Experienced musicians have their preferences about their instruments, whether it’s with regard to a specific type or manufacturer. However, beginners often have many questions about what the best instrument is for them to use while learning. Guitars are one of the most popular instruments, and while the terms classical and acoustic may seem interchangeable, there are differences between the two instruments, and your choice of one over the other depends on a couple of factors.
Classical guitars are also acoustic guitars, but not all acoustic guitars are classical guitars. That sounds like a riddle, but we’ll solve it in a few paragraphs.
There are four main factors that separate classical guitars from other acoustic guitars.
Classical guitars use nylon strings exclusively. Non-classical acoustic guitars can use nylon strings. However, nylons strings would greatly affect the sound quality, so most use steel strings. Non-classical acoustics are constructed of heavier woods to stand up to a more rugged style of playing, but they require heavier strings to produce the full sound they’re known for. Guitars that are designed for classical use are crafted of lighter wood to increase their resonance while producing a softer overall tone. Classical guitars are meant to be strummed or played with the finger tips. The playing style required by steel strings would damage the instrument. Steel string guitars generally use picks, which would damage nylon strings.
There are subtle differences that distinguish the body design of a classical guitar from an acoustic. A classical guitar has a smaller, lighter body, no truss rods on the neck, a wider neck and headpiece cut-outs to increase resonance. They produce a more mellow sound. Steel string acoustics have a thinner neck, which is reinforced with truss rods to handle more force on the strings. They also have solid heads and produce a full, more robust sound.
Classical guitars are designed for playing classical, Latin and folk music, where acoustic guitars can adapt to a range of musical genres, from rock to folk to country.
Ease of Play
Because nylon strings are softer, they cause less pain and discomfort when learning and playing. Steel string guitars take a while to become accustomed to, and generally require the development of blisters and then callouses on the fingertips before playing them becomes comfortable. However, if the student intends to play a musical genre other than classical or folk music, it’s best to learn on a steel string acoustic right off the bat. On a side note, younger children might feel more comfortable beginning on a classical guitar because of the smaller body size, and then switch later if their initial interest remains strong as their lessons progress.
Luthier’s Collection guitars is an example of a website that offers a variety of guitars for musicians of any level of experience.
Disclosure: I was compensated by the sponsor of this post to compose an honest and accurate review of their products or services. Regardless, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only recommend products and services which I believe will be good for my readers.