Whether or not you aspire to become a professional musician, purchasing a guitar instrument should not be taken lightly. Not only do they have varying appearances, but different guitars also have different sounds and characteristics.
Remember: Getting the wrong instrument could cause you to lose interest in playing music before you even get a chance to get try it to the fullest.
To make sure you find the right instrument, here are the five different types of guitars and the situations they are best used in:
1. Acoustic Guitars
Acoustic guitars are the type of guitar that most people are acquainted with. This instrument has a hollow body that is specifically made to amplify sound and is typically crafted from wood. Most acoustic guitars sport six strings, although some variants have as much as 12.
This type of guitar comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are symmetrical, while others have parts of their body cut away for easier access to higher frets.
However, the most common characteristic people look at in an acoustic guitar is the material used for its string. There are two options for this: nylon and steel.
Many people opt to learn to play a guitar that has nylon strings. Also dubbed as the “classical guitar,” this acoustic guitar variant is reasonably priced.
The guitar often has wide fretboards to help beginners get used to the chords more quickly. The nylon strings are also well-suited for beginners as they are more comfortable on the fingertips compared to steel strings.
The only downside to this type of guitar is that it tends to sound a bit dull. You might want something different as soon as you improve your playing and gain the chance to choose a new guitar.
Largely known as the acoustic guitar, steel-stringed acoustic guitars have a louder and more vibrant sound compared to those with nylon strings. Due to its versatility, the steel-stringed acoustic guitar is often used for a wide variety of musical genres, including jazz, rock, and folk.
However, the steel strings may not be as finger-friendly as nylon ones, so expect to find your fingertips covered in calluses after playing for a while.
When to go for an acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitars are the best choice for people who are only starting to guitar lessons and how to play the instrument. This guitar is also ideal for singer-songwriters who can use it to fingerpick their compositions.
However, if you’re looking to bust out screaming, distortion-heavy solos, it would be best to opt for an electric guitar.
2. Electric Guitar
If your dream is to become a rock legend, electric guitars are some of the best instruments you could try learning. However, you should know that these solid-bodied guitars require some sort of amplification. Between a decent audio interface and headphones, you should be able to enjoy playing an electric guitar on your own.
Of course, if you’re planning to perform for a big audience, you need to have it plugged into an amplifier or PA system to make the most out of it.
Although acoustic guitars are best for beginners, electric guitars can also be easy to play because of their low strings. However, the narrow fretboards might make it more difficult to press the right strings accurately while avoiding muting the others.
Like acoustic guitars, electric guitars are also made in many different shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular ones include the Fender Stratocaster, the Fender Telecaster, and the Gibson Les Paul.
When to choose electric guitars
Electric guitars are perfect for those who want to play with more powerful and sustaining sounds. When used with pedals and other guitar accessories, the variety of music that can be created with this type of guitar is virtually endless. However, an electric guitar is not ideal for making folk music, mainly because it requires amplification to achieve a certain level of loudness the genre requires.
3. Electro-acoustic Guitar
Electro-acoustic guitars are basically acoustic guitars that can be plugged into a PA system or amplifier. They are made with a “pick-up” – what is essentially a microphone – built inside them to boost the loudness of the sounds they make.
When to buy an electro-acoustic guitar
Electro-acoustic guitars are best used by acoustic performers during live shows since these guitars eliminate the need to put microphones in front of the instrument while maintaining its unique sound.
4. Semi-acoustic Guitar
Semi-acoustic guitars, also known as “hollow-bodied electric guitars,” are something made to serve as the middle ground between electric and acoustic guitars. They sport the same thin and compact body electric guitars have, but are hollow like acoustic guitars.
Because of their size, semi-acoustic guitars are a tad quieter than acoustic ones, which is why they are named as such.
When is semi-acoustic ideal?
If you’re after versatility, then semi-acoustic guitars are your best bet. They offer the same tone as acoustic guitars while allowing amplification as needed (like electros). However, they may not be a great choice for people who want a fully acoustic or electric sound.
5. Bass Guitar
Bass guitars are a unique breed of string instruments that produce deep and low bass sounds. They replaced the double-bass previously used in jazz and orchestra bands.
Basses have long been used to enhance different types of music with just their four big, thick strings. Some bass guitars are electric and sport a solid body while others are acoustic or semi-acoustic. There are also five- and six-stringed basses that cover a wider range of lower notes.
Why you should buy a bass guitar
Bass guitars are best for musicians who like to work with drums in forming a rhythm and a powerful groove in a band. However, it is not a good choice for performing solos as it is considered a low-end accompaniment guitar.
The Right Guitar for You
When choosing a guitar for yourself, selecting one from all the different types and models available can be a daunting task. Consider the extent of your skills, the type of music you wish to play, and how you want to play it before making the purchase.
Amrit Shivlani is the Founder and CEO at Music Majlis, a community-driven e-commerce platform that offers a wide variety of musical instruments and equipment for every musician and sound professional. The company’s goal is to make music-making, recording, producing and mixing accessible and available to everyone.