Acoustic Guitar

Jump down to models + prices ☟


Not sure where to start when searching for your first acoustic guitar?

You’ve come to the right place.

As a beginner, you only need to consider 3 things when looking to purchase your very own, very first, acoustic guitar:

  • Sound
  • Price
  • Playability

Sound

You are what you listen to.
You are what you listen to.

This may “sound” obvious, but the first thing you should do before buying any instrument, is play it.

Sure, you can read up on all the specs and features online. But I guarantee you’ll notice things about the sound of an instrument that someone else (who’s trying to sell it to you) didn’t notice, the moment it’s in your hands.

Even if you don’t know how to play it yet, pick it up, take it out of the case, hold it in your lap, feel the neck, strings, and tuning pegs, and try to make a sound with it.

Now try the same thing with at least 4 more acoustic guitars. You’ll know more about what you like and don’t like, and what your price range is, after immersing yourself in a variety of guitars.

Most purchases (ever, in the history of buying things) are made based on looks. What a product looks like has the most effect on who buys it, and how much they’ll be willing to pay for it. That’s perfectly fine if you’re buying a painting, because the only thing you’ll ever do with that painting is look at it. But when it comes to an acoustic guitar, you’ll be engaged in more activities than just looking at, so let’s focus on the different features and how they affect your enjoyment of your first instrument:

Body Style

This illustration from Bourgeois Guitars gives you a quick idea of all the subtle variations (excluding cutaways) across the family of acoustic guitars:

Acoustic Guitar Body Styles
Acoustic Guitar Body Styles

When it comes to body styles, the main features you want to consider are:

  • Do you want a cutaway – so you can easily access the higher frets?
  • How does the shape of the guitar body affect the sound you want?
  • How does it feel with your body when you’re playing for long stretches?

Neck Shape

This illustration from Premier Guitar shows the basic categories of neck shapes. Each shape has a distinct feeling to the playability in the fretting hand.

Guitar Neck Shapes
Guitar Neck Shapes

String Gauge / Action

Guitar Strings Close Up
Guitar Strings Close Up

Guitar strings come in different sizes raning from “heavy” to “light”. The ligher the strings, the thinner they are, thus giving you less resistance and generally being easier to play. Heavier strings tend to sustain notes for longer, and produce more sound.

Guitar String Height = "Action"
Guitar String Height = “Action”

That should help you get a better idea of what you want, now let’s take a look at the price ranges.

Price

The price-point of your first guitar should be lower than you think. You’re not buying a house. It’s not an investment (yet). You want to purchase an instrument that meets the minimum requirements for sound and playability, so you can get home and start playing. With just a basic sketch of an idea of the perfect guitar for you, you can make a choice, and be confident you bought exactly what you need, and didn’t waste your time or money.

Playability

Now that we’ve established the sound you’re after, and the price-range you’re working with, let’s get down to brass tacks. You should immediately feel compatible with a guitar the moment you pick it up. Every body is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all guitar model. It’s up to you to find what works for you, and that’s the best part – it’s unique to you. For example, St. Vincent designed a guitar for Earnie Ball “designed specifically to fit the female form“.

St. Vincent's Guitar
St. Vincent’s Guitar

Recommended Models / Where To Buy?

ICON - Trusted Seller

I work closely with local businesses to offer students trusted products, at competitive prices, in order to build lasting professional relationships. I do this because it provides better products and services over the long run than Amazon, Guitar Center or any other massive corporate chain can compete with.

When is comes to beginner level acoustic guitars, I recommend Brooklyn Fine Guitars, located at 264 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

Here are a few available models you can “try before you buy” in the shop today:

Yamaha FD01S + GigMaker Bundle: $199

Top: Solid Spruce
Back + Sides: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Body Shape: Dreadnought

Everything you need to get started playing acoustic guitar!

The Yamaha FD01S is a premium solid-top guitar with superior tone and projection. While suitable for intermediate to professional players, the FD01S is the perfect first guitar, providing an outstanding value at a price that won’t break the bank. With a solid spruce top and a lifetime warranty, this is a quality instrument that a first time player can grow with and enjoy for many years to come.

The Gigmaker Deluxe package features the Yamaha FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar, along with everything a first time player needs to get started. Included is a protective gig bag, a tuner, strap, replacement strings, picks, and instructional DVD. The DVD covers all the basics such as tuning, picking, changing strings, and common chords.


Yamaha FG800: $199

Yamaha FG800
Yamaha FG800

Top: Solid Spruce
Back + Sides: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Body Shape: Dreadnought

The best selling acoustic guitar of all time. This rock-solid dreadnought guitar features a solid sitka spruce top and nato back and sides. A great guitar at a great price, plain and simple.


Yamaha FS800: $199

Yamaha FS800
Yamaha FS800

Top: Solid Spruce
Back + Sides: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Body Shape: Dreadnought

A slightly smaller-bodied version of the FG800, with a more pronounced tuck at the side curves. Solid spruce top, nato back and sides.


Yamaha FG820: $259

Yamaha FG820
Yamaha FG820

Top: Solid Spruce
Body Shape: Dreadnought
Back & sides: Mahogany
Bracing pattern: Scalloped

A step up from the FG800, combining the solid sitka spruce top with the richer, more traditional tone wood of mahogany on the back and sides. Pictured is the autumn burst finish, also available in natural.


Yamaha FS820: $259

Yamaha FS820
Yamaha FS820

Top: Solid Spruce
Body Shape: Dreadnought
Back & sides: Mahogany
Bracing pattern: Scalloped

The same specs as the FG820–solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides–with a slightly smaller and thinner body. Generally available in natural and autumn burst finish.


Yamaha FGX800C: $299

Top: Solid Spruce
Body Shape: Dreadnought
Back & sides: Nato
Bracing pattern: Scalloped

Basically the FG800, with the solid spruce top and nato back and sides, combined with Yamaha’s System-66 electronics, including a 3 band EQ, and a cut-away for better access to the higher frets.

Teacher

About the author: Encouraging students to pursue their passions, self-improvement and creative critical thinking in a contemporary musical landscape. -- Chris Conly moved to Brooklyn from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He studied Music Education at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and proceeded to work in a variety of musical and educational environments, encouraging the next generation of musicians. Passionate about music, the move to the Big Apple was a natural fit. Serving the growing demand for musicians versed in today's rapidly evolving skills, Chris started his own teaching studio in 2008. In his free time, Chris loves relaxing with his girlfriend and their rescue dog Pepe & cat Ralph, or catching a set of live sketch comedy. He is also a songwriter/producer, and loves working with artists to craft their sonic visions. Grateful for a thriving music scene, Chris makes sure that new students are welcomed in an unassuming and encouraging way that has become his hallmark as a music educator.