5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

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When you first begin to play guitar you are stuck with a very well-worn hand-me-down or a thrift store find with the strings an inch off the fretboard. Today, there’s a plethora of excellent choices available for beginners and even for professionals that would like to have an inexpensive option for touring and backup. For beginners, having a quality entry-level guitar will likely make the learning experience far more enjoyable. It will also more likely lead to continued practice, enjoyment, and fulfillment in the long term. For the most part, I’ve avoided guitars with built-in electronics for amplification since that probably won’t be something a beginner will need for a few years, but many of these models do have an electrified version as well. I’ve tried as many as I could get my hands on in the market today, and here are my suggestions for you to begin your search.

1. Recording King Classic Series 000

This guitar is simply terrific. I’ve seen prices range from around $400 to $500. But anywhere in that range is a steal. It comes with a torrefied Adirondack Spruce top, which in layman’s terms means “artificially” aged using technology to create a better tone, but it works. Right out of the box I was so impressed with the tonal balance and playability that I bought one! The 000 is a medium-sized guitar, somewhere between a jumbo and a parlor, and it may still be a bit large for really small students. However, it’s the perfect size for them to be just able to handle and still grow into. It has a 1 ¾” neck width which may seem inconsequential when beginning guitar instruction but will be very useful later when the player gets into fingerpicking as that extra width is very desirable. In the past, it was impossible to find a 1 ¾” neck on almost any guitar! In my opinion, it should be standard. While I did have the guitar I purchased set up professionally it wasn’t absolutely necessary. It played smoothly up and down the neck and there were no dead spots nor buzzing. It’s just a classic guitar and sounds and looks beautiful. I’ve even used it on a few recordings already and nobody knew it wasn’t a $2,000 guitar. Really. Recording King makes a lot of models now so definitely look into all the sizes they have to offer and try them if you can. Highly recommended.

2. Tanglewood TWCR O

Another brand I have personally owned and used, Tanglewood makes some exceptionally consistent budget-line guitars that are highly usable and perfect for beginner to intermediate guitar players. They are ready to go right out of the box, visually stunning, and easy to play. Like the Recording King, Tanglewood guitars do not need any setup to enjoy them right away and will be an instrument to treasure and grow with for a few years. I chose the O or orchestra model for its small, manageable size and its even tone without being boomy. It’s a more intimate guitar than larger models but perfect to sit on the edge of your bed and practice for hours without getting tired or frustrated from a guitar too big to handle. It’s all Mahogany laminate with a Rosewood fingerboard and bridge and comes with a compensated saddle for tuning stability. The best part? I’ve seen it for under $200 everywhere, a steal for the ultimate beginner.

Tanglewood Crossroads TWCR O Folk Size Orchestra Acoustic Guitar, Spruce Top, Mahogany Back and Sides, 20 Frets, Mahogany Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard, Vintage Burst Satin - best guitar for beginners

3. Martin LX1

Industry leader Martin is not to be left behind on this list, though many years ago very few would have imagined much in their line is thought of as a “beginner” guitar. However, the LX1 fits perfectly and firmly in this category and began its evolution as the Ed Sheeran model. It’s smaller than most of the guitars on the list but extremely consistent and playable, very easy for a younger child first learning yet, as Mr. Sheeran proved, it’s capable in professional situations. It has 20 frets to the body, a solid Sitka Spruce top, and a Richlite fingerboard. It has a very punchy sound but does not sound cheap in any way, which is why it can also excel as a performing guitar (the LX1E comes with built-in electronics). It’s also perfect for travel because of its size and generally comes with a soft gig bag. It’s also available in left-handed versions. Martin Guitars usually retain their value better than most guitars on the marketplace and will have decent resale value if you ever trade up. I’ve seen these for $500 and less online. A very good, solid choice.

4. Taylor Academy 10

Taylor, like Martin, is at the top of the acoustic guitar game so it’s always a decent investment to look at their line. The Academy 10 also has 20 frets to the body, a Maple neck, and the back and sides are Sapele. It boasts a Solid Sitka Spruce top (1.6875” nut width) and has an Ebony fingerboard. It’s a full Dreadnaught size, the biggest guitar so far on this list, however, includes some features like a tapered body armrest to reduce playing fatigue. A very nice, thoughtful touch. The scale length is a tad shorter than usual which makes the strings feel softer and ideal for a beginner. Overall, it’s solid, feels good to play, is very consistent from guitar to guitar, thanks to Taylor’s patented production process, and it may have the smoothest-shaped neck out of all the guitars reviewed. It’s also available for left-handed players. They retail for around $600.

Taylor Academy 12 Acoustic Guitar - Natural - best guitar for beginners

5. Zager 38 Inch Parlor Size African Mahogany

Denny Zager is a small, family builder who sets out to craft the best guitars he can for the money, and nowhere is that more on point than his 38-inch parlor model. It’s probably the most expensive guitar on this list at $795 but you’re getting solid wood construction and an expertly-crafted, boutique, luthier-grade guitar that will last and improve for many years. Definitely, no setup needed here, and a lot warmer than most “beginner” guitars right out of the box. If you plan to stick with guitar playing and keep your purchase for a long time, this could be the one. Custom string spacing, hard-carved bracing, slim, C-shape neck (almost similar to Taylor’s), and hand-carved bone nut and saddles. Impeccable. 

Tanglewood-Crossroads-TWCR-O-Folk-Size-Orchestra-Acoustic-Guitar-Spruce-Top-Mahogany-Back-and-Sides-20-Frets-Mahogany-Neck-Rosewood-Fingerboard-Vintage-Burst-Satin-1-1 - best guitar for beginners

So there you have it: 5 favorites in a wide range of sizes, styles, and price ranges and while there are many, many more out there I feel these are the best value and at the very least, give you someplace to start for comparison. Now, start working on those calluses!

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