Welcome to My First Axe – The Best Guitar for Beginners Guide

Every great guitarist started their musical journey with some type of beginner guitar. For some it was their parent’s or older sibling’s guitar. For others it was one they bought at a pawn shop. For Jimi Hendrix it was a five-dollar, second-hand acoustic guitar.​

When you're a new musician, your first guitar (or axe as it’s called) is a make-it-or-break-it situation. Choose a great instrument and you’ll have a much easier time learning how to play and performing in front of others. Choose poorly and you may find yourself with a much more challenging and frustrating task at hand.

That’s exactly what MyFirstAxe.com is all about. I want to cut through all the confusion and help you find the best guitar for beginners. I think it is absolutely critical that you start out playing an instrument that you love and have fond memories of "my first guitar". That way you can focus your attention on the music and give yourself an easier time taking your guitar playing skills to the next level.

My Recommendations for the Best Guitar for Beginners

Unfortunately picking a great starter guitar can be a tricky process. There are a lot of different things to consider. Even though a guitar might look cool or have a reasonable price, how do you know it will play well or sound good?

Here are my recommendations for the best guitars for beginners that I have personally played and fell in love with. And the best part is: The last time I checked they all cost under $400! How does that work for your budget?

Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Electric Guitar Bundle

Price: $

What’s not to love here?

First of all, this package is a bundle set. That means it comes with literally everything you need to get started.​

You’re not only buying a great looking Fender Strat-like electric guitar, but you’re also getting a practice amplifier, cords, a strap, gig bag for protecting your new guitar, tuner, instructional DVD, and some picks.

No need to worry about the quality of the guitar for the price. The Squier line of guitars is owned by Fender, one of the most respectable names in electric guitars available. Though the Squier instruments cater more to their introductory customers, the brand has developed into a line-up of respectable and affordable instruments.

If you’re new to playing the guitar, this is truly one of the best guitar for beginners packages available for the money.

Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar

Price: $$$

This rare gem holds a special place for me among as the best guitar for beginners. Why? Because it was actually my first guitar!

Made in Quebec Canada, Seagull guitars are built on the principle that beautiful hand crafted guitars should be available within a price range affordable to hard working musicians.

The S6 is constructed as a traditional dreadnaught style acoustic but with an attractive dark cedar top, Canadian Wild Cherry sides, and a rosewood fingerboard. Unlike cheaper “shinny-finished” acoustic guitars, this one has a semi-gloss lacquer that gives it a very natural and rich appearance. Honestly there is nothing cheap about this instrument!

Pick up this guitar once and you’ll see exactly what all the excitement is about. The sound is just as full-bodied and rich as any +$1,000 Taylor or Martin high-end acoustic guitar. It’s perfect whether you just want to strum along to the rhythm or do any kind of finger-picking.

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar

Price: $

How would you like your first guitar to capture the attitude of rock legends like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Slash of Guns ‘n Roses, or Joe Perry of Aerosmith?

That’s exactly what the Epiphone Les Paul Special II does for you. It puts the look and feel of a real Gibson Les Paul in your hands for about one-fifth of the more expensive axe!

The thing I absolutely like about this guitar (other than its great vintage look) is that fact that even though it is meant to be a good beginner guitar, there is no compromise in Gibson quality.

This totally evident in the 700T Humbucker pickups. Normally you can easily spot a cheap guitar with bad pickups because they sound muddy and have no character.

That’s not the case with the LP Special II. These ones sound pretty darn good. They are nice and bright with a solid tight bottom end.

Taylor Big Baby Acoustic Guitar

Price: $$$

Do you think all Taylor acoustic guitars have to cost more than $1,000?

The Taylor Big Baby is quite possibly one of the best beginner guitars ever made because it carries the prestigious Taylor brand name and quality backing. It will be really difficult to find a better instrument that sounds better or plays this great.

The Big Baby is a larger version of its predecessor, the Baby Taylor. The 15/16-scale Dreadnought size is perfect if you are smaller or think regular acoustic guitars are too large and bulky.

Despite its size, this guitar packs a loud punch. You’ll also be surprised by how crisp the tone and clarity of this acoustic guitar is. The intonation is spot on and the string action is very low.

Even though they advertise it as a starter level guitar model, the Big Baby does a great job of upholding the famous bright Taylor sound.

Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic Guitar Bundle

Price: $

If you’d love to start performing acoustic guitar live right away, then this is the perfect starter guitar package for you.

Epiphone PR4E acoustic guitar bundle

This package includes an acoustic-electric guitar, a 15-watt amp, gig-bag, strap, cables, a tuner, picks, and an instructional DVD.

The guitar itself is a handsome cut-away with a Mahogany body supported by X-bracing, Spruce top, Mahogany neck, Rosewood fingerboard and Chrome hardware. It also has a passive piezo pickup with volume control.

Unlike other value priced acoustic guitars, you’ll notice the action on this one is remarkably set. You won’t notice any tinny sound or buzzing. It’s another testament to the craftsmanship of Epiphone instruments.

Similar to the Taylor Big Baby, you’ll also notice the size is more comfortable than a traditional-sized dreadnought guitar body.

Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Electric Guitar

Price: $$

If you’re looking for something just a little different than a Strat or Les Paul, then the attitude of a Jazzmaster might be the right beginner guitar for you. This style of guitar has been used for everything from indie punk to surf guitar. Kurt Cobain from Nirvana even used to play a very similar looking instrument.

But don’t blow over $1,000 on a really expensive authentic Jazzmaster. A great starter guitar at a reasonable price would be the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster.

As we mentioned earlier, Squier is an introductory line of guitars for Fender. So there will be no compromise on quality here.

There’s so much creativity that goes into this guitar. The light-weight vintage-shaped alder body is completely unique to just about every other guitar in its class.

The Vintage Modified Jazzmaster also features two Duncan Designed JM-101 single-coil Jazzmaster pickups. These puppies will scream up everything from glassy clean chords to jangly crunchy punch.

You can really go retro with this guitar if you pick the slick brown sunburst body color. That’s my personal favorite.

Cordoba C5 Classical Acoustic Guitar

Price: $$

If you prefer the soft, sharp sound of nylon strings, then look no further than Cordoba to find a great starter classical guitar. Cordoba is known for making many levels of quality exotic acoustic guitars.

The Cordoba C5 is the perfect model to start with. It is constructed using a solid Canadian cedar top with mahogany back and sides.

The playability of this model is above any other guitar in its class. Your fingers will easily roll off chords and trills.

Though it is a full size classical guitar body, you’ll notice that is surprisingly lightweight.

This guitar also comes with a gig-bag, tuner, string, instructional DVD, and polishing cloth.

Silvertone Revolver SS15 Electric Guitar

Price: $$

Don't make the mistake of passing off Silvertone as just some guitar from Sears. Pop star Beck chooses to compliment his vintage look and eccentric live performances using Silvertone guitars as his main axe of choice.

Though any good beginner guitar will have its imperfections, I think you’ll find this one to be quite exceptional among the masses. The Revolver plays crisp and commanding just as you’d want from a vintage rock and roll style guitar. It's also available in beautiful tobacco sunburst, white, black, or cobalt blue.

If the guitar alone is not enough to persuade you , then you should know that it comes as part of a bundle package called the Silvertone SS15-TS-KIT-2. The bundle includes an amp, cord, tuner, picks, and lifetime warranty.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar

Price: $$$

If you’ve got just a little extra budget to work with and want to take a step up from the Epiphone LP Special II we talked about earlier, then look no further than the Epiphone Les Paul Standard.

For about the twice the price of the LP Special II, the Standard offers you a lot of must-have quality upgrades:

  • Solid mahogany body and maple top (to get that great sustain and classic Les Paul tone)
  • Alnico Classic Humbuckers
  • Grover Machine heads
  • Tune-o-matic bridge.

The other great thing about this guitar: The craftsman ship. Great string action. The pickups are perfectly set. Noiseless pickup selector. The Epiphone Standard is considered by some to be the flagship Les Paul model made by Epiphone. It would be an honor to have this as my first guitar!

Why Buy Your First Guitar on Amazon?

best starter guitar

Since the digital era, Amazon.com has completely revolutionized your options for buying a great beginner guitar online.

Long gone are the days of having to go to a dirty pawn shop or seedy hole-in-the-wall music shop where only 4 of their guitars were within your price range. Though they were cheap, they weren't necessarily the best guitar for beginners. I can remember when my Dad and I had to drive over an hour to go to a decent music store with a good selection and affordable prices.

Now anyone with a mailing address can have access to pretty much any instrument in the world. Amazon has totally made it easier for new musicians to pick out the best beginner guitar by simplifying the following:​

  • Cost. Because of Amazon’s unique inventory system, you’ll find it very challenging to find another retailer who has that perfect first guitar for less than what you are going to pay for it on Amazon. Amazon is also notorious for throwing in free shipping, lots of sales, discounts, bundle packages, holiday specials, and close-outs.
  • Extras. Once you finally do find that perfect first guitar, do you think it stops there? Of course not! Especially with an electric guitar, you’ll probably need an amp, cords, a strap, picks, capo, slide, a learner’s book, instructional DVD, and a whole lot more! Amazon not only has all of this stuff, but they also often package it all together into a great bundle pack that helps to give you everything you’ll need all in one set!
  • Choice. When I went to look for my first guitar, I remember there only being a very limited of options available in my price range. That kind of makes it hard to fall in love with a guitar when you feel like you’re just settling. That’s one of the things I love about Amazon. There are so many options that it would be impossible not to find something you’re going to love. No matter what your price range is, they’ll have something for you to try. And that’s what My First Axe is all about – trying to help you narrow down those choices to the best possible ones.
  • Travel. Unlike when I had to drive for an hour to go to a decent guitar store, Amazon will almost always ship it right to your front door - for free!
  • Opinions. Worried you might be buying a lemon? That was one of my big concerns when I first went shopping for my beginner guitar. Fortunately Amazon provides customer reviews and ratings for all of its products. If there was a problem, you’ll be able to read it and see if it’s something you should be concerned about. Even if you do get it home and discover that you’re not 100% in love with it, no problem! I’ve returned dozens of items on Amazon before – it’s really simple and hassle free to do.
  • Research. Whether you just want to browse or see what’s out there, Amazon has made it really easy for anyone – novice to advanced - to see what kinds of features and styles are available for your first guitar.

What to Look for In Your First Guitar

best acoustic guitar

Before you can choose the guitar of your dreams, there are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself:​

  1. What kind of music do you want to play? Are you planning to play loud hard rock? Quieter coffee-shop type songs? Jazz? Funk? Blue-grass? Are you going to play lead guitar, rhythm guitar, or bass guitar?
  2. Acoustic or electric? Will you want a guitar that plugs into an amplifier or one that you can play on its own? If you do want a guitar that plugs in, then you’ll also need to consider buying an amplifier to go along with it.
  3. How much can I afford? What kind of price-point do you feel comfortable with? $200? $400? Do you just need a guitar, or do you also need to factor in an amp if you’re getting an electric guitar?
  4. What does the guitar sound like? This one is going to be a little difficult since you’ll be ordering your guitar from online. But that’s okay because Amazon has a ton of reviews to let you know if someone was dissatisfied with their choice. You can also use the aid of forums and other online reviews to make sure you’re getting a good product.
  5. Will there be any extras included? What are you going to get for your money? Will it be a bundle package that includes an amp, strap, and other goodies?

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Amazon