Acoustic Guitar or Classical Guitar? What are the Differences?


Many people believe the acoustic and classical guitar as the same of its kind, while some regard them with either name thinking they are synonymous to each other. This is a common misconception, but there’s no one to blame since they are indeed confounding. Truth is, the classical guitar is an acoustic guitar, which makes it sound more confusing.This is only one of the fascinating discoveries every individual who wishes to learn the guitar will encounter, and one of the many things guitar enthusiasts love about this instrument.

Outlined here are their main differences to bestow you with the right firsthand knowledge on each guitar, no strings attached!

Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar

metal strings
thin neck
with truss rod
loud, resonant tone
solid headstock

nylon strings
wide neck
without truss rod
soft, mellow tone
string stores or cut-outs in headstock

I. Acoustic Guitar

A guitar that undoubtedly produces sound acoustically, rather than through electrical amplification. There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar, namely, the classical guitar, steel-string, and archtop guitar. Acoustic guitars are frequently called the folk guitar, Dreadnaught guitar, or the steel string guitar.

Strings: The main source of sound in an acoustic guitar is the steel string that’s either is plucked or strummed with the finger or with the use of a plectrum. It vibrates and creates harmonics at various frequencies which depend on string length, mass, and tension. The soundboard and sound box then vibrates to the resonances of the strings sourced from certain frequencies, amplifying some string harmonics more strongly than others and affecting the timbre it produces.

Truss Rod: Is set in place to counter the immense amount of pressure that steel strings place on the thin neck of the guitar. It can actually be played with nylon strings but will produce a weak and thin sound.

The music style played on the acoustic is almost universal as it spans across every musical genre like rock (Dave Mathews), soft rock (James Taylor), folk (Bob Dylan), blues (Eric Clapton), country music and even metal. It proves to be especially useful at campfire sing-along, lounges and bars given its loud volume.

II. Classical Guitar

The classical guitar is also called the Spanish guitar or early guitar, in reference to the romantic and historic characteristic shape such as that from France and Italy. It is also coined as the nylon string guitar or modern classical guitar to distinguish it from older forms, but still, this acoustical wooden guitar is utilized in classical music.

Strings: As a kind of acoustic guitar, it works the same way with strings plucked with the finger as the main source of sound, only they are made of the polymer nylon.

Truss Rod: Classical guitars utilize the lighter and more flexible nylon strings which place minimal tension on the wide neck of the guitar. Hence, they do not require a truss rod to counter the pressure, but cannot possibly handle the pressure strings would exert and can ultimately break.

Music styles commonly played on the classical guitar includes Latin and Brazilian, pop, folk, and jazz.

Acoustic Guitar or Classical Guitar?

Beginners in quest of choosing their first guitar would depend on the kind of music you wish to play, the strings that your fingers find more at ease, and its secure and comfortable grasp on the thin or wide neck. Most importantly, acoustic or classical, go with whichever guitar inspires you to learn and play beautiful music!