15 Best Acoustic And Classical Guitars For Beginners – Start Your Journey With Style!

Have you stood on the outside of the music store looking in, either literally or figuratively? You want a top quality guitar, but you’re not sure which one to buy. You’ve come to the right place. We’re going to answer your questions, even the ones you didn’t know you had. A guitar isn’t just a couple pieces of wood attached together with some strings stretched across it. It is a complex combination of materials and techniques to create an instrument that is as much art as it is a creator of art.

We’ve collected data on many models, rated them, and even have done extended reviews of the guitars. You can look at the comparison table below then delve deeper with the links to the reviews. There is an in-depth guide with tips and tricks to finding the right guitar for you after the table.

The Top 10 Started Acoustic And Acoustic-Electric Guitars:

Fender T-Bucket 400CE Review – Affordable Guitar with High-End Looks

The Fender T-Bucket 400CE is an electric/acoustic with a cutaway dreadnought sized body. It has a laminated flame maple top, back, and sides, with a matching flame maple cover on the headstock. The neck is mahogany in Fender’s C-shape. It has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. A Fishman Isys III preamp and pickup system is loaded with a 3-band EQ, volume, and tuner. The holographic rosette, pin striping on the headstock and 12th fret, neck and body binding, and gold tuners give the guitar a very high-end look. It has an even tone that sparkles with a touch of brightness for a very good sound.

2 Seagull S6 Original Review – A Beautiful Bright Spot

Seagull S6 Original Review – A Beautiful Bright Spot

The made in Canada Seagull S6 Original is a fingerstyle players dream with its 1.8” wide nut and the tonal qualities that let all the plucked notes jump out. The solid cedar top and Canadian wild cherry back and sides project a strong and bright sound. The neck is made of silver leaf maple with a rosewood fretboard and bridge. Graphtech Tusq is used in both the nut and compensated saddle. The rosette is a herring bone pattern with a tortoise shell pickguard. The distinctive tapered headstock not only makes the S6 standout, but also keeps the tuning more stable. The S6 is both a beautiful looking and sounding guitar.

3 Yamaha FG730S Review – Quality on a Budget

Yamaha FG730S Review – Quality on a Budget

The Yamaha FG730S acoustic has a spruce top with laminate rosewood sides. The nato neck has a rosewood fingerboard with 20 frets. The aesthetic features of the guitar are a tortoise pickguard, an abalone rosette, black/white binding around the body, and binding around the neck, and headstock. A thin natural finish on the body and neck helps resonance and playability. The headstock has mother of pearl inlay of the Yamaha name and logo along with six die-cast chrome plated tuners. It comes in three different colors: natural, vintage cherry sunburst, and tobacco brown sunburst. The jangly voice has good high presence without sacrificing the bass.

4 Fender CD-60CE Review – Rich Sound at a Humble Price

Fender CD-60CE Review – Rich Sound at a Humble Price

Fender’s CD-60CE is an affordable electric/acoustic that does not skimp on the features to get to its lower price tag. The laminated mahogany dreadnought cut-away body can be topped with either a spruce or mahogany top.The neck is mahogany with rosewood fingerboard which has 20-frets with a glossy finish. Scalloped bracing allows the guitar to resonate more giving it a richer sound. The Fishman Isys III pickup captures the pure dulcet tones of the guitar beautifully. Also, giving the player a volume control, three tone controls, and a tuner.Whether this is your first guitar or adding to a collection this guitar will bring playability and a nice tone to any collection.

5 Yamaha FSX730SC Review – Looking and Sounding Good

Yamaha FSX730SC Review – Looking and Sounding Good

The Yamaha FSX730SC is an electric acoustic with sitka spruce top and laminated rosewood back and sides. The neck is made of nato with a rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is also made of rosewood. Yamaha’s 56B preamp and A.R.T. 1-way pickups feature 3-band EQ, built-in tuner, adjustable mid-boost, and one main pickup made up of two pickups under the saddle. The design features include abalone rosette, a choice of three different colors (natural, black, and brown sunburst), mother of pearl inlay on the headstock, and ivory. The FSX730SC has a bright focused sound that can be enhanced once it is plugged into an amp or PA.

6 Jasmine S35 Review – For Those Pining for a Beginner Guitar

Jasmine S35 Review – For Those Pining for a Beginner Guitar

Jasmine is Takamine’s entry-level guitars. The S35 is a full-sized all laminate dreadnought. The top is spruce with advanced X-bracing. The back and sides are made of agathis. The slim profile neck is nato with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck also features a radius of 305mm (12”), 20 frets, pearloid dot inlays, and an adjustable truss rod. The synthetic bone nut has a width of 44mm (1-3/4”). The bridge is rosewood with a compensated synthetic bone saddle. There is a simple black pickguard to protect the satin finish. The voice can be loud, but it has a warm midrange tone because of the agathis.

7 Bristol BD-16 Review – More Than Its Price Point

Bristol BD-16 Review – More Than Its Price Point

The Bristol BD-16 is a dreadnought acoustic guitar made from all laminate. The top is spruce while the back and sides are mahogany. The mahogany neck has a rosewood fingerboard with 20 frets and adorned with dot inlays. Rosewood is overlaid on the headstock that features the Bristol name and logo silk screened on it. Six 14:1 ratio Schaller style tuners keep the strings from slipping. The bridge is made of rosewood and has an ABS saddle. The nut is also ABS and is 1-11/16” wide. The body is bound in black ABS, has a black pickguard, and a Blueridge rosette. It has a bright voice with clear bass response.

8 Rogue RA-090 Review – Ultra-Affordable Beginner Guitar

Rogue RA-090 Review – Ultra-Affordable Beginner Guitar

Rouge’s RA-090 is a dreadnought steel string acoustic guitar. Its body is made of all laminate whitewood. The neck is nato with a painted maple fingerboard that looks like ebony. The neck is C-shaped, has a radius of 406.4mm (16”), 20 frets, and dot inlay fret markers. The nut is plastic with a width of 42.3mm (1-2/3”). The bridge is maple painted to look like ebony. There is a simple black pickguard. The hardware is nickel, and the tuners are covered. It comes in three different colors: black, natural, and sunburst. The greatest feature of the RA-090 by far is the ultra-affordable price.

9 Washburn WD10S Review – Simple Style with Substance

Washburn WD10S Review – Simple Style with Substance

The Washburn WD10S is a dreadnought sized acoustic in the company’s Heritage line of guitars. It has a solid sitka spruce top and laminate mahogany sides and back. The bridge, fretboard, and headstock overlay are all rosewood. The satin finished neck is made of mahogany. The fingerboard has 20 frets, dot inlays, and 16” radius. The nut and saddle are made of bone. The rosette is a custom wood inlay that adds a lot of class to the look of the guitar. The treble response is strong with a warm sound, but the lows are a bit mushy and lack clarity.

The Top 5 Entry Level Classical Guitars To Learn On:

Yamaha C40 Review – King of the Student Models

Yamaha’s C40 is a nylon string classical guitar made for the new student. It is a full sized instrument with a 650mm (25.6”) scale length. The all laminate body has a spruce top and meranti back and sides. The neck is nato and has a rosewood fingerboard. There are 19 frets with a single side dot marker at the 7th fret. The plastic nut is 50mm (2-1/16”) wide. The slotted head stock has six chrome plated open-gear tuners. The bridge is rosewood. Comes with a gig bag, digital clip-on tuner, and instructional DVD. The sound is bright and snappy with good projection.

2 Cordoba C7 SP Review – Tone Above and Beyond the Price

Cordoba C7 SP Review – Tone Above and Beyond the Price

The Cordoba C7 SP is nylon string classical style guitar. It combines looks, craftsmanship, tone, and playability, at an affordable price. It has a European spruce top and mahogany neck. Indian rosewood is used for the bridge, fretboard, binding, sides, and back. It uses traditional Spanish bracing for excellent resonance and projection of sound. The C7 SP has a warm tone with plenty of clarity so that each note can be heard and enjoyed. A non-traditional and well-engineered truss rod adds stability without sacrificing balance. 14:1 ration gold and black tuning machines with a flare of style, with a floral design, help maintain consistent tuning.

3 Cordoba C5 Review – A Model Student

Cordoba C5 Review – A Model Student

Cordoba’s C5 is a student model classical guitar. It has a solid cedar top with laminate mahogany sides and back. The mahogany neck has a rosewood fingerboard that is flat and 52mm nut width. A two way adjustable truss rod keeps the neck straight and the action where you want it. The bridge is also rosewood. The nut and saddle are made of bone. The binding is rosewood and the rosette is an inlaid wood mosaic. The hand carved headstock has gold tuners with pearl buttons. The C5 has a warm sound that makes the highs very rounded, and the lows can be domineering.

4 Takamine GC3-NAT Review – Classical for the Masses

Takamine GC3-NAT Review – Classical for the Masses

The Takamine GC3-NAT is a student level classical guitar. It has a solid spruce top with traditional fan bracing. The back and sides are laminated mahogany. Rosewood is used for the fingerboard, bridge, and caps the headstock. The neck is mahogany with 19 frets and joins the body with a dovetail joint at the 12th fret. The nut and compensated saddle are synthetic bone. Black binding is used on the front, back, and back center inlay. The rosette is wood inlay. The sound is warm with a nice snap. Both the treble and bass are well balanced with the midrange having a bit more presence.

5 Yamaha CG182C Review – An Entry Level Classical

Yamaha CG182C Review – An Entry Level Classical

The nylon-string Yamaha CG182C knows what it is, and that is an entry level instrument for beginning classical players. It is built solidly with rosewood sides and back with an American cedar top. The neck is made of nato with an ebony fretboard. A dovetail joint attaches the neck to the body at the 12th fret. The rosewood bridge has a plastic saddle. The sound from the CG182C is a well-balanced tonal response from treble to bass with a mids punch. This guitar is built with the practice room in mind, and is simply dressed to go with its natural surroundings.

The Complete Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide:

First order of business, if you are learning to play classical or flamenco you will need to buy a classical guitar. If you are just looking to learn to play some songs around the campfire you can buy a classical guitar, but most likely you will want a steel string guitar. Needless to say beginner electric guitars have a separated article devoted to them. The genre of music you want to play will lead you to certain instruments just based on their sound. With that out of the way, let’s dive in and learn more about beginner guitars.

This article can quickly just degrade into a list of terms with a diagram showing where they are on the guitar. Every guitar is a unique experience. There are so many different pieces that go together to give each instrument its feel, tone, and look. We’ll delve into these elements first before going into the definitions.

The Feel

I played in a band where the singer had a tendency to bump into me. When she ran into my right arm, it would go flailing ruining my timing. When she ran into my left arm not much happened as I had contact with the instrument. The neck is the part of the guitar that the guitarist has the most contact with to create music. This is where the feel of the instrument comes in. The width of the fretboard, the thickness of the neck, the height of the strings from the fretboard (also called “the action”), the type of finish, the spacing of the frets and the size of the actual frets, all play into the tactile nature of playing guitar.

Whether you’ve learned to play yet or not, you should put your hands on the guitar’s neck. In a beginner instrument this is the most important. If the action is good, then learning to play will be less of a struggle to capture the notes. More time and energy can be used to make those notes musical. Learn what feels good to play, then find the guitar that uses those elements.

The nut width will let you know how wide the fretboard is. The nut is a grooved piece of either plastic, bone, or synthetic material, that is between the headstock and fretboard. The nut can go from a narrow 1.5” (38mm) to over 2” (50.8mm) wide. This may not seem like much, but you will notice the difference (play a standard steel string, then play a classical guitar and you will know what I mean).
Scale length is the distance from the nut to the center of the 12th fret, then double that measurement. The shorter the scale length the smaller the guitar. The smaller the guitar the shorter the distance between each fret. People with smaller fingers will appreciate a shorter scale length while those with larger fingers will want a longer scale length.

The profile is how thick the neck is from the fretboard to the back of the neck. This speaks more to the size of a player’s palm.
A truss rod will make it possible to adjust the neck depending on the weather conditions. Truss rods are made of metal, and can have their tension adjusted to keep the neck as straight as possible. This is a very important feature for maintaining the playability on a guitar. Traditionally, classical style guitars do not have truss rods.

The Tone

If you don’t play this is where you will need a friend to play the instrument for you. I can talk all day about tonewoods and how they affect the sound of the guitar, but that will mean nothing if you can’t hear the difference for yourself. You need to listen to the guitar, and know if that is a sound you like.

Most of the elements of an acoustic guitar have an effect upon its sound. There is a debate on whether the wood that an electric guitar is made out of effects the sound, but no one can deny that on an acoustic the wood matters.

A frustrating bit to think about is that two guitars made of the same wood will sound very different, it depends on the openness and orientation of the grain, the age, curing conditions, and numerous other factors of the wood itself. Construction techniques also have an effect on the sound of the instrument.

The Looks

The look of the guitar is more than aesthetics. It is the shape of the body that drives the timbre and dynamics of the voice of the guitar. A jumbo body is going to give the guitar a big booming voice, while a OOO (said “triple-O”) size body will be a brighter and quieter sound.

The standard acoustic guitar shape is the dreadnought, named after the WWI battleship design. Most manufacturers produce a dreadnought acoustic guitar.

Every manufacturer has their own designs as well, or at least a tweak on a classic. You won’t know which one is really right for you until you try them out. For simple ease of use a smaller framed person is going to feel more comfortable playing a smaller sized instrument. There are designs that are simply scaled down versions of the original. These are nice for young players as a new instrument can be bought as they grow, and it will feel very similar to the guitar they just outgrew. A smaller sized instrument will have a small sound. That is the sacrifice that has to be made to fit the instrument to the size of a smaller player.

Looks are also important, because you want to like the look of your guitar. I had a guitar that I liked very much, but because of the way that it was built it had a large ugly pickguard. In the end I couldn’t stand it anymore and sold it, because no matter what I did it still had that pickguard. It didn’t affect the tone of the instrument, but it affected the way I approached it. Don’t sacrifice tone or feel for looks, but adding to your budget to buy a guitar that is good-looking is money well spent.

What Else Are You Going to Have to Buy

Besides the guitar itself there are other things that are necessary to purchase either with the guitar are soon after.
Most guitars at the beginner’s price point do not come with a case or gig bag. They will protect the guitar from the elements and from getting scratched or dinged. Gig bags are padded and soft-sided. They are fine for taking an instrument locally, such as to practice, a lesson, or to a friend’s house, but do not offer the protection of a case. To start with a gig bag is more than enough protection for your first instrument.

Buy a tuner. Clip-on tuners are relatively inexpensive, and are very useful beyond the learning stage. Believe me, those around you will appreciate you playing in tune.

A music stand is invaluable for learning. A good one will last a long time, and be useful throughout your musical career. Right now on my music stand, there is: a clip-on tuner, a capo, some extra picks, my iPad, some sheet music, and a piece of paper with notes about a song I’m working on. It is so useful to have a place to put all these things. Most importantly it puts the music in your sight line while you’re practicing. You won’t be struggling to see your music or finding it when it comes time to practice.

Picks, buy lots of picks. Get different sizes, made of different material, and different thicknesses. Every once in a while I’ll buy a different pick just to give it a chance, but most of the time I buy the same pick I’ve been buying for years. Once you figure out what you like, buy a bunch of them. Picks are like socks, they are always disappearing.

A new set of strings can change how a guitar feels and plays. Thinner gauged strings will be easier to play at the cost of some depth of sound. Try different types of strings to find which feels best. Depending how much you play they will need to changed regularly.
Eventually you might want to get a guitar stand. It will put your guitar within easy reach, while being safer than just leaning it against the wall.

Tonewoods

An important feature on an acoustic guitar is what kind of wood it is made out of. Entry-level guitars will also be made with less desirable woods, than their expensive counterparts.

Here are some of the common woods used to build acoustic guitars:

  • Cedar- On the rare occasion when a guitar top is not spruce it will be cedar. It has a darker tone than spruce with more warmth and added bass.
  • Mahogany- Used for back and sides, but can also sometimes be used for a top. It has a warm tone, but without the definition of some of the harder woods.
  • Maple- Creates a very bright sound that lacks bass. Flame and quilted maple has a very striking and beautiful look.
  • Nato- A replacement for mahogany. It has a similar look and tonal qualities, but it does not sound as good. You will notice that the more expensive instruments do not use nato. I find it lacks the clarity of mahogany even though it mimics the warmth. It does look very nice.
  • Rosewood- Very commonly used for back and sides. It has good bass response with good articulation of each string.
  • Sapele- Has a more dramatic look as compared to mahogany, and is used as a replacement for it. Sapele is a faster growing tree, so it is more sustainable than mahogany.
  • Spruce- The most commonly used wood for acoustic guitar tops due to its strength, lightness, consistent look, and sound.

Solid vs. Laminate

Laminate guitars are made of several layers of wood pressed together to create the body of the guitar, laminated guitars are dominant in the best cheap acoustic guitars article that we’ve written. A beginner guitar is going to be made of all laminate wood. If you spend a little more you can at least get a solid top instrument, but to be honest I don’t know if that is really necessary at this level.

Laminate construction is cheaper than solid wood construction, which brings down the price of the guitar. A laminate guitar is stronger and will take more of a beating than a solid wood guitar. For younger players this is probably a good feature to think about. Humidity has less of an effect on laminate construction so depending on the environment you live in this can be a good feature.

Laminate does not have to sound bad. It all depends on how it is made. If filler or a substandard wood is used in the middle portion of the laminate, then that can make the guitar sound less than great. There are many very good guitars that have laminate back and sides. It is nearly impossible to tell whether a guitar is laminate or solid wood just by listening to it, but you can tell if you like the sound.

Some Other Terms

As you read through descriptions and reviews of the various models here are some of the terms you’ll run across that you might not know that haven’t already been discussed in this article.

  • Bridge- The transfer point of the vibration of the string into the body of the guitar.
  • Neck Radius- This is the curve of the fretboard. The smaller the number the rounder the fretboard is. Classical guitars have a flat radius.
  • Rosette- decorative design around the soundhole. It can be ornate using abalone inlay down to a simple sticker.
  • Saddle- A shim that is on the bridge that the strings are draped across made of plastic, bone, or synthetic material.
  • Sound Board- The top of the acoustic guitar body.
  • Soundhole- The round hole on the top of the instrument. It is the main projection of the sound.

Popular Questions From Beginners

  • Should I modify my guitar to make it better? It is possible to improve a guitar with modifications, but the real question is it worth it? At this level my answer is no. You won’t add to the resale value no matter what you do. It would be better to save your money to buy a better instrument (for example just go with an acoustic guitar for $500), than to modify a beginner’s instrument.
  • Should I buy an electric/acoustic for my first guitar? At an entry-level guitar the easy answer is no. There are sacrifices to make an acoustic guitar inexpensive, and by adding a feature that can cost as much as the guitar itself those sacrifices would be too much. Make sure that playing guitar is your thing, then the next one you buy you can get those electronics.
  • How do I care for my guitar? Do not leave the guitar in a place with extreme temperatures, like in a car during the summer or winter. Wipe down the guitar and strings using a lint free cloth and put it away in a safe place when you are done using it. Keep it out of the reach of small children.

Editorial Conclusion:

That should give you a good start on what to look for in a beginner’s guitar. Maybe you’ve decided that a more advanced model is the right fit for you, don’t worry we have other comparison articles that look at guitars in different price ranges. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn even more, and to stay ahead of the curve. Stop back regularly as we are always adding to the site. Until next time, keep strumming them open chords and practice your melodies.

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