Whatever your guitar dreams may be, the first step to reaching them is to get a guitar and learn how to play!
But with so many guitars on the market, it can be tricky knowing which one to buy if you’re starting to understand the chords and learn to strum.
If you’re ready to rock out on a six-string for the first time, here are the best guitars for beginners.
Acoustic or Electric?
For most beginners, the main question they have is, should I buy an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar?
There are lots of differences between acoustic and electric guitars. And to make matters even more confusing, there are acoustic-electric guitars.
Regardless of the style, the fretboards and tuners generally perform in the same manner. But you’ll find lots of different options for body shape, the thickness of the neck plus the weight and feel of the steel strings.
If you’re getting ready to buy your first guitar, we recommend purchasing an acoustic.
With an acoustic, you can sit down, tune it up and start strumming. There’s no need to plug anything in. There’s no need to buy additional, expensive equipment such as an amplifier or power cords. There’s no need to mess around with knobs or pickups.
Plus, acoustic guitars are also much lighter in weight than electric guitars, making them much easier to carry around.
But those aren’t the only reasons.
Electric Guitars are More Comfortable to Play, but Not Necessarily Better
Most guitarists will agree that it’s slightly more comfortable to play an electric guitar. The neck is usually thinner, making it easier to wrap your hand around. The guitar strings are also thinner, requiring a lighter touch than an acoustic. Some people also find it easier to hold an electric guitar (compared to an acoustic, since it has a much thinner body).
Yet, learning how to play the electric guitar first can make it harder to transition to playing an acoustic. If you can learn how to play an acoustic, you’ll be able to pick up an electric at any time and instantly feel comfortable playing it.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what guitar you want to start playing. You have to look at what style of music you want to learn and select a guitar that matches that style. Lee from Authority Guitar shared with us, “Is electric guitar easier than acoustic to learn? No, they’re completely different animals. Two different instruments. Neither is ‘easier’ to learn than the other. It’s all about personal preference.”
Other Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Guitar
Even though we’ve made our case for why you should learn to play on an acoustic guitar, there are some other things to consider before making a purchase.
What type of music do you intend to play?
If your dream is to play hard rock or be in a heavy metal band, by all means, get yourself an electric guitar. That’s the only way to get the volume and power you’re wanting. Just know that they’re heavier and harder to carry around (especially if you also need to transport your amp).
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
It’s important to note that guitars are made specifically for left-handed or right-handed players. Unfortunately, many guitars are only offered in a right-handed orientation for left-handed players.
But there is one way around that …
Some left-handed guitarists string their strings in reverse, then flip the guitar in the other direction to compensate for left-handed playing. If you’re not yet comfortable stringing your own guitar, ask a pro at your local music shop to do it for you.
How much do you want to spend?
There’s no need to spend lots of money on an expensive guitar as a beginner. There are many quality guitars available at affordable price points, so we suggest starting low and evolving your way up to a high-end guitar once you perfect your skills.
Whether your dream is to play classical guitar, heavy metal or any genre in between, there are great guitars available in the $150-$200 price range.
The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
Ready to start strumming on a new guitar? Here are our top picks for new musicians searching for a great beginner guitar.
The Epiphone Songmaker DR-100 is Epiphone’s most popular acoustic guitar. Why? Because it has a timeless look, delivers excellent sound and is super affordable.
This guitar features the classic dreadnought shape, which refers to its wide and thick body. It’s crafted with a spruce top, a mahogany body and a glossy finish, plus it comes in a variety of colors (though we especially love it in vintage sunburst).
Available at Amazon, $229
If you understand anything about guitars, you know that C.F. Martin & Co. makes some of the best. And while a custom Martin (like the one that Johnny Cash played) will run you about $5,000, the LX1 Little Martin is a steal at under $400.
We know what you’re thinking: $400 for a beginner guitar??
Here’s the thing: if you have a Martin, no one will think you’re a beginner. The Little Martin is the fake-it-til-you-make-it guitar.
This acoustic features a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany laminate on the sides and sustainable wood parts. It’s small, perfect for travel and super versatile. Despite its smaller size, it delivers incredible sound quality, as all Martins do.
Available at Amazon, starting at $399
Available as an acoustic or an acoustic-electric, the Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar is the perfect six-string for a beginner.
It features the classic dreadnought shape without being too large. It’s comfortable to play whether you’re standing or sitting. It’s simple yet beautiful with a spruce wood top, a mahogany body, a nato wood back and a rosewood fretboard.
If you’ve never strummed a chord before (or haven’t yet learned what chords are), this acoustic makes it easy to start learning.
Available at Amazon, $199.99
Because the Taylor GS Mini is considerably smaller than a full-size guitar, it’s super easy to learn on. It has a shorter scale length that makes it a bit easier to form chords. Plus, it has a body width of only 14 3/8”, so many people find it more comfortable than the standard dreadnought acoustic that measures closer to 16 1/2”.
It’s pricier than the other acoustic guitars to make this list, but it’s a beautiful instrument crafted from solid mahogany with Sapele wood at the neck. The small body takes nothing away from the sound, and the fact that it’s small makes it perfect for traveling and storing in a small space.
Available at Guitar Center, $549
There’s no question about it – Fender makes excellent guitars. And the Fender CD-60S acoustic is no exception.
Available in black or natural with a solid spruce top and a maple wood fingerboard, this dreadnought guitar is an excellent option for any guitarist, amateur or experienced.
It’s well-crafted, designed to produce incredible sounds with a balanced tone and has a rolled fingerboard that makes it comfortable to play.
This guitar is one of Fender’s most popular models. Once you play it, you’ll know why!
Available at Fender, $219.99
The Alvarez AD30 acoustic is beautifully crafted with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany wood on the back and sides and a rosewood fingerboard. All of these (and other) premium components contribute to its excellent sound and incredible playability.
The Alvarez AD30 produces super-rich tones, making it an excellent choice for any beginner guitarist who doesn’t want to sound like they’re playing a “beginner guitar.”
Available at Amazon, $269.99
Best Electric Guitars for Beginners
Have friends that can play the drums and bass? Here are the best electric guitars for the first-time guitar player ready to start rocking out solo or with a band. You’ll need to buy an amp, a strap and an audio cable in addition to the guitar.
If your lifelong dream involves playing lead guitar in a heavy metal band, the Ibanez GRGA Electric Guitar is an excellent choice.
This guitar is made from solid wood with a poplar wood body and a maple neck. The high-quality design allows for great playability, but it’s the cool body shape that gives it a real metal look and feel.
Despite the super affordable price, this electric will make you look like a rock god!
Available at Amazon, $229.99
If you’re looking for a great deal on a complete electric guitar package, check out the Squier Stratocaster Electric Guitar Pack. This guitar comes with a Fender amp, a strap, picks and a gig bag so you can carry it to lessons or take your show on the road.
The Squier Stratocaster has a glossy finish, standard cast tuners and a double-cutaway body that gives it a cool, timeless look.
Available at Amazon, $339.99
This is definitely the most expensive guitar to make our list. But we simply cannot recommend an electric guitar (for a beginner or anyone else) without including the beloved Fender Telecaster.
A smooth maple fingerboard and a glossy finish make this guitar a beauty – but it’s the sound it delivers that really makes it something special.
We’ve added the Tele to this list for one main reason: this guitar is perfect for playing any and every kind of music. Whether you’re into country, funk, blues, jazz or R&B, this Fender fits the mood and always sounds astounding.
If you’re a beginner trying to stick to a budget, this probably isn’t the guitar for you. But if you’re an amateur musician looking to experiment with different genres and styles, the Fender Telecaster is a great choice.
Available at Fender, $699.99
Which Guitars Are Best for Beginners?
What a guitar sounds like is, by far, the most important thing. But we all know that what it looks like is important too.
Just hold off on hunting down that coveted 12 string Les Paul… at least for now. You’re not Jimi Hendrix, so you don’t need a Fender Stratocaster. Not yet, anyway. And if you don’t know how to play, you’re not ready for a custom Martin guitar (though they are fabulous!)
As an entry-level guitarist, all you need is a simple guitar and a pick. So we recommend getting yourself an affordable acoustic.
Master the basic chords. Learn timing, tuning and strumming. You can then start building your guitar collection (as so many musicians do) with bigger, better and more expensive instruments.
Just know this: no matter how many guitars you end up owning over your lifetime, there’s a good chance that your first will always be your favorite.
You might also like: The 12 Best AirPod Alternatives [Reviewed]
Best Guitars for Beginners: