Acoustic Guitar vs. Electric Guitar
Which type of guitar is the right one for you?
Guitars are one of the most beautiful instruments in the world of music. They feature in just about every genre of music and often inspire music enthusiasts to take the leap and become budding musicians. Whether you’re serenading a sweetheart or enjoying a jam session with a few friends, the humble guitar always seems to steal the show. But with so many guitar options out there, it can be quite tough to decide which guitar – acoustic or electric – is right for you. Here’s a quick summary to help you make the best pick.
Whether it’s Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind or Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, almost every song nowadays is covered on an acoustic guitar. So, if you choose an acoustic, you’re in good company. You’re also not limited to a genre of music. The acoustic guitar features just about everywhere, from rock ‘n’ roll, country and classical to hip-hop and pop.
An acoustic guitar has a hollow sound box which resonates the sound of the strings. The semi-acoustic versions lie somewhere between an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar and are used mostly during live performances where they are connected to an amplifier for more sound. The shape or cut of the sound box also differs between acoustic guitar models. Most have a round cut near the neck, while others have two F-shaped cuts on either side of the strings that give the guitar a “horned” appearance. The body shapes of guitars also differ. There’s the dreadnought, the jumbo, the jumbo auditorium, the parlor and many more.
Acoustic guitars are usually a bit cheaper than electric guitars, but higher-end and custom models from Gibson, Fender and other big companies can be expensive. If you’re a beginner guitarist, we suggest opting for a quality acoustic guitar to learn the ropes. Once you’re more comfortable and have started developing your style, the (guitar) world is your oyster.
Why choose an acoustic guitar?
Popular opinion says acoustic guitars are great for beginners because they are more difficult to play. And training your fingers to move (and develop calluses) on nylon strings will see you transition more easily to an electric guitar in a few years’ time. You see, the wood top of an acoustic guitar must vibrate to project the sound. This requires heavier gauge strings along with slightly firmer picking and fingering.
The body of the acoustic guitar is much larger than the electric guitar and usually has a thicker neck to support the tension of the heavier strings. Acoustic guitars are also less intrusive than electric guitars (with all the additional gear). They take up less space and chances are you won’t get any noise complaints from neighbors.
When you first pictured yourself as a guitarist, we bet you saw a stadium packed with adoring fans looking on as you effortlessly shredded an electric guitar. The electric guitar sure does look like it gives you immediate stage cred, but you’ll probably have to master an acoustic guitar first.
Electric guitars work only when they are connected to an electric source which produces sound, like an amplifier. They’re usually sleeker and heavier than acoustic guitars. Instead of a sound box, the body is made from solid wood with an electric layout underneath it to carry sound. The sound is carried by pickups which are present on the body of the guitar. There are two types of pickups – humbucker and single-coiled.
The tone of the electric guitar depends mostly on the arrangement of pickups on the body. Guitars like the Gibson Les Paul have a heavier sound, which is suited to hard rock. Guitars like the Stratocaster have excellent tones for playing the blues. The neck length and width also play an important role in determining the sound of the guitar. Electric guitars can be connected to different types of pedals and mixers operated by foot to produce a variety of different sounds.
Electric guitars work out slightly more expensive than acoustic guitars because of all the additional gear needed. But you don’t need to buy it all at once. If you’re in the market for your first electric guitar, opt for a reliable, cheaper option and build your setup piece-by-piece. Cheaper electric guitars often give musicians more opportunity to tinker and fix things that go wrong themselves. What better way to get to know the electric guitar?
Why choose an electric guitar?
Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play, assuming they are properly adjusted, because they have a smaller body, thinner neck, and use lighter gauge strings. The pickups and amplifier do all the work of projecting the sound, so a lighter touch along with lighter strings makes it easier to play. An electric guitar needs to be plugged into an amplifier, which must be turned on before playing. For some, the extra effort to carry equipment around, plug it into an amplifier and turn it on may be enough to keep them from playing as often or taking advantage of a spontaneous moment to pick it up and play. If you’re living with other people or your neighbors are sensitive to noise, you’ll need to carefully consider before you purchase an electric guitar.
Acoustic guitars and electric guitars are two of the most common types of guitar found in the world, and most famous guitarists play both to enjoy a wide range of sound. The three most important things to remember when purchasing a guitar are:
- Have a budget in mind and stick to it.
- Don’t buy it unless you have tried and tested it.
- The best guitar for you is the one you desire to play the most.
If you’re still stuck on choosing the right guitar for you, the best man to talk to is MI Online’s Scott Henderson. You can catch his online course, Scott Henderson’s Approach to Guitar Improvisation, where you’ll be able to ask him directly.