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How to Choose an Acoustic Guitar for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the right acoustic guitar for beginners can be a tricky business since there are a lot of things to know. Right from the size to shape, sound, material, and comfort are the factors to watch out for while buying your first acoustic guitar. Hope this article will help you narrow down your choices and begin learning guitar online. 

So you have set your mind, and no one can deter you from your goal of learning to play an acoustic guitar, but there is only one problem. As a beginner, you do not know what to look for in a good guitar and you surely do not want to spend inappropriately and end up buying a lemon instead of a guitar because the notes will forever sound sour. In this guide, you will find solutions to problems that beginners face while choosing their first acoustic guitar. Not just that, you can also find some of the best online guitar classes to pursue as a beginner.

Establish a Spending Limit

As a beginner, you must understand that you would need a lot of practice, and learning guitar is like learning to drive, you practice with a Fiat and then buy a Ferrari. Similarly, you might not want to spend too much on your first acoustic guitar. Although it does not mean that you bring home the cheapest one around because they could be really hard to play and do not sound good either. You can easily find an acoustic guitar for beginner level in the range of Rs. 7000 – Rs. 10,000. Guitars in this price range are built to standards, sound good, and last for a long time. Anything less than this and you might be in danger of picking the lemon that was discussed earlier. 

A pro tip is to not be lured into spending extra on needless accessories and rather put the complete budget into buying a guitar that suits your needs. It is easy to be influenced by attractive sales and discount offers that actually provide no value to you. Remember, nobody buys anything at the printed price and you should not be shy of asking for at least a 10% discount. 

Find the Right Type of Acoustic Guitar

Before you start researching the popular guitar brands, you must understand a few things. Just because a rockstar plays a particular model, it does not mean the same model would work for you. There are various types of acoustic guitars depending upon the strings used and the body shape and they are built for different purposes. While choosing an acoustic guitar for beginners you might want to make sure that it produces good quality sound and is comfortable for the player to handle at the same time. 

Acoustic guitars are basically of two types, depending upon the type of strings used. The guitars with nylon strings are used for classical performances and hence are technically known as classical guitars. The guitars with steel strings are built for country music and are known as acoustic guitars. Now let us talk about different types of acoustic guitars based on body shapes and sizes. 

There are basically five types of acoustic guitars based on body shapes and sizes. 

1) Concert/Grand Concert Model: Known for a rounded tone and mellow sound, the concert or grand concert acoustic guitar is small in size. It is similar in shape to classical guitar with a slightly larger lower bout. The typically smaller body size makes it apt for fingerstyle play because of its crisp tones and mellow harmony. Check out this beauty as a choice for acoustic guitar for beginners. 

2) Auditorium Model: The auditorium model of an acoustic guitar is slightly large in comparison to the concert/grand concert model. It is a mid-sized guitar with a lower bout of about 15 inches and a 20-inch body size along with a depth of 4 inches. It is one of the best guitars for solo performances and is easy to both strum and fingerstyle. The Yamaha FG 830 makes for a great pick for an acoustic guitar for beginners. 

3) Parlor Guitar: Parlor guitars are the smallest of full-sized acoustic guitars. They get their name from the parlors where it was played by local artists and gained popularity. Typically known for their comfy style, these are small enough to be played in a seated position. With a small body and punchy sound, these make for an excellent choice as an acoustic guitar for beginners. 

4) Dreadnought: This is the standard acoustic guitar well known to complement vocal performances. Its high range register provides good support for vocalists even on low notes. The dreadnought, like the auditorium model, is suited for both strumming and fingerstyle. This one here makes a classic fit for a beginner’s choice of acoustic guitar. 

5) Jumbo & Super Jumbo: These are the largest members of the acoustic guitar family. They are an excellent alternative to dreadnoughts although slightly larger. Because of their large size and deep body, they produce much higher volume and thus they often find use in country or rock music as bass guitars. 

Choose the Right Tonewood   

Tonewoods form a critical part of any acoustic guitar since they add to the sound quality that a guitar produces. Before choosing an acoustic guitar any beginner must also be familiar with its construction and design. Did you know that different types of woods are used for different parts of an acoustic guitar? Don’t panic, the following are all the details you need to know about various types of tonewoods used in an acoustic guitar. 

Back and Sides 

The back and sides of the soundbox of an acoustic guitar play a key role in the quality of sound produced by diminishing or amplifying the sound produced by the strings. Thus you need to carefully understand the different woods that are paired up in the back and sides of a guitar. Here are some of the best choices of tonewoods for the back and sides. 

Rosewood: East Indian and Brazilian are the two prime varieties of rosewood that have been used in the construction of acoustic guitars for several decades. Dark color tones and natural grainy stripes give off a luxurious vibe. It produces a clear sound with rich overtones and a bright metallic zing with enhanced highs and lows. 

Mahogany: A rich reddish-brown color and dense tonewood that produces rich overtones, mahogany is known to produce a punchy sound with a great mid-range. It is cheaper than rosewood but that is no basis to compare the qualities of the two-tone woods as they both sound very different from each other and equally amazing. 

Sapele: It is quite similar to mahogany in look and sound through its distinct and grainy stripes add a slight difference in the color that is a little reddish in Sapele. Known for its midrange and warmth, Sapele forms an excellent option for guitars used for strumming and playing soft chords. 

Maple: Because of its dense nature, maple makes for an ideal choice of tonewoods used to construct guitars for live performances. It produces clear notes that can be heard clearly through a mix of instruments. This property of maple wood helps add extra treble to the sound produced. 

Top 

As the back and slides, the top wood is another crucial aspect of the quality of sound produced by an acoustic guitar. Since it forms the front of the guitar, tonewood used for guitar tops must be appealing to the eye as well as the ears. Following are some of the most preferred tonewoods for guitar tops. 

Spruce: Spruce comes as close to an industry-standard choice for guitar tops as possible. The fact that it is fit for any kind of playing also contributes to its popularity. Besides, it also tops the looks with a beautiful creamy white or pinkish appearance. With little to no harmonical complexity, spruce produces a dynamic sound with crisp and instant notes. 

Cedar: Not the first choice for steel string guitars but quickly gaining popularity is cedar, following in at the second spot in the most popular tonewoods for guitar tops. If you want to go for a more characteristic sound and less treble. Fit for soft playing, it tends to lose clarity when played hard. It is often a preferred choice of fingerstyle players who want more character of tone than clarity. 

Maple: It forms a suitable option for amplified performances due to its bright and clear tones. While it is a more popular choice for back and sides, it does make a good-looking alternative for guitar tops made of spruce due to its stripe pattern. 

Neck & Fretboard

The neck and the fretboard is the major portion that a player is in contact with while playing the guitar. It thus becomes crucial to be comfortable with the feel and grip of the fretboard wood. On the other hand, the neck is a thin and long part of the guitar that is subject to constant tension, which also makes it important to assess the tonewood used in its construction. 

Rosewood: Indian rosewood has been one of the most popular choices for fretboards for some time now and still continues to grow in popularity. It makes for such a preferred choice because of its smooth feel and durability. It is hard in nature and thus makes for an ideal option for fretboards that take the maximum brunt of a performance. 

Ebony: With dense structure and smooth feel, ebony also makes for an excellent choice of tonewood when it comes to fretboards. Like rosewood, it also can stand long performances over a number of years due to its high durability. Due to its high oil content, it does not need much maintenance and plays smoother and faster than its counterparts.

Walnut: With relatively transparent and bright sound and highly resilient properties walnut makes for another preferred choice for fretboard construction. Along with the strength come the rich dark good looks, smooth playability, and uncommon availability which also make it more desirable. 

Final Checklist!

Alright, you seem ready to buy your first acoustic guitar now that you have learned so much about it. But wait! Not so fast. There still are a few questions that you must answer before choosing an acoustic guitar for beginners. Consider these before going out and buying any guitar. 

  • How does the guitar feel in your hand? 

Pick up the guitar that you like. Hold it and try it in standing and seated positions. Then decide whether it is comfortable enough for you. 

  • Is it packed tight and snug? 

Check the seams and joints on your acoustic and see if they are tightly joined and packed in properly. 

  • Check the frets if they are smooth and rounded or sharp or rough? 

Notice the frets and check if they are smooth and properly rounded. Rough or sharp frets can injure your fingers.

  • Keep an eye for a curve in the neck. 

Sometimes there could be a bulge or slight curve in the neck. Keep a keen eye for it as it could be hard to see. 

  • Are the tuning pegs OK?

Check if the tuning pegs are sturdy and straight. Also, see if it is easy to handle the screws. 

  • How does it sound? 

Try strumming a chord and really listen. If possible take along a specialist to be able to distinguish better between similar-sounding guitars.

  • Ask the salesperson. 

Don’t be shy to ask the salesperson for advice. It is their job to help you find the best acoustic guitar even if you don’t know a thing about them. 

Get Started with Online Guitar Classes for Beginners

Hopefully, all your doubts about choosing an acoustic guitar for beginners would have been cleared in this article. Although, to learn more about the best acoustic guitar for a beginner, the price, and availability you can always sign up for online music classes for beginners. The professional instructors will provide expert suggestions suited to your needs and budget. 

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