Buying your first acoustic guitar can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t speak the language. To the seasoned player, taking a new acoustic for a test drive, feeling a variety of body shapes and sizes, and hearing the tonal differences between woods can be quite enjoyable. However, the experience can also leave beginners uninformed, discouraged and sometimes even deceived into buying the wrong instrument.
The good news? With the right guidance, you can still make a confident and worthwhile purchasing decision without being a bona fide expert. Understand your musical goals and abilities, and you’ll be playing in no time. That being said, we’ve handpicked five great acoustics that address some common beginner situations.
For Beginners on a Budget
A common misnomer is that all-in-one guitar packs, while affordable, lack quality and durability. The beauty of the DG-8S acoustic is that it has all the makings of a performance-worthy instrument; namely, a solid spruce top that lets the guitar resonate more freely. Added appointments such as the reshaped ’70s pickguard and rosewood bridge offer distinctive touches beyond the typical entry-level feature set. And best of all, the included accessories take the guesswork out of trolling for add-ons, which can get pricey. Luckily,all the essentials—strings, picks, strap, gig bag and a fully functional chromatic tuner (which lets you tune any instrument in any key)—are right in the box.
For the Indecisive Beginner
Acoustic or electric? Surprisingly, this decision is often the most difficult one. Many beginners opt to go acoustic as it alleviates the need for an amplifier and cables and makes the buying process less stressful. The late-’60s-inspired Redondo CE is an acoustic-electric that offers a rich, balanced sound—due in part to its mahogany back and sides. It’s great for quiet solo practice for the beginner without an amp, and players can also fine-tune their tone when plugged in thanks to the Fishman® Isys III pickup system with active onboard preamp and tuner. With that in mind, the Redondo is also a fitting solution for electric guitar players looking to expand their arsenals, especially with the guitar’s cutaway design for easy upper-fret access.
For Smaller Hands
Parlor guitars have been popular since the late 1800s and have been coveted ever since as small-bodied beauties with great articulation and playability. The Ron Emory “Loyalty” model, designed with the T.S.O.L. guitarist, is ideal for players with diminutive digits and who have difficulty stretching their hands across the frets. Add to that special Emory appointments like crown inlays and his signature on the truss rod cover, and the guitar has the appeal of a vintage blues box with SoCal attitude. It’s available in a traditional sunburst finish and an ash-body butterscotch blonde model.
For the Novice Performer
Those willing to invest a little extra in their first instrument will find this traditionally designed dreadnought an ideal workhorse with lots of tonal dimension. The first thing to note is its all-solid body, which consists of a spruce top and resonant mahogany back and sides. Decorative appointments such as an abalone rosette, stylish gold hardware and rosewood bridge with a compensated saddle give this classic acoustic design a striking cosmetic upgrade. This combination of craftsmanship, aesthetics and versatility makes this acoustic a clear choice not only for ambitious beginners, but also for intermediate players and pros.
An Acoustic Alternative
Uke popularity has once again boomed as of late, due in part to its recent surge in popular music and to the fact that it’s extremely easy to play. Don’t let its diminutive size fool you; tenor-sized ukes like the Nohea make a fine segue into full-size acoustics, as they pack a noticeably deeper sound. Distinctly warmer in tone, koa is not only a great-sounding wood, but also one of most visually striking. Even with four strings, you can still master proper strumming techniques on a great-sounding, finely crafted instrument that lasts.