It’s an age old debate: which is better, acoustic guitar or electric guitar? I’ve played both, and loved both. And this post is more about having fun and talking about why I love the acoustic guitar, than it is about poo-pooing the electric. They’re both awesome instruments and every guitarist should try playing both for a while.
That said, I think the acoustic guitar has a number of benefits and advantages when you compare it to the electric. Some of these are what led me to choose to focus on the acoustic and fall in love with acoustic music. So I thought I’d share them.
Again, there are plenty of things I LOVE about the electric guitar too. But for this post, we’ll be focusing on the advantages the acoustic has over the electric guitar. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. No Gear! Or a lot less, at least
When I played electric guitar, I eventually got to the point where I was sick of all the gear. Cables everywhere, pedals/pedal boards, amps that were constantly having problems, faulty pickups and volume knobs. Many electric guitarists love to geek out over all this gear stuff, and if that’s you – more power to you.
But it started to drive me crazy. The simplicity of the acoustic guitar was hugely appealing. A;ll you really need is the guitar itself and a pick (you can even forego that if you’re playing fingerstyle). Maybe you grab a capo if you want to go gear-crazy. But overall, it’s just wood and style, you and the guitar, and for me, the less gear there is standing in the way of me and my instrument – the better.
2. One Man Band
Some of the best acoustic songs – whether they’re country, bluegrass, folk, singer/songwriter, etc – have been recorded with just the artist alone, and their guitar. A one man band or show, in other words.
In electric music, this is very hard to do. You almost always need a band behind you to play something interesting on the electric guitar. (I know, I know… there are exceptions. “Have you even heard EVH play Eruption?” Yes. I get it.)
So there are exceptions where some solo electric guitar arrangements have been done really well… but could you listen to a whole show or album of that kind of playing? Probably not.
In contrast, I bet you could easily listen to Tommy Emmanuel, Tony Rice, Norman Blake, or James Taylor singing and playing acoustic guitar completely unaccompanied for hours. In fact, I’ll prove it:
3. Ease of Portability and Travel
Because there’s less gear, an acoustic guitar is infinitely easier to travel with. Pack it in a hard shell case and call it a day. Enough said. No need to lug huge amps and bags full of distortion pedals around.
4. Cheaper to Start Playing
Because you don’t need an amp or other electric gear, the acoustic guitar features a much lower start up cost. It’s easy to get a high quality instrument, even if you’re on a budget.
If you’re looking to do exactly that, then check out my favorite acoustic guitars for beginners on a budget.
5. That Sound…
The clean, warm resonance of an acoustic guitar is always a pleasure to listen to. No matter how many effects or special gadgets you have, that warm woody tone is nearly impossible to replicate using an electric guitar.
6. Less Room for Error
Because there is no distortion or effects cloaking the sound of the acoustic guitar, a greater degree of precision is required to ensure you’re technique, tone and note selection are consistent. This greater attention to detail will make you a better guitarist in the long run.
7. You Can Practice At Moderate Volumes
Many electric guitars and amps need to be blasted at full volume to get the tone you’re looking for. Or you have to play through headphones or unplugged so as not to disturb your neighbors.
But no one’s ever complained of an acoustic guitar player being too loud. The volume is just right for practicing at home without disturbing others, while still being loud enough to fully appreciate the tone of your instrument.
8. Your Skills Will Transfer Easily
The skills you learn on the acoustic, such as rhythm playing and chords will transfer very easily over to the electric guitar. However, when I started on the electric guitar and then switched to acoustic, I realized all I knew how to play were a few power chords and some fancy guitar licks.
In my opinion, I now think that the acoustic guitar often builds a better foundation than the electric.
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out a few of my favorite resources below:
The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings – A unique polymer coating makes these guitar strings last for months or even years at a time, making for an exceptional value. They provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for. — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The Best Acoustic Guitar – Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the Martin D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever… It’s an excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is also what I play myself — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Chords, Tabs & Video Lessons for 100 Epic Songs – This free guide that I created for fellow guitarists gives you chords, tabs, and video lessons for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar… I spent many hours putting this guide together to help you get better at guitar, faster. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar – Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style. Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE