Electric guitars come in many different shapes. Single neck, double neck, double neck in opposite ways, minimalistic, flamboyant, etc. However, there are some “basic rules” for the way they look.
For example, a guitar has a fretboard and a body. If you change that configuration one could argue it’s not a guitar anymore but a different string instrument altogether. With a handful of exceptions, guitars are comfortable to play whether you are standing or sitting. This means the weight of the guitar needs to be balanced and the shape has to accommodate your body. Most guitars have either a curvature or an angle on the lower side to rest the guitar when you are sitting down. This prevents the instrument from sliding and it is comfortable on your leg.
This is a staple feature of best electric guitars and it came to be as part of the evolution of the instrument hundreds of years before electric guitars were invented.It has been copied over and over by other manufacturers, or some modified version of it. The edges are rounded and a couple of features stand out.Circled in yellow is a subtle slanted area where the player’s arm rests when playing. It is designed for comfort, and it does make a difference.
Circled in red is the cutaway, which is common in electric guitar and gives access to the upper frets. Compare it to an acoustic guitar.
On the acoustic without the cutaway it is difficult to reach beyond the 15–17 frets with precision while on an electric it is easy to reach the highest fret, usually the 22nd, although some guitars have 24 frets and more.
The volume, pickup selector and tone knobs are usually located in a region where they are intentionally accessible but won’t get in the way of the hand when playing. Pickguards are not mandatory but they are common, they protect the wood finish from being chipped by the sometimes devastating action of the pick, hence the name.
And of course aesthetics play a role as well. Many different designs have been tried by manufacturers but only a handful (or variations of them) have remained favorites among players.
How to play guitar? Or, more specifically, ‘how to play acoustic guitar’?
People ask this question quite a bit and, surprisingly!, think there’s a short answer. And maybe there is: Play a lot, for a long time. : ) But, seriously, playing guitar (whether acoustic or electric or other) is a long-term process. Really talented people pursue being an excellent guitarist for a lifetime. Sure, there are basic techniques and insights that will get you up and running in a month. But the possibilities are so wide open that you’ll still be discovering new stuff decades later.
If you asked this question, but were really wondering, “How do I get started playing guitar?”, then I would recommend a) get an inexpensive guitar (don’t go expensive at first), and b) getting lessons. Lessons can be from a local teacher – this is really helpful for the psychological effect of being forced to show up and look someone in the eye every week and admit whether you practiced. Or video lessons, like the ones at JamPlay, are another great source.
What is fingerstyle guitar?
Fingerstyle guitar is a broad term for a style of playing characterized by using the flesh of the finger to pluck the strings (instead of a pick or plectrum). In the past, this term has referred to folks like Chet Atkins or Doc Watson.
This term is typically used right now to refer to a number of players like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, or even Ed Sheeran, who mix Country Travis picking, Flamenco percussion, Jazz tonality, Folk-ish alternate tunings, and Classical melodicism to create a very “modern” sort of fingerstyle guitar.
What is an acoustic guitar?
“An acoustic guitar is a guitar that produces sound acoustically—by transmitting the vibration of the strings to the air—as opposed to relying on electronic amplification (see electric guitar). The sound waves from the strings of an acoustic guitar resonate through the guitar’s body, creating sound. This typically involves the use of a sound board and a sound box to strengthen the vibrations of the strings.”
What is classical guitar vs a steel-string guitar?
This is the major divide in the types of acoustic guitars. The divide looks (roughly) like this:
Classical guitars are: nylon-stringed, played sitting with a raised leg, have wider string distance, and prize “projection” as a key quality. Classical guitarists, Flamenco, Bossa Nova, and sometimes Folk players prefer these.
Steel-string guitars are: strung with “wound” steel strings, played standing or sitting, have a tighter neck, and a have a wide variety of selling points (recording sound, playability, as well as projection). Pop, Rock, Country, and many other styles prefer these.