How do you choose a good guitar when you have no experience? Many beginners probably ask this question when on the hunt for their first six-string instrument. Another question that is related is also out there: Which is the best beginner guitar? Is it acoustic, a classic, flamenco or electric?
Here are few basic characteristics of each type of these guitars so we can proceed in our observation about best guitar for beginners.
Characteristics of different types of guitars
The acoustic guitar is similar to the electric guitar in few things, and the first to notice are steel strings. This two categories of guitars are different from classical and flamenco guitars (they have nylon strings). In addition, on guitars with steel strings, the fretboard is narrower than on guitars with nylon strings. These differences implicate few things:
- When using guitars with the thinner fretboard, fingerstyle technique is harder to perform because there is no appropriate place for fingertips. Because of that characteristic, playing the narrower-fretboard guitars with plectrum makes it much easier.
- Intermediate and advanced levels of fingerstyle guitar playing require nails with the appropriate shape on the plucking-hand fingertips. Plucking strings with fingernails is easier on classical or flamenco guitars because this kind of guitars have nylon strings.
- On the other hand, plucking steel strings with fingernails is almost impossible because nails easily get jagged from plucking steel strings. However, there are always exclusions. For example, Tommy Emmanuel is famous Australian guitarist who plays fingerstyle technique on acoustic guitar with steel strings. He has been nominated several times for best player in the world.
- For playing classical and flamenco music, guitar players use a lot of rest-stroke technique of plucking strings. But this kind of technique is not playable on acoustic guitars because strings are placed near to each other on this guittar, and there is no appropriate place for resting a fingertip on the lower string.
- Playing banding technique is, on the other hand, almost impossible on guitars with nylon strings. String bending is a basic technique, used a lot in blues and rock but also found a bit in most other styles. The idea is to "bend" (push a string across or over the fingerboard with your left-hand fingers) so that the string gets tighter and the playing sound changes. Because of low tension, it is very uncomfortable to change pitch up on nylon strings with banding technique. This is the main reason, except stylistic, why we do not use this method on classic and flamenco guitars.
Sound characteristics of steel strings on acoustic and electric guitars are designed for popular music genres like pop, rock, blues, jazz, country, folk, etc. On the other hand, the classical guitar is intended for classical music only. (Same goes for flamenco guitars). We can technically play flamenco music on a classical guittar, but the classical one has darker and more sustain sound then flamenco guitar which has more fuzzy, crisp quality sound of tones predestined for flamenco music.
In the same time, the amplifier and other special effects provide more sustain and distortion in sound quality to electric guitar; you cannot get these effects of the clean acoustic guitar.
Best choices for a beginner’s guitar : can be either acoustic or classic
Experience teaches us that the best is to start with an acoustic guittar to learn the proper technique; with that done, you have a good foundation to get to the intermediate level and play the electric guitar. Similar to this ascertainment, to reach an intermediate level in flamenco, the best will be to start with classical music and basics of classical music theory.
As we mention above, every of these four types of guitars (acoustic, classical, flamenco and electric) is suitable for a beginner no matter the music and style of playing. But problems will start when someone advances on an intermediate level and realizes that he or she do not possess a suitable guitar for music he or she prefers.
The best way to learn is to get the basic knowledge and necessary information of types of music; later, the student can make a decision considering his/hers musical skills and aspirations. Because of that, a right guittar teacher with good guiding methodologies is a crucial part of learning to play guitar. When a student is ready for the intermediate level of learning, he can choose another type of guitar if the previous one does not fit the music he will going to play.
Therefore, we come to one important conclusion:
Beginner’s guitars should not be expensive because, at the very start of playing, beginners do not have the clearest conception of types of music that they are going to learn. Next, the money that a student might spend on some expensive product should be better spent on a quality guitar teacher who can be a useful guide in their long-term learning process.
Another conclusion comes from above:
A beginner’s guitar should not be a flamenco or electric guitar because these are more expensive than acoustic or classic guittars. When a student becomes ready for the intermediate level (meaning he or she learned several types of music through the basic learning), he or she can choose which music best fits him. According to the selected music, the player can choose the best guitar that will fit his or her playstyle for a very long time.
There are specific types of beginners who already know what kind of music will be best for them, and students who are naturally gifted for learning music. Still, these students are rare and require specific methodology.
Finally, we come to two best choices for a beginner’s guitar, and that can be either acoustic or classic. Classic guitars are little cheaper than acoustic but are in the same range because good acoustic guitar must have a truss rod. The truss rod is part of a guitar or other fretted, stringed instruments that stabilizes the lengthways forward curving (also known as relief), of the neck.
Usually, it is a steel bar or rod placed inside the neck, underneath the fingerboard. Most modern truss rods have a bolt at one or both ends that are used to adjust its tension. The tension of nylon strings is not so hard on classic guittar, so these guitars do not have to be as strong as acoustic guitars, which on the other hand have steel strings with higher tension.
So we have another important conclusion:
Do not ever put steel strings on a classic guitar, because it is made for the particular tension of nylon strings and you can harm your instrument.
- If a beginner buys a classic guitar that instrument will lead him to classical music, and that is a good option for some reasons. The most important thing is that student who knows good basics of classical music can transform and adapt to the playing technique of any music very easily. Also, the theory of classical music is very exact science, which covers almost any other kind and style of music. The classic music is the most difficult for learning, and it requires lots of attention, musical skills and practice from a student without any compromise.
- If a beginner buys an acoustic guitar that instrument can lead him to various types of music at the intermediate level of learning. In statistical view, for each beginner, there are more possibilities with an acoustic guittar; it can become an instrument of the middle level better than any other type of guittar. In addition, on acoustic guitars, we can play classical music from the beginning.
Note : Fingerstyle is technique of playing by plucking strings with fingertips of right hand. Tommy Emmanuel plays with specific fingerstyle technique with pick attached to thumb which can be used commonly for playing bass tones, but also like a plectrum when there is need for faster movements of tones in single melody without bass. In rest stroke, technique-picking finger comes to a rest on the next lower string.
From conclusions above, we will speak about best buying options for acoustic guitars. In statistical view, beginners who are insured in their musical capabilities and music taste rather chose classical music than any other because this type of music requires the most theoretical and practical work. At the end and just for those who prefer classical music we will speak about best buying options for classical product also.
In continuation, we will talk about five best buying options for beginner’s acoustic guitars. These buying options are the best of the best in its range. These are different in its price range and quality so we cannot compare them thoroughly. In the end, we can just speak about best options for beginners.
All of this guitars are full 4/4 dreadnought size except last which is little smaller. Dreadnought size is the best size for acoustic guittar because it gives the best sound quality.
Top 5 Best acoustic guitar for beginners 2017 Comparison Table
Jasmine S35 Acoustic
This product, the cheapest one we introduce in this guide, is made exclusively for newcomers. Despite the inexpensive price, it sounds fine for a guitar used only for practice. Also, it has adjustable truss rod, so you can set the action according to your preference, skill and finger strength. This quality truss rod helps the fretboard not to deform from the tension of wires, which is a great benefit for guitar in this price range.
Jasmine S35 Acoustic is made by Takamine, which is a very famous guitar manufacturer like Yamaha with headquarters in Japan, and Jasmine is its product with the budget-friendly tag. Speaking of that, the strings that come installed aren’t of the highest quality, and the guitar needs good setting up (by person who knows to do it properly).
Another reason for a cheap price is that the guittar is not too durable, and may downgrade through time. That is why we don’t think you should choose it to be your lifetime’s guitar. Instead, it is very reasonable if this musical instrument is just the first step in your guitar learning process.
Apparently, this will not be the last guitar you play, and you can replace it with a better one whenever you feel sure about your commitment to play guitar. If you are still testing your passion for playing guittar, it will be a very safe bet.
Things I liked
• Limited lifetime guarantee
• High-quality truss rod
• Ideal for beginners
Things I didn’t like
• Seems like not really durable
• Out-of-the-box strings could be a bit better
• Needs a good setting-up to sound great
Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic
Produced by a great guitar brand, Yamaha FG800 is arguably one of the best choices for beginners, and the one of the most sold acoustic guitars on Amazon. When I first saw this product, I was quite surprised because solid wood is usually very expensive. That is why entry-level guitars are rarely made from this material.
Contrary to the laminated timber, solid wood means the guittar will sound cleaner and louder. A new FG has louder and tougher sound in the low to mid ranges, thanks to cutting-edge acoustic analysis technology established by the Yamaha R&D Division. The previous model from this series, FG700s, does not have these features.
Yamaha’s engineers have realized this sound by utilizing analysis and recreation to reach the best bracing design without depending on tradition or estimation. This study led to the development of the new scalloped bracing pattern, a new and ideal acoustic assembly that maintains the durability of the top board while bringing out the most sound the Yamaha FG has to offer. Not only that, the sound of the guitar will improve over time. The more you play guittar, the better sound it will produce.
Indeed, the tone of this musical instrument is absolutely stunning regarding its low price. I believe it will even become better by the time you become a better guitarist. Therefore, it is actually more than just a guitar for beginners. It comes with a Legacy Accessory Bundle pack that includes the clip-on tuner, capo, guitar strap, peg winder, additional picks with pick holder, Yamaha folk guitar strings and instructional DVD. In fact, a vast majority of customers on Amazon agree with us.
Things I liked
• Amazing quality and sound
• Great value for the money paid
Things I didn’t like
• Practically nothing
This product is made out of quality wood. It features a thick cedar top with a wild cherry back and produces a lively sound with a decent mid-range that projects pleasingly. The tapered headstock at the top allows excellent tuning stability. The neck is made from silver leaf maple with rosewood fretboard and is ideal for fingerstyle guitarists because of its wider neck and nut and slightly bigger action (which is fully adjustable by the way). Have in mind that if you’re going to play a lot of chords, it will be slightly more difficult, and you shouldn’t pick S6.
This model is a keeper, as it can serve you for a long time no matter on which skill level you are. The pure quality and durability definitely stand up for the guitar’s price, and the cherry wood used on back and sides is one of the primary features that back up this claim. It is felt both in the feel, sound, and even smell of the instrument. The strings that come out of the box are the only mediocre thing on this product.
The main difference from all guitars above is that it is made from the highest-quality wood, by American artisans. If a beginner is sure from the start that he or she wants to go to the intermediate level (playing popular music), this choice is the best because this is not only for beginners, both looking in the size, amount of frets, and the adjustable action. It offers entry-level players the chance to get as close as possible to a premium guitar feeling. On the other hand, the guittar is delivered out of the tune, and if you don’t know to tune properly, you might have problems.
Things I liked
• Amazing build quality
• Great sound
• Perfect for fingerstyle-oriented players
Things I didn’t like
• Mediocre strings out of the box
• Needs proper tuning, which could be an issue to a beginner
Yamaha FS800 Small Body Solid Top Acoustic
For smaller players, we recommend Yamaha FS800. This product has the same tone characteristics like FG-800. The only thing that it is different is body size. Scale length is 634mm (FG series has standard 650mm). The package that comes with this one is amazing for a beginner – you get a full bundle, containing a functional gig bag, a tuner, strap, instructional DVD, additional strings and picks, and a polishing cloth. Well worth the purchase to surprise your girlfriend or sister.
Conclusions about acoustic guitar buying options
- Best of the best: Good quality and acceptable price. In statistical view, the best shopping option is Yamaha FG800. Our opinion is that students need to deserve a better instrument; if they play well, they should upgrade to a better guitar, not just because they have money. That extra money is better spent on music books, lessons, and new strings from time to time because lots of practicing can wear them off.
- Good quality and low price : If a beginner is not sure which kind of music he or she will play at the intermediate level or even not sure that he can get beyond the beginner stage, then he or she should buy Jasmine S35 Acoustic. This is the cheapest option, but a decent instrument because it has all the features of a good acoustic guittar.
- Smaller guitar: If a beginner is a smaller person, he or she should buy the Yamaha FS800. It has a good quality build and acceptable price while being suitable for shorter people. If beginners want to have an acoustic/electric guitar with the possibility to buy the amplifier after some time, Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a fine option.
- It is great for the students who are not sure which style they will prefer when they reach the intermediate level of playing. Seagull S6 is also very good for these students, but with an additional value – it can last for so much more because it is a very good guitar. It is always better to have one excellent guitar then two solid ones.
In our next list of five best classical guitars, there is no smaller size one because the full size classical guitar is little smaller then dreadnought full-sized acoustic, so there is no need for selecting a smaller instrument for adults.
Next five guitars are also the best of the best from its price range so they can be compared only conditionally.
Top 5 Best classical guitars 2017 Comparison Table
Yamaha C40 Classical
Although it never made a huge impact in the high-tier guitar market, Yamaha was always considered a powerhouse name in the entry-level, school-guitar niche. C40 Classical is a product that can do nothing but help Yamaha to strengthen its presence in this lucrative market segment. C40 arrives with instructional DVD, additional strings (which aren’t of the hghest quality), pick card, and polishing cloth, which is the perfect starter pack.
In regards to the sound, C40 is exactly what you would expect at this price point. Its neck is made out of nato, the fingerboard is rosewood, while the tone woods are all laminates. This combination produces very decent, if somewhat muted sound that will not truly bother the audience the guitar is meant for. It’s nice to know that, in spite of this drawback, the guitar's tone is well-defined and relatively warm.
The build quality is also solid, and, although very lightweight, C40 feels like it was made to last. The fingerboard is very wide and the space between frets is not that small. Still, the instrument can be played with a little bit of stretching. Compared to buzzing, this is a better option.The body is covered in that classic guitar shine, which attracts many fingerprints, but gives the product more refined and expensive look. The frets are, unfortunately, of very suspicious quality, and as soon as your ears become sensitive-enough, you will want to replace them.
Things I liked
• For beginner, C40 sounds surprisingly good
• The build quality is good, and C40 looks like it can take a lot of abuse
• Lightweight, and decent neck make it easy to play
Things I didn’t like
• No matter how hard you strum the instrument, the sound will remain muted
• The frets are poor
Cordoba C3M Classical
The C3M Classical is the perfect example how a beginner’s guitar should look and sound like. The body has a marvelous finish that resembles satin and feels light to the touch. The overall sensation that C3M gives is quality & sturdiness, and the sound is fantastic, especially when you consider its price. The manufacturer is well known for providing high-quality instruments for a decade, and many of their models reached the peak of quality and popularity among musicians.
The mahogany back and sides are well paired with cedar top, one of the industry standards. The fretboard (19 frets) is made of rosewood, and the neck is made of nato wood, combining to the length of 25,6 inches. The embedded truss rod is made of a lightweight metal, and it is two-way adjustable; this brings additional value to long-term usage. In addition to being cheaper than some higher-quality models, this wood combination in construction enables the magnificent resonance and very high sustain.
C3M sounds as good as many higher-priced models. Rich, resonating tones will fill the room when a skilled hand starts picking the nylon strings. The truss rod is two-way adjustable and can be set to a 4 mm difference. This is rock-solid, premium-looking, precise, easy to handle and performs amazingly. Some of the buyers reported a loose bridge popping out, and a loose neck. A skilled person solves that issue easily, with a proper setup, and afterward the experience with this guittar is superb.
Things I liked
• The sensation of quality while holding in hand
• Great sound and look for the price
• Durable, solid, and great build (perfect wood combination)
Things I didn’t like
• Not suitable for the beginners with smaller hands
• The action is too big out of the box
• Some reports of loose bridge can get you worried (didn’t happen to mine)
Yamaha CG122MSH Classical
On the first glance, CG122MSH looks much like Yamaha’s other, entry-level product C40. But only at first glance. Unlike the previous instrument, which is obviously a school guitar, CG122MSH feels like a much more refined product that is not afraid to contest for a higher spot in the entry-level segment.
For a start, this product looks great, and the more you look at it, you will see the attention Yamaha put into small details. Lovely decal around the sound hole, chrome tuning gears, and other small design elements do a great job in making this guittar look very classy and expensive. The matte finish is simply beautiful and makes holding the instrument a joy.
Aside from the beautiful rosewood fingerboard, it is almost entirely a nato affair. Almost. This time, you get the solid, wide-grained Engelmann spruce top. If you are asking yourself how this material compares to laminate, the answer is, it makes all the difference in the world. The sound is nice and clear, a bit more robust compared to Cordoba C3M. It has a very robust mid-range, slightly light bass, and a dry high end.
Fretboard-wise, you get your standard 19-fret set on a standardly wider neck compared to acoustic guitars, and a low action. This is a good news for people with chunkier fingers. The problem is that this product has no truss rod, so you cannot adjust the action. In addition, a half of the 19th fret is virtually unusable due to the sound hole, so you will not be able to play all of the notes. In addition, the guittar could benefit more from the normal tension strings instead of the included ones.
Things I liked
• Lovely look, with decals around the sound hole
• Quality build, topped with a wide-grained Engelmann spruce top
• Fine sound, perfect for energetic songs
Things I didn’t like
• No adjustable truss rod
• The 19th fret is unusable
• Needs fine tuning bit more often than it should (this is really bad if a beginner doesn’t know to fine tune the guittar)
Cordoba C5 Acoustic Nylon String Classical
Compared to some other manufacturers on this list, Cordoba can only be considered a relative newcomer (the company was founded in 1997). However, in spite of entering nylon string guitar market much later than others, Cordoba manages to make a huge splash with their products. C5 is one of the Cordoba's latest instruments in the long line of superb entry-level products.
This product comes with a deluxe packaging content: an original Cordoba Deluxe Gig bag, Classical Strap, Cordoba Tuner, Classical Capo and Polishing Cloth. Cordoba delivers a high quality package that can suit your every need for a long-time usage.
C5 Acoustic can be considered a child of two worlds. The Iberian mahogany body is complemented with the very solid Canadian cedar top and rosewood, and a buzzing-free fretboard. This combination looks and feels really good. The headstock looks like it can hold the instrument in tune for a reasonable amount of time, while the weight of the instrument is very light and suited to inexperienced players.
Being produced on the Iberian Peninsula, C5 sound like it was imbued with that classical sound we came to expect from something called, "a Spanish guittar." The tones the instrument produces are warm and reasonably loud. Don't expect too much, though. If you want anything above the average, you will have to plug in the instrument into an amplifier. The quality of the nylon strings might come into play here, and replacing them would change this situation. In addition, I am not crazy about the high-gloss finish, but the tastes are different.
Things I liked
• This instrument is hand-made, and the craftsmanship is incredible
• C5 looks excellent and sounds really good
• Quality headstock that keeps the tune• Great packaging, including everything you might need
Things I didn’t like
• Unfortunately, for an instrument that looks this good, the sound could be louder
• Some users have been reporting that their bridge separated from the guittar after only a few months of playing
Takamine G Series GC5CE-NAT
Takamine may not have the broad, mainstream appeal of some other manufacturers, but artists like Toby Keith and Bon Jovi are playing their guitars. Considering that, I was expecting GC5CE-NAT to be a precise, good-looking and well-built instrument. I was not disappointed.
This guitar sports beautiful mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, rosewood back and sides, very solid spruce top, gold plated heads, Venetian-style cutaway, built-in tuner and a lifetime warranty. Not bad for an entry-level instrument. It comes with a hard case that delivers exceptional quality and protection; you can rest assured that your GC5CE-NAT will not be damaged if accidentally dropped, or in transport. While speaking of transportation, the delivery and protection of the package that you will receive is exceptional – you won’t need to ask for a replacement from Amazon, which is a common case with many products nowadays.
Beautiful, mosaic rosette around the sound hole perfectly complements the guitar’s look. However, it should be mentioned that all these flashy details may put off some less flamboyant players and the high-polish, fingerprint-prone finish is always a double-edged sword.
Holding the D'Addario Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings does not require much effort, so you won’t have any problems going up and down 18.5-frets fretboard. TP-4T preamp system that includes master volume and inbuilt tuner does its job fine. The sound is loud, clear and sharp, regardless of whether you are using an amp or not. Although made in China, the instrument has that distinct Spanish sound to it. The build quality is excellent, which makes GC5CE-NAT a superb long-term investment. Many customers get confused by the name and make an error choosing this product thinking it is a full size guittar, and that is not true. Please be cautious when choosing this product.
Things I liked
• A very good-looking and easy to play instrument
• Distinct sound
• All the small, flamboyant details
• Built-in tuner
Things I didn’t like
• If you are looking for a school guitar, you can find a cheaper one
• TP-4T preamp requires some time to get used to it
Conclusions about classical guitar buying options
- Best of the best: Yamaha CG122MSH. Good quality and the acceptable price are definitely this guitar’s strong side. This product is acceptable for both beginners and intermediate skilled players.
- Good quality and low price: Yamaha C-40.The best buying options for beginner’s classical guittar comes from Yamaha. C-40 will be the excellent choice for a beginner and a beautiful companion in the intermediate level as well.
- If classical music is your passion, the best choice will be Cordoba C5 or even better Takamine G Series GC5CE-NAT, considering your budget. Considering everything said, a quality acoustic guittar is the best option for a beginner, no matter which type of music he or she intends to play.
From all of these findings above it came one final ascertainment: Yamaha is the best manufacturer of guitars for beginners.They were developed years before in economic in crafts for cheap guitars, as they are much more expensive.
Main characteristics of a good guitar for a beginner
- Must tune up good, and it must stay in right tune as long as possible
- The action of guitar and height of frets must be optimized. Otherwise, strings are going to buzz.
- Acoustic guitars must have a truss rod, which helps the instrument’s solidity of construction.
- Dreadnought design improves the volume of the acoustic guittar, producing louder sounds than other guitars of the same size.
- The top side of body should be made from spruce or cedar; the solid build sounds much better.
- Beginner should choose is acoustic or classic, but it depends on the desire of student.
Note : The action of an instrument plucked by hand is the distance between the fingerboard and the string.
Final advice for beginners
- Do not purchase jitney guitars. By doing so, you may affect your musical listening and assessment ability, playing techniques and even injure yourself while practicing. Save your money until you have enough to buy a high-quality guitar! Not only it is safer for your hands, but it also improves practicing efficiency.
- Listening to the sound before buying is essential if you want a guittar that suits your liking and skill. Bring a friend or someone with experience to hear the sound and advise you.
- Read this review or others made by experienced guitarists who have played the guitar you are considering to buy.
- Soundboard’s surface color does not actually affect guitar sound quality.
What do you need to check when receiving your guitar?
- Are there any dents, cracks?
- Ensure no component was damaged.
- Make sure the neck is not curvy.
- Check the gap between the strings and the fretboard: If they are too far from each other, it will be difficult to press the strings down. If they are too close, the strings will touch the frets, creating hum noises.
- Check the stability of the sound: Using a tuner (included in the kit) to tune the guitar. If the pitch intensively fluctuates, the sound is not stable. In addition, you should try playing every note to check whether they sound clear. If you’re not skilled enough, bring a skilled guitarist along to help you.
- If you encounter any technical glitch, do not try to solve the problem yourself because any improper attempt may damage the guitar even more. Instead, you should contact the seller or go to a store for reparation.
The conclusion of this review
Finding the best beginner guitar can be a daunting task, especially with the market these days. But, after reading this gude, you see that there are some good options. Certainly, you won’t have to regret the decision to buy one of the ten suggested guitars. However, I would like you to read this reviews thoroughly before purchasing in order to select the best guitar that will suit to you as a beginner. The best guitar for beginners exist – you only have to find it.