The Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners


Steve playing guitar

Steve From LearnGuitars.com

Playing an acoustic guitar sure seems fun…

But you just can’t get a hold of all the terms, specs and features in order to buy the right one.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

If only there was a straightforward and easy way to learn the basics needed in order to get the best possible guitar for yourself, a total beginner.

Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place because I used to be in your exact position!

I’ve decided to share my knowledge, experience, and wisdom, and compile an easy to read yet thorough buying guide for beginners like you.

So, fret no more and sit back, as we explore the world of acoustic guitars and all the necessary information you need to know when buying one!

What You Need To Know About Acoustic Guitars

acoustic guitarYou might be wondering:

What should I look for when I’m buying an acoustic guitar?

Well, the more you know about an instrument, the better.

However, let’s take a look at the most important specifications and features that a beginner like you should consider.

Body Styles – Comfort And Convenience

When I talk about different acoustic guitar body styles, I like to make an easy and straightforward comparison.

Let’s say you’re buying a new car. You don’t just go to a dealership and pick the best looking one.

You need to ask yourself:

What’s the main purpose, and is it comfortable?

The same principle applies to acoustic guitars and various body styles they boast.

In order to get the most comfortable and pleasurable experience while learning to play, think about the circumstances you’re going to play in.

To put things into perspective, a smaller body is definitely easier to carry around but can be tricky to get a hold of if you are a bigger guy, or simply have large hands and fingers.

The difference in size and shape also affects the overall sound and volume of the guitar.

What’s the bottom line?

Here’s a layout of the different body shapes, along with their most prominent features:

  • Concert/ Grand Concert

Smaller form factor, great for musicians with smaller hands. The sound can be described as bright and punchy.

  • Auditorium/ Grand Auditorium

A very comfortable, mid-sized guitar. It balances comfort, volume, and tone easily, making it a great option in terms of versatility.

  • Dreadnought

These guitars boast a slightly bigger body, but compensate with a very powerful and present sound.

  • Jumbo

A classic ”cowboy” guitar. A bit larger than the dreadnought, and sound pretty loud, with great sustain and resonance.

  • Mini- Acoustics

Mostly for children, but adults with smaller hands and fingers often go for this body type as it feels very comfortable. Even though the body is noticeably smaller than the other types, good mini acoustic guitars can still perform quite nicely.

At the end of the day, as a beginner, you should focus more on getting a guitar shape that’s most comfortable for you, or at least sounds that way, if you can’t try out different options yourself.

Different Types Of Tonewood, And How They Affect The Sound

So, you’ve probably figured out by now that various acoustic guitar models on the market are made from different types of wood.

How do you choose the right one?

What’s best for a beginner?

While there is quite a lot of science behind different characteristics of various types of tonewood, and how they affect the overall feel and sound of an acoustic guitar, let’s take a look at the most commonly used types you will come across.

  • Mahogany

This type of wood is pretty dense and durable. The sound this tonewood provides can be described as very strong, and definitely favors the highs.

  • Cedar

Unlike Mahogany, Cedar is pretty soft. Guitarists go for this type of wood when they want a bright, crisp tone. Just look up any flamenco guitar pieces, and you’ll get what I’m saying.

  • Maple

Once again, Maple helps the high end of the sound spectrum stand out. Maple guitars are great for live performances because they easily cut through the mix.

  • Sapele

Pretty durable, yet not very dense, Sapele feels pretty similar to Mahogany, with a slightly more powerful treble boost.

  • Spruce

Very lightweight, yet sturdy, Spruce delivers a very rich and resonant sound, with great clarity and sustain.

Besides the fact that the choice of tonewood defines the sound and overall build quality, you should also know that some types are just more expensive than others.

You may come across some models on the internet that, at first glance, seem as they are nothing special, but cost much more than similar models. This is probably due to a different choice in tonewood.

What’s the bottom line then?

Even though as a beginner, you probably won’t be able to immediately notice the difference, you should have a rough idea about the sound you’re looking for.

There are great videos on YouTube which compare and contrast different tonewood types. It’s kind of difficult to explain this to someone that’s not familiar with the matter.

At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong, no matter what your choice may be.

The fine details become much more clear with each step you make when advancing with your guitar playing!

Nylon or Steel Strings? Your Fingertips Will Feel The Difference!

The difference between a nylon and steel string acoustic guitar is probably the one you are going to notice immediately.

Nylon strings are definitely easier on the fingers.

Your fingertips won’t get that sore that quickly, and you will be able to play for longer periods of time.

The sound you get differs greatly.

Nylon strings make for a softer, more mellow tone, while the steel ones are way brighter, and can get pretty loud.

Be careful!

Steel and nylon strings are not interchangeable, and once you’ve made up your mind, you can’t just switch between them.

If you’re going to play country, pop, or rock, it’s better to go with steel strings.

Flamenco, folk, or classical music sound way better on a nylon string acoustic guitar. (Otherwise known as a classical guitar)

Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a look at the best acoustic guitars for beginners you can find!

Top 5 Acoustic Guitars For Beginners

  • Oscar Schmidt OG2SM

As a part of the Washburn company, Oscar Schmidt is definitely a trustworthy manufacturer you can turn to.

The OG2SM presents a unique and great sounding playing experience, at a more than reasonable price point.

Boasting a dreadnought body, this model will feel very comfortable in slightly larger hands.

The fact that maple is the tonewood of choice for the OG2SM complements the slightly larger body quite nicely. The sound can be described as treble- focused, yet, at the same time, very balanced and clear.

As the steel strings sit a bit closer to the neck, even the absolute beginners shouldn’t have problems fretting chords. The tuners complement the rest of the build nicely and hold the tuning quite well.

Pros:

  • Each guitar has a unique look
  • Bright, balanced, and rich sound
  • Stays tuned for a long time

Cons:

  • When compared to other models, it’s a bit pricey

All things considered, the OG2SM presents itself as a friendly and comfortable learning environment for any beginner musician looking to take up playing the acoustic guitar.

If you don’t need any extra accessories and want to invest in a solid, good sounding guitar, this model is definitely worth considering.

  • Yamaha FS800

Yamaha is very well known in the music industry for their rich selection of instruments, capable of satisfying the needs of both the newbies and professionals.

The FS800 manages to deliver crisp sound, look sleek, and last for a long time, for a relatively low price.

As this model features a concert style body, it’s very practical to carry around, and optimal for musicians with smaller build/hands.

The fact that the whole instrument is smaller shouldn’t deceive you, as the sound it’s capable of producing is very loud and rich. Spruce was chosen to add to the build quality and provide you with loads of sustain while maintaining avid levels of tone clarity.

Being a steel string acoustic guitar, the FS800 can also be used for live performances at smaller venues as well, making it very versatile and a good long-term investment.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and small, great for carrying around
  • Surprisingly loud given the size
  • Amazing quality to price ratio

Cons:

  • Can be too small for some musicians
  • Out of the box, the strings are too high, need setting up

You can hardly go wrong with a Yamaha guitar, and the FS800 is no exception.

If you don’t mind having to set it up for a more comfortable experience, getting this model is a great idea.

  • Yamaha C40

The C40 by Yamaha has a special place in my heart. As the first guitar I’ve ever laid my hands on, I just couldn’t write this article without mentioning it.

Honestly, I think it’s the best nylon string guitar for a beginner.

The fact that the neck is noticeably wider than steel string acoustic guitars leaves you with more space to move your fingers around while fretting chords.

A combination of Spruce and Mahogany not only makes it very sturdy but results in a very warm and rich tone.

As it’s meant to be played with fingers, and not a pick, certain genres like flamenco and classical music generally sound better on this guitar.

However, don’t think you can’t use it for any other genre, as I’ve had my share of playing anything from Beethoven to Metallica on it.

Pros:

  • Designed for beginners, very playable and comfortable
  • A wider neck makes learning chords much easier
  • Warm and deep sounding
  • Above average durability

Cons:

  • Not much to say when it comes to the downsides

There’s hardly any other acoustic guitar you can get that’s this beginner- friendly!

  • Fender Acoustic Guitar Bundle

While I personally do not like guitar bundles, this one is definitely an exception.

Chances are that you’re familiar with the Fender brand. This acoustic guitar bundle offers amazing value, as well as everything you could possibly need to start playing out of the box!

The guitar itself is good. Probably not as good as the other models we’ve mentioned, but have in mind that for approximately the same money, you’ll be getting the whole bundle.

The 20 fret spruce dreadnought guitar feels solid. Maybe not as sleek looking as the OG2SM, but definitely very comfortable to play.

Sure, the sound could be better, and the tuners are average in terms of quality, but at the end of the day, it’s more than enough for a newbie musician.

Pros:

  • Comes with a bag, tuner, strings, strap, picks, DVD and cloth
  • String action (height) is good for beginners
  • Can get pretty loud
  • Great for learning the basics

Cons:

  • Not much more than a beginner’s guitar

Going with a Fender guitar is pretty much a safe bet. This bundle proves itself as a valuable starter kit for any beginner.

  • Jasmine S34C NEX

Although Jasmine guitars may not be as popular as the other brands we’ve mentioned so far, I consider them to be the hidden gem of budget instruments.

For less than $100, you can get this Dreadnought acoustic guitar that features a cutaway design for easy reach of those last few frets.

The laminated Spruce top not only looks good but gives this guitar a surprisingly nice and crisp tone.

A pickguard is included as well, so you don’t have to worry about scratching the top when you accidentally miss the strings.

This model also comes as a part of a bundle for just under $150, so if you want the whole package, but don’t find the Fender option good enough, you can go with the Jasmine bundle.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build promises durability and longevity
  • Great for both practice and smaller live shows
  • Very good quality at a low price

Cons:

  • Some unwanted buzz and reverb can occur sometimes

The S34C NEX shows that you don’t have to sacrifice build or sound quality, even if you’re on a tight budget.

Conclusion! It’s Time To Pick A Winner

Picking a clear winner isn’t always easy.

When talking about instruments, the final choice often revolves around personal preferences.

However, in my opinion, the best option for most beginner guitarists out there would have to be the Yamaha C40.

A wider neck helps a lot when you’re just starting out, and gives you enough room for your fingers if you happen to have bigger hands.

Spruce and Mahogany complement each other nicely, resulting in a sweet and balanced sound, especially considering the nylon strings.

So, if you’re still not sure which guitar to get, going with the C40 by Yamaha is by no means a bad decision.

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope that you found this article useful.

See you in the next one!

Steve