3 and More Types of Guitar: Easy Explanation

Hey, guitar enthusiast! Ever been to a guitar store and felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of options? Acoustic, electric, classical… Well, fret not, because this post is here to break down all the guitar types for you. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned player, this guide will give you all the deets you need.

1. The Granddaddy: Acoustic Guitars

1.1. Steel String Acoustic

The steel-string acoustic guitar is like the beloved older sibling in the vast guitar family. Recognized for its versatility, it’s been the go-to instrument for many famous songwriters and performers over the decades. Let’s dive into its anatomy, sound characteristics, notable players, and some cool facts.

  • Sound: Bright, resonant, and can be very loud.
  • Looks: Often has a pickguard and comes in a variety of shapes.
  • Good For: Country, folk, rock, and pop music.

Anatomy and Build

Top (Soundboard):

  • Wood Type: Often made of spruce, cedar, or mahogany.
  • Purpose: Vibrates as strings are strummed, producing the sound. The quality and type of wood significantly influence the tone.

Back and Sides:

  • Wood Type: Can be rosewood, mahogany, maple, and others.
  • Purpose: Reflects sound out of the soundhole, helping produce the guitar’s tonal qualities.

Neck and Fretboard:

  • Wood Type: Commonly mahogany for the neck and rosewood or ebony for the fretboard.
  • Purpose: Houses the frets, markers, and allows for note variations.

Strings: Steel. They come in different gauges (thicknesses) to suit different playstyles.

Bridge and Saddle: Holds the strings in place and transfers vibrations to the soundboard.

Sound Characteristics

  • Volume: Generally louder than classical guitars because of the steel strings.
  • Tone: Bright, clear, and ringing. Excellent sustain.
  • Playability: Can be strummed or picked. Versatile for both chord progressions and intricate fingerpicking patterns.

Notable Players

  • Bob Dylan: Known for his iconic storytelling, Dylan’s choice was often a steel-string acoustic.
  • Joni Mitchell: Her unique tunings and playing style made her stand out.
  • James Taylor: A fingerstyle legend, Taylor’s soft melodies have made him an acoustic icon.
  • Ed Sheeran: Modern-day troubadour, his songs have become anthems for a new generation.

Cool Facts

  • Versatility: From blues to pop, to rock, to folk, the steel-string acoustic fits seamlessly into almost any genre.
  • Evolution: The steel-string guitar’s design and build have evolved over the years, from the parlor guitars of the 19th century to the dreadnoughts and jumbos of today.
  • Unplugged Rock: Many rock bands have “unplugged” versions of their hits, using steel-string acoustics to give a fresh, raw sound to their tracks.

1.2. Classical/Nylon String

The classical guitar, with its nylon strings, is the sophisticated elder of the guitar world. Known for its delicate sound and close association with formal music, it holds a special place in the hearts of many. Let’s unravel its charms, unique features, and the legends who played it.

  • Sound: Warm, mellow tones. Not as loud as steel string.
  • Looks: Wider neck, often without a pickguard.
  • Good For: Classical music, Latin, flamenco.

Anatomy and Build

Top (Soundboard):

  • Wood Type: Often spruce or cedar.
  • Purpose: Generates the main resonance as the strings vibrate, influencing the overall tone.

Back and Sides:

  • Wood Type: Frequently rosewood, cypress, or mahogany.
  • Purpose: Adds depth and character to the sound produced by the soundboard.

Neck and Fretboard:

  • Wood Type: Cedar or mahogany for the neck with a rosewood or ebony fretboard.
  • Purpose: The wider neck accommodates fingerstyle techniques central to classical guitar playing.

Strings:

  • Material: Nylon. The top three strings are usually clear or rectified nylon, while the bottom three are nylon cores wrapped in a metal winding.
  • Characteristics: Softer feel, lower tension than steel strings, and gentle on fingers.

Bridge and Saddle: Secures the strings and transmits their vibrations to the soundboard.

Sound Characteristics

  • Volume: Generally softer and mellower than steel-string guitars.
  • Tone: Warm, rounded tones with a pronounced bass presence.
  • Playability: Suited for fingerpicking. The wider neck and spacing of strings make intricate fingerstyle techniques easier.

Notable Players

  • Andrés Segovia: Often regarded as the father of the modern classical guitar movement.
  • John Williams: A virtuoso known for his precision and expressive playing.
  • Julian Bream: Brought ancient music to life with his historical lute performances as well as his work on the classical guitar.
  • Paco de Lucía: While primarily a flamenco guitarist, Paco’s technique and speed were unparalleled.

Cool Facts

  • Not Just for Classical: While most commonly associated with classical music, nylon string guitars are also fundamental in flamenco, bossa nova, and folk music.
  • Ancient Roots: The classical guitar traces its origins back to the lute and vihuela instruments of ancient times.
  • A Global Affair: While Spain is often seen as the heartland of classical guitar, the instrument enjoys popularity and distinct traditions all over the world.

1.3. Twelve-String Acoustic

If guitars had a chorus group, this would be its leading member. Renowned for its lush, full sound, this instrument can make a solo performance sound like an entire ensemble. Let’s delve into the intricacies and marvels of the twelve-string acoustic.

  • Sound: Fuller, richer sound due to its 12 strings (6 pairs of 2).
  • Looks: Like a regular acoustic but with a wider neck.
  • Good For: Folk, rock, and when you want a big sound without plugging in.

Anatomy and Build

Top (Soundboard):

  • Wood Type: Typically made from spruce, cedar, or mahogany.
  • Purpose: Resonates the sound of the vibrating strings, creating the guitar’s characteristic tone.

Back and Sides:

  • Wood Type: Choices range from rosewood to mahogany to maple.
  • Purpose: Assists in amplifying and shaping the sound produced by the soundboard.

Neck and Fretboard:

  • Wood Type: Usually mahogany for the neck and rosewood or ebony for the fretboard.
  • Purpose: Due to the additional strings, the neck is wider, allowing room for all twelve strings.

Strings:

  • Material: Steel. There are six pairs, with the thinner string of each pair tuned an octave higher than its counterpart (except for the two thinnest pairs, which are usually tuned in unison).
  • Characteristics: When strummed, they produce a chorus-like effect due to the slight differences in tuning and timbre.

Bridge and Saddle: Anchors the strings, facilitating the transfer of vibrations to the soundboard.

Sound Characteristics

  • Volume: Richer and louder than a six-string acoustic because of the additional strings.
  • Tone: Harmonically rich, with a natural chorus effect, making it sound full and resonant.
  • Playability: Requires a slightly different technique. Chords are played the same way, but there are two strings under each finger, so it takes some getting used to.

Notable Players

  • Lead Belly: A legendary folk and blues musician who made the twelve-string famous in early blues music.
  • Roger McGuinn: The Byrds’ frontman used a twelve-string to create the jangly, ringing sound on hits like “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • Jimmy Page: The Led Zeppelin guitarist used a twelve-string for some of the band’s iconic tracks, adding layers to their sound.

Cool Facts

  • A Tuning Challenge: Maintaining the tuning on a twelve-string can be a bit more challenging due to the additional strings. It’s worth the effort, though!
  • Not Just For Strumming: While often used for rhythm, the twelve-string acoustic is also great for fingerpicking, giving a rich harmonic backdrop to melodies.
  • Historic Roots: The concept of multi-stringed instruments dates back centuries, with various cultures having their own versions.

2. Get Plugged: Electric Guitars

2.1. Solid Body

If the guitar world was a cinematic universe, the solid body electric guitar would be its blockbuster action hero. Think vibrant riffs, blaring solos, and the driving force behind rock ‘n’ roll. Let’s plug in and amplify our knowledge about this electrifying instrument.

  • Sound: Varies! You can get anything from heavy metal riffs to smooth jazz tones.
  • Looks: Solid, without soundholes. Famous models include the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul.
  • Good For: Rock, jazz, blues, punk, and more.

Anatomy and Build

Top, Back, and Sides:

  • Wood Type: Often made from woods like ash, alder, mahogany, or maple. The choice of wood plays a crucial role in determining the guitar’s tone.
  • Purpose: Unlike acoustics, the resonance of the body wood isn’t the primary sound source but still plays a role in the overall tone.

Neck and Fretboard:

  • Wood Type: Maple, rosewood, and ebony are common choices.
  • Purpose: The design usually facilitates faster playing, especially beneficial for solos and intricate riffs.

Pickups:

  • Type: Magnetic pickups are common, capturing string vibrations and converting them to an electrical signal.
  • Variations: Single-coil pickups offer a sharp, clear sound, while humbuckers provide a thicker, louder, and hum-free tone.

Controls:

  • Knobs: These adjust volume and tone. Some guitars have individual controls for different pickups.
  • Switch: Allows the player to select or combine different pickups, giving a range of tonal options.

Bridge:

  • Purpose: Anchors the strings. Some come with tremolo arms (or “whammy bars”) that allow players to temporarily change the pitch of the strings.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Controlled by the amp, so it can range from whisper-soft to arena-loud.

Tone: Incredibly versatile. Different pickup combinations, guitar woods, and amplifiers can produce everything from warm jazz tones to piercing rock leads.

Playability: Typically designed for ease of play. Many models feature “cutaways” for easier access to higher frets.

Notable Players

Jimi Hendrix: His innovative techniques and explosive performances revolutionized electric guitar playing.

Eric Clapton: Renowned for his tone and touch, Clapton’s influence spans blues, rock, and beyond.

Eddie Van Halen: Brought tapping into the mainstream and created sounds previously thought impossible on the guitar.

St. Vincent (Annie Clark): Modern virtuoso known for her unique playing style and signature guitar model.

Cool Facts

Guitar Heroes: The rise of video games like “Guitar Hero” introduced a new generation to the magic of electric guitar riffs.

A Science Lab: The electric guitar is a hotbed for modification. From changing pickups to adding effects, players often modify their guitars to achieve their ideal sound.

Origin Story: The solid body electric guitar was developed to combat the feedback issues that hollow body electric guitars faced at higher volumes.

2.2. Hollow Body/Semi-Hollow Body

If the guitar realm was a jazz club, the hollow and semi-hollow body guitars would be headlining the night. These are the instruments that croon and serenade, offering a warmth and resonance that’s unmistakably smooth. But they aren’t just confined to jazz; they’ve made a mark in genres from rockabilly to indie rock.

  • Sound: Warm, deep, jazzy vibes. Can feedback if you’re not careful.
  • Looks: Has “f” shaped soundholes.
  • Good For: Jazz, blues, and rockabilly.

Anatomy and Build

Hollow Body Guitars: Think of these as jazzed-up acoustics – literally. They’re entirely hollow inside, which brings forth a warm, resonant sound. The body depth and the iconic f-holes add to the instrument’s aesthetics and sound projection. Often made from woods like maple, spruce, or mahogany, their tonal characteristics vary based on the wood used.

Semi-Hollow Body Guitars: They bring the best of both worlds – combining attributes of solid bodies and hollow bodies. They have a solid center block, which helps in reducing feedback and adding sustain, surrounded by hollow chambers that impart warmth. The blend provides a versatile tone that can swing between genres effortlessly.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Generally louder than solid body guitars unplugged, thanks to their hollow chambers. Yet, when plugged in, they can achieve a range of volumes based on amp settings.

Tone: Warm, round, and full. While hollow bodies lean more towards the mellow side, semi-hollows can deliver both soft, jazzy vibes and gritty rock tones.

Playability: Due to their body size, they might feel bulkier to some players, but their necks are designed for comfortable play, whether you’re running through jazz scales or rock riffs.

Notable Players

BB King: The King of Blues often wielded his beloved Lucille, a Gibson ES-355 semi-hollow body.

John Lennon: The Beatle frequently played on an Epiphone Casino, a hollow body, especially during the mid-period of The Beatles.

Teddy Wilson: Jazz guitar maestro who beautifully showcased the capabilities of hollow body guitars.

Dave Grohl: Frontman of the Foo Fighters rocks on his signature Gibson DG-335, a semi-hollow body.

Cool Facts

Versatility is Key: Semi-hollow body guitars have been used in genres as diverse as jazz, blues, rock, and even punk.

Feedback Fighters: The center block in semi-hollow guitars was initially introduced to combat feedback issues, a common challenge with fully hollow guitars.

Iconic Models: The Gibson ES series and the Rickenbacker 330 are some of the most iconic models in the hollow and semi-hollow guitar lineage.

3. It’s All About the Bass

3.1. Acoustic Bass

Stepping into the limelight from the shadow of its electric cousin, the acoustic bass guitar (ABG) offers a blend of rhythmic depth and organic warmth. It’s the low-end hero for unplugged sessions, campfires, and intimate gigs. Let’s dive deep into the rich tones of the acoustic bass.

  • Sound: Deep, punchy, and loud enough for small jams.
  • Looks: Like a bigger acoustic guitar.
  • Good For: Acoustic jams, smaller venues.

Anatomy and Build

Body: Like its acoustic guitar siblings, the body of an acoustic bass is hollow, providing natural amplification. The larger body size compared to regular acoustic guitars allows for a deeper resonance, essential for producing those bass frequencies. Common tonewoods used are spruce, cedar, or mahogany for the top and rosewood or mahogany for the back and sides.

Neck: Generally, the neck is wider to accommodate the thicker bass strings. As with acoustic guitars, the choice of wood, often maple or mahogany, plays a significant role in sound and playability.

Strings: Usually steel-strung, although nylon versions exist. Steel strings give a brighter, more defined tone, while nylon provides a mellower, more upright bass-like sound.

Scale Length: Acoustic basses can vary in scale length, with some being shorter for easier playability, while others are longer for enhanced tonal depth.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Naturally, an acoustic bass won’t be as loud as its electric counterpart when amplified. However, it projects a robust, warm sound when played acoustically.

Tone: Organic, woody, and resonant. It doesn’t have the sharp attack of an electric bass but offers a round, full-bodied sound.

Playability: Acoustic basses, due to their size, can be a bit more challenging to play for those with smaller frames. But many players appreciate the natural feel and vibe, especially in unplugged settings.

Notable Players

Brian Ritchie: The Violent Femmes’ bassist who notably used an acoustic bass to produce the iconic sounds in tracks like “Blister in the Sun.”

Jack Johnson: While primarily a guitarist, this singer-songwriter often incorporates acoustic bass in his laid-back beachy tunes.

Willie Dixon: A legendary blues artist known to occasionally favor the deep tones of the acoustic bass.

Cool Facts

Origin: The acoustic bass is a relatively newer instrument, having come into prominence mainly in the 1980s. Its introduction aimed to offer bassists an acoustic option suitable for jamming in unplugged settings without needing any amplification.

Versatility: From jazz to folk to rock, the acoustic bass can seamlessly fit into various genres, adding a rich low-end backdrop.

3.2. Electric Bass

If the music world was a party, the electric bass would be that cool, steady personality holding it all together. It’s the backbone of many musical genres, from funk’s slap-happy lines to the driving force behind rock. Let’s slap, pop, and groove through the details of the electric bass.

  • Sound: Thick, rich, can be funky or rock-hard.
  • Looks: Solid body, but longer neck.
  • Good For: Every band ever! Rock, jazz, funk, you name it.

Anatomy and Build

Body: Usually solid-bodied, made from woods like ash, alder, or mahogany. The choice of wood plays a significant role in the tone and weight of the bass.

Neck: Often constructed from maple, rosewood, or mahogany. Bass necks are typically wider and thicker due to the beefier strings, and can be bolt-on, neck-through, or set neck.

Strings: Generally steel-strung, but variations exist. Bass guitars typically have four strings, but five, six, or even more string versions are available for those looking for extended range or different tonal possibilities.

Pickups: These magnetic coils capture the string vibrations and convert them into an electric signal. There are multiple pickup designs, from split-coil (like the iconic P-bass) to single-coil (like the J-bass) or humbuckers, each influencing the bass’s tone.

Controls: Most basses have volume and tone knobs, and some come with a pickup blend control or even EQ knobs for further tone sculpting.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Dependent on amplification, but electric basses can range from subtly quiet to booming loud when plugged into an amp. Tone: Extremely versatile. Whether you’re seeking the vintage warmth of a P-bass, the growl of a J-bass, or the modern punch of active electronics, the electric bass can cover it all. Playability: Varies from model to model. While a standard four-string bass might be relatively easy for most to pick up, extended range basses with more strings require a different approach.

Notable Players

James Jamerson: The Motown legend whose fingerstyle on a P-bass defined a generation of music.

Jaco Pastorius: Changed the game with his fretless bass playing, introducing a smooth, lyrical quality to electric bass.

Flea: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist, known for his aggressive slap technique and energetic performances.

Victor Wooten: A modern virtuoso whose techniques push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bass.

Cool Facts

Bass’s Birth: The electric bass came into being in the 1930s but became more popular in the ’50s with Leo Fender’s Precision Bass.

Diverse Techniques: From fingerstyle to slap/pop, tapping, or using a pick, the electric bass can be approached in numerous ways, each offering a unique tonal palette.

Extended Range: While the classic bass has four strings, modern variations go up to six or more strings, allowing bassists to venture into guitar territory.

4. The Oddballs

4.1. Resonator

If guitars had an eccentric, vintage-loving uncle, it’d be the resonator. Characterized by its unmistakable metallic twang, the resonator guitar is a true relic of the past, a nod to the roots of American music. Let’s slide into the world of resonators.

  • Sound: Loud and bright, often metallic sounding.
  • Looks: Metal cones in the middle.
  • Good For: Blues, bluegrass.

Anatomy and Build

Body: The resonator’s body can be made from wood, like a traditional guitar, or metal, often brass or steel. The main feature, however, is the resonator itself – a series of aluminum cones that amplify the sound.

Cone Systems: There are mainly two setups: the tricone, having three smaller cones, and the biscuit or single-cone system. The choice of system influences the sound – tricones are usually more mellow, while single-cones have a sharper bite.

Neck: Like regular guitars, they have wooden necks. However, many resonator players prefer a square neck, especially for playing lap-style with a slide.

Strings: Resonators can be strung with either metal or nylon strings, with metal being the more common choice for its bright and punchy sound.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: One of the original goals of the resonator was to produce a louder sound than traditional acoustic guitars. They cut through in band scenarios, especially before electric amplification became widespread.

Tone: Bright, metallic, and twangy. Resonators have a distinct sound that’s immediately recognizable, with a sustain that rings out uniquely.

Playability: Resonators can be played like standard guitars or with a slide on one’s lap. Their setup, action, and choice of neck shape cater to these styles.

Notable Players

Son House: An iconic Delta bluesman who wielded his resonator with raw emotion, leaving a lasting mark on the blues world.

Dobro Brothers: Immigrants from Slovakia who popularized and gave their name to a specific brand of resonator guitars.

Jerry Douglas: A modern virtuoso who’s taken the resonator, especially the Dobro variant, to new heights in bluegrass and beyond.

Cool Facts

Origins: The resonator emerged in the 1920s as an answer to the need for more volume, especially in the era before electric amplification.

Genres: While deeply rooted in the blues, resonators have found a home in bluegrass, country, and even some rock and pop settings.

Dobro vs. Resonator: All Dobros are resonators, but not all resonators are Dobros. “Dobro” is a brand that became so synonymous with this type of guitar that it’s often used as a generic term.

4.2. Archtop

Enter the sophisticated world of the archtop, the classy, jazzy counterpart in the guitar family. With its unmistakable f-holes and contoured top, the archtop guitar has been the go-to for many jazz and big band musicians over the decades. Let’s swing into the details of this beauty.

  • Sound: Smooth, jazzy vibes.
  • Looks: Curvy, with a carved top and “f” shaped holes.
  • Good For: Jazz and sophisticated genres.

Anatomy and Build

Body: The most distinctive feature of the archtop is its carved top and back, usually made from spruce or maple. This design, inspired by the violin family, gives the guitar its unique tonal characteristics.

F-holes: Instead of the usual round soundhole, most archtops sport a pair of f-holes, adding to its characteristic look and influencing its sound.

Neck: Typically made from maple or mahogany, the neck of the archtop tends to be more slender and comfortable, catering to the fast-paced world of jazz chords and solos.

Bridge: The archtop uses a floating bridge which can be repositioned, helping in achieving optimal intonation and sound.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Archtops were originally designed to be louder than flat-top guitars, making them ideal for cutting through in big band settings.
Tone: They have a clear, bright, and focused tone, which is more mid-rangy compared to the broad spectrum of a flat-top. This tonal clarity is a favorite among jazz guitarists.
Playability: With their thinner necks and flatter fretboards, archtops are optimized for complex chord shapes and speedy solos.

Notable Players

Charlie Christian: A pioneer in electric jazz guitar playing, he’s known for his work with the Benny Goodman Sextet, wielding an amplified archtop.
Django Reinhardt: The legendary Gypsy jazz guitarist often used Selmer-style archtops, leaving an indelible mark on the jazz world.
Wes Montgomery: A post-bop giant, Montgomery’s thumb-picking technique on his archtop brought forth some of the most iconic jazz guitar tones ever.

Cool Facts

Origins: The archtop’s design was pioneered by Orville Gibson in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but it was Gibson’s employee, Lloyd Loar, who perfected it in the 1920s.
Versatility: While archtops are synonymous with jazz, they’ve found their way into rockabilly, psychobilly, and even some indie rock genres.
Electric Evolution: With the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and the need for more volume, many archtops became electrified, leading to models like the Gibson ES-175 becoming standards.

4.3. Baritone

Imagine a guitar that’s been sipping on some deep, soulful potions. That’s the baritone guitar for you – a unique instrument that bridges the gap between the standard guitar and the bass, with its deeper tones and mysterious vibes. Let’s plunge into the world of baritones.

  • Sound: Deeper, can play both standard and lower tunings.
  • Looks: Like a beefier electric or acoustic.
  • Good For: Experimental tunes, metal, and for adding a different tonal texture.

Anatomy and Build

Body: There isn’t a single, specific body shape for baritone guitars; they can come in various forms. The main thing is that they often have a longer scale length (the distance from the bridge to the nut), usually ranging from 27 to 30 inches.

Neck: Given the extended scale length, the neck is naturally longer than that of a standard guitar, facilitating the lower tunings it’s designed for.

Strings: Baritone strings are thicker, needed for those low-end tunings. They offer tension that’s balanced, even when tuned down to pitches like B or C.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Comparable to standard guitars in terms of loudness, but with a pronounced emphasis on the lower frequencies.
Tone: Deep, rich, and resonant. The baritone’s voice stands out with its bass-heavy sound, yet it retains enough mids and highs to ensure clarity and definition.
Playability: The longer neck and thicker strings may pose an initial challenge, especially if you’re transitioning from a standard guitar. But once acclimated, players often find a unique playing experience awaiting them.

Notable Players

Duane Eddy: An early adopter of the baritone sound in rock and roll, known for his twangy, reverb-laden instrumentals.
Brian Wilson: The Beach Boys’ mastermind occasionally employed baritone guitars to fill out the band’s lush sonic landscapes.
Dave Matthews: Uses a baritone to add depth and variety to his band’s multi-layered acoustic sound.

Cool Facts

Versatility in Genres: While initially popular in surf rock and spaghetti western soundtracks, the baritone has made its mark in genres ranging from jazz to metal.
Tuning Flexibility: While B to B is standard, many players experiment with various tunings, even going as low as A or G.
Not Just for Lead: Baritones aren’t only for playing melodies. They’re also excellent for rhythmic chugging or providing a bedrock for other instruments in a mix.

5. Others Worth a Mention

5.1. Travel & Mini Guitars: Compact for travelers, but still packs a punch

Got wanderlust? Well, so do these guitars. If you’re a traveling musician, a camper, or just someone with limited space, the universe of travel and mini guitars might be your next stop. Compact, handy, and often sounding bigger than they look, let’s zoom into the nitty-gritty of these pint-sized powerhouses.

Anatomy and Build

Body: These guitars are designed for portability, so they’re compact. But don’t let the size fool you; many are built with the same care and precision as full-sized guitars, ensuring a rich sound.

Neck: Typically, the neck is also scaled down, but some models retain a near-regular scale length, offering a familiar feel for seasoned players.

Materials: From traditional woods like spruce and mahogany to more modern materials like carbon fiber, the choice varies, influenced by factors like durability and tone.

Sound Characteristics

Volume: Naturally, given their size, they’re quieter than full-sized guitars. However, many are surprisingly loud for their stature, thanks to innovative designs and build techniques.
Tone: While they might lack some of the deep bass of bigger guitars, travel and mini guitars often produce a bright and clear sound, with a balanced tone that’s great for a variety of music styles.
Playability: Most are easy to play, especially for beginners or those with smaller hands. Their compact size makes them super comfortable, especially when lounging around or sitting by a campfire.

Notable Brands & Models

Taylor GS Mini: A scaled-down version of Taylor’s Grand Symphony shape, it’s got a big sound, premium build, and is a favorite among many musicians.
Martin Backpacker: As the name suggests, it’s designed for adventurers. Its unique shape is unmistakably “travel-ready.”
Traveler Guitar: Specializing in travel instruments, this brand offers models with full-scale necks and compact bodies, ensuring you don’t miss your main axe too much.

Cool Facts

Versatility: While primarily aimed at travelers, these guitars are also fantastic for younger players or those who find regular guitars a bit unwieldy.
Durability: Many travel guitars are built with ruggedness in mind, ready to face the challenges of the great outdoors or life on the road.
Extras: Some come with built-in pickups, allowing you to amplify your sound wherever you are. Others might include detachable parts for even more compact storage.

5.2. Double Neck Guitars: Because why play one neck when you can play two?

Ever looked at a guitarist and thought, “Man, he’s good… but what if he had another guitar neck jutting out?” Enter the world of double neck guitars – a showstopper that’s not just about the looks but offers a whole palette of sonic possibilities. Let’s delve into this head-turner of an instrument.

Anatomy and Build

Body: The body is typically larger and heavier to accommodate the two necks. Made with the same materials as regular guitars, the body ensures stability and balance.

Necks: The magic of the double neck. Commonly, one neck features six strings (standard guitar) while the other may have twelve strings for that lush, chorusy sound. But there are variations, like combinations of six-string and bass or even fretless and fretted necks!

Pickups & Controls: There are usually separate pickups for each neck, allowing for individual tonal control. Switches are provided to select between the necks or even play them simultaneously.

Sound Characteristics

Versatility: The main draw of the double neck is its tonal range. You can switch from the chime of a 12-string to the standard tone of a 6-string in an instant, or from a melodic lead to a bass groove.

Tone: Depends largely on the specific neck being used. But in general, these guitars are built to premium specifications, ensuring rich, full-bodied sound from both necks.

Playability: Given its size, it’s a bit challenging, especially when standing. But for those who master it, the ability to transition between different sounds on the fly is unparalleled.

Notable Players

Jimmy Page: The Led Zeppelin guitar maestro is often seen with a double-neck Gibson EDS-1275, especially when playing the epic “Stairway to Heaven” live.
Don Felder & Joe Walsh: The Eagles’ dual guitar attack on “Hotel California” is legendary, with Felder using a double neck for that iconic combination of 6 and 12-string sounds.
John McLaughlin: The jazz-fusion virtuoso occasionally employed a double-neck, showcasing his incredible versatility and technical prowess.

Cool Facts

Not Just Guitars: There are double-neck basses too, allowing for a range between standard and tenor or fretted and fretless bass tones.
History: Double neck instruments aren’t a modern invention. Multi-neck instruments date back centuries, from lutes to sitars.
Weight: These are heavy beasts. Using one regularly is both a musical and a physical commitment!

5.3. Seven, Eight, or More Strings: For when six strings just ain’t enough

Ever felt like six strings were just… well, limiting? Welcome to the world of extended-range guitars, where musicians take the instrument to its limits, venturing into deeper lows and sky-high highs. Let’s jump into the multi-dimensional universe of seven, eight, or even more stringed wonders.

Anatomy and Build

Body: Typically built more robustly to handle the increased tension, these guitars might also have broader bodies to accommodate the larger neck.

Neck: Naturally, the neck is wider to fit all those strings. It’s constructed sturdily, often reinforced to handle the stress of additional strings.

Pickups: Given the wider frequency range, the pickups for these guitars are specially designed. They ensure clarity across all strings, from the deepest lows to the highest highs.

Sound Characteristics

Tonal Range: The extended range is the selling point here. Seven-string guitars usually add a low B, while eight-strings often add a low B and a low F#. Some adventurous souls even go further, diving into nine or ten strings, broadening their sonic palette immensely.

Versatility: These guitars are not just about heavy chugs and djent tones. Jazz, ambient, and experimental musicians have also embraced them for their vast harmonic potential.

Playability: There’s a learning curve. The wider neck requires some getting used to, and there’s the challenge of managing and optimizing the use of extra strings. But for those who master it, the creative possibilities are vast.

Notable Players

Tosin Abasi: The Animals as Leaders frontman is a pioneer in the eight-string guitar world, blending technical metal with jazz and progressive influences.
Steve Vai: His Universe model seven-string guitar with Ibanez brought the extended-range guitar to the limelight in the ’90s.
Meshuggah: This Swedish metal band, especially guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, was among the early adopters of eight-string guitars, pushing the boundaries of metal with their polyrhythmic, djent style.

Cool Facts

Historical Roots: While they might seem like a modern invention, multi-stringed instruments have existed for centuries. Lutes from the Renaissance period, for example, had multi-stringed configurations.
Beyond Metal: Extended-range guitars have found their way into genres you wouldn’t expect, from classical compositions to ambient soundscapes.
Technique Shift: The presence of more strings has given birth to innovative playing techniques, from slap-tapping styles to unique chord voicings.

5.4. Lap Steel Guitars: Played on your lap, with a slide. Country vibes!

Aloha, musical traveler! Ready to sail the sonic seas with a unique type of guitar? Resting horizontally across your lap, played with a slide, and oozing with vibe, the lap steel guitar is like a dreamy vacation for your ears. Let’s slide into its world.

Anatomy and Build

Body: Typically, it’s a solid slab, though there are resonator versions that have a more pronounced midrange bark. The body is designed to sit comfortably across the player’s lap.

Neck: Unlike traditional guitars, there are no frets to press down on. Instead, it has fret markers for visual reference. The strings are raised higher off the neck than standard guitars.

Tuning Pegs: They’re often on one side, but in some designs, you’ll find them split on both sides of the headstock.

Sound Characteristics

Tone: The lap steel produces a smooth, sustaining sound, especially when played with a slide. Its voice is unmistakably sweet, twangy, and can even be haunting at times.

Expression: Since there are no frets, and you’re using a slide (usually made of steel, glass, or ceramic), you get a seamless and fluid sound, perfect for those silky slide moves.

Versatility: From Hawaiian music to country, from blues to rock, the lap steel offers a distinct flavor that’s adaptable across genres.

Notable Players

Ben Harper: A modern slide maestro who’s infused the lap steel’s soulful tones into rock, blues, and folk.
David Gilmour: The Pink Floyd legend has occasionally used the lap steel, most notably for the ethereal sounds on “Breathe.”
Jerry Byrd: Often referred to as the “Master of Touch and Tone”, Byrd was instrumental in popularizing the lap steel, especially in Hawaiian music.

Cool Facts

Hawaiian Origins: The lap steel guitar has deep roots in Hawaiian music. It evolved from the Spanish guitar and was adapted to the slide technique in the late 19th century in Hawaii.
Cousins: The pedal steel guitar, commonly heard in country music, is a direct descendant of the lap steel. It added foot pedals and knee levers for more pitch control.
Tuning Variety: There’s a range of tunings that players use, depending on the style and the song. Popular ones include open E, open G, and C6, among others.