How Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Work?

How Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Work?

If you’ve stumbled upon this short article, it means that you’re probably wondering what an acoustic electric guitar is and how exactly they work. 

Simply put, an acoustic electric guitar is similiar to a regular acoustic in that it has the traditional headstock and soundhole, but it also has electronics installed. This allows you to hook the guitar up to an amplifier. 

The electronics that are installed on an acoustic electric include a pickup and a pre-amp. The pickup is what takes the vibrations made from your strings and turn those vibrations into electronic signals that in the end, result in sound. It’s important to note that not all acoustic electrics have pickups. Some actually have built-in microphones.

The preamp we are talking about is located on the outside of the acoustic electric guitar and it usually has different settings that allow you to adjust the volume, bass, and treble. Some preamps include a tuner as well. 

The short answer is yes, you can definitely play an acoustic electric guitar without plugging it in. The electronics that are attached to the guitar really don’t have an effect on the natural sound that comes out of the normal sound hole.

However, you’ll definitely get more out of an acoustic electric guitar if you hook it up to an amplifier. These types of guitars are meant to be played both hooked up and also without an amplifier. 

Are Acoustic Electric Guitars Good for Beginners?

Because the acoustic electric guitar is just like an acoustic guitar in the sense that it has the same headstock and soundhole, it does make a good choice for a beginner guitar.

Most professional guitarists would agree that for a beginner, starting out with an acoustic is the way to go. And since the two go hand in hand it makes sense that an acoustic electric would also suffice as a first guitar.

As far as pricing goes, as a beginner you may be better off starting off with a simple acoustic guitar. Most acoustic electrics are not the cheapest guitars to buy in the first place, because of the electronics that are installed.

In my opinion, you’d be far better off buying a decent acoustic guitar and then hooking it up with an acoustic guitar pickup that you can install on your own. They are pretty simple overall to install and are extremely affordable.

Should I Get an Acoustic or an Acoustic Electric?

In my opinion, the answer to this question really depends on the experience that you have with playing the guitar. If you’re a beginner, I would definitely recommend starting out with a simple acoustic guitar to see if it’s something that you are likely to stick with. You could always add an acoustic pickup later. 

If you’re a more experienced guitar player and you’ve never played an acoustic electric before, it might be a good idea to buy an acoustic pickup first and install it on your guitar to see if you like the general sound that it produces. It would be a cheaper way to see if an acoustic electric is right for your needs.

Can You Make an Acoustic Guitar an Electric?

Yes, you can absolutely turn your acoustic guitar into a type of electric guitar. You can do this in two common ways in which we will discuss in this section. 

The first and most cheapest way to do this is to simply purchase an acoustic pickup and install it on your acoustic guitar. Not only is this pretty easy to accomplish but it is usually inexpensive. It’s definitely much cheaper than buying an electric guitar, which could cost you hundreds of dollars depending on the brand you buy.

Another way to turn your acoustic guitar into an electric acoustic is to take your guitar into a professional and have them install the necessary hardware that it requires to allow you to plug your acoustic into an amplifier.

That goes beyond the scope of this article, and frankly, I’ve never gone that route myself. But I know it can be done. I would recommend contacting your local music store to see how much they would charge you for that service. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article cleared things up about what exactly an acoustic electric guitar is. As you can see, they differ slightly from a regular acoustic guitar in that they have electronics hooked up to them. And this simply allows you to hook up your guitar to an amp so you can have even more control of the overall tone of your acoustic sounds. 

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