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Acoustic Guitar vs. Electric

New guitar players who want to learn how to play the guitar usually ask themselves which is better to learn on, an acoustic or an electric guitar?

Although both of them are guitars, each has its own traits that are lacking compared to the other. Because of these, there are certain advantages and disadvantages with regards to learning on either of the two. In general, most people begin on an acoustic guitar mainly due to the fact that when buying an electric guitar you also need to buy an amplifier which is an added cost.

Personally I started out on an acoustic guitar then added an electric guitar after becoming familiar with the acoustic. In my opinion it’s best to start out on an acoustic but some people would rather start out with an electric. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Below are a few pros and cons of acoustic and electric guitars to help aid you in your decision.

Acoustic Guitar

An acoustic guitar produces sound by transferring the strings’ vibrations in the air. Sound is created when the sound waves that come from the strings of the guitar resonate through the body.

Pros of using an Acoustic Guitar

  • Since an acoustic guitar has steel strings, whatever songs you know how to play using an acoustic will also be easy for you to play using an electric.
  • Compared to the amplified sound that is expected from an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar produces naturally soothing and more calming sounds which are commonly preferred by many.
  • Playing with an acoustic guitar does not require any cables or wires plugged in. It is portable on its own, whatever the size, and does not require any power source to function.
  • Because of the steel strings, there is a distinct vibration, the resonance, that a player can feel coming from the acoustic guitar’s body to the player’s. This may or may not be preferred by everyone.
  • From plucking a single string, a rich sound can already be produced by an acoustic guitar. This is calming to the listener.

Cons of using an Acoustic Guitar

  • The steel strings can be tougher compared to the strings of an electric guitar.For beginners, during the first few weeks of strumming your fingers against steel, you may not be able to play for extended periods of time due to pain as calluses are just starting to form.
  • Playing the acoustic guitar needs more finger strength to hold down the strings when you are trying to form chords. Playing simple chords and if needed, barre chords, can be hard due to the steel strings.
  • There is more buzzing caused by the strings.
  • There are models with a wider fretboard that can be hard for beginners to learn on.
  • The acoustic guitar’s build is usually more brittle than an electric guitar’s.

Electric Guitar

An electric guitar, in order to produce a sound, uses a transducer which senses the mechanical vibrations from stringed instruments.

When the strings are plucked or strummed, the movements produce signals by giving out small electric currents in the transducer.

The electric current is carried through a series of wires and cords until it reaches the amplifier where it undergoes another process until a louder version of the signal is produced by the amp’s speaker.

Pros of using an Electric Guitar

  • Usually the width of the neck in electric guitars are made shorter compared to acoustic guitars, because of this, holding down the strings when forming a cord is much easier.
  • Another characteristic that makes playing chords with an electric guitar easier are the softer strings which makes it less abrasive and tough on the fingers.
  • Barre chords, a type of chord where you use one or more fingers to hold down several strings at a time across a single fret of the fingerboard, is also easier to play using the softer strings found in electric guitars.
  • Playing the electric guitar gives you the option to plug in headphones if you need to, like when you want to hear your music alone or to avoid disturbing people around you.
  • Accessories to enhance your guitar’s sound are available if you want some variations.

Cons of using an Electric Guitar

  • Using an amplifier is an integral part in playing an electric guitar. Basically, an electric guitar is useless without an amp. Amplifiers are usually sold separately, which means you really need to shed off the extra bucks.
  • If you have no idea on how electric guitar sounds as well as amplifiers, you may have a difficult time finding the right tone.
  • Because the electric guitar has softer strings, you may be able to play complex chords with it, but not be able to play it with an acoustic guitar due to its steel strings.
  • If you are fond of the resonance that comes off the guitar itself the electric guitar may not be for you, as resonance is achieved by tuning up our amplifier, which is not always possible.

Overall, regardless of your choice practice is needed to get the best out of your purchase. Constant use will get you familiarized with the instrument you choose.