Acoustic guitar vs classical guitar: what’s the difference?

Acoustic and classical guitars side by side
(Image credit: Future)

Acoustic guitar vs classical? It used to be a no-brainer. Classical guitars were for beginners and nerdy classical types while steel-strung acoustic guitars were rocked-out by the cool kids. Seriously, can you picture any guitar hero from the end of the last century with a classical guitar? Nah, of course not.

Yet, you’d be wrong. Slash bought a José Ramirez classical for the Use your Illusion album, Eddie Van Halen famously played a nylon-strung Ovation and Eric Clapton recorded Tears in Heaven with a Juan Alvarez. We could go on…

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Simon Fellows

When Simon's childhood classical guitar teacher boasted he 'enjoyed a challenge', the poor man had no idea how much he'd underestimated the scale of the task ahead. Despite Simon's lack of talent, the experience did spark a lifelong passion for music. His classical guitar was discarded for an electric, then a room full of electrics before Simon discovered the joys of keys. Against all odds, Simon somehow managed to blag a career as a fashion journalist, but he's now more suitably employed writing for Guitar World and MusicRadar. When not writing or playing, he can be found terrifying himself on his mountain bike.