Best Acoustic Electric Guitars of 2020 – Complete Review

Frequently overlooked when searching for a new guitar, the best acoustic-electric guitar can be quite challenging to find.

Guitarists know what they're searching for with regards to a standard electric or acoustic guitar, yet there are some extra factors to consider with regard to the combination of the two.

In this guide, we will be looking at a few of the best options, as well as take a deep dive into everything you need to know about acoustic-electric guitars.

Comparison Chart of the Acoustic Electric Guitars of 2019

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Taylor 224CE-K DLX Koa

  • Best acoustic-electric guitar overall
  • Crafted, premium-grade Koa with superior Taylor craftsmanship
  • Built-in patented Taylor Expression System 2 for improved control over the sound
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Martin LX1E Little Martin Acoustic/Electric

  • High-quality fretboard constructed of FSC Richlite
  • Built-in Fishman Sonitone pickup that improves the volume
  • Fishman preamp system that elevates the versatility of sound capability
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Yamaha A Series A3M

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar for the Money
  • Designed with a scalloped bracing that helps improve resonance and volume
  • Built-in patented SRT2 system that allows your mic and pickups to match for a perfect tone
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Epiphone PR-4E LE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $200
  • Under-saddle piezo pickup built-in for improved sound resonance
  • Designed with easy-to-use, good quality electronics for better sound control
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Mitchell T333E-BST Auditorium Acoustic-Electric

  • Ease of playability with a cutaway design
  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $300
  • Built with forward-shifted X-bracings for improved resonance
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Yamaha FGX820C

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $500
  • Under-saddle piezo pickup helps improves volume and resonance
  • Chromatic tuner included in the design that optimizes sound quality
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Breedlove Solo Concert

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $1000
  • Multiple premium tonewoods used in construction that elevates the tonal quality
  • Optimized sound-shaping capability from the built-in, high-performance electronics
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Takamine EF341SC Legacy Series Acoustic-Electric

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $1500
  • Crafted with cutaway body shape for optimal comfort while playing
  • Natural resonance produced via the high-performance CT-4B II electronics
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Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar for Beginners
  • Built-in Fishman preamp for optimized volume and resonance
  • Tuning gears are premium and offer a more stabilized tuning capability
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Yamaha APX500 Thinline Acoustic-Electric

  • Best Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • High-performance tuner key for better-stabilized tuning
  • Fitted with the 5ST system for superior sound-shaping capability
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What is an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

What are acoustic-electric guitars? Simply put, it's an acoustic guitar with a few slight alterations that allow it to be plugged straight into an amplification device. This magnifies the sound from the guitar so it can be made a lot stronger in order to be heard over other instruments and noises. 

Likewise, this system makes it possible for the sound to be altered by the use of pedals and other gear. They have been known to be used when recording in a studio along with a mic so that they can deliver a truly natural tone.

How Does an Acoustic Electric Work?

This question gets asked a great deal. Fundamentally, it works the same way as an ordinary electric guitar. There are two design features added to an electric-acoustic that you won't discover on an ordinary acoustic guitar…pickups and preamps. 

Source

The acoustic pickup framework, which is typically a piezoelectric or just piezo, will sit simply under the seat. The pickups receive the vibrations from the guitar as the strings are plucked or strummed. 

In contrast, the electric guitar works with non-metal acoustic guitar strings, as well, since no magnet is used. The electrical signal from a piezo pickup is extremely powerless, which is the reason all acoustic-electric guitars will come fitted with a preamp

What to Look For When Buying an Acoustic Electric

We've done plenty of research as we compiled our list and have used it to craft a buyer’s guide of sorts. Though these are not the only features to look at when making your decision, they’re by far the most impactful on sound and tone.

Material

Materials are the next most important thing to take into consideration. The key thing to remember is that, for a good tone, you want to go for the hardest wood available. However, laminated woods are less expensive. Most high-end options will have solid bodies of hardwood. However, there are some equally awesome options that use a combination of woods for top, back, and sides. This will truly accomplish a pleasant, quality tone.

Electronics 

While not something you need to consider with an acoustic guitar, the electronics in an acoustic-electric are very significant. You'll need to ensure that you're getting a decent quality pickup and preamp. Preamps frequently come with EQ controls to change the guitar's natural tone. Built-in tuners are also a typical addition, which means you needn't bother with purchasing a separate one.

Neck

The neck can be a significant factor for playability. There is a wide range of nut widths, materials, and shapes to browse. It is completely a matter of individual inclination with respect to which you ought to go for. Slimmer necks tend to be faster and easier to play, especially for beginners.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Acoustic Electric Guitars

Now that you have some idea what to look for while making your decision, let’s get to the selections we have carefully curated for our list.

Best Overall:
Taylor 224CE-K DLX Koa

Taylor Guitars 224ce-K DLX Koa Deluxe Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar

PROS

  • Price tag versus value is exceptional
  • Layered back and sides improve resistance to humidity
  • Fitted with high-quality electronics for optimized sound shaping
  • Designed with a solid Koa top for enhanced brightness of sound
  • Constructed with a Venetian cutaway design, making it comfortable to play
  • Designed with an ergonomic shape that offers elevated comfort when playing

CONS

  • Some issues with buzzing from the bridge
  • Quality control problems in the shipping process
  • Back and sides are layered laminate, which has been known to affect tonality

What Recent Buyers Report

The electronics attached to this fine piece of craftsmanship only serve to refine the natural tonality of the Koa. That, combined with the stylish and ergonomic shape, makes for a sweet-sounding guitar that is a joy to play.

Why it Stands Out to Us

No matter how good the electronics are in an acoustic-electric guitar, it all comes down to the wood. In this case, the guitar is made of premium Hawaiian Koa. With this wood comes a sweet, bright sound that is perfect for a variety of different musical stylings.

Who Will Use This Most

This guitar may have advantages for almost any kind of guitarist, but the Koa makes it a great choice for country or bluegrass players. The fingerpicking style of these kinds of music takes full advantage of the wood's innate sound capabilities.

Bottom Line  

While aesthetically pleasing to look at, the beauty is more than skin deep with this Taylor guitar. It utilizes a tonewood that absolutely makes this model sing. This, along with its high-quality patented electronic system, makes this one of the best options on the market today.

PROS

  • Coated with a laminate for improved durability
  • Compact size has no effect on the overall sound quality
  • Solid spruce top gives the guitar high-end sound quality 
  • Lightweight and compact design heightens the ease of transport
  • Built-in, premium-grade electronics for better sound-shaping control

CONS

  • Truss rod is difficult to adjust
  • Price may be a little expensive for some
  • Awkward to play for some musicians, especially those with large hands

What Recent Buyers Report

The whole package is what you get with this guitar from Martin. Although simple, the design is pleasing to look at, and the sound is amazing. The durable laminate helps protect the guitar, and the wood on the side and back are sustainably responsible. Though the action may be a bit high, all in all, this is a highly recommended travel guitar.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Many things jump out at you when you look at the specifications of this guitar. For us, the thing that makes this one of the best guitars is the premium electronics included in its design.

Who Will Use This Most

It’s good enough for Ed Sheeran, right? In fact, artists of that nature are probably the ones that will use this model the most. Pop or contemporary folk players traveling the road getting their name and music out there for the world will love this guitar.

Bottom Line

Acoustic-electrics have a lot of versatility. Then, when you add a compact, lightweight design, that versatility increases tenfold. That is why this may just be your best choice if you are looking for an option that offers elevated portability with high-quality sound.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for the Money: 
Yamaha A Series A3M

PROS

  • Aesthetically pleasing to look at
  • Flat pickers will love the narrower neck design
  • Ergonomic design elevates the overall playability of the guitar
  • Built with Yamaha's newest electronics for superior sound shaping
  • Value that you receive for a budget-friendly price tag is outstanding
  • Materials used in the construction gives the guitar a rich, full sound quality

CONS

  • Controls may be difficult to use at first
  • Nut width may not be great for fingerpicking players
  • Slim neck may cause low E to pull out over the edge of the neck

What Recent Buyers Report

The design of this guitar allows for comfortable play for extended periods of time, which is great if you are just learning guitar. It plays lighter, and, though there are some buzzing issues, this the perfect starter guitar overall.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This guitar is quite the deal. For all the extras and premium features you get, you would think you would have to spend well over $1,000. Thankfully, that is not the case. The value of this guitar versus the price tag is the stand-out attribute of this guitar.

Who Will Use This Most

When you are just starting to learn the art of playing guitar, you may not want to pay an arm and a leg. That is why this highly playable guitar model is perfect for beginning guitarists that have limited funds.

Bottom Line   

Even though we would all like to have to not worry about money, that is just not always the case. That is why getting a guitar that is well-built and fitted with all the latest technology for such a great price is amazing. 

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $200:
Epiphone PR-4E LE

PROS

  • Price versus value is excellent
  • Body shape allows for better playability over longer time frames
  • Lightweight and durable due to the use of high-quality materials
  • Better balanced bass and comfort from cut-out body design
  • Constructed to offer enhanced tone with the use of high-grade tonewoods
  • Increased tonal spectrum from the inclusion of mahogany and spruce in construction

CONS

  • QC control issues have been reported
  • Only shipped within the U.S. and APO/FPO
  • Bass reduction from cut out may not be ideal for all music styles

What Recent Buyers Report

The bass may be a little shallow for some, but the overall sound quality is something to rave about. It is better with an amp, though there are some issues with tuner durability. Still, this guitar is easily one of the best out there.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Finding a budget-friendly guitar that has all the benefits and features of this Epiphone is a challenge. Not only do you get the reputation of the company, but you also get good-quality electronics for a price that seems almost too good to be true.

Who Will Use This Most

This may not be the highest-end option on the market, but many guitarists would be well-armed with this guitar. It is perfect for beginners or even musicians who just want a nice guitar to practice at home with.

Bottom Line  

Epiphone has been a well-known name in the music world for decades. This guitar may be a low-cost option, but you won’t know it when you plug it in. That is why we knew we had to include it in this guide and review.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $300:
 Mitchell T333E-BST Auditorium 

PROS

  • Stays in tune even after more aggressive playing
  • Neck is crafted with a slim build for improved playability
  • Sealed gear tuners make it easier to maintain stable tuning
  • Value of this guitar far outshines the price tag attached to it
  • Designed with a battery placement that makes it easy to change
  • Easy-to-use, high-quality electronics elevate sound-shaping capabilities

CONS

  • Lack of strap button on the neck is a problem for some
  • Issue with buzzing when tuning in a particular musical register

What Recent Buyers Report

This guitar is just a fun instrument to play and it stays in tune for hours of enjoyment. The overall quality of this guitar has you feeling like you are playing a much higher-end instrument than you actually are. There is some buzzing in certain scales, but that is limited.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When you are rocking and rolling, you don’t want to have to stop to tune your guitar, right? That is what stands out most to us with this model. Its sealed-gear tuners optimize stability and allow for you to stay in tune longer.

Who Will Use This Most

The improved design of this guitar makes this a great choice for almost any guitarist. However, the ones that will benefit the most are those that are looking for a durable, high-performance guitar that can stand the rigors of the road. This guitar will be great in small venue settings due to its improved resonance.

Bottom Line

There are a lot of great options available in higher price ranges, but few have the quality of this guitar within this price range. If you are looking to add a guitar to your kit that offers a full, rich sound, this could be the one for you.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $500: 
Yamaha FGX820C  

Yamaha FGX820C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural

PROS

  • Model can be upgraded for extended use
  • Full and rich tone that helps with volume capability
  • Built-in 3-band EQ helps with precision sound shaping 
  • Playability is enhanced by the well-crafted cutaway design
  • Well-balanced, warm sound quality is produced by this guitar
  • Premium-grade materials used in construction improve durability

CONS

  • Long periods of use can herald some buzzing
  • Fret edges can be sharp and will need to be sanded down 
  • May need to replace factory strings with better quality ones

What Recent Buyers Report

With this guitar, tuning is not an issue you will have to worry about. In fact, the improved stability will help even novice players fine-tune their own ears. Some of these guitars will arrive with sharp frets that may take a little work to sand down. However, it is so comfortable to play that a little preparation seems like a small price to pay.

Why it Stands Out to Us

An acoustic-electric that will help improve your control over your sound-shaping abilities is what you want. In order to give you that, Yamaha has included a built-in three-band EQ. This is what we think stands out the most. That, combined with the cutaway design, makes for one of the best acoustic-electric guitars out there.

Who Will Use This Most

Adults that are just now picking up a guitar will definitely benefit the most from this guitar.  Even within that category, there are some music styles that will get the most from this guitar's twangy, bright sound. Those looking to toe-tap to a little country or dive deep into the Delta with some blues will reap the most from this guitar.

Bottom Line

This guitar is easily one of the best acoustic-electrics. Yamaha has outdone themselves with their attention to detail and use of the highest quality materials and hardware possible. That makes this a great option for just about anyone. 

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $1000:
Breedlove Solo Concert

PROS

  • Limited lifetime warranty comes with the model
  • An accessory bundle is available with the purchase
  • Sound quality of this guitar offers a balanced, rich tone
  • Portability is heightened by the inclusion of a soft gig bag
  • Design of guitar makes it perfect for many different playing styles
  • Bundle includes gig bag, picks, stand, strings, strap, cable, and polish cloth

CONS

  • Setup will take a little time due to design 
  • Bridge may need to be sanded for better sound
  • Action will need to be adjusted for better playability

What Recent Buyers Report

When you are looking for a high-performance acoustic-electric, you definitely want to get the most bang for your buck. With this well-crafted guitar from Breedlove, you do just that through the inclusion of the accessory bundle. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are a couple of things that are important to consider when looking at an acoustic-electric…the tonewoods and the hardware. Outfitted with good-quality electronics, this model offers an elevated sound capability and use. This is because of the player's control over that sound. That is what every musician craves…the ability to craft their own sound.

Who Will Use This Most

Because the setup is a little more involved, this guitar is definitely better suited for the intermediate player. They need to have patience and be willing to take their time to make sure they have an optimized sound. 

Bottom Line

The folks at Breedlove understand that the care and attention given a product during the manufacturing stage is what sets it apart for success. They use high-grade tonewoods and construct guitars that anyone would be happy to make their go-to instrument.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $1500: 
Takamine EF341SC Legacy Series

PROS

  • Aesthetically-pleasing design
  • Lightweight and durable due to to the superior craftsmanship
  • Materials used in construction give this guitar elevated tonality
  • Tonal quality doesn’t lose any integrity when going from acoustic to electric
  • Built-in electronics are of the highest quality for improved sound-shaping capability
  • Constructed with premium materials that lend an amazing sound quality to the guitar

CONS

  • Price is a little expensive for some
  • Limited variations of finish available
  • Not well-suited for beginning players

What Recent Buyers Report

When you invest in a high-quality guitar, you get high-quality sound. With this Takamine, the sound is smooth like butter and the sustain is perfect. This is all because of the care in the design and the use of high-grade elements.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The tonewoods used in the construction build a natural sound and can often be lost when switching to an amplified state. This model does not suffer from that, as it gives a sweet, natural tonality, even through the amp.

Who Will Use This Most

The ability to switch from acoustic to electric without loss of tonality makes this the perfect fit for the studio. A guitarist laying down some tracks will be pleased with the final result if they use this guitar.

Bottom Line

Fifteen hundred dollars is definitely a large sum of money, but this guitar is a worthy investment. Crafted with care and offering superior performance, the Takamine guitar will help your sound and skills evolve. For this reason, we knew we would be doing a disservice if we did not include it on our list.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitar for Beginners:
Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

PROS

  • Neck design gives it a great, easy-to-play action
  • Design allows for easy and comfortable playability
  • Quality materials lend a higher-end sound to this guitar
  • Crafted with a design that enhances the natural tones of the wood
  • Amplification doesn’t disturb tonality thanks to onboard premium electronics
  • Sound offers crisp, clear tones in the high range with excellent bass response

CONS

  • Neck flexes and may cause string buzz
  • Quality of the warranty is less than stellar
  • Issues with the strength of the mid-tone range

What Recent Buyers Report

This guitar offers any guitarist a sound quality that far surpasses what is expected and is only amplified by the quality electronics used in its design. The neck does flex a bit, which can cause tuning and playability issues. However, this is not a universal problem.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When you are a beginner, you want to choose a guitar that is comfortable and easy to play. The Epiphone Dove is carefully constructed to offer that to its user. That, plus the reasonable price, is what makes this one of the best options available.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking to rock out to that 60s vibe and are just beginning to learn guitar, this is the perfect guitar for you. From its playability to its price tag, this guitar is built for jamming in your room while trying to figure out that chord progression.

Bottom Line

Choosing this model means that you are making an investment in your future ability. This is not because you are shelling out a huge wad of cash, but rather because of the well-crafted guitar you will be adding to your kit.

Best Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar:
Yamaha APX500

PROS

  • Saddle-mounted piezo pickup with 3-band EQ
  • Crafted to optimize the sensitivity to sound clarity
  • Built-in pickup helps improve resonance and volume
  • Little to no loss of tonal quality when plugged into amp
  • Electronics that allow you to adjust the mid-range frequency
  • Neck is easy to play and comfortable to hold for enhanced playability

CONS

  • Guitar does not use nylon strings
  • Issues with some string buzz on the D-string
  • May need to make some adjustments before playing (i.e. sanding the bridge)

What Recent Buyers Report

A comfortable guitar is always a great thing to have, but when it also comes with sweet tones, you have won the lottery. This guitar from Yamaha offers this to its owner. Despite the issues with a little string buzz, this could be a great option for you and your musical needs.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The design of this model is amazing and offers playability that far surpasses many of its competitors. However, that is not the best attribute. The preamp system and electronics are what make this guitar a sound giant.

Who Will Use This Most

This Thinline-designed guitar is perfect for the student, no matter what level of experience they are at. It is comfortable to play and has the ability to shape the sound to their needs. It has everything they could want in a guitar. 

Bottom Line  

When you are in the market for a great acoustic-electric, this model from Yamaha should definitely be an option that you seriously consider. It has a wealth of features and functions that can be used to improve your performance, sound, and skill. 

Pros and Cons of Acoustic Electric Guitars

In order to help make a final decision, many people love a good pros and cons list. Therefore, we thought that creating one for you would be very helpful. Here are the pros and cons of acoustic-electric guitars.

Pros

First, let’s take a look at a few of the upsides:

Bigger Sound

Because of the ability to plug into an amp, you will be able to get the sweet, natural sounds of the acoustic guitar to fill up a room without having to mic the soundhole.

Versatile

This type of guitar gives you double the options in sound, as well as playability. An acoustic-electric can be played with an amp or without for starters. Plus, you have access to sound-shaping tools like pedals and effects.

Price

You might think that because of the extra added electronics, you would be looking at a higher price point. In truth, these models are comparable to their ampless counterparts.

Cons

Like with any product on the market, there are a few cons:

Power

Unlike its simpler cousin, the acoustic, you will have to have a power source readily available. That could be an actual wall socket or most of these guitars will come with a battery so you don’t have to rely solely on good old electricity.

More Equipment

In order to play this guitar effectively, you will need more equipment than if you simply played an acoustic. This means more money spent on gear and that may be a problem for some.

Conclusion

We've had a lot of fun taking a look at all of these extraordinary acoustic-electric guitars. There are a wide range of options to peruse, however, we've been certain to ensure there's something for everybody in our guide. In case you're new to acoustic-electric guitars and aren't 100% certain about what you're looking at, we have also laid out some vital information. We hope that, with all of this, we have made your decision a little easier.

People Also Ask

Even with all of that information, we know there are still a few questions that may come up. Thus, we gathered together some of the most commonly asked questions from online and answered them below.

Can You Play an Acoustic Electric Without Plugging It In?

To put it plainly, all acoustic-electric guitars will work like acoustic models if there is no power going through them. Acoustic-electric guitars produce the standard acoustic sound but have the ability to amplify it through the inclusion of electronic hardware, like pickups. These pickups have no impact on the general sound unless switched to the electric mode.

What is the Difference Between Acoustic and Acoustic Electric Guitars?

The principal distinction between the two is the way that acoustic-electric guitars are designed with preamps and other electronics. This means that you can simply connect a cable to the guitar and use it as you would an electric model. The sound is frequently more precise than the one recorded through a mic. Most acoustic-electric guitars additionally have an EQ and volume control that will give you a chance to help certain frequencies and modify how the guitar sounds through the speakers. 

Does an Acoustic Electric Guitar Need an Amp?

The short answer is no. You needn't bother with a speaker to make an acoustic-electric guitar work. You can utilize one effectively without an amp, but it will be at a lower volume.

Does an Acoustic Electric Guitar Need a Battery?

In straightforward terms, guitars that utilize inner mics, contact, or dynamic pickups require a power source. Most acoustic-electrics come with a battery socket so you can install one to ensure optimal performance.

Do Acoustic Electric Guitars Sound Different?

Generally, acoustic-electrics will have a somewhat less full sound than an acoustic. Nonetheless, it's helpful for live purposes since you don't need to mic it. This can mess up the input and doesn't enable you to move around. Likewise, it gives you more control over your sound.