Difference Between Classical and Acoustic Guitars

By James Gilmore
A grouping of acoustic guitars

A classical guitar and an acoustic guitar are both "acoustic" guitars. They merely differ in construction and playing style and are usually used to perform different styles of music.

Strings

Close up of an acoustic guitar with steel strings

Classical and acoustic guitars both have six strings. Classical guitars have nylon strings which produce a round, mellow sound. Acoustic guitars have steel strings, which are higher in tension and produce a bright, metallic sound.

Neck

Classical guitars have wider necks than acoustic guitars

Classical guitars have wider necks than acoustic guitars; the extra room is accommodating to the more intricate classical style of playing.

Function

Close up of a Spanish guitar being played

Classical guitars, a fitting name, are usually used to perform classical and Spanish style music. Acoustic guitars are used in folk, country, blues and a wide array of genres.

Volume

Close up of a classical guitar

Classical guitars are lower in volume than acoustic guitars due to their string type and smaller body.

Considerations

Beginners will find classical guitars easier to play as the nylon strings are easier to hold down and form chords

Beginners will find classical guitar easier to play, as the nylon strings are easier to hold down and form chords—and put less stress on the fingers.

Playing

You play a classical guitar by plucking the strings with your fingers whereas you often play an acoustic guitar using picks

You play a classical guitar by plucking the strings with your fingers or fingernails. You can also play an acoustic guitar this way, but people often use picks.

About the Author

James Gilmore has written professionally since 2005. Since then, he has written and proofread obituaries for "The Press & Sun-Bulletin" in Binghamton, N.Y., press releases for "Goals, Seminars and Consultants" and articles for Made Man and various other websites. He writes a good deal of music-related content and holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ithaca College.