3 Things to Consider Before Learning and/or Purchasing a Guitar
Accessibility and portability are the two main factors that makes guitar a highly sought out musical instrument to learn. You just need a guitar and start performing anywhere (with a permit)! However, did you know that there is more than one type of guitar? Most of the street performers in Singapore uses an acoustic guitar as its bright and loud tones are deemed more suitable for pop songs. The two main types of guitar are Acoustic and Classical – do you know where does your heart take you? No? Read on and you’ll be able to find out!
1. Acoustic or Classical?
Before diving into the specifics about the difference the technicalities of the guitar, it is crucial to pinpoint the type of guitar that is preferred – Acoustic or Classical. There are two main considerations to decide between the acoustic or classical:
1. Genre Difference
What type of music is repeating on your playlist? Do you want to be able to play those type of music? If the answer is yes, then choosing between acoustic or classical is a walk in the park.
The engineering of the respective guitars is built to sound different. Classical guitars are built to sound better for classical, flamenco and Spanish music. This is due to the material of the strings being nylon, it enables the tone to be on the mellower and softer spectrum. Whereas, acoustic guitars are wired with steel strings, enabling the tone to be on the brighter and louder spectrum. Hence, acoustic guitars are more suitable for folk, pop, country, and slow rock music.
If you are still not sure what type of music do you prefer, perhaps after taking in the next consideration will help you to choose between an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar.
2. Guitar Difference
As aforementioned, due to the way the guitar is engineered, acoustic guitar and classical guitar uses different materials for their string. All 6 strings on a classical guitar are made from nylon strings, whereas steel strings are used on acoustic guitars. Other than the differential tones that is produced, nylon strings tend to be easier on the fingers as compared to steel strings. This is important if the guitarist is of younger age as it might be painful for them to press on the chords.
In addition, classical guitars tend to have wider necks, causing the spacing between each string to be larger as compared to the acoustic guitar, where the neck is narrower. Hence, the hand size of the guitarist will also affect the type of guitar that is more suitable for them. DISCLAIMER! This does not mean that people with small hands cannot play classical guitar. With sufficient practice, nothing is impossible. It only serves as a consideration factor if you are not sure of which type of guitar is suitable.
2. Size of Guitar
Usually, there are three sizes to both classical and acoustic guitar. Half-sized guitar being the smallest and full-sized guitar being the largest. The reason why younger kids is more suitable to use a smaller sized guitar is due to the physicality of a guitarist – forearm movement (strumming patterns) and finger movement (plucking). The optimal size is when the guitarist is seated with the guitar on hand, the elbow should not be raised higher than the shoulder height. Otherwise, there will be constant tension within the biceps and triceps region.
This chart serves only as a recommendation and it is not compulsory to follow the height limitations to a T when choosing the guitar of choice. Comfort level should be the main factor when choosing the appropriate size followed by preference.
3. Price Range
Is it really necessary to get a high range guitar if I am just starting out? Before committing to owning an musical instrument, this is probably the most common question that will pop in the student’s mind. Before jumping the gun and choosing the highest range or the lowest range, bear in mind that the price is highly dependant on the type of wood (top, side and back), shape of guitar, guitar action and guitar strings. A better engineered guitar will definitely be a better guitar which comes with a heftier price tag, but a better guitar will not guarantee a better guitarist. It is only through putting in time and effort to practice, will a guitarist improve. It is not a crime to start off with an average guitar when you first start, as long as the guitar produces the sound and tone that is required. After developing tonal preference after learning, you can start looking at the shape and type of wood that is able to produce the tone that you like.