If you are on a quest of choosing between different types of guitars, the chances are you are having a hard time. I am sure you are wracking your head about which one is better. You have probably made a decision a hundredth time but have changed your mind because you came across yet another badass acoustic, acoustic-electric or classical guitar. If you can relate to what I have just described, you are in the right place, my friend. The battle between the three has disturbed numerous musicians but there are ways to make it a bit easier. And that’s what I am here for. So today we are going to compare acoustic, acoustic-electric and classical guitars, list down their properties and downsides and try to help you in making your final decision. Shall we begin?
The major difference between acoustic, acoustic-electric and classical guitars
Even though all three of these instruments belong to one big happy family, one of them tends to lean towards other families as well. And that traitor is acoustic-electric guitar. When it comes to the idiosyncrasies of build mechanism, classical and acoustic guitars are basically the same. They have body, neck, fretboard, headstock, strings and soundboard. While acoustic-electric guitars have the same constituents, they have something else and that is electronics. They utilize transducers, a.k.a. pickups in order to amplify the signal. For this reason, they are basically the best of both worlds and fall somewhere between acoustic and electric guitars.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to more specific similarities and differences.
This not seem too significant at first, but trust me, the type of the strings basically shapes the sonic outcome of each of the instrument. Classical guitars generally employ nylon strings, while acoustic and acoustic-electric are more of a steel-string-type-of-guys. In this sense, the latter two are easier to play. Even though steel strings have harsher feel and will ruin your soft fingers at the beginning, their movement can be felt more vividly. You can easily pluck the chord and lock it with your fingers, but nylon strings do not offer this much flexibility. Let’s be honest, they are soft and easy to press in, but their sound is not as defined as that of steel strings.
Body shape, size and portability
When it comes to the body shape, acoustic-electric and acoustic guitars are extremely similar. They can be built with the same tonewoods and look exactly the same. But the body shape of classical guitar is a bit different. It is smaller with rounder edges and is way more lightweight than its acoustic and acoustic-electric siblings. If you are a beginner, you will definitely enjoy the coziness and comfortability of classical guitars.
When we are talking about the portability of these guitars, the most convenient to carry around is the classical guitar. The next in line will be acoustic guitar. And the least portable is acoustic-electric guitar, since it requires an amplifier to be played plugged in.
And we have reached the most important part – the sound. Here we have way more differences than similarities. Classical guitars have softer, mellower tone that is great for classical music (even though you could make the majority of the genres work). If you are into some Flamenco or Gypsy King, you will definitely need a classical guitar to create those sounds. When it comes to acoustic guitars, they have more sustain and crispness, as well as well-defined brightness and low-end punch. Even though acoustic-electric guitars sound a lot like acoustic ones, the main difference here is defined by the pickups. Well, of course, acoustic-electric guitars are way louder, can be more versatile and can even be paired with effects pedals. Consequently, they offer way more sonic options than classical and acoustic guitars. They are also more flexible during live performances and can even cover large audiences when paired with proper gear.
Which one is the best fit for beginners?
The answer to this question does come down to personal preferences, but there are some pros and cons each of the instrument possesses. Acoustic guitars are great for beginners, but they are a bit bulky, awkward to hold and their strings will make your fingers bleed. The same goes for the acoustic-electric guitars in terms of disadvantages, however, the extensive versatility they can offer will help you figure out the direction of your music and aid the formation of your professional qualities. And finally, classical guitars are way easier to play due to their softer strings, however, their airy sound will make every single mistake audible to everyone. Yes, beginners learn on their mistakes, however, the abundance of those incorrect notes might lead to frustration and eventually result in giving up the instrument.
Regardless of everything I have listed, you should make the final decision depending on your own taste and vision. I would suggest trying out each of them and figuring out if they work for you or not. After all, the path of every guitarist is basically the process of trial and error. But do not be scared and don’t you dare to give up. Good luck!