Can You Play Electric Songs & Rock Music on Acoustic Guitar?


five assorted-color string guitars

I wanted to quickly answer a question that I see cropping up a lot online and that many people have when they’re first starting out on the guitar. The question is: Can you can play electric songs and rock music on the acoustic guitar?

Yes, you can absolutely play electric songs and rock music on the acoustic guitar, and many famous bands have done exactly that.

Below, we’ll explore some examples of bands that play electric songs and rock music on acoustic guitar. But before we can do that, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks to trying to play electric music on acoustic guitar:

The Drawbacks of Playing Electric Songs & Rock Music on Acoustic Guitar

Electric Guitar: Play and Listen Th...
Electric Guitar: Play and Listen Through Your Headphones

The hardest thing about playing electric music and rock on the acoustic is when you try to play more intricate shred stuff, with lots of legato lines. Without amplification, these kinds of licks simply don’t have the same appeal as they do on the electric guitar most of the time.

The other drawback comes when trying to play blues rock, so like Stevie Ray Vaughan type stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the acoustic is great for blues rock. However, string bending becomes very difficult on the acoustic, because acoustic strings are simply much thicker and heavier than electric guitar strings. This is important to consider because string bending is one of the most characteristic sounds of blues and rock guitar. Half step bends typically aren’t a problem, but regularly doing whole step bends on your acoustic could cause you to regularly break strings.

3 Popular Examples of Electric Songs Played on Acoustic Guitar

Let’s take a look at popular examples of popular rock and electric songs being played on acoustic guitar:

Nirvana – Lake of Fire

Nirvana actually played an entire concert “unplugged” on acoustic guitar. One of my favorites from this performance is Lake of fire.

Even though this is a heavy, grungy song, the acoustic still does a great job of capturing these feelings, even though they are typically associated with electric guitar:

Foo Fighters – Everlong & Big Me

Another example would be Foo Fighters, who once again are known as a heavier rock band. And yet Foo Fighters have released many acoustic versions of their heavier songs. Among fans, many consider these acoustic takes to be better than the electric versions.

Here are two of my favorite electric rock Foo Fighters songs being played on acoustic guitar:

How to Play Electric Songs & Rock Music on Acoustic Guitar

If you want to play electric songs and rock music on your acoustic guitar, I recommend following Jason Stallworth on YouTube. He teaches a lot of metal guitar, but recently has been putting out some great content on how to play electric rock and metal music on acoustic guitar, and the benefits of doing so:

You can also check out this lesson I did on Black Sabbath’s song “Solitude.” This is an easy song by a legendary rock/metal band that you can play on your acoustic guitar:

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

Corbin Buff

Corbin has played guitar for over a decade, and started writing about it on Acoustic World in an effort to help others. He lives and writes in western Montana.

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