Classical Guitar: Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

A lot of people think that classical guitar is the same as acoustic guitar. This is not true.

Although classical and acoustic guitar look similar, they are actually very different.

If you’re a guitar beginner, you certainly have a lot of questions you don’t know answer to.

Here, in this article, I’m going to answer some of those frequently asked questions about classical guitar.

Let’s go through each question, one by one!

Is Classical Guitar Played Fingerstyle? Can I Use a Pick On a Classical Guitar?

Classical guitar is played fingerstyle most of the time. It’s possible to use guitar pick to play a classical guitar in the same way you play an acoustic guitar, but usually they’re played with fingers only.

Classical guitars are made to be played with fingers. Why is that so? It’s because classical guitars have nylon strings, instead of steel ones you can find on every acoustic guitar.

Nylon strings are much softer and gentler than steel strings. Try to play a classical guitar (if you have one) with a guitar pick. It just doesn’t feel right to play it that way. Most guitar picks are too strong and too hard for soft, nylon strings.

But, the thing is that classical guitars sound best when they are played with bare fingers. Fingers with nails.

You can use very soft guitar pick, though. By soft guitar pick I mean guitar pick around 0.4 thickness.

Anyway, check out the article from this page about fingerstyle if you’re interested:

Are Classical Guitar Chords The Same As Acoustic?

Guitar chords are the same whether they are played on a classical or an acoustic guitar. They are independent of the type of guitar that’s being played.

For example, a D major chord is the same, whether it’s played on an acoustic, classical, electric acoustic or an electric guitar.

There are many chord types and many chord shapes. There are chord shapes that are more preferable for some particular guitars.

For example, power chords are usually more often played on an electric guitar. On the other hand, open G major chord is usually more often played on an acoustic or a classical guitar.

But both power chords, or open major chords, are the same, regardless of a guitar they are played on.

Are Classical Guitar Strings All Nylon?

Classical guitar strings are nylon strings. Back in the day, when companies that produce guitar strings weren’t around, strings were made of catgut.

To be more precise, cattle gut. To be precise even further, strings were made out of lamb intestines, most of the time.

In today’s day and age, classical guitar strings are nylon. If you’re interested in the origin of guitar parts, check out this interesting article from this page:

Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, have steel strings. It is not advisable to put steel strings on a classical guitar, or vice versa. To find out why, check out the article about that subject:

Why Do Classical Guitars Not Have Dots?

Most acoustic and electric guitars have dots on the top of their necks. Also, most acoustic and electric guitars have fretboard inlays on those same places.

3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 21th and 24th frets are marked.

However, on a classical guitars, you won’t see those dots, nor fretboard inlays. Why?

There’s no exact answer to that question. I guess it’s the tradition that stayed until today.

Traditionally, classical guitars hadn’t been made with dots or fretboard inlays. That custom remained up to this day.

Not having dots, or fretboard inlays, can be problematic if you’re a guitar beginner. However, over time, you’ll get used to it completely. Dots and fretboard inlays can be of help, but over time your muscle memory will do the trick.

Why Do Classical Guitars Have Wider Necks?

Classical guitars have wider necks because of the playing style. Since classical guitar is played fingerstyle, more space between adjactent strings is needed. Wide neck ensures there’s enough space between.

Try to play fingerstyle on an electric guitar. It’s harder. Spaces between adjacent strings are too narrow.

That’s why classical guitars have wider necks. Wider the neck is, wider are spaces between strings.

What’s the average size of a classical guitar neck? But first, how to measure the size of the guitar neck? Every guitar neck widens as it goes from nut towards the bridge.

Neck size means the size of a neck at guitar nut. So, classical guitars have an average neck size of 51 mm while acoustic guitars have an average neck size of 44 mm. Of course, there are oscillations for every guitar model.

Are Classical Guitars Tuned Differently?

Classical guitars are tuned in the same way as acoustic or electric guitars are tuned.

If we talk about tunings, classical guitars are usually played in standard tuning. That means that the strings are tuned in following order (from thickest to thinnest): low E, A, D, G, B and high E.

Both classical and acoustic guitars have headstocks and tuning pegs. Strings are tuned in the same way. By turning the tuning peg, strings are either loosened or tightened.

Can Classical Guitar Play Pop Songs?

You can play whatever you want on your classical guitar!

Classical guitars are mostly used for playing classical music. However, it’s possible to arrange pop songs in a way that suits classical guitar playing style.

In other words, nothing stops you from playing whatever music genre and whatever song you want.

Almost every song can be easily played on a classical guitar. Of course, the playing style will be different then. Take one popular pop song and play it on your acoustic guitar. Then play it on a classical guitar.

You will have to play the same song differently in order to get the most of your guitar. Pop songs can be easily arranged on a classical guitar.

Youtube has hundreds of videos showing people playing lot of different genres on their classical guitars.

Do Classical Guitars Have Truss Rods?

Classical guitars don’t have truss rods. Why is that so?

It’s because there’s no need for a truss rod on a classical guitar. Again, why?

Classical guitars don’t have truss rods because classical guitars have nylon strings. Nylon strings exert a significantly less tension on the neck than steel strings do, and consequently there’s no need for a truss rod.

Truss rod is present in acoustic or electric guitar.

Main role of truss rod is to provide a counter tension to the tension caused by strings. Strings pull a guitar neck in one direction, while truss rod provides the tension in an opposite direction.

That way the whole system is balanced and maintained.

Classical guitars do not need it. Check out this great tension calculator.

There you can interactively change the preset. This calculator calculates the net tension caused by strings. You can change the number of strings, type of guitar, and the type of strings.

You’ll soon see that the tension produced by nylon strings on a guitar neck is significantly weaker than the one produced by steel strings.

Is Classical Guitar Hard To Learn?

It’s hard to tell if something is hard to learn. The answer heavily depends on a subjective feeling of an individual.

For many people, classical guitar is, in fact, harder to learn than acoustic. But actually, it’s the same. Keep one thing in mind.

Classical guitar is played DIFFERENTLY than acoustic guitar. If you try to play a classical guitar the same way you play your acoustic guitar, of course it will feel harder. The same goes other way around.

Classical guitars have wider necks, so that may be the reason why people tend to think classical guitar is harder to learn. But then again, wider neck means easier fingerstyle. Thinner neck means harder fingerstyle.

So someone who played only classical guitar in his life can say the same for an acoustic guitar. It all depends.

Anyway, if you’re interested, check out some similar subjects and issues covered on this page.

Best Classical Guitar For A Beginner

Classical guitars in general are great guitars for a complete beginners. I, myself, started to play on one old classical guitar. Later I switched on acoustic and electric guitars.

But still, I like to play a classical guitar now and then. It is a beautiful instrument every guitar player needs to know how to play (in my modest opinion).

So, is there some great classical guitar for a beginner? Of course.

Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar (link to Amazon) is the one that I’d recommend.

Price: 150 $

Rating: 4.4 / 5

This is a great classical guitar for the price. It also has a marker at 7th fret, and that’s pretty helpful if you’re a guitar beginner struggling with the orientation on a guitar neck.

It has a rosewood fingerboard and finish. One thing you’ll need to remember: When it comes to you, don’t forget to put new strings on it.

It will sound much better with new ones.

Anyway, get yourself one from Amazon, here.

Final Words

I hope this article gave you some answers to questions you’ve been asking yourself. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it. It is always a pleasure to be of help to my guitar brothers.

Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles from this page!

Cheers, and rock on!

Recent Posts