The 5 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $1,000

Take your acoustic guitar playing to new heights with our selection of the best sub $1000 acoustic-electric guitars.

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This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Acoustic Guitars stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

Before making big investments, one must count the cost and expect gains. This is exactly what we did when we updated this list to feature the best acoustic-electric guitars that you can get for under $1000. We narrowed the list down to just the top five, featuring guitars that outclass others in terms of tone, build quality, and overall playing experience. They also give you more value for your money since they are very similar to high-end instruments, albeit built using more cost-effective materials and methods, and with stripped down aesthetics. This means that you are getting a premium sounding and feeling instruments at more modest price points.

Contents

The 5 Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $1,000

Picture View on Sweetwater Overview Detailed Description
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE

Epiphone DR-500MCE

The Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE is easily the best value guitar in this list with its all-solid wood body, dual pickups (NanoFlex and NanoMag) from Shadow Electronics, and vintage style aesthetics. See our detailed description below
Washburn WCG25SCE

Washburn WCG25SCE

Playability, comfort and tone are balanced nicely in Washburn's Comfort Series WCG25SCE, with its solid spruce top, Fishman Presys+ electronics, and special elbow comfort binding. See our detailed description below
Guild M-120E

Guild M-120E

With its all-solid mahogany body that gives it a warmer tone, the vintage inspired Guid M-120E offers a nice visual and sonic contrast to traditional spruce topped acoustics. See our detailed description below
Martin DRS2

Martin DRS2

With its distinctive solid Sitka spruce top, solid sapele (a close relative of mahogany) back and sides, the DRS2 gives you bright, clear trebles and a warm midrange. See our detailed description below
Taylor 214ce

Taylor 214ce

Just under the ceiling of this price range is the Taylor 214ce, with its solid sitka spruce top, layered koa back and sides, and ES-2 preamp and pickup system - all built according to Taylor's high quality standards. See our detailed description below

The 5 Best Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $1,000

Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE


Manufacturer: Epiphone | Retail Price:$679

Epiphone is an expert at maximizing specs and quality while keeping price tags temptingly low, and this is exactly what they did with the Masterbilt Series DR-500MCE. This acoustic-electric guitar is packed with features, from it's all-solid wood body to its upgraded pickup and preamp system from Shadow electronics - and it packs all these features without compromising build quality and aesthetics, all at a very practical and reasonable price point.

At the core of the Epiphone DR-500MCE is its solid spruce top, which is supported by solid mahogany back and sides, a combination that is usually only found on more expensive guitars, resulting in good quality unplugged tones, and not to mention good aesthetics.

Giving the instrument its amplified voice are two Shadow electronic pickups, the NanoMag neck pickup and NanoFlex bridge pickup, both of which work together with the eSonic-2 Stereo Preamp to produce versatile and great sounding tones. It also helps that the overall aesthetics are top notch, so you are really getting a lot for your money. Wrapping up its features is its familiar playability, thanks to its standard neck specs that include 25.5" scale length, 14" fretboard radius, 1.68" nut width.

  • Pros: All-solid wood construction and Shadow electronics system.

  • Cons: Like traditional dreadnoughts, it can be a bit boomy.

Check out the latest Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE price and reviews at Sweetwater.


Washburn WCG25SCE

Washburn WCG25SCE
Manufacturer: Washburn | Retail Price:$699

Playability and ergonomics are features where the Washburn WCG25SCE stands out, and it does so while looking and sounding really nice. Just one look at it and you'll notice its most distinct feature, the nicely beveled lower bout with smooth and curved mahogany binding that allows you to comfortably rest your elbow while playing. In addition, since the bevel runs along its mahogany binding, it doesn't look out of place at all, rather it adds to the overall appeal of the guitar.

The Washburn WCG25SCE has a traditional combination of solid spruce for the top and rosewood for the back and side, resulting in a punchy and articulate acoustic tone that will improve as the top ages. Fingerboard scale length is standard at 25.5", while nut width is slightly wider at 1.693".

For plugging in, this guitar comes with a Fishman Presys+ piezo pickup and preamp system, which comes with its own built-in EQ, notch filter and phase controls. You can also tune the guitar without the need for third party equipment because it comes with a built-in tuner. While most users are happy with this guitar, there are a few who found minor cosmetic blemishes out of the box, but they are still happy with the guitar overall.

  • Pros: Comfortable and eye catching, with solid spruce top and Fisman Presys+ electronics.

  • Cons: Some report minor cosmetic blemishes out of the box.

Check out the latest Washburn WCG25SCE price and reviews at Sweetwater.


Guild M-120E

Guild M-120E
Manufacturer: Guild | Retail Price:$749.99

With its old school appeal and all-solid mahogany body, the Guild M-120E acoustic-electric guitar is an easy recommendation. The solid mahogany top and solid mahogany back and sides mesh well together both visually and sonically, giving the instrument an earthy appearance, while giving it a mellow and warm tone. The use of mahogany is further complemented by its compact concert body shape, which emphasizes the mids for a more complex tone.

The smaller body makes it more akin to old parlor guitars than standard dreadnoughts, but it does have a bit more acoustic projection than vintage specimens.

For plugging in, Guild equipped the M-120E with Fishman's Sonitone electronics, which features a preamp with discrete sound hole mounted controls. This means that there weren't that big of a modification to the guitar's body, compared to regular bulky preamps. To match its compact body, the neck has a shorter scale length of 24.75" paired with a 1.75" wide nut. Wrapping up its features are vintage style open gear tuners, tortoiseshell pickguard, and '60s era headstock inlay.

  • Pros: Compact all-solid mahogany wood body with distinct old school shape and appeal.

  • Cons: May not appeal to those who prefer standard size acoustic guitars.

Check out the latest Guild M-120E price and reviews at Sweetwater.


Martin DRS2

Martin DRS2
Manufacturer: Martin | Retail Price:$829

Martin's legacy and renown for quality is undeniable, they continue to be the company to beat when it comes to quality acoustic guitars. While they are more popular for their high end instruments, they have been offering really good acoustic guitars in the mid-tier market. The Martin DRS2 is a great example of this, with its all-solid wood body (solid sitka spruce top and solid sapele back and sides), Fishman Sonitone electronics and high quality build standards. It really is a true Martin guitar, albeit built in Mexico and with stripped down aesthetic appointments.

Having a solid spruce top and a dreadnought shape, the DRS2 sounds very similar to standard Martin guitars, specifically the D-18, but at a more affordable price point. The main difference is the use of solid sapele for the back and sides, which to many sound a wee bit brighter than solid mahogany, but more cost effective and renewable.

To avoid having to modify the sides of the guitar too much, Martin opted to equip this guitar with Fishman Sonitone electronics, with the preamp controls discretely mounted just under the soundhole. Finally, the DRS2 follows familiar Martin playability with its 25.4" scale length, 1.75" nut width and modified low oval neck profile.

  • Pros: All-solid wood Martin guitar that's accessibly priced, with discrete preamp controls.

  • Cons: Not much complaints, other than wishful extra features like EQ on the preamp.

Check out the latest Martin DRS2" price and reviews at Sweetwater.


Taylor 214ce

Taylor 214ce
Manufacturer: Taylor | Retail Price:$999

For a relatively new guitar builder (in terms of the history of acoustic guitar brands), Taylor is now standing toe to toe with big name manufacturers, and it's all thanks to guitars like the 214ce, which showcases their attention to detail and consistent build quality. While you can get more features with the amount of money that this guitar is being sold for, it would be hard to match its overall quality. Especially when plugged in, because it is equipped with Taylor's Expression System 2 or ES-2, the same ones found on their more expensive acoustic-electric guitars.

There are a number of different Taylor 214ce models, but they all come equipped with solid spruce top, differing mainly on the type of layered wood used on the back and sides, which include Koa, Rosewood and Sapele. As expected from a Taylor made guitar, the 214ce has a characteristically bright and articulate sound, with good projection, thanks to its Grand Auditorium body shape. This guitar is also well loved for its playability, with its strings setup for comfortable playing. Neck specifications do not stray from the usual, with a nut width of 1.6875", and a scale length of 25.5".

  • Pros: Top notch attention to detail, build quality, and built-in electronics.

  • Cons: Maybe a bit bulky for smaller players, laminate back and sides.

Check out the latest Taylor 214ce price and reviews at Sweetwater.


What to Look for in a Sub $1000 Acoustic Electric Guitar

  • Tonewood

    Many of the guitars in this price range come with a solid spruce top, and rightly so, because many prefer the punch and projection of a solid spruce topped acoustic. Solid mahogany and solid cedar are also popular top options, because of the warmer and more articulate tones they produce. The bracing and structure of the guitar is just as important as the solid top, hopefully manufacturers are not skimping on this given the money they're asking.

    Some guitars feature all-solid wood bodies, which means that the back and sides are also crafted from solid wood planks. Like solid tops, they are sought after for the positive effect that they have on the resulting sound. Just note that solid woods are not as resilient to environmental changes as laminate, so you need extra care in protecting the guitar from humidity and weather changes. I experienced this first hand when all the bindings on my all-solid wood acoustic guitar went off after a very hot and humid summer.

  • Pickup and Preamp System

    Most guitars in this price range come with an under-saddle piezo pickup and preamp system, and they get the job done for the most part. There are manufacturers that take their electronics a step further by combining different pickup types (like magnetic and piezo pickups) for versatile sound options, or by developing their own piezo technology to improve the amplified sound's acoustic likeness. Tone shaping features like EQ can be very useful especially when you expect to play in different venues with different gear. Other features to look out for include anti-feedback (phase shift or notch filter) and built-in tuner.

    There are some guitars in this price range with soundhole mounted controls, which can be a bit limiting and awkward, but since they are discretely installed, there are less holes or modifications on the body.

  • Guitar Body Shape and Size

    The flat top "Dreadnought" shape, which Martin Guitars developed, is still the go-to shape for many acoustic guitar builders. This is all thanks to its good low end projection and familiar voicing. As expected, some manufacturers have made their own modified versions of the dreadnought, resulting in subtle to big changes to the instrument's voice. If you're not sure what to get, the general rule is that bigger bodied acoustics are fuller sounding, have more projection and bass response. Smaller bodied guitars emphasize the upper middle frequencies which result in a brighter and articulate sound. The guitar's size and shape can also affect playing comfort, so best to get one that suits your actual size.

  • Playability (Neck specifications)

    While it should be expected for guitars in this price range to have good playability, it is still important to check the neck specifications. Those with smaller hands, should go for guitars with narrower nut width, while those with bigger hands will need the space that wider necks provide. If you're looking for a guitar with less string tension, then look at ones with shorter scale lengths, just remember that string tension also affects the resulting sound - which is part of the reason why ukulele and banjo's sound different to guitars.

  • Aesthetics

  • If you're spending almost one grand on a guitar, then you might as well spend it on a beauty. It goes without saying that eye catching instruments can inspire you to play better and practice more.

 

If you're looking for a smaller sized option then check The Best Acoustic-Electric Parlor Guitars.

On the other hand, if you want a full-sized acoustic-electric at a lower price point then take a look at our guide to The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars - Under $200, Under $300 & Under $500.

If you have any questions about these acoustic-electric guitars, or other models which you feel should be mentioned, then have your say in the comments below.

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No PRS?

I don't understand how you cannot include the PRS SE Angelus in this. I have a Taylor Dreadnought and the PRS usually gets pulled out first.

or the epi masterbilt

or the epi masterbilt

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