- 1 Top 7 Guitars for Beginners
- 2 Yamaha FG700S
- 3 Seagull S6
- 4 Jasmine S35
- 5 Big Baby Taylor
- 6 Cordoba C5
- 7 Rogue RA-090
- 8 Fender CD-60
- 9 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners Comparison Chart
- 10 Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide
- 11 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Beginner Guitar
- 12 Buying for You
- 13 Bottom Line
Choosing the right acoustic guitar to buy is difficult, whatever level you are at. For the seasoned player, there are dozens of things to consider, from the particularities of the bracing used to the quality of the binding. For the st ginning guitarist, there are also things to consider: price, playability, tone, and the quality of construction, among other things. It can be rather overwhelming, dizzying even, to survey the landscape of acoustic guitars, hoping to find the one that seems right for you. It feels like the best beginner guitar is out there, waiting, only you have no easy access to it through the cloud of advertisements and buying guides.
What is the best acoustic guitar for beginners? The most honest answer is that it depends on what you are looking for – it depends on your price range, your needs, and the sounds you are looking to produce. In this article I will try to help navigate those things to figure out what guitar is right for you. In the end, that’s what matters. Here are the top acoustic guitars for beginners.
- Yamaha FG700S
- Back and Sides: Nato
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Rosewood
- Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
- Price: $$
- Seagull S6
- Back and Sides: Canadian Wild Cherry
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Rosewood
- Top: Solid Cedar
- Price: $$$$
- Taylor BBT Big Baby
- Back and Sides: Layered Sapele
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Ebony
- Top: Sitka Spruce
- Price: $$$$
- Cordoba C5
- Back and Sides: Mahogany
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Rosewood
- Top: Solid Canadian cedar
- Price: $$$
- Rogue RA-090
- Back and Sides: Whitewood
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Painted maple
- Top: Whitewood
- Price: $
- Fender CD-60
- Back and Sides: Laminated Mahogany
- Fingerboard and Bridge: Sonokeling
- Top: Laminated Spruce
- Price: $$
Top 7 Guitars for Beginners
Yamaha’s FG700S is the picture of affordable quality, and for that reason alone it deserves the top spot on our list of best beginner acoustic guitars. At just under $200, it is quite easy on the pocketbook; but its features are impressive. While clearly aimed at beginners, this guitar sounds and feels quite professional. It is nearly impossible to beat it for the price.
This guitar comes standard with a rosewood fretboard, die-cast tuners, and binding. Those are all things that you would expect from a more expensive guitar, but not necessarily from a guitar costing $200.
The most impressive thing about this guitar, however, is its top. Its top is solid maple rather than laminate, which drastically increases the tone. The maple provides a lot of clarity, while the rosewood fretboard softens the tone slightly. The result is certainly impressive.
The Seagull S6 is about twice the price of the Yamaha FG700S and also makes a good beginner acoustic guitar. Whether it is worth that price is up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is the S6 is a great guitar, especially for beginners.
Like the FG700S, the S6 routinely gets positive reviews from its owners in terms of tone and playability. But there are some things that set is apart from its less expensive rival. While it too has a rosewood fretboard, the S6 has a cedar, rather than a maple, top. This gives it a richer tone, which is to many peoples’ ears better. Contributing to that tone is the fact that the back and neck of the S6 are made out of cherry, which is a tone wood. The combination of the cherry construction, cedar top, and rosewood fretboard give the S6 a fuller, broader sound that a lot of people love.
Next on our list of best guitars for beginners is the Jasmine S35. In many ways, this is the even more affordable cousin to the FG700S. It is a solid guitar, but what you gain by paying less you lose slightly in quality. For the most part, it is the small things – for instance, the tuners are not of the same quality as the Yamaha’s. The biggest difference is that the sides and back of the S35 are laminate, which has an effect on the tone of the instrument.
Still, the Jasmine S35 is an impressive guitar, especially for its price. After all, it is under $100. Its owners review it favorably, and it features a spruce top that promotes clarity and an overall sense of punchy well-being. It may be inexpensive, but it is one of the best starter guitars on the market.
Big Baby Taylor
Taylor is a serious acoustic guitar company, and this guitar is one of its contributions to the affordable guitar market. The Big Baby is a dreadnought guitar, which refers to the shape and size of the body. Dreadnoughts are big and loud, and they have a full sound. The Big Baby is a 15/16 scale guitar, which means it is slightly smaller than a full-size dreadnought, but its sound is still remarkably rich.
Costing around $400, the Big Baby features a solid spruce top and a rosewood fingerboard, although its back and sides are laminate. Costing around $400, the Big Baby is markedly less expensive than most Taylor acoustics; part of what you are buying here is the name, but that purchase ensures a measure of quality that may not be found elsewhere for under $500. In general, the Taylor Big Baby is a great choice as an acoustic guitar for a beginner.
The Cordoba C5 is the only classical guitar on this list. Classical guitars are different animals than steel-string acoustic guitars. One difference is that they use nylon strings, which both feel and sound quite different than steel strings and are almost always played with the fingers of the picking hand rather than a pick. Another important consideration is that their bodies are different – they are much smaller and shaped different than steel-string guitars. This guitar, like all classical guitars, has a particular sound and a particular feel that some guitarists love but that is mostly appropriate for classical or Spanish guitar playing.
This particular guitar is, for the price, surprisingly robust. Most owners rave about its tone and playability, citing low action and a warm response. Classical guitars routinely cost into the thousands of dollars; it is nearly impossible to find a better affordable classical guitar than the Cordoba C5.
The Rogue RA-90 is a fine beginner guitar, and it is the cheapest on our list. Coming in at between $40 and $60, it is inexpensive enough for nearly any budget. But it is more than merely cheap, it is a fully functioning guitar that, just as any other serious guitar, can produce beautiful sounds. Rogue is known for making inexpensive but still quality instruments, and this is no exception.
The RA-90 is a full-size dreadnought, so its sound is big – loud, full, and rich. It is perfect for strumming or for finger-picking. The back, sides, and top are made of whitewood, and the neck is made of mahogany-like Nato wood. Neither of these woods are known as “tone” woods, but the instrument has a pleasing sound nonetheless. It features a rosewood fretboard, which adds a measure of warmth to the sound of the guitar.
“Fender” is the biggest name on this list, and the CD-60 is its affordable dreadnought. A full-sized, full-powered projection machine, this guitar comes in at under $250.
The back and sides of the CD-60 are composed of laminated Nato wood, and the top is laminated spruce. For the price, laminated woods are to be expected, but in general they are known to sound a little thin. This guitar makes up for that, however, with its shape and size. The combination of the dreadnought body and a rosewood fretboard contribute to a general sense of warmth with this guitar.
The CD-60 comes standard with die-cast tuners and body binding, both of which are markers of a solid constitution. Owners of this guitar are generally very happy. Most often, it is said to be easy to play, and buyers remark on its quality finish work.
Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners Comparison Chart
|Product name||Back and Sides||Fingerboard and bridge||Top|
|Yamaha FG700S||Nato||Rosewood||Solid Sitka Spruce|
|Seagull S6||Canadian Wild Cherry||Rosewood||Solid Cedar|
|Taylor BBT Big Baby||Layered Sapele||Ebony||Sitka Spruce|
|Cordoba C5||Mahogany||Rosewood||Solid Canadian cedar|
|Rogue RA-090||Whitewood||Painted maple||Whitewood|
|Fender CD-60||Laminated Mahogany||Sonokeling||Laminated Spruce|
Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide
Buying a guitar is difficult. The guitar that you buy will maybe be with you forever. It will be an object of sometimes affection and other times frustration. You will learn about it, get accustomed to it, and if you take care of it then it will take care of you in return.
It is even more difficult for the first time buyer. There is a seemingly endless array of options available. Additionally, the relationship you build with this guitar – your first guitar – will, at least in part, define your relationship to the guitar as an instrument in general.
There are some things, however, that can make finding the right guitar easier. The first thing I tell everyone who is on the market for their first instrument is this: find somewhere to try out some of the products that are available. Doing your research is good (we’ll get to that soon), and reading a buying guide is helpful, but nothing can replace the feeling of a guitar in your hand. Nothing can match the experience of comparing the sound of one instrument to another.
If it isn’t possible to find the exact guitars you are thinking of buying, then go to a guitar shop and play similar guitars – guitars in the same price range, with similar body styles, with similar component parts, etc. Play as many different instruments as you can. It is good to get a feeling for the different sorts of things the landscape has to offer.
Almost as important as physically playing a variety of guitars is to do your homework. Reading this guide is a great start, but you should look into whatever guitars you think you might want to buy and do some more research. Find out what it means that they have the features they have. Read various reviews of the guitars to get a sense of what people are saying about them. Find videos of people playing them. In general, spend some time learning about the instruments you are considering.
Finally, consider your needs and your budget. If you only have $100 to spend, for example, then the less expensive guitars on this list are a great place to start. Whatever you decide, make sure you consider your individual needs. The best acoustic guitars for beginners are the best acoustic guitars for the particular needs of the beginners who are buying them (more on this later).
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Beginner Guitar
Beginner buyers of acoustic guitars sometimes fall into traps. Here are some of the things to avoid when looking for the best acoustic guitar for beginners:
Being too cheap
It’s easy to find a cheap guitar, it’s hard to find a cheap guitar that is a good value. The guitars on this list are not simply inexpensive; they are inexpensive guitars that are at the same time quality instruments. It is important to consider the quality of the instrument in addition to the price tag.
Going for broke
More money doesn’t always mean better. This trap is the inversion of the last one. It might seem like a guitar that costs more is better, but that might not be the case. Sometimes you are paying for a brand name, other times for a fancy paintjob. Just as before, you have to consider the overall quality of the instrument. But if you have a higher budget and would like a guitar that provides the best value for the price, to make it easier for you to choose according to your budget we have prepared articles on the top products under $500 and under $1000.
Begin too visual
Not everything that looks good sounds or feels good. Sometimes great guitars look pretty. Sometimes, however, flashy guitars are less than high quality. You might love that sunburst finish, but the real questions are: How does it sound? How does it feel?
Not playing the guitar
It is important to get your hands on some guitars before making your decision. Only then will you really know what you’re getting yourself into. If it isn’t possible to play the guitars you’re interested in, play guitars that are similar enough to give you some idea of how those guitars might sound and feel.
Not doing research
You don’t need to be an expert, but it is important to do some research. You should know what the guitars you are looking at are made of, how that affects their sound and their feel, how easy they are to play as compared to other guitars, and how people generally feel about them after they have bought them.
Buying for You
We have already said that finding a good beginner guitar is hard. The problem is made more difficult by this fact – there is no best beginner guitar, full stop. There are good and bad guitars, and there are guitars that are more and less suited for beginners. Finding the best one is really a matter of finding the best guitar for you – for your needs, for your price range, for the sound that you are looking for. You couldn’t imagine Stevie Ray Vaughan playing on a Gibson jazz guitar, and there’s a good reason for that – Stevie Ray Vaughan demanded specific things from his instrument that only his instrument satisfied. From the way the guitar felt to the way it sounded through his amplifier, his choice of guitar was determined by the stylistic decisions he was making.
Most of us are not Stevie Ray Vaughan; but we still have demands. There are things that make us us. There are sounds that we want to be able to make and things that we want to be able to feel on the guitar. Only some guitars will meet those criteria. Here are some of the things that will determine the specific sort of guitar you should be looking for:
- Tone: Different types of guitars, even different guitars in the same type, sound different. They have different tones. When it comes to acoustic guitars, there is a wide array of different tonal qualities they offer, from big and bassy to tight and clear. The tone of an acoustic guitar is largely determined by the woods that are used in its construction. Determining which of these is what you’re looking for will help narrow the field when you’re looking for a guitar.
- Volume: Especially when it comes to acoustic guitars, there are vast differences in the unamplified volume that the guitars put out. Smaller bodies, in general, are softer, whereas larger bodies tend to be louder.
- Sustain: Sustain is the amount of time a note or chord will ring out after played. Generally, the more sustain the better. Sustain has a lot to do with the construction of the guitar, and is affected by the woods that are used.
- Action: Action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. The lower the action, the closer the strings are to the fretboard, the easier, in general, the guitar is to play. Some players insist that relatively high action produces a better tone, but most people agree that guitars with lower action are more playable.
- Quality of construction: From the quality of the joint between the neck and body to the guitar’s binding to the tuners on the headstock, everything matters on a guitar. Better constructed guitars tend to sound and play better and are more resistant to wear.
- Price: Some guitars are prohibitively expensive. It is important to know you’re price range and to find the best possible instrument within that range.
The bottom line is this: the best acoustic guitars for beginners are the acoustic guitars that satisfy the needs of those beginners. We have taken a look at 7 high quality, inexpensive guitars, each with their merits. The best beginner guitar for you is going to be the one that meets the musical needs you have without going beyond your budget.