Best beginner acoustic guitars 2024: Start as you mean to go on

Young guitarist in a black t-shirt bathed in orange light and holding an acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Getty Images/delihayat)

If you’ve decided that you’re going to embark upon a six-string journey, then arming yourself with one the best beginner acoustic guitars is one the smartest ways to start.

Whether you’re after a cheap starter instrument, or you’re looking to invest a little more into something that will last longer, all of the beginner acoustics in this guide boast specifications that render them suitable for first-time players – take it from us, we were all beginners once.

Slimmer necks and more compact dimensions are quite popular amongst beginner guitars, but we’ve hand-picked a range of instruments from some of the biggest and most trusted names in the industry – Fender, Taylor and Epiphone to name a few – that all showcase something slightly different.

Different players like different features and people learn in different ways. As such, we’ve picked out a wide selection to suit every type of player. 

We've also included some useful FAQs further down this page. 

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Guitar Player's Choice

Best overall

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Taylor Academy 12

(Image credit: Taylor)

1. Taylor Academy 12

A premium guitar, designed with beginners in mind

Specifications

Size: Grand Concert
Top: Solid spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate sapele
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Scale: 24 7/8”
Pickup: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, crisp tones
+
Really comfortable to play
+
Amazing build

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s not cheap for your first guitar

The Taylor Academy series was designed to give players the best guitar possible for the least amount of money and cater for all sorts of different playing styles. It’s by no means cheap, but you do get a high quality guitar, built well that plays wonderfully.

It features a solid spruce top and layered sapele back and sides and sounds rich, clear and articulate. It’s punchy and quite bright, and it works for whatever style of music you’re looking to play, whether that be strumming or fingerpicking. The Grand Concert shape is nice and comfortable too, and is perhaps more subtle than its dreadnought counterpart. 

The slim neck profile has been designed with beginners in mind, and the armrest on the body of the guitar makes positioning your body correctly more comfortable. It’s a bit of an investment for your first guitar, but it means you won’t have to upgrade for quite some time.  

Best on a budget

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Fender CC-60S

(Image credit: Fender)

2. Fender CC-60S

A reasonably priced solid-topped Fender acoustic guitar that’s perfect for beginners

Specifications

Size: Concert
Top: Solid spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Walnut
Scale: 25.3”
Pickup: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Solid top improves tone
+
Excellent price
+
Compact body

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too basic after playing for a while

A solid-topped Fender at this price is nothing to be sniffed at. It’s an entry-level instrument, but the addition of a solid spruce top means that you get a richer, more complex tone than you would with a laminate top.

The concert-sized body shape is fairly compact, meaning that players of all sizes and statures will be comfortable playing it. It also helps give it a sweet, articulate tone that responds well to both fingerpicking and strumming. Fender have even equipped it with their ‘easy to play’ neck profile that has been made with those just starting out in mind.

If you’re after a basic but great sounding acoustic guitar at a reasonable price, then this really is one to consider. 

Best for small hands

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Taylor GS Mini

(Image credit: Taylor)

3. Taylor GS Mini

A superb, scaled-down Taylor

Specifications

Size: Smaller Grand Symphony
Top: Solid spruce
Back & Sides: Layered Sapele
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Scale: 23.5”
Pickup: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Compact dimensions make it easy to play
+
Incredible sound
+
High quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Not everyone wants a small guitar

The GS Mini is one of the most popular acoustic guitars on the market amongst beginners and pros alike. Players just starting out love the super compact dimensions, short scale and ultra playable neck, and more experienced guitarists appreciate the rich, balanced tone and premium build quality. 

Yes, there are cheaper guitars you can start with, but sit down with a GS Mini for a short while and you’ll quickly see why many beginners choose it. It’s small, but not too small for adults. The neck is easy to get your fingers around and the short scale makes chord stretches and scales a touch easier to play. 

The guitar is built using a solid spruce top, and layered sapele back and sides. The result is a beautiful rich, articulate sound with a lovely bright top end, and warm powerful low end. It also throws out a surprising amount of volume for a small guitar!

Best for gigging

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Epiphone Dove Studio

(Image credit: Epiphone)

4. Epiphone Dove Studio

A wallet-friendly classic, born for the stage

Specifications

Size: Dreadnought
Top: Solid spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate maple
Neck: Hard maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Scale: 25.5”
Pickup: Fishman Sonicore

Reasons to buy

+
Nice, powerful voice
+
Decent pickup
+
Slim neck profile

Reasons to avoid

-
Too bulky for some

The Dove is one of the most striking acoustic guitars, and Epiphone’s take on the Gibson classic is a great place for a beginner to start. Loads of renowned players have used a Gibson Dove over the years, from Billy Morgan to Bob Dylan. This model is a much more affordable version but shares many of the same qualities. 

It sports a dreadnought body shape which offers plenty of power and projection. It has strong low and high frequencies, which is enhanced even more by the guitar’s maple back and sides – this adds a touch more brightness to the sound. Whether you’re looking to play rock, blues, folk, country, the Dove will cater for it. 

The dreadnought body isn’t the smallest; it’s probably fine for most people, but it’s something to keep in mind. The neck profile is a nice SlimTaper D shape though, making it easy to get your fingers round to the fretboard. It’s also got a pickup on board, so if you’re looking to play live in the near future, then you’re ready to go.

Best acoustic electric for beginners

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Ibanez PC14MHCE

(Image credit: Ibanez)

5. Ibanez PC14MHCE

The perfect budget choice for beginners wanting a pickup

Specifications

Size: Cutaway Grand Concert
Top: Laminate okoume
Back & Sides: Laminate okoume
Neck: Nyatoh
Fingerboard: Laurel
Scale: 25”
Pickup: Ibanez undersaddle with AEQ-2T preamp

Reasons to buy

+
Great price point
+
Warm tone
+
Pickup and tuner on board

Reasons to avoid

-
Solid woods sound better

If you’re seeking an affordable acoustic guitar fitted with a pickup (aka an acoustic electric guitar) for using at gigs or open-mic nights, then this is one to consider. It’s got a laminate okoume top, back and sides, lending the guitar a full and warm sound.

The laminate wood won’t sound quite as rich and resonant as solid wood does, but it’s still a nice sounding instrument. It’s also fitted with a pickup, which means if you want a guitar to learn on and then go out performing live with, then this Ibanez has you covered. The on-board preamp even has a tuner built in, which is particularly handy when just starting out.

The cutaway is really handy for getting to those top notes, should you want to start experimenting with lead parts or more adventurous chords, and the compact body makes for a very comfortable playing experience. 

Best for value

Best beginner acoustic guitars: Cort AF510

(Image credit: Cort)

6. Cort AF510

One of the best budget beginner acoustic guitars out there

Specifications

Size: Concert
Top: Laminate spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Merbau
Scale: 25.5”
Pickup: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable to play
+
Versatile
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best sound

This is one of the best beginner acoustic guitars for players on a budget. It’s got everything you need, and nothing you don’t. With a laminate spruce top, you get a nice, bright tone, balanced out by laminate mahogany back and sides that give it some warmth and a slight midrange punch. 

The concert body shape is less cumbersome than something like a dreadnought, so smaller players or children might find it more comfortable. It also gives the guitar a balanced and focused sound, with a lovely, clear top end. If you’re not sure what style of music you’ll be playing, then this guitar allows you to do pretty much anything, from big bold strumming to gentle fingerpicking.

The sound isn’t incredible, but it’s great for someone just starting out, plus it feels nice to play, which should help too. All in all, a great value-for-money starter acoustic.

FAQs

Two men facig ac other holding acoustic guitars

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How much should I spend on a beginner acoustic?

How much do you need to spend on a beginner acoustic guitar? To be honest, it’s completely down to you, and what you want to invest in your first instrument. If it’s just to dip your toe in the water, then you might not want to commit too much cash. Anything around the $150 mark should get you something decent and playable, without spending money on features you don’t need.

If you know you’re keen, then it’s definitely worth spending a little more. A better guitar will likely sound better, so you’ll get more enjoyment out of it, and it means that you’re not looking to upgrade it once you master the basics.

What's the difference between solid and laminate wood

The best beginner acoustic guitars will feature a selection of solid and laminate or layered woods. Solid woods sound richer and more complex; they will gradually break in over time and sound better the more you play them. Like with many of these things though, you usually pay more for solid woods.

Laminate wood is multiple layers of wood glued together, which doesn’t resonate or vibrate quite as freely. It is cheaper to produce though, and it’s also more resistant to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

With your first guitar, you wouldn’t necessarily notice the benefits that an all-solid guitar would bring. A nice in-between is a guitar with a solid top and laminate back and sides. The top can be seen as the ‘speaker’ of an acoustic so it has a huge impact on tone. Making this from solid wood and the back and sides from laminate yields great tones, but keeps the cost down.

Do I need a pickup?

Some of the options in our pick of beginner acoustics are fitted with pickups. These allow you to plug into an amp or PA system to amplify your signal – this is really helpful if you’re looking to start playing live as it means you don’t have to upgrade from your existing guitar before you do. 

What does neck profile mean?

The neck profile basically just refers to the shape of the neck. Different brands have all sorts of different names for them, but essentially what is helpful for a beginner is a slim neck.

A thin neck means that it’s easier to get your fingers around to reach the strings, as there’s less wood – so less stretching and less hand fatigue. It also means that slightly less pressure is required to press the strings down to get the notes to ring out properly. Getting clear notes ringing out is one of the hardest things for beginners, so any help you can get from the guitar is good!

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Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar Player, Guitar World, MusicRadar and Reverb, specializing in electric and acoustic guitars bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.