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Guitar classification

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(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter  

I've been reading up on electric guitars (research for the upcoming purchase), and how they work, fit together, etc. But now I am a little confused. Is an acoustic-electric the same as an acoustic guitar with a build in pre-amp? Or is an acoustic-electric the same as a hollow bodied electric guitar? Is an acoustic-electric the same as a semi-acoustic?

Thank you, guitarnoise denizens...


   
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 lars
(@lars)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

I think of it like this:
You have different body styles and you have different pickup types. Don't think anybody really have THE correct classification scheme. For a guitar to be classified as acoustic-electric I would've said it should be possible to play it unplugged, i.e. a steel-stringed og nylon-stringed acoustic guitar with a pickup (piezo or electromagnetic w or w/o pre-amp).

Solid bodies are OK too - they are electric guitars - period.

The problem is guitars in between - Your typical hollowbody (say Epiphone DOT) would be a semi acoustic IMO. But then you have guitars like Tele Thinline - dunno where to put them. :shock:

Dont be confused by classifications - go out find a guitar you like.

Lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

At the two ends of the spectrum are the electric solid-body and the acoustic guitars. The acoustic is where it all started, with either nylon (classical guitar) or steel strings. To record or amplify these you'll need a microphone - the steel string could also have a pickup installed (either permanently or temporarily). The classical guitar has a flat, wide fretboard as against the curved fretboard of the steel string.
The next, in line, is an acoustic-electric, which is in effect nothing more than a steel-string acoustic with a built-in pickup and, possibly, a pre-amp.
Both of these types of guitar tend to have round sound holes. There are designs that use ovals and other shapes, but the vast majority are round. They also have flat tops.
The next along the line are the f-hole acoustics. These are, generally, seen in the jazz arena, although there are people like Brian Setzer, who use this type of guitar. They have full depth bodies and, usually, an arched top. Although they were around, long before pickups, you will usually find them with one or two as part of their configuration. They come with either no cut-out or one cut-out (Gibson ES175, etc.).
Then we have the shallow-bodied electric-acoustic. These are, basically, the same as the full-bodied E-A guitars, just with a body sides that are around 2" or so deep. Although they are acoustic guitars, the air-space in the body is too small to create enough volume, so they are invariably sold with pickups installed. They usually come with one cut-out (Gibson ES137) or two (Epiphone Casino).
Then we come to the semi-solid body guitars. These are, in principle, the same as the shallow-bodied E-A guitar, but have a solid wood block, running down the middle of the body. This reduces the tendency, of the f-hole acoustics to cause feedback. Example: Gibson ES335 and it's many clones
At the other end of the scale, we have the solid bodied electric - no sign of acoustic playing, here.
It's worth mentioning that my usage of electric-acoustic and acoustic-electric may not be industry standard, but I tried to differentiate the primary feature - an acoustic-electric is, primarily, an acoustic guitar.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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 lars
(@lars)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

Nylon string guitars are entirely different though.

Sure?
What about the Classicaster / Acousticaster - cool?

http://community.webshots.com/photo/29972756/1046139844034233839BxQyoa

;)
Lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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(@thegrimm)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 119
Topic starter  

Thanks. That clears it up for me. I think that (some) people who are very experienced with guitars tend to use terms interchangeably, taking for granted that the reader / listener understands the nuances.

Obviously also there are guitars that mess with standard definitions :D

But I think I have a good understanding now.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

There's a whole spectrum of how guitars are built, and a lot of shades of gray to any classification system. The two ends are pretty easy - an acoustic has a completely open sound box. A solid body has no sound box.

Acoustic F-hole guitars are open inside, so they're acoustic. When you add a pickup, though, many luthiers place a solid block of wood between the top and back right underneath the pickup (it helps reduce distortion. So now it's no longer a completely open box, and we're somewhere in the semi-hollow body territory... a hollow body with a touch of solid body design.

At the other end, solid body guitars aren't totally solid - there's routing for the pickups and electronics, which means at least some open space inside. What happens when you add a few extra open spaces to improve tone, like the chambered Les Pauls? I think this is the other extreme of semi-hollow body - a solid body with a touch of acoustic design.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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