Often forgotten when it comes to in-depth reviews, the best acoustic electric guitar can be pretty tricky to find. Guitarists often know what they’re looking for when it comes to a standard electric or acoustic guitar, but there are some additional things to look out for when it comes to the fusion of the two. On a bit of a budget? Check out the top acoustic electric guitars under $1000 here.
Table of Contents
- What are the Top Acoustic Electric Guitars you can Buy in 2018?
- What are Acoustic Electric Guitars?
- How do Acoustic Electric Guitars Work?
- Do Electric Acoustic Guitars need an Amp?
we’ve brought together ten of the best electro acoustics that you can buy brand new right now. In the interests of covering the whole market, we’ve chosen budget instruments, high-end ones, and everything in between. Whatever your needs, there’s sure to be an acoustic electric on this list that you love.
This list will help you find out what is best for you and your sound. We will include the best for quality, the best all-rounder and the best value to give you all the options.
|At a glance: Our top 3 picks|
|Your shortcut to our team's top 3 recommendations|
|Martin DRS2 Dreadnought||Gibson J-200 Standard||Epiphone DOVE PRO|
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What are the Top Acoustic Electric Guitars you can Buy in 2018?
1. Martin DRS2 Dreadnought
We start with a mid-range guitar from Martin, the DRS2 dreadnought acoustic, which is actually one of Martin’s more affordable variants. Given their standards however, that means you’re still getting a fantastic quality product. The DRS2 might be the most cost-effective electro acoustic Martin have to offer, but you probably wouldn’t know it.
This is a solid wood sitka spruce top guitar, in the standard dreadnought body shape. You get the usual Fishman electronics for amplification purposes, and a nice tapered neck. All of the hardware, as you might expect, is of a premium standard.
Straight away, we have to talk about how good this guitar sounds. Lots of low-end and mid-range acoustics tend to do one tonal area well, but the Martin DRS2 does an awesome job all round. It’s got deep, booming lows, while the highs remain nice and crisp. And of course, all of this is available acoustically or electrically in the dreadnought cutaway acousticelectric guitar.
Design wise, there’s nothing particular to note - this isn’t a flashy guitar, but it is very well made, and feels like a premium choice.
+ Amazing tonal character
+ Great quality hardware
+ Excellent value
Why We Liked It - The Martin DRS2 will take some beating as one of the all-round best electric acoustics you can buy, simply because you’re getting the finish and tonal quality of a much more expensive guitar for a solid price. Whether you’re mainly looking for a traditional acoustic you can occasionally amplify, or you need something professional grade for gigs, this could be it. In terms of recording your guitar, you can mics for guitars or a microphone for the guitar amp. If you're looking for an alternative, check out the Martin Road Series DRS1 Dreadnought.
2. Gibson J-200 Standard
This is a really special, limited edition guitar. Gibson are well known for their premium products, and the J-200 Standard certainly lives up to that billing. What we have here is Gibson’s modern interpretation of the legendary Super Jumbo that has been around in some incarnation since 1937. It’s an enlarged, round body style for big sounds and presence.
Gibson market the J-200 as the most powerful acoustic guitar on the planet, and we might just agree. It’s so punchy, and has so much presence, both in the low end and right up there with the more sparkling high notes. Combine this with the L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup system, and this is a guitar that is aimed squarely at live performances where the acoustic needs to really make itself heard. It’l
Given the price tag, you’d expect the J-200 to be of a very high quality throughout, and we’re pleased to be able to say that it is. Every millimeter of the guitar has been expertly crafted, and nothing is an afterthought. The end result is a stunningly beautiful guitar that feels very special in your hands. No wonder everyone from Elvis to Jimmy Page has used a Super Jumbo in some form throughout history.
+ Amazing quality throughout
+ Beautiful looks
+ High end hardware and electrics
Why We Liked It - The price on amazon is undoubtedly pretty high, which means that this Gibson is going to be for serious players and professionals only. You'll need to make sure you have gig bags or a guitar case in hand for protection! However, if you’re looking for the absolute best that the electric acoustic market has to offer right now, then there probably aren’t many contenders to the J-200’s crown.
3. Epiphone DOVE PRO
This is a guitar that we’ve featured before as our top pick for those who are looking for an electric acoustic for less than $500, so there’s no surprise that it’s back as one of the very best prospects at any price at all. Epiphone might be Gibson’s more affordable brand, but that certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t getting very high quality when you choose the Dove Pro.
As with the J-200, this is a modern, affordable, interpretation of the classic guitar/ Dove acoustics that have now been around and loved for decades. The result is a guitar that plays wonderfully, looks stunning, and has some really nice tone to it too.
You wouldn’t guess that this is a low-end electric acoustic, even on close inspection, because the build quality is superb. This translates to some great tone. While it might not have quite the same ring and sustain as an expensive model, only real audiophiles are likely to notice. You get a solid spruce top, good quality hardware, and Fishman electronics.
The Dove design inlays on the fretboard and pickguard are beautiful, and really help to lift the whole look of the Dove Pro. It’s definitely a guitar that you’d be proud to bring to a gig or take round to jam with others.
+ Unbeatable value for money
+ Beautiful design and attention to detail
+ Epiphone quality
Why We Liked It - If the Gibson Dove is out of your price range, or you want the very best for not a lot of cash, then the Dove Pro is for you. It’s a superb quality product that looks and sounds great, with some heritage attached, but comes in at a price just about everyone is going to love.
4. Takamine GN93CE-NAT Nex
If you’re making the crossover from electric to acoustic, then Takamine won’t be a particularly well known brand to you, but rest assured that they’re a top make when it comes to acoustics, and of course electric acoustics. The GN93CE-NAT is a mid-range electric acoustic that features some really nice touches, such as the rosewood fretboard, and is an interesting choice.
This model comes in Takamine’s NEX cutaway guitar body, and features a slimline mahogany neck with 12”-radius rosewood fretboard. The result is an acoustic that plays really quickly, and is more than comfortable right up in the high frets. Ideal for virtuoso players. Takamine also use their own preamp system here, which includes three-band EQ and gain controls, mid contour switch, notch filter and EQ bypass. It all sounds great.
Interestingly, it’s the back of this guitar that’s the most visually attractive, with a drop dead gorgeous rosewood fretboard and quilt maple three-piece design. You’ll stare at it for some time before you can bring yourself to flip it over and start playing. That’s not to say the front doesn’t look good - the whole thing feels more upscale than the price.
+ Great ergonomics on the body and neck
+ Versatile electronics
+ Beautifully designed back
Why We Liked It - We really like Takamine’s NEX body style and neck, which makes for a really comfortable playing experience, and will be ideal for live guitarists who want to switch between electric and acoustic while having a similar play style. Add to that a good price, nice design, and excellent hardware, and this is a winner.
5. Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium
There was always going to be at least one Taylor on this list, and the one we’ve decided to recommend to you is the 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium cutaway. While the name might refer to the body style, this really is designed for people that want a little electrification to boost their acoustic sounds throughout a large space.
Being a grand auditorium body shape guitar, it’s a little smaller than the typical dreadnought size that we’ve covered several times on our list. That’s no bad thing, and allows this guitar to be nice and flexible, especially when combined with the ‘Expression’ electronics system that allows for some good tonal customisation.
Tonally, the 214ce gives a nice bright sound, though it doesn’t have some of the depth and boom that you might want from a dreadnought style auditorium body.
In terms of looks and construction, you’ve got that typical Taylor feel of quality and care without any particularly notable design cues. At this price, you might want a little more flair, but we wouldn’t count that as a major criticism.
+ Versatile body style
+ Bright tone with plenty of presence
+ Great quality ebony fretboard
Why We Liked It - We very much like the body and neck of this guitar, which has such great playability. If you’re looking for something a little more manageable than a full sized dreadnought, then this could be a great choice. The price is reasonable for the quality you’re getting, and straight out of the box this thing feels well set up.
6. Gibson Hummingbird PRO
Another legendary guitar for our list. The Gibson Hummingbird Pro has been around in some form since 1962, and is second only to the J-200 when it comes to being the flagship of the acoustic range. Of course, the same goes for the electric acoustics. This is a very high end option for people that want the best.
The Hummingbird Pro is a distinctive square shoulder dreadnought acoustic electric. This lack of cutaway does have some playability disadvantage, but what it does mean is that the tonal quality is absolutely amazing throughout the entire range. Whatever sound you want to get out of the Hummingbird, you can, and the excellent L.R. Baggs Element pickup does a great job of translating that to an electrical signal.
The Hummingbird has always been a great looking instrument, and the most modern incarnation holds true to that. There are a variety of different finishes you can choose for the body, but it’s the beautiful pickguard with hummingbird designs that really steals the show. This is all backed up by unparalleled build quality and top end hardware.
+ Legendary heritage
+ Beautiful looks
+ Unbeatable tone at all ranges
Why We Liked It - As with Gibson’s other premium products, this is not a cheap electric acoustic, but you do get exactly what you pay for. One of the very best and most legendary acoustics with an electric edge. It’s going to be the guitar of choice for real enthusiasts and of course touring professionals who will settle for nothing less than the best.
7. Yamaha FGX820C
If you’re not looking to break the bank, but you’re a stickler for really good quality, then Yamaha is always going to be a good choice. With this in mind, we’ve added the Yamaha FG series, the FGX820 to our list, which is a solid top cutaway dreadnought that offers pretty much everything most people will need.
For a very good price, you get a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fingerboard with matching bridge - for elegant finger picking. The bracing on the inside of the body is scalloped for even better tone, which works very nicely indeed. There’s also a System 66 preamp system with 3-band EQ and a builtin tuner for precision. It’s all good quality, mid-range equipment making this a really great value proposition.
There are lots and lots of colors to choose from too when it comes to this model, so there’s sure to be something to suit anyone’s tastes. Even with the simple natural finish it’s a good looking guitar, which is helped by superb build quality and finishing.
+ Great Yamaha build quality
+ Scalloped braces give good tonal range
+ Excellent value
Why We Liked It - If you’re looking for an electric acoustic guitar that’s just great all round, and doesn’t have a large price tag, then this Yamaha has to come into consideration. It has all of the construction features you’d expect from a solid mid-range choice, with the addition of quality hardware, and nice touches like the scalloped x-braces. For those interested in Yamahas FG series, can always look at the alternative products, the yamaha FGX700SC.
8. Epiphone PR5-E
It’s time for another Epiphone, and this time we’re looking at the PR5-E, which is one of Epiphone’s really affordable choices, and an interesting option. The PR5-E is nothing new of course - knowledgeable readers will recognise this as a model that has been around for around twenty years now, which is testament to how good it is.
The first thing that you’ll notice is that the PR5-E is a florentine style guitar, which means that it has that fantastic looking cutaway with a really dramatic horn. This gives you nice access to the upper frets while retaining some resonance. The result is some really nice tone for such an affordable guitar. What’s more is that it’s a slimline design. It is an incredible sounding instrument.
All of the hardware is gold on this model, and while it’s stock Epiphone stuff rather than licensed equipment, it’s of good quality, and we don’t expect it to be difficult to keep in tune. The eSonic preamp and NanoFlex pickup system are both excellent and really help the guitar to come alive. In terms of looks, there are no particularly notable features, but the combo of gold hardware and florentine cutaway make for an attractive design.
+ Slimline body will suit many guitar players
+ Florentine cutaway for playability and tone
+ Great price tag
Why We Liked It - Not everyone will want a slimline guitar, but if you think that it might be good for your needs, then the PR5-E could be a really good choice. It’s supremely well priced, and comes with a number of features while being an interesting choice. Well worth consideration.
9. Paul Reed Smith A15AL SE Angelus
It’s always great to see a signature guitar make its way into reviews like this one, and we’ve decided that the excellent A15AL SE Angelus is the one to include. This is the signature model for Alex Lifeson of legendary Canadian prog rock band Rush, so you just know it’s going to be good.
There are more expensive versions of the Alex Lifeson signature available, but the SE that we’ve chosen has a really nice balance of price and specification. This is a firmly mid-range guitar, and is really good value at that. It’s a slightly thinner body style, but with PRS’ nice traditional acoustic hybrid shape, and comes with all of the high quality hardware and electronics that you’d expect from PRS.
Of course, as with most signature guitars, it’s the looks that really steal the show. You do of course get the beautiful diving bird inlays that PRS are known for, and then the top has this beautifully clean look to it that just screams quality. The sound is still gorgeous though, with a really nice crisp feel to it that lends itself to more technical fingerwork that you’d expect of Lifeson.
If we had one criticism it’s that when not plugged in, the slimmer body does mean that the guitar isn’t all that loud. If you’re buying for electrification though, that shouldn’t matter.
+ Beautifully crafted
+ Endorsed by Alex Lifeson of Rush
+ Very attractive price ranges
Why We Liked It - Guitarists often have a love hate relationship with signature models, but we really think that the SE Angelus is a worthy addition to our rundown of the ten best electric acoustics you can buy right now. It’s a good price, offers some great design and hardware, and of course comes with the seal of approval from one of rock’s most accomplished guitarists.
10. Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat
We finish with another signature model, but this one, unlike the Lifeson signature, is certainly not for the faint hearted and won’t have broad appeal. If you like the way it looks however, you’re going to love it. This is the Hellcat by Fender, and is the signature model for Tim Armstrong of punk rockers Rancid.
As the name and heritage might suggest, this is an aggressive looking guitar, with a dark solid mahogany top and tortoise shell pickguard, complete with skulls on the 12th fret and spooky cats on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th. It looks just like the kind of guitar you’d play in a punk or metal band.
It backs this up with some really nice balanced tone that sounds good whether you’re plugged in or not. Despite the guitar’s looks, you can get a very nice, wide range of sounds out of it, and this is complemented by one of the best necks on this list. It’s fast, with fantastic action straight out of the box.
But the really surprising thing about the Hellcat is the price. This is an exceptionally well priced model that will appeal to a wide range of wallets. You’re not paying a crazy premium for Armstrong’s signature on the headstock. You’re getting a great looking, great playing guitar for a steal.
+ Aggressive looks
+ Big sounds
+ Very attractive price
Why We Liked It - Given the price, the hardware, and the attention to detail, this would undoubtedly be a contender for one of the best all-round choices on our list. There aren’t many other options that come from a premium manufacturer and give you all this for such a good price. The looks however will divide opinion. This is a must consider if they’re to your tastes however.
Acoustic Electric Guitar Buyers Guide
What are Acoustic Electric Guitars?
So what are acousticelectric guitars? Quite simply, it’s an acoustic guitar with slight modifications that means it can be plugged into a power amp. This means that the sound from the guitar can be made much louder for use live or with a band. It also means that, as the signal becomes electric, it can be altered with effects pedals and other equipment. Sometimes, because of this, electric acoustics are used when recording in a studio, though a microphone is often used too.
It’s important not to get confused between acoustic electric guitars and semi-acoustic electric guitars.
The latter is an electric guitar that has hollows cut into the body for different tone, but is otherwise the same as a normal electric guitar (click here for the top 10 under $1000). You may wish to invest in a capo for your acoustic electric guitar.
How do Acoustic Electric Guitars Work?
The question “How do Electric Acoustic Guitars work?” is one that’s asked a lot, but it’s actually very simple to understand, and is very similar to a normal electric guitar. There are two main additional components to an electric acoustic that you won’t find on a normal acoustic guitar. There’s the pickup and the preamp.
The pickup, which is usually a ‘piezoelectric’, or just ‘piezo’ will sit just under the saddle, and it picks up the vibrations from the guitar strings as they are played. Unlike an electric guitar amp, this works with non-metal acoustic guitar strings too, because magnets are not used.
The electrical output from a piezo pickup is very weak, which is why all acoustic electric guitars will come fitted with a preamp, that then boosts the signal into a strong electric signal that can go straight into the amp or through effects units.
It’s as simple as that, and in practice, you’ll play an electric acoustic just the same as you would a normal acoustic, and when you want to amplify it with piezo pickups, you plug it in and switch on the preamp.
There are also usually EQ controls you can change too.
It’s also worth noting here that the preamp requires power to work, which generally comes from a small battery, though mains powered adapters are sometimes available.
It is also possible to convert a normal acoustic into an electro acoustic with some work, and there are also clip-on pickups that you can use very easily with any acoustic guitar, which attach to the sound hole and turn the sound picked up into an electric current. The quality is naturally poorer than with a proper setup however.
For more information on how guitars work read this study.
Do Electric Acoustic Guitars need an Amp?
The very short answer is no. You don’t need an amplifier to make an electric acoustic guitar work - you can use one quite easily without, though obviously it will be at a lower volume, and you’ll have no control over effects.
It’s also worth noting that lots of electro acoustics have slimmer bodies or other modifications that might reduce the tonal quality or volume control when not plugged in.
You should bear this in mind if you think you might be playing acoustically a lot.
Naturally, you’ll see that a lot of the top acousticelectric guitars are almost identical to their acoustic only counterparts, and work just the same when not plugged in and switched on.
We’ve covered lots of the important points that you need to think about when buying an electric acoustic already in our reviews and frequently asked questions,, but we’re going to go through some of them in more detail here, to make sure that you know what you’re doing when you make comparisons.
Body Style & Material
Body style and material is one of the things that will have the biggest effect on the way an acoustic guitar sounds. Whereas a pickup in an electric guitar will do a huge amount to shape the tone, in an electro acoustic, this shouldn’t be the case.
Let’s start with body style. This is quite simply the shape of the guitar’s body, and there are potentially a lot of them to consider. As a general rule, the larger the body, the more resonant it will be, giving it a deeper, richer tone. This is clear for things like the hummingbird, with the big square shoulders, and the dreadnought style body, which is generally the largest body type you’ll encounter. The drawback of larger bodies of course is that they’re more cumbersome and less ergonomic to play.
As a result, many people will opt for a slimline body, which means the body isn’t as deep, even if it’s a full sized dreadnought. Alternatively, there are smaller form factors, ike the grand auditorium cutaway, to choose from. With very high quality guitars, you’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between small changes in size.
Now, the body size isn’t the only thing to think about. There’s also whether or not there’s a cutaway, and how this is implemented. A cutaway makes it easier for you to access the higher frets, because you can place your hand right next to them. Naturally this will reduce some of the resonance because there’s less body beside the neck, but it’s a tradeoff that a great many guitarists are happy to make if they want to be able to play those higher frets well.
Materials are the next important thing to look at. The key thing to remember is that for good tone, solid wood is generally preferred, though laminated wood (where thin layers of wood are layered on top of one another) is cheaper.
On the very best guitars, all of the wood is likely to be solid. However, most people generally accept that really it’s mainly the top (the front) of the guitar body that needs to be solid. This will really help achieving a nice quality tone.
Fortunately, most electric acoustics of a decent standard are solid top, and it’s generally very easy to identify this because it’s a big selling feature.
The actual type of wood is also seen as quite important by a lot of enthusiasts - you’ll see from our reviews that most solid tops are made from spruce, but mahogany is also coveted as a quality material.
Not something you have to think about with an acoustic guitar, the electrics in an electro acoustic are quite important, though not as critical as with an electric guitar. You’ll want to make sure that you’re getting a good quality pickup and preamp, and then the next thing to consider will be features. Preamps often come with EQ adjustment to alter the tone slightly, and some will even come with certain effects that you can add on. Builtin tuners are a common addition too which mean you don’t need a separate tuning box.
Fishman is the main brand that you’ll see manufacturing the electrics, but lots of the bigger guitar brands will also have their own in house products. Higher end guitars are more likely to have specialist or boutique equipment which is generally considered to be better. Gibson using LR Baggs pickups systems is one such example. You can also opt for aftermarket pickups.
The neck can be very important for playability. There are different nut width, depths and body shapes to choose from, and it’s entirely a matter of personal preference as to which you should go for.
Those that are used to fast-necked electric guitars may want to search for necks that have a fairly shallow profile, whereas a lot of people prefer the chunkier, more substantial neck that lots of acoustics offer. If you have smaller hands, a smaller neck will also naturally make playing slightly easier.
Fit and finish on the neck is also very important, because it will have an effect on the sound. Poorly finished frets might end up buzzing or otherwise add unwanted sounds to the guitar. Similarly, if the action (gap between fretboard and strings) is too low, buzzing might occur.
Too high and the guitar will be harder to play smoothly and quickly. Read reviews to find out how well your potential purchase was set up from the factory, and bear in mind that this can be changed by a good technician.
Many musical instruments are works of art, so it’s little doubt that design is very important to a lot of people. Make sure that you really like the way a guitar looks before purchase, because you might be playing it for years. This is one of the reasons the more natural wood colored guitars are always popular - they don’t go out of style or look out of place.
Considering a brand is only really important to a certain extent. Generally, certain top brands will have a reputation for being better at things than others, but given that most guitar brands now have a very wide offering, it’s really best to consider individual models. It’s worth doing a little extra research in some areas though, because there are interesting brand relationships that mean some more budget guitar brands have actually been designed by premium ones. Epiphone and Squier for instance are more affordable sub-brands of Gibson and Fender respectively, which means that you can often get a very high quality product that’s been made in Taiwan rather than the USA for instance. The Dove Pro is a good example of this.
Top Choice - Martin DRS2 Dreadnought
We’ve decided to give our top choice award to the Martin DRS2 dreadnought acoustic because it’s simply the best all round balance of quality, sound and price, and pretty much anyone reading this should be able to consider it as an option. The only reason you might not is if you’re dead set against a dreadnought body. Otherwise, it’s a fine choice to spend your money on.
Every bit of the guitar has been designed and manufactured with thought and care. There are no cut corners, all of the hardware and electronics are good, and of course, what really matters, the tone is fantastic too. It sounds great at all levels and tones, and both acoustic and plugged in, which makes it very versatile.
The design, while nothing particularly special, is clean and beautiful, which will help it appeal to most guitarists - the dreadnought acoustic body being one of the favorite parts. Ultimately, just about anyone could pick up this guitar and get what they need out of it, which is why it makes our top pick. We could recommend it to anyone, and when you talk about the price, it becomes even more attractive, because this is a high-end guitar for mid-range money.
Premium Choice - Gibson J-200 Standard
It’s Gibson’s biggest, baddest and best acoustic, and that goes for the electric acoustic too. As a result, it just had to be our premium choice. If you’ve got the money, then there really isn’t much else you can buy that will rival the J-200.
This is no shrinking violet in any respect, whether tonally or visually. It’s a big bodied guitar with some beautiful, impactful design that really makes you feel like you’ve got exactly the kind of design you deserve for the money that you’re paying. It’s going to be especially good for those who want something they can get up on stage with.
In short, absolutely everything about this guitar screams quality. You can inspect the entire thing in tiny detail, and it’ll leave you amazed at how well it’s been made. And then when the sound hits you, you really feel it too. It’s perfect for chugging, powerful rhythm behind the rest of the band, but is equally adept at more sparkling highs and brighter choruses. What a guitar.
Great Value - Epiphone DOVE PRO
The Epiphone Dove Pro is such a good guitar that it’s going to be a contender for a top pick in pretty much any list, but in this one we’ve given it the title of best value electric acoustic. You can spend a lot more money and not get much more guitar, and you can even spend more money and not get a guitar as good. The Dove Pro is that accomplished.
You know you’re getting great guitar from the outset, because it’s based on Gibson’s legendary Dove model, which has been sued for decades now by distinguished guitarists in numerous genres, including the likes of Elvis himself. It really does look the part, with the dove design on the fretboard and pickguard, and numerous other nice little touches.
And then of course, what’s really important, the tone, feels like it’s coming from a much more expensive guitar. Indeed, only real enthusiasts are likely to be able to easily tell the difference in sound between a Gibson Dove and the Epiphone Dove pro. If you don’t want to spend too much, then you must not overlook this guitar. If you like Epiphones as pretty as this one, you may wish to look into the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro, epiphone ej200sce or the Epiphone pr4e acousticelectric guitar player package.
We’ve had a lot of fun looking at all of these great online guitar electric acoustics, and hope that among or top ten is your next instrument. There’s a lot to read through and consider, but we’ve been sure to make sure there’s something for everyone here, and all of the guitars come highly recommended. Read through the buyer’s guide if you’re new to electric acoustic guitars and aren’t 100% sure of what you’re comparing between electric and acoustic, and then make your purchase knowing you’ve made the right decision.
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