Home » Blog » Instruments » Acoustic Guitar Reviews » Buying a Guitar For a Beginner

Buying a Guitar For a Beginner

Starting with the right guitar helps beginners build a good foundation upon which to develop their skills. Students need a guitar that fits well with them. One that is fun, looks nice and, most of all sounds good… a beginner-friendly guitar.

When buying a guitar for a beginner, one of the first things that need, to be considered is the size of the beginner’s hands. Many beginners are younger children with smaller hands.

If you have gone to a local guitar shop to test drive guitars, you may have noticed that they did not stock many short-scale guitars specifically designed 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:

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

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.

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

The Fender CD-60S, a full-scale acoustic, is one of Fender’s most popular models. It is an affordable high-quality starter dreadnought, with excellent playability, full-body sound, and good projection for vocal accompaniment, solo work, or any other “unplugged” application.

It features a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, easy-to-play neck, and a smooth walnut fingerboard with rolled edges. Many instructors recommend the Fender Classic Design guitars like the CD-60S to beginning and intermediate students unless a short fingerboard is required.

One of the best features of the CD-60S is its excellent action. Even though it is a budget dreadnought guitar, it sports optimal action and is comfortable for the fingers. The detailed dynamics make it easy to use with no pain or discomfort.

The price of the CD-60S starts at around $229. Bundles, which go up in price accordingly, are available which would give you everything needed to get you started on your musical journey.

Martin LX Series – LXM Little Martin

 If you’re looking for a quality acoustic guitar for a child or an adult with small hands, the Little Martins should be at the top of your list. It is the best in terms of quality, sound, and feel for a short-scale guitar.

This Little Martin is a travel guitar with a bigger sound that is comparable to a full-body acoustic guitar.

Many travel guitars have a brighter tone, because of the size, but the LXM, Little Martin, will surprise you with deeper, richer tones than expected.

The LXM Little Martin features a Spruce High-Pressure Laminate top with a textured finish in a Mahogany pattern. The HPL top is plastic shaped to look like wood but the material does not negatively affect the sound. The LXM is a great travel guitar, as well as, a beginning short-scale guitar.

LXK2 Little Martin  LXK2 Little Martin Acoustic

 The LXK2 Little Martin has a surprisingly deep, rich sound. Many smaller travel guitars or ones designed especially for beginners are cheaply made and do not have the rich sound of the full-sized acoustic guitars.

Many who buy the short-scale guitars for beginners don’t want to spend the money for the higher quality guitars until the beginner proves they want to continue playing.

Martin seems to have strayed from the norm with the Little Martins, LXK2, and LXM and has made their Little Martins with better materials for a better sound, even though, the top is made from HPL, a plastic designed to look like wood. Unfortunately, the Little Martins are a bit pricey beginning at around $350.

Taylor GS Mini

The GS-Mini, Taylor’s latest guitar, has a surprisingly bigger and fuller sound for a smaller, compact guitar. It maintains the responsiveness and sustain that you’ve come to expect from the bigger guitars, yet, without the muddiness. The mahogany top, Sapele back and sides, plus the ebony fingerboard produce the deep, rich tone.

Because of the GS-Mini size, it is very portable providing the same playability and comfort level no matter where you are.

Some do say it requires some adjustment to adapt to its small size, but they also state that the adapting was not an issue. It has been stated that the smaller size makes it easier to play the single-note lines.

The Taylor GS-Mini is an affordable investment as a travel short-scale guitar, but maybe quite expensive for a beginner with a starting price at about $550.

Yamaha FG800 AcousticYamaha FG800 Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

 Are you looking for a real guitar that is still affordable? Then a Yamaha FG800 is a great choice. FG series guitars, as a whole, are known for their reliability.

Yamaha, once again, offers top value for the price. The guitar is a good build and works for most skill levels. This guitar will meet your needs for many years.

The Yamaha FG800, as close to a traditional dreadnought as possible, comes with a solid spruce top, Nato sides and back, and scalloped bracing, which enhances the sonic quality. It is also a full-scale dreadnought.

Nato, an Eastern Mahogany, has similar characteristics to regular mahogany. It offers a cost-effective way to build guitars that look great with great tonal quality.

The smooth neck makes the FG800 very comfortable to play. The fretboard is made of rosewood, but the nut and saddle are made of a plastic that is more resistant to wear, resulting in less maintenance.

The sound from the FG800 is unexpectedly well-rounded for the price.

Yamaha’s technology contributes to a strong sound in the low and mid ranges.

Both of the Yamahas listed are more reasonable for a beginner not needing a short-scale, starting at approximately $219 each.

Epiphone DR-100

The Epiphone DR-100 will give you more guitar for your money than you would expect. The nicely crafted acoustic guitar sports a selected spruce top with mahogany back and sides. Because of the specially selected woods, the tone of the DR-100 will only improve with time as the wood matures.

Thanks to Epiphone’s SlimTaper neck, not-too-thick, and not-too-thin, the playability is amazing.

The DR-100 is priced for a beginner’s guitar at about $169, yet, it has the tone and feel of a more expensive guitar. The Epiphone DR-100 is a full-scale acoustic guitar.

Ibanez Artwood AW54  Ibanez Artwood AW54 Acoustic-Electric

Ibanez created the Artwood Series which continues their rich tradition of acoustic guitars combined with a modern flair referred to as “modern approach to tradition.”

The latest AW54, a classic dreadnought, is made with a neck length of 25.6” and a radius of 15.75” providing easy playability at a very reasonable price.

The AW54 is crafted with a solid mahogany top, back, and sides and a fretboard of Ovangkol which provides greater playing comfort. The open-pore natural finish shows off the beauty of the mahogany woodgrain. The mahogany construction plus the open-pore natural finish provides a well-rounded full, rich tonal clarity that is not available with the spruce top.

The guitar is equipped with a Fishman Sonicore Pickup optimized to work with the Ibanez AEQ210TF preamp for maximum control over level, tone sweetening, and feedback.

In Ibanez’s Artwood series, they have created the AW54JR which is a mini acoustic with a short-scale for smaller hands. Also, the AW54JR is only acoustic without the electric capabilities.

The AW54OPN, full-scale guitar, is priced at about $229, whereas, the AW54JR, short-scale, begins at about $329.

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.

Questions??? Comments???
Leave a Reply Below

AllMusicThings.com is a participant in the EBAY Partner Network, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to EBAY.com. For more info check our Affiliate Disclosure page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.