Can You Play Electric Guitar Songs on an Acoustic?

When getting a guitar for the first time, players tend to go for acoustic pieces instead of their electric twins. 

That may be for various reasons but the most common is because of its immediacy and the no need for an amp to produce sound.

However, you might wonder if it’s possible to play electric songs on it. 

Maybe, you believe that you couldn’t or is not right to do it but let me tell you that is not the case.

You can absolutely play any electric guitar song on your acoustic because both instruments are almost the same. Although on some occasions it will be harder, it will be completely doable. And, of course, it will not sound exactly the same.

What about metal, rock, or even blues songs? You can do it! Any guitar song can be played on an acoustic guitar. 

Although you may be confused and some doubts come up, I will explain to you how this is possible.

Let’s dive deeper into this topic! In this article, I will try to cover every aspect of playing electric guitar songs on acoustic pieces. 

In the end, you will know everything necessary about this thrilling issue.

Is it possible to play electric guitar songs on an acoustic?

Although you may think that electric and acoustic guitars are completely different instruments, the truth is that they both have more similarities than differences, in fact, they are pretty much the same instrument. 

In short, it is absolutely possible to play songs intended for an electric guitar on an acoustic one.

However, there may come up with a few limitations, one of them would be higher string tension. 

Acoustic pieces tend to have thicker strings which result in higher tension so, you may have to apply more pressure when fretting notes than in its electric counterpart.

In addition, electric guitars usually provide lower action than acoustics, this could also affect their playability when moving from an electric to an acoustic guitar. 

In some cases, it could feel uncomfortable but I guarantee that after some time playing you will get used to it.

Last but not least, acoustic pieces differ in shape from electric guitars, the bulky body of acoustic guitars makes it difficult to play in some sections. 

Although some models are designed to avoid this, most of them have restricted access to higher frets.

Will electric guitar songs sound good on an acoustic?

Although electric and acoustic guitars have many resemblances, they differ in sound so, an electric guitar song could be played on an acoustic guitar without any trouble but it will sound different. 

There are some versions of well-known electric songs played on acoustic guitar that sound still amazing.

Like with everything in life, it is up to the player’s taste, maybe some quiet electric guitar songs could be played on acoustic pieces and they might sound even better. 

Furthermore, I cannot think of any reason to say that they will sound bad or poor, they will sound for sure different but not worst.

Does the electric and acoustic guitar use the same chords?

As previously said, electric and acoustic guitars have non-identical sounds but regarding the instrument itself, they share tuning so not only chords would be the same but also scales and notes. 

Both instruments are very alike, that’s why you will be able to use the same chord shapes at all.

Of course, some chords will work better for one or the other. 

For instance, due to their wide resonance, open chords sound great on acoustic guitars whereas, in electric pieces, power chords may work better due to the sharp electric tone. 

Can you use electric guitar tabs to learn songs on acoustic?

Perhaps, you wonder if electric guitar tabs work to learn songs on acoustic, let me tell you that is not a matter of concern and I’ll explain to you why. 

Acoustic and electric guitars are pretty much the same instrument, they share tuning thus notes will be the same in each of them. 

Furthermore, if you find a tab for electric guitar, you can definitely play that song on its acoustic counterpart. 

As mentioned before, bear in mind that the sound will be distinct but that won’t be a problem to learn the song.

Are electric and acoustic guitar parts in songs the same?

Musicians write parts trying to compliment each instrument, this means that they compose music that suits a specific kind of guitar

That’s why in most cases acoustic and electric guitar sections within a song are not strictly the same.

Acoustic guitars are mainly used to play rhythm parts with full chords, their bright sound, and the low end they provide make chord sections sound nice. 

Oppositely, electrics are more often used as the lead voice, to play riffs and melodies or “smaller” chords employing fewer strings.

Nevertheless, this may sound obvious but don’t want to miss the opportunity of saying it: nothing is set in stone and you can find just about anything in the wilderness. 

What I mean to say is that in music there are no mandates or laws to follow, let your imagination fly and come up with your personal ideas.

Why are electric and acoustic guitar parts different?

The pieces composed by guitar players are intended to be played in a certain kind of guitar. 

That’s because they are thought to suit and work with each instrument’s features.

Electric guitars tend to be often used with distortion which muddies their sound making it harsh for playing open chords or letting ring many notes at the same time. 

Contrarily, on acoustic guitars, some lines in the higher frets are not only uncomfortable to play but also make no sense in comparison to the same line played on electrics.

Is there a way of making your acoustic guitar sound more like an electric?

One of the features that characterize electric guitars sound is the amount of added effects. 

Therefore, to shape your acoustic guitar sound you could try adding some effects such as reverb, delay, or even chorus.

However, although in some cases it could sound well, you must be careful when adding overdrives and distortions. 

Since acoustic pieces produce a great resonance, they are very prone to feedback, which could sound awful.

Another tip you can test is stringing your acoustic with a set of electric guitar strings, in that way, the sound would be more like an electric guitar but try to keep the same string gauge to avoid reducing tension on the neck

In addition, aim to apply electric guitar techniques such as vibrato, palm muting, tapping, or even artificial harmonics.

Although the previous tips could help you, I do believe that the best way to imitate electric guitars sound by using an acoustic is to get a magnetic pickup, a multi-effect, and a nice amp. 

If you fine-tune the sound by modeling it through these gears, you could truly make the listeners doubt if they are listening to an electric or acoustic guitar.