Sep 17 2011

Using an Acoustic Guitar to Play Rock Guitar


Most guitarists use an electric guitar to play rock guitar but using an acoustic guitar can add more colour and texture to your rock songs and guitar playing. The acoustic guitar is quieter and does not have the distorted rock sound of an electric guitar. So why has the acoustic got a place in rock?

First I will talk about why you would play an acoustic guitar for rock and then I will give you in the next post some tips for picking the best acoustic guitar for you to play rock on.

Who Would Play Rock on an Acoustic Guitar?

Many famous rock bands and guitarists have used acoustic guitars in their playing. Band from The Who to Green Day have had acoustic songs. Bands often write rock songs on acoustic first. A lot of The Who songs by Pete Townsend have started life on an acoustic.

Acoustic guitar rock girl

Acoustic guitar rock girl

The great thing about an acoustic is it can add light and dark shades to your music easily. You can pick or strum softly for a light sound. Or you can strum hard or strum the guitar fast for a heavier or more energetic sound.

If you can change from soft and gentle sounds to hard and heavy on an acoustic it is very easy to replicate this on an electric guitar. You shouldn’t rely on guitar effect pedals all the time to get all the sounds you want when you play rock guitar. You should use different guitar techniques, picking and different types of strumming as well to change your sound. The acoustic is great for learning how to master all these techniques.

There is one big benefit for a guitar beginner in playing an acoustic. The strings are harder to hold down plus usually you are playing chords instead of power chords. It can build up left hand strength and teach you touch control. When you go back to the electric guitar you will find it easier to hold down the strings and play chords.

If you play rock guitar with an acoustic it can add more emotions and moods to your music. Your music will have many different textures, sound, feelings, mood and soul. It will be more interesting for you and you will find that you need to be interested in what you play or you will get bored. It will be more interesting for the listener too. It adds more to your arsenal of techniques and ability as a rock guitarist. It will help you grow as a musician and an artist.

All the best guitarists and rock bands have dabbled with acoustics. They have used them to add a greater range to their music or add new influences. Successful musicians and bands are successful because they did something new. So copy them and use an acoustic guitar for playing rock guitar sometimes as well.

Next I will talk about getting the perfect acoustic guitar to play rock guitar on and later I will give you a few good rock riffs to play on your new acoustic guitar.

Sep 10 2011

Picking an Acoustic Guitar to Play Rock Guitar


If you decided to play rock guitar on an acoustic guitar as well I will give you a five things to look out for in an acoustic.
You should pick based on this order:
1. Price.
2. Type
3. Quality.
4. Sound.
5. Style.

Price range for the guitar:
The price range I would recommend for a first acoustic guitar is between $200 and $350. A guitar below $100 will not be good quality at all. Between $100 and 200 it may not be great. What you want is a guitar that will stay in tune and not warp or bend easily. Paying over $200 will get you a descent quality guitar that will stay in tune and last you a few years. There is no need to pay over $350 for your first acoustic guitar. Many guitarists in fact never own an acoustic worth more than that.

Type of acoustic:
I would recommend getting a steel strung guitar unless of course you want the sound of nylon strings. Nylon strung guitars need to be handled carefully as they are quite easy to damage. The strings need to be changed carefully and regularly and have a very soft tone for rock. Steel strung guitar are a bit more robust. Also the steel strings suits the sound of rock better for those who want to play rock guitar. They can give a soft or hard sound depending on the pick attack or playing.

Quality of guitar hardware:

There are a few more things to the quality than the price. Get a guitar with good hardware, easiest thing to check is the machine heads.

play rock acoustic Guitar machine heads

Play rock acoustic Guitar machine heads

If you look at the top of the neck at the back of the guitar headstock where the tuning pegs are, you want to see individual enclosed machine heads. You don’t want to see any cogs. I take this as good sign of quality in an acoustic guitar. Enclosed machine heads last longer and are self-lubricating inside as well.

Electro Acoustic Guitar with pickup and tuner

Electro Acoustic Guitar with pickup and tuner

You can get acoustic guitars with electro pickups now. This not necessary but gives you more versatility, you can feed your acoustic guitar through an amplifier and effect pedals to give you more variety and sounds to play rock guitar.

Usually if they have pickups they have built in tuners as well which I am a big fan of. Not being able to tune the guitar is one of the biggest things that stop people learning and playing a guitar so an electronic built in tuner takes care of this. Or else just buy a hand held tuner along with your guitar.

Sound and tone of guitar:
Sound is down to the size and the wood. Bigger bodied guitars are louder than smaller bodied acoustic, but smaller acoustic can be easier to handle. The wood can determine the sound. Once you are an experienced guitarist you might start picking the type of wood to get a certain acoustic attribute or sound but as a beginner I wouldn’t worry about this at the moment. I know when I had a $150 guitar and then bought one for $350 you could immediately hear the difference it made when plucked. The $350 guitar had a rich, fuller sound with beautiful bass tones.

Style of acoustic guitar:
Style is down to you and really is the last thing to consider. What colour, shape, style, single or double cut away doesn’t really matter, it is what you like. You can get different size bodies on the guitar. A smaller body will not be as loud as a bigger bodied guitar. Some people think that a smaller body guitar is easier to play, but if you are of average size then it really doesn’t make a difference. I would stay away from the jumbo sized guitar; they are more associated with mariachi or country music.

You can get a guitar with no sound hole in the body, they look very nice but acoustically these will not be as loud as a guitar with a sound hole and you would really need the built in pickup in this case. But be aware that some of these lower priced guitars are more looks than quality especially if you never heard of the brand.

Take a look around and see what you acoustic guitar like the look of but stick to the guidelines above.

Summary for picking an acoustic guitar to play rock guitar:
1. Price. $200 to 350.
2. Type. Steel strung guitar.
3. Quality. Check hardware especially machine heads.
4. Sound. Stick to price range in number 1 and it will be good.
5. Style. Your choice.

Once you have an acoustic guitar here is an acoustic rock guitar lesson to get you started playing rock guitar.