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The acoustic-electric guitar is one of the most popular string instruments anyone can buy. Unlike the typical acoustic guitar, it contains a high-quality pickup and preamp. The purpose of the preamp and pickup is to make the music you are playing louder for everyone to hear. Whether you are playing in a small setting or on top of the stage, the acoustic-electric guitar is hard to ignore. The best part is that even if you are on a budget, you can still get the best acoustic-electric guitar under $500.
However, the number of guitars available in the market can be mind-boggling. To find gems in a sea of possibilities, you have to be mindful of certain features. The quality of an acoustic-electric guitar can be determined by the type of material used on the neck and body. You can also look at the number of strings available to determine the smoothness of the sound. Features such as hand orientation, intonation, and overall finish will factor in the selection.
In your musical journey, you need not fret nor sweat. We have consulted with the experts to find the best the market has to offer. Below stands a comparison table of products you will find in this review. The detailed reviews indicate what the acoustic-electric guitars offer while the buying guide is there to offer more detailed information. Once you finish reading this guide, settling for a best acoustic-electric guitar will seem like child’s play.
More features: bronze strings with improved corrosion resistance
The Yamaha FG800 is a six-stringed, right-handed acoustic-electric guitar. It comes with a solid top made of Sitka spruce to produce a good tone and provide durability. The naturally colored acoustic-electric guitar can be purchased in a dreadnought or a concert size. The concert size is smaller compared to the larger dreadnought size. Which one to choose depends on your overall size and comfort level.
The back and the sides are comprised of Nato. Nato also popularly known as eastern mahogany is durable and provides a warm resonance. The fingerboard and bridge are constructed from rosewood which is known for its rich overtones and adequate sound projection. The new scalloped bracing implemented provides support and gives the natural sound a great platform to be heard.
As for the strings mounted on this model, they are made of bronze. The bronze has undergone treatments to facilitate corrosion resistance. With corrosion resistance, you can be sure that the tone will remain bright and not fade out quickly.
This acoustic-electric guitar weighs 7.05 pounds. It features 20 frets and comes with an adjustable truss rod. It also has a cutaway so that you may be able to reach the frets with ease. The acoustic-electric guitar features an additional piezo pickup accompanied by a three-band equalizer, a precision chromatic tuner and adjustable midrange frequency control. All these are to facilitate the transition to a smooth sound.
Why are we impressed?
Offers crisp sound whether it is plugged or unplugged
It is light thus providing comfort
Features a cutaway to give easier access to the frets
Well styled and comes in different sizes
Saddled with an equalizer, piezo pickup, chromatic tuner and adjustable mid-range frequency controller
Smooth finish accompanied by quality strings
What negatives must you be aware of?
Accessories and a carry case are not provided
May require a little tweaking to make the sound perfect
More features: high-gloss dark blueburst finish, soft gig bag included
The Jameson Guitars Full Size Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar presents to you a high gloss blue-colored blueburst finish. It looks pleasant to the eye and it just so happens to be comfortable to play. The body comprises of a Nato body with a spruce top. Nato makes a good supplement for normal mahogany. It is strong enough to withstand constant use. The neck is made of maple which is equally as strong.
As for the length of the acoustic-electric guitar, we are looking at 41 inches. The acoustic guitar features three-inch body thickness and a cutaway for your comfort. This strong construct will see to it that the guitar lasts many years. The 6 string right-handed acoustic guitar is simple but worth it. You can be assured that the steel strings won’t snap mid-note.
It comes fitted with die-cast tuners and a quality built-in equalizer. The acoustic guitar possesses a built-in pickup that makes connecting to an amp a fairly easy process. To make matters better, the acoustic guitar also features an amp cable, ¼-inch jack, and volume/tone controls. Rocking out with the band does not seem like a bad idea. Once you are done, put the guitar back into the gig bag and call it a day. Don’t forget to store the guitar picks well, they came free after all.
Why is it special?
Light and comfortable to play
The body is thick and durable
Features an electronic pickup accompanied by volume and tone control
Comes with extra accessories – a gig bag and picks
More features: passive piezo pickup with volume control
The Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic-Electric Guitar Player Package is great for the stage or just playing at home. This model is created from laminated wood with a mahogany neck. The fretboard gives a platform to move between the frets with ease. The fretboard material in play is rosewood. They say that acoustic-electric guitars do not sound as good but this model begs to differ. The neck is not too wide, and the frets are set near each other. For people with short hands, this model would provide a strain-free experience.
Right-handed and weighing 28 pounds, this is not a small instrument. It bears D’Addario steel strings that can produce good sound. The strings provided a range in thickness including 12, 16, 25, 34, 41, and 53 ratings. The acoustic-electric guitar features chrome hardware and a reliable piezo pickup to control various aspects of your sound.
To complete the experience, the manufacturer provided accessories to use. First, there is the 10W solid-state amplifier which is very neat when you need to connect a few inputs. This amp gives you control over treble, bass, gain and boost switch among others. Then there are the other accessories such as an instructional DVD, guitar picks, strings, a strap, some cord, a tuner and a gig bag for transportation.
The Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar comes with handy accessories to use with your acoustic-electric guitar. But first, let us look at what features are present in this model. The body of the instrument is comprised of mahogany. Mahogany is known to provide emphasis on high-end tones and it provides durability.
This is a right-handed six-string guitar. The strings used are made of steel, and thus you are assured of their strength. The solid spruce soundboard is fitted with an x-brace. The scalloped brace provides adequate support while playing.
For people who have small hands, fear not. This acoustic-electric guitar features an accessible neck that possesses fingerboard edges. This makes reaching the frets a simple process. The cutaway also makes easy access possible.
The guitar as promised comes with various accessories. These accessories include an instructional DVD, guitar strings, picks, string winders, a strap, digital clip-on tuner, and a polishing cloth. You can maintain your instrument with no looming expenses. It even comes with its carry case which is convenient. The Fishman Isys III System electronics will not disappoint you; the sound quality is something to look forward to.
Why are we impressed?
Features good electronics for good sound quality
Comes with its carry case
Has convenient accessories for daily use and maintenance
More features: built-in preamp, 3 band EQ, many accessories included
The Donner DAG-1E Electric Acoustic Guitar Package is another six-stringed instrument on offer. The body is made of laminate wood with a spruce top while the neck is comprised of African mahogany. The neck shape and dots inlay only serve to increase the quality of sound produced. The acoustic guitar produces a clear vibrant sound and is strong as well.
This 41-inch dreadnought model can adapt to various musical genres. With the built-in preamp, magnifying your sound will be easy. Together with that are a three-band equalizer and a die-cast tuner. These features are important when tweaking your acoustic-electric guitar to find the right sound. The equalizer needs one 9V lithium-ion battery to operate optimally.
The strings featured here are bronze. These are known to produce a bright, almost quirky sound. There are 20 frets available in this model.
Accessories are the cherry on top. This model is delivered together with guitar strings, capos, a polishing cloth, a gig bag, a strap and some picks for use. You also get a 30-day unconditional money back guarantee. If the product does not suit your needs, customer care will handle your issue.
More features: adjustable truss rod, 4-band equalizer, built-in volume control
The Best Choice Products Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar looks sleek and is quite merciful on your pocket. The right-handed acoustic guitar will make beautiful music regardless of its size. If you are left-handed, you are in luck. You can get a left-handed version. It only weighs 6.06 pounds which is light enough to dance around with. From beginners to seasoned players, this lightweight marvel makes good company.
Save time and concentrate your energy on producing good music. This acoustic-electric guitar needs no assembly. You need to tweak it to your liking. The black mahogany body looks good as you move like a master through the 22 fret rosewood fingerboard. The cutaway is present to offer some assistance as you move across the fretboard. Considering that it is a short scale bass, the bass emanating from it is quite the kick.
The acoustic-electric guitar comes with a few other surprises. It features inbuilt volume control and a 4-band equalizer. Using these features together with the die-cast chrome tuners will assist you to find your unique sound. It also comes with an adjustable truss rod to keep the tension of the strings perfect.
We don’t always get what we want. Sometimes you need to sacrifice one thing for the other. Unfortunately, this model does not come with any accessories. You will have to be industrious and source for alternative accessories.
What makes it stand out?
Looks sleek and stylish
Price is pocket-friendly
Plays well when both plugged and unplugged
Made from durable materials
Produces a lovely bass
Needs no assembly
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Tone needs tweaking around the 12th fret
You need to purchase the accessories you need independently
More features: soft gig bag included, FSC Certified Richlite Fingerboard
The Martin LX1E Acoustic Guitar is quite an impressive instrument. The six-string instrument is right-handed. If you are left-handed, then you need to find innovative ways to play the instrument. Methods such as reversing the strings are popular.
Speaking of this specific model, the construction materials are of good quality. The solid top body is fashioned of a Sitka spruce top with mahogany sides and back. The neck material is also made of mahogany. Both spruce and mahogany have durable characteristics and enhance a certain range of notes. As for the fingerboard, we are looking at a RichLite fingerboard escorted by an FSC certification.
Being an acoustic-electric model, it requires electronics. This model boasts of Fishman Sonitone Electronics. It features chrome tuners and an effective pickup. Things such as the pre-amp, volume and tone control are already present. This unit is delivered with a soft gig bag for mobility and storage. You can carry it to a campsite or travel with it for music on the move. It is not a large acoustic-electric guitar so it shouldn’t be hard to carry.
What do we love it for?
Made from durable materials and has a nice color
Sound quality is good and bright
Nice size, easy to travel with
Features quality electronics for better sound control
The Glen Burton GA204BCO-BK is an 18.45-pound acoustic-electric guitar. It has six steel strings for you to strum. The strings are durable; therefore, they will not snap easily even when added tension is applied.
This model comes with a top and neck made from maple. The solid top acoustic guitar also features basswood sides and back. The fingerboard has a rosewood finish to provide smooth sailing even with sweaty fingers. If you look closer, you will notice a cutaway. The cutaway intends to provide easy access to the frets.
An amplifier has been provided with this model. It will have to be tweaked to get the desired effect. An equalizer and preamp are also included. The four-band equalizer will tune your music to the desired effect. Being that this is an acoustic-electric guitar, it needs batteries to operate. This one needs 9V batteries to perform optimally.
When you purchase this right-handed acoustic-electric guitar, you get a number of accessories to utilize. These accessories include a gig bag for portability, strings, digital clip-on tuner, 10W amplifier, picks, truss rod and a strap. Take advantage of the accessories and take your musical experience to a whole new level.
Why is it special?
Plays well when plugged or unplugged
Comes with usable accessories
Comfortable size and easy to play
Comes with an amplifier
Constructed of sturdy materials
What are the flaws?
Quality of the gig bag could be better
The amplifier needs improvement
Things to Consider
A bit of knowledge goes a long way in making things seem straightforward. As a lover of music understanding your instrument will play a big part in how you treat it. We all know the silent rule about touching other people’s guitars without permission. There are other things that you can get familiar with, such as:
What is different about an acoustic-electric guitar?
To be honest, the major differences are simple. The normal acoustic guitar is not as loud as the acoustic-electric. The acoustic-electric guitar is a normal acoustic guitar fitted with functional electronics. These electronics (preamp and input) allow you to plug into an amplifier to make the sound louder. They also allow you to add some effects depending on the kind of music you are playing.
Features such as volume control and equalizers are never far behind. They are there to tune the music you are playing. You can record your music seeing to that the music sounds good even when amplified.
The other difference is present in the physical appearance. Many acoustic-electric guitars have cutaways. These cutaways are present to facilitate easier access to the upper frets of the guitar. They also affect the resonance and volume the guitar produces when played. You can still consider playing an electric guitar, but be ready to pay extra for a good-sounding instrument, as well as accessories. Even though some of the amplifiers can be found for under 200 and 300 dollars, as well as find the electric guitar under $1000.
Other features to consider
You might be curious as to which features in an acoustic-electric guitar enable the best sound. Each feature in the instrument has a specific function to carry out. The quality of these features is also as important in ensuring you get the best out of the instrument. Let us look at the different features.
Number and quality of strings
What is a string instrument without the strings? Absolutely nothing. The number and quality of strings are vital to the quality of sound produced. Poorly made strings will produce low-quality sound and affect playability.
When it comes to strings, you have two options. nylon or steel. Nylon strings are preferred for classical and flamenco styles. These strings produce a mellow tone that is distinct to the ear.
Steel strings are the standard nowadays in making acoustic-electric guitars. Depending on the composition, these steel strings produce a louder, brighter tone to the notes in play. Whether you want to play rock or dive into pop music, the secret is in the strings.
Steel strings are comprised of a core and outer section. The inner steel core is wound in different materials that produce different sound effects. The outer material may be any of these materials below:
Bronze– Bronze strings are commonly comprised of 20% copper and 80% zinc. They produce a bright tone especially when brand new. The tone will become dull after some time thus needing replacement. These strings are vulnerable to oxidation due to their construction. They tend to wear out quickly leaving you with no other choice but to replace them.
Steel and silk combo– For these, the concentration is on the bass wires. The steel and silk core is woven in a silver-plated copper wire. This gives the notes played a sweet and mellow sound. The bright overtones are hard to miss as you strum the low tension strings. They are easy on your fingers and durable.
Phosphor bronze– These are bronze strings basking in the protection of phosphorous. These strings are resistant to corrosion caused by sweaty hands and elongate the life of the tone in the strings. The tone is certainly warmer but less bright compared to the bronze strings.
One also needs to be on the lookout for string gauges/thickness. String gauges present a wide range of light to heavy measurement wise. These gauges are measured in thousands of an inch. Lighter strings may start at .010 as the heavier strings can go up to .059. How light or thick the string is will affect the sound produced and playability.
Lighter springs are easier to play but tend to break more easily. Heavier strings need more finger pressure to strum but they produce a higher volume and sustain. Depending on the style of music you play, you can select light, medium or heavy strings.
Traditionally most acoustic-electric guitars have six strings. However, it is possible to get models with twelve, seven or four strings. Depending on your level of skill the choices are unlimited.
Body and neck materials
The body of an acoustic-electric guitar can be created out of a wide range of materials. Some materials will produce a better tone than others while some are more durable than others. You can select whether to have a solid or laminate body/soundboard. Laminate tops that consist of several layers of wood stuck together do not produce musical notes that are as loud or rich as compared to the solid soundboards. They are however cheaper and make a great choice for beginners.
In some cases, you find that different woods have been used for different parts. This affects the overall tonal quality. The body of the guitar is crucial to the quality of sound produced. Here are some of the popular materials used:
Rosewood is popular and wins favor for bridges and fingerboards. The wood provides complex overtones even when the bass is in play. It presents the right environment for adequate projection, cutting attacks and distinctive ringing tones.
Koa emphasizes mid-range tones and offers a golden color that is distinct to it. Originally from Hawaii, the wood can be utilized to construct major parts of the body. It is quite costly though.
Cedar is popular softwood that possesses a bright tone. Due to its quick response, it is more suited for classical or flamenco guitars soundboards. It can also be used for the back of the guitar and the sides.
Ebony makes excellent fret material. It is strong and offers a sleek feel for the player to enjoy.
Maple produces a high sound that often puts more emphasis on the high-end notes. It has a low resonance which makes it a great addition to live band settings. Often, you will find this wood used on the back and on the sides.
Spruce is lightweight but durable. The wood produces clarity and good resonance. It has become a standard in acoustic guitar tops. The range in color and distinct tones make it even more special.
Walnut makes a good substitute if you have no mahogany around. It adapts well to emphasizing mid-range notes and projecting the top tones.
Ovangkol is of African descent but is similar to rosewood. Usually integrated into the back and on the sides, the wood accentuates the mid-tones producing a well- rounded sound.
The neck is supposed to be strong. The material used should be able to support the guitar strings and the fretboard. In many cases, the neck is constructed with hard and dense woods. The harder the wood, the fewer vibrations are driven to the soundboard. Mahogany, maple and khaya are considered the best for the neck regions.
Let us not forget the fretboard. The material that creates the fretboard needs to be durable and facilitate easy playability. This is enabled by selecting a smooth material with adequate density. The denser the material, the lesser damage it will incur during various music sessions. Also, the denser the material, the fewer tones are absorbed into the soundboard. In many cases, the material used for fretboards is rosewood or ebony. Synthetic materials are also used see to it that the quality is not compromised.
Choice is the spice of life. Not all of us are right-handed and therefore there is a need to make products for the left-handed people. In this case, you need to understand how to tell a right-handed from a left-handed acoustic-electric guitar.
You need to look at the thickness of the strings. Stand the guitar against the wall with the strings facing you. If the thicker/bass strings of the guitar are on your left and the treble/thinner strings on your right, then that is a right-handed guitar. If the bass/thicker strings are on your right and the treble/thinner strings are on the left, then that is a left-handed acoustic-electric guitar.
Dimensions and weight
The size and body type of your acoustic-electric guitar matters. It affects how comfortably you can play the instrument and the kind of sound produced. When you look at the guitar, it is clear to see how big the top/soundboard is. Naturally, the bigger the top/soundboard, the deeper and louder the notes become. Here are some common body shapes with their corresponding dimensions.
Concert and grand concert
Concert acoustic guitars have been around for some centuries. They usually measure around 13-1/2 inches and are thought to offer the perfect balance. Volume, comfort, shape, and size come together to offer the player a strainless experience. When using these concert acoustic guitars expect to hear a bright sound and experience a midrange with a bit of a kick.
Grand concert style acoustic guitars are a bit louder and bigger than the concert-style acoustic guitars. Size wise they measure around 14 to 14.25 inches and are good at emphasizing the mid-range notes.
It is all in the name. Jumbo acoustic guitars are big. Like the general rule indicates the wider the soundboard, the deeper the sound. This loud instrument is hard to miss with the deep base seeping everywhere.
These are the tiny acoustic guitars you see your favorite indie or folk artists use. These smaller sized acoustic guitars are comfortable to play and portable. You will notice that in most parlour guitars the neck joins the body around the 12th fret.
Grand auditorium and auditorium
If the parlour and the dreadnought had a baby, it would probably be the auditorium acoustic guitar. Sometimes referred to as an “orchestra” body, it provides a perfect balance of comfort and balance. The wider bottom and tiny waist make it a sweetheart when strumming for some folk music.
A distinct hourglass silhouette characterises grand auditorium. They are thought to offer the perfect balance between shape, size, body and volume.
Smaller guitars are bound to weigh less than larger acoustic guitars. Finding the right guitar size for your body size is crucial for comfort. Ensure that the width of the neck corresponds well with the width of your hand. Struggling to get to the frets is rather frustrating.
Acoustic-electric guitars have preamps and equalizers installed to enable you to tweak your sound. Some models come with pre-set effects to emulate legendary songs. These amps can be installed inside the instrument itself while others are mounted in the sound hole. It is possible to get models that have tuners, equalizers, microphone, piezo pickups and the preamp included. The quality of electronics affects how long they last so be careful. Cheap, in the end, becomes expensive.
What is in the box?
The acoustic-electric guitars need accessories. There are accessories intended for maintenance and others for regular use. In your case, you are likely to find, a gig bag, guitar strings, capos, guitar picks, polishing cloths, guitar straps, stand, and tuners among many more. Read the product description of the model you want to buy. This is to see if you will get all the accessories you need before purchasing. The Martin LX1E Acoustic Guitar provides a gig bag for you to carry your acoustic-electric guitar around.
How to take care of your acoustic-electric guitar?
Taking care of your guitar should be part of your routine. Look at the few pointers provided to make sure that your acoustic-electric guitar stays in tip-top shape.
It is a good idea to keep your instrument in a case. It will keep it away from dust and prevent impact damage.
Cleaning the guitar after every use will maintain your guitar’s appearance.
Use the appropriate cleaning cloth to avoid damaging sensitive surfaces.
If you are using any cleaning liquid, the chemicals used should be safe to the particular surface in question.
Tighten any loose screws or bolts.
Replace old strings with appropriate new ones as soon as they wear out or snap.
Once in a while, you can take a dust blower to remove pent-up dust on the inside.
Fortunately, the industry standards support product compatibility. All of the above acoustic-electric guitars work well with Rocksmith. Millions of players plug in and play away. Whether you want a model such as the Best Choice Products Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar or the Yamaha FG800, the choice is completely yours.
A carry case is convenient for storage and transporting your acoustic-electric guitar. The Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar is a good example of such a model. It also possesses dependable electronics and a wide range of accessories. For simple interaction with the acoustic-electric guitar, an instructional video is not far from reach.
The marketplace is there to cater to everyone’s needs. It is possible to get the exact features you need in an acoustic-electric guitar. Out of the 8 products, our opinion is that the Yamaha FG800 is the best all around. This lightweight dreadnought model is made of nice materials, and the sound can morph into any genre you like. It is also not that costly.
The Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic/Electric Guitar Player Package gets a mention for various reasons. It provides good value for money, and it can blend into different musical genres. The amp provided and quality accessories make the instrument even more endearing. The strings provided are dependable, and if they wear out, replacements are near.
Well, that is it for now. We hope we have helped with your mission to enjoy musical bliss. Catch you next time!