- Max Kuehn
If you’re trying to decide between a classical vs acoustic guitar, this article will help you make the best decision for your needs. Both have their own unique sound and style. Classical guitars are typically played with a pick, while acoustic guitars are usually played with fingers.
What Is Classical Guitar?
Classical guitars are designed more conventionally. They are strung with “gut strings,” initially employed for classical music.
While the contemporary version of the instrument is still utilized for classical music, bossa-nova performers and beginners prefer it. The “gut strings” have been replaced by considerably nicer nylon replacements.
While these strings have a nice tone and feel for some styles, they have low tension. Low string tension is excellent for novices since it makes it easy to press down the strings.
Instead of fighting the instrument, the player can concentrate on memorizing chords, forms, and rhythms. The design of classical guitars is still essentially conventional.
Fret markers, strap buttons, and a broad neck are standard features. (Some models, however, include fret marks and strap buttons.)
What Is Acoustic Guitars?
Acoustic guitars are a very new innovation. They are popular in most musical genres and are ideal for songwriters. Metal strings are used on the acoustic guitar instead of nylon strings, which are more challenging to play.
Unless they want to pursue the electric guitar, Guitar players will most likely switch to the acoustic guitar. Nylon models will appeal to classical guitarists, but most guitarists will prefer an Acoustic in the long run.
Strap buttons are used on acoustic guitars to allow users to stand while playing. There are also electro-acoustic guitars, which make recording and performance easier and usually have a comfortable cutaway for higher notes.
Classical Vs Acoustic Guitar Comparison
There are a few commonalities that can easily be identified:
- Both guitars are tuned EADGBE and have six strings.
- Both are entirely acoustic and have a soundhole.
- Both contain frets.
- Tuning pegs are seen on both guitars.
- The bodies of both guitars are circular.
- These are common characteristics of guitar anatomy. When you point out the discrepancies, though, they become immediately apparent.
What Are the Differences Between Classical and Acoustic Guitars?
The strings are the most significant distinction between an acoustic and a classical guitar. Nylon strings are used on classical guitars rather than steel strings on acoustic guitars.
This is where the primary sound variances originate. Nylon strings are thicker than steel strings and give a mellower, gentler sound.
Nylon monofilament is used for the treble strings (G, B, high E), while silver-plated copper is wrapped around a nylon multifilament core for the bass strings (E, A, D). Strings made of nylon are gentler to the touch and have a plastic feel, making them perfect for novices.
While nylon strings are simpler to play with calloused hands, the tone is less common in current music. This sound style can be obtained with a classical guitar if you enjoy Spanish, Flamenco, or classical music. The acoustic guitar is used by most current rock, folk, blues, and country musicians.
An acoustic guitar’s steel strings provide a bright, clear, even twangy tone that resonates more than a classical guitar’s nylon strings.
Nickel and bronze are among the metals and materials used to create acoustic guitar strings. These strings are thinner, so they’re comparable to electric guitar strings, but they’re a little sharper on the fingers.
The Width of a Guitar Neck (Guitar Nut): Thick or Thin, Wide or Narrow?
Another important contrast between classical and acoustic guitars is that classical guitars have a broader neck than steel-string acoustic guitars, which means the distance between strings is likewise longer.
A wider guitar neck may feel more comfortable if you have medium to large hands. The distance between the strings will be beneficial to both your right and left-hand fingers, as there will be less danger of interference or accidentally hitting multiple strings simultaneously.
On the other hand, if you have small hands, you may find that a regular body classical guitar is too difficult to play due to the broad stretches required between frets and strings.
Finally, classical guitars have a flatter back of the neck than acoustic guitars, whereas acoustic guitars have a rounder back. This fits the two players’ varied playing styles in relation to the left-hand thumb (see the section on playing style differences below).
Markers for fretboards (fingerboards)
As seen in the image above, steel-string guitars typically have dots along the top of the neck and on the fretboard (also known as the fingerboard). The 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and (sometimes) 15th frets are usually marked on steel-string acoustic guitars.
Fret marks are usually absent from classical guitars. If they do, the dots on the top of the guitar neck may be included, but not the fretboard’s surface.
If your classical or flamenco guitar doesn’t have any dots, dab some whiteout or put a little strip of masking tip on the frets of your choosing. I like to put markers in the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets.
The bridges on classical and acoustic guitars differ significantly. The classic wrap-around bridge on a basic classical guitar looks like this:
They are knotted in a knot around the bridge to keep the strings in place on this guitar.
The bridge on a standard acoustic guitar features pegs that keep the strings in place. This is how it appears:
Pegs for Tuning
The tuning peg on a classical guitar is very different from the tuning peg on an acoustic guitar.
A classical guitar’s tuning peg is usually made of plastic and metal, but an acoustic guitar’s tuning peg is made of metal. Here’s a comparison image:
Steel-string and classical guitars sound very different because of their differing body sizes and string kinds.
Steel-string acoustics, particularly large-bodied dreadnoughts, can be played loudly without sacrificing aural purity. Take one to a busy junction and jam out on the sidewalk; you’ll be surprised how effectively you can be heard above the din.
On the other hand, classical guitars are much quieter. Body size determines volume in acoustics, and classicals have a lot less room for the sound to be internally amplified.
Nylon strings, as you might expect, aren’t mighty.
Compared to their steel string counterparts’ huge, brassy, aggressive tone, classical sounds delicate, warm, and mellow.
So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s discuss their physical distinctions, namely how they differ in structure and construction.
When comparing the two, the first and most noticeable distinction is that steel-string guitars often have larger bodies than classical guitars.
Although steel-string acoustics are available in a variety of sizes [explained in detail here], including miniature instruments for children and medium-sized parlor guitars, they are most commonly found with dreadnought bodies, which are only slightly smaller than the “jumbo” style bodies found on a few rare more significant acoustics.
Classical guitars are available in various sizes, from the tiniest Piccolo type to the largest Contrabass varieties.
The prime or Concert style body is the most common in classical guitars.
These are further classified as 4/4 (full-size), 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 from largest to smallest. The parlor size in steel-string acoustics is about equivalent to the most popular classical guitar body.
The following evident distinction between classical and acoustic guitars is that classical guitars have a fretboard that is six to twelve millimeters wider than steel-string instruments.
This serves two purposes: it strengthens and stabilizes the neck of the guitar, and the wider string spacing allows for fingerstyle playing on classical guitars.
Aside from size, there are a few other construction distinctions to note.
The string material is commonly regarded to be the primary distinction between the two types of guitars. Steel string guitars, as the name implies, feature steel strings. Nylon strings are used on classical guitars, with the bass strings occasionally coiled with copper.
Because nylon strings are under significantly less tension than steel strings, the final two changes in construction are possible. Classical guitar necks usually are solid wood, without the truss rod present in steel string guitars, because the strings aren’t tugging as hard on the neck.
Other acoustics use a truss rod to brace the neck and keep it straight while under the pressure of the tightly coiled steel strings. Make sure you know how to change the strings on your classical guitar so you don’t fall into the trap of using steel strings, which can cause major neck injury.
Internal bracing is another factor that contributes to variances in string tension. Steel string acoustics require a lot more internal support to avoid collapsing under the strain of their strings, whereas classical guitars require very little.
Classical guitars are often much lighter than acoustics of the same size without this sturdy internal bracing system.
How do these variances in construction influence the guitars’ playability?
First and foremost, the large fretboard will alter how the instruments are played.
To fret chords on a classical, you’ll need a broader fingering stance than on a steel string guitar and a longer reach for those riffs that demand multi-fret jumps, as fret spacing on acoustics is a little shorter than on classical.
Playing Style Differences
Classical players will place the body of the instrument on the left leg. To raise the guitar to the right angle, use a footstool, guitar cushion, ergonomic guitar support, or guitar lift.
Acoustic guitarists may also place the guitar on the left leg, but it is more common on the right leg. The guitar is kept more level rather than purposely raised, as is the case with classical.
Some acoustic guitarists prefer to stand while playing and use a strap to keep the guitar in place. Classical guitarists never perform while on their feet.
Differences in Left Hand
The positioning of the thumb on the back of the neck is the most notable left-hand distinction between classical and acoustic guitar playing.
The thumb of a classical guitarist is kept low and reasonably straight, around halfway down the back of the neck.
Acoustic musicians maintain their left-hand thumbs at the top or above the neck and utilize it to play bass notes on the 6th string occasionally. The guitar’s rounded neck facilitates this.
There are numerous viewpoints on this difference in left-hand thumb playing style, and as a classical/flamenco guitarist, I have a biased view.
Put another way; you’ll need to drop your thumb to support your index finger when playing a bar chord. Slurs (hammer-ons/pull-offs) will be clearer if you keep your thumb low.
I believe that keeping the thumb low on the hand balances the hand, strengthens the sound of your notes and chords and reduces the pressure necessary for the other left-hand fingers.
Differences in Right Hand
Acoustic and classical guitarists use different right-hand techniques. Classical guitarists pluck the strings with their right-hand thumb, index, middle, and ring fingernails and flesh, but acoustic guitarists often strum the strings with a plastic pick (plectrum).
Although most acoustic guitarists prefer to use a pick, fingerpicking is also popular. Some guitarists will even use stainless steel fingerstyle picks rather than growing their nails out, as is customary for classical and flamenco musicians.
The different varieties of picks, as well as strumming and hand position advice, are all interesting topics that deserve their own articles. I’ll keep updating my content and linking to pertinent articles as they become available.
What About Nylon Verses Steel Strings?
Nylon strings are kinder to beginners’ fingers than steel strings. However, because of the softness of the cloth, you can’t truly play with a pick.
Classical guitars are designed to be plucked with the fingertip or fingernails; using a pick will destroy the strings quickly.
Do You Want To Improve Your Fingerstyle Technique?
Here are 111 classical guitar songs suitable for beginners.
They’re also held differently and necessitate various playing postures while being formal.
Classical guitars don’t rest on the thigh because of their smaller bodies and shallow waists; instead, you’re intended to hold it between your knees with the neck pointing further skyward than steel string acoustics.
Is It True That I Can Only Play Classical Music On A Classical Guitar?
You can use your classical guitar to play classical music. Nylon strings are ideal for jazz. You can also play other forms of music. They won’t sound the same, though. A classical guitar is not appropriate for rock.
What Kinds Of Music Can I Play With My Acoustic Guitar?
An acoustic guitar can be used for a variety of genres. Bluegrass, metal, pop, modern rock, folk, and country music are just a few examples. An acoustic guitar can also be used to play classical music.
It will, however, be challenging. It is not a good idea to learn to play acoustic guitar while listening to jazz. You play guitar to stay in shape. As a result, playing sophisticated music will not entertain you.
Is It Hard To Play Acoustic Guitar?
Acoustic guitar strings are thicker. Furthermore, the size is larger. These are the challenges that a newcomer may confront. As a result, getting used to it will take some time.
Is It True That Electric Guitars Are Superior To Acoustic And Classical Guitars?
Electric guitars are a common mistake made by beginners. They believe it will help them enhance their skills and that it will appear beautiful in the room. They also want to flaunt themselves.
However, it will not improve their abilities. They squander money on it without evaluating its worth. It’s a device that uses energy. Anyone can tell you’re a beginner if you’re playing this guitar. Do you know what your skill level is?
If you are new to the music industry, you should conduct an extensive study before purchasing a guitar. Choosing between the various guitar categories and brands is a difficult undertaking. However, you must consider the advantages and outcomes.
To begin playing electric guitar, you must also understand rhythms and fingerstyle. It is far advisable to conduct comprehensive research before making any decision. Your choice has an impact on your decision.
Electricity is an electric guitar’s drawback. When playing electric guitar, you must always have a switch close by. That is one of the reasons why electric guitars are not popular.
However, the benefit is that you receive a lot of it. There are many more alternatives. You must evaluate your budget before making a final selection.
How Can I Teach Myself To Play The Guitar?
To begin, you should understand the many sorts of guitars. You should consider which type of guitar will be easier to play. For beginners, I recommend purchasing an acoustic or classical guitar. Purchase a steel-string or nylon-string guitar.
There are several approaches to learning to play the guitar. It is preferable to enroll in a guitar academy to understand the instrument thoroughly.
Furthermore, if you don’t want to waste time, taking an online course from an instructor or musician is the ideal option. These online guitar lesson sites offer more tools for learning to play the guitar.
You could also look at videos of well-known guitarists such as John Williams, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Tomas Michael. On YouTube, you may find Tomas Michael’s lessons.
He provides sufficient knowledge in each session and assists in resolving problems. You can also record yourself practicing to show how far you’ve come. You can also use those videos to motivate others.
What Is The Difference Between A Steel And A Nylon String Guitar?
The distinction is in resonation. Steel-string guitars produce a more powerful sound. Nylon strings are used in classical guitars. The tone produced by these guitars is not particularly loud.
Both guitars are suitable for beginners. You can also use these instruments to strumming. You can take your guitar lessons on the easier-to-play guitar. You should know the intricacies of genres and notes as you progress through your guitar adventure. Furthermore, the online tutorials are appropriate for learning to play the guitar.
Fidlar hope you found this article useful, and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below!