What guitar should you buy next?

Whether it’s your first guitar or another to add to the collection, there’s a lot of variety to the old 6 string. Or 7, 8 or 12 string. Here we take a look at the increasingly wide range of guitar types available so you can play the right tool, no matter the task at hand.

Posted: 30th November 2021

Read time - 4 mins

Classical Acoustic Guitar

The classical guitar is one of the oldest designs still popular in music today. Predominately used to play classical pieces, the guitar is also heavily used in flamenco and Latin music. Its origins are from the Spanish Vihuela and Gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, before evolving into the Baroque guitar. Its wide fretboard radius and nylon strings allow for fast, percussive performance, though barre chords can be difficult. Posture is also important for this type of guitar and a footstool is commonly used to raise the left foot when playing.

Steel-string Acoustic and Electro Acoustic Guitar

A modern version of the classical guitar, the acoustic and electro acoustic has steel strings, which provides a much brighter, more articulate sound. Different woods provide different tones and there are variations of the acoustic guitar based on its size, from Jumbo and grand concert to grand auditorium, dreadnought, and the smaller parlour style guitars. This style of guitar is commonly used by singer/songwriters and folk musicians. An electro acoustic is a variation of the steel-string acoustic that has a pickup installed inside the sound-hole, allowing it to be used for live performances.

Electric Guitar

The most common and popular type of guitar. The electric guitar was invented in 1932, though the first variation was nicknamed the ‘Frying Pan’ and designed in 1931. More work was done to the design by the company Rickenbacker before other companies such as AudioVox, Vega, Epiphone and Gibson began work on their own stringed instruments. The electric guitar commonly has 6 strings and needs to be plugged into an amplifier for it to be used correctly. It’s expected that approximately 780 million guitars exist in the world!

Extended Range Electric Guitar

An extended range guitar is a variation of the electric guitar, it commonly features an extra one or two strings above the first string, making it lower and thicker than the others. These guitars are commonly used in metal due to their lower tunings and sometimes feature active pickups and fanned frets for more gain and speed.

Hollow body/Arch Top Guitar

An archtop guitar has all the characteristics of a standard electric guitar but is hollow and features an arched top. The guitar is heavily used with jazz players due to its warm, resonant sound. The guitar commonly has F-holes on either side and features many variations with one/two pickups and Bigsby tremolo bars installed for more country/rockabilly players.

12 String Guitar

A 12-string guitar features a string next to each of the standard 6 strings. The strings are spaced closely together to the six individual strings making them easy to fret at the same time. The first 3 strings are much thinner and are tuned an octave higher, the last 3 are unison strings that are tuned to the same pitch. This creates a large, chorus sounding effect when a chord is played. 12 String guitars can be found in both electric and acoustic variants.

Baritone Guitar

A baritone guitar has a longer scale-length and larger body than your average electric or acoustic. This allows for a different tension on the strings and can be tuned much lower. The guitar was made popular by Danelectro in the late 1950s. The guitar was originally used in surf and spaghetti western style music but has gained popularity in heavy metal due to its low tuning.

Resonator Guitar

A variation of the acoustic guitar, a resonator produces sound through vibrations to a metal cone in the middle of the guitar, the guitar sounds different to the average acoustic and is popular with Bluegrass musicians.

Tenor Guitar

Though similar in looks, the Tenor guitar is not as commonly used as the six-string electric or acoustic, the Tenor guitar features four strings which are tuned higher than normal. The guitar was made by Gibson and Martin during the 1920s.

Lap Steel Guitar

The Lap Steel is quite different from the other guitar variations. It’s played in a horizontal position across the players lap, the right hand picks the strings while the left hand holds a steel bar that presses against the strings. There are no traditional frets on the guitar so a smooth gliding transition between notes can occur. It is commonly referred to as a ‘Hawaiian guitar’ due to its origins and heavy use in Hawaiian music.

Pedal Steel Guitar

Similar to the lap steel, the Pedal Steel guitar features knee levers and pedals that change the pitch of certain strings. The pedals allow performers to play major scales without moving the bar and allow notes to blur together to create a unique, almost vocal-like timbre.