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The Easiest Acoustic Guitar to Play (for under $500)

easiest

If you’re looking for the easiest acoustic guitar to play, I’ve done the research and I have an answer for you: A Big Baby Taylor.

If you trust me, go buy it.

If you want more details about why I love this guitar… read on…

First, let’s define what we mean by “easiest guitar to learn to play”.

Here is my criteria:

  • The guitar must be easy to handle (not too big)
  • The guitar must be easy(ish) on your fingers.
  • The guitar must be easy to keep in tune.
  • The guitar must sound good.
  • Not too expensive.

The Taylor Big Baby nails all of these points.

The guitar must be easy to handle.

The Big Baby Taylor is a 15/16 scale dreadnought style guitar.

This means that it is ever so slightly smaller than a full sized guitar.  If you didn’t know any better – you probably wouldn’t notice.

It’s genius.

It feels comfortable, but plays great.

The guitar must be easy on your fingers.

This may be the biggest selling point.

Cheap acoustic guitars typically have high action.

High action makes fretting chords and notes a pain… I mean literally causing finger pain.

The Big Baby is a quality instrument that is (obviously) made with guitar players in mind.

In other words, it plays great and your fingers will thank you.

And don’t worry – if you get your guitar and the action isn’t set to your liking – just take it to your local guitar shop to have it set up.

The guitar must be easy to keep in tune.

You may be thinking, shouldn’t all guitars be easy to keep in tune?

Yes.

But so many guitars geared towards beginners are of such poor quality that they’re difficult to get in tune (let alone stay in tune).

This is less a point about the Taylor, and more a warning to avoid super-cheap guitars.

The guitar must sound good.

This is honestly what I was worried about.

When dealing with a smaller scale guitar there is going to be a compromise in sound.

When I played and heard the Big Baby I was surprised about the full sound it produced.

Specifically, I was surprised (and happy) with the heavy bass tones it could produce.

It may be smaller… but it doesn’t sound like it.

The guitar must be affordable.

Affordability is subjective (especially when it comes to guitars).

If you’re serious about playing the guitar (meaning you plan on playing for a long time), it’s worth investing in a good instrument.

But you shouldn’t go broke over a guitar.

At the time of this writing you could get a Big Baby Taylor for less than $450 on Amazon.

This is a sweet spot between quality and affordability.

Can you get a better guitar for more money? Absolutely.

Should you get a better guitar for more money?  Not if you’re just starting out.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the easiest guitar to play for less than $500 – buy a Big Baby Taylor.

 

Cheaper Option

cheap easy acoustic guitar to play

If a $400 guitar is out of your budget you may want to consider a Fender CD-60.

It’s a little larger than the Taylor and made of less expensive materials, but it’s the gold standard when it comes to entry level guitars.

Does it pass our test?

  • The guitar must be easy to handle (not too big)
  • The guitar must be easy(ish) on your fingers.
  • The guitar must be easy to keep in tune.
  • The guitar must sound good.
  • Not too expensive.

The guitar must be easy to handle.

This a full sized guitar.  Compared to the Big Baby it will feel bulky (but so will any full sized guitar).

If you are on the smaller side – it’s gonna feel big (but again – so will most guitars).

The Guitar Must be easy on your fingers.

The action on the the Fender isn’t bad, but it’s not super low.

My advice: Take it to the shop and get it set up.  It’ll set you back another $70 or so, but it will make your guitar play (and feel) like a much nicer guitar.

The guitar must be easy to keep in tune.

No problem here.

Again – this is more of a warning about buying cheap instruments.

Generally, anything less than $100 is probably something to avoid.

A popular cheap brand is First Act.

I’m not a fan of the First Act brand of guitars (usually geared towards kids).

The Guitar must sound good

Compared with the Taylor – the difference in sound is VERY noticeable.

You just can’t replicate the sounds that quality materials and construction create.

Having said that, the Fender doesn’t sound bad.

I’ve owned a similar model to the Fender CD-60 for years (and I play with it regularly).

Compared to cheaper models (e.g. Jasmine) it sounds great.

(Note: the Jasmine actually isn’t too bad of a cheap little guitar if your budget is really tight). 

The guitar must be affordable.

At the time of this writing the Fender was $230.

That’s not too bad.

You could go super cheap (like the Jasmine), but:

  • It will probably hurt your fingers more
  • It won’t sound that great
  • Tuning is hit or miss

For an affordable option, go with the Fender.

But keep in mind if you get it set up, that bumps the price up to $300 (which is only $150 shy of the Big Baby Taylor).

Conclusion

 

Guitar buying is a unique and subjective experience.

If you have the time, go to a guitar store and play around with a ton of different guitars.

Try to only pick up guitars that are within your budget.

Don’t worry about brand name, just focus on how they feel and how they sound.

Or just get a Big Baby Taylor.

There are bound to be disagreements over this… if you have suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!

 

(Jake Posko does Online Guitar Lessons and Coaching as well as in-home lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at jake@jakeposko.com).

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