Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners – Top 5 Beginners Acoustic Guitars Under $200

good acoustic guitar for beginnersSo what is the best acoustic guitar for beginners? Ask that question ten guitar teachers and you will probably get ten different answers. And I too have a personal recommendation for you if you are a guitar beginner – we will get to that in a little bit. However, in a first step we should talk about a number of general, yet essential aspects regarding beginner guitars.

Unlike most of the other articles you will find online on this topic, my following write-up and video discussion is not just about showing you the best-selling beginner acoustic guitars from amzon.com and telling you that they are all good and you should buy them because then I make some money in getting a commission. Sorry guys to be blunt here, but that’s exactly what you get when you go online and run a search on that topic. At least for the most part. So, are these people guitar players or guitar teachers? Where do these ‘reviewers’ get their expertise from? How are they qualified in telling you what’s the best acoustic guitar for beginners?

Now, I don’t mean to bad-mouth the work of others. And I’m certainly not suggesting that all of the information you find online on this topic is useless. But let me ask you this – if you want to get advice on how to repair a microwave, would you rather watch a YouTube video or read an article from someone who actually repairs microwaves or somebody who merely shares his anecdotal knowledge he copy/pasted from Google, Wikipedia, etc.? Well, I don’t know about you, but my choice would be the former, that’s for sure.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about me. Not that I like talking about myself, but I’m sure you want to know who you are dealing with. Who am I and what gives me the right to write such an audacious opening statement? Before we go into that, I’d like to make one thing crystal clear: I am not saying that whatever I’m about to share with you below with respect to what I believe the best acoustic guitars for beginners are, is the ultima-ratio. I’m not a luthier or guitar maker. I have not played all the beginner guitars under the sun. I’m neither the best guitar player nor the best guitar teacher in the world.

But here is who I am and what I’ve done, which I think at least puts me in a position that allows me to share my personal opinion with you. I’ve been playing guitar since 1990. I’ve started teaching guitar in 1995, focusing on acoustic guitar lessons for beginners. In 2012 I created this website and the free Beginners Guitar Course. In 2013, I started GitarreGenial.de, the German sister-site to GuitarIngenuity.com.

I’m not proud and the last thing I want is come across as braggy, believe me. I am well aware of my limits and shortcomings of which I have plenty. However, considering the above, I do feel I have slight edge over those folks whose guitar wisdom is merely based on what Google tells them or what they find on other websites. Would you agree? I hope so.

best beginners acoustic guitarsEnough of that, let’s get to it. Below we will cover a lot of ground. I’m not trying to make this overly complicated. As a matter of fact, my goal is the exact opposite. I want you to be able to narrow down your options and then feel confident that you make the right choice in getting the best acoustic guitar to learn on – whatever “best” means for YOU personally. We will get to that later, but one thing I can share with you right away: at the end of this article I will show you my Top 5 Beginner Acoustic Guitars based on my experience as a guitar player and guitar teacher. Those five instruments are all regular size guitars. There are smaller size guitars available specifically for children, but we will be discussing this topic in a separate article.

Okay, to make this whole thing easier to navigate through, here is a table of contents with the sections we will cover in this article.

1. What Is A Good Beginner Acoustic Guitar?
2. Steel or Nylon Strings?
3. Video Discussion: The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners
4. My Top 5 Recommended Beginner Acoustic Guitars
5. Additional Resources To Get You Started

1. What Is A Good Beginner Acoustic Guitar?

In this chapter I would like to highlight some of the key criteria that a good acoustic guitar for beginners should meet.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room – the price. Of course, if money is not an issue (in which case you should call me immediately, so I can share my bank information with you in the event you feel the urge to make a spontaneous donation…..hehehehe.) then you could theoretically spend a couple of thousand dollars on a great instrument. Most of us, though, either can’t or wouldn’t want to do that for a number of reasons. For the majority of us, we start out small, figure out things out, gain some experience and then we can make an educated decision in case we really want to plunk down some serious dough on a shiny new object – by the way, I’m totally guilty of that when it comes to guitars, but that’s not for today.

Here’s my take on this. You can get a solid, very good acoustic guitar for beginners for anywhere between $100 – $300. Does that sound reasonable to you? I would think so. In my opinion, there is no need to spend any more than that. But also, in my experience, when you get below the $100 threshold, things get very murky and you may end up with a toy rather than a real, playable guitar. You probably get the point, right?

not a good beginners acoustic guitarWhich actually brings me to a very good point that we should discuss in a little more detail. Please, whatever instrument you end up using, make sure it’s a real guitar! If you read my guitar blog on a regular basis, then you’ve heard this before (in which case: I’m sorry!) but don’t take your first guitar steps on a ‘Hello Kitty’ guitar. I’m sure ‘Hello Kitty’ is an awesome brand with great products, but I just have some reservations that their toy guitars are a good fit for people who are serious about learning the instrument. Also, you may want to think twice before buying an acoustic guitar beginner starter set from Costco or Walmart. Again, both are respectable franchises in their own right, but I wouldn’t buy my guitars there.

2. Steel or Nylon Strings?

So, we just talked about the price and the fact that we want to make sure we get a real, solid, decent guitar to start out on. Now, the next one is a biggie and I get this questions all the time: should I learn guitar on an acoustic or electric guitar? Here’s a video where discuss this very question in more detail….

I guess by now you know where my preference is regarding steel strings or nylon string for guitar beginners.

Acoustic guitars can be broadly categorized into two groups: one comes with steel strings and the other one has nylon strings. When I started playing the guitar there was consensus that the best beginners acoustic guitar is a classical guitar with nylon strings. A number of, in my opinion valid reasons, support this philosophy. First of all, the classical guitars are lighter and often times smaller than steel string guitars. That is an important factor, especially for children because handling a bulky and comparatively heavy instrument can pose a major challenge.

Secondly, nylon strings are easier on your fingers than steel strings. That’s just the fact of the matter. Now, there is a school of thought that says it really shouldn’t matter with what type of strings you start out, because it will hurt your fingers either way if you are new to the instrument. That is certainly true. But it’s also true that nylon strings hurt less. That’s why I keep recommending to all of my students to start out with a classical guitar, at least for the first few months and then later on ‘upgrade’ to a western guitar. By then your fingers will had a chance to get used to pressing down strings and developed some calluses that will make the whole thing much less painful.

I’m not trying to sound contradicting, but I will admit that despite what I believe makes most sense for guitar beginners – namely, starting on a classical guitar with nylon strings – the majority of my students show up with a Western guitar and steel strings. And just in case you didn’t know: you can’t out steel strings on a classical guitar, or likewise, nylon strings on a Western guitar? Well, I guess you can, but the former will most likely damage your instrument and the latter simply doesn’t make sense. So in other words: Don’t Do That!

Therefore, further below, when we will discuss my Top 5 candidates for “Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners”, I included three nylon string and two steel strings.

Alright, before we move on, I think now is a good point in time to watch a quick video.

3. Video Discussion: The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners

I’d like to re-emphasize something that’s important which I did mention in the video. Most of us know someone in the family or among friends who already has an acoustic guitar that he or she is not using. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to borrow that guitar as long as it meets the criteria we discussed earlier on. As matter of fact, I would strongly recommend that you do that before you buy yourself a guitar. You can always do that at a later point. But then you might already have a few months of practice under your belt, and who knows, at that point you may have a very specific type of guitar in mind that you want to get for.

4. My Top 5 Recommended Beginner Acoustic Guitars

best acoustic beginner guitarI think what I just said should make it very clear to you that I’m not in the business of trying to sell you a guitar. Again, borrow one if you can! That would be my first option. However, some people can’t or don’t want to do that. For those, as promised, here are my Top 5 picks for Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginner (and intermediate level) players. I put all of them next to each other, so you can easily compare them based on relevant key criteria. I left out all the knick-knacks, because at this point, you probably don’t care about what type of wood was used for the top or fretboard. Instead, let’s focus on what matters for now which is the price, steel vs. nylon, accessories and how I would rate them in order of preference:

#1: The Yamaha C40 is my top pick as far as the best acoustic guitar for beginners is concerned. I used this guitar for many years and you can me seeing playing in countless of my video teaching tutorials. Buy it as part of the starter kit (that’s what I did), and you safe additional bucks on a number of accessories that come in handy, such as a clip-on guitar tuner for example. Click here for most recent price and purchasing information.

#2: The Cordoba C3M is another classical guitar that I can only highly recommend. The name Cordoba is synonymous for top notch quality guitars. You can’t go wrong with this brand and I still can’t believe that you can get the C3M for under $200. Click here to check out all the details.

#3: The Washburn C5CE is my third nylon string recommendation as one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners. What’s special about the C5CE is the fact that you can actually hook this guitar up to an amplifier, if you wanted to. It’s a beautiful, very decent guitar to learn on. Click here to read up on this guitar.

#4: The Fender FA-100 is a steel string dreadnought guitar that is an excellent guitar for guitar beginners. At an unbelievable price, this guitar is also available as a bundle along with a bunch of great accessories to get you started. Click here for details and buying information.

#5: The Yamaha Gigmaker Standard is the second Yamaha among my Top 5 picks as one of the contenders for best acoustic beginner guitar under $200. It too comes with tons of accessories and is definitely a fantastic instrument, not only for beginners. Click here for more information.

5. Additional Resources To Get You Started

Here are just a few additional links to videos and articles that can help you getting started on your guitar journey.

My video review of the Yamaha C40

Free Beginners Guitar Course

The Best Method to Learn Guitar – Guitar Learning Evaluated

Okay then, that’ll be it. I hope all this was helpful to you. I realize it was a lot of information, but I if I was at all able to assist you in figuring out what might be the right choice for you with regard to what is the best acoustic guitar for beginners – from your own perspective – well, then I guess I accomplished my goal.

Just ask if you have any questions on this or anything else guitar. Leave a comment below or send me a personal email. I look forward chatting with you.

Published date: January 19th, 2016 by Ulrich Peise

This article has 2 comments

  1. As a beginner, the best acoustic guitar is the one you’re comfortable playing (that you can afford). I always prefer beginners to use an acoustic because learning the hard way empowers you and makes you a better player.

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