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Difference Between Acoustic and Classical Guitar

brazilian_10_string_viola Acoustic Guitar vs Classical Guitar

Guitar is a musical instrument which has its origin in 17th century. There are various varieties of guitar such as the classical guitar, acoustic steel guitar, and electric guitar and so on. The modern classical guitar is known as Spanish guitar due to its origin in 19th century by Spanish. Both the classical and acoustic guitar is of acoustic nature but the difference between the classical and acoustic guitar lies in terms of their shape, size and material used.

The major difference between acoustic and classical guitar is that classical guitar is made up of nylon strings whereas acoustic guitar is made up of steel strings. The body of the classical guitar is a bit smaller and more in width than that of acoustic guitar. Classical guitars seldom change their size whereas acoustic steel guitar comes in various sizes. The classical guitar can never be converted to steel guitar as they are made up of light wood and can not bear the pressure generated by the steel strings on the neck or nut of the guitar. Whereas acoustic can be a nylon type classical guitar.

Another difference between the classical guitar and acoustic guitar is that in the acoustic guitar pick or plectrum can be used as it has steel strings and narrow fingerboard 40mm at the nut. The frets in this guitar meet the body at the 14th fret and the headstock is not slotted. Whereas in classical guitar plectrum is not used as the fingerboard is wide 50 mm at the nut and can be plucked with right hand fingers only. The neck of the guitar meets the body at the 12th fret. In acoustic guitar, the bracing inside is quite heavy and the neck looks like a block shape with a steel truss rod inside it. On the other hand the bracing is light type and the neck of the classical guitar is of clam foot shape with no truss rod in the neck.

The classical guitar is mainly used for playing classical music whereas the acoustic guitar is used for pop, jazz, rock or blues type of music. The characteristic difference between the acoustic and classical guitar is that in classical, the strings produce a round mellow sound with a string tension of 75-90 pounds whereas in acoustic guitar steel strings produce a metallic sound of western music with a string tension of 150-200 pounds. The string length from the saddle to nut in the classic model is 650mm whereas it is 644mm in steel acoustic guitar. The classic guitar is preferred by most of the guitarist as it is light weight, easy to handle balanced sound and favor midrange and treble whereas the steel string acoustic guitar is long and heavy, extended bass response and is favored by solo strummers.


1. Classical guitar is made up of nylon strings whereas acoustic guitar is made up of steel strings.
2. Classical guitar is played by right hand fingers whereas the acoustic guitar is played by plectrum.
3. Classical guitar is light weight and comes in few shapes only whereas acoustic guitar is heavy and has lot of varieties.

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  1. Classical guitars and acoustic steel string guitars do have a difference in the construction but wood difference is not one of them. In this article it is mention that classical guitars are made of a lighter wood than the steel strings acoustic.

    The “soundboard” (top plate) of the guitar is the most important component on a guitar and is responsible for the tone,volume,and balance of the instrument. Spruce and Cedar is the wood of choice for soundboards because of tyhe high stiffness-to-weight ratio.Both steel strings and nylon strings guitar makers use this type of wood
    (besides others) in the making of their instruments top plate.

    The classical guitar does weight less primarily because it is slightly smaller and the fret-board is built without the addition of an “adjusting-rod” like the steel strings have.
    Steel string does place a heavier pressure from the neck to the bridge and therefore the “stabilizing-rod” in the fretboard is a necessity for correcting any warping. Recently some luthiers are experimenting with “adjusting-rods” in the classical guitar
    but at present this represents less than 1% of the classical guitar market.

    The one acoustic guitar that is made of lighter wood is those guitars made for the playing of “flamenco” music. These guitars are maded with cypress wood and the walls of its back,sides,and soundboard are much thinner. In addition Flamenco guitars are about 2.5cm narrower than the classical guitar.

  2. Thanks for this info, I was wondering what kind I have and what the differences are. This answered all my questions. Thank you! : )

  3. From which guitar I start learning to guitar and how long time I can learn guitar

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