Whether you are on a tight budget, or are unsure if you want to commit a lot of money to your first guitar, it's now possible to pick up a cheap acoustic guitar for under $150. While some musicians may suggest that is it not worth buying a guitar under the $200 mark, we believe these budget acoustic guitars are perfect for beginners. At such a reasonable price, these guitars lower the threshold to entry and allow for everyone to be able to learn the guitar. We've written this article to be an easy guide to selecting the best cheap acoustic guitar. We hope you enjoy!
We've been playing guitar in one form or another for over 15 years. To tell you the truth, for the first three years of learning the acoustic guitar, I wasn't able to tell the difference from a $100 guitar and a $700 guitar. It wasn't until my ears matured that I was able to appreciate the subtle tone qualities of a quality guitar. As a beginner, it was enough to learn the chord and strumming patterns. I wasn't worried about the action on the higher frets of the guitar, or the sustain of the tone. Getting your hands on a guitar to learn the basics is the most important thing. Once you've learned the fundamentals and matured your ears, you can then upgrade to a guitar with a better tone.
This guide will use no jargon and assume no background knowledge of guitars. It was written to help the beginner choose a cheap acoustic guitar their needs. There are a few things you should focus on when picking up your guitar. As you learn, you will build the background experience you need to select your next guitar. But for now, let's cover the basics and help you feel confident in selecting your new acoustic guitar!
What To Consider When Selecting The Best Cheap Acoustic Guitar
So you've decided to consider buying your first acoustic guitar! Perfect! We hope this will be the first step on your long and fruitful musical career. Seeing as how this is your first guitar, lets get right down to the nitty gritty and discuss what you need to be looking for. Even if this is not your first guitar, having a quick review of the information will make sure we are all on the same page. Let's get started.
Buying your acoustic guitar doesn't have to be rocket science. As a beginner, you are going to want to focus on a few things with your acoustic guitar: shape, body material, neck material, and strings. As you start to progress, you can be a little more picky about things such as the action (how close your strings are to your neck at the 12th fret), craftsmanship and brand. For now, lets just cover the basics.
For beginners, we always recommend going with the classic acoustic guitar shape: the dreadnought. The shape of the guitar is important for the volume and tone. The dreadnought body is so ubiquitous because of the amount of projection it is able to achieve. It is also a perfect body shape for any type of music. You can start to look at the other body styles (concert, auditorium, and jumbo) of guitar once you have an idea of what sounds good for you. Just to give you a sense, the concert body style usually has a bright sound with a punchy midrange (treble) frequencies.
The body material is the other major factor (along with body style) that will determine the sound of the guitar. Guitars a generally made out of wood types known for the tonal qualities. Otherwise known as tonewoods, these woods give the guitar the character and sound. Most beginner guitars will have a spruce top, which gives the guitar a nice punchy tone. The body is usually composed of multiple types of wood, each used for a different purpose. You will often find the back of the guitar being made with mahogany - a tonewood known for having warm and resonant tones. Having a guitar with a spruce top is perfect for beginners.
- Neck Material
The neck material is important for ensure your guitar has a long lifetime. The neck must be made out of a hardwood. This will help prevent any excessive wearing from extended use. The neck and fretboard of the guitar take a lot of beatings from the string tension and the strings themselves. Rosewood is a very common wood to use for the neck as it is very resistant to wear and has a pleasing visual appeal.
Strings can make a huge difference to the sound of the guitar. You may be fooled into thinking the guitar's quality is higher than the price tag by using fresh, high quality strings. The strings that come with most beginner guitars are usually low end strings. If possible, choose strings with a lower gauge (.012 - .053) as this will make it easier for beginners. If you have the chance, we recommend picking up higher end strings and putting them on yourself (it's not hard!). We recommend check out the Elixir Nano Web - our go to. They sound absolutely fantastic. As a side note: the lower gauge will also be easier for beginners.
Another consideration that needs to be made is style. While most beginners will be perfectly suited to the dreadnought body style for all types of music they will be playing, some may want to play more classical (or flamenco) styles of music. If so, you need to pick up a classical style guitar. They are easy for beginners to use because of their nylon strings, but the neck can be a bit of a stretch for someone with small hands. Just something to keep in mind.
Below are our top picks for the best cheap acoustic guitar. We've ordered them price-wise from lowest to highest. Enjoy!
Our Top Picks For The Best Cheap Acoustic Guitar
- Spruce top
- Mahogany back
- Whitewood body
The most budget friendly guitar. This guitar is perfect for those on a strict budget who are looking to get an acoustic in their hands. It has many of the same features as the other guitars on our list. Spruce top, mahogany back, and whitewood body - all great tonewoods for a beginner guitar. Another thing this guitar has going for it is it's weight. The guitar is incredibly light. This makes it a great option for a child.
This is definitely a prime candidate for a string upgrade. There have been a few comments of the factory strings breaking after 6 months. Throwing high quality, low gauge strings on will give this guitar a bright, loud sound that is easy on the fingers. See the strings section up above for the best strings for acoustic.
This guitar is one of the hottest sellers in the cheap guitar range. It has been well received on Amazon from those looking for beginner guitars.
Bottom Line: The cheapest, decent guitar on the market. If you are on a strict budget, or don't want to commit a lot of money right off the bat, this is a great option!
- Spruce top
- Agathis back and sides
- Rosewood fret board
- Chrome tuners
- Satin finish
- Also comes in a bundle option
This guitar is the perfect beginner budget guitar. It features the dreadnought body with spruce top. This combination is perfect for any style of music and gives it a big, bold sound. Consider the bundle option if you are looking for the complete package. The Jasmine S35 has a strong visual appeal with the satin finish. The fretboard contains fret markers, which is perfect for the beginner player and should come standard with any beginner guitar.
This is another candidate for a string swap. Have a look at our string bullet point up above to find the best strings for acoustic guitars. Swapping out the strings will make a noticeable difference to the brightness of your sound. The lower gauge will also make playing easier on your fingers.
Most people comment on the warm, bright sound. It has been one of Amazons highest reviewed guitars with an average rating of 4.4 stars out of five.
Bottom Line: A great beginner guitar for anyone looking for a budget guitar that both looks and sounds great.
- Everything you need to start playing
- Spruce top
- Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
- Agathis body
Our top choice for the best cheap guitar for beginners. This comes with everything you need to get playing: gig bag, tuner, strings, strap, picks, and an instructional dvd. You also happen to get a great acoustic guitar from one of the best guitar companies on the market. This guitar is a great value for the price. There have been many comments mentioning the great tone it is able to produce, and the overall visual appeal.
This guitar takes a lot of the guess work out of what you should get for a beginner. It has a similar construction as the other guitars on our list with the dreadnought body and spruce top combination. As mentioned before, this combo is perfect for the beginner because it gives you a loud sounding guitar that is well suited for any genre.
We had a hard time finding any negative feedback for this guitar. It was very well reviewed on Amazon with many of the customers being beginners themselves.
Bottom Line: Our top choice for a cheap acoustic guitar. It will give you everything you need to start playing right out of the box. It also happens to be a fantastic sounding guitar for the price.