Being one of the most popular instruments today, guitars are also considered one of the most versatile instruments in the musical scene. There are many kinds of guitars, and all enjoy many of the features that make them everyone´s favorite. However, they can be divided into two main groups:
Acoustic and electric. Let’s take a look at each:
The first choice for learning to play guitar. Generally made of wood, acoustic guitars feature big resonation boxes that receive and amplify the vibration of the strings. This allows players to perform without the aid of amplifiers or loudspeakers.
1. Classical guitars. The most commonly known acoustic guitars. The classical model has not changed for almost two centuries, and is the instrument of choice for beginners and classical music enthusiasts. They usually have nylon strings which produce a fuller and warmer sound than their metal counterparts. They are typically played in a sitting position, often using lots of arpeggios and manicos.
2. Steel stringed guitars. They share many of the features of the classical guitars, but use steel strings which make them sound brighter and louder. Their necks are usually narrower as well. These are the favorite of Country, Blues and Folk musicians, as well as some Rock and Rollers.
3. Resonators. They are guitars that have one or two steel cones attached to their resonance boxes in order to make them louder. Their distinctive timbre and character made these guitars very valuable for bluegrass musicians. There are two varieties of resonators. The lap square-neck resonator, also known as the Hawaiian guitar, which is played like a piano or organ; and the round-neck resonator that resembles a regular acoustic guitar, but has a distinctive metal cone on top of its body.
4. 12-String guitars. As its name indicates, this guitar has twelve strings. However they are set in pairs. Each string has a couple tuned one octave higher, and they are set in a way that makes it easier to strike both strings at the same time when plucking. The resulting sound has a pleasing effect, often described as the sound of bells. These guitars are mostly used for accompaniment using arpeggios due to their fuller and richer sound.
5. Archtop guitars. The shape of the archtop guitars is reminiscent to that of violins and cellos. The front and back of the body are arched, not flat, their resonating boxes are usually thinner, and the characteristic soundhole is replaced by f-holes at each side of the string lane. Archtops are greatly preferred by jazz players around the world.
6. Acoustic bass. These guitars are designed to produce heavy resounding low frequencies. They have large and deep resonating boxes, and longer necks. They usually feature four metal wounded strings that are tuned one octave lower than the lowest string on the guitar. Bass guitars are used to provide the rhythm for almost any music style.
The standard for popular musicians today, the electric guitar is smaller and more versatile than its acoustic counterpart, at least in terms of sounds and techniques. Its body is more compact and heavier, as it is usually solid or semi-hollow, lacking the resonating power of acoustic guitars. Instead, it has one or more pickups that convert the mechanical vibration of strings to electrical signals that are sent to an amplifier. This gives the player greater sound control as he can regulate the volume, tone, and even select the correct pickup in order to achieve the desired sound at any time.
Electric guitars are commonly used with pedals and effects that help achieve an incredible variety of sounds. This is something many guitar players take advantage of. Depending on the music style you play, you might not need to be very good at playing guitar to sound great with an electric guitar, while acoustic guitars usually require more skill and practice.
Whatever your “flavor” of guitar, when it comes to learning to play the guitar, you have a couple of choices. You can get some face to face lessons or you can learn online. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Online lessons have really increased in popularity in recent years with high speed internet connections and the ease of access to online video content. I found a nice chart comparing the best online guitar lessons if you are interested in going that way. It’s worth a look because each learning site has it’s pros and cons also.