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Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Gear | 8 comments

What Kind of Acoustic Guitar Should I Buy?

What Kind of Acoustic Guitar Should I Buy?

“What kind of guitar should I purchase?” This is the burning question that I am most frequently asked. It is a very important question because if you purchase the wrong guitar, you could be setting up yourself, your loved one or your friend for failure even before you or they play the first note. Here are the questions that you should consider before deciding on that perfect acoustic guitar.

  1. For whom are you buying this guitar?
    If you are buying for a child, a full sized acoustic guitar is not a good option.  They will struggle to reach around the body of the instrument and also to reach the end of the neck.  You want them to have fun and be able to enjoy their instrument. Generally, a half sized guitar works best for small children up to nine or ten years old.  The much smaller body and shorter scale neck will make playing much easier for them.  Good quality 1/2 sized guitars can actually be more expensive than full sized guitars, but they hold their resale value well, and your child is worth the extra $100 or so dollars.  Children 9-12 years old are great candidates for a 3/4 sized guitar.  This guitar still has a smaller body, but the neck is normal length (long scale).  These guitars are very comfortable to play, and they offer a sound quality upgrade from the half sized guitars.  Teenagers generally can handle the full sized guitars just fine.
  2. What type of guitar do I/they want?
    The two main types are nylon string (classical) guitars and steel string guitars.  By far, the most common type is the steel string guitar.  The steel string guitar offers so much flexibility in the different styles of music for which it can be used.  They have an amazing sound and are probably the guitar you hear played most often.  The only drawback of a steel string guitar is that the strings can seem a bit difficult to press down at first. Within a short time of practice however, this feeling quickly passes, and playing on the steel strings becomes 2nd nature.  Nylon string guitars are primarily but not exclusively played in the classical genre.  They are generally plucked with the fingers, and they offer a soft lovely tone.  The nice thing about nylon string guitars is that the strings are very easy to press down.  The drawbacks are that the nylon string guitar is not nearly as flexible in music styles as the steel string, and the neck on a nylon string guitar is very wide and thick and can be difficult for players (especially those with smaller hands) to wrap their hands around.  The choice of which type of guitar you purchase is completely up to your personal taste.  I own and play both types (steel string and nylon string).  I do personally prefer the steel string for most situations, but there are those times that a nylon string guitar just fits a song perfectly.
  3. What is my price range?
    There is truly a guitar for every budget.  You can find a new starter guitar online for as little as $40. Now, before you start online shopping for that cheap deal on a guitar, let me warn you that purchasing an inexpensive guitar will cost you in the end. Inexpensive guitars compromise quality of construction and sound.  I find that the two biggest problems on inexpensive guitars are that the tuning gears on the headstock often quit working properly very quickly and that the bridge begins to be literally pulled up from the body by the strings.  All of this is caused by poor quality parts and poor construction.  Generally new guitars under $125 are very suspect in terms of quality, and I feel that it is a good rule of thumb to make that amount your minimum.  You’ll be glad you did.  I recommend that you check out Lag Guitars.  Their entry level guitars are the best I’ve ever played. 
    If you’ve been playing a while and want to upgrade, there are some tremendous guitars in the $500-$1000 range that are being produced.  In fact, I’ve played some guitars in this price range that will rival any $3000 guitar.   Two of my favorite models are the Taylor E110 and the Martin D15.   If finger-style guitar is your passion, I would recommend the Taylor E110. If you are all about flat-picking, the Martin D15 might suit your taste.  Both of these guitars will sound great though no matter what style you play.  If you’re looking for a high end guitar, the shopping gets tough because there are so many good models out there.  The prices of these guitars can be anywhere from $1000- $5000.  At this level, much of it depends on your personal preferences and how much you want to spend.  The most important thing is to find the guitar that sounds great to you—that one guitar that you just fall in love with.  You will generally find that these guitars are the best sounding and the easiest to play.


Isaac Rochester

Isaac is the instructor for guitar at


  1. Great post, Isaac! Tony has picked up the guitar again over the past semester, and is smoothing out his chords and rhythm. I’ll tell him to check the website out. I may be getting into a topic you want to save for another post, but are there any guitar string brands you recommend? I like D’Addario for my fiddle, but don’t know anything about guitar strings, and Tony definitely needs new ones(they’re probably 10-15 yrs old). Ha!

    • Thanks! Elixir Nanoweb Strings are the strings that I use. They last much longer than most other strings. Yes, I plan to do a blog soon that will cover that topic more in depth, but that is that main thing that he needs to know. I also have two lessons in the “Helpful Tips” section of the membership area that covers everything with regard to changing strings!

  2. The store near us seems to have a lot of Fenders to choose from I. The beginners price range. They also have a Hohner. Musicians Friend online has some LAG but they cost closer to $250. What would you recommend to a true beginner who is trying to spend his limited funds wisely?

    • You can certainly learn on a Hohner or a Fender or any other entry level guitar. However, from my experience, I have found that these instruments are not made nearly as well as Lag guitars. Glue can tend to separate from the wood. Tuners can go bad. The bridge can begin to lift off of the guitar top. Lag guitars are also set up better on average and are easier to play. The feel of the guitar is much better than a Fender or Hohner in my opinion. Any instrument that is easier to play makes it easier for you to learn. If you are a true beginner, you will certainly want to make learning as easy as possible! Oh and by the way, Lag would typically be easier to resale for the before mentioned reasons. Lag is certainly not the only guitar out there, and you can certainly learn on any playable guitar. Lag is just my favorite entry level guitar. You might check online for used Lag guitars as well. Enjoy learning to play!!

  3. I’m a teenager and I’ve been playing the guitar for about two months now and it’s amazing! But I’m finding that even after two months of playing almost every day, I’m still finding it very uncomfortable/hard to hold my guitar and reach over the body when I play it.To where I don’t really want to practice at all (even though I know I should). And at this point, I don’t know if I should keep trying to play anyway and maybe I’ll get used to it with time, or if I might need a smaller guitar. I love playing and I really don’t want to stop, but it’s just physically uncomfortable for me. I just don’t know what to do and would like your advice.

    • You should definitely keep practicing! It sounds as if your guitar is a bit large for you to play comfortably. The good news is that there are many size options available! Each guitar company names their guitar models differently, so you will need to do a bit of research to find just the right size for you. For instance, Martin guitars (which are a high end company) name their guitars using a combination of letters and numbers or just numbers. Their models would be roughly “J” series (Jumbo), “D” series (Dreadnaught or full size), “000″ series (mid size), “00″ series (small), “0″ series, (parlor or very small). Again Martin guitars are expensive and are likely not what you would be looking to invest in as a beginner, but if you go online and look at their guitar models, it will give you a good idea of the different sizes available and will help you know what to look for with other companies such as Lag Guitars. I personally own a 0018 Martin and it is very comfortable to reach around. Start looking for another guitar, but by all means keep practicing in the meantime! You will be that much better when you do find that perfect guitar!

      • Ok thank so much!! I will certainly look into that.

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