I have been teaching guitar since 1999. I have taught over a thousand students on all sorts of instruments: Electric, Acoustic, Classical, 1/2 and 3/4 sized guitars… All this experience leads me to recommend one guitar as superior for beginning guitarists:
The full sized classical guitar.
Here are 3 big reasons why this is the best choice for a new student.
1. Acoustic vs. Electric (Acoustic Wins)
An “Acoustic” guitar means any guitar with a wooden hollow body amplifying its sound, no need for amplification. Electric guitars have a thin solid body, and thus no acoustic resonation and the requirement of an amplifier.
Now the two instruments are tuned the same, and besides amplification are over 95% the same instrument. But, I discourage students from learning on an electric guitar simply for the logistical issues with it: You need a cable and an amp to play, you thus have more items that can fail, ruining a lesson or jam session, you have to mess with the settings of the amp…
Perhaps the greatest reason is that there is a bigger amount of work you need to do to get to playing your guitar. The power of just picking up an instrument and playing it shall not be underestimated.
While not impossible to learn on an electric, we highly recommend an acoustic guitar.
2. Acoustic vs. Classical (Classical Wins)
This may be a bit confusing: Under the broad umbrella of Acoustic Guitars, there are two main categories: Classical and Acoustic. At this level of specificity, a classical guitar is a nylon stringed instrument with tuners facing backward. Acoustic guitars have steel strings, tuners facing outward, and the body is a bit larger (there are many other detailed differences but those are the main ones).
The reason we recommend classical guitars goes back to the string type: Steel string guitars, especially ones with high action (distance between strings and fretboard), can be painful for beginners to play. Nylon strings are just easier on the fingers, they provide one less barrier to beginners learning.
Also the smaller body size of classicals makes it more manageable: the common body for acoustics, the dreadnought, is wider and more difficult for small students to get their arm around.
I admit the one shortfall of the classical guitar is it’s designed for plucking, not strumming. But the benefits of the instrument greatly outweigh this.
3. Full Sized vs. Smaller Sized (Full Sized Wins)
Full sized classicals are proportioned to adults, but they’re small enough where kids (3rd grade and up) can play them just fine. Even the smallest 3rd graders can reach the first fret with their left hand and their right hand can wrap around and reach the strings with no problem.
I recommend full sized because these kids are constantly growing! And a growing student with a 1/2 or 3/4 sized guitar will need an upgrade to a full sized guitar soon.
Even for small students, I advise them to suffer the awkwardness for a few months with a full sized classical rather than needing to get another guitar when they hit their growth spurt because their first one looks like a ukulele.
IT’S OK IF YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT GUITAR
Remember, it’s totally fine if you have a 3/4 sized electric guitar, a full sized dreadnought, or any other playable guitar. Our only requirement for a student bringing his/her own guitar is that it remains in tune… in other words it can’t be a toy.
If you want to learn on an electric we will restrict you to online lessons, and if you have any acoustic (including classical) guitar, you can join our group lessons.
The full sized classical guitar is simply our preference and what our decades of experience lead us to believe is the best beginner instrument. This is also why it’s the only guitar we offer for sale.
Our Retail Offering
At the time of writing this blog, the price for our full sized classical is only $145. This price includes a soft “gig bag” carrying case, and all tax and shipping. We also guarantee the quality of the instrument for a year.
We have our resale license so we order in bulk direct from the factory. Plus we don’t have to pay rent on a physical retail space, so we are very confident in how competitive our price is.
Again, we specialize in education, we don’t want getting a guitar to be a barrier to anyone wanting to learn music. So we recommend this simple solution to buying a first guitar, and we have priced it in a way for beginners to check out the instrument, see if they like it, and decide on what b*tchin’ axe to get next.