January 10, 2024

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Master guitar teacher and player Stefan Joubert is the founder of The London Guitar Institute. He cordially invites all guitar lovers from absolute beginner to advanced to come and learn how to play the guitar with his excellent teachers! He also offers lessons online via Zoom and Skype as he is based in the UAE in Dubai.

Understanding the distinctions between these guitars and their intended uses is crucial for any aspiring guitarist.

Let’s explore the main types of guitars and their unique roles in the musical landscape.

Looking to get your first guitar?

There’s a huge range of stringed instruments out there, and the sheer number of types can sometimes baffle a beginner, so we’ve put together this handy guide to the different types of guitar you might encounter!

From the elegant and reposed steel-string dreadnoughts to the super-sleek heavy metal machines, we’ll help you identify the perfect instrument in this in-depth guide.

Acoustic guitar

1. Acoustic guitar

The acoustic guitar is a versatile musical instrument known for its ability to produce warm and authentic tones through the vibration of its strings resonating within the body.

Its simplicity makes it a favourite among solo performers and singer-songwriters, excelling in folk, country, blues, pop, rock, and even classical music. With a portability advantage, acoustic guitars are perfect for on-the-go musicians, offering the freedom to play anywhere without needing external amplification.

Beyond its melodic qualities, acoustic guitars come in various shapes and sizes, catering to different playing styles and preferences.

Whether you prefer the bold resonance of a dreadnought or the intimacy of a parlour guitar, there’s a perfect fit for every musician.

Overall, the acoustic guitar stands as a cherished instrument, capable of creating a genuine connection between the artist and the audience, making it an ideal choice for both seasoned players and those embarking on their musical journey.

Classical guitar

2. Classical guitar

The classical guitar, recognised for its nylon strings and wide neck, is widely known for playing classical music.

Its warm tones also make it perfect for folk and fingerstyle genres, making it a versatile choice for musicians. The gentle and expressive sound of the classical guitar, coupled with its comfortable nylon strings and broader neck, attracts both beginners and experienced players.

With its approachable nature, the classical guitar is often chosen by learners as their starting point in the world of stringed instruments.

Its adaptability to various genres, from classical compositions to folk and fingerstyle, makes it an accessible and timeless instrument.

Electric guitar fender brand

3. Electric guitar

Electric guitars are crucial in today’s music, especially in rock, pop, and jazz.

They work by using pickups that turn string movements into electrical signals. The amplified sound produced by electric guitars is versatile and perfect for various music styles.

What makes electric guitars stand out is their flexibility. With the ability to use different effects like reverbs and distortions, musicians can create a wide range of sounds.

This adaptability makes electric guitars essential in different music situations, from the energetic vibes of rock to the smooth tunes of jazz and the catchy beats of pop.

Overall, electric guitars are key instruments that have a significant impact on the sound of modern music.

Electric bass guitar fender brand

4. Electric bass guitar

The electric bass guitar is a crucial instrument that adds a strong foundation to various music styles like rock, jazz, and funk.

Known for its deep tones and rhythmic role, it plays a key part in shaping the overall sound of a band.

The bass guitar’s ability to provide a low-end foundation ensures a balanced and harmonious musical composition, making it essential to creating impactful and enjoyable music experiences.

Not only does the electric bass guitar contribute significantly to the auditory aspect of music, but its sleek design and commanding presence also make it visually appealing on stage.

In live performances, the bassist becomes a focal point, adding an aesthetic dimension to the show.

Overall, the electric bass guitar’s deep tones and rhythmic significance make it a vital instrument that enhances both the auditory and visual aspects of musical performances across various genres.

Acoustic bass guitar

5. Acoustic bass guitar

The acoustic bass guitar is a unique instrument that shares similarities with the acoustic guitar but is designed to produce low-frequency tones, serving as a foundation in various musical genres.

Unlike its electric counterpart, the acoustic bass guitar generates sound acoustically, relying on its large hollow body to resonate and project rich, deep tones.

This type of bass guitar is particularly popular in acoustic settings, adding warmth and depth to ensembles such as unplugged performances, folk gatherings, and intimate jam sessions.

Its portability, coupled with the absence of the need for external amplification, makes the acoustic bass guitar a versatile choice for musicians seeking a resonant and unplugged bass sound in diverse musical environments.

Seven string electric guitar ibanez brand

6. Seven-string and eight-string guitar

Seven-string and eight-string guitars represent an evolution in the world of guitars by featuring additional strings beyond the traditional six-string design.

As the name suggests, a seven-string guitar has one extra string, typically tuned to a lower pitch than the standard strings.

On the other hand, an eight-string guitar takes it a step further with two additional strings.

These extended ranges open up new possibilities for musicians, allowing them to explore lower notes and create unique sounds beyond the conventional guitar tonal range.

These guitars have gained popularity in various music genres, particularly in metal and progressive rock, where the extended range adds depth and heaviness to the sound. The extra strings provide a broader sonic palette for players to experiment with, enabling them to craft intricate and complex compositions.

Additionally, the seven-string and eight-string guitars are favoured by solo artists and bands looking to push musical boundaries and create a distinctive sonic identity. As these guitars continue to make their mark, they contribute to the evolution of musical styles and expand the creative horizons of guitarists worldwide.

Resonator guitar

7. Resonator guitar

The resonator guitar, famed for its distinct metallic sound, is a standout instrument widely used in blues and bluegrass music.

Its unique design replaces the traditional sound hole with metal resonator cones, elevating volume and projection and creating the characteristic twang and bright tones that define its sound.

Resonator guitars are especially popular for solo performances and ensemble settings, where their ability to cut through the musical mix makes them a preferred choice for musicians seeking bold and vibrant tones.

In addition to their exceptional sound, resonator guitars boast eye-catching aesthetics on stage. The shiny metal cones and overall design contribute to their visual appeal, making them iconic instruments in live performances.

Whether it’s the authentic bluesy vibes or the lively bluegrass tunes, the resonator guitar’s unique sonic qualities and captivating appearance have solidified its place in the music world, appealing to players and audiences alike.

Twelve string guitar

8. Twelve-string guitar

The twelve-string guitar is a distinctive instrument characterised by pairs of strings for each note, creating a rich and chorused sound.

In this unique design, each standard six strings is accompanied by a second, thinner string tuned to the same note.

This doubling of strings produces a harmonically complex and lush sound, adding a unique texture to the guitar’s tonal palette.

Favoured in folk and rock genres, the twelve-string guitar is celebrated for its ability to enhance the richness and depth of musical compositions.

The doubled strings create a natural chorus effect, making the instrument ideal for adding a captivating and full-bodied resonance to acoustic and amplified performances.

Musicians appreciate the twelve-string guitar for its ability to create a distinctive sonic presence, whether accompanying folk ballads, enriching rock anthems, or providing a melodic layer in various musical arrangements.

Archtop guitar gibson brand

9. Archtop guitar

Archtop guitars are widely embraced in jazz and blues music scenes, renowned for their unique design featuring a gracefully arched top and f-shaped sound holes.

These guitars stand out in appearance and sound, offering warm tones and resonant qualities that perfectly complement lead and rhythm playing in jazz and blues genres.

The distinctive archtop design contributes to the guitar’s ability to produce a rich and dynamic sound. The curved top enhances the instrument’s acoustic projection, making it well-suited for intimate jazz solos and powerful blues rhythm sections.

The f-shaped sound holes further add to the guitar’s resonance, creating a harmonically rich tone that resonates with the soulful expressions of jazz and blues music.

As a result, archtop guitars have become a go-to choice for musicians seeking an instrument that not only looks elegant but also delivers the warm and vibrant tones essential to these musical styles.

Steel guitars

10. Steel guitar

Steel guitars are predominantly used in country and Hawaiian music and are known for their ability to produce unique sliding sounds.

Typically played horizontally on the player’s lap, these guitars create an immersive sonic experience characterised by smooth and emotive tones.

The hallmark technique of steel guitar playing involves using a metal bar or slide against the strings, facilitating the creation of sliding or gliding notes.

This playing style allows musicians to infuse their performances with a wide range of emotions, as the steel guitar responds to the artist’s touch, delivering a fluid and expressive musical narrative.

The horizontal playing position enhances control over these sliding sounds and provides a distinctive visual element to live performances.

Clifton Hyde playing baritone guitar

11. Baritone guitar

The baritone guitar, distinguished by its longer scale length, is designed to generate deep and resonant tones.

This unique instrument plays a pivotal role in various genres, such as rock, jazz, and country, where it contributes a low-pitched richness to the overall musical landscape.

With its extended scale length, the baritone guitar produces tones that resonate in the lower register, adding a distinctive depth to musical compositions.

Musicians often utilise the baritone guitar to introduce a low-pitched richness, enhancing the overall sonic texture in genres that span the energetic vibes of rock, the sophisticated sounds of jazz, to the rustic tunes of country music.

Paco De Lucía playing flamenco guitar

Master guitarist Paco De Lucía playing flamenco guitar

12. Flamenco guitar

The flamenco guitar, crafted specifically for flamenco music, boasts a distinct bright and percussive sound.

These guitars are tailored to excel in the unique demands of flamenco, known for its intricate rhythms and passionate expressions.

With rapid responsiveness, flamenco guitars are particularly well-suited for the nuanced and intricate lightning-fast fingerstyle playing that defines this captivating genre.

Designed to capture the essence of flamenco, these guitars often feature a shallower body, allowing for increased projection and responsiveness.

The bright and percussive tones produced by flamenco guitars cut through the air, enhancing the rhythmic complexity and emotional intensity characteristic of flamenco performances.

The instrument’s ability to facilitate intricate fingerstyle techniques, such as rasgueados and picados, further emphasises its suitability for flamenco music’s expressive and dynamic playing style.

Baroque guitar

13. Renaissance and Baroque guitar

The Renaissance and Baroque periods influenced the development of the guitar, shaping its design and playing techniques.

In the Renaissance (14th to 17th century), guitars, known as “vihuelas” or “lutes,” featured six strings and a rounded back.

Composers like Luis de Milán and John Dowland crafted intricate pieces, exploring fingerpicking techniques and polyphony.

The Baroque era (17th to mid-18th century) saw the rise of the five-course Baroque guitar with double strings tuned in pairs. Composers like Gaspar Sanz and Robert de Visée expanded the guitar’s repertoire, showcasing its solo and ensemble capabilities.

Modern performers carry on the legacy today, interpreting historical compositions on contemporary guitars.

The Renaissance and Baroque, guitar music legacy, lives on as contemporary musicians adapt historical compositions for modern audiences. Despite limited surviving records and instruments, the influence of these periods is evident in the rich repertoire played on guitars today.

The intricate fingerpicking styles and harmonic sophistication from the Renaissance and the evolving designs of the Baroque era continue to shape the way we appreciate and interpret guitar music in the present day.

Flat top guitar

14. Flat top guitars

Flat-top guitars, also known as steel-string acoustic guitars, are a popular and versatile type of guitar with a flat soundboard.

These guitars are characterised by their steel strings, contributing to a bright and dynamic tone.

Flat-top guitars have a wide range of applications across various musical genres, making them one of the most widely used types of acoustic guitars.

One of the distinguishing features of flat-top guitars is their suitability for both fingerstyle and strumming techniques.

Musicians in genres such as folk, country, blues, and rock favour flat-top guitars for their ability to deliver a clear and resonant sound. The flat soundboard design enhances the guitar’s projection, making it suitable for solo performances, accompanying vocals, or playing in ensembles.

With their versatility and accessible playability, flat-top guitars have become iconic instruments, appreciated by both beginners and experienced players alike for their ability to convey a rich and authentic acoustic sound.

Conclusion

Exploring the world of guitars can make you wonder which one is right for you.

But don’t worry!

The great thing about getting into music is the many options. If a big acoustic guitar doesn’t feel right, you can go for the cool sound of a rock-focused electric guitar.

Knowing what makes each type of guitar unique helps you pick the one that fits your favourite music style and how you like to play.

Whether you’re playing simple chords on an acoustic or rocking out with electric guitar solos, each guitar adds its special touch to the huge world of music.

If you’re in London and eager to learn how to play, consider taking guitar lessons at the London Guitar Institute.

Our experienced teachers can help you start from the basics or improve your skills. Whether you want to play gentle tunes or energetic rock, our lessons create a supportive space to grow your guitar abilities.

Join us at the London Guitar Institute, and let’s make music together!

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Tags: Diverse types of guitars, Guitar types, Guitars, Range of Guitars