If you are just starting out on the guitar, you may have yet to decide what type of guitar you would like to learn on. You may have some guitars in mind based on your favorite players and musical heroes. Ultimately, when you are starting to learn to play you want to have a guitar that is suited to your level of playing.
This is not the time to be busting out the Gibson Flying V!
Most beginners learn to play on an acoustic guitar that has a relatively low action or a basic electric so that you can get used to the simple aspects of the guitar before moving on to the complex stuff.
In the end it comes down to personal preference. The guitar that you find easy and enjoyable to play will be the best. The key to learning to play any instrument is consistent and regular practice. This will be easier if you find it comfortable and fun to keep returning to your instrument.
Once you have found the right guitar it is time to start practicing. As well as highlighting the best starter guitars we will be exploring how to play acoustic guitar for beginners.
Below are a few key tips to help you choose an easy guitar for beginners. Not everyone will agree on what is the easiest guitar to learn for beginners but we will try our best to recommend a few good ones!
Acoustic or Electric?
Is the acoustic or the electric the right guitar for you? The electric may be more visually appealing in many cases but the aesthetics of the guitar should not be top of your list of priorities when it comes to buying the right beginners guitar. It should be all about the sound, not looks!
If you are looking for the most basic guitar for beginners you probably will want to use an acoustic guitar. A simple acoustic is often the starting point for most guitarists as you don’t have to worry about plugging it in or troubling yourself with amplification. They are very accessible instruments that are often cheaper than their electric brothers.
One size does not fit all in this situation. Within the acoustic and electric brackets there are even more distinctions that will have you scratching your chin. Do you want steel or nylon string on your acoustic? Do you want a semi-acoustic? Six strings, four strings or twelve strings? Guitars come in many shapes and sizes.
We are going to assume that you want to be a guitarist and not a bass guitarist so the simplest requirement is that the guitar should have six strings. Beyond that it is mostly personal preference, as you will see below!
Types of Guitar:
- Steel Stringed
- Nylon Stringed
- Semi-Acoustic (Hollow-body)
Steel Stringed Acoustic
A steel stringed guitar is usually the safest bet for a beginner. A classical or flamenco guitar is not ideal for a beginner because their necks make it tricky for a novice to form chord shapes. A standard steel stringed acoustic is a guitar made for playing blues, rock and pop songs. It has a thinner neck which makes it easier for beginners to practice chords and melodies. It is one of the most common types of guitar for beginners.
Unlike an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar has a consistent tone that is not easily manipulated. It is easy to get lost in all the fun things you can do on an electric and forget to actually begin learning. A steel stringed acoustic is comfortable to hold and play and will produce a consistent tone that you can measure your progress against.
Acoustic guitars are usually the least expensive option and are commonly used around the world for teaching in classrooms. There is a reason steel stringed guitars are so ubiquitous in beginners circles. They require very little extra work to sound great and unlike the electric your errors aren’t amplified. Acoustic steel guitars are commonly the stapling instrument in school music rooms.
Easy rock guitar songs and super easy guitar songs for beginners are best played on a steel stringed acoustic. If you don’t fancy this route there are other options!
- The acoustic is the popular choice for beginners and therefore there is a wealth of knowledge and experience tailored for the acoustic guitar that has built up over the years. As a beginner, it is good to know that there is plenty of help out there if you need it.
- A steel stringed acoustic guitar is often the cheaper option. This is especially helpful for a beginner who is tentative about the guitar playing ambitions. You don’t have to make a huge financial commitment to get a good steel-stringed acoustic.
- There are very little additional materials that need to be purchased in order to play an acoustic. Unlike the electric guitar, the acoustic is perfect for the beginner who just wants to get on with playing the guitar. You don’t need to worry about pedals or amps!
- It may take some time for your fingers to get used to the strings. The relatively high playing action is not always easy for beginners. At the beginning pressing the strings will be painful. Over time you will build up firmer skin and it won’t be painful. Don’t worry, this is something every guitarist has had to contend with at some point!
- You may not like the sound of the acoustic guitar if your ultimate aim is to be an electric guitar playing rock god! The acoustic is still a Rock’n’Roll instrument but you may get more satisfaction out of playing an electric.
- If you purchase a cheap acoustic guitar, it may be difficult to tune and may not stand the test of time. Before you purchase anything make sure you get some advice from a guitarist or any pro musician. You can find plenty of advice online and you can usually trust the people that work at local guitar stores too!
The other type of acoustic guitars is the nylon-stringed guitars. Nylon stringed acoustics can be separated into two categories/disciplines: Classical and Flamenco.
What is the best guitar to learn on? There is a greater degree of specialism when it comes to nylon-stringed guitars. If you are a fan of classical or flamenco music nylon-string acoustics are your best bet.
It is important for a beginner to start on a guitar that suits their musical interests. Getting the right guitar is key to staying enthusiastic when it comes time to practice. If you are looking for the lush and flexible sound found in jazz, bossa nova and classical music you should begin your training on nylon strings.
“Nylon-string guitars are usually smaller and often don’t have electronics, cutaways or fretboard markers. They also have wider necks, which add more space between the strings, and bodies that start at the 12th fret, not the 14th fret like most steel-string guitars.” (Fender)
- Perfect if you are aiming to play Classical, Jazz or Flamenco on an acoustic guitar. The soft nylon strings can be used to create a punchy effect on the Flamenco guitar. In the Classical version, the strings can be used to create a wide range of sounds and textures.
- Nylon-string guitars sound fantastic when amplified.
- The soft strings mean that it is easier for beginner guitarists. What is the easiest acoustic guitar to play? Well, if you are just starting out, the nylon strings could be the answer you are looking for.
- It is probably the perfect guitar for smooth and melodic soloing. The steel-stringed guitar has gained in popularity over the years but the classical nylon strings still take the cake when it comes to the pure sound of the guitar.
- You will have to tune your guitar more frequently than for steel-string acoustic or electric guitars. The strings are made from a softer material but this means that it is easier for the pitch to change over time as you play.
- Not as versatile as the traditional steel-stringed acoustic. However, this is not always a bad thing. As long as the guitar is correctly adjusted it should be able to sound good in a number of genres.
Ultimately, any beginners guide to playing guitar will recommend that you start on the acoustic. The differences between steel and nylon strings are not huge.
There is an incredible amount of versatility in the acoustic guitar. The relatively low price, accessibility, and playability make any acoustic guitar a good place to start!
There are several plus sides to learning on an electric guitar. Aside from the fact that the electric guitar is undeniably cooler! The sound of the electric guitar through an amp is usually the sound people think of when they think about learning the guitar. An electric guitar is a fantastic instrument in a number of genres ranging from Jazz to Blues to Indie to Rock.
Electric guitars work via the “use of magnetic pickups. These are, very simply, magnets with coils of wire wrapped around them, which sit beneath the strings. When the strings vibrate, it causes a disturbance in the magnetic field around the pickup, which the coil of wire turns into an electrical signal. This is transferred down a cable to an amplifier, which reverses the process, changing the signal back to sound.” (Source: Dawsons).
Electric guitars have a fantastic utility in a variety of genres of music. Whether you are looking to blow minds with heavy chords, jazz licks or classic blues riffs, an electric guitar can be used in a variety of ways even by a beginner.
As a beginner, learning on an electric guitar is also a great way of gaining knowledge about the technical side of the guitar. Easy guitar chords can be enhanced by the tone of an electric guitar. Even a basic guitar for a beginner can be used to imitate famous rock sounds and strange riffs with a bit of practice. Using pedals to create strange ambient or atmospheric effects is one of the most enjoyable pastimes of many electric guitarists.
As with the acoustic, there are thousands of variations. Perhaps even more so than the acoustic guitar there is plenty of ingenuity from various guitar manufacturers to create the best sounding and most appealing instrument.
If you are looking for a specific guitar to buy then have a look at The Hub’s article for the 6 Best Beginner Acoustic and Electric Guitars.
- The electric guitar is a fun instrument to play. Ultimately you will gain the most if you practice often. If an electric guitar keeps you coming back to the instrument then it could be the choice for you.
- The sound of an electric guitar at full force is arguably more satisfying. The rumble and ringing of an electric guitar can fill a stadium and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up like no other instrument.
- An electric guitar can be easier on the fingers due to the lower playing action and slimmer neck. In the beginning, it will still hurt but it is considerably easier to get a good sound especially if you hook your guitar up to an amp.
- Electric guitars are often more expensive and purchasing one as a beginner represents a large investment.
- The overall set up to get the right sound out of an electric guitar is more complicated.
- If you don’t already have one you will have to purchase a good amp.
- If you purchase a cheap electric guitar, as with an acoustic, it may be difficult to get it to stay in tune.
- Warn your neighbors! Obviously, the electric guitar can be quite loud (which is probably part of the reason you are thinking about getting one). However, noise can be an issue. You should definitely think about how much disturbance you could be causing before you make your purchase.
The Easiest Guitar for Beginners
Which one is your favorite? If you are a beginner and have never touched a guitar we recommend visiting a few guitar shops before you make your first purchase. While you can buy guitars online it will give peace of mind to know exactly which guitar you are buying and who it is coming from.
A guitar store is also a great place to get more specific advice from musicians and music enthusiasts. It is always helpful to receive expert advice in person.
Is learning guitar easy? Not really!
Once you have your guitar the real work begins. We recommend finding some easy guitar song tabs and starting from there. As you begin to memorize a few chords, riffs and licks you will start feeling like a real guitarist. Having a few songs to sing-a-long to is a good starting point!
There a host of fantastic apps that are tailor-made to assist beginners learn the guitar. Hours and hours of practice will make even the humblest of guitars sing.
Even within a few weeks on your first guitar you will be surprised at how it sounds. The more you play the more you will be able to understand how to get a great sound out of your instrument. You will hear when it goes out of tune and you will be able to feel when your strings need replacing or when your guitar needs maintenance.
Whichever guitar you acquire it is important that you take care of your guitar by learning to tune and maintain it. Even if you buy an expensive guitar it can become useless if it is not properly cared for. Replace the strings, keep the body polished, store your guitar carefully.
Finally, while a steel stringed acoustic guitar may be the easiest guitar to learn on for beginner it is important to remember that it is all about you. The guitar that you have to hand and feel most comfortable with is going to be the best one to play.
Get yourself a good teacher, listen to other musicians and practice regularly. Before you know it you will be a seasoned guitarist!
What is your guitar of choice?
Share with us in the comments below!