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The 8 differences and similarities between acoustic and electric guitar

Which is better: acoustic, or electric? The ever-dreaded question!

If you are wondering which one to buy, and are looking to gather enough useful info to make a good consumer decision, look no further! We’ll explain everything you need to know today!

Let’s jump right in!

acoustic and electric guitar comparison
Image: Andrew J. Shearer

Here’re the differences between acoustic and electric guitar:

1. Build

Depending on your age, or the age of a loved one that wants to start playing – the sheer size and weight of the guitar may be a real deal breaker.

Namely, the body of the acoustic guitar is hollow, therefore the weight of the instrument is much lower than the weight of the full-body electric guitar.

On the other hand, the design of the body of the acoustic guitar makes the guitar larger and thicker. In other words, the body of the electric guitar is much more narrow and slim.

Let’s move on to the neck of the guitar. The neck of the electric guitar is thinner than the neck of the acoustic guitar. This can be a crucial factor for someone with small hands.

2. Playability

The main factor here is the type of strings and the string spacing. Both acoustic and electric guitars use steel strings. However, the string tension and the string spacing are much more player-friendly on an electric guitar.

The technique of string bending is usually much easier on an electric guitar.

3. Sound

Now, here’s where the fundamental differences between these two types of guitars lie.

First of all, the acoustic guitar uses its own body and the sound hole to project the loud sound. Once you hit the strings, they vibrate over the bridge that in turn transfers the sound to a sound hole and the rest of the body. The sound that comes out of the sound hole is naturally amplified.

On the other hand, the sound of the electric guitar is acoustically very low in volume. The electric guitar features pickups that pick up (you don’t say!) the vibrations of the strings and turn them into an electrical signal. That signal is transferred through a guitar cable to an amplifier. The amplifier does exactly what it says on the tin – it amplifies the sound.

Those would be the elementary differences in terms of sound. However, we have only just opened Pandora’s box.

Once the electric guitar sound is amplified, that’s where a whole new world of sonic possibilities opens. Namely, coloring the sound of the electric guitar is usually done with the help of the pedals of different sound effects. Although incredibly inspiring and interesting, it can be a little bit too much for a beginner player.

On the other hand, pedals can be used on an acoustic guitar, but much more moderately. A bit of compression, delay, or chorus, and there you go!

4. Playing technique

Hmm… The interesting thing is – the playing technique of these two tends to be much more similar than you might expect!

Both types are usually picked with a plectrum. As a very generalized rule of thumb, we can say that the main difference in approach would be that the acoustic guitar is played with a strumming technique more often than the electric guitar.

5. Music genres

There is also quite a bit of overlap here too! An acoustic guitar is primarily used in pop, rock, and country music.

The electric guitar is used primarily in pop, rock, and metal music, just to name a few! Now, onto the real similarities!

Here’re the similarities between acoustic and electric guitar:

1. Anatomy

What we mean by this is that both of these types have all the main constituent elements in common. In other words, both have a body, and a neck. They feature six strings, a bridge, and a nut.

The number of frets on a fretboard may vary, but nevertheless – both have fretboards and frets attached. The tuning is done according to a similar principle – both use tuning pegs.

2. Musical vocabulary (tuning)

Maybe not be the best title for what we’re trying to say, but bear with us. Namely, both guitars are usually tuned to the same standard tuning. Therefore, the same number of strings comes with the same root notes if you are in standard tuning.

That implies that with everything you have learned on an acoustic guitar, the electric guitar provides you with a similar infrastructure so you can play it on electric as well. And vice versa, of course!

Therefore, you can play the same chords, the same licks, and the same solos on both types of guitars.

In terms of technique, not all techniques translate perfectly from guitar to guitar. But generally speaking, you can use every technique you have learned on one type of guitar and apply it to the other one!

3. Playing technique

As previously mentioned, the technique used to play these two types may be somewhat different, however… Pretty much all of the techniques used to play one of these two types may be used on the other one!

It may not translate perfectly, but it will still sound decent. In other words, as long as you learn to play one of these two, you will get along just fine on the other one.


All in all, if you follow Higher Hz project, you will know what our conclusion is!

We’ll say it again since it’s just too true not to be mentioned: it’s not a matter of “better” or “worse”! It’s a matter of what is appropriate for you!

If you have a predefined preferred genre of choice that you want to play – pick the type that is more associated with your preferred genre! You won’t make a mistake that way.

If you don’t have a preferred genre and if you are just starting, we suggest you pick an acoustic guitar. It’s a great tool for getting a great playing foundation, stamina, and strength.

On the other hand, if you have small hands, or if you are buying a guitar for your little kid – go with the electric one. The size of the electric guitar and the playability of the neck could prove to be of crucial importance.

That’s it, make a good consumer decision, buy a guitar, and get creative! Rock on!