Comprehensive buying guide: Electric Acoustic guitars

Comprehensive buying guide: Electric Acoustic guitars

Guitar 101

The guitar is one of the most versatile instruments on the planet, and one to be found in almost every genre of music. From classical guitarists frequently featured in concertos to jazz musicians improvising in Jazz bars around the world… From rock stars bashing out your favorite anthems to your best friend strumming a sing-along around a campfire… Guitars are everywhere!

Before we go shopping for the ultimate guitar, we want to cover a few basics first.

We’d like to accommodate the reader who doesn’t know ANYTHING about guitars. This can be a new student who just signed up for guitar lessons, a parent wanting to buy a gift guitar, or any other man-on-the-street with an interest in buying a guitar. While there are many purveyors of guitars all over the world – both in music shops and online trading platforms, they’re not all equally willing to spend enough time to coach a newbie into the world of guitar music. We’ve got you covered here – so if this is you, get comfortable… you’re about to get schooled!

By the way, if you feel that you have a fair amount of knowledge about the intricacies of different guitars – acoustic-electric guitars in particular – feel free to scroll down to our buying section. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide which includes reviews on the best guitars for any budget.

Acoustic guitars

An acoustic guitar, according to the dictionary, is “a guitar that does not require electrical amplification, having a hollow body that amplifies the string vibrations.” Since its invention in the later part of the 18th century, acoustic guitars have changed shape and form quite a bit – but the basic elements remained the same: You have a wooden instrument with six strings, vibrating at different frequencies to create different notes.

You have probably heard the popular song by Bryan Adams “Summer of ’69” which opens with the words:

‘I got my first real 6-string

Played it ’till my fingers bled…’

The man is referring to an acoustic guitar! Some folks (especially country singers, for some reason) refer to acoustic guitars as “6-strings”. At this point, it is important to note that some acoustic guitars have 12 strings – although they are unpopular and not many people still play them. On these 12-stringed versions of the acoustic guitar, each string is doubled with the same string carrying identical pitch. So, same playing style, same look, 12 strings.

In this buying guide, we’re only focusing on 6-string acoustic-electric guitars.

What is an acoustic-electric guitar?

An acoustic-electric guitar, as the name says, is an electric version of an acoustic guitar.

Well, not quite electric. The ‘electric’ in acoustic-electric refers to the pickup and amplification system that these guitars are fitted with. Acoustic-electric guitars have one of three amplification systems: A magnetic pickup, a piezoelectric pickup (by far the most popular) or a microphone. All acoustic-electric guitars also have built-in preamplifiers, which allows them to be plugged into amplifiers or mixing consoles.

These guitars are ideal for the player who wants the sound of an acoustic guitar, but wants or need more volume – during live performances for instance. Acoustic-electric guitars sound the same as normal acoustic guitars when not plugged in – so you really have a very consistent and versatile sound – both during practice and when you record or perform.

Guitar Body types

The range of acoustic-electric guitars we cover in this buying guide has, like the floor of your local instrument stockist, a wide range of different body types. These are the most popular ones, and what you can expect from them:

Concert and Grand Concert

These are the smallest of the body-types on offer. Any guitar shape preceded by the word “grand” is just slightly bigger – so, the concert is smaller than the grand concert.

A concert body type is ideal for smaller players, and often more comfortable to play on than the bigger sizes. You can expect these guitars to give a punchy, bright sound – but they don’t offer much room for notes in the lower range.

Travel guitars

These are made for the road and offer a decent mid-range sound. Often, live performances will be done with travel guitars which are then mastered by an expert sound engineer to offer fantastic sound qualities.

These are the ideal guitars for performers or students needing to lug their instrument around.

Auditorium and Grand Auditorium

An auditorium bodied guitar is fairly mid-sized. These guitars look very similar to dreadnought guitars but have a smaller waist. You can expect a great mix of comfort, sound range, and versatility from an auditorium guitar body shape.

Dreadnought

This is a very popular shape, especially among bluegrass guitarists. A dreadnought guitar has a larger soundboard, and are distinctive for their wide shapes and wide 14-fret necks. A common acoustic body style that makes use of a very large soundboard is the dreadnought. Dreadnoughts are distinctive for their square bouts, wide waists, and 14-fret necks.

The sound these guitars – especially when offered as an acoustic-electric – produces, is powerful and rich.

Jumbo

As the name suggests, jumbo shapes are bigger than other guitars. They offer boomy bass sounds and are pretty loud – even unplugged.

If you’re looking for a cowboy guitar, you’re looking for a jumbo bodied one.

A short word on Cutaways:

Some acoustic guitars, regardless of the body shape, have an additional cutaway in the upper corner. This makes it easy to reach the higher frets and is an excellent additional feature to look for if you plan on playing lead on your guitar.

Hardware

All the acoustic-electric guitars under review in our buying guide have built-in pickups and preamps. It might be worth your while to compare the adjustment knobs and other controls these offer and to listen to their amplified sounds through an amplifier.

Top end acoustic-electric guitars should come with a built-in tuner and some controls for effects such as the treble and bass outputs.

Tonewoods

Guitars are manufactured using different tonewoods. Manufacturers will often specify which woods were used in construction, and this will tell you a lot about the quality of the guitar, and the sounds you can expect it to produce. These are the tonal characteristics and other important factors of the most popular tonewoods out there:

CEDAR: This is a soft wood which is often used as top wood for classical style guitars. Cedar produces a crisp, bright tone.

EBONY: Ebony is a very strong, hardwood type. This is often used for manufacturing fretboards.

KOA: This Hawaiian wood has a golden color and is easy to identify. Because of its scarcity, Koa is mostly found in the more expensive guitars. As a body-wood, it produces beautiful mid-range tones.

MAHOGANY: Popular name and application. Mahogany is often used in the back and sides of acoustic guitars, as it is quite a dense wood which brings out great mid range tones while reducing boominess. As a top wood, Mahogany compliments treble tones exceptionally well. Because it is essentially a hardwood, some manufacturers use Mahogany for the neck.

MAPLE: This wood has a lower resonance, and is often found in the back and sides of mid-level guitars.

OVANGKOL: African ovangkol has similar properties to rosewood, and is usually found on the back and sides of a guitar. It produces a warm tone and colors mid-range tones well.

ROSEWOOD: Fast becoming a scarcity, rosewood is getting pricier and is often the wood for the high-roller in the guitar world. It produces a rich overtone and offers great projection qualities – even when playing the deeper low notes. Rosewood is also used on fretboards and produces a smooth, easy playing neck.

SAPELE: Another African tree. Sapele is a popular wood for the back and side of guitar bodies and produces good mid-range sounds. The resonance that sapale produces is from the top shelf, and it will complement almost any top-wood.

SPRUCE: Lightweight and durable spruce is often used as a topwood. It produces distinct and clear sound with great tone color.

WALNUT: Walnut has great properties as a top wood. It offers excellent projection and produces both high and low-end tones with clarity.

EXTRAS

Manufacturers will throw any ol` extra on a guitar to try and entice you to buy it. The only two of these that really matters is:

A pickguard: This is a thin plate (usually made from bone material, plastic or another hard surface) which is placed just below the soundhole to protect your guitar from pick-scratches while you play.

An inlay: Unique designs on the wood of an acoustic guitar made purely to improve on the way it looks are called inlays. These can be just carvings into the wood, or carvings filled with ornamental material. If you like aesthetically pleasing guitars, look for one with a cool inlay.

Sound

Describing a guitar’s sound in words is always a challenge. We won’t bore you with a bunch of metaphors here – ultimately, you need to buy a guitar that sounds good to you. Make sure that you buy a guitar that produces a sound you’ll want to listen to day in and day out while you practice while filling the shoes of a guitar that will make grandma cry when you play her favorite song.

It’s time to hit the streets!

So, grab your wallet and wax your fingers. It’s time for you to go and get the best guitar for your budget. Always remember that whichever guitar you buy, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. YOU should make the final decision. Play as many guitars as a shop assistant will let you lay your hands on, and let your heart make the ultimate decision. Your instrument should be your best friend, and a welcome companion on road trips, gigs, around campfires and when you finally lead that family sing-along. Buy it for YOU!

The best acoustic-electric guitars under 300 dollars

Yamaha FX325 Acoustic electric guitar
The Yamaha FX325A

Yamaha FX325A

OUR RATING: 4/5

The Yamaha FX325A acoustic-electric guitar is a dreadnought guitar with a spruce top and meranti back. It is offered at an attainable price for beginners and its sound quality and performance is quite respectable. Sure, it doesn’t compete with a 1000-dollar Gibson, but it is getting harder and harder to find an acoustic-electric guitar in the sub-300 range.

Many a critic have mentioned the too-thin tonewood which makes the FX325 vulnerable. Accidents happen, and guitars break – and quite frankly if you’re expecting to buy a crystal chandelier for the price of a knock-off bed lamp the music world just isn’t ready for you yet. We’ve found the build quality of both the body and the hardware to be exceptional for the price you get it at.

The one negative observation we have is that the strings are quite high off the rosewood fretboard. If you’re not an experienced player, be prepared for a slight buzzing string every time you do not press the strings down hard enough. This is a habit which can be overcome, but it excludes the FX325 from being a player’s guitar.

The built-in Piezo Pickup with a 3-band equalizer does a sterling job of amplifying sounds.

The inclusion of a tortoiseshell pickguard adds elegance to the already appealing look of the dreadnought body.

PROS

  • Dirt-cheap, considering that it is a full-size acoustic-electric.
  • Great sound

CONS

  • Strings are too high
  • Thin tonewood – while we understand that some corners have to be cut to accommodate a lower budget, it still takes away from the total manufacturing quality

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-FX325A-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar/dp/B01GK8LL76?0

Jameson thinline acoustic electric guitar
The Jameson Thinline

Jameson Thinline

OUR RATING: 4/5

The Jameson Thinline acoustic-electric is a low-budget guitar produced by the R. W. Jameson Guitar Company. While most low-budget guitars are essentially just heaps of the stinky stuff waiting to fall into your hands, the folks at Jameson have certainly proved to manufacture the exception.

With a three-inch frame thickness, this guitar presents a smaller package than other guitars. The thinner frame makes this an ideal guitar for smaller players and beginners – and that’s also where the name came from: A Jameson THINLINE!

The Thinline has been an Amazon bestseller for quite some time, and people just can’t seem to get enough of it. With over 1500 user reviews(68 percent of them a full 5 stars, and a 4.3 total average) you probably should trust the voice of the masses.

What makes this guitar so popular? Probably more than just its overall look. The blue design of this guitar is funky and fresh, and the black edges provide a nice backdrop, but colored guitars generally represent the cheap variety. It is its features that play the ultimate salesman here – and it has everything a guitarist would need.

The die-cast tuners at the end of the rosewood neck are of high quality. The top and sides are made of spruce, which has proven to be a durable material. It has a built in EQ, and a – fairly stock – pickup.

We all get what we pay for, and the Jameson Thinline is no exception. It’s a given that this isn’t a new Gibson competitor, but we think that this is a great buy. Currently retailing for just under 200 bucks (with a free gig bag and guitar picks thrown in to sweeten the deal) this is also the ideal gift-guitar, or a small investment to make for someone who is in the beginners or experimental phase of learning to play the guitar.

PROS

  • It is dirt cheap
  • It has certain high-quality finishes(such as the die-cast tuners)
  • Its thinline neck is easy to play on

CONS

  • You ultimately get what you pay for
  • The blue cabinet looks tacky
  • The Sound quality leaves much to be desired

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Guitars-Thinline-Acoustic-Electric/dp/B003YVLKF6

Ibanez Artwood Acoustic electric guitar
The Ibanez AW54 CEOPN Natural Artwood

Ibanez AW54

OUR RATING: 4.5/5

Japanese manufacturer Ibanez did an excellent job of fusing performance with affordability when they created the AW54 (AW being ArtWood abbreviated). Much has been said about the open pore natural finish used on the Artwood range which shows the mahogany’s beautiful woodgrain off beautifully. Just a simple glance will have you agree that this is guitar is a stunner!

This dreadnought body style is manufactured with a solid mahogany top which does wonders for the natural resonance it offers. The back and sides of the cabinet are also mahogany – meaning this is an ‘all mahogany’ guitar. The brіdgе ріnѕ – a very unique Ibanez-specific patent – offers a sturdy foundation to the 6 strings. The headstock has six chrome die-cast Grover tuners and a rosewood bridge. Some say that the artwood struggles to keep its tuning – but this is certainly a subjective observation and not a notable defect.

Hardware wise, the Fishman Sonicore system isn’t quite premium but does the acoustic amplification it needs to do fairly well. The EQ is only 2-band but has a built-in tuner – all of which is battery powered.

The rich tones and natural projection sounds amazing, and hookup spoils much of it. But, you have the option, and you CAN go gigging with it!

This is a premium looking guitar with a very playable action. Yes, there are small shortcomings, but on the whole, the Artwood is a premium guitar at a very affordable price.

PROS

  • Fantastic feel and action
  • Natural Artwood looks amazing
  • Rich resonance
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Some users noted that the tuner was inconsistent
  • The guitar’s tuning may go out more frequently than you like.
  • Limited control on the 2 band EQ

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Ibanez-AW54CEOPN-Dreadnought-Acoustic-Electric/dp/B00HWIRQXM

The best acoustic electric guitars under 500 dollars

Black Fender Acoustic Electric guitar
The Fender CD-60 SCE

Fender CD-60 SCE

OUR RATING: 4.5

The Fender CD-60 is the first and probable choice for most beginners and intermediate players who want bang for their buck in the under-500-dollar price range. The CD in the name is an abbreviation for ‘Classic Design’ – Fender’s range of entry-level acoustic instruments primarily aimed at first-time players. The CD range has proven to offer good build quality and premium features at an affordable price, and the CD-6o is no exception.

The CD-60 with its large dreadnought body has a solid spruce top which delivers a warm and full-bodied tone which will suit most players(and appease most ears). The comfort and projection of the body is just phenomenal! The laminated nato back and sides makes this a durable guitar which should last a long time.

The rosewood fingerboard is silky smooth and has rolled edges which removes the playing buzz. The body is furnished with a pickguard which should ease the worry of scratching your shiny new instrument if you’re a pick player.

The CD-60 comes equipped with a tuner, an onboard low-profile Fishman pickup, and a preamp – all of which makes both home practice and live gigs a breeze.

PROS

  • Fantastic looking body
  • Exceptional value for money.
  • The inclusion of a pickguard/scratchplate
  • The rolled edges on the fingerboard make this an easy-to-play guitar.
  • The built-in tuner works well, and the strings retain their tuning remarkably well.

CONS

  • The strap peg is glued on and feels flimsy
  • While it IS a Fender, it’s a cheap Fender – and the made-in-china feel is there.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Fender-CD-60SCE-Dreadnought-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar/dp/B00KZ1TQJA

D'Angelico Premier Madison acoustic electric guitar
The D’Angelico Premier Madison

D’Angelico Premier Madison

OUR RATING: 3/5

D’angelico, founded by a group of Italian men who handmade guitars in a workshop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the ’30s, was always a premier instrument. In the golden age of jazz, and right through the ’50s and ’60s, a D’Angelico guitar represented the Rolls Royce of the guitar gigger’s kit. Since then, the brand almost died a silent death – and even though the vintage D’Angelico’s are fetching astronomical prices at auctions worldwide, not many of them were sold until now.

Enter the ‘Premier’ series. This recent reincarnation of the D’Angelico brand is way more affordable than its jurassic predecessor and offers a great amount of razzle-dazzle nostalgy packed in a pretty decent guitar.

The Premier Madison, currently retailing at just under the 500-buck mark, is built as a single-cutaway jumbo body acoustic-electric. The Jumbo body does wonders for the bass sounds and produces a rich, full tone.

Featuring a sitka spruce top, laminated mahogany body, a slim C-shape mahogany neck, and stairstep tuning machines, you can expect to hear an almost permanently-tuned, clear sounding guitar.

But expectation and reality, alas… While the Madison produces an excellent tone when amplified, the strings produce a clangy, almost too sharp sound when not amplified.

As far as aesthetics go, it looks great. The tortoise scalini pickguard covers a respectable part of the body and should prevent scratches of any type when you’re playing with a pic. It just LOOKS like it means business, doesn’t it? The black dot side position markers are great and make playing easier for those who are still new to the instrument. If ease-of-play is your main consideration, this might be the best buy after all. The slim scarf neck and cutaway makes movements and transitions along the fingerboard very easy!

The hardware is managed by a brand-specific preamp and 3-band EQ. There is also a built-in tuner – although the chrome tuners hold tunings quite well.

PROS

  • The now made-in-China D’Angeligo is way more affordable
  • The aesthetics is great
  • Produces great amplified bass sounds

CONS

  • In this price range, you expect more
  • The tones are terrible when it is not amplified.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/DAngelico-Premier-Madison-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar/dp/B07CC6R62T

Martin little martin acoustic electriv guitar
Marting LX1E

Martin LX1E

Our Rating: 4/5

The Martin LX1E is popularly known as the “Little Martin” because of its smaller size. Some refer to smaller guitars as parlor guitars or traveling guitars – which they well may be. But, it would be unfair to allow simple terms to discount on the big heart that beats inside this little guitar. What’s good enough for Ed Sheeran (yes, Ed cites the Little Martin as his favorite guitar) is good enough for you!

Its smaller-than-traditional size makes this the ideal guitar for people with smaller hands and kids starting out on the guitar. We’re surprised at how comfortable this guitar sits on a grown man’s lap, and this could well be a guitar-for-life for many guitarists.

The prestige of having a Martin allows you certainty when it comes to building quality and manufacturing standards – and the LX1E is no exception. The top is made from spruce, and the sides and back are formed using HPL (High-Pressure Laminate) which gives it a very real mahogany look. Its oval rush laminate neck features 20 frets, which is enough to accommodate any scalic passage you might want to play on your guitar.

The hardware component on the LX1e does a great job of amplifying the guitar’s sounds. The Fishman Isys pickup is designed to bring out the tonal spectrum on this guitar out wonderfully, and there is clear, bright feedback when amped. This system has an onboard chromatic tuner, a phase control, volume control and an EQ helping with contour.

The one drawback this guitar has is that you feel like a bit of a clown playing it. It just feels and looks odd to see accomplished musicians sporting anything other than a full sized dreadnought. The portability and ease of travel must make up for this, and it does. But still…

PROS

  • The sound is clear and bright
  • Great Fishman pickup
  • Martin’s built quality and design

CONS

  • Because of its size, it lacks the projection that bigger guitars offer
  • The bass tones are weak – again, a probable byproduct of its smaller cabinet.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Martin-LX1E-Acoustic-Sonitone-electronics/dp/B001CM7U5I/ref=pd_sbs_267_1/145-9992133-7016743?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B001CM7U5I&pd_rd_r=c2de2f6d-7efc-11e9-8ec8-f37f2ab7fd5a&pd_rd_w=D0Xyf&pd_rd_wg=b7xwk&pf_rd_p=588939de-d3f8-42f1-a3d8-d556eae5797d&pf_rd_r=CD3EDN77SJSPNAZYEAKY&psc=1&refRID=CD3EDN77SJSPNAZYEAKY

The best acoustic-electric guitars under 1000 dollars

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro acoustic electric guitar
The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro with faded cherry burst

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

OUR RATING: 4.5/5

Since its introduction in the early 1960s, the Hummingbird has been a well-loved guitar that only appreciates in popularity. Kieth Richards, Sheryl Crow, and a few other legendary artists have been seen strutting this iconic instrument, and you might want to follow suit.

Really! This particular guitar, the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a cheaper(though just as magnificent) version of the Gibson Hummingbird. Same car, different badge. Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson and the quality workmanship shows. The beautiful spruce top with its laminated mahogany on the front, back, and sides coupled with an elaborately-decorated imitation tortoise pickguard speak volumes of the well thought-out design process.

Once you’ve stopped drooling, we’ll want to know whether the Epiphone Pro is any good as a player’s instrument. We’d say: Hell yeah! It has a full-size dreadnought body with square shoulders and a very playable neck that should sit perfectly in even the pickiest player’s lap. The solid spruce top produces rich tones of the highest quality, and the slim – and very playable – neck features a rosewood fretboard with 20 frets.

The hardware backs the distinct and arresting faded cherry red image up well: Shadow Germany and Epiphone have collaborated together to produce the NanoFlex pickup, the modern system employed to pick up and amplify the sounds you produce. The Shadow E-performer preamp controls include adjustment controls for the treble/bass, an EQ, volume, and dynamics.

There is no built-in tuner, but the Grover tuners offer a gear ratio of fourteen to one which makes tuning quick and easy.

All in all, the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a good, solid, well-built guitar with jaw-dropping looks. We like it!

PROS

  • The colorful cabinet and distinct shape looks great
  • Although not cheap, it is affordable
  • Excellent hardware

CONS

  • No built-in tuner,
  • Some reviewers mentioned a bit of a string buzz – although this should be nothing more than a slight inconvenience.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Epiphone-Hummingbird-Pro-Faded-Cherry-Burst/dp/B00O0HUBI0

Martin Roadseries acoustic electric guitar
The Martin Road Series DRS1

Martin Road Series DRS1

OUR RATING: 4/5

The legendary Martin guitar company strikes again! This is a superior, well priced, good looking great sounding guitar, and we love everything about it. In short, the Road Series DRS1 offers sonic excellence without taking you into the triple zero digit price range.

The attractive dreadnought body has its top, back and sides crafted of solid Sapele, which is braced for better resonance and projection. The action is nice and low, and the tone is rich and even – even in acoustic only mode. The black richlite fingerboard offers 20 crowned and polished frets, which are easy to play on.

The DRS1 has a Fishman Sonitone system which is housed inside the soundhole – so there are no visible external controls. This way of sound reinforcement has become synonymous with the Martin brand and gives you the now-popular Martin sound you’ve come to love and expect.

This is a brilliant guitar at a VERY affordable price – we’d really expect to pay way more for a guitar of this caliber from the Martin brand.

PROS

  • Great sound
  • Easy playability
  • Affordability
  • The Martin stamp of quality and panache.

CONS

  • Although this is a Martin, these models are manufactured in Mexico – which puts some players off
  • The position of the strap button slightly hampers playing on the higher frets.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A7MXBXE/ref=psdc_11971271_t2_B001CM7U5I

Yamaha A3M Acoustic Electric guitar
The Yamaha 6-String series A3M

Yamaha A3M

OUR RATING: 5/5

Yamaha has been manufacturing instruments for well over a century – but they only started making guitars in the 1940s. And these guitars were only sold in Japan until Country Joe McDonald played a Yamaha at Woodstock in the late ’60s. After being introduced to the American market, Yamaha guitars have had steady popularity with guitar players of all genres both in America and Europe for a reason.

The Yamaha A3M is has a traditional western body style with a cutaway – which provides easy access to the upper frets. The vintage-natural finish looks stylish and high end. It’s solid sitka spruce tops with scalloped bracing provides a rich acoustic sound and a much louder unplugged tone.

As for the rest of its woods, the neck is made of mahogany, and the back and sides are solid mahogany too. The fingerboard is made of ebony.

Compliments need to be given to whoever designed the neck profile which is a pleasure to play on!

The A3M has Yamaha’s versatile SRT (Studio Response Technology) pickup system on board, offering excellent recording and stage performance options. Adjusting the treble and bass is easy, and comes with auto feedback reduction. What makes the SRT2 system so fantastic, is that you get the option of balancing the piezo and SRT2 preamp to create your own unique tone.

PROS

  • Cutting edge SRT2 audio system
  • This is the first Yamaha to be fully designed and built in America

CONS

  • None!

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-A3M-Acoustic-Electric-Vintage-Natural/dp/B01MR6YSGJ

The best acoustic electric guitars under 1500 dollars

Taylor 214ce Acoustic Electric guitar
The Taylor 214ce DLX with layered Rosewood back and sides

Taylor 214 ce DLX Delux Grand Auditorium

OUR RATING: 4.5/5

Taylor is known to produce high-quality guitars that are beautifully crafted to produce exceptional sounds – albeit at quite a premium. The 200 series aims to offer the Taylor brand with all its bells and whistles at a more affordable price – and the 214ce DLX, though not cheap, is worth every penny it sells for.

The 214CE has a Grand Auditorium body that offers great depth and richness. Featuring a solid Sitka spruce top and layered rosewood back and side – guitar junky speak for “high-quality build”. The single cutaway gives easy access to the entire range of the 20-fret fingerboard which made from ebony. The use of ebony on the fretboard is a step-up from the rosewood usually offered in this price range, and a great one too. The sapele neck is polished to perfection and is not glossed – which means your hands will not stick to the neck unnecessarily.

As far as the hardware goes, the 214ce is equipped with what Taylor calls the ‘Expression System 2’ – a revolutionary pickup design they have been incorporating in most of their newer models. This behind-the-saddle system has three individually placed and calibrated pickup sensors, which accurately captured the sounds of the strings and their dynamics beautifully. The pre-amp has a simple control system allowing you to adjust the volume, bass, and treble to easily replicate and enhance the acoustic tones you are creating.

For some reason, the more premium guitars are often released without a built-in tuner – and the 214CE is, unfortunately, also without one.

The action of the 214ce Deluxe is light and the playability it offers is fantastic!

PROS

  • Manufactured with premium grade materials.
  • Light action, without any string buzz.

CONS

  • Layered rosewood is not laminated, which takes away from the probable durability of it.
  • No built-in tuner.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Taylor-214ce-DLX-Layered-Rosewood/dp/B00HF4WI9K/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Takamine EF341SC
The Takamine EF341CS Black Acoustic Electric guitar

Takamine EF341SC

OUR RATING: 4/5

The Takamine EF341SC is the workhorse of the music industry. Bruce Springsteen calls this one his favorite – and who can disagree with The Boss? The quality of the workmanship is outstanding, the action amazing, and the onboard hardware world class.

The shining matt-black finish shines like polished glass and, aesthetically, this guitar is a visual pleasure to behold.

The cutaway body style cabinet is built with durable materials and feels sturdy and expensive. The cedar top creates a naturally resonant sound, and the maple back and sides just further compliment the acoustics. The mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard provides a thrilling playing action – and all in all, this package measures up to even the highest expectations you might have.

The EF341SC was made for the stage – and the CT4B electronics takes care of the hardware package powering it. The preamp sounds great live, and the inbuilt tuner is accurate. Too many top-end guitars come without onboard tuners, and we find the addition of one invaluable for the live performer on stage. The chrome tuners at the end of the neck provide ample, lasting tuning control. The 3-band EQ is easy to master, and offers a great mixing capability.

PROS

  • Aesthetics: It looks amazing!
  • Great acoustics offering warm and rich tones.
  • Excellent hardware and the inclusion of an onboard tuner.

CONS

  • This guitar isn’t cheap.
  • The black cabinet appeases us, but might not suit all tastes.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Takamine-EF341SC-LH-Dreadnought-Acoustic-Electric/dp/B004ZMWH32

Breedlove Solo Concert CE
The Breedlove Solo Concert CE

Breedlove Solo Concert CE

OUR RATING: 4/5

Oregon-based Breedlove manufactures the very unique Solo Concert CE reviewed here – and they are well known to produce awesome guitars at great prices. Sure, this isn’t a cheap guitar – but if you look at what you’re getting, this is a pretty good buy!

The design and shape of a Breedlove is unconventional and totally different from what most other manufacturers offer. Starting with the pointy and weird body which is not aesthetically pleasing… but it sits comfortably in your lap and ends up being a very playable guitar. The top is manufactured from western red cedar. The Back and sides are laminated ovangkol, and the soundboard is made of red cedar too. You get a standard 20-fret ebony fingerboard with bone nut frets and dot inlays. The acoustic second-sound hole acts as a perfect monitor for unplugged sessions, and the guitar has a good sound range and balance.

The Solo Concert CE has LR Baggs electronics with a pickup located under the saddle, and controls mounted in the soundhole. The closed gear tuners are chromed and perform well under repeated use.

This is a totally different guitar. If the look appeases you, great! If it doesn’t, you’ll have to decide: Do I like the tone and package enough to overlook the ghastly body shape, or am I still out shopping?

PROS

  • The built-in monitor-like second sound hole
  • The uniqueness of this guitar

CONS

  • Because Breedloves have pinless bridges, changing strings is quite hard
  • there is no pick guard
  • Its look will certainly not fly with any player.

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Breedlove-Solo-Concert-Cedar-Acoustic-Electric/dp/B07CCJSS4L?tag=guitarfcom-20

You have a bit more to spend

Taylor 714 Grand Auditorium Acoustic-electric guitar
The Taylor 714CE Grand Auditorium

Taylor 714CE V-class Grand Auditorium

OUR RATING: 5/5

We won’t waste too much time singing the ode-to-Taylor here – this really is a phenomenal guitar, and faultless in every way. The 714CE is the epitome of Taylor, and offers the best of both worlds in terms of sound and look. The clear voice offers sharp, crisp highs and deep boomy lows – all of this achieved by its V-class bracing.

What makes this guitar so great? Out of all the guitars on the market, why’d we choose THIS as the Rolls-Royce offering?

The V-class bracing. That’s it. If you don’t know, the folks at Taylor conceptualized the V-class to replace the usual X-bracing found in most guitars. Essentially, two main braces laid our in a V-shape start either side of the soundhole(and four additional braces are added either side of these) which is where the V came from. This design brings you an absolute-unshakable, sturdy instrument with superior sound qualities.

The fine detail in the build should awe you – and we’re sure it will. The beautiful headstock has a lutz top, and the back and sides are manufactured from Indian rosewood. The satin finished neck has 20 frets.

Not to state the obvious but Taylor still has one of the best pickup designs on the market today. The Es2 found on the 714Ce is no exception. The heart of this system is Taylor’s patented behind-the-saddle pickup and three individually calibrated pickup sensors which accurately amplify the most subtle sound changes and articulations.

This is a best-of-the-best buy and a great guitar. If you can afford it, buy it!

PROS

  • Everything about it is A-class, top-notch and elegant.

CONS

  • We don’t all have 3500 dollars to spend

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/Taylor-714ce-V-Class-Auditorium-Cutaway/dp/B07BWY5SPX

You’re a Rockerfeller

John Lennon's Gibson guitar
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/John_Lennon%27s_missing_1962_Gibson_J-160E_guitar_in_the_exhibit_%28clip3%29_-_Ladies_and_Gentlemen…_the_Beatles%21_exhibit_at_LBJ_Presidential_Library%2C_Austin%2C_TX%2C_2015-06-12_11.37.55.jpg/200px-thumbnail.jpg

John Lennon’s Gibson J160-E

Seventy years after his birth and three decades after his untimely passing, John Lennon’s message of peace continues to touch the masses, and his songs still resonate in the hearts and minds of fans around the world. One of his guitars, a Gibson J-160E (one of Gibson’s first attempts at creating an acoustic-electric guitar, and probably the most famous of all the guitars they’ve ever manufactured) recently sold for $2.41 million.

The J-160E had a single-coil pickup, and most of the body was made from plywood. The rosewood fingerboard had trapezoid inlays, and the guitar also featured an adjustable bridge. At the top of the fingerboard, two screws protrude which is used as volume and tone knobs.

Is this an amazing guitar? Well, define amazing! It certainly doesn’t have the features and capabilities of the modern day acoustic-electric, but who wouldn’t want to own Lennon’s evergreen Love-me-do guitar?!

BUY NOW: You can’t. You missed it. But if it ever comes up at an auction, you better have the better part of 3-bar ready!

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