope that helps!

      • Alex says:

        Thanks Josh.

        I can’t begin to explain how overwhelming and confused I am lol. It’s not easy to decide on when they all look like good selections. I’ve also decided to look at the yamaha fg730s which made it that much more harder because I don’t know how that guitar stacks up to the others I mentioned. To make matters worse I thought perhaps I pass on the acoustic for now in order to get a better Fender Strat or Les Paul. Sorry for being indecisive.

        Thanks again for your help.

      • Josh Summers says:

        No problem, Alex! Thanks for your comment and I hope that you’re able to make a good decision on the guitar.

  7. blackbirdy79 says:

    I have been wanting to learn to play guitar for years I am ready to jump in. Right now I am leaning towards ordering a Takamine GD30CE. Hoping its not too much for a beginner but will last for years to come. Also hoping it fits my small female hands. I called all of the music shops and pawn shops locally on hopes of placing one in my hands for fittability but noone carries them. I am hoping if I order one that it will be a good choice. Thoughts and opinions for ordering this model since I can’t find one locally?? Tia

  8. James says:

    Hey Josh,

    I see that you’re here to help and that’s awesome. I want to mention a little bit about myself, I’ve been playing electric guitar, classical and acoustic. I dig them all but I’m in the market for an acoustic and having trouble finding one. I mainly play electric guitar. So that being said, should I try acoustic electric? I would like to travel with it, so preferably a padded gig bag. My price range is under 400. It would mean a lot to get some feedback many thanks.

  9. pooja says:

    Hello sir
    I reside in uae planning to buy a guitar . I am total beginner nd went to some shops bt lyk i was keen to buy yamaha f310 bt sum1 sd me chard brand is good for beginners. Vch 1 u suggest sir . Plz would love if u advice me as i am eager to buy

  10. Timothy G. says:

    Last fall I went to a guitar shop and had the guy hand me guitars till magic happened. I did tons of research on line agonizing over every detail that I thought I wanted. First three guitars on the list didn’t fit me. The guy hands me a Washburn WD50SCE and it was magic. 500.00 later it was mine!
    For sound though I found a fender dg8s on an auction site for 70.00 and just can’t put it down. The Washburn’s my fave for playability and the full dreadnaught fender has it for sound. Someday I’ll find the “ONE” That fits both categories.

  11. Ilka says:

    Hi, I’m looking for a good quality guitar that will last me a while. I’m willing to spend up to $400, and since I’m pretty small (5’2″) I probably want something 3/4 size but with good sound quality. I’m not sure what I should go for, since I’m a beginner. Thanks!

  12. Saith Paul says:

    Thank you for the the clear well-written article. Your recommendations supported with your personal experience was eye opening. I am emailing this to my 12 year old and then we are going guitar shopping. Thanks so much

  13. Sheilah Rissling says:

    Hi. I have 2 guitars in my possession, a Carmen acoustic and an Academy acoustic. The Academy is brand new the Carmen is older and without strings at the moment. I have searched for info on both guitars with no luck. Can you tell me which is the better guitar and why. I want to learn how to play on one of them. the Academy is a bit smaller and fits me better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *