Are Electric Guitars Easier to Play? What You Need to Know to Go Pro
If you’ve been meaning to pick up the guitar, there’s never been a better time to get started. Guitar is an accessible instrument that people of all ages can learn. Oftentimes, it’s common for beginners to wonder whether they should go down the electric or the acoustic route. At Angkor Music, we like to make a case for the electric guitar, and here’s why.
Is it Better to Learn Guitar on Acoustic or Electric?
When it comes down to it, acoustic and electric guitars are one and the same — well, mostly. The key difference between the two is that you can plug in and amplify the latter. While electric guitars may appear daunting due to their many electronic switches, their core features are indistinguishable from those of their acoustic counterparts. That said, electric guitars are easier to play. Here’s why we think they’re more ideal for beginners.
They’re Easier To Hold
Electric guitars may weigh more than acoustic guitars, but they’re certainly smaller, which makes them easier and more comfortable to hold. Beginners may prefer this smaller stance, provided they don’t mind a little heavy lifting.
Their Strings Are Lighter
As well as having a heavier body, acoustic guitars also have heavier strings. Acoustic guitar novices often have sore fingers for the first few months of playing, sometimes having to swap out their strings for lighter alternatives. Does an electric guitar hurt your fingers? Yes, but not to the same extent. This makes them more beginner friendly.
Their Strings Are Closer Together
To a fresh-faced acoustic guitar student, the gaps between strings can be daunting. Your fingers have further to travel when switching notes or chords, which can be part of the reason your fingers may hurt more in those early months. Electric guitars don’t have this problem seeing as their strings are closer together, which reduces finger ‘travel time’ and calls for less hand strength. The only disadvantage here is that you’ll have less space to learn and perfect chords, which can be more difficult to distinguish between if the strings are in too close proximity.
They Have Thinner Necks
Speaking of hand strength, electric guitars have slimmer necks, which make for easier grip and a more accessible range of movement for the hands. While acoustic guitar necks demand greater grip and hand movements, electric guitar necks are great for beginners and the petite-handed alike.
If you’re learning a musical instrument, your neighbours will likely know about it — unless you’re learning an electric or digital instrument. While no one can avoid the squeaky strums and discordant twangs of early acoustic guitar practice, electric guitars are a different story. So long as you have a headphone adapter, you can plug your headphones in and enjoy your jamming session in private. Whether you’re feeling self-conscious about your early progress or wish to save your neighbours (or housemates!) from loud noises, headphones are a super beginner-friendly tool.
Your Essentials Accessories to Make Learning Electric Guitar Easier
Electric guitar may be easier to learn, but it’s still a new and technical skill. The best way to get started is to ensure you have everything you need and become aware of what to expect. To ensure you’re not caught flat-footed (or perhaps flat-handed), ensure to invest in the following accessories, as well as your electric guitar:
While more seasoned electric guitarists can rock out with their fingers alone, most prefer to use a pick — and this goes double for beginners. There are an assortment of picks from which to choose, which vary by shape, size, thickness and material. Our recommendation would be to start with grippy and flexible plastic picks with medium thickness (0.73–0.88mm: solid enough to grip while not overloading your hand).
Want to save time tuning? An electronic tuner will be your best friend — especially if it’s a chromatic tuner, with which you can tune in any key. To work their magic, tuners will process sound waves, from which they can determine the nearest relative note of the scale you’re playing in. Try a clip-on tuner, which is as easy to use as it is mobile. Simply attach it to your instrument’s headstock and hear it get its auditory bearings via the vibration of the strings.
Does an electric guitar work without an amp? Sure, it’s possible. There are alternative audio outputs you can use, such as speakers (including speakers on your computer, phone or tablet), a multi-effects pedal and headphones — as established earlier. You can even use your electric guitar without an audio output at all, although it will be a lot quieter and sound more like an acoustic guitar. Let’s be real, though: an electric guitar is all about the amp. Be sure to have one ready to go when you’re just starting out.
Of course, if you’re using an amplifier, you’ll need a cable to connect it to your guitar. But did you know that the cable you choose can affect sound quality? When making your selection, don’t opt for anything longer than 5.5m, and ensure to choose something with reinforced ends. This way, when handling the cable, there’ll be minimal unwanted noise and less signal loss.
Our Top Tip for Beginner Electric Guitar Players
Our final tip that will make learning the electric guitar easier is to prepare yourself for sore fingers. After the first few months, your fingers should adjust and build the strength they need, but the discomfort may alarm first-time players. If this is an issue for you at first, bear in mind that this is a normal part of the process. You may also take comfort in the fact that acoustic guitarists usually have it worse!
Is It Too Late to Learn Electric Guitar?
It’s never too late to learn a new skill! Whether you’re 4 years old or 54 or even older again, there’s nothing stopping you from picking up the electric guitar except a fixed mindset. In the music world, there tends to be an emphasis on learning instruments early or possessing natural talent. And while both have their advantages, success ultimately comes down to the effort you put in.
Contrary to popular belief, adults often learn musical instruments more easily than children due to their knowledge frameworks and learning strategies established over years or decades. Children, on the other hand, are still building intellectual foundations. Ultimately, regardless of whether you’re an adult, child or somewhere in between, you can learn electric guitar as well as the next person, so long as you put in the practice. You’re only too old if you tell yourself you are!
Build Your Electric Guitar Starter Kit at Angkor Music
Feeling better prepared to kickstart learning the electric guitar? The good news is we have everything you need here at Angkor Music! From every necessary accessory to guitars in all your favourite brands (including Ibanez guitars), Angkor Music is your ideal starting point for your musical journey. Check out our online guitar store to get started, and please reach out with any questions! At Angkor Music, we’re old hands at guitars, so let’s make some beautiful music together.