The Top Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under 500 Dollars

Last Updated Nov-14-2016. Acoustic electrics have come a long way from their humble beginnings. In the early days if you wanted to play an acoustic on stage it used to mean sitting stationary in front of a microphone. Then someone came up with the idea of putting the microphone inside the acoustic. The sound was good, but this setup had a tendency to cause feedback.

Then the piezo pickup was invented, and soundmen across the globe breathed a sigh of relief. There are plenty of good acoustic guitars to choose from, but if you plan to take the stage you will need an acoustic electric. The price bump is nominal from a standard to an acoustic electric so it only makes sense to buy the electrified version of your favorite guitar.

Top 15 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars:

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Acoustic Electric
Summary
User Rating
Martin Road Series DRS1
Martin Road Series DRS1
Packing a top-notch mixture of quality tonewood and electronics.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Takamine GN93CE-NAT
Takamine GN93CE-NAT
A great sounding acoustic with amazing electronics in a nice package.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Dean Exotica Cocobolo
Dean Exotica Cocobolo
Exotic wood plus great electronics equals one great acoustic electric guitar.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Yamaha FGX720SC
Yamaha FGX720SC
A great sounding instrument whether it is plugged or unplugged.
4.9 Stars
Total of 4.9/5
Jameson Guitars Blue Full Size Thinline
Jameson Guitars Blue Full Size Thinline
This is a slimmed down acoustic that looks and sounds fantastic.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Taylor 114E Grand Auditorium
Taylor 114E Grand Auditorium
The ultimate country guitar that both the new and experienced will love.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Epiphone PR-4E Player Package
Epiphone PR-4E Package
Package that includes a guitar, an amp, and everything else you need.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Fender FA135CE
Fender FA135CE
An affordable gem that is a slick and modern choice.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Fender CD-140SCE
Fender CD-140SCE
Unplugged sound that is good with plenty of sparkle with good electronics.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
Epiphone Humming-bird Pro
A charming choice with loads of character and excellent sound.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Epiphone EJ-200CE
Epiphone EJ-200CE
Jumbo body with two pickups for plenty of tonal variation.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Yamaha FGX700SC
Yamaha FGX700SC
What it lacks in tonal sound it makes up in electronic sculpting.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Fender T-Bucket 300CE
Fender T-Bucket 300CE
A beautiful looking guitar that stands out from its peers.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Applause Ovation AB24-4
Applause Ovation AB24-4
A great acoustic from an innovative builder with a unique sound.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Oscar Schmidt OC11CE
Oscar Schmidt OC11CE
Nylon string classical style guitar for those on a budget.
4.3 Stars
Total of 4.3/5

Martin Road Series DRS1

Martin-Road-Series-DRS1-300x300

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The DRS1 is an all solid wood acoustic electric from the fine people at Martin. The top, back, and sides, are all sapele, which is a highly sustainable tonewood that is similar in appearance and sound to mahogany. The Fishman Sonitone system is used for the electronics, which features controls hidden in the soundhole of the guitar. This means no hole needs to be cut into the side of the instrument for the preamp controls. Keeping with the forest friendly theme the fingerboard and bridge are both made from certified richlite. The Martin DRS1 is available in a left-hand model, and also comes with a ply hardshell case. This is a genuinely beautiful guitar with a great voice.


Takamine GN93CE-NAT

Takamine-GN93CE-NAT-300x300

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The GN93CE-NAT by Takamine features their NEX body, which is a scaled down jumbo. It sports beautiful features like abalone dot inlays, a rosewood headcap, gold die-cast tuners, and a gloss finish to show off the wood grain. It has a solid spruce top with laminate rosewood back and sides. The real star of this acoustic electric is Takamine’s own TK-400 preamp that includes a built-in tuner. There are lots of controls to shape and contour your amplified sound with a three band EQ, grain knob, mid contour switch, notch filter, and EQ bypass. This is a great sounding guitar whether you plug it in or not.


Dean Exotica Cocobolo

Dean-Exotica-Cocobolo-300x300

Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The Dean Exotica Cocobolo sees the company hitting the jackpot with a mixture of exotic wood and top-level electronics. This is a gorgeous instrument with a highly versatile high-quality sound. Cocobolo is true rosewood species and is very striking and the gloss finish really shows it off. The DMT 12NR electronics include both a tuner and built in EQ. There are two strap buttons so that you don’t have to sit to play. The mahogany neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard. The cutaway body opens up the higher register of the neck. It has an even bright sound that is as good as the guitar looks. Check it out!


Yamaha FGX720SC

Yamaha-FGX720SC-300x300

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:5 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.9 Stars

The FGX720SC is Yamaha’s acoustic electric in this range. It has a solid Sitka spruce top with nato back and sides. The thin finish is hand-sprayed, which allows the guitar resonate and not be dampened by a heavy finish. The neck is also nato. Rosewood is used for both the fingerboard and bridge. The body features a cutaway so that the higher frets are open to play. Yamaha’s own System 55 1-way is used to make this acoustic electric. The preamp has a built in tuner and also includes an adjustable midrange frequency control. This is great sounding guitar whether you are plugged in to play to the house, or just sitting on the couch strumming at your house.


Jameson Guitars Blue Full Size Thinline

Jameson-Guitars-Blue-Full-Size-Thinline-300x300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

Jameson is a family owned company producing affordable guitars for both the beginner and long-time player. The Jameson Blue Full Size Thinline features a body that is slimmed down so that it will feel more comfortable to young or smaller framed players. The top is spruce with nato back and sides. The fingerboard is made from rosewood and sits atop the maple neck. It has a built in pickup with EQ. Left-handed players can also enjoy this fine looking instrument with its high gloss dark blueburst finish. There is also a gig bag include with the price so you can take this guitar with you wherever you go.


Taylor 114E Grand Auditorium

Taylor-114E-Grand-Auditorium-300x300

Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

The 114E by Taylor is made with the company’s own grand auditorium body shape. The top is Sitka spruce with sapele back and sides. The neck is also sapele with an ebony fingerboard. The Tylor 114E has a very clean and traditional look with a versatile sound. The electronics it uses is the ES2 pickup system that includes a volume and tone knobs on the upper bout of the guitar. There is a gig bag included with the guitar making it very portable. This is a great instrument for a beginner or as a backup for the more experienced player. This is a very sturdy instrument that can survive life on the road.


Epiphone PR-4E Acoustic/Electric Guitar Player Package

Epiphone-PR-4E-AcousticElectric-Guitar-Player-Package300x300

Body&Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:5 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

If you want to get everything you need to get started as a beginner guitarist this is the package for you. Included with the Epiphone PR-4E is a gig bag, pitch pipe, strap, picks, and a 15-watt amp that has a 3-band EQ and built in chorus. The guitar itself has a spruce top with mahogany back and sides. The neck is also mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. The electronics feature cut and boost for the EQ with volume control and a phase switch. The body has a soft Venetian cutaway that allows easier access to all the frets. This is a great instrument to get started on and has all the extras to start gigging with.


Fender FA135CE

Fender-FA135CE-300x300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

As one of the somewhat hidden gems of today’s market, the Fender FA135CE model comes from the legendary Fender. It has an all laminate body with a spruce top and basswood back and sides. The neck is nato with a rosewood fingerboard. It comes in both a natural finish as well as a 3-color sunburst. The body is a concert shape with a cutaway for a very modern and slick look. The Fishman electronics are the ION-T preamp with a built in tuner. It has volume control, phase switch, and contour button. The sound does not have the depth of an expensive guitar, but it also doesn’t have a big price tag either.


Fender CD-140SCE

Fender-CD-140SCE-300x300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

The Fender CD-140SCE has a solid Sitka spruce top with laminate mahogany back and sides. The neck is nato with a rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is also rosewood with a compensated saddle. The Fender/Fishman Classic 4T active onboard preamplifier also includes a built-in tuner. A tortoise pickguard protects the top from rough strumming attacks. The body is a dreadnaught style with a cutaway which allows easier access to the higher strings. It has a built in tuner and 3-band EQ. The unplugged sound is good with plenty of sparkle. This is a fine instrument for playing live. Give the CD-140SCE a test drive and find out why we like it so much.


Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone-Hummingbird-Pro-300x300

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Electronics:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

One look at the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is all you need to fall in love with this classic looking country rock guitar. It has more charm than most guitars in this price range with its parallelogram pearloid fret markers, traditional hummingbird artwork on the pickguard, and the faded cherry burst finish. This old bird has been brought into the 21st Century with the Shadow ePerformer Preamp and Shadow Nanoflex pickup. The controls include bass, treble, master volume, phase switch, mute, and dynamics control adjust via a frequency curve. The solid spruce top and mahogany body work together to give the Hummingbird a warm voice with clarity across the treble, mids, and bass.


Epiphone EJ-200CE

Epiphone EJ-200CE

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Electronics:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

Epiphone continues to deliver the classic looks with the Epiphone EJ-200CE. This is a jumbo body style with a cutaway that is the “King of the Flattops.” The fretboard has been coronate with pearloid crowns, while the rosewood bridge adds to the flair with a pearloid “mustache.” The pickguard has a flower motif to keep this guitar from getting lost in the crowd. The electronics are from Shadow and feature the eSonic preamp along with the NanoMag and NanoFlex pickups. The controls include a master volume individual EQ knobs for each pickup, phase switch, and built-in tuner mute switch. This is a great sounding instrument with a big booming voice.


Yamaha FGX700SC

Yamaha-FGX700SC-300

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

The Yamaha’s FGX700SC is a reasonably price acoustic/electric that will open up the world of amps and sound systems to the acoustic player. The dreadnought sized body with cutaway has a sitka spruce top with nato back and sides. The neck is also made of nato as well with 20 frets and dot inlays on the fretboard. The bridge and fingerboard are made of rosewood. Yamaha’s own System55T 1-Way piezo/preamp provide the electronics with a built in tuner. The sound is bright with the highs being a bit brittle and the undertones of the lows being unclear. The amplified sound is cleaned up with the 3-band EQ.


Fender T-Bucket 300CE

Fender T-Bucket 300CE

Body&Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Electronics:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.5 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

RaRating this one below the FGX was one of the hardest things for us to do. The Fender T-Bucket is a great contender even for the number one spot. Fender got really good at producing affordable high quality electric guitars thanks to the Squire brand, and with the T-Bucket 300CE they are trying to achieve the same thing in the acoustic electric world. This is an instrument that features superb electronics and offers great potential, and if it is in the hands of a professional it sounds better than any other guitar on this list. The downside is the sound that body produces when you play unplugged is a bit weak, but that’s why you plug it in.


Applause Ovation AB24-4

Applause Ovation AB24-4

Body&Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Electronics:4.4 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

Ovation’s Applause AB24 is an acoustic/electric that puts the innovative company’s design within reach of the budget conscious. A laminate spruce top covers the mid depth bowl shaped back made of the company’s innovative Lyrachord material. The neck is made of nato, and is topped with a rosewood fingerboard. The body sports a cutaway making it easy to access all 20 frets on a 10” radius neck. The bridge is pin-less and made of rosewood. Both the compensated saddle and nut are made from synthetic bone. The AB24 has a clear voice that allows each note to be heard with that distinctive Ovation “zing.”


Oscar Schmidt OC11CE

Oscar Schmidt OC11CE

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.4 Stars
Electronics:4.2 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.4 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

Oscar Schmidt by Washburn’s OC11CE is an acoustic/electric classical nylon string guitar. It has a cutaway in the classical shaped body. The all laminate instrument has a spruce top and sapele back and sides. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. The nut has a width of 52mm (2.05”). It has an EQ-505R preamp with 3-band EQ, volume, and battery check button. It has a rosewood bridge topped with a synthetic bone saddle. The rosette is a decal. It has black binding on the top and back of the body with matching heel cap. The sound is pedestrian and the electronics do a good job of translating.


The Difference Between Acoustic and Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The answer here is pretty obvious – electronics. An acoustic without electronics relies solely on the vibration of the body to project the sound. The inclusion of electronics gives the added capability of using an amp or soundboard to project the sound of the guitar.

This also allows builders to create instruments that don’t project as well with smaller and shallower bodies. These acoustics actually sound better when plugged in.

Many acoustic electrics are simply the standard acoustic model with the electronics added on. You still have a perfectly functional acoustic, but with the added benefit of being able to plug in. Another bonus is most good built-in preamps include a tuner. This is a nice feature when you’re sitting around the campfire without a tuning fork in sight.

The downside of going electric is that now you have to think about a soundboard, or at least an amp. And no self-respecting guitarist can live without a few pedals to tweak the sound. I mean you only need a volume pedal to control the level, a tuner might be nice, chorus is always appreciate, a nice delay pedal wouldn’t be bad, and you might need a clean boost for those solos. Then again, you might just want to plug straight into the soundboard and just enjoy that amplified acoustic sound.

Conclusion

Acoustic electrics are great for the gigging guitarist. They are so much easier to amplify than putting a mic on a standard acoustic. This price range is really good for finding instruments that have plenty of versatility, and nice aesthetics. Finding a good deal in this price range will provide you a great guitar that will be with you for years and many gigs to come.

Please take into consideration that we’ve only reviewed guitars that cost less than five hundred bucks. If you are looking for a higher quality instrument, you can check the Alvarez FD60 that is included in the acoustic guitars under $1000 list.

If you decide that you want to go with a straight acoustic, then make sure to check our article on the best acoustic guitars. Take your time to find the right instrument that meets your needs. Take the time to look through our site to find even more reviews, and more great articles to help you become the best guitarist you can be.