Modern acoustic-electric guitars are a kind of hybrid that combines the features of both acoustic and electric guitars. This tendency of electrically amplifying the vibrations of a string instrument dates back to the 1920’s. A prominent prototype of an electric-acoustic guitar was created by Charles Hancock Kaman in the 1960’s. These days, the nature of electro-acoustic guitars is as follows; acoustic-electric guitars are basically acoustic guitars adapted to fit with a magnetic pickup. This is a device for capturing mechanical vibrations, which when plugged into an amplifier and a loudspeaker, creates a loud sound. A piezoelectric pickup can be seen as a better developed variant of the latter, that does not catch any odd magnetic fields, or a microphone.
Choosing between acoustic and acoustic electric guitars is especially difficult when you are a beginner. You have probably heard a lot of things about one guitar being better than the other type, when you are starting out. In fact, you should choose the one that best fits your present needs. Choosing an acoustic guitar over an electro acoustic one does not necessarily mean that you can’t start playing the other type later. Below, we will show you the differences that exist between these two types of guitars, hopefully making your decision much easier.
In fact, the most confusing factors might occur if you mix the acoustic, electric and acoustic-electric types of guitars. Electro acoustic guitars are not the same as electric ones. Unlike them, electro acoustic guitars share an identical shape with the acoustic ones, with the basic difference being in its functionality. The notes, as you could guess, are the same in both.
The differences are as follows: Acoustic guitars come with heavier strings and have a hollow body, so you have to put more physical effort when playing an acoustic guitar. Opposed to this, the acoustic-electric guitars have lighter and thinner strings. Most musicians use a pick with electro acoustic guitars, while they find it better not to play the acoustic ones with a pick.
As it was mentioned before, acoustic-electric guitars use high output electromagnetic pickups for creating various loud sounds, which means that despite being similarly constructed, the electro acoustic guitars require some electronic amplification, which is not the case with standard acoustic guitars. Generally, in relatively inexpensive acoustic guitars, you might find only the piezo type of pickups, but there are others that also have the actual microphone built in themselves.
Acoustic guitars produce the sound in the following way: the soundboard, which is the wooden front of the guitar, increases the vibrating surface area. The air in the cavity of the guitar resonates with the vibrational forms of the string and the soundboard, creating various resonance interactions and amplifying the sound at various frequency modes. Here, the key point is that unlike acoustic-electric guitars, acoustic guitars do not require external energy for the rise in sound loudness.
Another difference that we should mention is the “note bending” factor. This means that with electro acoustic guitars it is much easier to bend notes in various ways due to the string flexibility, (the interesting sounds you hear when listening to jazz music are a result of note bending), which cannot be said about the acoustic guitars. You can still bend the notes when playing the latter type of instrument, but it will be harder and will still not provide you with the wide range of sounds, as is the case with the note bending of an electro acoustic guitars.
These are basically all the different characteristics of the acoustic and electro acoustic guitars.
Electro acoustic guitars are created for producing various sound effects. Being a kind of hybrid, acoustic-electric guitars comprise the rich tones of acoustic guitars and the unique amplification of an electric guitar. This is especially good if you want your audience to listen to the natural quality of guitar sounds.
However, keep in mind that the acoustic construction might be vulnerable to feedback, and the latter might suffer from the reproduction of high-pitched sounds at a very loud level, but this has never been a really serious obstacle for electro acoustic guitar players.
Despite the fact that the choice of the guitar type is a matter of individual preference for players of various levels, it still should be noted that acoustic-electric guitars are mainly used by professional musicians. Beginners or those who are amateur guitar players, the mostly choose between the purely acoustic and purely electric types of guitars.
By now, you have surely made up your mind and want to buy an acoustic-electric guitar. So, the only thing left is to choose among the wide variety of guitars are on the market. For that matter, we present the most important features and the details that all the top electro acoustic guitars should have.
Electro acoustic guitars come with different body types.
Here are the different types:
The tops of acoustic-electric guitars are of two types: solid-top guitars and laminate-top ones. But, let’s first discuss the concept of a guitar top. The top of acoustic-electric guitars is the front, outward-facing panel of the body, where the sound hole is set up. The characteristics of the guitar’s tone are produced and developed in its top.
Here are some further details about the two types mentioned above.
Solid-Top: This type of electro acoustic guitar is solidly constructed, featuring a rich sound package.
Laminate-Top: Laminate-top guitars are made by attaching several layers of wood to each other. They lack the rich sound quality of the former type of guitars, and thus are less expensive when compared to the solid-top ones.
The neck of electro acoustic guitars is what holds the fretboard and which is made of metal strips sitting perpendicular to the neck length. As soon as you push a string, the frets come to the fore, in order to make the vibrating length of strings shorter while simultaneously raising the generated note pitch. The length comprises that of a string from the bridge, (this holds the lower tip of the strings), saddle to the neck and can be from 24 to 25 inches long.
The neck width might vary from one guitar brand to another. The acoustic-electric guitar width is not fixed but generally speaking, it might range from 1.7 to 2 inches. Essentially, the width of a neck is a matter of personal taste. The thinner your fingers, the smaller necked guitar you would need
The choice between these two should be considered according to your goal of a guitar. Electric-acoustic guitars with nylon strings are meant for classical music as well as for folk style. As to steel string guitars, they feature a crisp, bright tone and are meant for rock, country and a few other music styles. Nylon strings are more delicate hence, they are easier to press, unlike the steel strings, which are relatively harder to push down. But, the important part, is the proper adjustment for comfortable and easy playability.
Note: Steel and nylon strings are not interchangeable. If you want to play both types, then you need to buy two separate guitars.
The tonewood, i.e., the type of wood your guitar is made of, defines the sound quality and the tone it will produce. Here are some popular tonewood types:
Thus, understanding the nature of the most relevant features of an acoustic-electric guitar, it’s time to go through our list of the top electro acoustic guitars. We are featuring the most popular brands of the best acoustic-electric guitar to buy. You can surely find one that will meet all your expectations and musical preferences!
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