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Top 5 Tips For Buying the Best Beginner Guitar

Beginning Musicians - Image by Sammy-Williams from Pixabay 

Maggie’s first lesson was how to tune the guitar. A tuner had come with the guitar, so she thought it was no big deal.

She worked through the lesson and got it perfectly in tune according to the tuner, then went on to the next lesson, which involved strumming.

After a few strums it sounded terrible, so she put it away, not sure what happened. 

She tried it again later, but every time it was the same thing. It just wouldn’t stay in tune.

1. Chosing the Right Guitar

Starting with the right guitar helps beginners build a good foundation upon which to develop their skills.

The beginner, no matter the age, needs a guitar that looks good, fits well in their arms, but most of all, sounds good.

Unfortunately, many guitars online and in stores for under $100 look good but do not stay in tune, like the story above.

Later in the post we will review specific guitars, their unique characteristics, and a reasonable price range.

2. Does it fit well?

This may be a strange question. When referring to something that fits well we’re usually referring to an item of clothing. But a guitar must fit like a glove.

The guitar must be comfortable to hold and play for hours. If it doesn’t the beginner will soon put the guitar down and maybe never pick it up again.

If it is too big, the guitarist has to stretch in order to strum the guitar. Again, it may be discarded to the back room.

The guitar must fit the guitarist like a glove. 

Go to a music start and try on several different guitars to find the right fit. 

Keep track of the brand and size then look online and compare prices with the music store.

3. Hand Size 

When buying a guitar for a beginner, one of the first things is to change the guitarist’s hand size.

Many beginners are younger children with smaller hands. Even some older guitarists have small hands.

During your test drive at the local music store, you may have noticed that they did not stock many short-scale guitars specifically  for smaller hands.

High-quality acoustic guitars designed for smaller hands are more difficult to find, because as a general rule, acoustic guitars have a heavier, bulkier body. If you can’t find the guitar for smaller hands (short-scale guitar) in local shops they are available online.

The local store in our area has several short-scale guitars, but you do need to know what to look for:

  • Smaller guitar body
  • Thinner neck
  • A short fingerboard (string length) – 22” to 24.6”
  • Lighter strings – smaller gauge

4. Thinner Neck

The string length is important because it’s easier for the smaller hand to hold the chord properly. With the regular guitars, the smaller hand will have less finger strength and power to play the chords.

The slim neck is also beneficial for the guitarist that wants to shred or play at a faster tempo.

The neck width also needs to be considered for any beginner to make sure the guitar is comfortable.  The beginner will be more likely to be motivated to practice, developing the necessary technique.

5. String Gauge

Short-scale guitars are easier to play for smaller hands because a smaller gauge string is used. The short-scale guitars do not resonate as well as the average-sized or full-scale guitars. Also, these guitars do not produce chunky sonic attacks. The short-scale guitars and the lighter strings do impact the sound of the guitar. This also needs to be considered when making a purchase.

In preparing to purchase a beginner guitar, test several different short-scale guitars and different string gauges to make sure the guitar is comfortable and the sound is what you are looking for.

You may have heard that people with short fingers are not good guitarists, but that is a myth.

Being able to play the guitar or any other instrument is about being motivated to develop the proper techniques for the instrument you chose.

The guitars on this post are linked to eBay because we are eBay affiliates, but more importantly, eBay has a wide selection of guitars, both used and new. Also, several well-known music dealers have stores on eBay such as: Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, Guitar Center, and more. You will be able to get the same deal on eBay as if you made the journey to their brick-and-mortar store. Plus, you have eBay’s backing if there is a problem with your order.

The guitar recommendations, on this post, are a combination of personal experience and preference, plus a survey of the majority of the websites recommending acoustic guitars for beginners. The guitars on this list were selected from the top recommendations on the websites surveyed.

Acoustic Guitar Recommendations

Fender CD-60S

Total 5 out of 5
5 Star Rating  

These Acoustic Guitars Sound Excellent for the Price! Sometimes they are Called Beginners Guitars.

LXM Little Martin

Total 5 out of 3
5 Star Rating

The Martin LXM ‘Little Martin’ Acoustic Guitar is a perfect choice for travel, practice, and beginning students.

LXK2 Little Martin

Total 41/2 out of 74-half stars

Super portable, great sound, surprising volume. Sounds lovely, and is very light. 

Taylor GS Mini

Total 5 out of 66
5 Star Rating

I love this guitar. It has a much fuller sound than the previous Baby Taylors had. 

Total 5 out of 81
5 Star Rating

Outstanding. I’d recommend this product to anyone yearning to explore playing the guitar.

 Total 4 1/2 out of 314-half stars

Great Starter Guitar. I’ve played for 20 plus years. I  am astounded at the tone, build quality and setup. 

Total of 5 out of 23
5 Star Rating

Super Bang for the $. One of the best buys for the money. It’s an $8000 sound from a $200 box! 

Summary FAQs

How much does an beginner acoustic guitar cost?

On average, a new acoustic guitar will cost between $150 and $5000 depending on the type of guitar you choose. A basic beginner’s guitar will cost between $150 and $750 depending on the guitar and whether it is a short-scale or full-scale guitar. The short-scale guitars start around $350 and go up depending on the manufacture.

What is a good guitar for the new beginner?

The best guitar for new beginners would be the Fender CD-60S, Yamaha FG800, Epiphone DR-100, and the Ibanez  AW54OPN. These guitars are of good quality for a very affordable price. Once the beginner has proven that he/she is motivated to practice and do the work necessary to be a guitarist then look at a more expensive guitar.

What guitars are best for small hands?

The best guitars for small hands are the short-scale guitars such as the Little Martins, the Taylor GS Mini, and the Ibanez AW54JR. Unfortunately, the short-scale guitars are more expensive with the Ibanez being the most affordable at $329.

Should a guitar be purchased in a store or online?

On average, you will pay more to purchase a guitar in a store. My suggestion is to go into a store where the beginner can hold different guitars to determine which guitar is the most comfortable. If the instrument isn’t comfortable they will lose motivation to practice. Then, check the prices in different stores and online and choose the best deal for the best guitar for the student.

Is it advisable to purchase a used guitar?

Use the list above and your in-personal evaluation of the guitar that is the best fit. Check out the list of things, on our website, to be aware of when purchasing a used guitar. If you decide to purchase a used guitar buy it from someplace like eBay where you as a buyer have the opportunity to obtain a full refund if the guitar is not what was stated in the description. Don’t purchase from a pawn shop or an individual unless you take someone with you that can evaluate the quality of the guitar.

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