Choosing the Right Acoustic Guitar
Nylon or Steel?
Nylon or Steel Strings?
The type of music you want to learn and play makes a difference. Guitars designed for nylon strings are usually used to play classical, flamenco and some types of folk music. These instruments are commonly referred to as “classical” or “nylon string” guitars. Nylon string instruments are not as loud as steel string acoustics and they are almost exclusively played with the fingers of the right hand (for right handed players) rather than with a pick. They produce a wonderful warm and intimate sound. In recent years the sound qualities of the classical guitar have been finding their way into pop and jazz. This has given rise to a newer kind of classical guitar called a “hybrid” or “crossover” guitar. This instrument features electronics, nylon strings and a neck and fingerboard that more closely resembles that of a steel string guitar like a narrower nut width and sometimes a slightly curved fingerboard.
Different acoustic guitar body styles and shapes produce different kinds of sounds. One of the most popular steel string guitar styles is the large dreadnought size. It produces a rich, loud, full-bodied voice that favors the lower end (bass) frequencies. Another popular size is the OM. OM stands for “orchestra model.” This style features a smaller body which can be more comfortable to hold than larger sizes and produces a more refined, balanced and a bit quieter sound. There are many other sizes including the popular auditorium size, which yields a sound that’s between the dreadnought and OM tones, and the smaller parlor guitar named so because it was originally designed to be played in the front parlor.
Some beginners are attracted to nylon string guitars because the strings are softer than metal and they’re concerned about sore fingertips. This shouldn’t be a consideration as a properly set up (adjusted) steel string guitar with the right gauge strings can be just about as easy to play. In addition, nylon string guitars usually have a wider fingerboard which may be challenging for some players.
Talk to the experts at Northwest Guitars. They can answer all your questions and help you select the instrument that’s perfect for you.
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