Difference between Classical Guitar and Acoustic guitar

Key difference: Classical guitar differs from Acoustic guitar primarily in sound the latter one having sharp sound while the classical guitar having mellow sound. The differences in the harmonics are because of variations in the body structure and the string materials.

Classical Guitar, guitar harmonicsThe apparent difference between Classical and Acoustic guitar is related to their respective sounds and the musical styles they are used in by musicians and composers (See the Musician Vs. Composer). The strings make a difference in the sound. The classical guitars have plain nylon strings or nylon strings covered in a metal layer. The softness and a comparative low tension of the nylon strings give the classical guitar a deep mellow sound that is preferred in classical music or flamenco. Acoustic guitars have metal strings that are played on high tension. That is the reason Acoustic guitars produce a sharp sound that is more suitable for strumming. 

Note that both the guitar types are primarily acoustic instruments and are actively used in bands and orchestras (See the Band Vs Orchestra). Classical guitar is known as classical because of its use in classical music while the modern form of the guitar came to be popularly known as the Acoustic guitar. Both have a harmonic case that amplifies the sound naturally and gives it the distinctive timbre. 

The difference in the harmonics of Classical guitars and the Acoustic guitars is also related to their sizes. Acoustic guitar is slightly bigger than Classical guitar. The size difference along with different materials for strings and the bracing in the body produces different harmonics and hence different timbres. Because of the difference in the sound, both types are used in a variety of musical styles through both can be interchangeably used in almost any style chosen by the musician. Also, the Classical guitar is meant to be played with fingers unlike Acoustic guitar, that contributes to its mellow sound. Acoustic guitar is played with a plectrum to produce sharp sound and tense strumming. Note that guitars are plucked instruments while violins and fiddles are bowed instruments. As a general view, the Classical guitar is preferred more for classical music than for the modern musical forms.

acoustic guitar classical guitarA major difference between Classical and Acoustic guitar has to do with the music listeners rather than the playing of the guitars- the variety of musical genres played on these two types of guitars. Also, the guitar harmonics and the suitability to the musical genres have categorized guitars into different types. It is more of the music than the instrument itself. Classical guitars have the reputation and preference for classical and flamenco music though they are sometimes used in modern musical genres too. Acoustic guitars are primarily for Country, Folk, Jazz, and Rock music.

Difference between classical and acoustic guitar


Classical Guitar


Acoustic Guitar



Smaller than Acoustic guitar

Bigger than Classical guitar


Low tension nylon strings

High tension metal strings


Deep mellow sound

Sharp sound


Wide and flat fingerboard

Narrow and think fingerboard


Slotted headstocks

Machine tuning pegs


Lighter bracing because of low tension strings

Solid bracing because of high tension strings


No pickguard present

Pickguard present

Truss rod

Truss rod rarely used to keep the neck straight because of low tension in the neck

Truss rod is used to counteract the tension of the steel strings and keep the neck straight

Neck-to-body Joint

Neck and the body join at the 12th fret of the fingerboard

Commonly neck and the body join at the 14th fret of the fingerboard

Way of playing

Strings plucked with fingers

Strings plucked with a plectrum

Music genres

Classical and flamenco. Can also be used in jazz, folk, and rock music

Prominently used in country, folk, and rock music

Also see: The Guitar Vs. Sitar

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