What is a classical guitar?

The journey of any guitarist begins by deciding what type of guitar you want to start with and that can be a tough decision. Of course, you can start with any type of guitar, and once you know the basics you can switch and decide which is the best fit. But it is always good to know what you are dealing with in advance. We already covered most types of acoustic and electric guitar, so now it is time for the classical guitar.

Most guitarists start on an acoustic or classical guitar, because an acoustic is a little less harsh on the fingers and a very simple pick-up-and-play option. You don’t need an amplifier to hear the sound properly and they are often cheaper than electric guitars.

For some beginner guitarists (and advanced as well) it is hard to tell the difference between an acoustic and a classical guitar. So let’s clear that up. 

Classical guitar

Acoustic guitar

Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Fretboard

The fretboard of a classical guitar is a lot wider than that of an acoustic. Quite often classical guitars will not have the fret markers (dots or inlays) along the fingerboard either.

2. Body Shape

Acoustic guitars often come in a dreadnought shape which is considerably larger than that of a classical guitar and cutaways where you have access to the higher frets on classical guitars are rather rare.

3. Bridge

A classic wrap-around bridge is used on a standard classical guitar. On this type of guitar, the strings are tied in a knot around the bridge to secure them in place. But classical bridges also accept ball-end classical strings. In contrast, the bridge on an acoustic guitar has pegs that securely hold the strings in place via their ball-ends.

4. Strings

Both these guitars are in fact acoustic guitars, except one uses nylon strings (classical) and the other uses steel strings (acoustic), hence the modern acoustic ones are often referred to as a “steel string acoustic”. The nylon strings of a classical guitar are a lot thicker and mellower or softer sounding than those of a steel string. Some nylon string guitars are also not considered to be ‘classical’, however, to differentiate between them would be a whole other topic. Let us know if you’d like us to cover that one as well.

5. Tuning Pegs

The mechanics of the tuning peg on a classical guitar are quite different to those on an acoustic guitar.  Usually, on a classical guitar, the tuning peg is made of plastic and metal, whereas on an acoustic guitar the whole tuning peg is made out of metal.

6. Price

Often classical guitars are a little cheaper than their acoustic cousins, which is why many beginners start with a classical guitar first.

The best thing you can do is try as many guitars as you can and see which style is best for you and the music you like to play. Go to the local musical store and spend a good amount of time there or ask guitarist friends of yours to have a strum at their guitar. And don’t get overwhelmed – there are indeed thousands of guitars out there, but you will be able to feel which ones are right for you.

If you would like to read further a very detailed explanation about the nature of classical guitars, check this article.

Did we miss anything important? If you have some questions left or want to add something, feel free to leave a comment below or join our Guitar Family and start a conversation there.

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