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Buying Guide: Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
Posted on November 19, 2021
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In the market for a new acoustic guitar? Or perhaps you’re about to buy your very first acoustic guitar? In that case you’ve come to the right place for some advice. Here are some of our top picks, straight from the Yousician team. In addition to helping you find the best acoustic guitar for beginners, we’ll also give you some good things to look for in your beginner acoustic guitar, whether it’s the type of strings, size of the instrument, brand and of course the price of your guitar.
Buying a beginner acoustic guitar
Let’s start by going through some Things to Know, including musical instrument-lingo and specs to keep in mind while making your decisions. Knowing these will make it easier for you to navigate the countless options for beginner acoustic guitars available at online retailers and music stores, such as GuitarCenter, Sweetwater, Thomann and Amazon. Here’s some guitar terminology to get us started.
Things to Know
Action: The string’s distance from the frets. For beginner acoustic guitarists it might be a good idea to begin with an entry level guitar where the strings are a bit closer to the frets. With smaller action the distance to press down the guitar strings with your fingers is also smaller, requiring less effort to do so.
Nut height: How high the strings are from the frets at the first fret.
Set up: We strongly recommend that the shop you buy your instrument from ensures it’s set up properly. Generally straight out of the factory, both action and nut height may be just a bit too high. The setup makes a big difference, and can make or break your experience with the instrument. Ask and the friendly folks at the music store will be happy to help with this.
Dreadnought: The most common type of acoustic guitar body shape.
Jumbo acoustic: A larger sized acoustic guitar that’s good for playing while sitting down.
Strings: Nylon vs steel
When choosing the right acoustic guitar for you, the first choice you’ll have to make is between the type of strings. You have two choices when it comes to regular acoustic guitars: a nylon string guitar and an acoustic guitar with steel strings.
What makes nylon strings a great choice for beginners starting their musical journey is that nylon strings are easier to press down against the guitar fretboard than steel strings. This might come especially handy for younger beginners who can have a hard time playing and fingering some chords with the heavier steel strings. However, that doesn’t mean that only beginner guitar players should use nylon strings.
If you’re planning to expand your guitar playing to electric guitars as well, it might be a good idea to go with an acoustic guitar with steel strings. This makes getting used to the heavier strings of an electric guitar easier when you’re already comfortable playing with steel strings.
Guitar size and shape
Like guitar players, acoustic guitars come in different sizes and shapes. For a beginner’s acoustic guitar we can wholeheartedly recommend the dreadnought guitar. As we mentioned, a dreadnought acoustic guitar is the most common type of acoustic guitar body shape you’ll come across when looking for your first instrument.
As for the size of your guitar, the right choice will depend largely on how big you are as a player. 3/4 size guitars are slightly smaller instruments that are perfect for children and people with small hands. A smaller instrument and body size also makes a good travel guitar to take with you on the go. As opposed to a large jumbo acoustic, a smaller ¾ acoustic guitar is also easier to reach around thanks to its small body.
You can find good beginner acoustic guitars from many different brands, but there are some brands that we can recommend to keep in mind. This isn’t an exhaustive list, just some good recommendations to look for.
- Taylor Guitars
See any of these when browsing for pro and beginner guitars then you’re likely to get a high quality instrument. All of these brands also hold some quite affordable acoustic guitars in their lineup of instruments.
What about a semi-acoustic guitar (or acoustic-electric guitar)?
In addition to a traditional acoustic guitar without any electronics to amplify its sound, there’s the option to get a semi-acoustic guitar, also known as an acoustic-electric guitar. A semi-acoustic guitar can be played just like a normal acoustic one but it also has a microphone and an input for an instrument cable. It’s possible to install a microphone and an input for audio cables yourself, but the best option is to buy a semi-acoustic guitar that has these pre-installed.
Although it might be tempting to just go with the cheapest option you can find, investing in a quality instrument is a decision you won’t regret. If your budget allows, we advise you not to bother with acoustic guitars that cost less than $100. Even if we’re talking about beginner acoustic guitars, any instrument below that price is unlikely to stay in tune very well. In addition, especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time playing and practicing, a cheap guitar is going to feel uncomfortable to play with, not to mention sounding unsatisfactory.
For $200 or more, you can find pretty good beginner acoustic guitars, and even better ones as we move to the $300 range. In the end, if you can, don’t let the price of a guitar be the deciding factor, but go instead with the instrument that feels right to play this. This is why we recommend going to the local music store and testing at least a few different models and asking the staff for good beginner acoustic guitars to try out.
There’s also the alternative to save money by buying a second hand guitar. That way you can get even an expensive guitar for the price of a much cheaper one. However, be sure to buy your used guitars from a reliable seller, especially when ordering from an online marketplace.
The best acoustic guitar for beginners: Recommendations from the Yousician team
Whether it’s a jam session during work (when we could go to the office) or a gig at a local pub, the team at Yousician is always playing something. So, we asked everyone which instruments they reach for the most. If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few great entry level guitars to consider. You can find these both online and also in your local music store if you’re lucky. Visit a physical store if you can, so you can also try out the guitar before purchasing.
1. Yamaha FS800 Folk acoustic guitar
In general, Yamaha comes highly recommended from Vellu, our Music Education Lead in Helsinki. “From my own experience, Yamaha is a brand that seems to have the best consistent quality in cheap guitars, so if I need to give clear, simple advice, I would recommend Yamahas.”
“This guitar has a smaller body and a bit shorter scale, making it a better beginner instrument compared to big acoustics.” But don’t let that fool you–this isn’t just for kids. “It sounds like an actual guitar, so no need to upgrade any time soon.” The Yamaha FS800 is an acoustic guitar with a solid spruce top and is available either with a natural or sand burst finish.
You can find it at Guitar Center here.
2. Yamaha CGS103A classical guitar
Although guitars with a smaller body and shorter fretboard are often recommended for younger beginners, this ¾ size guitar isn’t just for kids. ¾ size acoustic guitars can also be great for the traveling musician, “This nylon string does the trick. Expect that to be a nice beginner instrument for a year or two.” This acoustic comes with a spruce top, nato neck, back, sides, and a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
You can find it at Sweetwater here.
3. Seagull S6 “The original” acoustic guitar
“The Original” Seagull is a great mid-priced option that comes recommended from our team. Read the reviews online and you’ll see why – words like “superb,” “above and beyond” and “amazing value” come up time and time again. So don’t take just our word for it, this beginner acoustic guitar is a choice worth your consideration.
“The Original” Seagull acoustic has a solid cedar with Canadian wild cherry back and sides. The tone of this guitar is described as a blend of “the warmth of mahogany with the crisp definition of maple.”
You can find it at Guitar Center here.
Other gear for beginner guitarists
Other than just a good acoustic guitar for playing, you might want to grab some other guitar gear while you’re at it. Here are some essential pieces of gear and equipment to look for:
- Guitar picks: Playing acoustic guitar with your fingers will only get you so far. Get a variety of guitar picks to make your guitar playing more versatile. Read more about guitar picks here.
- Strings: We already covered guitar strings and the choice you’ll have to make between nylon and steel strings. It’s a good idea to have a set of spare guitar strings with you in case one happens to break. Check our blog post if you want to learn how to change guitar strings.
- Strap: In case your acoustic guitar has buttons for attaching a guitar strap, then getting a strap as well will make it possible to play while standing.
- Carrying case: Want to take your guitar on the road? Don’t forget to add a guitar case on your shopping list.
- Guitar amplifier: If you’re playing with an electric-acoustic guitar, then you’re going to need an amplifier as well to plug into.
- Cable: To use an amp, you can’t go without a guitar cable.
- Tuner: Every beginner guitarist, whether they’re playing acoustic or electric guitar, is going to need a reliable guitar tuner. You could get an expensive tuner device, but there are other easier and more affordable options out there. Try a digital tuner app that you can download on your mobile device, such as GuitarTuna. You can download GuitarTuna for free and it’s available for both iOS and Android devices. On top of the standard guitar tuner, GuitarTuna comes packed with a number of stringed instruments as well as alternate tunings.
Learn and play acoustic guitar with Yousician
In the end, the best beginner acoustic guitar is the one that fits your needs the best. Spending some time to pick the right instrument is definitely worth the effort that’ll make learning and playing guitar all the more fun. Once you have your brand new acoustic guitar ready, check out Yousician and start learning how to play. Learning is fun and easy with Yousician’s interactive guitar lessons. You can download Yousician on your iOS and Android device or access Yousician on your computer.
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