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The 8 best acoustic guitars for beginners 2020: top beginner acoustic guitars

The 8 best acoustic guitars for beginners 2020: top beginner acoustic guitars
(Image credit: Future)

Making the decision to learn any instrument is exciting, especially the acoustic guitar, which is why we've rounded up the best acoustic guitar 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, and belting our riffs on the best electric guitars too. 

The beginner's acoustic guitars featured here require very little in the way of extra gear, and prove that it's perfectly feasible to take home one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners for not much cash at all. 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 six-strings. If deciding you want to learn is the first step, then choosing your first acoustic strummer is definitely the fun part. So without further adieu, here are the best acoustic guitars for beginners... starting with a sneak peek at our very top pick.

The best acoustic guitar for beginners right now?

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.

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: buying advice

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

(Image credit: Future)

Buying the best beginner acoustic guitar is more straightforward than with many other instruments. For example, with keyboards, drum kits, electric guitars and DJ gear there are plenty of variables, but with acoustic guitars things are a lot simpler. 

Sound-wise, acoustic guitars are famous for their projection and rich resonance. An acoustic of any calibre, from the cheapest to the most expensive, can be reasonably expected 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 also come into play. Large bodied ‘jumbo’ acoustics produce a much broader tone with a pronounced bottom end – bass – sound. This style of acoustic works well for use in a band, where the sound of the guitar runs less risk of being lost in the mix with the other instruments. 

They are also much larger physically, which may make them a struggle to play for younger learners. At the other end of the scale sit travel guitars, which have a much smaller body and as a result are better for portability and practice.

Best beginner acoustic guitars: size matters

As well as the size, you’ll want to consider your own playing style. If you are keen to learn fingerstyle guitar then a parlour style acoustic may be the answer. The slightly smaller body size here means they can be played sat down for extended periods, and they produce a more intricate sound which doesn’t ring out as much. 

Sitting in the middle of the pack is the dreadnought shape. These are the ‘everyman’ of the acoustic guitar world, offering a great balance between size, tone and volume. You might also want to consider whether you want to perform using your guitar, or perhaps record with it. If this is the case, look 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.

An important factor in learning any instrument is how much you enjoy the learning process. 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.

More beginner acoustic guitar essentials

The best acoustic guitars for beginners right now

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

Launch price: $499/£499/€599 | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce | Neck: Maple | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 20 | Electronics: No | Left-handed: No | Finish: Natural

So playable
Versatile
Sounds superb
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: Martin LX1 beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Martin)

2. Martin LX1

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

Launch price: $459/£349 | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce | Neck: Rust Stratabond | Fingerboard: Richlite | Frets: 20 | Electronics: No | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Natural

Design classic
Unique tone
Fun to play
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: Fender CD-60S

(Image credit: Fender)

3. Fender CD-60S

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

Launch price: $199/£169/€175 | Top: Solid Spruce | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Walnut | Frets: 20 | Electronics: No | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Natural, Black

Great value
Good neck
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: Epiphone Hummingbird Pro beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Epiphone)

4. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

One beautiful bird for beginner acoustic guitarists

Launch price: $429/£429 | Top: Solid Spruce | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Shadow ePerformer Preamp | Left-handed: No | Finish: Faded Cherry Sunburst

Gorgeous design
Rich, deep tone
Works well for fingerpickers
None

If you’ve heard of The Beatles, or Oasis, or 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 Pro 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.

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

Launch price: $369/£389/€449 | Top: Solid Spruce | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 21 | Electronics: Fishman Sonicore | Left-handed: No | Finish: Electric Guitar Sunburst

Strong look
Onboard tuner
Rigid build
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 acoustic guitars for beginners: Epiphone EJ-200 SCE beginner acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Epiphone)

6. Epiphone EJ-200 SCE

The best beginner acoustic guitar for monster tone… and volume

Launch price: $599/£349/€499 | Top: Solid Spruce | Neck: Maple | Fingerboard: Pau Ferro | Frets: 21 | Electronics: Fishman Sonitone | Left-handed: No | Finish: Natural, Black

Sounds incredible
Classic vibe
This is certainly a large guitar

Sometimes when you play an electro-acoustic guitar, you may find the tone comes across slightly thin, as if the electronics are stealing some of the natural vibrancy and projection of the tone. No so with the Epiphone EJ200SCE, which sounds as big as it looks both plugged in and naturally. 

This design is another classic from the Epiphone/Gibson stable, which will appeal to anyone with a knowledge of musical heritage. It is a large guitar – the ‘J’ stands for jumbo, after all – and as such may be too much for younger players, but for adults looking to pick up the instrument the EJ-200 SCE makes a superbly rewarding choice.

Read our full Epiphone EJ-200 SCE review

Best acoustic guitars for beginners: Fender CP-60S

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender CP-60S

The dinky parlour shape is ideal for folky styles

Launch price: $199/£179/€190 | Top: Solid Spruce | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Walnut | Frets: 20 | Electronics: No | Left-handed: No | Finish: Sunburst, Natural

A fingerpickers’ delight
Warm tone
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

Launch price: £499/$499/€522 | Top: Flame Maple | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Electronics: Fishman / Ibanez | Left-handed: No | Finish: Transparent Black Sunburst

Contoured body
Quality electronics
Stunning flame top
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.