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Acoustic Vs. Electric Guitars: Weighing in the Pros and Cons

Acoustic Vs. Electric Guitars
If you're a beginner learning to play the guitar, then you might have some confusion regarding which guitar to choose-acoustic or electric. This Melodyful post talks about the merits and demerits of each. Have a look!
Mukulika Mukherjee
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
Did You Know?
The most obvious difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar is that while an acoustic guitar has a sound hole, an electric guitar does not have one.
The first question that comes to your mind when you wish to learn playing the guitar is should you opt for an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? There are many differences between an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, with the most obvious being the lack of electricity needed to play an acoustic guitar. With an electric guitar, no electricity or a power outage means you will not be able to play the guitar.

However, this is just one of the few factors that you should take into consideration while buying a guitar. There are a number of other factors you should take into consideration while deciding on which guitar to buy, and this Melodyful article is an effort to help you make an informed decision, as it tells you about the distinct qualities of each.
Acoustic Guitar
Classical acoustic guitar
An acoustic guitar is hollow, and is characterized by the presence of a sound hole that you see on the face of the guitar. It has six strings and produces a loud sound when you strike the chords. Acoustic guitars are relatively larger than electric guitars.
In an acoustic guitar, the body of the guitar is hollow, that helps in amplifying the sounds the strings produce. Due to the hollow body, acoustic guitars tend to be larger than their electric counterparts, though they are not necessarily heavier.
Young man playing guitar
It is possible to electronically amplify an acoustic guitar by adding pickups or microphones to the guitar body. Pickups are usually added under the bridge saddle of the guitar. When pickups are added to an acoustic guitar, it is known as an electric acoustic guitar.
Woman playing guitar
✔ Since a steel-string acoustic guitar is relatively difficult to play, it is widely believed that once you learn to play something on an acoustic guitar, you can easily play it on any other type of guitar.

✔ The sound of an acoustic guitar is naturally loud, and you do not need to use amplifiers. The air in the hollow region acts as an amplifier.
✔ Even though the sound emitted from an acoustic guitar is loud, most people find it far more soothing than the distinctly different sound quality of the electric guitar.

✔ Since there is no additional cost of purchasing an amplifier and electric cables, an acoustic guitar is relatively less expensive.
✔ Since you do not need an amplifier to play this guitar, you can play it on the go.

✔ The soothing sound of the acoustic guitar is ideal for singing along.
Acoustic guitar strings
Acoustic Guitar Strings
✘ An acoustic guitar is more difficult to play, as the strings are tougher. Also, playing an acoustic guitar over a longer period results in calluses on the fingers.

✘ Playing an acoustic guitar takes more effort.

✘ The wider fretboard makes it difficult for beginners to hold the guitar for long.

✘ The strings are easily broken.
Electric Guitar
Yellow electric guitar with cable plugged
An electric guitar uses electronics to amplify the sound produced from plucking the strings. The sound is routed to an amplifier or mixer, and played back via a speaker. Electric guitars are usually solid, and do not feature a sound hole. Thus, they are typically thinner than acoustic guitars, though they tend to be heavier.
Since electric guitars basically produce signals that are converted to sound by pickups, it is possible to use devices or circuits to change or alter the sound produced. Hence, effects such as reverb and distortion, which are not possible with an acoustic guitar, are possible while playing an electric guitar.

Also, due to the lack of a sound hole, it is not possible to play electric guitars, or rather, hear the sound produced by electric guitars properly, if they are not plugged in to an amplifier.
Male electric guitar player
✔ Electric guitars are easier to play as the cords are softer.

✔ You can plug earphones to your amplifier, causing less disturbance to the people around you.

✔ It is easier to learn playing barre chords because of the soft strings.

✔ Electric guitars are best for guitar solos and rock music.
Plugged in electric guitar
✘ An electric guitar is of no use without an amplifier and cable, which makes it more expensive.

✘ Picking up a note is difficult in an electric guitar, because the sound is not soothing.

✘ Learning to play a tone on an electric guitar does not mean that you can play the same on an acoustic guitar.

✘ You need power supply to play an electric guitar, which makes it difficult to play on the go.
The electric guitar and the acoustic guitar both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. It is recommended to learn to play the acoustic guitar before you start playing on an electric one, but this is not a rule. Since the investment for an electric guitar is much higher as compared to an acoustic guitar, most pundits advise buying an acoustic guitar first.