Do Acoustic-Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

Acoustic-electric guitar sound quality is acceptable to most when unplugged, but they are not as loud and crisp as their full acoustic guitar counterparts. Acoustic-electric guitars are intended to be plugged into an amplifier to create sound and reach their full quality potential. Their bodies aren’t equipped to reverberate sound like traditional acoustic guitars.

Acoustic-electric guitars can sound great, but they will never match the rich tone of traditional acoustic guitars. Acoustic-electric guitars have been around for many years and were once prevalent in clubs; if the musician didn’t know if they would have access to an amplifier or PA system. However, these types are now seen mainly as faux pas due to how much easier traditional electric guitars are to utilize.

Do Acoustic-Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

What Is An Acoustic-Electric Guitar? 

An acoustic-electric guitar was intended to be a hybrid between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. This style of the instrument can be played without an amplifier to generate sound but has electronic pick-ups enabling it to be plugged in if the user wishes. 

Acoustic-electric guitars generally have a thinner body and frame than traditional acoustic guitars. Classic acoustic guitars have a thick body in order to resonate sound inside the hollow body and act as their own internal amplifier. 

Electric guitars are thinner than acoustic guitars because they use electronics to send their sound to amplifiers.The amplifiers translate that electricity to the sound we hear. Acoustic-electric guitars are thinner than acoustics because they have the electric pick-up system installed but still need to maintain some body size to resonate sound acoustically

Why Would I Choose One?

Acoustic guitars have a unique sound that most standard electric guitars cannot replicate. Musicians who wish to have this sound featured in their music but intend to record on professional-grade software may need to plug their instrument directly into their recording unit. 

Some think acoustic-electric guitars may be tacky, but they are efficient instruments. Having one gives you the freedom to play unplugged or plug into an amplifier. It may be a more cost-effective instrument for players who wish only to purchase one guitar. 

Are They Good For Beginners?

While most beginners first play on electric guitars, acoustic-electric guitars are a fantastic choice for beginners. These instruments can be easier to hold while sitting down, generally sound better, and are easier to learn the basics on. 

Electric guitars utilize many different effects, chord and finger patterns, and techniques that acoustic-electric guitars do not. It’s much easier to learn basic chord structures on your acoustic-electric guitar. Once you learn a few chords, you’ll be playing full songs before you know it. 

Once you master acoustic guitar basics, having the electric option will allow you to plug in and try new things. Your window to grow as a beginner will essentially double with an acoustic-electric guitar. 

Acoustic-electric guitars also generate less feedback, giving the user more room for error. Even minor slips of the fingers on an electric guitar will produce a crackling sound. Beginners have the freedom to experiment more with their chords and finger patterns without having to worry about feedback issues.

Can You Make One Sound Like An Electric Guitar?

Keep in mind that acoustic-electric guitars, even when plugged in, will not emulate the authentic sound of an electric guitar with its effects and distortion. Electric guitars can utilize the full impact of distortion due to their electric pick-up system. Acoustic-electric guitars have a semi-thick, hollow body that will resonate sound. These differences in sound production will create different sounding music. 

You can make an acoustic-electric sound like electric through editing software like Mixcraft and Garageband. After recording your track, you can run the sound through different effect systems that will make it sound more like an electric guitar. 

While it takes some time and practice to master these skills, it can be challenging to match the sounds fully. It may not be worth the time and effort to make an acoustic-electric sound like an electric guitar.

Can You Use Pedals With Them?

Yes, you can use pedals with your acoustic-electric; although the sound may not wholly match an electric guitar, you will be able to create some fun and exciting sounds with pedal effects. 

Guitar pedals use audio signal processing to alter the sound of the instrument. Guitar pedals are plugged in between the guitar and the amplifier, acting as an intermediate between the two. This gives the user the ability to change the sound and add specific effects as the electricity is headed from the guitar to the amplifier. 

Acoustic-electric guitar players can use pedals when playing their instrument the same way electric guitar players would. Feel free to distort, drive, modulate and even reverberate the sounds of your acoustic with your favorite guitar pedal.

What Types Of Strings Do They Use? 

Most acoustic-electric guitars will use the same steel strings that acoustic guitars have. These strings are thicker than electric guitar strings and create a full sound when paired with its body structure.

In order to play the acoustic-electric unplugged, you’ll need to use these types of strings in order to resonate sound. Acoustic guitar strings have much more tension than electric guitar strings. These instruments need higher tension to create sound without an amplifier. Their thicker body structures are able to keep that tension under control, keeping the strings from breaking. 

You can use nylon strings with acoustic-electric guitars if you wish, but keep in mind it will change the sound drastically. Nylon strings also require less tension, so stringing your acoustic-electric guitar will be challenging unless you’re comfortable with the process. 

Can You Play An Electric Acoustic Guitar Unplugged?

Yes, both electric and acoustic-electric guitars use “acoustics” to resonate sound in the instrument’s body. They both use the same types of strings and have similar weights. The most significant difference is the size of the body so that most acoustic-electric guitars will be quieter than full acoustic guitars. So they will sound the same, just have differences in volume. 


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