Types of Guitars

Acoustic Guitar

Bowl-Back Acoustic Guitar

Thinline Electric

Electric Guitar

Fixed-Bridge Guitar

Tremolo Guitar

Jazz Guitar

Thinline Blues Guitar

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars can be played without amplification of any kind. The acoustic guitar's Top is its largest tonal contributor, followed by the Back and Sides. If an acoustic guitar, regardless of price, has a solid Top with solid Sides and a solid Back, it is desirable to own. Almost every less expensive acoustic guitar is going to have a laminated Top, Sides and Back. Solid Tops with laminated (layers of wood that are glued together) Sides and Backs are also a good choice.

High-end acoustic guitars should always have solid Tops, Sides and Backs. Some big brand name guitars are priced in the high-end range, but are deceptively mass-produced with laminates. High-end acoustic guitars range in price from about $2,000 to over $6,000 for a brand new McPherson Acoustic Guitar. Every guitar that is hand-made will have an individual tonal character, even among guitars that are the same model. This is because of the combination of woods used on the Top, Sides and Back, and the hand-made construction methods.

Bowl-Back Acoustic Guitars

These guitars were made popular by Ovation. Bowl-Back acoustic guitars have rounded backs that are usually made of a graphite composite. Since the top of the guitar is the largest tonal contributor to the instrument, the more expensive models with solid tops will have the better sound. They are very comfortable to play and sound quite good through amplification.

Thin-Line Acoustic Electric Guitars

The thinline acoutsic electric guitar offers acoustic-like sound without the troublesome feedback often encountered when ampifying an acoustic guitar.

Several high-end companies like Renaissance make beautiful Cedar and Sycamore thin line acoustics that utilize piezo systems and get unbelievably terrific acoustic tone. In the middle is Godin and on the lower end, OLP makes an acceptable thin line.

Electric Guitars

Electric guitars are wired with pickups, which amplify the vibrating strings, and are meant to be played using amplification. When many people think of electric guitars, they picture a Fender Stratocaster, a Gibson Les Paul or a Paul Reed Smith, which are all solid body electric guitars, but any guitar can be electrified and played through an amplifier. The generic term Electric Guitars covers a huge range instruments.

Fixed-Bridge Guitars

The term Fixed Bridge refers to the way the strings are fastened to the guitar at the tail of the body. A fixed bridge guitar is a non-tremolo guitar. Generally speaking, the tone of a fixed bridge guitar is superior to the tone of a tremolo guitar because the strings are closer to being in direct contact with the actual wood of the guitar.

Tremolo Guitars

Tremolo Guitars are used primarily by lead (solo) players. The tremolo enhances the player’s ability to bend the strings, and therefore the notes, and to create interesting effects in so doing. If you’ve ever heard the guitar solo Eruption from the album Van Halen I, by Eddie Van Halen, then you’ve heard an effective use of the tremolo.

Jazz Guitars

Jazz Guitars, or Jazz Boxes, are usually rather large bodied, sometimes electric guitars used for playing Jazz Music. Jazz guitars are also notable for the moveable, often ebony, bridge systems and often fanciful metal or wooden tail pieces.

Higher end Jazz guitars are often collected for the sheer beauty of the wood and quality of the craftsmanship.

Thinline Blues Guitars

Thin-line Blues Guitars are similar to Jazz Guitars in that they are hollow-bodied electric guitars. The bodies of these guitars though, as the name implies, are thinner than Jazz guitars. The thin-line blues guitar can and often is played with distortion.

Boutique Guitars

Boutique guitars can be acoustic or electric. The term "Boutique" most often refers to guitars that are hand-made by a single luthier, and are usually more expensive than their weight in Platinum. They're usually built from exotic tone woods and are more often purchased for display than for actual playing.

Finish Types

There are many different types of finishes on guitars, but as far as polishes, waxes and cleaners are concerned, one might say there are three primary types of finishes: gloss, satin and oil.

Gloss Finish

Gloss finishes are as the name implies, the glossy or shiny ones. A gloss finish is obvious. Satin finishes give the instrument a matte appearance, but the wood is still smooth, finished, to the touch.

Gloss maintenance: Clean a gloss or satin finish instrument using either the Ken Smith Pro Formula Polish or pick up the Dunlop System 65 Guitar Maintenance Kit. It is safe to use carnauba or paste waxes on gloss instruments. Oil or satin maintenance: Generally speaking, an oil finish won't need a lot of maintenance. Keep it clean by wiping it down after every use. Every once in a while you may want to polish an oil finish instrument with the Ken Smith classic wax polish. This same product is used on the fretboard.

Oil Finish

Oil finishes are matte in appearance and give the impression of no finish at all. One can actually feel the pores of the wood on an oil finish. On a guitar, an acoustic guitar especially, a satin or oil finish generally promotes a more woody, naturally dark tone while a gloss finish brings out the brightness in the instrument.