Are you about to perform on a stage or is looking to up to volume on your current acoustic guitar? This article will help you through the process of choosing an acoustic-electric guitar suited for your needs and budget.
My name is Fredrick, and I am the one who is going to guide you through this article, I have been in the music industry now for more than 17 years, so I hope my experience and knowledge will come to good use when helping you to choose your next guitar.
In this list, you will find my personal favorites and handpicked guitars that I believe stand out from the crowd of guitars in terms of quality, sound, and price.
At the beginning of this article, you will find a chart where I have listed the guitars with a summary, below the summary you will find reviews of each guitar and finally an informational guide on how to choose and what to have in mind during your purchase a new guitar.
13 Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Reviewed And Rated
Now without further ado, let’s take at each specific guitar. I will list a summary of each one with pros and cons if there are any, and reasons why I like or dislike the guitar. Take a close look at each guitar and pick the one that you like the best, and that is within your budget.
Most For The Money
Breedlove Solo Concert
Most For The Money
Breedlove Solo Concert
Fender Tim Armstrong
Fender Tim Armstrong
Fender Tim Armstrong
Fender Tim Armstrong
1. Takamine EF341SC
- Maple Back & Sides
- Solid Cedar Top
- Mahogany Neck & Rosewood Fingerboard
My current main guitar is the Takamine EF341SC, and I have been so pleased with this beast that I had no other choice than listing it on the first spot. It’s a top-shelf guitar crafted by none other than the famous brand Takamine in Japan. Crafted with a solid cedar top, layered maple body, and a superior neck that is coated with a fantastic black coating.
What I found in many electric-acoustic guitars is that they dont take good use of the beauty of the warm acoustic sound, but that was not the issue when I tried the EF341SC. Its equipped with a high-end under-saddle pickup and preamp that makes use of the acoustics in the guitar making it sound like the remarkable masterpiece it is.
The pickup provides controllers making it easy to adjust and customize the sound to your liking. As you can hear I am a big fan of this guitar, but I sincerely have no reason not to like it. I think it’s a great option for stage performers looking for an excellent guitar to bring along on their adventures.
2. Breedlove Solo Concert
- Solid western Red Cedar top, ovangkol back & sides, Mahogany...
- African ebony Fretboard, 25.5" Scale Length, 1.687" nut...
- African ebony Bridge, offset Dot Inlays, Abalone ring...
Nope, I haven’t forgotten the Solo Concert! As many of you know I am a huge fan of this guitar. It’s an exceptional acoustic-electric guitar that is very popular and unique in terms of design. Its made here in Oregon USA by Breedlove which is known for its craftsmanship and high-quality guitars.
Breedlove has implemented a second hole that points towards the guitarist as he plays, that way you can listen to what the audience hears making it easy to adjust potential mistakes and improve on your playing.
It´s a neet guitar that looks great, sounds better and is plenty of fun to play with. I highly recommend this guitar for any fellow guitarist who is looking to get a unique piece of a guitar that is built with care and love.
3. Gibson SJ-200 – Premium Option
- The SJ-200 Standard has the 2016 engraved truss rod cover...
- Also has a comprehensive Plek assisted setup for perfect...
- Upgraded to an LR Baggs Anthem pickup.
When money is not the subject, the Gibson SJ-200 is the guitar preferred choice by most professionals. The sound and tones of this guitar are just remarkable. I have never owned one myself, but I have for sure spent several hours looking at it with admiration.
The Gibson SJ-200 costs a lot for a good reason. Gibson hasn’t used any kind of material or engineering to craft this piece of art. It’s crafted with perfection from the bottom to the top, there is nothing left out or unseen. Holding the Gibson SJ-200 you can feel its a special instrumental piece.
In terms of sound, the SJ-200 features a punchy and powerful sound that is hard to forget. However, this quality piece comes with a high price tag. It’s not targeted for the average consumer, but for those who are highly experienced, professional or simply looking to acquire the best there is.
4. Fender Tim Armstrong – Budget Option
- Solid Mahogany Top, Laminated Mahogany Back and Sides
- Scalloped X Bracing
- Fishman Preamp.Number of Frets: 20
Fender Tim Armstrong is a signature guitar that won’t appeal to all of you, but if you like the design you will love it. The design features a dark body crafted in mahogany. Finished off by a tortoiseshell pickguard that includes custom-designed skulls and cats on a few selected rows giving it a nice and rocky feel to the guitar.
its a guitar that is rough around the edges, but in terms of build and sound this guitar is an absolute steal compared to what the price its sold at. In terms of sound, it has a nice wide range with solid dynamics.
A key part of this guitar is the neck, it’s actually one of the best necks on this list with a perfect action that allows you to take a guitar session straight out of the box.
Given the price in terms of you get you are looking at a great purchase. It’s a rare sight to see a guitar of this quality sold below 500$ which is why I highly recommend this anyone who likes the look of the Fender and seeks after a quality guitar.
5. Martin Road Series DRS1
- 6-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Sitka Spruce Top
- Fishman MX-T Electronics - Natural
- Sapele Back and Sides
Martin is known for its high-quality guitars, usually, you will never find a guitar in their store that costs less than 1000$.. until now. Martin has really outdone themself by making a guitar that sounds like a million bucks but maintaining a low price. It’s hard for me to explain the sound this beauty can produce, but it’s sincerely beautiful.
The sound has a deep and more powerful punch to it which makes it stand out in the crowd of its competitors. The DRS1 has a brown-toned body that goes well with the look and sound.
To put this guitar into perspective lets compare it to one of the top-self and most popular guitars out there, the Seagull S6. The Seagull is an outstanding guitar, but it’s not even close to the level of sound quality the Martin DRS1. I promise you if you strum a few chords on this one you will never go back.
Crafted of sapele back, sides and top which has similar dynamics as mahogany, just a tad better in my opinion. Overall a great guitar with a beautiful voice.
6. Takamine GN93CE-NAT
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If you are looking get a lot for your money then this guitar is a good option. Its an imported guitar manufactured in China and is quality checked by Takamine in Japan. By producing it in China they can remain the high quality they are known for while keeping the price low on the GN93CE-NAT.
It’s crafted with a solid spruce top and rosewood sides and a remarkable three-split back with rosewood/quilt and maple. The neck is 12″ radius that provides a good feel in terms of comfort and playability.
One of my favorite features with this guitar is the TK-400 preamp that includes a tuner. In addition to this, you have a three-band EQ, grain knob, mid contour switch, notch filter, and EQ bypass. Overall it’s a great guitar that gives you a lot of guitar for your dollars.
7. Martin LX1E
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Looking for a cheap, but yet a great guitar? Great, check this one out. The Martin LX1E is crafted with a solid Sitka spruce top and satin-finished mahogany back and sides providing an excellent warmth to the voice of the guitar.
The Martin LX1E is small in its size, but yet powerful. With the smaller body, it suits great for smaller body guitarists such as myself, a teenager or a petite lady. In addition to a small body its equipped with a slim neck that makes it comfortable to hold and easy to perform all kinds of chords.
I really like the portability and the charming sound of this small beast, highly recommend this to anyone looking for a new acoustic-electric guitar to add to their arsenal.
8. Epiphone Hummingbird PRO
- A Country / Rock Classic Plugs In
- Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Back and Sides
- SlimTaper "D" Profile Neck
This is a guitar I have featured many times on this website and that is for a very good reason. The Hummingbird comes at a very low cost yet the sound quality and the design are remarkable.
It has a dreadnought body shape that helps to make every range of the guitar range sound great, however, the lack of cutaway has its disadvantages in terms of sound output. Whatever range of sound you want to produce with the Hummingbird Pro you have the option to do so and the top-shelf Fishman pick up will help you to transfer the sound into the electronics.
The Hummingbird PRO is one of the best selling acoustic-electric guitars on amazon which is not surprising. With an eye-catching design that comes in a variety of colors and a top-shelf pickup that is hard to beat even at in higher price ranges.
9. Taylor 214ce
- "Shape: Grand Auditorium Number of Strings: 6 Back/Side...
- Number of Strings: 6
- Back/Side Wood: Layered Rosewood
Taylor 214 is made with Taylor’s customized auditorium body shape. This is a bit smaller than the traditional dreadnought style body we have covered throughout this list. With the smaller body, the 214ce produces less sound, but a brighter and playfull voice as well. In combination with the ES2 pickup that allows you to customize and display your music beautifully to your audience.
With Taylor’s customized body you get a very flexible guitar that still offers a good amount of punch and bass for its size. It’s a great guitar for those of you who are looking for a portable guitar that you can bring along on your adventures. With its solid, you build making it durable, but it’s still an acoustic guitar so you should threaten it like the lady it is.
In terms of quality and builds you still get the comfort and quality you may expect from other Taylor guitars. Overall it’s a great guitar that provides its money worth in terms of both portability, sound, design and durability.
10. Washburn WCG55CE Comfort
- Cutaway Grand Auditorium
- Koa Top
- Koa sides and back
If you are an active guitar player or performer having a comfortable guitar is key. Washburn seems to have paid close attention to this and managed to engineer a guitar that is of both high-quality and is comfortable to use.
It’s crafted with a full koa body that resonates well in the sound. A great neck made of mahogany that invites for a fun playing session and a carved-out armrest making the guitar so much more comfortable to use.
There is nothing bad to say about the electronics installed on the WCG55CE either. It features a Fishman Presys+ 501T system that includes a variety of features such as a 3-band EQ, mic blend and volume controls.
11. Yamaha APX600
- Thin-line cutaway Body design for exceptional playability
- 25" Scale Length and narrower string spacing for Enhanced...
- New scalloped bracing pattern for increased bass response
Yamaha APX600 is an upgraded version of the APX500 which one of the best selling electro-acoustic guitars of all time. With a few significant improvements, the APX600 is now one of my personal recommendations when someone comes up to me in the store and asks what acoustic-guitar they should buy.
It has a slim body that makes it comfortable to hold and play. Similar to its ancestors the apx600 has spruce and nato crafted body with a black finishing on top.
Still, with a smaller sized body, Yamaha has managed to keep the bass and punchiness which you can find in their larger models. The in-house produced pickup and preamp will allow you to display and customize the sound to your liking with a 3-band EQ and a mid-range frequency slider.
What makes the APX600 such an awesome guitar for those of you who are looking to perform is the pickup. The quality and features are great, but what makes it stand is that it’s powered on two AAA batteries. You now have the option to bring it along on your concerts without having to worry about a power outlet which is a luxurious thought in itself.
Overall its a great acoustic-electric guitar that comes at a low price point, is built with high-quality parts and electronics.
12. Kona K2
- Spruce Top with Natural High Gloss Finish and Mahogany back...
- 4-ply binding on the body and single-ply binding on the neck...
- 41" Long, 3" deep body, low-profile Dreadnought size,...
For those of you who prefer not to pay more than you need the Kona K2 is a great guitar to look into. It features a smaller body that allows travelers and smaller guitarists to take it in use with comfort. With the laminated spruce top and mahogany back and sides, you get a sound that is far more worth than the 100$ you have to pay to acquire it.
It has a nice design with great engineering that allows for both a great sound and a small body. With the guitar comes a pickup and preamp with a standard 3-band EQ and versatile controllers that help you to both adjust and increase the sound.
13. PRS SE A50E
- Solid Sitka Spruce top
- Figured Maple back & sides
- Fishman Gt1 electronics
With a solid Sitka spruce top and maple back and sides, you get a sophisticated looking guitar that feels far more expensive than what it costs. Throughout the years there have been a series of updates and tweaks to the PRS SE to make it the best instrument possible.
Featured with a beautiful fretboard with engraved with a rosette design. It has an upbeat tone that matches its design. Because of its past upgrades and tweaks, I find this to be the best SE guitar ever produced combined with an excellent Fishman pickup that will replicate its acoustics beautifully.
The controls on the pickup arent that versatile as many other guitars on this list since the pickup is installed within the soundhole. The benefit of this is that there is no reason to carve out a hole in the body thus making it look prettier and sound better.
What Are Electro-Acoustic Guitars?
Now that we have taken a look at the top choice on the current let’s take a look at the information part of the process of choosing a guitar.
So lets first what is an acoustic guitar. It’s actually very simple, it’s an acoustic guitar with electronics installed that allows you to turn up the output and adjust the sound to your liking with controls and pedals. There is a variety of use cases of the electro-acoustic guitar, some people need it because they play at big gigs or in a studio where having an acoustic-guitar is nearly a must.
As you have seen through this article the pickup on the guitars is different in terms of both quality and brands. Lately, great acoustic guitar brands such as Yamaha, Martin, and Takamine have started manufacturing their own pickups. This is great and all, but if you are looking to get a Yamaha guitar with a Fishman guitar or another specific guitar then your choices are limited. However, on the bottom of the page, I will show you a neat trick you can use to install a pickup yourself.
Now, do you need an Electro-acoustic guitar?
I can’t answer this for you, but you should consider if you should purchase an acoustic or electro-acoustic guitar. I would recommend an electro-acoustic guitar to those of you who are performing on concerts or bigger gigs where a speaker and amp is just a must. However, if you are still at the beginning stage of your guitar carrier and are looking to purchase your first guitar than an electro-guitar isn’t necessarily my preferred option.
The reason for this is that they are a bit more expensive compared to regular acoustics, but if you can afford an electro-acoustic guitar straight away then there is no harm in purchasing one. The sound of an acoustic and electro-acoustic guitar is identical when they are unplugged. By purchasing an electro-acoustic guitar you have the option to add your own pedals or amps if this is something you would like to start testing.
What To Look For When Purchasing A Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Now, let’s take a look at what you should look at when you are looking for a new acoustic-electric guitar. There is a variety of options, materials, sized and brands to choose from, so I totally understand if you have a dilemma or find it hard choosing one since you probably have a list of 4-5 favorites, now let me see if I can help you shorten that down to one or at least two.
The first thing you should decide is how much you want to spend on your new guitar, this will determine what quality you can get. If you are able to pick a budget range then the choice of picking a new guitar will become a bit easier.
If you are looking for your first guitar then I would recommend you to go with a cheap acoustic guitar, at least if you are not sure you will continue past the few weeks.
However, if you are an experienced player that is looking for an upgrade the budget will totally depend on your budget and desires.
After deciding your budget you can choose your preferred body style and materials. The body size of the guitar will have a significant impact on the sound of the guitar. Ideally, you would want to play at a big guitar, but comfort, tone, and portability are factors that play a part in the game as well.
If you have no clue what to choose then I would recommend you to go with a dreadnought style guitar, this is the size that is most common on the marketplace today due to its fine combination between great sound dynamics, comfortability, and portability.
The scenario where I would recommend anything different is if you were either a very large-sized or small guitarist. The option that will give a taller and larger guitarist the best comfort and ease of use is a jumbo guitar.
For smaller guitarists such as myself, there are travel guitars and smaller sized guitars that is even smaller than the dreadnought bodies. You are not alone in choosing a smaller guitar so there is plenty of options for you out there and more most smaller people the dreadnought will work as well.
The material on the guitar is crucial as well, it’s not only there to hold the string in action, but it has a great deal of impact on the sound as well. What Material you prefer is totally up to you, we all have different preferences when it comes to the sound of the guitar and the same goes for the material.
But if I were to choose one type of wood for my guitar it would be mahogany all the way! Mahogany simply looks great with a brown tone, and it makes the sound of the guitar sound warm and pleasant, nothing is better than that.
Before you purchase your first guitar I recommend you check out a few youtube videos to listen to each individual guitar and find the type you prefer. If you are an experienced guitarist I am sure you have your preferences.
The neck is another part of the guitar you should not forget, a faulty or badly manufactured neck can have a negative on the sound and can cause bussing in worst-case scenarios. To avoid buying a neck with a badly manufactured neck you should read reviews such as this one or read on forums to listen to what other customers have encountered with the product.
Another aspect of the neck is the thickness. Which thickness you should have on the neck of your guitar depends on your liking and hand size as well. Usually, guitarists with smaller hands prefer thinner necks as well since this makes it easier and more comfortable to switch and hold chords.
How To Install your own electronics
As I mentioned earlier there is a variety of big brands that produce their own pickups, and if you have your own preference it can be difficult to find a guitar that is great to use and has your favorite pickup pre-installed which is why you should take a look at this guide on youtube.
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I do warn you tho, to install new electronics or upgrade your pre-installed pickup you will most likely need to saw a part of the side panel on the guitar which is not a job for the fainthearted.
I understand that choosing an electric-acoustic guitar can be a difficult choice because of all of the different brands and models. But I hope you at least found this article helpful and possible got you one step closer into picking your next electric-acoustic guitar.
I am not a professional or the best guitarist there is with all the information, so if you think there is a guitar or a brand you think I have left out, then feel free to send me a comment down below and I will be sure to add it in if I agree to your arguments.
Do acoustic electric guitars sound different?
Acoustic-electric guitars do not sound different in comparison to an acoustic guitar when it’s unplugged, but with the pickup and amp turned on the sound will be slightly different and more electronic in most cases.
What is the best acoustic-electric guitar for beginners?
The best acoustic-electric guitar for beginners is the Yamaha APX600. It has a great tone, built of high-quality materials and is sold at a low price making it a solid pick for anyone looking to start playing the guitar.
What is the best sounding acoustic electric guitar?
The best sounding acoustic electric guitar is the Takamine EF341SC. Takamine EF341SC sounds remarkable in comparison to its competitors in the same price range. It’s nearly impossible to “the best sounding guitar” since all guitarists have different preferences.