The acoustic guitar is one of the most loved musical instruments in the world. Nearly every great guitarist started playing on an acoustic and its rich tone has enthralled music lovers for years. There are a number of different types of acoustic guitars but they can be broadly divided into three types – nylon stringed, steel stringed and lap steel guitars.
Three Different Types of Acoustic Guitars
The strings used in these guitars are made from nylon, similar to how the earliest guitars were made. It produces a distinctive tone and is played with the fingerstyle technique. These guitars are mainly used in classical music and have been popular since the 13th century. The most popular modern variant of these guitars is the classical guitar. They usually have six strings but seven and eight string guitars are also used. The guitar is constructed from a wide variety of woods with a soundhole present to make it more resonant. The neck is usually made of ebony or rosewood. The body or guitar top is the most important element of the sound and is usually a very finely crafted element. It is generally made from spruce, cedar and mahogany. These guitars are sometimes fitted with pickups to help in sound amplification. Some of the artists who have popularized this beautiful guitar are Andres Segovia, Ana Vidovic and Alan Banks. The Cordoba C5, Alhambra 5P and Yamaha C-40 are some popular, affordable classical guitars.
The most popular type in these is the acoustic steel string guitar. Also known as folk or country guitar it uses steel strings to produce a louder and brighter tone. This guitar has been made popular through the years by a number of artists in the rock, blues and pop genre. The different details and styles of these guitars have been experimented upon for years by luthiers but the general shape has remained the same. Due to the higher tension of steel, a heavier construction is required. Unlike the classical guitar, the acoustic also has a truss rod which can be used to adjust the neck. The bracing of frets is also different. Spruce is the most common wood used in construction of the guitar top. Rosewood and mahogany are the traditional choices for the back and mid parts of the body. The increasing cost of traditional tonewoods has encouraged experimenting with different varieties of woods and even with some man made materials. Fixing pickups to these guitars is a popular method to amplify the sound and such guitars are known as semi-acoustics. Popular artists who use steel string guitars are Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Bruno Mars. The Seagull S6 and the Yamaha FG700S folk acoustic guitar are two of the best acoustic guitars.
Lap Steel Guitar
These are also known as Hawaiian guitars and are played by pressing a metal bar against the strings to produce the sound. This produces a very distinctive tone where the player slides from one pitch to the next instead of jumping from one note to the other. These guitars has between six to ten strings. The lap steel guitar was purportedly invented by Joseph Kekuku in 1885. There is also an electric variant of this guitar. Tunings are similar to standard guitars but open tunings are also extensively used.The playing method is also different with the guitar being placed on the player’s lap or on a stool in front of the guitarist. Then the player holds a steel bar or slide in the left hand which is moved along the neck to produce various tones as the right hand plucks the strings. This method means that chords are generally restricted and only simple melodies can be played effectively. Some players make up for this by using open tunings which helps them to play chords on a lap guitar. Some famous players are Kaki King, Ben Keith and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Companies that specialize in lap steel guitars include Dobro and Asher Guitars.
Acoustic guitars have a unique tone and feel that can never be matched by electric guitars. All guitar players generally recommend starting off on an acoustic to really establish your technique and skills. There are models available in every price range and you can choose the one which best suits your taste and budget.