You know you want to learn how to play the guitar – but which is easier, electric guitar, or acoustic guitar?
In terms of playability, what are the differences, and is acoustic or electric guitar better for beginners?
In this article, we’re going to talk a bit about each in order to help make your decision.
Ultimately, Your Inner Desire Matters Most
Here’s the truth.
You are going to experience hardships and challenges regardless of which option you choose to go with. There will be times when you become frustrated, or you feel like you aren’t making any progress. This is normal, and part of learning a new and challenging skill.
The problem is that people who do not enjoy playing their instrument and aren’t motivated to become better at it, usually either quit when they begin to experience these challenges, or they never push themselves out of their comfort zone. In other words, their skill begins to plateau before they hit their full potential.
When it comes down to it, you’re going to want to pick whichever you have the most natural interest in rather than worrying about which is actually easier.
And hey, you don’t need to become a master to have a lot of fun with either choice.
That Being Said, Electric Guitars Are Easier To Play
This is due to a few reasons.
First of all, they tend to have a smaller body and a thinner neck. This makes it easier to get your fingers to wherever they need to be on the fretboard. It is simply easier to place your fingers where you want to be, and maneuver them around comfortably.
Secondly, the strings on an acoustic have a higher gauge, meaning that they are heavier. They also tend to have a higher action, meaning that the strings are further away above the fretboard. You have to push down harder on them and strum them harder in order to make a sound, which can be difficult for beginners and hurt their fingers (at least until they develop calluses.) This shouldn’t scare you away from picking up an acoustic, but it is still something to keep in mind. Your fingers will toughen up in time, regardless of which option you go with.
The one area where acoustics are easier is in convenience. With an acoustic, you can pick up and play instantly, anywhere, without anything to slow you down. Electric guitars need to be plugged into an amplifier in order to make any sound, and the extra time it takes to do this can put some people off from spontaneously playing. The more convenient it is to play, the more likely you’ll actually do so (which is why we recommended a nice stand as a must-have purchase in our article about guitar accessories.)
However, It’s Easier To Play A Lot Of Songs Quickly On Acoustic
When a lot of people think of acoustic guitar, they primarily think of someone playing chords. And while there’s a lot more to acoustic guitar than just strumming chords, you can learn to play along with the vast majority of songs by just learning 10 of them.
This means if your goal is to simply play a wide variety of music quickly, acoustic guitar may be more rewarding. If you were to learn just one chord a day, you could be playing and singing along with your favorite songs in just over a week.
In The Long-Term, Electric Guitars Are More Versatile
If versatility is important to you, electric guitars are more versatile overall.
This is because while you can make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic, you can never play your acoustic guitar like an electric. There are acoustic-electric guitars available that you can plug in, but you will never be able to shred solos (for example) the same way that you could on an electric.
And unless you buy an acoustic-electric, you will also not be able to utilize effects pedals and other devices that can shape or modify your instrument’s sound. A guitarist can really go far with these and completely alter how their guitar sounds, giving them a lot of options to tweak and play around with things later on. Unfortunately, acoustic guitars do not have this luxury.
Remember, There’s No Reason You Can’t Eventually Get Both!
This decision does not have to be permanent. In fact, just about every guitarist that sticks with it ends up owning an electric and an acoustic before too long. The unique benefits of each are just too nice to give up!
So, try not to put a lot of pressure on yourself when making this decision. You can always purchase the other later, and once you realize how much fun you have playing the guitar, you’ll probably want to anyway.
A Quick Acoustic Vs. Electric FAQ
Let’s look over some of the most common questions we didn’t already cover, which may help you narrow down your decision further.
Are the notes and chords the same on both instruments?
Yes, the notes and chords are exactly the same on both electric and acoustic guitars. Once you learn a chord on one of them, you should be able to play it on the other without making any changes.
Note however that the distance between the strings and the length of the guitar’s neck can vary from guitar to guitar.
Which is more expensive?
Cost is a factor, and something you’ll probably need to keep in mind. It’s possible to get great instruments at very affordable prices, but you will also need to budget in an amp and cable if you choose to get an electric guitar. This can make them significantly more expensive if you weren’t planning on spending very much right now.
That being said, there are some pretty good value bundles available that include an amplifier.
Can you bend acoustic guitar strings?
Yes, but not nearly as easily as you could on an electric. This is due to the higher
Note however that you can buy lighter gauge strings for your acoustic if you want to make the strings slightly more bendable.
I experience shoulder / neck / arm / wrist pain, which would be easier for me?
While it’s likely that the electric guitar would be easier, it’s hard to give a specific recommendation for this. Even the variances in shapes and sizes of the guitars (in both categories) may affect how comfortably you can play. In this instance, I would recommend that you try out guitars in-person.
Electric guitars may be more suitable in this instance as the sound can be modified so heavily by your amp and additional equipment, that you can choose something more ergonomically comfortable even if you do not prefer the initial sound it offers quite as much. With an acoustic guitar, if you don’t like the sound there’s not a whole lot you can do.
That being said, electric guitars are heavier, so you’ll want to keep this in mind as well.
Is it easier to go from an acoustic to an electric, or an electric to an acoustic?
It is typically easier to go from an acoustic guitar to an electric guitar. Many of the playing styles that one would typically play on an electric guitar do not translate as well to acoustic.
I can’t decide! Make a decision for me?
If you like folk, country, bluegrass or pop music, go with acoustic. Anything else, go with electric.
In the end, the only thing that truly matters is what instrument you’ll get more enjoyment out of in the long run.
Neither electric nor acoustic guitar are easy to master, and although electric guitar may be a bit easier to play, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
Playing an instrument you’re excited to improve with will ultimately prove to be much more satisfying.
I hope that this article has helped you narrow down your decision. If there’s any questions that we can answer for you, please feel free to ask them using the comment form below!