All guitars are not created equal. There is a difference between steel-stringed Acoustic Guitars and nylon stringed Classical and Flamenco. There is also a difference between Classical Guitar and Flamenco Guitar even though both have nylon strings.
The major difference between the steel-stringed Acoustic Guitar and the nylon stringed Classical/Flamenco Guitar is the strings and the width of the neck. There are advantages and disadvantages to both Acoustic and Classical Guitars especially as it relates to beginners.
As far as the advantages or pros of the Acoustic Guitar, the neck is slightly narrower than the neck of the Classical Guitar so it is definitely easier to Chord an Acoustic, particularly for younger students or anyone with small hands. The advantages of the Classical Guitar is although the neck may be wider, the strings are much easier on the fingers.
The cons are exactly opposite because what is an advantage on one type of Guitar is a disadvantage on the other and vice versa. The steel strings on the Acoustic Guitar will be harder on the fingers at least until callouses are developed. There will be a minimal period of pain on the finger tips but if you will work through the minor pain there will be major rewards after the callouses form and the pain subsides.
The Acoustic and Classical Guitars also differ in relation to sound as do the Classical and Flamenco Guitars. The Classical Guitar is going to have a more mellow sound that will differ from the sound of popular music of today. The Acoustic Guitar is going to have a more familiar sound especially if you listen to Country or Bluegrass and even some Pop music and Rock and Roll makes use of the Acoustic Guitar.
Classical Guitars are more common that Flamenco Guitars in the nylon stringed category. During the Renaissance Era of music the Guitar was shunned and was associated more with taverns. It was also used more as accompaniment for a soloist or a small group. The Baroque and Romantic era would embrace the Guitar and would even have compositions specifically for the Guitar. Baroque composers such as Francesco Corbetta, Gaspar Sanz and Robert de Visee and Romantic era composers such as Tchaikovsky, Chopin and even Brahms and Beethoven composed music specifically for the Guitar and incorporated its use giving legitimacy to its recognition as a musical instrument.
Classical guitars typically have cedar or spruce tops and rosewood back and sides which tend to produce a combination of mellow tones, affected by the cedar, and slightly crisper high tones as well as power from the Spruce. The grain of the wood is also going to affect the sound as well. Stronger bass response will be produced by a wide grain top whereas a narrow grain top will generate stronger treble and subtle bass.
The Flamenco Guitar, which descended from the Classical Guitar, had its beginnings in Southern Spain. Flamenco music is a savoir-faire permutation of singing, dancing and guitar music influenced by Mediterranean and European music styles. The Flamenco style picking engages a much more forceful, aggressive right hand technique. The back and sides of Flamenco Guitars are not Spruce, but rather Sycamore which produces a brighter sound. The body as well, is slightly thinner than classical guitars. All of these combined elements give the Flamenco Guitar a brighter percussive tone.
Current Classical Guitarist include Yorgos Foudoulis, Jose Gonzalez, Pablo González Jazey and Xuefei Yang. Modern Flamenco artist include such names as Paco de Lucia, Tomatito, Vicente Amigo, Gerardo Nuñez, Juan Martín, Niño Josele. Of course the three greatest Acoustic Guitar pickers of modern times would have to be Doc Watson, Clarence White and Tony Rice.
There is as much difference in the Artist and their choice of Guitar as there is in the musical style of each. Explore all of these different types of Guitars and the styles of music that utilizes each. You will be amazed at the differences yet still see the similarities. The one thing that all of these Guitars share is tuning. There are of course many alternate tunings for Guitar, but that, is a another discussion entirely. We’ll save that for another time and another article.
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