Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged? | integraudio.com

In this article, we will discuss the main characteristics that define acoustic-electric guitars, their advantages, and their differences compared to other guitars. In this way, we can decide with certainty if it is the right instrument for us.

Initially, we can say that an acoustic-electric guitar can sound on its own and simultaneously has the necessary equipment to transmit a signal that will be amplified and reproduced by another device. This makes it a versatile instrument. But does this make it better than an acoustic guitar or an electric one? That depends on your purpose.

We will try to analyze the subject more deeply, so everyone can draw their own conclusions. But let’s not forget that at the end of the day, it is you who should like the sound of the instrument you are listening to.

Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

They actually do. When we talk about electro-acoustic guitars, we can find them from many manufacturers (Martin & Co, Gibson, Takemine, etc.) that have been in charge of creating high-quality instruments for years. Therefore, if we look for a guitar of this type, surely we can find one that meets our needs.

We must first know if our instrument will be used only plugged in, unplugged, or in both scenarios. If we opt for the third option, an acoustic electro guitar will be the right one because it has been manufactured for that purpose.

For this, it has a microphone and an EQ located in a key place, which allows it to obtain the best sound from it, while maintaining its acoustic qualities. These components are inside the guitar and are not something we can easily remove. They are part of the guitar.

But if instead, we know that we will only use it unplugged, in that case, an acoustic guitar is a better option since the components that an electro-acoustic guitar has inside (batteries, cables, microphones, plugs, etc.) can affect the qualities of the sound, like vibration and sustain. That will directly impact how we hear the instrument, so it’s something to keep in mind.

On the other hand, we can always amplify an acoustic guitar externally using a microphone, and some prefer that the soundboard of their guitar be made entirely of wood, without extra parts that modify the sound. So, it is a matter of judgment and choice too.

Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound As Loud As Non-Acoustic Electric?

They can sound as loud as non-acoustic electric. But we must also consider that internal electronic components can affect the sound, and on the other hand, they are usually smaller in terms of the dimensions of their soundboard than acoustic guitars. These factors can attenuate the volume of the guitar.

There are also extremely thin ones, or even without a soundhole, designed for live performances exclusively. We can also find differences in the strings that we will use. For example, on an acoustic guitar, the strings will often be thick to give the sound a good amount of bass, brightness, and sustain.

On the other hand, in an acoustic-electric guitar, we can make sound adjustments both from the EQ and the amplifier. This will allow us to use thinner strings if we wish, having a better command of the instrument since they are softer and more comfortable to play.

Our amplifier will also be an important part of our guitar. If we have a very good guitar, but the amplifier is not of good quality or is not designed for this type of instrument, we won’t be able to get the most out of it.

Is It Easier To Play An Acoustic Electric Than An Electric Guitar?

Playing an electric acoustic guitar and an electric guitar have a similar level of difficulty. What really is the place each one occupies within a musical structure. An acoustic guitar is usually present in the rhythm part. An electric one, is usually more in front.

Acoustic Electric
Electric
Acoustic
Plugged in and unplugged.
Only plugged in.
Only unplugged.
Thick strings, wide sound, settable EQ.
Thin strings, bright sound.
Thick strings, wide sound.
Reverb, delay FXs.
Unlimited FXs.
No FXs.
Folk, country, soft rock, pop.
Blues, rock, reggae, soul, jazz, funk, pop, disco, alternative.
Folk, country, soft rock, pop.
From $250/300 avg.
From $100/150 avg.
From $150/200 avg.

If we talk about playing a solo or a complex and fast arrangement, the electric guitar has an advantage since it usually has thinner strings, which means we need less pressure on the fingers to sound a note. On the other hand, electric acoustics need thick strings to sound as wide as possible, making them more useful for simple strumming or arranging.

On the other hand, the electric guitar is present in many very different styles and can be combined with different effects. Therefore, the number of textures and variants we can get is almost unlimited. There is no one way to play the electric guitar. There are many, and each interpreter can do it his way. Acoustic or acoustic electric guitars are a bit more limited in that sense. This is because they have been created to accompany or support, and not to be the main protagonist of the scene.

What Is The Difference Between Steel And Nylon String Guitars?

We can find nylon strings in most classical guitars. This guitar model was originally created in Spain and is smaller in size than acoustic guitars, which are built more robustly in order to withstand the tension generated by the steel strings. Classical guitars do not have a truss rod.

Steel-string guitars stand out for their sustain and brightness. They have a long lifespan, but are also a bit harsh to play with and can irritate your hands if you’re not used to them and aren’t using a pick. On the other hand, nylon strings are softer, their sound is enhanced in the mid frequencies, and they have less brightness compared to steel strings. Also, being softer, their strings tend to get cut more quickly, but their tension is much lower.

The sound of nylon-string guitars is typical of genres such as bossa, flamenco, tango, or trova and is very popular in Spanish-speaking countries. On the other hand, the acoustic guitar is typical of folk, rock, and even pop, and it is more common to find it in North America and many countries in Europe and the world.

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What is the difference between 6-string and 12-string guitars?

The main difference is that 12-string guitars have six more strings than traditional guitars. At first glance, they look very similar, but they have two strings on each position that are plucked simultaneously when playing a note. This allows us to extend the harmony when playing chords.

For starters, the tuning is identical to that of a 6-string guitar. As a bonus, some of the “extra” strings are tuned an octave higher, and others in unison. This generates a kind of chorus effect as if two guitars were playing simultaneously, giving us an interesting range of sounds in a single instrument. The chords will be the same as if we were playing a 6-string guitar.

Mechanically they are almost identical to traditional guitars, with the difference that they have more pins, the fingerboard is a little wider, and they are more robust in order to be able to resist the tension exerted by 12 steel strings. This makes them less common, require more maintenance, and are more expensive.

What Kind Of Mics Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Have?

We can find different models. Some can pick up the vibration through the wood, and others directly by being in contact with the bridge. Mics are usually inside the guitar and can include a preamplifier powered by a battery that allows us to regulate the signal’s volume. Let’s see some of them.

  • Undersaddle Transducers (UST) are probably the most popular as they are easy to install and almost invisible. They are made of a thin piezoelectric material that can transmit the guitar’s acoustic tone with good fidelity. It has good resistance to feedback and is the most widely used.
  • Soundboard Transducers (SBT) are sensors installed inside the guitar, at the bridge position, and in contact with the wood. Their sound tends to be a little less bright than the USTs, and they are a little more prone to feedback problems when the volume is very high, but they are still very used.
  • Magnetic acoustic pickups. These are usually external. They are placed in the guitar’s soundhole and appear similar to electric guitar pickups. Installing them is as easy as removing them, and they are an excellent option for amplifying an acoustic guitar and converting it to acoustic electric. It has good resistance to feedback, although sometimes its sound can be slightly “electric”.

What Effects Can I Use On An Acoustic Electric Guitar?

The most used effects in this type of guitar are reverb or some kind of soft delay. In general, we seek to enhance the guitar’s acoustic qualities or balance the sound, making it less common to use effects that produce large changes in the original signal.

There are no limits when it comes to experimenting with sounds, and as unusual as it may be, it can be innovative to see how our guitar behaves with unconventional effects such as a phaser, a flanger, a slight distortion, or some other effect designed for electric guitars. Sometimes we can be surprised by the results we get.

In addition to being included in many models of electric acoustic guitars, EQs are also found in amplifiers and mixers if we send the signal from our guitar to one of them. These devices have parameters that will allow us to adjust and shape the sound to better fit the place and time we are playing.

Sometimes certain musical styles, or even certain spaces, will need the sound of our instrument to be brighter, medium, or larger. The better we know our guitar, the easier it will be for us to make the necessary adjustments and get the most out of our sound.

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Conclusion

An acoustic-electric guitar is an instrument we can use in different situations since it offers more possibilities than a regular guitar. They tend to be a little more expensive, but if it fits our needs well and we take advantage of their versatility, it will be a great investment.

It is important to remember that this kind of guitar is more related to genres such as folk, country, or soft rock. If your idea is to play genres like blues, funk, metal, or reggae, just to name a few, you want to go after an electric guitar. That is one of the acoustic-electric guitar’s few limitations.

Without much more to say, I hope this brief review is useful for anyone who is considering buying an electric acoustic guitar. Thanks for your time!

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