Can You Learn Acoustic and Electric Guitar at the Same Time?

Learning how to play a musical instrument is one of the most joyful things you could do in life.

Although starting up might be frustrating, I can assure you in the long term you will be very happy you didn’t put it down today.

Now, the problem arises when you want to learn not 1 but 2 different instruments at the same time.

Even if those 2 are called guitars, are they even the same thing?

Can you learn acoustic and electric guitar at the same time?

Learning acoustic and electric guitar at the same time is absolutely doable, and even if you don’t intend to do so, it will happen naturally. You see, both instruments are tuned the same, and played in almost exactly the same way. The things you learn in one can be easily translated to the other.

In this article, I will tell you all you need to know about learning both the electric and the acoustic guitar at the same time.

I will discuss what you should pay attention to, what things will work exactly the same for both instruments, and what few things don’t.

After leaving this page you will have a clearer idea about what learning the guitar, as an overarching concept, really entails.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Will acoustic guitar practice translate to electric guitar and vice versa?


All your guitar practice will be translated automatically from the acoustic to the electric, and vice versa.

Of course, the feeling of playing each of these instruments is not the same, and there are quite some differences between them, but the main mechanics and ways of playing are exactly the same.

Does this mean that if you become a country acoustic guitar prodigy you will then pick up an electric guitar for the first time in your life and play it like Jimi Hendrix?

Absolutely not.

Again, there are differences both technical and stylistic, and slight variations you will need to incorporate into your playing, but with some practice, you will get the hang of it, way easier than someone who’s never played any kind of guitar ever.

Should you learn acoustic and electric guitar at the same time?

I can’t think of a compelling reason why you shouldn’t.

Unless let’s say, you are constantly switching between instruments and not focusing enough on practicing.

But hey, switching between instruments can even motivate you to practice for longer and with better focus.

I don’t see picking up another kind of guitar as a distraction, but rather as a complement to your practice.

Most guitar players play both instruments, and although probably the majority started out with one and then picked up the other down the line, if you are equally interested in both, give them a try.

Maybe you find out you actually prefer one kind of guitar over the other and end up spending more time with it.

It’s fine.

Can you learn the same songs on electric and acoustic guitar?

Here is where slight differences start appearing between both instruments.

You can absolutely learn the same songs on electric and acoustic guitar.

You can also play them in the same way across both instruments.

The thing is, if that song was originally recorded with both an acoustic and an electric guitar, chances are their parts are different.

This is not always true, but in most cases, different kinds of guitars tend to play things that complement each other.

A pretty big generalization would be saying, that for instance, acoustic guitars tend to play open chords, or full chords (using all 6 strings), when they play rhythm, while electric guitar players usually play “smaller” chords with fewer strings.

This example situation can probably be due that electric guitars usually are played with distortion or overdrive, an effect that tends to muddies the sound a lot when playing many notes at the time.

Do electric and acoustic guitar use the same techniques?

All guitar-playing techniques can be translated from electric to acoustic and vice versa and used without any limitations.

However, for this, there are also noticeable differences and stylistic choices that are rooted deep within the subculture of each instrument.

There are more “modern” techniques used on electric guitar, that are not that popular at least within the traditional way of playing the acoustic guitar.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t work.

It’s just a cultural thing, I would say, and complying with what most of the public expects to hear from an acoustic guitar.

I don’t think this is true the other way around.

There are no acoustic guitar techniques that can’t be translated to the electric guitar, except perhaps using the resonance box as a percussion instrument, but that’s just an obvious physical limitation.

Are there any drawbacks to learning acoustic and electric at the same time?

The main drawback I can come up with for learning both acoustic and electric guitar at the same time is the extra cost of buying and maintaining 2 instruments.

Especially as a beginner, the “startup cost” of getting a proper setup for both kinds of guitars could be a bit daunting, but it will depend on your finances and your expectations from this quest.

Other than that, I can only see benefits from getting to know both instruments in parallel.

A very common myth that haunts the guitar culture is that you absolutely need to learn the acoustic to then step up to the electric.

That’s completely false.

Both instruments can be learned alone or together and in no particular order.

Which is harder: electric or acoustic guitar?

At a very high level, none of these 2 kinds of guitars is harder to learn or to play than the other.

There are different things more difficult to learn or perform on both the acoustic and the electric, but these don’t overlap and they cancel each other.

For instance, to name a few: 

  • Acoustic guitars are usually harder on the hands, requiring a bit of extra strength to correctly fret the notes and chords, while electric guitars tend to be lighter to play.
  • Electric guitars, when played with overdrive or distortion can get very noisy and uncontrollable, something that won’t ever happen with the natural sounds of an acoustic guitar