I've been thinking of learning how to play guitar for quite some time now and a friend recommended coming to this website. I've been reading and reading and the amount of information on this site is just overwhelming. I've saved up $400 and I just want to get started... It seems like there are so many good guitars but I'm not sure which to buy. I've never played before so I’m not even entirely sure what they should sound like. I want to play more indie/alternative/brit pop kind of music. Can someone throw out some ideas?

Thanks in advance guys.
Last edited by thfc1799 at May 26, 2010,
some of my buddys are really into acoustic jams and from what i hear from them jasmines are pretty good for real cheap
First off, forget that the style of music you play should determine what kind of acoustic guitar you should get. At the end of the day, you can play any style of music on any guitar.

As for good guitars in the range... Yamaha, Alvarez, Blueridge, Washburn, etc.

There are plenty of other topics around here about the exact same thing, don't be afraid to look through them for a few of the more specific models about everything. I believe there are a few that have still gotten some attention fairly recently. But in the end, every brand I mentioned, and then more, are valid choices.
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For $400 you can get yourself a guitar that you will be happy with for quite a while. The biggest single feature you need to be looking for is a guitar with a solid top. Don't let words like select, quilted, flamed, special, etc. fool you. If a guitar has a solid top, it will say it has a solid top.

After that it's just a matter of getting out to some stores and seeing what you like. Online research is a great place to start because you can sort of get a list together of guitars in your price range that have a solid top. Often in a store you won't be able to see the specs on a guitar to tell if the top is solid or not. The people that work in the stores typically won't have any idea, though they will often act like they do.

So get out there and try some guitars out. You want to be looking at things like quality of craftsmanship. Is the finish nice and even on the guitar or is it built up in places or are there places where it dripped and dried that way. Look inside the guitars' soundholes and see if it looks neat inside. You don't want to see extra glue all over the place or cracked or broken pieces of wood. Check and see if the frets stick out past the ends of the fretboards. You can feel this just by running your fingers along the edge of the fretboard. If they are sticking out you will feel the sharp edges on your fingers and you will be able to see them overhanging on close inspection. Just look for general quality. It shouldn't be an issue, but you always want to check.

Also hold the guitars in playing position and see if they are comfortable for you. Guitars come in different shapes and sizes. You want one that is comfortable in your lap!

I know you can't play yet, so it would be great if you could bring a friend along that can play. If you don't have any friends that play, ask somebody that works there to play some guitars. Basically you just want to be able to hear what they sound like. You'll probably like the way some sound better than others.

Once you get the pool narrowed down by the above methods, get the one that looks the best to you! You want to be proud of your guitar because you'll end up playing it more. Don't be worried about looks until you have narrowed it down based on the above criteria. It is way more important that a guitar sound good, be built well, and be comfortable than it is for it to look cool.

Brands I would pay special attention to for around $400 include Alvarez, Takamine, Seagull, and Yamaha. There are obviously other brands that makes great guitars, but these brands offer consistently good guitars in your price range.

Have fun!
Last edited by jimtaka at May 26, 2010,
for $400, i'd recommend a seagull original s6, assuming you're in the u.s. or canada. they have a solid top, are well built, and sound great with plenty of sparkle on the top end and good bass response. while i love the somewhat wider neck, you can also get the s6 slim, which has a narrower neck. me, i prefer a little more space to work with between the strings - it's easier to finger, and a bit more forgiving. i love the semi gloss finish - it feels good. this guitar is sold at guitar centers.

if you want choices, here are a few -

blueridge br-40
solid top, a bit more bass than the seagull s6, sounds sort of martinesque. i've been very impressed with them. the only thing i didn't love is the 1 11/16 nut, which means a thinner neck than the s6. it's actually the standard size, but i prefer a little more beef. otherwise a great sounding axe. not sold at guitar centers.

yamaha fg730s
silvery sound, good for leads, solid top, gloss finish. overall yamahas make great guitars at this level, and this is the one that sounds the best of the $400 and under yamahas to me. most guitar centers have this one, so if you live by a gc, you'll be able to try it.

if you want to plug in, the yamaha fgx720sca is a good choice imo. most cheaper acoustic electrics sound like cardboad unplugged, but this one sounds almost as good as the fg730s unplugged. it comes in natural, black and burst, has a solid top, a cutaway, good build quality and a gloss finish.

i'll try to be balanced and fair - i'm i'm not partial to takamines in the lower prices, but some could be worth checking out, although i'd skip the jasmine myself. you have enough money to pass on an entry level laminate top guitar. and there's the alvarez regent series. if you look at those, make sure to go for the solid top models - some guitar store employees don't know one from another, and they'll lie about this, so make sure and bring some model numbers with you.
Thanks for all the advice. I'm going to go check out a few today. I like the looks of the seagull s6 alot. I'm also interested in the Epiphone Hummingbird... is it any good in comparison?
imo, not even close - not soundwise or qualitywise.

Quote by thfc1799
Thanks for all the advice. I'm going to go check out a few today. I like the looks of the seagull s6 alot. I'm also interested in the Epiphone Hummingbird... is it any good in comparison?