Everyone has their preferred instrument, but few could argue the versatility of the acoustic-electric guitar.
While we may not be able to get the most credible distortion out of it, you can overdrive it (we all remember Kurt Cobain’s tone on “The Man Who Sold the World” on that MTV Unplugged concert).
To prove our point we’ll look at some top-notch acoustic electrics in the following paragraphs so you can get a better idea of what works best for you. If you’re looking for your next (or first) acoustic electric guitar, the chances are good that you’ll find The One on the list below.
Are Acoustic Electric Guitars Any Good?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an instrument that anyone could declare good or bad across the board, irrespective of brand, make, construction, and the like. So some acoustic electric guitars are fine pieces of equipment, but there’s some junk out there, too.
As for the sound, even the most basic acoustic electric guitar has pickups of high enough quality to give you a faithful reproduction of sound when you plug it into a PA or other sound system. Unless your only accompaniment is a cajon player, you might need an amp.
If we’re playing shows in rooms any larger than a coffee house, and don’t want to deal with microphones, cables, and mic stands when it comes to amplifying it, we certainly have to look for an acoustic-electric guitar.
Our Shortlist for Best Acoustic Electric Guitars
There are many guitars out there, so we’ve tried to put together a solid, wide-ranging list of some of the better acoustic electric guitars on the market.
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for 2021: Ibanez AEWC400 Acoustic Electric Guitar
There’s no doubt that this guitar is beautiful. It sports flamed maple construction with a rosewood neck, but those things do more than looking nice.
This guitar’s tone is excellent, and the Fishman pickups Ibanez has installed make for stunningly accurate reproduction of sound between your strings and the PA system.
In addition to a cutaway for easier access to higher notes, that same cutaway has an ergonomic concavity on the back of the guitar that makes it all the more comfortable to reach for those notes above the 15th fret.
- Pre-amp with three pots for adjusting treble, mids, and bass
- Very pretty to look at
- Plays like a dream
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $500: Yamaha FSX800C Small Acoustic Electric Guitar
Before you discount this one by saying, “Small body? No, thanks,” keep in mind that we do not judge things by their size.
Yamaha has always made a solid, dependable guitar (the same goes for their pianos, by the way), and this is no exception.
The smaller body has advantages, whether it’s the portability that appeals to you or the reduced need for storage space.
But we choose guitars mainly for the sound they produce. Its Sitka spruce top helps with resonance and a nice tone, and the guitar’s walnut fretboard is soft and comfortable to play.
- Extremely comfortable to play
- Lovely sound
- A quality, affordable instrument
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for Recording: Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitar
This mahogany-top guitar looks, with its warm wood tones, as, well, warm as it sounds. It’s hard to go wrong choosing a Fender guitar, and this dreadnought is no exception.
Its playability is smooth as glass, and once you’ve had the action setup to your liking, it only gets better.
Fishman electronics include a built-in tuner, but disregarding the tuner for a second, we can unequivocally state that plugging in Fishman electronics in a studio setting is a recipe for success. But the built-in tuner isn’t all that comes with this exquisite instrument.
The bundle contains a case, strap, additional strings, and a polishing cloth, among other items. There’s no guitar stool, but not everyone sits when they play.
- High-end electronics perform well in-studio
- Mahogany construction
- The bundle provides great value
Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $300: Fender CD-60SCE Left-Handed Acoustic Electric Guitar
We don’t have to search out a left-handed guitar to find one under $300. But since ten percent of the world’s population is left-handed, representation seems appropriate. Thus Fender gives us this dreadnought.
This gets its own category because the link above leads to a deal for the guitar only.
If you’re not a beginner, the chances are good that you already have the accessories that come in the bundle, and again, we wanted to make sure lefties know they have options.
Cost is often a factor when looking for that first instrument for the guitarist in your life, and this is a good place to start.
- Extra challenge (12-string)
- Extra beauty (12-string)
- Inclusive guitar for lefties
Best Budget Acoustic Electric Guitar: Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought Cutaway
Bundles give us great value when we purchase a new guitar (especially when we’re purchasing for beginners), and this Fender acoustic electric bundle covers the bases there. But it also comes with a surprisingly lovely guitar for the price point.
When we think of budget guitars, we often conjure images of beat-up axes with many miles on them or poorly-built garbage. So it’s nice to find a quality instrument that sounds nice, plays well, and falls into the “budget” category.
Available in three finishes (natural, black, and sunburst), Fender’s FA-125CE uses a Viking bridge with Fishman electronics.
- Great budget-quality ratio
- Three finishes
- Fender guitar with Fishman innards is a hard combo to beat
Best Acoustic Guitar for Beginners: Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle
Don’t be swayed away from this instrument by the “Squier” tag. In decades past, Squier was almost code for “poorer quality,” but that’s not the case in the 21st century.
This one isn’t an acoustic electric, but most beginners won’t miss the electronics, as they probably don’t want to plug into an amp so people can hear their scales better.
The bundle includes a gig bag, strap, tuner, extra strings, a string winder, and an instructional DVD.
- Perfect for a gift
- No electronics built-in, but may not be needed until it’s time to play a gig somewhere
- Bundled materials give you all you need to start with
Which Guitar is Best— Electric or Acoustic?
This is akin to asking which is better— playing football or taking ballet?
That sort of venue calls for acoustic sounds, so the acoustic electric will serve you better.
Finding the right instrument is an art form, and it’s not a simple process, but nobody forgets that feeling they get when they find The One. Head to your local guitar shop and find yourself one of these babies. You won’t be sorry.