You have decided to learn the guitar. Now you are torn between the kind of guitar you should buy. In fact you have various options, three to be precise, an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar. Which one of these you should invest on?
Well, that depends on a lot of factors like the type of music you intend to play, the style of guitar you want to learn, the stage of life you are at, physical considerations and the purpose you are learning the instrument for? So, before you even start learning the guitar, take some time to set an objective for yourself, to understand the type of music you want to play. Listen to your library of songs and decide the kind of guitar you want to see yourself play.
Once you have decided on the style, you should then know the difference between the guitars. How is it different from each other? The acoustic guitar produces sound with the vibration of strings resonated by the hollow body. The classical guitar also produces sound similarly but the differences are in the strings and the width of the fret. Classical guitar uses nylon string in comparison to steel string used in acoustic guitar. Also, the width of the fretboard is wider in classical guitar in comparison to the other types of guitar. The sound from the classical guitar is quite different from the acoustic guitar due to different bracing, material used in the body and strings and the fretboard length.
Whereas, electric guitars produce sound through electrical signals created by the vibration of strings through electromagnetic pickups which are then amplified with the help of amplifiers. Thus to start off with electric guitar, you will need more than just the guitar. You will need an amplifier and an instrument cable to be able to start learning with an electric guitar. However, the neck is narrower than the acoustic or classical guitar, which makes it easier to hold the frets.
Now that you know the difference between the guitars and have an idea about the type of music you want to play, let us look at how you can choose the right instrument.
Budget Constraint : We all have a budget that we want to work with when it comes to investing on your first instrument. Depending on different factors and variables, decide on your budget but do research on how much you will have to spend to get a decent quality in your instrument. As a learner, it is important to understand that the quality of your instrument does matter, so avoid buying from brands which you never heard of. Trust the brands that have been there in the market for its quality, ask the community, ask your mentor about the brands that can be trusted. Now for a basic starter kit, you will probably have to spend more on electric guitar than the acoustic or classical guitar. Like we discussed before, an electric guitar would need an amplifier and cables other than the instrument itself. So if you cannot spend much, then you can cross electric guitar off your list. However, it is important to understand that the basics of the guitar is the same throughout all the three different types. Just because you cannot afford an electric guitar at the moment does not mean that you will learn less on an acoustic or a classical guitar.
Physical Considerations : People from different ages and different walks of life learn guitar. Now everyone will have different requirements based on their characteristics. For example, it is easier for kids to learn on a smaller sized guitar than on a full size guitar or a person suffering with severe back pain should not consider an electric guitar with a strap as it has more weight compared to the acoustic or electric guitar. Also, classical guitar has the lowest string tension due to use of nylon strings, so kids will feel easier to hold the strings on the fret on the classical guitar. But then again the necks are wider which makes it harder for kids to play certain techniques like chords on the guitar. If you want to learn styles that include a lot of chord work, then it is better to get an acoustic guitar. Every type of guitar has its advantages and disadvantages, so you have to decide on the type based on your comfort and requirement.
Style of music : There are so many different genres and styles of music. And such versatility and vast variation exists due to the use of different guitars in all the different styles. Blues and Jazz are often improvised on an Electric Guitar, whereas all the traditional styles like bossanova, flamenco are played on a classical guitar. Modern fingerstyle and popular music is usually done on an acoustic guitar. So different styles require different kinds of guitar and this is where your research comes in help. Look at the type of guitar your favourite artist or the style you like needs and then decide the type you will need. Just because you bought a certain type of guitar for the style that you prefer does not mean that you cannot explore different genres of music. You can still try different styles on one guitar, it is just that you should be happy and satisfied with the instrument you invested on.
Although these pointers will help you narrow down your thought process and let you decide on the type of guitar you need to buy, it is always helpful to ask around. Have a demo class with your teacher where you can ask the lessons you will be learning and the type of guitar that will best suit your needs or ask the guitar community online who will give you all the details of the cost and the guitars that are best under your budget.