Should I start on electric or acoustic?

A question I often get asked by beginners is whether to start on an electric or acoustic guitar.

Whether you start on an acoustic or electric guitar will depend on a few things:

  • The sort of music you wish to play
  • Budget

In terms of whether you should start on an electric or an acoustic your first consideration should be: which one will help me play the music that I want to play? If you want to play rock and lead guitar solos then electric is the way to go. If your favourite artists use acoustics, then you will need one to replicate that sound. It used to be that people started out on an acoustic before progressing onto an electric. The guitar market is now flooded with low cost electrics, which means some people skip out learning on acoustic. The one downside of starting out on electric is you may find it harder playing acoustic later on. Below is a summary of the pros and cons of acoustics vs electrics.

steel

 

Steel strung acoustic

Pros:

  • There is an abundance of cheap models
  • No need for any other equipment eg. Amplifiers
  • Great for fingerpicking
  • Steel string acoustics have a nice and bright sound (more so than a nylon strung guitar).
  • Harder to play lead guitar on (guitar solos)
  • Strings are slightly tougher on the fingers than electric guitar strings. You therefore have to apply more pressure to sound a note than on an electric guitar
Nylon strung acoustic Pros:

  • Again, there are plenty of cheap models available
  • Strings are soft on the fingers and require less pressure than a steel strung guitar
  • Good for fingerpicking/classical
  • No need for any other equipment
Cons:

  • These guitars have quite a mellow tone, on cheaper examples this could be described as ‘dull’!
  • They have quite a wide neck radius to get your hands around
  • Changing the strings on a nylon guitar is a bit fiddly
Electric Guitar

 

 

Pros:

  • Less pressure is required to play notes, meaning it is easier than an acoustic guitar.
  • Neck radius isn’t as large , which for some people makes it easier to play
  • Work better for guitar solos than acoustic.
Cons:

  • You will need some additional equipment ( a lead, amplifier and strap)
  • Depending on what you buy, can be a bit more expensive than starting on acoustic.
  • You may find it hard to play acoustic if you start on an electric as you won’t be used to the required pressure needed to play notes.