How To

The Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners

Photograph of the blog post author, Darren Wilson

Darren Wilson

15.5.2020

Small blue and purple gradient divider

SHARE:

Your music career
Get ahead.
“Making it in this business, means making sure you have everything you need to succeed.”
What you can expect from our newsletters:
  • Industry news and tips
  • Opportunities to submit your music and collaborate with others
  • Free software and resources
  • Free membership to Music Gateway
Are you sure that email is right?
Thank you! Newsletters will be sent to: .
Is this the right email address? If not, you can correct it.
Junk mail? Hell no - we hate that stuff too!
Tap here to get our newsletter!
News and opportunities
Thank you! Newsletters will be sent to: .
Is this the right email address? If not, you can correct it.
Are you sure that email is right?

In this article, we will look at the wonderful acoustic guitar! Including different types, best guitars for beginners, recommendations with pricing and more. You may even be able to decide on your first acoustic guitar by the time you’ve finished reading this article! A versatile and charming instrument, it is a great tool for musicians to use. So, let’s start at the beginning…

What Is An Acoustic Guitar?

An acoustic guitar is a fretted musical instrument that projects the sound of its vibrating strings through the air. Acoustic guitars do not require electrical amplification to function. Alternatively, a separate amplifier is required to hear the sound produced by an electric guitar. However, many acoustic guitars also function as electric guitars (also known as an electro acoustic guitar). 

Acoustic guitars are generally more affordable than electric guitars, and they can be an ideal option for those on a budget. An acoustic guitar is the best guitar for beginners who want to start playing guitar immediately!

What Are The Different Types Of Acoustic Guitars?

There are several different types of acoustic guitar. Examples of different types of acoustic guitar are steel string, nylon string and archtops. 

Steel String Guitars

steel string guitar

The steel string acoustic guitar is one of the most common types used in music.

It is a versatile instrument and is suitable for many genres including folk, country, rock, and pop. This type of acoustic guitar sounds great when played solo, but it can also sound great when played as part of a band. The use of steel strings gives a fuller and richer tone, which compliments strumming chords, and acoustic fingerpicking. Steel string acoustic guitars are ideal for aspiring singer/songwriters. 

Musicians who use steel string acoustic guitars include Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd.

Nylon String Guitars

nylon string guitar

The nylon string acoustic guitar is the precursor to modern acoustic and electric guitars. This type of acoustic guitar is commonly called a classical guitar, although it is not limited to playing classical music.

It is suitable for genres such as classical, flamenco, jazz and bossa nova. Nylon string acoustic guitars use strings made of nylon instead of steel. Nylon strings are under less tension at pitch and are more flexible. As a result, nylon strings are softer to play compared to steel strings. Steel strings require a greater amount of force to fret notes properly. Nylon string acoustic guitars produce a much warmer sound compared to steel string acoustic guitars. This type of acoustic guitar usually has a wider fretboard to accommodate and complement fingerstyle guitar playing. 

Musicians who use nylon string acoustic guitars include Leonard Cohen, Lauryn Hill and Willie Nelson.

Archtops

archtop guitar

The archtop guitar is a steel string acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar with an arched top, a hollow body and f-holes (similar to those on a violin). 

It is suitable for genres such as jazz, blues, and rockabilly. Archtop guitars are not as versatile as steel string acoustic guitars, and the sound produced by an archtop guitar is tailored to playing music from specific genres such as jazz. This type of acoustic guitar has a very focused sound with minimal sustain. A lack of sustain actually works in favour of the instrument, especially when harmonically complex and intricate passages are played.

Musicians who use archtop guitars include George Benson, Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery.

What Are The Key Differences Between Certain Types Of Acoustic Guitars?

Acoustic guitars come in all shapes and sizes. There are, however, a few key differences you should consider before buying your first acoustic guitar!

The body shape is arguably the most important consideration, as the body shape has a huge impact on the sound that is produced by the acoustic guitar. Smaller-bodied acoustic guitars produce a brighter sound, but may lack sufficient low end. They are easier to handle, but are also quieter due to the size of the smaller body. This, however, may not be a problem if you are playing music as a solo musician, or if you are playing fingerstyle guitar, for example. In comparison, larger-bodied acoustic guitars can be more difficult to carry or use. They do, however, produce a much fuller and rounder sound, with pronounced bass tones. A larger-bodied acoustic guitar is a must for anyone interested in playing with a band!

Another consideration is determining what type of strings you want to play. Different types of guitar strings can drastically change the sound produced and how the guitar feels to play. Steel strings produce a brighter and fuller sound but are more difficult to play than nylon strings, especially as a beginner. In comparison, nylon strings are easier to play than steel strings but produce a warmer sound.

What Are The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners In 2020?

Here are my picks for some of the best guitars for beginners on the market.

Yamaha FGX800C

Yamaha FGX800C

Price: £339.00 / $319.99
Body Type: Dreadnought
Top: Solid Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Nato (Cutaway)
Neck: Nato
Scale: 25.6″
Fretboard: Rosewood
Tuners: Die-Cast
Electronics: System 66, 3 band EQ, Tuner, Mid FQ
Pickup: SRT-Piezo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Built in tuner and EQ 
  • Ideal for open mic nights or other live performances

Cons

  • Some of the frets are not finished very well

The Yamaha FGX800C is a steel string electro acoustic guitar with a dreadnought body. It features a solid spruce top and laminated nato back and sides. A solid-top improves the tone and volume, and is a component found on better quality acoustic guitars. A solid-top paired with a dreadnought body type contributes to the FGX800C having a great sound at a reasonable price.

On the other hand, playing string bends may feel awkward, and the strings may even feel like they are scraping against the frets in certain places on the fretboard. This is due to inconsistencies with the finishing of the frets.

The FGX800C is equipped with a built-in 3 band EQ, an adjustable mid-range frequency control, and a chromatic tuner. Together, these features make the FGX800C an excellent choice for those who are keen to practice, play with other musicians, or get involved in live performance. The FGX800C is ready to plug in, play, and perform.

Ibanez AC340-OPN Artwood

Ibanez AC340-OPN Artwood

Price: £249.00/ $299.99
Body Type: Grand Concert
Top: Solid Mahogany
Back & Sides: Laminated Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Scale: 25″
Fretboard: Ovangkol
Tuners: Diecast
Electronics: N/A
Pickup: N/A
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Natural

Pros

  • A mid-range rich voice that sits well in any mix
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Available as a right-handed or left-handed acoustic guitar
  • Ideal for an aspiring bedroom guitarist

Cons

  • No electronics

The Ibanez AC340-OPN Artwood is a steel string acoustic guitar with a grand concert body. It is comfortable to play and is great value for money. This model features a solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides. It is equipped with a real bone nut and saddle, and a thermo-aged bridge and bridge plate. Using a bone nut and saddle results in better tone and better tuning stability. Bone is a more durable material, and doesn’t wear down as quickly compared to plastic alternatives. Having a bone nut and saddle on cheaper acoustic guitars is uncommon, and this material is usually reserved for high end guitars. 

The Ibanez AC340-OPN Artwood does not have any electronics, and it functions strictly as an acoustic guitar. This may not be an issue if it is for home use only. However, it could cause an issue if you decide you want to perform live at a later date as there isn’t a jack socket to plug a lead into, compared to an electro acoustic.

Eastcoast D1

Eastcoast D1

Price: £79.00 / $98.00
Body Type: Dreadnought
Top: Laminated Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Sapele
Neck: Okoume
Scale: 25.5″
Fretboard: Indian Laurel
Tuners: Diecast
Electronics: N/A
Pickup: N/A
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural

Pros

  • Satin natural finish which feels great to play
  • Low action
  • Extremely affordable, even on a tight budget

Cons

  • Laminated body, back and sides

The Eastcoast D1 is a steel string acoustic guitar with a dreadnought body. It has a satin natural finish, which is smooth and comfortable to play. The satin natural finish makes the Eastcoast D1 a great feeling instrument from the bottom of the body to the top of the neck. The Eastcoast D1 has a low action right out of the box which means that the strings are easier to press down. This reduces the amount of any finger pain experienced while playing. It also makes playing this guitar a lot more fun! 

Laminated tonewoods are renowned for their longevity, along with a robust nature. Due to the construction of these laminated woods, they are very rarely negatively affected by changes in temperature and humidity.

The use of laminated spruce and sapele makes the D1 resistant to these fluctuations. This makes the D1 the ideal guitar for travelling. However, the inclusion of a solid spruce top would improve the tone and volume of the D1. A solid spruce top would also make the tone and volume more consistent.

The D1 has a beautiful warm sound which is hard to beat at this price. The dreadnought body shape makes the D1 versatile, and it makes the guitar sound great playing almost anything, or any genre. The smaller details such as the bridge bird inlay add a boutique touch to this guitar. Together, these features highlight how the Eastcoast D1 is excellent value for money.

Yamaha C40M

Yamaha C40M

Price: £129.00 / $122.00
Body Type: Classical
Top: Laminated Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Meranti
Neck: Nato
Scale: 25.6″
Fretboard: Rosewood
Tuners: Classical Style
Electronics: N/A
Pickup: N/A
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural

Pros

  • Good tuning stability
  • Excellent playability
  • Affordable price
  • A high-quality budget classical guitar

Cons

  • The durability could be better

The Yamaha C40M is a nylon string acoustic guitar with a classical body. The quality of the C40M is excellent, and it doesn’t have any noticeable manufacturing flaws (which are commonly found on cheaper guitars). The C40M also has good tuning stability. This means that less time is focused on tuning, and more time is focused on playing guitar instead. The all-matte finish on the light spruce body makes the C40M look great.

Constructed from nato, the C40M’s neck offers a quick and dynamic response. Perfect for traditional, classical and Spanish inspired techniques. The neck is covered with a rosewood fretboard that provides a smooth and natural feel for the left hand. However, you may find that the action is a bit too high on the higher frets. The rosewood fretboard also adds clarity and warmth to the overall sound of the guitar. 

The C40M is lightweight and produces a warm, resonant tone with a versatile response. The classical body shape is comfortable to play and is ideal for beginners who want to learn, develop, and improve their technique as a guitarist.

Gretsch G9555 New Yorker

Gretsch G9555 New Yorker

Price: £529.00 / $599.00
Body Type: Archtop
Top: Arched Solid Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated Maple (Arched Back)
Neck: Mahogany
Scale: 25″
Fretboard: Rosewood
Tuners: Grover Sta-Tite
Electronics: Master Volume
Pickup: Custom Wound Vintage-Style Single-Coil
Left-handed: No
Finish: Semi-Gloss Vintage Sunburst

Pros

  • Perfect for playing genres such as jazz
  • Unique sound
  • Easy and comfortable to play

Cons

  • Not as versatile as other types of acoustic guitar

The Gretsch G9555 New Yorker is another one of our best guitars for beginners! It has an archtop guitar which brings back the classic 1950s hollow body archtop design. It features an arched solid spruce top and laminated maple back and sides. Other features include a custom wound vintage-style single-coil pickup with rubberised magnet, and a comfortable vintage-style “V”-shaped mahogany neck profile.

The New Yorker may be out of budget for most beginners. However, if you are interested in jazz, blues, or rockabilly, the New Yorker is definitely a guitar that you should consider.

The New Yorker produces an authentic jazz sound. The unique sound and vintage design of the New Yorker make it a perfect guitar for playing genres such as jazz. On the other hand, the New Yorker is not well suited to playing certain genres. It produces a very unique, but specific sound which may not translate very well to genres such as rock or folk.

Yamaha APX600

Yamaha APX600

Price: £269.00 / $299.99
Body Type: APX
Top: Laminated Spruce
Back & Sides: Laminated 3-ply Nato
Neck: Tropical Tonewood
Scale: 25″
Fretboard: Rosewood
Tuners: Diecast
Electronics: System 65, Volume, 3 Band EQ, Tuner, Mid FQ
Pickup: SRT-Piezo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Black

Pros

  • Built-in tuner
  • A perfect compromise between cost, sound and playability
  • Sounds great unplugged and with SRT-Piezo
  • Ideal for those with smaller hands or smaller frames

Cons

  • Laminated body, back and sides

The Yamaha APX600 is a steel string electro acoustic guitar with an APX body. It features a laminated spruce top and laminated 3-ply nato back and sides.

The APX600 is an extremely well-made electro acoustic guitar for the price, and it has a great sound right out of the box. The thinline body results in less projection, but also makes the APX600 light and comfortable to play. However, the sound produced when playing unplugged is reasonably loud despite the thinline body. The shallow body results in a hollower sound which is thinner than the sound produced by a larger-bodied acoustic guitar. 

Overall, the APX600 produces crisp and bright tones. When the APX600 is plugged in, the guitar sounds phenomenal. The sound is comparable to that produced by more expensive brands such as Taylor or Martin.

Martin Custom D

Martin Custom D

Price: £965.00 / $1199.00
Body Type: Dreadnought
Top: Solid Spruce
Back & Sides: Solid Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Scale: 25.4″
Fretboard: Indian Rosewood
Electronics: N/A
Pickup: N/A
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural

Pros

  • Solid top, back, sides and neck
  • Includes a hard case
  • Professional quality tone and playability

Cons

  • Expensive!

The Martin Custom D is a steel string acoustic guitar with a dreadnought body. It features a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, a solid mahogany neck and an Indian rosewood fretboard. The Martin Custom D also has tortoise binding and an adjustable truss rod.

The mahogany body on the Custom D is much lighter in weight than rosewood, koa, or maple. It yields a surprisingly strong, loud sound with an emphasis on clear, bright, airy trebles. The Custom D is more than suitable for both beginners and professional musicians. The Custom D has great tuning stability and it is fun to play. It is useful for practicing and performing, and the sound quality is remarkable.

For beginners who are looking for a higher-end acoustic guitar to invest in, the Martin Custom D is an excellent choice and is an acoustic guitar you should consider for your next purchase.

Conclusion

The acoustic guitars featured in this guide highlight some of the best guitars for beginners available to buy, and what the difference is between them.

For a beginner, I would personally recommend a steel string acoustic guitar with a dreadnought body. The dreadnought shape offers a good balance between size and projection, and it is a good place for most beginners to start. Dreadnought acoustic guitars have a wide and rich tone which is well suited to playing in an ensemble. Specific recommendations from the list include the Eastcoast D1 and the Yamaha C40M. Both of these acoustic guitars offer exceptional value for money, and either would be a great starting point for a beginner guitarist. 

However, if you are planning on getting involved in live performance, I would recommend the Yamaha APX600. This acoustic guitar is more expensive than the previous two, but it offers the ability to play both unplugged and plugged in. The latter of which is vital if you want to take your new instrument to the stage.

Ultimately, your decision should be determined by considerations such as your budget, what genres of music you intend to play and whether you want to get involved with live performance (even if it is at a later date). There are other factors to consider but these will be enough to get you started with the best beginner guitar for you! If you want to learn guitar using online platforms, check out our article on Yousician!

So, now you have hopefully found a favourite, and can put these tips into play and start practicing, or even writing your own songs! Allow us to help you amplify your musiccollaborate with others, and even get your music in TV, film and more. Why not try Music Gateway for free?



Music Gateway Company Logo

Sign up for a 14 day free trial

Get started