The best acoustic guitar for beginners

The #1 Selling Acoustic Guitar for beginners, a complete review.

Upon reviewing hundreds of acoustic guitars for beginning players, we have found the Yamaha FG800 to be the #1 selling acoustic guitar for beginners across the country (USA).  Though it happens to be the #1 seller, this alone does not make it "the best" - there are several reasons why it continues to be the best selling acoustic guitar in the U.S.  And though there is no real "best" acoustic guitar for beginners, there are certainly guitars you want to avoid and those you will want to consider buying if you want the best for your buck.   I experienced disappointment with my first guitar back in 1990 that I no longer own, (I'm still playing guitar and loving it) but have learned a great deal from the experience and have never bought a disappointing guitar since.
My beginner acoustic guitar story
Back around 1990, I was given my first acoustic guitar as a Christmas present. It was made by Fender.  I was excited as it was a Christmas gift from my parents.  They didn't know much about buying an acoustic guitar for a beginner, and neither did I.  All I know is that they paid between $400 and $500 for it.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have chosen a better guitar and they would have saved a little more money on my first guitar.  It would have most likely been the Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar which currently retails for about $200 (and is also the #1 selling guitar at the time of this post).  It would have saved them a few hundred dollars and I would have been more pleased with the performance as I became a better player.
5 Factors to always consider when buying any acoustic guitar.
When purchasing a guitar, you should always consider 5 common factors:
  • the wood it is made from
  • the manufacturer's reputation (what other users say)
  • kinds of tuning keys that are used
  • the finish (satin vs. glossy) and
  • the dimension standards of the neck, fret board, body widths and depths so that. . .
. . . when learning on a guitar, the player will not feel awkward or uncomfortable when playing other guitars that are "standard" (being that the Dreadnought is the most common body size among manufacturers.  With the following specs, the Yamaha FG800 is a standard dreadnought in every aspect.  I did not know this when I had my first guitar purchased for me, and had my parents known and had I known, we would have most likely chosen this guitar for many reasons.
The Yamaha FG800              The Yamaha FG800 (back view)
No cheap top wood on this guitar.
The Yamaha FG800 has a very responsive top made of solid Sitka spruce.  Even for many top-of-the-line guitars, Sitka Spruce (and Engelmann Spruce) are used in many high end guitar models as well.  Sitka Spruce is one of the best industry standards for making a fine sounding guitar top because the wood grows in cool climates where the annual tree rings are very small, giving the wood a very fine, straight, tight grain pattern and a lot of strength at thin gages, making it ideal for any acoustic guitar top.  
The sides are not low-quality plywood like other entry level budget acoustic guitars. . .
The sides are not cheap plywood (as you might find in some other beginner guitars), but an Eastern Mahogany Cousin (known as Nato) that is less expensive than standard Mahoganies used for guitars, but is durable and offers beautiful tone reproduction similar to other Mahogany wood.  The Nato-Mahogany gives it a great tonal balance with supportive lows, clear mid tones, and clean high tones.  Additionally, the Nato-Mahogany is hard and strong, giving the guitar years of consistent playability and reliability.  Many players buying this guitar as a beginner, will find it can handle their skills just fine as they become more advanced players.  
A beginner guitar that you won't easily "outgrow"
Regardless of the experience level or playing style, finger-picking, strumming,  jazz, classical, or others, this great entry level guitar can support them all for playability and excellent tonal quality.  Even a professional player would appreciate the balance and playability of the Yamaha FG800.  Additionally, all of the wood is solid wood (no laminates) so there are no worries about this guitar coming apart (unless it is abused or exposed to extremes in temperature or humidity fluctuations) - but any guitar would come apart under those conditions.
Can the finish affect the sound quality and projection too?
The glossy finish on the body of the guitar, believe it or not, affects the tone quality.  A glossy finish will create a brighter, more projecting sound and will give the sound a more crisp, distinct tone quality.  A satin finish on a guitar will mellow the sound out a bit, but in an acoustic guitar, especially for a beginner, the glossy finish will create a more pleasing, clear and less muddy sound.  When I was upgrading to a more professional line guitar several years ago, believe me, I tested everything as I did not want to be disappointed in my investment.  I chose a glossy finish because it gives a great shiny look, and because the guitars with a gloss versus satin finish just sound clear and crisp, helping to distinguish the low, mid, and high tones.  An acoustic guitar can always be muted or amplified, but when playing an acoustic guitar that will be played unplugged a lot, it is better in my opinion and less frustrating to get a little more projection, clarity and distinction caused from the glossy finish vs. a satin finish.
  The Yamaha FG800                The Yamaha FG800 (back view)
Solid, quality, chrome, tuners to avoid tuning frustrations
The tuning keys or tuners on the Yamaha FG800 are diecast chrome (stainless) and are not junk.  I have had older, cheaper guitars with loose or poor quality tuners making tuning a constant frustration, but this Yamaha, as all Yamaha guitars, has solid, good quality, chrome tuners that will last for several years of winding and tuning the guitar strings, keeping the guitar strings in consistent tension and in tune (as long as you know how to tune it).
The Yamaha FG800: professional sound - professional player demonstration
The best price and guarantee for this best beginner or entry level acousitc guitar can be found here at The Yamaha FG800
Standard neck and fretboard - better playability and more universal
The string scale (fret board) is scaled at 650 mm or (25 9/16 inches).  This is in the standard range for any dreadnought guitar.  Also, the body depth is 100-118 mm (3 15/16 inches to 4 5/8 inches).   The fingerboard measures from the factory at 43 mm (1 11/16 inches).  All of these specs are within the standard range for the most popular dreadnought body style, so once you learn on this guitar, you should be able to pick up other popular, standard dreadnoughts and strum away with a similar feel.
A beginner's guitar that even professionals love to play. . .
So, although I do not own this guitar at the moment (I own a higher end- professional guitar now and a few others), I have owned several guitars but never bought or recommended a junker.   Thanks to the lessons I learned back in 1990 from having a beginner guitar that was less than great for a growing guitar student, I never purchased another guitar that disappointed me, and if I were beginning or even looking to buy a guitar on a budget, but also wanted one that would solid as I became more skilled, I would not hesitate to buy this Yamaha FG800 Acoustic Guitar .  There's a reason it has been one of the #1 selling guitars in the country and now I know why.
This true story and review was written by Aaron Schulman, an avid guitar player since 1990 and musician since 1986.  He is happily married to his beautiful wife Jennifer, and his 3 wonderful girls (gifts from God).  He began his "career" in music at the age of 10 with his first trumpet.  Later in life, he picked up his first guitar as a Christmas gift from his parents and fell in love with playing the guitar.  As he became a more advanced guitar player, he realized that all guitars in a given price range are clearly not equal and began his quest (before investing in high end guitars) to understand what makes a quality guitar by studying their construction, strings, tone woods used, tuning keys, and manufacturer practices.  He currently lives in central Ohio.