Whats the diffrence between unplugged and acoustic



According to "German Wiki" etc unplugged is another word for acoustic and says a song normaly made with electronics is now played with "normal" insturments instead

But on the other hand acoustic is stated as a song playd with only string instruments.

Is there something faulty or did I miss something?


Posted 2019-05-22T15:23:36.703

Reputation: 73



"Acoustic" as a descriptor for instruments is a retronym (like "analog" for a watch) that came into widespread use only once electric and electronic instruments were invented. It means an instrument that is designed to be played without any electricity involved --so in other words, at one time all instruments were acoustic.

"Unplugged" is a bit different, in as much as it means taking music that was originally composed or played on electric and electronic instruments, and replicating it with all acoustic instruments. The term was popularized by the popular MTV series of the same title, featuring famous rock musicians playing all acoustic sets featuring their own work. The concept was a bit of a backlash against the heavily produced electronica of the 80's and early 90's, as well as serving as proof that famous musicians could sound good even without studio magic. The Unplugged series yielded several notable hits, including Eric Clapton's bluesy "Layla", Mariah Carey's (cover of) "I'll Be There", and Nirvana's "All Apologies."

All "unplugged" music is acoustic, by definition, but not all acoustic music is "unplugged." Classical music, for instance, is acoustic, but not unplugged. "Acoustic" is more of a neutral modifier, it's purely descriptive. "Unplugged," on the other hand, is more of a marketing term, it has deliberate connotations of authenticity, and carries implications of genre.

Chris Sunami

Posted 2019-05-22T15:23:36.703

Reputation: 12 950

1Oh well this makes sense, therefor thank you for the clearification on this. Then is it for a "Metal" song the same if it is labeld as Acoustic Version or Unplugged Version ? But for same instances there isn't a unplugged version as said right? – Kevin – 2019-05-24T07:01:04.980

Acoustic did not always mean sans electricity, it also encompassed music that was not played by mechanical means as well. – Walkerbo – 2019-05-24T10:12:54.837

1@Walkerbo That's interesting. Do you have a citation for that? I've never heard that usage, and it doesn't quite make sense to me, nor is it supported by the link you included. – Chris Sunami – 2019-05-24T12:18:00.020

At uni the difference between between acoustic/unplugged terminology was briefly touched upon, both acoustic and unplugged refers to music that is produced without mechanical, battery or electrical aid.

Unplugged is usually associated with music that was originally created and played plugged in, more often or not associated with heavy metal and rock songs as the difference between the original loud song to the gentle and usually slower song is so radically different.

Links to follow due to char limit. – Walkerbo – 2019-05-25T06:20:05.620

– Walkerbo – 2019-05-25T06:20:25.277

@Kevin Yes, I would expect the "acoustic" and "unplugged" versions of a metal song to be the same, because the base expectation for metal is that it would be "plugged in" so to speak. "Acoustic" is more of a neutral modifier, "unplugged" is kind of a marketing term. – Chris Sunami – 2019-05-25T15:11:10.180


Both of the terms are basically interchangeable.

Acoustic has a much older etymology dating back to the 16 hundreds, and did evolve to encompass music played without mechanical and electronic aid.

Unplugged, in terms of music, also covers the same definition but was first coined and popularised late 80's.


Posted 2019-05-22T15:23:36.703

Reputation: 156

1so therefore they are technically the same and both are used for the same kind of music ? – Kevin – 2019-05-23T10:24:13.390

Yes, both words have the same meaning in music. – Walkerbo – 2019-05-23T11:21:14.257

Saying they have the "same meaning" is misleading. "Unplugged" is a specific type of acoustic music. – Chris Sunami – 2019-05-23T13:20:11.040

Acoustic did not always mean sans electricity, it also encompassed music that was not played by mechanical means as well. – Walkerbo – 2019-05-24T10:12:51.027