Electric or acoustic guitar for home use?
This question perhaps goes beyond just playing at home, but it’s an important thing to consider. There are pros and cons of both; ultimately it depends on your preferred playing style.
With electric guitar, you have the advantage of being able to practice quietly, as the instruments themselves make very little noise. Plug them into an amp with a headphone socket, or into a computer via an audio interface, and you can jam without disturbing anyone. Electric guitar is also more versatile, in that you can pretty much dial in any chosen tone – indie-pop to snarling classic rock.
With acoustic guitar, you get a rich, full-bodied sound without any need for amplification. While this means that it’s harder to ‘turn it down’ as such, it also means that you don’t really need any extra gear for a good sound. Amps, pedals and so on. In this respect, it could be considered a space-saver, and might be the more affordable option in the long-run.
So – do you prefer the idea of having more tonal flexibility and being able to practice quietly? Go for electric. Or are you after an affordable, practical option that sounds great no matter what? Acoustic it is.
Keeping noise to a minimum
One of the things that might set home playing apart from stage or studio is volume. To get a good live or recorded sound, a fair bit of volume can work wonders. But at home, you probably won’t have that luxury; family, housemates, neighbours.
What’s the best way to practice guitar quietly at home?
- Practice with an electric guitar – stating the obvious, we know. But you can plug an electric guitar in and play with headphones, a luxury you don’t get with acoustics.
- Use a small amp – size isn’t everything, but smaller amps will generally pump out less volume. Put it this way; you definitely don’t need a 100W head with a 4×12” cab to play at home. Bonus points: use an amp with a headphone output! Some even come with an aux in for playing your own backing tracks.
- Play with plugins via an audio interface – it’s easier than ever to connect your guitar to your computer. Any audio interface will do, and there are plenty of free/affordable DAWs (digital audio workstation – recording software) and plugins out there. Check out Amplitube and Guitar rig to start you off. The best bit? Plug in your headphones and make a racket without upsetting anyone!
- Use an attenuator – a guitar attenuator will divert unnecessary power from your amp, reducing your volume without compromising your tone. These are particularly great if you’ve got a valve amp. You can enjoy rich tube-driven tone without blowing holes in walls.