Should I buy an Electric or Acoustic guitar – quick guide

Size shape of acoustic and electric guitar

If you're starting out on your journey to becoming a guitar player, you might not know what guitar you should buy to get started.

This is a quick guide will show you the main differences between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. It should help you decide what guitar is the right one for you.

If you would like a comprehensive guide. Head over to our "Ultimate guide to buying a guitar" for everything you need to know to buy your next guitar! 

Choosing an Acoustic Guitar

There are two main types of acoustic guitars. The two types are the steel-string acoustic and the nylon string acoustic. Both of them have pros and cons when it comes to learning to play acoustic guitar. Here is what you need to know about both of them.

Choosing a Nylon String Guitar

If you have never played guitar before, the nylon string is the easiest guitar to play.

This is often called a classical guitar.

You won't get finger pain when you play nylon strings because they are softer.

This type of guitar is often the first choice for younger players. Student nylon string guitars don't cost that much.

choosing classical guitar to buy

If the student decides they want to keep playing, they can move up to a regular steel-string acoustic or an electric guitar.

The downside to the nylon string guitar is that they have a neck that is a little bit wider than a regular steel-string acoustic. This is so the guitar can accommodate the nylon strings. The problem with this is that it's harder to play chords on a nylon string.

This usually isn't much of a concern as most beginners will only be learning a few single notes to start. As the player develops, they may want to switch guitars.

Choosing a steel-string acoustic guitar

The acoustic guitar tends to be the main choice for adults. the reason for this is that it allows them to play a lot of their favourite songs.

choosing acoustic guitar to buy

Plus sides to Acoustic Guitar

You can find acoustic guitars in various price ranges to meet all budgets. Along with different acoustic guitars and body shape and sizes

You don't need any extra equipment like an amplifier, which is required for an electric guitar.

Acoustic guitars are also great options for parties or camping. 

Downsides to Acoustic Guitars

The main downside to the acoustic guitar is the strings. The strings on the acoustic are thicker when compared to a nylon-string or an electric. They are harder on the fingers. This can be a problem for some players has he might not want to practice as much If their fingers are hurting. To reduce this problem, put a light gauge of strings on the acoustic guitar. This will eliminate a lot of finger pain for beginners. 

The other trouble with acoustic guitars is that sometimes they have a large body. Which means a beginner who is constantly looking over to check whether their fingers are in the right place. End up with back ache and poor posture. Electric guitars or a smaller shaped acoustic will help with this. 

Choosing an Electric guitar

If you enjoy rock/metal/punk music, you will probably start playing on an electric guitar. The electric guitar is a lot of fun. 

It allows players to learn their favourite rock songs. They come in a wide range of prices, so they are suitable for most budgets. Almost every teenager is going to want an electric guitar because they seem "cooler". And I don't blame them!

choosing electric guitar to buy

Plugging in an electric guitar with some gain and even playing a simple scale  sounds really awesome. 

Plus side of Electric Guitars for beginners

As mentioned before. Electric guitars have thinner strings and also a thinner body. This means for beginners, it won't hurt their fingers as much. And allow them to practise for longer. 

And reduce neck and back pain from leaning over the guitar to look at the fretboard constantly. 

Also electric guitars are quieter to play unplugged. Useful if you don't want to disturb any neighbours in a London Apartment. 

Downside of Electric Guitars for beginners

The mean downside to the electric guitar is that you have to spend a little more money. The electric guitar plays best with an amplifier.

Most decent amplifiers will cost you about a hundred pounds.

While some guitar kits come with amplifiers, these are usually not that good. If you plan on getting an electric guitar, the amplifier is extra. If that's something you want to wait for, you can get a headphone amp. 

A headphone amp allows you to listen to your guitar "plugged in" through headphones. 

We like this one Vox Headphone Amp. Click for Amazon link. 

Vox headphone amp for electric guitars

And it's useful for London apartments where you want to stay quiet for the neighbours too. But still sound awesome practising. 

Children Sized Guitars

kids guitar lessons guitar tuition east london

Our student Uche with his bright blue Nylon String 3/4 size guitar. 

It’s important to remember that all three of these guitars come in 3/4 sized. This is a smaller version of the full-sized guitars.

These are excellent options for younger students. The smaller bodies are easier for them to hold.

The neck isn’t as wide, and this will accommodate their smaller fingers as they grow.

Best choice for you 

The guitar you buy is going to be up to you. My recommendation as a guitar teacher is that younger beginner guitar players start with the nylon string. The reason for this is that this guitar is easy to play.

A lot of guitar students stop playing because their instrument is too difficult for their fingers.

Younger guitar players don't have the hand strength for acoustic guitars. Adults can get by with either an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. You will have to make this choice yourself based on the type of music you like. 

Want more help on buying a guitar?

Read our "Ultimate guide to buying a guitar" to help you with the specifics of what to look for when buying a guitar. 

On top of that, find out how to buy a guitar, how much to spend. And find out what to look out for as well. 

And we talk about different accessories you might want to make sure you have too. 

Going to a guitar store

It's a good idea to go to a music store and talk to one of the store clerks. It will show you the various models for all three guitars. The most important thing is that you want one that feels comfortable.

visiting guitar store to buy guitar

Many beginners don't realise how much a guitar can weigh. And it's a good idea to try it out in person.

If you already have some guitar skills, you're going to want a guitar that meets your growing needs.

Want more help in person? Or want to speak to us about learning guitar?

Find out more by contacting us about our guitar lessons in London. We can even help you pick the right guitar for you based on the type of music you like. And the guitar techniques you want to focus on.