Until the 1950s, if you wanted to hear your acoustic guitar live, you had to mix it and stand stock still while playing. While the Gibson guitar company innovated the electric guitar, Ovation brought about our modern acoustic-electric guitars at the request of country music star Glenn Campbell. Now there’s a plethora of styles in price ranges geared toward everyone.
Check out this list of the best acoustic electric guitars. We also explain how to determine what style best suits your guitar mastery level and sound goals.
What Makes a Guitar “Best”
Every guitarist would have different criteria for what makes a best acoustic electric guitar. The guitars discussed herein share a multitude of features. They sound good plugged into any guitar amp. Each produces a clear tone you can hone on your own using desired effects. Its manufacturer crafts each of quality materials, including premium wood. While this list focuses on big names like Epiphone, Fender, Gibson, and Gretsch that offer lower cost models of high quality, don’t miss out on well-known, more expensive brands like Taylor or foreign boutique brands like Japan’s Nikko guitars, known for experimenting with unique multiple soundhole designs. If you’re purchasing a guitar for a child or someone with small hands, consider a three-quarter-sized guitar.
Purchase Decision Making
After reading this article, you’ll probably have a clear idea of a few guitars that would work for you. Go into a guitar or music store and try each out. Plug it into an amp there and play a few scales. Play a few riffs. Feel how your fingers like the neck. Is it still comfortable to play if it needs the truss rod adjusted – something larger music stores don’t even think of to do when you purchase unless you ask? Ask. Once you pick out the right guitar, shop around online. The price you see in the bricks-and-mortar store you can easily beat online which leaves you extra to spend on a good gig bag, a strap, picks, strings and a guitar stand or hanger.
The Acoustic-Electric Guitars
Budget-minded players can find great guitars for less than $300. Those who favor electric guitars know well the Fender Squier line designed with rock guitarist Billy Squier. Budding rockers can turn to the Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom Electric Guitar for an ax they can grow into as they learn. Although not an acoustic electric, we include it as an example of the quality one can procure at a low price.
Players love the Ibanez AEWC32FM, a hollow-body model costing only $399. It features a mahogany back, neck and sides, proving that you can get guitars made from quality woods for less. You could also start out with the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Acoustic-Electric guitar for $369 for a traditional country music look and tone. Try the Martin OMCXAE X-series HPL OM with Sonitone, a mid-priced hollow-body that costs about $597.
For about $2,699, you can pick up a Gibson 2018 ES-330 Thinline Hollow-body Electric Guitar, favored by jazz musicians for its deep bass and rich tones. You’ll get more warmth and increased attack from a Gretsch Guitars G6136T White Falcon with Bigsby White, a semi-hollow model. The center block offers increased note sustain. It’s not a starter model since you’ll pay at least $3,300. If you play one though, you’ll understand what to look for in more affordable models.
There’s a lot that goes into guitar shopping. You need to determine the kind of music you want to play and the kind of sound you want to achieve. If you want to sound like your favorite guitarist, your best bet is to find out what they play, then read reviews to find less expensive models with similar tone and features. That gives you a good guitar to start learning on without the price tag of a professional model.