Should I Play an Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

Choosing between an electric guitar and an acoustic may not be the most difficult decision you will make once you decide to learn the instrument. It is rather cut and dry: If you’re into hard rock, or even classic rock, the electric guitar will give you the sound you are looking for. If you’re more of a country soul, or want a folksy sound, then acoustic will be your weapon of choice. The differences between an acoustic and electric guitar are rather obvious, but both carry their own faults and perks that the non-discriminating guitar novice might not consider right away.

An acoustic guitar may never be as ‘cool’, as an electric, but sometimes acoustic is just the best option. For one thing, acoustic guitars are nearly always less expensive. Obviously, a Gibson Dove, one of the finest acoustics ever made, will certainly set you back further than an electric guitar from Sears, but for comparable quality guitars, acoustic nearly always wins the battle. For one thing, electric guitars need amplifiers. Of course, you could play your electric unplugged, but it typically renders your guitar inaudible, or at least not loud enough to sound decent. An acoustic requires nothing more than a set of fingers and you can make the music as loud or quiet as you want. 

A great aspect of an acoustic guitar is that you can toss it in the backseat of your car and take it anywhere. Got a cookout? Bring along the acoustic and strum some six-string music. Campfire? Did anyone say “Kumbaya”? Sure, you could bring an electric guitar to places with you, but you’d also have to lug an amp, a power chord, and who knows what else? Who has ever heard of a bunch of people sitting around a campfire, and one guy plays Michael row the boat ashore in drop D with the amp turned up to ten and forty feet of extension cord running out from the cabin?

On the other hand, let’s face the facts. Acoustic guitars will never sound as awesome as electric guitars. There are certain techniques, like hammer-ons, pull-offs, whammy dives, slides, and the like that can surely be done on an acoustic, but will never sound as terrific as an electric guitar with an amp. Also, if you have the desire to become a lead guitarist, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you if your rhythm guitarist is playing electric and you’re trying to solo over him with an acoustic. Most people who are just starting out in guitar buy an acoustic, because it is easy, accessible, and they can lug it around to different rooms in their house without having to bring an amp or a cord. Once they attain a certain level of skill, then it is time to upgrade to an electric guitar, if that is really what they want. In the end, you must decide what you truly desire in your guitar and your music, and see if you can deal with the drawbacks that are sure to come.

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