The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners - Expert Advice

Guide to Guitars for Beginners


We recommend all products independently of 3rd parties including advertisers. We earn advertising fees from:
• • • • •
• • • • •


As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
• • • • •

To help you start off your musical journey on the right foot, we used our years of guitar playing and teaching experience, along with current market feedback, to provide you with a list of highly recommended acoustic guitars for beginners.

This 2021 edition of the guide expands into three sections to cover three of the most commonly recommended types of acoustic guitars: acoustic guitars, classical guitars, and a new dedicated section for acoustic-electric guitars, all of which are not only doing well in our book, but are also rated highly by students and other teachers. Also new in this edition of the guide is the reduction of the price range to sub $300, which we believe better represents what most beginners are actually able to buy.

Much like most of our guides, we feature only ones that you can readily buy within the USA. Each one is listed with important information and specifications, along with summaries of pros & cons from actual users.

Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

Yamaha FS800


96 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha FS800 - Natural

Yamaha continues to be the brand to beat when it comes to student friendly instruments, so it's only proper that we feature their best rated beginner acoustic guitar - the Yamaha FS800.

This concert body acoustic comes from their popular FG/FS series of acoustics, having the same well received features that include solid spruce top and traditional X-bracing support.

Having a smaller concert body makes the FS800 more comfortable for younger players, it also has a slightly shorter scale length that lessens string tension a bit.

In addition to being easier to play, smaller profile and shorter scale affect the tone a bit, resulting in a more mid focused tone.


  • String Type: Steel
  • Body Shape: Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body: Nato/Okume
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Nut Width: 1.69"


Coming from Yamaha, it's not surprising to find a lot of reviewers rating the FS800 highly for its comfortable playing feel. The warmer tonality of the instrument is also well appreciated, especially since most beginners will be dealing with fingerstyle playing sooner or later. Reviewers also mention that the guitar feels solid and looks well built.


There are a few who recommend getting the default strings replaced for best results - we recommend these highly rated acoustic steel strings.


When it comes to student friendly instruments, it's hard to go wrong with Yamaha, especially if you're going with their top-rated student-friendly acoustic guitar.

Fender CC-60S Concert Pack V2


95 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Fender CC-60S Concert Pack

For a starter guitar, the CC-60S has impressive specs and beginner friendly features.

It beats out most of the competition right off the bat with its solid spruce top, which is usually reserved for more expensive models.

It's smaller concert size body also makes it a more comfortable instrument to learn on, compared to conventional dreadnought acoustics.

The neck of the guitar is also meant to be student friendly, with its walnut fingerboard that features rolled edges.

And since this guitar is from Fender, you can be confident that they keep build quality to a reasonably good level - and this is reflected in the high ratings that it has been receiving from users across major retailers.


  • String Type: Steel
  • Body Shape: Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.3”
  • Nut Width: 1.69"


The Fender CC-60S is highly rated for its combination of good build quality and value for money, and most of the reviews are from students or their parents. It is commended for both how comfortable it is to play, and how good it sounds - two important traits that make it a great instrument to learn on and impressing even experienced guitarists who are looking for affordable beater guitars.


There aren't any noteworthy complaints, so we'll just note here that its Concert shape, while comfortable, may lack some bottom end and volume when compared to bigger acoustic bodies like the dreadnought.


With the extras added in, the Fender CC-60S Concert Pack provides excellent value for beginners.

Ibanez AW54


95 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Ibanez AW54 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

The Ibanez Artwood AW54 is a classic looking dreadnought with Ibanez' brand of playability and value for money.

Speaking of easy playability, this guitar has a neck that's around 0.83" thin, topped with an ovangkol fingerboard with a 15.75" radius.

The AW54 sports a solid top crafted from renewable wood called okoume, which lets you enjoy the vibrancy of a solid top acoustic at a price point that beginners will appreciate.

The body follows the classic dreadnought shape, a nice contrast to the guitar's modern tonewood selection and playability.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Okoume
  • Body: Okoume back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.6299"
  • Nut Width: 1.69"

Users are simply pleased with the overall performance of the AW54, from its easy playability to its warm yet open tone. Value for money is definitely Ibanez' strong suit in the acoustic market, as reflected by many reviewers who feel that this guitar gives them more than what they paid for. Build quality is also often commended, of which I concur because I am also a proud owner of an Ibanez acoustic that is still very much playable many years after I brought it - it was actually my first "stage" guitar and still holds a special place in my heart.

Not many complaints about the particulars of this guitar, although there are some who are not too keen on the use of okoume wood over mahogany. Still, there are more people who appreciate the use of alternative renewable wood, even more so when they experience how light it is.

The Ibanez AW54 should be high on your list if you're looking for a solid top acoustic guitar that's easy to play.

The Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars for Beginners

Ibanez PF15ECE


91 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Ibanez PF15ECE 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Entry-level Ibanez acoustic-electrics are well loved because they bring with them Ibanez' penchant for fast action and easy playability. And this is true for the PF15ECE, a beginner friendly guitar with easy playing neck and built-in electronics.

The guitar features a dreadnought-cutaway body with laminate spruce top, a configuration known for good natural projection. The back and sides are crafted from nyatoh, an asian hardwood with similar properties to mahogany.

For electronics, this guitar comes with the AEQ2T preamp, with 2-band EQ and volume control, plus built-in tuner.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: Dreadnought - Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce (Laminate)
  • Body: Nyatoh Back & Sides
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 24.96"
  • Nut Width: 1.654"
  • Electronics: Ibanez AEQ-2T preamp with onboard tuner


For the price, most users are pleased with the overall quality of this guitar. There are many who commend it for being easy to play, while others are pleased at how it sounds both when plugged or unplugged. Even those who are skeptical of cheap import guitars find themselves satisfied with the quality of this acoustic.


There are a few reports of out-of-the box string setup related issues, there are also some who rated this guitar slightly lower for lack of preamp features like phase and middle frequency control.


If you're looking for a student acoustic guitar that's easy to play and can be plugged into with good sound, then check out the Ibanez PF15ECE.

Gretsch G9520E Gin Rickey Parlor Guitar


95 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Gretsch G9520E Gin Rickey Acoustic-Electric Parlor Guitar

The Gretsch G9520E is an acoustic-electric guitar with a compact parlor style body that young students of the guitar will appreciate.

Interestingly even experienced players love it for its easier action, thanks to its shorter scale length, while others praise it for its distinct midrange emphasized tone.

Instead of the usual undersaddle pickup with preamp setup, the G9520E comes with a magnetic soundhole pickup, which gives it a gritty amplified tone ideal for blues, folk and rock. This pickup also compliments its "blues box" style sound, which emphasizes the mid frequencies.

In keeping with its parlor guitar stylings, it has old school visuals that even older players will appreciate.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape: Gin Rickey Parlor
  • Top: Basswood (Laminate)
  • Body: Basswood Back & Sides
  • Number of Frets: 18
  • Scale Length: 24"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: Gretsch Deltoluxe Acoustic Magnetic Soundhole Pickup (Passive)


Given its compact size and short scale length, beginners are pleased at how easy this guitar is to play. There are plenty of thumbs up for its bluesy tone, which even experienced musicians appreciate. Having a good sounding tone when plugged in is also mentioned in reviews. It also helps that many find this to be a good looking guitar, especially when considering its price.


This is not advisable if you are looking for a more traditional sounding acoustic. The small body of this guitar means less acoustic projection (less volume) compared to regular size acoustics like dreadnoughts.


This is a no-brainer if you're a fan of classic blues, folk and rock style music, a great starting instrument if you want to be inspired to play the said styles.

Yamaha APX600


95 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha APX600 Thin-line Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Black

Thanks to its thinline cutaway body, the APX600 makes for a comfortable instrument for beginners, and having been made by Yamaha, this guitar looks more premium than it actually is.

This one comes with cost-effective laminate wood, the top being specified as Spruce. And given its thinline body, don't expect its acoustic projection to be as loud and full sounding as dreadnoughts.

It makes up for its lack of acoustic projection by having good sounding electronics, featuring Yamaha's System 65A preamp and piezo system with 3-band EQ and built-in tuner.

The neck is crafted from Nato and topped by a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard, both of which meet the quality standards that make Yamaha world renowned.


  • String Type: Steel String
  • Body Shape:Thinline Cutaway
  • Top: Sitka Spruce (Laminate)
  • Body: Tonewood Back & Sides
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: System 65A Preamp & Pickup with built-in Tuner (Active)


The most common theme among reviewers is that the APX600 is a great buy, stating that it has a surprisingly good combination of good playability and build quality. Users are happy with how easy it is to carry around and play, while others are impressed at Yamaha's attention to detail, given its price tag. Many are also impressed enough with its amplified sound that they often use the APX600 over their more expensive yet bulky main acoustic-electric guitar. Finally, it also helps that this guitar looks good, and comments about its aesthetics are all over many different reviews.


Some report that the sound is a little too thin for their taste, and this is expected given its thinine body. There are a few who had to make adjustments related to string action right out of the box.


If you're looking for a comfortable stage-ready acoustic electric guitar, then definitely check out the APX600 from Yamaha.

The Best Classical / Nylon String Guitars for Beginners

Yamaha C40 MkII


92 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha C40 MkII Classical Nylon String Guitar

The Yamaha C40 MkII is a nylon-string guitar that's widely used by beginner and classical guitar students.

Compared to steel strings, nylon strings are significantly easier to fret, making this guitar ideal for new players, however note that it has a wide nut width following traditional specs, which maybe a bit too wide for those who are used to slim profile neck acoustics. Also note that the tone of nylon strings is also dramatically different, which can be good or bad depending on the preference of the one who will use the guitar.

While the Yamaha C40 is not overly impressive on paper with its basic specs and laminate spruce top, it trumps others with its legacy and longevity. There are simply so many guitar players who started / studied guitar on the C40, myself included.


  • String Type: Nylon String
  • Body Shape: Classical - a little smaller than a Grand Orchestra
  • Top: Laminated Spruce
  • Body: Meranti back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 18 - 12 open
  • Scale Length: 29.5625"
  • Nut Width: 2.0625"
Editor's Note: I personally began learning guitar on a C40 (original version). The wider nut width of classical style guitars can make them easier to play for people with thick fingers because there is more space between the strings.

The cool thing about buying this guitar is that because it’s a nylon string instrument you probably won’t have to invest in a set-up. Because nylon strings are so much easier to play, and exert less force on the body, the odds are much lower that a beginner musician will need the guitar adjusted in order to play it easily. Tone is consistently praised, which is quite special considering this is an entry level guitar. Durability is also an important factor that helps keep the C40 relevant, I for one can still play my over two decades old Yamaha C40, and still looks and plays good, albeit a-bit battered because of use.

We would caution you that if the person playing this guitar doesn’t like the classical guitar sound, and is at least 12 or older, you should get them a steel string guitar instead. A classical guitar sounds very different than a steel string guitar, and while the Yamaha C40 doesn’t sound bad it won’t give them the tone they’re going to want.

If you're aiming for traditional classical guitar tone and playability at a modest price then this is your best bet.

Cordoba C3M


90 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Cordoba C3M Nylon String Guitar

Cordoba is well known for producing quality nylon string guitars, and the C3M showcases their penchant for sound and build quality at the entry-level price tag.

For the money, this one comes with a solid Canadian cedar top, something that you won't easily find in this price range.

The back and sides are crafted from mahogany, forming its classical guitar body. Underneath the top is Spanish-style fan bracing, known for providing more balanced response and tone.

Everything else about this guitar follows familiar classical guitar specs, with a 19-fret rosewood fingerboard, 2.04" nut width and 25.6" scale length.


  • String Type: Nylon String
  • Body Shape: Classical
  • Top: Solid Canadian Cedar
  • Body: Mahogany back & sides
  • Number of Frets: 19
  • Scale Length: 25.6"
  • Nut Width: 2.04"


Most reviewers are pleased with its solid cedar top, which results in noticeably better tone when compared to other entry-level classical guitars. This improved tone convinces many of the users that the Cordoba C3M is a great buy given its price. And while many of the positive reviews are from students and their parents, there are a good number of experienced musicians who are just as pleased with the C3M, some even comparing it in terms of playability and tone to more expensive classical guitars that they already own.


There are some reports of string related issues, like string broken right out of the box, or string breaking within a few weeks or months of use. To alleviate this issue, many recommend replacing the default strings ASAP (see our string recommendations).


With its solid cedar top and Cordoba's backing, the C3M is a great starter classical guitar that will grow with you as your playing and ears improve.

Things to Consider When Buying a Beginner Acoustic Guitar

Perfect Fit

Acoustic Guitars, like all musical instruments, are meant to bring out the musician's distinct style. This is the reason why there really is no one guitar to perfectly fit everyone - rather there are many different guitar designs to cater to personal styles and expressions.

Beginners will usually gravitate towards guitars that are similar to what their favorite musicians use, so the safest choice is to start them out on an instrument that looks and sounds familiar. But this is not a strict rule, because some experts will advise beginners to learn on non-familiar instruments like a nylon string guitar to expand their sonic and playing palette right at the start.

Things That Make a Guitar Easy (Or Hard) To Play

Playability is an important factor to consider when getting guitars for a beginner. Below are the main factors that make a guitar easy or hard to play.


Action is the distance between the guitars string and the fretboard. If it’s too high (far away) the strings are hard to press down, and if it’s too low (close to the fretboard) the strings will buzz when you play them, so guitar manufacturers aim to set it at just the right height.

Generally the thickest string on a guitar should be 3/32” away from the fretboard and the thinnest string should be 1/16” inches away at the nut (the part of the guitar closest to the tuning pegs). The height of the strings at the twelfth fret (which is in the middle of the neck) should be roughly double the height they are at the nut. As long as the string height is somewhat close to the measurements above you shouldn’t have too many issues. If it’s significantly higher (like ¼”) you’re either going to want to get a set-up or buy a different guitar.

Nut Width

As previously mentioned, a guitar’s nut is what the strings pass through before the fretboard starts. It’s on the side closest to the tuning pegs and has six grooves for the strings to sit in.

Nuts come in different widths. Guitars with wider nuts have the strings spaced farther apart, and the opposite is true for guitars with thinner nuts. The two most common nut widths are 1.69” and 1.75”. Younger musicians, or those of you with smaller hands, may prefer something even thinner (though they won’t necessarily need it!).

String Type

There are two main types of acoustic guitars: steel string and nylon string. Steel strings, which are steel plated with a bronze alloy, are harder to press down. Younger children (generally under 7), often find it difficult to push these strings down. This is the most familiar configuration, and widely used in majority of music styles.

Nylon strings are obviously made from nylon, a material that give them a different sound and makes them significantly easier to push down than steel strings. This is the most common choice for students who want to learn classical guitar music, but is in no way limited to that, especially popular artists like Jason Mraz using them. Younger players find these strings much easier to press down.

Body Type

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of body shapes and sizes, and the general idea is that bigger bodied guitars have more volume and bottom end, making them sound fuller. Smaller bodied guitars lack low end, which emphasizes the mid and high frequencies, which works great with fingerstyle playing and other similar styles. Big bodied guitars like the dreadnought can be too big for smaller players, so guitars with compact bodies will be more ideal.

Here we’ve ordered the most commonly found body styles in order of biggest to smallest:

  • Jumbo
  • Dreadnought
  • Slope-Shoulder Dreadnought
  • Grand Orchestra
  • 000
  • Classical
  • 00
  • Parlor

Acoustic-Electric Guitars

The simple addition of a compact piezo pickup and preamp system can turn your acoustic guitar into a stage ready instrument, and these days, there are many that come with pickups right out of the box. For this 2021 edition of the guide, we decided to feature the best beginner acoustic-electric guitars so you can get an instrument that's ready to take the stage with you. Acoustic-electric guitars are highly recommend for fast learners and serious students, so they won't have to buy another guitar for their performance.

What To Expect During Your First Few Weeks of Playing the Guitar

The first month of playing the guitar is going to be the hardest. The reason for this is that when you start playing you don’t have any calluses, so playing your guitar for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a stretch is going to hurt the tips of your fingers. Though if you stick with it, by the time you’ve been playing for three or four months you’ll have a few good calluses built up.

Your main concern should be overplaying. We know it’s tempting, especially when you first get your guitar, to play for long periods of time. However, if you do this before you’ve built up the proper musculature you can actually cause permanent damage to your body. So when you’re just starting, take a 15 minute break for every 30 minutes you play. You can extend these times when you’ve been playing for a longer period of time, though make an effort to not exceed two hours in one sitting.

Tips on Practicing

Everyone learns differently, so it’s hard to suggest a one-size-fits-all approach to practicing the guitar. With that being said, the most important thing to remember is that learning the guitar is a process. No one is awesome at playing an instrument when they first start. In fact, most musicians struggle for a while before they really start learning. So even though it may be difficult, just keep working at it.

Also, if you’re not going to invest in guitar lessons most musicians have a pretty good experience with Hal Leonard books. The company also publishes books on different styles for more advanced musicians. There’s also a ton of great YouTuber’s creating lessons. Literally all you have to do to find them is type “Beginner Guitar Lessons” in YouTube’s search bar and you’ll find what you need to get started.

Advanced Topics

We didn't want to include a lot of additional information which could be confusing for beginners and which isn't necessary for anyone just starting out. However, if you'd like to read more advanced information about things such as Tonewoods, Scale Lengths or Acoustic-Electric Guitars, then please read Tips for Acoustic Guitar Buyers.

What is the Best Guitar for Short Fingers?

Most of the guitars featured here have 1.69" nut width, which is a standard specification used by many guitar manufacturers, and is known to be good enough even for young players. Still we have to mention that at 1.654", the Ibanez PF15ECE has the narrowest nut width in this list, although it only wins by a small fraction.

Beginner Acoustic Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on July 31, 2021.

All the staff and this guide's author play acoustic guitar, so between us we decided that the main criterion for the guitars to be considered for this guide is that they should be relatively easy to play. With that in mind, we created a list of candidates that had suitable nut widths, scale lengths, body types, and string types, that we know from experience will make learning to play as painless and enjoyable as possible to help beginners get through the first few weeks of learning and practice.

For this 2021 edition, we expanded the guide into 3 sections, regular acoustic guitars, classical guitars, and there's a new section for acoustic-electric guitars. We've also lowered the price range to $300 which we believe is closer to what the budget of most beginners. As always, only those that are available from major online music gear retailers in the USA are included. There were 25 models on our short list which we then narrowed down to those you see above. If you'd like to know how the Gearank scores out of 100 were calculated then please read How Gearank Works.

Further Advice

If after reading this guide you still have some questions about buying a first guitar that isn't answered above, please feel free to post your question in the comments section below and we'll try to help you as best we can.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.


Alden Acosta: Product research.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.


Main/Top Image: based on a stock photograph in the public domain.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation.


Thank you, this really helped

Thank you, this really helped a lot. My son wants to start playing and I had no idea where to start. I now feel Confident that I will be making the right purchase for him. Now all I need is ear plugs 😂😂😂

I am learning to play guitar

I am learning to play guitar and the only chord I am having trouble with is C. Having short large fingers means that the G string does not ring clear. Should I look for a guitar with a larger nut or switch to Nylon. Both have been recommended to me by guitar players.

Larger nut widths, which is

Larger nut widths, which is what nylon string guitars tend to have, are easier to play with thicker fingers, so I agree with the advice you have received.

Maybe you could go into a large guitar shop and try a few different options to see what feels best for you.

I am also a senior person

I am also a senior person considering learning how to play the guitar for the first time. There is a small music store in my neighborhood that I am planning on purchasing my guitar. The store only carries two companies and Teton Guitars is the larger of the two. My question is do you recommend Teton Guitars? How do they compare to the companies/models you recommend for beginners. The model suggested by the store is STS10NT. What do you think of this model? Thanks for any recommendations you may have.

Teton is a brand that isn't

Teton is a brand that isn't sold by any of the major online music gear stores so they don't feature very prominently in our research.

The handful of ratings and reviews I've seen for the brand are good, but we have no rating data on the model you asked about.

Our recommendations are the ones you see listed above for beginner guitars.

I recently purchased an

I recently purchased an Ibanez SGT130 for my husband for his birthday. How does that compare to the Ibanez AW54 listed above?

I am a singer and want to

I am a singer and want to learn guitar. I want to sing solos with my guitar do you suggest the Yamaha FS830 or FS800. i know there's a cost difference, but i prefer to have the better sound for solo. R&B, Soul, Gospel.

The main difference between

The main difference between the two models you mentioned is the wood used for the back and sides, which is laminate okoume for the FS800, and laminate rosewood for the FS830.

While laminate rosewood will definitely look better, the difference in tone between these two laminate wood is not going to be enough to justify the price increase. And with the FS800 having substantially higher ratings, market response seems to agree with my opinion.

So, if forced to choose between the two, I'd go for the FS800.

Interesting question!

Interesting question!

We haven't created one, but we do list the nut widths of all the guitars above under Specifications in their individual descriptions.

Hi. A senior beginner here.

Hi. A senior beginner here. I appreciate your advice on guitars for beginners. I am considering some steel-string acoustics from Yamaha, specifically the FS800 series(Concert body type) and The Yamaha FG800 series (Dreadnought body type). I have also come across the Epiphone Hummingbird Artist acoustic, and am interested in that as well. Just wondering if you would have any thoughts on any or all of the above. Thanks very much for your time. Matt

The Yamaha FG800's edge is

The Yamaha FG800's edge is its solid spruce top, while the Epiphone Hummingbird's advantage is its aesthetic appeal. Note that we don't have data for the FS800, but being from Yamaha, I wouldn't be surprised to find it doing just as well.

Although outside the scope of this guide, the guitars you mentioned are reasonably priced and similarly rated. So it'll mostly boil down to your preference: either you want to go for a solid top with conventional appearance, or a premium looking guitar with laminate top.