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What kind of guitar to buy?

Before deciding what kind of guitar to buy, you should determine what style of music you would like to play.  Each type of guitar, because its material and construction, produces a very different tonal quality and hence is used for different styles of music.  You should choose the guitar based on the style of music and the sound you like.

Here is a chart of guitars and appropriate styles of music.

Guitar Type Style of Music
Acoustic Guitar folk, country, ragtime, blues, pop
Classical Guitar classical, pop, folk, Latin, jazz
Electric Guitar rock, heavy metal, blues, country, jazz

Here are the descriptions for different types of guitars.

Acoustic Guitar

Also called Dreadnaught guitar, steel-string guitar, folk guitar, or flat-top guitar.  This type of guitar's tone quality is bright, brassy, and forceful.  It is perfect for folk, country, ragtime, blues, and pop styles.  Beginners should use light gauge strings on this guitar for ease of playing because light gauge strings are easier on the fingers.  If you desire you can work your way up to medium or heavy gauge as your fingers grow stronger and tougher.

A cutaway acoustic guitar refers to an acoustic guitar with cutaway shape to allow for better access to the upper range of the fretboard.  This is a great feature for players who play upper range frequently.

An acoustic electric guitar refers to an acoustic guitar with built-in pick-ups so sound can be transmitted through an amplifier.  An acoustic electric guitar produces sound the same way as an acoustic guitar through its sound chamber therefore it can be used without an amplifier.  When the guitar is connected to an amplifier, the sound of the guitar is enhanced through the amplifier.  For playing with an amplifier, an amplifier between 10 to 30 watts will be more than adequate for home practice.

In addition to buying an acoustic guitar, you may also need the following accessories:

Classical Guitar

Also called nylon-string guitar or nylon-string acoustic guitar.  Nylon strings have a lower tension and are easier on the fingers of a beginner hence making classical guitar a popular choice for beginners.  This guitar has a rich repertoire of classical music but is also suited for pop, folk, Latin, and jazz.  The nylon string guitar is best suited for fingerstyle playing where the strings are plucked with the fingers of the right hand.

Due to the style of music, classical guitar is less frequently used with an amplifier.  But if you wish to attach a transducer or pickup on the guitar and amplify the sound, an amplifier between 10 to 30 watts will be more than adequate for home practice.

Steel strings have a higher tension requirement and should never be put on a classical guitar.  Classical guitar lacks the necessary neck strength to support the tension of steel strings.

In addition to buying a classical guitar, you may also need the following accessories:

Electric Guitar

Without amplification, this guitar is too soft to be heard except for individual practice.  It relies almost entirely upon the pick-ups and amplifier.  The pickups are used to pickup the sound vibration from the guitar and transmit the output to an amplifier.  The sound can be further enhanced by using different effect pedals and other means to alter the tone.  This type of guitars is used almost exclusively for rock, heavy metal, blues, country and jazz music.

An electric guitar can have double cutaway or single cutaway.  The cutaway shape is to allow for better access to the upper range of the fretboard.  Double cutaway refers to a guitar with cutaway shape on both side of the guitar while single cutaway refers to a guitar with cutaway shape on only one side of the guitar.

An amplifier is necessary if you want to play an electric guitar.  For home practice, an amplifier between 10 to 30 watts will be more than adequate.

In addition to buying an electric guitar, you may also need the following accessories:



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