Ask a Music Pro: The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners Who Want to Strum Like a Rockstar

Because every legend has to start somewhere

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Whether you want to become the next Neil Young or Joni Mitchell, or maybe just learn a few new chords, picking up an acoustic guitar is easier than ever thanks to their portability, great sound, and price. But knowing which guitar to start with can feel as intimidating as memorizing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.”

The good news: When it comes down to buying a new acoustic guitaryour favorite artist probably didn’t start out with anything fancy – and you don’t have to, either. “Strings, knobs, and a hole,” says Kevin Drew, a general manager and music director at School of Rock in Pasadena, California. “But in all seriousness, new guitarists should look for a modestly priced, decent quality guitar that is comfortable to sit and play with. Junior-sized and ¾[-sized] guitars are perfectly fine. If your guitar is too bulky or uncomfortable to hold, you won’t practice as often.”

Whether you’re thinking about taking up guitar lessons or you want an instrument to strum your favorite riff, here’s everything you need to know about buying the best acoustic guitar (and a few of our favorite picks from brands like Fender and Recording King).

In This Article

What Are the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners?

How to Pick the Best Acoustic Guitar

How We Chose the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

From bestselling brands to expert-picked models, get ready to jam out with these beginner-friendly acoustic guitars.

Editor’s Pick: Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle

Compact Frame: Recording King Acoustic

Best ¾ Size: Johnson ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar

Top Dreadnought Pick: Recording King Dreadnought Guitar

Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle


A recommended brand of Drew’s and a favorite of this writer, Fender has a long history in rock & roll – and it’s no surprise it’s been a top pick for singer-songwriters from James Bay to George Harrison. This learn-to-play guitar bundle has you set for any gig (or lesson) with a strap, bag, strings, and picks. No wonder it’s a bestseller on Amazon. Now, all that’s left is practicing that F chord.

Editor’s picks

Buy Fender Squier Acoustic Guitar $189.99

Recording King Series 7 Acoustic Guitar


About to take your first lesson? You can’t go wrong with this acoustic from Recording King. “[The guitar is] perfect for someone with a smaller frame or someone who just wants a more compact instrument,” says David Glasebrook, a music producer and the CEO of Royal Oakie Records who’s played guitar for over 30 years.

Johnson ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar


If you’re going to play like your favorite rockstar one day, you’ve got to start somewhere. This Johnson acoustic checks all the boxes for what a new player needs, especially its ¾-sized frame that makes it easier to handle. We like Johnson guitars for their wallet-friendly price tag and playability, and it’s a solid choice for any new guitarist who wants to start strumming.

Buy Johnson ¾ Acoustic Guitar $179.99


Recording King Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar


If you want the dreadnought style, which features a slightly bigger frame that can produce more sound, Glasebrook likes this Recording King pick. “This dreadnought has the classic larger body shape for someone who wants something a little bigger and louder.”

Buy Recording King Dreadnought Acoustic $179.99

How to Pick the Best Acoustic Guitar

“The most important thing for beginners to consider is ease of playability,” Glasebrook says. “Beginners will want to look for a guitar that has a comfortable body shape and neck profile. More petite players might want to take a look at smaller-bodied acoustic guitars like the 000, 00, or 0 body shapes. Likewise, if you’ve got larger hands, you will probably feel more comfortable on a guitar with a thicker neck profile and a wider nut width.”

For those with smaller hands, Glasebrook explains you might want to consider an instrument “with a slimmer neck profile and a narrower nut width.”

After you’ve finally selected the guitar you want, it’s time to make sure it’s tailored for you and your playing style. Glasebrook recommends taking it to a “local repair shop to have a set-up done by a professional repair technician. They will set the action (string height) and intonation, make sure the neck is properly adjusted, make sure the nut and saddle are working properly, and set the guitar up with strings of your choosing. The biggest obstacle new players face is trying to learn on a guitar that hasn’t been properly set up yet, so this step is key.” In other words, the shop will help make sure your new guitar plays as easily as possible, no matter if you’re taking lessons or learning a new tab.


Another reason to take it to a shop? Glasebrook, who suggests buying your guitar from a local tech if at all possible, says that your acoustic may get “affected by changes in weather and humidity levels, so it’s virtually guaranteed that a mail-order guitar won’t play comfortably out of the box.”

As far as guitar brands go, Drew personally likes Fender, Gibson, and Epiphone, and recommends doing some research about which guitar your favorite artists play. “I would also recommend going to a guitar shop or music convention to try out different guitars,” Drew says. “Any given guitar might feel great for some and uncomfortable for others. Find a guitar that feels right and you enjoy playing.”

Along with your guitarDrew, who’s played guitar for over 20 years, says new students will also want to pick up a reliable carrying case, guitar picks, and a tuner.

“A funny thing I sometimes hear from young guitarists is ‘I don’t need to tune, I just tuned yesterday.’ You should check your tuning every few minutes because a guitar that’s made of natural wood will expand, contract, and breathe with the environment around it. Just going from an air-conditioned room to a backyard patio can easily take your guitar out of tune. I use a clip-on tuner that can just stay on my headstock. Some guitars have a tuner built in, and usually require a 9v battery.”

How We Chose the Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

To compile our list of the best acoustic guitars for new players, we asked a variety of guitar pros with a combined 50 years of playing experience for their buying tips and favorite models. We also included acoustic guitars we’ve personally tested at home and on the road, as well as models with top-rated reviews online.

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