One of the most spirited debates among musicians is electric versus acoustic. For most of human history, acoustic instruments reigned supreme simply because they were the only option. But when electric instruments began to gain popularity in 1930 it was clear that thousands of years of dominance were now in peril.
Today both electric and acoustic instruments coexist in relative peace, but there will always be people wondering which is best. This question is especially common with people deciding on their first instrument. If you came looking for an easy answer, we, unfortunately, do not have one. However, we can look at the strengths and weaknesses of both instrument types so you can make a choice that fits your wants and needs.
In this section, we will look at what is required to play each type of instrument. In most departments, electric and acoustic instruments are fairly evenly matched, but this is not one of those areas. To play an acoustic instrument, you simply need the instrument itself and any required accessories. With electric instruments, you need the instrument, required accessories, and power. And that just describes the basic necessities! If you are playing an instrument like the electric guitar, you will also need an amplifier. This means that electric instruments can be less portable and more difficult to set up.
Of course, it’s important to note that everything varies depending on the instrument. For example, electric keyboards are almost all more portable than even small acoustic pianos. It’s one more reason there is no one-size-fits-all option in this discussion.
Since the day where a caveman started banging a stick on everything, he could find humans have been trying to make new sounds using their instruments. We accomplished some amazing things with natural materials from plants and animals. But even the most creative instrument makers found that they could only make so many sounds naturally and that one instrument has a limited acoustic range. Electricity and electronics changed this.
Electric instruments are capable of an amazing variety of sounds. Just pick up even the cheapest electronic keyboard, it can play for an entire band! Electronic signals are also easier for computers to handle, which is why these instruments can be hooked directly into computers to be captured and then manipulated later. If you want a tried and true sound that you know you can rely upon then acoustic is the way to go. Even fans of electric instruments recognize that the sounds can feel hollow and cold if used incorrectly. But if you’re dedicated to truly learning music, and you want to make as many sounds as possible using just one type of instrument, then electric is the way to go.