Instrument Insight

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Like An Acoustic? [Sound, Accessories And Pro Tips]

Learn can you play an electric guitar like an acoustic from every aspect!

Today’s topic is a somewhat controversial one. Recently, I’ve been getting asked one particular question: can you play an electric guitar like an acoustic?

You can play your electric guitar like an acoustic. But, making your electric guitar sound like an acoustic depends on a few things.

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I tried to be a little nosey about this and went on being “Dora, the explorer” to find more. If you want to be an explorer as well, I urge you to go through the article and discover the uncovered mystery.

Are Electric Guitar Chords The Same As Acoustic?

They are exactly the same! There is no difference between the electric and acoustic guitar chords. The only two differences that you may find are in the sound and playability.

You can easily differentiate between the acoustic tone and the amplified sound of an electric guitar. The acoustic tone or the acoustic guitar sound is more like a raw type of natural sound with a clean tone usually created by an acoustic player using different chords on acoustic strings.

Some chords sound a little different on the electric guitar. The reason behind this is the use of an amplifier. Acoustic guitars don’t require amplifiers. However, electric guitars require to produce electric sound. There is a type 3 called acoustic-electric guitar which can be played with or without amps.

The acoustic-electric guitar is also known as electro-acoustic or trans-acoustic guitar. The chords of an acoustic-electric guitar are also similar to pure acoustic and electric guitars.

When it comes to playability, electric guitarists find themselves more comfortable as electric guitars require different kinds of playing techniques that need lighter touch and less finger pressure with less finger strength to make huge sounds.

But, if you slightly change the point of view, playability and comfort much depend on any player’s personal preferences. So, there’s nothing to worry about for beginner guitarists.

In fact, most beginner guitarists prefer acoustic music and acoustic playing over electric playing using acoustic strings to start with to ensure a proper learning journey

Thus, they eliminate the extra complexity of tone controls required for an electric and acoustic-electric guitar. Many beginner guitar lessons also suggest doing so. Though, the preferred style of music is a key factor here.

What About Fretboard And Notes?

The fretboard of electric, acoustic, and acoustic-electric guitar is the same. Manufacturers often bring their own varieties, where the acoustic guitars have slightly wider fretboards. But there’s a difference in fret numbers.

The pure acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars usually have 20 frets among which 14 are open in full-size dreadnought non-cutaway guitars and all are open in cutaway guitars. On the other hand, the number of frets varies from 21 to 22 on electric guitars in most cases.

Other than those, you won’t find any differences between the acoustic, electric, and acoustic-electric guitar fretboards. The same goes for notes. There are barely any differences between the notes on pure acoustic, electric, and acoustic-electric guitar.

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Like An Acoustic?

As I mentioned at the very beginning of the article, you can play electric guitar like an acoustic one. But the chances are that the sound won’t be the same.

To make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic, you will need an acoustic simulator. This device allows your electric guitar to sound like a woody acoustic guitar by simulating the signals. We will talk more about these later in this article.

However, you can also use acoustic simulation software.

Difference Between Playing Acoustic And Electric Guitar

Acoustic Guitars Vs. Electric Guitars

Finger Playability On Acoustic vs. Electric Guitars

Though we already discussed a bit above, you need to know one step further. So, here it goes!

The first thing you will experience while playing the guitar is how it feels under your fingers. Acoustic guitars make a clean sound with string vibration. You will find the strings heavy.

On the other hand, the electric guitar strings are thin and made of nickel-plated steel, pure nickel, etc. Thus, your fingers will feel less pressure. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a clean sound through amplification.

What You Can Play On Acoustic vs. Electric Guitars

When you are an experienced guitarist, you can play anything you want, no matter what type of guitar it is. Still, some genres sound better in one particular type of guitar rather than any other.

With an acoustic guitar, you can play anything from folk, country, and pop, to jazz. Quite similarly, with an electric guitar, you can play anything from pop, jazz, rock, n roll to heavy metal.

Acoustic vs. Electric Guitar Lap Comfort

If your guitar does not sit in a good position on your lap, playing it will be uncomfortable. The design of the guitars can be responsible for this.

Acoustic guitars’ designs are a little wider. It becomes difficult to adjust and play, especially if a kid is trying to play it. It becomes challenging for kids to get a good grasp and reach the fretboard properly.

But, electric guitars have a slim design. They are also lightweight. That’s why adjusting them on the lap is more comfortable.

Acoustic vs. Electric Guitar Important Accessories

These are the important accessories of both types of guitars:

Guitar Case

There are three types of guitar cases: gig, soft and hard. All three types are suitable for acoustic guitars. However, you will need a hard case for your electric guitar. Flight cases are preferred if you travel overseas with your guitar.

Tuner

There are clip-on tuners to tune your acoustic guitars. On the other hand, you will need a pedal tuner for your electric guitar. Learn 9 different approaches to tuning your guitar.

Picks

Thin or extra light guitar picks can create an extraordinary sound on your acoustic and classical guitar. And, heavy picks are more suitable for electric guitars.

Guitar Amp

The acoustic and electric guitar amps are quite a contrast to each other. An acoustic guitar with piezo pedals requires acoustic amps. On the other hand, electric guitar amps are connected directly to the guitar and create a coloring sound through amplification.

Guitar Pedal

Guitar pedals help create sound. However, electric guitars don’t always require it. But if you want to create an acoustic sound with your electric guitar, you would need a pedal. As for acoustic guitars, these guitars don’t require pedals unless you want to add sound effects.

Spare Strings

Usually, acoustic guitars have steel strings, and electric ones have nickel strings. Depending on how frequently you use your guitar, you will need to change them from time to time. But can you use acoustic strings on an electric guitar? Here’s the detailed guideline.

Can An Electric Guitar Play An Acoustic Sound?

Can you play electric guitar like an acoustic? If you can, is your electric guitar capable of making an acoustic sound?

Of course, you would want it to sound like an acoustic. But will it? Let’s check out what would help you in this regard.

Acoustic Guitar Simulator Pedals

This is the easiest way to make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic. You only need to plug it into the guitar and start playing.

Let’s have a look at this comparison between using an acoustic simulator pedal on an electric vs pure acoustic:

Piezo Pickup

Piezo pickup is known to be very effective in creating close acoustic sound. It works great on hollow-body guitars.

EQ Pedals

EQ or Equalizer pedals are also effective in simulating acoustic sound with their adjustable frequency.

But remember, none of these pedals will create an exact acoustic sound. However, with proper adjustment, these will take you as close as they can get.

Learning On Acoustic Vs. Electric (Pros & Cons)

The conflicts between these two types of guitars are endless. So, the best thing I could offer is to bring forward the pros and cons so that you can decide the rest.

Acoustic Guitar

Pros

  • If you are looking for the simplest way to start playing the guitar, the acoustic guitar is a suitable choice.
  • It does not require extra tools or accessories like the amp, cables, or sometimes picks.
  • Learning acoustic guitar first will allow you to be comfortable when you move to electric guitar.
  • Suitable to play folk, classical, and jazz music.

Cons

  • Wider design and the fretboard are not suitable for everyone.
  • Strings weigh more, and fingers can get sore after playing for a long time.
  • Not suitable if you are going to try more modern music like rock or heavy metal.

Electric Guitar

Pros

  • Provides high pitch sound with a powerful outcome
  • Versatile design and lightweight features make it suitable for everyone.
  • The fretboard is slim, and the nylon strings are lightweight. Thus, your hands or fingers won’t be sore even after playing for a long time.
  • The best part is that you can play an electric guitar with your headphones on without disturbing anyone with the noise.
  • It is suitable for playing heavy metal and rock n roll music.

Cons

  • It can be difficult to set up the necessary tools.
  • It might be a little challenging to figure out the amps, cables, and accessories.

What Type Of Electric Guitar Is Best For Beginners?

When it comes to electric guitars, you will find a huge variety to choose from. However, if you are only starting, I would recommend something that comes at a lower price.

Or, look for a budget electric guitar. You will find good quality guitars within a small budget, and they are suitable for beginners.

Check out the guitars from brands like Fender, Ibanez, Squier by Fender, Epiphone, etc. And look for slim-neck, solid-body guitars. They are comfortable, for starters.

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Pro-Tip

1. Try Before You Buy

How would you know if the guitar you want to buy is right for you? Or, which guitar is suitable for you?

That’s why you need to try the guitar before you buy it. And make sure to check a few things before you make your final decision.

2. Body And Neck

Check if the body’s material and the neck design allow you to hold it right and with ease.

3. Strings

Acoustic and electric guitars come with different types of strings. Try to feel them with your fingers and see which ones feel comfortable.

4. Lap Comfort And Slip

Make sure to check if the guitar sits correctly on your lap and whether its position allows you to play with a comfortable movement. It should not slip off your lap or should not be too big for you.

There’s no need to be embarrassed if you are still unable to decide. Musical instrument shops will have someone to help you. If not, discuss more with an expert or take someone experienced with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If I Play Acoustic Guitar, Can I Play Electric Guitar?

Ans: You cannot be as fluent in electric guitar as you are with an acoustic on the first go. But, you can play an electric guitar if you know how to play an acoustic one. The techniques of playing both guitars are the very same. You only need to get past a few things to master playing the electric guitar like an acoustic.

Q. If I’m Good At Acoustic, Will I Be A Better Electric Player?

Ans: Yes, and no. At the beginning of playing an electric guitar, you will find differences in a few things. The guitar designs are not the same, and the strings of the electric guitar are lightweight. And, of course, you need to use an amplifier. Once you get through all these, you will be better at playing electric ones with practice.

Q. Is It Harder To Play Electric Guitar Than Acoustic?

Ans: One may find electric guitar easy to play while another will pick acoustic. The electric guitar has flexible strings. But it requires a few things to play with. You need to learn about them too. As for an acoustic, you only need an acoustic guitar to start with.

Q. I’m A Beginner. Should I Just Move To Electric?

Ans: Experienced guitarists will always tell you to start with an acoustic guitar if you are starting from scratch. That’s because acoustic guitar strings are heavy and will need your strength to play them. Playing an acoustic guitar will help you prepare for the next level. So, if you move to an electric guitar after learning an acoustic, playing it would be comfortable.

Q. Can I Play Classical Music On An Electric Guitar?

Ans: Let’s say not everyone who plays classical music these days owns a classical guitar. Guitarists often tend to play classical music with an electric guitar. Of course, the sound will not be the same, but you can still play it with an electric guitar. And an interesting part of this is that you won’t even need an amp if you play classical with your electric guitar.

Final Words

Most of the time, the first instrument a music fan prefers to play is the guitar. That’s why there are so many questions revolving around this topic.

Now, can you play electric guitar like an acoustic? You surely can.

Playing musical instruments is something that depends more on personal choice and interest. So do not get disheartened if you cannot learn fast and keep on practicing.

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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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