Battle of the Beginner Guitars
When you want a guitar so you can start learning to play, dreadnaught acoustic guitars are an excellent choice. With one you can play almost any kind of popular music, from folk to rock to country. Let’s take a look at these three popular models to see which one will be the best for you.
Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar
Winner of several awards, the excellent Seagull S6 Original Acoustic Guitar is a fine choice for beginning or intermediate musicians. While it’s a little high end for learners who aren’t certain they will stick with guitar-playing, for committed players, this guitar will last for years. It’s not just for lessons, either. It’s a performance guitar.
It has a full-size dreadnaught design complemented by a choice of solid tonewoods for a powerful, warm sound with crisp detail. The top is made from pressure-tested cedar to ensure it vibrates correctly. Cedar gives the guitar the warm sound it has.
The back and sides are built with wild cherry wood to give it brightness and clarity. The neck is strong silver leaf maple with a rosewood fretboard. The whole guitar has a semi-gloss finish that’s formulated to avoid checking and cracking.
Instead of using bolts, the S6’s neck is set right into the body of the guitar. The maple neck hides dual-function truss rods to help keep it in perfect alignment. They can be adjusted by a technician if the neck bows from humidity or strain.
There are 21 frets on a 24.84-inch scale. The nut is 1.8 inches wide. Instead of a wide, flashy headstock, the S6 has a tapered head to give it better tuning and less stress.
Seagull builds their guitars in Quebec, Canada, and most of their wood is harvested there. But instead of using a natural bone saddle and nut, Seagull uses Tusq for these two parts. It’s a synthetic material made to act like bone but without the softness and irregularity.
Here are two helpful tips that Seagull tells their customers: One, never use wax-based products to clean the S6, only soap-based guitar polish. You can also polish the rosewood fingerboard once a year with Danish or Lemon oil. Two, if you plan to travel with the S6, loosen the strings first. That helps keep the neck from bowing under strain from changes in humidity or drops.
More features of the Seagull S6 acoustic guitar:
- Seagull offers a lifetime limited warranty for as long as you own the guitar
- Comes with Phosphor Bronze Lights steel strings and no other accessories
Yamaha FG700S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar, Natural
The Yamaha FG700S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar is a dreadnaught made for beginning guitarists. While it’s a mass-produced instrument, not a handmade one, it has a nice balance of basic and deluxe features to keep the cost low. And it plays everything from rock to blues well.
The top of the FG700S is made from real Sitka spruce, not a laminate. Although spruce is a common choice for acoustic guitars, it sounds even better as it ages. The top is enhanced with Yamaha’s X-bracing. The back, sides, and neck are made from Nato, a type of wood from Asia that has characteristics like mahogany but isn’t quite as expensive. Everything has a high gloss finish.
The fingerboard and bridge are made from rosewood, a typical material found on these parts of acoustic guitars. The nut width is 1-11/16-inches and the string scale is 35-9/16-inches. Owners have repeatedly commented that the action on this guitar is light enough for a beginner to enjoy. The chrome-covered die-cast tuning machines keep it tuned and ready to play. This isn’t a tiny guitar at all; it has a big sound.
More features of the Yamaha FG700S acoustic guitar:
- Comes with D’Addario strings and no other accessories
- Yamaha offers a limited lifetime warranty on the FG700S
- Made for right-handed players
- Comes with Tortoiseshell pickguard in place
Yamaha F335 Acoustic Guitar, Naturar
For our final review we have another Yamaha dreadnaught, the F335. It’s a great guitar for beginners, but experienced players often have one around for travel or practice sessions.
Unlike the Yamaha FG700S and the Seagull S6, the top of this guitar is made of a spruce laminate instead of a solid wood. This keeps costs down but it also makes the guitar more durable.
The back and sides are made from Meranti, an Asian hardwood that gives an earthy, rich sound. The neck is either mahogany or nato, another Asian mahogany. Again, using these materials keeps the price of the guitar lower but doesn’t hurt the sound much at all.
Of course, Yamaha placed a rosewood fingerboard on the neck. They gave the F335 gold die-cast tuners that keep the guitar’s strings in tune and ready to play. If you find that the neck seems to be too bowed, you can adjust the truss rod on the F335. Just remember that a tiny turn of the wrench makes a big difference. If you’re not sure how to take care of the problem, consult with a guitar technician or luthier.
More features of the Yamaha F335 acoustic guitar:
- Comes with steel strings and a hex wrench to adjust the truss rod and no other accessories
- Made for right-handed players
- Yamaha offers a limited lifetime warranty
If you’re just beginning to play guitar, the wide choice of “beginner guitars” can be overwhelming. Let’s narrow it down based on the models in this review. Keep in mind they are all for right-handed players.
The Seagull S6 is an award-winning beauty made from solid wood and intended to last a guitarist for years. It’s suited for performances as well as lessons. It’s made in Canada with Canadian-harvested materials. Choose this one if you like its sound and plan to keep playing guitars for a long time to come.
The Yamaha FG700S is also made from solid wood and has a powerful sound. Longtime owners have said they still enjoy playing it long after they’ve progressed to more advanced guitars. Choose this one if you enjoy how it sounds and want an inexpensive learner guitar that will age gracefully.
The Yamaha F335 has a laminate top, but that can be advantageous if your guitar will be facing travel, campouts, and “rough” treatment. Choose this one if you like its sound and want a tougher instrument.