There are many types and brands of guitars from which to choose from. The most common guitar types are the acoustic guitar, and the electric guitar. One reason for the different types of guitars has to do with the different sound that each one produces. There are many more types of guitars other than the basic two guitars mentioned above. Some other examples of guitars are the electric acoustic or electro-acoustic, 12 string guitars, arched top guitars, steel guitars, bass guitars and resonator guitars. The type of music that you play will certainly be one of the things that guide you toward which guitar you choose to buy.
An acoustic guitar is a good first guitar. They come in different sizes and styles and have steel or nylon strings. Their body styles vary but typically the body is a hollow cavity with a sound hole. The Dobro is a body style that is symmetrical and is one of the most common appearances that you will find in acoustic guitars. The single cut or half cut is a body style that has a contour resembling a horn. This cutaway enables the guitarist to reach the lower frets near the heel of the neck more easily when playing the higher notes. Nylon strings are usually found on classical guitars which also will have wider neck design. This will be helpful for a new guitarist as nylon strings are easier to press and more real estate on the fret board helps with fingering. The flip side of this however, is that if you start playing with steel strings you will develop more muscle and control. After a few weeks of practice you will then find it easy to play any guitar acoustic or electric.
The acoustic guitar does not need amplification however, you may use a microphone or acoustic pickup. The guitarist plays an acoustic guitar by finger picking or with a plectrum. They are great for vocal accompaniment and lend themselves to many genres of music from classical to country, rock and blues. Some well-known American manufacturers include Gibson, Guild, Martin, Taylor, and Fender to name a few. Really nice guitars from East Asian companies include Takamine Ibanez, and Ovation. I now own a Korean made Alvarez that I am very pleased with.
When rock ‘n roll made the scene it was inevitable that the electric guitar would become the choice for this new genre of music. Most electric guitars are solid body but some have hollow or semi hollow bodies for acoustic resonance. Electric guitars use magnetic coil pickups and an amplifier to produce their sound. Two iconic guitars the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul have body styles that are often copied by many guitar manufacturers.
There are many types of pickups available today on the market. The basic two types are the single coil pickup and the double coil or Humbucker pickup. The default configuration for the Stratocaster uses three single coil pickups, and the Gibson Les Paul uses two Humbucker style pickups. As the name implies the Humbucker produces less “Hum” through the amplifier than the single coil pickup design. EMG makes some very nice active pickup systems and I use this setup in my 1972 Fender Stratocaster. EMG active pickups have the look of the single coil pickup but are totally quiet, and great for recording.
The electric guitar has thinner strings and they are closer to the fret board. This makes them easier to play for a beginner. This string adjustment and gauge will affect the action. The action is one of the differences between guitars with respect to playability. The playing action of the guitar determines how hard it is to depress a string, bend a note or create vibrato and this is unique to each guitar you play.
Since this is a guide for beginners I am not going into the design of all the various types of guitars mentioned in this article. In conclusion I will offer the following advice. You should base your decision on your budget, music style, and personal preference to the guitar itself. I would not recommend a guitar from a variety store, large or small. An acoustic guitar could be a better first guitar; for one thing you do not need an amplifier. Stick to the major brands if you are able. Some knockoffs are well made guitars, priced more reasonably and some are junk. I have played two knockoff Stratocasters that I liked one made by Stagg and another made by Stadium. Have fun while looking for that perfect first guitar and don’t get discouraged.