8 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners 2020

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Photo: Paramount Pictures

Whether you’re addicted to all the Instagram Live gig musicians or inspired by the careers of recently lost legends like John Prine, Bill Withers and Adam Schlesinger, you might be considering learning to play an instrument as a productive way to pass the time that you are forced to spend at home at home right now. Enter the acoustic guitar, an instrument that professionals say can be more familiar and satisfying to a novice than other easy-to-learn instruments like flutes and electric guitars. “An acoustic guitar seems to be a little less frustrating during the learning phase,” says Ronnie Brooks, e-commerce manager at Corner Music in Nashville. “With just a few chords, you can play songs even without lessons.” Plus, as musician Taylor Hollingsworth told us, inspiration is never far away: “Almost everyone has a favorite song that was played on the guitar. Not to mention: it’s a hobby that doesn’t require a sunny day, a green thumb, or heavy equipment to enjoy.

While acoustic guitars can cost more than a grand, you certainly don’t need to spend that much to find one to get started – you just need to know what you’re looking for. “You can get an amazingly beautiful guitar that’s perfect for beginners for less than $500,” according to Sunir Patel, owner and principal buyer of Truetone Music in Los Angeles. But with over 1,000 acoustic guitars under $500 available at Guitar Center alone, you might still need some guidance sifting through the options. To help you find the best affordable acoustic guitars for beginners, we asked Patel, Brooks, Hollingsworth (who dubs himself the “King of Cheap Guitars”) and five other experts what axes they would recommend to any Bob Dylan budding.

Martin LX-1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar

Five of our experts swear by Martin’s American-made guitars, three of whom specifically call this Martin LX-1 (affectionately known as “Little Martin”) the best acoustic guitar for beginners. “It’s one of the best sellers we offer, due to its small size, sound and value,” says Patel, who adds that “there aren’t many smaller guitars that also sound big, so it’s a perfect choice for beginners”. Brooks agrees that smaller-bodied guitars like this are “ideal for the learner or first-time buyer, as they’re easier to hold and navigate.”

Other fans of this Martin smallbody guitar include Hollingsworth and musician Christian Lee Hutson (both of whom have collaborated with Phoebe Bridgers and Bright Eyes). Hutson says that while the Little Martin is “fantastic” for beginners, “you can also record with it” because the guitar “has such good intonation. that he holds an air no matter what. Hollingsworth agrees on the sound quality, telling us the Little Martin “sounds great in a million situations, especially when gaming in your living room”. And while it’s on the more affordable end of the acoustic guitar spectrum, Hollingsworth says he knows people who “have held onto their Martins for over 70 years.”

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

If the idea of ​​a smaller guitar appeals to you, but you want to spend a little less, two of our experts recommend this option from Gretsch, which is similar in size to the Little Martin. “The small body makes it easy to hold,” says Patel, who adds that it’s his store’s go-to recommendation for gamers on a budget because “the quality is outstanding, especially considering the price.” Hollingsworth is also a fan of this guitar, telling us he’s played it with other Gretsch models and “loves them all.” He adds that country music icon Chet Atkins, the founder of Nashville Sound, also played a Gretsch.

Yamaha F335 Acoustic Guitar

If you want to get started with a full-size guitar without breaking the bank, two of our experts recommend this acoustic guitar from Yamaha. “It was one of the first guitars I played on, and I still play it from time to time,” says Hutson, adding that it was the guitar he used to record his first album. According to him, the Yamaha is a “really basic and simple acoustic guitar” that is still “robust and nice”. Musician James Elkington agrees, telling us that “if you want to buy something new, Yamaha is always pretty trustworthy.” Elkington, who worked in guitar shops for over a decade, adds that “people have always enjoyed the Yamaha guitars they started out on just as much as the more sophisticated Gibson and Martin models they progressed to.”

Alvarez Regent 26 Classical Acoustic Guitar

Classical guitars typically have nylon or gut strings, unlike the steel strings you’ll find on the other models on this list, and are designed for playing more traditional baroque or flamenco music. According to Patel, for classical players, this Alvarez guitar (which Rob Grote of The Districts told us is also a fan) is the entry-level model to beat: “It would be hard to find a classic model at this price point that compares in quality,” he says, noting that its “thinner neck makes it easier to play.” Hollingsworth and Brooks also praised Alvarez as a brand, with Brooks explaining that the Asia-based company has “gotten better and better over the years, to the point of competing very well with many brands. American”.

Fender CD-140SCE Dreadnought Guitar

Many of these more affordable guitars are built with pressed plywoods, unlike the solid wood bodies you typically find on more expensive models. But if you’re willing to spend a little more, Patel says this guitar from Fender, “probably the most recognized name in the guitar world,” is one of the best deals on the market today. The solid wood top, he explains, “means it sounds better, and the cutaway makes it easier to play.” As an added bonus, the guitar comes with a surprisingly high-quality hard case, which Patel says is “rare at this price. It is an incredible value.

Martin Dreadnought Junior Acoustic Guitar

Songwriter Lillie West of Chicago-based band Lala Lala told us that this solid wood Martin guitar, which is bigger than the Little Martin but smaller than a full-size acoustic guitar, is “the perfect acoustic guitar for beginner and intermediate, as far as I am concerned.” Its smaller size is “more manageable and, in my opinion, more fun,” adds West, noting that this model performs like any other Martin, from “bass sound to rich, smooth and loud sound.” You can get it in different types of wood, but she thinks this sapele/mahogany style “is the most appealing.”

Simon and Patrick Woodland Cedar Acoustic Guitar

Florence + the Machine guitarist Rob Ackroyd says that if you’re willing to look beyond the big name brands, “there are countless affordable acoustics out there with wonderful playability.” Several, according to him, come from Simon and Patrick, a brand he loves for the “Martin-esque” construction of his guitars. This Woodland Cedar is a model recommended by Simon and Patrick Akroyd, telling us: “I have had two models of Woodland Cedar in my life; if properly maintained, they will outperform a Gibson J200″ – a line of name brand guitars that start at $3,000.

Art & Lutherie Americana Series Acoustic Guitar

Brooks told us that the first brand he would recommend to someone looking for a beginner’s acoustic guitar is Art & Lutherie, a line of affordable guitars made by the Canadian family behind the highly revered Godin guitar brand ( which is much more expensive). “These are very well-designed, handmade instruments,” says Brooks, adding that the company is also environmentally friendly. In crafting their guitars, he notes, “They strive to use trees that have already fallen from Canadian forests—no clearcutting.” The brand also sells its acoustic guitars in “unique finishes and colors,” according to Brooks, who told us about this model with a “Tennessee Red” finish.

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