Choosing classic and acoustic guitar: what’s the difference?

Once, when I went to a music store to buy my first instrument, I asked for a classical guitar, but with iron strings. The conversation went something like this:

– What kind of guitar do you want? A classical or an acoustic guitar?

– What’s the difference between the classical and acoustic guitar models?

– There are differences, now I’ll tell you about them and show you both guitars.

Classic and acoustic guitar. What's the difference

Let us tell you the difference between these guitars and which one is better.

Choosing this musical instrument, at first you might be confronted with two of its most popular definitions – classical and acoustic model. People who want to learn to play the guitar often ask the same question on various forums – which of the two varieties of this musical instrument is better and more preferable. As in many cases – there is no clear and specific answer to this question. It all depends on the individual case. Nevertheless, after reading this article, every reader will understand what the difference is and be able to consciously decide and make the right choice of a suitable model.

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Classical Model

History of the classical guitar is several hundred years and dates back to the eighteenth century. The ancestor country of the “classic” – Spain, which is why such a guitar is sometimes called “Spanish” in common people.

Features and characteristics:

The instrument of the Classic model is distinguished by a relatively small body (amateurs call it a drum), which adds to its convenience and elegance. The body is usually made of precious softwoods – cedar, spruce, etc.

This variety has a wide fingerboard, which has either a single solid wood section, or has a composite character (several stacked wooden pieces on top of each other). As a rule, there are nineteen frets on the fingerboard of the classical version (a fret is the distance between two vertically placed metal rods).

The fingerboard is attached to the body with glue.

The musical instrument is equipped with nylon (material based on plastic) strings, which can be black or white. The strings of this material does not give much resonance, which leads to a quiet and soft sound.

The music genres most suitable for performing on this kind of guitar are Spanish, Latin American compositions, as well as ballads, songs, romances.

Due to the simplicity and convenience of this musical instrument is often used for teaching in institutions of general education.

The classical model is perfect for beginners, due to its small size, soft strings and comfortable fingerboard.

Acoustic model

This variety does not have such a rich history as in the case of the “classic”. Age of the acoustic model – about one hundred years. The instrument became popular all over the world, coming from America, where in the mid-20th century such musical styles as jazz and folk flourished. After all, the works of these genres, performed with the accompaniment of “acoustic”, sound very picturesque and attractive.

Properties and features:

The musical instrument has a large body, which, in part, is what provides the deep sound.

In the middle of the section, along the entire length of the “acoustic” fingerboard is a metal rod – an anchor. This element provides the durability of the neck and protects it from breaking, since the strings are stretched with a lot of force and create a considerable bending force. In addition, the metal anchor adjusts the position of the neck relative to the body.

The fingerboard is glued to the body like a classical guitar.

Musical instrument is equipped with metal strings, which, by creating a great resonance with the body, provide the peculiarities of sound “acoustic”. Strings can have an outer braid of different materials. The metal of the winding affects the sound. For example:

  • Phosphorus-bronze. Strings with this combination of material have a “thicker” rich bass and velvety sound, but less clear treble. The braiding of these strings has a bronze-orange color.
  • Bronze-Tin. Optimal in terms of treble and bass strings, in most cases they are put by the major manufacturers of musical instruments in their guitars. Yellow-gold color braid.
  • Steel or nickel steel. Commonly called “silver” although there is no silver itself. Characterized by a distinctive bright ringing sound. The braid is of silver gray color.

Important: It should be noted that the use of metal strings in the classical version is not allowed, because the absence of steel anchors in the fingerboard “classics” can lead to its failure because of the high tension of these strings.

Works relevant to the execution of accompaniment “acoustic”, refers to the styles of rock and roll, pop, chanson, folk music and any yard tunes.

This guitar will be a bit difficult to learn because the metal strings cut your fingers harder. But if you’re willing to put up with it for three weeks, you’ll definitely be pleased with the sound.

Choosing between two tools

When making a choice, a beginner should focus on the following points:

Metal strings of an acoustic guitar, due to the stiffness of the material and strong tension can provide blistering fingers of an untrained person in a short time. Of course, this phenomenon is temporary and after some period the fingers will become coarser, but at first the player will be accompanied by unpleasant feelings.

The soft nylon strings of the classic model are much better in this regard. In addition, due to the low tension, they are less likely to break.

The number of strings in the “classic” is always six, while the “acoustic” can count from six to twelve strings (twelve-string guitar).

For young musicians, the small body of the classical model will be preferable to the “acoustic”, to the dimensional size of which you need to get used to.

Materials of manufacture

If we talk about the material from which the body is made, there are two main options – the execution of wood or plywood.

  • Wood provides the sound with a muffled and noble character, but on the other hand, the case made of precious wood significantly increases the cost of the musical instrument. Do not forget about storage – wood does not tolerate temperature fluctuations and content in conditions of high humidity, which negatively affects the sound quality.
  • Plywood is more resistant to moisture temperature changes or direct sunlight. The price for such guitars is not high as a rule. Famous guitars will cost from $90 or 6 500 rubles. But such guitars don’t have a good and deep sound.

It was noted above that the fingerboard of “classics” is wider and when playing with special “barre” chords, the left wrist will be in pain at the first stages of use, due to the need to fully embrace the fingerboard.

Another difference between the two models is the absence of an anchor in the “classic” fingerboard.

An anchor gives greater structural reliability and resistance to the external environment, as well as the ability to adjust the deflection of the fingerboard. Although increasingly common, budget models of classical guitar have an anchor rod in the fingerboard.

When playing an acoustic guitar is often used plectrum – a special plate made of metal or plastic, which adds volume to the sound. Such a device is not applicable to “classical” unlike the first option.


After considering the features, properties and differences of each of the guitars, it becomes much easier to make a choice on one of the two options discussed and to say which model is better for you.

However, all the abovementioned points refer, by and large, to physical characteristics, which are far from always determinative.

In the first place, though, it is worth putting your musical preferences. “Acoustics are capable of producing much louder, clearer and higher tones. Therefore, if the player gravitates to pop directions, rock and roll, jazz, blues or folk, then feel free to take an acoustic guitar, and you will not regret your choice.

But you should not write off the classical guitar either. This type of instrument is ideal for performing classical compositions, fiery Spanish tunes, romances and plays. and is also great for learning.

Over time, you will have both models, as each is unique and cannot replace the other.

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