Today, we review how to choose a guitar for beginners, best cheap guitar for beginners and best guitar for female beginner. As a lover of all things guitar-oriented, you can’t expect me to do much in the way of nay-saying about one of the loves of my life. The orchestra model and 000 body style, however, may be the single most lovable style of guitar there is. Why? Utility. There’s not much in the way of drawbacks with these guitars. Smaller than the ubiquitous dreadnought, the orchestra models and the 000s provide nearly as much volume while maintaining a responsive character not dominated by the bass strings. These Small Body Acoustic Guitar For Beginners work for finger-picking, flatpicking, and chordal accompaniment.
If a good orchestra model or 000 steel-string guitar can’t do, musically, what you are aiming to do, then you clearly need to own either a nylon-stringed instrument or a solid-body electric guitar. But these are generalizations, for sure. An objective case can be made for the orchestra model steel string acoustic, and the 000 guitars are suitable for more genres of music than any other style of guitar.
best cheap guitar for beginners
Small-Body Acoustic Guitar Value Buys
The best of Collings, Santa Cruz, Bourgeois, and Martin are lights-out amazing. There is no question the boutique-level manufacturers of the USA make the finest acoustic guitars in the world. But some of those instruments cost ten thousand dollars or more.
This list of five small-body guitars will be dollar for dollar the best value buys I know of. These are not beginner guitars, but they can be. If someone is reallyt serious about the guitar, there is no reason why they can’t start off with one good enough to use forever. A good value orchestra model or 000 will be a guitar a person can start with as a child, but never outgrow.
Small Body Acoustic Guitar For Beginners
Yamaha FS700S Orchestra Model Guitar
The Yamaha FS700S is a great little guitar. Yamaha has long been a great place to start with guitars. They have always provided a terrific product for the money. This Yamaha FS700S is what I would want someone to start off with, because I think people should start off with something good enough to be proud of. And with a solid spruce top, the Yamaha FS700S is definitely good enough to start with and grow with.
This guitar is priced very low, in the range of two hundred dollars. It is impressive to see a solid spruce top on a guitar selling at two hundred bucks. This can partially be explained because the back and sides of the instrument are of nato, a tonewood rarely seen tonewood in acoustic guitars. The wood looks like mahogany, and has a pretty bright responsiveness. The video I’ve got here is very good, and the guitar sounds terrific. But that guitar can sound better than that after it has been played for a while and broken in.
- Solid spruce top
- Nato back and sides
- Nato neck with rosewood fingerboard
- 25″ scale
- Rosewood bridge
- Die-cast tuners
- Hi-gloss finish
Yamaha FS700S Acoustic Guitar Performance with Jake Blake
Alvarez AF30CE Artist Folk Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Alvarez AF30CE. Artist 30 Series Folk Electric is another great guitar with solid spruce top and laminated back and sides. This guitar is slightly more expensive than the Yamaha because it has a cutaway and electronics so one can play it plugged into an amplifier.
Alvarez guitars out of Japan are built to compete against Yamaha. They both offer great value guitars, from beginner level all the way up to things any professional would love to own and play. This guitar is more traditional than the Yamaha in that it uses laminated mahogany on the back and sides. Mahogany is a very responsive tonewood for an acoustic guitar, even when laminated pieces are used. You can hear how it sounds in the video.
This guitar costs between two hundred and fifty dollars to three hundred and fifty dollars. You get one with a cutaway and electronics on it, and it will cost you more. Two hundred and fifty bucks for this guitar sans cutaway and electronics is a stellar deal for a person looking to start, or looking to upgrade from a laminated top guitar. At one point in time you typically had to pay five hundred dollars for a solid spruce-top guitar. Times have changed in favor of the guitarist with little in funds. Specifications below are for the basic guitar without the cutaway and electronics.
- Solid Sitka spruce top
- Hand-sanded scalloped bracing
- Mahogany back and sides
- Alvarez bi-level rosewood bridge
- Rosewood fingerboard
- Natural satin finish
- Dovetail neck joint
- Real bone nut and saddle
- Die-cast chrome tuners
- ABS binding
- Case sold separately
Alvarez Guitar Review AF30ce
Takamine Pro Series 3 P3MC Orchestra Model Cutaway Acoustic Electric Guitar
The Takamine Pro Series 3 Orchestra model is a big step up from the Yamaha and the Alvarez previously discussed. As the name implies, the guitar is professional in every way imaginable. So how is it a value orchestra model? Simple. If it had the Gibson, Martin, or Collings name on it, it would magically increase in price by about three hundred percent.
So when it comes to bang for your guitar bucks, this Takamine is a huge value buy. This is a guitar good enough for the best of the best in the huge and wide world of great guitarists. Takamine is earning more and more respect in the world of fine guitars as the years go by. It is possible they have upped their game. It is also possible that people finally started taking notice as the older model solid wood construction Takamine guitars got broken in well, and started sounding more expensive.
This guitar is all solid wood construction; an all-solid-wood acoustic guitar could last many generations, and is a professional’s or at least a very serious amateur’s guitar.
With the top-shelf electronics Takamine loves to use, and the Venetian cutaway, this is a twelve hundred dollar guitar. If you are lucky you could find a used one to buy. This guitar is a solid cedar top. Cedar makes for a terrific soundboard, but is different from spruce; cedar tops shine best when played lightly, while A spruce top shines brightest when played loudly.
So if you are a person who uses a very thick pick and flatpicks with a very heavy hand, trying to drive as much volume and snap from your guitar as you possibly can, then you absolutely must play this guitar before purchasing it, to make sure you are not going to be over-driving the soundboard. But if you are a rhythm king chordal strummer, or a finger style whiz, this guitar could well be the single best choice you make as a consumer.
The all-solid-wood back and sides are of sapele, a cousin of mahogany. You will be seeing more and more sapele bodied guitars, and you will see those guitars climb in their prices and resale values, because sapele is becoming more and more respected.
But Takamine is especially noteworthy these days for their use of cutting-edge electronics in their acoustic/electric guitars. This guitar is no different; it gets the upscale electronic treatment. Below is a little more about that.
CT4B II Preamp Features
The CT4B II preamp is designed for ease of use and purity of tone. The CT4B II consists of three bands of graphic EQ tone control, a volume control slider, and a built-in chromatic tuner.
The three-band EQ provides control over the bass (LOW), midrange (MID), and treble (HIGH) frequency response. With the sliders set at the midpoint (0), the electric signal from the guitar is evenly balanced across the frequency range. The desired tone is then dialed in by using the sliders to add or subtract frequency response as desired. Each frequency control slider will raise or lower the band response by +/-5db.
Below are the basic bullet point specifications for this terrific value, all-solid-wood construction, professional-level guitar which could last you several lifetimes were you only able to live them:
- Solid cedar top
- Hand-scalloped X bracing
- Solid sapele back
- Ivory binding, with dark purfling
- Concentric-ring rosette with wood marquetry.
- Venetian cutaway
- Takamine split-saddle bone bridge
- Mahogany neck
- Rosewood fingerboard with wood œdot-in-dot inlays
- Gold tuners with amber buttons
- Natural satin finish
- CT4B II preamp system with three-band EQ, volume control and built-in tuner
The Blueridge BR-43AS
Without a doubt, this is my pick here. This is the guitar I would most want out of these on this list. Why? Because this one most suits the style of music I can play. And because I know what outstanding value Blueridge has to offer.
This is a six-hundred dollar guitar that if American-made would sell for quite a lot more. Why is the price so low? It is made in China. Most of the Blueridge guitars are copies of Martin guitars. But they are very good copies priced very low. Chalk the high value at low cost up to macroeconomics and the global marketplace. This guitar sounds better than many with twice the price.
This Blueridge BR-43AS guitar has an Adirondack spruce top on it. It is highly unusual to be able to purchase a guitar with such a soundboard for such a very low price. I am uncertain as to why Blueridge would put Adirondack tops on a laminated mahogany body, but the results make for a guitar whose sound speaks for itself, loud and clear. Below are basic specifications for the Blueridge BR-43AS:
- Solid Adirondack spruce top with hand-carved parabolic braces in authentic Pre-War forward X-position
- Rosewood bridge with maple bridge plate
- Sunburst high-gloss finish
- Mahogany back, sides and rosewood peghead overlay
- Elegant multi-line rosette and single line backstrip
- 5-ply body purfling (B/W/B/W/B)
- Carved low profile mahogany neck with East Indian rosewood fingerboard with adjustable truss rod
- Unique Blueridge M.O.P. peghead inlay and dot position markers
- Dovetail neck joint
- Bone nut and saddle
- Black pickguard
- Nickel-plated vintage-style, open-back tuners with butterbean-style buttons tuners and a 14:1 ratio
- Scale length: 25 5/8 inch
- Nut width: 1 3/4 inch
Guild OM-140CE Westerly Electro Acoustic Guitar
If that Takamine Pro Series 3 guitar up there made your mouth water, but was just a little too pricey for you, then pay close attention to this Guild Westerly OM-140CE. What’s the difference? There are several differences. But besides the Takamine, this Guild is the only other all-solid-wood construction guitar on the page. And this Guild is priced at nine hundred dollars.
Guild can price this guitar below the Takamine because it is cheaper to have a guitar built in China than in Japan. The Guild Westerly OM-140CE is a much more traditional guitar than the Takamine. If you play primarily with a plectrum or pick, then the Guild with its Sitka spruce top may be the better sounding guitar for you, because spruce responds more favorably to picking than does cedar.
The Guild Westerly OM-140CE can be had with a sunburst finish or a natural finish. This guitar comes with electronics by Fishman, one of the premier makers of electronics for acoustic/electric guitars. You don’t have to purchase a Guild Westerly OM with electronics or a cutaway, but if you buy one with a cutaway, you get the electronics. The Guild Westerly OM-140 without cutaway and electronics is, of course, less expensive still—by about one hundred and fifty dollars.
- Body top: Solid Sitka spruce
- Back and sides: Solid African mahogany
- Body shape: Orchestra
- Bracing: Westerly orchestra Sitka spruce scalloped X-brace
- Rosette black/white striped with MOP ring
- Finish: Natural gloss polyurethane
- Body depth (upper bout): 3 1/2″ (89 mm)
- Body depth (lower bout): 4″ (101 mm)
- Body length: 19 1/2″ (495 mm)
- Body width (lower bout): 15 1/4″ (387 mm)
- Body width (upper bout): 11 1/4″ (286 mm)
- Overall guitar length: 41″ (1041 mm)
- Body binding: Ivory ABS
- Top purling: Black/ivory/black/ivory
- Neck material: Mahogany
- Neck shape: C shape
- Scale length: 25 1/2″ (648 mm)
- Nut width: 1 3/4″ (44.5mm)
- Nut material: NuBone
- Fingerboard material: Indian rosewood
- Fingerboard radius: 16″
- Fingerboard inlays: Mother-of-pearl dot
- Frets: 20
- Tuning machines: Guild vintage-style open-gear
- Hardware finish: Nickel-plated
- Truss rod: Single-action
- Truss rod wrench: 4mm hex key
- Bridge: Indian rosewood
- Bridge string spacing: 2 1/4″ (57 mm)
- Saddle: NuBone
- Bridge Pins: Ovory-colored plastic with black dot
- Electronics: Fishman Sonitone with Sonicore pickup, volume and tone controls, battery bag, and endpin jack
- Strap buttons: Ivory-colored plastic with black dot
- Pickguard: tortoiseshell
Common Mistakes When Buying Your First Guitar
Often people get inspired to play guitar and jump straight to purchasing something that might not suit them. Here are seven common mistakes people make when buying their first guitar:
Mistake #1. Getting the wrong sound – Classical, Acoustic or Electric?
You have 3 basic choices of sound when you buy a guitar:
- Nylon String Classical
- Steel String Acoustic
A lot of people believe that the best choice is to start on an Acoustic Guitar and build up to an Electric Guitar. However, I think that your first guitar should be appropriate to the style of music you enjoy listening to.
If you like AC/DC, Green Day, or say the Foo Fighters, you really need an Electric Guitar to get the sound you want. If you like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper or Taylor Swift, an Acoustic Guitar could be a good choice. Nylon String Guitars sound great for flamenco music, classical music and a lot of traditional music.
Having said this, if it’s for a child under 12 we normally do recommend a nylon string as it’s easier for them to press the strings down. Some children can have tougher hands than others, so if you have a rough and tumble child, they mght be able to handle steel strings earlier than usual. Check out our buying guide for Choosing a Guitar for a Child for more information.
If you’re not sure what type of guitar is best for you, then just think of the music that you like to listen to the most, and call or email us. We will give you a personalized recommendation.
Mistake #2. Getting the wrong size
This is something that a lot of people get wrong. Electric Guitars are much smaller than Steel-String Acoustic Guitars and Nylon String Classical Guitars, they can basically be used by most people, but you do need to consider the extra weight. An Electric Guitar can weigh 5-6 Kg which can be difficult for children to handle. We would normally recommend children be at least 13 years before they try an Electric Guitar, but this is a generalisation and some children (sometimes as young as 10) have been ok. Every child is different, and some children may be capable at a younger age, so if you consider your child to be quite strong for their age, then by all means go for an electric. We carry a broad range of sizes in our entry level range. The correct size is most accurately determined by the player’s height, age and in some cases gender. If you can tell us these three details we can give you a personal recommendation.
- Smaller in size than acoustic or classical
- Good for rock, metal, pop and country music
- Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
- Can be heavy, depending on the model.
- Recommended for:
- Good for folk, pop, country, slow rock music
- Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
- Sounds bright and loud, great for strumming chords
- Light weight but bulky
- Recommended for:
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|5 – 12||100 – 120||3/4 Size – See LSP34|
|12 – 15||120 – 165||Small Body – See LSPS|
|15+||165 +||Full Size – See LSP|
Classical Guitar (Nylon String Guitar):
- Good for classical, flamenco, Spanish music.
- Available in the smallest size – 1/4 size.
- Gentle on finger tips – perfect for young children
- Sounds mellow and soft – not as loud as acoustic
- Recommended for:
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|2 – 5||75 – 100||1/4 Size – See CL14|
|5 – 8||100 – 125||1/2 Size – See CL12|
|8 – 12||125 – 165||3/4 Size – See CL34|
|12+||165 +||Full Size – See CL44*|
* A full size classical guitar has a wider neck than other guitars. If you have small hands we recommend the CL44S slim neck classical guitar.
Mistake #3: Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play
String action is one of the critical things for getting an easy to play guitar. The easiest way to understand action is that it’s just the measurement of the gap from the bottom of the string, to the top of the fret and it’s measured at the 12th fret (the half way pint of the string).
For a beginner we recommend an action of:
- Electric Guitars 2-2.3mm
- Acoustic Guitars 2-2.7mm
- Nylon String Guitars 3-3.6mm
A common issue with most entry level nylon string guitars is that the necks are usually made in a very traditional manner using a section of metal bar a few mm thick to keep the neck straight (you can’t see this bar it is built into the neck).
We started finding that this type of construction leads to the neck bending (or bowing) after about 6 months. Unfortunately with the traditional method there is not an easy way to adjust it back to normal – once it is bent it’s time to get a new guitar! This lead us to re design our classical guitars to use a truss rod. A truss rod is a much stronger example of the bar used in traditional manufacturing, but its main advantage is that it is adjustable. So if in the future you neck begins to bend it can easily be adjusted back into correct shape. Here’s our guide to adjusting your truss rod.
Mistake #4: Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune
Here is an example of a basic covered machine head:
These are made out of gears and pressed metal, it used to be the only way to make machine heads (so a lot of vintage guitars use this type). While it can look cool and retro, these vintage style tuners are often very hard to tune and to keep in tune.
Now there is a modern way to get a much better guitar – the die-cast machine head:
Made from a mould these machine heads are much smoother and more accurate than a covered machine head.
Mistake #5: Choosing a popular brand name because you think you’re getting a superior product
Most popular brand name guitars are indeed very good quality at the higher levels but their entry level guitars, in our experience, are not such a great deal.
In the entry-level market, brand-name guitar companies are usually forced to make their guitars with cheaper materials. There is a simple reason for this. Most major brand-name companies have a brand owner (sometimes an American company). That company buys from a factory in China, and in Australia they will have a distributor who will sell to a retailer (your local music store). It’s pretty easy to see why they can be forced to use cheaper materials. There is a lot of price pressure to get a guitar manufactured at a low enough price for everybody to take their cut of the profit down the chain.
At Artist Guitars we manufacture our Australian designed guitars at our trusted factory in China and sell direct to you. There is no need for us to choose inferior components because we don’t have the pressure of keeping the costs low.
Mistake #6: Buying a guitar without any support materials
When most people buy their first guitar they can be a little confused about what to do. A guitar can be a confusing purchase and most guitars don’t even come with a manual explaining how to use them. That becomes a problem because most people then have to search for the information (which
can be hard to find).
Unfortunately it’s during this critical time that a lot of people get discouraged and may even give up on playing altogether. The first 6 months of learning guitar are critical, statistics show that if someone can still be playing at 6 months they will be much more likely to go on to play guitar for life, so the first 6 months are actually the most important time.
Mistake #7: Paying for features you just don’t need
At the beginner level, you need a good quality instrument, but having a more expensive instrument generally doesn’t make your playing any easier. Higher level instruments are designed for high-level players who want the ultimate in sound.
As a beginner most people are not very sure of the sound, style or type of guitar that they would ultimately like to play, but after playing for 6 months or so I’m sure you will know a lot more about guitars and when it comes time to choose your next guitar it will be an easy choice. The key features a beginner needs is a guitar that is well set-up and easy to play, but you don’t really need to spend too much money on getting a better quality of sound. Higher level guitars will only sound better when your playing has progressed to the level that you can play quite well.
Most beginners find that during the process of learning (after a year or so) you will figure out your own sound. You will naturally be drawn to music that features guitar in it, and great guitar parts. So what usually happens is that your own musical tastes will change and with this change the type of instrument that suits your sound the best will also change. So when you’re ready to take the next step, you will have a much better idea of what you really want.
So in summary…
The 7 key mistakes when buying a beginner guitar are :
- Getting the wrong sound
- Getting the wrong size
- Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play
- Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune
- Buying a brand name and thinking you will be getting a better guitar.
- Buying a guitar without any support materials
- Paying for features you just don’t need