Having taught thousands of beginners we also had the opportunity to recommend guitars to just as many.
My first question when asked to recommend is always, ‘what’s your budget’? The returning question is often, ‘what should my budget be’?
How long is a piece of string? Never less than 80 is the answer, unless buying that piece of string second hand. If you Google ‘buy cheap guitar’ you’ll find loads of results on the likes of Amazon for acoustic guitars from China that come with spare strings, a carry case and tuner for around £69. Seems like a bargain! It’s not. The sound won’t be too bad but it won’t be comfortable to play and within a couple of months you’ll have either given up or splashed out on a new guitar. But, for not too much more you can get yourself something that not only sounds nice but is comfortable to play.
Here are my recommendations for acoustic guitars all under £160 (at the time of writing on 01/01/2023). If you’re wanting an electric then watch this space for blog number 2
Brand and Make: East Coast D1 Dreadnaught
Place to buy: Andertons in Guildford
Cost: £89 (on sale for £75 at the time of writing this blog)
What I thought of it: It has a big bold beautiful sound and is not uncomfortable to play but the action (distance between strings and fretboard) is a bit high making it slightly less comfortable or fast to play than some of the others listed here. But, this is the best guitar I’ve found for less than £90
Brand and Make: East Coast J1 Mini
Place to buy: Andertons
What I thought of it: This guitar has a much lower action than the D1 Dreadnaught and is really nice to play but the sound is a bit high pitched for my liking and this tinny sound would likely be exacerbated if playing with a plectrum. This is a good guitar for travel as it’s slightly smaller than others.
Brand and make: Epiphone DR100
Place to buy: Andertons or online.
Cost: £129 (£99 from Gear4music at the time of writing)
What I thought of it: It has a big bold sound but the strings can feel a little bit tight especially if fingers aren’t used to playing the guitar yet. If you’re all about filling a room acoustically with sound though, this is a good one. The DR100 was my first guitar and I upgraded it after about 8 months due to the string tightness but I’ve also recommended this to loads of beginners who I see playing it still many years later. A good one for strong hands.
Brand and make: Yamaha F310
Place to buy: Yamaha music store in Soho or most guitar shops on Denmark street (Rose Morris, Wunjo, Hanks) or online
What I thought of it: This is probably my favourite guitar under £130. It’s very comfortable to play and has a nice sound. When I played it for the first time, I felt like I had something closer to the £300 mark under my fingers.
Brand and make: Ferndale D2-CE Dreadnaught
Place to buy: PMT
What I thought of it: This is the cheapest electro acoustic guitar (you can plug it into an amp or PA and amplify it, or play it unplugged and it will work just like any acoustic guitar) that I’ve found that also plays well. Really good if gigging/ live performing/ open micing/ busking is your dream.