How To Create Your Own Acoustic Guitar Version Of Any Song

How To Create Your Own Unique Acoustic Guitar Version Of Any Song 

By Simon Candy


Acoustic-Version-Song-Article-PicIn the last two decades, there has been a growing trend of producing acoustic renditions of electric songs. The quality of these versions can vary greatly, ranging from mediocre to exceptional.

The key lies in the approach taken to create them.

Simply playing an electric song on your acoustic guitar won't suffice in most cases. Despite the many similarities between the two instruments, there are also notable differences.

Furthermore, when creating a solo acoustic version of a song played by a whole band, there are additional considerations to make up for the missing accompaniment.

There are so many cool and unique ways that you can make your acoustic guitar version sound incredible in either a band or solo situation. In this article, I am going to present some of these to you so that you can get started creating awesome acoustic versions of any song you like!


How To Make Your Song Sound More "Acoustic" 

So what exactly are some ways that you can compensate for the electric song in your acoustic version?

Here are a few.

  • Adding bass lines

A great idea is to learn the existing bass line to the song you are creating the acoustic version from and include elements of it in your arrangement.

This idea is especially good if you are creating a solo version where it’s just you, your guitar, and a vocal. This approach fills out the sound more and creates movement within your chord progressions.

  • Replace power chords with open and bar chords

Due to the fact that you don’t have distortion and the sustain of an electric guitar, it can be a good idea to replace all or some of the power chords in the song with full chords. It gives your version of the acoustic guitar a bigger, fuller sound.

You may choose open over bar chords, or the other way around, depending on what you want to do with them (eg. chord picking, embellishments, suspended/extended chords etc).

  • Strumming 

Sometimes you need to strum out more in your acoustic version.

This again is a way to compensate for the lack of distortion and sustain. Another reason for strumming out more in your acoustic song, assuming you are doing a version without a band backing you, is to compensate for other instruments.

Strumming can have a very percussive effect on the acoustic guitar and can provide a really cool groove if done well.

Check out the video below where you learn 3 ways to get a better strumming sound.

Patterns are only part of the picture when it comes to strumming.

You need to focus on the feel and dynamics for your strumming to sound musical. In this video, I show you 3 ways to make your strumming sound great:


  • Adding melody components to chord progressions

A very effective thing to do, especially if you are creating a solo acoustic version, is to include hints of the song's melody in your chord progressions.

By doing this you will end up with some really nice embellishments and extensions to your chords. This approach will fill out the progressions of your acoustic song more, and can even provide a nice instrumental break within the song.

Check out the video below to learn how to include melody components in your acoustic guitar arrangements of a song.

I show you how to sketch out the melody of a song, without all the detail, to then include it with the chords you play.

The result is an arrangement that has something more to it than simply playing chords alone and relates to the song specifically because the ideas you use are born from the melody and themes of the song itself:



Soloing Techniques

An electric guitar solo transferred directly to your acoustic can be challenging to play. This is due to things including the position it is being played, and the techniques being used like string bending.

An electric solo, played note for note on your acoustic, can also sound weak and lacking due to having no distortion, sustain, or other effects that may be being used.

Here are some very effective and cool ways to overcome these issues when creating your acoustic version.

  • Droning open strings

Droning the lower open strings of your acoustic guitar is a great way to provide some accompaniment for the riffs and solo’s that you play.

Think of the open droning strings as the left hand of a pianist, and the riffs you are playing as the right hand. This approach is best suited when creating a solo acoustic version, when YOU are the band. It will provide you with a bass component to your solo lines, albeit a simple one, and fill out the sound. It’s as simple as it is effective!

  • Chord hits

“Chord hits” are when you play the chord that is happening at the time, in between the riffs and phrases of your solo.

This is similar to the droning string effect, but because you aren’t relying on open strings it can be done effectively in all keys. The chord hits provide a tonal centre for your solo to relate to. You are basically sketching out the harmony (chord progression) to the solo you are playing, at the same time. 

The chord hit approach will also throw up some really cool syncopated rhythms between the chords and phrases that you play. This kind of naturally happens as you work out where is best to hit the chord and where is best to fit the phrase around that chord. There will be more than one possibility. 

The more chords you know on your guitar the better you'll be with this approach, as you will always have a chord close by to inject into your solo. You can also approach your chords from a fret above or below for added interest.

  • Double stops, bends, and slides

When playing acoustic guitar, certain techniques like bending can be challenging due to string gauge or playing position.

In such cases, sliding to the desired note can serve as a great alternative to bending. Incorporating subtle nuances like this can help achieve a more authentic "acoustic" sound in your solos.

You don’t necessarily always need to replace a bend with a slide though. Sometimes you just need to change the position at which you execute the bend on your acoustic. You will find some strings are much easier to bend than others. For example, bend the 7th fret on the third string of your guitar. Now bend the 3rd fret on the second string.

See what I mean?

Using double stops can add an acoustic element to your solos.

To create a double stop, play two notes simultaneously on your guitar. This technique provides a pleasing contrast to the single notes in your solo and can add intensity to your playing. Additionally, double stops can compensate for the lack of distortion in your solo, making your licks sound more robust and full.

Check out the video below to learn some common double stop riffs that sound great on an acoustic guitar:



For more specific and detailed examples of approaches covered in this article, check out this ebook and audio on creating your own acoustic versions of songs on guitar.