Ready to start playing guitar? If you are like me, you don’t want to over-spend on your first go-round, but you also want it to sound good.
But did you know that the type of instrument that you buy can affect how quickly you learn?
You see, the challenging part of mastering your new art is learning finger patterns. And if you buy a guitar with a wide neck or an overly deep neck, it can be challenging to get your hand around it properly, meaning that struggling will be more likely than actually enjoying a relaxing and empowering hobby!
Ironically, many of the “beginner guitars” on the market today actually have wider and thicker necks to compensate for the cheaper wood that they are made of. This creates a counter-productive situation where you are actually having to work harder to learn how to play.
The other thing is that you will need to frequently stop your practice to tune. Weather changes, temperature changes and humidity changes all cause the strings to loosen. Ideally, your first instrument will have easy-to-adjust strings as well.
But, we want it to still be affordable. After all, you don’t want to over-spend until you know whether or not you are actually going to take the time to learn to play.
1. Should Beginners Start On Acoustic?
It doesn’t matter what style or whether acoustic or electric are what you start with, but most people choose to begin with an acoustic guitar. The nice thing about an acoustic is that you don’t have to buy a separate amplifier. Just get the instrument and you are ready to start learning how to play.
With an electric guitar, you not only have to buy the instrument, but you really need to buy an amplifier, too.
The upside with the electric option is that the strings are much easier to press and can make those chords much easier to pick up on.
However, with an electric, it is easy to get distracted by all of the sounds it can make. Next thing you know, you’ve spent all of your time fiddling with your amp and very little time practicing.
So if you are wondering which is better for beginners, my advice would be to go with acoustic and switch over to electric later if you want to.
However, if you are determined to play electric, then, by all means, start there.
It’s 2017. It’s hard to resist the call of technology!
Chase your dreams!
2. Electric Vs. Acoustic For Learning To Play
This is often debated. And the only reason it is debated is that the kiddos want an electric guitar. Badly.
They want to be like their favorite stars.
There’s a lot of reasons not to begin with electric. To begin with, they have a lot of knobs and stuff that distract from playing. And amps. And Cords. And the Amp has knobs. And you can get a pedal board (with knobs) for your cords.
The fewer knobs you have, the faster you can learn to play.
There are going to be enough distractions as it is without making your own equipment one of them.
The one advantage of electric instruments give to beginners is that their action is smaller (lower bridge) making the strings are easier to press.
I still say that you should stick with the acoustic, but choose one that has a low bridge and even switch the stock strings out for some that have a lighter gauge.
3. Reviewing Affordable Guitars For Beginners To Learn On
Most people don’t want to drop $500+ every time they decide to pick up a hobby. And there is no reason to.
I don’t recommend picking up the cheapest setup you can find as you will end up wasting a lot of time trying to get it to stay in tune and deal with frustrations of poor sound and painful strings.igh-quality guitars sound better and a heckuva lot more fun to play.
Higher-quality guitars sound better and are a heckuva lot more fun to play.
But there is an incredible array of options to choose from — if you know what you are looking for.
And that’s what we are here for. To help make the process of choosing more simple.
Grab one of the four guitars reviewed below and you’ll be thrilled with their sound and the progress you’ll make.
Even better, your friends will be ecstatic that they can stop singing everything acapella around the campfire (I’m serious, it’s tons more fun to sing along with a guitar. Especially with that rich acoustic tone.).
And with that, here is my comparison list of reviews.
A. Yamaha’s FG700 Reviews = The Best Choice For Beginners!
Anyone who has ever been around music knows the Yamaha brand. They’ve been around forever, and we all recognize and trust their sound.
What I love about Yamaha’s acoustic guitars is that they tend to have a warmer, more complete sound.
This is due in large part to the fact that they always use a better-quality wood on their entry-level productions than most of their competition does.
Then, it also has die-cast tuning pegs that hold it in tune well and are easy to adjust.
The nato laminate body is essentially plywood with a finish that’s similar to mahogany. It doesn’t offer much in the way of tone, but it’s durable as a tank. The joke goes that you can paddle a canoe with a nato guitar and still play it when you arrive on shore.
Like the Fender kit reviewed below, the Yamaha FG700S acoustic bundle comes with a generic black poly strap, a small assortment of picks, a fresh set of strings, and an instructional DVD. UN-like the Fender outfit, this bundle also comes with a capo, a stand, a string winder, and a hard case that’s durable enough to withstand considerable bumps and bruises.
The case comes with four brass clips, including one that locks with a key for added security. The hidden interior compartment is perfect for stashing your extra bundle of goodies.
The padded felt and foam interior protects your newest investment from any dings, nicks, or scratches that might otherwise be incurred during transport.
The FG700S’ spruce top adds some brightness and ease to the middle and treble ranges, but the bass stays a little lackluster, especially when exploring the higher frets.
The default placement of this instrument’s saddle makes playing super easy for beginners, thanks to its relatively low strung action and easy to press strings…. Less chance of sore fingers.
Probably the neatest thing about this instrument is that you will not only learn how to play it, you will want to play it for and with others.
There is absolutely nothing about this package that says “beginner”, and when you tell other musicians how little you paid for this setup, they are going to be absolutely floored.
Personally, I love Yamaha for beginner to intermediate players. I own one myself. The tone and projection are good for the price point. The body’s extra lamination can render the instrument’s tone a little “2-D”, but medium gauge strings and a bone saddle can really bring its sound to life.
This guitar holds its tune and can withstand a fair amount of knocking around.
If you’re the type of musician who likes to toss your kit in the trunk of your car for learning and practice on the go, this is the perfect companion for you.
Go forth, my friend. Make music and be fearless. (Combo packages with a hardshell case are available)
B.Reviews Of The Second-Best Choice: A Fender Beginner Guitar The DG-8S
The Fender DG-8S Dreadnought is another great option to consider. However, there are a few things that bump it back to the second spot.
To begin with, Fender Acoustics do not sound as good as their electric ones. Ask any avid player and they almost all will agree. Especially when you are dealing with entry-level instruments. You see Fender knows what they are doing when it comes to guitars, and have a huge following.
But their acoustics have a more “tinny” sound than most others. At least that’s how it sounds to me. A lot of finger pickers find that this sound also tends to give each string a more distinct sound and makes it great for playing individual notes.
Part of this comes from the fact that they are using a laminate construction. It just doesn’t convey all of the tones of the sound, as well as a solid-top, does.
That said, the solid mahogany back does soften the tone of this model of Fender better than a lot of their other models.
The die-cast tuners also hold a tune well, and if you are like me, you will find it easy to restring however you want. (I prefer Elixir strings).
As with the Yamaha, this guitar sounds like a whole lot more instrument than you are paying for and doesn’t say “beginner” in hardly any aspect!
C. Another Great Option For Beginners: The Jasmine S35
The jumbo body, which is a classic dreadnought style, is a perfect size for teenage or adult musicians, falling right within or just beyond the standard acoustic sizing.
It errs on the larger side, so it’s not an ideal match for young children or adults with smaller frames. Broad dimensions aside, the weight is lighter than you might imagine just to look at it, making it suitable for toting pretty much anywhere.
For those who are comfortable with the size, the Jasmine S35 provides a rich, accessible playing experience. The hardware is sturdy and the S35 requires little upkeep, proving easy to tune, staying right in key with little need for “touch ups” in between sessions.
Constructed with a spruce top with laminated nato sides and back, the Jasmine has a unique, matte finish that helps it stand out.
Most acoustic guitars in this category have a high gloss poly finish that picks up fingerprints and can “flatten” your guitar’s tone, leveling off any dimension your instrument may have had going for it.
A matte finish preserves some of that quality, which is good since spruce needs as much help in the tonal variation department as it can get.
While many musicians are okay with spruce because it can offer some fun, bright quality to the higher notes, bassier tones tend to get lost in the fray, and mids can be downright lackluster.
This can be at least partially resolved by changing out the stock strings for some medium gauge strings from a trusted name brand like Ernie Ball or D’Addario.
While the S35 comes with the strings set at what many would consider “high action” (that is, more resistance from the strings), the general consensus is that this one is playable upon arrival, making it the perfect companion for a musician just starting out or an old pro looking for something inexpensive that is suitable for camping, travel, or a day at the beach.
D. Best Left-Handed Beginner Guitar
It can be challenging for the left-handed player to find a high-quality beginning instrument. In fact, I’ve known some lefties who just crack out the ambidextrous and start playing a regular, right-handed guitar.
However, if you can find a left-handed guitar it is going to make it a ton easier to play and you are going to be able to focus on actually making music instead of spending the whole time trying to “retrain” your brain.
Can’t I Just Re-String My Right-handed InstrumentTo Be A Lefty?
There are a few problems with this.
The slot where you strings go is too small for the big string if you put the strings in backward. The bridge has to be readjusted (major pain unless you are already hugely musical)
It tends to come out of tune more often
My Grandpa restrung one once. It ended up just never getting played because it never sounded the same.
So the best one to nab for a lefty would be the Oscar Schmidt. It actually uses more solid wood than many options that cost twice the price. And is an incredible value for the money.
The Mahogany fretboard and catalpa back create a pretty warm tone even with the laminate spruce top.
Plus, it’s made in the USA so you are supporting the home team!
Nab this. Learn to play. Stay lefty and stay proud.
Here are some quick thoughts by guitar teacher Jen Trani on what you should look for in your beginner guitar. I hope this comparison list has been helpful to you!
As you make your selection, make sure to remember that the ultimate goal is to choose an instrument that will be your companion for many years and even more adventures.
Good luck and happy picking! Enjoy yourself!
See Related Buyers Guides For Guitars:
- Acoustic Electric Around $1000
- Acoustic Electric Around $500
- Acoustic Electric Around $300
- Best Guitars For Kids
- Best Guitars For Small Hands