While many types of guitars exist, there are generally two widely accepted categories — acoustic and electric. For those who’re just picking up the instrument, deciding between the two can seem impossible. But getting it right can be the difference between giving up and becoming a fantastic player. The trick to making the correct decision is to learn the similarities and differences.
At the base level, electric guitars need an amplifier, while acoustic guitars project sound alone, thanks to their hollow bodies. But Anthony P. Orlich explains that there’s a lot more to it.
They’re similar in the sense that both acoustic and electric guitars:
- Can handle rhythm and lead positions
- Are good for many playing styles
- Have the same fretboard and tuning layouts
- Have six strings
Luckily, learning one gives players the foundation for the other, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t start out with the type of guitar they plan to play for the long-haul.
Understanding the differences puts individuals in the prime position for splashing their cash on the best guitar for them, their music preferences, and their skill.
Acoustic guitars come in two varieties — steel-string and nylon string — which produce different sounds. The former offers a sharp, metallic sound that’s perfect for blues, pop, or rock music. Whereas the latter (known as classical guitars) has a more mellow sound, making it great for Latin and classical music.
Electric guitars have an innately customizable sound. By fiddling with the knobs on its body and plugging it into the amp, players can tweak the sound to their liking, adding effects like reverberation, chorus, and distortion. They’re made for pop, funk, metal, jazz, and rock music.
The string type is one of the most notable differences between acoustic and electric guitars. Not only do they feel different, but they produce distinct sounds, as detailed above.
Acoustic guitars can have nylon or steel strings, whereas electric models utilize steel. Players can choose the latter’s thickness to make playing easier/harder. The thicker they are, the richer they sound but the harder they are to manipulate.
While it’s decidedly less important than the other differences, they have distinct looks.
Acoustic guitars have little shape and color variety. Electric guitars, on the other hand, have a pretty endless supply of colors and shapes.
Acoustic versions are bulkier than electric models, which impacts the space between the strings and the string height — something that may be tricky for beginners. To get a clear sound, players require more hand strength, especially since thicker strings hurt beginners’ fingertips.
The thicker neck size, however, is great for open chords, rhythmic strumming patterns, and resonant sounds.
Electric guitars are smaller across the board, including the neck, because they don’t rely on natural acoustics to form sound. The smaller stature makes it easier to learn on as incredible hand strength and flexibility isn’t necessary.
The size lends itself to reaching higher notes as a soloist and playing bar chords.
Deciding Which is Best
Ultimately, the best guitar comes down to personal preference. However, many state considering the type of music they want to play helps them pick the perfect model.