Choosing a guitar isn’t easy. Over its four hundred year history as an instrument, numerous types of instruments have developed within the guitar family making it difficult to consider all your options when you’re just starting out. Amid all this variety, the nylon stringed acoustic guitar is an important guitar for every beginner to consider. The direct descendant of the first guitars, nylon string guitars today are instruments developed specifically for classical music.
Nylon string guitars have a deeper, softer tone than their steel-string cousins whose sound is more bright and sharp. This difference in tonality makes nylon stringed guitars more expressive than other guitars on the market. Now, if you’re interested in playing popular genres like rock, jazz or country, this is not the instrument for you. Instead, nylon stringed guitars are better suited to play classical and Spanish style music.
This is because the nylon string guitar is especially suited to finger picking – a key aspect of classical and Spanish music. Of course, the guitars are also adequate for strumming and can be played with a pick but they simply won’t produce the bright, loud sounds necessary for country or rock music no matter how you play them.
If you decide that the nylon string guitar is for you, the next step is to actually pick out a beginner’s instrument. Compared to electric guitars or steel-string acoustic guitars, nylon stringed instruments are much cheaper. More importantly, a cheaper nylon stringed guitar plays well and, although the quality of the guitar increases with the price, it’s possible to purchase a solid one for under $200 that sounds quite nice. This is one of the major points in favor of nylon stringed guitars because it’s almost impossible to purchase a quality steel-string guitar for less than $200.
There are a few varieties of nylon string guitars that a beginner can choose from. Flamenco, Romantic and Baroque guitars are all popular varieties of nylon string guitars but the most common one you will find is the classical guitar. Also known as the Spanish guitar, the classical guitar is suitable for beginners because it lends itself well to the playing of several diverse musical genres. If you aren’t exactly sure what genres you are interested in playing, the classical guitar can play jazz, folk, flamenco and classical music.
For this reason, it’s a great learning instrument even if it is primarily a finger-picking guitar. One of the noticeable design elements that makes the instrument suitable to finger picking is that the strings are farther apart on a classical guitar than on a steel-string guitar.
Also, nylon stringed instruments like the classical guitar can be purchased with electronic amplifiers built into the body although this can significantly diminish the expressiveness of the instrument. If you need to amplify the instrument, consider clipping a microphone to the body as it’s cheaper and should have less of a distorting affect on the guitar.
Ultimately, the nylon string guitar is a great instrument with soft, deep tones that make it perfect for classical and Spanish music. Every beginner should seriously consider starting out with one.