Guitar strings are essential components of the guitar and this is why it is important to know what kind of guitar strings you can and should use.
Maybe you are thinking of using acoustic strings on an electric guitar, but is that okay to do? Can you use acoustic strings on an electric guitar? Should you really do it?
In this article, we provide answers to these questions, describing the differences between acoustic and electric strings.
- You can use acoustic strings on an electric guitar, but it is not recommended.
- The way these guitars produce sound is different so that’s why electric guitars need magnetically active metal components, while acoustic ones are made of phosphor bronze or brass.
- Due to the difference in thickness, the strings will be stiff and harder to bend.
- When using acoustic strings on an electric guitar, the sound will be weak, uneven and without much resonance.
- Because of more tension, you will need to adjust the truss rod.
Can You Use Acoustic Strings on an Electric Guitar?
Yes, you can use acoustic strings on an electric guitar, but it is not recommended to do so.
This is because using acoustic strings on an electric guitar will provide an unbalanced sound.
Acoustic guitar strings don’t have the same magnetic components as the electrical ones, and these are essential for making the proper bright sound.
To create great melodies on the electric guitar, strings need to have metal components such as steel, nickel, and chromium which will create an electric current. On the other hand, acoustic guitar strings rely on acoustic resonance for music production.
Because of these reasons, it is important to know what kind of guitar strings you can and should/shouldn’t use on different types of guitars. There are a few things you should consider when it comes to this.
What are the Differences Between Acoustic and Electric Guitar Strings?
Acoustic and electric guitars don’t use the same strings. Even though the core of both the acoustic and electric strings is made of steel, these two differ in many ways. There are differences in what kind of materials they are made of, their thickness, and string winding.
While electric guitar strings are made of steel, nickel, or cobalt; the acoustic strings are typically wound with phosphor bronze or bass. The reason why these guitar strings differ is that they produce sounds in different ways.
Electric guitars need magnetism to transform the vibrations into electricity, while acoustic guitars use more resonant materials to produce sound through vibration created by strumming.
Thickness, Size, and Weight
The difference in string size gauge is in the fact that electric guitars typically use lighter guitar strings, while the guitar strings in the acoustic guitar are heavier. Thicker guitar strings produce a warmer sound with more volume and longer notes.
Because acoustic guitars create sound waves by displacing air, that’s why they need slightly heavier strings, while electric guitars use thinner strings to produce more treble and are able to play faster.
Number of Strings
There is also a difference in the number of wound strings which affects the vibration and ability to hit higher/lower notes.
The acoustic guitars usually come with 4 wounds and 2 unwound guitar strings (usually the first and the second string), while the electric ones have the first 3 strings unwound. This extra unwound string makes playing the electric guitar faster and easier.
What will happen when you put acoustic strings on an electric guitar?
Something super-important in using acoustic strings on an electric guitar is to know what will happen next, of course, if you choose to use them.
The effects will be found in sound, strings, vibration,
It is obvious that the sound will be affected the most if you use acoustic strings on an electric guitar. Your guitar will provide a low mid-range tone, the sound won’t have much clarity and the strings won’t stay in the proper tune for a long time.
Because of the difference in thickness, your strings will be stiff and harder to bend. There will also be more tension on the guitar’s neck so you might have to adjust the truss rod.
The pickup is really important in electric guitars so the vibration is transformed into electric currents with a magnetic outcome. This can be done if there are magnetically active metals such as nickel or steel in the strings. With acoustic guitar strings, this won’t be achieved and you will lose proper resonance.
Enhancement of Sound
Acoustic guitar strings made of brass are good for enhancing sound in acoustic guitars, but they don’t have magnetically active metals as their components, so they might work on an electric guitar, but it wouldn’t be the best.
The same happens with the phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings. They enhance the warm sounds but don’t have metal components except for their steel core. Because of this, they won’t provide the best sound on electric guitars.
Acoustic guitar strings can work on electric guitars and are able to provide sound, but you shouldn’t have high expectations because clearly using electric strings that are specifically made for an electric guitar will provide the best results.
The steel core can help with the pickups because it has magnetic properties, but the level of these magnetic properties isn’t high enough. This is the reason why the produced sound will be weak and uneven. It won’t be as resonant and bright as expected from an electric guitar.
Do I need to make any adjustments once replacing?
Yes, if you decide to use acoustic strings on your electric guitar, you should know that there are some adjustments you need to make to have a proper setup.
Choose the Gauge Size
To have fewer setup changes, it is best to choose a pack of lighter gauge-size strings because you want the acoustic strings to be as close to the electric strings as possible. This way you can ensure to have less tension as the lighter the gauge of the string, the less tension.
Checking the Placement/Fitting
Once you set up the acoustic guitar strings on your electric guitar, you should check if they sit correctly in the nut and if there is any binding. This is important for the tunability and general performance of the guitar.
You should also check the neck. Here you will probably have to adjust the truss rod to correct the tension. That’s why we suggest choosing acoustic strings of lighter gauge size to make this process easier. You should also make sure that the notes don’t have too much fret buzz.
Acoustic and electric guitars use different types of guitar strings that are made of different materials and thicknesses to produce the needed sounds. Because of this if you use acoustic strings on an electric guitar, there will be noticeable differences in the sound and tones.
Maybe you want to experiment, but in the end, you will see that using acoustic strings on an electric guitar doesn’t provide improvements so it’s best to use the strings specifically designed for your guitar.