Best guitars for beginners 2024: epic entry-level acoustic and electric guitars

Close up of the built in tuner on an Epiphone Les Paul Special
(Image credit: Future)

Learning the guitar is a lifelong journey. Unlike the latest videogame, there’s no ‘completing’ the world's most popular instrument. We’re 20+ years into our guitar voyage and still feel like we’re barely scratching the surface of what’s possible. We still remember how difficult it is to get started too, which is why new players need one of the best guitars for beginners. 

Getting a fast start on the instrument ensures you’ll keep pushing through that difficult first phase, gaining an invaluable hobby and potentially even a music career. There are many cheap guitars out there that come with shoddy finishes, sharp frets, warped necks, and subpar hardware but it doesn't have to be this way. We’ve trawled through a huge amount of instruments to bring you the best playing, highest quality guitars that will ensure new players keep on coming back for more.

If you’re looking for some more information to help you make a purchase, then head down to the buying advice section at the end of the article. It's got loads of common questions answered by our expert writing team, all backed by decades of experience playing the instrument. If you just want to see the best guitars for beginners available today, then keep scrolling to see our top picks.

Best guitars for beginners: Guitar World’s Choice

If you’re after an electric guitar, look no further than the Squier Bullet Mustang. Its short scale makes it great for younger players and its build quality is backed by one of the biggest brands in the business in Fender, so you know you’re getting a guitar that will stand the test of time. Two powerful humbucker pickups ensure a fantastic amplified sound and it’s a real looker too.

If you need something full-size, we’d go for the Yamaha Pacifica 112V. The Pacifica range has been the go-to for beginner guitar players for a long time now, thanks to its excellent playability and versatile pickup configuration. It’s a guitar that will last you well beyond your first chords and will take new players right the way to their first shows.

Going the acoustic guitar route for your first instrument? Well, you need to have a look at a legend in the beginner acoustic guitar game in the Yamaha FG800. One of the most popular acoustic guitars ever made, it’s got an excellent tonal balance and lovely playability making it a great acoustic even for intermediate players.

Best guitars for beginners: Electrics

Best guitars for beginners: Squier Bullet Mustang

(Image credit: Squier)
Best for younger rockers

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2 x humbuckers
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 3-way pickup selector
Finish: Imperial Blue, Black

Reasons to buy

+
Shorter, comfortable size
+
Sounds huge amplified
+
Small enough for younger players

Reasons to avoid

-
Not everyone will enjoy the look

The Squier Bullet Mustang is a great electric guitar for beginners, but it’s arguably the perfect electric guitar for younger beginners. The shorter scale length – 24” – means it isn’t too taxing on small hands, yet plug this thing in and it can make a heck of a racket. In a good way, of course. 

The choice of basswood for the body makes for a very lightweight guitar, meaning you can concentrate on improving your skills without feeling like you’re wrestling a big block of wood, and the two humbuckers are ideal for playing big, punky chords and riffs.  

Read the full Squier Bullet Mustang review

Best guitars for beginners: Yamaha Pacifica 112V

(Image credit: Yamaha)
The best beginner guitar for versatility

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: 1 x humbucker, 2 x single coil
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 5-way pickup selector
Finish: Natural, Vintage White, United Blue, Sonic Blue, Old Violin Sunburst, Black

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value
+
Hard to outgrow
+
Versatile tones

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most exciting design

The Yamaha Pacifica 112V has been the go-to guitar for beginners for over two decades. And for good reason; by combining grown-up design with all the tonal versatility a young learner would need, Yamaha has created a near-perfect package. The bridge humbucker allows you to steer into heavier styles of music, yet the two single coils at the middle and neck allow for different flavors of sound.

What’s always impressed us with the Pacifica line is the way they grow with you; sure, there are cheaper guitars to learn on but, as you progress, you’ll find their shortcomings holding you back. The Pacifica 112, on the other hand, has been designed as a grown-up guitar with all the features you’ll need from the start. 

Read the full Yamaha Pacifica 112V review

Best guitars for beginners: Epiphone Les Paul Special

(Image credit: Epiphone)

3. Epiphone Les Paul Special

The best beginner guitar for rock and heavier styles

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2 x humbuckers
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 3-way pickup selector
Finish: Cherry Sunburst, Ebony, Vintage Sunburst

Reasons to buy

+
Classic Les Paul vibe
+
Sounds great overdriven
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best for cleaner sounds

Les Paul style guitars are a huge part of the rich tapestry of popular music, and with the Epiphone Les Paul Special you can join a pretty exclusive club. Everyone from Slash to Jimmy Page has famously played a Les Paul, drawn to its simple but effective blueprint of two meaty humbuckers, a solid body and plenty of attitude.

The Les Paul Special favours a poplar body, rather than Mahogany, which keeps costs and weight down, but this is still a guitar which can sing through an overdriven guitar amp.

Best guitars for beginners: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster

(Image credit: Squier)
Best for the more discerning learner

Specifications

Body: Pine
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 21
Pickups: 3 x single coil
Controls: Master volume, 2 x tone, 5-way pickup selector
Finish: 2-color sunburst, White Blonde, Fiesta Red, Black

Reasons to buy

+
Iconic looks and sound
+
Exceptional build quality
+
A great starting point

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest on the list

Not everyone who decides to learn the guitar wants to learn on an entry-level model. We all have to work our way up to the elite tier, sure, but there’s a lot to be said for selecting something a little higher quality to begin your playing journey. 

The Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster is a superb choice in this regard, with its era-specific appointments and vintage hardware pointing to a very attractive guitar indeed. 

Look past the aesthetics, however, and you’ll find a comfortable, easy-to-play instrument that has enough tonal versatility to cover a lot of bases. It’s not the cheapest on this list, but it’s easily one of the highest-quality models at this price point. 

Read the full Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster review

Best guitars for beginners: Gretsch G5425 Jet Club

(Image credit: Gretsch)

5. Gretsch G5425 Jet Club

The best beginner guitar if you want to stand out

Specifications

Body: Basswood with maple top
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 22
Pickups: 2 x humbuckers
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 3-way pickup selector
Finish: Silver

Reasons to buy

+
Looks amazing
+
Unique sound
+
Excellent build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Color won’t appeal to everyone

While many players learn the guitar in order to emulate their playing heroes and, as a result, naturally gravitate towards a specific style of guitar, there are others who maybe don’t want to follow the crowd. With the Gretsch G5426 there is an ideal guitar for beginners which will see you right far beyond those first few scales you learn.

You’ll notice immediately that this is a guitar which brings a different energy to the table. The two humbuckers ensure you can create a bold, rich sound - aided by the chambered body - while the overall build quality is high enough to ensure this is a guitar which will grow with you as you develop. The sparkly silver colour won’t be to everyone’s taste, but underneath it is a very capable guitar with bags of character and a sound all of its own.

Best beginner guitars: Acoustics

Best guitars for beginners: Yamaha FG800

(Image credit: Yamaha)
The best overall acoustic for new players

Specifications

Body: Sitka Spruce top with Nato/Okume back and sides
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 20
Finish: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Wonderful projection
+
Easy to play
+
Incredible value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Dreadnought body shape may be too big for young learners

When you think of acoustic guitars at this level, you may assume they’re all cheap, nylon-strung models that fall apart after a month. And, while these guitars do exist, we’d advise steering clear. Especially when there are proper, affordable alternatives like the Yamaha FG800 on the market.

The FG800 is a dreadnought-style guitar, so it has a large, deep body which, in conjunction with the steel strings, projects a gloriously rich tone with loads of character. This is a guitar you can take your first steps on, and we are confident it will stay with you long into the future.

Read the full Yamaha FG800 review

Best guitars for beginners: Epiphone PRO-1

(Image credit: Epiphone)

2. Epiphone PRO-1

The best classical option for beginners

Specifications

Body: Cedar top with mahogany back and sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 19
Finish: Antique Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Well made
+
Encourages good technique

Reasons to avoid

-
No fretboard markers

Classical (and Spanish) style acoustic guitars differ from steel-string models in a few key ways. For a start, they employ nylon strings which are easier for beginners to get to grips with - literally - but also deliver a smoother, more mellow sound. 

They often come in reduced sizes too, making them ideal for young players starting out. The Epiphone PRO-1 is a great option for beginners because it has that small scale length, and also a reduced width at the top of the guitar to make tricky chord shapes easier to execute.

This is definitely a beginner’s guitar, and one you could conceivably outgrow in a short space of time, but as a tool to get you up and running the PRO-1 is well worth consideration. If a nylon-stringed guitar sounds right for you, we’d recommend reading our dedicated guide to the best beginner classic guitar.

Best guitars for beginners: Ibanez PC12MHCE

(Image credit: Ibanez)

3. Ibanez PC12MHCE

A brilliant electro-acoustic guitar for beginners

Specifications

Body: Okoume top with Okoume back and sides
Neck: Okoume
Fingerboard: Laurel
Frets: 20
Finish: Open pore

Reasons to buy

+
Nice and compact size
+
Sounds great plugged in
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacking some bass

An electro-acoustic guitar is a great option for the new player looking to the future, as it gives you the volume required to play your first shows or jam with others. The Ibanez PC12MHCE is a fantastic choice for the first-timer thanks to its combination of great sound and excellent value for money.

It’s got a nice midrange tonality, so will work just as well for your first chords as it does for more complex fingerpicking. The cutaway gives great upper fret access, and the whole neck feels really smooth to play, a feature of many Ibanez guitars

The built-in electronics offer a nice and transparent tone when plugged in, plus you get a built-in tuner to ensure you’re always ready to rock. An excellent option for the beginner guitarist who wants to move on to live performances.

Best guitars for beginners: Epiphone DR-100

(Image credit: Epiphone)
The best entry-level acoustic

Specifications

Body: Spruce top with mahogany back and sides
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Finish: Vintage Sunburst, Natural, Ebony

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Vintage looks
+
Clear and balanced sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Glossy top is a fingerprint magnet

One of the best-selling beginner acoustic guitars, the Epiphone DR-100 is a great dreadnought-sized option for players making their first moves into the world of guitar.

It's an all-laminate construction to help keep costs down, but it still sounds fantastic. The tone is balanced and clear, with a broad frequency range that encompasses sweet highs and a full, warm low end.

A Slim Taper neck profile makes it extremely playable, and it will be forgiving on smaller and less experienced hands. There were no sharp edges that we could notice, and fretting chords should be comfortable for all but the youngest of children.

Read the full Epiphone DR-100 review

Best guitars for beginners: Yamaha JR1

(Image credit: Yamaha)

5. Yamaha JR1

A fantastic acoustic option for kids

Specifications

Body: Spruce top with meranti back and sides
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Finish: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Sounds great
+
Easy to learn on
+
Includes a gig bag

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most visually exciting

While we’ve included some small-scale guitars here, the Yamaha JR1 is arguably the one to beat when it comes to being the best guitar for kids. This ¾ sized acoustic features a scaled-down body and neck, so it’s easy for smaller hands to work on their chords and develop those good playing habits that will stand them in good stead for the future. 

As well as younger learners, the Yamaha JR1 makes a great travel guitar, aided by the included gig bag, making this a decent all-rounder for beginners and more established players.

Best guitars for beginners: Buying advice

Man teaching the guitar

(Image credit: John Fedele)

Buying your first guitar is a big step, so you need to make sure it’s the right one for you. There are loads of different choices you can make so arming yourself with the right knowledge is key to ensuring you buy the right instrument for you.

Should I learn acoustic guitar or electric guitar first?

Traditionally beginner players began their journey on the acoustic guitar, but just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it’s right for you. We personally began learning on an acoustic guitar, but that was over twenty years ago and since then a lot has changed. Which instrument you start on is no longer the taboo subject it once was, so if either appeal to you more then go for it!

We reckon the electric guitar is easier to learn on for a few reasons, first of all, the body is nice and thin, so the guitar will be closer to you when you play. Typically electric guitar necks are thinner than their acoustic counterparts, thus you’ll find fretting chords easier. Finally, electric guitar strings are thinner than acoustic guitar strings, so don’t require the same amount of hand strength to press down.

However, we will caveat this with a few things when it comes to learning on an acoustic guitar for beginners. Exactly because they are more difficult to play, starting with acoustic will enable you to progress more quickly, developing a stronger core of hand strength and dexterity. Just like the famous slogan, ‘train hard, fight easy’ taking the tougher option when you initially begin to play will have you reaping the rewards later down the line. 

What size guitar should I get?

Electric guitars have different body shapes, but in terms of size, they tend to be pretty similar across the board. Electric guitars usually have thin bodies which means they’re considered relatively small, especially when compared to some acoustic guitar body types. You can get a short-scale guitar, which has a smaller length between the bridge and the headstock, making it easier for younger players and those with smaller dimensions to get to grips with.

Acoustic guitar body sizes are numerous and some of them are big enough that even a fully grown adult can struggle to handle them. Dreadnoughts and jumbos are the biggest size guitars, whereas parlor and grand auditorium styles offer a smaller size for younger players. You can also get ½ and ¾ size guitars, which are great for very young players, offering a smaller body size and scale length.

Woman plays Squier guitar with Fender acoustic in the background

(Image credit: Future)

How much should I spend on my first guitar?

All of the guitars here are under $/£500, and many of them are below the $/£300 mark. We wouldn’t recommend spending above this on a first instrument, as it’ll be an expensive mistake if you decide that the guitar isn’t for you after all! Instruments around the $/£300 mark are pretty much guaranteed to be great quality, and so long as you’re buying from a reputable brand, those that fall lower than this price point will still do the job just fine. 

Do I need any accessories like a tuner or a strap?

We would definitely recommend getting a clip-on tuner alongside your first guitar purchase. It’s one of the most important accessories and you’ll get a lot of use out of it. No guitarist worth their salt will be caught without a tuner, and it also helps you understand your first bits of music theory too.

Other accessories like guitar straps and guitar cables are instrument dependent. Most acoustic guitars are usable without a guitar strap thanks to their large body size. Electric guitars on the other hand can be unwieldy to play sitting down without a strap, so it’s worth investing in one if you have an electric as your first guitar.

If you’re going the electric guitar route, then you’ll have to get yourself a beginner guitar amp to go with it, as well as a guitar cable to plug it in. These are worth bearing in mind when you’re budgeting for your first purchase, as your guitar won’t be at its best without them. 

Clip on guitar tuner on an acoustic guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Should I take lessons before I buy a guitar?

Having your own guitar is incredibly important whilst you’re learning. If you’re taking lessons you’ll need to practice what you’ve learned, so we’d definitely advise buying a guitar to use alongside your lessons. If you’re worried about the cost of lessons, don’t worry because there are loads of great online guitar lessons platforms you can use to learn from the comfort of your own, as well as at your own pace. 

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