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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best acoustic electric guitars

Last Updated April 2019

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?

All the above questions and more need to be answered before you find the ideal acoustic electric guitar for your performance needs. To gather more information so you can make a wise purchase, keep reading. If you already know what you want, consider the acoustic electric guitars we recommend.

The guitar is a popular instrument with musicians in modern society. In fact, the only instrument more popular than the guitar is the piano.

What is an acoustic electric guitar?

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.

EXPERT TIP

If you have an acoustic guitar that you love, it is possible to add pickups to create a custom-made acoustic electric guitar. Unfortunately, if you have an electric guitar that you love, you would not be able to turn it into an acoustic instrument.


Staff  | BestReviews

Ten things to consider before buying an acoustic electric guitar

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.

Size

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.

Blender system

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.

Cutaway

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.

12 strings

Some acoustic electric guitars feature twice the number of strings as a typical guitar. This provides a richer, fuller sound.

String options

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.

Volume control

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.

Tone controls

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.

Built-in tuner

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.

Design

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

The action on a guitar is how high the strings are above the fretboard. An acoustic electric has a slightly higher action than an electric guitar, which could make it a little more difficult for some musicians to play.

DID YOU KNOW?

An acoustic electric guitar that features an action that is too low (the strings are too close to the fretboard) can be identified by buzzing sounds. The buzzing happens because the strings are vibrating against the frets.

Acoustic electric guitar prices

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.

Ten accessories to consider

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.

  • Effects pedals: These units drastically change and enhance the sound of your electric guitar.

Other products we considered

Acoustic electric guitars come in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Finding the one that feels right in your hands and sounds good in your ears requires a bit of research. To give you a few more options, we've added three more acoustic electric guitars to our list of favorites. The first from Yamaha. The FSX800C is a small-body guitar with a cutaway top featuring a rosewood fingerboard and bridge and a built-in chromatic tuner. Epiphone's highly rated Hummingbird Pro has a spruce top with mahogany back and sides, along with a rosewood fingerboard that has pearled parallelogram inlays. Lastly, Travel Guitar offers a detachable lap rest that makes it easy to transport and take on planes. Although the company calls it an acoustic electric, it is more for the sound than the physics — this guitar won't resonate sufficiently without being plugged in. However, it does feature both piezo and electric pickups to offer that acoustic electric sound when plugged in.

The key to finding the best guitar for you is comfort. If the guitar is too wide, too large, too small, or uncomfortable in any way, it will be an obstacle that prevents you from performing your best.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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