Dreadnought cutaway body allows easier access to higher frets. Quality mahogany finish with black and white binding. Durable chrome tuning knobs and attractive "mother of pearl" style acrylic around the soundhole. Package comes with case, tuner, strings, instructional DVD, and guitar picks.
Neck width is narrower than some players may prefer.
This full-sized guitar is ideal for all level of players. Thinline body is compact and has a cutaway to provide a comfortable stance for playing. Punches above its weight class in terms of quality, sound, look, and feel. High gloss finish will stand up to time. Comes with gig bag, steel strings, and guitar picks.
Thin body cuts down on acoustic volume somewhat.
A quality instrument from a legendary manufacturer. Pickup system sounds crisp. Cutaway design permits easier access to higher frets. Viking bridge and pickguard are visually striking. Includes gig bag, strings, picks, a strap, and an instructional DVD.
Laminate top diminishes resonance.
Thin body and gloss finish present a classy look. Cutaway design gives players easy access to the guitar's full range. Features three-band QA and die-cast chrome tuners. Available in six colors. Includes gig bag and other accessories.
Tone lacks bottom end compared to full-sized guitars. Some reports of fret buzz.
Flame top with basswood back and sides. Catalpa neck and bridge. Great starter guitar with everything one needs for acoustic steel or amplified guitar playing. Comes with amplifier, set of strings, pick, digital clip-on tuner, and gig bag.
Battery that ships with the guitar doesn't last long.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
There are two types of guitars: acoustic and electric. Each has a distinctive sound. However, for the individual who likes to have it all, there is a hybrid: the acoustic electric guitar. This guitar features all the warmth and fullness of an acoustic guitar powered by the unstoppable force of an electric guitar.
Finding the right acoustic electric guitar can be tricky because you are trying to balance the best of two sets of features from two different musical worlds. Do you want it to play more like an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? Do you want a microphone or pickups? Do you need a cutaway for soloing?
To understand what defines an acoustic electric guitar, let’s first consider the properties of acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
An acoustic guitar has a hollow or semi-hollow body. You need this feature because a guitar with a solid body would not be loud enough to be played without amplification.
An electric guitar has a solid body. It needs a microphone and/or pickups to be heard. A microphone picks up the actual sound, giving you a fuller, more resonant signal. Magnetic pickups register the strings movements through a magnetic field and turn them into a signal. Piezo pickups register actual vibrations and can pick up both string vibrations and taps on the body of your guitar — and it can transmit them to an amplifier.
An acoustic electric guitar is a hollow or semi-hollow guitar that also has a microphone and/or pickups. It can be played with or without amplification.
The following list will give you an idea of the many options you have when shopping for an acoustic electric guitar. Before making your final selection, note the features that are most desirable to your needs, and look for a guitar that includes them.
A guitar is like a pair of pants: it has to fit you right to be of use. What size guitar are you able to handle? What size guitar do you want to handle? A player who does more fingerpicking will likely want a smaller body than a player who mostly strums. If you have larger hands, you will be better accommodated by a guitar with a wider neck. Consider size before all else.
Pickups or microphone
The type of sound you want and the type of environment in which you will play should influence your choice here. If you want more of a classic electric guitar sound, pickups are the better option. If you want the fat, full-bodied sound that only an acoustic guitar can deliver, a microphone in the soundhole of an acoustic electric might be the best option for you. Note that if you will be playing onstage with a lot of amps at high volume, a microphone may cause feedback problems, so you might need to compromise a little.
A blender system on an acoustic electric guitar has both pickups and a microphone. The system has a mechanism that lets you control how much of each you get in any particular situation.
A guitar body with a cutaway gives the player easier access to the higher frets. If you do a lot of playing in the higher fret region (soloing), this is an important option.
Some acoustic electric guitars feature twice the number of strings as a typical guitar. This provides a richer, fuller sound.
If you do a lot of classical playing or prefer the mellow sound of nylon strings, you will need an acoustic electric guitar that can accommodate nylon strings. Remember, magnetic pickups won't work with nylon strings.
The volume control of your acoustic electric guitar will most likely be located on the side near the top of the body, so you can easily reach it with your strumming hand. However, a few models still place the volume knob on the front of the guitar, like a solid-body electric guitar would have.
Most, but not all, acoustic electric guitars have built-in tone controls. These allow you to shape the color of your sound by making it brighter or darker.
Although external tuners are affordable, there is no downside to having a built-in tuner on an acoustic electric guitar. The ability to check or adjust your tuning whether you are playing acoustically or through an amp is essential. Once you have a guitar with a built-in tuner, you will wonder why you waited so long to purchase one with this option.
The look of your acoustic electric guitar tells your audience a great deal about the type of player you are. It is important to find a guitar that expresses your personality. However, do not choose flair over functionality. Always pick the guitar that is best for your playing style first; looks are secondary.
Acoustic electric guitars start around $100. At this price, you see many entry-level bundles that include essential accessories. The idea at this range is to get you everything you need to begin playing on a tight budget. As you move into the $200 to $300 price range, the focus falls more on the instrument. You find fewer bundles and more name-brand guitars with a higher level of craftsmanship. Moving beyond the $300 price range, you will find acoustic electric guitars for individuals who are serious about music. These guitars are durable, finely tuned instruments that, with proper care, should hold up well for a lifetime of playing.
To get the most out of your new instrument, there are a number of accessories you should consider.
Case: Not just for travel, a case protects your guitar when it's not in use.
Strap: If you stand to play, you will need a strap.
Stand: When you are temporarily not playing your guitar, you will need a safe place to set it down.
Tuner: A guitar only works if it is properly tuned.
Backup strings: Always have a few sets on hand – strings do break.
Picks: You can never have enough of your favorite picks. These items are easily lost and frequently misplaced.
Capo: This item clamps onto the neck of your guitar to allow you to play in different keys.
Cable: When you want to turn your acoustic into an electric, you'll need to plug it in with a cable.
Amp: You will need an amplifier if you want to hear your acoustic electric played as an electric.
Q. What is the difference between a pickup and a microphone?
A. On an acoustic electric guitar, pickups are found under the strings or under the saddle, and they pick up vibrations. A microphone is found inside the sound hole of an acoustic electric guitar, and it picks up the actual sound waves that are created when playing. Using a microphone could be tricky in a live situation because it may cause unwanted feedback.
Q. What is feedback?
A. Feedback is a loop of sound that goes round and round until it creates that shrill sound that makes audience members cringe. In an acoustic electric guitar, the microphone picks up the sound of the guitar and sends it out the speakers. If the microphone picks up the sound that is coming out of the speakers as well, then you've got a loop of sound that begins chasing itself round and round until you get that squeal.
Q. How do you stop feedback?
A. Keeping the volume down and being careful where you aim the sound hole of your guitar can help, but it's a precarious situation to be in while performing. Using pickups instead of the microphone will stop feedback. Alternatively, purchasing a sound hole cover would help, too, but it will impact the sound of your guitar when you use it acoustically.