Acoustic Guitar Buyer’s Guide

Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Buyer’s Guide: Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners 2022

It’s frustrating when you’re going to buy an acoustic guitar, and you have no idea which one is the best option. It is familiar with beginners, mainly because they usually don’t look for the one with good sound and is more comfortable; they leave their eyes to speak their minds.

So, before you make a mistake buying the one that looks nice but doesn’t have the best characteristics, please read below, and you will find out that purchasing the best acoustic guitar for beginners is more accessible than how it looks.

What Is The Best Acoustic Guitar For Beginners?

First of all, in this post, I’ll only talk about the acoustic guitars with flat covers, there are guitars with archtops which are more common in jazz, but we aren’t going to talk about them.

The first thing to do when you are going to buy a guitar has discarded those guitars with meager prices. Let’s say those are less than $150, even though I wouldn’t buy a new instrument whose price is less than $200, but if you don’t have too much budget, you can also think about purchasing a better-quality second-hand guitar. Or, if you are a little more patient, you can wait a bit more and save more money to buy a good one for a not-too-high price; it’s the best investment. If you follow this advice, you will avoid problems like the guitar being uncomfortable to play if it doesn’t sound good, among others.

When we eliminate the low quality of the guitars in our options, we’ll open a door where we will be able to find good quality for a low price as well, and we won’t have the problems that are having a lousy guitar entails. To have the perfect acoustic guitar for you, I suggest you follow the next steps:

  1. Choose a type of body.
  2. Decide which characteristics you want in your guitar: nut width, cutaway, some accessible frets, and the capacity to use electronic elements like amplifiers.
  3. Think wisely if we need a guitar with solid wood or not.
  4. Choose a particular model.

Then, according to the previous steps, let’s get deeper into them.

Best Beginner Guitar Guide: Select The Type Of Body

When buying the best acoustic guitar for beginners or beginner guitars, we first need to know which kind of body we want in our guitars. You need to know that every body type has different characteristics, and one can be more appropriate for some music and techniques.

There isn’t an international standard for the body of a guitar, but if it comes to the most common, we can mention the bodies from the brand Martin; their bodies are imitated worldwide due to their comfort. Some from the Gibson are among the most copied, but if we talk about exclusiveness and originality, the brands Taylor and Larrivée have their catalog in body types. Now that we know about all the types of bodies that exist, I’m going to use only the most common ones as a reference, but it doesn’t mean that they are not helpful or less attractive.

Before we get to the point, it’s good to know that acoustic guitars can have 12 or 14 accessible frets in their neck. The guitars with 12 free frets have a significant box. Due to this, they are louder than the ones with 14, but if we are looking for a guitar that can give us an extensive repertory. One with 14 accessible frets could be a better option because the one with 12 frets will limit our access till the 12th fret. This characteristic doesn’t affect repertory, which has blues or ragtime.

Now, let’s get to the main point. I want to make it easy to understand, so; I will use a small schema table that has the types of bodies that you can find in any music store:

 

Size of the body Name Number of free frets Technique
Small Parlor 12 Fingerstyle
Medium OM or 000 12 or 14 Fingerstyle
 

Big

Dreadnought 12 or 14 Plectrum
Jumbo 14 Plectrum
Ovation 14 or 16 Plectrum

As we can see, some body types are more appropriate for playing with the fingers (fingerstyle) and others for playing with the plectrum. But these characteristics aren’t rules we need to follow, as an example, I play an Alhambra Dreadnought with fingerstyle, but I would prefer that it was an OM.

Reverend Gary Davis, a fantastic guitarist, used to play with fingerstyle a jumbo. Knowing this, here comes my first advice, if you find a guitar that you can play, maybe not your technique or style, but you get by with it, then go ahead with it because, with a good guitar, you can play any style and technique but always remember to ask yourself two questions:

  • For which style of music do I want it? Some bodies work better with a particular style than others.
  • Which technique will I use? Small bodies work better if you play them with fingerstyle, the big ones with a plectrum, and the medium with both techniques.

If you need clarification on what I mean when I say small, medium, or big bodies, let me explain shortly, starting from the smallest to the largest.

Parlor

It has the body of a little box with 12 accessible frets, and it was made to play with fingerstyle and music like blues and rag. It isn’t appropriate to play solos higher than the 12th fret. It works better for playing in low positions and is comfortable while sitting; its sound may surprise you if we compare it to a high-quality instrument.

Martin’s company makes a type of box, the 00, with 12 frets that are the Parlor even when the brand doesn’t call it that.

The OM, 000 Or Auditorium

This type of body is prevalent among acoustic guitars. It was used for playing blues and rag before the Dreadnought appeared. Nowadays, it’s used to play fingerstyle due to its exceptional balance between treble, mid, and bass. It makes it easier to control the performance regarding nuances, colors, etc. It is an excellent option to play with a plectrum if you are trying to get a soft sound.

The width of the rings is less than the battleship, and because of this, it’s easier to hold between our legs and arms while we play sitting, making them the most comfortable guitars to keep. They can have 12 or 14 accessible frets. The model 00 with 14 frets made by Martin’s company is similar to this one, especially in the box.

If you’re looking to play blues, it is your best option but always be careful when buying a new one; a lot of OM has a modern sound that will ruin your blues style.

Dreadnought

It’s the most frequent type of box in acoustic guitars. The people who made it tried to provide better bass and volume to the existing guitars (parlor and OM). F.H. Martin and Harry L. Hunt made the first dreadnought, but the first battleships in the sale had the label Ditson instead of Martin. The name came from a warship of the Royal Navy named HMS Dreadnought due to its robustness and performance.

These last two characteristics were impregnated in this guitar. In the beginning, they were made with 12 frets and then with 14, perfect for various styles. Please play them with a plectrum due to the sound; they are better for playing while standing than sitting.

Jumbo

Those guitars are divided into two sizes, jumbo, and super jumbo. The first one is perfect for strumming, but a few models allow you to play fingerstyle with them. I don’t have much experience with this guitar, but knowing how a dreadnought works with this technique, I can say a jumbo is a good option for the musician who plays with a plectrum and sometimes fingerstyle. A popular jumbo model is the Gibson J-165, made in 1951.

Now, let’s talk about the superjumbo. The first thing I can say is that this guitar is like a tank; it has a big box and widths rings, giving it strong bass and a sound with much more body. It is played with plectrum most of the time, and the brand Gibson made this guitar a legend, especially the model J200; such beauty, right?
J200 Gibson

Ovation

Even when many companies are imitating this box nowadays, it’s fair enough to call it Ovation for being the original brand that applied synthetics material and unique designs to the construction of the guitars. The body of this guitar doesn’t have rings and backgrounds as usual. Instead, they have a curvilinear mold made of a synthetic material called Lyrachord that was discovered for Charles H. Kaman, guitarist and engineer, owner of The Kaman Corporation, which is the owner of the Ovation brand. This model mainly includes cutaways, and the material makes the music a bright and energetic sound. Some models have 16 accessible frets.

Soloists and songwriters/singers use this guitar.

Other Types Of Boxes

As I said before, the types of boxes that I mentioned aren’t the only ones. Every maker introduces a different characteristic that differentiates their guitars from the others. Many makers successfully created new types of bodies, like Larrivée with,h its L box, which is a mix of the dreadnought and the OM, which has good comments about how it sounds and how comfortable it is. Taylor is another brand with its types of bodies; they have dreadnoughts and jumbos, but you can find others like:

  • Grand Concert (GC): it has a petite body perfect for fingerstyle
  • Grand Auditorium (GA): a mix of the Grand Concert and a battleship which is perfect for both techniques, plectrum, and fingerstyle
  • Grand Symphony (GS): the big body is a battleship, and it’s perfect for play with a plectrum

Having all these points clear, we can continue to the next step

Characteristics Of The Best Guitar For Beginners

I don’t want to make things complicated, so I’m going to try to do a small resume about the designs and features that you need to know before buying the best acoustic guitar for beginners:

Cutaway

It is a rounded cutout that the guitars have from the 14th fret, and it is helpful if you want to get to the highest frets. I recommend you buy a guitar with a cutaway if you use the other frets. If you want, buy one without it because the cutaway will take some sound from your instrument.

12 or 14 accessible frets

The guitars with 12 frets have the central box. Many guitarists think that one with 12 frets sounds better than one with 14. But you must remember that if you have 12 frets in your guitar, it will be hard to get to a higher fret. I prefer a guitar with 14 frets, even if you want to play blues with it.

Because if you see a picture or video of a bluesman like Skip James, you’ll notice that he played instruments with 14 frets. Due to this, we can say that it affects more the sound and static of the instrument than the musical style.

Shooting (Vibrating length)

If you don’t know what it is, it’s the distance from the nut to the bond of the bridge, and there are two types of shooting, long and short. There isn’t a standard for any of them, but most of the time, an extended shooting has 64,77 cm, and the short one is 63,24cm; this difference of one cm makes the guitars with long shooting harder than the ones with the bit of shooting. If you ask me which one is better, I can’t get into a decision.

Short shooting is more comfortable when we want to play a musical piece with difficult passages, and I used to prefer long shooting, but lately, I’ve noticed that I feel more comfortable with a short one. So I recommend trying two instruments, one with the short and the other with the long shooting, and then you can decide which is better for you.

The width of the nut

If you have played a classical guitar and want to try an acoustic one, let me tell you, it will be hard. The width of the nut in an acoustic guitar is 43mm, and due to this, we feel like there’s no place for our fingers, but it isn’t something that you can’t get used to with time.

Now, if you still prefer a wider nut, a few acoustic guitars have nuts with 48 mm, giving you the feeling that you’re playing a classical guitar, and for a fingerstyle, they’re more comfortable. I have a Recording King, and it has 48mm in the nut, and yes, the difference from one with 43mm is enormous.

Electronic elements

Believe it or not, this is an important fact to keep in mind. When you are going to buy your guitar is better if it already has the pickup and brings a tuner; this will save you a lot of money, and most importantly, the pickups from the fabric are better, and you don’t take risks if it is installed correctly and the tuners are more efficient.

You will save approximately $300 and receive a good guitar even when you’ll need to spend a little more.

Solid Or Laminate? Which Is The Best Beginner Guitar?

An expert guitarist knows the difference and appreciates when an instrument has substantial rings, backgrounds, and covers but why? There are different options in the cover material (Sitka, Engelmann, Adirondack, among others) in combination with rings and backgrounds in mahogany, koa, lignum vitae, and others. It can give the guitar a lot of possibilities in sound, colors, and bells, something that a laminate one can’t. It will work well enough if you have a guitar with a laminate cover, but the difference between it and the solid is tremendous.

When we talk about solid wood, we refer to the sounding board; usually, the neck is made of solid wood, so we don’t have to worry too much about it, even when it’s a cheap instrument.

The guitars with solid wood sound better, but they are more delicate and, let’s not forget, more expensive. When I say delicate, I talk about the temperatures and humidity, which can shrink the fingerboard. Still, the most common problem is that the bridge will unglue a few millimeters or even all of it. It would be best if you gave excellent care and attention to buying a guitar with solid wood.

If you are unsure about getting a solid guitar but don’t want a laminate one, I think I have a good option. A few brands make guitars with a solid cover, but the rings and backgrounds are laminate, and the sound of those guitars is fantastic, and you can have them for a small price. Are you going to buy one like this? Art & Lutherie, Seagull, and Norman are the most famous models made with these materials.

I have a Norman as my second guitar, which now costs 350$, but I bought it on eBay for 95$, and I’m triumphant with it. Other brands like Vintage have their guitars made with Sitka on the cover, and the rest of the body is laminate, and they have good critics, especially for the high quality of the instrument for a meager price.

If you are starting to learn how to play the guitar, you don’t need to spend a fortune on an instrument; $ 200 can be enough to buy a good instrument, and with time and when you have more money, you can invest in a better guitar.

So, let’s resume it; you have to avoid the guitars that don’t have solid wood and laminate covers.

We need to think about what we are going to use the instrument as well; if you are going to play the guitar in a performance or concert, then you should save some money on solid wood and buy one with rings and backgrounds laminate but with a good solid cover and buy a pickup later.

If you are going to use it in your house and for learning, a Chinese guitar which is the cheapest one but with solid wood, is your best option, but you can use one with a solid cover, and the laminate box is viable too.

For an expert guitarist starting in acoustic music, you need to go for an instrument with solid wood in all aspects. If you don’t want to spend too much money, I recommend an Alhambra series 1 or 2, a Martin G series 15, the Guilds made in China, or maybe a Larrivéé Recording Series 03. The Recording Kind is a guitar made in China, but they’re getting a lot of prestige due to the suitable materials used in the manufacturing, and the sound is incredible.

Choose A Particular Guitar Model For Beginners

This part is where you start to work, and I can only advise you on a few more things about lying the best acoustic guitar for beginners. Before running into a particular model, could you try to see what is available in the market? And when you find something that caught your eye, search for it, not only some sentences or which materials were used, look for its brand, where it was made, and all the characteristics that we talked about but most important – Try It Before You Buy It.

I know this can be a little bit careful because nowadays, most of us buy through the internet, and we don’t take our time to go to a music store and try the guitar before deciding to buy it. Now, most of the time when we are going to buy our guitar or any instrument, we aren’t sure what kind of wood it was made of, which is the width of the nut is, if it has a pickup, and much other stuff, then be patient, try to read some reviews or forums.

A forum is a huge place where we’ll find a lot of opinions about the instrument; they will be active and hostile as well, but when the guitar, in this case, is excellent, most of the comments from the people will be positive, but I still recommend more the reviews.

The reviews will help us have an accurate idea of the instrument after it was analyzed by a person who is usually someone with knowledge of the topic. But it doesn’t mean that you will read only one and take with closed eyes what they say, look for reviews with a high rating and where the person looks like they know what he is talking about.

I hope this information will help you in your journey to finding the best acoustic guitar for beginners, and without anything else to say, good luck with your choice!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *