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Best Starter Acoustic Guitars: Top 5 Picks For Beginners

audiosorcerer
|
November 13, 2023 
|
Last Updated on November 13, 2023

Embarking on the journey of learning to play the guitar can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially for beginners. The right acoustic guitar can make all the difference, offering comfort, quality, and an inspiring sound that motivates you to practice and improve. But with a myriad of options available, selecting your first instrument can feel overwhelming.

In this blog post, we will simplify your search by presenting our top 5 picks for the best starter acoustic guitars. These instruments have been carefully chosen for their playability, durability, and affordability, ensuring a smooth start for novice players.

Whether you dream of strumming gentle folk tunes or mastering fingerstyle melodies, our guide will help you find the perfect acoustic guitar to begin your musical adventure.

Included in this guide:

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Pack

Fender CD-60S Dreadnought Pack

  • Dreadnought body, no cutaway
  • Spruce top, mahogany back, and walnut fretboard
  • No built-in electronics
4.7
Check Price
Runner-up
Washburn Apprentice D5CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar Pack

Washburn Apprentice D5CE Acoustic-Electric Guitar Pack

  • Dreadnought body, cutaway style
  • Spruce top, mahogany back, and engineered wood fingerboard
  • Barcus-Berry electronics
3.5
Check Price
Top Pick
Epiphone PR-4E Player Pack

Epiphone PR-4E Player Pack

  • Jumbo body, cutaway style
  • Spruce top, mahogany back, and rosewood fingerboard
  • Piezoelectric pickup
4.5
Check Price
Top Pick
Yamaha GigMaker Standard Acoustic Pack

Yamaha GigMaker Standard Acoustic Pack

  • Dreadnought body, no cutaway
  • Spruce top, meranti back, and rosewood fretboard
  • No built-in electronics
4.6
Check Price
Lowest Price
Donner Acoustic Guitar Starter Bundle Set

Donner Acoustic Guitar Starter Bundle Set

  • Dreadnought body (with or without cutaway?
  • Stika-spruce top, mahogany back, and purpleheart/ebony fretboard
  • No electronics/pickup
4.6
Check Price

Related Article: Best Starter Electric Guitars: Top 5 Picks For Beginners


The Top 5 Best Starter Acoustic Guitars

The redesigned CD-60S V2 features a solid spruce top. That, with the mahogany back and sides, delivers rich sounds with a large dynamic range. Beginners, in particular, might appreciate the comfortable feel of the rolled fingerboard edges. The action on the guitar isn’t too high, either.

Along with the guitar, the pack comes with a spare set of Fender’s .012-.052 strings. You’ll also find a couple of 0.71 mm picks, a padded gig bag, and a sturdy strap. Fender’s flat-top dreadnought hard case would be a perfect fit for the guitar, but you need to buy it separately.

Pros
  • Frets don’t need much filing down
  • High construction quality at an entry-level price
  • 3-month subscription to Fender Play’s educational resource
Cons
  • “Free lesson” sticker placed on the pickguard (some people found it hard to peel off)
  • Doesn’t come with a tuner

Washburn has a few Apprentice releases that are created with beginners in mind. However, the D5CE stands out from the crowd because it has a pickguard, features a comfortable cutaway design, and comes as a pack (with strap, picks, hex key, and gig bag). Plus, it has a built-in Barcus-Berry preamp with an LX-4 Chromatic Tuner, which can be particularly handy for newbies.

Pros
  • Chrome die-cast tuners for great intonation
  • Elegant rosette decoration
  • Barcus-Berry electronics for controlling tone (bass, mid, treble), volume, and presence
Cons
  • Bag could use some more padding
  • Requires battery to operate (for the built-in electronics)
  • Some people find the included DR Dragonskin strings tough on the fingers

At the heart of the PR-4E pack is an acoustic-electric guitar with a three-band EQ preamp. To boost the plugged-in performance, the pack also comes with a solid-state practice amp. While the built-in preamp doesn’t include a tuner, Epiphone threw a clip-on chromatic tuner into the kit along with some basic accessories (a soft bag, three medium picks, a cable, and a hex wrench).

There’s no pickguard, though. It’s also worth noting that Epiphone ditched the Florentine (sharp) cutaway that they used on the PR-5E. Instead, the updated PR-4E features a Venetian style that still provides unhindered access to the upper frets but in a smoother, more rounded design.

Pros
  • Sounds great with or without the crisp amp
  • Built-in three-band EQ for more versatility
  • Free guitar lessons from eMedia
Cons
  • Frets need some filing down
  • Strings might leave your fingers dirty
  • Some people reported buzzing (getting it professionally set up will help)

The GigMaker Standard Acoustic Pack features the traditional western F310 guitar with a tortoise-shell pickguard and die-cast chrome tuners. While the laminated wood won’t have a premium feel or the best tonal quality, it can withstand humidity and temperature changes well. This makes the guitar particularly suitable as a camping/starter option.

Pros
  • Laminate wood for a cost-effective, durable construction
  • Comes with a digital clip-on tuner
  • Smooth frets with no buzz
Cons
  • Carry bag is too thin to offer true protection
  • Strap is on the short side

Donner offers this starter bundle in two variations. The first one features a cutaway design, while the other (DAG-1) is a traditional dreadnought. For a beginner or someone whose playing style relies on fingerwork high up the neck, the first model would be the way to go.

Interestingly, this set comes with a whole lot of accessories, despite its low price point. Aside from the basic gig bag and strap, Donner ships the guitar with a digital tuner, four celluloid picks, an Allen wrench, extra strings, a cleaning cloth, and a guitar capo. Just note that the pickguard is also shipped as an accessory, and you need to stick it on yourself.

Pros
  • Great clarity, volume, and out-of-the-box playability
  • Smooth, matte finish (especially on the black version)
  • Well-rounded package with plenty of accessories at an affordable price
Cons
  • Fret edges need filing and buffing
  • Could require frequent retuning
  • Some people found that the strings buzz and break quickly

Related Article: Best Guitar Tuners On The Market: Our Top 5 Picks


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which acoustic guitar body shape is best for a beginner?

While small-bodied acoustics can be easy to play, they lack the loud volume and tone of the larger models. The hourglass-like jumbo, for instance, divers bottom-heavy tones. Yet, it’s often challenging for younger players. All in all, dreadnoughts are a safe choice since they straddle the line between sound and playability.

Is lower action better?

Pushing the string to the fret is easier when the action is low. However, there’s a higher risk of buzzing. So, it’s a bit of a trade-off, but you can adjust the action as you see fit.

Which is the best tonewood for an acoustic guitar?

Spruce and mahogany are both popular picks. Mahogany backs and sides are good for delivering strong bass and treble. Meanwhile, spruce is often used for tops since it’s known for being lightweight and capable of creating powerful yet clear tones.

Do I need built-in amplification for my acoustic?

No, you don’t have to pick a model with built-in amps. That said, amps come in handy when you’re performing in front of larger audiences. If that’s the case, you could either get a guitar with on-board electronics from the get-go or retrofit an amp system on a traditional acoustic guitar.

Should I get a capo for my acoustic guitar?

Not necessarily. You might be able to get by with a starter pack that doesn’t include a capo. However, some beginners prefer buying one either to change the key to suit their singing voice or to simplify songs that need a barre chord.

Product Recap

The CD-60S dreadnought delivers a rich sound that fills up the room and a comfortable fret-hand feel. However, the Apprentice D5CE by Washburn is still an elegant, comfortable option that sounds good and comes with built-in electronics for tone adjustment. Finally, Donner’s Acoustic Starter Bundle is surprisingly well-rounded for its price point.

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