Can You Play Acoustic Songs On Electric Guitar (and Vice Versa)?


Some songs are played and recorded on an acoustic guitar. Some on electric guitar. But can you play any of those song on a different type of guitar?

For example, can you play acoustic songs on electric guitar?

Yes, you can. But you have to play it in a slightly different way. Electric guitar and acoustic guitar are different, in terms of sound and playability. Each song individually demands a certain way of playing.

Playing Acoustic Songs on Electric Guitar

Here are the tips for playing an acoustic song with electric guitar.

Play it on Clean

Clean sound setup on an amp is the sound that resembles the sound of acoustic guitar the most. If you want to play acoustic song on your electric guitar, you have to set it on clean.

Set Up Pickups Properly

Pickups on electric guitar have the role of catching and sending a sound signal from a guitar to an amp. Every guitar has at least a bridge pickup and a neck pickup. Those two pickups are different.

Neck pickup sends a sound signal that is louder on bass and quieter on high register (treble). Bridge pickup is exactly the opposite.

To make your electric guitar sound more like an acoustic, set it up on a neck pickup.

Turn the Distortion Down

You may also want to set up the volume knobs in a way that they doesn’t cause distorted sound. Electric guitars can sound distorted even when they are set up on clean sound.

That’s because the signal coming to an amp tends to be louder and more distorted. Turning down volume and distortion knobs is something you have to do. Unless you want to play a song in a way to sound it like a rock cover.

Use More Palm Muting

Electric guitar sound that’s coming from a guitar amp is more sustained sound. Acoustic guitar strings have less sustain. That’s why you have to use more palm muting when playing an electric guitar.

If you don’t mute the strings enough, they will ring out too much. You don’t want that to happen. Palm muting is more necessary for electric guitar.

Change Your Strumming

Acoustic songs are often strummed. Basically, you strum chords on an acoustic guitar. You can strum on an electric guitar, also.

However, a strength of strumming is different on electric guitar. On acoustic guitar you can strum strongly. It’s often a desirable to strum strongly. You want that acoustic strings to resonate through the room.

But if you strum strings on an electric guitar the same way, you won’t like the sound. Electric guitar strings are softer and lighter than acoustic ones. That’s why you have to slightly weaken your strumming.

If you strum too strong on electric guitar strings, they will sound too distorted and too loud. In essence, pay attention to strumming when playing an acoustic song on an electric guitar.

Fingerstyle for Electric Guitar

A lot of acoustic songs are played fingerstyle. Electric guitar can be played fingerstyle, also. But fingerstyle on electric guitar is a bit different from an acoustic fingerstyle.

For example, when you play acoustic guitar with your fingers, having a longer nails can be of help. Electric guitar however, doesn’t respond too well with longer nails.

That’s because electric guitar strings are thinner and softer. Plucking them with your nail will often result in a too harsh sound coming from an amp.

To play an electric guitar with your fingers, it’s much better to focus on plucking strings with your fingertips instead.

Change String Gauge (Maybe?)

We already pointed out that electric guitar strings are thinner than acoustic ones. In order for an electric guitar to sound more like an acoustic, you may want to use thicker strings on an electric guitar.

Read more about string gauges here.

Acoustic Simulator Pedal

If you desperately want your electric guitar to sound as closest to acoustic guitar, you can take a look at this great pedal.

It really makes an electric guitar sound a lot like acoustic! Check it out.

Can You Play Electric Guitar Songs on Acoustic Guitar?

Yes, you can of course. When it comes to rhythm guitar playing, anything played on electric guitar can be played on acoustic guitar. When we talk about guitar solos, you would have to arrange it differently in order to play a certain solo on your acoustic guitar.

It’s even easier to play electric guitar songs on acoustic guitar than vice versa. Rhythm electric guitar often uses power chords, for example. Power chords can be easily played on an acoustic guitar.

Fast rock, or metal rhythm can also be played on an acoustic guitar. Yes, acoustic guitar strings are heavier than electric ones, but still you can manage to play fast rhythmic patterns and riffs if you exercise enough.

Soloing on Acoustic Guitar

When it comes to playing an electric guitar solo on acoustic guitar, the story is a bit different.

Acoustic guitar doesn’t have as much frets as electric guitar has. Electric guitar solos are often played on a higher part of a guitar fretboard.

So, playing some electric guitar solos (from higher part of a fretboard) on acoustic guitar would be impossible in many cases. On a regular acoustic guitar you can freely play up to 12th fret. With some skill, you can easily reach up to 15th fret. Or maybe 17th freth. But anything beyond that is just physically too hard to play.

That’s why, in order to play electric guitar solo on your acoustic guitar, you have to arrange the solo in a different way.

For example, you may want to play solo on a lower octave, thus making it reachable and easier to execute.

Can You Play Acoustic Songs On a Classical Guitar?

Some songs you can play, while others won’t sound that good. It depends on a song you want to play. Of course, any song you can arrange in a way it suits a classical guitar.

Classical guitar is a special kind of a guitar. It has a bit wider neck. The strings are made of nylon, while acoustic strings are made of metals (mostly bronze or nickel). Also, two adjacent strings are more distant from each other on a classical guitar.

Classical guitar has a more soft, mellow sound that acoustic guitar. To play an acoustic song on a classical guitar, you may want to change a style a bit in order for a song to sound good enough on a classical guitar.

For example, you can play acoustic guitar with a flat pick, or a thumb pick, without any problems. Classical guitar is mostly played fingerstyle. It’s hard to play an acoustic song that uses pick on a classical guitar. Classical guitar strings are too soft for a pick.

The key point is this; you can play any acoustic song on a classical guitar if you arrange it in a proper way.

Can You Play Any Song On an Electric or Acoustic Guitar?

You can play any song on a guitar. Whether it’s an electric or an acoustic one. You just have to arrange it in a way it suits a guitar.

Different guitar types have different characteristics. We already mentioned some. Electric guitar strings are lighter than acoustic ones. Acoustic guitar uses strumming more. And so on.

If you approach every song individually, you can easily arrange it, so it can be played on any other guitar.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it! It’s always a pleasure to provide my fellow guitar brothers with useful information.

Check out other interesting guitar related articles from this site.

Cheers, and rock on!

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