Why Does My Electric Guitar Sound Acoustic?

You expect your instrument to produce that signature electrifying sound as an electric guitar player. But what happens when your electric guitar starts sounding more like an acoustic? It can be confusing, especially if you need clarification on why it’s happening. 

In this blog post, I’ll explore why your electric guitar might sound acoustic and how you can troubleshoot the issue. From problems with your pickups to issues with your amplifier, I’ll cover all the possible culprits so you can get back to shredding in no time. 

So grab your guitar, and let’s dive into the world of electric guitars sounding acoustic!


Electric Guitar Vs. Acoustic Guitar: Tone Difference

Electric guitar sounds don’t refer to the tone versatility of the instrument. Using just the amp and guitar will produce a more natural sound than effects pedals to shape or alter the sound.

Overtones and reverb are more natural on acoustic guitars. The tone is fuller, resonant, and generally brighter. Conversely, electric guitars have a thinner sound and less reverb (unless an amp or effect pedal adds it). In contrast to acoustic guitars, amp settings, and effect pedals can significantly alter and shape the tone of electric guitars.

You can even make an otherwise “electric sounding” electric guitar sound like an acoustic using amp settings and effect pedals. It is common for electric guitar players to play acoustic songs this way.

Electric guitar sounds are almost always altered or shaped by effects pedals, amps, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software, or some combination.

Why Does Your Electric Guitar Sound Acoustic?

A sound like an acoustic guitar could come from different sources. It’s essential to know these possible reasons so that you can fix the problem appropriately.

If your electric guitar sounds like an acoustic, it could be because the settings on your amp are off. Most amps have more than one channel or setting that can change the sound’s tone and flavor. 

The output may sound like an acoustic guitar if the settings are not set up correctly. As you try out different amp settings, like changing the channel or EQ, you can find the sound that works best for your electric guitar.

It’s also possible that the guitar’s signal chain is broken. The signal chain is the order of devices the guitar’s sound uses, such as the amp, effects pedals, and cables. 

What if problems with any of these parts, like a broken wire or a pedal, won’t work? Then, it might change the sound quality and make the electric guitar sound more like an acoustic. Getting rid of devices that aren’t needed or fixing individual parts of the signal chain can help find and fix the problem.

Different parts of the electric guitar, like the tuners and pots, can also make it sound like an acoustic. Pickups turn the movements of the strings into electrical signals, and potentiometers (pots) change the volume and tone. 

These parts can fail, like having bad microphones or pots that are too dirty, which could change the output and make the guitar sound like an acoustic. The sound can be improved by checking these parts and putting in better ones.

How Do I Know If My Electric Guitar Sounds Acoustic?

Learning to recognize the unique tonal characteristics of electric and acoustic guitars will help you determine whether your electric guitar produces an acoustic-like sound. While both guitars have certain similarities, they also have significant distinctions contributing to their distinct sounds.

Electric guitars are noted for their tone diversity, with electronic pickups and amplification providing a broad spectrum of sounds. They feature a brighter, more cutting tone, producing crisp, bright highs and powerful, punchy lows. 

Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, provide a genuine, warm, and resonant tone without electronic amplification. Acoustic guitars offer a more prosperous, smoother tone, with a stronger emphasis on midrange frequencies and a longer sustain.

How they are built is a significant component in identifying the two. Electric guitars typically have a solid wood body with magnetic pickups that collect the strings’ vibrations and convert them to electrical signals. 

These signals are subsequently amplified, allowing for sound modification via various effects. On the other hand, acoustic guitars have a hollow body that works as a natural amplifier. The strings’ vibrations within the body provide a louder and more lively acoustic sound.

By being acquainted with these distinctions and paying great attention to your guitar’s tonal qualities, you can better understand why your electric guitar may sound like an acoustic. Remember to experiment with different settings, components, and approaches to change the sound and get it to say how you want it.

How to fix the problem?

To determine why your electric guitar sounds acoustic, you need to take a systematic approach to eliminate all possible causes. We can help you identify and fix the problem by breaking it down into simple steps.

Simplify the Signal Chain

Simplify the signal chain on your electric guitar. Your guitar should be connected directly to the amp without any effects, pedals, or additional devices. In this way, it will be possible to determine if any external factors contribute to the acoustic-like sound. Identify the culprit by slowly reintroducing each component into the chain if the issue disappears.

Check the Components

Next, you should thoroughly inspect the electric guitar’s components. Please make sure the pickups and their wiring are in good working order. Loose connections or faulty wiring can drastically alter the tone, making it sound like an acoustic guitar. Additionally, make sure the potentiometers (potentiometers) are working correctly. A professional technician should identify and resolve any component-related problems if necessary.

Modify Amp Settings and Use Pedals

Experiment with your amp’s settings and consider pedals to modify the sound. EQ settings should be adjusted to reduce the presence of frequencies that contribute to acoustic-like tones. To eliminate unwanted acoustic characteristics, experiment with different pedal combinations.

Swapping Strings

There is one factor that often goes overlooked that can have a significant impact on an electric guitar’s tone. The sound of your instrument can be significantly altered by switching out the strings for a different brand or type. Try using heavier gauge strings or experimenting with other materials to reduce the acoustic-like quality.

With these steps, you can systematically diagnose and correct the cause of your electric guitar-sounding acoustic. Additionally, understanding the differences between an electric and an acoustic guitar in tone and construction can provide valuable insights into resolving the problem.

Simplify the Signal Chain (Details)

By reducing the signal chain, you can identify the factors responsible for your electric guitar’s acoustic-like tone. When you have several effects pedals and devices in your signal chain, each one might add its distinct characteristics and change the overall tone of your guitar. You can locate the specific source of the acoustic sound by removing extraneous components and building a streamlined signal flow.

Begin by directly unplugging all effects pedals and attaching your instrument to the amplifier. Play the guitar and pay close attention to how it sounds. If the acoustic-like sound disappears, one or more effects pedals may be blamed. Reconnect the pedals one at a time, checking the sound after each addition until you figure out which creates the acoustic effect.

If the acoustic sound persists even when the signal chain is simplified, it’s time to look at other components. Check the cords that link your instrument to the amplifier to ensure they are in good working order. Faulty cables can cause unwanted interference and degrade audio quality. Inspect your guitar’s input and output jacks for any loose connections or damage.

Modifying Sound with Amp Settings and Pedals (Details)

Modifying the sound of your electric guitar by modifying amp settings and using pedals might help you generate a less acoustic-like tone. You may enhance the electric guitar’s particular features and create a sound that is true to its essence by adjusting these elements.

When it comes to amp settings, playing with different EQ (equalization) settings can considerably impact the overall tone. Begin by changing the bass, mid, and treble dials to achieve the ideal balance for your tastes. Reduce the treble and increase the midrange if your electric guitar sounds overly bright and acoustic-like. If you want a more colorful, less acoustic sound, increase the triple and decrease the midrange. Play around with the parameters until you find the sweet spot that best matches your desired tone.

You can also modify the sound of your electric guitar with pedals. Pedals that can help you achieve a less acoustic tone include:

  • Overdrive: Using this pedal, you can give your electric guitar a more aggressive edge than an acoustic.
  • Delay: You can create echo-like sounds by adding delay effects to your playing. By doing this, you can create a more unique and personalized sound.
  • Reverb: This pedal simulates the acoustic properties of various spaces, allowing you to add depth and ambiance to your electric guitar’s sound.

To achieve the desired tone, experimentation is key. You can experiment with different amp settings and pedal combinations to find the sound that suits you best. Utilizing your electric guitar’s unique characteristics and utilizing these tools creatively will allow you to create a more electric tone than acoustic.

Swapping Strings (Details)

Change the strings on your electric guitar to improve the sound and reduce the acoustic-like character. The type of strings you use can impact the tone of your instrument. Lighter gauge strings, for example, give your electric guitar a brighter and crisper sound, while heavier gauge strings can create a more prosperous and warmer tone.

Consider the material of fresh strings when purchasing them. Nickel-plated steel strings are famous for electric guitars because they provide a balanced tone with a smooth feel. Use stainless steel or pure nickel strings if you want a brighter, more articulate sound.

Remember to stretch your new strings following installation to guarantee proper tuning stability and tone. This is accomplished by gently pushing on each string and returning as necessary until the strings settle into position. Additionally, replacing your strings regularly helps maintain your electric guitar’s overall playability and tone.

Experiment with several string brands and gauges to find the perfect combination 

for your preferences and playing style. By changing the strings on your electric guitar, you may fine-tune its sound and obtain a more distinct and individualized tone.

How Do You Make Your New Electric Guitar Sound More Electric?

When played without any effects in the amp’s Clean channel, an electric guitar would sound very clean and bright, like an acoustic guitar. This tone is how they naturally say, and while it might be different for each guitar, they would still sound very neutral. They’re interesting because we’re not stuck on this one sound. Electric guitars let you change the tone in a lot of ways.

To most people, the “sound of an electric guitar” means a tone with some distortion. The electric guitar’s “growling” sound comes from this. You can hear it often in rock, blues, and other styles. In guitar solos, the growling tone stands out a lot more.

Your electric guitar might sound more “acoustic” if the new amp is not set to boost. This is because it doesn’t change the tone in any way.

Step 1:

Most guitar amplifiers have two channels – a Clean channel and an Overdrive (OD) channel. Make sure the Overdrive channel is set in your amp’s user manual. Put 0 on the Volume, Gain, and Reverb knobs. Make sure that all other EQ knobs (such as Treble, Mid, and Bass) are set to 5 or 6 o’clock. Set the Tone knob to 5 or 6 o’clock if your amp has one instead of these three EQ knobs.

Step 2:

Turn the knobs of the guitar to a mid-way position, such as Volume and Tone. Use the neck, middle, or neck pickup if your guitar has a pickup selector switch.

Step 3:

To adjust the volume, turn the Gain knob to 5 or 6 o’clock on the amp. Check out how the guitar sounds. Depending on your preferences, you can decrease or increase the Gain. People who want an overdriven sound should get better results with these settings.

Step 4:

Increasing the volume gradually will allow you to hear what you want.

Step 5:

You can adjust settings like Treble, Mid, and Bass (or Tone if your amp has that). To find out what pickup sounds best for you, try different ones.

Final Words On Why Does My Electric Guitar Sound Acoustic

Understanding why your electric guitar sounds acoustic can help you resolve any issues you may be experiencing. Factors such as the type of pickups, amp settings, and effects pedals can all contribute to this unique sound. 

Experimenting with different techniques and settings can help you find the perfect balance between an electric and acoustic sound. Whether you’re looking to replicate a specific tone or explore new sonic possibilities, don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with your electric guitar to create the sound that resonates with you.


Why Is My Electric Guitar So Quiet?

Make sure all wires and solder joints are in good condition. Plugging the guitar in and playing while wriggling (gently) each wire may help you identify the problem immediately.

Can electric strings be used on an acoustic?

The short answer is yes, but probably not. If you attach acoustic strings to an electric guitar, the volume, range, and sustain will be reduced. Acoustic guitars with electric strings will sound and have less volume.

Why Do Cheap Electric Guitars Sound Bad?

Many cheap guitars are challenging to play because they are manufactured of lower-grade materials with little attention to detail or quality control. They’re also frequently not “set up” correctly, so the strings are too far off the fretboard, and the vendor doesn’t bother adjusting them before selling them.

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