A Layperson’s Guide to Different Guitars

I always wanted to play the guitar but for one reason or another, it hadn’t happened…until now that is.  It has been said that a lot of people pick up a guitar in their mid-forties (before it is too late to learn) or some have a ‘mid- life crisis’ and want to be the next Bono or Chris Martin. I am in neither of those categories, I just want to learn to play now that I have some spare time, it has always been an ambition of mine.  My aim is pretty simple, I don’t want to be the next Miley or Lady Gaga. I would not be learning to act like a rock start and play the guitar whilst jumping off the top of my wardrobe…yet anyway, lol. I just want to be able to play the guitar for myself. Learn some of my favourite songs and play them.

A simple concept…

However, when I first started calling potential guitar tutors to discuss lessons, I was constantly asked what kind of guitar do I want to learn. Mmmm…I hadn’t really given this any thought.

The internet was a real friend here and I wanted to put together a guide to guitars, so you could learn from my research. Save you a job, so you can spend more time on actually learning to play.

There are 4 main types of guitar, as below:


epiphone-aj-220sce-acoustic-guitar-ebonyThere are two main types of acoustic guitar namely steel-string acoustic guitars and classical guitars. Steel-string acoustic guitars have a metallic sound mostly used in popular music nowadays.

Classical guitars use nylon strings and have a wider neck. These guitars are primarily associated with the playing of solo classical music.

The acoustic guitar can sound more intimate and has a real personal quality to the sound. You could play at smaller venues, for me my living room but if you wanted to branch out it would be more suited to small halls and private spaces. If you went for a larger venue these guitars can be amplified by placing a microphone in front of hole for the sound or by installing a pick up.


Electric GuitarsElectric Guitars have a solid body and they are designed to be plugged into an amplifier.

The electric guitar when amplified produces a sound that is metallic a bit like the steel string acoustic guitar but the notes can sound lengthier.

The strings on an electric guitar are thinner and closer to the neck so the player needs less force to press them down, so it could be argued they are easier to play or at least easier to get a sound out of them.

Fret-tapping is a guitar technique for creating chords and melodies that are not possible using the standard technique of left-hand fretting and right-hand strumming. The sustained, sensitive pick-ups, low action and thin strings of the electric guitar make it an ideal instrument for fret-tapping.


bass guitarThe bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb, by plucking and slapping. The technique used to play is wholly different to that of acoustic/electric lead guitars like strumming, tapping or picking with a plectrum, often known as a pick.

The appearance of the bass guitar is similar in appearance to an electric guitar, but it has a longer neck and the scale length is different with four to six strings.

Acoustic Bass

acoustic bass guitarThe acoustic bass guitar  is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually somewhat larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Like the traditional electric bass guitar the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings.

It can be difficult to hear an acoustic bass guitar if you don’t use it with an amplifier so it is usually better if you use an amplifier with a bass amp.

My View

51+sWB6AL2LSo now we now the different types of guitar.  It very much depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to learn just for fun, be the next rock star learning to play in your garage with friends, are you having a mid-life crisis and want to go beyond playing air guitar…the choice is yours my friends.

Personally, I would love to be the next Kurt Cobain (I believe he was a bit partial to a baby blue Fender Stratocaster) or Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters but I need to be realistic.  I just want to realise a life long ambition to learn to play the guitar. Start learning ‘Polly Wolly Doodle’ a beginner’s favourite and then progress on to some of my favourite tunes.

I think I am going to opt for a lead acoustic guitar and go from there. Wish me luck!

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