Acoustic vs Electric Guitar – What You Need to Know (Pros & Cons for Beginners)

Acoustic Guitars Versus ElectricOur goal here at The Sound Junky is to educate you about the many types of musical instruments to enable you to pursue your own musical path.

If it’s rock and metal that floats your boat, or if it’s country and folk that gets you swinging and tapping, you’ll need to tap into your inner-self to discover what your guitar of choice is going to be.

Here, we’ll show you that it’s less about the guitar you choose and more about what gets you playing.

Let’s delve into the differences between an acoustic and an electric guitar and how those differences can impact your music groove!

 

What is an Acoustic Guitar?

An acoustic guitar has a hollow body that depends on steel or nylon strings to create vibrations to amplify sound.  Acoustic guitars can come in many body shapes and sizes, and most importantly, they don’t require any electric components to be heard when playing.

 

What is an Electric Guitar?

An electric guitar hasElectric Guitar a solid body that requires amplification when playing.  The ability to change the sound of your guitar is much easier with an electric since you can play with distortion and effects.

Additional accessories can be implemented, such as pedals, and the aesthetics and finish options are practically endless since they don’t affect the overall sound.

 

Acoustic VS Electric: General Differences

Instead of doing a pros and cons list, we’ll compare the obvious advantages and disadvantages of acoustic and electric guitars.  Not only will you be able to identify iconic features of both guitars, but you’ll be able to have a better understanding of which type of guitar will best suit your personal tastes.

 

1

Hardware/Electrical Accessories

Electric Guitar AmpThe acoustic guitar is obviously going to have the upper hand here.  It requires no amplification to be heard.  Traveling or taking your guitar to various places to play requires only the guitar and perhaps a case to transport a few essentials such as picks, tuner, etc.

On the other hand, an electric guitar requires an amp to be heard.  This means not only having to purchase an amp, but also the necessary cables to plug in.  The amp may also have a tuner built in, and some basic controls to change and balance effects and sound.

As your skills progress, pedals may be introduced, and before you know it, you have a complete collection of accessories for your guitar that will continue to grow as your music interests do.  However, this can quickly become very expensive.

 

2

Body Shape/Size

Electric guitars can be significantly smaller in size than acoustics, and they are much slimmer.  Since their shape and size don’t affect sound, they can be as quirky or traditional in shape and appearance.  They can have funky cutouts and flash finish options.

Because acoustics have a hollow body, they are much thicker, wider, and larger.  Their necks are also thicker and wider than electric guitars. However, they can also come in various shapes and sizes from minis and parlors to concerts, dreadnoughts, and even grand jumbos.

 

3

Strings

Depending on the type of acoustic guitar you have, it will take either nylon or steel strings.  Steel strings for an acoustic guitar mainly consist of brass, bronze, and phosphor bronze.

Electric guitars use magnetic pickups that require strings with a high iron content.  Several alloys can be used, but the most common are pure nickel, nickel-plated, and stainless steel.

 

4

Sound

Volume Controller on Electric GuitarAn acoustic is going to provide authentic acoustic intonation and sound.  Tonewoods, strings, and hardware used can affect resonance and intonation.  Whether you’re picking or strumming, you’ll have that iconic guitar goodness from your acoustic.

Electric guitars are versatile when it comes to sound.  Because of the use of an amp and other accessories, you can alter, add effects, and enhance the sound.  There’s practically a limitless opportunity for sound expansion and modification.

It used to be said that acoustics are only good for country and playing along with vocals, and electrics were only heard in rock and metal.  As music is always evolving, there are no hard and fast rules anymore.

Yes, they’re still good for the conventional music genres they pair well with, but we challenge you to disrupt the status quo and seek out how you can change things up with your unique tastes!

 

5

Price

Dollar SignIt’s no secret that beginner acoustic guitars are cheaper than electric ones.

If budget is an issue starting out, a decent acoustic guitar for around $100 is a great place to start.

However, you can also find cheap electric guitars for under $100 if you’re set on amplifying your tunes for the entire neighborhood.

Although acoustics are generally cheaper than electric models, high-end ones can easily give electric models a run for their money.

Both types of guitars can cost into the thousands.

 

 

Similarities Between Acoustic & Electric Guitars

Although there are many differences, there are also similarities.  The core features of the acoustic and electric guitar remain the same.

  • Body
  • Neck/frets/inlays
  • Headstock with tuners
  • Nut
  • Bridge
  • Six strings

 

Which Type of Guitar is Best for a Beginner?

There’s no bottom line when it comes to determining which guitar is best to start with.  There are multiple factors to take into consideration when deciding between electric or acoustic.

Some things to consider are:

  1. What is the music genre you’re interested in playing?
  2. Are you playing for yourself?
  3. Will you perform on-stage or in large arenas?
  4. Will you be traveling with your guitar?
  5. Are you limited to a budget?

 

1

The Realities of an Acoustic or Electric Guitar

Acoustic GuitarAn acoustic guitar is a classic, and it’s one that you will never get tired of playing.  It’s a practical instrument that can be taken anywhere and to pick up and play with ease.  You can easily perform for friends and family in the comfort of your home, at a campfire, beach, or even in a school auditorium.

Even better, there’s an acoustic guitar for everybody in any budget.  However, sound projection won’t be as impressive as an electric guitar if you need to perform on-stage in an open area, and the strings and large body will take some getting used to.

An electric guitar is an excellent instrument to start off with.  They can be as low as $100 to start off with, and their light strings with low action will be easier to get through the learning curves.

You can adjust the volume to practice in your room in private, or you can set it up to disrupt the entire household – or pleasure them with your tunes as we like to put it.  The ability to alter the sound is expansive, and you can uncover your passion for rock or country pop as your skills progress.

However, plugging in and hauling all your gear can be deterring if you’re wanting to be a “couch player” or share your skills outside of base camp.

 

2

A Beginner’s Plan to Plan Ahead

Think about your practice sessions.  Which guitar will help you to achieve your music goals?  Staying goal-oriented about the long-run can offer more perspective.

You’ll also want to think about your practice schedules.  Choose the guitar that offers more practical realities to ensure your practice sessions are a success.  Measuring your progress should also include re-evaluation on your determination to continue playing and expanding your skills.

Finally, you should know that there is not a single guitar out there that won’t fail in one way or another on you at some point in time.  You’ll have to attack your problems with a mindset to learn the ins and outs of your guitar.

Whether it’s restringing, upgrading pickups, or figuring out how to adjust the truss rod, it’s all part of your music path.

 

Explaining Popular Guitar Myths

There will be a lot of confusing information to filter through if you’re new to guitars.  When it comes to acoustic and electric gits, here’s the one’s we’ll address:

“Electric guitars are easier to play for beginners.”

“Beginners should start with acoustic guitars because their fingers will toughen up to play an electric guitar.”

While both myths may have a semblance of truth to them, to take them at face value could be detrimental to your music path and your wallet.

However, each guitar has their own pros and cons.

The electric guitar is easier to play with its light gauge strings, low action, and smaller bodies.  It requires little touch to produce sound since the amp manages volume control.

However, the plugging in and use of extra accessories may quickly complicate playing or make it a hassle when all you want to do is pick up and play.  This can easily discourage playing for beginners.

It’s also true that acoustic guitars can toughen up fingers and strength to make playing an electric easier.   Sound is dependent on the soundboard’s vibrations created by picking/plucking or strumming the strings.  Sometimes action is higher requiring more pressure to be applied.

But, many beginner players find it much easier to pick up as it’s instantly ready to be played.

 

There’s No Bottom Line

There’s no rule that says you can’t play an electric guitar if you buy an acoustic one and vice versa.  Remember, the core essentials of both guitars are the same.

You’ll have to play around and figure out how to use the on-board controls, amp, and any other effects pedals you purchase, but that’s all part of the fun and learning your groove.

While both guitars are very different creatures, they’re part of the same breed after their own kind.  We encourage you at some point in time that you buy both.  No guitar collection can be complete if you haven’t strummed them all!

While I don't have an arts degree in music, I have spent enough time around musical instruments & musicians to pass on some useful information. When I'm not rocking out to a sick beat on my stereo, you will find me sitting on a bean bag, in the corner of my room with a guitar trying to emulate the prowess of the great Mr Eric Clapton.