Acoustic-Electric Guitar vs Acoustic: What is the Difference?

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One thing that musicians love to do is argue over which instruments are the best. For example, there is a massive ongoing debate as to which guitar is better: the acoustic-electric guitar or the acoustic guitar.

While each instrument is spectacular in its own way, there are a few similarities and some notable differences. Below, we will be discussing how the tone, function, and diversity of each guitar differs. More so, this article will help you determine which instrument will better suit your style and sound as a musician.

Acoustic Electric Guitar

In appearance, the acoustic-electric guitar (also known as the electro-acoustic) is almost identical to the standard acoustic. The only difference lies in the preamp and pickup that is installed into the body of the guitar.

A pickup is used to convert the guitar’s sound into an electric signal. This signal can then be connected to an amp to boost the volume and sound quality.

For this reason, the acoustic-electric guitar is the preferred instrument amongst live performers. The instrument offers the convenience of simply plugging the guitar in and playing. More so, it offers great sound quality and an incredible tone.

 Acoustic Guitar

The regular acoustic guitar is the older of the two instruments. It also happens to be one of the most popular and widely played instruments in the world, making its sound instantly recognizable.

One of the most attractive features of this guitar is its great versatility. In fact, this instrument is used in songs of many different genres, such as indie, country, rock, jazz, and blues. On top of this, the instrument isn’t all too hard to play, making it a favorite amongst younger and inexperienced artists.

The acoustic guitar is a fretted instrument that produces sound when its strings are plucked. This sound travels through the air, meaning that no electrical amplification is required or possible. The amplification and tone of the acoustic guitar are produced by the sound chamber of the instrument.

Acoustic Electric Guitar vs Acoustic: What are the Similarities?

Even though there are major differences between these two types of guitars, there are also a few similarities to keep in mind when choosing one for yourself.

Sound and Appearance

When the acoustic-electric guitar is not plugged in, there is no sound difference when compared to the standard acoustic. This is because there is no structural difference between the two instruments other than the fitted pickup and preamp.

Both guitars use 6 strings, a hole, and frets to produce sound. For this reason, they also look very similar in appearance.


Many people believe that the acoustic-electric guitar is slightly more difficult to play than the standard acoustic. However, this is simply not the truth. As we have discussed, both guitars have the same shape and feel, meaning that you will not struggle to play one more than you do the other.


Standard acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars usually cost around the same amount of money. Generally, the difference in pricing is based on the brand and quality of the guitar that you are purchasing. Also, the material used has a massive effect on the price tag, as certain woods produce a much better sound than others.

Acoustic Electric Guitar vs Acoustic: What are the Differences?

There are a few important differences between these two instruments that all players should take note of. If you are in the market for a new guitar, understanding these differences could potentially save you plenty of money and time.

Below, we will mention how the design of the guitars differ. Furthermore, the potential for modifications and volume limitations of the instruments play a massive role in their individuality.


As we have already mentioned, the main difference between the acoustic electric guitar and the acoustic guitar is the design. While both guitars produce a very similar sound, the acoustic electric makes amplification much easier.

In other words, the acoustic electric guitar is designed to be used during performances that require a louder and more obvious sound. On the other hand, the standard acoustic is better suited for players who play for fun or in solitude.


The preamp and pickup that is fitted into the acoustic-electric guitar allow for various modifications to take place. However, the standard acoustic sound cannot be modified without the use of additional equipment, such as a microphone.

Volume Limitations

A standard acoustic is very limited when it comes to volume. With the acoustic electric, players can simply use the volume controls found on the fitted pickup to make the sound softer or louder. With the acoustic, the player will need to physically change their playing style to increase or decrease the volume produced.

Which One Should You Buy?

Here are some quick factors that will help you decide which you should purchase.


Buy if you:

Acoustic Electric

Buy if you:

  • Frequently gig
  • Like the sound of a plugged-in acoustic electric
  • Enjoy using sound effects
  • Want more flexibility
  • Want to move around when playing

Final Thoughts

The acoustic electric and standard acoustic guitar have a few noticeable differences that should be taken into account when purchasing a new instrument. The acoustic electric is better suited for players who perform live often, whereas the standard acoustic is a good option for at-home musicians.

The most obvious difference is the fact that the acoustic electric has a fitted pickup and preamp installed in the body. This allows the instrument’s sound to be amplified when connected to the correct equipment. The acoustic guitar’s sound is much harder to modify. Also, it is very easy to adjust the volume of the acoustic electric, while the standard acoustic will require a microphone or changed playing style.

The main similarities between the two instruments include sound, appearance, pricing, and playability. To be more specific, both guitars look identical and produce the same sound when the acoustic electric is not connected. They are both equally as difficult to play and can be purchased for roughly the same price.