While at first glance an electric acoustic guitar might look almost identical to that of a regular acoustic. The real magic happens with the in-built pickup systems which boast several features that can really improve the functionality of your guitar. From simple quality of life things such as an in-built tuner or some EQ controls. Some even have on-board effects such as reverb. But most importantly it gives you the ability to amplify your instrument, circumventing the need for a traditional microphone.
With electro-acoustic instruments being more accessible than ever, today we will take a look at 10 of the best ones available and answer some of the most commonly asked questions people have when considering one.
|Martin Guitar GPC-11E|
|Fender Malibu Player|
Takamine EF341SC Pro Series
One of Takamine’s higher-end instruments, the pro series is designed with the working professional in mind. Placing great emphasis on the wood choice and construction in order to provide a stable and high caliber sounding instrument that is going to excel both on stage and in the studio.
Featuring a solid cedar top that adds a slightly darker and warmer tonality to the instrument, rich with overtones and providing a lot of character. With a maple back and sides for great projection and life, combined with a stable mahogany neck.
This also includes Takamine’s ‘palathetic’ pickup. Which provides transparency and accurate translation of your guitar’s natural sound to the amplifier.
Yamaha 6 String Series AC3R
This instrument is designed with the traveling musician in mind, whether it’s for gigging or just taking it to a house party for a singalong.
Featuring a beautiful tobacco burst finish that will look incredible both on stage and at home. It’s available in mahogany or rosewood depending on your preference – we recommend rosewood for the most balanced and even sound.
It also has a newly designed, rounded neck profile to make it as comfortable to play as possible and uses Yamaha’s new SRT2 pickup system that has an understated control panel to add to its overall natural aesthetic.
One of the most boutique looking instruments on the list, with its aesthetic contoured armrest putting comfort and playability at the forefront.
Featuring a solid cedar top, with maple back and sides this guitar will boast tremendous projection, vibrance, and life.
Most importantly it has an electronics system from the prestigious Fishman Electronics installed which provides a wide array of tonal shaping options. Including a notch EQ, a ‘brilliance’ high-end boost, and even a phase sweep. So no matter where you’re playing you will always be able to get your desired sound.
Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand Auditorium
Taylor are one of the most well-respected manufacturers around, used and trusted by many players to always deliver not only a great sound but also a reliable and stable instrument that will perform under any circumstance.
With a carefully thought out and intentional ‘tonewood cocktail’, the guitar has a Sitka spruce top with a layered Indian rosewood back and sides. The guitar is finished in a high gloss for both protection and a great look when on stage.
The electronics system is a simple and uncomplicated 3 button, volume gain, and tone control setup.
Martin Guitar Road Series GPC-11E
Martin put a lot of effort into ensuring they use the best quality wood for their guitars. This means it will not only sound great, but also provide that tuning stability and withstand rigors of playing, practicing and traveling.
These are handmade guitars designed to cater to a wide range of styles from rock, to jazz, to pop.
Featuring a Sitka spruce top with Sapele back and sides. Martin says this delivers a powerful tone that is rich with personality and overtones.
Also featuring the Fishman MX-T electronics system which has a convenient auto-mute option to protect against any feedback or hum.
Fender Malibu Player Acoustic
It’s very common for an electric player to dabble in acoustic. But sometimes the transition after playing electric guitar and suddenly picking up an acoustic can be jarring as they feel so different in the hands.
The Fender Player series is designed to bridge the gap between electric and acoustic by using a neck and headstock which is similar to a Stratocaster, but with an acoustic body built with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany back/sides.
This allows electric players the opportunity to retain all the comfort and playability they enjoyed on their electric guitar, but produce the tone of an acoustic.
Yamaha NCX1 NT
While the majority of electro-acoustics you see are steel-string. There is absolutely demand for a classical nylon string guitar that also has the ability to be amplified.
Designed with a slightly more contemporary look to complement the more modern onboard pickup system. Yet still retaining the traditional neck profile that would be used on a regular classical guitar.
This is going to allow you to make use of amplification or effects without sacrificing any of the feel and soul of a regular nylon string guitar.
Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought
One of the most popular budget-friendly electro-acoustics around. Ibanez are always consistent when creating a solid and reliable instrument that will hold up to the rigors of playing.
This is a full-bodied dreadnought style guitar with a beautiful solid mahogany top, back, and sides which will provide that large, warm and rich sound. The natural open pore finish really lets the mahogany wood grain shine through.
It also has a Fishman Sonicore pickup system installed with an inbuilt tuner and a phase control to rectify any feedback issues you might experience.
PRS Limited Edition SE Parlor P20E
PRS is a company known for absolute premium top-quality instruments. This limited edition parlor electro-acoustic is a dream for anyone looking for a lightweight, but still great sounding portable parlor-style instrument.
It features a mahogany top, back, sides and neck. Which is going to add that richness to offset the loss of bass due to the smaller body size. The bracing of the guitar has also been designed to make it sound larger than it really is.
It has a beautiful antique white finish further adding to that old-school parlor aesthetic. And even features the signature PRS bird inlays and iconic SE headstock shape.
Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought
This is a fantastic choice if you are a beginner looking for a full package to get you off the ground. Or perhaps even as a professional who is in quick need of an instrument that will get the job done.
The guitar has a full-sized Dreadnought body, which is all mahogany giving it that dark but also rich and warm sound.
In addition to that it comes with all the extra goodies a guitarist could want including picks, a tuner, strap, new strings, a cleaning cloth, and even a good quality Fender hardshell case which is truly an exceptional thing to have come in a package this cheap.
Are acoustic electric guitars any good?
Absolutely, these guitars will offer everything you might want from a regular acoustic guitar without any substantial downside (aside from perhaps needing to keep a spare 9v battery to hand, just in case).
There are a wide variety of options available depending on your needs, from the high fidelity piezo style pickup that is mounted under the bridge, the traditional magnetic pickup, or even a mounted microphone inside the body. You can also use a blend of them for ultimate tonal variety.
If you ever amplify your acoustic guitar in any way, whether for shows or for playing at home with effects, an electro-acoustic is worth consideration.
Is acoustic or electric better?
By and large, an electric acoustic is very similar to a traditional acoustic. It does not change the playability of the guitar and will essentially feel identical. Yet it has all this added functionality with the ability to amplify the instrument. So for anyone who is playing shows or needs a convenient recording solution at home, they will absolutely be the better choice.
There is an argument that some electronic systems require the body to be routed out to accommodate the control panel, which can compromise the tone a little. However if this is a concern for you there are plenty of non-destructive ways to install a pickup that will not affect your guitars natural tone in any way.
Is acoustic electric guitar better for beginners?
The first thing to ask yourself is, do you need to amplify your guitar? If you ever plan on playing a show, or recording at home the ability to plug a cable into your instrument can be invaluable. Plus, with the electronic systems being so affordable these days there’s no reason not to consider one.
However, if you are sure you will never need to use a microphone on your guitar in any way and plan on just playing by yourself at home. Then it doesn’t offer any added benefit and you may want to consider a traditional non-electric acoustic.
What is the difference between acoustic and acoustic electric guitar?
When we use the term electric acoustic we simply mean a regular acoustic guitar that has some kind of electronic pickup system installed.
This could be any of the number of pickup styles that are available from the piezo system, a traditional magnetic pickup, or a microphone that gets mounted inside of the body. There can also be a control panel mounted on the side of the guitar which contains controls such as an EQ for additional tonal shaping, a gain control, a tuner, and sometimes even inbuilt effects.
How the guitar feels in the hands, and the overall tone it produces will be very similar to that of a non-electric version.
Can you play an acoustic electric guitar without plugging it in?
Certainly! One of the great benefits of these guitars is that they are still, at their core, a regular acoustic just with some extra added functionality. You can even use a microphone on them how you would if the guitar didn’t have any electronic system installed in it at all, which allows you to blend them should you need.
So you can still play this at home for unplugged practice, and it’s going to sound every bit as good as a regular acoustic. Just think of the electronics as an optional bonus added to an already functional acoustic instrument.
Do acoustic electric guitars sound good unplugged?
Because these guitars are still fundamentally acoustic instruments that just have the option to be amplified, the tone and sound of the guitar will be affected by the wood choices, construction, and the player’s hands in every bit the same way as an acoustic.
However, it’s worth noting that due to some pickup systems being mounted in the body, some people may argue that the small amount of wood that gets routed away to accommodate the controls will affect the tone slightly. But this is a very small price to pay for how much functionality the electronics add.
What are the best guitar strings for acoustic electric guitar?
As the guitar has all the same construction and bridge systems as a regular acoustic, you can use any set of acoustic guitar strings you like and they will work great. So just pick your normal favorites and use them. If you are unsure the Ernie Ball Everlast Coated 80/20 bronze set is a reliable place to begin as those strings will last a long time and come from a trusted company.
It’s also worth noting that you may want to experiment with strings if you use a magnetic pickup as different strings types will interact with the pickup differently.
Do you need an acoustic amp for an acoustic electric guitar?
If you plan on practicing at home then there’s no need for an amplifier, the volume provided by a normal acoustic will be plenty for home use. It’s also not necessary for recording as it’s possible to plug directly into the computer without an amplifier.
You may want to consider one if you will play any small shows or have a band rehearsal and need the additional volume. Or if you wish to use extra effects such as delays or reverbs which, unless you have a guitar with ‘in built’ effects, you will need an amplifier in order to take advantage of.
What are the best acoustic electric guitars under $500?
Fortunately these days there are plenty of great, value for money instruments available which are not only well built but also have very usable electronics systems installed.
If you are looking for a standard Dreadnought steel-string electro acoustic the Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood is a great option. Or if you needed a nylon, classical guitar the Yamaha NCX1 NT is a worthy choice.
Of course, there are many more options available depending on your preferences. But if you don’t already have a specific vision in mind for what you need, these guitars will serve you well.