When talking about acoustic guitars, there are two general types of this instrument that might be referred to – and they each have their own unique features about them, making it important to know what each one can offer you. Namely, these are the classical guitar and the steel-string guitar – and choosing which one you’ll be playing is of particular importance when you’re still learning the instrument.
The classical guitar
As the name implies, this is the instrument of choice for classical guitarists, who like the more mellow, natural sound that the guitar’s nylon strings produce. Even though all strings on a classical guitar are made of nylon – the bass strings are wound in metal – this guitar has its very distinctive sound style and can be recognized immediately by a true lover of the instrument.
Something you’ll learn about the classical guitar fairly quickly is that it’s only played with the fingers directly, as opposed to steel-string guitars where using a pick is preferred. The strings on a classical guitar can take less tension compared to steel string models, and there’s also some difference in the tension when you’re comparing the nylon strings to the metal ones on the same guitar.
Because of this, it’s not that common to play pick-style strumming with a classical guitar as it is with a steel-string one – however, those who enjoy playing with their fingers are going to love the wider fretboard, something which makes it a lot easier to use the fretting hand technique that’s common in the classical style guitar. Plus, the lower string tension usually gives you far more control over how the strings are plucked exactly, which allows you to fine-tune your playing more effectively. If you’re interested in playing a more classical style, or simply like using your fingers more, this is the choice for you.
The steel string guitar
On the other hand, we have the steel-string acoustic guitar, which is very common in pretty much all genres that use guitars apart from the classical one. This guitar may lack the basic specialized character of the classical guitar, but it’s much more comfortable for people who like to switch between an acoustic and electric guitar.
In addition, the closer-spaced strings and the more evenly spread string tension accommodate chord strumming techniques which are more common with the acoustic guitar, and even though playing classical styles can be more difficult with a guitar of this type, it’s still highly versatile.