If you don’t already have an acoustic guitar in the corner of your room, you’ve probably considered getting one. The allure of the sweet, sweet sound of acoustic strings ringing out is almost too much for anyone to withstand. Regardless of whether you’re 6 or 60, it’s never a bad idea to give-in and pick up an acoustic for the first time.
Learning something new is fun – and also daunting. Sure, there’s a lot of potential enjoyment, but first you have to make sure you spend your limited hobbyist funds the right way. After all, nothing makes you want to quit more than feeling like you got a sour deal right out of the gate.
This buyer’s guide is here to make sure that doesn’t happen. With this information, you’ll have everything you need to start your acoustic guitar journey out right.
Tips for Getting a Good Starter Acoustic
Don’t Just Buy Anything, Anywhere!
A lot of people are under the impression that they can pick up whatever cheap acoustic guitar they see at their local big box retailer and it’ll be the same as a name brand that costs just slightly more. But, while many of those bargain guitars are indeed affordable, they’re also lacking in quality, and low quality guitars are prone to a number of problems.
The wood they’re made with doesn’t afford good sound. The cheap, assembly line construction leads the instrument to feel uncomfortable when played, as well as respond poorly to your hands. This causes beginners to think they’re doing something incorrect, when in fact they’re not—it’s the guitar. Cheap guitars will also not stay in tune very long or hold up after being played for years.
Get Something That’s Affordable, Not Cheap
Here’s the trick—you can get a guitar that isn’t very expensive and is also quality enough to give you a chance to get good at it. The best way to do this is to find the starter models from some of the brands which also make the most expensive, highly-regarded guitars in the world.
For an extra $50, $75, or $100, over the cheapo, no-name guitars, the quality you can get drastically increases. Often times, the entry-level models from brands like Fender, Ibanez, or Martin, are still made with excellent materials, as well as with their tried-and-tested manufacturing processes.
Acoustic or Acoustic-Electric?
Acoustic guitars sometimes have discrete electronics systems in them. This means they can be plugged into an amplification system so their light, acoustic tone can be made louder. This is great for live venues. They can also be plugged straight into a computer system to record.
Having electronics doesn’t affect the guitar being an “acoustic,” but it does give you these other options, so it’s definitely a worthwhile feature to look out for if you want to do more than play alone in your room.
How to Choose Your Instrument
- First, go to a reputable instrument retailer. One where all the employees are musicians and they carry a variety of guitars. Tell the sales people that you’re looking for your first acoustic guitar. They will point you in the right direction.
- Take a look at all the beginner models. Ask the sales person questions, tell them what music you like, and hold as many as you can in your hands. Consider if you want to have the option to plug the guitar in with an acoustic-electric. And while looks aren’t the most important aspect, they do matter. You have to like what you’re playing and feel cool playing it.
- Set your price range. I know you may want to do this before you hit the store, but it’s helpful to be slightly flexible because: a) you can get a lot more quality for a little more money; and b) you may not have accounted for the other accessories that are necessary to start playing. To that end, many beginner guitars come in “starter packs” which also gets you a strap, picks, a tuner, and some other extras you’ll need.
Then take it home and play your heart out. The biggest challenge in becoming a proficient guitar player is playing consistently—and the more time you put into it, the more you get out of it.
- Full Size
- Cedar Top
- Mahogany Back and Sides
- Thin Finish
- Quality Sound at an Affordable Price
- Clear Resonance and Projection
If there’s one thing Yamaha does better than any other guitar manufacturer, it’s tricking you into thinking that you’re playing a more expensive guitar, and the C40II is no exception. It offers a natural feel, warmth, tonal clarity, and much more. The C40II also features a wonderful tonewood combination of a cedar top, and mahogany back and sides. This offers you resonance and projection even while playing finger-style with a nice midrange to impress your audience with clear melodies and harmonies. This is further amplified by a thin finish which allows the guitar to breathe and sing. Bottom line, the C series would be a perfect beginner guitar, built with care by Yamaha, and with a tone that you won’t put down even as you progress in your playing.
- Dreadnought Shape with Cutaway
- Built-In Tuner with Backlit Display
- 3-Band EQ
- Spruce Top/Agathis Back and Sides
- Scale Length: 25.5″
- Fingerboard: Blackwood
- Chrome Tuners
- Padded Gig Bag, Picks, and Guitar Strap
The Carlo Robelli G600CE is the full package that comes with everything you need to get started. From a padded gig bag, to guitar picks and a strap, the G600CE is a full accessory bundle. In addition, it comes with a genuine spruce top. This will give your guitar a warm and natural sound. And finally, the cutaway gives you easy accesses to higher notes, and the onboard tuner/EQ are invaluable tunes to shape your tone and stay in tune.
The Yamaha FG800 is one of the most popular guitars on the planet. And luckily, we had our friend Andy Winston of Yamaha stop in and give us a quick overview of this prolific guitar. Check it out!
The Bread and Butter of all acoustic guitars!
- Good for Players of All Skill Levels
- Solid Spruce Top
- Nato Back and Sides
- Well Balanced Tone
- Nato Neck
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Rosewood Bridge
- Die-Cast Tuners
- High-Gloss Natural Finish
- Scalloped Bracing
The wonderful thing about the AEWC11 is the style! When you’re starting out on acoustic guitar, anything that can inspire you too keep playing helps! So, if you can look at this beautiful guitar and want to pick it up, that’s half the battle. This guitar offers a great set of tonewoods to give you a sound that will inspire you to play as well. Complimented then by the Fishman Sonicore pickup and Ibanez AEQ-SP1 Preamp, you’ll know that you can also plug in with sonic confidence. The final treat is that this guitar comes in 2 unique and beautiful finishes to choose from.
- Spruce Top
- Sapele Back & Sides
- Nyatoh Neck: 24.96″ Scale Length
- Walnut Fingerboard
- Ibanez AEQ-SP1 Preamp, Onboard Tuner, and Fishman Sonicore Pickup
- Walnut Top Loading Bridge
- Die-Cast Chrome Tuners
The Michael Kelly Forte Port Exotic is inarguably an incredibly unique guitar. For a beginner, have some unique style is never a bad thing. Michael Kelly’s offset soundhole enhances resonance and offer a dynamic projection. Meanwhile the extreme cutaway enhances comfort and increases your ability to play higher notes. All of that with Fishman electronics makes this an incredible guitar to start your journey.
- Unique Acoustic-Electric
- Special Internal Bracing, Enhanced Soundboard, Offset Soundhole
- Enhanced Comfort with Extreme Cutaway Body
- Finish: Exotic Java Ebony
- Back and Sides: Satin Okume
- Neck: Mahogany
- Electronics: Fishman
- MK Zero Pin Bridge System
Taylor’s main goal for the Academy Series was to give new guitar players a quality instrument that will inspire them to play. Again, one of the reasons most new musician’s fail is lack of interest because their instrument doesn’t meet the demands of comfort and sound. Taylor’s quality is inspiring, so even if you’re a seasoned guitarist looking for a budget instrument, you can have peace of mind with the Academy Series.
The Academy Series A12 features a smaller Grand Concert body shape with an ergonomic armrest. That means that this guitar was built for comfort which is essential for new players. Tonewoods are also not a problem here. You get solid sitka spruce on top, and layered sapele on the back and sides. Whether you’re interested in fingerstyle playing, or you have a lighter touch, this guitar can handle it. To finish off the elegance of this incredible instrument, it also has a mahogany neck that offers outstanding playability, and a slim profile that offers outstanding comfort. If that wasn’t enough – gig bag included.
- Body Shape: Grand Concert
- Top Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce
- Back and Sides: Layered Sapele
- Neck: Mahogany
- Ergonomic Arm Rest
- Gig Bag Included
When it comes to your first acoustic guitar, you’d be hard pressed to find a classier option than the Martin D-X2E. With premium appointments like a mother-of-pearl rosette, Fishman MX electronics, and a solid Sitka spruce top – there’s not much more you could ask for in terms of quality and sound. This guitar offers premium volume and projection as well as a solid wood neck for comfort and stability. The included gig bag is also a premium offering with a water repellant exterior and foam padding. And you’ll get amazing tone with full bass and responsive treble from the scalloped X bracing.
- Body Shape: Dreadnought
- Bracing: Scalloped X
- Back & Sides: Rosewood HPL
- Top: Sitka Spruce
- Rosette: Mother-of-Pearl Pattern
- Neck: 25.4″ Scale Performing Artist | High Performance Taper
- Electronics: Fishman MX
- Gig Bag Included
Well, what are you waiting for?
Now that you’ve got all the know-how, there’s nothing holding you back from acoustic supremacy. So head over to your local Sam Ash and see all that we have to offer.