4 Awesome Acoustic Electric Guitars to Suit Any Musicians Budget

Do you want a little more sound, a lot more gain, and a ton of impact? You might want to consider upping the ante with electronics in your acoustic guitar.

With enhanced amplication, you can amplify your skills to share your talent with the world – or Youtube! Justin Bieber did it!

While that’s a “LOL” moment, don’t judge us for the slip-of-the-tongue, we have plenty more notable and respected artists and acoustic electric guitars yet to mention!

We’ve only reviewed the best acoustic guitars you’ll find online. No laminate or flimsy cases allowed here!

While our best picks lack these cheap features, we’ve still found a worthy guitar at each price point that we’re certain will put on a smile on your face and a tune in your ear!

To make sure you’re getting the most appropriate buy for your budget, make sure to swing by our Buying Guide for everything on preamps to body styles and some advice for guitarists of all skill levels!

Our Top 4 Acoustic Electric Guitars for 2017

Yamaha FGX800C – Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under $300

Yamaha FGX800CFor over 50 years, Yamaha has set the guitar world on fire with their FG series, and they up the ante with this stunner Yamaha FGX800C guitar! Expect more power, sound, and unique bracing that the FG line is known for!

This particular model is barely a year old but its dreadnought body is timeless! To afford the a guitar from the FGX series and to keep costs just a hair-splitting penny below $300, the nato-built guitar is your only option.

But, that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on quality. The best acoustic-electric under 300 is outfitted with a solid Sitka spruce top with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

The scalloped bracing ensures ultimate protection to the life of the spruce top tonewood while projecting the true sounds of the rich, iconic, and natural acoustic foundation.

The electronics come into play with the System 66 Preamp that includes controls for the 3-band EQ, precision chromatic tuner, and adjustable mid-range frequency. You won’t ever have to depend on plugging in, since the built-in preamp only takes convenient AA batteries!

Main Benefits:

  • Price
  • Scalloped bracing
  • Solid wood top
  • System 66 Preamp
  • Improved sound vs FGX700 series

Main Drawbacks:

  • Poor quality strings

Customer Reviews

The Yamaha FGX800C guitar is a hit with the crowd! Buyers appreciate the quality of this guitar when they know the special features it has can easily cost twice as much! Whether users plug it in or depend on the preamp soundbox, this guitar has the potential to awe you and your audience.

However, a lot of users will end up replacing the strings to higher quality ones at some point in the future. This isn’t a big deal since strings are relatively cheap and personal preferences take precedence when you’re strumming for self-enjoyment or for the fans!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

What is the Higher Grade Tonewood Available with the Yamaha FGX800 series?

Is there an All Mahogany Model of this Guitar?

What are the Main Differences Between the Yamaha 700 and 800 Series?

Yamaha FGX800C Guitar Features:

  • Number Of Strings: 6
  • Hand Orientation: Right
  • Body Material: Nato/Spruce top
  • Neck Material: Nato
  • Fretboard Material: Rosewood

Takamine GD30CE – Best Electric Acoustic Guitar Under $500

Takamine GD30CEFor the best acoustic electric under $500, we really wanted to find a great Blueridge to give the underdog a minute or two under the spotlight. But, staying under or meeting the price point when it came to quality comparisons with the “Tak” was a fruitless effort.

The ever-worthy and long-time favorite, the Takamine GD30CE dreadnought, held its ground and took its very deserved place in this review!

Artists of various genres like Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, John Bon Jovi, Bruno Mars, Paul Simon, the Eagles, and even Bruce Springsteen all swung a “Tak” in the spotlight!

So don’t sass on the the “G” series when adored Garth Brooks expertly brandished one!

This simple yet stage-worthy guitar sports a solid spruce top with mahogany sides, back, and neck. The fretboard is made with rosewood, and it even has a pinless rosewood bridge.

The Takamine TP-4TD preamp system includes a three-band EQ and a built-in tuner for amplified performance that takes a 9 volt battery. Like you would expect, it plays excellently with resonance and sustain without being plugged in.

Do you dare take on a Tak and place yourself among the stars?

Main Benefits:

  • Price
  • Natural finish
  • Takamine TP-4TD preamp system
  • Solid tonewood
  • Pinless rosewood bridge

Main Drawbacks:

  • Quality control issues

Customer Reviews

The Takamine GD30CE guitar does justice to the revered Tak name, even with its low budget price tag. It’s not uncommon for buyers to worship their GD30CE guitar, and the instrument adds an aura that won’t be unnoticed while on stage!

However, as a very economical choice for a Tak guitar, there has been minor instances of a couple of finishing rough patches and dislike for the stock strings – nothing that can’t be taken care of in five minutes top!

But, to own the best acoustic-electric guitar for under $500, it’s a buy that needs picking up today!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

Is the Takamine GD30CE Neck Finished with Satin or Gloss?

Is there Another Color Finish of this Takamine Guitar?

Is there Another Takamine Close to this Price Range?

Where is the Japanese Guitar Made?

What are the Dimensions of the Takamine?

Is there a Smaller Model of this Guitar?

Takamine GD30CE Guitar Features:

  • Number Of Strings: 6
  • Hand Orientation: Right
  • Body Material: Mahogany/Spruce top
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Material: Rosewood

Martin Road Series – Best Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $1000

Martin Road Series DRS1 DreadnoughtOwning a Martin guitar doesn’t have to take you into the triple zero digit range. Just check out this Martin Road Series DRS1 guitar for proof of that! Priced far below what it’s worth, it has a kicker sound punch that will knock your socks off!

The eco-friendly in us all will appreciate the highly sustainable, full body, solid sapele tonewood. If you’re not familiar with sapele, with just one strum on this piece of art will tell you it’s similar to mahogany in sound and appearance.

But, for those dedicated to mahogany, you’ll be pleased to know the neck is made with the solid, dark good-stuff. To add to the tonewood combo is the certified richlite black fingerboard with 20 frets and a richkite bridge.

What you get is impeccable sound, warmth, and pitch-perfect intonation accuracy! Whether it’s picking or strumming that’s your style, loudness, richness, and fullness is the name of the tune!

By looking at the guitar, you can’t see any external controls. That’s because the Fishman Sonitone system allows for controls to be housed inside the soundhole which eliminates the need for ugly, extra cuts and holes in the side.

This genuinely beautiful six string guitar provides true and organic sound that fits perfectly with its forest-friendly motif!

Main Benefits:

  • Price
  • Sapele and richlite tonewoods
  • Fishman Sonitone electronics
  • Includes hard shell case
  • Chrome Enclosed Tuners

Main Drawbacks:

  • Fishman Sonitone electronics

Customer Reviews

Only one, single complaint could be found about the Martin Road Series DRS1 Guitar – the Fishman Sonitone electronics. But, it really comes down to personal preference right? With that said, every other buyer of this affordable Martin can’t brag enough about it!

It has an intricately simple design to it that’s no-nonsense but gorgeous as it flashes its premium features. There’s no doubt about this guitar – it’s a Martin!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

Can the Martin Road Series DRS1 be Plugged into an Amp?

What is the Nut and Saddle Made out of?

Where is the Martin Guitar Made?

How Durable is the Martin Road Series Guitar?

Can the Electronics be Replaced?

Does Martin Make a Left-Handed Version of this Guitar?

Martin Road Series Guitar Features:

  • Number Of Strings: 6
  • Hand Orientation: Right
  • Body Material: Sapele
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Material: Richlite

*Top Pick* Taylor Grand Auditorium – Best All-round

Taylor Grand AuditoriumAll of Taylor’s guitars are highly coveted by thru-and-true musicians! This includes the mouth-drooling Taylor Grand Auditorium 414ce guitar! It’s set at a price just above going broke that rivals two or three mortgage payments! But, is it worth it? We dare to answer with a resounding “yes!” It wouldn’t be our top pick if it wasn’t the chief of them all!

The exquisite body is constructed with a solid wood that’s barely pronounceable – Ovangkol. To bring things into perspective for you, this West African wood is comparable to rosewood.

If you like to mix up your genres of music between a wide spectrum of highs and lows, a full mid-range, and bright trebles, the ovangkol is for you!

The Grand Auditorium shape is thanks to the founder of Taylor Guitars himself, Bob Taylor. While it looks similar to a dreadnought, it has a slimmer waist aiding its abilities for a treble zing, note definition, and ultimate playing comfort.

It’s been outfitted with the Expression System that incorporates three magnetic sensors that contributes to increased resistance to distortion and feedback, extraordinary dynamic range, and it retains the purity of high-fidelity amplified tone.

Can it get better than this? It’s certainly hard to beat!

Main Benefits:

  • Expression system
  • Ovangkol tonewood
  • Pearl dot inlays
  • Patented New Technology (NT) neck
  • Grand Auditorium shape

Main Drawbacks:

  • Price

Customer Reviews

The Taylor Grand Auditorium has more online buyers than you’d think, but it’s still not as commonly bought as a $400 guitar, and the main reason is obvious. The price tag is fair but it’s a real bummer.

However, moving from bummer feelings to strummer pleasure, this Taylor guitar is a workhorse and has even dimmed an owner’s adorations for a Martin guitar – whoa, blasphemy!

The premium and high-fidelity features of the Grand Auditorium 414ce are worthy of going into foreclosure, yet too lengthy to mention when we’re watching our word count!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

Is the Neck Adjustable?

Is there a Cheaper Grand Auditorium Taylor Guitar?

Is there a Taylor Guitar for Beginners?

Does the Grand Auditorium Guitar Come with a Case?

What are the Other Tonewoods Used on this Guitar?

What are some of the Other Features of the Guitar?

Taylor Grand Auditorium Guitar Features:

  • Number Of Strings: 6
  • Hand Orientation: Right
  • Body Material: Ovangkol/Spruce top
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Material: Ebony

Acoustic-Electric Guitar Buying Guide

person playing an acoustic electric guitar

Beginners vs Advanced Guitarists

If you’re a beginner to using a guitar in general, there are many great and affordable options for you to find the best acoustic-electric starter guitar! Spending somewhere in the $100-$300 price range can have the potential to land you a decent starter guitar so that you can graduate to and justify the costs on an even finer one later on.

But, for intermediates and the pros, not only will you have to spend more, you will have to do some heavy lifting about specific features such as the best soundboards, amp systems for less interference and distortion, and the best tonewoods to get more bang for your buck!

Electric-Acoustic Guitar Body Styles

While this might have a lot to do with personal preference, as all things guitar-related, it also has a huge impact on sound and performance.

For comfort, you should look for a body style that performs well and forms to your body when sitting or standing.

For the best sound, this factor can depend on a lot of things, but the soundboard is one of them. Some acoustic guitars feature specially designed cuts to maximize both sound and comfort.

While each manufacturer and brand have their own specialized specs to create their version of a body style, they’re somewhat similar from guitar to guitar. Here are the common body styles for acoustic electric that also apply to acoustic only guitars as well.

Dreadnought

First having come about in 1916, the dreadnought body is known for its large size and large soundboard. Bluegrass players love the driving and powerful force of sound from the wide waist, busty bouts, and 14-fret necks. If you’re a heavy strummer or you like the boomy tones of a bass-rich guitar, the dreadnought body style is ideal for you!

Auditorium and Grand Auditorium

The auditorium body style is sometimes referred to as an orchestra body. It’s relatively similar to a dreadnought body but it’s mid-size and has a smaller neck. Its gorgeous, curvy body was a style that Eric Clapton hit the stage with in 1992!

The grand auditorium, on the other hand, has a sexy hourglass silhouette with a 16 inch lower bout and slimmer waist that’s much more defined than the dreadnought. Because of these dynamic specs, it provides a much greater range of volume with balanced sound versus the smaller style auditoriums.

Concert and Grand Concert

The smaller bout of 13.5 inches on a concert body isn’t a bad thing. If you’re on the smaller side or if you prefer the bright twang of a pluck, then the concert body style will be your pick of the litter.

The grand concert body is slightly larger with a lower bout of 14-14.5 inches. The heftier bottom allows for a more powerful and louder mid-range versus the concert styles.

Jumbo

If you’re a self-proclaimed cowboy and all you want is boom, bang, and punch, the jumbo 17 inch lower bout might just be for you. It’s considered the classic cowboy guitar since it’s big, loud, and resonates deeply.

Because it’s so big, it can be uncomfortable to sit and play with, so it’s more commonly used with a strap while standing. If stage performances are better rated with you standing and pacing the floor while jamming, you might want the jumbo!

Minis

Travel, backpacker, and mini acoustics are for children and travelers who want something lightweight, easy to play, and easy to pack. While the smaller size might disqualify it as your on-stage instrument, many manufacturers are coming up with innovative technology and designs to counteract the compromise on sound and quality.

Acoustic Electric Guitar Preamps

With all this talk about about preamp systems, you’re probably wondering what they are! Between all the use of preamp, power amps, pickups, and other guitar terminology, they can get thrown around interchangeably leaving you with a vague understanding and how they contribute to tone, sound, and balance. Let’s get into the nitty gritty!

Benefits of Preamps:

A preamp is exactly what it seems like – a preamplifer. It picks up vibrations from the strings and converts that into a signal to be sent to the proceeding amplifer to be sent to the speakers. The result? Amplified sound, and when it comes to acoustics, you need all the help you can get to make sure you’re heard!

There are many reasons to appreciate a preamp that includes:

  • Increased gain
  • Boosted low signals
  • Change or adjust tone
  • Adjust volume or equalizer
  • Lower or clean up output resistance
  • Balance signals

Tone

A preamp includes controls for tone. The tone stack in acoustic electric guitars are generally changeable with equalizers and drive controls that can regulate tonal voices by switching between resonance such as warmth, bright sounds, or transparent note intonation. Others like the outright distortion or overdrive.

Gain

A gain control is also the drive control and may or may not be found on a preamp. This controls the power levels of your signals. Preamps without a drive control already have a fixed amount of gain built into it which is predetermined at the ideal range for best operation.

Other preamps might only allow for increased gain to barely push into overdrive of the input signal. Either way, all preamps come with a volume control that can increase or lower the signal at the preamp circuit.

Power Amps

While this all sounds good and dandy, you need to consider whether or not your preamp can be efficient enough to drive a power amp.

For example, if you plug into a .7V power amp and you get good sound – great! However, if you plug into a 1.25V power amp and find the signals are weak, it’s not the tonal lack of the power amp that’s the problem. The preamp signals are too weak to be driven to the powerful 1.25V power amp. The issue is the sensitivity input of the power amp is too high for the preamp to be driven well.

You will need to check your preamp’s average output to ensure the input sensitivity of the power amp is compatible.

Power amps are rated in volts and generally come in .7V, 1V, and 1.25V. Most preamps don’t produce strong enough output to power a 1.25V. Most manufacturers don’t rate the average output of their preamp which makes things even harder in determining compatibility. What you can look for is the “line level“, “dBu”, or “dBv” information when researching this aspect of your acoustic electric guitar.

Active Pickups

Preamps are what you would consider “active” pickups because they require a power source of energy to boost signals. This is why many preamps that are pre-installed into acoustic electric guitars require either a AA or 9 volt battery.

Passive pickups are directly plugged into an amplifier but typically lack the ability to increase gain.

The use of preamps alone should never be relied upon for great sound. You must consider its power strength to drive whatever device you plug into and the most appropriate output connector plug.

Put Yourself First!

With many different aspects to consider on a guitar, including tonal inclinations which are subjective, a guitar that sounds good to you is the best place to start.

Check out videos, demonstrations, and visit specialized guitar shops to get an idea of what you want. If you are not sold on getting an acoustic-electric, you might want to check out these electric guitars to factor into your decision.

Just remember, at the end of the day, the guitar is only going to sound as good as the one strummin’ it!