#1
Is acoustic practice more effective for technique than electric?

I know this will probably sound very silly, but ever since i started picking up my acoustic more i have felt as my electric guitar playing has become a lot better. Like when i play my acoustic it feels harder to play because of the action (it is properly set up, but the action from acoustic to electric still differs quite a bit), neck and string gauge. So when i go back to playing my electric guitar it feels like i've had huge weights taken off and i can practically fly across the fretboard.

Obviously i still have to practice on the electric to work on muting additional sound (feedback, distortion etc), but apart from that it seems like practicing on my acoustic has yeilded greater results playing wise.

Am i crazy or has anyone experienced anything similar? Any downsides to doing the majority of my technique workout on acoustic guitar?
#2
You basically answered your own question.

Due to action and string gauge and whatnot, it definitely is a lot harder to fret.
#3
No, there is no downside to doing the majority of your workout on an acoustic guitar. The only way there will be a downside is if you don't practice correctly. There is an upside of practicing on an acoustic guitar over an electric guitar, finger strength. You build more finger strength playing an acoustic guitar than you do an electric.
#4
Quote by esky15
You basically answered your own question.


See, i said it might be a stupid question.

Due to action and string gauge and whatnot, it definitely is a lot harder to fret.


My main point was i was wondering if there are any pros/cons with doing most of my practicing on acoustic. As i stated i noticed that electric became easier due to the difference in accesability of the instrument (lighter string gauge, action, more comfortable body shape etc), but that it also came with the con of not being as focused on the muting (since if i want to play with an overdriven tone, i need to practice the muting aswell)

Also, would be nice to get other peoples opinion on this. Am i the only one here that has started doing this? It just seems like such an instant improvement i'd be shocked if not more people were doing it.
#5
while both guitars each does have it's little nuances that need to be practiced on that type of guitar. for basic practicing acoustic is fine and it will help with certain skills as it is less forgiving.
#6
Quote by Nacho Cheese!
No, there is no downside to doing the majority of your workout on an acoustic guitar.


Electric guitars tend to require more effort to stop unwanted noise (more gain equals more noise), and that is something that might not be noticeable on acoustic, and so can't be practiced effectively. Acoustic guitars also make certain things very difficult to do compared to on electric, such as sweeping and tapping and delicate legato and quick string bends, and so it is not effective to practice such things when they can't be properly executed.

So yes, there are downsides to practicing only on acoustic, similarly to how there are downsides to only practicing with a clean electric or distorted electric.

Quote by monwobobbo
while both guitars each does have it's little nuances that need to be practiced on that type of guitar. for basic practicing acoustic is fine and it will help with certain skills as it is less forgiving.


It is less forgiving in terms of things like needing good dynamic consistency, but it is very forgiving in terms of not producing unwanted noise, mainly due to the increased compression and sustain of an electric.
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Last edited by theogonia777 at Jul 15, 2015,
#7
Quote by MrDjango
Is acoustic practice more effective for technique than electric?

Like when i play my acoustic it feels harder to play because of the action (it is properly set up, but the action from acoustic to electric still differs quite a bit), neck and string gauge. So when i go back to playing my electric guitar it feels like i've had huge weights taken off and i can practically fly across the fretboard.



Yep!
When you play acoustic for a week or two it's gonna feel very easy to play electric guitar.
It's great way to practice your articulation and synchronization. Just because those things are much harder to develop on acoustic guitar. It might not bee acoustic. Playing unplugged is also not easy. But cheap acoustic is much harder anyway

Should you practice this way? Absolutely! Should you spend all of your time doing that? No if your primary instrument is electric guitar. I think 80/20 rule is working here. So practice this way around 20% of your practice time and everything is gonna be great
#8
Acoustic takes more physical strength, but electric takes other kinds of skills, like dealing with sustain. So if you want to play electric, don't try learning on an acoustic. I have the converse problem. I played acoustic for 30 years before taking up electric seriously, and I have never really mastered it to my satisfaction.

As theo implies, if you want to learn both, practice on both. But don't substitute one for the other!!
#9
Quote by theogonia777
Electric guitars tend to require more effort to stop unwanted noise (more gain equals more noise), and that is something that might not be noticeable on acoustic, and so can't be practiced effectively.


Disagree for a few reasons. One: there is still some noise that you have to mute although I agree there is more on an electric. Two: the adjustment for muting is rather small and shouldn't take long. Just a small adjustment in how you position your right hand for the most part. Three (two-point-one?): the foundations can be built on an acoustic.

Acoustic guitars also make certain things very difficult to do compared to on electric, such as sweeping and tapping and delicate legato and quick string bends, and so it is not effective to practice such things when they can't be properly executed.


More difficult yes, but if you can do such things on an acoustic then you will be able to do them on an electric. Sweeps are not really that different on the two other than finger strength and muting. If you can do them cleanly on an acoustic then you will be able to learn the subtile difference of muting rather quickly.

Tapping is done in acoustic music as well and I don't see that as an issue. The only difference will be finger strength.

Delicate legato and quick string bends aren't really an issue and I don't understand them being included. Due to the need for dynamic control on the legato with an acoustic I don't see a downside or difficulty outside building finger strength. In fact, learning how to do nice legato on an acoustic would be more beneficial then learning it first on an electric. The need for smooth dynamics is much more crucial on an acoustic than an electric, which needs very little.

The same could be said of the bends outside of the dynamic control. They're easier on an electric due to less finger strength needed but by no means is it a down side to learn them on an acoustic before electric.


So yes, there are downsides to practicing only on acoustic, similarly to how there are downsides to only practicing with a clean electric or distorted electric.


Yes, there will be small downsides to practicing only on an acoustic. That is why I added the "majority" in there.

I've been playing guitar for a long time and in all genres, from Jazz to Classical and from Shred to Blues stopping along the way at all those in-between. I'm confident that you, or at the very least many who post here, have a lot of experience (quite possibly more than myself) with the instrument as well. I believe this is one of those topics that we will just have to agree to disagree.
#10
Quote by Nacho Cheese!
Disagree for a few reasons. One: there is still some noise that you have to mute although I agree there is more on an electric. Two: the adjustment for muting is rather small and shouldn't take long. Just a small adjustment in how you position your right hand for the most part. Three (two-point-one?): the foundations can be built on an acoustic.


On an electric, due to compression from gain and increased sustain, every little noise becomes that much more noticeable. Have you ever heard somebody that has been playing acoustic their whole life play a distorted electric the first time? They end up with a mess every time they change strings because they don't know how to mute and accidentally let it ring out and so you have more noise than anything.


Yes, there will be small downsides to practicing only on an acoustic. That is why I added the "majority" in there.


You severely underestimate them I think. The only people that should do the majority of their practicing on acoustic guitar are people that mainly play acoustic guitar. If you mainly play electric guitar, you should do the majority of your practicing on electric.

I've been playing guitar for a long time and in all genres, from Jazz to Classical and from Shred to Blues stopping along the way at all those in-between


Well good for you, but I didn't ask for your qualifications.
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#11
Quote by theogonia777

You severely underestimate them I think. The only people that should do the majority of their practicing on acoustic guitar are people that mainly play acoustic guitar. If you mainly play electric guitar, you should do the majority of your practicing on electric.

Well good for you, but I didn't ask for your qualifications.


No, I don't think I am, I would say you are overestimating it. Physically speaking there are only three main differences between playing on an acoustic and an electric.

1) More finger strength is required on an acoustic.

2) More dynamic control is required on an acoustic.

3) Stricter muting for an electric.

First two will not be an issue when going from an acoustic guitar to an electric. The first one is actually beneficial for those who play primarily on an acoustic. The third is a very small adjustment. The slight moving of the right hand onto the strings you need to mute and the slight use of the left hand to mute the strings in the upper registry. I would not consider this a difficult task to master. Notably if you are practicing with both an acoustic and an electric. Do note, I am not saying that one will find no difference between the transition from an acoustic to an electric after years of only playing an acoustic guitar.

Yes, an electric does require less error in muting. However, even on an acoustic you shouldn't have the strings/notes ringing that you don't want to be heard. Point being, when playing an acoustic the act of muting should not be foreign to you. In fact, muting should be at the very beginning of the learning process of the instrument as whole.

If you're interested in playing the electric guitar for the most part then you should play the electric guitar enough to understand the rudimentary act of muting and receive the self-satisfaction of playing an electric (the interest of choice.) However, practicing on an acoustic will help with playing the electric guitar. This is because of the increase in finger strength. If it so happens that the majority of the practice is on the acoustic then it will not be a downside so long as the player is able to mute correctly on an electric.

On the final statement: I spoke about my experience on my own volition merely to make the point that I am obviously not someone who is inexperienced with the instrument's many facets. It may have been unnecessary but it flowed from mind to keyboard rather quickly.

To be more concrete and finish this discussion we should look back at what the original poster said/asked.

Obviously i still have to practice on the electric to work on muting additional sound (feedback, distortion etc), but apart from that it seems like practicing on my acoustic has yeilded greater results playing wise.

Am i crazy or has anyone experienced anything similar? Any downsides to doing the majority of my technique workout on acoustic guitar?


He obviously already knows about the need for additional muting on an electric guitar. So when I made my original statement about there not really being any downside, I had muting excluded.
#12
Quote by MrDjango

My main point was i was wondering if there are any pros/cons with doing most of my practicing on acoustic. As i stated i noticed that electric became easier due to the difference in accesability of the instrument (lighter string gauge, action, more comfortable body shape etc), but that it also came with the con of not being as focused on the muting (since if i want to play with an overdriven tone, i need to practice the muting aswell)

Also, would be nice to get other peoples opinion on this. Am i the only one here that has started doing this? It just seems like such an instant improvement i'd be shocked if not more people were doing it.


The main problem you will develop by focusing primarily on acoustic is that you'll have trouble properly fretting notes on electric with a light enough touch, therefore detuning a lot of what you play. The art of electric guitar is the art of playing in tune - that isn't really an issue with acoustics because the strings tend to be larger and less prone to slight variations in pressure. There is also an issue with regards to muting - which is much more important on electric as you point out. Finally, there is the issue with tone - on electric playing with an amp and effects is an art of itself and requires a lot of precision and practice and basically sound engineering- on acoustic you just need to wail away and everything sounds fine by default.
#13
I would also add that playing electric guitar at performance and jamming levels is also it's own thing and should be practiced - what works at bedroom levels doesn't necessarily translate at jamming levels.

I agree with Thegonia777.

In my experience, it's painful to listen to primarily acoustic players on electric - most butcher it and half of what they play sounds out of tune.
#14
Quote by Nacho Cheese!


1) More finger strength is required on an acoustic.

2) More dynamic control is required on an acoustic.

3) Stricter muting for an electric.


4) Less pressure required for fretting (practice on electric to avoid sharps).

5) Sustain is different (practice on electric).

6) Bends require less effort (practice on electric).

7) Vibrato has different feel (practice on electric).

8) Parts of the song will probably be different to fit in with the band (practice on preffered instrument)

9) Acoustic type chords may be mushy on electric, especially with distortion.

10) If you want to use pedals then practice using your preferred type of guitar.

11) If you are going to use a wammy bar then use guitar with one.

12) I'm bored now, but there are many more.......................

If you want to play electric then practice on one most of the time but it won't hurt to use an acoustic every now and then as SOME skills carry over.
#15
My list that you are continuing started off with this parameter: "Physically speaking there are only three main differences between playing on an acoustic and an electric."

Quote by SpiderM
4) Less pressure required for fretting (practice on electric to avoid sharps).

5) Sustain is different (practice on electric).

6) Bends require less effort (practice on electric).

7) Vibrato has different feel (practice on electric).

8) Parts of the song will probably be different to fit in with the band (practice on preffered instrument)

9) Acoustic type chords may be mushy on electric, especially with distortion.

10) If you want to use pedals then practice using your preferred type of guitar.

11) If you are going to use a wammy bar then use guitar with one.

12) I'm bored now, but there are many more.......................

If you want to play electric then practice on one most of the time but it won't hurt to use an acoustic every now and then as SOME skills carry over.


4) The adjustment of using less force when fretting is not really that difficult and should come naturally. At all times when playing the guitar, no matter if it is acoustic or electric, you are only trying to use minimal force to get a clean note. If you never play on an electric then the transition may be an issue but even if you only play an electric for around twenty percent of the time then it will be natural. If you don't make this adjustment you will play sharper notes on an electric.

Doing a quick check I found that, at most, the increase from using too much force was 4-5 Hz. The distance for a half step is around 40 Hz, a 5 Hz increase on a note will be the equivalent of a 1/8th step bend. Again this is at most, you will have to press down rather excessively for this. A slight over pressing will result in around 1-2 Hz which is truly not that significant in my opinion. Interestingly enough, the variance in Europe of the concert A is 4 Hz. In the USA/UK you may be used to a 440 Hz A note but in Europe you may find the use of a 444 Hz A. (My findings were done on my own instrument and may be different from your own findings.)

5) Physically speaking it's not. You will still be using the same technique as you would on an acoustic.

6) Yes, you have to use less finger strength on an electric for bends. I think this was covered in number 1 with the idea that you have to use more finger strength on an acoustic. In reality you want to use your ear when you do bends to make sure you are in tune. If you are using your ear while playing on an electric you should not be over bending just because you play mostly on an acoustic. Also note, just because you have more finger strength from playing on an acoustic doesn't mean you can't use less strength when playing on an electric. If you never play an electric then you may have to tendency to use more force if you try to play an electric. If you play both then there should not be an issue with using less force. (Last three sentences also pertain to number 4.)

7) Vibrato is physically the same as bending, should be merged with number 6.

8-11) Physically irrelevant and rather obvious ideas.

12) I would hope that those many more reasons would be better than the ones you just showed. At least in regards to number 8-11.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And to finish off my involvement with this thread, let me address the two main questions of the OP directly.

Is acoustic practice more effective for technique than electric?

Any downsides to doing the majority of my technique workout on acoustic guitar?


Yes and no, the only substantial difference will be finger strength. The only thing you will gain from playing on an acoustic is finger strength and dynamic control. Dynamic control is not a significant factor here. Finger strength is very important so it is more effective in that regard. However, this is not the only way to get more finger strength.

No, there is not any significant downside to doing the MAJORITY of your TECHNIQUE WORKOUT on an acoustic.
#16
Quote by Nacho Cheese!
The distance for a half step is around 40 Hz, a 5 Hz increase on a note will be the equivalent of a 1/8th step bend.


Half steps as a unit in can't be measured in Hz since pitches rise logarithmically. IE there is an increasing difference in Hz between consecutive half steps and so half steps in the low range of a guitar vary by 5-10 and in the highest octave half steps vary from 40-80 Hz.
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#17
Oh discussion, I knew we couldn't stay apart for too long... jokes aside.

Quote by theogonia777
Half steps as a unit in can't be measured in Hz since pitches rise logarithmically. IE there is an increasing difference in Hz between consecutive half steps and so half steps in the low range of a guitar vary by 5-10 and in the highest octave half steps vary from 40-80 Hz.


Yes, I'm aware of this. I only gave the one example because I didn't feel like doing an in-depth research experiment on the issue. Notably with writing down all the numbers and then typing up all the info and conclusions. Which would have made that post even longer than it already was. I do apologize for not going into as much detail as I should have. At the very least I could have explained that it was just one example.

I did, at the time, go to different spots of the neck for the number and it wasn't always the 5 Hz that I gave in the example. I didn't feel like doing all the math for multiple spots and did a quick guess that it was 1/8th-1/4 of a half step. Going back and doing it you will find an increase of ~2.5 Hz at the lowest interval (F3-F#3 I believe, could be 2 and not 3, I don't remember.) So to state the obvious, I was wrong, you can find a 0.125 to 0.50 half step increase.

Again, I still think that the idea of someone playing that hard on an electric is ludicrous. Even on an acoustic you would be playing out of tune with that much force, you would surely notice it and be able to make the adjustment. While as I said it was a moot point in the discussion of what the OP was talking about and in the reality of playing, it is non-the-less interesting information.

In order to give the OP some more advice that I didn't think of before hand. If you want to increase finger strength you don't have practice on an acoustic. I said it before but here I will elaborate with one method. There are devices you can buy online or at your local music store that you can use. It is basically the same as those hand-strength devices but it is designed for the fingers as well. I don't know how well they work but it could be something to look into if you are interested. Last I saw I think they cost around $20, could be different now, that was a few years ago. Not to mention prices could be higher/lower in your area.
#18
Quote by MrDjango
Is acoustic practice more effective for technique than electric?

I know this will probably sound very silly, but ever since i started picking up my acoustic more i have felt as my electric guitar playing has become a lot better. Like when i play my acoustic it feels harder to play because of the action (it is properly set up, but the action from acoustic to electric still differs quite a bit), neck and string gauge. So when i go back to playing my electric guitar it feels like i've had huge weights taken off and i can practically fly across the fretboard.

Obviously i still have to practice on the electric to work on muting additional sound (feedback, distortion etc), but apart from that it seems like practicing on my acoustic has yeilded greater results playing wise.

Am i crazy or has anyone experienced anything similar? Any downsides to doing the majority of my technique workout on acoustic guitar?


playing an acoustic will certainly build the raw muscle to help holding down large chords. that said though, once your pick up your electric you'll probably need to throttle back a bit because an electric shouldn't require that much strength to play. playing an electric takes a bit more subtlety because you have more frets, lighter strings, lower action, and the technique is different.

fwiw, i tend to play a lot unplugged. if you can hit your notes cleanly, quickly, and accurately without an amp, one tends to sound much better when you do plug in. you can pretty much practice a lot of your tech this way.

also i tend to play a lot of different instruments: 4 & 5 string bass -both short and long scale, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar , classical guitar, and 6, 7, & 8 string electrics. all of this hopping around for 32 years keeps my hands well suited to handle most playing situations.

i do recall when i moved up to 7 strings i needed some more strength so i bought a couple of those heavy duty springy finger exercise thingys. wore both of them out but they sure helped a lot.

these guys:

Last edited by ad_works at Jul 17, 2015,
#19
Quote by MrDjango

Am i crazy or has anyone experienced anything similar? Any downsides to doing the majority of my technique workout on acoustic guitar?


You won't get any practice at electric techniques and things like muting to keep down noise etc.

Also I feel (and I'm not great shakes on acoustic here, so I could well be wrong ) that a lot of the benefit from playing acoustic is psychological- you have to keep playing acoustic for electric to feel "easier". Stop playing acoustic for a while and go back to electric and before very long electric feels "normal" again. That's what I feel like, anyway.

EDIT: should've read the thread to see most people already said what I was going to

Anyway

Quote by Tony Done

As theo implies, if you want to learn both, practice on both. But don't substitute one for the other!!


Yeah exactly.

Bass is another instrument (for similar reasons to acoustic) which can make electric easier. I love bass, but I started on it (fairly recently) because I wanted to learn bass too, not because I wanted to improve my electric player. It's debatable if the amount of extra help you get from the other instrument is as much as you'd get from just practising the original instrument the same amount of time.

Unless you're one of those people (I probably am ) for whom a change is as good as a rest- i.e. if you practice electric for an hour a day, you're sick of it and don't want to play any more, but you could maybe practice another hour on acoustic (or bass). If that's the case it will probably help.

Quote by theogonia777

You severely underestimate them I think. The only people that should do the majority of their practicing on acoustic guitar are people that mainly play acoustic guitar. If you mainly play electric guitar, you should do the majority of your practicing on electric.


Agreed.

Acoustic players are fond of saying that you can tell when a mainly-electric player picks up an acoustic to play (and they're probably right- I'm sort of the opposite of Tony Done above), but I think that goes both ways- you can normally tell when a mainly acoustic player picks up an electric, too. EDIT: dangit reverb66 beat me to that point, too.
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