5Ws+1H: What It's About: Acoustic, electric guitars serve different purposes

Apr. 18—Electric and acoustic guitars are different in many ways, from the materials of which they're made to how they're used by players.

Matt Menees, Zomac School of Music store manager, said the guitars are similar in that tuning, costs, and styles of playing do not change from one to the other.

"An acoustic guitar amplifies itself by having a big hollow body and a sound hole, so when you play the strings, it resonates in the body and comes out of the sound hole," Menees said.

The strings and the magnetic pickups are the only components of an electric guitar that impact the sound, as the vibration of the string comes from the pickup and is pushed through an amplifier.

"A lot of time, acoustic guitars don't have as many frets or notes on the fret board as electric guitars," Menees said. "Normally with on an electric, there's some kind of cutaway; you can reach higher on the neck, whereas an acoustic around the 12th fret is the highest you can go most of the time. It depends on the guitar."

Menees said some customers are on the fence and can't decide what kind of guitar they want. He often asks them what music they like to listen to and what genre they want to learn.

"If you're just wanting to play in a rock band, you're probably going to want an electric guitar, because there is all the overdrive and different effects you can put on that. But if you're just wanting to play country songs and strum your guitar and sing, you'll probably want an acoustic," Menees said.

Both guitars have advantages when it comes to learning music. Menees said it is often better to start learning on an acoustic, as the player does not have to worry about settings.

"The acoustic is going to be very raw, and it's going to sound good or bad, depending on how you play it, whereas an electric guitar stuff can be hidden by the effects," Menees said.

Even though Menees recommends new guitar players learn on an acoustic, he said many beginners like to learn on an electric. The beginners often like the lighter strings, as they are easier on the fingers when building up calluses.

The ability to plug in headphones or an amp to an electric guitar also makes for a prudent purchase, as it allows residents in apartments or homes near other residents to keep the noise down.