Acoustic steel-string guitars and classical guitars are two of the most popular types of guitars in Australia. While they may look similar, they have some unmistakable differences that set them apart - and the type of guitar that's right for you depends on a lot of factors ...so what's the difference?
Before jumping in, be sure to checkout our awesome range of steel-string acoustic guitars here. You can find our great range of classical guitars here!
So first up, Acoustic Guitar vs Classical, What's The Difference?
An acoustic guitar is usually referred to as the steel-stringed acoustic guitars with larger bodies, a type of guitar that has a hollow body that amplifies the sound of the steel strings. It is typically strung with steel strings, which produce a bright, twangy sound. Acoustic guitars are used in a variety of musical genres, from folk to popular music, and from beginner guitarists to some of the world's most famous guitarists and songwriters.
You'll likely hear a steel-string acoustic guitar on some of your favourite songs, even rock music and metal bands like Metallica are famous for using steel-string acoustics.
On the other hand, a classical guitar is a type of guitar that is strung with nylon strings. It has a wider neck and a flatter fingerboard than an acoustic guitar. The sound produced by a classical guitar is softer and more mellow than that of an acoustic guitar (part of the noticeable differences in string type).
A classical guitar is also commonly - although not always - used in classical music by classical players, but it can also be heard in other genres like flamenco, jazz guitarists and certain styles of folk and country music.
One of the main differences between these two types of guitars is the type of acoustic guitar strings they use.
Acoustic guitars are strung with steel strings, which are more durable and produce a bright, twangy sound. Classical guitars, on the other hand, use nylon strings, which are softer and produce a warmer, more mellow sound. The wider neck and flatter fingerboard of a classical guitar also make it easier to play fingerstyle (even with Nails like Dolly Parton) and of course classical music.
Another key difference between acoustic and classical guitars is the playing style. Acoustic guitars are often played with a pick or strummed using the fingers. Classical guitarists, on the other hand, use a technique called fingerpicking, where they pluck the strings with their fingers instead of using a pick. This technique gives classical guitar music its distinctive sound.
In terms of construction, acoustic and classical guitars are quite similar. Both typically have a wooden body and neck, and both may have fret markers or other decorative elements on the fingerboard. Both types of guitars also have a truss rod, which helps to adjust the curvature of the neck and keep it in optimal playing condition.
While both acoustic and classical guitars are versatile instruments that can be used in a variety of musical genres, they each have their own unique characteristics and playing styles. Whether you prefer the bright, twangy sound of an acoustic guitar or the softer, more mellow tones of a classical guitar, both guitars are a great choice for musicians of all levels.
The Fundamentals, What is a Classical Guitar?
The classical guitar is a beautiful and versatile musical instrument that has existed for centuries. This type of guitar has a number of unique characteristics that set it apart from other instruments in the guitar family, including its use of nylon strings, wider neck, wider string spacing and flatter fingerboard. they are also softer, and more mellow sound by nature due to the Nylon acoustic strings used.
Nylon strings are generally considered to be more gentle on the fingers, which allows classical guitarists to play for longer periods of time without experiencing discomfort. They also produce a warmer and more resonant sound than steel strings, which makes the classical guitar well-suited to delicate playing styles, and beginner guitarists too where finger fatigue is real.
Another distinguishing trait of the classical guitar is its wider neck and flatter fingerboard. This makes it easier to play complex fingerstyle melodies, as well as to execute more technically demanding techniques like sweeping and arpeggios. Additionally, the wider spacing between the strings on a classical guitar makes it easier to play certain hand shapes and chord progressions, which can be more difficult to manage on an acoustic guitar with steel strings.
Nylon guitar strings can make a huge difference when it comes to long periods of playability too, for beginners and pros alike!
Classical guitars also typically feature a cedar or spruce top, which helps to produce a full-bodied and warm tone. The back and sides of the guitar are typically made from mahogany, rosewood, or another hardwood that helps to further enhance the instrument's resonance and clarity.
Overall, the classical guitar is a beautiful and versatile instrument that is well-suited to a wide range of musical styles and playing techniques. Whether you're an experienced guitarist or a beginner looking to explore the world of music, the classical guitar has much to offer. Its unique sound, comfortable playing style, and striking appearance make it a truly captivating instrument that is sure to inspire and delight.
A stunning DOWINA Rustica Classical GA Cutaway Classical Guitar that gets a lot of love at Coleman's!
What are the types of Classical Guitar models?
Classical guitars, or nylon-string guitars, have several different models and variations that cater to the preferences and needs of different players, with variations of body size and classical fingerboards shapes and widths. Here are some common types of classical guitar models and body shapes:
- Concert/Standard Classical Guitar: This is the most common type of classical guitar, featuring a standard size and shape. It typically has a 52-54mm nut width and a 650mm scale length. Concert classical guitars are suitable for various playing styles and musical genres, making them a popular choice for beginners and professional players.
- Flamenco Guitar: Flamenco guitars are specifically designed for playing Flamenco music, a style characterised by its percussive and rhythmic nature. Flamenco guitars often have a lighter build, a tap plate on the soundboard to protect against aggressive tapping, and a brighter tonal response. They may also have a slightly lower action to facilitate rapid fingerpicking and strumming techniques.
- Cutaway Classical Guitar: Cutaway classical guitars have a cutaway section on the upper bout of the body, allowing easier access to higher frets. This design modification is especially beneficial for guitarists who frequently play melodies or solos in the higher register of the instrument. Cutaway classical guitars offer increased playability for those who require extended range on the fingerboard.
- Small-Sized/Travel Classical Guitar: These guitars are designed with a compact size, making them suitable for travelling musicians or players with smaller hands. Small-sized or travel classical guitars often have a reduced scale length and a narrower body, and in general, are quieter instruments - while still maintaining the essential characteristics and tonal qualities of a classical guitar.
- Baritone Classical Guitar: Baritone classical guitars are tuned lower than standard classical guitars, typically to a fourth or a fifth below standard tuning. They have a longer scale length and thicker strings to accommodate the lower tuning and maintain proper tension. Baritone classical guitars are favoured by players looking for a deeper, richer tone and expanded range.
It's important to note that these are general categories, and individual guitar makers may have their own variations and interpretations within each model type. Furthermore, different players may have different preferences with tonewoods, construction techniques, and other features, which can further influence the sound and feel of a classical guitar.
When choosing a classical guitar model, it's recommended to try out different options to find the one that suits your playing style, tonal preferences, and budget.
Who are some of the largest manufacturers of classical guitars?
At Coleman's Music, we stock some of the best classical guitar brands and accessories like classical guitar strings. Here are some of the largest manufacturers of classical guitars, including the mentioned brands:
- Alvarez Acoustic Guitars: Alvarez is a well-known manufacturer that produces a wide range of steel-string acoustic guitars known for their quality, craftsmanship, and diverse lineup catering to various playing styles and budgets.
- Cordoba Guitars: Cordoba specialises in classical and flamenco guitars, but they also offer a selection of steel-string acoustic guitars. Their instruments are recognised for their attention to detail, playability, and a blend of traditional and modern design elements.
- Dowina Guitars: Dowina is a Slovakian brand that crafts handcrafted steel-string acoustic guitars with meticulous attention to detail and premium materials. They are known for producing instruments with excellent tone and playability.
- Ibanez Acoustic Guitars: Ibanez, renowned for its electric guitars, also offers a wide range of steel-string acoustic guitars. Their lineup includes models suitable for beginners, intermediate players, and professionals, covering various styles and price ranges.
- Taylor Guitars: Taylor is a highly regarded manufacturer known for its premium steel-string acoustic guitars. Their instruments are renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship, innovative features, and rich, balanced tone. Taylor guitars are widely used by professional musicians across different genres.
- Valencia Guitars: Valencia is a brand specialising in affordable, entry-level steel-string acoustic guitars. They provide beginner-friendly instruments with solid construction and good playability, making them popular choices for those starting their guitar journey.
- Yamaha Guitars: Yamaha is a well-established brand that offers a broad range of steel-string acoustic guitars. They are known for their consistent quality, playability, and versatility, offering models suitable for beginners, intermediate players, and professionals.
These brands are among the largest and most recognised manufacturers of steel-string acoustic guitars, with each having its own strengths, target market, and reputation for producing quality instruments.
A Stunning Taylor Auditorium Acoustic Guitar!
What are some classical nylon string guitar playing styles - and genres?
Nylon string guitars, also known as classical guitars or Spanish guitars, are commonly associated with specific playing styles and genres that highlight their unique tonal qualities and versatility. Here are some prominent playing styles and genres closely associated with nylon string guitars:
- Classical: Classical guitar music encompasses diverse musical compositions and techniques. The classical genre is where some more theoretical beginner guitars start, emphasising precise fingerpicking, intricate melodic lines, and complex chord progressions. Classical guitar repertoire includes music by renowned composers like Bach, Villa-Lobos, Tarrega, and many more. It often requires formal training and specialised technique.
- Flamenco: Flamenco is a vibrant and passionate genre of music and dance originating from Spain. Flamenco guitar playing comprises percussive techniques, rapid strumming patterns, intricate fingerpicking, and improvisation. It involves techniques such as rasgueados, picados, and alzapua. The expressive and rhythmic nature of flamenco makes it a captivating genre to explore on nylon string guitars.
- Latin/Spanish: Nylon string guitars are often associated with Latin and Spanish music. This includes various sub-genres like bossa nova, samba, tango, rumba, and bolero. These styles incorporate rhythmic strumming, fingerstyle patterns, and melodic lines influenced by Latin American and Spanish musical traditions. Nylon string guitars lend themselves well to the warm and percussive tones required in these genres.
- Fingerstyle: Nylon string guitars are well-suited for fingerstyle playing, which involves plucking the strings with the fingertips or fingernails instead of using a pick. The fingerstyle technique allows for intricate melodies, complex chord voicings, and simultaneous bass lines, creating a rich and layered sound. Fingerstyle players explore a wide range of genres, including folk, blues, pop, and jazz.
- World Music: Nylon string guitars find a place in various world music genres. Their warm and expressive tones make them suitable for exploring music from different cultures and regions, such as traditional Celtic music, Indian classical music, Brazilian music (e.g., choro and bossa nova), and Middle Eastern music.
- Contemporary and Cross-Genre: Nylon string guitars have also entered contemporary and cross-genre musical contexts. Many singer-songwriters and acoustic artists incorporate nylon string guitar elements into their compositions, blending genres like folk, pop, jazz, and world music.
It's worth noting that nylon string classical guitars are not limited to these specific genres and styles. Musicians often push the boundaries and experiment with their instruments, blending different genres and creating unique sounds. The versatility of nylon string guitars allows for exploration and adaptation across various musical styles and genres.
Who are some famous classical nylon string guitar players?
There are numerous famous nylon string guitar players who have made significant contributions to the world of music. Here are some notable figures across different genres who have showcased the beauty and versatility of nylon string guitars:
- Andrés Segovia: Widely regarded as the father of the modern classical guitar, Andrés Segovia played a crucial role in elevating the status of the nylon string guitar. His virtuosic technique, expressive interpretations, and relentless dedication to the instrument made him a legend in the classical guitar world.
- Paco de Lucía: Paco de Lucía was a Spanish flamenco guitarist and composer who revolutionized the genre. His incredible technique, innovative musical ideas, and mesmerizing performances on the nylon string guitar earned him worldwide acclaim and transformed the perception of flamenco music.
- Baden Powell: Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell blended elements of bossa nova, samba, jazz, and classical music, showcasing the rich possibilities of the nylon string guitar. His impeccable technique, rhythmic finesse, and harmonic explorations made him a revered figure in the world of Brazilian music.
- Julian Bream: Julian Bream, an English classical guitarist, was known for his refined technique and interpretative skills. He played a pivotal role in expanding the classical guitar repertoire and collaborated with many prominent composers of his time.
- John Williams: John Williams, not to be confused with the film composer of the same name, is an Australian classical guitarist. With his exceptional musicianship and technical prowess, he has brought classical guitar music to a broader audience, showcasing the beauty and depth of the nylon string guitar.
- Yamandu Costa: Yamandu Costa is a Brazilian guitarist known for his breathtaking improvisations and fusion of various musical styles, including Brazilian choro, tango, and jazz. His virtuosity and passion for the nylon string guitar have earned him critical acclaim worldwide.
- Al Di Meola: While primarily known for his electric guitar playing in the jazz fusion realm, Al Di Meola has also showcased his mastery of the nylon string guitar. His fusion of jazz, flamenco, and world music elements, combined with his lightning-fast technique, has left an indelible mark on the instrument.
These are just a few examples of famous nylon string guitar players, each with their own unique style and contributions to the instrument's legacy. Their artistry and dedication have elevated the nylon string guitar to new heights, inspiring generations of musicians to explore its expressive potential.
Andrés Segovia, one of the world's most admired classical guitarist!
What is a steel-string Acoustic Guitar?
The acoustic guitar is a type of musical instrument that is widely used in a variety of musical genres, from folk to rock to pop. It is unique from an electric guitar in that it doesn't require any amplification to produce sound; instead, it relies solely on the vibration of its strings to create an acoustic sound.
One of the key features of the acoustic guitar is its use of steel strings, often used with a guitar pick, which has a brighter and more twangy sound than nylon strings - usually better suiting electric guitar players. This makes the acoustic guitar a popular choice for genres like country and bluegrass music, where a crisp and percussive sound is desirable.
Acoustic guitars come in a range of sizes, from small travel models to larger, full-bodied instruments.
They also vary in terms of their construction, with some models featuring a solid wood top for enhanced resonance and others utilizing laminate wood for greater durability.
One of the main benefits of the acoustic guitar is its versatility. It can be played in various styles, from fingerpicking to strumming, and can be adapted to suit a wide range of musical genres, like folk, rock and even pop musicians. It is also a popular choice for beginners, as it is relatively easy to learn the basics and requires no additional equipment (such as an acoustic guitar amp) to get started.
Overall, the acoustic guitar is a popular and timeless instrument that has been used by musicians for generations. Its unique sound, versatility, and ease of use make it a go-to choice for players of all skill levels and musical genres.
What are the types of Steel-String Acoustic Guitar models?
Like classical guitars, steel-string acoustic guitars come in various models and body shapes for guitar players, each offering unique tonal characteristics for different types of music genres. Here are some common types of acoustic guitar and steel-string guitars and models, from beginner guitars to touring pros:
- Dreadnought: Dreadnought guitars are among the most popular acoustic guitar body shapes. They have a large, deep body and a broad lower bout, contributing to a powerful and balanced sound. Dreadnought guitars are versatile and suitable for a wide range of playing styles, making them a popular choice among singer-songwriters and strummers.
- Concert/Grand Concert: Concert or Grand Concert guitars have a smaller body size than dreadnought guitars. They offer a more focused and intimate sound with a pronounced mid-range. Concert guitars are comfortable to hold and play, making them suitable for fingerstyle players, soloists, and those seeking a more controlled sound.
- Auditorium/Grand Auditorium Guitar: Auditorium or Grand Auditorium guitars are slightly larger than concert guitars but smaller than dreadnought guitars. They strike a balance between the power of a dreadnought and the articulation of a concert guitar. Auditorium guitars are versatile instruments that excel in both strumming and fingerpicking styles, making them a popular choice among a wide range of players.
- Jumbo Acoustic Guitar: Jumbo guitars have a large and rounded body shape, providing a deep and booming sound with a strong bass response. They are known for their loud projection and are often favoured by players who require a powerful instrument for strumming or playing in a band context.
- Parlour Acoustic Guitar: Parlor guitars have a small and compact body, harkening back to the vintage acoustic guitars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They have a unique and charming tone focusing on mid-range and are favoured by blues and folk players. Parlour guitars are also popular among travellers due to their portable size.
- Orchestra/OM Guitar (Orchestra Model): Orchestra or OM guitars are similar in size to the classical guitar, with a smaller and more comfortable body than dreadnought guitars. They offer a balanced tone with good projection and are well-suited for fingerstyle players and soloists.
- 12-String Guitar: 12-string acoustic guitars feature double courses of strings, creating a shimmering and rich sound. They provide a fuller and chorused effect, adding depth and resonance to the music. 12-string guitars are often used in folk, rock, and acoustic arrangements.
The Taylor GS Mini range, a beautiful baby acoustic at a great price!!
Who are some of the largest manufacturers of steel-string acoustic guitars?
At Coleman's Music in Melbourne, Lynbrook and online, we stock some of Australia's best steel-string acoustic instruments and acoustic guitar strings. Here are some of the largest manufacturers of steel-string acoustic guitars, each with differences in body shape depending on the manufacturer and design:
- Alvarez Acoustic Guitar: Alvarez is a renowned manufacturer known for producing high-quality steel-string acoustic guitars. They offer various models catering to different playing styles and budgets.
- Dowina Acoustic Guitar: Dowina is a Slovakian brand that crafts handmade steel-string acoustic guitars with meticulous attention to detail and premium materials.
- Epiphone Acoustic Guitar: Epiphone, a subsidiary of Gibson, produces a variety of steel-string acoustic guitars known for their affordability, quality, and wide range of models inspired by classic designs.
- Fender Acoustic Guitar: Fender, primarily recognised for its electric guitars, also manufactures steel-string acoustic guitars. Their models often feature a blend of traditional and contemporary design elements.
- Gibson Acoustic Guitar: Gibson is a legendary manufacturer famous for its electric and acoustic guitars. Their steel-string acoustic guitars, including the iconic Gibson J-45 and Hummingbird models, are highly regarded for their craftsmanship and tone.
- Gilman Acoustic Guitar: Gilman is a brand known for producing affordable steel-string acoustic guitars that offer excellent value for money. They cater to beginners and intermediate players.
- Guild Acoustic Guitar: Guild is a long-standing manufacturer that produces a wide range of steel-string acoustic guitars known for their craftsmanship and warm tone. They offer models suitable for various genres and playing styles.
- Ibanez Acoustic Guitar: Ibanez, primarily known for electric guitars, also offers a diverse range of steel-string acoustic guitars. They cater to different players, from entry-level models to high-end instruments.
- Larrivée Acoustic Guitar: Larrivée is a Canadian brand known for its high-quality handcrafted steel-string acoustic guitars. They are respected for their attention to detail, craftsmanship, and exceptional tone.
- Maton Acoustic Guitar: Maton is an Australian brand that produces handcrafted steel-string acoustic guitars known for their exceptional build quality and rich, resonant tone.
- Sigma Acoustic Guitar: Sigma is a brand that manufactures affordable steel-string acoustic guitars. They offer a range of models inspired by classic designs and are known for delivering solid performance at a budget-friendly price.
- Taylor Acoustic Guitar: Taylor is a renowned manufacturer celebrated for its high-quality steel-string acoustic guitars. Their instruments are known for their craftsmanship, innovation, and versatility, catering to various players.
- Yamaha Acoustic Guitar: Yamaha is a well-established brand that offers a wide range of steel-string acoustic guitars. They are known for their consistent quality, playability, and value for money.
These brands are among the largest and most recognized manufacturers of steel-string acoustic guitars, each with unique characteristics, design approaches, and target markets.
What are some steel-string guitar playing styles and genres?
Steel-string guitars are versatile instruments that lend themselves to various playing styles and genres. Here are some notable playing styles and genres closely associated with steel-string guitars:
- Folk: Steel-string guitars have long been associated with folk music. The acoustic nature of the instrument makes it perfect for storytelling, strumming chords, and accompanying vocals. Folk guitar playing often involves fingerpicking patterns, flatpicking, and open tunings.
- Country: Steel-string guitars are a staple in country music. The instrument provides the rhythmic backbone and melodic accompaniment in country songs. Country guitar playing often involves techniques like hybrid picking, chicken pickin', and country-style bends. The guitar is often used for both strumming and soloing in this genre.
- Bluegrass: Bluegrass music features fast-paced acoustic instrumentation, and the steel-string guitar is vital in driving the rhythm and providing solos. Bluegrass guitar playing emphasizes intricate flatpicking patterns, cross-picking, and speedy arpeggios. It often requires a strong sense of rhythm and precision.
- Blues: Steel-string guitars are well-suited for blues music, both in acoustic and electric contexts. Blues guitar playing involves techniques like bending, vibrato, sliding, and fingerpicking. Acoustic blues often utilizes fingerstyle playing, while electric blues incorporates elements of slide guitar and bluesy lead playing.
- Singer-Songwriter: Steel-string guitars are popular among singer-songwriters. The instrument allows solo artists to accompany themselves while they sing. Singer-songwriter guitar playing includes strumming patterns, fingerpicking, and melodic fills that complement the vocals and lyrics.
- Rock and Pop: While electric guitars are more prevalent in rock and pop music, steel-string acoustic guitars are often used in these genres for rhythm playing and unplugged performances. Acoustic guitar parts in rock and pop can range from simple chord progressions to intricate fingerstyle arrangements.
- Fingerstyle: Fingerstyle guitar playing is a technique where the player uses their fingers to pluck individual strings, producing complex arrangements that encompass basslines, melodies, and harmonies simultaneously. Steel-string guitars are commonly used for fingerstyle playing in various genres, including folk, blues, jazz, and contemporary acoustic music.
- World Music: Steel-string guitars also find their place in various world music genres. They are often incorporated into music from different cultures and regions, such as Celtic music, African music, Latin American music, and more.
It's important to note that these genres and playing styles often intersect and influence one another. Many guitarists draw inspiration from multiple genres and create unique blends of playing techniques and musical ideas. The versatility of steel-string guitars allows musicians to explore and adapt to different genres and styles, showcasing the instrument's expressive capabilities.
A few gorgeous steel string FENDER acoustic guitars!!
Who are some famous steel-string acoustic guitar players?
There are many influential and famous steel-string acoustic guitar players who have left a lasting impact on the world of music. Here are some notable figures across various genres who are recognized for their skill and contributions to the steel-string guitar:
- Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix, renowned for his electric guitar prowess, also showcased his talent on the steel-string acoustic guitar. His innovative approach to playing and his ability to merge elements of blues, rock, and psychedelia made him a legendary figure in the world of guitar.
- Eric Clapton: Eric Clapton, often referred to as "Slowhand," is known for his mastery of both electric and acoustic guitar. His blues-influenced playing style and soulful phrasing have made him one of the most influential guitarists ever.
- James Taylor: James Taylor is an iconic singer-songwriter who is renowned for his gentle voice and intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. His unique blend of folk, pop, and rock elements on the steel-string guitar has made him a beloved figure in the music industry.
- Tommy Emmanuel: Tommy Emmanuel is an Australian guitarist known for his exceptional fingerstyle playing and energetic performances. He has pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the steel-string guitar, incorporating percussive techniques, complex fingerpicking patterns, and simultaneous basslines and melodies.
- Lindsey Buckingham: Lindsey Buckingham, best known as the guitarist for Fleetwood Mac, has showcased his talent and creativity on the steel-string guitar. His intricate fingerpicking style and innovative use of alternate tunings have contributed to the band's signature sound.
- John Mayer: John Mayer is a versatile guitarist who has excelled in both the electric and acoustic guitar realms. His bluesy playing style and melodic sensibility have earned him recognition as one of the prominent guitarists of his generation.
- Joni Mitchell: Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter who has significantly contributed to music with her unique open tunings and intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. Her innovative approach to songwriting and guitar arrangements has had a profound influence on countless musicians.
- Andy McKee: Andy McKee is a contemporary fingerstyle guitarist known for his percussive and innovative playing techniques. His YouTube performances have garnered millions of views and have inspired a new generation of guitarists.
- Doc Watson: Doc Watson was a highly influential American folk musician and guitarist. His powerful fingerpicking style and soulful interpretations of traditional folk songs have made him a beloved figure in the folk music community.
These are just a few examples of famous steel-string guitar players who have made a significant impact on the instrument and the world of music. Each of these guitarists has their own unique style, technique, and musical contributions, showcasing the wide range of possibilities on the steel-string guitar.
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, a brief history
The classical guitar, also known as the "Spanish guitar" or nylon-string guitar, originated in 16th-century Spain. It was initially used as an accompaniment to classical music, and quickly gained popularity throughout Europe. The classical guitar is notable for its use of nylon strings, which produce a softer sound than steel strings and are typically played with the fingers rather than a pick.
The acoustic guitar, on the other hand, has its roots in the United States in the early 20th century. It was initially developed as a louder and more versatile version of the traditional Spanish guitar and quickly became popular in folk and country music. The acoustic guitar typically features steel strings, which produce a brighter and more percussive sound than nylon strings and are typically played with a pick.
When it comes to the Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, they also share some common features. Both guitars have a neck, fretboard, and body, and are played by pressing down on the strings to produce different notes and chords - fundamentally you can jump between them with little issues.
Both acoustic and classical guitars have a rich history as instruments and continue to be popular choices for musicians around the world. Whether you prefer the soft and sweet tones of the classical guitar or the bright and lively sound of the acoustic guitar, both instruments offer a wealth of possibilities for players of all skill levels.
Acoustic Guitars vs Classical Guitars, the differences are subtle but substantial!
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, construction and woods.
While both acoustic and classical guitars may look quite similar on the surface, upon closer inspection, there are several key differences between the two. One of the most significant differences is the components of these instruments.
For example, the body of a steel-string acoustic guitar is typically made of wood, with spruce and mahogany being popular choices due to their resonance and durability. The body of a classical guitar, on the other hand, is traditionally made of thinner, lighter wood such as cedar or walnut. This gives the classical guitar a more delicate, nuanced sound compared to the fuller, louder sound of the acoustic guitar.
The neck of a guitar is also a critical component to consider. Classical guitars generally have wider, flatter necks that are more comfortable for playing fingerstyle techniques. In contrast, acoustic guitars often have narrower, curved necks that make them easier to play with a pick or for soloing.
Overall, while both acoustic and classical guitars share many similarities, and here are some common types of wood used in construction:
Pine - Pine is a softwood that is popular for its affordability and ease of use. It's commonly used for framing, interior trim, and furniture. However, pine does tend to shrink and warp over time, so it may not be the best choice for outdoor use or areas with high moisture levels.
Cedar - Cedar is a softwood known for its natural resistance to decay and insects. It's often used for exterior siding, decking, and other outdoor construction projects. Cedar is also highly prized for its natural beauty and unique scent.
Oak - Oak is a hardwood known for its strength and durability. It's commonly used for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry. Oak is also resistant to decay and insect damage, making it suitable for outdoor use.
Maple - Maple is a hardwood that is prized for its light colour and smooth grain. It's commonly used for flooring, furniture, and musical instruments. Maple is also highly resistant to wear and tear, making it a popular choice for high-traffic areas.
Mahogany - Mahogany is a hardwood known for its beauty and durability. It's commonly used for high-end furniture, cabinetry, and musical instruments. Mahogany is also resistant to decay and insect damage, making it suitable for outdoor use.
Teak - Teak is a hardwood known for its natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insects. It's commonly used for outdoor furniture, decking, and boat building. Teak is also highly prized for its natural beauty and durability.
Walnut - Walnut is a hardwood known for its rich, dark colour and beautiful grain. It's commonly used for furniture, cabinetry, and decorative accents. Walnut is also highly durable and resistant to wear and tear.
In conclusion, the type of wood used in construction can greatly impact the performance and longevity of a project. It's important to consider the specific characteristics of each type of wood to choose the best one for the intended purpose. With proper care and maintenance, wood can last for generations and continue to add beauty and value to any space.
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, and the differences between steel strings vs nylon strings!
When choosing a guitar, one of the most crucial factors is the type of strings you want to use. Two of the most common types of guitar strings are steel and nylon strings, each with its own unique sound and playing characteristics.
Steel strings are typically made from bronze or phosphor bronze, which gives them a bright, twangy sound. They are popular for playing genres such as country, rock, pop, and blues, where the high-end frequencies of the steel strings can cut through the mix. Steel strings are also popular for playing lead guitar, as they allow fast and precise playing with their sharp attack and quick decay.
However, steel strings may not be ideal for beginners, as they can be harsh on the fingers due to their high tension and unforgiving nature. They can also require more maintenance due to their tendency to oxidize and lose their tone over time. This is why steel string guitarists really must regularly change their strings to keep their guitar sounding its best.
Nylon strings are made from a nylon core wrapped in various materials, including copper, silver, or titanium. As a result, nylon strings produce a softer, mellower sound that is associated with genres such as classical, flamenco, and folk. Nylon strings are also easier on the fingers, making them an excellent choice for beginners.
One of the significant benefits of nylon strings is that they produce a warmer and more balanced sound than steel strings, making them suitable for fingerstyle playing. They are also more forgiving in terms of intonation and tuning, as they do not require the same amount of tension as steel strings. This means they stay in tune longer, making them an excellent choice for players who prefer open tunings.
However, nylon strings may not be suitable for playing genres that require a cutting-edge sound, such as rock or country. Nylon strings also require a wider neck and different playing style due to their larger diameter, making them harder to play for some guitarists.
In conclusion, whether you choose steel or nylon strings will depend on the sound you want and the style of music you want to play. Steel strings offer a bright, cutting sound that is great for playing pick strumming and lead guitar in genres such as rock and pop. Conversely, nylon strings offer a softer, mellower sound and are perfect for genres such as classical, flamenco, and folk. Ultimately, the choice of strings is a personal preference and playing style, and both options have their pros and cons.
D'addario Acoustic Guitar Strings, some of our favs at Coleman's Music!!
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, Upper Fret Accessibility
When it comes to playing the guitar, one of the most essential aspects of ease and comfort is the ability to access the upper frets. The upper frets on a guitar are typically those beyond the 12th fret, and they are crucial for playing leads and solos, as well as for playing higher pitch notes. In this article, we will explore the differences in upper fret accessibility between acoustic and classical guitars.
Acoustic guitars are popular for their loud, full-bodied sound, and are often used for popular and folk music. However, one of the drawbacks of acoustic guitars is that their necks are typically wider and thicker, which can make it difficult to play the higher frets comfortably. This is especially true for guitarists and giutar players with smaller hands, who may find it challenging to reach the highest frets on the neck.
On the other hand, classical guitars are typically known for their softer, mellow sound, and are popular in classical and flamenco music. Classical guitar necks are typically wider and flatter than those on acoustic guitars, which can make it easier to play higher frets without having to stretch your fingers too far.
However, despite the differences in neck width and fret markers, both acoustic and classical guitars can be modified to improve upper fret accessibility. For example, some acoustic guitars have a cutaway design, which makes it easier to access the higher frets by allowing you to reach further up the neck. Additionally, some acoustic guitars come with a smaller neck profile, which can make it easier to reach the higher frets. Conversely, some classical guitars have thinner necks, which can make it even easier to access the higher frets.
Ultimately, the best guitar for you will depend on your playing style and needs, so it's important to try out different models and see which one feels most comfortable and accessible for your playing style.
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar – Neck Size
When comparing the neck size of classical and acoustic guitars, there are some key differences to consider. The neck size can have a significant impact on the playability and comfort of the instrument, especially for guitarists with different hand sizes or playing styles. Here's a breakdown of the neck size characteristics for classical and acoustic guitars:
- Classical Guitar Neck Size: The neck of a classical guitar tends to be wider and thicker than an acoustic guitar. Classical guitars are designed with nylon strings and typically have a wider fingerboard, allowing for more space between the strings. This wider neck facilitates fingerstyle playing and complex fingerings required in classical music. The nut width of a classical guitar is typically around 2 inches (50mm) or more, providing ample room for finger placement and chord formations. The neck profile is often more rounded and has a C-shaped contour, offering a comfortable grip for the player.
- Acoustic Guitar Neck Size: Acoustic guitars generally have a narrower and slimmer neck than classical guitars. This design is influenced by the steel strings commonly used on acoustic guitars, which require less space between strings than nylon strings. The nut width on an acoustic guitar is typically around 1.69 inches (43mm) to 1.75 inches (45mm), although variations can exist. The slimmer neck profile and flatter fingerboard radius on an acoustic guitar make it easier for players to navigate through chords and perform techniques such as bending and string bending.
It's worth noting that individual guitar models and brands can have slight variations in neck size, so it's essential to try out different guitars to find the neck profile that suits your playing style and hand size best. Guitarists with smaller hands or those who prefer fingerstyle playing may find classical guitar necks more comfortable, while players with larger hands or a preference for strumming and bending may gravitate towards the slimmer neck of an acoustic guitar.
Ultimately, the choice between a classical or acoustic guitar neck size depends on personal preference and playing style. Trying out different guitars and considering factors such as hand size, playing technique, and musical genre will help you find the neck size that feels most comfortable and suits your musical needs.
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar – The Bridge
When comparing the bridge of classical and acoustic guitars, there are notable differences that contribute to the distinct characteristics and sound of each instrument. The bridge plays a crucial role in transmitting the vibrations of the strings to the soundboard, resonating the guitar's body and producing sound. Here's a breakdown of the bridge differences between classical and acoustic guitars:
Nylon-String Classical Guitar Bridge: The bridge on a classical guitar is typically made of wood, commonly rosewood or ebony, and is glued to the soundboard. It is a flat design with a tie-block where the strings are secured. Classical guitars usually have a "tie-end" bridge, meaning the strings are tied off at the bridge itself, which requires the strings to be manually fastened to the bridge using knots or loops. This tie-end bridge design allows for easy string changing and adjustment of string height or action.
Steel-String Acoustic Guitar Bridge: The bridge on an acoustic guitar is usually made of wood, commonly rosewood or ebony, and is also glued to the soundboard. However, the design differs from classical guitars. Acoustic guitar bridges typically have a "pin bridge" design, where the strings are inserted through holes in the bridge and held in place by bridge pins. These bridge pins are removable and function as a means to anchor the strings to the bridge. This design allows for easy string changing and provides a secure connection between the strings and the bridge.
In summary, the bridge design of classical and acoustic guitars differs primarily in the way the strings are secured. Classical guitars typically have a tie-end bridge, while acoustic guitars often feature a pin bridge. These distinctions influence the string setup, action, and playability of the instrument, catering to different playing styles and musical genres.
A beautiful Ibanez Classical Guitar, one of the most overlooked classical guitar brands due to Ibanez being sooo famous for their electrics!!
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar – Tuning Pegs
When comparing the tuning pegs of classical and acoustic guitars, there are notable differences in design, functionality, and aesthetics. The tuning pegs, also known as machine heads or tuners, are responsible for adjusting the tension of the strings, allowing the player to tune the guitar to the desired pitch. Here's a breakdown of the tuning peg characteristics for classical and acoustic guitars:
Classical Guitar Tuning Pegs: Classical guitars traditionally feature friction-based tuning pegs. These pegs are usually made of wood and have a cylindrical shape. They are inserted into holes on the headstock and held in place by friction. The player manually turns the pegs to adjust the tension of the strings and achieve the desired pitch. The winding of the strings around the tuning pegs helps to secure them in place. Classical guitar tuning pegs are generally open-gear, meaning the gears are exposed and visible.
Acoustic Guitar Tuning Pegs: Acoustic guitars commonly use geared tuning pegs. These pegs have an enclosed gear mechanism that provides more precise tuning control. Geared tuning pegs are often made of metal, such as chrome or nickel, and are inserted into holes on the headstock. They have a worm gear mechanism that allows for smoother and more accurate tuning adjustments. The gears can have a ratio that determines the tuning sensitivity—for example, a higher ratio allows for finer tuning adjustments. Geared tuning pegs on acoustic guitars can be either open-gear or sealed-gear, with the latter offering additional protection against dirt and dust.
The choice of tuning pegs on classical and acoustic guitars is often influenced by the strings, Nylon vs Steel, and also tradition, playing style, and personal preference. We love them both!
Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar, What Type of Guitarist Are You?
At Coleman's Music in Melbourne, Lynbrook and online, we love all types of guitars!! When it comes to the differences between Nylon String classical guitar and steel string acoustic guitars, here's a summary of the characteristics and differences from a guitar player's perspective:
Nylon String Classical Guitar Players:
- Technique: Classical guitar players often focus on fingerstyle playing, using their fingers to pluck the strings individually. They typically emphasize proper finger positioning and hand posture to achieve clarity and control in their playing.
- Repertoire: Classical guitar players primarily perform classical music compositions, including works by renowned composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Tarrega. They may also explore contemporary classical pieces specifically written for the nylon string guitar.
- Tone and Sound: Nylon string guitars produce a warm, mellow, and rounded tone. Classical guitarists strive for balanced tone production across the instrument's range, aiming for clarity in individual notes and harmonies.
- Technique and Training: Classical guitarists often undergo formal training and dedicate themselves to honing their technique. They focus on developing precise finger coordination, dynamic control, and musical interpretation through extensive practice and study.
Steel String Acoustic Guitar Players:
- Playing Style: Steel-string acoustic guitar players often employ a combination of strumming, fingerpicking, and flatpicking techniques. Their playing style tends to be more versatile and adaptable to various genres, including folk, country, rock, pop, and blues.
- Repertoire: Acoustic guitar players have a wide range of musical genres and styles to explore. They can perform solo acoustic arrangements, accompany singers, or participate in bands, showcasing their versatility across different genres.
- Tone and Sound: Steel string acoustic guitars produce a brighter, more vibrant and resonant sound than nylon string guitars. The steel strings contribute to a more percussive and distinct tone, allowing for greater projection and volume.
- Improvisation and Creativity: Acoustic guitar players often have opportunities for improvisation and adding personal touches to their playing. They may incorporate elements of rhythm, percussive techniques, and soloing to create unique arrangements or solos.
Of course ...these are generalizations, and there is considerable overlap and variation among guitarists within these categories. Many guitarists explore both classical and acoustic styles, and their playing styles may encompass a combination of techniques and genres. The choice between nylon string classical guitar and steel string acoustic guitar depends on personal preferences, musical goals, and the desired sound and repertoire a guitarist wishes to pursue.
A tasty picture from our Melbourne CBD Coleman's Music store!
Where can I buy a Steel-String Acoustic Guitar or Nylon string Classical Guitar?
At Coleman's Music Store of course : ) We've locations in Melbourne CBD and Lynbrook, as well as an online store that ships all over Australia, with a wide selection of high-quality classical guitars from some of the top brands in the industry.
At Coleman's Music Store, we pride ourselves on our commitment to quality and customer service. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, our knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect classical guitar to meet your needs and budget. We offer a range of brands, including Yamaha, Valencia, Alvarez, Cordoba, Dowina, and Ibanez, so you can choose the guitar that's right for you.
Simply checkout our online pages or give us a call at (03) 9799 5400 to learn more about our selection of classical and acoustic guitars - and start your musical journey today!