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Can You Play Acoustic Songs On Electric Guitar? (9 To-Dos)

Can You Play Acoustic Songs On Electric Guitar

Are you a guitar player looking to convert to electric? Or are you an electric guitarist who wants to learn how to play acoustic songs? Learn more about playing acoustic music on your electric guitar from this comprehensive guide and get answered to your question – Can You Play Acoustic Songs On Electric Guitar? If you are a beginner guitarist or a guitar student, this article would be a gem, we promise!

Acoustic songs are sung with the accompaniment of instruments that do not use any electric sources. As such, the acoustic songs are quieter. Acoustic songs were dominant during ancient times but still form a substantial part of modern music today. Even though acoustic songs do not have electronic instruments accompanying the lyrics, one can still play them on electric guitars.

However, the artist would need to minimize the tweaks by removing any form of distortion by using neck pickups and precise amplifiers. That way, the electric guitar would almost sound close to an acoustic guitar. Therefore, playing an acoustic song using an electric guitar is possible. You can play acoustic songs on electric guitar by following the below 9 to-dos:

  1. Use clean guitar amp settings.
  2. Use your neck pickup.
  3. Say “NO” to distortion.
  4. Adjust your playing techniques using more palm muting.
  5. Weaken your strumming force.
  6. Get a clean headphone amp.
  7. Use an acoustic simulator.
  8. Play unplugged.
  9. Change string gauge (optional).

More on each of the above in the later sections. Keep reading!

Are Electric Guitar Notes The Same As Acoustic?

Electric guitar notes are similar to acoustic notes since the fretboards on both the acoustic and electric ones are similar. The difference appears when the guitarists tune the guitar in their style.

Are Electric Guitar Chords The Same As Acoustic?

Electric guitar chords are identical to those on acoustic guitars. The notes and chords are the same on both the fretboards of the electric and acoustic guitars. Guitar chords only change when you utilize a different tune on your instrument. However, some chords sound good on electric chords than on acoustic chords. For example, on an electric, the barre chords and power chords sound significantly better and are much simpler to maneuver and form.

In the case of acoustic guitars, the open chords would have a better sound in an acoustic guitar. Therefore, electric guitar chords are the same as acoustic, only that the difference appears when the guitarist changes the tuning. Furthermore, some chords sound better on acoustic guitars, and others better on electric ones.

Are Electric Playing Style/Techniques The Same Acoustic?

Apart from the noticeable aesthetic and sonic differences between acoustic and electric, there are significant differences in how each feels to play. The physical characteristics of playing an electric and acoustic guitar differ significantly. The strings on an acoustic guitar can feel tight and are larger and heavier. Electric guitars often have smaller, easier-to-hold bodies and softer-feeling strings.

Does Electric Guitar Sound The Same As Acoustic?

Electric guitars are louder than acoustic guitars because the electric guitar sound is amplified by the electronic effect, whereas the acoustic guitar sound is not amplified. An acoustic guitar cannot sound similar to an electric one; however, an electric guitar can sound similar to an acoustic guitar if well modified to do so.

The body of acoustic guitars is made of wood, which provides natural echoes of the sound made. While in an electric, there are small pics or mics, which are electric signal sensors. In essence, they capture the acoustic sound produced by the string’s vibration and transform it into an electric signal, amplify it, process it internally, and then release electric audio signals out the Jack port.

Are There Any Differences between Electric and Acoustic Guitar?

Differences Between Electric And Acoustic Guitar

Several differences distinguish acoustic guitars from electric:

  1. Acoustic guitars produce sound by projecting their body materials, which are wood, and responding to natural resonance with regard to the player’s interventions. In an electric, the sound is amplified and powered by an external and internal electric source.
  2. Regarding Connotation, electric guitars produce a more precise and intense sound, while the acoustic guitar produces a soulful and gentler sound.
  3. Regarding playability, acoustic guitars are hard to play, but their set-up is less challenging than electric, which is easy to play but with a more challenging setup.
  4. Acoustic guitars are more extensive than electric. Thus making them more uncomfortable to handle and carry around.

Can You Play Acoustic Songs on Electric Guitar?

Yes, it is possible to play acoustic songs on electric guitars. However, the artist would need to minimize the tweaks by removing any form of distortion by using neck pickups and clear amplifiers. That way, the electric guitar would almost sound similar to an acoustic guitar. There are several things a guitarist has to consider for them to play an acoustic song on an electric. The player has to ensure the sound is set up to resemble an acoustic guitar’s sound.

Ensure pickups are adequately set to send the required signals to the amplifier. Then again, they need to adjust the distortion to a lower trajectory. That will enable the signal coming from the amplifier to be less intense and distorted. The guitarist should also change their strumming technique to how they play an acoustic guitar. However, due to the weak strings of an electric, the player has to weaken their strumming, unlike when playing on an acoustic guitar. 

Can You Play Classical Songs on Electric Guitar?

Yes, you may use an electric guitar to play classical music. The majority of electric guitar owners also practice the same. Many guitarists purposely play in this way to switch up their style from heavy metal riffs without having to deal with switching guitars. You won’t encounter significant difficulties performing classical music on an electric guitar. You can take pleasure in the singular experience as well.

Can You Play Electric Guitar Songs on Acoustics/Classical Guitars?

Playing electric songs on acoustic or classical is utterly impossible. However, one can at least try. Since it may occasionally get very complicated and not every technique works equally well on acoustic and electric guitars. Though this isn’t always the case, one advantage of exploring most electrical guitar riffs on an acoustic guitar is that you can learn brand-new skills. On the same note, an acoustic guitar, particularly one without cutaways, playing at higher places is just technically much more difficult. Additionally, thicker strings and higher actions on acoustics render it more challenging to play and could make some techniques impossible to execute.

Is It Hard to Play Electric Guitars for Acoustic Players?

No, it is much easier to play an electric if you know how to play an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars are bulkier and more immense than electric, which makes them more uncomfortable and challenging to handle while playing. The electric guitars are smaller and less heavy, thus making them more comfortable and easy to handle while playing. Similarly, acoustic guitars are less difficult to set up than electric, making them harder to play than electric ones. Therefore, it is not harder for acoustic players to play electric ones.

Is Fingerstyle Playing Possible on Electric? 

Is Fingerstyle Possible On Electric Guitar

Acoustic musicians are not the only ones who can fingerpick. Electric guitarists are also capable of doing it. Using fingers in addition to, or occasionally in place of, a pick is exceptionally typical. Employing diverse techniques to pluck the strings is one approach to take advantage of the electric guitar’s high dynamic range. The mechanics for fingerstyle are similar in both electric and acoustic guitars. However, in electric, the strings are less taught and of a smaller gauge than acoustic guitar strings; therefore, the player would have to pick more softly to achieve the excellent tones desired. As such, fingerstyle playing is possible on electric as it is on acoustic guitars.

Do You Require a Pick to Play an Electric?

One must employ various playing methods when playing the guitar without the pick. However, it doesn’t necessarily imply badly for one’s technique. Since it provides one with a unique perspective about why chords play the way they do, thus helping one become more in tune with their guitar. You will become more versatile if you learn to play with your fingers and a pick. A pick is necessary mainly when playing in a band with other musicians since the fingers cannot be as loud as the pick. However, a pick might not be necessary when playing for a smaller audience or playing the guitar alone. 

Do You Require a Capo to Play an Electric?

Similar to an acoustic guitar, one can play electric ones with a capo. However, many people don’t use electric guitars with capos because they are simpler to operate. Although capos have limitations, they can facilitate easy song playing and even offer creative control. Equally, while practicing or trying to find new tones on an electric, using a capo may be very helpful. Beginners will benefit the most from this as it will help them learn finger positions more effectively. Otherwise, it will take much more effort. Additionally, the capo helps accelerate converting music into other keys, saving effort and time. But do professional guitarists use capos? Read our comprehensive guide here.

How to Play Acoustic Songs on Electric Guitar?

Acoustic songs, as mentioned above, can be played using electric guitars. However, it would require technical expertise to attain that. There are several steps that an electric guitarist would need to undertake before they can play the electric guitar in acoustic mode. The steps to making an electric to play acoustic songs are:

Use Clean Guitar Amp Settings

For the electric guitar to sound more similar to an acoustic guitar, one has to change the amplifier settings to play clean tunes. Such will help minimize distortion, and treble, eliminate the overdrive and increase the bass. 

Use Your Neck Pickup

An electric guitar’s neck pickups can produce a softer sound that is more appropriate for acoustic music. By switching up the pickup on the guitar, one can switch to using the neck pickup. Pickups are often built of copper wire-wound with Alnico or ferrite magnets. Every guitar’s string has a unique pole piece, which creates something like a magnetic field that, when routed by an amp, transforms the mechanical force of the striking metal strings into sound. Therefore the neck pickups critically help convert the electric guitar to sound more like an acoustic one.

Say “NO” to Distortion

You must adjust the volume buttons to avoid producing distorted sounds. Even after configuring the natural sound, the electric guitars may still sound distorted. Since the signal entering an amp is frequently higher and also more distorted. It’s necessary to turn the distortions and volume knobs down. The volume buttons help eliminate distortion and maintain the required acoustic clean sound.

Adjust Your Playing Techniques Using More Palm Muting

The sound of an electric guitar produced from a guitar’s amplifier is much more resonant. That is why performing an acoustic song with an electric requires increased palm muting. Strings that aren’t muted sufficiently will flare out too loudly, thus affecting the quality of sound from your guitar.

Weaken Your Strumming Force

Many acoustic songs are strung. As such, the electric guitar can also be strung but uses reduced strength than the acoustic guitar since the strings in an electric are soft and less taught. Strumming the electric guitar while using a lot of strength would make the sound so distorted and too intense than what is initially produced by an acoustic guitar. As such, weakening the strumming force helps the guitarist avoid distortion and move away from the required acoustic sounds. 

Get a Clean Headphone Amp

Headphone amplifiers are compact gadgets that connect your guitar and headphones. They help the guitarists to play electric music discreetly. While playing acoustic songs on an electric, one needs to have them on to allow them to listen to acoustic songs while playing the electric. That helps to guide the guitarist to be on key and not to lose the appropriate tone of the acoustic harmonics. The guitarist might incorporate distortions without the clean headphones amp and play off key. Therefore the clean headphone amp is critical in helping the guitarist play acoustic songs using the electric guitar. 

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Blackstar AP2 FLY Headphone Guitar Amp
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Use Acoustic Simulator

An acoustic simulator helpsconvert the sound of the electric guitar to that of an acoustic guitar by using the guitar pedal. The best approach to emulate the acoustic guitar tone on any electric guitar is by employing an acoustic simulation pedal. The pedal link to the guitar and amplifier to alter the sound. They are specialized equalizer pedals that, primarily through adjusting the treble mids and bass, help to reproduce the harmonics that the acoustic guitars make a sound. Reverberation and tone settings for the mids, bass, and treble are typically included. 

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Acoustic Guitar Effect Pedal, Regular (Mosaic)
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You Can Play It Unplugged

Acoustic-electric guitars, also known as electro-acoustic guitars, are acoustic guitars that have circuits incorporated inside them to increase their intensity. Apart from the tiny screen with the settings and socket, they resemble acoustic guitars in appearance. When played without amplifiers, acoustic-electric guitars have a sound identical to a regular acoustic. However, after being plugged in, their tone will slightly alter. There is frequent distortion, and many contend they cannot reproduce the authentic acoustic sound.

Change Your String Gauge

Changing the string gauge is optional, though one might decide to use acoustic strings in an electric guitar. Acoustic strings have more tension and require more strength when strumming, unlike electric guitar strings, which are softer and require less strength when playing.However, changing the string gauge alone does not qualify the electric guitar to sound like an acoustic guitar. Though it might, to some extent, combined with other modifications, help the electric guitar reproduce the acoustic sound.

Is It a Good Idea to Play Acoustic Songs on Electric Guitar?

Yes, it is, only that the electric guitar will have to be modified to enable it to reproduce the original acoustic sound. It is not a bad idea for those who can afford or don’t find it tiresome to modify their electric guitars. However, it would be advisable not to interfere with the electric guitar but instead get an acoustic guitar for the acoustic songs.

It all depends on the level of experience that one has with guitars. It would not be wise to advise an amateur in guitars to modify their electric guitar for them to use it to play acoustic songs. But that would be cool with an experienced guitar user who knows what is needed and how to fix what is needed for the electric guitar to sound similar to the acoustic guitar. 

Examples: Acoustic Guitar Popular Songs Played On Electric

Three examples of popular songs played on electric include:

Country Roads | John Denver | Electric Guitar Cover By C. Lalnunkima
Heart Of Gold | Neil Young | Electric Guitar Cover By Ely Jaffe
Nothing Else Matters | Metallica

All of them are widely accepted popular songs created for acoustics but played on electrics. They are our favorite songs as well 😀

Final Verdict

Electric guitarists play many acoustic songs, and it is possible to execute that. However, it requires experience to do that. Not every guitar player can do it since it requires a lot of modifications on the electric guitar, and only an experienced guitarist can do that. The electric guitar would need adjustments on the amp settings and neck pickups. The guitarists would need to eliminate any form of distortions that would alter the original tone produced by the acoustic guitar. Equally, the guitarists must adjust the playing techniques by increasing palm muting and weakening their strumming strength to avoid distortions. 

Correspondingly, it would require that the guitarist use clean headphone amplifiers to get the required acoustic tunes. One can achieve that by using acoustic simulators or playing with unplugged instruments. Lastly, the guitarists might also choose to change the string gauge of the electric guitar. All that would require experience, and by regular practicing with devotion, you can get that experience too!

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Author | Electric Guitar and Gear Expert at Instrument Insight | Website

Cornell K. Benson is from Mansfield, OH. He is 30 years old and has expertise in electric guitars and gears. Cornell has a great understanding of electric guitars and their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. He also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of various electric guitar brands.

Author | Acoustic and Classical Guitar Expert at Instrument Insight | Website

James B. Laskowski was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He has been working as an acoustic and classical guitar expert at Instrument Insight for over 5 years. In this time, he has gained a great understanding of acoustic and classical guitars and gears, their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. James also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of many acoustic and classical guitar brands.


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