The 10 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners in 2021: First Time Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Are you a beginner looking to get your first acoustic guitar? Not sure what you should be looking for or which ones are best? It can be difficult to decide what model would be best for you as there are so many options available with different features and price points that it can become overwhelming when trying to make your decision. To help, this post will help simplify the process by reviewing 10 of the top models on the market today, as well as providing a first time buyer’s guide full of important information to help you know what to look for.

Quick Answer: The Top Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

1. Taylor Academy 12e

  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Grand concert body with a specially-designed armrest to reduce fatigue
  • Taylor ES-B electronics

The Taylor Academy 12e is the ultimate instrument for beginner guitarists who are looking for a model designed to help develop their skills. The Taylor Academy 12e is also a suitable guitar for kids. Taylor introduced their Academy Series of guitars that are designed for beginners who want to enjoy all the benefits of an authentic Taylor guitar, at a more affordable price. The 12e is a sleek 24.87-inch scale Grand Concert acoustic guitar. The 12e features Sapele laminate on the back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. It also has a specially-designed armrest that helps to reduce fatigue and makes the guitar more comfortable to hold. As you should expect with a Taylor guitar, the 12e sounds incredible. The solid top creates a vibrant, balanced tone that is warm and smooth. It projects well for a concert-body acoustic and performs even better when plugged in. For a beginner looking for the ultimate acoustic guitar, the Taylor 12e is a premium option.

2. Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Natural
107 Reviews
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Natural
  • Solid Mahogany Top, Laminated Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Scalloped X Bracing
  • Fishman Isys III System
  • Solid mahogany top with X-bracing
  • Modeled after Tim Armstrong’s go-to Hellcat
  • Rich, warm tone and great projection despite the smaller size

Fans of punk rock will recognize the name Tim Armstrong. The Rancid frontman, producer, and songwriter has a go-to guitar for songwriting: his Hellcat. Fender gave aspiring guitarists the chance to play just like the famous rock star with the Tim Armstrong Hellcat.

Despite being adapted to right-handed players, this Hellcat is nearly identical to the one Armstrong plays on. It has a 25.3-inch scale length that makes it more comfortable for beginners than a traditional dreadnought guitar. This model features a solid mahogany top with laminated mahogany back and sides. It has a four-ply tortoiseshell pickguard and Tim Armstrong’s signature on the truss rod cover, adding to the overall appeal of this stylish model.

The Hellcat, part of Fender’s Artist Series, is an affordable acoustic that is just as good for beginners as it is for more experienced musicians.

3. Yamaha FG830

Yamaha FG830 Solid Top Folk Guitar, Natural
481 Reviews
Yamaha FG830 Solid Top Folk Guitar, Natural
  • Solid sitka spruce top
  • Nato back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Part of the famed FG series
  • Solid Sitka spruce top with Rosewood back and sides
  • Scalloped bracing for great projection and sustain

Yamaha’s FG Series is one of the oldest and most popular lines of acoustic guitars ever made. Since releasing their first FG model in the mid-1960s, Yamaha has updated its manufacturing process to ensure even their entry-level acoustics are high-quality instruments.

The FG830 features a solid Sitka spruce top with Rosewood back and sides. This model has a classic dreadnought body, but Yamaha kicked it up a notch with scalloped bracing. The result is rich projection with a lot of overtones and a good amount of sustain. For an entry-level guitar, the FG830 sounds even better than expected.

4. Rogue RA-090

Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural
741 Reviews
Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural
  • 6-string
  • Dreadnought design
  • Whitewood body
  • Whitewood body provides enhances mid-range tones
  • C-shaped neck adds to the overall playability
  • Affordable dreadnought ideal for beginners

If you really want to save money on an acoustic guitar, the Rogue RA-090 is a perfect choice. For less than $100, you can still get your hands on a great-looking acoustic guitar. Rogue went to extreme measures to make sure they could offer a high-quality, well-performing guitar at a super low price.

In terms of sound and performance, the RA-090 is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a cheap guitar, but it’s still capable of producing clear and balanced tones.

The RA-090 is one of the best acoustic guitars in the market for beginners.

5. Bristol Blueridge BD-16

Bristol by Blueridge 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right Handed (BD-16)
44 Reviews
Bristol by Blueridge 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right Handed (BD-16)
  • Spruce top with scalloped braces provides a bright, full range sound
  • Beautiful mahogany back and sides for robust volume and responsive tone
  • Slim mahogany neck offers fast, easy action and inherently long-lasting stability
  • Combination of spruce and mahogany provide a warm tone
  • Dreadnought body shape for ample projection
  • Outperforms similar guitars whether you’re strumming or finger-picking

When Bristol set out to create a balanced yet still fulfilling acoustic guitar for beginners, they focused on the body. The BD-16 uses laminate wood that won’t produce the same quality of sound as a solid-wood bodied guitar, but it comes surprisingly close.

Overall, the Blueridge BD-16 is a great option for anyone hoping to get the most bang for their buck. Beginners will especially appreciate this model, and will still find it suitable down the road as they become more experienced.

6. Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone Songmaker DR-100, Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Vintage Sunburst
1,705 Reviews
Epiphone Songmaker DR-100, Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Vintage Sunburst
  • Songmaker DR-100 Features: Classic go-to Dreadnought Shape, Select Spruce top, and Mahogany Body & Neck
  • Additional Details: SlimTaper C-profile neck, Epiphone Sloped Dovewing headstock, and Premium Die Cast tuners
  • Epiphone is one of American's oldest and most revered instrument makers. Since 1873, Epiphone has made instruments...
  • SlimTaper neck for more speed without affecting grip
  • Outperforms most other comparable guitars in terms of sound
  • Select spruce top and mahogany back and sides

Epiphone has built a reputation as a reliable, high-quality guitar brand after hiding in Gibson’s shadow for years and the DR-100 is Epiphone’s best-selling acoustic guitar. Beginners on a tight budget looking for a remarkable yet affordable acoustic guitar will quickly fall in love with the DR-100.

One thing that stands out about the DR-100 is the neck that features Epiphone’s SlimTaper profile. With the SlimTaper profile, players can play faster with better grip. That’s not something you can expect to see in most lower-cost guitars.

Guitarists who have tried the DR-100 have noted its notable clarity in the mid and upper range. This affordable acoustic performs well in all playing styles. The DR-100 is the perfect acoustic guitar for beginners as well as those with more experience who want a quality guitar to practice on.

7. Fender FA-100

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with Gig Bag - Natural
308 Reviews
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with Gig Bag - Natural
  • Protective Fender black nylon gig bag included.
  • Keep this acoustic in proper playing position with the included Fender strap when standing or sitting from the...
  • Under the natural glossy Basswood top, the time tested quartersawn X bracing adds to the distinct FA 100’s...
  • High-quality Fender guitar at an affordable price
  • Crisp, clear sound supported by X-bracing
  • Bone nut and compensated saddle

There is no doubt that the Fender FA-100 belongs on the list of the best acoustic guitars for beginners. This is one entry-level guitar that won’t disappoint.

Fender is one of the most recognizable names in guitar manufacturing. They’ve been building and designing high-quality instruments since the early 1930s and the FA-100 is another prime example of their craftsmanship. The FA-100 maintains the traditional old-school guitar aesthetic that anyone, guitar enthusiast or not, can appreciate.

The FA-100 is a low-action guitar, making it incredibly simple to produce great sound. For less than $200, you can get your hands on an acoustic guitar that makes any beginner sound far more experienced.

8. Martin LXM Little Martin

Martin X Series 2015 LX Little Martin Acoustic Guitar Natural
67 Reviews
Martin X Series 2015 LX Little Martin Acoustic Guitar Natural
  • The LXM features a Spruce Pattern HPL (High Pressure Laminate) textured finish top along with Mahogany Pattern
  • Constructed with spruce and mahogany high-pressure laminate
  • Features trademark Martin tone
  • Great projection despite the smaller body

As with many popular items, even instruments, there was a bit of controversy over the design of the Martin LXM Little Martin. All the controversy stemmed from Martin’s use of mostly artificial materials for LXM. Many people were unhappy with the decision to use Spruce and Mahogany patterned high-pressure laminate (HPL), instead of laminate wood.

Despite the controversy, Martin created a travel-size acoustic guitar that is worthy of being named one of the best for beginners. The HPL is still capable of producing the remarkable tone Martin guitars are known for.

The LXM offers a decent amount of range and relatively good projection, despite its smaller size. It successfully avoids the shallow sound that often accompanies more compact acoustics.

9. Alvarez Artist Series AD30

Alvarez Artist Series AD30 Dreadnought Guitar, Natural/Gloss Finish
27 Reviews
Alvarez Artist Series AD30 Dreadnought Guitar, Natural/Gloss Finish
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Hand sanded, scalloped bracing
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Solid Sitka spruce top with a small black pickguard
  • D’Addario EXP strings and Alvarez bi-level rosewood bridge system ideal for beginners
  • Die-cast chrome tuners

There is a lot of value packed into the affordable package of the Alvarez Artist Series AD30. Although perfect for beginners, there are many enhanced components of the AD30, including advanced scalloped bracing, a bi-level rosewood bridge, and bone nuts and saddles.

Alvarez constructed the guitars in the Artist Series to sound like a high-quality, well-constructed guitar, without the hefty price tag. Beginners will especially appreciate how comfortable the AD30 is to play, as well as how responsive it is. Whether you intend to strum or pick, the AD30 is an affordable, well-crafted acoustic guitar that will encourage beginner guitarists to pursue their musical dreams.

10. Ibanez AEG12IINT

Ibanez AEG12IINT Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural Finish
33 Reviews
Ibanez AEG12IINT Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural Finish
  • Mahogany top, back and sides
  • High-quality Fishman Sonicore pickups
  • Ibanez AEQ-SP1 Preamps
  • All-mahogany acoustic-electric
  • Shallower body depth enhances playability
  • Convenient built-in tuner

Regardless of whether it’s plugged in, the AEG12IINT from Ibanez produces a powerful, balanced sound. Especially noteworthy is the playability of the AEG12IINT, which is why it made our list of the top ten acoustic guitars for beginners.

The AEG12IINT is particularly great for beginners because of its thinner body and comfortable design. High-quality projection and fantastic tone without a high price tag make the AEG12IINT a must-have for musicians who want to learn the guitar.

What should I look for when purchasing an acoustic guitar?

There are several factors to consider when purchasing your first acoustic guitar including:

  1. Body style
    How does the guitar feel when you play it? Does it feel too big or too small? Find a style that feels most comfortable to you.
  2. Sound (Resonation and projection)
    Have someone else play the guitar and pay attention to the guitar’s projection. Is it clear when the guitar is played loudly? Does the guitar still project well when played softly? How do the high and low tones sound?
  3. Check intonation and action
    To check the action of a guitar, get eye-level with the 12th fret. Generally, you want to make sure there isn’t a noticeable difference in the distance between the 5th and 12th fret.
    To check the intonation, play a chord, then play the same chord starting on the 14th fret. You want them to sound exactly the same.
  4. Look for any physical flaws

What are some good songs for beginners to play on an acoustic guitar

  1. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
  2. “Low” by Cracker
  3. “What I Got” by Sublime
  4. “Matchbox” by Carl Perkins
  5. “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters
  6. “Things That I Used To Do” by Guitar Slim
  7. “My Church” by Maren Morris

How long will it take me to learn to play the guitar?

Several factors play into how long it takes someone to learn to play the guitar, but the main thing to remember is the more you practice, the better you will get. Generally, you can expect it to take a couple of years to reach an advanced playing level, but even then you will have to dedicate several hours each day to practice on your guitar.

Help! My fingers hurt from playing the guitar! What should I do?

It’s common for beginner guitarists to experience some discomfort in their fingers when first starting out. To get your fingers used to the instrument, build up to longer practice sessions by starting with short, 5-10 minute sessions until you become more comfortable. The more you practice, the more used to the strings your fingers will become, and the less discomfort you will experience.