Should My First Guitar Be An Acoustic Or An Electric?

A close up of 3 guitars on a blue background: an black acoustic, a yellow electric and a burgundy electric. Should my first guitar be an acoustic or an electric?

3 guitars - an acoustic guitar and two electric guitars

Should My First Guitar Be An Acoustic Or An Electric?

You may have some assumptions about what your first guitar should be.

The most common assumption is that everybody starts learning on an acoustic guitar.The second is that electric guitars are noisy and when people are learning, an acoustic guitar is easier on everyone else in the house’s sanity!

But is this actually true and furthermore, is either of these arguements even the point?

Acoustics tend to be the ‘go to guitar’ for most beginners

Acoustics are common first guitars. For some people it is a great fit, but for others they are simply bought because of these assumptions:

Assumption #1: Acoustics are cheaper than electrics

The idea that acoustic guitars are cheaper is a fairly reasonable assumption as no matter what electric guitar you buy you will have to buy a guitar amp to go with it. However, if you look around there are usually deals on starter kits which bundle a guitar and amp together.

Quality of an instrument can make a huge difference not only on its sound but also how it is to play. For this reason acoustic guitars have a huge price range, from tens to thousands of pounds.

While you are likely to start at the lower end of the price range for your first guitar, you could easily find that for the quality you are looking for, an electric could also be a viable option. Even if you were to buy a bundle pack and start with a small practice amp you can upgrade it at any point.

Assumption #2: Acoustics are quieter than electrics

Acoustic guitars are hollow body instruments, this is so the sound can resonate and amplify and project the sound.

Electric guitars are typically solid body so there is almost no sound when it is unplugged. With that in mind, an electric guitar amp with a headphone input can be one of the quietest instruments for the household.

Also the volume control goes a long way and unless you are planning to buy an amp good enough for a world tour as your first one, it probably isn’t going to have that much power anyway.

So if you’re practicing at 2am you won’t be disturbing someone anywhere near as much as you would be if you were using an acoustic guitar!

Assumption #3: All acoustic guitars look the same

While most acoustic guitars look very similar, you should take note of what type of strings are actually on the guitar. Many beginners are enticed by cheap nylon (clear) string guitars as their first guitar. Now, there is nothing wrong with them, but these guitars are used mostly in classical/spanish styles of guitar playing.

Most modern styles of music (pop/rock/blues/folk) make use of acoustic guitars with steel strings. These guitars tend to be a little bit more expensive that some of their nylon counterparts at the beginner stage but you should think about the style of music which you are hoping to play as well as the cost.

Assumption #4: Acoustics are easier to play than electrics

Finally the assumption that acoustic guitars are actually easier to play than electric guitars.

This is an interesting one which is probably from the belief that people who play electric guitars can play these impressive guitar solos so therefore the entire instrument must be harder.

Electric guitars tend to have lighter (thinner) steel strings on them than acoustic guitars. The necks are generally thinner and the strings are also generally closer to the fretboard — so in many cases they are actually easier on your hand than an acoustic guitar.

I hope I haven’t put you off acoustic guitars as they are great instruments and can be great first guitars, but think more of the music which you hope to play while making your decision.

If you want to rock like your favourite bands who never use an acoustic guitar, then why start with an acoustic guitar? If you love artists who play acoustic guitars, excellent, just make sure you get one with the right type of strings on it.

By considering these few things you can save money in the future as I have seen people ‘upgrading’ many times through the time that I’ve taught them, sometimes just because they haven’t asked the right questions beforehand.

Don’t go and buy a really expensive guitar for the sake of it — there’s really no need — but don’t write off different types of guitar just because they are not the absolute cheapest.

So, “should my first guitar be an acoustic or an electric?”

The most important thing is to make a decision and to start. Any guitar is better than none and you can start moving towards your music goals today.

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