Our Top Pick for 2018: Fender CD-60CE Dreadnought
Read our full review.
Guitars are great musical instruments. Whether you like classical guitar, rock or blues riffs, nothing lets you express yourself through music the way a guitar does. A good guitar is a friend that you will have for years to come. That is why buying a good acoustic electric guitar is so important for making the kind of music you want to be able to make. But how do you find a good guitar? We’ve listed our recommendations for the best guitars that are acoustic electric to help you take the guesswork out of the purchasing process, so you can stop worrying and start making music.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Fender CD-60CE Dreadnought Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Hard Case - All Mahogany||82 Reviews||$299.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Yamaha FGX700SC Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural||78 Reviews||Currently not available||Buy on Amazon|
|Epiphone EJ-200SCE Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Natural||35 Reviews||$499.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Jameson Guitars Full Size Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar with Free Gig Bag Case & Picks Natural...||1,398 Reviews||$99.95||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Fender CD-60CE Dreadnought
The Fender CD-60CE is a gorgeous guitar in both tone and appearance. Its top, back sides and neck are all crafted from luxurious laminated mahogany over spruce and the bridge is made of rich rose wood. It also has a black pick guard, white bridge pins and a mother of pearl rosette design. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the CD-60CE is stunning. That’s only the beginning though. The scalloped bracing adds an extra depth to the warm tones it produces. It makes a sound that’s smooth and clean without any hint of a buzz or a rattle. The tone of the CD-60CE should please experienced players and it’s built in tuner and Fishman pickup will make sure it always sounds good. It also has new compensated 20 fret finger board die cast tuners and a dual action truss rod. The Fender CD-60CE is a fantastic value for the price and is easily worth twice what the manufacturer is charging for it.
The cutaway design makes the Fender CD-60CE easy to play while sitting, a bonus for both classical guitar and for blues players. The action on the CD-60E is also low enough to be comfortable for female guitarists who won’t have to push as hard on the strings to play. They will also appreciate the thin, rounded neck and thin line body. It’s a fantastic guitar for gigs too. The Fender CD-60CE has a boomingly loud acoustic projection, so unless you are playing to a large or noisy crow you won’t even need to use an amplifier. The solid construction of CD-60CE the means it keeps its pitch even after hours of play and travels well.
The built in tuner on the Fender CD-60CE is accurate and very easy to operate. Simply turn it on by pushing the button. The red light indicates when a string is out of tune. Tighten or loosen it until the indicator light is green and the string will be properly in tune. The Fender CD-60CE comes with an instruction guide and a small wrench for making adjustments. It also includes a hard shell guitar case with a gorgeous plush lined interior with a place to store your spare strings guitar picks and other small things. It’s perfect for protecting your guitar when you are at home or when you are on the road.
There are a few thoughts to consider before purchasing a guitar though. As with any guitar, experienced players may want to switch out the factory strings for whatever type of strings best suit your style, like Elixir or D’Addario’s. Depending on your preferences, you may want to take it to a professional to have it restrung and the action adjusted to your liking. Another thing to consider is the variable wood grain used in the construction of the guitar. Because the grain in each piece of wood used to make a guitar is by nature unique, each guitar is likewise unique. The tighter the wood grain is, the better the sound will be from the guitar. It is an uncontrollable factor. This is true no matter what model or make of guitar you buy.
In summary, the Fender CD-60CE is a gem of an acoustic electric guitar. It has an array of features, a beautiful tone, is made of quality material and solidly constructed. It’s slightly smaller size makes it an ideal instrument for women and teens to play on. It’s built in tuner couldn’t be easier to use and it stays in tune after hours of play. It comes fully strung and with a hard shell guitar case and is ready to plug into your amp for immediate use. Having the quality of a far more expensive guitar at a fraction of the price, it’s easy to place the Fender CD-60CE in the top place as our #1 Gold Pick.
#2. Yamaha FGX700SC Solid Top
Next up on our list is the #2 Silver pick, the Yamaha FGX700SC Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar. The FGX700SC guitar lives up to Yamaha’s reputation for quality musical instruments. Its soundboard is solid sitka spruce with a rosewood fretboard and a mahogany neck. The Yamaha FGX700SC’s die cast chrome tuners have an internal spring system that helps the guitar stay in tune by maintaining consistent pressure on the strings. It has a System 55T 1 way, Piezo 3-band EQ, adjustable midrange frequency control for when you plug into your amp and a built in tuner too.
The look of the FGX700SC is a warm, golden spruce and it matches the warm tones it produces. The strong, non-scalloped X bracing ensures a beautifully smooth sound. Unlike many guitars in its price range, the Yamaha FGX700SC is solid wood, not a laminate. Its ultra-thin finish gives the FGX700SC a fuller, richer sound that projects farther than other brands with a thick finish. Perfect for smaller players, but still comfortable for musicians over 6 feet, the Yamaha FGX700SC is a concert shape build type, so it has a slightly smaller size and shorter string scale than the standard guitar size. It is the perfect size for anyone who has ever had trouble playing an F chord. The matt finish on the neck helps improve your grip too. The strings are placed conveniently near the frat bar giving it comfortable action that makes playing on it easy. The sound is sharp without a hint of a buzz. As with the Fender CD-60CE, the Yamaha FGX700SC performs like a guitar at twice its price. With its strong, quality Yamaha construction, it will last for years too.
There are a couple of things to think about when buying a Yamaha FGX700SC. The strings the FGX700SC come with are brass wound Yamaha FS50BT’s. They’re fine for beginners or for intermediate players who just want to have a guitar for occasional use, but if you want to do some serious playing, you will want to do an upgrade. If you do keep the original strings, they’ll need to be retuned. Of necessity, the strings are detuned by a few octaves to protect the neck of the guitar during storage and shipping. Fortunately the strings are pre-stretched and it will only take retuning it a couple of times before it stays in tune. Unlike the Fender CD-60CE, the Yamaha FGX700SC doesn’t come with a case included, so you’ll want to buy one in addition to your purchase. The guitar is construed with only 1 strap button, so you’ll have to attach the strap to the headstock between where the nut and the tuners are or else get a clamp on.
In conclusion, this is a great guitar at a great price. The electronics work very well, the construction of the guitar is superb and the tone is rich, balanced and full. The overall quality of the Yamaha FGX700SC is equal to guitars in twice its price range. It not only sounds great, but makes playing a dream. While not as much of a showpiece as the Fender CD-60CE, the Yamaha FGX700SC is a guitar that will give you years of enjoyment. It sits in a comfortable second place as our #2 Silver pick.
#3. Epiphone EJ-200CE
Our #3 Bronze Pick is the Epiphone EJ-200CE. A jumbo guitar styled after the Gibson J200, the EJ-200CE is a high quality guitar at a mid-quality price. It has a solid spruce sound board, maple laminate body and a rosewood fingerboard. Built at a 25.5” scale the EJ-200CE has a neck that joins to the body at the 14th fret. The headstock is styled in the iconic Epiphone Dovewing fashion and has gold die-cast 14:1 tuners. It is a gorgeously constructed design that you will be proud to show off. It comes with an eSonic2 preamp system that eliminates the popping noise when you plug in to your amp. It also features a nanoflex tone pickup under the bridge and a nanomag tone pickup at the end of the fingerboard, a phase switch for getting rid of feedback, stereo blend, master volume, 2 jacks, a low battery warning light and a built in tuner.
The Epiphone EJ-200CE is a jumbo guitar with a fat neck. It’s heavier than most similar designs and is a good fit for a large player. It has a round, full, balanced tone that with the jumbo style and the maple body gives it a pleasingly bright sound that carries its own when played in a group. Its action is quick and there is no buzz or overly jangly sound on the high strings. It plays more like an electric guitar than an acoustic-electric. The guitar sounds a little quitter than other acoustics when not plugged in, but when you do plug it in, the phase shift between the two pickups means you can get a huge variation of sounds from it. You will be able to play anything from classical to jazz to blues to rock on it. It is a very versatile guitar. Made by master luthiers in Indonesia, it is a solid, quality instrument. It’s another guitar that punches above its weight, as it is at least as good as any at twice the price.
There are a few drawbacks, though. First of all are its weight and size. If either of these have been an issues for you with other guitars in the past, then this one isn’t the one for you. Another is the softness of the tone when not plugged into an amplifier. While fine for playing at home or at small quiet gigs, if you want an un-amped, ringing tone that can play to a large room, then you should choose our gold or silver pick guitars. As with all guitars, you may want to have the factory strings replaced to fit your tastes. Finally the EJ-200CE doesn’t come with a guitar case or strap. Fortunately they can be found for not very much money online.
All in all, the Epiphone EJ-200CE is a solid, dependable and affordable little brother to the Gibson J200. It has great playability and a good sound that sings when you plug it into an amp. Beginners will find it easy to use and advanced players will love its versatility and tone. While it is heavy and large, it’s made to perform like a guitar twice as expensive and will give you years of music playing enjoyment. It stands proudly as our #3 bronze pick.
#4. Jameson Thinline
The Full Size Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar from Jameson gets our nod for the best “cheap” pick. The Jameson Thineline is made with a spruce soundboard, a nato wood body, spruce wood truss rod and a rosewood fingerboard. It has quality die cast tuning gears, and a built in EQ with both tone and volume control. It comes with a nylon carrying case with a side pocket, 3 guitar picks, an 8’ long guitar cord, an Allen wrench and a booklet with chords and guitar terminology for beginners to learn.
An excellent guitar for beginners and students, the Jameson Thineline produces a sound that is light, crisp and clear. The action is good and new players shouldn’t have any trouble pressing down the strings to play it. With its thin neck, smaller fingers should have no trouble reaching the stings. Unlike many other guitars strung with steel string from the factory, the Jameson Thineline comes already strung with brass strings. Its thinner size makes it easier to hold against the body and therefore easier to play. It sound good acoustically or plugged in and handles strumming, percussion and palm muting well. For a guitar of it size, it makes a surprising amount of sound. Another guitar that’s worth twice what is being charged for it, it’s the best low cost guitar for beginners or casual players you will find. Jameson also has fast, responsive customer service should anything be wrong with your shipment.
It does have some drawbacks though. The Jameson Thineline is not a guitar that will last you for years unless you baby it. While it keeps its tune fairly well, you will have to retune it as the temperature fluctuates. Its sound is not as loud as a full sized guitar, and it only comes with a single strap on button, so you’ll have to tie it to the other end or buy a clip on.
To wrap it all up, the Jameson Thineline is worth the money and then some. While not a guitar for an experienced player, it is fantastic for people who are just starting out or who only play occasionally for fun. It’s easy to play and makes a clear sound without any buzzing. If you are looking for a good “cheap” guitar that will make you happy, then this is the one for you.
If you are looking for an acoustic electric guitar with sound that impresses, then you are going to want one with a solid spruce soundboard and scalloped X-bracing to connect the soundboard with the body. The soundboard is what amplifies the sound waves of the strings and the X-braces modify that tone further. The joining of the neck to the body is also important for refining the tone. The best guitars use dovetail joining, not metal connectors. The thinness of the finish on the guitar also helps the sound to come through clear and pure. If a guitar has too thick a varnish or a laminated soundboard, it can interfere with the production of the tone, resulting in an inferior sound. Look for a guitar with quality constriction from the bottom up.
No two guitars sound the same. All guitars have natural occurring variation in the thickness of the grain in the wood made to construct them. It’s a result of the growing condition of the timer before it is harvested and is an unavoidable variance that happens to all wood. If a guitar happens to be made with wood that has a small, tight grain, it will amplify the soundwaves better, producing a higher quality sound. Sometimes it can take trying several guitars of identical make and model to find one made with a tight woodgrain, but the resulting sound is worth the effort. If you are unhappy with the sound of your guitar, don’t be afraid to exchange it for another one. Professional musicians do it all the time.
Women and people with smaller builds often complain about the difficulty of reaching the strings around the neck of the guitar, difficulty in having to reach around the body of a full sized guitar and complain of the weight of a full sized guitar. Fortunately, concert sized guitars have slightly smaller bodies. Thinline guitars have less depth of body and weight less too. Both also have narrower necks making it easier to reach difficult chords. If you have had trouble in the past playing guitars, try switching to a concert sized or a thinline guitar. You will be pleasantly pleased at the difference they make.
The action on a guitar determines how close the strings are to the frets. Ideally they should be close enough to make pressing down on the strings easy while not being so close as to cause a buzzing noise from the base strings. The action can be reset by a luthier at any good guitar store. The strings on a guitar make a difference too. Most people prefer brass, light strings when they play, but it can take a few tries to find the right kind for your needs. The saddle, the frets, and nut can all be upgraded too, to help you get the sound you are looking for. Again, a professional luthier can help you to customize a good guitar into a dream guitar.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Acoustic electric guitars can be amazing instruments that help you express yourself musically whether you are a professional at a gig or an amateur playing outside on your deck on a summer evening. All it takes is time, practice, a little know how about guitars and the right instrument. With the list of acoustic electric guitars we have gathered here, you should have no trouble at all in finding a quality guitar that fits both your budget and your musical desires. All that stands between you and your music is to go out and buying the right one for you, so buy one today and start enjoying making music.