Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

When you’re first stepping into the vast world of guitar playing, one of the earliest decisions you’ll need to make is the type you want to start with: acoustic or electric. It’s a pivotal choice that can shape your learning journey, musical style, and overall experience with the instrument.

Both acoustic and electric guitars share many similarities. They both have six strings, come in various sizes and shapes, and are played using the same basic techniques. However, their differences are just as significant.

Each has a unique sound, feel, and role in music, which may align more closely with your personal preferences and goals.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into these two types of guitars. Exploring their essentials, the sounds they produce, their playability, and how your favorite music genres might influence your choice.

By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding to help you decide which guitar could be the right fit for you. Let’s dive in!

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Understanding the Instruments

Before we delve into the specifics of each type, let’s take a moment to understand the essentials of both acoustic and electric guitars.

Acoustic Guitar Essentials

At its core, an acoustic guitar is a standalone instrument, meaning it doesn’t require any additional equipment to produce sound. It’s built with a hollow body that amplifies the vibrations from the strings, creating a rich, full sound that can fill a room.

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each contributing to its unique tonal characteristics. This can range from jumbo to mini, varying in size from large to small respectively.

The materials used, such as the type of wood for the body, neck, and fretboard, also play a significant role in the sound and feel of the instrument.

Electric Guitar Essentials

In contrast to its acoustic counterpart, an electric guitar relies on an amplifier to produce sound. The strings’ vibrations are picked up by magnetic pickups, converted into an electrical signal, and then amplified.

This allows for a wide range of tones and effects, which can be manipulated using pedals and other equipment.

Electric guitars typically have a solid body, although semi-hollow and hollow body models also exist. They are generally easier to play, thanks to a thinner neck and lighter gauge strings. The choice of wood, pickups, and hardware can all influence the sound and playability of an electric guitar.

Understanding these basics will not only help you appreciate the craftsmanship behind these instruments, but also guide you in making an informed choice based on your personal preferences and musical goals.

Acoustic Guitar In A Studio.

The Sound Factor

One of the most defining differences between acoustic and electric guitars lies in the sounds they produce. This isn’t just a matter of volume or tone, but the overall auditory character and versatility each offers.

Acoustic vs Electric Guitar: The Sounds

The acoustic guitar produces a natural, organic sound. Its hollow body resonates with the vibration of the strings, creating a rich, full-bodied tone. Depending on the size and construction of the guitar, the sound can be warm and mellow, or bright and punchy.

The acoustic guitar is often associated with folk, country, blues, and singer-songwriter genres due to its raw and unfiltered sound.

On the other hand, the electric guitar offers a wider array of sounds and tones, thanks to its electronic components. It can produce clean, crisp tones or distorted, heavy sounds.

By adjusting the volume and tone knobs on the guitar, using different pickups, or adding effects through pedals, you can drastically change the sound of an electric guitar. This makes it extremely versatile and suited to a variety of genres, from rock and metal to jazz and pop.

Acoustic Audio Sample

In this audio sample below, you can hear the natural and warm sound that the acoustic guitar makes. It produces a decent amount of volume on its own as well.

Electric Audio Sample

In this audio sample, you will hear the sound of an electric guitar with distortion. This is run through an amplifier to produce the effect and volume.

Choosing Your Instrument Based on Your Music

Music is a deeply personal journey, and your guitar should align with the tunes that inspire you the most.

What Kind of Music Do You Like?

Your favorite genres and artists can heavily influence your guitar choice. Ask yourself: What kind of music do I see myself playing? Which musicians inspire me, and what instruments do they use?

Choose Your Genre!

Certain genres naturally lean towards one type of guitar. If you’re a fan of folk, country, blues, or singer-songwriter styles, you might find the acoustic guitar’s rich, unfiltered sound to be a perfect match.

On the other hand, if rock, metal, jazz, or pop fuels your passion, the versatility and wide tonal range of an electric guitar could be just what you need.

Genres for Acoustic vs Electric Guitars

To give you an idea, here are some genres typically associated with each type of guitar:

Acoustic Guitar Genres:

  • Folk
  • Country
  • Blues
  • Singer-Songwriter
  • Classical

Electric Guitar Genres:

  • Rock
  • Metal
  • Jazz
  • Pop
  • Blues (Electric blues has a distinct sound from acoustic blues)

Remember, these are not hard-and-fast rules. Many artists successfully bend and break these norms, creating unique sounds. The goal is to select an instrument that aligns with your musical tastes and inspires you to play.

Electric Guitar in a stand.

Ease of Learning and Playability

The ease with which you can learn and play a guitar is an essential factor, especially for beginners.


Acoustic guitars, with their thicker strings and higher action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard), can be a bit challenging for beginners. Your fingers may hurt initially until you develop calluses.

However, learning on an acoustic can build finger strength and precision, which can be advantageous in the long run.

Electric guitars, on the other hand, usually have thinner necks and lighter strings, making them easier to fret and play. Especially for those with smaller hands or less finger strength. The lower action can also make techniques like bending and vibrato more manageable.

Finding the Right Feel

The ‘feel’ of a guitar is highly subjective and can greatly influence your enjoyment and progress. It’s about how comfortable the guitar is in your hands, how it responds to your touch, and how it inspires you to play. This is where personal preference plays a significant role.

Which Guitar Is Easier to Learn On?

There’s a common belief that starting with an acoustic guitar makes the transition to electric easier later on, thanks to the strength and technique you develop. However, if the music you love features electric guitar prominently, starting with one might keep you more engaged and motivated.

In the end, both acoustic and electric guitars have their own learning curves. It’s about finding the one that feels right to you and keeps you excited about your musical journey.

Choosing the Right Size

When choosing a guitar, size matters! Not just for comfort, but also for sound and playability. It’s crucial to find a guitar that fits your body and playing style to ensure a smooth and enjoyable learning experience.

Acoustic vs Electric Guitar – Small Guitar Syndrome

“Small Guitar Syndrome” refers to the common misconception that beginners, especially children or people with smaller frames, should start with a smaller guitar.

While it’s true that a properly sized guitar can make playing more comfortable, going too small can compromise sound quality and make it harder to play correctly.

Most adults can handle full-sized guitars, be it acoustic or electric. Acoustic guitars come in various shapes and sizes, from larger dreadnoughts and jumbos to smaller concert and parlor styles. Electric guitars generally have a more consistent size, but the thickness of the neck can vary.

If the guitar feels too big or small in your hands, it can hinder your progress and enjoyment. So, choose a size that feels comfortable, allows you to reach the frets and strings easily, and produces a sound that you love. Remember, the goal is to find a guitar that feels like an extension of your own body.

Choosing a Guitar That Motivates You

The path to mastering the guitar is a journey. It’s not just about the technical aspects; it’s about choosing an instrument that speaks to your heart and inspires you to play every day.

Choose Something That Inspires You!

Whether it’s the warm, resonant sound of an acoustic guitar or the versatile, electrifying tones of an electric guitar! The instrument you choose should stir up excitement and passion within you.

Does the thought of strumming raw, unfiltered melodies on an acoustic guitar fill you with anticipation? Or does the idea of rocking out and exploring a myriad of sounds on an electric guitar make your heart race?

Consider what makes you feel inspired and motivated. Perhaps it’s the guitar your favorite musician plays, the tone that gives you goosebumps, or even the aesthetic appeal of the instrument. Your guitar should be something that you’re proud to pick up, play, and eventually master.

Remember, music is an emotional experience. The best guitar for you is the one that makes your heart sing just as much as your fingers do.

The Importance of Trying Out the Instrument

Investing in a guitar is a significant decision, and one of the best ways to ensure you’re making the right choice is by trying before you buy.

Acoustic vs Electric Guitar: Try Before You Buy

Every guitar is unique, even those of the same model and brand. They each have their own ‘feel,’ sound, and character. Therefore, it’s essential to get a hands-on experience with a guitar before purchasing it.

If you can, visit a local music store and try out various acoustic and electric guitars. Pay attention to how they feel in your hands, how they sound to your ears, and how they resonate with your musical spirit.

Don’t be shy to spend time with each instrument. Play some simple chords, try out different techniques, and listen to the tones they produce.

If you’re unable to visit a store, consider renting a guitar first or borrowing one from a friend. Online reviews and tutorials can be helpful, but nothing beats the personal experience of holding and playing the guitar yourself.

This hands-on approach can make all the difference in finding a guitar that not only meets your needs, but also inspires you to play and grow as a musician.


Choosing between an acoustic and electric guitar is a personal decision that depends on a myriad of factors! Your musical tastes, your comfort and playability preferences, the sounds that inspire you, and the size that suits you best.

It’s about finding a guitar that feels like an extension of your own body, one that resonates with your musical vision and encourages you to pick it up and play every day and be creative.

Ultimately, the journey of learning guitar is a rewarding and personal experience. Take your time, explore your options, and let your heart guide your decision. The joy of making music awaits you.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!