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How to Play Acoustic Songs on an Electric Guitar

Use an electric guitar to play acoustic songs.
Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com

Many guitar players own both an electric and an acoustic guitar and tend to play songs written for electric or acoustic guitar on the appropriate instrument. Electric guitars have the same strings and notes as an acoustic, but often have a slight larger range, simply because achieving high notes on an electric guitar is easier. The main difference between the two instruments is the techniques used for electric songs and acoustic songs. With a little rearranging, you can learn to play any acoustic song on your electric guitar.

Things You'll Need:

  • Electric Guitar
  • Amplifier

Select an acoustic guitar song you wish to play. Start with something like the Eagles or a Bob Seger song like "Night Moves." Any song typically written with an acoustic guitar or with an acoustic guitar feel will work. You can purchase sheet music for an acoustic guitar or find it online at no charge (see Resources).

Set the tone on your electric to clean. Remove distortion and turn the volume down. These are characteristics of electric guitar. Set the tone controls on your guitar and amp higher on the bass tone and less on the treble. Changing these settings will add a warmer acoustic sound and feel to the chords you play.

Play full versions of the chords you read. Keep them in the first position (between the first and fifth frets) on your guitar. Electric guitar players often play stripped-down chords higher up on the neck (fifth chords). These chords don't come off well on an acoustic guitar.

Use fingerpicking for the chords whenever possible. Fingerpicking is a technique often used by acoustic players. Strum your chord patterns in a more laid-back style (up and down strokes) as opposed to the heavy, often down-stroke, style of the electric player.


Practice not only playing acoustic songs on your electric, but try playing electric songs on your electric with using acoustic techniques.

For the best of both worlds, consider purchasing a semi-electric hollow body that you can play plugged into an amp or without an amp.

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