Beginners: Electric vs. Acoustic - Which to Pick?

Beginners: Electric vs. Acoustic - Which to Pick?

One of the most common questions in the guitar world is whether learning on an electric or acoustic is more suitable for beginners. Unfortunately, there isn’t an absolute answer. It isn’t the case that one is always better than the other for beginners or the other way round. However, there are aspects of each that may make them better for one learner than another. Let’s see what they are!

Difficulty level

Thinner neck, lower (lighter) gauge strings and lower playing actions (the distance between the string and the fretboard) constitute the ease of electric guitars, as compared to acoustic ones. It requires less effort for you to push down the strings and hence saves your hands from hurting. On the other hand, beginners playing an acoustic guitar are more likely to be subject to discomfort—they have to toughen up their fingertips as well as strengthen their finger muscles.

However, does it really matter what the difficulty level is? I mean the whole concept of playing the guitar should always be hard and challenging. You will come into all kinds of problems teaching yourself to play (both types of) guitars. It does takes perseverance and dedication. It you are a true guitar lover, fake it till you make it!

Simplicity level

Electric guitars are designed to be played through an amplifier. Therefore, they are generally far too quiet to be played without being plugged in. On the contrary, acoustic guitars are self-contained and very pick-up-and-play (requiring very little preparation to play).

Price level

The simplicity level is not only a matter of convenience, but also a cost factor. Being simple and requiring little additional equipment, acoustic guitars have a lower barrier to entry and are usually the most inexpensive option. You just need the guitar, a guitar tuner, extra strings, a hard shell case or gig bag, a strap and perhaps some picks. With an electric, however, you need all of those things but also an amplifier and a cable, plus that electric guitar itself often costs higher than acoustic guitar. Therefore, learning on electric guitars is more expensive, relatively speaking. Still, if the electric guitar is what you really want but is outside your budget, then a little more time and savings will be well worth the wait.

Musical features

Electric and acoustic guitars are different in the sounds that they create. Electric guitar has a broader palette of sounds and also a huge range of tone just at your fingertips. It is most suitable for rock or metal music. Acoustic guitar, however, has a soothing and full tone and thus is best for folk, classical and all types of popular music.

Some said that you may also need to consider the preference of your household. Many find that woody and calmer tones are preferable to sharp, twangier and tougher ones. Distorted and amplified sounds may even sound disturbing to them! Don’t bother with it because you can use a headphone for quiet practice—just connect your earphones to the amplifier.

Personal preference

Choosing one over the other doesn’t mean you are locked into that type of guitar for the rest of your life. Famous masters like Zakk Wylde and Randy Rhoads have switched between electric and acoustic guitars. In fact, your desire to play another type of guitar (if any) will naturally occur over time. Before that day when the turning point actually comes to you, you should go with your desires and what will be the most fun for you NOW.

The best guitar to play is the type you are most interested in learning and in love with. Do not kill your enthusiasm. Be motivated!