A Guide On Acoustic-Electric Guitars Vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

You may have come across electric-acoustic guitars on your search for a regular acoustic guitar.

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

Upon further study, you will probably have found that these two instruments are actually quite different despite their similar appearance. 

Even for a professional guitar player, it can be quite tough when you are on the search for a new instrument only to find that there are more options than you were aware of.

These guitars look the same but do they produce the same sound? You probably have a ton of questions about the non-electric acoustic guitar and the electric acoustic guitar, luckily for you in this article we are going to explore these differences. 

At the end of it all, you should understand the difference between these guitars and above all, you will know which one is better suited to your needs.

So before you head down to your local guitar shop, read our article, so you can find out which instrument is better suited to your needs. 

So, without further ado, let us get started!

Normal Acoustic Guitar – What Exactly Is It?

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

You most likely know what an acoustic guitar is, but for the sake of those of you who do not, we are going to take a look at what exactly an acoustic guitar is. 

An acoustic guitar is typically made from wood such as spruce or mahogany with a solid top body, a hollow back and sides, and a neck joint that connects the headstock to the fretboard.

The strings are usually made from steel or nylon. There is also a bridge that sits between the strings and the sound hole on the side of the guitar near the fingerboard.

This allows the player to adjust how high the strings go up.

The biggest difference between an acoustic guitar (regular) and an electric guitar is that an acoustic guitar does not use electricity to amplify its sound.

An acoustic guitar uses the vibrations of the strings to create music instead of amplifying them through a speaker.

In addition, an acoustic guitar has no pick guard, whereas a regular guitar has a pick guard to protect the strings from damage.  

Construction

The construction of an acoustic guitar is very simple. All acoustic guitars consist of three parts: the top, back, and sides. Each component plays a vital role in producing the desired sound.

Top – This is the resonating chamber. It’s usually made out of wood or plastic. The material should be chosen based on the type of music you plan to play.

Wood tends to produce warmer-sounding guitars. As opposed to plastics, which tend to produce brighter sounding guitars.

Additionally, the shape of the top has a big impact on the overall tone. Generally speaking, round tops produce deeper lows and brighter highs.

Whereas square tops produce softer low notes and brighter high notes.

Back – This is the part of the guitar behind the face. It helps support the top and adds strength to the structure. Typically, this consists of one solid piece of wood.

However, there are many options for backs. They range from single ply maple to multi-ply maple to laminate backs.

Laminate backs are more popular among players who prefer a brighter tone than those who prefer a mellower one.

Sides – These are the sides of the guitar. They are also known as the sides of the instrument. Most acoustics have a thin veneer on the edges of the instrument.

This gives the guitar its characteristic rounded look. There are several types of woods used to make the sides. Some common ones include mahogany, rosewood, spruce, and koa.

Soundboard – The sound board is what produces all the sounds heard by the audience. It is located right above the pickup area. Its size determines how much volume the guitar will produce.

A larger sound board will produce louder volumes. But smaller sound boards will give off quieter tones.

To get the best sound possible, the sound board must be kept clean. Otherwise, it will affect the quality of the sound.

Pickups – Pickups are found inside the sound hole. They are responsible for picking up vibrations from the strings. They amplify them through a speaker cone.

Pickups come in two main varieties: magnetic pickups and piezo pickups. Magnetic pickups work best for electric instruments. Piezo pickups are better suited to acoustic instruments.

Hardware – Alll acoustic guitars have hardware. This includes things like frets, nut, saddle (also called the bridge), tuners, and fingerboards.

The frets act as markers to help determine where each string begins. Frets are placed every so often along the length of the neck.

Tuners are used to tune the guitar. Saddles are used to keep the strings from slipping while playing. And fingerboards are used to allow the player to pluck the strings.

Acoustic-Electric Guitar – What Exactly Is It?

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

Now that we have looked at what exactly an acoustic guitar is can get into what an acoustic-electric guitar actually is.

Both instruments look extremely similar, so much so it is very difficult to tell the difference just by looking at them.

Despite the fact that the acoustic-electric guitar is almost identical in build, there are notable differences between the inner workings of each instrument.

But the one that is most significant is the electric components that you can find inside the acoustic-electric guitar.

These components make it so that you can plug your guitar into an amplifier or sound board if you so wish.

The most common electrical components you will find in an acoustic-electric guitar are as follows: 

  • A Magnetic Pickup
  • A Piezo Pickup
  • A Built-in Microphone

An Effects Unit

There are other components that can be added to the acoustic-electric guitar depending on the preferences of the buyer.

For example, some people choose to add effects units to their acoustic-electric guitars while others opt for adding amplifiers.

Regardless, both types of acoustic-electric guitars offer many benefits over their acoustic counterparts. 

Pros And Cons Of An Acoustic-Electric Guitar

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

This instrument is not for everyone, in fact, it will only be suitable for those of you that have had plenty of experience playing acoustic guitars in general.

While an acoustic guitar is one of the most popular instruments for people to learn to play in the world, it is important to note that there are a ton of different variations of this one instrument.

As such it is essential that you understand acoustic guitars and can make an educated choice as to which one will be most suitable for your needs. 

Because of these variations, you will need to have an idea of what characteristics you are looking for in your new instrument.

On top of that, you will need to consider the integrity you are trying to maintain when you are doing live performances.

It is especially critical not to switch to an acoustic-electric guitar if you already have a reputation for a specific sound and feel. 

Despite all that, acoustic-electric guitars are actually pretty amazing instruments. Especially if you want to take your musical journey onto the stage.

A regular acoustic guitar may present issues when you are using just a microphone. This severely limits the amount of movement you can do while you are performing. 

But even if you are okay with using a microphone to amplify your guitar you still have the added issues of microphone quality.

Wherever you are performing your gig, you will have to rely on whatever microphone is available, and a poor quality microphone can drastically change the quality of your audio. 

With all of this in mind, let us take a look at the pros and cons of getting an acoustic-electric guitar. 

Let’s Look At The Pros

  • Versatile Playability – You can play an acoustic-electric guitar whether it is plugged in or not. 
  • Sound Projection – Because of the electrical components and ability to be plugged into an amplifier you are certain to have better sound projection if you need it. 
  • Amplified Harmonic Overtones – You may notice that when you are playing an acoustic-electric guitar that your harmonic overtones are more amplified. 
  • Customized Sound – With the added benefit of being able to plug your acoustic guitar into amplifiers and sound boards you will have the ability to customize the sound. 
  • Price – While acoustic-electric guitars are more expensive than regular acoustic guitars, it is not by a big amount. So, if you want one of these guitars you would not have to pay an extortionate amount to get the features that an acoustic-electric guitar offers. 
  • Freedom of Movement – Because you do not have to stand still by your microphone when you are performing live. You have the ability to move around as much as you like on stage when your acoustic-electric guitar is plugged into the amplifier.
  • Extremely Similar Sound – Despite some electronic perks the acoustic-electric guitar still looks, sounds and plays just like a regular acoustic guitar. 

Let’s Look At The Cons

  • Access to a Power Source – If you want to utilize the perks of an acoustic-electric guitar, and you want to plug it in you will always need access to a power source of some sort. This can be problematic if there are a lot of people using an already limited power source at a gig. 
  • Malfunctions can be Pricey – If any one of the electrical components malfunctions or breaks you may have to fork out a lot of money and replace all the components to get everything working properly again. 
  • Additional Kit – When you purchase an acoustic-electric guitar you will need a bunch of accessories that likely will not come included in the purchase of your instrument. Some places sell accessories with their instruments, but these products are often not the best quality and are not worth the money to have to pay for them. So, if you want good quality equipment you will have to set aside a bunch of money over and above the purchase of your acoustic-electric guitar. 
  • Not Always Necessary – You do not always need the features that an acoustic-electric guitar offers. While the features are useful if you are planning on performing at a live performance or other such gigs, plugging your guitar into an amplifier if you just want to record a video of yourself is not necessary. At that point, a regular acoustic guitar might be better suited to your needs. 

Which Option Is Better For Beginners?

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

There is a great divide when it comes to people’s opinions on whether a regular acoustic guitar to an acoustic-electric guitar is better for a beginner.

Honestly, neither group is right or wrong. Which guitar you start with will be entirely dependent on what you need out of your instrument as well as what your personal choice is.

An acoustic-electric guitar is highly recommended because it is versatile and easier to use. But a regular acoustic guitar is often recommended because it is harder which in turn sets you up to be a better player overall. 

But as we have said, at the end of the day it is entirely dependent on what your personal preference is and what you require the guitar for. 

So, let us talk about some of the facts that might go into helping you decide which instrument is best for you and your needs. 

The Shape And Size

Acoustic guitars and acoustic-electric guitars will be the same shape and size with an almost identical form. The only difference is that the electric guitar has electronics built into it.

These include buttons, switches, knobs, etc. so that you can adjust the sound of your instrument. That being said, the shape and size of a guitar is the main thing to consider when deciding which type of guitar to buy.

A big part of this decision is going to be how much room you have available in your home or apartment.

You should make sure that you know exactly what each one does before making a final decision. 

If space is an issue then maybe an acoustic-electric guitar isn’t the best option for you. However, if you don’t mind having a smaller guitar then you could opt for an acoustic guitar.

Sound Quality

This is the most important factor when buying a guitar. This is why many acoustic-electric guitars cost more than regular acoustic guitars.

Because they are made from better materials and have higher quality components. They also offer different sounds and tones.

For example, there are several types of pickups used in acoustic electrics. These pickups allow you to choose between single coil, humbucker, split coil, and piezo. 

On the other hand, acoustic guitars usually feature a standard pickup. Often times these are active pickups where you can control them through a volume pedal.

Or passive pickups where you cannot control them. Either way, both types of acoustic guitars offer similar sounds.

So selecting between them really depends on what kind of tone you like and how loud you play.

Tone

Another reason why acoustic-electric guitars are expensive over regular acoustic guitars is due to their tuners.

Tuners are the little metal things that fit inside your strings and help keep them straight while playing. Tuners come in two basic styles.

One is called a floating bridge style. And the other is called a fixed bridge style. Floating bridges are attached directly to the saddle of the guitar.

Fixed bridges are held by a pin so that the bridge doesn’t move when strumming. In either case, the string tension changes depending on where the neck meets the body.

With an acoustic guitar, the neck is not connected to the body. Instead, it is held by pegs that are inserted into holes.

This creates a constant string tension no matter where the neck meets the rest of the guitar.

Therefore, an acoustic guitar does not require a separate tuner. It simply uses the frets and the nut (which holds the strings) to tune itself.

However, acoustic-electric guitars use a floating bridge system. This means that the floating bridge moves along with the neck as you play chords. Which makes tuning easier.

Also, because you need to hold down strings with your fingers at the correct fret positions, it becomes harder to play certain songs without a proper setup.

Unless you’re already a seasoned guitarist, you’ll probably want to invest in a good setup kit. You can find some great deals on these setups here.

The Price

This would be my first consideration in choosing between an acoustic guitar and an acoustic-electric guitar.

I would recommend starting out by buying an acoustic guitar instead of an acoustic-electric guitar since they are usually cheaper than their electric counterparts.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, acoustic guitars are cheaper than acoustic-electric guitars. 

You may also want to factor in the cost of the additional gear that is sold with an acoustic-electric guitar such as pedals, amps, cables, and strands.

This is another reason why many people prefer acoustic guitars over acoustic-electric guitars.

The Playability

A Guide On Acoustic Electric Guitars vs Non-Electric Acoustic Guitars

Another important consideration is the playability of the guitar. If you’re looking to learn the basics of playing guitar, then an acoustic guitar is probably the way to go.

They are easier to hold and strum while learning new chords and techniques.

However, if you plan on taking the next step and playing more advanced music, you’ll probably want something bigger and heavier.

You’ll find that the weight and feel of the guitar will help you improve your technique and play faster.

Of course, this all depends on what kind of music you plan on playing and what style of music you like. So, once again, take these things into account when deciding which instrument to buy. 

The Look

For those who love the look of an acoustic-electric guitar, then an acoustic guitar isn’t the best pick.

It doesn’t matter if you choose an acoustic-electric or regular acoustic guitar, they both come in pretty much the same colors and designs.

So, if you really like the look of an acoustic guitar then you might want to stick with that style of guitar. Otherwise, if you just want a normal acoustic guitar, you’ll be fine with any type of acoustic guitar.

The Portability

This is going to be a very important feature when it comes to picking an instrument that works for you.

Acoustic-electric guitars can be played without being plugged in which is great, but it is designed with a feature that allows you to plug it into an amplifier that will project your sound.

Now, the instrument itself is not heavy and this is true for both the electric and regular acoustic guitar. The trouble comes in when you have to lug around accessories with your acoustic-electric guitar.

The amplifier and other bits are an essential part of these instruments and sadly this makes this more difficult to just carry around.

An amplifier and a guitar can be quite heavy to carry around. In fact, amplifiers alone weigh about 40 pounds. That’s enough to make anyone tired after a long day!

So, if you need to carry around your amp and guitar at the same time, you should probably opt for a non-electric guitar.

However, most beginners don’t use an amplifier because they aren’t familiar with how to set them up yet. So, this shouldn’t be much of an issue for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have answered a series of the most commonly asked questions concerning acoustic guitars. So, without further ado, let us get started!

What Does An Electric-Acoustic Guitar Do? 

The main difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric-acoustic guitar is the fact that the electric -acoustic guitar has electronics inside it. Obviously.

But this feature means that you can plug your guitar into an amp or a PA system, which feature allows you to increase the volume when you are playing for larger audiences. 

Can You Play Acoustic Songs On An Electric Guitar?

Yes, you can play songs like “Crying” by David Gray on an electric guitar. However, if you want to do so then you need to make sure that the song you want to play is compatible with your guitar.

For example, if you want to play a song like “Crying,” then you must consider whether your guitar supports the higher notes. If it doesn’t support them, then it would be impossible to play it.

Is It Better To Start Acoustic Or Electric? 

It depends on what you plan on doing with your instrument.

If you are planning on using your guitar in a band, then it is better to start off with an acoustic guitar because it allows you to master the basics first before moving on to learning more advanced techniques.

If you don’t plan on using your guitar in any kind of band, then an electric guitar might be easier for you to learn. It all comes down to personal preference.

Can You Plan An Electric Guitar Without An Amplifier? 

If you plan on buying an electric guitar without an amplifier, then there is one thing you should know about.

Although you may think that you can just plug the guitar directly into your PC or laptop, this isn’t true. When you plug your guitar into your computer, only the volume control works.

This means that you cannot turn up the volume. Also, you won’t be able to adjust the tone controls either.

So, if you want to learn how to play an electric guitar properly, then you should invest in an amplifier.

How Can I Make My Electric Guitar Sound More Like An Acoustic Guitar?

There are several ways that you can make your electric guitar sound more like an acoustic guitar. One way is to use effects pedals such as reverb and delay.

Another way is to buy a microphone. You can record yourself singing over your electric guitar, and then you can add some effects to change your voice into something more akin to a traditional acoustic.

Is An Electric Guitar Good For Beginners? 

An electric guitar is good for beginners because you can play almost any style of music on it. However, this doesn’t mean that an electric guitar is easy to play.

Most people who have bought their first electric guitar have found that they struggle to get used to it.

It takes time to figure out how to use it effectively. But once you understand the basics, you will find that it becomes much simpler.

Final Thoughts

Acoustic guitars are great tools for musicians. They provide a unique experience that no other type of musical instrument can offer.

However, they aren’t necessarily suitable for everyone. As mentioned earlier, if you are a beginner, it could take you quite a while to become proficient at playing an acoustic guitar.

Electric guitars are much easier to play than acoustic ones. They also give you more flexibility when it comes to the types of sounds you can produce.

And, if you are looking to make your own music, then an electric guitar is probably the best option for you.

Howard Matthews