What guitar to pick for a beginner?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Steve Bonham, Sep 27, 2019.

  1. Steve Bonham

    Steve Bonham Member

    Sep 27, 2019
    Hi, I have played crappy acoustic guitars before, and learned on one as a matter of fact. I have found that the cheaper the guitar, the harder it is to play, especially for a beginner just learning to play the acoustic guitar. I mean how on cheap guitars, the neck is really skinny, and there's not much room to put your fingers on the strings, and the strings aren't the highest quality, they're hard to press down etc. I'm talking about guitars you can get for 150-300 bucks, that have to compromise quality for price... Can anyone recommend a guitar that is in the 600+ dollar range that would have room to put your fingers on the strings, has a nice sound, and is good for beginners to learn the ropes on? I want to get into the guitar thing, but unfortunately the guitar I learned on was a piece of crap, and I recently bought a used guitar but wasn't impressed with the way the guitar played. I would still like to take up the guitar, as it is a skill I would like to have to keep myself occupied in the future. Thanks for any help.
  2. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

    Oct 20, 2017
    Toowoomba, Australia
    Welcome to the forum.

    Playability is nearly all about setup, very little about price. Whatever you choose, invest in a setup.

    You might want to try asking about inexpensive and mid-priced guitars that have a 1 3/4"neck, as opposed to 1 11/16", though IMO, it is just a question of getting used to whatever you have - workman and tools. IIRC, LaSiDo (Seagull, Norman, A&L, La Patrie, Godin) have at least some models in your price range with wider necks. Recording King is another reputable make that does wider necks.
    RustyAxe likes this.

    BEACHBUM Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Sand Land
    I'm a big fan of the low priced offerings on the market these days but yes, guitars under $300 are a crap shoot at best. On the other hand there are guitars that range from $600 to $1000 that go toe to toe with high priced Martins, Taylors and Gibsons.

    One of the biggest cost factors in an acoustic guitar is whether they are all solid wood or laminate sides and back. My humble opinion on that is that the sides and back have a minimal effect on tone and that the top is what it's all about so don't think that you'll automatically get better tone by shelling out a bunch of bucks for all solid wood.

    Shop with your ears and judge quality by reputation. One company that hasn't been mentioned is Guild. I just bought one of they're Dreds and I'm loving it. They're making a series of guitars called the "Westerly Collection" that is outstanding and priced right.

    Humble Texan Fan likes this.
  4. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2009
    Leesburg, GA
    Cannot get a better acoustic for the price than a used Larrivee OM-03 or L-03. And I have owned dozens of the alternatives. And if they ever sold it they’d get all of their money back out of it. You can find them for $600-700 if you’re patient.

    And they are all-solid Woods. I disagree completely with the previous poster who feels solid wood only matters with a top. Acoustics are a multi-piece system for amplifying sound without electricity. Laminate back and sides not only don’t have the resonance of solid wood, they’re also heavy and act as dampeners for top resonance, imo. And they feel like boat anchors by comparison.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  5. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2015
    Check out the Eastman and Breedlove brands. Yamahas are good too but I think most of them will be 1 11/16th nut width instruments.

    What you are looking for is 1 3/4" or 1 13/16th." For less money than the pricier tiers, that width isn't universally available, except you can probably find it on Eastman guitars in that price range, so that's where I think you should look. The other brands in those price ranges are mostly going to be narrower. I'm sure someone will recommend other models with wider nuts, there's bound to be at least one or two others I suspect.
  6. Humble Texan Fan

    Humble Texan Fan Member

    Oct 20, 2015
    Scandinavian as in 'dynamite'
    I second those budgetary Guilds which seem to be sniffning up the alley of way costier axes. Those arch back guitars are seriously loud.

    I would not go with the expected Dreadnought but a smaller axe with a waistline. Not as bulky to play or carry around.
  7. Stevo57

    Stevo57 Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Northern Calif. Bay Area
    There are some excellent carbon fiber offerings in the $600 range. I have a Cargo I bought used and its a great sounding guitar thats easy to play and will stay that way in any climate.
  8. snakestretcher

    snakestretcher Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Exeter, England
    If you're a beginner don't buy used unless you're absolutely certain you know what you're looking for in terms of structural integrity, playability etc. There are many pitfalls for the unwary! I recommend something from the Yamaha FG range. Excellent guitars, tried and tested and best sellers for decades-and for good reason; well within your budget, leaving enough for a decent case, spare strings, a stand, a tuner and whatever else you might need.
    If the FG is too big for you try the FS models which are slightly smaller.
    Do bear in mind that pretty much any acoustic you buy new will need the action set up to play comfortably. Your store should be able to do that either very cheaply or included in the cost.
    Here's the FG830 but there are several differently spec'd models in the series:

    I'm a big Yamaha fan; my first decent guitar was an FG180 I bought new back in 1969 and I have owned many various models since. Highly recommended. Have fun!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  9. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    The most useful reply so far is from @Tony Done ... whatever you decide on, get a professional set up. Any well built guitar can be set up to a player's preference (by a skilled luthier/tech). Most of the issues in the OP would be addressed ... the make/model isn't as important as the setup. I'd be interested in what guitars you've played that had a "real skinny" neck. The vast majority of budget priced acoustic guitars are built with a 1 11/16" nut width but some are narrower (eg, some Fenders and Gibsons), some wider.

    A good initial setup:

    Check/adjust neck relief
    Check/adjust nut slot height
    Check/adjust saddle height
    Check level/crown/polish frets as needed
    Install new strings (start with light gauge for a newbie)

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