Today I’ll explain why electric guitars are easier than acoustic guitars for beginners.
I started on electric guitar and I’m glad that I did! And as a teacher who has taught guitar lessons for years, I recommend that students begin with electric guitar.
Now here’s my list of reasons that electric guitar is easier than acoustic guitar:
1. Electric Guitar Bodies Are More Comfortable
While the shapes and sizes of both guitar bodies vary from model to model, in general, electric guitar bodies are more comfortable. They have narrower bodies that are easier to put your arm around, especially for young people and people with shorter arms.
Designs such as that of the fender stratocaster feature contoured bodies that fit comfortably under your arm and against your side.
In contrast, the bodies of acoustic guitars are often wide and boxy, with hard edges where the sides meet the top and back.
2. Electric Guitar Strings Are Easier to Press
Electric guitar strings are generally easier to press against the frets, because they have less tension that acoustic guitar strings. This is the fundamental thing that guitarists do, so this is a core reason why it it is easier to play electric. Every note and chord simply requires less physical effort.
The strings of an acoustic guitar are generally more tense and require more force to press down, especially when fretting chords. It is normal for beginners to notice some soreness at the tips of their fingers when learning to play. This will be more problematic with acoustic guitar.
3. Electric Guitars are Easier to Play Loud
Because they can be used with amplifiers, it is easier to play electric guitars loudly. Some acoustic guitars can be plugged into amps, but some cannot. If you want to play along with a band, even just bass and drums, it is is easier for the guitar to blend with the band because of the amp.
Without an amp, you will be playing your acoustic a full force the whole time trying to keep up. It is nice to be able to play with dynamics. Playing single notes on acoustic guitar will be drowned out more easily by the drums.
4. Electric Guitars have a Better Selection
Most music stores have a better selection of electric guitars. This is probably due to the higher demand for electric guitars. With a better selection, you are more likely to find the features you are looking for at a price you are comfortable with.
If you are left handed, the selection of guitars can be pretty bleak to begin with. Don’t be afraid to buy online, just do your “homework” before buying and make sure the seller offers returns just in case.
5. Easier to Change Electric Guitar Strings
I find it easier to change the strings of an electric guitar. Depending on the electric model, you will have to route each string through the bridge, through a slot in the nut, and into and around a tuning peg on the headstock.
Some acoustic guitars have a set of pegs in the bridge which hold the strings down. It is not apparent how to remove these pegs, and they sometimes become stuck. I’ve always found it quicker to change electric strings, which is important to me as a performer.
If you do not have a back-up guitar ready at your concert, changing strings quickly is a must!
6. Electric Guitar Can Be Played Very Quietly
Electric guitars are actually quite quiet when played without an amplifier. This is a benefit if you don’t want to disturb other people around you. If you want to practice in a quiet space without disturbing your family or neighbors, electric guitar is a great option.
In other words, an electric guitar can be played very loud or very quiet, while acoustic guitar tends to be in a moderate volume, relatively speaking.
7. Electric Guitars are Easier to Adjust
The two most common adjustments you’ll have to make to your guitar are adjusting the action (height of strings) and adjusting the neck. Adjusting the action of electric guitars is usually quite straight forward. Typically, there are screws or Allan wrench sockets that adjust the height of each string individually.
Most acoustic guitar have bridges made of wood and plastic and do not feature these adjusters. In my experience, lowering the action of an acoustic guitar is done by filing the slots of the bridge and/or nut and raising the action involves raising (with a shim) or replacing the nut and or bridge.
These are things that I would strongly suggest having a professional luthier do.
Neck adjustments are made with the truss rod (metal rod that goes through the neck of most guitars). The rod is typically adjusted by a mechanism at either end of the neck, sometimes there is a cover for these mechanisms. In that case, you’ll have to remove the truss rod cover before making adjustments.
That goes for any truss rod adjustments as well, experiment with an inexpensive guitar before trying these things with an instrument that you value. Feel free to adjust your own action and intonation on your electric guitar.
8. Easier to Solo on Electric Guitar
I find it much easier to solo on electric guitar. This makes sense because most pop and rock guitar solos are done on electric guitar. When playing a solo it is nice to be able to play high, bend, slide, use vibrato, use distortion, delay, and other effects. All of these things are easier on electric guitar!
On the other hand, if you are really into Django Rhinehardt or any other acoustic guitar soloist, feel free to try that material on acoustic guitar.
9. Easier to Emulate Pop and Rock Electric Guitar
Most beginning guitar players want to learn pop and rock songs. The vast majority of that material is electric guitar material. The largest exception being acoustic singer / songwriter material, or light rock. It makes sense to use an instrument similar to what your favorite artist use.
The majority of my students want to learn the music of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc. So usually I recommend a fender stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Or Gibson SG. The Stratocaster is arguably the most versatile and popular electric guitar, so it is a great choice to start with.
And Squire Stratocaster guitars are more affordable than the top of the line Fender models.
10. Electric Guitars Can use Effects Pedals
Effects pedals are designed to be used with electric guitar. They feature input and output jacks to be used with 1/4″ (“quarter inch”) instrument cables.
If your acoustic guitar does not have an output for an instrument cable (some do not) you will not be able to plug it into this type of effects unit. The only way to use effects in this case is to mic your guitar and process the mic signal.
If your acoustic guitar does have an output jack, go ahead and try your effects pedals, but keep in mind that this will sound different than using an electric guitar.
11. Electric Guitars Have Lower Action
The term “action” refers to how far away the strings are from the fingerboard. The strings have to be pressed down to the frets, so this distance is relevant to how easy the guitar is to play.
Acoustic guitars typically have higher action compared to electric guitars, do acoustics require more physical effort to play. Action and string tension are the main factors that determine how easy a guitar is to play.
12. Easier to Play High Notes on Electric Guitar
The fingerboards of many acoustic guitars continue into the body of the guitar. These notes are hard to access comfortably. Most electric guitars are designed with cutaways which enable your hand to reach the high notes more easily.
This is a reason why acoustic guitar tend to favor the low and middle ranges of the instrument. I’ve always enjoyed having easy access to all the notes on my electric guitars.
13. Easier Slides, Bends, and Vibrato on Electric Guitar
Since electric strings are generally closer to the frets and less tense, it is easier to use slides, bends, and vibrato. Guitarists love these techniques. Perhaps because they make the guitar sound less mechanical. More like a voice and less like a piano.
The low action helps with sliding. If the action is high, it takes more effort to press the strings and that pressure must be maintained while moving along the neck, to achieve a sliding effect.
If you’ve ever tried to band or use vibrato on an acoustic guitar, you know it is not easy. The strings are so tense that attempting a bend can be pretty taxing on the joints of your fingers.
14. Narrow Necks on Electric Guitars
The necks of electric guitars are generally slimmer and more comfortably contoured compared to those of acoustic guitars. This is another factor that simply makes electric guitars easier to play! Can you tell, I’m a big fan of electric guitars? Well, now you know why 🙂