Do Acoustic-Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged? – 2023

Most guitars sound good unplugged while some guitars need to be plugged in for exceptional performance. However, the confusion is which guitar sounds better while unplugged. The most common question nowadays is, ” do acoustic-electric guitars sound good unplugged”.

The guitar is a six-stringed musical instrument that is widely used by musicians. The strings are tuned to a specific note, and the pitch of each string can be adjusted by pulling the string tighter or loosening it. With the advancements in technology, various kinds of guitars have been introduced which confuses the young guitar enthusiast about which would sound better.

would sound better

You’ve got a great acoustic guitar, but do you know if it sounds as good unplugged as it does plug-in? This post is about the science of how a guitar works and what makes it sound good. Let’s dive deeper to know more about it.

What Is An Acoustic Electric Guitar?

Acoustic-electric guitars are similar to regular acoustic guitars. However, they use electricity to amplify the sound.

An electric guitar usually has two sets of strings, one for low notes and one for high notes. The first set of strings is called the “low strings,” and they are usually tuned to low notes. The second set of strings is called the “high strings,” and they are tuned to high notes. These strings are arranged in pairs that are called strings. Each pair is tuned to a different pitch.

To understand the acoustic-electric guitar, you should know that when it is plugged in, the tone it produces is different from when it is unplugged. When unplugged, the tone of an electric guitar is usually flatter and quieter.

flatter and

Electric guitars are different because the sound waves produced by these instruments are usually amplified by a guitar amplifier. Electric guitars may be acoustic guitars with electric pickups.

How Does An Acoustic Electric Guitar Sound Unplugged?

Most of the time, an acoustic-electric guitar sounds very good when played alone. If you are in a quiet place, you can play the acoustic guitar by itself without the need to plug it in. However, it is good to know that electric guitars can also sound very good unplugged.

Some acoustic guitars are designed to be plugged into an amplifier. This allows you to get a louder sound. But, this doesn’t mean that an acoustic-electric guitar sounds good when you aren’t playing it.

playing it

The most significant distinction when playing is that it will not be amplified, implying that you will be using an acoustic guitar. To dispel a widespread myth, you will not be able to connect your acoustic-electric into an amplifier and play it like an electric. The purpose of plugging in your acoustic electric is to amplify and make your sound louder.

The mass of electro-acoustic guitars have not just pickups, which magnetically process and transfer music to an amp, but also built-in tuners and effects. These are quick and easy methods to get the greatest tone out of your instrument and keep it in tune.

How do Acoustic Guitars Produce Sound?

The vibrations created when a person strums or picks an acoustic guitar’s strings are the beginning of the instrument’s sound. The guitar’s saddle and bridge are the next locations where the vibrations travel before entering the body.

The sounds produced while playing guitar are caused by the vibrations that “move” the air inside the instrument’s body. Since acoustic guitars have a low volume, guitarists will utilize an amp and mic to be audible in bigger spaces or when other musicians are also performing.

also performing

An acoustic guitar can be amplified in one of two methods. One is to insert a pickup within the guitar’s body, and the other is to install it next to a mic that is connected to an amp. Either of these techniques intensifies the mechanical sound waves.

The acoustic guitar’s tone is scarcely affected by the microphone. It merely takes the acoustic sound and amplifies it by sending it to an amplifier. But because a pickup changes mechanical sound waves into electrical ones, it has a big impact on how the guitar sounds.

Since there is more timber to vibrate with when an acoustic guitar is greater in size, the sound it produces can be louder. Since electric guitars often don’t have an empty body with a hole for the music to come out of, they don’t magnify sound like an acoustic guitar.

How Acoustic-Electric Guitars Produce Sound

In the beginning, an electric acoustic guitar produces sound in the same manner as previously described: the strings are struck or plucked, and the oscillations result in “sound waves” that humans can hear. However, the tone is altered when the acoustic-electric guitar is put in.

The guitar’s active pickups, which are built-in, are what trigger the shift. The sound waves are taken by these pickups, often referred to as transducers, and converted into an electric form. These may contain contact pickups, Piezo pickups, and magnetic pickups positioned close to the soundhole.

Acoustic With a Pickup Vs. Acoustic Electric

It’s difficult to determine if playing an acoustic-electric or one with a pickup is better. When you play with pickups, you’re using a standard acoustic guitar with a removable external pickup that you may attach and remove as you like. The reliability and quality of third-party pickups might vary.

Contrarily, acoustic-electric guitars are often highly dependable and produce a sound that ranges from passable to outstanding. I believe it is safe to argue in favor of acoustic electrics in light of both of those broad tendencies. When you already own an acoustic guitar that isn’t an electric guitar or if you can’t afford an electric guitar, a third-party pickup has a lot of advantages.

lot of advantages

Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. When we talk about acoustic-electric guitars, we are referring to regular standard acoustic guitars that have pickups that are meant to be plugged into an amp or amplifier. These have more versatility, but they cost more than a regular standard acoustic guitar.

On the other hand, if you have an acoustic guitar without pickups, you can buy a regular guitar, and if you need an amp, you can use an inexpensive amp with a speaker.

Sound Differences When Unplugged

When unplugged, acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars have identical tones. The tone of a guitar depends on its size, shape, and kind of wood, however, an electric acoustic guitar’s pickup does not impact the tone when it is unplugged.

When an electro-acoustic guitar is played without an amplifier, its tone differs from when it is plugged in. The tone will often sound thinner and flatter since the pickup is being used while it is plugged in, and it is unable to magnify all the frequencies generated.

Therefore, don’t try an acoustic-electric instrument unplugged and then assume it will sound exactly the same, but louder, when you plug it in. Make sure you test it both plugged in and out in the shop to see if you like both sounds.

Effects Of Amplifiers On Sound Quality

The tone of the guitar might vary depending on the amp you select. For instance, since most amps are made for electric instruments, the sound of an acoustic instrument plugged into an electric guitar amp changes.

Acoustic Amplifiers

Acoustic amplifiers are intended to enhance the sound with the fewest possible side effects. A few built-in effects, feedback controls, volume controls, and guitar and microphone channels are possible features of acoustic amps. But increasing the instrument’s volume rather than altering its sound is the main objective.

Electric Amplifiers

Electric amps provide a variety of effects and emphasis on different frequencies, such as mid-range and treble, which enable guitarists to produce a wide range of tones with their instruments. The amp then further controls the signals once the guitarist has first adjusted the sounds coming from the pickups.

Why Should You Use An Acoustic Amplifier

It’s likely that you’ve been using an electric amp to play your acoustic-electric guitar unless you explicitly purchased an acoustic amp.

An acoustic-electric guitar will sound different if an electric amp isn’t present to provide distortion and effects. You can mistakenly believe that the acoustic-electric guitar doesn’t sound as nice if you aren’t ready for the transition since what you were actually playing wasn’t simply acoustic sound.

Some Other Features Of Acoustic-Electric Guitar


A Piezo is typically used in acoustic-electric guitars. The Piezo does not use the guitar’s chamber; instead, it depends on vibrations that pass through the saddle.

through the saddle

As a result, it doesn’t record the sound that is produced as sound waves reverberating inside the chamber before exiting through the soundhole. Magnetic pickups operate differently from piezo pickups.

In piezo pickups, crystals are used to produce the electrical signal rather than a magnet. Quartz and other piezoelectric crystals produce an electric charge when squeezed or struck.

The Piezo effect is probably something you’ve heard about. Time is kept by quarts clocks and timers, and a Piezo lighter relies on the collision of a spring-powered hammer with a crystal. The crystal generates a spark-producing amount of voltage.


The versatility of acoustic-electric guitars is unmatched. They may be used acoustically when they are unplugged or loudly when they are plugged into an amplifier or preamp system. Sadly, it’s unlikely to function as an electric guitar, but they’re not really intended to.

really intended to

They are able to produce sound in different ways. Electric guitars are generally louder when they are plugged in, and can produce a fuller sound than acoustic guitars.

An acoustic-electric guitar has a sound that is different from an acoustic guitar. It can be used as a backup for the main acoustic or electric guitar. They are designed to be used both acoustically and electrically.


Acoustic-electric guitars frequently include a built-in tuner, which is something that every musician requires. They have the wonderful feature of frequently using the pickups to send sound directly into the tuner. This implies that even in a noisy environment, you will hear an exact melody.


Most acoustic-electric guitars have the ability to tune themselves. They do this by having a string attached to the guitar’s bridge that will automatically make adjustments to the bridge whenever it detects a change in pitch.

The changes in pitch usually occur because of the tension of the strings. Acoustic-electric guitars use this to detect changes in pitch by monitoring the pressure on the string. This feature is called a pick-up.

called a pick-up

Acoustic-electric effects are a two-edged sword. Some are outstanding, while others aren’t as good. Unfortunately, you’re largely limited to the effects that come with your guitar, so keep that in mind while shopping.


Many acoustic-electric guitars have battery-powered tuner devices, which are sometimes neglected. This is a drawback in my judgment as you’ll have to keep extra supplies on hand if you rely on an in-guitar tuner.

You will need to use the battery of your acoustic electric guitar if you want to play it unplugged. The battery will power the tuning mechanism that detects pitch. You should note that this can make the sound of the guitar very loud and unpleasant.

If you don’t like playing your acoustic electric guitar without plugging it in, you can buy a battery and add that to your acoustic electric guitar.

Freedom To Move

What’s the sense of buying an electric-acoustic guitar if you’re going to be doing gigs when we know that a conventional acoustic guitar can be amplified for performance by utilizing a microphone?

utilizing a microphone

The biggest benefit of an electro-acoustic guitar is that you may move around freely while playing it without compromising amplification. You must remain in the same location when playing an acoustic guitar in front of a microphone in order to maintain loudness.


The size of both conventional acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars is typically the same. While the size and form of an acoustic guitar undoubtedly affect the tone, you may get away with buying a smaller model of an electro-acoustic guitar. The size and form of the body play a significant role in how loud and rich the tone is on an acoustic guitar.

Instead, when an electro-acoustic guitar is put in, the pickup controls the volume and the amp shapes the tone. Therefore, buying a little electro-acoustic guitar will assist you to create a decent quality acoustic tone, but without the discomfort, if you find a regular acoustic guitar to be too large and awkward to handle.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will answer a few FAQs to clear your mind further.

What is a standard acoustic-electric guitar?

The term acoustic guitar describes a guitar that produces sound by using plucked strings (string vibrations) to generate sound waves that travel through the air. These strings can be either metal or plastic. Electric-acoustic guitars have been around since the early 20th century and they have been used for musical performances.

Do acoustic-electric guitars sound good unplugged?

It doesn’t matter whether you play an acoustic-electric guitar with or without an amplifier. You should just play the guitar the way you want to. Many acoustic-electric guitars can produce sound very well without an amplifier. However, if you would like to amplify the sound of your guitar, you can connect it to an amplifier.

How can I tell if the guitar is plugged in?

The first thing you should do is to look at the cord. If the guitar is plugged into an amplifier, the plug usually has an output jack. The amplifier will take the sound from the guitar and amplify it. The amplified sound will usually come out of the amplifier’s speaker. If the sound comes out of the guitar’s speaker, it means that the guitar is not plugged into an amplifier.

Is it true that acoustic guitars have a higher pitch than electric guitars?

A standard acoustic guitar has a higher pitch than a standard electric guitar. The electric guitar is louder than the acoustic guitar because it produces more volume. Many guitarists like to play their acoustic guitars unplugged. However, an unplugged electric guitar will sound even lower than an acoustic guitar.

Do acoustic guitars make a lot of noise?

A standard acoustic guitar does not produce a lot of volumes. Because of this, a regular acoustic guitar doesn’t sound as loud as an electric guitar. To turn a standard acoustic guitar into an electric guitar, you will need an amplifier. The sound will be much louder than it was when the guitar was plugged into the amplifier.

Why do some acoustic electric guitars have a built-in amplifier?

Some acoustic electric guitars have an onboard amplifier. The reason is that some people don’t like to carry around an acoustic amp. Other electric guitars are plugged into an amplifier, but not all of them.


When you disconnect an acoustic-electric guitar, it resumes its usual acoustic guitar sound. Particularly, if your instrument was connected to an amp for electric guitars, differences in sound should be ascribed to the amp.

You might wish to get an electro-acoustic guitar if you play the electric kind because of its versatility. A normal acoustic may be preferable for you if you are determined on an acoustic sound, though.

acoustic sound

In conclusion, there may be a little change in the sound of an acoustic-electric guitar when played unplugged. However, there is not a big change that takes place while you play it unplugged as it has both the qualities of an electric as well as acoustic guitar.

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