best acoustic electric guitar

Top 10 Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Options For 2021

An acoustic guitar is a type of guitar. An electric guitar is another kind. An acoustic-electric guitar is an amalgam of the two making one best option. When shopping for an acoustic or electric guitar best for you, it’s not that difficult to zero in on one if you know what you’re looking for. However, things get tricky when you’re looking to buy the best acoustic electric guitar.

Quick Links To Our Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Recommendations

It’s not just about the price and the various options, the electronics and other elements that go into these guitars could be quite overwhelming to assimilate, even for trained guitarists. We have, therefore, put together a list of 10 best acoustic electric guitars that are arguably the best on the market. They have solid play-ability quotient and pack in high-quality best electronics as well.

Need an amp too?  Check these out:

Our Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Recommendations

Taylor 110e Acoustic Electric

This is our top choice for best acoustic electric guitars.  Taylor guitars are known for their solid build quality and premium sound. The 110e excels on both fronts. The guitar offers an eclectic mix of build, sound, and design elements. An excellent acoustic-electric guitar for both intermediates and beginners, the 110e acoustic electric guitar is essentially a Taylor 110 with some electronics thrown in for sound amplification.

If you have just started to play the guitar, the 110e will be your solid beginner instrument – thanks to the low action and thin neck. It has solid feel and playability. The guitar can be played right out of its box too. You can play it acoustically or plug it in when you need some additional volume. As far as build goes, the top is Sitka spruce that has scalloped X-bracing. The back and sides are layered walnut.

The default sound is robust that stays smooth even when you crank up the volume. In fact, the 110e has all its bases covered – the low-end power is impressive, mid-range is punchy, and highs are crisp. The balanced, rich tone renders it ideal for recording. And thanks to its powerful volume and projections, the guitar works great for live performances as well.

You can use the 110e as a rhythm instrument since it responds pretty well to light-to-intense strumming and flatpicking. Not to mention, the electronics in the guitar give it a totally unique sound signature. There is no buzz or distortion in the sound. However, if you would like to apply some distortion intentionally, you can do so with a pedal.

Pros

  • Classic design and solid build
  • Quality preamp and pickup
  • Great sound for the price
  • Great playability
  • Works for both live performances and recording sessions

Cons

  • Tonal quality is slightly lacking
  • The finish could have been even better
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Epiphone PR5-E

Out second choice for best acoustic electric guitars.  The Epiphone PR5-E acoustic electric guitar has been around for more than two decades. Over the years, it has seen quite a few iterations and improvements, which explains why it features here. For the price, the PR5-E’s hardware overdelivers. The white snowflake design and fingerboard inlays add to the quality build and feel. However, the guitar is not just about its looks. Its sound is on point too. In fact, the sound is the major reason why the PR5-E shines.

Despite being relatively thin, the guitar produces surprisingly loud tones. If you are performing in a large room, the sound could travel to the very back of the space. The hand-scalloped bracing and spruce top must be credited for the impressive volume. The back and sides are mahogany. The natural finish comes off pretty well under stage lights as well.

The guitar, however, showcases a completely different personality when plugged in. The German-made Shadow electronics within help reproduce the guitar’s original tone to the T. The reproduction is unlike cheap electro acoustics that employ piezo electronics, which could be fairly harsh and pick up string vibrations for the most part.

The true sound of an acoustic guitar lies not just in the vibrating strings but also in those subtler tones the instrument’s body and top create upon vibrations. In fact, those sounds give an acoustic guitar its identity. The PR5-E’s electronics pick up these vibrations, which explains the excellent sound.

Pros

  • Great looks
  • Excellent value offering
  • Quality components
  • Great sound amplification

Cons

  • Controls are hard to discern in stage lighting
  • Small strap button
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Gibson Hummingbird Pro

Another great runner up for best acoustic electric guitars.  The Hummingbird Pro acoustic electric guitar is one of Gibson’s revered models and has been around since it first arrived at the scene in 1960. Ideal for all playing styles and capable of first-position, rich folk chords and complex solo playing, this guitar soon turned into an iconic guitar, and is heavily favored by legends such as Keith Richards and Gram Parsons.

This 2016 model is a modern take on one of Gibson’s most revered guitars. It features a full-blown Plek-assisted arrangement for excellent performance and action. The fingerboard edge is softened slightly so that it fits your hand’s contour better. The high-gloss finish has polishing compounds and finer grit sandpaper that help with sliding the guitar up and down your neck.

The body design is called ‘square shoulder dreadnought’. The sides and back are made from mahogany, while the top is built from Sitka spruce. The build and design give the guitar a truly balanced midrange sound, with clear treble registers and unbiased rich lows. The correct wood selection and drying formula are integral to the guitar’s manufacturing process.

The guitar features a solitary “X” bracing pattern that’s much like the innards of the classic Gibson J-30 guitars. This traditional pattern helps deliver unbiased lows, a balanced midrange, and clear, rich highs. The acoustic pickup system is courtesy L.R. Baggs Element, which leads to improved coupling between the guitar and transducer. This substantially enhances the transducer’s sensitivity so that the pickup delivers a lively, robust, and open sound.

Pros

  • Classic looks
  • Player-friendly
  • Solid build quality
  • Great overall sound

Cons

  • The low-end is a bit lacking
  • No onboard tuner
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Takamine EF341SC

The Takamine EF341SC acoustic electric guitar is an electro-acoustic dreadnought. It has a slight rock vibe as well. The body has a deep cutaway, which gives away its ‘true performance guitar’ nature. The guitar’s top is made of solid cedar. The sides and back are manufactured using laminated maple. And the piano black finish gives the guitar a cool look.

At the top, there is a mahogany-made C-shaped neck joining the guitar toward the 14th fret. The neck comes with a 1.675-inch nut width and a fretboard made of rosewood. The fretboard houses small diamond inlays and 20 frets. Long story short, the guitar’s design is flawless and on point. It’s classy, yet simple and built to last.

Since we are talking about electro-acoustic guitars here, let’s discuss the electronics that have gone into this Takamine. The EF341SC features a CT-4B II preamp setup, coupled with the unique under-saddle, Palathetic pickup. The guitar features a three-band EQ (treble, mid, and bass), a handy integrated chromatic tuner, and a volume slider.

The remainder of the hardware includes the chrome tuners adorning the classic Takamine headstock, a rosewood bridge with a nut and bone saddle, and light-gauge D’Addario EXP16 strings. All of this hardware comes shipped in a hard-shell case, which is pretty standard across guitars falling in this price category.

On the sound front, the EF341SC provides both an amplification and sound system. The dreadnought body shape provides a significant amount of low end and natural projection. The cedar top offers a warm, rich sound. The CT-4B II helps retain the natural acoustic tone of the guitar, irrespective of the loudness meter.

Pros

  • Great looks
  • Solid set of electronics
  • Wonderful sound
  • Best for stage performances

Cons

  • Not the best for beginners
  • On the pricey side of things
Our Rating -
4.5/5

Yamaha A-Series A3M

Yamaha makes guitars spanning pretty much all price tiers. The A3M acoustic electric guitar is one of its mid to high-end offerings – a part of the brand’s A Series of guitars. Launched in 2017, the guitar promises power, comfort, and is the ideal companion for on-road guitarists. The guitar doesn’t look very striking from the outside, however. The style is not groundbreaking at all. But it still manages to sport an attractive and elegant design that will add to any collection.

The dreadnought size body has a scale length of 23.65 inches, with the treble side sporting a deep cutaway. The guitar is made of wood in its entirety. The top is made of solid Sitka spruce, and the rear and sides are made from solid mahogany. All are treated with Yamaha’s A.R.E (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) wood reforming technology, which basically pre-ages the wood, giving it a beautiful sound signature.

The neck is extremely comfortable, with the rosewood fretboard sporting hand-rolled edges and a straight taper. The guitar is pretty fun too. It has 19 frets, a matte finish, and the body cutaway offers great higher fret access. Yamaha guitars are manufactured in both America and China. This model is made in China and feels quite well-built. The guitar is ready for action right out of the box.

The sound amplification is taken care of by Yamaha’s Studio Response Technology (S.R.T.) system, which blends together both microphone and piezo pickup. You can control the preamp using a three-band EQ and master volume, all available on the guitar body’s side. This positioning of the controls is pretty user-friendly, unlike the cumbersome control panels that similar guitars are best known for.

Pros

  • Solid set of features
  • Delivers rich and full sound
  • Narrower neck helps flat pickers
  • Best value offering

Cons

  • Some players may not fancy the slim neck
  • Finger stylists would find the nut width narrower
Our Rating -
4/5

Fender CD-140SCE

The Fender CD-140SCE acoustic electric guitar belongs to Fender’s Classic Series of guitars. It’s a top-tier guitar sporting a solid spruce top bedecked with a tortoise-shell pickguard and a Pearloid rosette. The back and sides are made of rosewood, which gives the guitar a dappled grain. Compared to the back, the sides are on the darker side.

The body is skirted with black and white strips that draw attention to the jumbo-cutaway shape. The back wood has a good amount of tone contrast, which could make you believe the body has hidden depths. The solid, honest acoustic guitar craftsmanship helps achieve this effect.

The neck is mahogany, which is similar to the rosewood rear in terms of hue. The fingerboard is rosewood. Adorning all the wood elements are 3mm Pearloid dots. The neck has been designed keeping comfort in view. The rolled fingerboard edges and slim profile make the guitar ideal for guitarists who fancy wrapping their thumbs over the guitar’s neck.

The headstock features die-cast machine heads in chrome and it’s finished off with Fender’s obligatory logo – a swish. Compared to the company’s Paramount series, the Classic Series of guitars is more geared towards the beginner player. That doesn’t mean imply that the CD-140SCE has zero advanced technology under the hood. There is a dual-action truss rod, which helps you modify the action to your custom settings. As far as sound goes, the bass is pretty full, but the same could also be said about the upper and mid ranges.

Pros

  • Big, vibrant sound
  • Clean tones
  • Crisp and no distortions
  • Best build quality

Cons

  • Left-handers may find the cutaway a minor inconvenience

Check out our full Fender CD-140SCE review here.

Our Rating -
4/5

Ibanez V70CE

The Ibanez V70CE acoustic electric guitar is a great beginner acoustic-electric guitar. If you’re looking for something to jam, practice, and even use for your performances, the V70CE would not disappoint. The guitar’s body is a dreadnought shape that would appeal to both amateurs and experienced players. The treble side has a large single cutaway.

The top is made of laminated select spruce. The rear and sides are made using mahogany. There are a couple of color choices – a sophisticated black and an eye-catching blue burst. Both have glossy finishes. There are a few other design elements, such as an ivory-colored plastic binding and the multi-ring rosette. Both give a refined closure to the beautiful looking instrument.

The guitar sports the AEQ200 preamp, designed by Ibanez, along with an under-saddle pickup. The hardware setup is pretty simple and user-friendly, offering EQ controls as three sliders. The sound, on the other hand, is quite impressive for the price. Mahogany and spruce are a classic pair as they work best in tandem to create well-balanced tones. The V70CE is pretty bright and crisp with solid projection.

Pros

  • Fun to play
  • Solid audio, both electronically and acoustically
  • Looks beautiful and built well
  • Tunes pretty well

Cons

  • Not the best for seasoned players
  • High action
Our Rating -
4/5

Gibson J-200

The Gibson J-200 acoustic electric guitar perhaps has the richest feeling and looking finishes of all acoustic-electric guitars on this list. Referred to as vintage sunburst, the finish is a splendid dark tobacco hue, with vintage design inflections from the engraved scratchplate and mustache bridge. The design is redolent of class. The vintage sunburst is finished with slender nitrocellulose lacquer.

The guitar’s electronics have been taken care of by the LR Baggs Anthem set up and their Tru-Mic Technology. The system incorporates the acclaimed Elemental pickup and a condenser microphone. The discrete preamp with the mounted soundhole carries phase, mix, and volume controls along with a button for testing the battery. When you sit down to play the guitar, the first thing that catches your attention is how well the neck rests in your hand. Gibson guitars are known for their high playability right out of the box – the J-200 is no exception. The PLEK procedure that does away with intonation issues or fret buzz is in part responsible for this.

The guitar has a pretty clean and crisp tone, with a low end that’s well-defined and tight. The large soundbox may seem like the top could be engulfing the bottom end, but that isn’t the case. The sound is pretty refined and well-balanced.

Pros

  • Balanced tone
  • Sounds best when plugged in
  • Beautiful, iconic design
  • Flawless fit and finish

Cons

  • Perhaps a bit too refined
Our Rating -
4/5

Martin LX1E

The Martin LX1E acoustic electric guitar is a tidily built guitar with a chamfered top edge that gives the guitar a fairly thicker appearance. The multi-piece neck, on the contrary, has a more finished look and less open pores. The rounded fingerboard edges and fretwork give the guitar a solid feel. The bridge and fingerboard seemingly look like ebony. The dark-hued sides and back, on the other hand, ape rich, dark mahogany.

The back is conventionally braced with minimal decoration. The guitar does have an industrial look, which some people would like, and a few others may not fancy. Regardless, it doesn’t impact how the guitar sounds and performs. The conventional sound could remind you of the traditional ‘American’ fingerstyle. The pushy voice will be pretty easy to hear over larger guitars – both during a recording and in an ensemble.

The guitar has a pre-set EQ. Like its acoustic sound, the guitar sounds pretty ‘conventional’ when plugged in, which is not a bad thing at all. Not to mention, dialing it in is pretty easy. You’ll just have to scoop some lower midrange.

Pros

  • Professional, simple design
  • Works like advertised
  • Durable laminate
  • Great sound for the size

Cons

  • Maybe a bit too plain for some

Check out our review of the Martin LX1 as well.

Our Rating -
4.5/5

Paul Reed Smith A15AL SE Angelus

The PRS A15AL acoustic electric guitar is the budget-friendly version of Alex Lifeson’s Private Stock model. The guitar is 15.5-inch (394mm) wide, which puts it between the Grand Auditorium and Taylor’s Grand Concert, in terms of size. As the name implies, the guitar is on the thinner side, which helps with its playability or renders it a bit more comfortable in the hand.

On the inside, the guitar employs spruce braces. Then there is the wood aspect of the build. The top is solid Sitka spruce, with laminated dao rear and sides. The soundhole adornment adds a bit of upmarket flavor as well, with a wood center inlaid. The neck features an electric-like nut width and broad saddle spacing. The three-piece neck has the headstock spliced on.

On the sound front, there is ample amounts of acoustic clout, with the guitar’s construction providing some midrange push. There are onboard controls, which may not be very handy on stage.

Pros

  • High-quality build
  • Tidy finishing
  • Nicely playable neck
  • Thin profile

Cons

  • Not the best acoustic for stage performances

What To Consider When Choosing An Acoustic Electric Guitar

Are you looking for an acoustic that you can plug into an amp? An acoustic electric guitar is very versatile but there are some things to keep in mind when shopping for one.

  • What kind of music do you primarily play? If you’re a rocker, you’ll want an acoustic electric that is more suited to that style of music.
  • What size acoustic electric guitar do you want? A full sized guitar, a dreadnought or a parlor? The larger the size, the better the sound quality.
  • Are you looking for an acoustic electric with a piezo pickup or one with an under saddle pickup? The under saddle types are quieter and produce less feedback when plugged in.
  • How much are you willing to spend? Electric guitars can range from $100.00 up to thousands of dollars.
  • Where will you be playing your acoustic electric? Live gigs, recording or just around the house? Acoustic electrics made for live performances are usually louder and better quality than those made for recording.
  • Is the guitar you are considering new or used? Used guitars take a little longer to break in and can be a bit rough when first purchased. New guitars sound and play better right out of the box.

Many acoustic electric guitars come finished in a spruce top with rosewood sides and back. Rosewood is an excellent wood to produce some of the best acoustic guitar sounds on the market. Spruce produces a bit more of a bright tone. Many acoustic electrics are also available in mahogany which produces a good sound but tends to be darker sounding and not as responsive as spruce or rosewood.

Acoustic electric guitars come in many shapes and sizes depending on what style you’re looking for. The key is just to try some out and see which you feel most comfortable with. A lot of people prefer the smaller dreadnought guitars because they are easier to play in small living rooms and coffee shops. Larger parlor sized guitars are also popular in some circles.

There are also some key areas where you should consider your acoustic electric guitar. These areas include:

  • Bridge height and string spacing: Adjusting the bridge height and string spacing is extremely important when choosing an acoustic electric guitar. If the bridge is too low, it will intonate incorrectly causing your fretted notes to sound sharp. The intonation can also be off if the string spacing is too narrow or too wide.
  • Neck relief: If the relief on the neck isn’t set correctly, you’ll have fret buzz and it will be hard to play. Correct neck relief allows for plenty of space at each fret so you have enough room for your fingers.
  • Action height: Too high and you get fret buzz and poor action. Too low and you won’t be able to play at all. Acoustic electric guitars come with a variety of action slots to adjust the action height on your guitar.
  • Truss rod adjustment: You should adjust the truss rod if you are experiencing any neck or fret buzz. The truss rod corrects stress on the neck and frets which can cause those notes to sound sharp or flat.
  • Top filling: Some brands are made without any side bracing which can cause the top to go out of tune over time. This is referred to as top filling.
  • Tone woods: Some manufacturers use a lot of different species of wood for their guitars. You’ll want to find out if you like the sound and feel of the wood.
  • Electronics: There are two main types of electronics used in acoustic electrics, piezo pickups and under saddle pickups.

Acoustic Electric Guitar Conclusion

The best acoustic-electric guitars mentioned above are pretty unique in their own rights, particularly with the price tiers that they sit in. Therefore, if you have budget restrictions, do not feel put off by the pricier options. Also, the list comprises guitars for new and seasoned players. Make sure you pick the best guitar based on the full review above suiting your requirements and skills so that you get your monies worth.

Looking for something in a specific price range?  Take a look:

About The Author - Dan Harper
About The Author - Dan Harper

My name is Dan and I have been playing guitar for about 35 years. Over the years, I have taught guitar, played in a number of bands and owned and played a ton of gear.
When not playing guitar, I like to travel with my family, grill good food and go to concerts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *