By Jotham Lloyd
If you're just getting started with guitars and learning how to play, you might be wondering how to choose between two vastly different sounds and styles. Both instruments can create a range of sounds and both have different skills to master. Let us walk you through your options, choose how to decide based on your music preference, and where to find the best deals.
What are Acoustic and Electric Guitars?
To begin, let us distinguish the two in the broadest way possible. Overall, the fundamental distinction between these two guitars is based on their design and tone. Acoustic guitars generate sound by the vibration of the strings. Meanwhile, electric guitars generate music through the use of electricity and power. The difference is obvious and simple, but there are many parts which we’d like to discuss to help you decide on your next purchase.
In terms of design, both acoustic and electric guitars consist of six strings, tuning pegs that will adjust the sound, and have sections called “frets” placed on the neck of these guitars. What distinguishes the acoustic guitar is its bulkiness and weight. Acoustics are also hollow and have a sound-hole, a saddle, and bridge pins. Electric guitars, on the other hand, have a smaller and thinner design, which makes them easier and more convenient to carry. Compared to acoustic guitars, there is no sound-hole. Instead of saddles, it has two pick-ups near the bridge of the guitar, and there’s also a tailpiece instead of bridge pins.
When an acoustic guitar string vibrates, the sound is amplified by the guitar's construction. To be heard, you do not need to connect to an external amplifier. This is why acoustic guitar bodies are large and hollow. This sound chamber has a significant impact on amplification and tone. The wood used to construct a guitar also has a significant impact on its tone. These are known as tone-woods.
When an electric guitar string vibrates, it does not produce a particularly loud sound. Acoustic guitars have sound chambers, but solid-body guitars do not. Electric guitars employ pickups to increase the sound. Pickups are essentially magnets wrapped in wire that generate a magnetic field in the vicinity of your guitar strings. When compared to acoustic guitar, you have far more control over your sound, as well as a much larger palette of tones and effects to work with.
String gauges are important when it comes to playability. When you get the guitar up to pitch with thicker strings, there is greater stress, which makes it tougher to bend a string and a little more punishing on unskilled fretting hands.
Electric guitar strings, for example, are thinner. Because magnetic electric guitar pickups convert the vibrations of metal guitar strings (usually steel or nickel) into voltage and then music, heavier strings aren't required to fill out the sound.
The sound of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibrations of the strings being amplified naturally through the guitar's body. The tone of the guitar is emitted from the sound-hole as the guitar resonates. The sound would be tinny and feeble if we used acoustic guitar strings with a super-light gauge, as we would on an electric guitar.
How to Choose Your Next Guitar
The guitar you choose is mostly determined by the type of music you want to play. An acoustic guitar is most commonly linked with folk, country, jazz, and bluegrass music, while electric guitars are commonly heard in metal and rock music, as well as certain electronica, and are often heard in tandem with strong drumbeats and electric bass guitar.
When studying an instrument for the first time, it's best to pursue the path of least resistance and follow your inspiration. It's immensely satisfying to get closer to your favorite artist’s tones and understand their songs. It's also addictive, the kind of progress that keeps you returning for more, as you keep on getting better and better.