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.
A beginner acoustic guitar should 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.
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 2019. It’s hard to resist the call of technology!
Chase your dreams!
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.
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 steel strings. High-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.
1. Yamaha’s FG800 Reviews
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 FG series acoustic bundle comes with a generic black poly strap, a small assortment of picks, a fresh set of guitar 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 protect your newest investment from any dings, nicks, or scratches that might otherwise be incurred during transport.
The FG800S’ solid Sitka 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 or gig bag are available)
2. Seagull S6
Guys, I know you are going to want to shoot me when you see the price tag on this one. But the build quality and sound quality are pretty incredible.
Made in Canada, these lightweight acoustic guitars are turning heads and providing new guitar players with a level of quality that would have been unaffordable to guitarists in years past.
Take their Coastline S6 Spruce guitar. With a wild cherry back and spruce top, you get that classic acoustic sound that is just enough different from the competition that you sit up an take notice. There is more clarity to this than you find in the mahogany models. It also seems to have a little more volume, thanks to the body shape.
The rosewood fretboard is fairly standard but it flows into a narrow headstock with high-quality tuners that make it easier to adjust the guitar. It’s a maple neck with double-truss support for decades of reliable playing.
There are some complaints as the action can be set a little high from the auction. Folks have been running this guitar by a local shop and having that filed down for easier playability.
The S6 series might be too good to be on a list of the best beginner acoustic guitars, but for those who have a little bit of room on the credit card for a midrange guitar, this one is well worth the extra investment. Gig bag is extra.
3. Fender DG-8S Beginner Guitar
The Fender DG-8S Dreadnought guitar 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. And I’m making an exception for this dreadnought body style. The larger size guitar provides pretty incredible resonation making this guitar a solid contender as one of the best beginner guitars you could invest in.
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!
4. 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.
5. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is one of those eye-catching guitars that is perfect for the shopper who is tired of the rehashed beginner guitars that everyone is selling. The deep red finish is pleasing and sets this instrument apart.
There is an attention to detail with this instrument that you don’t see as much of. For example, the rosewood bridge uses a pinless string insertion that provides a much cleaner look. The rosewood fingerboard is coated with Pro-ease for smooth playing and the Jumbo frets deliver more sustain than you are used to hearing in an acoustic guitar.
Made from Mahogany & Spruce, this guitar has bright and warm tones as well as deep intonation. This provides a very melodic strum that is excellent for playing folk and pop songs. (It also works very well for worship music).
The solid spruce top and Epiphones proprietary bracing system helps to keep the mahogany from completely muddying the tones and infuses brightness into the mix.
You will spend more for this guitar than a lot of folks want to spend on their first guitar. But it is an instrument that you can grow into with sound quality that you will be proud to showcase around your friends.
5. FA-125CE Dreadnought
I don’t feel like it is worth investing in an acoustic-electric guitar. My suggestion would be to pick up a standard acoustic guitar and then either add a simple piezo pickup or invest in an acoustic-electric guitar down the road.
That said, I ran across this beginner kit that includes an acoustic-electric guitar.
It’s an intriguing setup. The basswood back and sides delivers a great sound with good emphasis of the lows and the highs. The spruce top helps to further enhance those bright notes, making this a guitar for both chording and for fingerstyle playing with wonderful rich tones.
The Dreadnought guitar body helps amplify the tone, giving you enough volume to play with friends or fill a living room while you entertain.
The Viking bridge is differently shaped than what you normally see and catches your eye immediately.
Then, onboard Fishman electronics makes this one ready to plug into an amplifier and start playing. It also doubles as a tuner which makes it easy to tune the instrument before your practice session.
You wouldn’t expect this guitar to sound as good as it does. But it plays easily and sounds like a more expensive guitar. And, if you are wanting to set up in the coffee shop and do a little gigging, this guitar is ready to do that.
Best Acoustic Guitar For Left Handed Beginners
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!