Electric vs. Acoustic Guitar in Country Music

Learn how electric guitar and acoustic guitar are used differently in country music from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

Electric guitar versus acoustic guitar in country music, I think acoustic guitar is the backbone of any country song. It’s the glue. It’s something that you might not hear under a noisy string band or even a honky-tonk dancehall band, but it’s got to be there to glue all the other rhythms together that the other instruments are doing. It’s the type of thing where you would really notice it missing if it wasn’t there. When it is there it’s just really the ultimate support instrument.

To play it cleanly and simply just takes a lot of listening, a lot of discipline, a lot of dedication. It takes a good instrument, although even a cheap acoustic guitar if it’s tuned up right, and it’s in the right hands can sound fantastic.

The electric guitar is there to join the base with the acoustic guitar in a way. It’s there to play fills real easily, because it’s louder. It can get out front and strut around on a flashy, fancy solo. It can sustain a lot longer. The cords that you play on an electric guitar tend to sustain longer than on an acoustic guitar.

Just to give you an example, here’s something that I might play on an acoustic guitar. It sounds great. It’s very loud, however, and if I’m playing with another guitarist who’s basically doing the same thing on an acoustic guitar, I might tuck in what I’m doing. I might reduce what I’m doing to something like this.

Maybe I’ll play up higher here. Maybe I might go to a position like this. With the electric guitar, I don’t have to play a lot. I can use a lot of finesse. I can use a lot of space. I don’t need to be all over the instrument. I’ve got control over the volume a lot more.

An acoustic guitar, I think of it as kind of an extension of a drum kit. It keeps a lot of rhythm. You can plug it in. You can amplify an acoustic guitar, but it’s never going to sound as good as it does acoustically. It’s just not going to have that magic. We try every day to amplify that magic. We come close, but the real magic is just the box of an acoustic guitar. Just beating on it and hitting out that rhythm.

That’s kind of a quick little side-by-side comparison of acoustic guitar and electric guitar in country music.