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Different Types of Guitars

Mayuri Kulkarni Sep 29, 2018
One may get confused while buying a guitar, as there are different types of guitars to choose from. Each of them has a unique shape, size and sound. Read on to know which of these guitars suits your style...
The different types of guitars vary depending upon the types of strings used, and the shape and size of the guitar. There are basically two types, acoustic guitars and electrical guitars.

Acoustic Guitars

These are commonly used and the most traditional types of guitars. They are hollow, large and are made up of thin wood. They don't use external amplification and are generally used for playing in front of a small audience. Almost every type of music can be played using acoustic guitars, but they are considered best for playing country or folk music.
There are different types of acoustic guitars that have different features. These are:
  • Classical Guitar
  • Steel Guitar
  • Twelve String Guitar
  • Bass Guitar
  • Resonator Guitar

Classical Guitars

The strings of classical guitars are made from nylon and they have a wider neck as compared to other types. The sound generated by classical guitar is warm and gentle.
Though classical guitars are mainly used for playing classical music (hence the name), all kinds of music can be played on it. They are also used to play Flamenco or ballad music. Classical guitars are also called nylon-string guitars, Spanish guitars and Concert guitars.

Steel Guitars

The way the steel guitars are played is different from other types of guitar and it requires special training. They are played horizontally by placing across the knees of the player or keeping them on their stands.
Lap steel guitar and pedal steel guitar are two main varieties of steel guitar. Steel guitars are also known as Hawaiian guitars as this technique of playing originated in Hawaii.

Twelve String Guitars

Almost all types are made up of six strings, but twelve string guitars are made up of 12 strings. The strings are paired, in way that each pair is tuned at same note, with one of the string tuned at a higher octave. The arrangement of the strings produces a semi-chorus effect while playing. They are more difficult to play and are also more expensive.

Bass Guitars

The strings of bass guitars are thick and long, and tuning it is considered quite difficult. The number of strings can vary between 4 to 6; 4 string bass guitar, being the most commonly used. They are used to generate the bass of the rhythm. Both acoustic and electric bass guitars are available, amongst which, electric bass guitars are most commonly used.

Resonator Guitars

Resonator guitars are also called resophonic guitars and were invented to increase the volume of the music generated by traditional acoustic guitar. The resonators, which generate the sound, are made up of metal instead of wood.
Resonator guitars are used in bluegrass, country music and blues. They can either be square necked and played in the steel guitar style or round necked and played in the classical guitar style.

Semi Acoustic

Semi acoustic electric guitars are built with a hollow body in order to get a more acoustic guitar sound. They are made from thin sheets of wood and are not the same as acoustic guitars. Pickups are used to reproduce sound that consists of string vibration as well as body vibration.
Such guitars provide a plain tone and are predominantly used in blues music. They are not as loud as true acoustic guitars, but can be used with the pickup turned off or 'unplugged'.

Electric Guitars

Electric guitars require amplification to hear the music properly. They have longer necks, and solid or semi-sold bodies. They are connected to amplifiers to amplify the vibrations generated. Electric guitars have control knobs that help fine-tune the strings and generate a variety of tunes.
It is always comfortable to play electric guitars as less force is required to press its strings and the method of tuning is very easy. They are used in jazz, rock, blues and pop music.
There are different types of electric guitars that have different features. These are:
  • Solid Body Electric Guitars
  • Chambered Body Electric Guitars
  • Semi Acoustic Electric Guitars
  • Full Hollowbody Electric Guitars
  • Electric Acoustic Guitars

Solid Body

Solid body electric guitars are not hollow like acoustic guitars, but are completely solid. As these guitars do not rely on vibration to produce sound, they can be constructed in such a manner. Solid body guitars rely on pickups, amplifiers and speakers to produce sound.
Solid Body electric guitars are made of hardwood, and high-end premium guitars can be made to order with your choice of wood. Solid body guitars ensure that the sound reproduced is of the string vibration only, leading to a cleaner sound reproduction.

Chambered Body

Chambered body electric guitars are made of solid wood but have a few chambers in them that are hollowed out. Such hollow chambers are placed in such a way that it does not hamper the bridge and anchor points on the guitar's body.
Usually the reason for using a chambered body guitar is because of its lesser weight as compared to solid body guitars. Sometimes chambered body guitars may also be used to achieve a sound that is a slight mix of an acoustic and electric guitar.

Full Hollowbody

Full hollowbody guitars are made of several sheets of wood pasted together, but are completely hollow. They can be termed as acoustic guitars, and they sound and play as loud as acoustic guitars.
They fall into the electric guitar category as they have a pickup that can be used to amplify sound and add effects as and when required. They are often played unplugged in enclosed areas. Full hollowbody guitars are also called archtop guitars.

Electric Acoustic

Electric acoustic guitars are actually acoustic guitars that have been fitted with a pickup or a mic (usually inside the body) to amplify the body vibrations produced. Usually there are a number of pickups of various types used in an electric acoustic guitar.
The important difference between electric acoustic and semi acoustic guitars is that these do not use the regular pickups found on electric guitars. Also the pickups used on these is more to capture the body vibration rather than the string vibration.

Best Acoustic and Electric Guitar Brands

If you are looking to buy a guitar, there are many brands available in the market that you can choose from. Depending on how much intend to spend, you can choose the perfect guitar for you. Here are some of the best brands that offer electric as well as acoustic guitars.
Gibson Fender
Yamaha ESP
Ibanez Martin
Paul Reed Smith Ernie Ball
(PRS) Guitars Music Man
B.C. Rich Gretsch
Jackson Peavey
Carvin Epiphone
Hamer Squier
Warwick Charvel
Larrivée Guild Guitars
Takamine Taylor
Samick/ Greg Bennett Line 6
Seagull Avalon
Kramer Ovation
Alvarez Oscar Schmidt
Dean Guitars Tacoma
It is impossible to state a comprehensive list of all types of guitars, but among the less commonly seen but equally loved types are the baritone guitar, baroque guitar, flat top guitar, harp guitar, lap steel guitar, pedal steel guitar, Portuguese guitar, Renaissance guitar, Russian guitar, and the 7-String electric guitar.
The difference between them can be well understood after playing each of them. So, go ahead and pick up a guitar of your choice from your nearest musical instrument shop.