Acoustic guitars are normally made entirely of wood, though some manufacturers, like Ovation, incorporate fiberglass composite. The soundboard, or the top of the guitar functions as a kind of amplifier. The soundboard receives the vibrations of the strings after passing through the bridge and saddle.
Tone woods, unique varieties of wood chosen for their acoustic qualities, are used to create soundboards. The sound and price of an acoustic guitar can be significantly influenced by the type of wood used in its construction.
While lighter woods like Sitka spruce, one of the most widely used soundboard tone woods, are tonally much brighter, denser woods like mahogany and maple provide deep, rich tones with a concentration on the low end.
Types of Acoustic Guitars
Steel String Acoustic Guitars – The most popular kind of acoustic guitar is one with steel strings. Although there is more to these instruments than meets the eye, their simplicity is part of their charm. The body style affects the guitar’s tone, projection, and volume. It also has a small impact on the guitar’s volume. The loudest guitars typically have a deep, bass sound, and have large, deep bodies like the Jumbo, Dreadnought, and Orchestra types.
Fingerstyle guitar is ideally suited for smaller steel-string acoustic guitars like the Auditorium, Concert, and Symphony. They provide a clearer sound that stands up well on their own and easily cuts through a mix.
The smallest acoustics are parlor and travel guitars. Ed Sheeran is renowned for using a “Little Martin” 34 Scale guitar, and John Mayer has his signature Martin Stagecoach, widely regarded as the original travel guitar. While they are perfect for strumming at home, they have also proven themselves to be more than capable of live performances and recording at the highest levels.
Nylon String Acoustic – Acoustic guitars with nylon strings, also known as classical guitars or Spanish guitars, differ significantly from those with steel strings in several important ways. The strings are nylon, but they are tuned similarly (EADGBE). Synthetic polymers weren’t always used to create nylon guitar strings. Before World War II, catgut strings which were manufactured from animal intestines but never from cats or cat parts were frequently used on classical guitars.
There aren’t many stylistic differences between makers of classical guitars, unlike many other classical instruments. Although there are many sizes available, the general design is the same, giving players of all age options.
While there aren’t many differences in shape between manufacturers, there are some differences depending on whether the instrument is a classical guitar or a flamenco-style guitar. With a greater action and slight neck relief, classical-style nylon acoustics can achieve bell-like clarity and prevent fret chatter. Classical guitars are usually always built with cedar or spruce soundboards to achieve a rich tone. Although they rarely have a cutaway for access to the top frets, they are typically always hourglass-shaped.
Acoustic-Electric Guitar –The Acoustic-Electric guitar sometimes referred to as the Electro Acoustic Guitar, is available in practically every guise an acoustic guitar does. They function as standard acoustic guitars that have been equipped with pickups, an output jack, a preamp, and occasionally built-in EQ and tuners.
Piezo-electric pickups are the most prevalent kind found in acoustic-electric guitars. Piezo pickups directly use the vibrations of the strings, as opposed to using the electromagnetic field created by the strings moving over magnets, which tends to produce the most realistic sound for an electro-acoustic guitar. They can even be used with guitars with nylon strings because they don’t require magnetism.
Paul Tutmarc is credited with developing the electric guitar, which was created in the early 1930s. In bands, the guitar was given more prominence as the music progressed, and bands needed to amp their instruments to make them stand out in the background.
There may be one or more pickups on an electric guitar, which are typically electromagnetic. Contrary to acoustic guitars, the shape has little to no effect on the overall tone and sound, which has sparked manufacturers’ serious ingenuity and produced some legendary designs over time.
However, an electric guitar’s weight and wood density do affect its sound, which is why producers employ a variety of woods to produce a range of tones. For instance, the body and neck of the Gibson Les Paul are often composed of mahogany, fairly thick wood that plays a key role in producing the distinctive tone and sustain that are associated with this guitar.
Solid-Body Electric Guitar – When asked to visualize an electric guitar, most people immediately think of one with a solid body. There is great disagreement over who came up with the idea originally; some give Les Paul credit, while others point to O.W. As the founder, of Appleton. In any case, Leo Fender’s Fender Esquire was the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar because it became popular in a way that no manufacturer had anticipated.
The flexibility to be customized to the player’s exact specifications is one of the features that distinguish solid body guitars from other types. You can start with a less expensive guitar and upgrade as your talents advance without having to invest in a completely new instrument because almost every piece of hardware on these guitars can be replaced, from tuners to pickups. For comprehensive examples of how you can modify a solid body electric guitar, see our Ultimate Stratocaster upgrading guide.
Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar – To address the terrible feedback problems that plagued the early hollow body “Spanish Style” electric guitars, semi-hollow body guitars were created. The solid wooden block that runs through the middle of the body, leaving the sides, or bouts, hollow, is where they get their name.
Although numerous manufacturers produce instruments with a similar appearance, the Gibson ES-335 is the most identifiable of all the semi-hollow body guitars. Although sustain is diminished and the lows are a little less defined, an electric guitar with a semi-hollow body sounds fairly similar to one with a solid body in terms of tonality.
Hollow Body Electric Guitar – These are the instruments that gave rise to the modern electric guitar. The first hollow-body guitars were archtops like the Gibson L-50 with Charlie Christianson pickups. For guitarists in bands to begin playing single-note solos and be heard above the rest of their ensemble, this was done.
Today’s hollow-body guitars are substantially smaller than the archtop guitars that came before them and frequently resemble half hollow guitars from the exterior, at least. They are significantly quieter and less full-bodied than a real acoustic guitar when played acoustically, but they are also notably louder and clearer than both solid body and semi-hollow-bodied guitars.