An initial guitar purchase can be confusing. Guitars don’t come equipped with an owner’s manual and there are so many options. The best choice for someone new to guitar will depend upon the sound you’re looking for, the size and strength of the student, and of course your budget.
The most important thing for a beginner is a guitar that’s easy to play. Spending too much for better quality is usually a mistake for beginners. Regardless of cost, guitars begin to sound better when the student learns how to play well. That takes some time.
Acoustic (non-electric) guitars are often recommended for beginners due to their lightweight, but they are often larger than an electric model. In the non-electric line, choices include Classical or common Acoustic, nylon strings versus steel strings, respectively. The choice will come down to the sound differential and the ease of play; the Classical model emits a deeper tone and nylon strings tend to be easier on the fingers.
The search for the Best Beginner Guitar should begin with a good bit of research. We’ve done some of the research here for you. We’ve created a list of seven beginner-level guitars that we feel will suit the average student.
Best Beginner Guitars - Comparison Table
Just Starting Out
At the beginner level, you need a good quality instrument, but overspending at this juncture generally won’t increase proficiency or make playing any easier. Some guitars are designed with complex mechanisms for advanced musicians. These can be difficult to learn and cause discouragement. Higher-level instruments are designed for high-level musicians looking for a specific grade of sound. Beginners are usually not sure of their likes and dislikes and some advanced features can make it difficult to learn the basics.
That said, be sure to consider the construction of the instrument. Some beginner Classical models tend to bow in the neck after a short time. Guitars built with a covered machine head look vintage but are often very hard to tune. A modern die-cast machine head is a much better option and stays in tune longer.
Strings are another item to consider. Steel strings are standard on Acoustic Guitars. They can be tough on delicate hands. A Classical guitar will produce a different sound, but the nylon strings may be easier on a beginner’s hands, especially a child. “String action” should be considered when looking at the size of the guitar neck. Smaller hands may not reach the length or width of a wide-necked guitar.
Here’s a kind of checklist that you can use to help with your decision.
- Sound the student enjoys
- Classical – Nylon Strings – Classical, Flamenco, Spanish
- Acoustic – Steel Strings – Folk, Pop, Country, Mellow Rock
- Electric – Steel Strings – Rock, Metal, Pop, Country
- Size of the student
- Classical – Small Sizes Available, Light Weight
- Acoustic – Larger in Size, Light Weight
- Electric – Smaller in Size, Heavy (depending upon model)
- More expensive is not always best
- More comfortable nylon or the sound of steel
When considering cost, a well-known brand is not always the best option for a first experience. The costly brand names often spend their time working on their high-end products rather than their low-cost beginner lines. High-priced guitars are where they make their money hence where they focus their resources.
Cheaply made beginner guitars are thought to, “just play like that,” believing that a better sound will come with time. For a student that is completely new to guitar, a poorly constructed instrument can create a sub-par sound. There is no need to break the bank. Mid-range instruments are available. The initial budget should be set high enough to afford a well-constructed instrument that will allow for a semi-professional tone. The guitar will be a waste of any budget if the student becomes discouraged and quits.
When deciding on a string type, keep in mind that steel strings can be uncomfortable on soft fingers. Low end, cheap steel strings can be extremely painful and add another avenue of discouragement to newbies. Replacing the included strings with lightweight steel strings is an excellent option. Seeking out a guitar shop that is able to alter a bridge or make simple adjustments can make a budget guitar sound better and play easier. These services should come inexpensively as the shop should be looking to earn a new customer.
Some things you’ll be looking for in the construction of the instrument will be:
- Weight: not heavy to carry
- Strings: Comfortable (steel or nylon) but durable
- Sound: Clarity
The clarity of the sound is crucial. Sound quality will be an asset in learning the basics. The majority of musicians discover their own sound as they learn to play. Students begin to notice the guitar in pieces of music and often musical preferences change. Over time beginners become intermediates and learn which instrument best suits their preferences. The first guitar will rarely be the last guitar.
Our Rating of the Best Guitars for Beginners
Below you’ll find a list of seven beginner-level guitars. The majority of the guitars on our list are not electric, but Acoustic or Classical. They differ in sound, construction, type, and price. A comparison chart is also provided to help make a wise purchase. We have added two electric models, although we recommend beginning with an Acoustic.
ACOUSTIC / CLASSICAL MODELS
1. Martin Smith W-101-BL-PK Acoustic Guitar – Our Best Pick — $
Check out the Martin Smith W-101-BL-PK guitar. This is a full-sized instrument designed with students in mind. The W-100 models provide a rich tone well suited for budding musicians. The W-101-BL-PK Acoustic model has a slim-lined, 39-inch body that is contoured perfectly for comfortable play. This model sports an attractive, high gloss finish and a full-scale neck strung with steel strings.
Martin Smith Guitars are based in the UK. These guitars are quality crafted instruments specifically manufactured with hobbyists and student musicians in mind. This entry-level instrument is marketed toward the education market. Martin Smith Guitars strive to provide above-average quality, while remaining affordable, to encourage beginners to achieve their dream of becoming a guitarist.
- Free Online Lessons
- Geared Machine Heads
- Lacks Strap Anchor
- Cheap Picks Included
- Low-Quality Tuner
We do recommend this guitar package. If the reviews are correct a new tuner and picks are inexpensive to purchase separately. This package includes a guitar stand where most do not. Also, the lessons are an excellent perk.
2. Donner DAG-1 – Good Beginner Acoustic Guitar — $
Discover a money-back guarantee with the Donner DAG-1. Donner provides any beginner with a comfortable starter instrument. The 41-inch DAG-1 is designed with a slim neck to provide easy play and dreadnought body for vibrant tones. The smooth finish maximizes deep, full, and reverberating sound quality. This model is strung with micro-coated bronze strings, medium-gauge at the bottom and light gauge on top for playability. Although this is a larger size for a beginning instrument, the DAG-1 weighs in at less than 7.5 pounds.
Choosing between the common Dreadnought design and a Cutaway (see following reviews) depends completely on personal preference. The sound will not be affected. The Dreadnought has a fuller look but has been said to add some difficulty for a beginner. One thing to consider with this model is that this guitar is designed for both right- and left-handed students. Also, the guitar is built with a wood laminate, Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides. Laminate, rather than solid wood, may affect the look and sound. The sound quality is relative, depending upon your preferences.
Donner Guitars goal is to be an innovator in music and performance. Donner is a young company dedicated to unprecedented creativity in the manufacture of musical instruments. Relying on research and development, the company continues to maintain high quality for professional musicians and inspiration for beginners. Donner provides the musical instruments that inspire.
- Suited For All Styles of Music
- 20 Brass Frets with Fret Position Marks
- 30-Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee
- Some Dead Frets at 12 through 15
- Inadequate Strings
- Laminate, not solid wood
The strings can easily be replaced with the student’s preference. The laminate makes for a bit of hesitation. But it’s difficult not to recommend this guitar because of the unique money-back guarantee. Not many manufacturers are offering the opportunity to try the guitar before making a final decision. That only makes for a recommendation.
3. Martin Smith W-38-N – Acoustic Guitar Pack with a Natural Finish — $
Find an amazing value in the Martin Smith W-38 series. This entry-level Acoustic is a well-constructed 38-inch, right-handed guitar. The smaller size is appropriate for younger students to gain comfortability while holding the guitar. The W-38-N design sports a 19-fret fingerboard. The glossy body is crafted from Linden wood, with straight grain for eye appeal and a warm sound. The action and strings are specifically designed to reduce stress on the hands of beginners new to guitar.
Although this guitar is extremely lightweight, less than 3.5 pounds, reviews lean more toward calling this guitar a “toy” rather than a musical instrument. Other inexpensive guitars that are designed to accommodate beginners are more highly recommended. Stretching the budget slightly for a higher quality guitar will encourage progress with less difficulty.
- Two Months of Lessons
- Access Live, Online Group Classes
- Fret Design Causes Students to Play Up
- Low-Quality Build
- Loses Tune Frequently
Although this option does include two months of lessons including group classes, the construction is an issue. For a very small child interested in learning to play the guitar, this may be the one. But for anyone else I don’t think we would recommend this instrument. There are too man negative reviews about the feel of the guitar. It is called a child’s toy more than it is referred to as a true, musical instrument.
4. Omega Class Kit 1 Classical Acoustic Guitar Full-sized, 38-inch, Nylon Stringed with Carry Bag — $
The Omega Class Kit 1 is an awesome guitar for the price. This Classical Acoustic (Spanish-style) 38-inch guitar has a beautiful style usually found in much higher priced instruments. The Omega Class Kit 1 has a standard, classical guitar set-up with six nylon strings. The three bottom strings are silver-plated copper wire and silk wound over the nylon for a softer feel, making it easier to play. The instrument has a Natowood fretboard and bridge with a basswood back and sides.
A Classical or Spanish-style guitar has nylon strings, which are easier on the fingers of beginners. The size is a bit smaller than a Dreadnought and the construction brings about a warm, mellow tone. The drawback of a Classical Guitar is the difficulty to later convert to a steel-stringed instrument. The Classical construction is designed specifically for nylon strings. Replacing the nylon with steel strings is not recommended and may damage the neck of the guitar.
There is little online information about Omega Guitars which makes researching the company very difficult.
- Very Inexpensive
- Ornate soundhole binding
- Eye-pleasing basswood body
- Spruce top for improved sound
- Protective Gig Bag included
- Feels Fragile
- Body shows fingerprints
- The wide neck may hinder smaller hands
- No pegs to attach a strap
We are not recommending this guitar. Although it is reasonably priced, reviews from previous purchasers tend to agree that the guitar is difficult to handle. For a beginner ease of play is of utmost importance. The neck leans wider than the other instruments we’ve listed, and it is reported to feel fragile. Although the guitar is attractive, it is said to show an abundance of fingerprints easily. Another menial flaw is that the package merely includes a Gig Bag. For a beginner, the extras are a fun addition that will be missing with this purchase.
5. Best Choice Products Beginners Acoustic Guitar – 38-inch Black — $
Jam in style with a Best Choice Products Beginners Acoustic Guitar. This guitar fits the bill for aspiring musicians as well as pros. The glossy, black finish creates a sleek look. This smaller sized 38-inch Beginners Acoustic has a 19-fret fingerboard and comes complete with an easy for beginner’s tuner. The steel strings and all-wooden construction provide high-quality sound. This instrument offers the perfect sound for Rock and Roll and includes an excellent accessory package for budding entertainers.
Best Choice Products is a retail website that sells a variety of items. The manufacturer is not specified which does not allow for construction research. The instrument’s reviews do not reflect a high-quality build. The construction materials are listed as Sapele, Rosewood, and Spruce. Although the price may be right, a higher quality item might be a better option for a longer product life expectancy.
- Sound Quality
- Plastic String Guide at the Top of the Fret Too High
- D String Muffled, Doesn’t Ring True
- Difficult Chord Play, Even for Experienced Hands
- High G String Glued Improperly, Buzzes When Plucked or Strummed
- Cheap Picks
Obviously, this instrument would require replacement of the included strings and possibly some picks. Although reviews claim that the construction is below average, they also praise the quality of the sound. These attributes normally go hand-in-hand. Reviews on this guitar are contradictory. If this is the guitar you’re interested in, reading some additional reviews before purchase would be an excellent idea.
6. Artall Handcrafted Acoustic Cutaway Guitar Beginner Kit – 41-Inch with Gig Bag & Accessories, Matte Sunset Finish — $
The Artall Handcrafted Acoustic Cutaway Guitar comes as a complete kit for beginners. The ingenious and creative shape that leads to the “Cutaway” name adds to the beginner experience by making it more comfortable to play. The 41-inch size and increased weight, almost eight pounds, would lean this instrument into the adult beginner category. On the other hand, the ingenious shape may provide ease of playability for smaller students as well.
This instrument offers a clear, harmonious sound. The pleasant sound quality and elaborate cutaway look add to the excellent value of this guitar. The Cutaway has a unique exterior design with a natural, matte finish. This solid wood instrument has a top and back of handcrafted Linden, the sides are black with a maple neck, fingerboard, and bridge.
The Artall 41-inch Cutaway is easy to tune, equipped with specialized tuning introduction and E-tuner. The Artall Cutaway is quite often recommended for its sound quality, reasonable price, and unique, eye-catching design.
Artall’s longtime motto remains, “Art All Customer.” Artall manufacturing leans toward eye-appeal, providing extremely attractive instruments to customers. Artall strives, through research and development, to emphasize innovation. The company continues to receive excellent ratings and highly positive customer reviews.
- Unique Design
- Sound Quality
- Solid Wood
- No second peg for a strap
- Equal reviews disagree with the sound quality
- Larger Size Better for Adult Beginners
7. Afuaim Acoustic Red Spruce Cutaway – Steel String Guitar Pack — $
The Afuaim Cutaway Guitar in red is stunning to the eye and pleasing to the ear. This 41-inch Acoustic guitar stands out with its deep red coloring, black accents, and unique shape. The impressive look of this Afuaim Acoustic starts with a solid Red Spruce top and red-stained Nanyang laminate wood sides and back. The matte finish is the perfect choice for the outstanding color combination. Black air-brushed edging on the front provides the perfect accent.
The body is a combination of solid Red Spruce and high-quality laminated wood. The neck is imported African Okoume while the fretboard and bridge are solid Rosewood. The cutout design makes for comfortable play and the six steel strings provide excellent sound quality for both chords and notes. This is a right-handed guitar with 20 frets bordered by reinforced Cupronickel fret wire. This guitar is reviewed as an excellent choice for beginners, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
- Solid wood front
- Sixth string sometimes makes a very loud buzzing sound on F and F#
As with most beginner models that we’ve researched, the Afuaim Red Spruce Cutaway seems to require string replacement. This instrument has better than average ratings from previous purchasers. The guitar seems to answer all the needs of a beginner and the look is over the top. We would recommend this instrument with a warning, it is a larger guitar. It may not be the right choice for smaller children.
Zeny Electric Guitar with Amp – Case and Accessories Pack Beginner Starter Package, Black
The Zeny 01016 is a well-constructed, right-handed guitar. This guitar comes as a complete package that even includes an amplifier. The Zeny is advertised as an ideal beginner guitar, ready to use right out of the box. With an attractive, smooth finish, this Zeny sports all wood construction including a Maplewood neck with a truss rod. The steel strings are 25.59 inches long. Specifics include single-coil pickups, Regulator Volume, and five-scale tone changer. The 10-watt amp has a two-band EQ, headphone out plug, volume, bass tone, and treble controls.
- 39-inch Electric Guitar
- 10-Watt Amplifier
- 420D Gig Bag
- Guitar Strap
- Guitar Cable
- Extra Strings
- Allen Key
- Tremolos Rod
- Solid Wood Construction
- Amplifier Included
- Package: Protective Gig Bag, Strap, Extra Strings
- Weak Guitar Strap
- Cheap Amp Cord
Zeny Products began in 2009. They guarantee the satisfaction of their products and offer quality service, affordable prices, and fast shipping. They claim their number one goal is to keep their customers satisfied.
When shopping, keep in mind that electric guitars are bulkier than most Acoustic and Classical options. In size comparison, this guitar falls in the mid-range at 39 inches. We do recommend this guitar as it is a complete package for the electric guitar student.
Best Choice Products Blue Electric Guitar with Amp – Case and Accessories Pack Beginner Starter Package
Another awesome electric model constructed with hardwood and a fingerboard with truss rod neck. This right-handed electric guitar sports a classic design with 22 frets to all for melodic sounds. It is also designed with comfortable neck pickup placement. The guitar itself is 39.5 inches long, falling into the mid-range category.
This guitar comes complete with a beginner, 10-watt amplifier that is more than sufficient power. The amp is equipped with a guitar and microphone outlet, a drive button, volume, treble and bass controls. The set includes an integrated regulator volume, tone, scale tone changer, and single coil pickup for smooth response. The instrument weighs in at only 5.5 pounds. The blue accents make this a beautiful, starter electric guitar.
- Nylon Carrying Case
- Guitar Strap
- 10-watt Amplifier
- Tremolo Bar
- Extra Strings
- Solid Wood Construction
- Amplifier Included
- Package: Protective Nylon Gig Bag, Strap, extra Strings
- Weak Neck
- Known to Buzz
- Strings Action Difficult to Adjust
As explained earlier on their Acoustic model, Best Choice Products sells a variety of items online. As with the Acoustic, the manufacturer is not specified. This instrument’s reviews also do not reflect a well-constructed instrument. Although the construction materials are listed as hardwood, the type of wood is not specified. The low prices are an attention-getter, but the quality should be taken into consideration.
Although this guitar also comes with a starter package and amplifier, we do not recommend this instrument. Negative reviews are too plentiful.
There are so many beginner guitars available on the market that choosing the right instrument can be confusing. The internet is full of “Best Guitar for Beginners” advertising and brick and mortar guitar shops add to the conundrum. Many advertisements claim to be beginner guitars when they are, in fact, more than any beginner will need to get started; especially when the cost weighed in the decision. A professional guitar might even hinder the learning process.
This list of hand-picked best guitars for beginners should be a help in choosing a well-constructed instrument with excellent sound quality and low cost. The best choice will fit the student’s size, create excitement with an eye-catching look, and fill the need for the type of sound you’re looking for in a guitar. A perfect choice will also fit the purchaser’s budget. Another important aspect is the ability to hold a tune. If a guitar is constantly out of tune a beginner will become frustrated and may quit practicing.
In the end, our recommendations for the best guitar for a beginner would be an Acoustic. The Artall or the Afuaim top our list. They are both well-built, offer quality sound and won’t break the bank. Remember to factor in the possible cost of alternate strings and picks. These are minor expenses to add for a guitar that will last throughout the learning process.
One accessory for beginners that we wanted to mention:
gTar Digital Guitar Teacher
- The gTar Digital Guitar Teacher. This is a digital guitar, perfect for beginner guitarists. Still, in its beginning stages, this unique gadget is an awesome addition to a beginner’s package. Drawback is, an iPhone is required. Just plug your iPhone into the dock with a 30-pin cable or a lightning connector. Once connected the guitar frets light up with LED lights behind the fret board. These lights guide the student as to where to put their fingers. This device uses real strings and actual frets. With the LED lights you can learn chords and scales.
Once the student gets a grasp on playing their guitar there are zillions of fun accessories available. These add-ons include:
- The iRig Blueboard by IK Media. This pedal connects to your iPad via Bluetooth. The built-in extension port allows for additional pedals. Every tech-savvy guitarist will want one.
- iTrack Dock. For Garage Band users, iTrack Dock is a handy and powerful iPad docking station. With the iTrack Dock you can connect multiple inputs for multi-track recording. The dock is completely portable for traveling to jam sessions.
- Gibson Memory Cable. With the Gibson Memory Cable electric guitarists are able to hook to any sound system. This cable is also an audio recorder for those times of unscheduled inspiration. Just the push of a button turns this cable into a recording device for your guitar. Don’t miss a second of creativity with this handy cable.
- The Roadie Tuner. For those guitars that come with a sub-par tuner, The Roadie Tuner is the perfect, necessary replacement. Not only does it look sleek and professional, it tunes automatically with the use of a cell phone. Just pluck a string and the Roadie turns the guitar’s knobs for you. This tuner is reviewed as extremely accurate and surprisingly fast. The Roadie is also customizable, for more experienced ears.
- Guitar Adventures offers iPhone and iPad holders that lock onto your guitar. Techies who take part in online classes or get their music digitally can control of their device hands-free. The Griffin Sidekick holds the phone to your headstock while the ChargerCity Music Microphone Stand Tablet Mount will hold raise your tablet for easy viewing.
There is no end to the fun that can be had both playing music and shopping for gadgets.