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Acoustic Guitar vs. Electric Guitar: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 1, 2024
Acoustic guitars produce sound through string vibration in a hollow body, while electric guitars require amplification.

Key Differences

An acoustic guitar produces sound acoustically by transmitting the vibration of the strings to the air—as opposed to relying on electronic amplification (as in an electric guitar). The sound waves from the strings of an acoustic guitar resonate through the guitar's body, creating sound. This traditional form of guitar is often used in folk, country, and classical music. It is known for its rich, clear, and resonant tone that can be played and heard without any electrical amplification. In contrast, an electric guitar uses pickups and an amplifier to convert the vibration of its steel-cored strings into electrical signals. These signals are then amplified and played through a speaker, allowing for a wide range of sounds and effects. Electric guitars are a staple in rock, blues, and jazz music.
The body of an acoustic guitar is hollow, which significantly contributes to its sound production. The sound hole in the body amplifies the sound produced by the strings, allowing it to be heard without additional amplification. The construction of an acoustic guitar is aimed at maximizing its natural sound. On the other hand, the body of an electric guitar is typically solid or semi-hollow, and the sound is produced through electronic amplification. This allows for greater volume control and the ability to use electronic effects to alter the sound, making electric guitars more versatile in terms of sound production.
Acoustic guitars are generally simpler in design and operation, making them more accessible to beginners. The absence of electronic components means that one can simply pick up the instrument and start playing, making it ideal for impromptu sessions and easy portability. Electric guitars, while offering a wider range of sounds and effects, require more equipment such as an amplifier and cables, and often involve a steeper learning curve due to the various electronic components and effects available.
Choosing between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar often depends on the style of music one wishes to play, personal preference, and the playing context. Acoustic guitars offer a more traditional sound that's well-suited for singer-songwriters, folk musicians, and those who prefer the pure, unamplified sound of a guitar. Electric guitars, with their ability to produce a variety of sounds and effects, are favored by those looking to play rock, metal, and other genres that require a broader sonic palette.

Comparison Chart

Sound Production

Acoustic sound from vibrating strings resonated in hollow body.
Electric amplification of string vibrations via pickups.

Body Type

Hollow body that enhances acoustic sound.
Solid or semi-hollow body, less reliant on natural acoustics.


Generally more portable, no need for external amplification.
Requires amplifiers and cables for performance, less portable.


Rich, resonant, and warm tones.
Wide range of tones, easily modified with effects.


Often used in folk, country, classical, and singer-songwriter music.
Common in rock, blues, jazz, and metal music.

Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar Definitions

Acoustic Guitar

"Acoustic guitar is known for its rich, natural sound, ideal for unplugged performances."
He strummed his acoustic guitar by the campfire, filling the night with melodious tunes.

Electric Guitar

"Electric guitars often feature a thinner neck, making them suitable for fast and intricate playing styles."
The slim neck of his electric guitar enabled rapid, complex solos.

Acoustic Guitar

"The acoustic guitar has a hollow body that amplifies the sound of the strings."
In the quiet room, the sound of the acoustic guitar resonated beautifully.

Electric Guitar

"Electric guitars are known for their versatility, capable of producing a wide range of sounds."
With her electric guitar, she experimented with different effects to create unique sounds.

Acoustic Guitar

"Acoustic guitars are portable and can be played anywhere, making them ideal for traveling musicians."
With his acoustic guitar in hand, he was ready to play music wherever he went.

Electric Guitar

"Electric guitars use pickups to convert string vibrations into electrical signals for amplification."
He adjusted the pickups on his electric guitar, seeking the perfect sound for his solo.

Acoustic Guitar

"Acoustic guitars are often favored by beginners for their simplicity and ease of use."
She picked up her first acoustic guitar and began learning chords without any need for amplifiers.

Electric Guitar

"The solid body of an electric guitar often allows for higher volume levels without feedback issues."
On stage, his electric guitar roared through the speakers, captivating the audience.

Acoustic Guitar

"Many acoustic guitars feature a wooden construction that contributes to their warm tone."
The mahogany body of his acoustic guitar gave it a deep, warm sound.

Electric Guitar

"Electric guitars are a staple in many genres, particularly in rock and metal music."
The band's electric guitar riffs defined their signature rock sound.


What's the key difference in sound production between acoustic and electric guitars?

Acoustic guitars produce sound through string vibration in a hollow body, while electric guitars require electronic amplification.

Is it possible to achieve an acoustic sound on an electric guitar?

While not identical, semi-acoustic electric guitars or effects pedals can mimic an acoustic sound.

Can electric guitars be played without an amplifier?

Yes, but the sound will be much quieter and lack the fullness achieved through amplification.

Are acoustic guitars easier to learn for beginners?

Often, yes, due to their simplicity and the immediate acoustic feedback they provide.

Are there genres of music where acoustic guitars are preferred?

Yes, acoustic guitars are often preferred in folk, classical, country, and singer-songwriter music.

Do electric guitars require more maintenance than acoustic guitars?

Electric guitars may require more maintenance due to their electronic components.

Is fingerstyle playing more suited to acoustic or electric guitars?

Fingerstyle can be played on both, but it's traditionally associated with acoustic guitars.

Can the body shape of an electric guitar affect its sound?

Yes, but the effect is less pronounced than with acoustic guitars due to the reliance on electronic amplification.

Do electric guitars offer more sound versatility than acoustic guitars?

Yes, electric guitars can produce a wider range of sounds, especially when used with effects pedals.

Can acoustic guitars be amplified like electric guitars?

Yes, with the use of a microphone or by installing pickups in the acoustic guitar.

Can the strings of an acoustic guitar be used on an electric guitar?

While possible, it's not recommended as the strings are designed differently for each guitar type.

Do acoustic and electric guitars use the same type of wood?

Both can use a variety of woods, but the choice of wood can have a different impact on their respective sounds.

Are barre chords easier to play on an electric guitar?

Many players find barre chords easier on electric guitars due to the lighter string action.

Can you use electric guitar effects pedals with an acoustic guitar?

Yes, but the effect may sound different due to the acoustic guitar's inherent tonal qualities.

Is the scale length of acoustic guitars different from electric guitars?

Scale lengths can vary within each type, but there's no standard difference between acoustic and electric guitars.

Can both acoustic and electric guitars be used in the same band?

Absolutely, many bands successfully incorporate both types of guitars for a richer sound.

Are the techniques used to play acoustic and electric guitars significantly different?

Some techniques overlap, but electric guitars allow for specific electric guitar techniques like bending and tapping.

How do the prices of acoustic and electric guitars compare?

Prices vary widely for both, but starting electric guitars might require additional investment in amplifiers and accessories.

Is it easier to play fast solos on an electric guitar?

Generally, yes, due to the electric guitar's lighter string gauge and slimmer neck.

Do acoustic guitars have a wider fretboard than electric guitars?

Typically, yes, which can make fretting chords a bit easier for beginners.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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