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Classical Vs. Acoustic Guitar: A Complete Guide

The Difference Between a Classical and Acoustic Guitar Header

To the untrained eye, an acoustic and classical guitar may seem like one in the same. However, a closer inspection will reveal the many differences in these instruments.

Here is an overview of the differences between an acoustic and classical guitar: 


Classical Guitar:
Nylon strings

Slightly smaller

No fret markers

Cost less than acoustic

Play a warmer, softer tone


Acoustic Guitar:

Steel strings

Scratch plates

Narrower fretboard

Has a truss rod

Neck is smaller and easier to play

Play a twangy, more banjo tone



Same chords

Same tuning


To start with a classical guitar, the classical guitar is generally smaller and has nylon strings with no fret markers. Classical guitars also play a warm, soft tone and cost a little less than an acoustic. Meanwhile, acoustic guitars have steel strings, a narrower fretboard, and usually, include scratch plates (pickguard).  

The acoustic guitar also includes a truss rod for support, a smaller neck that’s easier to play, and play a twangy, more Rock N’ Roll type of sound.

Among these distinct differences, the basic and most obvious similarity between the two remain; both instruments play the same chords and use the same tuning scale. Each instrument comes with their own unique attributes that allow players to explore their preferences and skills.

If you are new to guitar and can’t decide which one to play, take the time and do your research….it really can pay off in the long run, so don’t just get a guitar for looks. In my personal experience, I had purchased my acoustic because I liked how it looked, but it took me until I got my classical guitar to realize the nylon strings were easier for me to practice fretting because my slender piano fingers couldn’t callous on the steel strings. Anyone can pick up and learn an instrument, but it’s also what you play that matters, not just how you play it.

A great place to start would be the ArtistWorks Classical or Acoustic Guitar Courses, where our extremely talented instructors guide you through your journey into guitar playing.

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