The Difference Between an Electric and Acoustic Guitar

, , Leave a comment

The guitar is a plucked string instrument. It originated in Spain in the sixteenth century. It consists of a hollow body, usually curving inward at the centre. The curve is referred to as the waist. There is a sound hole in the centre. The body has a long neck protruding upwards and ending in the head. The head has a number of keys that anchor the strings.

Courses of strings run from the pegs on the head to the tension bridge on the lower end of the body. A standard guitar has six single courses of strings. Bass guitars have four. Twelve stringed guitars have six courses of double strings. The Mexican guitar (jarana) and the South American charango both have five courses of strings.

The strings are tuned by tightening or loosening the keys on the head. The standard tuning for a six string is E A D G B E. The base guitar is tuned E A D G.

Stringed instruments are those musical instruments that produce sound by the vibration of the stretched string. When the string is plucked, the position of rest is disturbed and it vibrates in complex patterns. This sound is amplified by a resonating chamber called the sound board.

Guitar strings were originally made of gut, which was later replaced by nylon and metal. Metal strings need to be plucked with a pick or plectrum. A classical guitar has 3 nylon and 3 metal spun silk strings.

The guitar was originally the instrument of popular music. Folk, jazz and the blues were all played on guitars. Andrei Segovia elevated the instrument to concert status, while other composers like Heritor Villa Lobos and Manuel de Falla composed serious music for the guitar. Pierre de Boulez scored guitar music for chamber orchestras.

Electronic instruments are musical instruments that produce or modify sound by electric or electronic means. Leo Fender developed the first mass produced electric guitar in 1948. It was called the Fender Broadcaster. In 1951, Fender came out with the first electric bass guitar called the Fender Precision Bass.

The first different between the electric guitar and its predecessor the acoustic guitar is the body. The electric guitar has a solid body whereas the body of the acoustic is hollow.

The electric guitar like the acoustic produces sound by mechanical means, but the sound is amplified electrically. A magnetic pick up on the body interacts with the vibrations from the metal strings to produce current. The current is passed through a preamplifier and then to the speakers that relay he music to the listener.

Metal strings are used for both guitars. Acoustic guitars need a metal that produce warm clear tones. Copper, bronze, gold and a combination of silk and steel are the alloys preferred for an acoustic.

The pick up on an electric guitar is composed of 6 magnets wrapped in copper wire. The metal strings interact with the magnets. It is therefore necessary to have strings made of alloys with strong magnetic qualities. Alloys preferred for the electrics strings are nickel, monal, stainless steel and a steel hybrid of nickel and copper.

The electric guitar has thinner strings and a thinner neck, making it much easier to play than the acoustic. The electric needs an amplifier and speakers to produce sound. No add-ons are required for the acoustic.

The genres of music associated with acoustic guitars, are jazz, folk and the blues whereas electric guitars are necessary for rock, metal and electronica, in order to be heard above the boom of the drums.

Electric guitars are almost twice as expensive as acoustics.

Though there are many differences between the two, the electric and acoustic are similar in construction and the resulting sound is also similar.


Leave a Reply