Differences Between Electric & Acoustic Guitar Playing

A lot of beginning guitarists wonder about the difference between electric guitar playing and playing an acoustic guitar. There are actually three different categories here: Electric, Steel String Acoustic and Classical nylon string. Within each category there are many subcategories of styles and techniques. So bear in mind this is just an overview and many of the techniques can be blended, changed and added too to create new styles (experimentation is very important).

Electric guitarists generally use a pick (plectrum) to achieve a percussive attack (the intial sound of the note). This being widely used for heavily distorted sounds in modern rock. Bassist have even become more pick prone for much of modern rock so a band can perform tight, heavily percussive passages of music.

Other electric techniques are pick and fingers - using the pick plus any free fingers on your picking hand. This is a popular style of playing in many genres but has been widely used for blues playing. While most electric guitarists do not use just fingers there are some who excell at it: Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits being the most prevelant example. He blends acoustic styles with an electric guitar and can playing things that amaze and inspire other guitarists. Check out the solo on 'Sultans of Swing' - it is done without a pick. Furthermore on electric guitar there are some extended techniques: whammy bar, finger tapping, bending, doublestops, etc. These are various styles that lend themselves to electric playing because of the loud, distorted, amplified sound.

For acoustic players, they have been put in two main categories for years: Flatpicking and Fingerpicking. These are both common styles but new innovators such as Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke and others have brought new techniques to acoustic guitar. Examples are thumb slapping on the low strings and finger tapping. Classical guitar has for years been locked in the same style but nylon string guitars have been used in many ways. Nylon string instruments have found their way into Flamenco and other styles of music. Plus become an instrument for heavy rock and modern pop music throughout the world. The tone is very mellow and the wide neck supports playing with your fingers. But never assume that a classical guitar will be used as classical musicians do.

In many ways, the styles overlap but in many ways they differ. Just remember that there are certain features available on each type of instrument that don't carry over to others. Find out what you want or email or call GuitarTrader.com and someone will help you. There is an instrument out there just begging to be played and explored..,

Jeremy can be contacted at [email protected].

'Article from GuitarTrader.com Newsletter Oct '99'

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