In the world of music, there are three main types of guitars, and picking a guitar from one of the three categories is dependent on the style you choose to play. To break it down simply for beginners, it’s important to decide whether you are looking to purchase an acoustic or an electric guitar.
Steel string Acoustic and classical guitars look very identical, but both feel and sound completely different. While both types are technically acoustic guitars, steel string guitar strings are obviously made of steel, and produce a big, bright, brash tone. One the other hand classical strings are nylon and sound mellow. If you want to play acoustic rock, such as Bob Dylan, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, etc. you’ll most likely want to look into purchasing a steel string guitar. If you want to play more of a Spanish style or traditional type of music then you’ll want to look into the classical guitar. Steel string guitar necks are narrower and longer than classical guitar necks which means that it’s a little easier to fingerpick on a classical guitar and easier to play common chords on the steel string.
Electric guitars come in types depending on the pickups they have. Pickups are like microphones that literally “pick up” string vibrations when you are playing. Pickups are the bar shapes under the strings in the area where you strum the guitar. Two types are single-coil pickups and humbuckers. Single-coil pickups are the narrow, and tend to have a brighter tone generally considered to be the best-sounding pickups for clean guitar playing. Humbuckers sound great with distortion, so they are the pickups of choice for the hard rocker style. But also keep in mind, when you are purchasing an electric guitar you will also need to purchase an amplifier as well.
Last but certainly not least, you also want to make sure you purchase a guitar that is the right size for you or whoever will be playing it. Guitars that are too big feel awkward when you place your strumming arm over the top of the body. If purchasing a guitar for a younger child there are ½ and ¾ sized guitars available, it may be a good idea to have them test it out before purchasing the guitar just to make sure it feels right for them.