Beginner players typically search for their first guitar with a friend who has at least some experience. If you happen to be in a situation where you don’t have guitar players in your friend zone, you might want to take a look at our list of the best acoustic guitars for beginners on a budget. In this article, we’re focussing on the best cheap guitars that can be bought for under $200 in 2020. Without any ado, let’s dive straight into the reviews.
Here are the best cheap acoustic guitars for beginners:
- Yamaha FG800
- Cordoba Protege C1M 3/4
- Ibanez PN12E
- Cordoba CP100 Pack
- Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe Pack
- Epiphone DR-100
- Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
- Fender CC-60S Concert Pack
- Yamaha APXT2
- Washburn Bella Tono Novo S9
- Ibanez EWP32FM
- Luna Safari Tribal
- Ibanez PC15
- Washburn Apprentice G-Mini 5
1. Yamaha FG800
The best guitar for first-timers and inexperienced players
There’s a subtle difference between beginner guitar players and people who have never played an instrument. While beginners tend to have at least some ideas about the basic guitar playing skills, techniques, and tones, first-timers and inexperienced people don’t; they simply wish to embark upon this beautiful journey.
We recommend Yamaha’s FG800 to the latter for a number of reasons that revolve around its design, tone, and playability.
First of all, this is a dreadnought guitar with a full-scale length and a beautiful glossy finish. Even though some beginners might argue that dreadnoughts tend to be a bit heavier than, for example, parlor guitars, the fuller easy-to-grip body tends to feel a bit more intuitive and natural.
It rocks a solid spruce top and nato neck, back and sides while its fingerboard is made of durable walnut. Nato (sometimes referred to as Eastern Mahogany), being the most dominant tonewood in the mix, provides a distinctively warm tone with plenty of resonance while walnut and spruce are mainly there to aid the guitar’s structural stability.
Its tuning pegs are made of die-cast chrome and keep the strings in tune for weeks, even after extensive playing. Last, but not least, the Yamaha FG800 looks pretty simplistic and plain. It rocks a natural finish and a mid-sized pickguard that’s located right beneath the sound hole.
|Image credit: Yamaha Check Sweetwater||
All things considered, Yamaha’s FG800 is an excellent choice for soon-to-be guitar players. It offers excellent sustain and produces a tone that hit pretty close to home, and it’s generally pretty balanced in terms of performance.
2. Cordoba Protege C1M 3/4
A short-scale guitar for teens and adults
Short-scale guitars are essentially ‘smaller’ guitars in the sense that the length from the tailpiece to the nut is shorter. They remain in tune for longer, they have an innately warmer tone, and more importantly, they’re generally a bit more playable. Regardless of your age, there are dozens of reasons why you should want to kick off your musical journey with a short-scale guitar.
We present to you Cordoba Protege C1M – a 3/4-scale nylon-string acoustic guitar that works wonders for people on a bit tighter budget.
This guitar rocks a spruce top, a rosewood fingerboard while the rest of its features are made of high-quality mahogany (back, sides, and neck). This combination of tonewoods results in a dominantly warm sound that is heavily complemented by the extra warmness by the shorter-scale length design.
It’s got a nice, sleek body that sits pretty nicely on either lap or hips, making it perfect for beginners who are either starting off by practicing with a teacher or rehearsing in a band.
One of the best things about the Protege by Cordoba C1M 3/4 guitar is that it comes pre-strung with Savarez Cristal Corum high-tension 500CJ strings; these are much more responsive and better-sounding strings in comparison to average factory models, so you will get to experience and get accustomed to high-quality sound from earlier on.
These are just some of the many reasons why we believe Cordoba’s Protege C1M is one of the finest 3/4-scale length acoustic guitars available on the market. The only thing that most people won’t particularly like about it is that it doesn’t have any inlays; memorizing finger positions will be somewhat harder for immediate beginners because of this.
|Image credit: Cordoba Check Sweetwater||
Cordoba’s Protege C1M 3/4 is a classy acoustic guitar that is a no-brainer for beginners with at least some experience and skill. It’s much easier to play and its sound is more than you’d bargain for considering how little it costs. You might need a little time to get accustomed to the ‘lack’ of inlays, but it’s generally a huge value guitar.
3. Ibanez PN12E
The best parlor acoustic guitar
Now, here we have a very special guitar. The Ibanez PN12E guitar is incredibly versatile and could cater to the needs of most beginner guitarists, but we’ve decided to go with the ‘best parlor’ title.
It does look great, its playability is superb, and it’s even pretty awesome for more ‘specialized’ players (fingerpicking in general), but there aren’t many parlor-style guitars in this price range that could even come close to its performance.
In short words, parlor acoustic guitars are almost always inexpensive; they’re much smaller than concert acoustic guitars, and because of that they always sound pretty unique.
The first thing that will most likely grab your attention on the PN12E is its outlook; the mahogany sunburst finish looks very beautiful and elegant, but it wasn’t added simply for the looks. Basically, the extra layer of mahogany blankets the tonewoods with the usual characteristics, meaning a bit more warmth and resonance.
This acoustic guitar rocks sapele top, nato back and sides, and nandu fingerboard. While most beginners are at least somewhat familiar with Eastern Mahogany and sapele, nandu, or pericopsis mooniana is exotic and generally unfamiliar to most guitar players.
This tonewood is actually incredibly rare and is currently under protection from extinction; it’s absurdly durable, and you can rest assured that the PN12E will remain ready for use for decades to come, even if you’re playing every single day.
As far as hardware goes, the Ibanez PN12E features coated-bronze strings, chrome die-cast machine heads, as well as a built-in AEQ-2T preamp and an onboard tuner. If you take a look at its specs more closely, you might notice that its scale length is 24.41 inches; this is not a short-scale length guitar per se, rather the shortness of it is due to parlor guitars being smaller in size generally.
|Image credit: Ibanez Check Sweetwater||
Parlor guitars are typically not on the radar of beginner guitar players, but they should be, especially quality ones such as the Ibanez PN12E. This acoustic guitar features a great combination of tonewoods, and its sheer design provides a ton of beginner-oriented advantages, so you should definitely check it out.
4. Cordoba CP100 Pack
The best nylon-string guitar package
Most people associate nylon strings with classical guitars, but that’s not what makes them different from acoustic ones. Classical guitars have a distinctively different body type and design; you can add nylon strings on pretty much anything. People love nylons for their airy, resonant tone and easier fingerstyle picking, so if that’s something you are after, we recommend checking Cordoba’s CP100 out.
This guitar rocks a satin finish, a spruce top, and nato back, sides, and neck while its fingerboard is made of rosewood. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of tonal diversity simply based on such a wonderful combination of tonewoods.
It also rocks nickel-plated machine heads with beautiful pearl buttons, a composite saddle, and a relatively wide nut. Furthermore, it’s pre-strung with D’Addario’s high-tension strings that chirp quite loudly. This guitar comes with a padded gig bag as a complementary feature, and although it’s not a bundle true to form, it’s very convenient for beginners taking lessons or going to band practices.
|Image credit: Sweetwater / Cordoba Check Sweetwater||
Nylon-strung acoustic guitars are perfect for beginners and experienced players, but what even the professionals like about them is how mellow their sound is. Cordoba’s CP100 is extra-playable; it offers a robust construction, and a very distinct, full-bodied tone that is characterized by rich details and a roaring high-end.
5. Yamaha Gigmaker Deluxe Pack
The best guitar for school bands and live performances
Many beginners formed bands and wanted to practice alongside their friends playing music instead of sitting in their bedroom practicing chords. In fact, that’s how most successful bands started out, and if you’re a fresh guitar player who is looking for a high-quality guitar, we suggest the Gigmaker Deluxe acoustic guitar package from Yamaha.
Essentially, this bundle was tailor-made for beginners who are only equipped with good will and passion; it’s complete in the sense that it features a set of replacement strings, a digital tuner, a guitar strap, some picks, and a padded Yamaha bag. Obviously, this means that you’ll be able to join any acoustic band you want as soon as it arrives at your doorstep.
Specs-wise, this is a dreadnought acoustic guitar that features a gloss finish, a solid spruce top, bridge and fretboard made of rosewood, and neck, back, and sides made of nato (eastern mahogany). There are no two ways about it – this is a very warm guitar that will probably eat the bass in your band, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Its intonation is excellent, and its playability is pretty awesome due to its nut width being 1.68 inches only. Even the factory strings it comes outfitted with are pretty solid. The only thing that we didn’t really like that much about the Gigmaker is that it doesn’t offer much in terms of tonal uniqueness. Its volume and resonance are top-notch, but it doesn’t sound strikingly different from other beginner guitars.
|Image credit: Sweetwater / Yamaha Check Sweetwater||
If you are looking for a high-quality acoustic guitar bundle in the budget price point category, you can rest assured that you won’t be able to find more value for the money than from the Gigmaker Deluxe pack. Not only is it comprised of all the necessary accessories, but the guitar itself is more than great as well.
6. Epiphone DR-100
The best budget guitar for people with smaller hands
Having small hands and fingers should not dissuade you from picking up an acoustic guitar. The thing that might surprise you that most beginners don’t feel too comfortable with their first guitar. They can find it hard to place their fingers across the board, especially after watching professionals dart alongside it with such grace and elegance.
What might make a huge difference to you is a guitar that has a somewhat shorter nut width; some people might confuse nut width with neck profile (which also plays a factor in playability), but for acoustic guitar, the nut is a bit more important. Shorter nut width makes the frets a bit shorter too, allowing you to pull off chords a bit more easily.
That’s where Epiphone’s DR-100 acoustic guitar might help you out. This is a high-quality dreadnought guitar available at a rock-bottom price that features a spruce top, a rosewood fingerboard, and mahogany back, sides, and neck.
Although its tonewood combo is pretty much standard and will not be able to provide you with a game-changing tone, it does sound rather cool.
One of the most amazing features of this acoustic guitar is the SlimTaper neck profile, which is just slightly thinner than average, which combined with a shorter nut width provides the highest level of playability possible for the buck.
The only potential drawback regards to the factory strings that this acoustic guitar comes pre-strung with. Basically, they sound pretty good and remain in tune for weeks, but they’re too light to endure heavy practice sessions, so you’ll eventually need to replace them.
|Image credit: Epiphone Check Sweetwater||
The Epiphone DR-100 is an acoustic guitar that was specifically designed and made for immediate beginners. It aims to provide you with a comfortable learning experience while being durable enough to endure all the late bloomers and lazy players.
7. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
Exotic tonewood selection in a budget guitar
Simply because you’re a beginner guitar player doesn’t mean that you should settle for a dull-sounding guitar. There are tons of models that are made of very unique and interesting wood pieces, and a perfect example of such a guitar is the G9500 Jim Dandy from Gretsch.
The G9500 features a rosewood fingerboard and eastern mahogany neck, but its back, sides, and top are made of the exotic agathis. The global guitar community is a bit at odds with this particular tonewood; some love it, some not so much. However, what makes it perfect for the beginner player is the fact that it’s tonally very balanced.
On the tonal spectrum, it sits right in the middle; it’s neither too bright nor too warm, which means that you’ll get to reap the benefits on both ends as you grow to learn how to ‘tame’ them.
Aesthetics-wise, Gretsch’s G9500 looks absolutely amazing. The vintage sunburst finish is quite breathtaking, and most people wouldn’t be able to tell that this is actually a starter guitar.
It’s got a slightly shorter scale length, a short nut width, and a C-shape neck profile, which means that its playability is absolutely fantastic. However, its nut is made of synthetic material and is not all too durable.
|Image credit: Gretsch Check Sweetwater||
The Gretsch G9500 is a well-built guitar with amazing resonance and projection, a highly balanced tone, and a very familiar timbre. It’s pretty durable, and it boasts exceptional playability to match its sturdy performance. Just be careful how you handle it when you are not using it because its nut is pretty flimsy.
8. Fender CC-60S Concert Pack
The best beginner guitar for singer-songwriters
Learning a couple of chords is all you need to do to start making songs, and having a decent-quality guitar will help inspire you to write more often, and hopefully come up with tastier melodies and harmonies.
Our recommendation for singer-songwriters is Fender’s CC-60S concert pack. Essentially, this is a perfect bundle for people that want to perform as soon as they come up with a couple of tunes, as it features a sturdy gig bag, several guitar picks, and a guitar strap as complementary features.
The CC-60S is a concert guitar that features nato neck, mahogany back and sides, and a top made of solid spruce. It rocks the easy-to-play neck shape with rolled edges that provide unparalleled playability, a standard scale length, and a slightly shorter nut width.
This acoustic guitar is plainly amazing when it comes to tonal projection, and since it features a versatile combination of tonewoods you’ll be able to bring your songs in a more vivid, immersive way. The intonation of the CC-60S is excellent, as it comes supplied with chrome die-cast machine heads that keep the strings firmly locked down for extended periods of time.
If you opt for this bundle, you will also get the opportunity to reap the benefits of the Fender Play subscription (for 3 months) that might help you take a couple of shortcuts in terms of learning new, interesting chords and licks.
|Image credit: Sweetwater / Fender Check Sweetwater||
If you are a beginner player that possesses just about enough skill and expertise to pull off a couple of chords, you’re probably already neck-deep into songwriting by now. All that you need is a guitar with a good sound and playability, and that’s exactly what Fender’s CC-60S concert acoustic guitar is.
9. Yamaha APXT2
The best acoustic-electric guitar for home practice and live gigs
Semi-acoustic guitars are essentially acoustic models that feature built-in electronics that allow them to be paired up with a guitar amp. No matter how vibrant and resonant a guitar is, you’ll need the extra punch if you want to play live gigs.
If that’s what you are into, we strongly suggest checking Yamaha’s APXT2 Thin-line out. Essentially, this is an all-around guitar with a very robust and versatile performance that packs a ton of high-quality features, including meranti back and sides, a hardwood neck, a rosewood-made fingerboard, and a spruce top. It also rocks the ART-based preamp and the System 68 electronics system.
Even unplugged, the sound of this guitar is absolutely massive. The tonewoods greatly complement each other and work in harmony to provide a full-bodied tone with exceptional projection and a ringing resonance.
Its nut width is pretty short, and its hardware, in general, is pretty awesome; however, just like the case with most budget beginner guitars is, the ones that this model is pre-strung with are very light and pretty flimsy.
Lastly, the aesthetics of the APXT2 are pure gold. This is a great-looking guitar painted in an elegant black finish, and it sports a stylish single-cutaway Thin-line design.
|Image credit: Yamaha Check Sweetwater||
A well-equipped beginner guitarist is on its way to break through the mold and become a skilled player, but what leads most people to hitting the plateau is a poor-quality guitar. If you want to shine on your live performances and upgrade your setup, we recommend the Yamaha APXT2 acoustic-electric guitar.
10. Washburn Bella Tono Novo S9
The best-looking acoustic guitar for beginners
Aesthetics are always important, especially with guitars that we typically differentiate by their looks until we manage to get a few strums for comparison. If you’re a beginner player who is searching for a guitar that performs as great as it looks, we present to you Washburn’s Bella Tono Novo S9.
The Bella Tono Novo S9 is a concert-shaped guitar that features a charcoal burst gloss finish, and it would be a huge understatement to say that it looks utterly magnificent.
As far as its tonewoods go, the Bella Tono Novo S9 rocks a top made of select spruce, back, and sides made of figured walnut, ebony fingerboard, and okume neck wood. Essentially, the tone of this guitar is substantially brighter and ‘colder’ in comparison to our previous picks. The exotic tonewoods it comes supplied with will deliver a unique timbre that you’d do best to get accustomed to during the earliest stages of your progression as a fresh guitar player.
It also sports lotus flowers fingerboard inlays, and bone saddle and nut, which essentially means that it looks absolutely exquisite top to bottom.
|Image credit: Washburn Check Sweetwater||
While its looks might attract you in the first place, it is the performance that will anchor the Bella Tono Novo S9 into your heart. This guitar offers much in terms of aesthetic and sonic performance, and it’s generally one of the best acoustic guitars for beginners on a budget.
11. Ibanez EWP32FM
The best tenor-style guitar for beginners
Tenor guitars are generally perfect for beginners who either can’t afford a bigger guitar or who want to reap the benefits of their massive playability. Whatever the reason in your case might be, if you are on the market searching for a tenor-shaped guitar, you might want to take a look at what the Ibanez EWP32FM has to offer to you.
This guitar features sapele and maple tonewoods, which means that you should expect a dominantly bright tone. Actually, its brightness works perfectly fine with its cool finish. It rocks an open-pore design that lets the wood ‘breathe’ a bit better; this basically means that it requires less time to reach its full tonal and sonic potential, but its durability is slightly lower because of it.
The Ibanez EWP32FM features a narrow nut, a drastically shorter scale length, and premium-quality hardware. What we rather found as surprising is that it comes pre-strung with 0.10 strings; they’re pretty heavy, but highly playable nevertheless.
In fact, this tenor guitar has the shortest scale length (17 inches) of all the models we’ve covered in this review. This might help beginners out quite a bit, as its playability is absolutely phenomenal.
You should be aware, though, that the factory tuning of the EWP32FM is corresponding to the tenor guitar standard tuning, which is A standard (A, E, C, G, D, A). This might confuse some beginners, and you’ll need to know how to re-tune your guitar if you want to use it to practice your favorite songs.
|Image credit: Ibanez Check Sweetwater||
All things considered, the EWP32FM from Ibanez is a wonderful, great-looking guitar that boasts a variety of unique features. It’s perfect for beginners on a budget due to its ultra-short scale length and high playability, but it’s also great for intermediate-level players who are looking for a traveling companion. Note that you should re-tune it into standard E, as it is pre-tuned in standard A.
12. Luna Safari Tribal
The best travel guitar for touring bands and performers
There are a lot of beginner guitar players who travel extensively and simply can’t find enough time to practice. However, what if you were able to bring your guitar wherever you went? You would need a smaller guitar that would be durable enough to withstand the gruesome process of traveling with you, and Luna’s Safari Tribal fits the description perfectly.
This guitar features a spruce top, pau ferro fingerboard, and neck, back and sides made of ultra-robust mahogany. What’s more, this is actually an acoustic-electric guitar that also sports Luna’s patented SL3 electronics.
One of the coolest features of this budget guitar is the 3-ply binding complemented with sturdy nut and saddle. It’s substantially more durable than most cheap beginner guitars, which is exactly what makes it a perfect ‘roadworthy’ option. Since it sports the travel body shape, its nut width and scale length are shorter by a bit. It features sealed die-cast tuning machines, and it comes pre-strung with D’Addario 0.12 strings.
Tonally, it sounds pretty cool, but it’s not as exotic or as unique as some of our previous picks. The main benefits it offers revolve around sturdiness and aesthetics, but it doesn’t lag too far behind in terms of playability either, provided by a shorter scale and a thinner nut.
|Image credit: Luna Guitars Check Sweetwater||
The Luna Safari Tribal is a schoolbook example of what a sturdy budget guitar should look, feel, and sound like. Its robust body and excellent choice of tonewood make it a welcome addition to your traveling guitar.
13. Ibanez PC15
A great budget guitar with a classic, well-balanced sound
The vast majority of beginner players can’t discern the subtle differences between budget guitars. It takes years and years of practice for the ears to develop a certain taste, and it’s often bad news to get accustomed to ‘mediocre’, bland sound. If you want to avoid this, we strongly recommend that your first guitar becomes the PC15 from Ibanez.
At first sight, this guitar looks very plain and straightforward; in fact, hardly anything about it looks unique in any way. However, it comes supplied with select tonewoods that are the building blocks of a highly versatile soundstage.
It features a spruce top, mahogany neck, nandu fingerboard, and nato back and sides. Essentially, it’s not the type of the tonewood used in the construction of this guitar, rather it’s the quality that sets it apart from its similarly-priced counterparts.
Moreover, it sports a shorter scale length and nut width, providing a drastic boon to its overall playability. You might not be overly thrilled about its grand concert body shape, as its huge size might get in your way in terms of storage. However, it sits neatly at the hips when played upright, and it isn’t too heavy to sit on a lap for home practice.
The thing that makes this acoustic guitar so well-suited for beginners is that it is capable of pulling off vibrant tones and chords with minimal effort. With a little bit of talent, you’ll be able to come close to sounding like some of your guitar heroes.
|Image credit: Ibanez Check Sweetwater||
The Ibanez PC15 is an excellent choice for beginner guitar players who want to get the best-sounding guitar model for their buck. Although it has plenty of other benefits to offer, the most important advantage it brings to the table is the full-bodied sound.
14. Washburn Apprentice G-Mini 5
If you don’t know exactly what a grand auditorium acoustic guitar is, it’s a big axe that offers a surprisingly balanced tone with a surge of volume to back it up. Beginners seldom go with this particular style of guitar mainly because they aren’t aware of it.
Beginner players who don’t have much cash for a new guitar might end up searching for a GA acoustic guitar forever since they’re generally pretty expensive. However, we’ve managed to dig up the Washburn Apprentice G-Mini 5, which is truly a hidden gem.
This guitar features a full mahogany construction with the exception of its top, which is made of high-quality spruce. Suffice it to say, Washburn’s Apprentice G-Mini 5 has a loud, ringing sound that exudes with warmth and crystalline resonance.
Oddly enough, this guitar features a shorter scale length of 23.25 inches and a modernized C-shape neck profile, both of which provide it with a great boost in terms of playability.
The Apprentice G-Mini 5 also sports a set of die-cast tuning pegs, a bridge made of engineered wood, and sadly, plastic nut and saddle. On a side note, it also looks completely unique, which is something Washburn guitars always seem to deliver.
|Image credit: Washburn Check Sweetwater||
Essentially, this is a smallish grand auditorium guitar that provides the benefits of a full-sized one while also being substantially easier to play on. Washburn’s Apprentice is tailor-made for beginners, both immediate and somewhat skilled ones, aiming to equip the players with plenty of volume and tonal diversity.
There are tons of acoustic guitars in the budget section of the market, but only a handful of the models actually have some quality to offer. We hope that you’ve liked our selection of the best acoustic guitars for beginners on a budget and wish you all the luck in finding the one that suits your needs the most. Make sure you are staying safe and rock on, guys!