Each type of guitar that exists in the music industry demands a very specific type of string to attain its optimal performance level and best tonal qualities. There are multiple types of strings available in the market designed to accommodate each guitar type and each of these strings greatly affect how your guitar sounds and your playability.
There are times when you may find yourself having to change your guitar strings, either because one string broke or maybe because the whole set of strings just does not work for you.
In this article, we will look at whether it is ideal for you to use acoustic guitar strings on your electric guitar and vice versa to understand whether it is the best thing for you to do when playing in the guitar or whether you should entirely refrain from doing this.
So, can acoustic strings work on your electric guitar?
Yes, they can. Well, acoustic strings work on an electric guitar but you will notice some kind of sound distortion when you begin to play the guitar.
What are the differences between acoustic strings and electric guitar strings?
Technically, electric guitar strings were made to work best with the electric guitar while acoustic strings seem to sound better on an acoustic guitar.
Generally, the acoustic and electric guitar strings differ in terms of their construction quality.
The material used to make either strings in turn affects the sound performance levels of your guitar.
Acoustic guitar strings are majorly made of brass and bronze alloys which make them slightly thicker and you would notice that they produce a warmer and much fuller sound when you pick them.
Electric guitar strings, on the other hand, are mainly composed of chromium, steel and nickel alloys which have a strong magnetic composition. They are thinner and they have been designed to produce less volume and a lower pitch when you are playing your guitar.
Therefore, when choosing which of the two to use on your guitar, you would need to evaluate the music genre you are heavily invested in, the sound you would want to produce and they type of guitar that you have in your music gear.
A summary table of the differences between acoustic and electric guitar strings
Acoustic Guitar Strings
Electric Guitar Strings
Made of Brass and Bronze alloys
Made of Chromium, Steel and Nickel alloys
Design and Structure
Slightly thicker and heavier
Much thinner and lighter
Sound Performance levels
Produce a fuller and warmer sound
Produce a brighter and lighter sound with less volume
How do electric guitar strings generate sound?
As mentioned in the previous part of this article, electric guitars are made of magnetically reactive components such as Chromium, Steel and Nickel.
The electric guitar works perfectly with a magnetic pickup.
When you pick the strings, a magnetic field is created on the surface of the fingerboard on your guitar. The magnetic field that has been created then reacts to the overall movement of the strings and a current flows through the pickup when the strings move so that a signal is generated.
This is what allows them to easily and instantaneously translate through magnetic guitar pickups.
Now, for an even tone to be created on your electric guitar, then you would need to be working strings that are as magnetically reactive as possible.
Otherwise, you may notice some flaws in the sound performance of your electric guitar.
What about acoustic guitar strings?
There is the notion that acoustic guitar strings have a steel core which is magnetically reactive but also they are covered in Brass or bronze which are non-magnetic alloys.
This means that the only part of acoustic guitar strings that are able to react to a magnetic pickup on an electric guitar is the steel core. The signal is much lower because the steel is not as much as in electric guitar strings.
What happens when you put acoustic strings on an electric guitar?
Acoustic guitar strings are made of a brass or bronze alloy which are not magnetically reactive. This simply means that they are not exactly as resonant as standard electric guitar strings.
Acoustic guitar strings have a higher gauge which puts so much tension on your guitar and eventually makes your strings feel quite stiff and much harder to bend thus you may need to frequently adjust the truss-road.
When you use acoustic strings on your electric guitar you will get a low mid-range tone.
Also, you will notice that the first two acoustic guitar strings entirely sound like electric guitar strings but the other four produce a much lower sound that distorts the evenness of the tone and overall sound performance levels of your guitar.
What if you put electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar?
Electric guitar strings would work pretty well on your acoustic guitar but you will notice a difference in the third string that begins to sound twangy like and you will also notice that the electric guitar strings are much lighter.
Something else that you would notice when using standard electric guitar string gauges on your acoustic guitar, that is, .008 or .009, is a banjo-like sound when playing the guitar.
So if you are inclined to this particular genre, then you may want to use electric guitar strings on your acoustic guitar.
The reason as to why electric guitar strings would work seamlessly on your acoustic guitar is because an acoustic guitar strings ring out naturally after pickup without having to depend on magnetic signals and reactions.
This means that despite whatever material the strings are made of, some kind of sound will always be generated.
Another thing that you should note when you decide to use electric guitar strings on your acoustic guitar, is that the only way to achieve tones that are similar to those of an acoustic guitar, you would need to invest in slightly heavier strings.
Altering the strings in your guitar has the potential to distort its sound performance levels and affect its playability levels.
So, if you decide to use acoustic guitar strings on your electric guitar or vice versa, you should always ensure that it is a temporary fix because long term use can extend some kind of damage to your guitar.
Remember to always evaluate the music genre you are heavily invested in, understand the type of musical instrument you own and understand the requirements for the type of sound you would want to produce before choosing the best type of strings to use on your guitar.
Are the guitar chords on an electric guitar similar to those on an electric guitar?
Yes, they are.
Guitar chords are similar and constant despite the type of guitar you choose to use, whether acoustic, electric or classical.
Are thinner guitar strings easier to play?
Yes, they are.
In fact, they are much easier to pick, bend and perform arpeggios and legato. Unfortunately, they do not produce as much power and do not sound as chunky as heavier strings do.