Can Electric Guitar Strings Be Used On An Acoustic?

Many people like to experiment and play around with their musical instruments. Experiments can undoubtedly lead you to discover something unusually amazing.

However, sometimes it may also give some damaging outcomes. Hence, the risk factor is there too, but what can beat the joy of experiencing new things?

Still, many people like to get a bit of research done beforehand as musical instruments come quite expensive, and getting the exact same one again can be a great struggle as well.

If you are a guitarist and your strings have completed their lifespan, you will have to get the new ones for proper performance at your next concert. But what if you forget to check this out beforehand?

The idea of placing some other guitar’s string might hit your head in such a scenario. What if you replace the strings with the ones of an electric guitar?

Many people have been asking about this recently. So, can electric guitar strings be used on an acoustic?

Well, I am not going to give you a one-liner only. So, here’s a detailed answer to this curious query for you.

Is It A Good Idea To Put Electrical Guitar Strings On An Acoustic?

If you want to know about the fact that can electric guitar strings be used on an acoustic, then you are at the right spot.

The truth about this is that no one will refrain from doing so, but if you think that they will sound as good as the original ones, then you might be wrong.

Is there any risk factor in doing so? What will the effect be on the quality of sound? Do the materials matter? All of this and much more is waiting ahead for you.

What Is The Difference In String Gauge?

Video: “String Gauges Explained”

When it comes to the difference in string gauge, the fact that is a must to remember is that the sound of the guitar is heavily dependent on it.

If you know about the right string gauges, you would know that the string gauge of an electric guitar will start from 9 or 10 and go up till 42 or 46, respectively.

However, the string gauge on an acoustic guitar totally differs from that of an electric guitar, and so does the sound. The string gauge of an acoustic guitar will generally start with 12, and this gauge can go up to 53 and 54.

You will get more volume and rich sound quality if the gauge is heavier and thicker in nature. This happens because the heaviness demands a lot of tension for the pitch. As a result, increased pressure will act upon the bridge of the guitar and the top of it as well.

With the help of this high-end pressure, you become able to get a higher volume of sound out of your instrument.

Hence, the electric guitar string with a string gauge of 9 or 10 will deliver an empty and low volume sound as compared to the acoustic strings that start from 12, which grants you a fuller, richer, and higher volume of sound.

Do Different String Materials Matter?

When you are off to buy a new set of strings for any type of guitar, the first thing that you look for is the material used in their making. So, the material of the strings definitely makes a difference.

Electric guitars work on the principle of magnetic induction. This is why it is important for their strings to be made of magnetically conducting material.

These materials will enable the strings to induce vibrations and generate the typical sound of an electric guitar.

Whereas, when you take a glance at the strings of an acoustic guitar, you will see materials that are more resonant in nature.

The natural, high amplitude oscillations from these resonant materials help in giving out a warmer tone. The materials are generally alloys such as brass, steel, and phosphor bronze.

So, what impact will the materials have on the tonal quality of your acoustic guitar?

If you choose to put the electric guitar string on your acoustic, you will hear a sound that is less warm and more metallic in nature. So, the entire purpose of having an acoustic guitar and getting it’s brighter yet soothing sound will fail.

So, if you want to keep the essence of the acoustic sound as it is, it would be better for you to take out your time and invest in some other set of strings that are intended for acoustic guitar usage.

Is There Any Risk In Using Electric Guitar String On An Acoustic?

Now that you have come to know about the fact that putting electric guitar strings on acoustic won’t result in the best tonal quality, it is time to shed light on whether doing this can damage your instrument or not.

In order to know about his fact, you will have to keep a couple of things in view. The foremost point to see and compare between an acoustic and an electric guitar is their string tensions.

String Tension

Comparing both instruments side by side, you will get to know that an acoustic guitar’s string set will have 36% more tension as compared to an electric guitar string set.

So, there is no issue with extreme pressure with electric guitar strings placed on your acoustic one.

Other than string tension, what else you need to be skeptical about is the nut and its lifespan.


If you choose to level up the diameter of the strings from the previous smaller ones, this can result in damaging the nut of your guitar. But, is that the case in this particular scenario as well?

The answer is no. When compared to acoustic strings, electric guitar strings are always smaller in diameter. So, can this be damaging to your nut as well?

If you switch to smaller strings for just some time, it won’t be damaging at all. But, if you do it for a longer time span, the small strings can have adverse effects on your nut and saddle by creating grooves in them.

What Effect Will Electric Guitar Strings Have On Set Up Of Acoustic Guitar?

Video: “What Do Electric Guitar Strings Sound Like on Acoustic Guitar?”

Setting up your guitar properly is one of the most crucial and hard tasks to perform. So, it is a must to know about the effects that an electric guitar string set will have on your acoustic guitar’s set up.

Regarding this specific aspect, one of the most critical things is the string tension again. As mentioned before, the string tension of acoustic guitar is relatively 36% high.

Due to this difference in tension, you will observe a significant difference in the neck movement of the guitar and its bridge as well.

As a result of this whole situation, you will not be able to get a clear fret. This will make your action quite low as well, and a higher relief in the neck of the guitar will also take place.

This can lead to choking of notes. So, it is not always a good idea to use electric guitar strings on an acoustic one.

Difference In Playing

If you are at the beginning level, it will take some time for your finger to develop resistance against the pain that the guitar strings will bring along.

However, this is yet another factor that heavily relies on the tension of strings. Greater tension will make the strings harsher for your fingers.

So, if playing an acoustic guitar is giving you a painful hand experience, you can choose to switch on to the electric guitar strings.

As these have a tension difference of 36% less, they won’t be too hard or harsh on your fingers. This factor acts as one of the most common reasons why beginners choose to change the strings of their guitar until their fingers develop calluses.

The Bottom Line

Experimenting around with your musical instruments can be fun and new, as well as risky at the same time.

If you are not sure about anything, researching upon it is the best option to go for. Many people wonder about the fact that can electric guitar stings be used on an acoustic guitar, but very few have the proper set of information.

Numerous factors are important to look at prior to changing the strings of your guitar.

Electric strings will undoubtedly make it easier for you to play the guitar as the string tension is less. But, at the same time, you will have to make a huge compromise on the sound quality as well.

What else that it brings along is the nut and saddle damage. Who would ever want their expensive musical instruments to get damaged too soon? Therefore, being a little careful about such facts is the right approach to follow.

So, when it is an emergency case, and you have to get a gig done, changing the broken acoustic strings to electric ones is not a bad idea.

However, in the long-term, this won’t prove as a fruitful decision. So, keep a check on the life of your strings, and invest in the new ones so that your instrument does not get damaged as well.

Juan Stansbury
Juan Stansbury

I'm Juan Stansbury, author and owner of Homerecordio – your ultimate destination for everything about homerecording. With hands-on experience, courses, workshops, and industry research, I offer tips on selecting the best equipment, and mixing and mastering your recordings to achieve professional-quality results at home. Join me on this journey to explore the world of homerecording and music production.

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