Best Guitar For Beginners

What is the best guitar for beginners? This article sets out to answer this often-asked question. We’ll help you to decide which guitar to buy, depending on: what style of music you wish to play, what you want out of your instrument, and how much you wish to spend.

At the end of the article we recommend some suitable guitars for beginners.

Best Guitar For Beginners: Introduction

This article will help you to decide whether to buy an acoustic, electric, classical or bass guitar. We’ll share our opinions on the type of guitar you should be looking at, and take a look at some of the instruments currently available.

The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ usually holds true when buying a guitar.

However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent instrument that will take you through the early years and beyond.

Best-Guitar-For-Beginners
What is the best guitar for beginners?

There has never been a better time to be a beginner guitarist. The price of good quality beginner instruments is lower than ever, and the availability of online guitar lessons means that taking up the guitar doesn’t necessarily have to cost the earth.

However, even ‘cheap’ guitars represent a substantial financial outlay, and it pays to do your homework. So, what is the best guitar for beginners?

Best Guitar For Beginners – How Much To Spend?

Buying a very cheap guitar may seem like a bargain, but it’s likely to be a false economy.

Frustratingly, the more expensive the guitar, the easier it is to play. Very cheap guitars are often poorly made, which can lead to playing difficulties and unstable tuning. This can put a beginner off playing the guitar for good.

Ballpark Figures

Expect to pay around $200 (£130) for a good beginner electric guitar. Quality would be a concern for instruments costing less than this, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

You can see some of the best instruments in this price range here: Best Cheap Electric Guitars.

Acoustic guitars are slightly more expensive. Beginner classical guitars are more expensive still. If you’re planning to learn classical guitar, then it’s worth going to a specialist dealer.

We recommend a number of beginner guitars below.

If you can afford it, it can be worth spending even more. Spending in the region of $500 (£320) would get you an instrument that could potentially last for many years. Some recommendations for guitars at this price range can be found in these articles:

Remember that buying secondhand is always an option.

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Best Guitar For Beginners – ‘Should I Buy An Acoustic, Electric or Classical Guitar?’

There are four main types of guitar:

  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Electric Guitar
  • Classical Guitar
  • Bass Guitar

You can find out more about the different types of guitar here: types of guitar.

Unless you’re sure you want to learn bass guitar, then you should start on either an acoustic, electric or classical guitar.

Acoustic, electric and classical guitars all have 6 strings. The notes are in the same place and the strings are tuned the same way.

You won’t have much difficulty switching between these types of guitar.

However, if you want to learn classical guitar (also called Spanish guitar) then only a nylon strung classical guitar will do. See our article on learning classical guitar.

If you want to play popular music styles then the choice is not as clear cut. Either an acoustic or an electric guitar can be used for this purpose. Acoustic guitars are also called ‘steel-string guitars’.

An acoustic guitar is the best choice for beginners who want to:

  • Accompany themselves (or others) singing
  • Play solo gigs
  • Play folk music
  • Play solo fingerstyle music
  • Play acoustic blues

An electric guitar would be best for beginners wishing to:

  • Play in a band
  • Play rock / blues / metal styles
  • Play (most styles of) jazz

Bass Guitar

The four strings of a bass guitar are tuned to the same notes as the bottom four strings of the other types of guitar – but an octave lower.

The frets of a bass guitar are also significantly wider than those on other types of guitar.

It’s harder for someone to switch to guitar after playing bass than it is the other way round.

Best Beginner Electric Guitars

Electric guitars are the best choice for playing in a band. Although acoustic guitars can be used, electric guitars were designed specifically for the task.

A single electric guitar, played through an amp with an overdrive facility (which most have) can produce all of the common rock / metal guitar sounds, such as distorted power chords, funky clean rhythm, rock guitar riffs and overdriven lead solos.

Electric guitars need an amplifier, so bear this in mind when you are working how much to spend.

The basic sound of an electric guitar can be altered with effects pedals. This enables an even wider range of sounds to be produced.

Electric guitars are not usually suitable for playing solo fingerstyle music. (Fingerstyle means playing notes with the fingers rather than with a pick.) Some jazz players do it very well (usually using an archtop guitar), but generally acoustic and classical guitars are used for this purpose.

Electric guitars are usually easier to play than acoustic instruments.

A beginner guitarist may benefit from choosing an instrument without a locking tremolo system – these can be more trouble than they are worth at the early stages. Other things a beginner should avoid are 7-string guitars and non-standard shaped guitars such as flying Vs. Read more about Types Of Electric Guitars.

Find out about the history of the electric guitar at Wikipedia.

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Two of the best electric guitars for beginners are:

Epiphone LP Special II

Epiphone Les Paul
Epiphone Les Paul. Click to view prices at Amazon.com

Epiphone are owned by Gibson guitars. As well as producing their own instruments, Epiphone also produce a range of Gibson models for budget-conscious players.

This is their take on the famous Gibson Les Paul. The budget Epihone is well made, and ideal for rock, blues and metal players who are just starting out.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012

Yamaha Pacifica Best Cheap Electric Guitar
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC12. Click to view prices at Amazon.com

The Yamaha Pacifica series offer great value and are nice-looking instruments.

The humbucker and 2 x single coil pickup configuration of the PAC012 offers versatile sounds. The tremolo bar enables a wide range of vibrato effects.

Beginner Acoustic Guitars

An acoustic guitar is the best guitar for beginners who wish to play solo (non-classical) pieces, or to accompany a singer. They are also widely used in traditional music groups.

Acoustic guitars are better suited to fingerstyle playing than electric guitars.

Acoustic guitars can be played without an amplifier and are handy for picking up whenever inspiration strikes, making them popular with songwriters.

If your aim is to learn guitar for playing songs and solo pieces, or to play in a folk group, then an acoustic guitar would be the best choice.

Read more about acoustic guitars at Wikipedia.

Best Beginner Acoustic Guitars

Yamaha F335

Yamaha F335
Yamaha F335

Yamaha FG700S

Yamaha FG700S
Yamaha FG700S

Best Guitar For Beginners – Classical

Classical guitars are strung with nylon strings (actually a mixture of nylon and metal-wound strings). They are used to play music by composers such as Sor, Bach and Albeniz.

Beginners should buy a standard-shaped classical guitar that doesn’t have electronics. If you are serious about taking up the instrument, then you should talk to a specialist retailer. Guitars built by respected brands will cost more than mass-produced instruments, but they are usually worth the extra money.

The best guitar for beginners will be easy to play. It should require the least effort to hold down notes without buzzes, and should hold its tuning well.

Best Classical Guitar For Beginners

Here are two classical guitars that have picked up some good reviews online:

Best Classical Guitar For Beginners
Cordoba C5
Yamaha CG122MCH
Yamaha CG122MCH

Beginner Bass Guitars

Although switching from a standard guitar to a bass guitar is perfectly possible, the technique used to play bass is slightly different.

Unless you specifically want to play bass, then learning on a standard guitar gives you more options. You can always choose to specialize on the bass later on.

If you decide to learn bass guitar, then avoid 5-string basses at first.

Read more about bass guitars at Wikipedia.

Below are 2 bass guitars that have picked up good reviews online:

Fender Squier Affinity Jazz Bass
Fender Squier Affinity Jazz Bass
Ibanez GSR200
Ibanez GSR200

Guitar Buying Advice

The best guitar for beginners is easy to play, reliable, and inexpensive (unless you’re 100% certain that the guitar is for you – in which case you should get the best instrument you can afford!)

It’s always a good idea to visit your local music shop to get your hands on some different guitars. If you are a complete beginner ask plenty of questions and have the assistant play various guitars for you. Ask which one is the easiest to play.

My personal opinion is that at this level, playability is more important than tone. The easier a guitar is to play, the better it is likely to sound anyway.

There are certain things to look out for when trying out new guitars. The most important are listed below:

• Check that the action isn’t too high. The action is the gap between the strings and the fingerboard. Although it can be lowered, in poorly-made guitars this can lead to other problems.

• Check that the tuning remains constant wherever you are playing on the neck. Play open chords then barre chords further up the neck to test this.

• Check that there are no dead spots on the neck where the notes do not sustain, and listen out for an undue amount of buzzing of the strings against the frets.

• Another thing to check for is any scratches / dings in the finish. They won’t affect the tone of the guitar, but mentioning them may lead to a reduction in the price!

Best Guitar For Beginners – Conclusion

Although it may seem like a minefield, finding the best guitar for beginners has never been easier. The quality of most beginner guitars is very high, whatever style of instrument you go for. Our selections are personal opinions only; you should check out the guitars for yourself to make sure you’re getting the right one for you.

If you have your own recommendation for the best guitar for beginners, please let us know in the comments below – you could be helping other aspiring guitarists make the most important decision in their lives!

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