Is electric guitar easier than acoustic? In terms of playability, the electric guitar is easier than the acoustic. The electric guitar’s strings offer less tension and are easier to strum, plus its distance to the fret makes switching between chords easier.
Congrats! You finally decided to learn to play the guitar. Probably the isolation boredom is growing stronger, or maybe you just want to impress a certain someone.
Regardless of the reason, a common question among beginners is what type of guitar to pick up – electric or acoustic?
Everybody, even the greatest of all time, has to start somewhere. Mike Campbell, John Petrucci, Johnny Marr, and Carlos Santana were all built upon years of practice. But did you know that one of these four iconic guitarists is not like the others?
Carlos Santana’s first guitar is an electric 1968 Gibson Les Paul Custom, unlike the other three. Since most of our idols started out with acoustic guitars, does this mean they’re easier to use? Well, let’s compare!
Understanding Acoustic Guitar
You’re probably most familiar with acoustic guitars. They often get a bad rap as many consider them stepping stones to electric guitars.
It is easily distinguishable as its hollow body is made entirely of wood. An acoustic guitar is often considered a beginner’s staple as they are relatively inexpensive. They also come in a wide range of sizes, making them nearly well-suited for anyone.
However, an acoustic guitar can be easily confused with classical guitars to an untrained eye. A way to make you seem an expert in distinguishing the two is by simply looking at their strings. Classical guitars have strings made out of nylon, while acoustic guitars have ones made of metal. This string type would require you to give a little more push to create crisp and clear sounds – talk about tired fingers!
The actual edge of acoustic guitars lies in their convenience. They are easy to carry around and won’t require any power, particular pickup, or amp to work. All it needs is you, your determination, and a little bit of time.
Understanding Electric Guitar
Getting to know the electric guitar would need a little throwback to your high school physics class.
As its name implies, an electric guitar would have to be plugged in to work. It would also need an external amplifier to make performance-audible sounds – yes, a bit of an initial hustle but incredibly worth the extra elbow grease.
Still, suppose budget is a primary concern. In that case, it’s important to note that playing an electric guitar can stand on the much pricey side. You may also find it more challenging to bring an electric guitar with you – and more complicated to set up whenever you have shows or gigs.
Electric guitars work by converting the vibrations from strumming into electrical signals via the sound sensor then sound transmitter. Subsequently, these signals would be sent to the external amplifier to produce the runs and riffs that we love.
Although heavier (as they are not hollow), electric guitars have lower-tension strings. This means they are easier to strum. Lower string tension also allows electric guitarists to perform all sorts of acoustic gymnastics, from string bending to vibrato techniques.
Electric vs. Acoustic Guitar: A Comparison
After going over the basics of the two, you’re probably having an idea of what’s easier to use. To help you, we’ve compiled some objective points for comparison:
Before considering whether a guitar is easy to play or not, you should first consider if it fits the budget. That final receipt can really be a deal-breaker. Electric guitars are generally costlier than acoustic guitars (let’s not forget to mention all the accessories that can really bulk up the tally).
Acoustic guitars would generally require fewer extra things to work – maybe just a little practice. Electric guitars would strictly require an amplifier, a power source, and a couple of pickups. Hence, you’d probably have to get used to setting it up when starting out.
Mobility and Comfort:
Generally, electric guitars are heavier than acoustic guitars as they are not hollow. Along with having fewer accessories, this makes acoustic guitars easier to carry around. Still, many electric guitars are shaped to be much more comfortable when placed on your lap!
Acoustic and electric guitars have the staple six strings made from the same material (metal) and roughly the same thickness. Still, an electric guitar’s string offers less tension and is easier to strum – indeed, fitted for first-time guitarists! Added bonus: this also allows electric guitarists to do acoustic techniques that you would not achieve using an acoustic guitar.
Electric and acoustic guitars sound entirely different – that’s why they’re usually used for other genres. Acoustic guitars have broader guitar action, no pickups, and a hollow body for natural resonance. We know it’s a lot, but it basically means acoustic guitars would sound more “raw.” Electric guitars, on the other hand, would sound clear and crisp!
The Easier Guitar to Play is…
There may be a lot going for acoustic guitars, but electric guitars ultimately take the cake!
If you can go past the extra cost and elbow grease, tons make an electric guitar ideal for beginners.
First, their guitar action (distance of the strings to the fret) is lesser. This can help you switch from one chord to another with relative ease.
Your fingers could also benefit big time from an electric guitar’s “lighter” string. Conversely, acoustic guitars tend to be harder to learn as many struggles in strumming thicker strings.
Also, an electric guitar allows you to plug in headphones to help you listen to yourself better.
And let’s be honest, electric guitars look cool!
Conclusion: Start With a Heart for the Art
In a nutshell, there’s more to consider before starting your road to fame (or probably before playing at that talent show). After flying through everything we’ve listed, you should have an idea of which guitar is objectively easier to play.
But there are still a lot of questions to ask yourself – like maybe what genre you’d like to play or who you aspire to be. But the most important milestone is to start with a heart for the art.
As Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante said, “As long as you’re excited about what you’re playing, and as long as it comes from your heart, it’s going to be great.”
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.