Acoustic Guitar: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Acoustic guitars hold a special place in the world of music, captivating audiences with their organic sound and versatile nature. Their popularity spans across numerous genres, from country to folk, alternative to reggae. As we delve into the world of acoustic guitars, it's essential to familiarize ourselves with their various styles and unique characteristics.

At the heart of an acoustic guitar is its soundboard, which amplifies the strings' energy and shapes the instrument's distinct tone. A combination of tonewoods and bracing patterns contribute to these qualities and, ultimately, define the personality of the instrument. The vast array of sizes, shapes, and specialized features available cater to the diverse tastes and preferences of musicians worldwide.

Throughout this article, we'll explore notable acoustic guitar models, discuss how they've evolved over time, and offer insight into finding the perfect instrument for your playing style. Whether you're a seasoned guitarist or just starting on your musical journey, understanding the nuances of these beautiful instruments will greatly enrich your appreciation of acoustic guitars.

History and Evolution of Acoustic Guitars

Early Instruments: Lute, Gittern, and Vihuela

The acoustic guitar has a rich history that can be traced back to several early stringed instruments. The lute, for example, was a popular instrument in European music from the Renaissance to the Baroque period. It was characterized by a rounded body, a short neck, and a varying number of strings. The gittern, which was also popular during the medieval era, was a small, plucked instrument with a flat back and four strings. Both the lute and the gittern are considered ancestors of the modern acoustic guitar.

Moving forward in history, the vihuela emerged as another important precursor to the acoustic guitar. Originating in 15th century Spain, the vihuela had a shape similar to the modern guitar, with six double strings. It was a popular instrument among Spanish court musicians and played a significant role in the development of Spanish Renaissance music.

Antonio Torres Jurado and Modern Acoustic Guitars

The modern acoustic guitar, as we know it today, owes much of its design to the innovations of the 19th-century Spanish luthier, Antonio Torres Jurado. Torres is considered the father of the modern acoustic guitar, as his design improvements dramatically changed the instrument's appearance, sound, and playability.

One of the key innovations introduced by Torres was the fan bracing system, which provided better structural support and improved resonance. He also increased the size of the guitar body, widened the neck, and used thinner wood for the top, which contributed to a louder and more balanced sound. Furthermore, Torres experimented with materials and string tensions, developing guitars with both gut and steel strings.

These innovations by Antonio Torres Jurado set the foundation for the modern acoustic guitar. Today, the instrument remains an essential part of music across various genres and continues to be revered by musicians and listeners alike.

Types of Acoustic Guitars


Dreadnought guitars are the most common type of acoustic guitar and have the most volume and the highest amount of bass frequencies. They are available in budget-friendly options as well as expensive ones such as Martins and Taylors 1. We generally recommend the Dreadnought style for beginners due to its versatility and widespread popularity.


Parlor guitars have a smaller body size compared to Dreadnoughts, resulting in a more focused sound and less bass response. They are ideal for fingerpicking and playing intricate melodies. These guitars are also easier to handle and transport because of their compact size.


Folk guitars are somewhere between Dreadnought and Parlor guitars in terms of size and sound. They possess a balanced tone suitable for various music styles, making them a great option for singer-songwriters and fingerstyle players.


Concert guitars are smaller than Dreadnoughts, with a narrower waist and a rounder body shape. This results in a clear, balanced tone with good projection, making them popular among fingerstyle players and those who prefer a more intimate sound.


Auditorium guitars, also known as Grand Auditorium guitars, have a similar shape to Concert guitars but with a larger lower bout. They offer a balanced sound with good bass response and are versatile enough for various playing styles 2. These guitars are perfect for those who want a guitar that can handle both fingerstyle and strumming techniques.

Classical and Nylon-String

Classical and nylon-string guitars have a rich legacy that dates back to the 15th century, originating from Spanish, Flamenco, Hybrid/Crossover, and Baroque guitars 3. These guitars have a distinct sound and feel due to their nylon strings, which produce a warmer and mellower tone compared to steel strings. They are often associated with classical and flamenco music, although many contemporary artists use them in various genres.


12-string acoustic guitars have a unique sound, characterized by their doubled string pairs that create a natural chorus effect. Each pair of strings is played as a single string, adding depth and richness to the guitar's sound. Though they can be demanding to play, the sonic payoff makes them popular among adventurous players and those seeking a distinctive tonal palette.


Acoustic-electric guitars are standard acoustic guitars that come equipped with built-in electronics (pickups and preamps), allowing them to be connected to an amplifier or sound system. This makes them suitable for live performances and recording sessions, as it eliminates the need for an external microphone. They can be found in various body styles, like Dreadnought, Concert, or Classical 4.






Major Acoustic Guitar Brands


Martin is one of the most respected and well-known acoustic guitar brands in the world. Established in 1833, this company has a rich history of creating high-quality instruments. Their guitars are known for their warm and balanced tones, making them a popular choice for both professionals and beginners. Some popular models include the D-28, D-18, and 000-28.


Gibson, another legendary brand, has been crafting guitars since 1902. They are particularly well-known for their J-45 and Hummingbird models, which have been used by iconic musicians such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. Gibson acoustic guitars are recognized for their full, rich sound and excellent build quality, enhancing their reputation as a top brand.


Founded in 1974, Taylor is a relatively young company, but it has quickly earned its place among the best acoustic guitar brands. With an emphasis on innovative designs and modern aesthetics, Taylor guitars are popular among contemporary musicians. The company's signature expression system provides pristine amplification for live performances. Some popular Taylor models are the 214ce, 414ce, and 814ce. Check out our latest deals on Taylor Guitars for sale.


Yamaha, a versatile brand known for a wide range of musical instruments, is also renowned for its acoustic guitars. Offering guitars for beginners to professionals, Yamaha produces affordable and reliable instruments with great sound quality. One of their most popular models is the FG800, which is known for its excellent value and versatility.


Fender, a brand synonymous with electric guitars, also offers a range of quality acoustic guitars. Their instruments are affordable and cater to various skill levels. The Fender CD-60S is one of their most popular models and offers a comfortable playing experience along with a rich and balanced tone.


Epiphone, owned by Gibson, is another prominent acoustic guitar brand. With a commitment to affordability and quality, Epiphone provides more budget-friendly options without compromising on tone and craftsmanship. The Epiphone DR-100 and Hummingbird PRO are popular choices among beginners and intermediate players.


Breedlove, founded in 1992, is a relatively new brand compared to some of its competitors. However, their innovative designs and focus on sustainability have earned them recognition in the guitar world. Offering a unique range of instruments made from responsibly sourced woods, Breedlove is a favorite among environmentally conscious musicians.


Alvarez, a reputable brand with over 50 years of experience, creates both acoustic and electric guitars. Known for their affordable yet high-quality instruments, Alvarez guitars often provide excellent value for players on a budget. While the company is located in St. Louis, Missouri, their guitars are crafted in Japan and China. Some popular Alvarez models include the AD60 and AD70.

Body and Construction


When constructing an acoustic guitar, the choice of tonewoods can significantly impact the instrument's tone and resonance. Among the popular tonewoods, walnut provides a balanced tone with a slight emphasis on the mid-range frequencies and a strong, clear bass response. Spruce is another common choice for soundboards due to its ability to produce a bright and responsive tone.

Various aspects of a guitar's tonality can be influenced by the tonewoods used, such as:

  • Bass response
  • Mid-range frequencies
  • Treble frequencies
  • Sustain


The resonator is a key component in amplifying the vibration of the guitar strings and producing a rich, full sound. The resonator's shape and size can affect the guitar's overall tonality, as well as the volume and projection of the sound. For example, large resonators with a deep body can produce more bass and volume, while smaller resonators may have a more focused and balanced tone.

Grand Concert

The Grand Concert (also known as the 000) is an acoustic guitar body style distinguished by its smaller size and narrower waist. These features make it comfortable to play and perfect for fingerstyle techniques. Moreover, its focused and balanced tonality caters well to recordings. Many guitarists appreciate the Grand Concert's intimate and expressive sound, making it a versatile choice for various musical styles.


The Orchestra (also known as the OM) is another popular acoustic guitar body style. Similar to the Grand Concert, it has a narrower waist and a slightly larger body than a traditional dreadnought guitar. This design provides a balanced tone, with good bass, mid-range, and treble response, making it a great choice for fingerstyle playing and a wide array of genres.


The soundboard, or top of the guitar, plays a crucial role in determining the instrument's overall tone and projection. The choice of tonewood for the soundboard can greatly affect the guitar's sound, with spruce being a popular choice due to its responsiveness and bright tonality. The soundboard's construction, thickness, and bracing pattern also influence the guitar's sound, with quality craftsmanship resulting in a more vibrant and resonant instrument.

Buying an Acoustic Guitar

Budget and Price Range

When buying an acoustic guitar, it's important to consider your budget and the price range of the guitars available in the market. In general, you can find a decent beginner's acoustic guitar in the range of $100 to $300. For instance, the DR-100 and FG800 are popular choices for beginners due to their affordability and quality sound. If you're willing to invest more, options like the Taylor GS Mini or Martin D-28 offer premium quality and exceptional tone. Keep in mind that the prices may vary depending on factors such as brand, materials, and construction. We always have the best selection and deals on the latest Acoustic Guitars for sale.

Left-Handed and Right-Handed Guitars

Another aspect to consider while purchasing an acoustic guitar is whether you are left-handed or right-handed. Although most guitars are designed for right-handed players, there are plenty of left-handed models available in the market. Some manufacturers even offer left-handed versions of popular models like the DR-100 or Martin D-28. It's crucial to choose a guitar that suits your playing style to ensure comfort and ease of use.

Acoustic Guitar Starter Packs

If you're just starting out and want a complete package, consider investing in an acoustic guitar starter pack. These packs often include the guitar, a gig bag, a strap, picks, a tuner, and sometimes even instructional material. One example of a beginner-friendly starter pack is the Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar, which comes in various finishes like matte natural, red burst, blue burst, and pink.

Another option is the Mitchell D120PK Acoustic Guitar Value Package, which includes a high-quality dreadnought guitar and essential accessories. If you prefer an acoustic-electric guitar, the Fender FA-135CE Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar offers a versatile instrument with built-in electronics, making it suitable for both practice and performance.

By considering your budget, playing style, and the available packages, we can help you find the perfect acoustic guitar for your needs. Happy shopping!

Acoustic Guitar Accessories

Picks and Plectrums

When playing an acoustic guitar, one of the essential accessories is a pick or plectrum. Picks come in various materials, shapes, and thicknesses, allowing for different playing styles and sounds. Thinner picks create a softer, smoother sound, while thicker picks generate a more aggressive tone. We recommend experimenting with various pick sizes and materials to find the one that best suits your playing style and preferred sound.


Changing guitar strings is crucial to maintain the quality of your guitar's sound. Different string materials and gauges significantly affect the overall tone and feel. Acoustic guitar strings are typically made of steel, but can also have phosphor bronze or silk and steel variations. For example, lighter gauge strings produce a brighter, more treble-heavy sound with less tension, while heavier gauge strings provide a richer and warmer tone. It's vital to choose the right strings for your guitar and playing style.

Amplifiers and Pickups

While not mandatory, amplifiers or pickups can help acoustic guitar players achieve a louder, fuller sound when playing in large venues. Acoustic guitar amplifiers are specifically designed to amplify the natural and warm resonances of the guitar without distortion. Additionally, pickups can be installed to electrically convert the vibrations of the strings into an audible signal, which can be further amplified. You can choose from various types of pickups, such as piezo, soundhole, or internal microphone pickups.

Tuners and Capos

Keeping your acoustic guitar in tune is essential for a great sound. Tuners make it easy to ensure each string is accurately tuned with fast and reliable results. Clip-on tuners are a popular option, as they are small, portable, and can easily be attached to the guitar's headstock. Capos, on the other hand, serve to change the pitch of the guitar by shortening the length of the strings, allowing for versatile chord variations. They can be especially useful for songs that require playing in a different key than your standard tuning. Both tuners and capos are essential tools for any acoustic guitar player.

Acoustic Guitar Techniques and Styles

In this section, we will explore various acoustic guitar techniques and styles, focusing on fingerpicking, strumming, flat-picking, and flamenco.


Fingerpicking, also known as fingerstyle, is an essential technique for acoustic guitar players. By using our fingers to pluck individual strings, we can produce a clean, intricate sound that resonates through the guitar's body. This method allows us to create a tactile, earthy tone that brings out the rich harmonics of the fingerboard and bridge.

Fingerpicking can be performed in several styles, such as classical, Travis picking, and percussive, or slap harmonic techniques. As we develop our fingerpicking skills, we'll find that this technique helps create a unique and immersive sound, perfect for both melodic and rhythmic playing.


Strumming is an expressive technique used to play chords and achieve an excellent rhythmic foundation for songs. With a strong attack on the strings, the guitar's body resonates and projects the sound. Variations in strumming patterns create different effects, from a gentle arpeggiated strum to a more aggressive driving pattern.

By mastering strumming techniques, we can bring our chords to life and create a dynamic and engaging performance. Using techniques like palm muting, percussive hits, and different pick grips allow us to control our tone and add depth and interest to our playing.


Flat-picking is a versatile technique for playing melodies, solos, and intricate picking patterns on the acoustic guitar. This style typically uses a pick to pluck individual strings or rapidly alternate between them. With a tight grip on the pick and a steady hand, we can achieve clear, precise sound and minimize any unwanted noise from the strings.

Some popular flat-picking styles include bluegrass and crosspicking. As we progress with our flat-picking technique, we will learn to incorporate slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, which can add excitement and virtuosity to our playing.


Flamenco is a passionate and expressive Spanish guitar style, incorporating elements of dance, singing, and percussive techniques. With a strong foundation in fingerstyle, we can dive into exploring flamenco techniques like rasgueado, golpe, and picado.

Rasgueado involves rapid strumming patterns using the fingers. Golpe is a percussive technique that adds a rhythmic accent by tapping on the guitar body. Picado is a quick, alternating picking style that emphasizes precise and clean finger movements on the fingerboard.

By learning and mastering these flamenco techniques, we can create a rich, fiery sound that captures the spirit and essence of this captivating art form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to choose the right strings?

When choosing strings for your acoustic guitar, consider your playing style, musical genre, and personal preference. Lighter gauge strings produce a brighter sound and are easier to play, while heavier gauge strings produce a bigger, fuller sound but may be more challenging for beginners. Experimenting with various gauges and materials can help you find the perfect fit for your instrument and playing style.

Best brands for beginners?

There are several reputable and beginner-friendly guitar brands to consider. Some popular choices include Yamaha, Fender, and Epiphone, known for their affordable and quality guitars. As a beginner, look for a guitar that's easy to play, has good sound quality, and fits your budget. Always try playing it before purchasing to ensure comfort in your hands.

Nylon vs steel strings?

Nylon and steel strings each offer a unique sound and feel. Nylon strings are typically used on classical guitars and produce a warm, mellow tone. They are easier on the fingers, making them a good option for beginners. On the other hand, steel strings are used on most other acoustic guitars, and they produce a brighter, louder sound. They may be more challenging for beginners, but they're versatile in various music genres.

Steps to maintain an acoustic guitar?

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your acoustic guitar in good condition. Some key steps include:

  1. Clean your guitar regularly with a soft, dry cloth to remove dirt and sweat.
  2. Store your guitar in a case or gig bag when not in use to avoid dust and humidity.
  3. Monitor the humidity level and use a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed to prevent wood damage.
  4. Replace strings regularly to maintain optimal sound quality.
  5. Regularly inspect your guitar for any signs of damage or wear, and get it serviced by a professional if necessary.

Pros and cons of different body shapes?

Acoustic guitars come in various body shapes, each with its unique characteristics. Some common shapes include:

  1. Dreadnought: Balanced and versatile sound, suitable for various musical styles. It may be too large for smaller players.
  2. Auditorium/Orchestra: Comfortable size and versatile sound, suitable for fingerpicking and strumming. It may lack bass response compared to larger body shapes.
  3. Parlor: Compact and comfortable to play, especially for smaller players. It produces a focused midrange, but may lack bass and projection.
  4. Jumbo: Large and powerful sound with excellent bass and projection, great for live performances. It may be too large for smaller players or extended practice sessions.

How often to replace strings?

The frequency of replacing strings depends on various factors, including your playing style, how often you play, and the type of strings used. Generally, strings should be replaced every 2-3 months under normal use, or more frequently if you play heavily or notice a decline in sound quality. Always keep an extra set of strings handy in case of a breakage during a performance or practice session.