If You Could Just Have One

I am an older (62) beginner and I want to focus on learning to play one instrument well. I feel that I will distract myself at this point in my journey if I have too many toys. My music tastes tend to lean towards country, folk, easy listening, soft rock (not heavy metal, rap, etc.) If you had to choose between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar, both of decent quality, which would you choose, and why?

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I made the choice over 35 years ago. Played in a band had
enough gear and guitars to fill a pickup.
Life changed bought a house and down sized to one acoustic.
Now I have 5 acoustics, a mandolin and a piano.
The music you mention can all be played acousticly.
But you need to make the choice for yourself.


Thanks for the input. I agree that I need to make the choice for myself. But, tapping into the vast experience of this awesome group for advice should certainly help me to make an informed, intelligent decision.

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Tell us your top5 songs you would like to learn or 10 random ones which will create a pattern possibly and could answer your question better.

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Electric guitar all the way. They are far “easier” on the fingers and you don’t have to plug in, you can practice acoustically though you won’t get the volume but that’s sometimes a good thing lol.
Acoustics are bulky and can be uncomfortable. They also require more strength to fret the strings most of the time. If after a certain length of time you wish to upgrade, then you might want to go acoustic.
Also during your learning you may find your interests change and get to prefer the possibilities of electric style, opening you up to techniques such as string bending which is really hard to achieve on an acoustic.

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Great, fun question, Victor.

Mine would an acoustic.

My main musical path is towards being able to play and sing solo. I prefer acoustic for this, both the sound and the convenience. Think of people like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, many others, who come out solo with their acoustic (don’t mention the harmonica) and can perform their songs acoustically, irrespective of whether they usually play them on an electric. If a fairy godmother granted me a wish to play and sing like one artist, it would be Neil Young.

Secondly, I’d like to be able to play the blues. Love all styles but simple acoustic finger-style blues appeals to me. Throw in a slide for extra sweetness.

For me the electric really comes into its own when playing in a band. Given that is unlikely for me, the choice is easy, if I can have only one guitar. Of course that is totally hypothetical and just a way of asking us to share our musical interests and aspirations (I think). And I do have an electric, plus a resonator, and a second acoustic (my original instrument that I kept when I GASsed for an upgrade and is Nashville strung)


With the caveat that we all need to choose for ourselves -

If I could have only 1 guitar I’d have an acoustic, simply for the ease of carrying it around without needing an amp, and playing at campfires / music nights with friends. You can’t do nearly the lead work that you can on an electric, but there is enough cool stuff you can play. That being said, in apparent contradiction to this I currently own 1 acoustic (a mini Taylor) and 4 electrics (Strat, Gretsch, Epi SG, and a diy Tele style) (although my partner also has a Martin acoustic, and I regularly play that one).

Go with your heart. :smiley:

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@mari Mari you better not tell Slash this :grinning:


That was incredible! All of it!! I cannot believe those bends. Wow.

Ok so change the ‘you’ in my sentence and it’s correct: I cannot do nearly the lead work on an acoustic as on an electric. To be completely honest though I can’t do much on an electric either!!

And wow again, thanks for sharing @stitch

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With your musical tastes I would probably go for a hollow-body or Semi hollow-body electric guitar.
Why? They are well suited to those music styles and can be played without plugging into an Amp with a reasonable sound output.
The other advantage being that they are lighter than a Solid body guitar.

About 25 years ago I got an acoustic guitar because of price (didn’t have to buy and amp), simplicity (didn’t have to plug anything in or move it around), and because I felt that a lot of the music that I wanted to play would be great on an acoustic. For a variety of reasons I gave it up after six months and gave my guitar away to a friend.

Then, about ten years ago I was at a party and someone had an electric guitar. I was amazed that I remembered any of the chords that I had learned so long ago, but also amazed at how much easier it was to fret chords and get clean sound than I remembered from my acoustic and I hadn’t touched a guitar in 15 years at that point. I remember thinking then, that when the time in life is right that I would try learning guitar again.

Nearly another decade went by before I thought about guitar again but two years ago as I was about to turn 50, the time was right and I bought myself an early birthday present of a Fender Stratocaster. Within a couple of months, I bought a Fender Mustang GT40 amp that has a bunch of built in effects and then a year later I added a headphone amp. So I have kept my kit pretty small but I feel like I have everything I need.

At this point, two years in, I am starting to think that I might like to have an acoustic guitar too. But to this point, if I could only have one it would be electric for three key reasons:

  1. In general, my electric has been much easier to play and learn on

  2. My electric offers a lot more versatility. I can use a very clean sound to play songs that were originally performed on an acoustic and at least approximate the feel of the song, or I can add a bunch of distortion and crank on some power chords.

  3. I can play my electric without disturbing others. I can sit in the same room with my wife and practice while she reads and not annoy her, either using headphones or just fully unplugged. Even played quietly, an acoustic guitar would be much louder and be pretty annoying to others when I am working on new things. Plus, I can run a metronome or backing track through my headphone amp and no one else has to hear it.

Even though I am starting to consider adding an acoustic guitar to my kit (and there is a part of me that can envision only having and acoustic at some point in the future) I am not sure that I would have gotten to this point in my guitar journey without my electric guitar.

My first guitar was an acoustic, so I may be biased towards it. As others mentioned, it’s lighter than an electric, there’s no need to buy extra equipment like amp, pedals, cables, etc. unless you plan to perform in larger venues or want to play really loud It’s easy to take care of, and a very versatile instrument. One disadvantage might be that it’s a bit more difficult to record well. As I live alone, I don’t have to worry about bothering others.

However, if you cannot make a decision and want to “cop out”, why don’t you try an electric-acoustic?

What about something like a fender acoustasonic?

I started on a Spanish guitar, quickly finding out r this was not for me. (This guitar was available in the house at that time) I love jazz, blues, gentle rock.
A electric guitar and amp keeped me interested in learning and I could practice in the same room where my lady was without disturbing her thx to the headphones that plug into the amp. (it Is a digital modeling thing) i think you must take the practical side in consideration, is it easy to practice without disturbing others if you use a acoustic guitar? It’s no fun to listen to someone trying to play an instrument on a daily routine.
Grtz, Luc

I’d encourage you to project / think about the kind of guitar playing experiences you are looking to have. And think of the types of guitars you’ve seen others use in such a situation. For me, we enjoy camping and sharing dinners with friends. The dynamics of an acoustic work very well for that, not so much (typically) with an electric.

I happen to play mostly fingerstyle and my wife has commented often that it is a nicer ambience than some friends who strum quite loudly.

I remember a bbq some years ago where an older friend pulled out an acoustic guitar and mesmerized all of us there with some good sing along songs. It’s quite possible to do that with an electric, but doesn’t seem to happen.

I started with an electric guitar starter pack just over a year ago, seeing if I could get the hang of playing properly, a cheapish one not to waste too much money. I was finding it a tad awkward to hear if I was hitting the right notes all the time without putting it through the amp, which I rarely used.

Now one year later I have just got an acoustic, it is completely different to get used to from the electric, obviously. Now I am getting used to it, it is showing me that I am not always hitting the right part of the fret and getting a buzzy sound. It has taken me about a week to get used to the difference with the body shape, but it`s starting to get a lot better.

This would be an interesting dilemma if you really had to choose.
(I’d go Judas for reasons below)
You say you want to focus his learning on one and not be distracted by ‘too many toys’.
I think that’s a false premise.
Did I read you have an old acoustic that’s being repaired, Victor?
Learn on that for the time being. If you find that either it doesn’t suit you, or you’d like to try something else, go with your feelings.
I guess most guitar players ‘get distracted’ at some point in their journey (the old dogs thread is full of them), but I’ve never heard of anyone’s guitar learning being hindered by having too many different types of guitars. Indeed, you will become a more versatile player if you can play on different instruments.
I started out on my son’s classical nylon-strung Yamaha C40 and was quite content to stick with that forever, never treading the GAS route. There are now 4 electrics (not including 2 bass), 2 acoustics and a ukulele in the home.
The reason I’d go for electric (or semi-hollow as @DarrellW) suggested, is the almost infinite palette of sounds you can generate with them for surprisingly little money.
The whole ‘portability’ argument is somewhat offset by using a small wireless desk amp and a wireless connector with the guitar (+/- headphones, if I don’t want to annoy others).

Last, but not least, you’re either going to have to go electric or change your name to something other than Flying V :rofl:


If I had to pick one, I went for electric.

for my solo stuff, I play rather clean with some reverb but also some light overdrive, just on that sweet spot where it breaks up. I also do fingerpicking on my electric like it’s my acoustic.
In the end, for me, the electric covers more ground and a lot of ground my acoustic covers.
If you buy an electric, you have to make sure you have an amp that does a good clean sound, preferably with a built in reverb to take the dry edge off. A simple multieffect (or built in effects) will make you learn and discover a lot of styles and sounds. you’ll learn to discover what you really like.

An acoustic has a “portable” argument; grab it and you’re playing!
that is a strong argument too!

Thank you @stitch was just about to start a session but had to listen to this with a beer !

I’m really just trying to get opinions here. I have an Alvarez acoustic that’s been set up by the luthier and it sounds good and is easy to play. For some reason, it isn’t comfortable for me to hold. It almost feels to big. I have my son’s Ibanez Gio with a Fender Mustang Micro amp. So I can plug in a set of headphones and play quietly.

I guess I’m trying to decide if I should just learn on my acoustic or use my son’s Ibanez for awhile and then buy an electric as my “primary” guitar.

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