Types Of Guitars: Your Everything To Know Guide When It Comes To Purchasing One

Young Man Playing Acoustic Guitar SittingAnyone’s first experience inside a guitar store can be very overwhelming.  I remember mine very well, as I spent hours trying out different guitars and asking the store clerks question after question.  So if you are interesting in purchasing a guitar, or just curious about the types of guitars that exist today, then you’ve come to the right place.  You might be just as surprised as I first was at how many different guitars there are, including a twelve string one!

There are basically two types of guitars, which are acoustic and electric.  You’ll notice that these guitars are further categorized based on the number of strings, model, shape, purpose of use, pickups used, and other factors.

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are the most traditional types of guitars that are most commonly used.  They are large, hollow and made up of thin wood.  They generally do not use any type of external amplification and are used for playing in front of a small audience.  However, these guitars rely on a soundboard to internally amplify the movement of vibrating strings.  The types of strings used are either made of bronze or nylon.  Pretty much any type of music can be played using this type of guitar, but are considered ideal for playing country or folk songs.

There are several different types of acoustic guitars that exist, and here is a brief description of each one.

Classical Guitar – The father of all guitars.  Classical guitars have been used for many different genres of music.  They come with nylon strings which gives the guitar a unique sound.  This type of guitar is generally used for finger-picking.  The wide and flat construction of the neck make it easy to play chords and scales, which is the reason many beginners start off playing classical guitar.  They are known to be made of the finest quality because of the type of wood used.

Steel Guitar – As you can guess, they are made out of steel.  They are played horizontally, meaning you have to place it across your knees or keep it on a stand in order to play it correctly.  Lap steel guitar and pedal steel guitar are two of the main varieties.  You need pedals and knee-levers to play the pedal steel guitar, and a solid bar of steel in order to play the lap steel guitar.

Bass Guitar – The strings of a bass guitar are thick and long meaning tuning can be quite difficult.  The number of strings on it can either be four or six, although four is more common.  The sound on a bass is distinctive and separate than most other guitars.  It produces a lower tone, hence the name “bass”.  There are both electric and bass guitars available but the electric version is more widely used.

Twelve String Guitar – Most guitars are equipped with six strings, but the twelve string doubles that amount.  This also means the sound it produces is doubled.  So if you already know how to play a six string guitar, you won’t need to learn any new chords to play this one.  The extra six strings can also be tuned an octave apart to produce twin sounds.  This guitar can also be used as a percussive instrument.  It is also considered to be the most difficult guitar to learn, as well as the most expensive to purchase.

Resonator Guitar – Also known as a resophonic guitar, it was invented to increase the volume of the music generated by traditional acoustic guitars.  The resonators are made of metal instead of wood.  They are used primarily in country, blue grass and blues music.  They can be played in the round necked classical guitar style or in the square necked steel guitar style

Electric Guitars

Unlike acoustic guitars, electrics require an amplifier in order to produce a good sound.  So remember that you will need to purchase additional equipment most likely if you own this guitar.  They also have longer necks, and solid or semi-solid bodies.  There are also control knobs that help fine-tune the strings and generate a wide range of sounds.  It is easier on the fingers to play electric guitars because there is less force required to press the strings and strum.  The strings for these guitars are made out of either nickel or stainless steel.  Electric guitars are popular in rock, blues, jazz and pop music.

Standard Electric Guitar – These guitars usually have sex strings and are often used as the melody or lead in a band.  The strings on the electric tend to be close to the frets and are a lighter gauge, making it easier for beginners to play.  A more advanced player can take advantage of this by making all sorts of effects and sounds.  This is done by using tools such as a whammy board or foot pedal, or simply by bending the strings a specific way.  They can be built either with a solid body or chambered body.  Solid body electric guitars are not hallow at all, unlike acoustic guitars.  This is done to ensure a cleaner sound reproduction through an amplifier.  Chambered body electric guitars are made of solid wood but have a few chambers in them that are hollowed out.

Electric Bass Guitar – This four string guitar provides a  heart-pumping sound that can be found in rock, techno, funk, and even hip-hop songs.  Electric bass produces lower notes than standard guitars and the strings can be picked, plucked or slapped.  Therefore it’s usually used for laying down a bass line, although it can be used for rhythm as well.

Electric Acoustic Guitar – These guitars have transducers, microphones or pickups to make their sound louder.  They are ideal for someone who wants to produce a sound with or without amplification.  Similarly to classical guitars, they are used mainly for classical and folk music.  But since they have the option to be connected into the same tools as electric guitars, players have more flexibility in terms of the effects and styles they desire.

What To Look For When Purchasing A Guitar

Now that you know what types of guitars are out there, what kind should you buy?  This should really depend on what type of music you are interested in playing.  For example, if you are going to form a rock band with your friends, you may want an electric guitar as opposed to an acoustic one.  But if you are still learning how to play, you may want to start with a classical guitar and then work your way up to an electric later on.  The choice is really yours, as there is no one correct path you should take.

If you have friends who own a guitar, ask to see theirs and play around with it to see how you like it.  When it’s time to visit guitar stores, bring your friend along for some advice and pointers.  Don’t let any salesperson influence your decision based on price.  You should always try out the guitar first before you purchase it to see how the guitar feels and how it sounds.  How does it feel when hanging from the strap while standing?  How high are the strings from the fretboard?  Does it stay in tune?  These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when trying out different guitars.

When it comes to buying used versus new, it really comes down to your budget and how committed you are to playing guitar.  Guitars can have a very good life if maintained well, meaning buying used can save you a lot money and get you something great.  But I would advise to never buy a used guitar without trying it out first, which means no online websites.  If you have the money though and you think you will continue playing for a long time, then there’s no reason not to buy a brand new guitar.

 electric guitars

Taking Guitar Lessons

It is a common misconception that people can only learn how to play guitar by taking private lessons or in a classroom setting.  However, the people who succeed at learning how to play are the ones who practice and are fully committed.  Taking a beginning online course is a great way learn the fundamentals of guitar playing.  This course includes material such as how to hold the guitar, play chords, read chord diagrams, and tuning the guitar, as well as lots of other useful content.

Once you understand the basics, you can move on to this course on mastering the art of guitar that will go into further depth about playing chords and finger picking.  Professional guitarist Matt Martin has worked with many notable musicians during his career, and his course will help you master chord changes, which for some beginning guitarists is not an easy task.