7 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars of 2024

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Gone are the days of having to stand perfectly still while performing with an acoustic guitar, lest you bump into the microphone that was so delicately positioned by the sound guy.

The acoustic electric guitar has become one of the most popular instruments in modern music, combining the sonic traits of traditional acoustic guitars with the convenience and versatility of an electric guitar, so you can plug into an amp or sound system and amplify your sound.

Today there are literally thousands of acoustic electric guitars available on the market, ranging in price range from budget-friendly to Blues Lawyer.

Here we'll break down 7 of the top acoustic electric guitars available today, starting with our pick for Best Acoustic Electric Guitar: the classic Gibson J-45.

Quick Summary of the Best Acoustic Electric Guitars

  1. Gibson J-45 (Best Acoustic Electric Guitar)
  2. Fender Acoustasonic (Best Hybrid Acoustic Electric)
  3. Guild D-240E (Best Mid-Tier Acoustic Electric)
  4. Recording King Dirty 30's Series 7 (Best Budget Acoustic Electric)
  5. Epiphone J-200EC (Best Cutaway Acoustic Electric Guitar)
  6. Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher (Most Distinct Acoustic Electric Guitar)
  7. Cordoba GK Pro Negra (Best Nylon String Acoustic Electric Guitar)

Best Acoustic Electric Guitars

1. Best Acoustic Electric Guitar – Gibson J-45

Gibson J-45

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Round shoulder dreadnought
  • Back & Side Woods: Mahogany
  • Top Wood: Solid sitka spruce
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 24.75"
  • Electronics: LR Baggs VTC Under Saddle Pickup

We're kicking off our list with a classic, the iconic Gibson J-45. With so many acoustic electric guitars to choose from, it felt only right to start with a time-tested workhorse. The J-45 is well-known amongst guitar players for its warm, dynamic tone and playability.

With its use of beautiful tonewoods such as its solid sitka spruce top, mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard, it's no mystery where the J-45's warm and rich acoustic tone comes from.

This tone is captured beautifully with the LR Baggs VTC Under Saddle Pickup, faithfully transferring every sonic nuance to the PA or amp. An onboard preamplifier, unobtrusive and discrete volume control is mounted just inside the sound hole.

The Gibson J-45 offers no compromises and no gimmicks, just a high-quality acoustic electric guitar.

2. Best Hybrid Acoustic Electric – Fender Acoustasonic

Fender Acoustasonic

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Acoustasonic Telecaster
  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Top Wood: Sitka spruce
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Electronics: N4 Magnetic Single-coil & Under-saddle Piezo pickup

There's a new kid in town. When the Fender Acoustasonic burst onto the scene a few years ago, no one could have anticipated just how popular and impactful the instrument would be.

Suddenly everyone from J Mascis to Julien Baker was sporting an Acoustasonic, and once you play one, it's easy to see why.

The key ingredient may be the instrument's semi-hollowbody design, featuring a finely tuned and resonant soundport that helps deliver pleasing acoustic tones when unplugged.

But the real magic starts once you plug this bad boy in. The 3-way blade flips between meticulously crafted acoustic and electric tones, which can then be blended together with the blend knob.

Unlike many acoustic electric guitars, which can sometimes sound overly bright and clean when plugged directly into a sound system, the Fender Acoustasonic offers warm and dynamic tones.

Ideal for studio use, as you can track a scratch acoustic guitar part without worrying about the sound bleeding into drum overheads.

Hybrids like the Acoustasonic are here to stay, and while it may take some time to win over purists, there's no denying their versatility and value. When it comes to value for money, we recommend another model in the same price range, the Takamine P4DC acoustic electric axe.

3. Best Mid-Tier Acoustic Electric – Guild D-240E

Guild D-240E

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Body & Side Woods: Mahogany
  • Top Wood: Solid sitka spruce
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Electronics: Guild/Fishman AP1 with Sonicore pickup

Who says you need to break the bank to get a solid acoustic electric guitar? The Guild D-240E is a testament to the craftsmanship and reputation of Guild, with its traditional dreadnought body shape and high-quality tone wood construction. Real bone nut and saddle help deliver vintage style clarity.

The pickup, a Guild/Fishman AP1, is a piezo pickup system that provides a full, dynamic, and clean sound quality that's nearly unmatched in this price range. Tone and volume controls sit discreetly tucked within the soundhole.

The Guild Westerly series is known for its use of the classic Guild archtop design, resulting in a lightweight and super playable instrument. The D-240E is a great instrument and worthy additional to any troubadour's arsenal.

4. Best Budget Acoustic Electric – Recording King Dirty 30's Series 7

Recording King Dirty 30's Series 7

SPECS

  • Body Shape: 0 (parlor)
  • Back & Side Woods: Whitewood
  • Top Wood: Spruce
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ovangkol
  • Scale Length: 25.4"
  • Electronics: Gold Foil Soundhole Pickup

Setting our price gauge slider a little further south, we find ourselves with the highly playable Recording King Dirty 30's Series 7 parlor acoustic electric guitar. At under $300, this is the best acoustic electric guitar for those of us on a budget, and by a fairly wide margin.

Since reviving the long-dormant brand in the early aughts, Recording King has consistently produced affordable quality instruments, and the Dirty 30's Series 7 is a perfect example of just that.

Its slim parlor design offers a compact and comfortable playing experience, accentuated by its spruce top, which helps provide volume and warmth.

Gold foil pickups are highly coveted at the moment, and with good reason. Unlike most acoustic pickups, gold foil pickups don't require an additional battery preamp and provide an old-school, lo-fi, reliable tone.

The vintage-style nickel tuners and ivory buttons offer a bit of elegance and highlight the upscale hardware used in the guitar build.

5. Best Cutaway Acoustic Electric Guitar – Epiphone J-200EC

Epiphone J-200EC

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Jumbo 200
  • Back & Side Woods: Select Maple
  • Top Wood: Solid Spruce
  • Neck Wood: Hard Maple
  • Fingerboard Material: Pau Ferro
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Electronics: Fishman Presys with Sonicore Pickup

Based on the Gibson SJ-200 "King Of Flat Tops" design, the Epiphone J-200EC is made from solid spruce maple and features a deep cutaway for upper fretboard access.

Originally built to compete with mandolins and banjos in louder acoustic ensembles, the Jumbo's well-balanced sound rings out loud and clear. The Pau Ferro fingerboard delivers great playability and response.

But we've come a long way from sonically competing with mandolins. Blow them out of the water (respectfully...tastefully, even) with the under-saddle Fishman pickup.

A massive sounding acoustic whether or not it's plugged in, the J200-EC is a classy-looking instrument that sounds as good as it looks.

6. Most Distinct Acoustic Electric Guitar – Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher

Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Back & Side Woods: Laminated Mahogany
  • Top Wood: Laminated Maple
  • Neck Wood: 2-piece Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Laurel
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Electronics: Fideli'Tron Humbucking Pickups

Well, there's something you don't see every day. You'll certainly turn heads when you turn up to a gig with the Gretsch G5034TFT Rancher.

Let's start with the obvious, the unmissable Fideli'Tron Humbucker pickups. Typically found on electrics, the gold-plated humbuckers offer an unmatched level of aggressive acoustic tone.

However, they can also be dialed in to produce a warm, supportive tone. Then, of course, there's the distinctive Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.

But behind all of the bells and whistles, there's a very solid dreadnought guitar made from mahogany and maple, with a laurel fretboard featuring an arched top for tonal intensity and extra strength.

The Rancher is a unique statement piece that allows for versatile performances while offering dependable stability.

7. Best Nylon String Acoustic Electric Guitar – Cordoba GK Pro Negra

Cordoba GK Pro Negra

SPECS

  • Body Shape: Lightweight Spanish Flamenco
  • Back & Side Woods: Solid Indian Rosewood
  • Top Wood: Solid European Spruce
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Material: Ebony
  • Scale Length: 25.6"
  • Electronics: Fishman Prefix ProBlend system

The Cordoba GK Pro Negra Nylon String Acoustic-Electric guitar is an instrument built as much for tone as it is for speed. Melding the fast-playing feel with traditional flamenco-style build techniques.

The slimmer mahogany neck provides smooth playability, while the use of tonewoods such as rosewood and mahogany offer rich sonic tones and a full-bodied frequency response.

Its solid spruce top offers fantastic definition and projection, and its traditional Spanish fan bracing provides a balanced, lively sound. That beautiful sound is captured faithfully by the Fishman Prefix ProBlend pickup system.

A classical guitar with modern sensibilities, the GK Pro Negra is a beautiful, fast-playing, comfortable instrument.

Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Buyer's Guide

So you're clearly in the market for an acoustic-electric guitar. There are a few factors you should keep in mind to ensure you get an instrument that you'll feel good about for years to come. Here's what to look for:

The Tone Zone

The type of wood used for the top, back, and sides influences the guitar's tone.

Popular tonewoods include spruce (bright and versatile), cedar (warm and expressive), mahogany (focused and balanced), and rosewood (rich and complex). Higher-end guitars often feature solid wood construction for better tone.

Play a few chords and single notes to evaluate the guitar's overall tone. Look for a balanced sound with good resonance and sustain.

Plug It In, Plug It In

Check the onboard electronics. Look for a reputable pickup and preamp system from brands like Fishman, LR Baggs, or Taylor. This will affect how well your guitar sounds when plugged into the best acoustic guitar amp or PA system. Test the onboard controls for volume, tone shaping, and any other features.

Budget

Decide how much you're willing to spend. Acoustic-electric guitars come in a wide price range, so knowing your budget will help narrow down your options.

Brand Reputation

Established brands often have a history of producing reliable and quality instruments. Brands like Martin, Gibson, Yamaha, and Fender are known for producing reliable acoustic-electric guitars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How exactly do these things work?

Well, let's see. There's a pickup and a preamp. The pickup captures the vibrations of the strings and converts them into an electrical signal.

The preamp then processes and boosts this signal, allowing you to control the volume and tone and sometimes even add effects when the guitar is plugged into an amplifier or sound system.

What about Hybrids?

Hybrid acoustic/electrics, such as the Fender Acoustasonic incorporate advanced digital technology to emulate the sounds of various types of guitars, amplifiers, and effects.

These guitars use digital processing to replicate the tones and characteristics of different guitar and gear setups, allowing players to access a wide range of sounds without needing to physically switch guitars.

The Acoustasonic guitars have a selector switch that allows you to choose between different pickup configurations. This switch lets you blend the acoustic and electric pickups to achieve a wide variety of tones. You can emphasize the acoustic sound, and the electric sound or find a balance between the two.

What are the benefits of owning an acoustic electric?

Acoustic-electric guitars offer versatility. You can play them acoustically or amplify them for larger performances. They're great for live shows, recording, and situations where you need more volume without sacrificing the traditional acoustic tone.

I can play this thing unplugged right?

Absolutely! Acoustic-electric guitars can be played unplugged, just like regular acoustic guitars. They still produce sound when strummed or plucked, but they often have a slightly different tonal character due to the electronics built into the body.

Conclusion

Acoustic electric guitars offer musicians the flexibility to switch between acoustic and amplified sound, making them a popular choice for players who want the best of both worlds.

If you're looking for a high-end, versatile, and time-tested instrument, we recommend the Gibson J-45.

Perfect for young beginners or traveling musicians! Find the best half-sized guitars tailored to your needs.

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