classical vs acoustic guitars

Classical Vs Acoustic Guitars – What’s The Difference?

When understanding and comparing classical vs acoustic guitars, you must look at the different types of sound, styles, and materials.

The main difference between classical and acoustic guitars is the sound that each produces. Classical guitars have a specific sound as they are typically played with nylon strings. In contrast, acoustic guitars have steel strings, making them more versatile for playing various styles of music and different types of chords.

Even if you are not an expert on music or musical instruments or either type of guitar, this article will help distinguish between the two acoustic guitars.

What Is A Classical Guitar?

classical guitar is a stringed instrument with nylon strings typically played by fingerpicking classical music. A classical has a lower tension, making it easier to play and allowing the strings to vibrate for a more extended time. The nylon strings give off a brighter and more defined sound. A guitarist primarily plays them in traditional Spanish, Brazilian, Irish, Scottish, Russian, and Polish music styles.

Nylon String Classical Guitar

They are typically strung using nylon strings. Nylon strings are easier on the fingers and can be used for various musical styles. A nylon string is an alternative to the more common steel-string acoustic guitar.

Related: Can I put nylon strings on a steel-string guitar?

Neck Size

The neck size is traditionally measured in inches and corresponds to the length from the nut (where the strings are held) to the 12th fret. The most popular size is 24 inches. The fingerboards tend to be flat.


A bridge is a piece that sits on the body and supports the strings. It’s usually made from rosewood, ebony, or bone, but sometimes plastic is used. The bridge holds the strings at the proper height from the fretboard.

The bridge has something called a saddle in it. The saddle is positioned to hold one end of each string in place as it passes over the bridge and toward its tuning peg.


The body is traditionally made from wood, such as spruce. The backs and tops are typically made from softer woods than those used for electrics to compensate for the high level of tension (they must withstand the increased tension of extremely tight stringing) and reduce weight. Though modern options are often made in response to customer preferences for a particular wood, this is not always the case; some makers have published guidance about which woods are preferred. The softer woods used can also contribute to the overall tonal character.

Body sizes can vary considerably between brands and models. Common brands include Yamaha, Epiphone, Gibson, Fender, etc.

Sound For Music

The sound is terrific. It can be soothing, mellow, and even uplifting when played skillfully. They tend to have a low, warm sound with soft overtones. They do not sound as loud or as harsh as an electric guitar will. Although they can be louder than an acoustic guitar, it has a singing quality that is less harsh on the ear.

Many players believe its tone has more life than an electric guitar because of the difference in the materials used for construction and string tension.

What Is An Acoustic Guitar

An acoustic guitar is a stringed instrument whose sound waves from the strings are not amplified by electronic devices to produce sound. They are plucked by fingers and typically have steel strings.

Steel Strings

Acoustic guitar strings are made of metal, lighter, and the tension is less than a classical guitar. They also have more of a “twangy” sound.

Neck Size

The neck size (also sometimes called a steel-string guitar) is generally bigger than that of a classical because of the bigger body, which gives more room for the sound to resonate. The size can affect its tone and playability. Generally, the bigger the neck, the better it is for the instruments tuning and playability.


The bridge is glued to the top, and strings are held by small pegs called bridge pins.

Body Size And Shape

The body is typically made of a single piece of wood, usually maple, and has a hollowed-out soundbox or “resonant chamber” called the “soundhole.” While traditionally, craftspeople have used the wood of fruit trees (such as the red mahogany of West Africa) for construction, today’s guitars are usually made from high-grade hardwood maple. The soundbox is generally constructed from three pieces of wood stapled together, giving an overall strength to withstand the tension of high-quality steel strings.


A diversity of intensities characterizes the sound. The instrument can produce sounds that vary from light crescendo, which gently ebbs and flows to the louder forte, which gradually rises to a peak and then decays back down in volume and intensity over a more extended period. The sound is often described as “woody” because there is a percussive attack and the tones tend to be more distinct and clear than other stringed instruments.

A guitar player can play the intensity levels individually or simultaneously. For instance, the crescendo and forte techniques gradually increase the dynamics played separately. Crescendo applies to the loudness of the notes played, whereas forte refers to variations in volume over time.

What Are The Differences Of Classical Or Acoustic?

The first significant difference between acoustic and classical is the style of music each of these types is for. Classical guitars are used to create the more classical and Spanish-sounding music styles, and acoustic guitar musicians are used to creating more blues, jazz, country music, country rock, and rock music.

The next noticeable difference is the type of strings used. Classical guitars use nylon strings which allow for a softer and warmer sound. Acoustics use the traditional metal types of acoustic strings used on most other types.

The body size is larger than that of a classical instrument. This is because acoustics must have a larger body to create the needed resonance that will ultimately help amplify the sound. The only exception to this would be the smaller-sized acoustics for children.

The acoustic sound is different from that of a classical because of its construction. A steel-string acoustic produces a slight twangy sound, whereas a nylon-stringed classical produces a mellow tone when played.