Choosing your very first acoustic or electric guitar is an extremely exciting moment, but it can a pretty daunting process, too. You don’t want to waste your money on a beginner guitar that isn’t suited to you, or that you’ll grow out of quickly. That’s where we come in: in this handy guide we’ve rounded up our pick of the Top 10 Beginner Guitars and the best guitars for beginners – whether you’re going down the route of acoustic or electric – that are the perfect match for new players.
Many players just starting out prefer to kick off with an acoustic guitar. It’s certainly cheaper than going electric as there’s no need to buy a separate guitar amp and you can get playing straight away.
Electric guitars have more components to get to grips with, but they’re also more versatile than acoustics, particularly if you want to start playing rock, blues or metal styles – so they’re great guitars for beginners too.
top 10 beginner guitars
1.Eastcoast D1CE Dreadnought Cutaway Electro-Acoustic Guitar
First up we have one of the highlights of our acoustic range; the Eastcoast D1CE Dreadnought Cutaway Electro-Acoustic Guitar. We think this is one of the best beginner guitars for two reasons. 1 – Eastcoast are a trusted creator of quality acoustic guitars, and 2. It plays like a guitar twice the price!
The Eastcoast D1CE Dreadnought is built with a familiar Dreadnought body shape – hence the name! Dreadnoughts are a great all-rounder for optimum volume, projection and clarity. Furthermore, the Sapele back & sides provide a rich and warm sound whilst offering snap and articulation via the Spruce Laminate top. This makes it a harmonically rich, comfortable guitar to play.
Seriously this beauty sounds and feels amazing – an unexpected entry onto our list, but a firm favourite with PMT Staff in stores around the UK. Easily a contender for best guitar for beginners, that won’t break the bank.
2. Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar LH WN Natural
This is an ‘industry standard’ guitar for beginners which is relied upon by guitarists of all levels. Fender, as a brand, are one of the most well-respected guitar manufacturers in the world, so you’re in good hands here.
The C Shape Profile neck, which minimises hand-fatigue, makes the Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar LH WN Natural one of the best beginner guitars as it’s comfortable to play. In addition, the Walnut fingerboard reduces friction so you can slide up and down the fret easily.
Comfortable guitars promote a positive playing experience and encourage you to play for longer. The steel-string Fender CD-60 Dread V3 is a great example of this!
3. Yamaha APX 600 Electro-Acoustic Guitar White
Here we have another tried-and-tested standard in the beginner guitars category. The Yamaha APX is a particularly sweet-sounding guitar that really brings out the nuances of your playing – a key feature commonly found on more expensive acoustic instruments. Yamaha’s prestige and trust within the music industry is undeniable, they’ve been producing some of the finest guitars for decades.
The Yamaha APX 600 has a Solid Spruce top and Nato back and sides means you’ll hear everything you’re playing with an optimum level of clarity and projection. Perfect for highlighting improvements to your technique and playing style. Each note rings out clearly and sounds great when mic’d up on stage.
Furthermore, we also love the APX 600 as it features a new bracing pattern underneath the top, which helps with projection, sustain and volume. This makes this guitar perfect for rehearsals and jamming at home.
In summary, the Yamaha APX 600 is a timeless Acoustic Guitar design that will only look and sound better with age.
4. Washburn HD20S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Available in-store at £179, the Washburn HD20S Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is probably one of the best value guitars we’ve seen in 2019!
A high level of craftsmanship, beautiful tone woods and aesthetic touches give the Washburn HD20S a unique character not seen in guitars at a similar price point. Solid Sitka Spruce and Pau Ferro is usually found on Acoustic instruments costing 2-3 times the price, so you’re getting a real bargain.
The Washburn HD20S is truly a guitar that will only sound better with age and a perfect guitar for beginners thanks to the modest price tag. This is ideal for players of all levels as it’s actually designed to cope with the demands of a gigging professional thanks to the satin finish neck and hardwearing Graphtech Nubone nut.
A dreadnought shape in conjunction solid Sitka Spruce top and Pau Ferro back and sides provides a pronounced low end and strong projection which chord players will really appreciate. Choruses will ring out clearly!
We also think it’s a perfect beginner guitar that you’ll love playing, no matter how you use it. If you want the option of going electric, the Washburn HD20SCE Dreadnought Electro-Acoustic Guitar is ideal and features a cutaway design.
5. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Electro Acoustic
Just because you’re starting out in the world of guitar doesn’t mean you can’t have a cool looking guitar with a bit of style. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is the Epiphone version of the Gibson Hummingbird which was made famous by the likes of Keith Richards. Although this is what you might call the little brother, it’s still a formidable gigging guitar at a price point that beginners and first-time players can afford – that’s why we’d recommend checking out Epiphone Acoustic Guitars.
We love it because it’s ready for every stage of your guitar playing journey. A SlimTaper D profile neck is comfortable to play so your hand doesn’t get too tired when playing and, when you decide to start gigging, the Shadow ePerformer preamp and pickup system allows you to plug into an amp and enjoy all the tonal qualities of the Spruce top and Mahogany body.
6. Taylor Baby BT2E Mahogany Electro Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor Baby BT2E is within the realm of more professional starter options. This is because it packs all the quality hallmarks of a Taylor Acoustic at an accessible price point and size. These are beginner acoustic guitars that will prove to be an investment for life.
The BT2E is another guitar that you won’t have to upgrade instantly, as it’s actually a professional level guitar designed for experienced players – it just happens to be at a price point usually associated with beginner guitars.
Taylor Acoustics are renowned for an amazing level of craftsmanship and tonewood choices. The X bracing system makes the BT2E nice and loud, whilst the Mahogany tonewood allows you to enjoy beautifully bright chords and resonant single string notes.
This guitars ticks all the boxes when it comes to a premium Beginner Acoustic Guitar – volume, playability, comfort and style. All rolled into an affordable package anyone can afford.
7. Eastcoast GT100 Electric Guitar
First up for our electric guitar offering is the Eastcoast GT100 Electric Guitar (pictured here in Lake Placid Blue).
Based around the iconic ‘Tele’ body style, the GT100 features a classic single cutaway body and single coil pickups, originally made famous by the likes of Bruce Springsteen. If you want a cheap, versatile guitar that can handle everything from Blues to Country, Indie to Rock, the Eastcoast GT100 is a great option.
The Eastcoast GT100 has a pair of single coil pickups which deliver beautifully clean sounds, but really shine with some added distortion or grit through an amplifier. The maple neck is comfortable on the fingers – often the reason why players stop picking up guitar. The single-cutaway body design is great for reaching upper frets.
Since the Eastcoast brand relaunched we have been blown away by the quality of these guitars. They’re comfortable, come kitted with pro-grade hardware, and outperform their modest price. An absolute no-brainer starter guitar, highly recommended by the experts at PMT! ALSO AVAILABLE – EASTCOAST GT100 ELECTRIC GUITAR STARTER PACKS
8. Jackson JS1X DK Minion Amaranth FB Gloss Black
The Jackson JS1X DK Minion Amaranth FB Gloss Black is a fiery short-scale electric guitar, specifically designed for the young shredders out there. Jackson guitars are a great first choice for any younger player starting out with an inclination for Heavy Metal and Rock styles.
A short scale neck makes this axe really easy to practice and play, especially for longer sessions. If you need to bend strings easily and get around the guitar faster, this beginner guitar is a cost-effective way to do so.
The Jackson JS1X DK Minion comes equipped with a pair of high powered humbucking pickups that really shine when you add some distortion to your amp. Combine this with an accessible double-cutaway body, and you’ve got a recipe for heavy metal madness.
9. Squier Bullet Stratocaster
Squier consistently produce amazing instruments at budget-friendly prices. With many features inherited from familiar Fender counterparts, Squier is a great brand to start out with if your budget is tight.
The Stratocaster is an industry-standard all-rounder that has graced thousands of stages around the world. The Squier Bullet Strat HSS Electric Guitar is one of the most popular choices. Like all guitars in the Squier range, it offers a sublime balance of tonal options, comfort, playability and price. All the hallmarks that make up a perfect beginner’s guitar!
The Single-Coil Neck and Middle Pickups provide that familiar Strat ‘twang’, whilst the angled bridge pickup offers a thicker, fatter sound. Add some distortion to the mix from an effects pedal or amplifier, and you’ve got a fully-fledged Rock and Roll Strat.
10. Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Everyone needs to play or own a Les Paul at some point in their life. It’s basically a rite of passage in the guitar world! Thankfully, you don’t need to splash out on a Gibson Custom Shop to get the ‘Les Paul’ experience.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard comes from the Epiphone factory, owned by Gibson. This guarantees a certain level of performance and reliability. The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is one of the most budget-friendly LPs they offer, which features the classic Les Paul single-cutaway body and a sturdy bolt-on neck.
The pair of single-coil pickups and 3-way toggle switch offer a wide range of switchable tones. Les Pauls are so popular for being such a great all-rounder, ideal for almost any style of music. The fact this beast comes in at under £100 makes it a great guitar for beginners. Comfort, good lucks and a killer sound to boot. What’s not to like?
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