If you're in the market for a good beginner guitar, you may already have realized that balancing a good price with quality and playability can often be tough. The Fender CD 60 is a guitar that offers a spruce top, scalloped X bracing, a mahogany neck, and a GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle--all features that are commonly found on acoustic guitars many times the price.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Beginner Acoustic Guitar
While you can't reasonably expect a guitar for beginners to compete with high-end instruments, sound and playability are still very important. After all, a guitar that goes out of tune or has a flat, boring sound is unlikely to inspire anyone to play. Here are some of the things to consider before making a choice:
Our Picks for Review
Features and Benefits
Before we get into some of the specifics of this affordable Fender, it's important to remember to be realistic--a sub-$200 acoustic guitar can't reasonably be compared to a much more expensive instrument. Here are some of the important features to look at before buying:
Tonewoods and Build Quality
This guitar's build is fairly common, especially for a beginner dreadnought--it has a laminated spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. The spruce/mahogany combination is a classic one that often yields balanced tone, but we were surprised to see that this model doesn't have a solid top (you can purchase the Fender CD 60S, a solid-top model, for just slightly more). At this price point, we wouldn't expect the mahogany back and sides to be solid, but it's generally wise to purchase a solid-top guitar as a first instrument.
Even though the laminated spruce top is a downside, the bracing on the Fender CD-60 is scalloped X bracing, something we were surprised to see. Scalloped bracing is lighter than non-scalloped, and it lets the soundboard (or top) vibrate more freely. The result is a fuller, more dynamic sound, although scalloped bracing does tend to "scoop" out the midrange a bit. If you aren't sure whether scalloped bracing is for you, this video explains some of the advantages.
The neck is made out of mahogany, which also surprised us--most less-expensive guitars have nato necks. Mahogany is pretty resistant to warping, but in case you need to adjust it, it's also equipped with a dual-action truss rod. While most guitars do come with a truss rod, very inexpensive guitars sometimes come without.
When buying a guitar like this one, the sound quality is also important to consider. The mahogany back and sides lend some warmth to your sound, and the spruce top offers some brightness. Given the fact that this instrument is made entirely of laminated wood, we were impressed by the sound. No frequency is too pronounced, and the CD-60 has a decent amount of sustain. If you want to hear it for yourself, check out this video demo (below-left).
Other Appointments and Finish
If you've spent any time shopping around for entry-level guitars, you probably already know that most come with cheap plastic nuts and saddles. This one comes with a GraphTech NuBone white bridge and white nut. NuBone is a composite material that has many of the tonal advantages of bone, and it also supports tuning stability--this video (above-right) highlights some of the advantages. White bridge pins offer a pleasing contrast with the walnut bridge, and the fingerboard is also made of walnut. Walnut is a lower-cost material than rosewood, but it has a beautiful grain and is comfortably playable.
This guitar also comes in three different finish options. Each comes with a black pickguard, and a crushed acrylic rosette looks a lot like mother of pearl at first glance. Here are the finish options you can choose from:
Social Proof of the Guitar
If you're new to guitar, you may not yet be sure of your preferences as a player. As you shop for a starter instrument, it can be helpful to see what other players have said about a given model. We've found a few reviews of the CD-60 in order to help you make your decision:
Like many buyers, this person did their research before purchasing. They also point out that the hardshell case that comes with the guitar is of surprisingly high quality.
This buyer was less impressed with the guitar. It's worth noting that a decent setup can help resolve issues with the action, and that it's possible to upgrade tuners fairly easily. That said, many new players prefer a guitar that's ready to play right out of the box.
This brief review highlights the fact that this guitar is a great choice for learning beginners.
Alternatives to Fender CD 60
While the Fender CD-60 does offer a decent amount of and for your buck, it's still a good idea to compare a few other contenders. We've found three similarly-priced acoustic guitars for you to consider:
Epiphone Pro-1 Ultra
How it Compares to Fender CD 60
Like Fender, Epiphone is a company that produces reliable guitars for beginners (as well as more experienced players). While this guitar is the same price as the Fender CD-60, it has a few advantages--namely, a solid spruce top. The Pro-1 Ultra also comes with electronics and a built-in preamp, making it a good choice for players who want to be able to plug in and play.
A pinless bridge makes restringing a breeze, and the guitar also comes with a gig bag, humidifier, and free virtual lessons. If you'd prefer a solid-top acoustic guitar that comes with electronics, make sure you check this one out!
How it Compares to Fender CD 60
We mentioned earlier that the only real feature the CD-60 was missing was a solid top. And while you can purchase the Fender CD-60S, a solid-top version, we especially like the Fender CD-60SCE. This guitar has a solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides. It's a dreadnought with a cutaway, and it also comes equipped with Fishman electronics.
Though it's a bit more expensive than the CD-60, this is a better-quality guitar, especially if you're looking for a starter instrument you won't need to upgrade as quickly. If you like the mellower sound of mahogany and want an upgraded version of the CD-60, make sure you check this one out!
How it Compares to Fender CD 60
This guitar is made by Yamaha exclusively for Amazon, and it's a great option for those who are on a tight budget but still want bright, balanced tone. Like others on our list, it's a full-size dreadnought, and it has a solid spruce top with nato back and sides. The rosewood fingerboard and bridge add a beautiful touch to this guitar, which is a bit less expensive than the CD-60. If you need an affordable model to start out on, make sure you give this one a look!
As beginner dreadnought guitars go, the Fender CD 60 comes with a lot more than you might expect, like a NuBone saddle and bridge and a hardshell case. However, we think it's generally wise to get a guitar with a solid top if possible, and we've included some similarly-priced acoustic guitars with solid tops in our list of alternatives. Of course, if you find that you love the sound of this guitar, it might be the right one for you--a guitar that inspires you to play is most important. Click here to check it out!