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The 9 best acoustic guitars for beginners 2021: top beginner acoustic guitars

Included in this guide:

The 8 best acoustic guitars for beginners 2021: top beginner acoustic guitars
(Image credit: Future)

So, you or someone you know is looking to learn the acoustic guitar - exciting times! Making the decision to learn any instrument - as thrilling as it is - can be stressful. The entry-level acoustic market is saturated with low-cost options, and it can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we've rounded up the best acoustic guitars for beginners to help you on your way. We've written this guide with advice from our team of experts who have - between them - spent decades strumming away on acoustic guitars.

Unlike the electric guitar, the beginner acoustics featured here require very little in the way of extra gear. It's entirely possible to simply pick up one of these stunning six-strings and start your musical adventure. The sweetest part? These beauties sound as good as they look, so just because you're starting out doesn't mean you have to compromise on sound or style.

In this guide, we'll highlight the differences between our featured beginner acoustic guitars and point you in the direction of some great value instruments. If deciding you want to learn is the first step, choosing your first acoustic strummer is the fun part. 

We've included some in depth buying advice at the end of this guide, so if you'd like to read more, hit the 'buying advice' tab above. If you'd rather get to the products, keep scrolling.

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Our top picks

When choosing the acoustic guitar you want to learn on, you'll want to ensure you pick something that you’ll come back to again and again. For that reason, you may think, at first glance, that our overall choice for the best acoustic guitar for beginners is a tad expensive. But hear us out. You see, the Taylor Academy 10 isn’t just a great guitar for learners, it’s a stunning acoustic guitar full stop. It delivers instant gratification and makes learning those first few songs and chord progressions sound like a million dollars.

Yes, you could opt for something under £/$100 with string action like cheese wire, but there’s a high probability you’ll find it a battle to play and, ultimately, quickly decide guitar that it isn’t for you. In the Taylor Academy 10, we believe we’ve found the best beginner acoustic guitar to put any of you on the path to far more enjoyable playing.

For those who feel that the best acoustic guitars for beginners should be budget-friendly and affordable, we've got just the ticket. The Fender CD-60S blends build quality and tone with affordability, meaning you can get started on the acoustic guitar very comfortably for under $200. 

While not the most sophisticated of options, it does exactly what you want an acoustic guitar to do, and sounds good doing it. 

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Product guide

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Taylor Academy 10 beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Taylor)

1. Taylor Academy 10

The best acoustic guitar for beginners overall

Specifications
Launch price: $499/£499/€599
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Electronics: No
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural
Reasons to buy
+So playable+Versatile+Sounds superb
Reasons to avoid
-Might seem pricey for some

As one of the acoustic world’s ‘big two’, Taylor Guitars has a long track record of producing some of the highest quality, best sounding acoustic guitars around. Recently, however, it made a conscious decision to appeal to the beginner guitarist, and the Taylor Academy 10 is the culmination of this. While the price may put it slightly out of reach of anyone only half-heartedly interested in learning, for those who are committed this guitar represents incredible value.

Put simply, at this price bracket you will struggle to find a guitar which is as well made, which sounds as good, or is as easy to play. With the Academy 10, Taylor has produced the acoustic guitar we all wish we could have learned on. There’s an acoustic electric option in the Academy Series 10e model, too.

Read our full Taylor Academy 10E review

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Fender CD60S

(Image credit: Fender)

2. Fender CD-60S

A solid, budget-friendly entry to the world of acoustic guitar

Specifications
Launch price: $199/£169/€175
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 20
Electronics: No
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Natural, Black
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Good neck
Reasons to avoid
-You might quickly outgrow it

If you’re uncertain exactly how much time and dedication you have to put into learning the acoustic guitar, don’t worry. It isn’t easy, and it does take time. At the very least, however, make sure you give yourself the best chance by buying an acoustic guitar that will see you through those first steps. 

The Fender CD-60S is a great value, entry-level warm welcome of an acoustic guitar. We particularly liked its neck, with its rolled fingerboard edges ensuring it was easy to pull off barre chords and the like. Stick at it, and you’ll have greater treasures to look forward to, but in the Fender CD-60S you’ll have a solid base on which to build.

Read the full Fender CD-60S review

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Martin LX1 beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Martin)

3. Martin LX1

The best beginner acoustic guitar for big tone in a small package

Specifications
Launch price: $499/£449/€499
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Neck: Rust Stratabond
Fingerboard: Richlite
Frets: 20
Electronics: No
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Natural
Reasons to buy
+Design classic+Unique tone+Fun to play
Reasons to avoid
-Lefties may find it a struggle

It’s not often a guitar can spawn an entire sub-genre, but the Martin LX1 did just that. After its launch nearly a decade ago, and with a little help from Ed Sheeran, the LX1 exploded in popularity and caused other brands to take note. The original is still regarded as the best though, and as a guitar for a learner it comes exceptionally highly recommended. 

Despite not being marketed as a learners’ guitar as such, the Martin LX1 is small enough to carry around in the included gig bag, yet loud enough to hold its own in a band situation, making it a first guitar you’ll never really outgrow. There’s also an electro-acoustic version – the Martin LX1E – which is worth considering.

Read our full Martin LX1E review

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Yamaha Storia I

(Image credit: Yamaha )

4. Yamaha Storia I

Yamaha’s modern take on the beginner acoustic guitar

Specifications
Launch price: $429/£269/€329
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 20
Electronics: Yamaha passive undersaddle pickup
Left-handed: No
Finish: Semi-Gloss Off-White
Reasons to buy
+Smaller body+Shorter scale-length+Narrow neck+Built-in pickup     
Reasons to avoid
-Colour not for everyone 

Who says beginner acoustic guitars need to be boring - certainly not Yamaha! The Storia range is the newest addition to Yamaha’s long list of budget-friendly instruments, and this one definitely stands out from the crowd. 

Yamaha has designed the Storia I to not only be a great playing and sounding instrument but also to “elevate your décor.” We must admit, they’ve really nailed the brief and produced a guitar that will become the centerpiece of any room it’s in. 

Not only does the Storia feature a solid spruce top, but the off-white finish against the mahogany back and sides is pretty striking. While the light-blue interior marries the two together to create a beautiful-looking guitar that sounds equally as good. 

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Gretsch G5024E Rancher

(Image credit: Gretsch)

5. Gretsch G5024E Rancher

The best acoustic guitar for beginners from the vintage masters

Specifications
Launch price: $369/£389/€449
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 21
Electronics: Fishman Sonicore
Left-handed: No
Finish: Electric Guitar Sunburst
Reasons to buy
+Strong look+Onboard tuner+Rigid build
Reasons to avoid
-May be aesthetically divisive

If you like the shape of a dreadnought acoustic, but find them all looking a bit generic, then the Gretsch G5024E Rancher may be just the guitar for you. You’ll notice immediately the unique shape of the soundhole, but look a bit deeper and you’ll see lots of small details which make this into an interesting guitar. 

Things like binding on the body, and gold-plated hardware, add up to give this guitar a real sense of character. Tonally, it sits firmly in standard dreadnought territory so it should prove versatile enough for most styles, and would be ideal for the learner who wants to try their hand at different genres of music.

Best guitars for beginners: Yamaha FG800M

(Image credit: Yamaha)

6. Yamaha FG800M

Arguably the most popular beginner acoustic guitar of all time

Specifications
Launch price: $199/£209/€199
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Electronics: N/A
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Natural
Reasons to buy
+Solid top+ Very affordable  +Robust build quality  
Reasons to avoid
-Dreadnought size too large for some 

The Yamaha FG800 has long been the go-to instrument for many players taking their first steps into the wide world of acoustic guitar - and when you consider what you get for the money it’s easy to see why. 

The most surprising feature of the FG800 is the inclusion of a solid top - not something you usually find on a guitar at this price point. This allows the guitar to resonate freely, creating a fuller, warmer tone. This coupled with the new scalloped bracing results in plenty of volume and power. The nato neck feels smooth and well finished, and while the understated look may not set the world on fire, it has a classic charm that you simply won’t get bored of. 

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Fender CP-60S

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender CP-60S

The dinky parlour shape is ideal for folky styles

Specifications
Launch price: $199/£179/€190
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 20
Electronics: No
Left-handed: No
Finish: Sunburst, Natural
Reasons to buy
+A fingerpickers’ delight+Warm tone
Reasons to avoid
-Gloss neck finish won't suit all

We’ve always been partial to a parlour. These slightly smaller-scale acoustic guitars are great in a number of situations and make ideal ‘living room’ guitars, to be played during the advert breaks on TV. The Fender CP-60S is a perfect example of a relatively inexpensive parlour making it one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners. 

Its smaller size means it handles finger-picking styles better than all-out strumming, but for blues and folk – or younger players – the CP-60S is a great choice for a learner.

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Ibanez AEWC400TKS

(Image credit: Ibanez)

8. Ibanez AEWC400TKS

This beginner acoustic guitar has curves in all the right places

Specifications
Launch price: £499/$499/€522
Top: Flame Maple
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Electronics: Fishman / Ibanez
Left-handed: No
Finish: Transparent Black Sunburst
Reasons to buy
+Contoured body+Quality electronics+Stunning flame top
Reasons to avoid
-Better plugged in than unplugged

Some guitars are made for singing around a campfire. Others are made for delicate folk passages. The Ibanez AEWC400TKS, on the other hand, is made for players used to the delicate, lithe necks of an electric guitar. If you’ve tried acoustics in the past and found them too unwieldly, then the AEWC400TKS may be worth your consideration.

As masters of the ‘speed machine’ electrics used by some of metal’s biggest names, Ibanez knows a thing or two about making the guitar something to be played, not wrestled with. There are some nice details added in for comfort, including contouring around the waist and arm areas, and an asymmetrical neck shape which some players may find more intuitive. This isn’t the best learner acoustic guitar for everyone, but may be worth a look for anyone who has struggled with other guitars in the past.

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Epiphone)

9. Epiphone Hummingbird Studio

One beautiful bird for beginner acoustic guitarists

Specifications
Launch price: $429/£329/€329
Top: Solid Spruce
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Electronics: Shadow ePerformer Preamp
Left-handed: No
Finish: Faded Cherry Sunburst
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous design+Rich, deep tone+Works well for fingerpickers
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to find now

If you’ve heard of The Beatles, Oasis, Bob Dylan, or nearly any classic rock act from the last 60 years, then you’ll have heard a famous Hummingbird acoustic in action. The Epiphone Hummingbird Studio is as striking tonally as it is visually and would make a great choice for learning on.

There’s more to this guitar than the fancy graphics and timeless vintage finish, though. The sound it produces is versatile and balanced, making it ideal for strummers and fingerpickers alike, while the small details like split parallelogram inlays and oversized headstock add up to make a bold visual statement.

The Epiphone Hummingbird Studio was once called the Hummingbird PRO, and has been a mainstay in the Epiphone line-up for a long time. Although recently, the guitar has gone through somewhat of a re-brand since the introduction of its more up-market brother - the Epiphone Inspired By Gibson Hummingbird - which retails for around $749! 

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Buying advice

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: an acoustic guitar photographed against a sky blue background

(Image credit: Future)

Although it may feel daunting, buying the best beginner acoustic guitar is more straightforward than many other instruments. For example, with beginner keyboards, drum kits, electric guitars and DJ controllers, there is a number of variables to consider, but with the humble acoustic guitar, things are a lot simpler. 

Sound-wise, acoustic guitars are famous for their projection and rich resonance. Therefore it's reasonable to expect any acoustic guitar - from the cheapest to the most expensive - to produce a warm sound with plenty of volume. The differences lie in what you want to do with them. When it comes to the best acoustic guitars for beginners, factors like the shape of the body, the type of woods used and brand, all affect how the instrument will sound. 

What is the best acoustic guitar size for beginners?

As you'd expect, acoustic guitars come in a myriad of different shapes and sizes. So, let's quickly break down the most common. 

Generally speaking, the bigger the guitar, the bigger the sound. But obviously, larger acoustics do have some problems for kids starting out. For example, the dreadnought is arguably the most popular and common of the acoustic guitar shapes. Its large frame produces a massive tone with plenty of low-end and depth. Although this guitar may be commonplace, we would avoid it for young players. Its large size can make it uncomfortable for many youngsters. Likewise, the jumbo - typically the largest of the acoustic world - is ginormous and can be too big for little arms to get around. 

Smaller sizes such as concert, grand auditorium or folk offer a more effortless playing experience. However, you will lose a little bit of tone - not something that's hugely important at this early stage.

Man playing an acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Future)

What kind of wood is best for a beginner acoustic guitar?

While it's true that the wood used on acoustic guitars gives the instrument its distinctive tonal characteristics, it's not always noticeable on beginner guitars. At this price point, you'll usually find fully laminated guitars rather than the more premium solid wood option. 

That said, we can give you some general things to look out for. You'll find a lot of guitars go for the tried and true formula of spruce and mahogany. This combination gives a very balanced and sweet tone. In contrast, an all-mahogany guitar - top, back and side - is going to result in a darker, more mellow sound. 

Perhaps you are seeking a bright tone, in that case, you are best opting for an acoustic guitar with maple back and sides. Not only does this look gorgeous, but the maple gives the guitar more presence in the top-end. 

Do I need a pickup on my beginner acoustic guitar?

You might also want to consider whether you want to perform using your guitar or perhaps record with it. If you'd like to perform using your guitar or record with it, then it's worth looking for an acoustic guitar with onboard electronics, as they'll enable you to plug it into an amp or recorder in the same way you can an electric guitar. 

Acoustic guitar pickups, simply put, are devices which translate the sound of your acoustic guitar into an electrical signal. This signal goes through any of the best guitar cables and then into any of the best acoustic amps or a PA speaker. There's more science to it than that, but we won't go into it in too much depth here.

What else should I know about buying a beginner acoustic guitar?

An important factor in learning any instrument is how much you enjoy the learning process. Therefore, it is vital that the guitar you choose as your learning partner is one you enjoy playing. We've seen and heard of countless examples of people who give up because they found it too challenging, but as players, we know it's because their beginner guitar is often not up to the task. 

If you're committed to learning, it makes sense in the long run not to choose your first guitar with price as the only criteria. That said, we know it's not as simple as that, so we've got suggestions here from all ends of the spectrum.

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.