The discussion on which is better between the acoustic and electric guitar is a very subjective topic. Each person will probably have a different answer to this question and a list of different reasons. The truth is, there is no better between the two. Each has its place and each may be better in certain situations.
In the end, the acoustic guitar is only better than the electric if you deem it so. Likewise, the electric guitar may be better than the acoustic guitar if this suits your taste and playing style.
Generally, when someone asks this question, they are a beginner looking to learn which instrument to purchase. They want to make sure that they end up with an instrument that they can learn to play confidently on. When you are a beginner, there are a lot of things you don’t know and a lot of things that you don’t even know you don’t know.
If you are trying to decide whether to purchase an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, this article will help you decide. I will discuss the reasons in which an acoustic guitar is better than an electric guitar. Please understand that these reasons are my opinions and you should take them with a grain of salt.
I have played both of these types of guitars throughout my playing career and have created this list based on my preferences. If you were going to choose an acoustic guitar over and electric, these may be the reasons you would do so.
1) Sounds Better
To some people, the sound of the acoustic guitar is more pleasing to the ear. The sound from the heavier gauge strings resonating through the wooden body gives the guitar a full sound. All of this without the use of any electronic equipment or amplification needed.
When played correctly, the acoustic guitar sounds amazing and can make any song sound great. I lean towards the sound of an acoustic guitar more than I do an electric. I prefer the clean sound without the use of electrification. Different styles can be played making the acoustic guitar sound different.
Whether you are strumming the guitar or fingerpicking the guitar, it has a beautiful sound. The acoustic guitar can also be amplified if it has an installed pickup but even without it, the acoustic guitar has a great sound.
2) You Can Play It Anywhere
With an acoustic guitar, there is no need for amplifiers, pedals, cords, or any other equipment that an electric guitar may need. You can simply pick it up and begin to play it and make beautiful music no matter where you are. Even sitting around the campfire in the middle of nowhere presents the perfect opportunity to play the acoustic guitar.
If you were going to play the electric guitar, first you would need to make sure that you had an electrical outlet. You would need an amplifier in order to amplify the sound. Your guitar would then plug into the amplifier and you could finally make music.
Of course, if you don’t want your guitar to be amplified, you can always play it unamplified but it wouldn’t be heard very well. This is a great idea if you live in an apartment or need to keep it quiet.
Compare this experience to the acoustic guitar. You don’t need an electrical outlet or any kind of special equipment. You can simply pick up the acoustic guitar and begin to play it no matter where you are. This is very convenient and makes you want to pick it up more since it’s less of a hassle to get it going.
A beginner might appreciate the simplicity of an acoustic guitar set up. Since there is nothing extra needed, a beginner can pick up the guitar and focus solely on learning to play.
If you would like to add an electric guitar to your collection as you go, you will be able to decide this better after playing the acoustic guitar for a while.
The acoustic guitar is less of a hassle and allows you to enjoy it and learn it without having to worry about other items.
3) There Is Less That Can Go Wrong With An Acoustic Guitar
Since the electric guitar uses various pieces of gear to make it work, this also means that there is more gear needed. The more gear that you have, the more that could go wrong with it. When you have a complex system of amplifiers, pedals, cables, and other gear, there is bound to be something that tears up at some point.
With an acoustic guitar, there is not much that can go wrong other than the usual broken string. Of course, you will need to change strings occasionally to keep it sounding good and you may have issues with tuners going bad but there isn’t much else. String changes are a given with any guitar that you have so you will have to replace strings on electric guitars as well.
When you have a simple set up, there isn’t a lot of problems that can occur with it.
This is especially good news for a beginner because they won’t have to worry about fixing broken items or spending more money on different pieces of gear. Once you buy your acoustic guitar, you are pretty much set other than additional optional items that you might want.
The acoustic guitar brings you simplicity and this is comforting to a beginner. The simple setup allows a beginning guitarist to spend their time learning to play the instrument.
4) Less Gear Needed
As mentioned above, less gear will be needed when you have an acoustic guitar. This might mean that it will be cheaper to own an acoustic guitar. However, this isn’t always true because it depends upon the type of guitar that you purchase. If you purchase an expensive acoustic guitar, it may be even more expensive than an electric guitar with all the extra gear.
When you purchase an acoustic guitar, the only other item you will need is a case for it. If you own a half-decent acoustic guitar, I would recommend always keeping it in its case so that it will last for years. It’s also important to keep it humidified but a simple humidifier is cheap and it isn’t made up of much that could go wrong.
An acoustic guitar won’t take up much space and it’s easy to travel with since you can pick up your guitar case and go. There’s no need to lug around large amplifiers or anything else.
5) Helps You Play The Electric Guitar Better
When you learn to play guitar on an acoustic model, it will probably be easier for you to learn the electric later on. On an acoustic guitar, it is more difficult to press down the strings. It’s also more difficult to bend strings and it will help to increase your finger and wrist strength and flexibility.
If you were to learn on the electric guitar, it may be easier for you to work the fretboard but there are also other disadvantages. The electric and acoustic guitar both play a little differently. You must approach an electric guitar a little different than what you would an acoustic.
The thicker neck and the heavier strings of the acoustic guitar will set you up to play the electric guitar later on. You’ll be able to handle the thinner neck and lighter strings of the electric guitar with no problems.
6) Forces You To Play Better
Depending on how you set your amplifier up and the types of pedals that you might be using, the electric guitar can cover up mistakes more easily. With the acoustic guitar, you are forced to play better and make fewer mistakes because they will not be covered up. You will hear everything that happens on the acoustic guitar and every mistake will be loud and clear.
This will force you to practice hard and make sure that you do not make so many mistakes. If you play hard rock or use a distortion effect on the electric guitar, little mistakes here and there can go unnoticed. This is not usually the case on an acoustic guitar. Although, a seasoned guitarist can do pretty well at covering up mistakes and carrying on as if it never happened.
The point is that playing the acoustic guitar forces you to play as though mistakes matter. You won’t be tempted to just cover them up with electronics. Instead, you will be forced to practice until it makes you perfect or as close to perfect as you can get.
7) The Acoustic Guitar Is Great For Learning And Playing Rhythm
If you are a beginning guitarist, you are probably looking forward to the day that you can play like a rockstar. You dream of bending strings and sounding like the lead guitarist of a popular band on stage. However, you don’t just begin playing like a rockstar. It’s important to first learn the basics like how to keep a rhythm. An acoustic guitar is a great tool for learning to play rhythm and keep in time with the music.
All music has to keep a rhythm and the acoustic guitar serves this purpose very well. While the electric guitar may be used for lead riffs and add-ins, the acoustic guitar will be used to maintain rhythm throughout an entire song. This takes skill within itself and is important to master before you move on to more advanced lead guitar skills.
Acoustic Or Electric Guitar For Beginners?
So the question comes down to which type of guitar should I start with. This is a common question and a valid question that must be answered if you intend to learn the instrument. In general, most people are told to start with an acoustic guitar. In reality, it doesn’t matter in the beginning because you will be learning the very basics which can be done on either type of guitar.
If you are only learning the basics, the electric guitar will give you an easier pathway to mastery. The electric guitar has lighter strings on it and you can push and hold them down easier. It won’t be as painful on the fingertips as an acoustic guitar will be. This can make a big difference for a beginner and could be the thing that makes them keep going rather than quitting.
Most importantly, you should choose the type of guitar that matches your interest in music. If you know that you want to eventually play rock ‘n’ roll music on an electric guitar, then it may be a good idea to go ahead and start that way.
If you know that you only want to play rhythm guitar or in a fingerpicking style, you should probably start out using an acoustic guitar. If your taste in music changes over the years after you already have learned to play, you can then add another type of guitar to your repertoire.
Pros of choosing the acoustic guitar
- It’s cheaper. Purchasing an acoustic guitar can be a more affordable option if you choose. Unless you go with a solid wood, expensive model, the guitar you choose can be much cheaper because you will only be buying the guitar and not all of the other accessories that go along with an electric guitar.
- Less hassle. It’s nice to be able to just pick up the guitar and begin to play without having to worry about other things. For the beginner, plugging an electric guitar in and searching for the right sound can overcome the experience of actually learning the guitar.
- Translates well to the electric guitar. If you decide to play an electric guitar after you have learned on the acoustic, you will be ready to go. The things that you have learned on the acoustic will carry over onto the electric.
Pros of choosing the electric guitar
- It’s easier to play. Pushing down the strings on the electric guitar is much easier than pushing down the heavier strings of the acoustic guitar. The electric guitar also has a thinner neck which makes it easier to get your hand into positions. There is no doubt that forming chords and fingering notes is easier on an electric guitar.
- You can play quieter. This may sound strange to say with an electric guitar but the truth is, most amplifiers have a headphone jack. When you plug into the headphone jack, only you will hear the guitar music. Other people in the room may hear the slight sound of a pick hitting guitar strings but it will be nothing compared to an acoustic guitar noise. This may be important as a beginner so that you won’t annoy everyone around you.
- Not as fragile as an acoustic guitar. Most electric guitars are made out of a solid wood body and can withstand more mistreatment than an acoustic guitar. With an acoustic guitar, more care is required. Although you will want to take care of your electric guitar, it can take more of a beating than what an acoustic guitar can.
It would be hard to say that one type of guitar is better than the other but if you are looking for reasons that this might be the case for the acoustic guitar, the list above will help to answer this for you. As mentioned before, this all depends upon the person and is subjective based on taste and application.
You should choose to play the type of guitar that interests you the most. If you are drawn to the sound of the acoustic guitar then this is probably the one that you should be playing. On the other hand, if you love the sound of the electric guitar, you will want to lean towards this type.
Whatever you choose in the end will need to be the guitar that you will play and stick with. Many people end up playing both types of guitars but generally start on one type or the other. The acoustic guitar makes a great choice for the beginner because it is simple, it sounds great and there isn’t much that can go wrong with it.