I am looking to buy an acoustic guitar for my 18 year old son for Christmas. He has been teaching himself on an inexpensive electric guitar for about 18 months and is pretty enthusiastic about it. I don’t know anything about guitars (except being familiar with the big names.)
Can you get a decent acoustic in the $500 range? Any specific makers or models to consider? If it matters, he seems to play mainly rock type stuff, but seems interested in blues as well. Thanks!
As an entry level guitar, a luthier near me sold me a Washburn D10. Although I never learned to properly play it, I can tell you that it sounds great and stays in tune a good long time.
I see used ones for under $200. I don’t see a price on the Washburn site for a new one. https://www.washburn.com/?s=d10
When you are first starting out, any cheapie will do. Once you start developing your skills and your own personal style, then you also start to develop your own personal preferences. There are plenty of really good acoustic guitars to be had in the $500 range. My recommendation would be to take him down to the local music store and have him try a bunch of different models in your price range.
Martin and Taylor are good brands. Yamaha has a reputation for good cheapie beginner guitars but in recent years they are getting a lot better with higher quality models too. Some people don’t like the Yamaha name though since they have a reputation for being beginner guitars.
I personally have a Seagull 12 string that I really like. I like the way it plays and the way the neck feels, and it has a really good sound (IMHO). I wasn’t all that familiar with Seagull before I bought it but I went down to the music store and tried out a bunch of 12 strings and that was the one I liked best in my price range.
Is your son keen to get an acoustic guitar? It is, in some ways, a very different instrument from the electric. Perhaps a better electric guitar and an amp with built-in effects—I have one that has an “acoustic” setting. It’s a little gimmicky, but fun to play with, and I can crank into overdrive as well.
An acoustic with a pick-up might be worth exploring as well.
Thanks for the advice. I was planning on surprising him, but it sounds like a better plan to let him pick out his own. Still interested in hearing opinions on specific brands and models, it’s very helpful.
I play my Fender special edition telecaster several times a week. Really well made with dual Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups.
They’re over the $500 budget New. You can get them used for $600.
The cheaper option is the Fender Squire at about $300 - $350. My first electric was a Squire and kept it for a year. I bought the 2nd Squire to play in a band in college. I sold it ASAP and got a better guitar.
I will never sell my Fender special edition FMT. I never get tired of playing it.
I picked up one of these last year for about $500 and really love it:
It’s a parlor guitar, meaning a smaller body which is really comfortable to play, and it has a warm, mid-rangy tone that I find quite compelling and punchy. Very bluesy and excellent for slide. I also have a $1000 Taylor (which is entry level for a Taylor) and I like this guitar better! A parlor is a little less loud than a classic dreadnought guitar size that many people buy, so if your son wants to sing over his playing some day (or do a duet with someone that sings) that’s a big help. PRS has a very excellent rep for quality, even in their lower priced instruments, which this is as PRS also makes the $4000 custom electrics that they’re known for.
If you go shopping, try a few parlors and see what you think. A Taylor GS Mini (“Mini” because of the smaller body, not mini any other way) at about the same price is also an excellent choice and you’ll probably see some at a good guitar store.
If you buy a used guitar, make sure it’s from a reputable shop. If you are buying from an individual, insist on taking it to a guitar shop before buying it. They will check that the neck is straight and that the body is sound. Also, I’d restring it right off.
My parents first bought me an Alvarez acoustic. Unfortunately, out of ignorance, it was never set up and had very high action. I never enjoyed playing it and was frustrated with it for literally years and finally gave up assuming guitar just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until adulthood that I played a guitar with decent action and it was revelatory. I love playing now and do well at it, and am rather regretful that no one in the know could have helped me with a proper set up from day zero.
Whatever you get, make sure it is set up and a nice forgiving player, get opinions from experienced folks to try it before you buy (not just from the sales guy)