Many ask me, Elias, what is the best guitar for beginners? And how do you choose that guitar?
Well first of all, obviously, the first thing you do when deciding to learn how to play the guitar, is buying a guitar. Duh!
This is your gear, your instrument, your first guitar that'd probably give you a nostalgia when you look back at it several years from now, and one of the main things that could determine the course of your progress and whether you quit or continue playing, because a bad instrument can really ruin your experience and the fun out of playing the guitar, so it's VERY IMPORTANT for me to lead you to the right instrument and give you all the information you need in order to find an instrument that is not very expensive, suitable for beginners, and that you'd love to play on for long straight hours.
Before we get down to our list, let's clear out some important issues first.
Table of Content:
- Is There Really Such a Thing as “BEST” Entry Level Guitar?
- What are the Characteristics of a Beginner Guitar?
- A List of Some of the Best Entry Level Guitars
- Wrapping Up
Is There Really Such a Thing as “BEST” Entry Level Guitar?
Well, the answer is both yes and no.
There IS a “best” entry level guitar, but that guitar is the “best” guitar for “YOU”.
What I mean by that, is that while one guitar can be perfect for one individual, it might not be so perfect for another. Choosing a guitar, and not just for beginners, for any level of guitarists for that matter, is not a “fixed” matter.
The body shape and size, the feel and playability of the guitar, and even the look are all factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a guitar.
A veteran or professional guitarist would go out to a nearby guitar shop and sit there for hours trying out different guitars, testing their playability, their adaptation to his/her own playing style, is he/she comfortable holding and playing on those guitars or not, and so on. This is considered a good and normal habit for anyone with enough experience with guitars.
While a beginner could do the same, this process is less relevant to him/her because, first, he/she doesn't know much about guitars (But you could bring an experienced guitarist with you to help), and second and most important, the demands and expectations from a beginner guitar is much less significant than that of an advanced – expert guitar.
You don't need to spend hours testing a guitar for tonality, sound quality, sustain and what not, you won't be taking it to a gig or a live performance, it's a beginner guitar! You need it to practice at home and have fun with it and enjoy your time learning on the guitar. That's about it. When you become more advanced then you should allow yourself to take the time and energy to test a new guitar for all these characteristics and factors. But for starters, be more relaxed about it and don't over think it.
What are the Characteristics of a Beginner Guitar?
You might be asking right now, what are the most important features and characteristics of a beginner guitar?
For your first guitar, here are the things that are most important to look for:
Should be really inexpensive. 150$-500$ is a good range of prices for a beginner guitar. Not intending to let you down or something, but many just want to test their true passion to the guitar, whether guitar playing is for them or not, whether they enjoy it or not, and the percentage of people who quit guitar in the first couple of months is not a small one.
Picking up an inexpensive first guitar would eliminate the stress and “buyer-remorse” in the case of quitting and would give you more space for testing and experimenting with the instrument. DON'T make the mistake of buying an expensive guitar out of impulse to eventually put it down after a couple of weeks and never touch the instrument again.
Yes, size does matter when choosing a guitar for a specific “level” of a guitarist.
Advanced guitarists normally go for the big, wider guitars with the most features available.
For beginners, it's better to choose a guitar that is relatively small in size (Note: There are small guitars for children, and there are small guitars for adults! By small guitars we mean the adult's version).
Overall an adult small body guitar, smaller fretboard, narrower neck, is perfect for beginners because of “physical” restrictions. A beginner would find it much harder to reach out for notes on a big guitar compared to a small one, his/her fingers are still not trained and flexible enough to stretch the distance and also the wrist would have a really hard time at the beginning adapting to a big neck like that of an advanced guitar.
So take that factor into consideration and choose wisely!
While this isn't a major issue, it's still a thing to look for as a beginner in my opinion.
The look of the guitar doesn't affect anything, except for your “desire” to pick it up and give it a strum.
As a beginner, you want a beautiful instrument that you could be proud of and are excited to show it around and play on. It will make you want to play on it, practice more, and this, overall, would lead to a higher success chance learning the instrument.
When you become more advanced you would then be more interested in stuff like the sound quality, sustain level, tonality and so on, and the looks would then be “less” important (But as a guitarist myself, it would NEVER be NOT important at all. We all want a beautiful instrument nevertheless!).
Believe it or not, even inexpensive small body guitars could have a decent, good quality voice. Picking a beautiful voice guitar is not less important than a beautiful look, it's actually much more important. What's the point of playing on your guitar if the sound sucks, right?
If you're worried about the price, don't be. In the list below we're going to showcase some of the best guitars that are beautiful, inexpensive, and sound beautiful all together.
We actually have here a good buying guide that you can read and educate yourself about the subject and become more knowledgeable when it comes to buying a guitar. You can check the buying guide here.
We also have another great ad popular article that showcases and explains the difference between all the guitar types. You can check the what guitar to pick guide here as well.
Both guides are great and will eventually lead you here to pick and choose the perfect entry level guitar for you.
A List of Some of the Best Entry Level Guitars
(Acoustic Guitars – Classical Guitars – Electric Guitars)
I simply love Yamaha guitars. Yamaha produces some of the best classical and acoustic guitars in the industry. They make great beginner guitars as well as guitars for the most advanced. We simply can't have a list of top guitars without mentioning Yamaha.
The FG series from Yamaha is one of the best to consider for beginner guitarists and that's why I included it first.
It's worth to mention too that, the Yamaha FG800 is the direct successor to the Yamaha FG700, which was the number one selling acoustic guitar of all times. So the FG800 is actually an upgrade to an already great instrument, at the SAME PRICE! How about that?
The FG800 has a fretboard and a bridge made of rosewood, with diecast tuners.
The Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar (Steel Strings)
However, the back, sides, and top, are all made variable depending on your needs and your budget. But it is ALWAYS a solid top (A good thing).
It has 2 different sizes: Dreadnaught and Concert. Dreadnaught has a bit bigger body than the Concert, and as such has a deeper, bigger sound with more bass. As a beginner, you want to go for the smaller one, but in this case, you can make an exception. The difference in size is not that significant and the dreadnaught guitars are actually quite popular for their amazing sound quality and volume. So, either one is a good choice for me.
A big plus with this guitar is the solid top feature. It's very hard to find solid tops in this range of prices. Solid tops, in general, make for a better sound quality on acoustic guitars, which give the FG800 its unique beautiful tone with such an amazing price, which ranges anywhere between 200$ to 500$ only!
The price range is this wide because you can customize the guitar in a lot of different ways. For example (Dreadnaught size):
- Sitka Spruce top, Nato back and sides – ~200$
- Sitka Spruce top, Rosewood back and sides – ~300$
- Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides – ~260$
- Sitka Spruce top, Flamed Maple back and sides – ~400$
- Mahogany top, Mahogany back and sides – ~400$
Bear in mind that these prices are subject to change anytime, depending on the seller, holiday seasons, discounts, etc. So it's better to always check prices directly inside Amazon.
And these are not the only variations available on the guitar. You can choose different colors and features, such as Natural look and color body, Black, Mahogany, Brown Sunburst, and a lot more.
In addition, you can choose to add another ~100$ and get a good quality hardshell acoustic guitar case from Yamaha that fits any dreadnought sized acoustic guitar not only this one, plus a Yamaha accessory kit which includes a guitar stand, picks, strap, GCT-1 clip-on tuner, and polishing cloth.
What more could you ask you?
This is hands down one of the best acoustic guitars at that range of prices for beginner – intermediate guitarists.
Here's a good video to see the 800 series Yamaha guitars in action:
Another Yamaha guitar. This time a classical guitar with nylon strings.
Classical guitars, overall, make for great beginner guitars because of the nylon strings and the basic, generally smaller body compared to the bigger acoustic guitars.
Classical guitars are great for classical music and flamenco and are great if you want to focus on this type of music or learn mainly fingerstyle picking.
Yamaha, as we already stated, is just an amazing brand for this type of instruments.
This Yamaha C40 classical guitar is perhaps the most recommended guitar for beginners by most instructors.
The Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar (Nylon Strings)
The nylon strings are soft on the fingers which make it a lot friendlier for beginners to adapt to the instrument and develop fingertips calluses, the built and size on the guitar are just perfect for everybody, and the sound quality is actually quite decent.
One of the best guitars for the price point (130-160$).
- Spruce top
- Meranti back and sides
- Rosewood fretboard and bridge
This guitar comes with additional items as one full beginners' bundle. The items
The guitar comes with strings ready to play out of the box, with an additional set of replacement strings for if you wish to change them right away or wait until they get worn out later on.
The action of the guitar is also to be considered (Action: the height of the strings above the fretboard). For beginners, it's better to have the action set low, it would allow the person playing on it to put less force pressing down on the strings. And that's good for beginners since they haven't yet developed enough finger power and flexibility to take on the higher action strings.
This C40 guitar comes with an action that fits the guitar beginner, it doesn't need any further adjustments. The playability and tone are all pretty decent as well.
Overall, a great beginners' guitar for the price point.
Check it in action in the video below:
We can't bring up classical guitars without mentioning Cordoba.
Cordoba is a company that specializes in developing and producing nylon strings classical guitars.
They create some of the best nylon strings guitars for both beginners and the
Their line of guitars is famous for being inexpensive and having a really clean, soft tone.
Excellent for what we're looking for!
The C3M doesn't cost more than 200$ on Amazon, has a great customer feedback, the bridge and fretboard are all rosewood and it has a solid cedar top and mahogany back and sides.
It has an all natural wood, hand-inlaid rosette, and a natural light matte finish (which is what gives the guitar its unique sustain and resonance capabilities).
The Cordoba C3M Classical Guitar (Nylon Strings)
See the company description of this guitar below:
Also, here's an interesting reviewer from Amazon that explains why he has chosen this guitar to learn on the classical guitar rather than other more popular ones:
The C3M has a truss rod, which means that you can adjust the action as you like, though it comes with a low action out of the box – The best for beginners.
For the price point, this guitar probably has the sweetest tone a classical guitar can give, and the overall quality is just amazing with the kind of focus and care that Cordoba gives to all their classical guitars.
No reports of dead spots or buzzy strings from any customer that I know of, its trebles are bright and clear, the sustain is somewhat mediocre but you can't really expect any better than that on its current price.
The volume is a little low and you can't plug it into an amplifier, but that's expected from any classical guitar. They can't compete with acoustic guitars on volume as acoustic guitars (Especially those with a dreadnaught body) have some amazing acoustic amplification capabilities, thanks to their body construction and their steel strings.
The C3M guitar is part of the Iberia series of guitars by Cordoba, which are all handmade and lightweight. If you purchase two similar guitars from this series you would notice that they never sound the same. Other guitars from this series are (In case you want to check them out):
- GK Studio
- GK Studio Negra
See these guitars in action as well as an overview on the whole series in the video made by Cordoba below:
The Seagull S6 acoustic guitar is hand-made in Canada. It's suitable for intermediate guitarists, advanced and up to advanced expert level. Although it might be a bit too expensive and off-budget for some beginner guitarists, the price overall is fairly reasonable (~350$ – check Amazon for any change in price), and many enthusiast beginners that have the extra money and are willing to spend it on a quality acoustic guitar in the low mid-range, would just love the Seagull S6.
The back and sides of this guitar are made of Canadian wild cherry, which is exclusive to this guitar, it has a Cedar top and Maple neck.
This combination of material, along with fine design from the inside as well as the outside, are what give this guitar its incredibly beautiful voice and tonality at this price point.
It also has amazing resonance and sustain capabilities and sounds very loud thanks to its design and size.
The Seagull S6 Acoustic Guitar (Steel Strings)
This guitar has a full-sized dreadnought body, so if you have a problem with bigger sized guitars, this might not be a match for you.
However, if you have large or fat fingers, this guitar has a wide neck on the top near the tuners which makes it excellent for players with large fingers and especially those who intend to play fingerstyle picking most of the time.
The package includes only the guitar, but ready to play out of the box. Might need some tuning at the beginning though.
It has a double action truss rod for better action adjustment when needed, and tapered headstock for precise and stable tuning for longer periods of time.
The sound quality and playability of this guitar are unparalleled, even compared to a guitar with double its price.
I haven't seen one single bad review from real customers about this guitar. Check for example the following review from Amazon, and you could find a lot of similar ones:
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
And this …
And of course, hear it and see it in action here:
Cort is another guitar maker (manufacture and design) company that I like.
It has a good reputation for making good quality, inexpensive guitars, and they mostly focus on electric, acoustic, and hybrid acoustic-electric guitars for their main production line of guitars.
Founded first in 1960 as a piano maker, but later in 1973, the company transformed into a guitar-only maker company as it became more proficient at guitars.
The Cort SFX is one of their most popular acoustic-electric guitar hybrids.
It has a comfortable slim body which is perfect for beginners, and the price is also in the beginner-friendly range, ~350$ (Check Amazon regularly for any change in price)
The Cort SFX-E NS Acoustic/Electric Guitar
As you can see from the picture, it has a cutaway at the bottom of the fretboard, known as “Venetian” cutaway, which allows for easier soloing in the higher notes, on the higher frets.
It's made of a solid spruce top, and mahogany back and sides, both good for producing bright, natural mid-high range soundwaves and it resonates quite well.
This is an acoustic-electric guitar. It comes with an integrated preamp and electronics, which give it a louder and better amplified tone. Great for stage play.
In addition to the electronics – Which includes a 3-band equalizer (Bass – Treble – Phase) -, This guitar also comes with a built-in LED tuner for faster and easier tuning. A great addition that most beginners would find useful.
Overall, a good guitar with a decent price, a good amplified tone thanks to the embedded electronics, and an instrument that can stay with you even to the late advanced levels, not to forget that it comes stage-ready out of the box.
See Cort's video on this SFX guitar below:
This Epiphone Les Paul (Not to be confused with the Gibson Les Paul, which is 10x times more expensive) is currently #1 best seller in the “solid body electric guitars” category on Amazon, and it only costs around 200$.
From this alone, and based on the customer reviews (More than 1000+ reviews), we could tell that this is the most favorite electric guitar among beginners.
Aside from the tone which has been reported to be not quite bad! What makes this package a favorite for most beginners, is that it's a full electric guitar package.
Which basically means, it comes with ALL the necessary tools and accessories so all you have to do is plug everything together, switch the power on, and start playing. Simple as that.
The Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar
I think this is why this guitar is very popular among the beginner audience. Simple, easy to use, includes everything you need like a simple small amp, guitar strap, picks, a clip-on tuner, a gig bag, and even some guitar lessons so you start learning right away (Although, check our recommendation for guitar lessons and training here).
I could talk a lot more about this guitar, but instead, I'm just going to show you a screenshot of a customer review from Amazon which has over 780+ upvotes, which basically summarize this guitar pretty good:
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Then he continues …
I'll leave it there for you to decide.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this post and found it helpful.
My intention in making this guide (Or list, or post) was to try to eliminate any confusion regarding picking an entry level guitar for beginners, or at least narrow down the list of options so choosing a beginner guitar would be a less difficult or daunting task.
As you can see from the suggestions above, there are quite a few good guitars that fit for the entry level based on budget, size, tone, playability, versatility, and comfortability, as well as taking into consideration things like company reputation, real customer reviews, and feedback, and I hope I've managed to list only the best of them.
Feel free to browse additional guitars from our guitar section of the shop, and if you have any questions regarding the guitars above, any feedback, or you own any of these guitars and would love to add your own review on it, please add them in the comments section below.
HAVE FUN & GOOD LUCK!