I should’ve known that I wanted to be a guitarist. I used to use my tennis racket more as a pretend guitar, than ever using it to play the game. I remember a classmate in elementary school bringing in his guitar to show and tell and being so jealous that I didn’t have a guitar myself. I didn’t buy my first until I was a teenager. Why did I wait so long to go get one on my own? Because, I didn’t know what was involved. Let us help you make the right decision.
We can help you find the instrument to get you started. We’ll compare the top acoustic guitar models in this price range, give ratings, and links to extended reviews to find out some more. After that we’ll give you some good tips and tricks to finding the instrument that is right for you.
Top 10 Acoustic And Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200
Yamaha’s FG700S is a very good beginner’s instrument. It has solid Sitka spruce top with laminate nato back and sides. The top and back have black binding with black-white-black purfling on the top. A tortoise pattern pickguard protects the thin gloss finish. The sound is bright with untidy lows. The balance is good, but does favor the treble.
Gretsch’s G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is a steel string parlor guitar with prewar roots. The body is made from all laminate agathis, which sounds like pine without its poor aging qualities. The neck is mahogany with an 18 fret rosewood fingerboard. It has a vintage sound that truly sings when fingerpicked.
The OG2SM by Oscar Schmidt, which is part of Washburn, is a full sized dreadnought acoustic. It has a spalted maple laminate top with laminate catalpa sides and back. The body is bordered on the top and back with white binding that also extends to the neck. The sound is bright with individual string clarity.
The S-34C Jasmine by Takamine is a steel string acoustic guitar. It has a grand concert body shape with a Venetian cutaway, and it has a scale length of 648mm (25.5”). The all laminate guitar has a spruce top and sapele back and sides. The sound is jangly with more presence in the higher registers.
Washburn’s WD100DL is a full-sized dreadnought acoustic. The top, back, and sides, are all laminate mahogany. The body is bordered with white binding. The mahogany neck has a rosewood fingerboard. The sound has a bright tone with plenty of jangle, with the mahogany warming up the sound of the strings.
Luna Guitars’ Gypsy Spalt is a full-sized guitar built for the beginner. The grand concert body is made with laminate mahogany back and sides, then topped with a spruce and spalt laminate. Black binding borders the top and back of the body. The mahogany of the body gives the guitar warmth, while the spruce top gives it a bit of snap.
Fender’s FA-100 is a steel string acoustic entry-level guitar. It has a laminate spruce top, and the back and sides are laminate basswood. The neck is maple with a 20 vintage fret rosewood fingerboard. It includes a 6mm thick gig bag. It has a simple woody sound with plenty of volume thanks to the dreadnought body shape.
Epiphone’s DR-100 is an all laminate dreadnought for the beginning player. It has a select spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The neck is mahogany, and glued to the body at the 14th fret. The rosewood fingerboard has 20 frets and dot inlays. The voice of the guitar is loud with a bit of a flat voice that is evenly balanced.
Fender’s CP-100 is a parlor sized steel string acoustic. It has a laminate spruce top with laminate mahogany back and sides. The neck joins the body at the 14th fret, which open up a bit more access to the higher strings. The sound is fuller than on most parlors with good balance and very good projection.
The HC06 by Hohner is a nylon string classical guitar designed for the older beginner student. It has an all laminate body with spruce top, and catalpa back and sides. The sound is very round without a lot of depth. It is balanced evenly between the bass and treble with a good dynamic range.
Top 4 Classical Guitars Under $200
The C3M by Cordoba is a nylon string full size classical guitar. It has a solid cedar top with laminate mahogany back and sides. The neck is nato with a rosewood fingerboard. The rosette is hand inlaid wood. It has a satin matte finish. It has a warm sound that is very responsive.
The FC-100 by Fender is a nylon string classical guitar. The all laminate body has a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It uses traditional fan bracing. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. Included with the guitar are a gig bag, clip-on tuner, and extra strings. The sound is warm and round.
The LC100CE by Lucero is a nylon string full-sized classical guitar. The classical body shape has a cutaway. The top is made of laminate spruce with the back and sides being laminate mahogany. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. There are passive electronics with an under the saddle piezo pickup. The sound is warm and round.
Oscar Schmidt by Washburn’s OC11CE is an acoustic/electric classical nylon string guitar. It has a cutaway in the classical shaped body. The instrument has a spruce top and sapele back and sides. It has an EQ-505R preamp with 3-band EQ, volume, and battery check button. The sound is pedestrian and the electronics do a good job of translating.
And so it Begins…
This is a beginner’s instrument so do not expect too much from it. This is not a guitar that will stay with you, because of its sound and playability. It will stay with you more for nostalgia, or because it has no value in the secondary market.
There is no reason to spend a thousand dollars on your first guitar. Will an expensive guitar be easier to play and look nicer? Of course, but if playing guitar isn’t for you, then you just bought a nice piece of wall art. You will lose more on your investment in an expensive instrument, then you will buying a beginners model, if you do not continue to play.
This will either be your first guitar or your last. If it is your first, then you will learn what you like about this instrument and it will inform your next purchase. If it is you last, then you aren’t out too much money and will have a better idea where your muse is leading you. If you have realistic expectations that your first guitar is a stepping stone you will be much happier in the long run.
What You Need
Have your guitar set up properly before taking it home. A poor set up on a guitar at this price range will make it unplayable. Before you buy see if the set-up is included in the price, or how much it will cost.
The next most important thing you should buy is a tuner. Clip-on tuners are easy to use, and will make learning a much more enjoyable experience for you, and those that have to listen. The nice part about buying an acoustic is that you don’t need an amp to get started. Even the cheapest amps will double the amount you have to spend to get started. Consider that a bullet dodged.
One way to get more out of your new guitar is put a new set of strings on it. If you have no idea what kind to buy talk to the salesperson at the music store, and get their help. The thinner the gauge the easier it will be to play, but you lose some in sound quality. It is a fair trade-off to make. A good set of strings will go a long way to make your playing experience even better.
A music stand is good for holding lesson books open, and putting them in your sight line. Practicing will be made easier without having to struggle to find a place set your lesson book so you can see it. A guitar stand will give you a place to set your instrument when you’re not playing. It works much better than leaning it against the wall.
Buy a plethora of picks, it only will cost you a couple bucks. Try different sizes, materials, and thicknesses, to find what feels best for you. You might even find that a pick isn’t for you, and become a fingerpicker.
The Price You Pay
If you invest a little more into your first guitar (acoustic guitars around the $300 mark) you will get a nicer instrument that will take you farther into your musical journey. You could get a solid top instrument which will go a long way in improving the sound. Playability will be much better. Just remember in the bigger scheme of things those instruments are also very good beginner/entry-level guitars as well.
Guitars are like anything else, you will get what you pay for. A Kia isn’t going to drive like a Cadillac, but if you are just trying to get from point A to point B the less expensive option might be the best choice. Do you need an expensive guitar to start out with? No. It doesn’t hurt to spend more, if you have the money.
What matters most is your passion to play. Guitarists don’t quit playing guitar because they have an inexpensive instrument that is a challenge to play. Those that don’t really have a passion for the instrument will find an excuse to give it up. A guitarist will keep playing no matter what.
Try different styles of guitars to find the one that feels right for you. At this point do not worry about the price tag, worry about the feel. Try different sized guitars to see which fits your body size. Younger or smaller framed players will feel more comfortable with a smaller instrument.
Once you know what kind of acoustic guitar you want and the size that is right for you, then look to see what is available. Take your time, no one says you have to buy your first guitar on the first day.
When you find the one that is right, then turn the tuning machines. If they have a lot of play when you move them, then the tuning stability of the instrument will be very poor. Set the guitar down and move to the next.
Check the action, this is the distance of the string from the fretboard. You should be able to push down without too much effort at the first fret and get a clean and clear note. Try this up the strings and listen for buzzing, and if it takes too much effort to keep the note fretted. This could be fixed with a good setup, or it could be indication of poor craftsmanship.
Take advantage of your local music store. My local store offers a free lesson with every instrument they sell. If you haven’t already found a teacher to help you get started this would be a really good way to test the waters.
The Author’s Conclusion:
This could be the first step into a lifelong journey, or it could be a side step in the wrong direction. You won’t know until you take that first step. Maybe you think you want something more than a first time instrument, then take a look at some of our other comparison articles. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with what we are keeping up on. Stop by often since we are adding new articles all the time. Until next time, keep working on your B chords and practice those scales.