Types of Guitars: Which one is right for you?

Group of six guitars on white background

Written by: Marc Rosenberg

There are many different types of guitars, each with their own unique sound, qualities, and capabilities. Choosing the right one for you or your child depends on what your or your child’s goals are. Here are some helpful guidelines for choosing the right axe for you.

3 Types of Guitars

Classical guitars: Classical guitars are acoustic instruments with nylon strings. They are mostly used for playing classical music and Latin American styles (that’s not to say that pop songs won’t sound good on nylon strings). However, I often recommend them for young beginners because the nylon strings are easier and less painful to press down.

Acoustic guitars: Acoustic guitars use steel strings and are the more commonly used acoustic guitars in pop and rock music. The steel strings allow for a brighter and louder sound compared to classical guitars. The steel strings are less forgiving than the nylon strings (harder to press down and buzz a lot more), but after a little bit of time and practice, callouses and finger strength build up enough to where there should be no problems playing the steel strings.

Electric guitars: Electric guitars are used in just about every sub-genre of pop/rock music. From heavy metal, to blues, to jazz, the electric guitar is capable of many diverse sounds. The strings used, though made out of metals as well (usually nickel or steel), are still more forgiving than steel string acoustic guitars. Single coil pickups produce a brighter, warmer sound often used in blues and pop music. Humbucker pickups create a louder, darker tone that’s used more in heavier rock music and metal.

Age and Size

The size of the guitar is also an important factor to contemplate when shopping. Here is a general guideline for sizes:

  • 5-8 years –  ½ size guitar
  • 8-12 years –  ¾ size guitar or mini electric
  • 12+ years –  full size acoustic and electric

Some children are taller than others. And so even though this general guideline can be helpful, the best way to gauge the size of the guitar is to actually play on it if possible.