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5 best acoustic guitars for beginners

with an Acoustic guitar buyer's guide

Personal favorite

Features

Acoustic-electric
Built in Tuner
Cutaway

The Fender CC-60 sce may be a little on the pricier side of our search. But it is well worth it. It has a smaller body and a thinner neck profile, so people who need a smaller guitar can benefit from this instrument as well. Like the Epiphone PR-4E (reviewed below), The CC-60 consists of a mahogany body with a spruce top. Giving you that nice combination of rich, deep tones coupled with crisp clear sound projection.

Personal Favorite: Fender CC-60sce
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for Beginners: Yamaha FGX800C
Best Acoustic Guitar Kit: Epiphone PR-4E
Best Nylon String Guitar: Yamaha CGS
Best Cheap Acoustic Guitar: Jasmine S-34C

Your first acoustic guitar

Buying your first guitar can be a life-changing experience.  For some, it might not be big deal, but for others, it will be the day they become a guitar player.  If you stick with guitar, 20 years from now you with undoubtedly remember the guitar that started it all.

With such a big decision on your hands, how do you know which guitar to choose?

Should you go acoustic?

Electro-Acoustic??

Classical???

“Acousti-lectri-lassical”?!?!

Ok ok. I may have made the last one up (I totally did). But the fact is, there are so many different types of acoustic guitars in the world, it can get overwhelming.

Below you will find a lot of information about acoustic guitars and their components.  If you ever start to feel overwhelmed when trying to find the best starter guitar, step back and consider 3 simple (but important!) categories: your needs, the Comfort of the guitar (does it fit your body), and your Budget. 

If you are not sure what your needs are, read through the buyer’s guide below.  I tried to point out several things to take into consideration as you search for an acoustic guitar for the beginning player.

Skip to the bottom to see what we think are some of the best acoustic guitars for beginners.

Acoustic Guitar Buyer's guide

Before you take the plunge and go for an acoustic guitar, you may wonder what you are leaving behind.  

What are the benefits of an acoustic guitar over an electric?

First off, you can take an acoustic anywhere and be heard, no need for an amp or cable. You can jam at the beach just the same as in your living room. An electric guitar without an amp doesn’t really make much sound at all. It’s great for individual practice, but that’s about it.

Acoustic guitars are great for bluegrass, folk, jazz, worship, pop, and even the greatest rock bands have acoustic albums, so you can play rock as well.

Acoustic guitars are a little more fragile than electric guitars.  I have seen students put holes in acoustic guitars (and then beg me not to tell their parents).  Electrics can take a beating a little better than an acoustic. If you have small kids or teenagers, in the house you may be safer with an electric.

If you would like to know a few more benefits of an electric guitar check out our article on

5 best beginner electric guitars.

PRO tip: Putting a large sticker over a hole in your acoustic guitar will keep your parents, or friends, from finding out you put a doorknob through the top of it. (True story)

At the end of the day; if you learn electric you can play acoustic and vice-versa. Sure there are some different techniques. But in the big picture for a beginning player; the basics are the basics and a guitar is a guitar.

Besides, if you stick with guitar long enough, you will inevitably end up with both.

The body is the large, hollow box where you strum the strings. When you strum or pluck a guitar, the string(s) vibrate causing the body to resonate and produce a louder sound. This is why you hear an acoustic guitar so well without amplification.

The size of a body can determine a lot of the tone quality, tonal character (timber), and the play-ability of the guitar.

In general, most adults will do fine with a standard, full-size acoustic guitar (sometimes called a dreadnaught).  Smaller adult players, or adults with small hands, may want to consider a concert sized guitar.  If the body size is too big or small it can cause discomfort, soreness and unnecessary strain on your back and joints.

Typically, a good approximation to keep in mind is:


3 – 5 years old
: ¼ size

5 – 8 years old: ½ size

7 – 12 years old: ¾ size

12 years + : Full size

While guitars come in a ton of different body types, as a beginner you only need to pay attention to one thing:

Cutaway or no cutaway?  

Guitars with a cutaway, normally having CE in the model number, have a bit of the body removed at the top of the neck. This removal allows access to the higher frets, but sacrifices a bit of the tone of the guitar.  If you plan on playing more rhythm guitar than lead, a cutaway is not necessary and you might get a better sound out of a guitar without one. If you’re like me, and you like to melt faces, a cutaway is a must on all my guitars.

As you progress on your musical journey, you may want to consider the width, thickness and shape (profile) of the guitar neck. A good profile that fits your grip will allow you to move around the fretboard faster, press the strings easier and slide up and down the neck much more smoothly.

There are quite a few different neck profiles. As a beginner, you should know that you will commonly find a standard oval profile on acoustic starter guitars.  

I wouldn’t worry too much about the profile or thickness as a beginner. Instead, it’s best that you make sure you are able to hold the guitar and access the strings comfortably.

If you have small hands you may be wondering what type of acoustic guitar is best for you.  While I have read about specific guitar recommendations on other sites, the truth is with enough practice you can play any guitar well, no matter how large or small your hands happen to be.   I have seen kids sheading full-sized guitars with no problems.

Neck width (also called nut width) ranges from 1 11/16″ – 2″, with 1 3/4″ being the most popular.  If you are really concerned about it, I would look for a guitar with a thinner neck.   I would also advise against a nylon-stringed guitar for small hands because they tend to have the widest necks.

Ah! The great string debate. Should you start with Nylon or Steel Strings?

The first thing to consider here is what kind of music will you be playing? Nylon strings are typically used for classical or Latin styles of music. While steel strings are used more for pop, blues, rock and other forms. So in terms of sound, a nylon string guitar gives you a warmer tone.

As far as comfort and learning for the beginner; some players subscribe to the logic that beginning on nylon strings is the best option. The reason for this being that nylon strings are softer and larger in diameter. This makes them easier to press down.

This can be hindrance later however. As you play guitar over time, your body will develop pads on the fingertips (called calluses) of your fretting hand. With steel strings being thinner and tighter than nylon, you may benefit from getting a head start on those pads. All guitarists go through the process of building up their calluses. If you have not heard it yet, learning to play the guitar can be painful.  If you have very soft skin, a nylon string might not be a bad choice, you will develop calluses slower, but having too much pain can take away from effective practice time.

Pro tip: The more you practice, the faster the pain in your fingers will go away.  Eventually, you don't even notice it anymore.

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Unlike pianos, guitars need to be tuned multiple times during your jam sessions. This is accomplished via the tuning machines or tuners for short. Tuners are the shiny knobs at the top (head) of the guitar. When twisted, they either tighten to raise the tone, or loosen to lower the tone of the corresponding string.

A good beginner guitar should have tuners that are relatively easy to turn and the guitar should stay in tune without the constant need to re-adjust.

The brilliant thing about owning an acoustic guitar is the ability to take it anywhere and practice/play whenever you want. However, it’s wise to consider your musical style and what situations you may find yourself playing in. Will you be jamming with a group or band? Will you have a need to project your sound more than the guitar itself is capable of? If so, an Acoustic-Electric my the the right choice for you.

Acoustic-Electric guitars are my personal go to. They are extremely common, and give the player a lot of situational versatility. The great thing about them is they work whether they are plugged in or not. Best of both worlds!

They have a built in pickup that allows you to plug into a guitar amp or directly into a PA so you can play to a larger audience. As a beginner do you “need” it? Nope. But if you’re planning on playing with a band at some point in the future, then that added pickup is going to be of great importance.

If you are interested in an acoustic-electric guitar, or the guitar you picked out happens to be one, here’s a good approach to testing it out:

It’s best to listen to the guitar plugged in as well as acoustic. The sound should be clear and pleasant when directed through a clean amp channel. Turn the dials on the guitar. They should all work with ease and you should hear no static or feel any grind when turning them.

Typically there is at least a volume dial and a tone dial. Listen for changes when you turn them.

PRO Tip: If you buy a guitar without a pickup and later find that you need one. You can buy an add-on pickup for about $50.

I included this because you will more than likely encounter it at some point in your research. Guitars are made with what are called “Tone Woods”. Different woods give different tones to the guitar. Harder woods will give a sharp, dense sound, and softer woods a warmer tone.

The top piece of wood (the piece with the sound hole) resonates and has a large role in tone. An acoustic guitar can come solid (1 piece of wood) or Laminate (different pieces). In a situation when you’re looking for acoustic guitars for beginners, most at the entry level will be laminate. Don’t worry about it too much, focus on what sounds best to you while staying within your budget.

If there are frets out of alignment, you will notice a buzzing sound when you pluck a string. This is known as fret buzz. What happens in this case is when the string is plucked, the fickle fret in question will actually come in contact with the vibrating string. This causes an unappealing buzz.

To check for Fret Buzz:

Pluck the string in its open position (not fretting anything). Is it clear? Is there a buzz? Repeat by plucking each fret up the neck on every string. Take care not to pluck the string too hard as this will cause the string to naturally buzz against the guitar.

Pro tip: If your guitar does have a buzz, don’t freak out right away, it could mean your technique is bad, or that the truss rod needs adjustment.  This is a simple process that almost anyone can do, and even more expensive guitars sometimes need this out of the box.

When trying to find the best beginner guitar, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to find the cheapest guitar possible. A cheap acoustic guitar can be a friend to your bank account. But for you, as a player, it can be a real jerk! In this vast metropolis of guitars, the old adage rings true: You get what you pay for.

But does this mean you have to go out and spend several hundred dollars on a guitar right from the start? Absolutely not. If you’re really serious, get the best guitar you can afford.  If you’re not sure, stay within $100-200 and upgrade later. Keep your budget in mind when checking off the considerations we’ve discussed here, you may not be able to win in every category.  

Forgoing a pickup is a good way to shave some dollars off the bottom line.

There are plenty of store discount packages around that include an acoustic guitar and some accessories (case, strap, picks etc). These are perfectly viable options and it’s possible to find a nice middle ground between price and gear quality.

For a relatively solid beginner guitar, expect to spend around $100 – $300. But if you’re not sure that you even like playing the guitar, stay on the lower side. Get a feel for it before coming out of pocket in a big way.

To help you get a head start, we did some research of our own and below are 5 of what we consider to be some of the best acoustic guitars for beginners.  There are definitely other great guitars out there but these are a good place to start your search.

We took the little extra time and made sure they covered a wide range of our above discussion.

Also, don’t forget to check out some accessories for your new guitar like a tuner, a strap, or a Stand.

Personal Favorite

Fender CC-60sce

Pros

  • Acoustic-Electric
  • Built in Tuner
  • Cutaway
  • Available as a bundle or guitar alone

Cons

  • May not be budget friendly for the beginning player

The Fender CC-60 sce may be a little on the pricier side of our search. But it is well worth it. It has a smaller body and a thinner neck profile, so people who need a smaller guitar can benefit from this instrument as well. Like the Epiphone PR-4E (reviewed below), The CC-60 consists of a mahogany body with a spruce top. Giving you that nice combination of rich, deep tones coupled with crisp clear sound projection.

The CC-60 is also an acoustic-electric guitar. So you will get all of the amenities that come from having a pickup. There is also a built in guitar tuner so you check your tuning with the simple press of a button on the side of your guitar!

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for beginners

Yamaha FGX800C

Pros

  • Built in Tuner
  • Body size options (concert is smaller)
  • Non electric version available for lower cost

Cons

  • May be more than a beginner wants to spend

When thinking about this category, I set out to find a guitar that produced an equally great sound both naturally, and powered through an amp. One that could handle a quiet night at a campfire, or a house party with a band.

I believe I found what I was looking for,

The Yamaha FGX800c comes in two body sizes. Standard and a smaller “concert” size. So it is much more accessible to a wider range of players.

It comes equipped with Yamaha’s “System 66” electronics. These electronics allow you to dial in your tone to the sound you want with ease. Another great feature on this guitar is the battery pack. While acoustic-electric guitars normally power their on-board electronics with a 9 volt battery, the FGX800c is powered by 2, AA batteries. Making it much easier to find batteries for your guitar in a pinch.

Best Acoustic Guitar Beginners Kit

Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic-Electric Guitar Player Pack



For some reason the picture will not show, I’m working on it.

Pros

  • Clear Sound
  • acoustic electric
  • Amp has a mic imput

Cons

  • Gig bag, not a padded case
  • included cable is lower quality
  • Amp may be a bit noisy

This awesome acoustic guitar beginners kit, gives you get all the things you need in one shot. An acoustic-electric guitar, cable, picks, a tuner, a gig bag and even an amp!

The Epiphone PR-4E uses mahogany for the tone wood giving a rich, deep tone. They topped the body with spruce. This tone wood is very common in guitars and helps tighten up the sound making for clear notes regardless of whether you are using a pick or playing with your fingers.

The guitar is accompanied by the Epiphone Studio Acoustic15-c amp. It has 2 available channels to plug in your instrument or other devices (also called input jacks). The 2 channel are a standard guitar plug (¾ inch jack) and a plug for a vocal microphone (called an XLR input). So you can amplify your guitar, or you can use the amp as a PA and sing along to your playing!

Best nylon string Guitar

Yamaha CGS Student Classical Guitar

Pros

  • Comes in 3 sizes
  • Designed with students in mind
  • Nylon strings allow for more comfortable play-ability early on.

Cons

  • Less projection. Bigger rooms or groups will require amplification.
  • Strings tie on at the body. This will add a slight learning curve to changing strings.

For those choosing to take the classical guitar and nylon strings as their first venture into guitar will enjoy Yamaha CGS. Designed for older and younger classical guitar students, the CGS comes in ½, ¾, and full sizes making it prime for all players.

This guitar is purely acoustic. So you will need to use a microphone and PA in order to amplify it, but for a comfortable, good sounding, nylon stringed classical guitar. You can’t go wrong here.

Best Cheap acoustic guitar

Jasmine S-34C

Pros

  • Great Price
  • Cutaway option

Cons

  • Not the best tone

You may think you’ve never heard of Jasmine, but this company has been around for quite a long time. Not too long ago they became a subsidiary of Fender guitars.

This particular guitar packs a punch for its price-tag. One of the biggest issues when purchasing a guitar at this price is that it is very common to have a shallow and dull tone. This is due, in part, to the thickness of the body and quality of wood. The Jasmine S-34c has done a great job combating this. The S-34 comes in a standard body. This helps a lot with the sound projecting from the instrument, and makes a much more pleasant tone out of the guitar. But it is a standard sized guitar. Something to keep in mind if you are searching for child size acoustic guitars.

It has a slim neck profile for a more comfortable grip and fret access. To add to this, the Jasmine S-34c is also what is commonly known as a “Cutaway” guitar. If you notice, one of the sides dips down lower than the other. What the manufacturer does in this case is cut out a section of the body, letting your fret hand slide further down the neck to access higher notes.

The price point on this guitar is insane! Less than $120 gives you plenty of breathing room to buy a good guitar and have some cash left for accessories!

Final Thoughts

After everything we touched on, and the guitars we included, I can not stress enough how important your personal taste is. All guitars may not be created equal, but there is one created for you! Examining the details will help you wade through the murky sea of instruments to find that one guitar you never knew you wanted.

Did we miss something?  Still have Questions? Drop me a comment and let me know if this article helped you.

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Article by:

Cody Walker

Cody Walker

Cody is a musician and content creator. He is a member of 3 national touring bands and is the owner of Soul Syphon Media, which assists musical artists and content creators across the U.S.

And

4 thoughts on “5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners and Buyer’s Guide 2019”

    1. Thanks, Jonathan, I have a student who just picked up a fender CC-60 sce and he really likes it. I hope you find a guitar that is a perfect match for you.

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