15 Types of Guitars (Some you Didn’t Know Exist)

The guitar is among the most influential and popular instruments in the world. Almost every type of musical genre makes use of this instrument in some form, which has resulted in a multitude of guitar types, each designed for a specific genre of music, for a particular style, or to achieve a specific kind of sound that no other instrument can achieve.

There are multiple guitar types, including electric, acoustic, classical, fretless, travel, twelve-string, extended-range, resonator, archtop, baritone, multi-neck, hybrid, quad, harp, and cigar box guitar. Each guitar type is built for a specific purpose or sound.

There are multiple types of guitars out there, so many in fact that it is not practically possible to list them all, but there are a few guitar types that stand out from the rest due to their classical functionality or their unique qualities and attributes. Let’s explore some of the most useful, interesting, and abstract guitars out there.

1. Electric Guitars

Let’s begin with the type of guitar that has changed the realm of possibilities for the instrument and led to the inception of some of the most unique instruments in the world while being among the most versatile and useable instruments anywhere: the electric guitar.

The electric guitar comes in many different shapes and forms, but the defining feature of this instrument is that it uses magnetic pickups to transfer the vibrations of the guitar strings through electronics within the instrument to an amplifier to produce a sound.

These instruments produce an electrical audio signal that is amplified by a guitar amp and can be altered with circuitry or electronics to achieve particular tones and sounds.

Electric guitars are among the most versatile instruments ever, and the world of music would not be the same without them.

2. Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars also come in many shapes and forms, but they are defined by their acoustic nature and steel guitar strings.

These guitars make use of steel strings to increase resonance and volume, as well as produce a bright, clear, versatile tone.

Acoustic guitars can have electric pickups within them, but they are acoustic instruments that have a resonant chamber to amplify the sound they produce. The body of the instrument acts as this acoustic resonant chamber to amplify the sound of the guitar.

These instruments are very versatile and are often used in pop, country, blues, folk, and indie music.

3. Classical Guitars

Classical guitars are a form of acoustic guitar that use nylon strings and are generally smaller than acoustic guitars with a softer, sweeter tone. These instruments come from a very old design and are among the very first types of guitars ever made.

This type of guitar is typically played with finger-style techniques and is used for classical-type music, but it has also become widely used in other genres such as flamenco and other Mediterranean and European musical styles.

Classical guitars are less versatile than other types of acoustic guitars, but they produce beautiful music in the right hands.

4. Hybrid Guitars

Hybrid guitars are a relatively young type of guitar and were made to produce a unique sound that caters to specific guitar players.

The definition of a hybrid guitar is an instrument that plays and feels like an electric guitar but has the ability to sound like acoustic guitar through the use of specialized pickups while also having the ability to sound like an electric guitar by way of conventional magnetic electric guitar pickups.

This means that hybrid guitars can be played like electric guitars, or they can be used for acoustic guitar sounds and tones as well, making them more functional than most other guitar types but also less widely used than other guitar types.

5. Fretless Guitars

Fretless guitars can be acoustic or electric, but the feature that makes this type of guitar something special is the fact that they do not have any frets.

These guitars have fretless fingerboards similar to those on violins or cellos, which allows for far more freedom when playing. Most guitar players who use fretless instruments enjoy the feel of the instrument as well as the unique fretless qualities such as jitter-less slides, but there are other uses for the instruments as well.

The lack of frets means that these guitars can be used for microtonal music, and they can be played in a way that keeps them perfectly in tune all the time, as opposed to fretted guitars that are always slightly out of tune due to compromises in fret placement.

6. Travel Guitars

Travel guitars fall into a very broad category of guitars, as the defining feature of these instruments is that they are smaller than other guitars, or they are designed in a way to make them less bulky than other guitars.

Travel guitars can be electric or acoustic and are smaller than regular guitars but with the proportions of standard guitars. Some travel guitars have unique body shapes that make them very narrow or thin as well as small, to be traveled with more easily.

The guitars are lightweight, portable, and easy to play, but they do not always sound very good.

7. Twelve-String Guitars

Twelve-string guitars are another guitar type than can be acoustic or electric, but these instruments are made with twelve strings rather than the regular six strings that standard guitars are equipped with.

These twelve strings are not spaced individually, but every second string is a duplicate string of the one that came before, only one octave higher and much thinner.

This means that every regular string has a smaller octave string, which means that both strings are always played simultaneously.

This design means that twelve-string guitars are always harmonizing with themselves and sound as if two guitars are being played at once.

8. Extended-Range Guitars

Extended-range guitars are typically electric guitars, but there are some acoustic varieties as well. Extended-range guitars are those that have more than the standard six guitar strings, but each string is individually placed, unlike the extra strings on a twelve-string guitar.

These guitars can have seven, eight, nine, or more strings that are all individually spaced and played as regular strings. The purpose of these guitars is to either add lower notes or higher notes to the instrument by adding more strings, giving the guitarist more options and more notes to play with.

Extended-range guitars are very popular in heavier genres of music such as rock and metal but can be used in other styles as well.

9. Resonator Guitars

Resonator guitars are a type of acoustic guitar that was developed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars before electric amplification was invented.

These guitars have resonating mechanisms built into them to make them louder, but these mechanisms also produce a unique guitar tone that no other guitar can produce.

The different types of resonance mechanisms in these guitars sound different as well, some having more projection and loudness, and others having better sustain and a sweeter tone.

Resonator guitars are famous for blues and bluegrass music but are used by a wide array of guitar players from other genres as well.

10. Archtop Guitars

Archtop guitars are a type of electric guitar that is also known as hollow-body or semi-hollow-body electric guitars.

These guitars have a large, full-size body that is typically hollow, but they are not played as acoustic instruments and have no acoustic soundhole. These guitars have external magnetic pickups as regular electric guitars do.

The archtop guitar is so-called because the body of this guitar has a curved or arched top and back. This provides a unique tone to the instrument that is favored among blues, rock, rockabilly, and jazz guitar players.

Archtop guitars also have a moveable saddle and a rear-mounted tailpiece bridge; they often have a Bigsby-style tremolo arm and often feature F-hole style cutouts.

11. Baritone Guitars

Baritone guitars can be acoustic or electric, and they are made to be larger, longer, and more rigid than regular guitars for the purpose of using lower pitch tunings.

This guitar type is longer than regular guitars, which means that it can use thicker strings to enable the instrument to remain under tension at lower tunings. Baritone guitars also have stronger internal bracings to allow for this functionality and better tunings stability.

Almost all major guitar manufacturers produce a baritone guitar of some kind, but these instruments are not widely used due to the high difficulty of playing them and the very low tunings that these guitars use.

12. Multi-Neck Guitars

Multi-neck guitars are those that have multiple in-line necks with different purposes. The original multi-neck guitars were double-neck instruments with one standard six-string neck and another seven-string or twelve-string neck.

There are modern multi-neck guitars that are made from acoustic and electric guitars, and there are iterations that have three or more necks rather than the original two.

Every neck on a multi-neck instrument has a different purpose, be it an alternate tuning, a fretless fingerboard, extra strings, or even a different scale size to make the instrument as versatile as possible, allowing for the creation of unique music only possible on this type of instrument.

13. Quad Guitars

Quad guitars are very niche instruments that are only played by very few guitarists. These guitars have four necks that are arranged in a star pattern, with each neck pointing in a different direction.

The quad guitar was invented to be a visually shocking instrument, but it has since become a usable guitar in its own right. The guitarists who master the quad guitar play with both hands on a fretboard simultaneously.

The difference between the quad guitar and other multi-neck guitars is that each neck on a quad guitar points in a different direction, and all of the necks are usually the same type of neck rather than having a unique purpose.

These guitars are made for harmonizing and are extremely challenging to play.

14. Cigar Box Guitars

Cigar box guitars are an example of musical ingenuity. These instruments were originally made by necessity when there were no other string instruments available to be played.

The cigar box guitar is exactly what it sounds like. The original versions of this guitar were made from an empty cigar box as a resonant chamber and a broomstick or a wooden plank for a neck.

Modern cigar box guitars are more intentionally and expertly engineered than the original versions, but the premise remains the same.

The guitars typically have two or four strings, but they can be made with more, and they are usually played with a slide, but electric versions of the instrument are made with frets and played in the same way as a regular guitar.

Cigar box guitars are known for their interesting blues tone and are often associated with blues, bluegrass, and folk music.

15. Harp Guitars

Harp guitars are a little-known guitar variety that is specifically built for certain types of music and guitar players.

Most harp guitars are custom-made instruments that are not easily commercially available, but they are very interesting and highly versatile.

Harp guitars have the regular six strings of a normal guitar, but they are also equipped with any number of open, unstopped strings that can be plucked along with the playing of the regular guitar.

These strings are supported by an additional frame built into the guitar, or they can be suspended above the guitar on bracings, along with many other configurations.

The harp strings on a harp guitar are free-floating, which means that they have no backing, and they are not pressed against anything while playing.

These strings are purely plucked and are played open to provide an underlying melody to what is played on the guitar or a chordal harmonic base for the guitar to be played over.

The harp guitar is immensely challenging to master, and this instrument is only played by those who specifically need it, as it is not a widely used guitar variety.

Conclusion

There are many types of guitars internationally, each of which has been developed for a specific purpose or sound. There is a type of guitar for every musical style, and more are being developed every day.

The type of guitar that you use should be based on the music that you play and the musical range that you want to explore. Experiment with different types of guitars until you find the one that feels best in your hands, and you will have a musical companion for life!