How to Transition from Acoustic Guitar to Electric Guitars

Acoustic to Electric guitar transition.

Acoustic and electric guitars are two different items, and both require different approaches in their working and playing. At some point, as a guitarist, you would need to perform with either of the two, so it is very crucial to understand Acoustic to Electric guitar transition.

The acoustic guitar is a beautiful instrument, but it does have its limitations. Electric guitars are capable of producing more sounds, which can be an appealing feature for most players. But if you’ve never played with an electric guitar before, the choice might seem daunting. 

First, we will start by understanding the individual devices, then discussing the similarities and differences between the two instruments, their working. At last, we would look at tips on making the switch between acoustic to electric guitars.

There are myths and confusing information about playing the two instruments; some say electric guitars are easier to play for beginners, while others say beginners should start with acoustic guitars to toughen up their fingers. Either way, it’s very detrimental to be familiar playing with both instruments for a good path in music.

Acoustic guitars

An acoustic guitar consists of a hollow body, and they are of different types; some have steel or nylon strings to create vibrations and, in turn, amplify sound. They have different designs, shapes, and sizes, and lastly, they don’t require any electrical components for amplifications.

It is also true that playing acoustic guitars toughens the fingers to play electric guitars easier. An acoustic guitar is a classic, and you can never get tired of playing it. You can easily play for friends and families, even on campfires or on the beach. There is always an acoustic guitar with a reasonable budget.

Electric guitars

Electric has a solid body design, and most importantly, it requires amplification when being played. It is much easier to change the sound of an electric guitar since you can play with effects and distortions.

Additional accessories such as aesthetics and pedals can consistently be implemented. It is easier to play with an electric guitar because of its small body and lighter strings, but the addition of more accessories may make it a little bit of a hassle.

Similarities of acoustic and electric guitars

The core features for the two instruments are the same. They both consist of the body neck and the headstock with tuners. And both have six strings and over 18 frets with inlays. Some parts in both the instruments work.

Similarly, i.e., strings, tuners, and the bridge all have the same function in both the instruments. It is also important to note that the tuning for both devices is the same, and here is where most people get confused. This makes acoustic to electric guitar transition seamless.

Differences between the two guitars

Despite the two instruments having similarities, both have some significant differences both physically and in their functioning. These differences make acoustic to electric guitar transition unique.

Size of guitar

When you get accustomed to playing your instrument, you get used to the size and shape of the instrument, and sometimes it might not be easier trying another size of the same instrument. So we will first note the width across the guitars and how their styles differ from each other.

Acoustic guitars can be very wide, and this creates a greater angle for the guitarist for picking and the fretting hand. The angle for the guitar affects the posture of a player.

It also affects the movement of arm and wrist muscles during playing. We will find that when the arm is further out and loose, it makes it comfortable playing.

Whereas in an eclectic guitar, the opposite applies, an electric guitar is thin in design, and so your fretting arm and picking depends more on bending of the elbow and closeness to the body; the wrist, in this case, does not require much bending.

Neither of the two styles is good or bad; it depends on what the player is accustomed to, and switching between the two can be a little bit hectic and requires a lot of practice and mastering the different styles.

Height of the guitar

The height of an acoustic guitar is more significant compared to electric guitars in most cases. There tends to differ a lot when sitting; it affects the posture of the player.

You will find that when playing an acoustic guitar, you need to be straight. Some players may choose to lean when playing an acoustic guitar though not advisable.

Length of the guitar

According to most designs, you will find acoustic guitars much longer than electric guitars, which is not a determinant of the size of the strings. You might find the string length to be the same.

The headstock of an eclectic guitar might be longer than an acoustic guitar compared to an electric guitar and the body as well. It shows that you may have to stretch your fretting hand further to play when playing open chords and scales.

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Depending on what a player is accustomed to, this future may make it hard when switching from an electric guitar to an acoustic guitar.

Type of string

The acoustic design, in most cases, has thicker strings and the distance between the strings and the top of the fret compared to electric guitars. However, playing mostly involves applying pressure on the strings.Players in most cases, have a more fantastic touch with acoustic, which in turn creates a broader vibration.

Because of the art, it is essential to note the curvature of the neck and bow so that the frets won’t buzz on the wider vibrating strings. Also, when the strings are tuned high, as in electric guitars, this creates a lot of tension on the string, which makes a need for you to apply more pressure on the fretting arms.

Width of the neck

The acoustic guitar tends to have a wider neck than the electric; this creates a problem for players with small hands; it makes it difficult for them to adapt to the acoustic.

Other than that, it is not a significant change for most players, and they might not even notice the difference. There is a type of acoustic guitar with nylon strings, and they tend to have a wider neck, though, in time, most players get used to it.

Can I still play slide guitar with an electric guitar?

It’s a common misconception that you can’t play slide guitar with an electric guitar. It’s actually possible to use an electric guitar to create the tones of a slide guitar, but the sound will be different. You’ll need to purchase a pedal and some other accessories in order to replicate slide guitar sounds on an electric guitar.

However, if you’re just starting out, you might want to consider purchasing a cheaper acoustic guitar for practice and start learning your scales and chords before taking it up with an electric as well.

What is the best sitting position when playing?

The building design of an acoustic guitar makes it comfortable playing while sitting since if played when standing because of its wider width, the angle of the fretting arm is extended. Which in turn strains the neck, shoulder, and back muscles, causing fatigue. It is not compulsory to have it.
However, it can be used in either way. Some people may also prefer to sit up straight and opposed to leaning over the guitar.

The build and make of the electric guitar, its thin nature to be precise, allows the player to comfortably play it while standing, especially if you get the straps done correctly, though it can also still be used in either way. Most people prefer playing while standing.

So this depends on the person you should be able to pick the right size that fits with you wider sometimes. Getting to wider acoustic guitars can be a problem when playing.

Nature of the instrument

The difference between the two in nature is how long it lasts when being plucked, ability to sustain. Because of the make of electric guitars that produce long-lasting notes, their ability to sustain is high compared to acoustic.

The make of an acoustic has a hollow body which in turn reduces the volume after being plucked. Although this is curbed by having steel strings instead of nylon strings, they give the note a little sustain. It would create a significant difference for a person used to playing electric guitars.

The highs, mid, and lows of the instruments’ sounds differ for the two instruments. The electric guitar is observed to have more mid-range, and this is why we have amplifiers to enhance the mids or remove them out, giving the player various tone options.

The acoustic, on the other hand, has more low sound tones and less mid. When a player gets used to a specific tone, it becomes hard switching with the tonal variations between the two instruments.

Price difference

Most acoustic guitars have a reasonable price range depending on what works for the player. It depends on whether you prefer nylon or steel strings and the size that fits the player.

The electric instrument is a great instrument to start with, but then you would need most of the accessories used for different effects, and this will cause a big budget compared to the acoustic.

Important tips on how to transition between acoustic to electric guitars

Most of the differences above a player can overcome with time and practice. We will discuss ways a player who is used to playing with the acoustic can transition fast and play well with an electric guitar without being bothered by the differences between the two instruments.

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Learn playing in tune

It is the trickiest part for most players transitioning to electric guitars. Most players take for granted how easy it is to play an acoustic in tune, provided you have a good guitar that is well set up. However, playing an acoustic always requires the strength to fret the notes on not many fingers.

Having the strings of an acoustic thicker than for an electronic makes the player accustomed to relaxing the fretting arm or squeezing hard, and they end up pulling strings out of tune. With lighter strings, they require low action. For a player, it’s advised that we be aware of this.

When we play the first chord on the electric guitar first, it will probably sound sharp, but with practice, a player will be able to fret notes and find a balance between fretting too hard and loud enough to produce a refined sound. Hence a player requires more finger training.

Start and proceed gradually

Most players switching to electric are tempted to start at the accessories, modeling amps processors, effect pedals, etc. However, a player should first ensure that they produce clean sound before involving various effects.

The effects tend to cover up for mistakes that the player may not notice and, therefore, not corrected on time. Consequently, it is important to start gradually by focusing on playing in tune and hitting the right notes, and then slowly, you will engage the effects.

Keeping your calluses built up

 With lighter strings on the electric guitar, a player will find that the calluses they have worked for will start disappearing. It is wrong to assume that there will be no need for more pressure application on the guitar with lighter strings.

The role of calluses is not clear; you will find this helpful since you will play in tune and sustain the vibrations. Some of the more practical approaches to keep your calluses build-up are engaging more in practice playing while adjusting the 0.09 string gauge up to 0.1 and continuing with regular acoustic skills.

Approach the whammy bar with caution

It mainly applies to players switching to electric guitars with floating bridges, but this is not a concern if your electric guitar has a fixed bridge. It is also called a tremolo system, meaning it’s a bridge that can move, creating a vibrating effect. People may refer to this moving bridge differently.

The danger of a moving bridge is that the player may rest their hand on the bridge and end up pulling strings. With this, a plate needs to be cautious not to put much weight on the bridge.

 Also, complete overuse of the whammy bar may make a player fall out of a chord or even ruin the guitar. Therefore, a player should first learn how to use the whammy bar before experimenting on it.

Create an exercise schedule

It is suitable for a player to understand why they need to play an electric guitar and sometimes have some star key successful players they would like to emulate their styles.

An electric guitar requires coordination of the mind and the fingers. You can achieve the above by being focused and regular practice and pushing yourself far.

A player should go as far as making a schedule to learn all the basic techniques required; trills, legato, vibrato, bends, and slides.

Trying using a heavier pick

A player starting acoustics most chooses a thin to medium gauge pick to create an excellent fretting experience. However, for some wishing to advance later to the electric guitar, this may not be the advisable pick size.

It is essential to pick your early picks as a beginner. Choosing a guitar according to the sound the way it feels in your hand should not be the only consideration. A player should also consider their plans in playing the different instruments.

Invest in a good amp

You will find that a poor-performing amp would make a good and expensive guitar sound terrible. Most people prefer investing in a decent guitar and a great amp rather than invest in a great guitar and a horrible amp.

The amp matters a lot on the sound production of an electric guitar. If you are new to the game, a tube amp is a way to go. The power generated by the tubes will be able to produce a good sound. A great amp is essential for a player’s general moral and transition of your tone.

Being open to both instruments

A player is intending to switch from using electric guitar to acoustic guitar. First, all the guitars would be available at all times. Second, a player should keep both the instruments where he can access them.

Having equal playtime for both the instruments is what will make the player get used to their differences. It helps one to have a smooth acoustic to electric guitar transition.

A player should avoid having a favorite instrument between the two since this would result in a player playing one instrument more than the other. Instead, keep playing the instruments in rotation, giving both instruments equal times.

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Keep experimenting to make it easy

Sometimes, acoustic guitars need to be adjusted appropriately and set up with someone who understands them more. Getting the strings close to the fretboard is essential for more effortless playing.

Try reconciling the difference in strings between the two instruments: a lighter string for acoustic to a heavier string of electric. Then, share your playing with other guitarists and have to try playing with their guitar. This will make it easy to perform an Acoustic to Electric guitar transition.

It’s an excellent learning experience listening to other people. However, sharing will also make you beware of some problems, such as fixing them if it’s the set-up or if you will need to change the guitar entirely.

Learn to keep it on the low

For a person learning to switch to electric guitar, it’s important to note that exaggerating too much of your playing is not an advisable habit. Too much can make you out of tune. On the other hand, it is good noting that a little goes a long way. Adding a little vibrato adds life to your tune.

It’s good adjusting your distortion to a comfortable level, either playing at home or live. Observe the tonal adjustments on your amp closely, and you wouldn’t want too much bass cutting of your midrange. This will greatly help to have a smooth Acoustic to Electric guitar transition.

What would be the best guitar to start with?

Choosing the best guitar to start with can be difficult.

Electric guitars are typically more expensive than acoustic guitars, so it’s important that you do research before making your purchase. You’ll want to take into account your needs and how much you’re willing to spend for the best electric guitar for beginners.

The type of body shape matters too. Acoustic guitars typically come in dreadnought, jumbo, or grand concert sizes, while electric guitars may come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including dreadnought, jumbo, and even smaller body shapes like the parlor or 000 size.

Size is also a factor. Some beginner electric guitars may have 22 frets, while others may have as many as 24 or 25 frets. The shorter neck length on an electric guitar makes it easier for people who are just beginning to learn how to play because it reduces the number of frets they need to know about at any given time.

Let’s say you decide you want a dreadnought-sized acoustic-electric instrument with 22 frets and an ebony finish. That will cost you around $200-$300 less than a similar-size acoustic-electric instrument without an electronics package would cost without electronics added

Conclusion

Electric guitars are a completely different animal from acoustic guitars. From the physical construction to the way it is played, electric guitars have a lot going on that can be confusing for someone who is new to them. So what do you need to know before you make the switch? 

We have covered the essential tips on how a player would easily switch from playing with an acoustic to an electric guitar. In addition, we have discussed some of the problematic differences in the working of the two instruments.

It is an added advantage learning both instruments as one will be able to play in different circumstances. While both guitars are different, they are from the same collection, and no guitar collection can be complete until you have strummed all of them.

FAQs

Do I need an amp if I want to use my acoustic guitar for practice?

No. You don’t need an amp if you want to use your acoustic guitar for practice.

Can I still play slide guitar with an electric guitar?

Yes. You can still play slide guitar with an electric guitar, but it’s easier and more natural with an acoustic guitar.

What would be the best guitar to start with?

The most important consideration when choosing a beginner electric guitar is how easy it is to play. Make sure that there are enough frets on the neck of the guitar and that it has a good action/easily tuned strings.

What is the difference between electric guitar and acoustic guitar?

Acoustic guitars are traditionally made of wood, and are not plugged into an amplifier. Acoustic guitars produce sound because the vibrations from the guitar strings cause friction with the air, which creates sound waves that travel to the listener’s ears.
Electric guitars have pickups and an amplifier to capture the vibrations of the strings and convert them into electrical signals. These electrical signals can then be amplified by an amplifier before they are sent to speakers.