Beginner Guitar Tips: Acoustic vs Electric

Jimi Hendrix in Studio

If you are thinking of learning guitar or getting into the guitar scene, one of the important decisions that you will need to make is whether you want to go acoustic with your guitar or electric. Both types of guitar are fantastic and offer a wide range of playing styles to experiment with. Today we are going to highlight the main differences between the two to help you make your decision.

1. The type of music you want to play
The type of music you want to play will be the greatest indicator of which kind of guitar you would like to go for. An electric guitar is best suited for rock, metal and blues music, although it can be used more creatively if you have the knowhow. However if you are seeking a guitar to sing songs with and play alone, classical guitar or ballads then acoustic is the best bet for you. You can also play acoustic versions of rock songs with an acoustic guitar which can be great fun, trying to figure out how to play a rock song on your acoustic will also help with your learning process.

2. Where you are going to play
If you are going to play your guitar with others and will have access to amps and other equipment, then you may be happy with an electric guitar. If you goal is to play in a band with a drummer, bassist and so forth then you will definitely want to go electric. If you need a guitar that will be more mobile and give you more options (such as playing by a campfire or playing in a park) then acoustic is the best bet. Acoustic guitars are great for taking to a barbeque or round to a friend’s house, if your friend also has an acoustic there is nothing more fun than strumming some tunes while sat outside on a beautiful summer’s day.

3. Your budget
An acoustic guitar can be picked up for as little as £50 whereas an electric guitar is significantly more expensive. As well as the cost of the guitar itself, electric guitars tend to be more high maintenance, requiring specialist equipment and storage to get the best out of it and keep it running for a long time, so if budget is a primary consideration for you then an acoustic guitar is probably the better option for you. But if you are serious about learning the guitar you may want to invest a little more to get a semi decent guitar, the sound quality and tone will be far superior to any low cost options.

4. Your commitment
If you are absolutely committed to the art of playing guitar then an electric guitar will give you more options, more longevity and more variety for the kind of music that you can play, whereas an acoustic guitar is quite limited by comparison. If you really want to be a guitar pro and you are fully committed then you will derive very intense pleasure from mastering the nuances and subtleties that you can achieve with electric guitar.

5. Your need for variety
Although acoustic fans will hate that we are saying this, the truth is that acoustic guitars have limits that electric guitars simply do not have. Whether you like to twang your notes, extend them or vibrate them, the electric guitar is a lifetime of new discoveries, special skills and moves that you can show off at various opportunities! (sorry acoustic guitarists, but its true!) There are also a whole host of different techniques and styles that you can adopt on the acoustic guitar, using a slider or even a loop pedal can give you hours of fun.

6. The kudos factor
Electric guitars are just plain cool and so if you are taking up an instrument to impress, win fans or show off then electric is definitely the way to go. Electric guitars look good, sound great and can make a relatively novice player seem like a superstar with a just a few choice skills. Acoustic guitars can also be very cool, however you will need some more advanced skills with an acoustic to really start attracting fans.
Choosing which guitar to start on is a big decision, there are multiple factors you need to weigh up in order to make the right choice. Everything from your preferred style of music to how much noise you can make will have weight. The best way to know is to go into your local guitar shop and ask to try a couple of guitars out, get a real feel for the difference between acoustic and electric. Whatever you decide on it is important to pursue your learning, the first few weeks are often the hardest but, like with most things, the more you put in to it the more you get out.

Ben writes about music and currently works for a guitar shop specializing in acoustic guitar strings .