Some of Our Favorite Entry Level Guitars

art and luthrie ami parlor guitar on colorful rug

By Lessonface Staff

In gearing up for next month’s Summer NAMM conference in Nashville, where we’re excited to check out tons of new-model instruments, today we discuss some entry-level guitars we’ve had the pleasure to own. We are not being paid for these opinions, and we can’t guarantee you’ll like these guitars as much as we did, but we think they’re worth considering if you’re in the market for a first guitar that you can keep for many years. We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’ve had experience with these guitars, or if there are other guitars you would suggest to folks looking for a relatively inexpensive yet solid instrument.

Acoustic (Dreadnought): Blueridge “BR-40”

This standard-sized acoustic guitar with laminate sides and a solid spruce top has a reputation for sounding as good as, or better than, far more expensive guitars, and significantly better than you would expect an Asian import Martin clone to sound. It’s a loud, versatile player reminiscent of the undisputed classic Martin D-18. You still can find new BR-40’s for around $400.

While you might find another beginner acoustic guitar for half the price, chances are it wouldn’t be half the instrument. There are several demos of this guitar on YouTube, including the video to right with very nice audio all the way from Holland.

Acoustic (Parlor): Art & Lutherie “Ami”

Like all the guitars made by Art & Lutherie (a Godin brand), the small-bodied Ami is handcrafted in Canada from 95% Canadian wood. Amazon will ship you one for around $350.

It’s a fun little guitar to play, and it has a nice full sound, as you can hear to right. Because of its size, the Ami would be a nice first guitar for a child, but expect to find guitar-playing moms and dads stealing time with it, too.

Electric: Gibson “Melody Maker” with single P90

You might be able to find a used early 2000s Melody Maker with a single p90 pickup for around $400-$500. Gibson seems to no longer make this specific model. It’s a very simple instrument that’s fairly durable in our experience. It’s not going to give you a variety of tones, but it is a fun, loud electric guitar for your collection.

Here's a fellow talking about his and playing it for you. We recently saw a couple on eBay: here and here

Do you have a favorite entry level guitar? Let us know in the comments below.


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First, a Mexican Martin will cost about the same as the clone, but have better resale value. I'd be happy practicing on a $150 Yamaha c10.

Second, forget Gibson, an Epiphone Les Paul Jr can be found for $99 or less pretty easily, check the neck and Jack and you're good. That's my opinion on what's already listed.

I'd mention Ibanez RG series and Peavey Predators and similar Stratocaster clones with HSS or HSH pickups, can all be found used under $200.

For electrics, you'll want an amp, I recommend Fender Mustang v2, plenty of stock tones and a bypass for real clean too, about $100.

No matter what you get, learn how to setup and adjust everything, especially the action, intonation, and then the pickup height and angles. When buying guitar, take a seasoned player with you. Best of luck. And really, it's more about skill than gear, more about what you can hear. Practice

P.s. often putting on fresh strings (elixir polywebs) will have the most dramatic improvement to a neglected used guitar.

Flavio Lira

Thanks for the input, Joe. A beginning musician can surely get going with very small investment. I think most of the resulting sound is in the practicing and setting up. The instrument is just, well, an "instrument" to the expression of the artist!

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