Beginner guitarists are often associated with the image of strumming open cowboy chords on an affordable acoustic guitar. But do you need to learn acoustic guitar before picking up an electric one, as many suggest?
In my opinion, you could start playing with either with great results even though I still believe there are advantages to playing acoustic. In this article, I will help you understand the pros and cons of each starting point with suggestions on how to make learning smoother in both cases.
Why Start Playing the Acoustic Guitar first?
It’s often taken for granted that your first guitar should be an acoustic. Some might connect it to tradition and affordability, but technical reasons exist.
- Removes distractions
Everything in the acoustic is down to basics, your fingers and the strings. That helps to avoid distractions and focus only on the tone your fingers produce.
What makes the guitar special is that every small movement is felt and transmitted on the sound. The way you touch, how hard you press down, and las you progress, your bends and vibrato all sound unique to you.
However, it is very easy to sound bad on guitar compared to other instruments like the piano. Being focused solely on how you play and not external factors like amps and fx makes it easier to control the strings when you are a beginner.
- It’s more convenient.
Having no need for cables, amps, and power makes it easier to play and practice at home or on the road.
- It teaches you how to play dynamically.
Dynamics are everything in music. There are many definitions of what dynamics imply, but guitar players’ general concept is how soft or hard your strum, pick, etc.
Having an instrument with no volume control pushes you to control how loud you play, depending on the room and style. Beyond that, you feel the body of the guitar resonating against yours.
There is still a lot of dynamic playing in electric guitar, but it might be a bit too much for a beginner to control both his playing and the amp.
- It’s better to sing along with
If you’re an aspiring singer-songwriter or just want to play along with your singing, learning acoustic guitar will help you perform solo.
Strumming is essential in many styles of music, and it adds both harmony and rhythm that support your voice. On an electric guitar, the concept of strumming is different, and the sound becomes muddy quickly due to the nature of pickups.
- It helps you use your finger along with the pick.
Many acoustic guitar styles involve picking with your fingers. Being able to fingerpick along with playing with the pick adds many chops to your playing in both acoustic and electric.
Eventually, you become better at hybrid picking – mixing a pick and your fingers at the same time.
Why Start Playing the Electric Guitar first?
Many people choose to play electric; first, the concept and basic techniques are still the same as acoustic guitar; however, the approach is different.
The main difference is that the pickups and amplifiers change the nature of the sound and dictate the way you play. If you are running the guitar through effect, you need to learn how to play the guitar and play with effects.
Some of the advantages of starting guitar on electric are the following.
- It’s easier on the hands.
Electric guitars have lower action, which makes the guitar easier to play. Chords feel lighter, and you avoid most of the pain in the hand when playing power chords.
- More comfortable for people with small hands
The neck of an electric guitar is generally thinner than an acoustic or classical and shorter in scale in some models. This makes it easier for people with small hands to do wide stretches on the fretboard.
- You learn to control a wider variety of sounds faster.
All the different pickup positions, amp settings, and fx require learning. The earlier your start, the better it is.
An effect dictates the way you play. The moment you turn on a distortion pedal, you will understand the difference between that or an acoustic.
- You could develop a unique playing style.
Being “non-conventional” in the way you learn might sound different. However, this will not always happen and might not give the result you hope for.
Final thoughts on Acoustic vs. Electric
Starting a new instrument is a challenge, whichever way you choose to start it.
As strongly as I advise beginners to start on acoustic, it’s essential to choose the instrument that motivates you the best, and you have available. If your love is only for the electric, you can start on that and become a great player in both acoustic and electric.
There is always time to play both instruments once you get the hang of one. Our drills fit both and will help you master the fretboard, whichever instrument you choose to play.