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There are almost too many different types of guitar to name. However, they can be split into 4 broad categories; acoustic, classical, electric, and bass. The variations between guitars within these categories is what gives us so many different types, but these four categories help us to distinguish the style and sound produced by each one.

Any guitar player will tell you that not all guitars make the same sounds, nor are they played in the same way. By learning guitar, you will quickly become familiar with the variations in sound and playing method. Below is a quick definition of each category to give you an idea:

  • Acoustic guitar: Traditionally, an acoustic guitar has 6 steel strings which, when plucked, produce vibrations above a hollow chamber to create sound. Popular types of the acoustic guitar include Dreadnought, Parlour, and Jumbo.
  • Classical guitar: Classical guitars are very similar to acoustic guitars with the main difference being that the strings are made of nylon instead of the steel strings used on an acoustic guitar. Although at first glance they look identical to a Flamenco guitar, they differ in a couple of distinguishable ways.
  • Electric guitar: Electric guitars produce sound through a pickup (a transducer that converts vibrations into electrical signals) which senses the vibrations of the strings to create electrical signals and subsequently sound.
  • Bass guitar: Bass guitars work in a similar way to electric guitars, but they normally only have four strings and are tuned lower in order to allow them to keep a steady rhythm (and bridge the gap between the guitar and the drums in a band).

But as previously mentioned, there are many different types of guitar within these categories. Some differ by size, others by the number of strings. One thing is for certain though; each guitar has a specific purpose for which it is used.

The purpose of some guitars is more precise than others. Acoustic guitars allow for a more personal sound as they are often unaccompanied with the guitarist plucking the strings and creating a natural sound. Electric guitars give a louder, more powerful sound, and they offer wider range through the use of extra equipment such as pedals, making them perfect for use within a band. The low sound of a bass guitar makes it perfect for working closely with the drums in a band to give any song a perfect rhythmic flow.

Differences between the types of guitar

A whole article could be written on the differences between the different types of guitars. But for beginners, perhaps the best thing to do is to point out some key differences between the four categories of guitar listed above.

These four can be separated into pairs; classical and acoustic, and electric and bass. This is because, generally speaking, classical and acoustic guitars have a similar shape with a large hollow bodies and are often played without being plugged into mains electricity. On the other hand, electric and bass guitars don’t have this hollow body and are slightly longer. They are played whilst connected to mains electricity and offer a large array of sounds.

So naturally, the question we are left with is regarding the differences between acoustic and classical guitars, and the differences between electric and bass guitars.

Some of the key differences between acoustic and classical guitars are:

  • Acoustic guitars have steel strings whereas classical guitars use nylon strings;
  • The fretboard (the long neck of the guitar) of an acoustic guitar is a lot narrower than the fretboard on a classical guitar;
  • Classical guitars are often slightly more economical than acoustic guitars in terms of price;
  • The sound produced by both is different as well. Classical guitars are more associated with Flamenco, whilst most pop or indie songs will be played on an acoustic guitar.

When it comes to electric and bass guitars, the differences are slightly more discernible. For a start, the two play very different roles within a band. The electric guitar normally has a more harmonic or melodic role and is used to play riffs in a song. It can also be used to keep rhythm as well. The bass guitar, on the other hand, works much more closely with the drums than the electric guitar in order to keep a stable rhythm in songs.

Aside from function, some other key differences between the two include:

  • Bass guitars commonly only have four strings, whereas a standard electric guitar has 6;
  • Bass guitars are considerably larger than electric guitars;
  • Bass guitars have a lower tuning and play notes an octave lower;
  • Bass’ more supportive role means that electric guitars take more centre stage and therefore solos are more common with electric guitars.

Choosing the right type of guitar for you

Once you have learnt the basics of playing the guitar, it is very easy to switch between different types. However, the initial decision is choosing a guitar to use to begin learning. Usually, people start with an acoustic or a classical guitar due to them being more affordable and more gentle to the touch. They don’t require any extra kit such as an amplifier and therefore can simply be picked up and played.

Playing the guitar is fun, but if you want to learn how to play, you need to make a good decision regarding your first choice of instrument. Learning to play chords is often easier on a classical guitar as the nylon strings are nicer to the touch and learning techniques such as fingerstyle are easier too.

But ultimately, if you learn guitar, you need to have what you want to achieve at the forefront of your mind. If you want to play guitar in a band then you will probably need to decide between electric guitar and bass guitar as they are the most common types in the majority of bands. The choice then will be if you want to play lead guitar or provide an essential supporting role to your band’s music.

If you want to learn to play just for fun, then the type of music that you want to play is important. This is because certain types of music are closely linked with certain types of guitar, such as Flamenco with the classical guitar.

In the end, most people will transition through types. Your first guitar will most certainly be a classical or an acoustic guitar due to the lower price and the gentler touch to the fingers which make them ideal for beginners. However, once you have mastered the chords and perhaps even some guitar tricks, the natural progression is to move on to something more different to showcase your skills. Who knows where your guitar journey will take you; you could be playing jazz guitar or blues guitar in New Orleans, or strumming some classic tunes on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.

Learning the guitar with a teacher

There are some people for whom learning guitar online is easy. They perhaps don’t need too much explanation or are a natural with a guitar in their hands. However, this can lead to certain complications. Yes, online guitar lessons can offer a convenient way to learn to play. But you miss out on feedback from a teacher, advice on how to improve, and even some of the music theory behind playing.

Taking guitar lessons will teach you everything that you need to know about guitar playing, from guitar chords to being able to strum your favourite song. However, you won’t just learn the basics of how to play the guitar. You will also learn about the structure of the guitar and how to get the best from it. Your teacher will quickly tell you where the bridge is and what the fret does. What’s more, your teacher will also be on hand to give you guidance which is especially important when playing beginner guitar.

And finding your perfect guitar teacher with Superprof couldn’t be easier. Superprof shows you where each teacher is located and how much they charge. Teachers are also rated by their students and you can read reviews of each one, meaning that you will know what your guitar lesson will consist of with each teacher. And if all of that wasn’t enough, many guitar teachers offer their first lesson for free so you can see exactly how they go about teaching guitar before you commit to a whole guitar course.

So what are you waiting for? Find your guitar instructor today on the Superprof website. Who knows, you could be on step away from the road to being able to play the guitar like Eric Clapton!

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