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5 BEST Acoustic Guitars For Older Beginners (TESTED!)

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My dad asked me a few months ago if I can give him some tips on the best acoustic guitars for older beginners (he’s 56 and he never played on anything).

So here’s a few models that I recommended him! If you’re a bit older and you’re struggling to find your first guitar, this short guide may be very helpful to you.

Before we start, here’s a few key takeaways:

  • Comfort is Key: As an older beginner, comfort is paramount. Look for guitars with easy playability.
  • Quality Matters: A well-crafted guitar can inspire and make learning more enjoyable.
  • Balance Your Budget: You don’t need to break the bank, but investing in a good guitar is worth it.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, choose a guitar that resonates with you, both in sound and feel.

List Of 5 Best Acoustic Guitars For Older Beginners

Guitar ModelAmazon LinkThomann Link
Gretsch Jim DandyAmazon LinkThomann Link
Harley Benton CG-45Thomann Link
Taylor GS Mini MahoganyAmazon LinkThomann Link
Fender FA125 / FA-135 ConcertAmazon LinkThomann Link
Epiphone J-200Amazon LinkThomann Link

Gretsch Jim Dandy

The Gretsch Jim Dandy stands out in its class, and from my extensive experience with various guitars, I can vouch for its unique appeal. This guitar resurrects the vintage parlor guitar style, offering a retro look with modern playability.

gretsch jim dandy

In-Depth Review

  • Design: The Flat Top Parlor body shape isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s designed for comfortable play. Its compact size is a boon for older beginners, making it less cumbersome than larger models.
  • Build: With a Basswood body and neck, this guitar offers a distinctly warm, mellow sound. It’s particularly forgiving for beginners, smoothing out rough edges in your playing.
  • Playability: The C-shaped neck profile and 610 mm scale length make for an exceptionally comfortable playing experience, reducing strain on fingers and wrists.
  • Sound: Expect a soft, intimate tone, perfect for solo practice and smaller gatherings. It may not have the loud projection of bigger guitars, but its sound quality is charming and well-balanced.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Easy to handle, Comfortable neck, Warm tone, Vintage aesthetic.
  • Cons: Limited projection, May not suit all music genres.

Harley Benton CG-45

The Harley Benton CG-45 is a fantastic choice for older beginners with a penchant for folk music. Its design and build quality offer a seamless blend of comfort and sound quality.

harley benton cg-45 on guitar stand

In-Depth Review

  • Design: Its Folk-style design is not just visually appealing but also ergonomically suited for longer playing sessions.
  • Material: The mahogany body is a classic choice for acoustic guitars, known for its rich, warm tones. It’s an excellent material for a guitar that needs to be versatile across various music styles.
  • Fretboard: The use of Roseacer (thermally treated maple wood) for the fretboard is a thoughtful touch, offering durability and a smooth playing surface.
  • Sound: Expect a balanced sound with a slight emphasis on the warm, lower-mid tones, making it suitable for fingerpicking and strumming alike.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Rich, warm sound, Comfortable neck profile, Durable build, Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Cons: Might be slightly large for some, The matte finish is not everyone’s preference.

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany

The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany is a marvel of modern guitar craftsmanship, combining portability with a powerful sound. Its compact size belies its sonic capabilities, making it a favorite among my students who are older beginners.

taylor gs mini mahogany specs

In-Depth Review

  • Body and Size: The Small Body design is a major advantage for older beginners. It’s easy to hold and play for extended periods, reducing physical strain.
  • Top Wood: The solid Mahogany top is a standout feature. It contributes to a rich, warm sound with excellent projection for its size.
  • Playability: With a 597 mm scale and 42.8 mm nut width, the GS Mini is incredibly user-friendly. The neck feels comfortable in the hand, and the string spacing is ideal for beginners.
  • Additional Features: It comes with a gig bag, making it an excellent option for those on the go. The Ebony fretboard adds a touch of luxury and smoothness to the playing experience.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Compact and portable, Rich and full sound, High-quality construction, Comfortable for extended play.
  • Cons: Higher price point, Limited on-board customization options.

Fender FA-125 / FA-135 Concert

The Fender FA-135 Concert is a guitar that offers a lot more than its price tag suggests. Its concert design is particularly suited for older beginners looking for a blend of comfort and quality.

The FA-125 is very similar, but it has a different body shape.

In-Depth Review

  • Design: The Concert body style is excellent for a balanced sound and comfortable hold. It’s large enough to produce a full sound but not so big that it becomes unwieldy.
  • Materials: The combination of Spruce top and Basswood back & sides delivers a bright, balanced tone. The Walnut neck and fretboard add to the guitar’s overall durability and playability.
  • Nut and Saddle: The cream-colored plastic nut and saddle are decent quality for beginners, offering good string stability and intonation.
  • Aesthetics: The black finish with a single-layer black pickguard gives it a classic, understated look that many will appreciate.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Comfortable size, Balanced sound, Attractive design, Affordable.
  • Cons: Plastic components may need upgrading, Sound may lack the depth of higher-end models.

Epiphone J-200

The Epiphone J-200 is a guitar that brings the legendary Gibson J-200 experience to a more accessible price point. This guitar is an excellent choice for older beginners who want a guitar with a rich history and a bold sound.

In-Depth Review

  • Body and Design: The Jumbo body shape is iconic, offering a big, bold sound. While it might be a bit larger for some, its presence is unmatched.
  • Sound Quality: Known for its robust, full-range sound, the J-200 is ideal for everything from strumming to fingerpicking.
  • Build Quality: Epiphone is known for its quality craftsmanship, and the J-200 is no exception. It’s built to last, with attention to detail that you can see and feel.
  • Playability: Despite its size, the J-200 has a surprisingly comfortable neck and action, making it easier to play than some other jumbo models.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Iconic design, Robust sound, Quality craftsmanship, Versatile for various playing styles.
  • Cons: Larger size might be challenging for some, Higher price point.

Comparison of 5 Best Acoustic Guitars For Older Beginners

Here’s a little table that compares the most relevant specs of these guitars – I hope that it will be helpful!

Gretsch Jim DandyHarley Benton CG-45Taylor GS Mini MahoganyFender FA-135 ConcertEpiphone J-200
Body ShapeFlat Top ParlorFolk-styleSmall BodyConcertJumbo
Top MaterialBasswoodMahoganyMahogany, solidSpruceNot Specified
Back & SidesBasswoodMahoganySapele plywoodBasswoodNot Specified
Neck MaterialBasswoodMahoganySapeleWalnutNot Specified
Fretboard MaterialWalnutRoseacerEbonyWalnutNot Specified
Scale Length (mm)610650597643Not Specified
Nut Width (mm)42.94342.843Not Specified

Which one would I choose?

old man playing on guitar

If I were to choose one of these guitars for an older beginner, my pick would be the Gretsch Jim Dandy. This decision comes from a blend of personal experience, understanding the unique needs of older beginners, and the guitar’s inherent qualities.

Why Gretsch Jim Dandy?

gretsch jim dandy - one of the best acoustic guitars for older beginners

In my opinion, it’s one of the best acoustic guitars for older beginners (and younger too!).

The Perfect Size

For many older beginners, a large guitar can be unwieldy and uncomfortable. The Gretsch Jim Dandy’s compact size is its biggest asset. The Flat Top Parlor body is easy to hold and play, making it ideal for those who might find larger guitars intimidating or physically challenging.

Ease of Playability

The C-shaped neck and 610 mm scale make for a comfortable playing experience. It’s gentle on the fingers and wrists, reducing fatigue and making the learning process more enjoyable. For beginners, especially older ones, this ease of playability is crucial.

gretsch g9500 closeup photo

Warm, Forgiving Sound

The Basswood body and neck, combined with the walnut fretboard, produce a warm, mellow tone that’s very forgiving for new players. Mistakes are less jarring, and the overall sound is pleasing and encouraging.

gretsch jim dandy pickguard

Vintage Appeal

There’s something undeniably charming about the vintage look of the Gretsch Jim Dandy. It’s not just a guitar; it’s a piece of musical history. This aesthetic appeal can be incredibly motivating for beginners who want an instrument that looks as good as it sounds.

back of headstock of gretsch jim dandy

Affordability

For older beginners, investing a huge amount in a first guitar might not be ideal. The Gretsch Jim Dandy offers excellent value for money, balancing quality with affordability.

Learning Resources For Older Beginners

Okay, let’s say that you bought one of these guitars. What now?

Well, it’s time to start learning!

long haired guitar player

To aid in this adventure, there are numerous resources tailored specifically to meet the unique needs and learning styles of mature newcomers. Firstly, online platforms like JustinGuitar and Fender Play offer structured lessons that cater to various skill levels, allowing for a comfortable and self-paced learning environment.

For those who prefer a more traditional approach, local community music schools often provide beginner classes, where the added benefit of personal interaction can greatly enhance the learning experience.

Additionally, YouTube is a treasure trove of tutorials, with channels dedicated to beginner lessons, often breaking down popular songs into easy-to-follow steps. Books like Guitar for Dummies and Hal Leonard Guitar Method” are also fantastic resources, combining theoretical knowledge with practical exercises.

Apps like Yousician and Simply Guitar gamify the learning process, making it engaging and fun, especially for those who might feel intimidated by more formal teaching methods. Remember, the key is to find a resource that resonates with your personal learning style and musical interests.

With these resources at your disposal, the path to mastering the guitar is both accessible and enjoyable. Happy strumming!

FAQ For Older Beginners

happy older beginner playing on guitar by his wife

1. Is It Too Late for Me to Start Learning Guitar?

Answer: Absolutely not! Learning guitar has no age limit. Starting as an older beginner can be a rewarding experience, and many find it a fulfilling hobby.

2. What Should I Look for in a Beginner Guitar?

Answer: Look for a guitar that’s comfortable to hold and play. Pay attention to the size, neck shape, and string action. A good beginner guitar should also have a pleasing sound and be well-constructed.

3. How Often Should I Practice as a Beginner?

Answer: Aim for consistent, short practice sessions. Even 15-30 minutes a day can yield significant progress. It’s more about regularity than the length of each session.

4. Are Acoustic Guitars Easier to Learn Than Electric?

Answer: It depends on your musical preference. Acoustic guitars are more portable and don’t require additional equipment like amps. However, some find electric guitar strings easier to press down.

5. How Can I Minimize Finger Pain While Learning?

Answer: Finger pain is common for beginners. To minimize it, ensure your guitar is well set up with low action, start with light gauge strings, and gradually increase your practice time.

6. Can I Learn Guitar on My Own or Do I Need Lessons?

Answer: Many resources are available for self-learning, including online tutorials and books. However, taking lessons can provide structured learning and immediate feedback.

7. What’s the Importance of Guitar Size for Older Beginners?

Answer: The right guitar size ensures comfort and reduces the strain on your hands and body. As an older beginner, you might find smaller guitars like parlor models more comfortable.

8. How Do I Keep Myself Motivated to Learn?

Answer: Set small, achievable goals and celebrate your progress. Play music you love, and consider joining a community or group of fellow guitar learners for support and motivation.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on the journey of learning guitar as an older beginner is not just about picking an instrument; it’s about starting a new chapter in life with passion and enthusiasm. The right guitar, like the Gretsch Jim Dandy, can be a faithful companion on this musical adventure, offering comfort, ease of play, and a sound that inspires.

Remember, the path of learning guitar is as unique as the individual walking it. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and each step forward, no matter how small, is a victory. Embrace the challenges, revel in the joys of making music, and let your guitar be a source of personal fulfillment and creative expression.

In closing, whether you choose the compact charm of the Gretsch Jim Dandy, the warm tones of the Harley Benton CG-45, the quality of the Taylor GS Mini, the balanced sound of the Fender FA-135, or the iconic Epiphone J-200, know that your choice is the right one for you. Let your guitar be a reflection of your musical journey, a tool for expression, and a testament to the timeless joy of making music.

So, grab your guitar, tune those strings, and let the music flow. The world of guitar playing awaits with endless possibilities and joys, regardless of when you start. Happy strumming!