Is Electric Guitar Easier Than Acoustic? And Which One is For You?

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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 13 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:

  • Electric guitar
  • Steel-String Acoustic Guitar
  • Classical Nylon-String Acoustic Guitar

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!

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed 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 and the body, lower string action(space between strings and fretboard). Strings are also softer and easier to press down than in 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 GuitarSteel String Acoustic GuitarClassical Guitar (with Nylon Strings)
Slimmest neckA bit wider and thicker neck than with most electric guitarsThickest and widest neck
Smallest bodyLarge hollow bodyLarge hollow body
Heaviest bodyLightweight bodyLightest body
Relatively hard stringsHardest stringsSoftest strings
Relatively high string tensionHighest string tensionLowest string tension
Lowest actionMiddle-ground actionHighest action
A bit less room for fingerpickingEasy to fingerpickEasy to fingerpick (a lot of room)

Let’s now dive deeper into these differences!

Electric Guitar Playability

photo displays electric guitar

As I said, electric guitars are the easiest in general. And the main reasons for that are these:

The Good:

1. Size of the neck.

Electric guitars have the slimmest necks of all the guitar types. That makes things easier especially if you 

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 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 in 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 the 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 in electric guitars(playability-wise). Let’s look at those next.

The Bad:

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 with 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. 

Summary:

Electric guitars are versatile, but best suitable for: rock, jazz, blues, funk, and metal.

Pros:

  • Neck is thinner
  • Body is smaller
  • Strings are softer
  • Less string tension
  • String action is lower

Cons:

  • 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

Guitarist plays steel-string acoustic guitar

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.

The Good:

1.Weight

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.

The Bad:

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.

2.Strings

Actual strings 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-strings acoustics available, and this can increase playability. But when the body is smaller the sound is quieter and not so full. 

Summary:

Steel-sting acoustic guitars are really versatile but in my opinion best for, country, pop, and rock(clean parts).

Pros:

  • Lighter weight
  • Easier picking and fingerstyle

Con:

  • 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

Guitarist plays classical nylon-string guitar

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 the classical guitars easy to play and whatnot.

The Good:

1.Strings

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, 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.

3. Weight

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.

The Bad:

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. But this is no game-breaker. There are excellent classical guitarists with 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.

Summary:

Classical guitars are best for classical music, flamenco, and for playing melodies.

Pros:

  • Strings are soft and easy to press down
  • Easy to use the pick and fingerstyle
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • 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.

Recap:

  1. The electric guitar is the easiest, with the small neck, low action, and pretty easy to play strings.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Exclamation Mark Highlights The Importance of playing the music what you love on 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. 
  • 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.
  • If you answer: rock music with distortion.  Splendid. Buy and 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.

So, what music do you want to play with the guitar? The answer leads you towards the right guitar for you.

Conclusion

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:

Play the music you love and have a nice day!

Teemu’’the play what you love’’Suomala


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Oscar Stern

    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.

    1. Teemu Suomala

      Thanks for commenting Oscar! Checked your channel, and liked what I saw! Would be cool to do that kind of experiment myself!

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