For the last decade acoustic electric guitars have been becoming more popular than ever. They are really convenient, and the versatility and the freedom that they offer are attracting inspired and seasoned guitar players. The prices of the electronic systems included are constantly getting lower, while their quality either remains the same or in fact gets better. The price of an acoustic model with one or two pickups included, master volume control, and occasionally a preamp, is not through the roof anymore. The “CE versions” (Acoustic Electric) of the well-known classic models, now cost only about 20% more. For a small fraction over the normal price of an acoustic guitar you get so many more possibilities that going for the CE version is more than reasonable.
The difference between acoustic and acoustic electric guitar
The answer here is more than obvious – electronics. When this type of guitar was invented, most of the models had only built-in microphones but this is not the case anymore. Nowadays, the nylon string guitars come with a microphone and piezoelectric pickups because magnetic ones can’t catch the vibrations of the strings. The steel string acoustic electric guitars usually feature magnetic or piezoelectric pickups only, as they are more than enough to get the job done. With the electronic system in your guitar you can plug it into an amp and rely on your pickups and/or your mic to catch the sound. You are also given control over the strength and the type of output; most of the guitars come with volume and at least one tone control. In order to determine if you need a CE guitar it is important to set your goals. If your plan is to just practice and use it at home, in the yard with friends, or around the campfire, you do not need any additional electronics, just a plain acoustic guitar.
The classic jumbo cutaway guitar is probably the best acoustic electric guitar that you can buy. Based on the famous J-200, this guitar comes with a built-in eSonic Pre Amp2 system and two pickups. The stunning sound and quality craftsmanship gives this git the lead in our list. The EJ-200 performs well on any occasion, no matter if it is plugged or unplugged. The output of this beauty gets really close to a Gibson. For all the benefits that you get with this Epiphone, I consider the price to be actually cheap. You will have to look really hard, and you will have to do a lot of testing, until you find something that gets close to the EJ-200CE.
Even if you know little about guitars, you have heard about the legendary Yamaha FG700S at least two or three times. This is the acoustic electric version of the affordable gem of Yamaha. We are talking about an amazing entry-level guitar that comes at a joke of a price, and offers a lot of potential both to beginners and semi-professionals. Just like the FG700, this one comes with the good looking classic design and the hi-gloss finish that is more suitable for guitars that cost three times as much. And this is not the strongest side of this model. The quality of the sound is the one that made Yamaha one of the best guitar brands on the market for the last fifteen years.
Fender T-Bucket 300CE
One of the hardest things for us to do. The 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 Squier 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 the body produces when you play unplugged.
Oscar Schmidt OC11CE
This is the best acoustic electric guitar for people on a budget. The Oscar Schmidt brand offers a lot of potential at ridiculous prices and the OC11CE is no exception. Do not expect premium sound from this one, but chances are, if you are just starting out, you will not be able to tell the difference between this one and a Martin. This one comes with real tonewood instead of high pressure laminated materials, and a lot of people find this to be a huge advantage to competitors in this low cost price range. The guitar is well balanced and plays just as good no matter it is plugged. Washburn is a brand that deserves respect for their work and the OC11CE proves it.
Applause Ovation AB24-4
If you’ve seen one of those guitars with a classic top but some weird back and sides shape, most likely it was an Ovation. Innovative guitars that are different from everything else, the AB24-4 is an acoustic electric guitar that will be a perfect match for people that like to experiment with new things. The sound is very distinctive, but it’s still good and pleasant for your ears. This Balladeer features one pickup and a preamp system that has a great built-in tuner. The guitar is very fast for its price, and the balanced sound will allow you to play different styles without any problems. With some minor upgrades, this guitar can become a standout option without competition.
If you are performing on stage however, even if it is a small one, or you plan to do some recording, you can go with an acoustic electric fiddle without hesitation. The freedom that you receive is incomparable, you can just plug it and play, without having to explain the difference between a vocal and an instrumental microphone, or why using the singer’s microphone close to the sound-hole of your git won’t work out. You will not have to rely on someone to set up the right volume, to turn your sound on and off, and many more annoying things that you will face daily with just an acoustic guitar and live shows.
In brief, these are the important things that you should take into consideration when you are choosing your guitar, if you decide that a CE version is not needed, head over to some of the other sections that are on the right side of this article. I’d recommend going with the beginner. Enough talking, let’s see what we have prepared for you.