The Best Acoustic Guitars I Recommend to My Students

If you’re interested in learning to play an acoustic guitar, finding the right one to help you learn and fuel your passion can be the difference between a lifelong pursuit and a short-lived hobby.  Understanding the basic components of a guitar’s construction is a great way start to your hunt.  An important thing to keep in mind as you search for your new guitar is that, way more often than not, the cheapest models offer the lowest quality.  You can find quality guitars starting at around $150, and, if you’re a beginner, this range is a good to place to start.  


If you’re new to playing guitar, choosing a model with nylon strings might be a good idea.  Nylon strings are easier on your fingers than steel strings.  Guitars with nylon strings also tend to have wider necks, which makes it easier for you to get the hang of correct finger placement.

The bodies of acoustic guitars are made of wood and use a resonating chamber to produce sound.  The quality of construction and the type of wood used can absolutely affect the quality of sound produced.  The term “tonewood” refers to the type(s) of wood used.  Typically, the sides and back are made from one type of wood, while the soundboard (top) is made from another.  The cheapest models might use laminates, which usually don’t produce the same quality of sound as models that use solid wood.  There are models that combine the two, providing a decent middle ground in terms of sound quality and price.   Another thing to think about is that laminates tend to lose tonal quality over time, whereas solid wood models can actually get better with age. Included among the most common species of wood used are spruce, mahogany, cedar, maple, and rosewood.

When shopping for your first guitar, you might want to look for a complete beginner’s kit.  These kits usually include the guitar, picks, extra strings, a tuner, and maybe even a strap and/or carrying case.  If you don’t find a suitable guitar that’s part of a kit, most of the above items are definitely things you’ll want to pick up.  Many beginners, and some pros, prefer using picks to help protect their fingers.  Picks come in different thicknesses, so finding a variety pack is a great way to find your favorite size.  Having extra strings on hand is a must.  All strings will need replacing at some point, either due to wear or breakage.  You definitely will want to purchase a tuner that you can use until you’ve developed enough skill and confidence to do your own tuning by ear.

When it comes to accessories, a strap is a great way to make standing up while you play more comfortable.  A stand is a great way to keep your guitar handy without leaning it up against furniture or walls.  Too often, learning your guitar up against something leads to it sliding or falling down, which can damage the body or affect the tuning, not to mention possible damage to the furniture or wall.

Finding the right balance of quality and price can be tough, but is definitely worth some research.  Spending too little can get you a guitar that just doesn’t sound good enough to keep you motivated to keep learning or to be an accurate gauge of your progress.  Spending too much before you get your feet wet and understand what your own personal ideal model is can be a waste of money and might make it harder for you to upgrade when the time comes.

When you’re ready to go shopping, don’t forget to check second-hand options.  You might be surprised at how many folks have abandoned their music or upgraded to different models and are willing to sell a well-maintained, good-quality guitar for significantly less than retail.

Visit acoustic guitar ratings for reviews and comparisons of several top models, including models for rookies and veterans alike.

This is a great place to view several high-quality beginner models for under $200.

This page takes the budget up a notch with reviews of models under $500 plus additional buying tips.