Can You Play Acoustic Songs on the Electric Guitar?

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When you first started learning guitar, you might have had to make the difficult choice between playing the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar. Many guitarists don’t start off with both, but just purchase one type of guitar when beginning the instrument.

If you’ve been playing the acoustic guitar for a while now, you might be w0ndering what it will take to start playing the electric as well. If you play the acoustic guitar, you should definitely think about transferring your skills to the electric guitar. Both instruments are clearly different in sound, but believe it or not, they’re not as different to play as you might think.

So can you play acoustic songs on electric guitar? In this guide, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know.

Can You Play Acoustic Songs on the Electric Guitar?

You should be happy to learn that you can easily play acoustic songs on the electric guitar. The reverse is true as well. You can also play electric guitar songs on the acoustic guitar.

The great thing about playing the guitar is that you can play the same notes on both instruments and it will sound great. The standard tuning and alternate tunings of electric and acoustic guitars are the same. This means that you can use the same chord shapes, the same notes, and many of the same techniques on each instrument.

The main difference is how the instruments sound when playing them. The two instruments have distinct tones and sounds. They can potentially sound very different even when playing the same songs, chords, and notes.

It’s hard to beat the sound of acoustic guitar tonewoods and the resonance that an authentic acoustic guitar provides. On the other hand, the amplification along with special guitar effects such as distortion, overdrive, and flange will give an electric guitar a much different sound than an acoustic instrument.

While the instruments sound different, however, the music notes and chords themselves will be the same. You can play the instruments in the same way. It’s only the “flavor” of the tone that changes.

Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So now that you know that you can play acoustic songs on the electric guitar, there are some more things that you should understand as well. In this frequently asked question (FAQ) section, we’ll answer all of the common questions you might have about playing acoustic songs on the electric guitar.

Is It Easy to Play the Electric Guitar if You Already Play Acoustic?

Guitar Chord Shape

When you know how to play either the electric guitar or the acoustic guitar, you can easily switch to the other instrument as well. The two types of guitars feature the same tunings and notes and you can play the same chords on each.

If you want to switch to the other instrument, all you’ll need to do is grab one and start playing. Nothing could be simpler!

Does a Clean Electric Guitar Sound Similar to an Acoustic Guitar?

If you’ve never heard the sound of a completely clean electric guitar before, you may be wondering if it sounds like an acoustic guitar or not.

When playing an electric guitar clean, it does sound a lot more similar to an acoustic guitar than if you were playing an electric guitar with distortion or other effects. However, it’s not quite the same. It’s hard to compete with the sound of a wooden instrument that resonates in a natural way.

With that being said, you can get pretty close to an acoustic sound by playing an electric guitar clean. While it might not sound exactly the same, playing a clean electric guitar will be somewhat like playing an acoustic guitar and the notes will ring out clearly.

Can You Use the Same Chords on Electric and Acoustic Guitars?

You can play the exact same chords on an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. Your fingers can play the same notes and you can use the same chord shapes on both.

However, it’s important to note that you typically will want to switch things up between the two instruments if you want to sound your best on each. Typically, open chords (in which every string isn’t pressed down) will sound best on an acoustic guitar.

On the other hand, barre chords (in which all of the strings are pressed down) and power chords (that use only 2-3 notes) will sound best on an electric guitar. This is especially true if the electric guitar is distorted or has other effects on it.

Are Electric and Acoustic Guitar Techniques Exactly the Same?

While you can use just about any guitar technique on either instrument, some techniques are better suited for the electric guitar than the acoustic guitar.

One of the key examples of this is string bending. Bending strings is much easier on the electric guitar because the strings are more movable and they have less tension.

You’ll also find that other techniques such as palm muting and pinch harmonics sound better with an electric guitar as well.

How to Make an Electric Guitar Sound Like an Acoustic Guitar

If you want to play acoustic songs on an electric guitar, there are a few things that you can do to get a better sound out of your instrument.

As mentioned above, you can’t get an electric guitar to sound exactly like an acoustic guitar. However, you can make your electric guitar sound a bit more like an acoustic guitar by following these tips. 

Electric Guitar Pickup Switches

1. Keep It Clean

If you want your electric guitar to sound as similar to an acoustic instrument as possible, you need to avoid using guitar effects such as distortion, overdrive, gain, and other effects.

Be sure to turn off the distortion on your guitar by changing the knob on your amp and don’t switch on any guitar effects pedals that you have. To make the clean amp settings sound even better, you might also want to increase the bass on your amp and reduce the levels of the treble as well.

2. Use Only the Neck Pickup

Another way that you can make your electric guitar sound more like an acoustic is by using the right pickup. An electric guitar will usually have several different pickups that you can use by flipping the pickup switch.

Using the neck pickup is ideal if you want your instrument to sound more like an acoustic guitar. The neck pickup creates a warmer sound and does a somewhat better job of simulating an acoustic sound than when using an electric guitar’s bridge pickup.

Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator

3. Try an Acoustic Simulator Pedal

One of the best ways to make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic is to use an acoustic simulator guitar pedal. These pedals are made for this exact purpose and can give your electric guitar a pretty convincing acoustic tone.

Acoustic guitar simulator pedals have a lot of different settings on them that can allow you to simulate different acoustic guitar sounds and settings. This includes different types of guitars and acoustic pickups.

While these pedals still don’t make an electric guitar sound exactly like an acoustic guitar, they do a pretty good job and get close. It could be worth getting one of these pedals if you want to play acoustic songs on your electric guitar.

If you’re looking for an acoustic simulator pedal, the Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator Pedal is a popular option and the first one that you’ll probably want to consider during your search.

Using These Tips to Play Acoustic Songs on an Electric Guitar

So can you play acoustic songs on an electric guitar or not? By now you should realize that the answer is a “yes”! However, you should be aware that it won’t sound exactly the same.

By using clean settings on your guitar, using your neck pickup, and trying an acoustic simulator pedal, you can get a pretty good acoustic sound on your electric guitar. With these tricks, you can have a lot of fun playing any acoustic songs that you want to play.

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