Not really sure what we're discussing here?
I mean are we talking appropriateness of leading with an electric guitar opposed to an acoustic? Well, that depends on your congregation and will differ from church to church.
Are we talking skill level? Comfortability? Style? Depends on the player and tools available.
Is this just a sounding board? I'm going with the sounding board and here's my take: The previous worship leader led via the keyboard. I'm a guitarist so I lead with my guitar. I began by using my acoustic. My guitarist made a separate pedal board with left over effects after upgrading his and had an extra amp. I began practicing on the electric and began bringing it out for a song or 2 a service when it needed 2 electric guitar parts. Now, I'm fully comfortable, fully capable, and fully confident with the electric so I don't even think about it. I don't think I've ever used one for the entire service however, because there's typically a time when I need the acoustic. I've only had 1 time when swapping was a problem (I stepped on my strap!) It just takes some preparation to work on the transition but it's never been awkward.
The congregation's response? That was in part of the point of the mini history lesson. I don't know if they notice or care. Moving to guitar led worship helped 'contemporize' our sound which is what was appropriate and desired from our church. Moving to the electric? It's always been done on a song that if they were to hear it on the radio or CD would sound that way anyway so it fits. I've always made sure I'm comfortable playing with it and been able to worship while doing it and never had a problem.
Not one negative comment, but then our lead electric was already pretty cranked so there wasn't much noticeable difference unless we chose edgier songs (such as our Kashmir version of C. Hall's Salvation that is a burnin arrg if I might say so myself). No one reacted to the guitar nor would I expect them to in our context.
Variax - happy
I know this is an older thread, but I haven't checked in here for a while.
I have been using a Line 6 Variax 600 for the last few months in my leading. I just got the POD X3 Live, so it's a good match and I'm loving it.
Perhaps the guy earlier who didn't enjoy his Variax got the 300 and it wasn't setup very well - anyway, I really like mine. It's very nice to be able to get whatever sound I want with one patch change on the POD.
I think this is a pretty-much ideal setup - choose your guitar, amp, effects, etc. and program it all before the service, then just switch between them with your foot. I have occasionally used both acoustic and electric sounds in one song if I'm the only guitarist - like in Mighty To Save where it's all acoustic at the start and then the electrics come in.
I usually already have 2 electrics on my team each week, plus myself on acoustic. On the weeks when I don't and need 2, I'll play electric. Last week I played electric on the first 2 songs (Salvation is Here and Everlasting God), then acoustic on the last 2 (Filled With Your Glory and How Great is Our God). Just make sure that if you're switching, that there's no dead space!
The Variax 300 is a piece of crap, but, it is like half of the price of a Variax 600. I might consider trying the 600...
Those are some good tips for churches who are not open to this. I thought the question was more from a practical stand point like, how to do it. I am contacting a one of the lead guitarists from Casting Crowns and seeing how he got some acoustic sounds out of his PRS. I will update you all when I find out...
I lead from electric quite often but I plan the songs accordingly. There are some songs that just sound better led from the acoustic. Same with the piano, which I lead from once in awhile too. I like to lead from different instruments to keep things fresh, but I select songs that fit those instruments. If that sounds restrictive or contrived, it's not really. You can play an electric like an acoustic, it gives the song a different texture. For instance, "Here I Am To Worship" played with open chords on a clean middle pickup Strat or mid setting humbuckered (?) guitar can sound quite nice. Maybe add a little chorus or light flange.
I tried leading last week with the Boss AC-3 acoustic simulator, just for a couple verses here and there. My impression was that it sounds kinda thin, but, it can get you through an intro or quiet part if you are like me and play lead guitar and rhythm. It sounds like a cheap acoustic, but, if you turn the bottom up a little it helps. It is difficult to get a good sound dialed in, and there is some hiss in the background, but, it's better than a Variax and the only solution for acoustic and electric.
I have the pedal set up on the top of my pedal board just after my Volume/Wah. The pedal has two outputs, 1 that goes to the PA and the other that goes to the rest of my effects. When the pedal is on, it mutes the signal to the other pedals. When it is off, it will send the signal through to the pedals and on to my amp. I send the PA signal into the same direct box that my regular acoustic guitar is using, that way I have the acoustic sounds in one channel which helps with the aviom.
It works, but, it sounds nothing like my Taylor. Nobody even noticed, but, I did, and it will never replace an acoustic. Like I said, it can work in a pinch.
I've tried a few acoustic simulators but, as you said, they all tend to sound thin and cheap. Plus the visual aspect of it has always been kind of weird for me, you know, seeing an electric but hearing a cheap acoustic.