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The guitar is one of the most popular, fascinating, and downright exciting musical instruments ever created. They have helped countless bands and solo artists create their own unique sound and captivate millions of listeners across the globe, but how well do we actually know them?

At its core, the guitar is a fairly basic instrument, though there are several different types (which we’ll come back to later). A guitar has a fretboard and a number of strings (usually six, though this varies too), which allow you to produce almost limitless sounds depending on where you place your fingers.

The strings and fretboard work in conjunction with the hollow wooden or plastic / metallic body, either emitting the sound directly (as with an acoustic model) or via an amp or speaker (as with an electric).

You can play the guitar by plucking individual strings with your fingers or a plectrum, depending on the kind of sounds you want to experiment with, or you can play multiple strings at the same time in chords.

Different types of instruments led to the eventual creation of the guitar. There was the gittern (which dates back as far as the 13th century, found in Western Europe), the viheula (which originated in Europe around the 15th century), and more.

The basic acoustic guitar evolved, and several other variations on the guitar have been crafted since, enabling musicians working in all genres to experiment with a diverse range of options.

What are the top 10 most popular types of guitars?

The 10 Most Popular Guitar Types

Guitar Type
1 Acoustic Guitars Without doubt, the acoustic guitar is one of the most popular, most widely-used musical instruments in the world.

Thousands, if not millions, of artists play the acoustic guitar. From buskers on the streets of cities and towns to the biggest acts performing to vast audiences on stage have harnessed the simple power of the acoustic.

There are two types of acoustic guitars. One is the steel-string, which creates a metallic sound, while the other is a classical, which features a broader neck than the latter type. Classical guitars are fitted with nylon strings too, and may be called ‘Spanish guitars’ (though this is less common than just ‘acoustic’).

Acoustic guitars are incredibly convenient to use and carry. A busker, for example, can take one with them using a case or just a strap, and start playing wherever they like. Artists can sit on a stage and play an intimate gig without needing any amps or speakers – it’s a self-contained instrument requiring no technological assistance to capture its full sound.

If the musician wants to project the sound of the strings to a larger audience, they can simply put a microphone in front of the guitar’s hole without sacrificing the sense of intimacy.

Beginners generally learn to play the guitar using an acoustic model. They usually branch out and experiment with other types, but will always return to the acoustic from time to time.
2 Electric Guitars The electric guitar is not as elegant or as low-tech as the acoustic, but it can produce some amazing sounds.

Electric guitars are solid-bodied (without the hole that creates the sounds in acoustic models), and are built to be used with an amplifier. They emit notes with a metallic tone, and the overall sound can be manipulated using a variety of techniques and tools.

Players don’t need to press the strings quite as hard as they would on an acoustic, which makes electric guitars less tough on the fingertips. As a result, the strings can be bent more easily to diversify notes.

Whammy bars are fitted to some electric guitars, which can be used to change the sound further. Distortion and effects pedals are popular ways to augment the music created with an electric guitar, for heavier or electronic styles.

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic types of electric guitars, as is the Fender Strat. Electric models can be designed in a variety of quirky styles, to be more angular and visually striking, while decals or graffiti help to make them look distinctive.

Some of the greatest guitarists in history have created their own unique style of playing the electric type, making melodies that really capture the imagination. The ‘solo’ is a common part of playing the electric guitar, with top names like Slash and Jimi Hendrix known for their phenomenal abilities to make epic solos.
3 Bass Guitars The bass guitar is an essential part of the music in different genres – rock, heavy metal, pop, folk, jazz, blues etc.

This has a long fretboard and a set of thick strings, either four or six. These tend to be played with the fingers or the thumb, and can be slapped, plucked, strummed, thumped, or picked with a plectrum.

The bass guitarist in a band is usually responsible for helping to keep the beat, working alongside the drummer to establish the fundamental rhythm of a song. The bass guitar is usually played standing, like the electric guitar, and the musician’s performance can vary in its animation.

For example, bassists in classic rock or blues bands may well stand fairly still or even sit for a more relaxed style, while those playing the instrument in hard rock or heavy metal can move with much more energy.

Multiple techniques are used when playing the bass guitar, including palm-muting; this involves placing the palm’s outer edge against the bridge while the strings are being picked. This affects the length of the strings’ sustain, altering the sound as the musician sees fit.
4 Double-neck Guitars The double-neck guitar is just as it sounds: a guitar with two necks attached to one body. This is a fantastic looking instrument, is fairly uncommon, and can be incredibly intimidating to all but the more experienced guitarist.

Guitarists can change from one neck to the other, creating a different kind of sound without having to switch to a different guitar; each neck will usually have different tuning. Double-neck guitars tend to have one neck with six strings and one with twelve, though this can differ from one musician to the next.

These date far back, with Renaissance-era paintings depicting people playing stringed instruments with multiple necks. They have obviously evolved significantly since then, and guitarists have a huge wealth of options to create a custom double-neck model of their own. Guitars with three necks can be found too, though these demand a musician with remarkable talent and experience.

Double-neck guitars are available as both acoustic and electric, though whichever type a guitarist uses, it can be cumbersome to begin with. Double-necks typically take some getting used to, as reaching the lower neck may be difficult.

Double-neck guitars have been known to combine standard six-string necks with four-string necks, allowing the musician to perform both the guitarist’s and the bassist’s parts.
5 Electro-Acoustic Guitars As a basic step-up from the acoustic guitar, electro-acoustics are also known as semi-acoustic or plug-in acoustic too.

It’s not the same as an electric guitar, despite what its name may imply, and is completely different. This is an acoustic guitar which includes a magnetic pickup or microphone. These usually feature piezoelectric pickups (which capture the vibrations and convert them into an electrical signal), with a preamplifier integrated into the body, which enhances the sounds before an external amplifier emits it.

This sounds fairly complex, but playing one is actually somewhat simple. It performs just as an acoustic, and once the amp has been set up and the sound stabilised, any musician familiar with the basic acoustic guitar should have no trouble.

Electro-acoustic guitars are commonly used on stage during live performances, when a solo artist or act has a larger audience and thus needs to generate a louder sound with their guitar. This lets them do so without having to use a guitar fitted near the sound hole of a standard acoustic.

Electro-acoustic guitars may be suitable for use with electrical amplification, but they still retain their more raw, acoustic sound. Musicians can still create a more intimate, low-key melody without having to worry about it being influenced or altered.
6 Resonator Guitars A resonator guitar is an acoustic model without the standard sound hole. Instead, a resonator guitar includes a circular cover plate, which is perforated with multiple holes, with a resonator cone underneath.

This guitar creates the sound through string vibrations (as with any guitar), which are carried via the instrument’s bridge until it reaches one of the metal cones (AKA the resonators). The bridge is linked to the cone’s centre or edge using an aluminium spring (known as the ‘spider’).

All vibrations coursing from the spider are emanated by the cone through the cover plate, producing the guitar’s distinctive sound. You may see musicians in the country or blues genre playing resonator guitars, though they are much less common than acoustic, electric, and electro-acoustic types of guitars.

Resonator guitars can be played in a conventional style, or with a slide for a more unusual sound. They were first designed by George Beauchamp to produce a louder noise than standard acoustic guitars, to prevent them being drowned out by such instruments as drums and horns.

A resonator guitar’s body can be crafted from metal, wood, a combination, or additional materials. Resonator guitars have been popular in bluegrass music, after they were first introduced to the genre by Flatt and Scruggs’ Josh Graves during the 1950s. They are popular in country and blues too.
7 Steel Guitars Most people think of guitars as being played while sitting or standing, either in a fairly relaxed style or a more energetic, frantic mode as seen by rockers.

However, the steel guitar is played across the lap, laid horizontally. Musicians pluck the strings with one hand while they slide a steel (a small bar) along the strings to alter the pitch.

This hails from Hawaii, where guitarists found their own way to perform on the European guitar with a slide and different tunings. Setting the guitar on their lap or on a flat surface lets them harness the slide with greater stability and control, achieving the distinctive sound for which they are known.

As a result, craftsmen started to make steel guitars in Hawaii with a smaller rectangular body; this produced a more comfortable fit for musicians, enabling them to play at a higher level.

Two kinds of steel guitar exist: the lap steel guitar and the pedal steel guitar, which includes additional necks. The latter sits on a dedicated stand, using knee-levers and pedals to alter the sound produced by the strings; it typically has between eight and 14 strings.

Playing a steel guitar is obviously much more complicated than a standard guitar.
8 Archtop Guitars An archtop guitar can be acoustic or electric, and has a semi-hollow construction. They include f-shaped holes (like a violin) and an interior sound-block, while the arched top and back (from which the name is derived) helps to make for a more relaxed sound.

Both electric and acoustic archtop guitars look very similar, though the former has electro-magnetic pots and pickups to produce their melodies. They tend to include six strings and an adjustable bridge, and were first created for louder volume. Early models were built with heavier strings, and two different types of archtop guitars are available: thinline or full-bodied.

The full-bodied model offers impressive resonance and volume, even when unplugged, while thinline ones reduce feedback through amplification by lowering the amount of resonance and volume.

Archtop bass guitars are available too, with Paul McCartney known to use one. Archtops have been produced with four, seven, nine, or even twelve strings, and their stylish design has helped them to remain popular with musicians and collectors alike. Archtops are a common sight in bands across various genres, including rock and jazz.
9 Touch Guitars Touch guitars are played in a very unusual way: tapping the fretboard. It is of no fixed origin, though it’s believed Merle Travis may have been one of the first proponents of it; it was officially brought to wider attention in the 1952 book Touch System, written by virtuoso Jimmie Webster.

So, what are Touch guitars? They look remarkable, and unlike any other kind of guitar you may have seen before. You basically get to play bass and guitar together, both with standard tuning. Strings only sound once they are touched to the fretboard, and players can play the guitar on the wider neck and the bass on the thinner neck together. The two sounds can overlap and work together, creating some amazing melodies and allowing for liberating experimentation.

The strings in a Touch guitar are kept separate from one another electronically, and whenever a string is pressed against the fretboard, this creates a ‘pure’ note without additional noise (such as scraping or sliding). As a result, you can play quickly and precisely without worrying about any unwanted sounds affecting the overall melody.
10 Twelve-string Guitars As you might imagine, a twelve-string guitar is a standard guitar with six additional strings. These are six of the regular thickness, and six with a finer design, each of which corresponds to a note of the standard strings.

In this way, the strings create distinct pairs, and playing a twelve-string guitar is very similar to a basic six-stringer. They’re known for a higher tone with more ring, and are generally used for rhythm rather than lead part (as it would be more complicated).

A twelve-string guitar features twelve pegs for tuning too, and the neck is usually wider than on a standard guitar. Twelve-string guitars are available as acoustic and electric versions, and the bodies tend to be more dense (to cope with the increased tension generated by the extra strings).

The guitar’s headstock is usually longer too, as there are more pegs for tuning. Though twelve-string guitars are more respected now, especially for their prominence in the folk and blues genres, they were seen as novelties in their early days. Artists like Blind Willie McTell and Lead Belly performed alongside twelve-string guitars, while The Beatles used them too (on both ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’).


Who are some of the most Legendary Guitar-Players of All Time?

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix lived a short life, but despite his career’s brevity, he became one of the most popular, important musicians of all time.

Hendrix was originally from Seattle, and started to play the guitar at 15, before he entered the army in the early 1960s. After leaving the military, he began to play guitar professionally in the backing band for the Isley Brothers and Little Richard.

After playing with other bands, Hendrix went on to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was with this group that Hendrix spawned his most well-known songs, including ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘’All Along the Watchtower’ (a cover of Bob Dylan’s classic song; many agree that Hendrix’s version is superior).

Hendrix was known for his energetic, charismatic playing style, and has been regarded as one of the all-time greats in numerous polls and retrospectives.


Slash is known for his work with Guns N’ Roses, with whom he found worldwide success during the 1980s and ‘90s. His virtuoso skills are a wonder to behold, as his fingers glide along the fretboard with remarkable speed and precision.

Slash’s solos are always suitably epic, on songs like ‘November Rain’ and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’. Like Jimi Hendrix, Slash has been regarded as one of the foremost guitarists in the world, showcasing a unique talent that has seen him become a legend of the music industry. He’s recognisable by his iconic top hat and long, dark curly hair.

Slash spent his early ears in Stoke-on-Trend, in Staffordshire, England, before he and his family relocated to Los Angeles. After finding huge success with Guns N’ Roses, Slash played in Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver.

Eric Clapton

English icon Clapton is most well-known for his time with Cream and Derek and the Dominos, though he has performed as part of other bands too. Perhaps his most famous work is ‘Layla’, with its unforgettable riff.

Other hit songs of Clapton’s include ‘Tears in Heaven’, ‘Wonderful Tonight’, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, to name just a few.

Clapton is the only artist to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. One of these occasions was to celebrate his solo work, while the other two marked his success with the Yardbirds and Cream. This is an impressive feat, one befitting such a versatile, long-standing master of the craft.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is recognised as one of the world’s most influential, most accomplished guitarists, known for his work as the founder of legendary band Led Zeppelin.

He started out as a session musician, but went on to become part of the Yardbirds (like Eric Clapton) for two years, before he launched Led Zeppelin in 1968. Led Zeppelin have been one of the biggest music groups of all time, having totalled what may be more than 300 million albums across the globe.

Jimmy Page has often been seen playing a double-neck guitar, and is known for his strong, inimitable riffs. Led Zeppelin’s biggest songs include ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Kashmir’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, and ‘Black Dog’.

All of these masters – and many others – can captivate huge audiences with their guitar-playing skills, evoking various emotions and building an energetic atmosphere. For intimate gigs, an acoustic guitar can help to create a melancholic or restrained tone, while electric guitars have the power to achieve explosive melodies.

Slide guitars and Touch guitars, on the other hand, provide guitarists with more complex ways to express themselves. Other types – double-neck, twelve-string – go beyond being a novelty, and actually transform the entire process of playing guitar.

It’s fascinating to watch and listen to the very best guitar players, regardless of the types of guitars they use. It has been, and always will be, one of the most vital instruments in the world of music, enabling musicians to engage their audience in a more potent way than, say, a piano or cello.

Simply hearing the melodies produced is one thing, but actually observing a guitarist as they perform, losing themselves in the sounds they produce, is another.