If you are buying a guitar for the first time, you would be invariably split between an acoustic vs electric guitar. There are different factors involved when choosing between the two, and the cost for many first-timers will be a major criterion.
So, are electric guitars cheaper than acoustic? No, they’re not. In fact, it’s the other way around. This doesn’t imply that base-variant electric guitars are expensive than the more high-end acoustic guitars. But if you were to compare apples to apples or an electric and acoustic guitar that cater to guitarists with an almost identical set of skills and experience, the electric guitar will cost you more almost every time.
*Also look at these buyer guides:
- best electric guitar for the money – electric guitars under $300
- best acoustic guitar for the money – acoustic guitars under $1000 – acoustic guitars under $500 – acoustic guitars under $300
In fact, even the least expensive or a low-end electric guitar could cost more than a mid-range acoustic guitar. Also, you will have to buy a few more accessories for your electric guitar, and those costs add up. For instance, you would need a patch cable and an amplifier for an electric guitar. An acoustic guitar just doesn’t require those things.
You would also need pedals or effects units to accompany your electric guitar. With acoustic guitars, you require a set of handy accessories that you would need for an electric guitar too, besides the capo.
If you are a beginner guitarist, cost shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind when picking a good beginner guitar. There are a few other things to consider as well.
The kind of music you would like to play would have the maximum bearing on the kind of guitar you should look to purchase. If you aspire to play rock, you will naturally incline toward an electric guitar. If you are more into country and folk music, an acoustic guitar would be a great match.
Ease of Play
Though difficult to master, an electric guitar is extremely easy to play. You can play the guitar as a beginner for hours together and will still not find that your guitar fingers hurt. If you think that the fretted notes are not sounding right, you can always increase your amp’s volume to correct that. Moreover, an electric guitar’s strings are closely positioned.
The neck is relatively narrow, which means your hand would be able to make most of the scale and chord shapes without stretching too much. An electric guitar’s cutaways also let you easily access the upper frets, letting you explore soloing and strumming higher toward the neck on the very first day of your practice.
Like electric guitars, an acoustic guitar at times comes with cutaways, offering you a complete array of notes. The large acoustic guitar shape could make them a tad heavier or unwieldy. But on the flip side, the larger shape means you can rest your picking hand on the guitar’s body while playing, leading to less hand fatigue when compared to an electric guitar.
Mastering the Basics
For most first-time guitarists, an acoustic guitar is the instrument of choice since it’s the most balanced of the two in terms of playability, sound, etc. Acoustic guitars may not be as versatile or simple to play as an electric guitar, but they aren’t on the other side of the spectrum either.
To grasp acoustic guitar-playing basics, you might need a few more days of practice. But that’s a great thing as you would be learning quite a bit in the process. And those lessons could be applied to other guitar types as well, such as an electric guitar, when you make the transition.
An acoustic guitar is ideal for working on your basics, which include chords, scales, riffs, and chord progressions. If a particular note is incorrect, you can easily discern that on an acoustic guitar and make corrections. An electric guitar, on the other hand, tends to conceal the mistakes you make as a beginner guitarist, which may not help the learner in you.
An acoustic guitar sounds more natural compared to an electric guitar, thanks to the former’s high sustain levels. An acoustic guitar is built in a way that when its string vibrates, the body works as a natural amplifier. Acoustic guitars have hollow, large bodies for a reason. Its sound chamber has a major role to play in the tone and amplification of the instrument.
An acoustic guitar’s tone is also significantly influenced by the kind of wood used for its construction. Referred to as tonewoods, an acoustic guitar uses wood for its top, sides and back, and also the neck, bridge, and fingerboard. There are also quite a few other major design elements built into the guitar’s body.
When the string of an electric guitar vibrates, it does not sound as loud because solid-body guitars don’ have sound chambers. Electric guitars, therefore, employ pickups to amplify their sound. A pickup is basically a wire-wrapped magnet. It produces a magnetic field within the area that immediately surrounds the guitar strings. When a string is plucked, the vibration disrupts the magnetic area and a signal goes to the amplifier from the pickup.
However, this doesn’t mean the materials used to build the guitar and the overall construction do not matter. The string vibration is colored by factors such as the guitar’s weight and size, the woods used to construct the instrument, and the technique used to link the neck with the guitar body.
If you want an electric guitar and your budget is fairly tight, look to buy a starter pack. These starter kits typically consist of everything you require to get you rolling almost instantly. It includes the guitar, a cable, an amp, plectrums and a strap at a fairly affordable price. If the starter pack doesn’t cut it for you, you can find quite a few inexpensive standalone electric guitars.
If you would like to take the acoustic guitar route — which you should as a beginner so that you could master the basics — then cost should not be a matter of concern. Besides the lesser initial cost, an acoustic guitar also doesn’t make you spend more on some of the accessories that electric guitars absolutely need.