You've decided to choose an acoustic guitar ... great!
If you didn't see the section "How to Buy a Beginner Guitar", and you have no experience with guitars, view it first.
Acoustics come in two string types, either steel strings or nylon strings. Nylon strings are for playing with your fingers, such as in flamenco, or classical music, whereas, the steel string guitar can also be finger picked, but, more often a pick is used. Steel string guitars are suitable for country or rock.
If you own a nylon stringed guitar Never put steel strings on it! These guitars are not braced for steel strings, (which have a much higher tension than nylon), and they will destroy your guitar quickly.
Steel string guitars come in two types, (flat tops and arched tops) and several varieties.
Flat Top Guitars are the most common acoustic guitars.
The largest bodied flat top is a jumbo size. Jumbos may have the letter "J" in the name, such as "J50", "J200" etc. A good jumbo is loud and has powerful, deep bass. They're my favorite acoustic.
The next size down are the dreadnoughts. These may have "D" in the name such as "D18" or "D28" etc. Dreadnoughts are the most popular acoustic guitars, and suitable to all acoustic guitar music. Dreadnoughts have a full bodied, rich bass sound and good tonal balance. If you want to choose an acoustic guitar with versatility, the dreadnought may be the way to go.
Parlor guitars have smaller bodies and are easier to hold for smaller people. The bass isn't as full, but, they have clear highs and good mid-range, making these guitars popular for folk music and "Delta" style blues.
Some guitars have twelve strings, making them sound more harp like. They are harder to tune for a beginner and it's a little harder to pick individual notes. Most guitars come in right handed or left handed versions.
If you are left handed choose an acoustic guitar built for left handed people. If you try to play a right handed guitar you will have to do everything upside down and backwards.
Don't buy a right handed guitar thinking that you can convert it to a left handed guitar.
Forget it! It just won't work! I could get all technical here,
but, I'll boil it down for you. The strings won't fit the nut grooves
properly, the saddle will be on the wrong angle, (so you will never be
able to tune it), and the interior bracing won't accommodate the stress
put on the guitar by the strings being in the wrong positions. You're
better off to choose an acoustic guitar built for left handed people.
View Over 200 Left Handed Guitars Here.
Arched Top Guitars are preferred by many jazz musicians, and have arched tops and backs, similar to violins and cellos. They can be expensive and are highly prized.
Acoustic Electric Guitars
You can also get hybrid acoustic-electric guitars. These have built in
electronics that vary from a single built in microphone, to elaborate
combinations of microphones, piezo (under the saddle)pickups, and on
board volume and tone controls. If you wish to add a pickup onto an
acoustic guitar, there are many pickups built for acoustic guitars.
400+ Acoustic Guitar Pickups
Would you like to choose an acoustic guitar to accompany yourself while singing or would you like to play all over the fretboard? If you want to play rock or lead guitar all over the neck, a cutaway in the body would be good for you. It's easier to access the notes in the higher frets without the guitars body interfering.
I've seen new acoustic guitars priced up to $109,999.00. Yup, that's over one hundred thousand dollars. That's what a new Martin D100 costs when I wrote this. To discover why there are such price differences in acoustic guitars, and how the different materials used contribute to the sound and value of an acoustic guitar, see: