Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar


Deciding on the perfect acoustic electric guitar can feel like an overwhelming task, but fear not! With so many options available, it’s important to narrow down your choices based on your personal preferences and playing style. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a beginner looking to embark on a musical journey, this article will guide you through the process of choosing the best acoustic electric guitar that suits your needs perfectly. From the tonal qualities to the playability, we’ll explore key factors to consider, ensuring that you make an informed decision and find the instrument that will inspire and accompany you on your musical endeavors.

Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Types of Acoustic Electric Guitars


The dreadnought is arguably the most popular type of acoustic electric guitar. It is known for its large body size, which produces a bold and robust sound. The dreadnought’s design features a square-shouldered body and a deep sound chamber, creating a powerful resonance. This type of guitar is perfect for strumming and producing loud, booming tones. It is commonly used in genres like folk, country, and rock.


The jumbo acoustic electric guitar is even larger than the dreadnought, offering a deep and booming sound. Its body shape is similar to the dreadnought but with even broader shoulders and a rounded bottom. This design allows for rich bass tones and excellent projection. Jumbo guitars are great for playing in larger venues or when you need a guitar with a commanding presence on stage. They are particularly popular in country and gospel music.


The auditorium acoustic electric guitar is known for its balanced and versatile sound. With a slightly smaller body size compared to dreadnoughts and jumbos, the auditorium offers a perfect blend of low-end resonance and mid-range clarity. It produces a well-rounded tone suitable for a wide range of playing styles and genres. The auditorium is popular among singer-songwriters, fingerstyle players, and folk musicians.


The concert acoustic electric guitar is a smaller-bodied instrument with a focused and intimate sound. Its body shape is similar to the auditorium, but with a slightly narrower waist and lower bout. This design provides excellent playability and comfort, making it a favorite among players with smaller physiques or those who prefer a more compact instrument. Concert guitars are well-suited for fingerpicking, jazz, and light strumming.


The parlor acoustic electric guitar harkens back to the vintage era of guitar playing. With its small body size, it offers a warm and intimate sound that brings out the instrument’s natural resonance. Parlor guitars are great for blues, folk, and fingerstyle playing, providing a charming and nostalgic tone reminiscent of early recordings. They are also travel-friendly and easy to handle, making them an excellent choice for musicians on the go.

Acoustic Electric Guitar Body Styles

Solid Top

Acoustic electric guitars with a solid top are highly coveted for their superior sound quality. The top of the guitar, also known as the soundboard, is made from a single piece of high-quality tonewood. This solid construction enhances the guitar’s tone, resonance, and projection, resulting in a richer and more dynamic sound. Solid top guitars are a popular choice for professional musicians and serious enthusiasts who prioritize sound quality above all else.

Laminate Top

Acoustic electric guitars with a laminate top feature a thin layer of tonewood glued onto a base layer of another material, such as plywood or a composite. While laminate tops do not offer the same tonal depth as solid tops, they have their advantages. They are more affordable, resistant to changes in humidity, and less prone to cracking or warping. Laminate top guitars are commonly used by beginners and casual players who still want a decent sound without breaking the bank.

Full Solid

Full solid acoustic electric guitars are the epitome of craftsmanship and tonal excellence. These guitars feature a solid top, as well as solid back and sides, resulting in a harmonious blend of resonance and sustain. The use of solid tonewoods throughout the entire body enhances the guitar’s overall projection and tonal richness. Full solid guitars are often chosen by professional musicians, collectors, and connoisseurs who appreciate the finest acoustic electric guitars available.

Thin Body

Acoustic electric guitars with a thin body design offer a sleek and comfortable playing experience. These guitars have a reduced depth, making them lightweight and easy to hold. The thin body design also results in a brighter and more focused tone, making them suitable for styles like fingerpicking, jazz, and light strumming. Thin body acoustic electric guitars are ideal for those who value comfort and playability, especially for long practice sessions or extended live performances.

Deep Body

On the opposite end of the spectrum, acoustic electric guitars with a deep body provide a fuller and more resonant sound. The increased body depth allows for greater resonance and volume, offering a robust and booming tone. Deep body guitars are favored by players who want a powerful and commanding sound, particularly in genres like country, bluegrass, and folk. These guitars are also well-suited for players who perform without amplification, as they naturally project sound with plenty of volume.

Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Tonewoods Used in Acoustic Electric Guitars


Spruce is one of the most commonly used tonewoods for the soundboard or top of acoustic electric guitars. Its combination of strength, stiffness, and resonance makes it ideal for producing a bright and articulate sound. Spruce top guitars offer a well-balanced tonal response with clear highs, warm mids, and controlled lows. They are versatile instruments suitable for a wide range of musical styles.


Cedar is another popular tonewood choice for the soundboard of acoustic electric guitars. It has a softer and more mellow tone compared to spruce, producing a warmer and richer sound. Cedar top guitars excel at delivering a more intimate and nuanced sound, with a focus on the mid-range frequencies. They are often preferred by fingerstyle players and those who value a more expressive and sensitive sound.


Mahogany is a widely used tonewood for the back, sides, and neck of acoustic electric guitars. It offers a warm and balanced tone with plenty of depth and sustain. Mahogany instruments have a strong mid-range emphasis, providing a rich and woody sound. They are commonly chosen for blues, folk, and rock music, as well as for players who prioritize a focused and articulate sound.


Rosewood is prized for its luxurious appearance and rich tonal qualities. It is mainly used for the back and sides of acoustic electric guitars. Rosewood back and sides contribute to a well-rounded and balanced sound with pronounced lows, detailed highs, and sparkling harmonics. This tonewood is highly regarded for its projection and resonance, making it a top choice for both professional and discerning guitarists.


Maple is a tonewood commonly used for the back, sides, and neck of acoustic electric guitars. It is known for its bright and articulate sound, with excellent note definition and clarity. Maple instruments have a focused and punchy tone, making them well-suited for genres like jazz and fingerstyle playing. The distinct tonal characteristics of maple create a unique and pronounced sound that stands out in a mix.

Electronics and Pickups

Types of Pickups

Acoustic electric guitars are equipped with pickups to amplify the acoustic sound when plugged into an amplifier or PA system. There are several types of pickups commonly used in acoustic electric guitars:

  • Piezo Pickups: Piezo pickups are known for capturing the natural acoustic sound of the guitar. They work by sensing the vibrations of the strings through pressure and converting them into electrical signals. Piezo pickups are mounted under the saddle or bridge of the guitar and provide a clear and accurate representation of the instrument’s sound.

  • Soundboard Transducers: Soundboard transducers are adhesive pickups that are mounted directly onto the soundboard of the guitar. They capture the vibrations and resonance of the top wood, providing a warm and natural sound. Soundboard transducers are favored by players who want a more nuanced and expressive amplification of their instrument.

  • Magnetic Pickups: Magnetic pickups are similar to the ones used in electric guitars. They use magnets to convert the string vibrations into electrical signals. Magnetic pickups are known for their bright and punchy sound, which can add a touch of electric guitar character to the acoustic tone. They are widely used in genres like country, blues, and rock.

Preamp Features

Most acoustic electric guitars are equipped with preamps that allow players to control various aspects of their amplified sound. Preamps come with a variety of features, including:

  • Volume Control: This feature allows you to adjust the overall output level of the guitar when plugged in. It enables you to find the right balance between your guitar and other instruments in a live performance or recording setting.

  • Tone Control: Tone controls, typically in the form of knobs or sliders, allow you to shape the tonal characteristics of your amplified sound. You can adjust the bass, midrange, and treble frequencies to match your preference or the requirements of a specific playing style or genre.

  • Equalization (EQ): EQ controls let you fine-tune your sound by boosting or cutting specific frequencies. This feature can be particularly useful for shaping the tone to suit different room acoustics or compensating for any tonal imbalances that may occur when amplified.

  • Gain Control: Gain control adjusts the input sensitivity of the guitar’s pickups. It allows you to control the level at which the signal is amplified, helping you achieve the desired amount of distortion or overdrive if you’re looking for a more aggressive or edgier tone.

Onboard Tuners

Many acoustic electric guitars feature onboard tuners, which are convenient and practical for quick and accurate tuning. These tuners are built into the preamp system and provide visual indication, typically through LED lights or a digital display, when a string is in tune. Onboard tuners eliminate the need for an external tuner, making them ideal for live performances, rehearsals, and jam sessions.

Cutaways and Feedback Control

Some acoustic electric guitars come with a cutaway design, allowing for easier access to the higher frets. This feature is especially beneficial for lead guitarists who require extended reach or play complex chord voicings. Cutaways come in various shapes, including Venetian and Florentine, each offering a unique aesthetic.

Additionally, acoustic electric guitars are equipped with feedback control mechanisms to mitigate unwanted feedback when amplified at high volumes. These mechanisms can include internal bracing, soundhole covers, or specialized pickups designed to eliminate or reduce feedback. Feedback control is essential for professional musicians who perform in venues with high sound levels or when using powerful amplification.

Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Acoustic vs. Electric Sound

Balance of Sound

One of the key considerations when choosing an acoustic electric guitar is finding the right balance between the natural acoustic sound and the amplified electric sound. Different body styles, tonewoods, and electronics contribute to this balance. It is essential to choose a guitar that can deliver a pleasing and balanced sound in both acoustic and electric settings.

Natural Acoustic Sound

Acoustic electric guitars are designed to produce a natural and resonant sound that reflects the inherent qualities of the instrument. A well-built acoustic electric guitar will have a rich tonal character, with a balanced representation of the low, mid, and high frequencies. The natural acoustic sound should be warm, articulate, and capable of projecting well in various playing environments.

Electric Sound

When plugged into an amplifier or PA system, the electric sound of an acoustic electric guitar should be clear, dynamic, and true to the instrument’s tonal qualities. The pickups and electronics play a crucial role in capturing and reproducing the acoustic sound in an amplified form. A great acoustic electric guitar should retain the nuances and expressive capabilities of the acoustic sound while offering the versatility and volume required for different playing styles and genres.

Finding the Right Balance

Finding the right balance between the acoustic and electric sound is a matter of personal preference and the intended use of the instrument. Some players may prioritize a guitar that excels in acoustic settings, while others may focus more on its amplified capabilities. Ultimately, it is important to choose an acoustic electric guitar that meets your specific needs and allows you to express yourself effectively in any musical context.

Price Range

Budget-Friendly Options

If you’re starting your musical journey or have a limited budget, there are plenty of great acoustic electric guitars available at affordable prices. These guitars offer a good balance between quality and affordability, providing reliable performance and decent sound. While they may not possess the same level of craftsmanship or tonal excellence as higher-priced instruments, budget-friendly options can still provide a solid foundation for learning and exploring different playing styles.

Mid-Range Choices

Mid-range acoustic electric guitars offer a step up in terms of quality, craftsmanship, and tonal capabilities. These guitars are built with better materials, more attention to detail, and often feature advanced electronics. They deliver a more refined sound, greater playability, and enhanced aesthetics compared to budget-friendly options. Mid-range choices are suitable for intermediate players who are looking to upgrade their instrument or for more experienced musicians seeking a reliable and versatile guitar.

High-End Selections

High-end acoustic electric guitars are the pinnacle of craftsmanship, tonal excellence, and aesthetic beauty. They are meticulously handcrafted using premium tonewoods and boast superior playability, resonance, and projection. High-end guitars are often favored by professional musicians, collectors, and enthusiasts who demand the utmost quality and performance from their instruments. The attention to detail, exceptional sound, and exquisite craftsmanship make high-end selections a worthwhile investment for serious players.

Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Playing Style and Genre


For fingerstyle guitarists, it is crucial to choose an acoustic electric guitar that can produce clear, balanced, and responsive tones. Fingerstyle playing relies on the instrument’s ability to deliver delicate nuances, precise articulation, and vibrant harmonics. A guitar with good string-to-string separation and a well-defined tonal range is essential for expressing the intricate melodies and complex fingerpicking patterns often associated with fingerstyle playing.


When it comes to strumming, an acoustic electric guitar with excellent projection, balanced tonal response, and clarity is essential. Strumming requires a guitar that can generate a full and rich sound, allowing chords to ring out with impact and resonance. The tonewoods and body style play a significant role in achieving a satisfying strumming sound, as they contribute to the instrument’s overall volume, sustain, and harmonic complexity.


Blues guitarists often seek acoustic electric guitars that can convey the authentic, soulful, and expressive qualities of the genre. A guitar with a warm and woody tone, capable of delivering expressive bends, intricate slide work, and captivating vibrato is essential for playing blues. Look for instruments that have solid tonewoods, ergonomic neck profiles, and pickups that can capture the nuances of your playing style.


Country music encompasses a wide range of playing styles, from fingerpicking to fast-paced strumming. When it comes to choosing an acoustic electric guitar for country music, versatility is key. A guitar with a balanced and bright tone, along with good string definition and fast attack, is ideal for capturing the twangy and percussive sounds associated with the genre. Instruments with a comfortable weight and a balanced feel allow for effortless rhythm playing and lead work.


In rock music, acoustic electric guitars are often used to add texture, dynamics, and a different sonic dimension to the overall sound. Rock guitarists may employ strumming, percussive techniques, or power chords to create a driving and energetic sound. Look for guitars with a strong and pronounced midrange, excellent sustain, and the ability to handle the rigors of strumming and aggressive playing. Versatility and a responsive pickup system are also notable factors when considering an acoustic electric guitar for rock music.


Jazz guitarists require an acoustic electric guitar that can deliver a warm, full-bodied tone with excellent clarity and note articulation. The instrument should offer a rich and resonant sound that complements intricate chord voicings, single-note lines, and improvised solos. A wider neck width, combined with a smooth and comfortable fingerboard, facilitates complex jazz chord shapes and intricate melodic phrasing. Additionally, a transparent and articulate pickup system allows for accurate amplification, ensuring that the nuances and subtleties of jazz guitar playing are faithfully reproduced.

Brand Reputation and Quality


Taylor guitars have built a reputation for their superior craftsmanship, innovative design, and tonal excellence. Known for their impeccable playability, balanced tone, and attention to detail, Taylor acoustic electric guitars are highly sought after by musicians of all levels. With a wide range of body styles and tonewood options, Taylor offers instruments suitable for virtually any playing style or genre.


Martin guitars have a rich heritage dating back to 1833 and are considered iconic instruments in the world of acoustic guitar. Renowned for their warm and resonant tone, outstanding build quality, and timeless design, Martin acoustic electric guitars are a top choice for discerning musicians. Martin’s dedication to craftsmanship and their use of premium tonewoods contribute to their instruments’ exceptional sound and playability.


Gibson guitars are synonymous with rock and blues, but they have also made significant contributions to the acoustic guitar world. Gibson acoustic electric guitars bring together vintage aesthetics, excellent craftsmanship, and rich tonal characteristics. Known for their warm and balanced sound, Gibson instruments have been favored by legendary musicians across various genres, cementing Gibson’s reputation as a top-tier guitar brand.


While primarily known for their electric guitars, Fender also offers a diverse range of acoustic electric guitars that embody their commitment to quality and innovation. Fender acoustic electric guitars combine classic designs with modern features, delivering excellent playability and a versatile sound suitable for a wide range of musical styles. From the bright and articulate sound of the California Series to the resonant and dynamic tonality of the Paramount Series, Fender provides options for players of all tastes and preferences.


Yamaha has been a trusted name in the world of musical instruments for decades, and their acoustic electric guitars continue to uphold that reputation. Yamaha guitars offer excellent quality at affordable prices, making them accessible to players of all levels. With a focus on playability and reliability, Yamaha instruments deliver consistent performance and a well-balanced sound. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, Yamaha offers a range of acoustic electric guitars to suit your needs.

Choosing the Best Acoustic Electric Guitar

Size and Comfort

Scale Length

The scale length of an acoustic electric guitar refers to the vibrating length of the strings from the nut to the bridge. Scale length affects the string tension, fret spacing, and overall feel of the instrument. Choosing the right scale length is essential for comfortable playing and achieving the desired tone.

Longer scale lengths, typically found on dreadnoughts and jumbos, offer greater string tension and sustained resonance. They are ideal for players who want more volume and projection. Conversely, shorter scale lengths, often found on concert and parlor guitars, provide a lighter string tension, making them more suitable for players with smaller hands or those who prefer a more relaxed feel.

Body Shape

The body shape of an acoustic electric guitar plays a significant role in comfort and playability. Each body shape offers a different feel and tonal response.

Larger body shapes, such as dreadnoughts and jumbos, may provide more resonance and projection but can be physically demanding for some players due to their size and weight. On the other hand, smaller body shapes like concerts and parlors offer a more comfortable playing experience, making them well-suited for players with smaller physiques or those who prefer a more compact instrument.

Neck Width

The neck width, specifically the width at the nut, significantly affects the playability and comfort of an acoustic electric guitar. A wider nut width allows for more space between the strings, making fingerpicking and complex chord voicings easier. It accommodates players with larger hands and provides a wider fretting surface. Conversely, a narrower nut width reduces the distance between the strings, enabling players with smaller hands to comfortably fret chords and perform faster soloing techniques.

Weight and Balance

The weight and balance of an acoustic electric guitar can impact both comfort and playability. While a heavier guitar may offer more sustain and resonance, it can be physically tiring for extended playing sessions. The overall weight of the guitar is distributed across the body, neck, and headstock, and finding a well-balanced instrument ensures that it rests comfortably on your body without causing strain or discomfort. A properly balanced guitar allows for smooth transitions between chords and increased maneuverability, enhancing your playing experience.

Personal Preference and Test-Playing

Comfort and Feel

Beyond all the technical specifications, the most important aspect of choosing an acoustic electric guitar is personal comfort and feel. Different players have varying preferences when it comes to neck profile, body shape, and overall ergonomics. What feels comfortable and natural to one person may not be the same for another. It is crucial to spend time trying out different guitars, paying close attention to how they feel in your hands and against your body. A guitar that feels comfortable and inspires you to play is an instrument worth investing in.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of an acoustic electric guitar is subjective and deeply personal. Every player has their own tonal preferences and desired characteristics. When testing guitars, take note of the instrument’s tonal balance, responsiveness, sustain, and dynamic range. Pay attention to how each guitar translates your playing style and techniques. It’s also crucial to consider how the guitar sounds both acoustically and when amplified. Ultimately, selecting a guitar with a sound that resonates with you and suits your musical preferences is the key to finding the best acoustic electric guitar for your needs.


While not as crucial as sound and playability, the appearance of an acoustic electric guitar should also be considered. The guitar’s aesthetics, including the choice of tonewoods, binding, inlays, and finishes, contribute to its overall appeal. A visually appealing instrument can provide inspiration and enhance the bond between player and guitar. Whether you prefer a classic and understated look or a flashy and eye-catching design, selecting a guitar that aligns with your personal taste and style will make you want to pick it up and play it more often.

Try Before You Buy

When it comes to choosing the best acoustic electric guitar, it is always recommended to try the instrument firsthand before making a purchase. Visit local music stores, guitar shops, or guitar exhibitions to test a variety of guitars within your preferred price range. Spend time playing different models, experimenting with different playing styles and techniques. Consider factors such as comfort, sound quality, and overall feel. Take advantage of the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable staff or experienced guitarists who can offer guidance and advice based on their own experiences. Don’t rush the decision; finding the perfect acoustic electric guitar is a process that requires patience, research, and hands-on exploration.

In conclusion, choosing the best acoustic electric guitar is a highly personal process that depends on factors such as body style, tonewoods, electronics, playing style, brand reputation, and personal preference. By considering the information presented here and taking the time to explore different options, you can find an acoustic electric guitar that inspires you, complements your playing style, and brings you joy for years to come. Happy searching and may you find the perfect guitar to accompany you on your musical journey!