Acoustic Guitar or Electric Guitar

Should New Guitarists Go Acoustic or Electric?

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Four things to consider before you buy your first guitar

This is one of the most common questions we get asked. The answer really depends on your budget, musical taste, and what you want to accomplish as a guitarist. Here’s a quick rundown on the things to consider before making your decision.

1. What do you want to play?

If you’re you’re into country blues, folk music, bluegrass, fingerpicking, or strumming chords, an acoustic guitar is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you want to play rock, heavy metal, Chicago blues, rockabilly, or do a lot of lead guitar playing, an electric guitar is more likely what you’re looking for.

2. Do you plan to mostly play solo or in a band?

An electric guitar usually sounds best in a band setting. An acoustic guitar is ideal for back-porch jams, either played solo or with other acoustic instruments. If you want to sing and accompany yourself on guitar, an acoustic will also serve you better than an electric guitar. For sheer versatility and play-anywhere convenience, an acoustic is hard to beat.

If you answered “both” to this question however, consider an acoustic-electric guitar. Unplugged it has all the attributes of a standard acoustic guitar. But thanks to a built-in pickup and preamp, an acoustic-electric is easy to plug into a PA system or guitar amp when you’re playing with a band.

3. What’s your budget?

While you can find budget-friendly starter guitars in both categories, keep in mind that you’ll need to spring for an amplifier when you go electric. Factor in add-ons such as effects pedals and potential upgrades to the pickups and tuners, and an electric guitar will likely be a bigger investment in the long run.

4. Do you plan to transition from one type of guitar to the other?

Most players agree that as a beginning guitarist, it’s considerably easier to switch from an acoustic to an electric than the reverse. The finger conditioning and chording skills you’ll develop on an acoustic guitar will make the the switch to an electric with its lower, faster action that much easier later on.

Still not sure?

We feel your pain. Most of the guitarists here at Musician’s Friend play both acoustic and electric guitars and typically own a couple of each. If you can’t decide, give one of our Gear Heads a call at 800-449-9128 and we’ll help you weigh the pros and cons and get you hooked up with the guitar that best suits your aims and budget.

Want to know more?

Read our Best Guitars for Beginners to get started on your quest for a great starter instrument.

If you’ve already settled the question about whether it’ll be an electric or acoustic model, you’ll find our in-depth guitar buying guides are a great resource for digging deeper into each type as well as the extras such as amps and effects.

If you don’t know the difference between a single coil and humbucker pickup or why a solid spruce top on an acoustic really matters, the following guides are for meant you:

Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide
Electric Guitar Buying Guide

Tags: Electric Guitars Acoustic Guitars


# Robbie Goldtop 2014-11-14 11:07
If you are a true burgeoning guitar player, you will become increasingly obsessed with it because the desire to have a guitar in your hands as much as possible is what makes you into a guitar player. And whatever guitar is the source of that inspiration is the right guitar to start on because that guitar will keep you coming back to it (or playing it, but imagining your dream guitar). Bottom Line: The passion for handling guitars is what makes guitar players. And (especially at the beginning) it hurts your fingers so if you don’t have that burning desire, you’ll probably end up give it up before long.
# ricky 2014-11-14 02:17
acoustic every time , i teach ,and my thoughts are that cheap electrics are awful, and beginners usually buy the cheapest plank of wood they can get ,but you can get a reasonably priced good acoustic ,you can progress later to an electric ,and because of the width of the neck -of an electric] which is thinner ,you will find it thinner
# Tony Medeiros 2014-11-13 18:41
Of course learn on a acoustic. Conditiioning, you are able to take it everywhere. You will l earn do much more, and better understand the nuances of tone, sustain, emotion. Then pick up that electric and take all that knowledge and let it rip. When you play acoustic, the focus is on you and what you want to express. The electric can be a false prophet for learning. But yes, it is great. Play on !
# LerxstRulz 2014-11-13 16:50
Def acoustic no matter what. You'll learn nuances that carry over and enhance your electric playing. If it sounds good on acoustic, it sounds goid on electric. A lot of new players get lost in effects and develop bad habits and don't really get to hear themselves. Can't hide on acoustic :-)

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