Buying a guitar can be an exciting event in your life. However, to the uninitiated, the deluge of information can be overwhelming. Let a few people around you know that you are considering buying a guitar, and all of a sudden, everyone around you becomes an expert on guitars. So many people start offering advice, often conflicting. What do you do? Should you go for an acoustic or electric guitar?
This article helps you along in making the right decision regarding buying a guitar. There are many myths connected with purchasing these instruments. We will bust many myths to give you the correct picture. We guide you in a step-by-step manner to enable you to make a sensible decision when it comes to the acoustic vs electric guitar debate when the time comes.
Common Myths Busted
Here are a few common misconceptions regarding buying a guitar: the never-ending debate of an acoustic vs electric guitar:
- Myth # 1: Start with an acoustic as it will make your hands stronger.
Playing an acoustic or electric guitar requires control of the instrument. Everyone has different capacities and preferences. You can start with the type of guitar that you feel the most comfortable with.
- Myth # 2: Electric guitars are easier to play.
Electric guitars have lighter strings than acoustic guitars. However, this category of guitar can be challenging to play if the action is too high. While considering acoustic vs electric guitar, you may find an electric guitar more comfortable to play than an acoustic, only if an expert has appropriately adjusted it.
- Myth # 3: You need to read music to learn how to play the guitar.
There is an alternative to sheet music called “tablature” (tabs). These are easy to pick up. If you have a good ear for music, you may not even need tabs to be able to play the guitar.
- Myth # 4: You need to practice for hours each day.
Even if you spend several hours a day without expert guidance, you may not make much progress, whether you play an acoustic or electric guitar. However, with the supervision of a guitar teacher, you could make significant progress, with just an hour or two per week!
- Myth # 5: Your first guitar should be expensive
There is a common misconception that the more you spend on a guitar, the easier it is to play. Hence, you should be ready to shell out a lot of money on your first guitar. In reality, however, a more expensive guitar is only likely to sound better, or, maybe not. You will find an acoustic or electric guitar more comfortable to play once you learn the basics. There are several budget models on which you can learn how to play the guitar that cost $100 or less!
Types Of Acoustic Guitars
Let’s take a look at the various types of acoustic guitars:
1. Flattop Steel-String Guitars
This is the most typical variety of acoustic guitar. This type of guitar is made for strumming or fingerpicking. There are three categories of flattop guitars based on their shape: 00, slope-shoulder, and dreadnought. The main feature of these guitars, of course, is that the top is flat.
2. Nylon String Guitars
These guitars, as the name suggests, are characterized by their nylon strings. The sub-categories of these guitars are classical guitars, Flamenco guitars, and a few other variations, which may vary in shape and size, but the common factor is that they all have nylon strings.
3. Archtop Guitars
As the name suggests, this category of guitar has an arched top. An archtop guitar is more suitable for lead licks rather than strumming. It is good for playing jazz. If amplified, this guitar is ideal for playing in ensembles as a lead guitarist.
The Alternative To Acoustic Electric Guitars
Concerning the debate of acoustic vs electric guitar, here is an interesting option: the acoustic electric guitar. An acoustic-electric guitar is an acoustic guitar that has a piezoelectric or magnetic pickup or a microphone. These guitars are usually fitted with built-in preamplifiers with graphic equalizers up to six channels, although three channels are most common. An acoustic electric guitar generates acoustic sound, but the sound is also transmitted to an acoustic electric guitar amp for increased volume.
Get The Acoustic Electric Guitar Kit Advantage!
An (acoustic) electric guitar kit is ideal for getting introduced to the concept of the acoustic electric guitar. Typically, along with your guitar, you get everything you need to plug your new instrument into an acoustic electric guitar amp and start playing. That way, you don’t have to be shopping around for accessories. It is beneficial for people who do not know much yet about acoustic electric guitars. An acoustic electric guitar kit usually contains the following items:
- Acoustic electric guitar amp
- Gig bag
- Guitar strap
- Set of picks
- Extra set of strings
- External tuner if built-in one not provided
Although the extra items included in the (acoustic) electric guitar kit may not be the best quality, you can get started with them. Then, later on, you can replace some of these items with better quality ones of your choice.
Below are some useful acoustic electric guitar kit models, each of which also features an acoustic electric guitar amp:
1. Best Choice Products (Acoustic) Electric Guitar Kit
Equipped with a 4-band EQ-7545R guitar preamp and crafted with a spruce top and okoume wood back, neck, and sides.
2. Ashthorpe Full-Size Cutaway Thinline Electric Guitar Kit
Perfect for musicians-in-the-making or advanced players, this guitar features an impressive tone, standout projection and incredible sonics.
3. Vangoa Electric Guitar Kit 36 ¾ Inch
- Portable & lightweight, 36 inch 3/4 Size, suitable for outdoor perform or outgoing practice and it has full and vibrant tone.
Pros And Cons Of Acoustic Electric Guitars
An acoustic electric guitar is preferred by many as the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The advantage is that you can still listen to the guitar, unplugged. However, if you plug it into an acoustic electric guitar amp, you can hear it at a higher volume, which makes it convenient for stage performances. You can modulate the sound to enhance acoustic harmonic overtones and do much to make them sound more interesting. You can get many of the features of electric guitars in an acoustic electric guitar at a cheaper price.
There are a few drawbacks of acoustic electric guitars, however. The first downside is that you need to have a power source available if you want to plug in. You need more equipment, such as an acoustic electric guitar amp and other accessories. Because of the additional gadgets, your equipment is prone to occasional breakdowns.
Facts About Electric Guitars
Getting down to electric guitars, we are entering into rather technical territory. Let’s first consider how an electric guitar works before going into the details of different types of guitars and the case of acoustic vs electric guitar models:
a) How Does An Electric Guitar Work?
Most electric guitars are made of solid wood. Unlike acoustic guitars, the wood of electric guitars is not critical for sound generation. The main purpose of the wood in an electric guitar is to provide an anchor for the strings to be fixed.
Electric guitars work on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Six strings are stretched tightly over the length of the guitar. A device called the “pickup” is fixed near the strings. The pickup consists of magnets, which are surrounded by coils of extremely fine insulated copper wire.
When the strings are set into vibration, being composed of magnetic material, they create a magnetic flux as they vibrate against the magnetic fields of the magnets. This magnetic flux generates a small electric current in the coils surrounding the magnets. The coils are connected to an amplifier, which magnifies the signal. These amplified electrical signals are then driven through a speaker, which reproduces the signals in the form of sound waves, and the vibrating strings become audible.
b) Types Of Electric Guitars
The electric guitar enjoys a unique place among all other instruments as being present in so many different forms. There are so many variations of the electric guitar that spans across different genres and style. It is this multi-faceted nature of the electric guitar that can make it a rather tricky task to choose one. Here are some of the leading guitar types:
Solid Body Electric Guitars
Guitars in this category are made of a solid piece of wood. An excellent example of a solid body electric guitar is the Fender Stratocaster. Better sustain characterizes this category of guitars. These guitars are also less susceptible to feedback. These characteristics make this class of guitars suitable for rock and metal, although they sound good even for country and jazz as well. Some of the well-known brands of solid body guitars are:
- Fender Stratocaster
- Super Strat
- Les Paul
- Flying V
Some big names associated with solid-body guitars are Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, David Gilmour, Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Page, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, and Angus Young.
Semi-Hollow Electric Guitars
These guitars usually have an F-shaped opening on either side of the top. There is a solid block of wood that runs through the body, dividing it into two. Semi-hollow electric guitars are usually linked to blues and jazz; however, they are also used extensively for playing rock. These guitars are prone to feedback at higher volumes. There is an extremely subtle element of acoustic guitar sound in these guitars. Big names like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Dave Grohl, and Warren Haynes are associated with these guitars.
Hollow Body Guitars
There is a tendency to regard these hollow body instruments as big jazz guitars. However, these guitars are best described as being those with no woodblock that runs down the middle. These guitars have a high tendency for feedback. However, hollow body guitars are a favored choice of many jazz musicians. Although not much endorsed by pop and rock artists, rocker Ted Nugent did use such a guitar to channel the excess feedback into his musical repertoire. The Beatles also favored this guitar model (Epiphone Casino).
Advantages Of Acoustic Guitars
In discussions about acoustic vs electric guitar models, there are several advantages of an acoustic guitar. Here are a few of them:
- Cost factor
Some of the cheapest guitars are acoustic ones. It is not as if all acoustic guitars are cheap, but you need fewer accessories to play an acoustic. You can pick up an acoustic guitar and start playing without having to fiddle around with cables, amplifiers, speakers, and so on.
- Fewer distractions
You can focus on your playing with an acoustic guitar. You don’t have to bother about whether your volume is high enough or whether everything is properly connected. There is no cable to trip over while playing. Hence, you can remain more focused, with fewer distractions.
- More mobile
Acoustic guitars are light and easy to carry around. There are no extra accessories to consider. If you are suddenly called somewhere to play, you can grab your guitar and be on your way in a jiffy! In the case of acoustic vs electric guitar choice, the acoustic guitar comes out on top here.
- Easily Accessible
It is infinitely more convenient to pick up an acoustic guitar from a stand or hanging on the wall and start playing. If you suddenly get in the mood to play a little music, you can have your jam session going in next to no time!
How To Choose A Good Acoustic Guitar
Here are a few tips on how to select a suitable acoustic guitar for your needs:
- Set a budget
If you can pay thousands of dollars for a guitar, you will probably be ready to shell out a few hundred more. Even if you are a beginner, there is no reason why you should seek out the cheapest, rock-bottom model. So, do a bit of market research to set a price range for your purchase. Now, decide on the maximum and minimum limits you would like to pay. Once you have set the price limits for your new guitar, you can filter your search results to display only guitars within those price limits.
- Know your skill level
If you are a beginner, you don’t need a fully loaded model. If you get one like that, you may end up with loads of features that you don’t know how to use. On the other hand, if you have some experience, you would probably be looking at a model to upgrade what you already have. So, the guitar you choose is likely to be more advanced.
- Picking a body style
The three body styles of acoustic guitars are classic, dreadnaught, and jumbo:
Classic Style: This guitar is best suited for fingerpicking. It provides a broad spectrum of high and low tones.
Dreadnought: Due to the larger volume of the soundbox, these guitars are louder than other acoustic varieties. Dreadnought guitars are convenient for folk music, playing at home, and recording.
Jumbo: A jumbo guitar is midway between classic and dreadnought. It provides the tone of a classical guitar with the loudness of a dreadnought.
- Size considerations
Travel and mini acoustic guitars are useful if you are a frequent traveler. You may also need a smaller guitar if you are buying it for a child or someone with little hands. There are travel and mini acoustic models available to meet such a requirement.
Follow these essential tips to be able to choose a suitable acoustic guitar for your needs.
Advantages Of Electric Guitars
There is a vast range of electric guitar types and models, depending on what you want to do with them. Here are a few advantages of electric guitars that come up when we discuss acoustic vs electric guitar options:
- Easier to play
Although we cannot say this universally for all electric guitars, with a bit of adjustment, it’s easy to play an electric guitar. Once the initial adjustments have been made (get help from an experienced guitar player), playing your electric guitar should be a breeze. An electric guitar has a naturally low action, making it easier to play. It is an advantage worth considering in any comparison during acoustic vs electric guitar discussions.
- Control the loudness
If you play an acoustic guitar for hours on end, it can annoy others because the volume can’t be controlled. However, it is possible to play electric at an extremely low volume so as not to disturb others in the room who may be on the phone or trying to sleep.
- Scope of sound effects
An electric guitar enables you to modify its sound. There is an infinite number of sound effects that can be created by modulating the audio signal on an electric guitar. There are several effect pedals and effect patches available, which create all sorts of different sounds. Most amplifiers have some primary effects, such as reverb and distortion, built into their circuits.
- Different styles
You can adopt different styles of playing with an electric guitar. You can alternate between different genres of music from rock n’ roll and blues to jazz and classic rock, by just changing the sound on the guitar and modifying your playing style.
How To Choose A Good Electric Guitar
There are so many types of electric guitars available in the market. When you buy your electric guitar, you would like a good deal in terms of cost, as well as features available. Here are a few pointers to help you choose a suitable electric guitar for yourself:
- Body styles
Although there are numerous models and styles of guitars, there are three basic body styles. You can choose between solid body, semi-hollow body, or hollow body. The style that you want will depend on the type of music you expect to play.
- Imagining how you look
As a guitarist, you are likely to be performing in front of others at small or large gatherings. You would like to cut a smart image when you play. Imagine yourself holding different electric guitars, and choose one which you feel would look the best.
- Follow your dreams
Everyone passionate about guitars has their dream guitar locked away in their minds. Never lose sight of that goal. Whatever guitar you buy, always buy it with your final objective in mind, and eventually, you can make it happen!
- Getting the right tone
Every electric guitar type has a different tone, and the tone also varies from brand to brand. If you are in a shop, then you need to try different guitars until you hear a tone that you like. If you are buying online, then you need to listen to demo videos that highlight the various tones of different guitars.
What Are You Looking For?
We have discussed so much about guitars: how they work, the different types, and how to choose one. Are you looking for an acoustic or electric guitar? Are there any other alternatives (like an acoustic electric guitar)?
After reading this article, you should now have cleared any confusion on what’s available. You also know what will suit you best, acoustic or electric guitar, or even an acoustic electric guitar. You will also have a clearer picture of all the points of acoustic vs electric guitar models.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and that it helps you find the guitar of your choice. Please share experiences with us in the comments section below, with feedback and questions, if any. We would be happy to get back to you. Happy guitar playing!