One of the most exciting parts of learning to play an instrument is picking out your first one. Whether you’re playing electric, acoustic, or even bass, choosing your first guitar is a rite of passage and your first step on the journey toward mastering your instrument. But with so many choices, where to begin?
The best guitar for beginners will vary from person to person. When you’re narrowing down the field, it’s best to take taking your own needs into consideration. While having a guitar that looks cool with a color or finish that allows you to express your individuality and will entice you to pick it up and practice is important, so are attributes of the guitar that work with your own unique physiology.
Another thing to keep in mind is the type of music you love and that makes you want to play. For instance, if you want to play indie rock or folk, an acoustic guitar may be a great first choice. If you want to jam out to your favorite rock and metal songs, a beginner player may want to plug in an electric guitar. And if you find yourself bobbing your head along to the thumping beat of a funk song, you may want to choose a bass as your first instrument.
In this article, we’ll break down some considerations to keep in mind when you start your hunt for a guitar for beginners and share a few options to help make it easier to choose.
What To Look For In A Good Starter Guitar
What is the best guitar for beginners? There’s no one hard and fast answer to that question. Rather, it’s up to the player themselves and what feels best. As mentioned before, the musical genre where you want to focus your lessons may dictate the type of instrument you look for, but there are other more granular factors to keep in mind to make finding the right one for you.
When choosing your first instrument, looking at features such as the size and weight of the instrument, and even length and circumference of the fretboard, can help you choose the right guitar for you and make learning to play a lot more enjoyable. For instance, lighter-weight instruments may be more appropriate for young players just getting used to holding a guitar on their lap or that won’t hang heavy around their neck when used with a strap. Similarly, players with smaller hands may look for a thinner neck that can more comfortably allow them to stretch their fingers to fret notes. Additionally, players with shorter arms may also look for a shorter neck to help them more easily navigate the fretboard.
Finding a guitar that fits in your price range is also important. Most acoustic guitars come with everything you need to sit down and start practicing. However, if you’re interested in playing an electric guitar or bass, you’ll want to be sure you have budget set aside not just for the instrument itself, but for any cables or small practice amps so you can really hear the full power of your instrument. That’s why looking at beginner guitar bundles can be a great way to make sure you have everything you need to get started on your musical journey while still staying within a set budget.
To help make it easier to find the right instrument, here are a few of our top picks based on budget, size, and overall versatility. In this roundup, you’ll find not only guitars that are great for beginners, but also excellent choices to carry you throughout your musical journey to grow with.
The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners
Acoustic guitars have long been one of the most popular choices for new players. From the sheer beauty of their anatomy to the long list of players who’ve made legendary music on an acoustic, these guitars require nothing more than a pick and a strap to start playing.
An acoustic guitar gives beginners a chance to hear the resonant sound of a guitar without distortion or amplification. For the more adventurous who want the best of both worlds, there are also acoustic-electric guitars that can be played au naturel, or plugged in through an amp to deliver concert hall-style sound.
Here are some of our recommendations for a good starter guitar for players who want to begin with an acoustic.
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Best Budget-Friendly Acoustic Guitar
Dreadnought with spruce top, scalloped “X”-bracing, mahogany back and sides
Includes hard-shell case
Dreadnought body produces strong acoustic volume
For new players on a budget, the CD-60 Dreadnought V3 isn’t just a great starter guitar. It’s ideal for experienced players, too. With its classic good looks, balanced tone, and ability to project without plugging in, the CD-60 is easy to play and comes with a case to protect your investment. And at $199.99, it’s one of Fender’s most affordable acoustic models.
Best Acoustic Guitar for Small Hands
Redondo Mini body shape with spruce top, scalloped “X”-bracing, mahogany back and sides
Short 22 ¾” scale half-body size
Smaller size without sacrificing sound
Includes gig bag
For new guitarists drawn to the sound of an acoustic that want to accommodate for smaller hands, the Redondo Mini packs the same impressive sound and tone as its full-size counterpart in a scaled-down package. The Redondo Mini boasts a 22 ¾” scale length and a half-sized body. With just 18 frets, it’s less of a reach for players with smaller hands, just learning to navigate the fretboard. It also comes with a soft shell gig bag case, making it ultra portable.
Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar Overall
CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic Electric
Single-cutaway dreadnought body style with solid spruce top, scalloped “X”-bracing, mahogany back and sides
Acoustic-electric offers best of both worlds
Built-in Fishman® preamp and tuner
Easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges
Cutaway offers better access to upper frets
As our pick for the best beginner guitar for adults, check out the CD-60SCE Dreadnought. As an acoustic electric guitar, it features a built-in Fishman® preamp and tuner, making it easy to stay and play in tune. The dreadnought Venetian cutaway body and rolled fingerboard edges makes it easy to play upper frets, hitting high notes on solos or playing chords in different positions. What makes this such a great overall choice for beginners is that the CD-60SCE gives players room to grow. You can play it as both an acoustic guitar, or as an electrified acoustic when you’re ready to start playing gigs.
Best Electric Guitars For Beginners
So, what is the best electric guitar for beginners? That answer depends upon a number of factors. Are you looking for an electric that looks cool and gives you a lot of bang for your buck? Want a guitar that still packs some serious sound and tone, while being lightweight and easier for even young guitarists to play? Or do you want an electric guitar bundle that includes everything you need to start playing and experimenting with your tone?
Check out some of our top choices for electric guitars for new players to help narrow the field.
Best Budget-Friendly Electric Guitar
C-shaped neck for comfortable playing
Single-coil pickups for crisp, rich sound
Variety of color choices
With its timeless Strat body and tone, the Bullet Stratocaster HT is a great, inexpensive choice for beginner guitarists. It’s thin and lightweight with a rich tone thanks to three Squier standard single-coil pickups, giving players plenty of room to experiment with their sound. With five colors to choose from and priced at $189.99, the Bullet Strat HT looks cool, sounds great, and won’t break the bank.
Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands
C-shaped neck for ease of playing and 9.5” fingerboard radius
Shorter 22.75” scale length
Thin and lightweight
Three single-coil pickups
5-way switch to control tone
For younger players or players with small hands, the Squier Mini Strat is a great choice for a first guitar. Its shorter 22.75” scale (compared to a more standard 25.5”) body and thin, lightweight composition makes it ideal for new guitarists just getting used to the feel of an instrument. Similarly, its slim C-shaped neck with a 9.5” fingerboard radius makes it easy for smaller hands to move up and down the fretboard, as well as more easily span across strings to play chords. Despite its smaller size, the Squire Mini Stratocaster still offers a similar tone to a full-size guitar, thanks to three single-coil pickups that supply a crisp, rich tone and a 5-way switch that allows players to tinker with their tone.
Best Beginner Electric Guitar Overall
Affinity Series™ Stratocaster® HH
Easy-to-play C-shaped neck
Thin and lightweight body
Our best overall pick for beginner guitarists is the Affinity Series Stratocaster HH. With its iconic Strat body, the guitar is both thin and lightweight while still packing a powerhouse of sound. Its two Squire humbucking pickups offer a thick, rich tone -- equally at home whether you’re playing the blues or riffing out some classic metal. The three-way tone switch also gives new guitarists a chance to create a signature sound and tone, while the built-in tremolo bar offers even more room for creativity, bending notes, and adding new tricks to your guitar arsenal.
Best Electric Bass For Beginners
Many of the same principles apply to choosing the best electric bass guitar for a beginner as picking out your first acoustic or electric guitar. However, most bass guitars are longer in scale than electric guitars and also have thicker strings, which may take some getting used to for new players. But once you find the right electric bass guitar, it makes practice sessions and learning songs a lot more fun. Here are our top suggestions for the best electric bass guitars for beginners.
Best Budget-Friendly Electric Bass Guitar
Thin, lightweight body
Single coil pickup
Short 30” scale body
The Squier Bronco Bass hits all the right notes for a budget-friendly bass for beginners. It’s priced at under $200 and has a thin, lightweight body and shorter 30” scale. Armed with a single coil pickup, the Bronco electric bass delivers a full, rich sound. Available in two classic color choices, the price and sound of the Bronco is right for bassists on a budget, eager to start their musical journey.
Best Electric Bass Guitar for Small Hands
Smaller scale precision bass body
Short scale neck / 28.6" scale
Thin and lightweight
Split single coil pickup
Made with beginner players and players with small hands in mind, the Squier Mini Precision Bass is a scaled-down version of the iconic Fender precision bass (or P-bass) that offers the same booming sound in a smaller package. Thin and lightweight, the Squire Mini Precision Bass is easier to hold and its 28.6” scale and shorter neck makes it easier for bassists for smaller hands to play notes up and down the fretboard.
Best Beginner Electric Bass Guitar Overall
Affinity Series™ Precision Bass® PJ
Precision bass body
Thin and lightweight
Slim C-shaped neck for ease of playing
Pickups accommodate a variety of tones
Our pick for the best beginner bass is the Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ, which gives new players tons of options for sound and style along with room to grow. Its thin, lightweight Precision bass body and slim C-shaped neck make it comfortable to play. But beyond that and its inexpensive price tag of $279.99, what truly makes the Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ a standout is its pickup system. Equipped with both a split Squire single coil P Bass neck pickup and single-coil J Bass bridge pickup, new bassists can use the volume and tone controls to craft a signature sound. Available in four cool colors, this is a bass that you’ll want to pick up and play time and time again, hitting all the right notes.
Want To Find The Perfect Starter Guitar? Try Find Your Fender.
Learning to play guitar or bass is a lifelong journey. One of the first steps on that journey is finding the right guitar to keep you moving forward. While the best guitar for beginners looks different depending on the individual, our Find Your Fender engine simplifies the process. With just a few clicks of a button, add in your preferences and considerations for size, tone, price, and style and you’ll have a few choices to help you narrow down the list of options that fit the bill for you!