What Is An Acoustic Guitar?

There are many different types of guitars- acoustic, electric, classical, bass, as well as many different but similar instruments. In this article, we will show you what is an acoustic guitar and how it differs from other kinds of guitars. 

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What’s An Acoustic Guitar?

To define what an acoustic guitar is, we first have to define what the word “acoustic” means. The word “acoustic” is used in relation to musical instruments whose sounds are not electronically created or modified. 

So you have acoustic guitars, acoustic pianos, and so on and so forth. These are instruments that make sounds without the help of any electronic modifiers. Just a bunch of hammers and strings and vibrations. 

Types Of Acoustic Guitars

Flattop Steel-String acoustic guitars

Nylon-string acoustic guitars

Archtop acoustic guitars

Flattop Steel-String Acoustic Guitars

These are the most popular kind of acoustic guitars. The flattops. They’re the most versatile and the easiest to buy and maintain. There’s not much to know about these kinds of acoustic guitars other than the fact that they are great for fingerpicking styles, as well as, strumming. 

The steel strings do pose a slight challenge for beginners as they tend to hurt slightly more than nylon strings. However, if you’re a beginner, this isn’t something you should worry too much about as you would easily get used to the pain down the line. 

For flattop acoustic guitars, there are three main different body types that you are going to see often. These are also slightly different from one another but still basically the same uses and features. 

What’s A Parlor Guitar?

Just like the name suggests, this comes in a smaller size. Although it’s not that much smaller than a dreadnought, the smaller body type of the parlor guitar makes it better for fingerstyle play. 

There isn’t a set standard for what a parlor body guitar must be. It can range from the 0 to the 000 body styles. However, just keep in mind that they have much smaller dimensions than the Dreadnought and a smaller dimension than the OMs. Both of which we’re going to look at now. 

What’s An OM (Orchestra Model) Guitar?

This is kind of in the mid-point between the parlor body type and the dreadnought body type. That makes it good enough for both strumming and fingerpicking.

So, if you’re more of a versatile player, then the OM is definitely the body type for you. On the other hand, if you want something more niched down, then either the parlor body type or the dreadnought body type would be better, depending on what you want. 

What’s A Dreadnought Guitar?

This is the most popular style of acoustic guitar. It’s the biggest in terms of dimension, and also produces the most sound and bass. The best thing about the dreadnought is that unlike many other guitars, they sound well when played alongside other instruments. 

Singers and songwriters also love these guitars because of how well it does when strumming. The loud and punchy sounds make for a good music track that they can easily write their songs on. 

The downside to these beasts, though, is their large size. If you’re a smaller person, it might be difficult for you to play with a dreadnought style guitar comfortably. 

Nylon String Guitars

Now, this part is a little tricky. The most popular kind of nylon-string guitars is classical guitars. So most times, people use them interchangeably. 

Now, this is not a problem considering that the other types of nylon-string guitars are so similar that calling them “classical” won’t exactly be wrong.

The problem, though, is that people like to different nylon string guitars from steel string guitars by calling one “classical” and the other “acoustic”. So, if you hear the word “acoustic”, it’s most probably not going to be a nylon string guitar. 

That’s something to note. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that nylon-string guitars are still acoustic guitars. If we go by the definition we mentioned earlier in this article, these guitars also produce sound without any electronic help, which makes them acoustics. 

There are three main types of acoustic guitars, which are:

Classical Guitars

We’ve already mentioned them. They are the most popular and they are used to play classical music. They usually have smaller dimensions than the typical dreadnought, coming close in size to the smaller parlor-sized guitar. 

However, because nylon strings are a bit fatter, they are usually wider than the standard parlor guitar. This difference is not that much, though, and similarly-sized musicians can play either of the instruments without much hassle. 

If you want to get a classical guitar, check out our comparison between Cordoba C10 Cedar Vs Spruce.

What Are Flamenco Guitars?

They are guitars made specifically to play flamenco music. They usually have tap plates on top of the guitar to help with the rhythmic tapping. This is integral to flamenco music. They usually have a lower action, compared to classical guitars. 

They are known for their passionate and growly sound and like classical guitars, they tend to have a wider nut than steel-string acoustic guitars. 

Want to hear what flamenco music sounds like? Get your salsa shoes on and watch the video below:

Hybrid Guitars

Hybrids are not nearly as popular as the other nylon-string guitars. However, they are present. They are made for people who are coming from a steel-string or an electric guitar. This way, they have a smoother entry into the world of nylon-string guitars. 


The final type of acoustic guitar is the archtop acoustic. These types of acoustic guitars don’t have a lot of sustain. This is why it’s more suited to playing jazz music. 

These guitars are fairly obsolete now and there are hardly any reasons to get an archtop today. It sounds very different from a flat top, it’s not great for strumming, and it doesn’t provide better output and tone like a Dreadnought. 

Unless you play jazz and only jazz, getting an archtop guitar is not recommended. However, if you do play jazz, then nothing else will sound as beautiful as the archtop guitar. 

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This article is only a summary. Musical instruments are so diverse and guitars are not exempted. There are other things that different guitars like the tonewood, but if we looked at all that today, this article would become a book. 

Essentially, what you need to do is to make sure you know the kind of music you want to play, and then get the best guitar suited to that kind of music. If you do have any complaints, questions, or suggestions, feel free to drop a comment below!

What Is An Acoustic Guitar? – Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my guitar is steel or nylon?

Nylon strings are softer and more gentle on your fingers. As a beginner you won’t worry about finger pains if your guitar has nylon strings. Nylon strings also produce a warm, mellow tone. 

On the other hand, steel strings are under a higher amount of tension than nylon strings and therefore require a higher amount of force to fret notes properly. It is therefore normal to suffer from sore fingers when playing the guitar. Steel strings also produce a bright, crisp tone and offer more volume and power. 

Can you learn a guitar at age 40?

There is nothing about being 40 that stops you from being able to learn a guitar. Guitar playing requires your mental and physical abilities. Being 40 does not obliterate any of these. If you are physically fit and mentally sound, you are good to go. So whether you are 6, 20, 40 or 60, you can learn a guitar whenever you desire to. It should also be said that your motivation and dedication are important to how well you do in learning a guitar. 

Can you play a classical guitar like an acoustic?

The standard acoustic style involves strumming with a pick, fingerpicking, single line runs, and chording. If you have learned to play with an acoustic guitar, the temptation to play with the standard acoustic style on a classical guitar will always show up. However, this is no easy thing. 

Classical guitars have nylon strings that produce a mellow and warm tone which may not sound great other music styles apart from classical and jazz. Using a pick on a classical string could damage the nylon strings on a classical guitar.

Also, the flat guitar neck and fretboards will make it hard to play the traditional acoustic style. Finally, the high action required on a classical guitar will be a challenge for anyone who wants to impose the traditional acoustic style. 

Are expensive guitars easier to play?

Expensive guitars are made with better materials and better craftsmanship. This makes them considerably better than cheap materials with respect to the quality of sound produced. Because they are made of higher quality materials you can expect that they are easier to play to your specific needs and desires. You can be more accurate with the sounds you intend to produce. 

In this regard, are easier to play your tunes. Furthermore, speaking strictly in terms of playability, you’d expect expensive guitars to have an edge over cheaper guitars. However, this does not mean that cheap guitars can’t be as easy to play or even easier in some cases. 

Is guitar easier than piano?

The answer to this question is definitely subjective. In the end it all boils down to personal preferences. Some might find a guitar easier to play than a piano and others might not. That said, they are both excellent beginner instruments. 

They expose beginners to the fundamentals of music in a way that other instruments don’t. If we have to pick one ahead of the other, we’d say the guitar might be a harder instrument simply because executing the basic technical moves on a guitar is harder than it is on a piano. 

How many guitar chords are there?

Technically speaking, if you go by mathematical permutations, there are a possible total of 4017 chords. Out of these an estimated 2341 chords are capable. These numbers are achieved by considering the various combinations of notes using a 12 note chromatic scale. In practice there are six popular major chords: C major, F major, A major, D major, G major and E major. There are also 4 popular minor chords: A minor, E minor, D minor, B minor. 

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