The Difference Between Acoustic and Electric Guitars

When someone wants to start taking guitar lessons they’re confronted with a choice: what kind of guitar to buy. While traditionally, people begin on an acoustic, there are reasons why electric guitars may be more appropriate. All in all, the decision really requires an understanding of the difference between acoustic and electric guitars.

An acoustic guitar has the sound waves bouncing around inside the body and projects the noise out of the sound hole. This sounds obvious, but there are implications. There are no sound effects, or ways to balance your bass or treble, which means you are essentially playing without a net. Whatever you play will be heard, and there’s less room to hide. This is good for a beginner, because you need to learn this skill before moving on to an electric. This way, you’ve become accustomed to the regular conventions of playing and you’ll be more sophisticated player when you control advanced things on an electric like distortion, whammy bars and various pedals. An acoustic is a perfect thing to learn chords on and basic rhythms.
In the past, people have advised being able to tame an acoustic before learning to wield an electric. But electric guitars have benefits for beginners too. For one, the strings are lighter and for this reason be easier to play (whereas some people recommend learning on the harder instrument first…). Ultimately, if you are a devoted, dedicated student who practices a lot, you don’t need to go through this first stage of learning basics if what you really love is electric music. You’ll never be able to duplicate the sound of Metallica or ACDC on an acoustic guitar. You can play it, but it won’t sound the same. If this is the music that inspires you, then it’s reasonable just to start there and let the traditionalists play G-C-D songs first. Remember, this is on the condition that you play a lot because you’re an inspired student!

It’s worth just describing the differences of acoustic and electrics so you can decide what you want for yourself. Acoustics offer the earthy sound suitable for campfires, and other laid back times. Also, they can be amplified, even if they don’t have a built in pick-up they can be affixed afterwards, so you can play louder for more people if you decide. Electrics are usually physically smaller, but heavier (if they’re solid body) and the sound varies from company to company. Acoustic guitars have different sounds from instrument to instrument too, but the sound of electric compared to acoustic is night and day. It also depends on the amp you buy. If you’re playing with a band you’ll need an amp, whereas if you’re playing for fun, or jamming casually with friends, an acoustic will meet your needs. Ultimately, the most important factor in the sound you want to produce, and they can be looked at as two different instruments that are played the same way. Play the one you like most!

Long & McQuade is one of Canada’s biggest online music stores and offers a wide selection of guitar lessons, Gibson guitars online, electric guitars and accessories.

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