Are you learning how to play the guitar? Beginning musicians often have difficulty purchasing instruments. When you don't know how to play a particular instrument, understanding what features to look for when shopping feels confusing.
Fortunately, you can find an excellent acoustic guitar, even if you're a total beginner. We've rounded up the 11 best acoustic guitars for beginners this year, plus a complete shopping guide:
The 11 Best Beginner Acoustic Guitars This Year
Here's a rundown of our 11 favorites. No matter your age or ability level, you'll find a quality guitar below that will meet your needs:
Fender's FA-125 is our top choice for beginners. Aside from the guitar, you also get a gig bag, tuner, strings, picks, a strap, and an instructional DVD. If you're learning how to play, you'll find everything you need here.
The guitar itself is well-made with a stylish, classic design. The dreadnought body has a spruce top with basswood on the back and sides. The bridge and fingerboard are made from walnut.
It's a lightweight, durable guitar that's comfortable to hold. Beginners will feel right at home playing it. Plus, Fender is a trusted name in guitars. If you want to upgrade your beginner guitar later, you'll find plenty of familiar-feeling options within the Fender line.
- A well-made acoustic guitar with dreadnought body
- It's made from spruce, basswood, and walnut
- Fender is a trusted name in music
- Doesn't include a capo
- The soft cover won't protect from a major impact
Jasmine's S35 is a natural choice for beginners. It's a dreadnought guitar with a slim neck and a comfortable feel. It's easy to hold and handle, even if you have small hands.
It has a spruce top with agathis on the back and side. The fingerboard and bridge are made of rosewood. Overall, it's attractive, durable, and lightweight.
It creates a large, crisp sound when played. Additionally, the satin finish boosts the sound quality. Easy for a beginner to pick up and play, it's a well-rounded starting guitar.
- Design is comfortable for beginners to hold
- Spruce and rosewood construction
- Includes strap, tuner, instructional DVD and more
- Not as durable as some of the other options
Portable and easy to play, this 38-inch guitar packs a big sound thanks to its all-wood design, user-friendly fretboard, and classic body shape.
The set includes a guitar pick, a shoulder strap, a set of extra strings, a pitch pipe, and a digital tuner. You also get a nylon carrying case.
It's a great choice if you want to take your guitar with you because it's incredibly portable. The total dimensions are 38" long by 3.25" wide by 14" high. Finding these types of guitars in acoustic-electric style is great with top portable guitar amps!
- All-wood construction produces a full, dynamic sound
- Includes tuner, extra strings, pick, and other accessories
- Shoulder strap and carrying case make it easy to transport
- It falls out of tune frequently
- Not very durable
Best Handcrafted Option
Pyle's Classic Acoustic Guitar proves that a guitar made for beginners doesn't have to be poorly made. Their 36" beginner guitar is handcrafted with a linden body, birch headstock, and a rosette linden laminate.
It has a classic body style that's lightweight and comfortable to hold, making it an excellent choice for both adults and kids. You get everything you need to play, including spare strings, picks, a pitch pipe tuner, and more.
It's 36" long with a body length of 17.3" and a neck length of 18.5". It's portable and easy to travel with thanks to the included carrying bag.
- Handcrafted construction with linden, birch, and rosewood
- It’s portable and easy to carry
- Includes full supply of accessories
- Includes strings and picks aren’t great quality
Yamaha's JR1 is three-quarters the size of a traditional guitar. Its compact size makes it ideal for kids and teens because they can hold it comfortably.
However, the small size doesn't diminish the sound quality. With a spruce top and sides, and a rosewood fretboard, the JR1 produces a dynamic sound with solid, clear tones. Aside from its great sound, the guitar also has a beautiful, stylish appearance.
You get everything you need with this set, including a strap, strings, pick, and a soft carrying case. Start guitar lessons early with a small body guitar that your kids will love.
- The 3/4-size guitar is ideal for kids
- Quality construction includes spruce top and rosewood fretboard
- Includes all necessary accessories
- Small size not always comfortable for adults (unless you need a guitar for smaller hands!)
- Replacement cases for a 3/4 guitar are often tricky to find
Best Budget-Friendly Guitar
YMC's Coffee Beginner Guitar is an excellent guitar for budget-conscious beginners. It's a well-made guitar that includes all necessary accessories, including strings, picks, a tuner, bag, and holding strap.
The guitar is 38" long with steel strings. It's an excellent guitar for beginners because it's durable, easy to hold, and far more affordable than guitars with similar features. Additionally, it has full wood construction, which creates a beautiful, deep sound.
Another reason this guitar is ideal for beginners is that it's ideal for playing popular music such as rock, country, and jazz. The ability to accurately reproduce familiar tones when playing favorite songs is often reassuring for a beginning player.
- All-wood construction creates quality sound
- All-in-one set includes a wide range of accessories
- Affordable and well-made
- Frets are uncomfortably sharp
- Guitar's paint job is poorly done
When you're first starting to play guitar, you want to try out all of your favorite songs. Donner's DAG-1CB is an awesome introductory guitar because it's well-suited for practically all major types of popular music. The 41" cutaway dreadnought body produces full, rich tones.
It's a full set that includes not only the guitar but also a gig bag, strap, strings, clip-on tuner, picks, and even a polishing cloth. Plus, it's stylish, too, with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides.
Additionally, it's worth mentioning Donner's excellent commitment to customer satisfaction. You get a full 30-days to check out the guitar and return it for a full money-back guarantee if it's not for you.
- Cutaway dreadnought body
- Suitable for playing all genres of music
- Stylish design with spruce and mahogany
- Includes 30-day money-back guarantee
- Cutaway design isn't always easy for beginners to hold
Ashthorpe's Acoustic-Electric Guitar is one of our favorite acoustic-electric guitars. It's a well-constructed guitar made from A-grade spruce and basswood. It's durable, lightweight, and easy to play.
It's an excellent option for players of all skill levels, so you don't have to worry about buying a new guitar as your abilities improve. The cutaway design allows you easy access to the top frets.
Plus, the onboard pickup is easy to use. It allows you to adjust the bass, midrange, treble, and presence. Whether you want to play pure acoustic or hook your guitar up to an amp, Ashthorpe delivers.
- Durable spruce and basswood construction
- Cutaway design for advanced playing
- Includes a quality onboard pickup
- Cutaway design can pose a challenge for beginners
Learning how to properly tune a guitar is often a frustrating hurdle for many beginning players, but Vangoa's acoustic offering helps make it easier. The guitar's tuning pegs have a ratio of 18:1, which allows for an amazing level of precision.
Not only is it easy to tune, but it's also easy to play. The string tension remains balanced even over a long period of time because a built-in truss rod helps mitigate the effects of shrinkage. Additionally, the adjustable neck helps keep your hands comfortable when playing.
As with many guitars on our list, this one includes all the accessories you need, such as picks, a strap, a clip-on tuner, extra strings, and more. Of special note is the high-quality of the padded carry bag.
- Allows for precision tuning
- Minimized string imbalance
- Includes a full range of accessories
- Cutaway design can pose challenges for beginners
Best for Girls
Do you know a young girl who is interested in playing guitar, but wants one with a traditionally girly style? She'll likely love this pink acoustic from Master Play.
It has all-wood construction, so it's highly durable and won't crack when dropped. That makes it an excellent choice for young kids, who aren't exactly known to treat all their belongings carefully.
Even though it's designed for kids, it's still a solid guitar that stays in tune and produces a dynamic, authentic sound.
- Bright pink coloring
- Durable construction well-suited for kids
- Easy to keep in tune
- Designed for kids
Best General Purpose
If you're looking for a quality acoustic, but don't want tons of fancy features, this dreadnaught from Sawtooth is a good choice. It has a spruce top with mahogany sides to create a full, rich sound.
It's easy to play with a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard, a rosewood bridge, and chrome hardware. The dreadnought shape is ideal for newbies because it's easy to hold and play. Aside from the guitar, you also get a host of accessories.
- All-around quality construction with spruce and mahogany
- Includes numerous accessories
- Generic design
- The included guitar stand is poor quality and not stable
Guide to Finding an Acoustic Guitars as a Beginner
Beginners often have a hard time selecting an acoustic guitar. After all, most acoustic guitars look fairly similar. Plus, beginners can't pick up a guitar and just play a quick tune, which makes comparing guitars difficult.
Fortunately, you can find a great guitar even if you don't know how to play. Here's a closer look at what you need to know.
Acoustic Guitar Body Types
The first thing to consider is the guitar's shape and style. There are five main types:
- Small Body
The guitar's style affects more than aesthetics. It also influences what sound the guitar produces, including its tone and loudness.
Additionally, the size and shape of the guitar affect its ergonomics. As a new player, you want a guitar that's easy to hold, and some body styles are easier than others.
Let's take a closer look at each type of acoustic guitar:
Dreadnought – Best for Beginners
When you picture an acoustic guitar, you're likely picturing a dreadnought. It's the most popular type of acoustic guitar, preferred by players of all skill levels.
As a beginner, a dreadnought is a good choice because it easily produces a clean, dynamic sound. Also, it's easy and comfortable to hold.
(Wondering what's up with the weird name? They're named after a type of English battleship with a vaguely-similar shape.)
Parlor – Okay for Beginners
A parlor guitar has a smaller, narrower body compared to the dreadnought. Their small size creates a unique sound that emphasizes mid-range tones. You'll hear this guitar used primarily in blues, folk, and indie music.
Jumbo – Not Ideal for Beginners
The Jumbo is the big boy of the group. It produces the loudest, most bass-heavy sound (though definitely not a bass guitar). While some beginners like a Jumbo, keep in mind that holding it correctly isn't as easy as holding a dreadnought or parlor.
Auditorium – Beginners Stay Away
Size-wise, an auditorium sits between the Parlor and Dreadnaught. It's also known as a concert or grand concert guitar. It allows for flatpicking, finger-styling, and strumming. For the most part, beginners want to avoid an Auditorium as their first guitar. It’s just too complicated for when you’re learning.
Small Body – Great for Kids
A Small Body guitar is a smaller version of a Dreadnaught. It sounds basically the same, although it's easier to hold. Small Body acoustic guitars are ideal for kids or anyone else who might have difficulty holding a Dreadnaught. It's also the most portable type of acoustic guitar.
Acoustic guitars have one of two types of strings:
- Steel Strings
- Nylon Strings
Strings aren't interchangeable on the same guitar. You'll need to choose either a steel-string or nylon-string acoustic. Here's a closer look at each:
Steel-string acoustic guitars are the most popular option. They're used in a wide range of music, including rock, pop, and country guitar songs. Steel strings produce full, loud, and crisp tones.
However, each string holds a lot of tension. Playing steel strings can hurt your hands, especially if you're a beginner, just developing finger strength and conditioning. You need a fair amount of finger strength to hold down the strings.
Nylon strings create mellow tones. They're used in classical and flamenco acoustics. Aside from those specific genres, they're otherwise not terribly common.
Another name for a nylon-string guitar is a classic guitar. Compared to a steel-string guitar, a classic guitar has a wide neck and shorter fretboard. It's a necessary shape because the nylon strings are wider than the steel ones.
Parts of an Acoustic Guitar
An acoustic guitar is divided into three sections:
The neck of a guitar is the long, flat portion. It contains the fretboard. Pressing a string on a fret changes the tension on the strings. Changing the tension changes the pitch and note. As you go higher up the fretboard, you create a higher pitch.
At the end of the neck is the guitar's head. It's where you tune the guitar. By tuning the guitar, you're setting a default pitch.
The body has the biggest influence on the sound of the guitar. The section of the guitar where the bridge connects to the strings is called the “top” of the body. Most acoustic guitars have a solid wood top because that produces the richest sound.
The back and sides of the body are then constructed from either solid wood or laminate. We'll discuss the differences below.
The tonewood type refers to the wood used in various sections of the guitar. Each section can have either solid or laminate tonewood.
Solid tonewood is made from a single, solid piece of wood. It's more durable and typically produces a richer, fuller sound. Solid tonewood is typically considered a sign of high-quality construction in an acoustic guitar.
Additionally, solid tonewood improves over time. As the guitar ages, the wood produces deeper tones and improved resonance. That's why vintage acoustic guitars are such collector's items; they literally sound better than newer guitars.
Laminate is a process where a core piece of high-quality wood is covered by layers of low-quality wood. It's cheaper (you'll see this alot with some great cheap acoustic guitars to manufacture than solid tonewood, so guitars with laminate sections are often less expensive.
Additionally, laminate withstands humidity and temperature changes better than solid wood. If you live in a humid location or frequently travel, you'll appreciate the increased durability of laminate tonewood.
On the downside, laminate doesn't produce the crisp, dynamic tone of solid wood. Instead, because the laminate doesn't conduct vibrations very effectively, it creates a relatively thinner, darker tone.
Composite wood is an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to solid wood. Sawdust, wood chips, and paper are pressed together and then sealed with resin or adhesive. Although the sound quality isn't quite as high as solid wood, it's typically considered a step-up from laminate.
Which Tonewood is Best for Beginners?
Don't dismiss laminate. While it doesn't produce the absolute best sound, it's also cheaper and more durable – two features you want in a guitar as a beginner.
Remember the three parts of an acoustic guitar? The top has the biggest influence over the total sound. You'll find many of the best acoustic guitars place solid wood on the top but laminate on the body. That pairing usually creates a nice blend of affordability and sound quality.
If you're a beginning player, you probably don't need solid tonewood in every section. The improved sound quality isn't necessary if you're learning. Plus, you typically don't want to spend big when buying your first guitar, because you might want to upgrade to a new guitar later.
Acoustic Guitar Wood Type
Here's where it gets a little confusing. Tonewood typically refers to the style of the wood used in a guitar, either solid or laminate. However, it can also refer to the species of wood.
Each type of wood has a specific firmness, density, and weight. These properties affect the sound produced by the guitar. Here's a closer look at the most common types of wood:
Spruce is a common wood used in guitars, especially steel-string acoustics. It produces clear, articulate tones and an overall balanced sound. Popular species of spruce include Stika, Engelmann, and Adirondack.
There are two reasons why spruce is good for beginners. It's lightweight, so it's easy to hold, even for kids. Additionally, spruce is durable, so it naturally helps protect against scratches and damage.
Mahogany is another popular option. It's a dense wood that helps level the sound range, a process referred to as natural compression.
It's most commonly used on the body of an acoustic guitar. A mahogany body helps add fullness to help dial down the cutting tone of a spruce top. Although not as common, mahogany is also used as a top, where it helps accentuate midrange tones.
Walnut is similar to mahogany. It helps add fullness and clarity to mid-range tones. Walnut is most often used in guitar bodies.
As a beginning guitarist, you're probably not going to need a guitar with cedar sections. It's a soft, highly-responsive wood typically used in classical and flamenco acoustic guitars. Typically, cedar isn't used very often in beginner guitars.
Rosewood is commonly used on the back and sides of acoustic guitars. It's also a common type of wood used to make fingerboards and bridges.
The three most popular species of rosewood are Brazilian, Indian, and Granadillo, which is also referred to as Mexican rosewood.
Acoustic-Electric Guitars: What are They?
Perhaps surprisingly, electronics often play a big role in the world of acoustic guitars. You can connect almost any type of acoustic guitar to the following electronic components:
- PA System
- Mixing/Studio Equipment
There are two ways to connect an acoustic guitar to any of those systems.
Acoustic-electric guitars are the most common type. They include onboard electronics built into the guitar's body. You can plug the guitar into an amp. It's used for both live performing and recording.
You'll find a variety of different types of acoustic-electric guitars. The most common type is what's called a piezo pickup. It uses crystals to turn the vibrations inside the guitar into electric signals. Other types of acoustic-electric guitars use sensors, internal mics, or a combination.
Most acoustic-electric guitars also use a preamp. It allows you to control the volume, bass, treble, and other features. You can also control these variables through your external sound system, but a preamp lets you make changes while you play.
Consider: Top Cheap Electric Guitars Today
The term sounds like a mouthful, but it just means any acoustic guitar without built-in electronics.
First, you can use a standalone mic. While that's easy to set up, the sound quality is usually poor. You can't move the guitar when you play in front of a standalone mic. Also, the mic has difficulty picking up clear details.
Instead, you'll want an external pickup. It mounts directly to the soundhole of your acoustic guitar, which picks up the sound with far greater accuracy than a standalone mic.
Finally, some acoustic guitars have amplification effects built directly into the design. They play at a clear, loud volume suitable for live performance. However, these are typically high-end guitars that aren't the best choice for beginners.
How Do I Know if My Acoustic Guitar Works with an Amp?
If you want to connect your acoustic guitar to an amp, you generally should have an easy time. Almost all acoustic guitars, even antiques, can typically connect to an amp using one of the methods listed above.
First, check the make and model number of the guitar. Acoustic-electric guitars often have the letters "CE" printed somewhere in that number. It stands for Cutaway-Electric.
Additionally, your acoustic guitar will plug into an amp if it meets any of the following conditions:
- It has a built-in pickup and preamp (called an "onboard pickup")
- It has a built-in microphone with instrument jack
- It has a soundhole for an external pickup
If your acoustic guitar doesn't have any of those features, you'll need to use a standalone microphone.
Learning to play the guitar doesn't happen overnight, but it's often a lot easier when you have a guitar that's well-made, comfortable, and produces a clear and dynamic sound.
All of the acoustic guitars on our list are specially designed to accommodate beginners to guitar. Additionally, many of them are durable enough for kids to use without worrying about accidental damage.
If you're not sure which guitar to buy, our top recommendation is the Fender FA-125 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar. It's comfortable to hold, easy to play, and made from a trusted name in music. Adults and kids of all skill levels will find lots to like with this guitar.
Use our guide above to select the perfect acoustic guitar for your needs. You'll play your favorite songs sooner than you may think!