Electric Guitar vs Acoustic Guitar

So what's the difference with electric guitar vs acoustic guitar?. These two instruments (which have more in common than not) are not in "competition" with each other. If you’re not familiar with an electric guitar or acoustic guitar, you may not know what makes them different. I’d like to take a few minutes to clear up some common misconceptions in looking at the differences between these two types of guitars.

First all, assuming that both instruments are using standard tuning (E A D G B E) there is no difference in how you play chords, scales, or songs. A “G” chord on an acoustic is a “G” chord on an electric. There’s no difference except in the sound of the instrument.

Electric Guitar vs Acoustic Guitar - Playability and Sound

Really, there are two main differences between an electric and an acoustic guitar: playability and sound.

You’ll often hear people say that an electric guitar is easier to play than an acoustic. There’s some truth to this statement, although it’s not quite that simple. Generally speaking, electric guitars use lighter gauge strings and, of course, use an amplifier. It’s also the case that electric guitars can be set up with lower action than acoustics (action, if you don’t already know it, refers to how close the strings are to the fretboard). So for many players, an electric guitar can be easier to start on.

However, playing an electric guitar presents its own challenges. If you’re playing at a high volume, an electric guitar can be very difficult to control. They can generate feedback quite easily and can “get away from you” if you don’t know how to control one. While acoustic guitars can certainly feed back as well, it’s generally not as much as an issue as it can be for electric guitars.

Also, while the overdrive or distortion of an electric guitar can sometimes be used to hide or mask mistakes, it’s also the case that overdrive or distortion can make some mistakes even more prominent.

That's a good segue into talking about the other difference - sound. While acoustic guitars can certainly take advantage of all of the tools that electric guitars are known for, it's generally the case that acoustic guitars have a more "pure" tone whereas electric guitars are often modified using effects processors and different types of amplifiers as well. Even the pickups are different in that typically acoustic pickups are designed to reproduce the guitar's natural sound as much as possible. Electric guitars are often modified with different pickups to achieve different sounds.

Final Words

In the end, it's not an either/or proposition and trying to look at it as electric guitar vs acoustic guitar may not be the best strategy. Personally, I use electric, acoustic, and classical guitars all the time. It simply depends on the sounds I'm trying to achieve or what the situation calls for. All of these guitars are good in their own right. You just have to understand what they can do and how to best find the sound you want.

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