Should I Play an Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

 

Two popular myths:

  • You should start with an acoustic guitar because it is harder to play and will make you hands and fingers stronger much more quickly.
  • You should start with an electric guitar because it is easier to play.

Overview

  • Choose the type of guitar you are excited about playing.
  • Work within the parameters your budget.
  • The easiest guitar to play is the type you are most interested in learning.
  • Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play.
  • Acoustic guitars have heavier gauge strings which require slightly firmer picking and fingering.
  • Over time your desire to play another type of guitar will naturally occur.
  • Most importantly, only select a guitar you know is fully adjusted for easy playability.
  • The Myths.

Choose the type of guitar you are excited about playing.
As a beginning player, your experience with your first instrument is vital to your long-term success. Choosing the right guitar means deciding which type of guitar you personally find exciting and will be the most motivated to play. What kind of music would you like to play? What kind of guitar attracts your attention? Which one can you envision yourself playing? That is the one you will most look forward to practicing and playing. If you just want to play the guitar but are not sure what type to choose then determine a budget and work within those parameters.

Work within the parameters your budget.
Ideally, your choice between the electric or acoustic guitar should be determined solely by a desire for one over the other. However, the choice may realistically be limited by your budget. Starting out with an electric guitar is generally more expensive than an acoustic guitar because of the need for an amplifier and other accessories. 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.

The easiest guitar to play is the type you are most interested in learning.
Often people want to know what kind of guitar is easier to play. There are physical differences between electric and acoustic guitars that may be considered. However, we believe the kind of guitar you “want” to play is the easiest to learn on, as you will be more likely to establish good practice habits early in the process.

Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play.
Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play, assuming they are properly adjusted, because they have a smaller body, thinner neck, and use lighter gauge strings. The pickups and amplifier do all the work of projecting the sound, so a lighter touch along with lighter strings makes it easier to play. An electric guitar needs to be plugged into an amplifier, which must be turned on before playing. For some, the extra effort that it takes to plug into an amplifier and turn it on may be enough to keep them from playing as often or taking advantage of a spontaneous moment to pick it up and play.

Acoustic guitars have heavier gauge strings which require slightly firmer picking and fingering.
The wood top of an acoustic guitar must vibrate in order to project the sound. This requires heavier gauge strings along with slightly firmer picking and fingering. The body of the acoustic guitar is much larger than the electric guitar, and usually has a thicker neck to support the tension of the heavier strings. However, some people find the immediate accessibility of an acoustic guitar resting on a stand appealing, making them more apt to pick it up and play more often.

Over time your desire to play another type of guitar will naturally occur.
Don’t worry that by choosing one over the other, you have locked yourself into that type of guitar for the rest of your life. Our experience has been that many players who start with one kind of guitar will, in time, gravitate to the other. Motivation for playing an instrument changes over time, and will occur naturally as your skills develop and the desire to play and learn becomes internalized. You will most likely develop skills on both the electric and acoustic guitars and enjoy a lifetime of learning and playing a variety of musical styles.

Most importantly, only select a guitar you know is fully inspected and adjusted for easy playability.
Always get the facts. Ask what has been done to make the instrument easier to play. Many important issues rest on the quality and playability of your instrument. There is no greater impedance to progress, developing proper technique and the enjoyment of learning to play than a poorly constructed instrument or one that is not correctly set up. Both the electric and the acoustic guitar will play with relative ease as long as they are properly adjusted and the size is well suited for the player.

The Myths
Playing the guitar well is not about strength but about control. As you watch any professional musician you will notice how they appear to effortlessly finesse their instrument. The easiest guitar to play is the one you are truly interested in.

The best guitars for . . .

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