Difference Between Acoustic Guitar and Classical Guitar (With Table)

Guitars are musical instrument originated in Spain in the 16th century. There are different types of guitar in present times. Guitar differs in structure, sound producing and strings in general. Guitar evolved a lot from 16th century to present day. It is broadly classified into 3 parts: head, neck and body.
Acoustic and classical guitar are quite popular. Both being same type of musical instrument has a lot of differences in various aspect.

Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar

The main difference between acoustic guitar and classical guitar is the strings. Acoustic guitar has steel strings. On the other hand classical guitar has nylon strings.

Acoustic guitar mostly comes with steel strings and number of strings are 6. Various types based on their shape are Parlor, Jumbo, Dreadnought etc. Dreadnought guitars are the most common type. Parlor guitars are gaining popularity in recent times. Acoustic guitars are preferred because of it’s soothing sound. These are great to level-up the skill of playing guitar. Learning acoustic guitar makes it easy to learn electric guitar.

Classical guitars have nylon strings and feels more soft on fingers. These guitars are most suitable for a beginner to begin with. It also have 6 strings. Classical guitar have a warm and velvety tone that feel captivating. This guitar alone sounds very good and perfect for playing solo.

Comparison Table Between Acoustic Guitar and Classical Guitar

ParametersAcoustic guitar Classical guitar
StringsSteelNylon
Size of neckNarrowerWider
Type of bridgeHas pegs to hold stringsHas classic wrap-around
DifficultyComparatively harder (Helps to level-up skill)Easy (Suitable for beginners)
ShapeDreadnoughtHourglass
TunersHead-stockMachine tuning

What is Acoustic Guitar?

Acoustic guitar originated from United States. It consist of 6 strings, made of steel generally. The thickness of the string determines the sound produced. The thickest string have lowest pitch and thinnest string have highest pitch. Strings are supported by nut(at the head) and saddle(at the bridge). The body is made-up of soundboard. Soundboard vibrates to produce sound. The neck includes fretboard and frets. Frets contain position marker to mark positions so that it is easy for guitarist to recognize fret. Head of the guitar consist of tuning keys. Acoustic guitar have machine-tuning pegs.

Acoustic guitar does not require external power to create sound. They are used for playing different varieties like jazz. Acoustic guitar has sound hole which amplifies the sound within the guitar. This guitar is suitable for playing solo.

Singers and guitarist from famous bands use acoustic guitar for performance and practice. Practicing on acoustic guitar makes it easier to play electric guitar. Some famous acoustic guitar players are: Leo Kottke, Tommy Emmanuel, James Taylor and many more. Some important contribution of famous guitarist are: Badi Assad( She is one of the best acoustic guitar player. She fought her battle with focal dystonia and made a grand return in 2003), John Fahey( He is an amazing folk artist with some great fingerstyle techniques)

What is Classical Guitar?

Classical guitar originated from Western Europe. It also consist of 6 strings made of nylon. Nylon strings feels much more softer to play and less pressure is exerted on left hand. So they are suitable for beginners. Sound produced by these guitars are of soft, smooth and velvety tone. The pitch of classical guitar depends on temperature of guitar. Pitch rises with increase in temperature and pitch lowers with decrease in temperature.

Structure of classical guitar is bit different. Pieces of wood also called as harmonic bars are placed in a fan shaped layout. These harmonic bars plays a crucial function in providing strength to support strings and also to create timbre. The size and shape of these harmonic bars affects the timbre of guitar. The neck of the guitar is wider as compared to acoustic guitar. The bridge has classic wrap-around to hold strings. Soundhole helps in amplifying the sound without any external power.

The only disadvantage of classical guitar that folk music cannot be played. The sound produced by these guitars are different from the original tune. Also these guitars are not fit for children or people having small hand as the spacing between strings are larger which makes it difficult for them to play guitar.

Famous classical guitarist are John Williams, Julian Bream, Pepe Romero and many more. Some important contribution of famous classic guitarist are: Gaspar Sanz(He was the composer, guitarist and organist. Three volumes of tutorial written by him are still a crucial part for present time classic guitarist), Julian Bream(He is one of the greatest guitarist till date. He composed many original songs. He inspired many people).

Main Differences Between Acoustic Guitar and Classical Guitar

  1. The very basic and main difference is types of strings used. Steel strings are used in acoustic guitar and nylon strings are used in classical guitar.
  2. Shape of both guitar varies. Most acoustic guitar are of dreadnought shape and classical guitar are of hourglass shape.
  3. Both have different type of bridge. Acoustic guitar have bridge with pegs that hold the string. Whereas classical guitar have classic wrap-around.
  4. Neck of acoustic guitar is narrower. Classical guitar have broader necks.
  5. Acoustic guitar are good for practice. Practicing in acoustic guitar helps in enhancing the skill and also makes it easy to play electric guitar. Classical guitar are good for beginners.
  6. Sound of acoustic guitar is bright and crisp. Classical guitars sounds like warm and velvety.

Conclusion

Both acoustic and classical guitars are different from each other in various aspect. Sound of guitar, structure and shape everything is different from each other. Acoustic guitars are used to record unplugged songs and perform solo. Classical guitars are for absolute beginner as it has soft strings which makes the guitarist comfortable with guitar. Acoustic guitars are good for people looking forward to master the art of playing guitar. It will not only help them level up skills but also help during playing electric guitar.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003682X09001613
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O-39gcpOYQwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=Acoustic+Guitar+and+Classical+Guitar&ots=0ff5cgr3qK&sig=pPsOF4UnvwmDJ9XI9QZ5PqtxfY0