Many aspiring guitar players have been led to believe that the natural progression is for beginners to start with acoustic guitars and then progress to electric. Conventional wisdom states that acoustic guitars are better for learning the basics, while electric guitars offer more versatility. Additionally, acoustic guitars generally require more force when fretting the notes, which supposedly gives fingers more of a workout.
While there can be a grain of truth in those statements, electric and acoustic guitars are fantastic instruments, and each has unique advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, deciding which guitar is right depends on your musical goals, playing style, and budget.
What Are the Differences between Acoustic and Electric Guitars?
Acoustic guitars produce sound through the strings' vibration that resonates within their hollow bodies. In contrast, electric guitars produce sound by the strings transmitted by the pickups and amplified by an amplifier.
Another critical difference between acoustic and electric guitars is the size. Acoustic guitars are typically larger and hollow, while electric guitars tend to have smaller body sizes and are usually solid-bodied but can also be semi-hollow (as in the case of the Gibson ES 335).
Additionally, acoustic guitars typically have fewer frets, while electric guitars have more frets to accommodate higher notes. Finally, acoustic guitars generally use thicker-gauge strings, while electric guitars use lighter strings.
How Do You Choose between an Acoustic and Electric Guitar?
Most guitar players will have at least one to suit different playing styles and music situations. However, if you must choose one, consider the following factors.
1. Style of Music You Love to Play
The style of music you prefer to play will be a significant factor in deciding between an acoustic and electric guitar. Acoustic guitars are typically used for quieter, more casual styles of music like folk, classical, and jazz. Electric guitars are better suited for louder, more aggressive styles such as rock, metal, and blues.
2. Skill Level
Besides the reasons we mentioned earlier, there's another reason why beginners typically start with acoustic guitars: they are easier to learn on. An acoustic guitar generally has no bells and whistles to distract you.
You can focus on learning to play the guitar without pickup configurations, guitar effects, and other features. Meanwhile, electric guitars can be overwhelming for beginners thanks to their vast array of options. If you're starting, it's probably best to start with an acoustic guitar.
Both electric and acoustic guitars come in many price points, and acoustic guitars are not necessarily cheaper than their electric counterparts. However, it is generally more expensive to play an electric guitar because of the extra equipment you'll need to make a sound.
Besides the electric guitar itself, you'll need an amplifier and an instrument cable. As you progress, you'll probably want to throw in some pedals too. Acoustic guitars, in contrast, can be played by themselves without the need for amplification, especially if you're still learning your basic chord shapes and scales.
When choosing between an acoustic and electric guitar, you must consider your budget, skill level, and the type of music you love playing. Acoustic guitars are great for beginners because they are relatively inexpensive, easier to learn, and can be played without amplification.
Electric guitars, however, require more equipment and can be more expensive, but they offer more versatility in sound and are very popular for genres such as rock and metal. Ultimately, choosing an acoustic and electric guitar should be based on personal preference and the type of music you want to play.
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