Acoustic Guitar Vs. Acoustic Electric Guitar: Which is Best for Which Style of Music?

Acoustic Guitar Vs, Acoustic Electric Guitar featured image

Which Guitar Is Best? Acoustic Or Acoustic Electric?

When asking this question, you may get several different answers. Of course, there are basics in which guitar is best for what style of music, but this question is highly subjective. You will make the final decision for yourself based on several factors including the type of music you will be playing, your sound and appearance preferences, and obviously the “fit” of the guitar on your body. Of necessity, the price of the guitar will help make your decision for you.

Acoustic guitars and acoustic electric guitars look the same, but do they sound the same? Here are some basic, helpful facts that will make your choice easier. An acoustic guitar is just a guitar itself. It has no plugs, cables or extra pieces.

Now, what is an acoustic electric guitar?

It is also known as an electro-acoustic guitar, and it is identical to the acoustic guitar in construction, acoustic properties, and guitar components. The difference is that electronics have been fitted onto an acoustic electric guitar. These electronic components allow an acoustic electric guitar to be plugged into an amp or soundboard. The components may be

  • Magnetic pickup
  • Piezo pickup
  • Built-in microphone

The Piezo pickup is the one that is most commonly used in an acoustic electric guitar. A Piezo pickup, microphone, and sensors may be incorporated into an acoustic electric guitar with more advanced pickups.

In addition to the pick-ups, an acoustic electric guitar requires a preamp. The preamp amplifies the signal from the pick-ups before it is sent to an amplifier. The preamp usually comes with tone controls, equalizers (usually with 3 frequency bands) and a built-in tuner. The preamp requires a power source which sometimes may be batteries or, hopefully, a direct plug-in to a wall socket.

Here are some pros and cons of acoustic electric guitars.

Although an acoustic guitar is the main instrument that paved the way for many variations of electric acoustic and electric guitars, it can only be heard in a small room. Should you want to go live or perform anywhere you simply need more volume. That is the main reason for choosing an acoustic electric guitar: for the sound boost. It also offers other sound options. With an acoustic guitar, if you want to be heard on stage or at a large venue you must be stationary and stand in front of a microphone.

Pros:

  • It is an acoustic guitar.
  • It can be plugged in.
  • It has an advanced preamp and pick-up technologies.
  • It projects sound that is louder and bigger.
  • It lets you move on stage in a live performance.
  • It amplifies acoustic harmonic overtones.
  • It allows for sound options.
  • It can be played acoustically/unplugged.
  • It is comparable in price to an acoustic guitar.

Cons:

  • To play plugged in it requires a power source.
  • Its electrical components can fail.
  • It requires more equipment to play plugged in.

Acoustic vs Acoustic Electric Guitar

It is your personal preference as to which you choose. The versatility and advantages of owning an acoustic electric guitar does give it somewhat of an advantage over the acoustic guitar. As a reminder when you have an acoustic electric guitar, you can use it an acoustic guitar anytime. Consider these factors:

  1. The aesthetic appeal will be one of the first things you look for when buying a guitar. Its aesthetic appeal, however, doesn’t figure into your decision because they can be made to look exactly alike.
  2. Shape and size can be the same in either but with an acoustic electric you can go with a smaller more comfortable guitar with a louder sound. Remember, in an acoustic guitar you must rely on the size and shape of the guitar for sound projection regardless of your height, arm length, frame, and comfort.
  3. Playability has to do with the strings and quality of the guitar as a whole. Nylon strings are softer on the fingers and give nearly as loud a sound as steel strings. An electric guitar takes care of this. Steel strings are harder on the fingers, but they can help to “break in” a beginner. You can play both an acoustic guitar and an acoustic electric guitar with medium to low action and light strings and both would work if you are a beginner player.
  4. Portability is definitely simpler with an acoustic guitar. An acoustic electric guitar is designed so that it can be both an acoustic guitar in its basic function and yet it can be plugged in for more sound projection. If you are a new player, you will appreciate this as it can make you sound more accomplished than you actually are. However, if you are at a campfire or on the beach, your acoustic electric will function as an acoustic guitar. Carrying all of the equipment to plug in with you can be a chore, especially if you are not sure that you can plug in where you will be playing. With an acoustic guitar, there is, of course, no baggage to carry around and you can play anywhere.
  5. Cost can be about the same for an acoustic guitar and an acoustic electric guitar. However, that can be subjective as you will have all brands, quality, and features to consider. To get extra sound from your acoustic electric guitar you will need to purchase extra equipment. Considering this, the acoustic guitar is less expensive.

Conclusion:

The acoustic guitar and the acoustic electric guitar can look and feel the same and produce the same sound. The question is whether you want to amp it up in order to be heard. An acoustic guitar works well with classical or mellow type music but if you want to play rock or metal you definitely need the electric component.

Your acoustic electric guitar functions as an acoustic guitar anytime without all the extra equipment. You can always add that later. Again, it is your choice, but this article should help you make the right one.

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Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.Currently he is serving as a Technology Consultant for Living Waters Fellowship in Mesquite Nevada