Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners in 2020
So, you want to learn to play guitar. Great! But, you’ve searched online for acoustic guitars and there are hundreds, thousands. How on Earth do you decide which one to go for? Well, there are a few things to look out for, from different shapes and sizes to the woods used to create them.
Here, we will look at a guide to some of the best products currently on the market followed by a guide on what to look out for. To make it easy for you, the pros and cons of each are listed, as well as a note about who each one is best suited to.
- 1 Product Round-up and Reviews – The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
- 2 1. Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar Bundle
- 3 2. Fender CC-60S Beginner Concert Pack
- 4 3. Yamaha FG800
- 5 4. Fender CD-60SCE
- 6 5. Antonio Giuliani Classical Mahogany Guitar
- 7 6. Pyle Beginner 36” Classical Acoustic Guitar
- 8 7. J & Z Classical Guitar Acoustic Guitar ¾
- 9 What are the Different Shapes and Sizes for Acoustic Guitars
- 10 Which Type of Wood to Look for?
- 11 What to avoid when buying a beginner guitar
- 12 What accessories to look out for in a beginner guitar bundle
- 13 Nylon or Steel strings?
- 14 Summary
Product Round-up and Reviews – The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
1. Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar Bundle
Fender is a brand you know you can trust. This full-size dreadnought is perfect for adult beginners. As well as feeling and sounding substantial, its walnut fingerboard (with a matching bridge) enables a quality sustain and a rich sound. Whilst the laminated basswood back and sides encourage decent projection, all at a great price! On top of this, the Fender FA-115 acoustic guitar bundle is just that: a bundle. A gig bag, tuner, strap, strings, picks and instructional DVD are all included.
- Great value for money with plenty of accessories.
- Walnut fingerboard is smooth on the fingers and rich in sound.
- Dreadnought shape is great for strumming chords.
- Laminated basswood back helps the sound to project.
- It’s a bit bulky, so won’t suit all beginners.
- The back and sides are laminate, which lacks richness compared to solid woods.
2. Fender CC-60S Beginner Concert Pack
Best for fingerpicking/lead
This concert body Fender CC-60S is perfect for smaller players, or those who prefer finger-picking and lead playing to strumming. Like the FA-115, it comes as part of a bundle, including a gig bag, strap, picks and spare strings. This guitar also boasts a solid spruce top, with a mahogany back and sides. The fingerboard and bridge are walnut, enabling a smoothness on the fingers as well as a richness of sound. This is a beautiful guitar, perfect for those serious about learning to play
- Concert body is great for finger-picking or lead playing
- Solid spruce top offers superior resonance.
- Walnut fingerboard is smooth on the fingers and ears.
- Features an ‘easy to play’ neck to help beginners.
- The concert shape might not suit those who want to do more strumming, due to its lack of low-end.
- There are fewer accessories with this pack than the FA-115 bundle.
3. Yamaha FG800
Best for beginners under $300
Like the CC-60 and FA-115, this guitar comes as part of an impressive pack. With a tuner, strap, picks, spare strings, gig bag and even a cleaning cloth, it provides everything you need to get started and keep going. The guitar itself is comprised of a Nato/Okume back and sides, with a solid spruce top and scalloped bracing for superior resonance. The fretboard is rosewood, offering a stunning smoothness, and the body combines laminate and solid wood. The FG800 is a dreadnought shape, so it will be great for strummers, looking for a deep, rich sound.
- Comes as part of a fantastic bundle.
- Rosewood fretboard offers superior smoothness.
- Dreadnought shape is great for strumming.
- The dreadnought shape and loud volume of this guitar might not suit more delicate players.
- The body combines its solid wood with laminate.
4. Fender CD-60SCE
Best for beginners under $400
The first guitar on the list to contain a cutaway, this guitar is great for smaller players, or those who want to reach higher up the fretboard. It also has an ‘easy to play’ neck, making it great for those new to the instrument. It’s a dreadnought shape (with cutaway), making it excellent for deeper, rich sounds. Like the others, it comes as part of a fantastic bundle, including a strap, tuner, picks, cable and hard case. Yes, a cable, and hard case! This guitar has the fantastic benefit of doubling up as an electric. If you’re considering hitting the open mic nights, or recording yourself playing, this is the instrument for you.
- Electro-acoustic, so it’s easy to amplify.
- Comes with a hard case amongst all the other accessories you’ll need.
- Has a cutaway, making it comfortable for smaller players as well as easier to reach high frets.
- It might be a little pricey for many beginners.
- The body’s solid wood is mixed with laminate.
5. Antonio Giuliani Classical Mahogany Guitar
Best for classical, Best under $500
Antonio Giulani’s Classical Mahogany Guitar is perfect for those who want to learn to play classical music. It is high quality and has been assembled by professionals, making it ready to play right out of the box. The frets are crowned and polished, enabling a smooth, comfortable playing experience. The neck, back and sides are all made from high quality mahogany, whilst the fretboard is solid rosewood. The top is solid, made of Canadian cedar, giving it a well-balanced tone that brings out the smoothness of your playing. Like the other guitars, accessories are included. With the Antonio Giuliani model, you also get spare strings (half of which are nylon), a padded gig bag and a cleaning cloth.
- Perfect for classical musicians and assembled by professionals.
- Solid mahogany neck, back and sides enables a consistent richness of sound.
- A padded case, strings and cloth are included.
- Whilst it’s perfect for classical musicians, this guitar will be less suited to those wanting to learn popular music.
- It’s a little pricey.
6. Pyle Beginner 36” Classical Acoustic Guitar
Best beginner guitar for kids
Another classical guitar, but if you’re shopping for a child who’s into rock or pop, don’t look away! Many children learn to play all kinds of styles on a ¾ size classical. At 36”, this guitar is ¾ sized, making it great for children aged 7-11. It has the benefit of 3 nylon strings, which is easier on small fingers than metal. Also, it comes with picks, a tuner, spare strings and a strap. It truly is designed with the child in mind. The body is made from linden wood, giving it a well-balanced sound and the fretboard is dyed hardwood.
- ¾ sized, perfect for children aged 7-11.
- Comes with all the accessories you need to get started.
- Has a well-balanced sound and is lightweight.
- The woods used are nothing special when compared to mahogany or rosewood.
- It may seem a little pricey if you’re not sure the child will take to the instrument.
7. J & Z Classical Guitar Acoustic Guitar ¾
Best cheap beginner guitar for kids
The J&Z Classical Guitar is perfect for those shopping for a child, with a budget in mind. It includes all the accessories needed to play in a range of styles, including a tuner, picks and even a capo. They’ll be playing Ed Sheeran in no time. Like the Pyle, this instrument is ¾ size at 36”, making it light and easy to handle. It’s especially well-suited to children aged 7-11. The maple neck and fretboard give the guitar a bright sound, whilst the basswood top and back help it to project well.
- Includes plenty of accessories, including a capo.
- It’s good value for money.
- ¾ size is perfect for children aged 7-11.
- Some of the accessories aren’t as high in quality as you might wish.
- Nylon strings can lack the ‘twang’ of metal strings.
What are the Different Shapes and Sizes for Acoustic Guitars
Guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As a beginner, the ones you’re most likely to come across are dreadnought, concert and classical.
Dreadnought guitars are large, symmetrical, full-bodied guitars. They are deep-bodied, long and wide. Physically, they’re well-suited to adults with a large frame, whilst sound-wise their depth and richness is perfect for strumming.
Concert guitars are thinner, quieter and smaller than dreadnoughts. They’re also well-suited to adult beginners, but those with a smaller frame are likely to favour them. Sound-wise, they’re a little higher and brighter, as well as ordinarily a little quieter. Concert guitars are great for finger-picking or lead guitar.
Both dreadnoughts and concert guitars can sometimes contain a cutaway. This takes away from the symmetry of the shape, but does add the ability to easily reach higher frets. Guitars with a cutaway are also often preferred by smaller players, due to their ease-of-handling and slightly smaller shape.
Classical guitars are available in 1/3, ¾ and full-size shapes. ¾ size classical guitars are often the perfect choice for those buying for a child. Unlike dreadnoughts or concert guitars, classical guitars have nylon strings which are softer on the fingers. If you’re shopping for a child under 7, a ½ size instrument might be best. If you’re looking for a classical guitar for a child 7-11, a ¾ size is recommended. Any older, a full-size would be most appropriate.
Classical guitars have an enormous price-range. If you’re shopping for a child, it should be easy to find a beginner kit for less than $100.
Which Type of Wood to Look for?
Another very important element of a guitar is which wood it’s made from. As a newcomer to the instrument, you might be baffled by adverts claiming to be one wood or another, having no idea what makes one preferable. Well, there are a few to look out for:
Rosewood is the perfect wood for a fingerboard. As well as looking dark and beautiful, it’s smooth on the fingers and gives the guitar a rich sound. It’s also great for sustain. Whilst this used to be the chosen wood for many guitars, it has recently become endangered, leading to manufacturers choosing other woods, such as Walnut.
Walnut works well as an alternative to Rosewood. Like Rosewood, it offers a rich tone and is smooth on the fingers.
Maple can also be used on a fingerboard, but is more commonly found on the neck of a guitar. This can give the instrument a bright tone with a flatness which suits many fingerpickers and lead players.
Mahogany is an excellent choice of wood for guitars’ backs, necks, sides and more. It offers a well-balanced tone and high-quality projection. Many players with Mahogany guitars praise the richness of the sound as well as the natural, woodiness it brings.
What to avoid when buying a beginner guitar
Whilst many beginner guitars are very good, there are some which are less so. One crucial thing to avoid is a guitar with 6 identical strings. I have seen them several times, often bought from toy shops. Sadly, these guitars function as very little more than a toy. Progressive thickness in strings is essential to getting a guitar in tune. It’s probably best to avoid toy shops all together when looking for musical instruments.
Another thing to avoid is anything with very cheap looking tuning pegs. If the pegs look temperamental, the whole tuning will be temperamental. That’s one sure way to put a beginner off. It’s best to go for guitars with metal tuning pegs, or high quality plastic pegs on. The best way to find out is to try them out. However, it’s worth noting that nylon strings can take a while to ‘settle’. Just because a string doesn’t hold its tuning straight away, doesn’t mean it won’t in a few weeks.
What accessories to look out for in a beginner guitar bundle
One of the best things about beginner guitars is the fact they often come with fantastic bundles. Whilst some include just a spare set of strings, and perhaps a pick, you can get sets which have everything from cases to straps to tuners and more. If you’re looking for a guitar to take to lessons, it’s worth buying one which comes with a case. This will prevent any last minute panics, should the guitar need to be transported to school or elsewhere. It’s also well worth buying a guitar that comes with a tuner. The earlier kids – and adults – learn how to tune their own instruments, the better. Having the device from the get go will encourage this.
Nylon or Steel strings?
Many acoustic guitars come with steel strings. Indeed, a truly ‘acoustic’ guitar should come with 6 steel strings. Classical guitars, however, have 3 steel and 3 nylon strings. This is a popular choice amongst younger beginners, due to its ease on the fingers. Nylon strings also have a softer sound, and are better suited to fingerpicking.
If you plan on rocking out, using a pick and don’t mind too much about having sore fingertips, steel is the way to go. If you’re buying for a child who might be put off by stinging fingers, nylon is probably a better option.
As you can see, there are many great beginner guitars out there! However, certain products are better suited to certain types of beginner.
Are you an adult, looking for something to strum your heart out on? If so, the Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar Bundle and Yamaha FG800 both offer a rich sound, great projection and a smooth playing experience. If you’re more of a finger-picker, or lead player, the Fender CC-60S Beginner Concert Pack will suit you better due to its smaller size and brighter tone.
Those looking for something they can easily amplify, the Fender CD-60SCE is an electro-acoustic and also has a cutaway, making those high frets easier to access.
Classically-inclined beginners can rejoice in the Antonio Giuliani Classical Mahogany Guitar. It’s a little pricey, but everything about it screams ‘quality’.
Also technically ‘classical’ are the Pyle Beginner 36” Classical Acoustic Guitar and J & Z Classical Guitar Acoustic Guitar ¾. Both of these are designed with the beginning child in mind and come with accessories which suit a range of styles.
Whichever guitar you decide is best for you, I’d like to wish you all the best on your guitar-playing journey. If you take your first steps right, you’ll always look back on them with a smile.