If you love the guitar sound and would like to learn how to play this polyphonic instrument, you have probably wondered if you should start with an acoustic or with an electric guitar. In this article, I am going to outline the pros and cons of both instruments, so that you can make an informed choice.
The guitar is a fantastic and versatile instrument. You can play it by yourself, strumming and singing or you can join a band for even more fun. Sure, you need to practice for some time (usually years) if you want to become a good performer. Still, if you study hard, you can see the first results even after the first few months.
No matter if you opt for an acoustic or electric instrument, it’s important to receive some proper education. When I started playing the guitar, I took about three years of classes before moving to more self-taught oriented studies. That gave me the right basis, including the correct grip approach, left-right hand coordination and playing techniques.
The Electric Guitar
Generally speaking, the electric guitar is used in music genres like rock, heavy metal and blues. So, if your idol is Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai this is probably the best choice for you.
The electric guitar is made by a solid wood body, a neck, the string mechanics and electric pickups (usually two), mounted on the centre of the body. The sound of the guitar depends on many factors such as the quality of the electronics, the type of wood and the gauge of the string.
The electric guitar has to be connected to an amplifier with an unbalanced audio cable. The amplifier plays an important role in shaping the sound of the instrument: if you use a transistor amplifier, the sound will be edgy and “metal”, while with a valve instrument you’ll get warmer sounds, great for blues and classic rock.
The Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar is used as a harmonic or melodic instrument. This means that you can play chord progressions or pick single notes. If you like ballads, classic and alt rock or country and fingerstyle then this is the perfect instrument for you.
Also, if you are a singer, you can perform your favourite songs using your voice and strumming the guitar. If you become good at that, you can build a repertoire and try to get gigs as a solo singer-performer.
An acoustic guitar is made by a hollow wooden body, a neck and string mechanics. The quality of the instrument depends on the materials used and it’s directly proportional to the expertise of the manufacturer. When you buy your first acoustic guitar, don’t go for the first price products: low quality instruments may have problems that you cannot be aware of (especially if you are a beginner) such as tuning issues or bad resonances.
In The End: Which One Should I Choose?
Choose an electric guitar if:
- You love rock and blues music
- You want to play in a band
- You can practice at high volumes
- You have a good budget to buy all the gear
- You like specific techniques (for example: tapping)
- You have a passion for guitar solos and want to emulate your guitar heroes!
Choose an acoustic guitar if:
- You love acoustic music, country, ballads or specific styles like flamenco or fingerstyle
- You sing and would like to accompany yourself with an instrument
- You like to take your guitar with you everywhere and be able to play wherever you want
- You are a beginner and are still undecided
- You can’t practice at high volume levels
- Or… if you want to become the next Ed Sheeran!