Often confused, steel string and nylon string acoustic guitars are perfect for beginners because they don't require an amplifier or electricity to play. However, these models are different in their construction and their sound. So, will you prefer steel string or nylon string guitars?
The steel string acoustic guitar, also known as the folk guitar, differs from the classical model in three main aspects: the construction, the playability and, of course, the strings it uses.
Construction: Like electric guitars, steel string acoustic guitars come in many shapes, with two main trends: dreadnought and auditorium. Each shape has its own acoustic signature, and advantages in terms of versatility of sound, character and playability. The classical guitar (or Spanish guitar) has kept a fairly traditional shape, almost unchanged for several decades. Whatever the brand, the neophyte will find little difference in terms of general shape. On the other hand, there will be big visual differences due to the wood species chosen for the back, sides and parts of the guitar.
Playability: The width of the neck at the nut (where the strings rest) is much thinner for the steel string acoustic. This makes it easier for the fingers to move apart and between the fret boards. For a classical guitar, the width at the nut is usually 52mm, which requires you to position your fingers, wrist and arm in a more... classical way!
The strings : Steel string acoustic guitars are equipped with metal strings which are much harder, and tend to be a bit more painful at the beginning of the learning process. Classical guitars, on the other hand, are fitted with nylon strings, which are thicker but softer and less painful for the beginner.
You are a beginner and you don't know how to choose between a steel string or a classical guitar? It all depends on the musical style you want to play. Do you like classical music or Spanish tones, like Gypsy, flamenco or bossa nova? The classical guitar for beginners is made for you. The nylon strings will bring the warmth and softness of this music. On the other hand, if you prefer a more powerful tone, a little more Folk, pop or rock, choose rather the steel string acoustic guitar for beginners. Its metal strings will bring this brilliance, this projection, this dynamic specific to these musical styles. Whatever your choice, classical and steel string acoustic guitars have the added advantage of being playable without an amp, which is one less investment. And above all, they can be played at any time and in any place: a perfect companion for your vacations.