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FAQ: Best Beginners Guitar?
Q: What guitar brand do you recommend for beginners?
A: Disclaimer: This question is the equivalent of a 'Do I look fat?' from your wife or a 'Were you looking at my girlfriend?' from a drunk guy in a bar... No matter how sincerely and honestly you answer, you're WRONG!
In the world of guitar, some people are diehard fans of certain brands, shapes and makes and no amount of statistical persuasion will convince them otherwise. You're therefore likely to get a variety of different and contradictory answers if you pose this question to a room full of guitarists...
Nevertheless, here's my attempt based on personal experience, friends' recommendations and some research.
When looking from a pure technical point of view the 'best' guitar brands are of course the most expensive ones. Brands like Gibson and Taylor fall in this category. Instruments from these manufacturers are made using the best raw materials and assembled and tested with professional craftsmanship.
The reason I wouldn't say a Gibson or Taylor wouldn'y qualify as a 'best beginners guitar' is simply because they're so darn expensive. Unless you are willing to pay $3000 for a top end Taylor Acoustic guitar that you're not even sure you'll be able to play, go for guitars with a lower price and upgrade from there.
When looking for a manufacturer that produces decent entry-level instruments I would consider the following:
Does the company have a good service reputation? Constant complaints from customers are always a bad sign.
Stick to well-known brands like Fender, Cort, Epiphone, Ibanez, Dean, Squier etc. Avoid funny names or brands you've never even heard of.
Price. Does the company produce decent entry-level instruments at lower prices?
Enough already! What's the best beginners guitar?!
I like Ibanez. I've had good experiences with their instruments and their prices are definitely within the affordable range. When I did the research on the cheap guitars section of this website I found that on a consistent basis customers were most happy with their products.
Combined with the fact that they manufacture the most instruments in the budget range (around $100 for acoustics and $150 for electrics), I would heartily recommend Ibanez as a great brand for beginners.
Where to now?
This question is covered in more detail at the cheap guitars section. There you'll find a list of reviews and prices on decent entry-level guitars for Ibanez and other good and popular brands.