Ask Aureus • Guitar

September 2021

3 Types Of Guitars You Should Know About

Want to enrol your child for guitar lessons? Looking to pick up the guitar as a new hobby? This fascinating instrument is seen in the arms of many pop stars and world-class musicians! However, did you know that there are many different types of guitars? Three of the most common types of guitars are the classical, acoustic and electric guitar. Here is your beginner’s guide to understanding all about the instrument and the differences between each type of guitar.

The Strings

For starters, it might be useful to understand the main difference between a classical, acoustic and electric guitar – the material of the strings. Most guitars contain six strings, and the material of the strings greatly determines the type of sound that is produced. Besides the differences in sound, the strings on each type of guitar may have different levels of comfort for an aspiring guitarist.

Classical guitars are equipped with thick nylon strings, which are definitely softer to the touch than acoustic and electric guitars. For a young learner enrolled in guitar lessons, the thinner steel strings on an acoustic or electric guitar might be rather harsh on tender fingers. This, in turn, makes it a painful start that might discourage one from taking up more guitar lessons. However, this little setback at the beginning will soon vanish with practice, as the player develops calluses on their fingers that protects them from the stiff strings.

The Fretboard

This is a subtle difference that might go unnoticed when it comes to choosing between guitars. Classical guitars have a slightly wider fretboard as compared to an acoustic or electric one, mainly to accommodate the thicker nylon strings and to give them more room to vibrate. What this means is that players with a larger handspan would have a greater advantage, and more ease when stretching to play difficult chords. While finger dexterity can definitely be improved over time, one can imagine that having smaller hands might entail putting in just that tiny extra bit of effort when playing a classical guitar.

Size and Weight

The guitar’s size and weight might be important factors if you are looking at transportability and ease of handling. Classical and acoustic guitars are generally much lighter and more portable due to their hollow frames. The electric guitar, on the other hand, is heavily weighted by its solid wood body and metal parts, not forgetting to mention all the additional audio equipment (e.g. an amplifier) you will have to bring along in order to play the instrument.

While there are smaller guitars (ranging from ¼ to ¾-sized) designed for younger players, they could still be slightly overwhelming for anyone below the age of 4 or 5. For young learners who are eager to have a go at the strings, the ukulele would be a highly recommended alternative.

The ukulele is much smaller in size, and only consists of 4 strings, making it much less complicated to pick up. The player can then choose to transition into playing on a classical or acoustic guitar when they are more physically ready to handle those instruments. Our amazing guitar teachers at Aureus Academy are highly experienced in helping young children make their way from playing on a ukulele, through the smaller-sized guitars and finally to the full-sized guitars once they are ready.

Sounds and Genres

After considering the more practical and physical aspects of the guitar, the next most important question to ask yourself is really the type of music you enjoy listening to. The various types of guitars are tailored to produce different sounds that might be more fitting for certain genres as opposed to others.

This is especially since the different techniques used can vary across the types of guitars. For instance, classical guitars are more suited for fingerpicking styles as the nylon strings may sound quite dull when strummed with a pick. Even when strumming is used, like in Flamenco music, fingers would be preferred for the job over a pick.

The thicker nylon strings of classical guitars also produce a warmer and fuller tone that is commonly found in genres like Folk, Celtic, Classical, Flamenco, and Latin music, just to name a few. If more gentle and flowing types of guitar music are your kind of jam, then perhaps the classical guitar is the one you are looking for. Of course, besides the more traditional tunes, classical guitar can also be found in the contemporary scene, in Country, as well as some Pop music.

On the other hand, the steel strings of acoustic guitars produce brighter, more twangy sounds, usually with the aid of a guitar pick. Notes can also resonate longer on acoustic guitars, and they offer a larger dynamic range than classical guitars as well. These features make them ideal for most contemporary styles like Pop, and even Jazz and Blues.

Unlike the classical and acoustic guitars which draw their differences in sounds from the material of the string, the strings on electric guitars have little impact on the overall sound produced. Instead, the final sound produced can be largely manipulated by the settings on external equipment such as the amps and effect pedals plugged into the instrument. This makes the electric guitar the most versatile option among the three, as it can be found in most genres of music from Funk, Pop, Rock, Metal, to Jazz and Blues.

Loving All Shapes, Sizes & Types Of Guitars

With all that information, the final verdict would be that classical and acoustic guitars are generally recommended for beginners. They are great for grasping the basic techniques  in the beginning stages of guitar lessons and help with setting up a strong guitar foundation.

Electric guitars require additional knowledge outside of playing the actual instrument, such as controlling the settings on an amp and the pedals to achieve the desired sound. They are usually picked up much later after the player has mastered the basics.

In fact, it is the norm for a seasoned guitar player to be used to switching between the different guitars as having the basics of one will open one up to picking up the others in time. This way you can have a wide range of guitar sound options available at your fingertips (literally) to fit the type of music you are performing.

Enrol your child in guitar lessons with Aureus Academy, Singapore’s leading music school! We have highly educated guitar teachers who are well-equipped to hone students in their playing skills on any type of guitar. With engaging and customised guitar lessons, you can even choose to have a hand at all three guitars instead of settling on just one, transitioning between the different types of guitars. Book a free trial now to experience the magic of musical learning with Aureus Academy today!

Alex Sarabi