If you are about to buy a guitar, there's a good chance that you'll unlock a new and exciting universe in music. And no matter how good you get, there will always be something new to learn and master. Whether it's a new lick or a weird scale only you can understand, the guitar has never been associated with "boredom".
But a lot depends on the guitar you ultimately decide to pick up first. If you don't like the way it feels in your hands, you are not going to be motivated to play very often. The same goes for playing the guitar as a whole. You need to enjoy it, not hate it. Hence the reason for researching more about classical vs acoustic guitars. Both can be used to take that first step. But which guitar will suit you better?
Classical and Acoustic Guitars: Similarities and Differences
To get some perspective before going deeper into the details, here is a list of common differences between acoustic and classical guitars. At face value and to the untrained eye, they look pretty much the same. The reality is they are very different. And these differences are enough to influence how much you enjoy learning to play the instrument.
One of the primary differences between a classical and acoustic guitar is the size. The latter tends to have a bigger body than the former. Of course, you'll come across many different guitar sizes for each of the models. So, finding the right size for you shouldn't be too hard. But once you get into playing the difference becomes more evident. For example, when you start learning on an acoustic, you'll automatically pick up the change when you play on a classical guitar.
Another distinct difference will be the weight of the guitar. Acoustic guitars are heavier for two reasons. The first is the truss rod (explained in more detail later), which is situated in the neck. Secondly, acoustic guitars are made with denser and sturdier wood. These two elements can make it feel like you are switching between a weight and a feather.
Some players prefer the lighter weight of the classical guitar, especially when they like to stand and play. The smaller body also makes standing and playing a little easier.
A classical guitar has a broader and consistent neck with larger frets, a trait that makes it a great model for beginners. Acoustic guitars have a naturally slimmer neck with slimmer fret space. It starts wide near the body and leads to a narrow finish at the head, making technique for beginners more challenging.
Staying with the neck area of the guitar, there is another difference you'll notice as you gain experience. The playing surface of the acoustic has a slight outward curve, whereas the classical neck is flat. It might even feel like the surface of the classical guitar dips inward towards your palm. And while this comparison does not mean much now, it will influence your experience when you play.
Acoustic guitars get strung with steel strings. Their classical counterparts are strung with nylon/gut strings. Not only does the type of strings affect what it is like to play, but they dictate the sound you ultimately get.
Mentioned earlier was the truss rod inside the neck of the acoustic guitar. The purpose of the rod is to provide additional support, as well as prevent the neck from bending out of proportion. Classical guitars don't have them seeing as nylon or gut strings don't put as much pressure on the neck. It's also why classical guitars should not be strung with steel strings. Because even a quality model will eventually crack and bend due to the tension.
Tone And Sound
All it takes is one strum to hear the difference between a classical and acoustic guitar. Classical guitars are known for their warm and deep sound. Acoustic models, on the other hand, have a crisp and clear sound. One isn't necessarily better than the other. It mainly depends on your personal preference and the sound you want to learn with.
Even though the chords are played the same, and there are no rules regarding whether you should use a pick or your fingers, there are different approaches to the guitars in question. For instance, classical guitars are better suited for fingerpicking. The softer strings combined with the wider neck and frets simply make it easier. At the other end of the spectrum, an acoustic guitar is better suited for using a pick, seeing more precision is required.
Expect the price for an acoustic guitar to be higher than for a classical. For the most part, production of the former is more costly and automatically adds to the worth.
Classical And Acoustic - Which One Is Best For You?
In this part of the guide, we take a deeper look at which guitar is best for you as beginner, acoustic vs classical? And the best way to do this is by making an objective comparison. Using the benefits and disadvantages of learning with each model, it should become much easier to make the right decision.
Old-school guitar teachers will no doubt recommend the classical guitar when learning the basics. This is because it is fingerpicking friendly, and the wider neck helps a lot for stretching your fingers quicker. The strings will also take it easier on your fingertips when playing chords. The fact is a classical guitar requires less pressure from your fingers, and the strings are slightly thicker, making them easier to target.
From a beginner perspective, the classical guitar is less intimidating. Because in addition to being able to play for longer before feeling the discomfort in your fingertips, you are motivated to use all ten fingers.
Benefits Of Beginning With A Classical Guitar
- Wide neck makes precision easier while stretching those fingers
- Softer and thicker strings
- Smaller body, which can be more comfortable for some players
- Great for fingerpicking exercises
- More affordable
Disadvantages Of Beginning With A Classical Guitar
- Limited with the sound you get
- Not as great for strumming as it is for fingerpicking
- Not as sturdy as an acoustic
While you can't go wrong with using a classical guitar for learning, the acoustic alternative offers a more exciting dimension. It is more versatile regarding the type of music you can play. From classical to rock, your options are never limited.
The reality is that acoustic models are louder and have an overall better sound. This is especially true if you want a crisper sound, compared to the dampened tone of the classical guitar. Whether it makes for the perfect beginner guitar depends on what you feel comfortable with.
Benefits Of Beginning With An Acoustic Guitar
- The narrow neck requires less stretching from your fingers
- Fingers adapt quicker to the pressure of the strings
- You can play with your fingers or with a pick
- More exciting thanks to the crisper sound
Disadvantages Of Beginning With An Acoustic Guitar
- More strain on your fingers
- Requires more precision
- More expensive than a classical
- Some don't consider it a proper beginner guitar
Conclusion: Which One To Choose Under What Circumstances?
It's time to make a decision. Are you going to pick the classical over the acoustic? Or do you feel like rocking out with some steel strings?
If you are serious about learning and you have a comfortable budget:
In this case, it is recommended to get an acoustic guitar. Because as you get better, you won't feel rushed to upgrade to another guitar. With a classical guitar, newbie players tend to reach a ceiling and get bored. Unless, of course, they love the sound and feel like mastering it.
If you are serious about learning with a tight budget:
On a tight budget, it might serve you better to buy a classical. If the difference in price is too much for your comfort, there is nothing wrong with settling for nylon strings. Keep in mind that any guitar can sound good when the right person is playing it. As long as it can stay in tune, there is a song to be played.
If you are not entirely sure whether you'll stick to playing, regardless of your budget:
For newbies that are probing the idea of playing guitar, don't invest too much just yet. In other words, go with the classical option and see if you like it. If it turns out that you pull through and develop your skills, you can move onto a better guitar.
As a final tip, take into account the type of music you want to play. For example, if you like rock then an acoustic guitar is the better choice. But if you prefer folk or ballads, the classical could be the perfect fit.