Can I Use Electric Guitar Strings On an Acoustic?

If you have both an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar, it is easy to get things mixed up when buying guitar accessories. You could have intended to buy acoustic strings but instead got electric guitar strings.

When you have a mix-up in the guitar strings situation or you just don’t have time to go and buy acoustic guitar strings, the best thing is to research and ensure it is safe to swap guitar strings.

If you want to use electric guitar strings on an acoustic but feel skeptical about it, read on to get more insight on this.

Can I Use Electric Guitar Strings On an Acoustic (quick answer)

Electric guitar strings can work on acoustic guitars. There is no issue with borrowing some of the spare electric guitar strings to use them on an acoustic guitar. They can work well without causing damage to the electric guitar.

Do Electric Guitar String Sound Different On an Acoustic Guitar?

Electric guitar strings do not sound exactly as acoustic strings would sound. Electric strings sound great on an acoustic guitar but not exactly as acoustic guitar strings sound. Here are some of the differences you might notice:

Lighter Tone

Electric guitar strings are not as heavy as acoustic guitar strings. They deliver a lighter tone as opposed to the heavy acoustic guitar tone delivered by acoustic guitar strings.

Volume Is Not Loud

When you use electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar, you might notice that the guitar is not as loud as it should be when using acoustic strings.

Loss of Natural Sound

Using electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar changes how the guitar sounds. It will sound like an acoustic guitar but less natural than it would if you were using acoustic guitar strings. You might also experience less mid-range warmth when using electric guitar strings on an acoustic.

Do Electric Guitar Strings Have the Same Material as Acoustic Strings?

Electric guitar strings are mostly made from materials that are magnetically conductive to induce vibration in the magnetic field triggered by electric guitar pickups. These materials include steel and nickel.

On the other hand, acoustic guitar strings are made from materials such as bronze, phosphor, steel, or brass. These materials create a bright, warm, and articulate tone that sounds great when amplified naturally.

The difference in materials used to make acoustic strings and electric strings is based on the need for optimum amplification.

Gauge Differences between Acoustic and Electric Guitar Strings

The electric guitar strings’ standard gauge is 9-42. Acoustic guitar strings gauge from 12 or 13. This makes acoustic strings heavier and explains why they produce a higher volume than electric guitar strings on an acoustic.

Are Electric Guitar Strings Easier To Play?

If you are learning to play the guitar fingerstyle, chances are you feel sore on your fingers. Acoustic guitar strings are thicker and might be hard to play fingerstyle, especially for beginners.

Using electric guitar strings on acoustics might help because they are lighter. However, it is not a permanent solution. There are acoustic guitar strings for fingerpicking that are comfortable on the fingers. 

Why Do Fingers Hurt When Playing Acoustic Guitar?

Beginners’ fingers are usually sensitive to pain when playing that fingers that have played for a while. Besides this, the material used to make the strings also makes it worse or better to play acoustic guitar.

The setup of the guitar also contributes to finger pain or comfort when playing. If you have arthritis or hand pain, you should get the guitar set up professionally for your hands when playing.

If you are a beginner at acoustic guitar and find it hard to play because of discomfort, try nylon acoustic guitar strings. Nylon strings are smooth and feature a low density which makes them more friendly to the fingers.


Can You Use Steel Strings On an Acoustic Guitar?

Although steel strings are thick, they can be used on acoustic guitars and work fine. However, if you prefer lighter strings for your fingers, you can use nylon strings for acoustic.

Can Guitar Strings Wear Out For Not Playing?

Guitar strings cannot wear out without being played unless exposed to conditions such as extreme humidity or anything that can damage them. Playing guitar strings too often is what causes wearing out due to corrosion.

Do Heavy Gauge Strings Damage Acoustic Guitars?

Heavy guitar strings can damage the guitar by causing tension on the top. The tension on the top causes irreversible damage to guitars. Medium gauge strings are good if you want to avoid guitar tension.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you use electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar?

In my experience as a musician, attaching electric guitar strings to an acoustic guitar can offer a unique sound quality compared to its original strings. Some acoustic guitar players find themselves drawn to the bright tones that these strings can provide. However, a fundamental aspect to consider in this scenario is the gauge of the strings. Electric guitar strings can be lighter than acoustic guitar strings, so if the gauge is too small, they may cause an unwelcome buzz. Therefore, while it’s mostly a case of personal preference, the suitability of electric strings in an acoustic set does rely to some extent on the specifics of the actual guitar.

How do electric and acoustic guitar strings compare?

Based on substantial involvement working with both acoustic and electric guitars, the answer is that these two types of strings are actually quite dissimilar in terms of their sizes and materials. The strings designed for an acoustic guitar are generally sturdier and enveloped with metals that strongly resonate acoustically, such as bronze or brass. In comparison, those made for electric guitars commonly utilise metals like steel, nickel, or chromium for wrapping. Because of these differences, each type of string can dramatically influence the timbre of the sound produced.

Does the type of strings affixed to an acoustic guitar really matter?

From a professional perspective, the gauge of the strings is indeed vital when it comes to an acoustic guitar. What I’ve found is that heavier gauge strings often project a darker sound and provide more sustain, since their additional material allows for increased vibrations. However, they might potentially lead to more discomfort in your fingers after prolonged use, particularly if you’re accustomed to strumming lighter gauge strings. Therefore, the type of strings used on an acoustic guitar can significantly impact both the playing experience and the resulting sound.

Can I utilize electric guitar strings on a classical guitar?

Typically, introducing electric guitar strings to a classical guitar is not recommended. Conventionally, classical guitars are strung with nylon strings which yield a distinct, warm tone that is notably different from steel or nickel strings used on electric guitars. It’s always wise to stick to the type of strings that are designed for your specific instrument, not only to ensure proper sound quality, but also to prevent potential damage to your guitar.


I'm Johnny, the guy behind Guitar Manifesto. I've been playing guitar since my teens and now that I'm in my 40s, I'm all about sharing what I've learned to help you become a better guitarist.

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