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Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar for Experts and Learners 

 May 27, 2021

By  Zen Chung

A great acoustic, especially one with an onboard preamp, is an incredibly powerful tool for any performer or songwriter. With the best acoustic-electric guitar, you can perform unplugged and amplified. One can use this instrument with a wide range of music genres.

It is one of the important pieces of equipment that every serious guitarist should have. With the wide range of options available for acoustic-electric guitars, you're spoiled for choice. However, this can also make it challenging to find one for you.

To help you find the right one for you, we have a guide of the best acoustic-electric guitars in the market, their pros, and cons, as well as the factors you need to consider before buying the best acoustic-electric guitar.

5 Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars

1. Yamaha FGX820C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Yamaha FGX820C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural
  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
  • Diecast Tuners
  • System 66 feature an under-saddle piezo pickup with a 3-band EQ, an adjustable...

If you're hoping not to spend too much but also get the best electric acoustic guitar, then Yamaha FGX820C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar is a great choice. It features a solid top and a cutaway dreadnought body that offers a wide range of features.

It features a mahogany back and sides, a rosewood fingerboard with a matching bridge, and a solid spruce top that makes it very attractive and easy to use. On the inside of the guitar, the bracing is scalloped to improve the tonal performance.

You also get a System 66 preamp system that features a built-in timer and a 3-band EQ. With the quality of the guitar you get, it is definitely a great value for money. Moreover, the guitar comes in a wide range of colors to allow you to choose one that matches your taste.

Pros

  • Great build quality.
  • Nice touches, for example, the scalloped x-bracing.
  • Great value for money.
  • Built-in tuner.
  • EQ controls.
  • Mid Boost/Cut.

Cons

  • It may feel too bulky for smaller users.


2. Martin LX1E Little Martin Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Sitka Spruce Top

Little Martin LX1E Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Gig Bag, Sitka Spruce Top,...
  • PROFESSIONAL SOUND: Martin’s Little Martin LX1E acoustic-electric guitar has a...
  • SUPERIOR APPEARANCE: The Little Martin LX1R acoustic-electric guitars are made...
  • PREMIUM HANDMADE GUITARS: Handmade from the highest-quality wood, Little Martin...
  • PLAYABILITY ENHANCED: In addition to Martin's iconic tone known worldwide, our...
  • LITTLE MARTIN GUITARS: Martin's superior guitar and string products remain the...

The Little Martin acoustic guitar is great proof that size won't always matter when it comes to the efficiency of an acoustic-electric guitar. It gives a wonderful tone due to the quality materials it has been made from. The materials include the combination of a mahogany high-pressure laminate on the back and sides, a solid Sitka spruce top, and a satin finish.

These high-quality materials enable the guitar to produce a smooth sound. Its size is small and portable, making it easy to carry around, but it doesn't affect the volume that you get from it. If you have small hands, then you may greatly benefit from this amazing acoustic guitar.

Despite its compact size and price, the Martin acoustic-electric guitar will still produce an exceptional tone. The onboard Fishman electronics allow it to be hooked on an amp, while the mahogany body means it can withstand several years of use and travel.

Pros

  • Versatile and portable.
  • Made of quality materials that are durable.
  • Produces a warm and powerful tone.
  • A great option for small hands.
  • Affordable.
  • Beautiful appearance.

Cons

  • It might be too small for large hands.


3. Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium Cutaway Acoustic

Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar...
  • "Shape: Grand Auditorium Number of Strings: 6 Back/Side Wood: Layered Rosewood...
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Back/Side Wood: Layered Rosewood
  • "Scale length: 25-1/2"""
  • Top Wood: Sitka Spruce

The Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium Cutaway Acoustic offers great power when it is not amplified and great clarity when plugged into an amp. It is a bit smaller, but this makes it easier to maneuver and easier to transport.

This acoustic guitar features "Expression" electronics that provide you with several customization options in terms of tone. It produces crisp and well-defined sounds and features an excellent build quality that is quite durable. Although this guitar is not cheap, it is definitely worth paying for it because it is a guitar that is built to last.

It features a solid Sitka spruce top and layered rosewood at the back and sides to form its Grand Auditorium profile. However, its body shape is based on a classic dreadnought, however, with a sleek Venetian cutaway and a narrower waist. This gives the guitar an amazing overall appearance and results.

Pros

  • Gives a bright tone.
  • Good quality fretboard.
  • Robust design.
  • The body and neck offer great playability.
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • It can be too bulky for younger players.


4. Paul Reed Smith Guitars A15AL SE Angelus Alex Lifeson Model Acoustic Guitar

Paul Reed Smith Guitars A15AL SE Angelus Alex Lifeson Model Acoustic...
  • 15 1/2" Cutaway, PRS SE Tuners
  • PRS X-Brace/Classical Hybrid Design, 25.35" Scale Length
  • Under saddle Volume and Tone with Volume and Tone Controls Accessible Via Sound...
  • Rosewood Fretboard with "Birds in Flight" Inlay
  • Includes Hard case

The Paul Reed Smith Guitars A15AL SE Angelus is another one of the best acoustic-electric guitars that shows a balance of the specifications and price compared to other Alex Lifeson's signature model. It is a mid-range guitar with a thinner body style but with Paul Reed Smith’s traditional acoustic hybrid shape.

It features high-quality hardware and electronics, and it is also quite beautiful. This model also includes an iconic diving bird inlay that Paul Reed Smith models are known for. It produces an amazing sound with great crispness.

It has a slimmer body which means it won't be loud enough when it has not been plugged into an amp. However, if you're planning to buy it to be amplified, then that shouldn't be an issue. It boasts top-notch playability and stylish design with good sounds and feels great in ensemble and rock contexts.

Pros

  • Attractive price.
  • Beautiful design.
  • Perfect set up.
  • Durable build.
  • Easy to play.
  • Good sound quality.

Cons

  • The treble and bass are not the best.


5. Takamine GN93CE-NAT Nex Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Sale
Takamine GN93CE-NAT Nex Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural
  • Solid spruce top, rosewood sides and a beautiful three-piece rosewood/quilt...
  • Slim mahogany neck and 12"-radius bound rosewood fingerboard provide great feel...
  • Takamine TK-40D preamp system gives you a built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain...
  • Elegant Natural gloss finish

While Takamine is a reliable manufacturer of quality instruments with the great build quality, the Takamine GN93CE-NAT Nex Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar is no different. It is a mid-range electric acoustic that has some lovely touches, like the rosewood fretboard.

It features Takamine’s NEX cutaway guitar body and a slimline, mahogany neck with a radius of 12 inches. This model is comfortable to play with, even the high frets. The instrument features its own preamp system that includes a mid-contour switch, EQ bypass, built-in tuner, three-band EQ, a notch filter, and gain controls.

The rosewood fretboard is very stunning, and it perfectly matches with the mahogany neck. As one of the best acoustic-electric guitars, this guitar also has an elegant natural gloss finish, and it is also a well-balanced guitar.

Pros

  • Beautiful.
  • Easy to play.
  • Versatile.
  • Affordable.
  • Great sound quality.
  • Well balanced guitar.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • The strings are quite heavy.


Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar

1. Body Style and Size

When it comes to the style and the shape of the guitar's body, there is a lot of things to consider. Ideally, the larger the body, the more resonant and giving a deeper and richer tone. However, instruments with larger bodies may be less ergonomic and more cumbersome.

Many people consider the best acoustic-electric guitar to have a slimline body where the body isn't that deep, even if it has a full-sized dreadnought shape. There are smaller designs you can choose from; however, with premium guitars, you might not be able to tell the differences with small changes in size.

The cutaway is another important thing to consider when it comes to style. A cutaway will make it simpler to access higher frets only because you will be able to place your hand directly below them. However, a disadvantage of this cutaway is that it may reduce the resonance because of the less body beside the neck. Most guitarists are willing to forego this disadvantage so that they can be able to play the higher frets easily.

2. Material

When it comes to the material, the premium guitars are likely to have all the wood to be solid to help get a quality tone. Most electric acoustic guitars boast a solid top that is easy to identify because it is one of the biggest selling features. It will always be mentioned in the description.

A lot of guitarists also find the type of wood used to be very important. While most solid tops are made of spruce, mahogany is also a great quality material. Here are some common wood types used in the best acoustic-electric guitars;

  • Spruce- Gives excellent resonance, and it is responsive to high velocity.
  • Mahogany/ Kao- They emphasize the low-end or mid-range side of the spectrum and give a great punchy tone for blues and country players.
  • Cedar- Produces a brighter and trebly tone due to its quick response and is preferred by players who like fingerstyle.
  • Rosewood- Gives strong mid and high tones, and because of its sharp resonance and strong attack, it is used in fretboards and bridges.
  • Maple- It has internal damping and a low response rate, and this is why it is used in the back and sides of acoustic-electric guitars.

3. Electrics

In any electro-acoustic, the electrics are an important feature you should consider, although not crucial as with an electric guitar. You need to ensure that you get a quality pickup and preamp.

A preamp will often come with an EQ adjustment to slightly alter the tone, and some will come with several effects you can use. A common addition is a built-in tuner which means that you won't need a separate tuning box.

Some brands will manufacture the electronics on more budget to mid-range products, while other bigger brands will use the manufactured in-house components. High-end guitars will most likely have specialist or boutique equipment, which is better.

4. Neck

In terms of the playability of a guitar, the neck is an important part. They come in different body shapes, nut width, and depth. The one you select is entirely based on a personal preference.

For guitarists who are to playing the fast necked electric guitars, you may want to consider getting acoustic guitars with a shallow neck profile. If you have smaller hands, choosing a smaller neck will make it easier to play the guitar.

The finishing and fit of the next is also an important consideration because it may affect the quality of sound produced. Frets that are poorly finished might start buzzing or add unwanted sounds. Also, if the gap between the strings and the fretboard is too low, buzzing might occur. Similarly, if the gap is too high, then the guitar might be harder to play.

5. Types of Acoustic Pickup System

It is important to note that there are different types of acoustic guitar pickups. The three main types include;

a). Piezo

This involves the use of piezoelectric crystals, which convert the vibration to an electric current. They are cheaper to produce, and this is why they are found in most acoustic-electric guitars. Piezo pickup system produces a bright tone and a strong mid-range response, and they have preamps that help them sound better.

b). Magnetic

The magnetic pickups are used on both electric guitars and acoustic guitars. They sit in the soundhole of the guitar, which means they won't require any permanent modification. They have a more metallic sound than the other types, although they give a better approximation for an acoustic tone in high-end models.

c). Transducer

The transducer pickups are considered the best because they give a very rich and complex tone but still retain the guitar's voice. However, they may produce more feedback than the other types.

6. Price Range

Different acoustic-electric guitars have different prices depending on the brand, quality, features, among many other factors. The best acoustic-electric guitar is one that is within your budget. Luckily, you can always find one that is within your reasonable budget.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Acoustic-Electric Guitars

1. Are acoustic-electric guitars any good?

Acoustic-electric guitars are definitely worth it, especially for live performances. This is because they are easier to learn, easier to play, and also easier to sound good. In simple terms, you get an easy-to-use and awesome experience using this guitar. However, an acoustic-electric guitar may not be necessary if you plan only to film yourself playing in your room or if you won't ever need to play the guitar outside.

2. Do Electric-Acoustic Guitars need an Amp?

No. An amplifier is not required for the acoustic-electric guitar to work. One can use these guitars easily without one; however, you may lack control over the effects, and it will be at a low volume. Some electro-acoustics have slimmer bodies or other modifications which might reduce the volume control or tonal quality when they haven't been plugged in.

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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