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Beginners: Electric Guitar VS Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar vs Electric Guitar“As a beginner, should I play an electric or acoustic guitar?” This is truly the music debate that is as old as time itself, and it might come as a surprise for some, but neither option is right or wrong. The best choice for a beginner happens to be dependent on the players musical preferences. If you really haven’t given it much thought, it would be wise to ask yourself some basic questions such as:

  • What type of music do you envision yourself playing?
  • What type of guitar is most inspiring to you?
  • Which guitar, electric or acoustic, do you envision yourself playing during the preliminary stages of your career as a musician?

As a beginning player, your experience with your first instrument is yours and yours alone. It is imperative to choose an instrument that strikes a chord and motivates you to practice, learn, and play more, which will be vital to your overall success. Because let’s just be honest, to get good at guitar and improve your playing, you are going to have to pick up your axe and practice a lot.

As a beginner, if rock-n-roll is your inspiring force and you wish to emulate your favorite guitar heroes, then it might be best to play an electric guitar. If you grew up as a good ol’ boy, and bluegrass or country is your preferred niche, then you should lean towards an acoustic guitar as you probably won’t be very excited to learn on an electric (unless it’s a Telecaster, because, you know, Waylon Jennings and all).

We want to take a moment to discuss the advantages of each instrument, as we aim to help you decide which beginner’s option is the right fit for you.


In my experience, many new players think the default starter guitar is an acoustic instrument, and only after it is mastered should a player graduate to an electric guitar. This is, at the least, my sad story as a child growing up in a household that strictly played acoustic guitar emulated after Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. The fact that there is even a default option is extremely outdated, however, there are a few advantages to picking up an acoustic over an electric guitar.


First and foremost, there is a difference in cost. It’s not to say that the actual instrument itself is cheaper, but if you start out on electric guitar you will need an amplifier. That's an additional, must have expense you don't experience with an acoustic guitar. With an acoustic guitar, all that is necessary is a handful of accessories which you will need with an electric as well, aside from a capo.


Starting off on an acoustic guitar also helps the player focus on the instrument. There is no distortion, no pedals, and no volume knob to mask your playing, which helps the beginner focus on the basics of the instrument, tone, and sound.


Acoustic guitars are extremely mobile and easy to tote around. You can literally throw your acoustic in a case and carry it on your back wherever you go. This makes it easier to take your guitar to a friends house to jam or to lug your rig to practice, because your rig is simply a guitar in a case.

If you are the type of player that has big dreams of joining a band and touring the country someday, then traveling becomes hassle free. For example, flying is easy because you only need your instrument as a carry-on and you don’t need to check additional gear. Or maybe you have the desire to be a street performer or to take your guitar with you on a camp trip? There is a reason why you only see acoustic guitar players busking on the streets or sitting around the campfire more so than electric, because with electric it’s a whole ordeal. First you need your amp and then you need to find a power source. This makes it extremely taxing if you wish to play anywhere other than your living room.

The last point is accessibility. There are some players out there who find the immediate accessibility of an acoustic guitar more appealing. Whether your guitar is resting on a stand or just laying in its case, some people find themselves picking up their instrument more and playing more often with an acoustic guitar.


Starting out with a basic acoustic guitar is a more cost effective, streamlines focus on playing technique, and is better in terms of mobility and accessibility.


Although it might seem as though we are favoring acoustic guitar for beginners, there are several important advantages to starting out on an electric guitar.


First and foremost, assuming that they are properly adjusted, electric guitars tend to be better received than acoustic in terms of playing. Less expensive acoustic guitars, i.e acoustic guitars for beginners, tend to have a higher action. This means that the strings on the guitar are further away from the fretboard which makes it harder to fret notes and establish accurate finger shapes. Also, unlike an electric guitar, acoustic guitars have heavier strings which require firmer picking and fingering styles. As a beginner, you have not developed strength, flexibility, or muscle memory to play at the level of a more experienced player. In turn, this can prove to be extremely difficult for new players who have yet to master the dexterity needed to navigate the fretboard at ease.

If we were to look at the the action on a decent electric guitar for beginners, it is much lower. Electric guitars tend to have lighter strings, a smaller body, and thinner necks, whereas acoustic guitars have a heavier body and a thicker neck to to support the tension of heavier strings. In terms of sound, the pickups and amplifier of an electric guitar enhance the learning process as they project the sound. Because of this, a lighter touch along with the lighter gauge strings make the electric easier to play.


Let’s take a moment to bust another outdated myth! When it comes to playing electric guitar, the majority of parents are concerned about the noise levels of the instrument. They believe that by handing their child an electric guitar, it automatically turns them into Eddie Van Halen. No parent wants to have endless guitar riffs shaking the foundation of the house because of a loud guitar amp! Believe it or not, that volume knob goes the other way as well. There is no way to turn down an acoustic guitar, but you can practice on an electric at low volume, with headphones, or even unplugged!


Lastly, with an electric guitar, you have a more expansive array of sounds available to to you with each chosen effect. Because of this, the electric guitar is more versatile than the acoustic which could potentially be more inspiring to play depending on the user.


If a beginner has their heart on being the next Jimmy Page, then there really is no reason an electric can't be their first instrument. In many ways, it may simplify the learning curve and streamline the learning process.


One thing you should keep in mind when choosing either an acoustic or electric guitar is that it is imperative to choose an instrument that has been fully inspected and adjusted for ease of play. Don’t be afraid to ask what needs to be done to make the instrument easier for you as a beginner. There is no greater impedance to progress, developing proper technique, and the enjoyment of learning to play than an instrument that has not been set up and adjusted properly to suit the players needs.

Lastly, don’t think that by choosing one guitar over the other that you are signing your life away to one type of instrument or genre. This is not the “end all, be all” decision, so don’t lose sleep over it. In my experience, you will most likely start with one kind of guitar, and then in due time, transition to the other. As you grow as a musician, you will find that your inspiration, motivation, and drive will begin to evolve as well. This tends to occur naturally as your skills begin to develop and the desire to play becomes more tangible and conceptual.

Whether you are a beginning guitarist who dreams of writing and singing tunes while strumming an acoustic, or if you are more interested in letting your hair down and rocking out in your garage on your electric, choose what’s right for you. Find your inspiration.

Whatever level of playing you are at, we have a course that is right for you. We have guitar masters from all around the globe ready to see you in their school. Just like your choice in beginning instrument, ArtistWorks give you a choice when it comes to guitar lessons for beginners. We break it down to a science consisting of instructor, instrument, and genre. We have:

We highly encourage you to try out some of our Free Online Sample Lessons and get a feel for what we have to offer! Sometimes it’s nice to try more than just one! If you’re teetering between country and bluegrass, or blues and jazz, try out various schools and see what’s right for you before you commit! Either way, we want to connect you with master musicians who can take your performance skills to the next level. Let us help you find your school, lets us help you find your inspiration!

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