Buying the Best Beginner Guitar – a Complete 2017 Guide

If you’re new to the wonderful world of playing guitar, or want to buy someone a guitar as a gift (but don’t know much about guitars yourself), then choosing the best beginner guitar can be overwhelming. There are tons of different types of guitars out there ranging in price, materials used, brand names, etc. Therefore, it can take quite a bit of research to figure out which guitar provides the best bang for your buck.

However, with this post, I aim to ease the pain of having to do a ton of research from different sources to try and figure out which beginner guitar you should buy. Instead, this article contains everything you need to know about buying the best beginner guitar in 2017. We’ll discuss everything from what you should look for in a guitar, what your budget should be, list out the best beginner acoustic guitars, electric guitars, classical guitars, and more.

So if you’re someone who wants to make their first guitar purchase or you want to gift someone a guitar, read on to learn everything you need to know about buying the best beginner guitar.

What to Look For When Buying a Beginner Guitar

Whether it’s your first time buying a guitar or you’ve already bought a couple, there are a few key things you should look out for. You’ll want to consider each one of these points before making your final purchase decision since it could very well make the difference between you wanting to pick up the guitar again and again vs not wanting to play it at all.

  • Guitar’s action (string distance from fretboard) – A guitar with high action is something that’s unfortunately far too common in low-quality beginner guitars. This essentially makes it very difficult for the guitar player to press down on the strings as they are far away from the fretboard.
    guitar action

    Source: Frets.com

    For someone who is new to playing the guitar and hasn’t developed any calluses yet, this can also be quite painful and discouraging. Look for a guitar that is properly set in that the strings aren’t too far from the neck.

  • String buzzing – As mentioned in the previous point, a guitar with high action can make it difficult to play. However, on the other hand, a guitar where the action is too low can create issues as well – such as buzzing strings. If you’re able to play the guitar before purchasing it, try strumming a few chords, playing all the open strings, and pluck around a bit all while listening for any string buzzing.
  • Wood quality – Any good luthier will tell you that the quality of wood your guitar is made out of will determine how rich and full it sounds. A guitar made from cheap wood will sound cheap. On the other hand, a guitar made from solid wood will produce a much better sound. Do a bit of research on the wood your guitar is made from and compare it against other guitars made of different types of wood.
  • Overall sound – Listen to the overall sound of the guitar and pay attention to what your ear is telling you. Whether you’re in the music store and able to play the guitar for yourself or are listening to how a guitar sounds via a YouTube video or sound clip, trust your ear. Compare the sound of one guitar to another so that you have a benchmark and can see which one sounds better to you.
  • Intonation (ability to stay in tune) – Lastly, an important thing to look out for when buying the best beginner guitar is checking for its ability to stay in tune. After you’re done playing a few chords does the guitar go out of tune? This is a sign of bad intonation. Another thing to look out for is when playing an open string note it may sound in tune but when playing a particular note on the fretboard it sounds out of tune. This means that the guitar should be adjusted and brought to a professional guitar technician.

Acoustic vs Electric vs Classical

There are 3 main types of guitars you can choose from as a beginner guitarist. The type of guitar you decide to buy will depend on certain factors including:

  • what style of music you want to play,
  • are you willing to purchase additional equipment,
  • how strong are your fingers, etc.

The section below outlines some important distinctions between all 3 types of guitars that should help you decide which one is right for you.

  1. Acoustic Guitar – If you love playing songs that are primarily involve strumming or want to play singalong songs (as I like to call them) then an acoustic guitar is probably the right choice for you. With an acoustic guitar, you also don’t require any additional equipment to be heard – they produce enough volume on their own. Acoustic guitars however, are slightly more challenging for beginners since they can be a little painful for those who haven’t built up any calluses yet (using lighter gauge strings should help with this).
  2. Electric Guitar – If you love rock music or turning up the distortion, then an electric guitar is probably the right type of guitar for you. Electric guitars are generally a bit easier to learn on for beginners as it’s easier to press down on the strings. The downside of an electric guitar is that you may need to purchase additional equipment (such as an amp, patch cable, etc) in order to be heard. However, if you choose to purchase an electric guitar package you won’t need to worry about this.
  3. Classical Guitar – If you love playing classical music or fingerpicking then a classical guitar is probably the right choice for you. The strings on a classical guitar are made out of nylon instead of steel, therefore they are easier to play especially for beginner guitarists. Classical guitars however, aren’t typically used in many pop songs so if that’s what you love playing then you might be better off going with an acoustic guitar instead.

What’s Your Budget?

It’s important to set a predefined budget before you buy your first beginner guitar. Guitars can be expensive and it’s very easy to get caught up in the hype of a brand name or style of a guitar. However, when choosing the best beginner guitar for you, you should not be focussed on these superficial components but rather on its playability and sound.

Setting a predefined budget will help ensure that you don’t overspend. For a decent beginner guitar, you should budget anywhere between $200 – $400. The guitar you end up choosing may cost a little more or less when everything is said and done however, this is a good ballpark estimate of what a beginner guitar purchase will cost. Be sure to review the description of each guitar, read some of the customer reviews, and take the price into consideration before making your big decision.

List of 6 Best Acoustic Beginner Guitars

If you’re in the market for buying a good acoustic beginner guitar then check out the list below. I’ve listed the first guitar as my personal pick and the remaining guitars are listed from least expensive to most expensive. Be sure to check out the specs, read a few reviews, and even watch a video of the guitar being played on YouTube so that you can hear what it sounds like.

1. Yamaha FG800 (Editor’s Choice)

For acoustic guitars, I’ve chosen the Yamaha FG800 as my top choice. Yamaha is a company that has been around for a long time and knows a thing or two about creating high-quality instruments at an affordable price. This guitar features a solid-top, the body is made of mahogany, and the fretboard is rosewood. Many guitar review sites recommend the Yamaha FG700 however, the FG800 is an upgrade to its predecessor in terms of durability and sound quality for the same price. This guitar really is a great beginner’s guitar offered at an affordable price.

Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
170 Reviews
Yamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar
  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Nato Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Rosewood Bridge
  • Diecast Tuners

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

2. Jasmine S35

This guitar is certainly the cheapest of the collection of best beginner guitars. Although it’s inexpensive, it does offer fairly good value for the money. Jasmine guitars are made by Takamine, a well-known guitar company that produces high-quality guitars. It should be noted that if you do purchase this guitar you will most likely need to restring the guitar right off the bat. Additionally, many reviewers have also noted that the guitar’s truss rod may need to be adjusted so that the action is lowered. If you’re okay with starting off with a guitar that has a slightly higher action or don’t mind bringing it to a guitar technician for adjustments, by all means, this is a great choice.

Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural
1192 Reviews
Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural
  • Features a Spruce Top
  • Laminated Nato back & sides.
  • Satin Finish
  • Chrome covered Tuning Machines
  • Rosewood Fretboard

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

3. Fender FA-100 Bundle

If you’re looking for more of an acoustic guitar bundle, then the Fender FA-100 guitar bundle might be the one for you. The body of this guitar is made of spruce and agathis while the fretboard is made of rosewood. Apart from just getting the guitar, you also get a few other important items that beginner guitarists need such as a tuner, gig bag, picks, strap, and an extra set of strings.

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner,...
1631 Reviews
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner,...
  • Full-size dreadnought body for full and vibrant tone, suited for all styles of music
  • Rosewood bridge with compensated synthetic bone saddle
  • Laminated spruce top with X bracing
  • 20-fret fingerboard with dot inlays
  • Chrome hardware

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

4. Martin LXK2 Little Martin

Martin was founded in 1833 so they’ve been around for a few years and they certainly know their guitars! If your budget is a little higher, then you might be more interested in buying either this Martin or one of the guitars below. The Martin LXK2 is a small body guitar therefore not your standard size acoustic. If you’re buying a guitar for a kid then a small body guitar is likely the right way to go depending on their age. For a smaller guitar, the Martin LXK2 delivers a big tone and is made of quality wood materials including spruce, and koa.

Sale
Martin LXK2 Little Martin Koa Pattern HPL Top with Padded Gigbag
89 Reviews
Martin LXK2 Little Martin Koa Pattern HPL Top with Padded Gigbag
  • * "1-style" Sitka spruce bracing
  • * Martin's patented neck mortise
  • * C.F. Martin script logo on headstock

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

5. Seagull S6

Similar to the Martin, if your budget is a little higher then the Seagull S6 is probably my top recommendation for an acoustic guitar in the $300-500 price range. It delivers an impressive tone quality, uses a double action truss rod, and is made of rosewood for the fretboard and cedar for the body and top. Truly a great guitar for the price.

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
136 Reviews
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
  • Made in North America
  • Select Pressure Tested Top
  • Double Action Truss Rod
  • Tapered Headstock for precise and stable tuning and great for open tunings
  • Tusq nut and compensated saddle for better intonation

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

6. Big Baby Taylor

Taylor is another one of those extremely well-established and trusted brands in the guitar industry. They’re known for making high-end guitars that deliver an impressively large sound. It is a 15/16 size dreadnought guitar (so almost full size) and uses ebony wood for the fretboard and a solid wood for the body. If you’ve ever heard a Taylor guitar and are a fan, this is a fantastic and relatively inexpensive way to get that Taylor guitar sound.

Taylor BBT Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
7 Reviews
Taylor BBT Big Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
  • Body Body type: Dreadnought 15/16th-Scale Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Sitka Spruce Back & sides: Layered Sapele Bracing pattern: Taylor Standard Big Baby X-Bracing Body finish: Matte 2.0 Orientation: Right-Handed Neck Neck shape: Taylor Standard Big Baby Profile Nut width: 1 11/16" (42.8mm) Fingerboard: Genuine African Ebony Neck wood: Sapele Scale length: 25-1/2" Number of frets: 20 Neck finish: Matte 2.0
  • The Baby Taylor's scaled-up sibling, the Big Baby (15/16th-size), makes a sleek yet full-sounding travel companion with its svelte four-inch body depth, which is about a half-inch shallower than the depth of a standard Dreadnought
  • Slightly bigger than a Baby Taylor and just shy of a full-size guitar, the Big Baby Taylor is ideal for easy-playing, great-sounding guitar fun
  • The overall size keeps you in the ""portable"" category, yet with an extra dose of volume and fullness
  • Like the Baby, the Big Baby has an arched back that provides strength and contributes to its big tonal output

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

List of 6 Best Electric Beginner Guitars

If you’re more into learning how to play guitar using an electric, then this list of the 6 best electric beginner guitars should help you find the right one for you. Like the acoustic guitars above, I’ve listed my personal favorite as number one and then have listed the remaining guitars in ascending order based on price.

1. Epiphone Les Paul Bundle (Editor’s Choice)

Epiphone is probably one of the worldwide leaders in making fairly well-crafted beginner guitars. If you’re completely new to the world of guitars and don’t have any prior equipment, then the Epiphone Les Paul package is a fantastic choice. It comes with the electric guitar, a 10-watt amplifier, a 10 foot patch cable, a clip-on tuner, guitar strap, picks, and gig bag. If you’re on a budget and want to set yourself up (or someone else) with a complete beginner electric guitar package, this is the one.

Sale
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Package, Vintage Sunburst
1215 Reviews
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Package, Vintage Sunburst
  • Epiphone's Les Paul Player Pack has everything you need to start playing guitar right away
  • It includes a genuine Les Paul Special-II LTD guitar featuring two classic hum bucker pickups and a 10-watt Electra guitar amp with a 10ft guitar cable.
  • Epiphone also includes a clip-on headstock chromatic tuner, a guitar strap, medium picks, and an easy-to-carry gig bag.
  • And best of all for new players, the Les Paul Player Pack comes with free downloadable guitar lessons from media.

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

2. Ibanez GRX70QATBB

If you love listening to metal or rock music, Ibanez is certainly well known in that area. This Ibanez is a great beginner guitar for those who already have an amplifier. It’s made of rosewood for the neck and mahogany for the body. Certain players have mentioned that they’ve swapped out the Ibanez humbucker pickups for a better set, however as a beginner guitarist, the pickups shouldn’t be a huge deal, and you can also upgrade down the road once your ear is a little more developed.

Sale
Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar - Transparent Blue Burst
41 Reviews
Ibanez GRX70QATBB Electric Guitar - Transparent Blue Burst
  • GRX Maple Neck
  • Poplar Body/ Quilted Art Grain Top
  • Medium frets
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Pearl Dot Inlay

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

3. Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster is probably one of the most well-known guitars in the world. Made widely famous by legendary guitar player Jimi Hendrix, Fenders offer a unique sound quality that makes them stand out. This Squier model is obviously a beginner’s version of the high-end Fender Stratocaster, however, it does provide a good sound at an affordable price point. Like the Ibanez above, if you’ve already got a few pieces of equipment like an amp and a patch cable, then this Squier Stratocaster is a solid choice.

Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar - Maple...
87 Reviews
Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar - Maple...
  • Squier's Affinity Series provides the best value in instrument design available today, and is the perfect choice for the aspiring musician
  • 3 Single-Coil pickups provide the authentic Stratocaster tone which made Fender a household name
  • Vintage-Style Synchronized tremolo bridge provides classic Strat shimmer
  • The modern "C" shaped neck provides universal comfort for any style of playing
  • All Squier instruments are designed by Fender and contain the crucial "DNA" that makes Fender instruments so iconic

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

4. Yamaha Gigmaker Bundle

The Yamaha gigmaker is the second electric guitar bundle I’m going to suggest in this list of best beginner guitars. It is pretty similar to the Epiphone bundle mentioned above, however is slightly more expensive. The electric guitar itself is part of Yamaha’s Pacifica series and the bundle comes with a 15-watt amplifier (slightly more powerful than the Epiphone’s) as well as a quickstart DVD, picks, a strap, strings, and a tuner. It does not however come with a patch cable so keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase one of those separately.

Yamaha Gigmaker EG Electric Guitar Pack with Amplifier, Gig Bag, Tremolo Bar,...
95 Reviews
Yamaha Gigmaker EG Electric Guitar Pack with Amplifier, Gig Bag, Tremolo Bar,...
  • PAC012 Black
  • 15-watt Yamaha amp
  • Quickstart DVD
  • Picks, straps, strings, tuner

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

5. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V

The Yamaha PAC112V is a couple of steps ahead the electric guitar that comes with the Yamaha bundle above. It comes with upgraded pickups, the body wood is made of alder and the tuners are diecast. If you’ve already got an amp and a patch cable, this guitar is certainly a great choice for a beginner. It’s a bit more expensive than the other choices, however you’ll get better sound and playability in exchange.

Sale
Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V Electric Guitar; Black
59 Reviews
Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V Electric Guitar; Black
  • Alder Body
  • Maple Bolt-On Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Tremelo
  • 5 Position Switch with coil Tap

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

6. ESP LTD MH-100QMNT

Lastly in the beginner electric guitars list is the LTD MH-100GMNT made by ESP. Although the most expensive of the selection, it also offers great sound and great performance. Apart from it looking great, it is also extremely versatile thanks to the pickups. Therefore, you can use this guitar for many different genres including metal, jazz, pop, country, and more. Overall, this is a very well made guitar and would last any beginner a few years before they would need to think about upgrading.

ESP LTD MH-100QMNT Electric Guitar, See Thru Black Cherry
13 Reviews
ESP LTD MH-100QMNT Electric Guitar, See Thru Black Cherry
  • The MH100QM/NT STBC has a Basswood Body with a Quilted Maple Top, Maple Neck and Rosewood Fingerboard
  • This guitar comes equipped with TOM Bridge
  • It has a Bolt-on Neck with a 25.5" Scale, 24 Extra Jumbo Frets and an Extra Thin-U Neck Contour
  • The pickups are Passive ESP Designed LH-150(n)/LH150(b) and comes standard with LTD Tuners
  • The Controls are Vol/Tone with a Toggle Switch

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

List of 3 Best Classical Beginner Guitars

This last section includes my list of the 3 best classical beginner guitars. As for the previous two sections, I’ve included my top choice for this type of guitar in the first position and the remaining two guitars are listed in ascending order based on price.

1. Yamaha C40 Bundle (Editor’s Choice)

The Yamaha C40 is a great option for beginner guitar players who want to start out playing a classical guitar. It’s an easy to play guitar, offers a limited lifetime warranty and of course come with a few extras including picks, a gig bag, a guitar stand, a digital tuner, and an instructional book and DVD. This guitar is priced affordably and for a beginner, it’s nice to have the few extras that come with this bundle right off the bat so they don’t need to buy them down the road.

Sale
Yamaha C40 Nylon String Classic Guitar Bundle with Padded Bag, Digital Tuner,...
30 Reviews
Yamaha C40 Nylon String Classic Guitar Bundle with Padded Bag, Digital Tuner,...
  • Complete acoustic guitar package for beginners with nylon strings so it is easier on the fingers
  • Includes full-sized guitar, digital tuner, padded gig bag, guitar stand and instructional book and DVD
  • Constructed of Indonesian mahogany on the back and sides and spruce on the top
  • Javanese rosewood fingerboard with 19 frets
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

2. Stagg Acoustic-Electric

The Stagg is a little different from the two other classical guitars mentioned in this list because it is in fact, an acoustic-electric. Meaning that you can plug it into a sound system or amplifier and get a much bigger sound. If you want to play classical guitar but also want a little more “oomph” to your volume levels, then the Stagg acoustic-electric is certainly a solid choice.

Stagg Full-Size Classical Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Natural
10 Reviews
Stagg Full-Size Classical Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Natural
  • Spruce Top
  • Catalpa Back & Sides
  • Catalpa Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
  • 4/4 Size

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

3. Cordoba C3M

The Cordoba C3M is slightly more expensive than the other two classical guitars however it is more of a well-known brand in the classical guitar world. Founded in 1997, Cordoba blends traditional craftsmanship with modern developments. The C3M is a full-sized guitar made of a solid cedar top and a mahogany back and sides. This classical guitar, although a touch more expensive, will provide you with a slightly better sound than the previous two guitars mentioned due to its superior wood quality.

Sale
Cordoba C3M Classical Guitar
78 Reviews
Cordoba C3M Classical Guitar
  • Solid Cedar top
  • All natural wood, hand inlaid rosette
  • Natural matte/satin finish allows resonance and sustain
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Rosewood fingerboard

Last update on 2018-01-16 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

You Bought a Guitar, Now What?

Congratulations! Now that you’ve got a guitar, it’s time to start learning how to play it. There are literally thousands of resources out there for guitar players however, sometimes it can be overwhelming knowing which one to choose. That’s why if you’re a complete beginner, here are a few resources and products I’d highly recommend to get you started.

  • 3000+ word how to play guitar post – For complete beginners, this 3000+ word post covers everything you need to know to get started playing guitar. It goes over the basic fundamentals as well as teaches you how to play some of the most important chords you need to learn as a beginner guitar player.
  • Guitar Tricks – This paid service gives guitar players access to thousands of guitar teaching videos. If you find you learn best by watching videos then this service will suit you well. You can sign up for a free 2-week trial and see how you like it first before actually making a payment.
  • List of easy guitar songs – If you want to start learning some easy guitar songs but aren’t sure where to start, then check out this list of 100+ easy/intermediate guitar songs. It’s a comprehensive list that includes a link to each song as well as the Ultimate-Guitar tabs and guitar pro tabs so that you can learn each song faster.
  • Use the Chordbuddy– The Chordbuddy is a unique tool that attaches to the fretboard of your guitar and helps you create chord shapes. As you become more familiar with strumming patterns and build more strength in your hand then you can start removing the Chordbuddy pieces and begin playing chords on your own. It’s a great tool for those who want to get starting playing chords right away. Check out my full Chordbuddy review.

Buying the Best Beginner Guitar – In Summary

Buying the best beginner guitar isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It can depend upon a few variables including what style of music you like, your budget, etc. However, there are a few select guitars and guitar packages available online that make it much easier in finding the right guitar for your needs. Hopefully, this post has helped minimize the research required in your guitar buying journey and has provided you with some information that you can use to make your final decision.

If you have any questions about buying the best beginner guitar for you or want to know more about one of the guitars listed in this article, just let me know in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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