If you were to travel back in time about 50 years ago no one would have a clue what you’re talking about if you said you owned an acoustic electric guitar. They’re a relatively new invention. The problem was, no one could figure out how to get a pick-up in an acoustic guitar that actually worked. In those days musicians normally just clipped a mic onto their acoustic and hoped for the best. The end result was usually a lot of feedback and a frustrated musician.
We’ve come a long way in the past couple of decades and acoustic electric guitars are now available from pretty much every major guitar manufacturer. The Fender acoustic I use now is an acoustic electric guitar and it sounds just as good whether I’m plugged in or not. You no longer have to worry about rigging up an unreliable clip-on mic.
In fact, if you’re in the market for an acoustic electric guitar these days you’re likely to be overwhelmed with all of the choices available to you. Different types of wood can certainly affect the sound of your guitar and the electronic components a manufacturer uses will have a profound effect on your sound as well. It’s best to look at every aspect of the guitar’s workmanship and components before making any kind of decision.
We’re going to take a closer look at some of the best choices available to you from some of the best guitar manufacturers around. We’ll look at the features of each guitar in our reviews including the materials they’re made from and the onboard electronic systems they use on their guitars as well. An acoustic electric guitar is a great investment and it will give you hours of endless enjoyment as long as you choose the right instrument.
1. Fender CD-140 SCE
The Fender CD-140 SCE is a great instrument if you’re looking for a versatile guitar that you can play both acoustic or plugged in. With its cutaway design you can reach those higher strings with ease, making it perfect for a little acoustic lead guitar play. It has a sitka spruce top with laminated mahogany on the back and sides that together help to produce a nice rich acoustic sound. The fingerboard is made from rosewood and the neck is made from nato wood.
It’s the Fishman pickup system with pre-amp and built in tuner that makes it possible for this guitar to sound just as good plugged in as it does unplugged. The tortoise shell pickguard is perfect for protecting your guitar’s finish from wear and tear. This is a beautiful sounding guitar that we’re really excited about and you probably will be to if you decide to take one home.
2. Yamaha FSX830C
Yamaha’s FSX830C is an instrument that deserves its reputation as a fine sounding instrument. It gets its great plugged in sound from an under-saddle piezo pickup that has a 3-band EQ with fully adjustable mid-range and frequency controls. The top of the guitar is solid sitka and the back and sides are rosewood. The fingerboard and bridge are also rosewood. It has die cast tuner pegs that are designed to last you a long time with proper use.
When the FG series was first introduced by Yamaha in the 1960’s they weren’t known for their guitars, but they’ve had a lot of time to refine their process in the last 50 years and this is now one of the best sounding acoustic electric guitars on the market with great tone and resonance. It has a standard dreadnaught body with a subtle cutaway that makes it ideal for playing the higher strings.
3. Epiphone EJ-200 SCE
If you’re a guitar lover one of the hardest things is trying to choose one model over another – there are just so many great options! The Epiphone EJ-200 SCE may make your decision just a little bit easier. This a beautifully crafted guitar with a unique style made famous by such guitarists as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. With a pearl inlayed fingerboard and a flower pattern on the pickguard it’s a real head turner, but it’s also a great sounding guitar.
It features a maple body and select spruce top. Inside you’ll find an esonic 2 preamp with a built-in tuner that creates a nice clean sound. There are two pickups for transferring the sound – a NanoFlex pickup and a NanoMag pickup. The end result is a deep rich sound that will summon up memories of all the classic rock of the past several decades.
4. Fender CD-60CE
You don’t have to spend a fortune if you want to own a great acoustic electric guitar and the Fender CD-60CE is proof of that. This guitar comes in several different colors, although the mahogany finish is particularly eye catching. It’s a full body dreadnaught style guitar with a convenient cutaway for fingering on the upper frets. The top is laminated mahogany as is the back, sides, and neck. The fingerboard and bridge are both rosewood.
When you’re ready to plug in and play you’ll be using the guitars built-in Fishman preamp and built-in tuner. You can quickly adjust the bass, mid, and treble with the onboard controls to refine your sound even more. This one also comes with a nice hard case to protect your instrument when it’s not in use and for keeping it safe when you’re travelling. This is a great sounding guitar for the price and has to be considered one of the best bargains on the market.
5. Jameson Acoustic Electric Guitar
One of the lesser known manufacturers of guitars, at least for novice players, is the Jameson brand of guitars. That shouldn’t stop you from taking a long hard look at the Jameson acoustic electric guitar because it is without a doubt one of the best options around if you’re on a tight budget. This guitar features a unique blue look and they’ve actually put in a lot of little details for such an inexpensive guitar. The top is made from spruce and it uses nato wood on the sides and back.
It has a built-in pickup that does a credible job when you want to play this guitar plugged in and it does have a basic EQ as well. There are 20 frets on the rosewood fingerboard and the tuners are made from die-cast chrome. It’s a great starter guitar for the beginner that wants the option to play both acoustic and electric and it won’t sound out of place when you graduate to the intermediate level either.
There’s no reason to limit your options when there are great sounding acoustic electric guitars in every price range. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player – there’s a perfect acoustic electric guitar in our reviews for you. So whether you’re simply looking to transition from acoustic to electric or if you’re just starting out, an acoustic electric guitar is a great choice as your main guitar.
From Rock to Classical
The reason we think acoustic electric guitars are the perfect instrument is because you can play just about any style of music on them and in any location you like. If you’re heading up to a remote cabin far away from any electrical power outlet one of these guitars will still provide hours of beautifully naturally amplified music, but when you are back to civilization you can plug right in and turn things up a notch. There really is no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds – the days of having to temporarily rig up a mic to your acoustic guitar are long gone.
One of my favorite ways to have a look at an instrument before I buy it these days is to search for a video. A quick search using your search engine of preference will normally turn up a lot of options. This is a great tool to use if you plan on ordering a guitar online because you’ve found a great deal. Here's a short video demo of our top pick in acoustic-electric category, Fender CD-140SCE:
You still get to give it a virtual test run so that you can see if it has the sound you’re looking for. We definitely recommend this if you can’t find one at your local music store to test.
Your New Guitar’s Waiting
Buying a new guitar is an exciting feeling no matter whether it’s your first one or 15th – there’s simply no substitute for the pleasure that music brings to the player, their friends, their family, and their fans.
Hopefully our reviews have made your decision easier, but if you’re still on the fence between a couple of different choices we encourage you to follow the links and check them out for yourself. Heck maybe you’ll decide to buy more than one guitar down the line and that’s fine. Most of the best guitarists have a few different instruments in their music room. A little music in your life is the perfect tonic for the everyday hustle and bustle of life.