Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

If you are in the market for the best acoustic electric guitar, there are many factors to consider in order to select the instrument that is best suited for your playing abilities and preferences. You may have already begun your research and we know how difficult it can be to sort through your options. There are also many terms and details that are confusing and unclear. That’s why we are here break down the most important factors you should look for when purchasing a guitar, compare and contrast the top brands on the market today, and answer the most common questions guitarists have when looking for their next acoustic electric. By the end, you should have a better understanding of what guitar will work for your needs.

How to Choose the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for the Money

We’ve looked at the best-selling guitars on the market in 2018 and compared their prices, features, and more to deliver a comprehensive list of factors to consider. Budget is key when looking for good acoustic electric guitars. Remember that there isn’t a best guitar on the market. Much of what will work best for you may not work best for the next musician. Consider your price range, ability, and the factors that are most important to you when reviewing the information.

Key Factors to Consider When Looking for the Best Acoustic Electric Guitars

 

Budget

First, you need to decide on a budget before buying the best acoustic electric guitar for your needs. Are you a beginner just looking for a starter guitar that won’t limit your abilities to learn? Cheap acoustic electric guitars can cost under $400 and still deliver the right sound and playability for beginners.

While you are sure to find a guitar under $300 at big box stores, you are unlikely to find a guitar that has a build quality that will last. So, do not head to your nearest big box store to purchase that instrument, either. Playability also becomes an important factor when looking for the best budget acoustic electric guitar, because nothing discourages a beginner like an unplayable six-string.

For the experienced guitarist who has been playing for at least a year and has the basics down, it might be time to look for the best acoustic electric guitar under $500. If you’ve out-played your last rig based on your skill level, in order to achieve a significant upgrade at an affordable price, look at mid-range brands priced under $1000 or under $700. Maybe your first instrument was one of those box store knockoffs that barely stayed in tune. If that’s the case, it’s time for an upgrade!

Build quality significantly improves when you start looking at acoustic electric guitars priced under $2000 and under $1500. Seasoned musicians who have been playing for over two years should consider what the word best means to them when selecting an acoustic electric guitar. You know your budget and your abilities as a musician. If you are likely to play your guitar daily and occasionally use it to perform live in front of an audience, it is essential to have a guitar that will stand up to travel and standard wear and tear.

Your budget is determined by the amount of money you are willing to spend at the end of the day, but you should consider your skill level, your practice frequency, and how long you want the instrument to last when determining a realistic budget.

Pay Attention to the Guitar Body Material

Consider the body of the guitar and what type of material it is made out of, as each brings with it its own unique sound, and feel. A quick browse through guitar shopping websites will reveal a number of different sizes, looks, and types of guitar bodies. That can be intimidating. Let’s start here: Most acoustic guitars are made out of woods like spruce, mahogany, rosewood, or cedar.

Spruce wood is among the most commonly used material for acoustic guitars. It is lightweight and sturdy and carries with it a true and powerful tone. While your sound might blend in with other spruce guitars, it is a rich and loud sound that might save you some money, if that’s a concern.

Mahogany is a very dense wood that brings out the punchy high-end in most guitars. On the low-end, mahogany produces a warm tone that resonates both chords and individual notes well. Mahogany is also a dark color wood, which should be considered for shoppers that have a certain aesthetic in mind.

Rosewood is best known for its deep low-end tone and biting high-end, with much left to be desired in the mid-range. This works well for musicians that play in bands, as other instruments can help fill in the gaps in tone where a rosewood sound lacks.

Cedar is a wood that carries with it a specific sound a playability that guitarists should hear before making a purchasing decision. If you play with a heavy pick or tend to strum loudly, cedar guitars can sometimes sound overloaded or distorted. If you strum quietly or often use fingerpicking techniques, then the sound tends to come through clearly and vividly.

In addition to the type of wood used in the body of a guitar, you must also consider whether you prefer a laminated or solid top guitar. Laminated guitars are made using thin layers of wood stacked on top of each other and tend to be more affordable in price.

solid top acoustic electric guitar uses one solid piece of wood for the top of the guitar and are featured in higher-end instruments because of their superior tone quality.

The best thin body acoustic electric guitar is made with quality woods and use a solid top material. Another factor to consider is the shape of the guitar, as that impacts the sound and access to certain frets. A cutaway allows a player to reach above the 14th fret to play higher notes. A full-body guitar limits access to higher frets but tends to have a fuller, warmer sound.

What About Built-In Electronics?

There are many different ways guitar manufacturers electrify their acoustic guitars through different types of active and passive pickups. Keep in mind that acoustic electric guitars are essentially standard acoustic guitars that have been equipped with electronics that allow them to be plugged in an amplified.

Remember that it in order to achieve the best sound for your guitar, it is not recommended that you plug your acoustic electric guitar into an electric guitar amp. Special acoustic electric amps, keyboard amps, and PA vocal setups will deliver a much better sound.

One benefit of almost all acoustic electric guitars is that you get an acoustic guitar with a built in tuner. Often referred to as the “pre-amp,” the electronic device built into your acoustic electric guitar will usually come equipped with a build in tuner on board. With the click of a button, guitarists can check their tuning and get to playing immediately. If this is an important factor to you, look for guitars that feature a built-in tuner.

Active pickups are externally powered devices that “pick up” the sound from your guitar and send it to the amplifier. Active pickups are almost always powered by an external battery. Passive pickups are not externally powered. Passive pickups are transducers that use copper wire wrapped around a magnet to cause an electric current to pass through. Different musicians prefer different types of pickups and it is best to listen to each yourself and decide which suits your style best.

Piezo acoustic guitar pickups are passive pickups that attach to the inside of the body of your acoustic electric guitar and amplify the sound through vibration. They are a prime example of transducer acoustic guitar pickups. They are often installed under the saddle of the guitar and produces a very accurate representation of the guitar’s sound, with all of the imperfections included. This is best for experienced guitarists who can control their tone and dynamics with skill.

Magnetic acoustic guitar pickups are similar to the kind you would find on an electric guitar and are typically located above the soundhole of the guitar and under the strings. The straightforward design suits both beginners and seasoned guitarists looking for a direct pickup system.

Guitar Neck Width

The best acoustic electric guitar for small hands is one with a small neck. This allows guitar players easier access to the fret board and in turn, an easier ability to play notes. When selecting your next guitar, look at the dimensions of the neck in the description. Compare and contract several models in your price range to see your options. The standard width of an acoustic guitar is 1.72 inches.

If you have bigger hands or have already gained experience on guitars with wider necks, you are at an even greateradvantage. Switching to a guitar with a slightly smaller neck may increase your speed while playing scales and switching chords.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Brands

There are many good acoustic electric guitar brands on the market, today including Japanese brands like Yamaha and Ibanez who have gained a reputation for delivering a quality product for beginners and experienced musicians at an affordable price, as well as brands like Fender who make guitars that fit all budgets, including entry-level. And lastly, Gibson subsidiary Epiphone delivers classic acoustic electric guitar models at a much cheaper price.

While brand reputation and reliability is key, it is also important to consider every guitar on its own merit. Given that most of these well-known brands cater to several price points, there are advantages and disadvantages within each model.

Ask yourself these key questions:

 

  • What can I afford?
  • What do I want my guitar to look like?
  • How do I want it to sound, unplugged and amplified?
  • What neck will work best with my ability?

After narrowing down your options with these factors in mind, it’s up to you to select the best acoustic electric guitar.

 

 

Brand

 

Body Material

 

Type of Pickups

 

Neck Type

 

Martin Road Series DRS1

 

Martin

 

Solid Sapele

 

Undersaddle

 

Modified Low Oval

 

Epiphone HUMMINGBIRD PRO

 

Epiphone

 

Mahogany

 

Undersaddle

 

SlimTaper™ “D”

 

Yamaha APX500III

 

Yamaha

 

Nato

 

Undersaddle

 

Not specified

 

Epiphone EJ-200SCE

 

Epiphone

 

Maple

 

Undersaddle

 

SlimTaper™ “D”

 

Martin DRS2 Dreadnought

 

Martin

 

Solid Sapele | Sitka-spruce

 

Soundhole

 

Modified Low Oval

 

Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK

 

Glen Burton

 

Basswood

 

Undersaddle

 

Not specified

 


Check out our list of the top rated acoustic electric guitars

If you’re looking to add some electronics to your acoustic performances, then you’ve probably considered purchasing the best acoustic electric guitar. Finding that guitar can usually take time, so to help you out in your search, we put together reviews of six top-rated acoustic electric guitars. By the end of it, you’ll even learn about what we feel is the best acoustic electric guitar overall.

Martin Road Series DRS1 – Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Best Acoustic Electric GuitarThe Martin Road Series DRS1 has a solid, durable build that’s intended for the frequently traveling or working recording guitarist. For convenience, it can be played left or right-handed, and it’s easy and smooth overall.

This is the best acoustic electric guitar for cutting through a small band without feedback. Its construction allows it to open up well, allowing warm projection and resonance so that you can stand out.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

 

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Martin
  • Body Material: Solid sapele
  • Type of Pickups: Undersaddle
  • Neck Type: Modified low oval

An active undersaddle allows the DRS1 to have brighter output. The top, back, and sides made from sapele and braced further contributes to that, especially in a band environment. Meanwhile, the modified low oval neck style makes it comfortable to play.

Pros

  • Projects well
  • Stays in tune
  • Rich, warm sounds

Cons

  • Action initially seems high
  • Requires some breaking in
  • Electronics a bit too basic

 

There are louder acoustic electric guitars available, but if you’re looking for something to record on or play at small venues, the Martin Road Series DRS1 is ideal.

 

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Epiphone HUMMINGBIRD PRO – Best Sounding Acoustic Electric Guitar

Best Sounding Acoustic Electric GuitarThe Hummingbird Pro is the best Epiphone acoustic electric guitar from the company. It has a good weight so that you know it’s durable and long-lasting, and it produces sounds reminiscent of classic country and rock music tunes.

This is ideal for smaller players and beginners. It offers a bright output with or without an amp so you can play it as well in gigs as you can while sitting on your porch.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Epiphone
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Type of Pickups: Undersaddle
  • Neck Type: SlimTaper™ “D” Profile

The use of a spruce top gives it a rich tone, and mahogany offers warmth. This Hummingbird Pro uses an undersaddle Shadow Pickup System to amplify the guitar and still offering an acoustic sound. As for the neck, it’s small in diameter for smaller hands to hold easier.

Pros

  • Full tone
  • Beautiful finish
  • Easy to play

Cons

  • Can feel too heavy
  • Electronics might hum
  • Lacks a tuner

 

The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro may not be as top-performing as the Gibson Hummingbird, but it’s perfect for beginners, students, and those who want something to perform at small gigs or to practice with.

 

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Yamaha APX500III –Best Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar

Best Thinline Acoustic Electric GuitarIf you’re looking for the best Yamaha acoustic electric guitar, then try your hand at the APX500III from the Yamaha brand. It features a non-scalloped X-type bracing design offers powerful resonance for a natural tone.

With its thin-line body and top fret access, you get a comfortable playing experience. This makes it great for beginners and those performing on stage for extended periods of time.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

 

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Yamaha
  • Body Material: Nato
  • Type of Pickups: Undersaddle
  • Neck Type: Not specified

Yamaha’s APX500III has a good balance between spruce and nato material. Nato helps mellow the sharpness out of the spruce. With an undersaddle piezo pickup, you can have greater tonal control.

Pros

  • Built-in digital tuner
  • Vibrates well
  • Easy to control feedback

Cons

  • Small sound when not plugged in
  • String can start buzzing
  • Action can seem too high

 

The Yamaha APX500III has a thin-line profile that many people enjoy, but it may not be the easiest for fingerpicking. Nonetheless, it has a bright, almost thin sound that’s wonderfully amplified when plugged in.

 

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Epiphone EJ-200SCE – Best Acoustic Electric Cutaway Guitar

Best Acoustic Electric Cutaway GuitarFinding an acoustic electric guitar in a decent price range doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to the Epiphone brand. The Epiphone EJ-200SCE is seen as the best mid priced acoustic electric guitar. It offers stable projection and quality low-end response.

This is beneficial to play for novice and experienced users alike with its balanced, full tone. It’s especially useful for singer-songwriters as well as rhythm guitarists.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Epiphone
  • Body Material: Maple
  • Type of Pickups: Undersaddle
  • Neck Type: SlimTaper™ “D”

Epiphone’s use of maple helps brighten the sound and offers good durability. The undersaddle NanoFlex pickup cuts out any harshness from the acoustic tone, while the neck design allows a smooth ride up and down the fingerboard.

Pros

  • Good setup
  • Full, loud sound
  • Projects well

Cons

  • Some issues with the electronics
  • Short-lasting batteries
  • Strings may need a lighter gauge

 

The Epiphone EJ-200SCE doesn’t have the most high-quality electronics, but for its price range, it offers a good amount of control for the average musician.

 

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Martin DRS2 Dreadnought – Best Affordable Acoustic Electric Guitar

Best Affordable Acoustic Electric GuitarThe Martin DRS2 Dreadnought is the best Martin acoustic electric guitar from the company that won’t break the bank. It’s performance-ready, and it offers good tone and projection.

If you’re looking for comfort while you play, this guitar offers an ergonomic taper that offers greater fretting-hand feel. It also features compact electronics for those that want a quick plug-in and play, something that’s perfect for gigs.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Martin
  • Body Material: Solid sapele | Sitka-spruce
  • Type of Pickups: Soundhole
  • Neck Type: Modified low oval

With Martin using sapele, it has good sounding bass. Its neck design helps you glide across with ease, and the electronics are easy to handle so you can change tone in real time, a useful feature for those playing live.

Pros

  • Easy to play
  • Quality construction
  • Maintains a good tune

Cons

  • Must remove strings to change battery
  • May have poor acoustic volume
  • Surface doesn’t feel smooth.

 

The Martin DRS2 Dreadnought is easy to use if you’re practicing or performing. It’s lightweight, making it easier for longer playing sessions.

 

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Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK – Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitar

Best Cheap Acoustic Electric GuitarNot many guitars offer a low price without sacrificing quality the way the Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK does. It’s the best acoustic electric guitar under 300 on the market today. This features a modern cutaway style along with a dreadnought body that offers good mid-range sounds.

Beginners may find this the most useful considering the kit it comes with that includes an amp, strap, bag, etc. It’s stage-ready, and it’s also useful for those recording sessions or practice.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of this brand:

Key Features and Benefits

  • Brand: Glen Burton
  • Body Material: Basswood
  • Type of Pickups: Undersaddle
  • Neck Type: Not specified

Basswood offers this Glen Burton guitar better balance and warmth in addition to providing quality sustain. The undersaddle piezo pickups detect vibrations at a greater rate.

Pros

  • Great beginner package
  • Warm tone
  • Full body sound

Cons

  • Some problems with quality control
  • Nut material is low-quality
  • Problems with the amp

 

Though marketed to beginners, the Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK can play just as well in the hands of a seasoned guitarist. It’s well-balanced, and gives you that warm tone with minimal vibrations.

 

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After you’ve read our acoustic electric guitars review, check out some interesting points

Though we have offered our take and reviews about the best acoustic electric guitars on the market today, there are a couple of notes to address. These include discussions about which band produces the most quality acoustic electric guitars overall as well as taking a look at the best guitar that sells for under $500.

Who makes the best acoustic electric guitars?

When you are thinking about thee many acoustic electric guitar brands, Martin seems to dominate many lists as a favorite amongst beginners and seasoned guitarists. Many enjoy the usual superb Martin sound that is balanced, warm, and tends to project very well. They also usually feature quality electronics that are easy to control.

The majority of these acoustic electric guitars from Martin have a classic sound and many sell at an affordable price that makes them good contenders against the more popular, top-selling brands like Gibson.

What is the best acoustic electric guitar for under 500?

If you’re searching for something that’s more budget-friendly than what Martin can make, then consider an acoustic electric guitar from Epiphone. The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is the best acoustic electric guitar under 500 that can still produce remarkable, full sounds.

It’s relatively easy to play as well, so if you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t have a hard time learning using this acoustic electric guitar. This also has a great finish that won’t wear out, so you not only have a quality-performing guitar at a low price, but one that will look good over the years.


What is the best acoustic electric guitar? Let’s see…

Out of the guitars we reviewed, the Martin Road Series DRS1 is our top pick as the best acoustic electric guitar. It features solid, lasting construction that can withstand years of use, especially for the traveling musician. The DRS1 can also help you sound good if you’re in a small band setting, letting you project enough to stand tall among the other instruments.

If you’re looking to invest in a high-quality acoustic electric guitar that offers great projection and balanced tunes, then we recommend you try out the Martin Road Series DRS1.

Other recommendations:

  • Epiphone Hummingbird Pro: This amplifies well while not disrupting the traditional acoustic sounds.
  • Yamaha APX500III: Good thin-line constructed for comfortable playing.
  • Epiphone EJ-200SCE: Offers good stability and low-end resonance.
  • Martin DRS2 Dreadnought: Lightweight and holds its tune well.
  • Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK: Low-costing and comes with an ideal beginner kit.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our reviews on the best acoustic electric guitars.