The best acoustic guitar will offer excellent tone quality, playability, and sound. This type of guitar offers the crisp, rich classic sound of the acoustic guitar, with onboard electronics that can amplify it in a manner that doesn’t take away from the natural sound.
We’ve reviewed some of the top selling models on the market to help you narrow down your choices. Each model is rated based on functionality, playability, tone, and overall quality.
We have also included an acoustic electric guitar buying guide which discusses construction, sizes, and onboard electronics. Our goal is to help you find the best electric guitar that will meet your playing needs and fit your budget.
Ovation AB245 Applause Acoustic-Electric Guitar:
A budget-friendly model with a lyra chord body, this guitar offers great sound for the price. However, it may not offer the type of projection power that some guitarists are searching for in a model that’s live performance worthy.
Fender CD60CE Acoustic Electric Guitar:
While affordably priced, this acoustic electric guitar by fender offers quality sound, excellent balance and it’s just a fun guitar to play. It’s perfect for guitarists of all skill levels and is even stage worthy with the right setup.
Ibanez PF Series PF15ECE Acoustic Electric Guitar:
This popular Ibanez model offers a deep, rich sound, beautiful tone, and a bigger than life sound when it’s plugged in. Priced affordably, this acoustic electric guitar can work well with a wide range of genres and is ideal for guitarists of all skill levels.
The Fender CD60CE acoustic electric guitar comes with a hard case, polishing cloth, instructional DVD, picks, string, strap, and tuner. This is an affordable, entry-level model that’s very basic in design, and very popular among guitarists of all skill levels.
This model features the standard dreadnought design with a cutaway style. Fender definitely kept the design simple with this guitar. The guitar comes with laminated mahogany sides and top, scalloped X bracing, and a mahogany neck which comes equipped with a nice rosewood fingerboard and a compensated saddle.
The electronics are Fishman Isys lll. This system features an excellent onboard active preamp and tuner. In terms of controls, you’ll get a three band EQ to work with. There’s also plenty of juice in the preamp to make a real difference with tone. Overall, we felt that the electronics were more than capable of accurately reproducing tonal qualities when plugged in.
The hardware is described as average. You’ll get the rosewood bridge with the composite saddle and a set of die cast tuning machines which do a fine job as long as the guitar isn’t pushed too hard. Intonation and tuning retention is there, which is a huge bonus for beginners.
For a guitar in this price range, it brings a surprising performance. You’d expect the tone to be somewhat lacking, but that’s simply not the case. This guitar packs some power. It’s steady throughout the frequency range and delivers a nice balanced tone color with just enough protection and warmth to satisfy even the biggest guitar snob.
Women who purchased this guitar felt that the neck was too wide, which made the guitar difficult to play.
Even though this model definitely has a flaw or two, the Fender CD60CE acoustic guitar bundle provides the beginner with everything they need to get started, including a guitar that offers playability and great sound quality, at a reasonable price.
The Ibanez PF series PF15ECE dreadnought cutaway acoustic electric guitar features a hard top made from spruce, with a mahogany back and sides. This guitar effortlessly projects a balanced tone that’s right at home in the studio, during practice, or on stage.
When you plug it in, the guitar’s onboard Ibanez electronics deliver that same great tone. Guitarists will also appreciate the way this model projects when played.
This guitar is suited for a wide range of genres including jazz, rock, bluegrass, and more. The dreadnought body style provides plenty of acoustic projection, while the onboard electronics allow you to dial in the perfect sound.
Spruce is the classic choice for the top wood, with its characteristic strong overtones, which is why the manufacturer chose it. It also provides an excellent balance between the sparkling highs and bold lows. Combined with mahogany, the guitar offers phenomenal sustain. The under saddle pickup and preamp provides a lot of tone and power for live performances.
This model also comes in three different finish options including natural, black, and blue starburst.
Some buyers felt that the guitar’s neck was a little too heavy.
Hands down, the Ibanez PF Series PF15ECE acoustic electric guitar is at the top of its class. The guitar is very playable, offers great sound and tone quality, and can work well at home or in the studio. This model really shines on stage and its overall versatility is what makes it so popular with guitarists of all skill levels.
The Ovation AB245 acoustic electric guitar is one of the most affordably priced models on the market. If you want that extra versatility that an acoustic electric guitar can offer and you’re on a tight budget, this model is definitely worth a second look.
Ovation took a much different approach to the guitar’s design. While most manufacturers choose the dreadnought style body, this model features a Lyra chord body shape with a round back. You’ll also notice a cutaway has been added to the mix, however, this is pretty standard for most models of acoustic electric guitars.
The body itself is made of laminated spruce for the sides, back, and top. This type of wood, while durable, also helps to cut down on the cost.
The neck features a simple design and is made from eastern mahogany, complete with a rosewood fretboard.
Aside from the rosewood bridge, the guitar is also equipped with a compensated saddle that’s made from synthetic materials. The composites used for both pieces are decent.
While the electronics in this acoustic electric model are nothing we’d call extraordinary, they’re decent enough to get the job done. This model comes with a lightweight preamp OPT 4BT system, which is an in-house piece of electronics that offers rudimentary controls and good quality sound.
For a budget-friendly guitar, this model offers great tone. While it may have some drawbacks, it also has strong suits. As an example, its tone is considered on the brighter side. Some guitarists will love this, while others will not.
Designed more for beginner and intermediate players, this product offers balladeer certified features including the applause style headstock.
This guitar features smooth playability, durability, great projection, and amplified tone. While the feel of the guitar is very light for an acoustic electric model, the overall design and components tell us this guitar was made with efficiency in mind. It’s also available in four finish options including honey burst, ruby red, natural, or black.
The guitar weighs in at eight pounds, making it much lighter than competing models. The overall design of the guitar is aimed at better projection. It features great depth of sound, volume, and clarity.
Adjustable, users can change the tone using the controls for bass, mid, and treble.
Overall, this six-string model offers a well-defined low end, and great tone balance and resonance. Additionally, it’s capable of covering a wide range of genres ranging from country and pop, all the way to rock and blues.
Some guitarists felt that the tone was too bright and lacked depth.
For the most part, the Ovation AB245 Applause acoustic electric guitar is perfect for the beginner. Guitarists on a tight budget who are in need of an amplified acoustic will get a decent sounding guitar without having to spend a fortune.
Acoustic Electric Guitar Buying Guide
Beginners often think that an acoustic electric guitar is a combination of an acoustic and electric guitar. While in some ways this is true, it’s not the case for every aspect of playing. An acoustic electric model is simply an acoustic guitar with electronic components that amplify the sound, which is the main reason for using this style of guitar.
With an acoustic electric model, the only thing a guitarist will need to play amplified music is an amp and cable. While you can amplify a normal acoustic guitar using a unidirectional mic to the equation, this often leads to picking up background noise, feedback, and other related problems.
The second reason for owning this type of guitar is ease of recording. Using a basic cable, the guitarist can easily plug directly into a mixing board or their recording device during a session. This also works to eliminate background noise that a mic will pick up.
Laminate top models are composed of several pieces of wood that have been glued together. Acoustic electric models equipped with a laminate top produce a basic tone.
Guitars with a solid top design are typically built from a couple of matched pieces of high-quality, solid wood that has been glued together side by side. These guitars often offer a richer sound and a sturdier construction.
Like with an electric guitar, you’ll need to determine the type of electronics you need in your acoustic electric model.
Guitars that are equipped with active electronics typically have a piezo transducer, which is a pickup that detects the vibrations in the bridge or body of the guitar. This transducer will prevent signal loss under the saddle and usually features a battery powered preamp with a few bands of EQ.
The piezo saddle transducer is a lightweight pickup that’s commonly used with a preamp that has been built into the endpin jack. This type of transducer allows the player to connect to an amp. You’ll need to adjust the volume and tone with your preamp or amp.
A dual source system has a piezo transducer and mic inside the body, providing plenty of amplification, which is perfect for players who pluck instead of strum.
Online, you’ll find a huge selection of guitars that are aimed at beginners, intermediate players, and pros.
An acoustic electric guitar with a larger body typically produces a fuller tone. Guitars with a smaller body will usually have a pickup and are intended for amplification via a speaker system.
• Archtop models feature a hollow body and curved top, which combined, create the perfect sound for jazz and country music.
• Flat top models feature a shape that’s similar to a classical guitar. You should buy a flat top if you play blues, folk, or rock.
Most models of acoustic electric guitars feature classic acoustic guitar styles. To some, the design dictates the size of the model within a given class size. Each of these guitar styles can be found in a variety of size classes. Almost all acoustic electric models fall into one of the following body styles: classical, parlor, full size, concert, and dreadnought.
The dreadnought style is the largest of all body styles. The deep large body works to emphasize the bass that the guitar produces.
Concert style guitars are commonly known as full-size acoustic guitars. The concert style is considered the standard size for all adult guitars. This type of guitar is a little smaller than a dreadnought and doesn’t emphasize the bass tones quite as well. However, a well-built concert guitar offers an exceptional sound and a full range of tones.
Parlor acoustic electric guitars are smaller than the concert style and are very popular among blues and folk musicians. Their popularity is due their affordability, portability, and size.
The classical acoustic electric guitar features wider fretboards compared to other styles of guitars. They also use nylon strings for the three heavier strings, which creates a very different sound than a traditional acoustic that uses all steel strings. The majority of classical models are played by finger picking. Basically, this style offers a warmer sound.
The type of wood used to construct the body of a guitar will not only affect the appearance but the sound as well. Exotic woods can create an amazing finish that adds beauty and value, but it won’t necessarily improve tone. The common woods used include mahogany, alder, and maple, but many other types are used as well. Generally, the denser the wood is, the warmer the tones produced. Lightweight woods tend to produce brighter tones.
While the look of the guitar is important, you should keep in mind that the main reason for playing a particular model is the sound it produces. Make the tone the guitar produces a priority over the look of the guitar.
You can measure guitar sizes in a couple of ways. Some manufacturers use overall measurements such as thirty-eight inches, while others will use fractions on size based on the concert style or full-size guitar. For the most part, there is some sizing standard and both measurements can be interchanged. A half size guitar is usually around twenty-five inches and is perfect for children. Most adult guitarists prefer to play a full-size model, which is usually around forty-one inches. These models are designed for the average adult and fit most guitarists well.
Most models of acoustic electric guitars offer some unique benefits such as the ability to record and amplify music without the hassle of expensive and complex microphone setups. Like a regular acoustic guitar, electric models offer the crisp, rich sound that so many guitarists strive to achieve.