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Acoustic Guitars vs Acoustic-Electric Guitars

How do Acoustic-electric guitars differ from normal acoustic guitars? How similar or different are the two? Today it’s the ultimate showdown of acoustic vs electric acoustic guitar.

There are a lot of questions related to trying to the differences between electric-acoustic and acoustic guitars. Both are popular instruments.

By the end of this discussion, you will have a clear understanding of the differences between these types of guitar.

We’ll talk about the similarities and differences between these two instruments. We will also explore the best situations for each style.  Soon you can tell which one will most closely suit your strumming needs, and is the right guitar for you!

I think everyone should try an acoustic-electric guitar at some point in their guitar journey. Beginner guitarists can enjoy the bigger sound projection potential of an acoustic-electric guitar 

If you’re looking to buy one, check out our post about the best acoustic guitars. I outline some of the best guitar choices for acoustic fans, this includes pro models and beginner starter packs.

Table of Contents

What Is The Difference Between a Regular Acoustic and Electro-Acoustic guitar?

The primary distinction between an these guitars is their capacity to be amplified.

The quick answer is that they are identical except for the fact that one contains integrated electronics and the other does not. Both styles of guitar sound the same when unplugged, the real difference is when you go for an amplified sound. 

You’ll need an electronic device like an amp or PA to plug an acoustic-electric guitar into. Check out our post about the Best PAs for guitars and vocals if you’re interested!

Nonetheless, there are more parallels than differences. Continue reading to discover more.

Overview of Regular Acoustic Guitar 

Acoustic Guitars vs Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Unlike electric guitars, the acoustic guitar is a more versatile instrument

Strings are attached to the hollow chamber of the guitar’s body, these vibrate to make the sound.

The sound chamber creates amplification and tone, therefore no electrical amplification is needed. The vibrations flow through the air.

Because they both create sound acoustically, both styles are considered acoustic guitars.

The typical acoustic sound cannot be adjusted since there are no electronics. This restricts the sound because you can’t add effects or change the acoustics’ tone.

Without any built-in electronics, acoustic guitars are restricted in loudness. This is why electro-acoustics were created. 

As a result, many acoustic musicians who play frequently choose to use an electro-acoustic setup. Standard electric guitars feel very different from acoustic electrics. This creates a different playing style

While many who play in their living rooms and aren’t used to the sound of plugged-in, electro-acoustic guitars sound more like a traditional acoustic guitar than an electric. 

What is an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

What is an Acoustic-Electric Guitar

An acoustic-electric guitar, also referred to as an ‘electro-acoustic guitar,’ is similar to a standard acoustic guitar. 

The distinction with this type of guitar is that electric-acoustic guitars have a pickup and a preamp built-in. (Sometimes with volume and equalization controls). Whereas a conventional acoustic guitar lacks this technology, as mentioned earlier.

The pickup transfers the sound to an electrical signal that the preamp amplifies.

Electro-acoustics are available in all of the traditional acoustic configurations. Including dreadnought, parlor, jumbo, and classical. 

The main difference is that an inbuilt electronic pickup is included. Using a pickup and a built-in preamp system enables you to boost your sound for live performances. Utilizing an external amp, speakers, or PA system. 

It enables the possibility of immediately recording your acoustics. Using recording equipment like audio interfaces or handheld recorders. As a result, electro-acoustic instruments are popular for live performances due to the ease of plugging in and performing. 

To amplify a conventional acoustic, you would place an external microphone next to the soundhole. Then connect the mic to a PA system – this offers less flexibility.

Why choose an electric-acoustic guitar over a classical?

Why choose an electric-acoustic guitar over a classical

You could use a piezo pickup to enhance the sound of your acoustic guitar. Regardless of whether you play a classical guitar with nylon strings, a full-sized steel-string instrument, or anything in the middle.

Using an electric acoustic guitar has several advantages. The most apparent of which is the ability to amplify your instrument without the need for a separate microphone. The solution is a combination of adaptability and constancy. This enables users to get the maximum volume projection for their instrument. You can also plug it into effects pedals.

Guitars with a built-in pickup system can connect directly to an amplifier or mixing console. Without the need for any additional equipment.

 It is possible to get a constant tone output from the guitar while playing in this way. This makes the instrument simpler to handle in live performance circumstances.

This is especially useful if you are on the road, since you may not always have the time to fine-tune the quality of a separate microphone before a gig.

Using a regular microphone requires consideration of several factors. (Microphone type (condenser or dynamic),  polar patterns, and position.) Also check the amount of gain achievable before feedback, and bleed from other instruments. In addition to the aforementioned factors mentioned above.

If you use a good microphone and place it correctly, you may obtain an excellent, if not better, sound. You should also choose a location that has an adequate PA system and acoustics as well. 

A pickup, on the other hand, allows you to move freely on stage. The sound of the guitar’s pickup output is simpler to manage at larger levels. This makes it a far more practical option.

Acoustic VS Acoustic-Electric: Key Differences

Cutaway vs Non-Cutaway

Cutaway vs Non-Cutaway

Another differentiating characteristic that is often, but not always, present is that electric-acoustics typically contain a cutaway in their body. In the picture below, you can see a comparison between a guitar with and without a cutaway.

Acoustic guitars without built-in electronics often lack cutaways. They may be found, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

A cutaway may alter the quality of the sound and also help to lessen loudness and resonance.

Naturally, the benefit of a cutaway is that it provides better access to the guitar’s upper frets. Of course, you can obtain electric acoustics without cutaways as well, although they are more prevalent. Ultimately the choice comes down to your personal preferences.

Amplification

Amplification

Electric acoustics include an integrated pre-amp and input.

This implies that, much like with an electric guitar, you can put a lead into the electric acoustic and play it via an amplifier. Alternatively, if you weren’t utilizing microphones or didn’t have recording mics accessible, you may plug it in for recording.

Additionally, electric-acoustics often have an integrated EQ and volume control that may be adjusted directly from the instrument. This helps you change the natural sound when plugged in.

There are amps developed specifically for use with acoustic-electric guitars — generally, you would not put an acoustic-electric guitar into an electric guitar amp, but you can.

There are methods to amplify an acoustic guitar that doesn’t involve a pickup – for example, by attaching a clip-on mic – but this does not transform it into an electric-acoustic guitar. An electric-acoustic guitar incorporates electronics.

Price

Price

When a guitar company produces a guitar in both an acoustic and an electric acoustic form, the electric-acoustic version is often somewhat more expensive than the acoustic version. This is because you are also buying an electronic pickup system

Similarities

As the base of both styles of guitars is nearly identical, there are several similarities.

Materials

Acoustic and electric-acoustic guitars may be constructed from the same materials, and this is often the case. The majority of the time, a guitar maker will build an acoustic guitar and then create an acoustic-electric version that is almost identical to the acoustic guitar except for the fact that the acoustic-electric may be amplified.

Strings

Acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars are the same instrument with one exception: both acoustics and acoustic-electric guitars utilize the same kind of strings.

Electric guitars, on the other hand, use different kinds of steel strings than traditional guitars. Acoustic and electric-acoustic guitars may be constructed from the same materials, and this is often the case.

The majority of the time, a guitar maker will build an acoustic guitar and then create an acoustic-electric version that is almost identical to the acoustic guitar except for the fact that the acoustic-electric may be amplified.

The natural sounds of both guitars are vastly different, and this is largely thanks to the strings used and body design.

Playing without amplification

Both acoustic and electric-acoustic instruments may be played acoustically, which means that they do not need any additional amplifiers to be performed.

Because it has a solid body and no means for sound to reverberate, an electric guitar will not make much sound if it is not connected to a power source. Electric guitars tend to have a very quiet sound when not plugged in.

Acoustic guitars and electric-acoustic guitars, on the other hand, feature a hollow body with a sound-hole that echoes sound, allowing you to acquire more volume without the need of any additional equipment such as amplifiers.

Generally speaking, an unplugged acoustic guitar will have sufficient loudness to accompany someone singing. Even though it will not drown out the singer, it will still be audible when others are singing along with it.

On the other hand, an electric guitar would be too quiet to serve as an accompaniment to a vocalist. It would also be too dull and lack the resonance necessary to provide a pleasing sound without amplification.

Which one should a Beginner pick?

Which one should a Beginner pick

It can be tough to know which one to choose, especially if you are new to the guitar. 

Really, either one is a great choice. Acoustic guitars are easier to use, but acoustic electrics are more versatile. 

Some artists feel that acoustic guitars are the finest choice for beginners, while others claim that acoustic-electric guitars are the ideal option for novice musicians. Which guitar is ideal for you is entirely dependent on your particular tastes.

Due to the benefits and adaptability of an acoustic-electric guitar, I would strongly suggest beginning with one. However, various elements go into making this option, and it all relies on your own circumstances. If you’re learning guitar, the electronic components, built-in tuner, and tone controls of an acoustic-electric can make practice sessions easier. 

If you like the versatility of acoustic and electric systems, an electro-acoustic is the perfect guitar for you.

We put the below list together to help you choose which one to go for!

Acoustic Guitar

  • You are a complete novice – purchasing your first guitar and not yet gigging.
  • Are you on a tighter budget?
  • You don’t have the money for additional amps and PA.
  • You want to record your acoustic guitar via the soundhole & microphone rather than a built-in pickup.
  • You dislike the sound of plugged-in electro-acoustic instruments and prefer soundhole recordings.

Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Great if you are a regular gigging musician or planning on gigging/busking in the future.
  • If you experiment with effects and audio electronics.
  • When you perform live, you want to move around on stage.
  • If you use any kind of live looping or repeater pedals.
  • You use a pedalboard when you perform.
  • Do you need more versatility for your performance?
  • Happy to spend a larger budget to account for additional related expenses?

FAQs

Is it possible to connect an acoustic guitar to an electric guitar amplifier?

Yes, it is possible to connect an electric acoustic guitar to an electric guitar amplifier. Electric guitar amplifiers, on the other hand, are intended to color the tone and create distortion. Acoustic guitar amplifiers generate a clear signal, also enhancing the acoustic guitar’s frequencies.

Do electro-acoustics sound good when they’re not amplified?

Essentially, yes. An unplugged electro-acoustic will sound just as good as a typical guitar.  As a result, electro-acoustic guitars may be played unplugged, but their tone cannot be altered.

Is it possible to amplify a standard acoustic guitar?

Yes, you can amplify an acoustic guitar. To do so you must first convert the instrument’s acoustic sound into an electrical signal. This may be accomplished by using a microphone or a pickup.

Mics are ideal for calm environments, but for loud performances, you’ll need pickups and additional equipment. Including transducers, preamps, a DI (direct input) box, and so on.

Conclusion

With respect to their distinctions, both the Acoustic and Electro-acoustic guitars are excellent instruments.  Each serves distinct purposes. 

Regardless of which one you select, both will allow you to create something really amazing and help you enjoy playing guitar. 

Thanks for reading this article! I hope you enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between Acoustic and Electro-acoustic guitars.

Thanks for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between Acoustic and Electro-acoustic guitars.If you want some music to practice while you learn guitar, check out our post about the best Christian worhship songs to play on guitar