Ready to start your acoustic guitar journey but feeling overwhelmed by the options? Choosing the right beginner acoustic model is crucial for making learning enjoyable. The instrument must be high quality without costing too much.
In this detailed guide, I’ll review the key factors in picking an affordable, playable starter acoustic for any newbie. Let’s explore top beginner guitar brands, body styles, price considerations, and features to prioritize in 2023.
Acoustic Guitar Body Shapes for Beginners
Acoustics come in several body styles, each with distinct attributes. Let’s compare the pros and cons of each for beginners:
The most common shape, dreadnoughts have a wide body and round shoulders. Known for their booming sound and projection, they offer versatility across styles. Large size may be less comfortable initially.
More compact than a dreadnought, concert acoustics have a balanced oval shape. They produce bright, focused tones perfect for fingerpicking. Easy to handle when starting out.
Parlor guitars are very small-bodied making them comfortable for kids or petite players. Their slim neck and body make playing chords simpler. Lightweight and easy to transport. Softer volume.
Jumbo acoustics have a massive body generating the loudest and deepest acoustic sound. More of a challenge for beginners to form chords on the wide neck.
For most beginners, a concert or mid-size dreadnought offers the best combination of comfortable ergonomics and balanced tone. But choose the shape that motivates you to pick up and practice regularly!
Budget – How Much Should I Spend on a Beginner Guitar?
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get started. Highly playable acoustic options for beginners exist between $100 to $300. Let’s examine this price range:
Under $150 – Basic entry-level guitars. Tend to have cheaper laminate wood construction but surprisingly decent sound and playability.
$150 – $200 – Good quality budget options with better woods and components. Made by reputable brands. A significant upgrade from the cheapest models.
$200 to $300 – Ideal beginner “sweet spot” with greatest value. All solid wood construction, quality hardware, and electronics. Will sound and play significantly better.
Of course, you can spend way more on pro-level models, but as a newbie, there’s no need. Invest in your abilities before the gear. Prioritize playability out of the box and brand reputation in this range.
Best Guitar Brands for Beginner Acoustics
When researching brands, look for respected companies focused on quality control and value. Here are some top acoustic guitar makers for beginners:
Fender – Legendary company offering consistent, affordable models like the CD-60S. Reliable quality with easy playability.
Yamaha – Renowned for incredible bang-for-buck beginner lines like the FG800. Amazing tone for low prices.
Epiphone – Gibson’s budget sub-brand makes starter acoustics like the DR-100 with great construction.
Ibanez – Known for shredding electrics, Ibanez makes beginner-friendly acoustics like the PF15ECE with lush sound.
Washburn – Century-old American company focused on entry-level value guitars like the WD20S.
Stick to guitars from top brands known for beginner instruments. This filters out no-name guitars that seem like bargains but often have poor construction.
Construction Quality – Laminate vs Solid Wood Guitars
How the guitar body is constructed from wood influences the tone and durability. Let’s compare:
Laminate – Multiple thin wood layers pressed together and affordable. Cost-effective for budget guitars but affects resonance.
Solid Wood – Carved from single wood pieces for better acoustic projection. Pricier but preferred overall for warmth and sustain.
For beginners, both produce adequate sound quality. Laminate models are acceptable starters and won’t break from dings. But for something to grow with long-term, all-solid wood guitars under $300 are ideal.
Some models blend both using solid wood tops with laminated back and sides (like the Yamaha FG800) for a cost-effective compromise. This scores you excellent sound for less.
Does My Beginner Guitar Need Electronics?
Some acoustic-electric models aimed at gigging guitarists have:
- Built-in Tuner – Convenient for quick tuning without a separate tuner. Nice added feature.
- Pickup/Preamp – Amplifies and shapes the plugged-in sound. Unnecessary for bedroom playing.
As a newbie, these electronics don’t provide much benefit beyond a tuner. Unless playing live soon, save some money and get a regular acoustic first. Upgrade to an acoustic-electric later as needed once skills improve.
Playability Out of the Box – The Most Critical Factor
The #1 priority for any beginner instrument is playability right after unboxing. If the guitar feels hard to fret notes on or has a painful buzzing, you’ll get frustrated quickly. Seek buttery smooth playability:
Action – String height above frets. Aim for low, buzz-free action.
Neck Relief – Forward bow allowing vibrating strings. Too much or little causes buzz.
Nut Slots – String spacing at the nut. Should be cut properly to the required width.
Ideally, get a guitar “set up” by a tech for optimal playability. Or buy from a shop doing final setups on every instrument. Paying a little extra here is well worth saving months of headaches battling a crappy starter.
Other Accessories Needed
Besides the guitar itself, beginners need:
- Tuner – Clip-on or handheld tuner. Essential for tuning by ear.
- Case – Hard case or gig bag to transport safely. Protect that investment!
- Capo – Clamps neck to raise pitch. Lets you play more songs.
- Picks – Buy variety packs to find your preferred thickness.
- Strap – For standing up while playing. Get a comfortable wide strap.
- Strings – Replace old strings every few months for a fresh tone.
Research must-have accessories for newbies and buy quality. Protect your guitar and make it sound its best.
Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Picks for Beginners
Now let’s reveal my top recommended acoustic guitars for beginners in 2023! Consider these options within your budget:
1. Yamaha FG800
With incredible quality under $300, the Yamaha FG800 tops many best acoustic guitar lists. Its classic dreadnought body looks great finished in matte. Constructed with solid Sitka spruce top and laminated Nato back/sides, it delivers dynamic rich tones exceeding its price tag. Highly playable right off the shelf after final inspection. Overall the best value starter acoustic that will last years.
The Fender CD-60S is a versatile mahogany dreadnought with impressive bass and balanced tone. Fender craftsmanship makes this a bargain at under $200. Easy playing neck, though may require a setup. On-board tuner is convenient. Overall a sturdy, warm sounding acoustic for beginners.
The Epiphone DR-100, a mahogany dreadnought, impressed me with its deep low end and defined mids right away. Made by Gibson’s Epiphone brand, it’s budget-friendly but doesn’t feel or sound cheap. The tapered neck feels sleek. A great starter guitar to grow into.
Ibanez’s PF15ECE concert acoustic has a stylish single-cutaway look. The smaller body feels comfortable to handle and play either seated or standing. Full, bright tone thanks to its spruce top. Onboard tuner makes tuning easy. A great electric guitarist’s acoustic.
Not the cheapest beginner acoustic guitar on the list, the Taylor GS-Mini offers a lot of value for the price. It has a solid spruce top and layered sapele back and sides which deliver a bright and punchy sound.
FAQ – Common Beginner Acoustic Guitar Questions
What is the best acoustic guitar for beginners overall?
Overall the Yamaha FG800 is my top recommendation for its quality materials, balanced sound, and playability right from the factory. Its price under $300 is extremely competitive for what you receive. A perfect first acoustic.
What is the best acoustic for kids and small beginners?
For a child or smaller body size, check out the Little Martin LX1. It’s a 3/4 scale guitar with modified neck width and string spacing to fit young players while still making chords clear. Well well-constructed and fun.
Find Your Beginner Acoustic Guitar!
Hopefully, this breakdown gives you confidence in choosing a great starter acoustic for your needs, budget, and playing style. Trust that the big brands design quality entry-level models. Prioritize playability and tone that motivates practicing.
Remember that learning guitar requires time and patience no matter what instrument you choose. But picking an acoustic you connect with will make the experience more enjoyable while building skills. With consistent practice and an enthusiasm to learn, you’ll be making music in no time!