A first guitar is easily playable, within budget and geared to keep the player interested. Outside these practical considerations, the sky is the limit. The new player should have a good idea of who her favorite artists are and the style of play that is most compelling to her. Guitars, like people, have different voices and personalities, thus the ideal match between player, instrument and proposed style is crucial.
A common misconception is that first guitars should be cheap. This, of course, is a strategy to avoid financial catastrophe should the player ultimately lose interest. However, purchases should be aware that buying cheap guitars for first time players is often counterintuitive. They often sound subpar and are harder to play, thus proving discouraging.
Beginning guitarists need to size the guitar to their frames and arm lengths in order to access the strings and fretboard properly; comfort is equally as important as price. For first-time players, electric guitars are often easier on the fingers and allow the novice to play with more varieties and textures of sound. However, acoustic guitars allow the student to work with what some might consider purer sounds and a greater range of styles; they also limit expense and portability issues, as they don't require amplifiers, cords or other gear.
Guitar World suggests $300 as a base price for a first guitar. Anything less is likely to prove disappointing to those serious about learning to play guitar.