Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Play Guitar Notes
Deciding that you want to learn the guitar is an incredibly exciting venture to pursue. The joy of being able to play along with your favorite songs, write your own music, and impress your friends at social gatherings. But it’s also one that, at first glance, can be overwhelming. There are so many products available and it’s difficult to know which one is going to suit both your style and budget.
Today we hope to make that process a little easier by walking through a few guitars ideally suited
for those just beginning their journey to guitar mastery, while also answering some of the most common questions new players have when first starting.
Below are our top picks for the best guitar for beginners.
Best Guitars For Beginners
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|Gretsch G2622 Streamliner|
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|Epiphone Les Paul Standard|
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|Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V|
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|Squier Affinity Jazzmaster HH|
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|Martin LX-1 Little Martin|
|Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top|
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Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster
The Stratocaster has remained one of the most popular models of guitar for 70 years now, and for good reason! It’s an incredibly versatile instrument that can really facilitate any kind of music you wish to play.
Squire guitars are the smaller brother of the more premium Fender version, with this designed to be reminiscent of the extremely popular 1950’s model. But coming in at a fraction of the cost, while retaining much of the functionality of its more expensive counterpart.
This guitar boasts 3 Fender-designed alnico pickups, specifically voiced to give you that traditional, iconic sound, and allowing you to achieve a wide variety of different tones. It also has a tremolo-style bridge so you can use a whammy bar to do all kinds of cool guitar effects such as the dive bomb. It’s available in a range of colors, so no matter your style you will be able to find a look that suits you.
Gretsch G2622 Streamliner
For those looking for a slightly louder and prouder sound. The main feature of this guitar is that it is a semi-hollow body. This means that the inside of the guitar has been hollowed out which subsequently changes the tonal qualities of the guitar and is a bit louder when played acoustically at home.
But this guitar is not just meant for clean and organic style sounds, Gretsch’s ‘Broad’Tron’ pickups can handle all your rock and blues distortion tones with ease due to their high output. It also features the classic looking F-holes on the body and comes in several different finishes making it as stylish as it is functional.
This guitar strikes a wonderful balance between the vintage aesthetics while being a reliable workhorse for any modern guitarist, and would make a solid first guitar for any beginner.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The second best selling guitar of all time, beaten only by the Stratocaster. And a favorite for many world famous guitarists including Slash, Jimmy Page, and Randy Rhoades.
Much like Squires relationship with Fender, Epiphone produce a more budget-friendly version of the more premium Gibson Les Paul, specifically designed to give newer players a chance to use the same guitar as the greats without breaking the bank.
It hits all the main points that the Les Paul is known and loved for. The thick, solid mahogany body construction providing a full and rich guitar tone. Individual controls for each pickup providing maximum tonal flexibility, the tune-o-matic style bridge and the iconic single cutaway body design.
While a little more on the expensive side, this is a guitar that can be used for a very long time and can easily hold its own in any professional musical setting.
If you’re looking for a tried and true rock machine, the Les Paul is definitely one to consider.
A classic guitar in the Fender range, owing a lot of its success to its overall simplicity of design. First produced in the 1950s, it was conceived through and through to be a budget-friendly workhorse.
Because of this, it’s applicable to a range of styles, often using a single-coil bridge pickup with a ‘lipstick’ style pickup in the neck. Which lends itself well to styles such as country, soul, and jazz. But as time went on the guitar also became available with a humbucking pickup in the bridge position further broadening its ability to handle heavier styles such as rock and metal.
Its simple aesthetic makes it a great blank slate for you to use for whatever your needs dictate. And is a classic design that will never go out of fashion. read our review
Having been at the forefront of progressive guitar design for a long time, and working with world class guitarists such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Ibanez are ideal for the modern player who needs something to facilitate fast and accurate playing.
The Ibanez RG is the quintessential shred guitar, featuring their renowned Wizard III necks which are exceptionally thin, allowing for incredible ease of playing.
It has humbucking pickups in the bridge and neck position with a single-coil in the center, providing unprecedented tonal versatility due to its 5-way selector switch allowing for a range of pickup combinations to be used. It also features a double locking tremolo system which will ensure the guitar stays in tune no matter how much you abuse it.
This is a modern guitar for anyone looking to go FAST. Its sleek and stylish aesthetic is surely one that will inspire any young shredder to practice.
Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V
While Yamaha are not quite the heavy hitters that Ibanez or Gibson are, their beginner range is truly something that deserves mention as it provides incredible value for money. This is the most affordable guitar in the Yamaha range and is specifically designed to offer a solid entry point for the learning guitarist.
It boasts a little of everything, a modern body and headstock shape along with a humbucking bridge pickup that will facilitate any high gain tone you could want. As well as two single-coil pickups in the middle and neck position which are all accessible with a 5-way selector switch (similar to a Stratocaster). Which will get you all your glassy cleans and creamy lead sounds.
The guitar also features a floating bridge for additional expressiveness. And is available in a wide range of colors so you can be sure to find one that fits your preference.
Squier Affinity Jazzmaster HH
Another more affordable version of its bigger brother from Fender. Squire once again delivers amazing value with its re-issue of this traditional design. Most notably for its use by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and has been a staple of indie musicians the world over.
Although originally more a vintage design, the HH (dual humbucker pickups) configuration brings it up to speed for the modern guitarist offering all of the richness and fullness of a modern pickup.
The body shape and electronic configuration have been tuned for comfort, with each contour making sure nothing gets in between you and playing. It’s also quite simple in design, with the fixed ‘string through the body’ style bridge, changing the strings and keeping the guitar both set up and in tune will be a breeze.
This is a guitar that will allow anyone to jump in with minimal fuss.
Martin LX-1 Little Martin
Acoustic guitars rely heavily on their combination of woods and great construction to produce a good sound. And as such they can become quite expensive, making picking the right one as your first guitar quite a challenge.
The Little Martin is one of the best choices on the market for a beginner acoustic guitar. It has a small body design making it ideal for younger guitarists as they will find holding the guitar and fretting chords easier. But also for any adult who is looking for something portable, it comes with a convenient case and can be taken out on a road trip with ease.
This guitar offers a huge tone for a very reasonable price, and as such is one of the few acoustic guitars that won’t compromise on sound that is completely appropriate for beginners and children.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Another great option if you are looking for something portable and accessible while also still sounding and feeling great.
This is fundamentally designed around the old-school parlor guitars made by Gretch from the 1930s to the 1950s. Offering a distinctive classic aesthetic, but still making use of all the modern construction methods that will allow it to be as solid and reliable as any guitar manufactured in the modern era.
It has a distinctive look with an uncommon walnut fingerboard and basswood body, this is surely something that will stand out from the crowd.
Designed to facilitate both classical fingerstyle playing as well as playing with a pick, it’s something that can be played around a campfire or used to play the most technical of compositions. No matter what you’re looking to play, this guitar can handle it.
Unlike the two other acoustics mentioned, this one has a full-sized ‘Dreadnought’ style body which has a small cutaway to allow ease of access to the upper frets.
The body is constructed entirely from mahogany including the top, back, and sides. Which aside from looking incredible it will also provide a rich, warm, and thick tone. Combined with the larger body size it will sound quite a bit louder and fuller when compared to the parlor-sized ones.
Probably the most unique thing about this is it features a Fishman Preamp system with an inbuilt guitar tuner. Meaning you don’t need to worry about needing to keep a tuner to hand, as well as having the ability to plug the guitar into an amplifier which is great if you ever want to play it on stage. The guitar also comes with a high quality hardshell case.
Which type of guitar is best for beginners?
As guitarists progress further through their pursuit of instrument mastery, they develop their own set of intricate preferences for what guitar is the right one for them. This can include many detailed specifics such as using the correct combination of woods, pickups, configuration of controls, bridge type, just to name a few.
One of the great benefits to being a beginner is that you can get started with almost any guitar as these preferences have yet to be developed, anything within your budget will serve your first steps.
The only big decision you will need to make from the beginning is if you wish to play an acoustic or an electric guitar. But, even if you decide to swap from electric to acoustic (or vice versa) later on, your time spent learning one will still directly benefit the other.
So don’t sweat the small details, get something and go!
What is the best size guitar for beginners?
Having a guitar that feels comfortable to play and doesn’t cause any undue discomfort when practicing for prolonged periods is important as a beginner, as you don’t want anything to get in between you and the learning process.
Ultimately this is a personal preference, so let’s inform ourselves of some of the common sizes that are available in order to make the best buying decision. For younger learners or children taking up the acoustic guitar, the smaller ‘Parlor’ size guitar may be a good choice as they might struggle to handle a full-sized guitar.
While electric players may want to consider a 3/4 scale instrument which is essentially a scaled down guitar that players with smaller hands may find easier to handle.
For adult/larger sized players you can’t go wrong with the Dreadnought style guitar which is the most common kind available, these have large bodies which produce a thick and rich tone. Adult electric players will be able to use anything as there is not a huge amount of variations in the body sizes.
Which is easier to play acoustic or electric guitar?
While somewhat of a debated topic, generally an acoustic guitar is considered to be slightly more challenging to play at the beginning.
This is due to the distance that the strings sit from the fretboard (also referred to as the ‘action’) which requires a little more pressure to push all the way down to the fret than an electric guitar, which will have comparatively lower action and thinner strings.
Both acoustic and electric will need some time for the ends of your fingers to develop calluses, so a small amount of finger soreness is expected. Another benefit of the electric guitar is that a lot of the volume of the instrument comes from a guitar amplifier so the overall level of dexterity required is a little lower.
With that being said, the acoustic guitar is accessible to absolutely everyone including small children, your finger resilience and strength will develop very quickly! so don’t be deterred if that’s the one you want to play.
Can I teach myself guitar?
These days we have a staggering amount of tuitional material, both free and paid for online. Covering every aspect of the guitar you can imagine from music theory and composition to technique and practice. So it’s absolutely possible to teach yourself guitar using readily available resources.
But this doesn’t mean there is no value in taking traditional lessons from a teacher, the communication and interaction with other musicians can be an important part of developing and becoming comfortable playing for other people.
Also, when practicing without the oversight of an experienced musician it’s possible to develop ‘bad habits’ which are technique flaws that can be challenging to unlearn once they have been developed.
So while being self taught is a perfectly valid venture that has produced many a professional musician, a teacher can help smoothen and speed up the process of learning.
What should a beginner guitarist learn first?
The world of guitar is an expansive topic and the number of things you need to learn can seem daunting at first. So here are a couple of essential things, all beginners should learn to give themselves a solid foundation on which they can continue their journey.
Firstly you should learn some basic chords. Learning some standard chords in their open positions not only gets you playing (and sounding good) almost immediately, it also will serve as your first foray into music theory and open up the door to playing along with all of your favorite pop songs.
From there you may want to consider delving into some scales. The minor pentatonic scale is a great place to start as not only is it easy to memorize due to it only having 5 notes, every note of the scale sounds fantastic and you can use some of the free backing tracks available on youtube to try your hand at some improvisation.
What size guitar should a woman get?
By and large, guitars are not designed to cater to a particular gender. However, if you are a female and looking to purchase your first guitar there are a few aspects you might want to consider to ensure you are not hindered by an unwieldy instrument.
Firstly is the body size, certain guitars are designed to have very thick bodies made of heavy mahogany wood. The most common example of this would be the Les Paul. This can make the guitar a little unwieldy for anyone of a smaller stature and you might want to consider purchasing something with a thinner body such as an Ibanez RG. Or perhaps one made of a lighter wood such as Ash.
The second is the scale length of the neck. This is essentially a measurement of how long the neck is, standard scale lengths for a guitar are 25.5″. However, they can also come in both longer or shorter scale lengths depending on your preference.
Someone with smaller hands might have trouble performing big stretches on a guitar with a standard scale length and you may wish to consider something like a guitar that uses a shorter 24.75″ scale length.
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