Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Teemu Suomala
Oh boy…the good old acoustic guitar vs electric guitar debate…I was wondering this exact question, in 2009. Is electric guitar easier than acoustic? Because when starting out a new hobby, making things as easy as possible for you is a wise thing to do. And now, after 14 years, I’ll answer the frequently asked question: Is Electric Guitar Easier Than Acoustic?
This post also answers these questions:
- Whats is THE MOST important thing when buying the guitar.PERIOD.
- What was my decision in 2009 and why?
- What do I think of it 13 years later? (Why do I want to ramble about my own experiences? Because you can learn something important from my decision.)
Also, I’m going to compare the ease of play of:
I’m going to tell you the pros and cons of each guitar type(playability-wise).
Let’s first find the quick and clear answer to the question: “Is electric guitar easier than acoustic?“. Because that’s why you are here for!
Author: Teemu Suomala
I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).
Is Electric Guitar Easier Than Acoustic?
Quick answer: Yes, usually electric guitars are easier to play than acoustic guitars. The main factors are the smaller size of the neck & the body, and lower string action(space between strings and fretboard). Strings are also softer and easier to press down than with steel-string acoustic guitars. These things make electric guitars pretty easy to play.
But there are other factors too. Let’s take a deep dive and look at different guitar types. I’ll give the ”Good” and ”bad” of each 3. Of course, the main focus is: ”Is it easy to Play?”
Here are the key differences between the 3 main guitar types:
|Electric Guitar||Steel String Acoustic Guitar||Classical Guitar (with Nylon Strings)|
|Slimmest neck||A bit wider and thicker neck than with most electric guitars||Thickest and widest neck|
|Smallest body||Large hollow body||Large hollow body|
|Heaviest body||Lightweight body||Lightest body|
|Relatively hard strings||Hardest strings||Softest strings|
|Relatively high string tension||Highest string tension||Lowest string tension|
|Lowest action||Middle-ground action||Highest action|
|A bit less room for fingerpicking||Easy to fingerpick||Easy to fingerpick (a lot of room)|
Let’s now dive deeper into these differences!
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Electric Guitar Playability
As I said, electric guitars are the easiest in general. And the main reasons for that are these:
1. Size of the neck.
Electric guitars have the slimmest necks of all the guitar types. That makes things easier especially if you
- Own small hands(like me)(check the best electric guitars for small hands in 2022 guide)
- You are just starting out.
- You want to play fast.
If you own the hands of a basketball player, a small neck won’t have so much effect, but it’s still a plus. With a thin neck, all the frets are easy to access, and especially barre chords are a lot easier to play.
2. Size of the body
The body of an electric guitar is way smaller than the body of an acoustic guitar. I think that this is not so big deal if you are a normal-sized adult(it has some effect). But If you are a smaller person or a kid/teen, a smaller guitar body can make things easier. Note that electric guitars are almost always heavier than acoustic guitars due to their solid wood body.
3. String softness
Electric guitar strings are made of nickel, steel, or other magnetically conductive metal. These materials make strings softer than with steel-string acoustics.
Especially when starting out you won’t have so much finger pain with electric guitar. If you have already played guitar for some time and your fingertips are already tough, this won’t make so much difference.
Note that nylon string classical guitars still have the softest strings of all guitar types, but more about that later.
Another factor is string tension, electric guitar strings have less tension than steel-string acoustic guitar strings. This makes strings easier to press down.
4. String action
String action is the height between the strings and the fretboard. In electric guitars, this height is usually the lowest. And this makes things a lot easier in my opinion. Strings require less strength to press down and you make fewer mistakes when playing. Even after years of playing, guitars with high-string action are a little bit tricky for me.
Note that string action can be adjusted, but with electric guitars you can make action the lowest.
That sums up all the good stuff. But hey, there are also some cons to electric guitars(playability-wise). Let’s look at those next.
1. Strings are not the softest
Strings are not as soft as in classical guitars, due to the use of steel strings. So you will experience some finger pain for sure. But this is not huge, because you get used to hard strings in a couple of weeks.
Did you know this about the strings? Electric guitar strings can be used in steel-string acoustic guitar. And the sound is OK. But don’t use any steel strings in nylon-stringed acoustic guitars.
2. Fingerstyle is harder
There is a downside to a thin and narrow neck. Strings are closer to each other, and that can make picking and especially fingerstyle playing harder. This is not a massive minus, but it’s something.
Electric guitars are versatile, but best suitable for: rock, jazz, blues, funk, and metal.
- Neck is thinner
- Body is smaller
- Strings are softer
- Less string tension
- String action is lower
- Strings are not as soft as on nylon-stringed classical guitars
- A little bit harder to play fingerstyle
An electric guitar is the easiest to play, but that’s not the most important thing. At the end of this post, we will look at those most important things. Next, we will look closer at steel-stings acoustic guitar.
Steel-String Acoustic Guitar Playability
So, the electric guitar is the easiest, but that doesn’t mean that steel-string acoustic is super hard either. Let’s look at what makes steel-string acoustic easy to play and whatnot.
All acoustic guitars are a lot lighter than electric guitars. This has some effect on the playability, it’s easier to move with acoustic guitar and just grab it and start playing.
2. Easier to play fingerstyle.
The neck is just a little bit wider than in electric guitars and in general, the strings are a little bit farther from each other. That makes picking and especially fingerstyle playing easier. This guide reveals the best fingerstyle acoustic guitars.
1. The Neck
The neck is a little bit wider and thicker than with electrics. This makes accessing all the frets a bit harder. Especially fast chord shifts and barre chords can give players some trouble. But with practice, things get easier.
Actual string wires are made of steel but are plated with bronze or brass. Strings tend to be harder for your fingers, especially when starting out. String tension is higher too, and this makes strings harder to press down and at the start, playing can hurt your fingertips. But remember, after a couple of weeks of active playing, your fingertips will get tougher, and playing starts to be easier.
3. String action
The height between the fretboard and the strings is higher than in electric guitars. That and higher string tension make strings harder to press down. This can give you some trouble, but you will eventually gain more strength in your fingers and learn better coordination. After that, no tension can hold you down!
4. Size of the body
The body is a lot bigger than in electric guitars. This is not a huge con if you are a normal-sized person, but if you are a smaller caliber guy/gal or kid this can give you some trouble. There are smaller-bodied steel-stringsa acoustics available, and this can increase playability. But when the body is smaller the sound is quieter and not so full.
Steel-sting acoustic guitars are really versatile but in my opinion best for, country, pop, and rock(clean parts).
- Lighter weight
- Easier picking and fingerstyle
- The neck is a little bit wider and thicker in general
- Strings are harder and require more strength to press down
- Action is higher
- Body is bigger
Harder than the electric guitar, but can absolutely be mastered. Before we look at the most important thing when choosing an instrument, let’s chat about the playability of a classical nylon-stringed guitar.
Classical Guitar Playability
I would not say that neither, the classical nylon string- nor steel-string acoustic is the hardest to play. These two are just different. Let’s look at what makes classical guitars easy to play and whatnot.
The strings are really smooth and soft. The reason for that is the use of nylon. Bass strings(3 thickest) are nylon wrapped with bronze or copper, high strings are completely made out of nylon. Strings also have less tension than electric and steel-string acoustic guitar strings. These factors make strings gentle for your fingers and easy to press down.
2. Wide string spacing neck makes picking and fingerstyle easier
Again, this makes some things easier, and some harder. Classical guitars have a wider neck, and due to that, strings are far from each other. This makes using the pick and especially fingerstyle pretty easy.
Weight is light. The lightest of all guitar types. It’s really easy to just pick up the guitar and start playing. Not a huge effect on the playability, but some.
1. String action
String action is higher than in electric- or steel-string acoustic guitars in general. Gladly strings are easier to press down, but still, high action makes playing tricky sometimes.
2. Wide/thick neck
Classical guitars have the widest and the thickest necks of all three guitar types mentioned in this post. Especially barre chords can feel pretty hard when starting out. This makes playing harder for beginners and people with small hands (this guide helps with small hand-related guitar struggles). But this is no game-breaker. There are excellent classical guitarists with small hands.
If you want to play classical music and have small hands, this guitar guide will help: Best Classical Guitars for Small Hands.
3. Big body
Classical guitars have big bodies. You have also smaller options, though the sound is not so full and open with these.
Classical guitars are best for classical music, flamenco, and for playing melodies.
- Strings are soft and easy to press down
- Easy to use the pick and fingerstyle
- String action is high
- Neck is wide
- The body is pretty big
Harder than electric guitar? Yes. In my opinion, classical guitar is at the same level as the steel-string acoustic, it just has different weak and strong points playability-wise.
- The electric guitar is the easiest, with the small neck, low action, and pretty easy to play strings.
- Steel-string acoustic has a little bit wider neck and strings are harder to press down and can cause more pain to our fingers when starting.
- Classical guitars have the widest necks and the highest action, but the strings are soft and easy to press down.
Now it’s time to reveal the most important thing when deciding what guitar to buy.
The Most Important Thing When Buying A Guitar
After some thinking, I decided to buy an electric guitar in 2009. And I have no regrets. One of the best money I ever spent. Why decided to buy an electric guitar? Because electric guitars are easier to play? NO.
I bought an electric guitar because with that, I could play the music I love. In 2009 that was punk rock and rock. This motivated me to play every day. And that’s why I’m still playing and writing content for you and for other guitar players. I’m still, after 13 years, happy with my purchase.
What you should do?
Ask yourself: What music do I want to play with the guitar?
- If you answer: classical music. Awesome. Buy a nylon-stringed classical guitar. Is it harder to play than an electric guitar? Yes, a little bit. But you will learn. Because you play what you love. Check this article: Best Budget Classical Guitars.
- If you answer: country. Excellent. Buy a steel-stringed acoustic guitar. Strings can give you some trouble when starting out, but you will learn. Because you love country music and want to play it. Check this article: Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitars for Beginners.
- If you answer: rock music with distortion. Splendid. Buy an electric guitar. It’s easiest to play, but you still have to show a real effort if you want to master this skill. But you will learn. Because the rock is in your heart. Check this article: Best Electric Guitars Under $200.
So, what music do you want to play with the guitar? The answer leads you toward the best guitar for you.
Check our picks for the best acoustic guitars under $1000 and the best acoustic guitars under $500.
Conclusion on Is Electric Guitar Easier Than Acoustic
That’s it! Is electric guitar easier than acoustic…yes, it usually is.
I hope that this got. Figuring these things out surely helped me when I started and I’m so happy to share my experiences with you. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below, and feel free to share this post with others who need help.
If you are just starting out, these posts will help you more:
If you are going to buy a new guitar, these posts give you great info:
- Best Beginner Electric Guitar Package in 2022
- Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands in 2022
- 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $200
- Best Martin Guitars
- Best Taylor Guitars
- Best Yamaha Acoustic Guitars
Play the music you love and have a nice day!
Teemu’’the play what you love’’Suomala
This Post Has 2 Comments
We now have Nylon String Electric Guitars:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm75KHvHOD0 (For all Electric Guitars finger style requires wearing finger picks) & they’re even easier for beginners because the strings are Nylon. They have a Piezo Pickup which allows you to amplify the sound from the Nylon Strings.
Thanks for commenting Oscar! Checked your channel, and liked what I saw! Would be cool to do that kind of experiment myself!