Classical Guitars Easy GUide
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Easy Guide to the Classical Guitar
This article is a step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about classical guitars, from their history to the evolution of how they are made and how they sound.
This is one of the most representative instruments of the plucked stringed instruments family. It has a very particular sound and has been used for an unlimited amount of musical genres during many periods in history. It is a perfect instrument to start studying music, as there is a lot of music written and recorded to be played on it.
In this guide we are going to give you some tips on what to consider before buying a classical guitar, so you will know which one suits you best according to your favorite brand, additionally we will show you some buying options, which will have different budgets that go hand in hand with your wallet.
How does a classical guitar work?
The classical guitar is made up of a soundboard, a neck on which the fretboard is located, with a hole in the center of the top and six strings. This guitar is mainly used to play solo works of different periods and musical avant-garde, such as baroque, classicism and romanticism.
The classical guitar is an instrument with a long history, some say that it derives from the Arabian lute, others that it comes from the Greco-Roman zither. In the 13th century two types of guitar are documented, the Moorish and the Latin. Later the vihuela appeared, and later the guitar with 4 strings. In the 16th century the 5th string was added and in the 18th century the 6th string was added, becoming the guitar as we know it today.
At the beginning the guitar was used only as an accompaniment instrument, but as the instrument was perfected, at the same time several authors began to compose works for classical guitar. Nowadays the classical guitar is popular worldwide, it is a concert instrument and Spain is one of the countries with the most important composers for classical guitar in the world.
Differences between the acoustic guitar and the classical guitar
Although both the acoustic guitar and the classical guitar are instruments that can be called by the same name, in general, this name has some very clear differences.
Classical guitars use nylon strings, which are used to interpret classical or folkloric works typical of the culture of each country. While acoustic guitars use metal strings, which are used to play genres such as folk, country, pop, blues and rock . Although this is a generality, it doesn’t mean that you can’t play classical pieces on an acoustic guitar, they just have different and more characteristic sounds for each of the above mentioned genres.
The sound of nylon strings is sweet, soft and dull, while the sound of metal strings is bright, piercing and strong. The tension of nylon strings is lower than the tension of metal strings, that is why nylon strings are easier to press.
The fretboard is wider on the classical guitar, with a difference of about 10 mm, therefore the strings are further apart. The string spacing of the classical guitar is a bit wider, a difference of about 6 mm, as well as the frets are wider, these features benefit the bass response and sustain.
The body of the classical guitar is smaller than that of the acoustic guitar, this makes it easier to hold. Finally, the classical guitar is usually cheaper than the acoustic guitar. Next, we are going to leave you with a video so that you can better appreciate the difference in sound between an acoustic guitar and a classical guitar.
Differences between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar
The Spanish guitar, also known as the flamenco guitar, differs from the classical guitar for several reasons, mainly because of its materials and its structure, besides, these two elements directly influence the sound.
Let’s get into the subject, the sides of the flamenco guitars are narrower, as well as the strings of the classical guitars are higher. The sound of the flamenco guitar is sharper and more nasal, while the classical guitar has a balanced and smooth sound. The wood par excellence of the flamenco guitars is the solid Spanish cypress, while the classical guitar usually uses woods such as pine, cedar, maple and spruce.
Regarding the size, the classical guitar is usually bigger and with more pronounced curves. Talking a little bit about musical terms, in a classical guitar the notes are very important, while in the flamenco guitar the chords are more important.
There are different controversies about the technical skills that a musician must have to play the flamenco guitar versus a classical guitar, but the truth is that most guitarists started with the classical guitar and then moved on to the flamenco guitar. Here is a video so that you can better appreciate the difference in sound between a flamenco guitar and a classical guitar.
What should you take into account when buying a quality classical guitar?
The first element to take into account when buying a quality classical guitar is the wood used in its construction. A quality guitar must have solid woods, specially selected and dried naturally for years so that they are stable.
The second element that must be taken into account is the symmetry between the different parts of the instrument, especially the body, since experts affirm that if the guitar stands upright on a flat surface, it means that it is of quality.
The third element has to do with the quality of its sound, for example, that there is a perfect octavation, this means that the notes in the air must sound in tune with respect to those played on the 12th fret. Also, the harmonics of the 5th, 7th, 12th and 19th frets must be easily interpreted. A quality guitar must have excellent sustain, this means that the notes must not fade quickly when played and finally, it must have a good intensity of sound.
Advantages and disadvantages
If you are a beginner, it is likely that you are still not sure why you should buy a classical guitar over an electric guitar, beyond your aesthetic or musical tastes.
That is why we are going to show you some advantages and disadvantages that will help you make the right decision. First of all, if you can play something on the classical guitar, surely you can also play it on the electric guitar, a fact that doesn’t always work the other way around. The tone of a classical guitar is unique and unchangeable, you won’t have to mess around with swapping pickups and moving tone or volume knobs.
Last but not least, you will save a lot of money, it’s no secret that an electric guitar will cost you a little more, besides having to invest in maintenance, amplifiers, pedals, cables and so on.
Among the disadvantages we can find that it is technically more difficult for the fingers to play the classical guitar, however, this difficulty is felt mostly when you are just learning to play, if you already have practice surely will not be a compelling reason for you. The strings are harder, the frets are wider and in terms of care, classical guitars are more fragile.
Now that you know this information, we also recommend that you take into account the type of music you want to play, as you may know, a classical guitar is mainly used to play solo pieces in classical styles. Here are our buying suggestions.