The Best Acoustic Guitars: Reviews of the top sellers in 2020

Acoustic guitars are a great musical instrument for experienced and novice musicians alike. Luckily for aspiring musicians on a budget, the quality of cheap acoustic guitars has risen, meaning you can choose from a range of good acoustic guitars that won’t break your bank.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of guitars available, and many people don’t even know where to start when looking for an acoustic guitar. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide that covers a variety of different categories.

We’ve researched the top-rated acoustic guitars to help you get a clear picture of the market. We recommend trying out a guitar before buying it, though most significant retailers offer hassle-free returns on internet purchases. If you get a guitar but decide it’s not for you, feel free to send it back and find another one that works better.

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Acoustic Guitar

The best acoustic guitar being played by a women
The excitement you’ll feel when first strum your new acoustic guitar!

The sheer number of guitars available on the market can be incredibly intimidating to any prospective buyer. What’s worse is that there are many subtle differences between various acoustic guitars, such as wood type and body shape. It can be challenging to know which of these differences matters to the end product and playing experience.

Related: Best Online Guitar Lessons

Your first step when buying a new guitar should be to identify your needs. Are you a new musician, or do you want to add to your collection? Do you have large or small hands? Are you going to play professionally or just at home?

Once you’ve identified the purpose of the guitar, you can start shopping around. Knowing what you’re looking for can help reduce the number of choices you have to worry about when making your choice. Once you’ve decided on a body, wood, and type of guitar, you can focus on getting the best guitar in your price range.

Types of acoustic guitars

Take a moment to make sure you’re choosing the right type of Acoustic guitar…

Acoustic-electric

Acoustic-electric guitars look and feel like traditional acoustic guitars, but have a built in-preamplifier and pickup. When not plugged into an amp, the guitar will sound exactly like a traditional acoustic guitar. It will also have the ability to amplify the sound without distortion when playing in a larger space. Learn the differences between acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and acoustic-electric guitars here.

Concert and grand concert

Concert guitars are slightly smaller than other acoustic guitars. They have a robust mid-range tone with bright sound, and their smaller size makes them ideal for smaller-handed musicians. Grand concert guitars are slightly bigger but still retain their bright, mid-range sound.

Auditorium and grand auditorium

Auditorium guitars are standard-sized but have a narrow waist. The dynamic hourglass shape makes auditorium guitars comfortable to use while still generating good volume. Grand auditorium guitars are slightly larger, giving them a more significant volume range and balanced tone when compared to auditorium guitars.

Jumbo

As the name suggests, these guitars are bigger than traditional guitars. They have a deep resonance and can be very loud. These guitars feature a lot in country and western music, where they’re also known as ‘cowboy guitars.’

Dreadnought

Dreadnought guitars have a distinctive, almost square shape, with a wide waist and 14-fret neck. They produce a powerful, driving sound, which makes them popular with bluegrass players.

Travel and mini-acoustics

Despite their smaller size, travel and mini-acoustic guitars still produce high-quality sound thanks to improvements in manufacturing and research. These guitars are typically three-quarters of the size of a standard guitar.

They’re ideal for people who want to play guitar while hiking and camping, for kids or smaller players with small hands.

Build quality and sound

The most important consideration when choosing your guitar is the wood you choose. Different woods produce different sounds (1), which can have a huge impact depending on your playstyle and type of music you want to play. The top of the guitar has the most impact on the tone quality, with sides and back being less critical.

There are many different types of woods that you’ll come across when looking for the best-sounding acoustic guitar. Here are some of the most common, and the types of sound they produce:

  • Cedar: cedar produces a bright tone and favors a light playing technique
  • Ebony: ebony is a robust and hard wood, and is the primary wood component in the fret-board due to its slick feel
  • Mahogany: mahogany exhibits a firm tone, with an emphasis on high-end tones, perfect for blues or country music
  • Maple: maple is a regular component in the side and back of a guitar, where it lowers the resonance of the guitar. This reduced resonance makes it great for live music, where it can still play over other instruments
  • Rosewood: rosewood produces a rich, sophisticated overtone without muddying the sound. It’s one of the most popular woods in acoustic guitars
  • Spruce: spruce is one of the most common top woods that provides excellent clarity and resonance
  • Walnut: walnut produces a warm sound with strong midrange tones and bright high-end tones.

Laminate vs. Solid Wood

Laminate is several layers of thinly-pressed wood glued together for strength and stability. It’s significantly cheaper than solid wood, which is why many low- and mid-range guitars will have at least partial laminate construction.

The main issue with laminate is that it doesn’t resonate as much as solid wood, which can affect tone and leave an imbalanced sound.

Solid wood guitars produce a fuller sound and will usually have a better build quality.

That’s not to say that laminate is always the wrong choice. High-quality laminate can handle changes in temperature and humidity better than solid wood. It’s less prone to cracking, and a dent is less of a problem than it would be for a solid wood instrument.

Many mid-range guitars will compromise between solid wood and laminate by using solid wood for the top and laminate for the sides and back. Since the top is where most of the sound comes from, it’s a great balance of cost and sound.

So don’t avoid laminate just because it’s cheap, as many guitar manufacturers have shown that you can make high-quality guitars that sound and feel great, even with laminate.

What are the best acoustic guitar brands?

When picking your guitar, it’s best to stick with well-known guitar brands. These brands have made their name by producing high-quality products and refining their products over the decades.

While people may have different opinions on the best guitar brand, you can’t go wrong with products from the following manufacturers:

What’s your budget?

Finally, you have to keep your budget in mind. If you’re a new player, it’s often a solid idea to stick to a lower-end guitar until you’re ready and willing to spend more money on a higher-end one. Luckily, manufacturing techniques have come a long way, and you can pick up good acoustic guitars for as low as under $300.

The Best Sounding Acoustic Guitars (Best Overall)

First up, we’ll take a look at the best sounding acoustic guitars. While these won’t be cheap, you’ll be happy you invested in something like this from the moment you take your first strum. These guitars look, feel and sound absolutely beautiful.

Martin D-28 Re imagined

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  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid wood throughout
  • Timber used: Sitka spruce top, East Indian rosewood back and sides, select hardwood neck and ebony fretboard
  • Brand: Martin
  • Extras included: hard-shell case

The Martin D-28 is the gold-standard of acoustic guitars. With its distinctive dreadnought shape, this guitar delivers big projection, rich tone, and high-quality, room-filling volume. It’s been a staple of many bands, including the Beatles and Eric Clapton. Re imagining such a classic could have been a disaster, but Martin managed to navigate their redesign with care and grace.

The D28 reimagined produces a balanced sound with fantastic sustain and definition. No tone overwhelms any other, and the high mids and treble work in harmony with low mids during strumming. If you’re looking for an iconic, comfortable acoustic experience and have the money to spend, the Martin D28 Reimagined is the guitar for you.

Taylor Builder’s Edition V-Class K14ce

  • Type of guitar: Acoustic-electric
  • Build: Solid wood
  • Timber used: Torrefied Sitka spruce top, koa back and sides, tropical mahogany neck and west African ebony fingerboard
  • Brand: Taylor
  • Extras included: hard-shell case

Taylor is well-known for their grand auditorium guitars, and the Builder’s Edition V-Class K14ce sets the bar even higher. The revolutionary V-bracing combines well with a more comfortable grand auditorium-style guitar that many will appreciate. The build quality is excellent, with serious attention to detail. If you’re looking for one of the top acoustic guitars that look great and play even better, this should be one of your first picks.

While many acoustic guitar reviews focus on the looks and construction of this guitar, the Taylor also offers impressive sound. The tones are balanced and well-rounded, and the guitar is dynamic enough to suit any playing style, from blues to jazz to country and even flamenco, if you’re feeling fancy. No matter if you’re looking for bold, strong projection or something more delicate, the Taylor is up for the job.

Martin D-15M Burst

  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid wood
  • Timber used: Mahogany top, back, sides, and neck. Pau Ferro fingerboard
  • Brand: Martin
  • Extras included: n/a

The second Martin in the list is significantly more affordable, but still packs plenty of punch. The guitar produces vibrant, yet warm tones that remain distinct and clear. The Martin D-15M is a no-frills guitar that offers exceptional build quality and exceptional sound for new and experienced players alike.

The Martin D-15M stands apart from many other guitars in that it’s made from mahogany all the way through. The super-thin nitrocellulose finish provides a soft satin sheen, and the bone nut and saddle give the guitar an old-school feel. If you like a simple, minimalist guitar that sounds great, be sure to check this one out.

Acoustic Guitars Under $1000

Fender Paramount PM-1

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  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid mahogany
  • Timber used: Solid mahogany top, back, sides and neck, rosewood fingerboard
  • Brand: Fender
  • Extras included: hard-shell case

Fender’s Paramount series of guitars represents a departure for the traditionally electric-guitar oriented company. The Paramount PM-1 is an all-mahogany guitar with a thin open-pore satin finish to keep the original wood visible. The result is a classic-looking, traditional American dreadnought that’s bursting with personality.

All-mahogany dreadnoughts tend to be heavy, and their sound reflects that heaviness with plenty of warmth. The Paramount PM-1 feels a bit lighter than many dreadnoughts out there, with an airer tone. Luckily, you still get plenty of projection and oomph despite the lighter tone.

Some people may find the low end disappointing, especially if you’re looking for a deep boom. Instead, the PM-1 gives a thumpy and defined low end that blends in seamlessly with the mahogany mid-voice and shiny upper-mids. Overall, this is one of the best acoustic guitars in this price range if you’re looking for a solid wood dreadnought.

Taylor Academy Series 12e

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Taylor Academy Series 12e - close up image
  • Type of guitar: Grand concert
  • Build: Solid top, layered back and sides
  • Timber used: Sitka spruce top, layered Sapele back and sides, mahogany neck, and West African ebony fingerboard
  • Brand: Taylor
  • Extras included: hard-shell case

The Taylor Academy guitar is suitable for new and experienced players alike. Newer guitarists will appreciate the low action ebony fretboard and responsiveness of the guitar. The sound is typical Taylor, with strong projection and bright trebles that cut through any noise.

While this is an acoustic-electric guitar, it still deserves a place as one of the best acoustic guitars in this price range. Unlike many other electric offerings, the Taylor sounds as good when plugged in as most acoustics do without amplification.

With the Academy Series, Taylor wants to present a class of guitars that help new players get better. Between the responsiveness and low-action fretboard, new players can develop the confidence they need to excel and get better. In many cases, it’s also an upgrade for experienced players as well.

Acoustic Guitars Under $500

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar

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Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar - close up image
  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid wood
  • Timber used: Solid cedar top, wild cherry back and sides, silver leaf maple neck and rosewood fretboard
  • Brand: Seagull
  • Extras included: pickguard comes in a separate gig back pocket

The S6 is Seagull’s flagship product, so you know they’ve put a lot of care and love into it. It has several features that you’d expect from a more expensive guitar. Seagull hasn’t cut corners with this offering, so you can expect to get solid wood construction, robust and balanced tone, and simple design.

Thanks to the high-quality woods used in the construction of the S6, you get a rich, warm tone that’s broken up by a bright high range that prevents everything from becoming muddy and distorted. Thanks to the dreadnought body, you get good volume and projection as well as a robust sustain that just never ends.

While beginners will appreciate the comfortable fretboard and affordable price, experienced players will be surprised by the quality and depth of this offering from Seagull. By stripping down a lot of unnecessary fluff, Seagull has been able to offer a high-end product at mid-range prices.

Yamaha FG730S

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  • Type of guitar: Concert/dreadnought
  • Build: Solid wood top, laminate sides
  • Timber used: Solid Sitka spruce top, rosewood laminate back and sides, nato neck, rosewood fretboard
  • Brand: Yamaha
  • Extras included: none

The Yamaha FG730S shows why Yamaha is still widely considered one of the best acoustic guitar makers in the world. The two-tone sunburst is reminiscent of classics like the Gibson J45, though you can choose other finishes if you don’t like the classic style.

The Yamaha has a bright tone that’s able to cut through any background noise. Unlike other guitars in this price range, the FG730S has rosewood laminate back and sides, giving it extra balance and warmth. The result is a robust and balanced sound that can cut through ambient noise, making it an excellent choice for open-mic nights as well as bedroom practice.

Overall, the FG730S is a great value guitar in its price range and is suitable for beginners and experienced players on a tight budget alike.

Cheap Acoustic Guitars

Now we’ll take a look at some of the top picks if you dont have a large budget. While you’ll get a better sounding guitar with a bigger budget, these guitars, priced at or below $300, are the most affordable, quality guitars available.

For more affordable guitars, see our guide: best cheap acoustic guitars.

Epiphone AJ-220S

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  • Type of guitar: jumbo
  • Build: solid top, laminate sides, and back
  • Timber used: solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany sides, back and neck, rosewood bridge and fretboard
  • Brand: Epiphone
  • Extras included: none

Epiphone is a Gibson-owned company that makes guitars that look like Gibsons, but don’t have the associated price tag. The Epiphone AJ-220S punches well above its weight class in terms of build and sound quality.

The AJ-220S features a jumbo body design, which gives it a full, deep, and loud sound that you won’t soon forget. Many people enjoy the feel of playing with a larger guitar, and Epiphone has made sure that the AJ-220S remains comfortable to play.

Thanks to its deep tone and choice of materials, the AJ-220S is a versatile instrument. Whether you want to play some country or bash out some rock tunes, nothing will sound out of place with this guitar. Also, despite its strong projection, you’ll find that you won’t overshadow the rest of your band when you jam together.

Washburn HD10S

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  • Type of guitar: dreadnought
  • Build: solid top, laminate sides, and back
  • Timber used: solid Sitka spruce, mahogany back, sides and neck, ovangkol fingerboard and bridge
  • Brand: Washburn
  • Extras included: None

Washburn has been in the business of producing string instruments for over 100 years, and you can see the experience in their lower-end products. The solid wood top makes the difference in tone compared to other guitars in the price range, and it’s easy to notice the improvement in quality.

While dreadnoughts aren’t known for their loudness, the thin-cut spruce top vibrates freely, adding extra volume, as well as a better-balanced tone. The Washburn HD10S is excellent for beginners due to its slim neck profile and buzz-free frets, which give exactly the type of feedback novice guitarists need.

Overall, the Washburn HD10S won’t go down in the annals of best acoustic guitars ever, but for the price, you really can’t go wrong.

Beginner Acoustic Guitars

Fender CD-60S

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  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: solid top, laminate sides, and back
  • Timber used: solid mahogany top, laminate mahogany sides and back, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard
  • Brand: Fender
  • Extras included: none

The Fender CD-60s combines brand-name quality with an appealing price. The low-action and relatively thin neck allow beginners to practice getting the basics down without worrying about fret buzz or other annoyances.

Many beginner guitars can sound thin due to cheap laminate materials, but the Fender’s solid mahogany top ensures you get a full, balanced sound, with a bright treble and solid mid-range tones. The dreadnought design gives extra volume without being overwhelming and is comfortable for sitting and standing.

Another issue that low-end guitars often have is getting out of tune due to poor tuners. The Fender has chrome die-cast tuners that are reliable and will ensure you keep in tune, no matter how hard you work your guitar.

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

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  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid top, back, and sides
  • Timber used: Solid spruce top, select mahogany neck, back and sides, rosewood fingerboard
  • Brand: Epiphone
  • Extras included: none

The Gibson Hummingbird Pro is a rock icon, especially if you’re a Rolling Stones fan. However, it will also set you back several thousand dollars, which is a bit steep for a beginner guitar. Luckily, Epiphone has the rights to produce similar guitars to its parent company while bringing them down to more affordable levels.

The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a joy to play, and the sound is well balanced and robust. It’s dynamic enough to accommodate all styles of play, allowing beginners to learn and develop freely.
The main drawback of the Epiphone is the slightly high action, which may be tricky for beginners to get used to when starting to play. However, once you do, you’ll appreciate the feedback and responsiveness that the guitar provides.

Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Yamaha A5R ARE

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Yamaha A5R ARE - close up image
  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought cutaway
  • Build: Solid wood throughout
  • Timber used: Solid Sitka spruce top, solid Indian rosewood back and sides, select African mahogany neck and ebony fretboard
  • Brand: Yamaha
  • Extras included: hard-shell case

One of the greatest difficulties with acoustic-electric guitars accurately representing their sound when plugged into an amp. Yamaha is the leader in amp technology, and their experience shows in the Yamaha A5R ARE. The guitar has an SRT2 preamp that has subtle controls that captures the experience of unplugged acoustic with the flexibility and sound capability of the electric guitar.

Overall, the sound quality of the Yamaha is excellent. It has a bright balance with amazing high tones and clear trebles, as well as resonant mid and low tone action. The rounded fretboard edges and cutaway designs offer an enjoyable playing experience for any player.

Gibson J-200 Standard

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  • Type of guitar: Jumbo
  • Build: solid wood
  • Timber used: solid Sitka spruce top, solid flame maple sides and back, rosewood fingerboard and bridge
  • Brand: Gibson
  • Extras included: spare strings, hard carry case and lifetime Gibson guarantee

The Gibson J-200 Standard is Gibson’s version of the jumbo guitar. The company markets the J-200 as the loudest and most powerful acoustic guitar, and with good reason. The bottoms are punchy, and the highs are strong enough to come through clean.

As you’d expect from a guitar this well-made, the pickups are excellent and do the sound justice. The Gibson J-200 Standard is a guitar that lives to be on stage, where it will stand head and shoulders above the rest. If you’re looking for one of the best acoustic guitars that you can play live, this is it.

When it comes to construction and materials, the Gibson J-200 Standard takes attention to detail to another level. Every part of the guitar feels like it belongs, and nothing feels like it exists for no reason.

Gibson uses only the highest-end materials for every part of this guitar. The guitar consists of a Sitka spruce top combined with flame maple sides and back for a robust and intense sound. The mother-of-pearl inlay on the fretboard adds an extra layer of drama to the instrument, and the softened fingerboard edge gives you just that extra layer of comfort.

Travel Acoustic Guitars

Martin Steel String Backpacker

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Martin Steel String Backpacker - close up image
  • Type of guitar: Traveller
  • Build: Solid wood
  • Timber used: Solid spruce top, solid mahogany back, sides and neck, and hardwood fretboard
  • Brand: Martin
  • Extras included: padded carrying case

Backpacker guitars are great for traveling, hiking, and camping. Their unique shape makes them very lightweight and easy to transport, though you may get some funny looks when you first take one out.

The main drawback of this style of guitar is that you’ll have to get used to a much slimmer neck and different body shape from what you’re generally used to when playing on your ordinary guitar at home. Doing so can take some practice, but most players find they adapt quickly, especially if you’re already used to changing between electric and acoustic guitars.

Despite the odd shape, the Martin’s solid wood construction gives it a surprisingly rich and vibrant tone. Thanks to the smart design, the acoustics and projection aren’t half bad either. While it may not be as rich or balanced as a traditional guitar, it’s still a worthy competitor for campfire playing, and its unique design will turn heads.

Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic

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Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic - close up image
  • Type of guitar: Travelling
  • Build: Solid wood
  • Timber used: Options of rosewood, black walnut, and maple form a single body.
  • Brand: Traveller Guitar
  • Extras included: Soft padded carry case

Traveler Guitar is an American company (2) that sells only lightweight, traveling-type guitars. The company applies modern design techniques to manufacture a guitar that’s lightweight and small enough to carry but still have great sound.

The Ultra-Light Acoustic guitar may look very weird but comes with a lot of smart thinking behind the looks. The one-piece maple body is robust and durable while being very light. The guitar comes with a built-in acoustic pickup, which you can plug into an amp if you like.

The guitar doesn’t have a headstock, and all the tuning works via an in-body tuning system. The tuning system prevents the guitar from getting out of tune if you bash it against something, though climatic changes can affect the tuning of the instrument.

The Ultra-Light Acoustic Guitar also comes with some other features that are a bit baffling. The detachable support bar is supposed to let you play with the guitar on your knee, but it slides around too much to be useful.

Overall, the Traveller Guitar is excellent as a secondary instrument that you can practice during your travels. It’s affordable enough that you don’t feel bad putting a few dents in it, and it works as both a conversation starter as well as a decent guitar.

Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands

Baby Taylor BT2

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  • Type of guitar: Dreadnought
  • Build: Solid top, laminate sides, and back
  • Timber used: Solid mahogany top, laminated Sapele sides and back, rosewood bridge and fretboard
  • Brand: Taylor
  • Extras included: Padded gig bag

Despite its name, the Baby Taylor isn’t only for kids. It’s an excellent mid-range compact guitar that’s perfect for beginners and experienced small-handed musicians alike. Unlike many smaller guitars, the Baby Taylor keeps its dreadnought body shape, which gives it a dynamic range and sound that many other guitars lack.

The combination of solid mahogany top and layered Sapele body and back results in a warm, vibrant sound that’s perfectly balanced. The dreadnought body gives the guitar strong projection, and you probably won’t notice the difference between this and a full-sized guitar in terms of volume or sound.

If you want excellent performance in a small body, and at an affordable price, the Baby Taylor BT2 should be your first pick.

Martin GPCX2AE Macassar

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  • Type of guitar: Grand auditorium
  • Build: Solid top and laminate sides, back and neck
  • Timber used: Solid Sapele top, HPL Maccassar sides and back, richlite fingerboard, and birch laminate neck.
  • Brand: Martin
  • Extras included: none

Musicians with small hands often have a hard time finding a good-quality guitar that fits their needs. Many small guitars are designed for beginners, such as children, and can compromise on the build and sound quality.

This guitar doesn’t skimp on anything. It’s a great guitar, just sized down a bit. The build quality, materials, and sound delivery are pure Martin, with no compromise on any aspect.

The solid wood construction gives this guitar a rich, vibrant sound and a traditional Martin feel. It has a deep low end with enough brightness in the highs to provide a balanced and robust tone, making it ideal for studio or stage players.

The Verdict – Which Acoustic Guitar Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the guitar you choose will depend a lot on your particular needs. Not every guitar is suitable for every person. A beginner doesn’t need a $5k guitar, and an experienced player wants something with a bit more quality than a beginner’s guitar.

Every player has their individual preferences, and there is no wrong or right answer. The only way to find your perfect guitar is to try several and get a feel for what you like.

You’ll also find that your tastes and preferences will change as you develop as a guitarist, so never be afraid to try out something new. Try to keep up-to-date with acoustic guitar reviews to find out the latest trends and developments in the guitar world.

FAQ

String choice is ultimately a personal preference. Most top-rated acoustic guitars will allow you to move one gauge up or down with no issues. If you want to go significantly lighter or heavier, you may need to work with a qualified luthier to adjust the truss rod.

The only restriction is never to use steel strings with a nylon string guitar. Steel-string or nylon-string guitars have different braces, and using the incorrect strings may cause the bridge to lift.

In general, newer players do better with lighter gauge strings. They tend to be ‘floppier’ and easier on the fingers and make the learning process more comfortable. More experienced players tend to prefer heavier strings with a bit of fight and responsiveness.

Not really. If you want to learn to play guitar, you may find it easier to start on an electric guitar, simply because the frets are closer together. However, you can learn just as well on an acoustic guitar, so pick the instrument that appeals to you the most.

Choosing the handedness of your guitar is a significant choice. While many guitar manufacturers offer left-handed options, some others don’t. The lack of options can be frustrating for most lefties.

Surprisingly, most people don’t show a strong tendency for either right-handed or left-handed playing when they start out learning guitar. It’s only after you’ve picked up the basics that you’ll know if you’re left-handed or right-handed for playing guitar.

Also, while new players think their fret hand is dominant, many experienced players find they have to pay more attention to their picking hand, making it the dominant hand. It’s a good idea to go to the store and practice a simple scale and chords on a right-handed guitar and left-handed guitar. Figure out which one feels more comfortable and stick with that.

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