Should You Start Learning on Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

By Gonçalo Crespo

When you’re planning to start learning guitar, you will ask yourself – should I start with an acoustic or an electric guitar? That’s an important question that I’ve asked myself.

But no worries, you can start with whatever you want. Long time ago, I had never played a guitar before and I started with an electric one. Why? For me, I love the electric sound and I’m a big fan of rock music. That’s reason enough for me to start with an electric one. If you like chord melody and you only want to accompany some songs with your guitar (without amps etc.), then you should start with an acoustic one.

Your experience with your first instrument is vital to your long-term success. Choosing the right guitar means deciding which type of guitar you personally find exciting and will be the most motivated to play. What kind of music would you like to play? What kind of guitar attracts your attention? That is the one you will most look forward to practicing and playing. When you’re unsure what is right for you, buy a very cheap guitar and do some tests on it and find out what is the right one for you.

Often people want to know what kind of guitar is easier to play. There are physical differences between electric and acoustic guitars that may be considered. However, I believe the kind of guitar you “want” to play is the easiest to learn on, as you will be more likely to establish good practice habits early in the process.

Electric guitars are physically somewhat easier to play, assuming they are properly adjusted, because they have a smaller body, thinner neck, and use lighter gauge strings. The pickups and amplifier do all the work of projecting the sound, so a lighter touch along with lighter strings makes it easier to play. An electric guitar needs to be plugged into an amplifier, which must be turned on before playing. For some, the extra effort that it takes to plug into an amplifier and turn it on may be enough to keep them from playing as often or taking advantage of a spontaneous moment to pick it up and play.

Acoustic guitars have heavier gauge strings which require slightly firmer picking and fingering. The wood top of an acoustic guitar must vibrate in order to project the sound. This requires heavier gauge strings along with slightly firmer picking and fingering. The body of the acoustic guitar is much larger than the electric guitar, and usually has a thicker neck to support the tension of the heavier strings. However, some people find the immediate accessibility of an acoustic guitar resting on a stand appealing, making them more apt to pick it up and play more often.

So my answer to this question would always be “Whichever one you want to play.”

About the author
Based in Zurich Switzerland, Gonçalo Crespo is a professional guitar teacher and musician. He has taught guitar for over 8 years covering a variety of styles but focuses mainly on getting his students to guitar playing success in the most efficient way possible. Founder of Music&Co. guitar music school, Gonçalo also offers tuition for acoustic and electric guitar. Check out his website at Gitarrenunterricht Zurich.