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Guitars - How Do They Differ?

Jun 9, 2008
Although there are several kinds of guitars the two main ones are the electric and the acoustic and even within these two categories there are many variations.

The acoustic guitar is made of wood and the sound it produces depends upon the shape of the guitar and the strings. The body is usually hollow and nylon strings are used. It does not need to be connected to a power supply unless, of course, it is an acoustic electric guitar. There are no effects boxes of any kind required as with the electric guitar. These are some of the guitars which fall within the acoustic group:-

- Classical - this is what most beginners choose and it is played sitting down
- Flamenco - like the classical but slimmer and produces a crisper sound
- Steel-top - this one has a larger body than the classical guitar, is toughened for sturdiness and produces a warmer tone
- Twelve strings - the six normal strings have another set an octave higher. This guitar produces a very tuneful sound
- Resonator - quite like the steel-top but the center of the soundboard is made of steel which acts as a resonator. Different guitars within the resonator group can be played on the lap similar to a keyboard instrument. The resonator is the guitar regularly used to play the blues
- Arch-top - this one is frequently the chosen guitar of jazz players. It has f-hole design and is usually an expensive guitar to buy.
- Acoustic bass - normally four-stringed but does come with five or six strings too. This guitar is played without electric pick-ups.

Moving on to electric guitars, these need playing through an amplifier and if they are not connected to one, the sound is barely audible. When used with many types of sound boxes, different effects are produced. The tone and the volume are varied by the use of control knobs as is the shift from treble to bass intensive. To create a "crying sound" whammy bars are regularly used, but this is not recommended for cheaper guitars as it can result in the guitar ending up out of tune.

The strings of an electric guitar are thin and made of steel. They need less effort to push them down as they are closer to the neck of the guitar. The body of the electric guitar is made of solid wood, smaller than the acoustic, and therefore heavier. The electric guitar comes in both six and twelve strings, and in a variety of shapes; some models have even been carved to give the appearance of a hand.

As mentioned earlier, some acoustic guitars can also be electric, whereas this cannot be said of electric guitars - they can never be acoustic.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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