GUEST POST: To Buy or Not to Buy - Electric or Acoustic Guitar

When buying a new guitar, do you go for an electric or an acoustic model? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, with suitability depending on everything from whether you’re a beginner wanting to get used to the instrument, through to the cost of equipment and the kind of music that you want to learn to play. Looking in more detail at these differences, should you opt for a traditional acoustic, or splash out a bit more on an electric guitar?

Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitars are generally better for beginners, as you get a much stronger sense of notes and your playing, compared to just relying on amplification with an electric guitar; this can be particularly important if you want to get used to playing chords, while building up your listening skills without distortion. At the same time, acoustic guitars tend to be more cost effective than electric guitars, and you won’t have to buy any additional amps and cables.

While this isn’t to say that you can’t find expensive acoustic guitars, the equipment that comes with electric models does create more of a financial investment; if you want to, you can also explore options for playing acoustic with electrical pickups and connections to an amp once you’ve become comfortable with a guitar. In terms of playing style, acoustic guitars are arguably better for those that want to learn to accompany their vocals with simple chords, rather than indulging in riffs. For the same reasons, children learning with an acoustic can build confidence by only learning a few chords when they first start playing.

Electric Guitars

The main advantage to choosing an electric guitar over an acoustic is that it’s much easier to get a good sound out of one when it’s connected to an amp; electric guitars similarly tend to be easier to play, as they have a thinner neck and strings that are closer to frets. Electric guitars are also recommended if you’re set on playing rock, metal, and punk music - beginners can particularly pick up power chords for the latter musical style fairly soon after starting to learn to play an electric guitar.

Other advantages to selecting an electric guitar include a greater versatility than acoustics when it comes to connecting to MIDI adapters and synthesisers; you can also opt to play electrics with headphones if you want to avoid making a lot of noise at home. Similarly, electric guitars can be a better choice if you’re serious about investing in equipment at the start of your playing, which can give you excellent motivation for your learning.

It’s worth visiting a local music shop to try out different electric and acoustic guitars before making your final decision. Music stores like Manns Music can also be browsed to see what kinds of guitars and accessories are available, and whether you can get deals on them; taking this approach can be particularly useful if you want to test out straps and the size of a guitar to see which is the most comfortable for you.

Lisa jane mostly plays an acoustic at live shows, but also has a Fender that she brings out for special occasions. She writes on guitar techniques and learning methods, and suggests visiting LickLibrary to find out more about learning guitar online.