I've been playing a number of open mics the last few months and I always bring an acoustic-electric and the lady that runs the open mics just plugs my guitar into the PA and I play and sing. That has been working good. I notice very few people bring electric guitars though. Occasionally someone will be playing in the background accompanying the singer with an electric but 95% of the people that play here just bring acoustic-electrics like I have been doing. I would like to play there with an electric there one time though. Is there something about plugging an electric into the PA that doesn't work? Does it hurt the PA or the guitar or something like that? Should I just bring an amp with me just in case? I know this might seem like a silly question to people who have been playing out for years but even though I've played guitar for 30 years+ I just this last year have started playing out in front of people and this is all new to me. Thanks for any responses in advance.
cleans on electric through a PA are generally ok (Although it will sound much different from a good amp, as PAs are not built with equalizers most of the time), but applying any effects will turn your tone into a yucky mess through a pa. Bring an amp if you're gonna play electric.

edit: or a POD. those are brilliant through a pa system
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It shouldn't be different technically. There is really not much difference between an electric and an acoustic electric. They both have pickups and send out a signal.

How pleasing it is is a different deal. might sound bad. Not sure how big of a crowd you are playing to, but a small amp might be sufficient and sound better than the PA; depends on how big of a space.
Thanks a lot for the replies. The place is not huge but not small either, big for a bar but not nightclub type size. I'm usually playing to about 50-60 people. I actually was going to play everything clean on the electric, no distortion or anything like that. I just wanted to try out my Fender Stratocaster instead of my acoustic-electric one time.
You can go through a pedal board (with amp simulation) or through an iPad (with Mobile-in or Amplitube). It works for me at our jam sessions.
--- Joe ---
77 Bradley LPC || 07 PRS CE22 || 11 PRS MC58 Artist || 95/02 Fender Strat || 99 Gibson LP DC Std Lite
06 Ovation Elite-T || 12 Martin GPCPA4
Boss GT100 || Peavey Stereo Chorus 400 || Peavey Bandit 75 || Roland JC77
Bring both guitars. If the strat sounds bad, you can always switch.