Beginner Guitar – Comparisons
Beginner Guitar – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews
So you are looking for the absolute Best Beginner Guitar
The choice of what to buy as your first guitar is one of the most important choices, that any guitarist will ever make. This is because if he or she really likes the guitar, they will want to play it. If not, it will just gather dust in a corner.
To be honest, it’s actually the most important guitar purchase that any guitarist, or guitarists’ parents, ever make. This is because it has more influence, on whether the aspiring guitarist takes up the instrument than any other.
And the worst thing is, that this decision, has to be made when the guitarist doesn’t actually know, what they should and shouldn’t be looking for, in the best beginner guitar.
But, don’t worry, I am here to help, and have picked 5 of the best beginner guitars currently on the market, for you to choose from. I’ve chosen acoustics and electrics, so one of them will be the perfect fit for you.
But before we get to that, here’s some information that should also help make the decision easier…
The Basics of Acoustic Guitars
There are several ways in which acoustic guitars and electric guitars are different. The most significant difference is that an acoustic is a standalone instrument and doesn’t need to be plugged into an amplifier to be heard.
Acoustics are generally larger and have a sound chamber inside them. This sound chamber combines the resonance of the guitar’s top, sides and back as you play the strings. And then sends the combined sound out of the sound hole for the world to hear.
The Woods used in Acoustic Guitars
The woods used in the construction of acoustic guitars has a major impact on their sound. The wood used for the top being the most important. Higher quality acoustics, which are generally outside the budget of most beginners feature solid spruce, mahogany, cedar or other tonewoods. These produce crisp, articulate sounding guitars.
In order to keep the costs down, laminate tops, which are made from several layers of wood pressed together, are often normally used on beginner guitars. It is durable and is actually better suited to some climates than solid woods. It can also look quite attractive.
The problem is that it doesn’t produce as good a sound as solid wood. Solid tops produce the best sounding guitars. Unfortunately, they are outside the budget of most (but not all) beginners guitars, so you’ll have to settle for a laminate.
Also, beware of guitars which feature a ‘select spruce top,’ unless the word ‘solid’ is used, it’s a laminate. Select Spruce Top acoustics are also made of laminated woods but have a spruce-like grain pattern imprinted on them.
Size is Important!
Regardless of what anyone tells you – when it comes to acoustic guitars – Size is Important!
Larger instruments, such as dreadnoughts and especially jumbos, produce more volume. They also have a warm, round tone that accentuates the bass end. Smaller acoustics, such as parlor guitars, have a brighter tone with more mid-range and top-end.
Both acoustic and electric guitars have steel strings, acoustics tend to use more brass in their formulas, but on the whole, they are the same. Classical and flamenco guitars use nylon strings.
(Musical) Style is everything
While on the subject of classical and flamenco guitars, they actually make terrible beginners guitars unless the student actually wants to play classical pieces or flamenco.
The reason is that even an accomplished guitarist playing a great song on a high-quality classical guitar will still sound like pants.
They are not made for pop, rock, country, jazz or indie. So don’t use them for those styles.
I personally think that is the number one reason why guitar students of all ages give up so quickly, is because what they play sounds terrible. And if they are playing a guitar which is completely unsuitable for the style they want to play, like a pop player on a classical, they will give up.
So please, please, please don’t get a classical guitar for yourself or your kids unless you or they actually want to play classical music on it!
Sit down with it, tune it and you’re away
Acoustic guitars are standalone instruments, with no preparation needed. If you like simplicity than an acoustic guitar is a great first buy.
You sit down with it, tune it, and you’re away.
Acoustic guitars generally use heavier-gauge strings than electrics. These require stronger fingers to play the notes properly than when using the lighter-gauge strings used on electrics.
The action, which is the distance between the string and the fretboard, also tends to be higher on acoustics than electrics, which again means more finger strength is needed. These two factors do make acoustics harder to play than electrics.
The Basics of Electric Guitars
Electric guitars require some other equipment to produce a sound, basically a cable and an amplifier. They are generally smaller and thinner than acoustics and use lighter-gauge strings.
Electric guitars depend on electronic pickups, not the body of the guitar, to generate a sound. The amplifier that the electric guitar is plugged into, as well as it’s settings, will also have an effect on how the guitar sounds.
There are far more tonal and sound options with electric guitars than acoustic guitars. Just think of all the great electric guitar sounds you’ve heard on your favorite songs, from clean, country chicken-pickin’ to down and dirty rock. The versatility of an electric just can’t be matched by an acoustic guitar.
If you’re buying an electric guitar for one of your kids, make sure you know exactly what kind of music they are into and who their favorite bands and guitarists are. Then use this information to get them a guitar that is suitable for that style.
Which is the best beginner guitar for you?
The answer is actually more straightforward than you think – the best beginner guitar for you is whichever guitar that best suits your style.
If you want to rock out in stadiums, then an electric is the obvious choice. If playing rhythm in a line dancing band is your dream, then go with an acoustic.
The fact is, you’ll end up with both in the end anyway. And if you’re like most guitarists, multiple versions of both, so it isn’t a deal breaker. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking, that you should get an acoustic, then work your way up to an electric. If an electric is what you want to play, then just get one straight away.
The good news is that anything you learn on one of the instruments translates instantly to the other. They both use the exact same chords, scales, tunings, etc.
You do play each a little differently, and there are some techniques which are more suited to one than the other. But on the whole, there really isn’t that much difference between them in terms of playing.
Beginner acoustic guitars
Here are my top picks for the best beginner guitars in a few different categories. Depending on what type of guitarist you are, one may suit you better than another, but that will all be explained in each of the reviews.
Each one offers excellent quality for the price and would be suitable for anyone who is about to start their guitar journey.
The Best Beginner Guitar for Acoustic Folk, Rock, Pop, Country, and Songwriting
Yamaha FG800 Folk Acoustic Guitar
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Nato Back & Sides
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Rosewood Bridge
- Diecast Tuners
First introduced in 1966, the Yamaha FG shook the guitar world and proved that a great acoustic guitar could be affordable. With effortless playability, outstanding build quality, and a superb sound, the original FG180 quickly became a classic, with countless hit records starting life on a Yamaha FG.
More than 50 years later and the line continues to offer the same playability, high-quality build, and sound, for an incredibly low cost. I think you’ll actually struggle to find many pro guitarists who haven’t owned an FG at some point in their careers.
The 800 Series has excellent low to mid-range tone, thanks to the cutting-edge acoustic analysis technology that has been developed by Yamaha’s R&D Division. Their engineers have achieved this by using software tools and simulations, to arrive at the best scalloped bracing design possible.
The Yamaha FG800A features a solid Sitka spruce top which gives it a sound typical of far more expensive instruments. The top is complemented by a Nato back and sides, with a rosewood bridge and fingerboard.
The tone is well balanced and offers excellent note definition.
The guitar is simply fantastic for the price, no other acoustic offers more. It’s a worthy successor to all the great FG acoustics that have gone before it and proudly continues Yamaha’s excellent reputation for producing the best quality affordable acoustics.
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top.
- Great tone.
- Superb Build Quality.
- Unbelievable low price.
- I hate to say it, but absolutely none, it’s as close to perfection as you can get for the price.
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar – Black
- Full-size dreadnought body for full and vibrant tone, suited for all styles of music
- Rosewood bridge with compensated synthetic bone saddle
- Laminated spruce top with X bracing
- 20-fret fingerboard with dot inlays
- Chrome hardware
Ok, let’s start off by saying that, yes, I did gush a little about how good the Yamaha is. And I do stand by everything I said, but some players will want something different. So it’s only fair to give you another choice.
So, I’ve gone for another legendary name in guitar building, Fender, as an alternative for those who for whatever reason don’t really like the Yamaha.
The Fender FA-100 Acoustic Guitar offers you the sound and build quality of Fender, as well as superb value for money. It’s actually even cheaper than the Yamaha.
This rich-sounding dreadnought features a laminated spruce top with X bracing for a full and resonant sound. It has an exclusive Fender headstock shape, a 20-fret hardwood fingerboard, Fender pickguard, a rosewood bridge, and chrome hardware.
It’s suitable for all musical styles and is, all in all, an excellent guitar for the money. But it simply isn’t as good as a Yamaha FG800. However, I would take it over anything else at this price range, which I suppose makes it the second-best beginners guitar.
- Full-size dreadnought body for full and vibrant tone.
- Rosewood bridge with compensated synthetic bone saddle.
- Laminated spruce top with X bracing.
- 20-fret fingerboard with dot inlays.
- Chrome hardware.
- It isn’t a Yamaha FG800
The Best Beginner Guitar for Country, Surf or Indie
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s
- Pine body with gloss polyester finish
- 1-Piece Maple, Modern C Shape neck, 9.5 in radius maple fingerboard and 21 medium jumbo frets
- 2 Custom Vintage Style Single-Coil Tele Pickups with AlNiCo 3 Magnets
- Vintage Style Strings-Thru-Body Tele Bridge with 3 Brass Barrel Saddles
- Master volume and master tone controls with 3 position pickup selector switch
If you’re looking for the best beginners guitar for electric country, surf or indie then this is the guitar for you. I know the three musical styles are vastly different, but this guitar will handle any of them effortlessly.
It will obviously also do pop, rock, blues, etc. very well, but the next few choices are better suited to those styles.
Based on the iconic Fender Tele of the ’50s, the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s takes the vintage “blackguard” Telecaster vibe and puts it into a gorgeous Blonde-finished pine-body.
Featuring the classic Fender design, smooth playability, and the Tele’s simple controls, the Classic Vibe Telecaster makes a great first electric guitar.
It’s so nicely done that if you ignore the name on the headstock, you’ll actually be hard-pressed to tell if your holding a premium ash-body Fender instrument or this Squier.
The modern 9.5” radius maple neck, is gloss finished and features a maple fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets.
The custom Alnico III pickups, feature distinctive Telecaster tone rings and give clear note separation even when distorted. They offer a dynamic midrange response and plenty of high-end bite.
The fixed bridge design and quality machine heads ensure consistent, simple and reliable tuning. This is one of the major frustrations encountered by beginners who learn on poor quality instruments.
The single volume and tone controls, as well as the two single-coil pickups, give the beginner a wide range of easily controllable tones.
The Telecaster has been a classic since it was introduced in the 1950s, so get one and join the massive number of guitarists before you who have fallen in love with this guitar.
- Classic Look.
- Great sounds for the price.
- Good build quality.
- Some guitars seem to have tuning issues.
There are a lot of beginners value bundles or packages available, and these offer incredible value for money. Not only will you get a great guitar, but also everything you need to go with it to start playing straight away.
For an acoustic bundle, these can include a gig bag to protect the guitar, a strap, a tuner, and some picks. Electric bundles normally contain a small amplifier and a guitar cable as well.
These bundles offer you everything you need in one convenient package. You’ll also save yourself some money because the combined price is normally far lower than when purchasing each of the items separately.
Best Beginner Guitar Bundle for Rock, Blues or Punk/Pop-Punk
Epiphone Les Paul SL Starter Pack, Heritage Cherry Sunburst
- Everything you need to begin learning guitar today
- Les Paul SL with single coil pickups
- Battery operated "MityPRO" mini amp
- Gigbag, picks, and strap
- Online lessons by eMedia and EON Mobile App
The Epiphone Les Paul SL starter pack is, in my opinion, the best beginner guitar bundle for rock, blues or punk players. It comes with absolutely everything you need to begin learning guitar, apart from a tuner, which you’ll have to buy separately.
The Les Paul SL from Epiphone is very loosely based on a Gibson Les Paul Junior, but with a different pickguard design and two pickups. It’s an excellent choice for beginners looking for classic Les Paul vibes.
With its lightweight body and two single-coil ceramic pickups, this model is well suited to cover a variety of musical styles and genres, but I would personally choose it for rock styles, as well as blues and punk/pop-punk.
It’s available in six distinct finishes. These are Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Pacific Blue, Natural Yellow Sun, Turquoise, Vintage Sunburst, and Ebony.
The Epiphone Les Paul SL Player Pack includes the Les Paul SL, an amplifier, cable, picks, and Online and App guitar lessons.
- Everything you need to begin learning guitar.
- Les Paul looks and heritage.
- Battery operated “MityPRO” mini amp.
- Gigbag, picks, and strap.
- Online lessons by eMedia and EON Mobile App.
- No Tuner is included, even though some sellers say it is.
- The Zipper on the gig bag is not the best.
Best Beginners Guitar for Pop, Funk or just about anything else!
Squier by Fender Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster Electric Guitar Black – Maple Fingerboard
- Basswood Body
- Maple C Shape neck w/ 9.5" radius, 21 Medium Jumbo frets and a Maple fingerboard
- 3 Duncan Designed SC-101 Single-Coil Pickups
- Vintage Style Synchronized Tremolo
- Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 2. (Middle Pickup)
If you’re a Strat man, then you’ll love the Vintage Modified ’70s Stratocaster. It more than delivers the distinctive look of a workhorse 1970s Fender Strat.
There are two models to choose from, an all-Black maple-fingerboard model or a Vintage White rosewood-fingerboard model. Both feature the large headstock design of the era, a vintage-tint gloss neck and black plastic parts as you would expect on a 70s Strat.
Its features include a basswood body, a maple neck with a 9.5″-radius fingerboard and 21 medium jumbo frets. The fret inlay markers are black dot on the Black model or parchment on the Vintage white model.
Electronics wise, it has three Duncan Designed SC-101 single-coil pickups, each with black covers, a five-way pickup switch with a black tip, and a three-ply pickguard (white-black-white or black-white-black depending on the model).
As to the shiny bits, it’s got a vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge with a vintage-style tremolo arm. I hate to keep on saying vintage, but it’s also got vintage-style chrome tuners, and chrome hardware and an engraved neck plate.
It sounds like a Strat. Obviously, it hasn’t got the depth of tone of an actual 50s Strat, but that’s not be expected for the price.
It plays well, looks the part and sounds great, that’s what makes it my personal pick for the best beginners guitar for anyone who wants to play pop or funk as well as a vast number of the other musical styles.
- Good looking guitar.
- Sounds great for the price.
- Good build quality.
- Some fret calibration and edging issues on some guitars
- Factory Set-up is not always good, and I recommend that this, as well as any other guitar, is professionally set up when you get it.
The Best Beginner Guitar for You!
Unlike most of my roundups, there is no overall winner in this one, that’s because, as the great Errol Brown from Hot Chocolate sang, everyone’s a winner baby!
Think about what you or your child wants to play on the guitar and then choose the guitar that is best suited to that style.
Any of these guitars will serve you well as your best beginners guitar. If in a few years, with more playing experience, you decide you want something different, then get what you want.
But try not to sell your first guitar, you will regret it years later, so do your best to hold on to it if you can.
You can use it as a spare or just put it on a wall and look at it occasionally and think of the good times you had when you first started out on the long journey to become the guitarist you now are.