The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars - Under $200, Under $300 & Under $500

Here are the best acoustic electric guitars in the sub $500 market, affordable and reliable workhorse acoustic guitars with built-in electronics.

Sweetwater

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.

The competition in the sub-$500 price range continues to be stiff, with manufacturers regularly releasing new models or updating their current lineup. This means that guitars are getting even better, while retaining competitive pricing - ultimately allowing us to own top notch acoustic-electric guitars at more modest price points.

We updated this article for 2017 to make sure that it stays relevant to what the market offers, and we decided to do a major overhaul to ensure that deserving guitars are represented, and to provide more information that will help you find one that suits your preferences and needs.

Contents

The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

Ibanez PN12E

Ibanez PN12E

Ibanez continues to be successful in the entry-level to mid-tier acoustic guitar market, thanks to guitars like the PN12EVMS which showcases the company's incredible balance of quality and cost. See our detailed review below
Ibanez PF15ECE

Ibanez PF15ECE

This guitar gives you full-size profile, Ibanez' fast playability, standard dreadnought shape, and modern built-in electronics - all in a very affordable and eye catching package. See our detailed review below

The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $300

Yamaha APX500III

Yamaha APX500III

Yamaha combines student-friendly and performance-ready features in the APX500III, a reliable workhorse guitar with a comfortable thin body profile, and more importantly, affordably priced. See our detailed review below
Ibanez Talman TCM50

Ibanez Talman TCM50

The Ibanez Talman TCM50 is an interesting entry in this list because it is the only one that takes the acoustic-electric guitar label literally, with its combination of electric guitar profile and genuine hollow acoustic body. See our detailed review below

The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $500

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Used by the likes of Keith Richards, U2, Sheryl Crow and Chris Cornell to name a few, the Hummingbird is an enduring classic in the world of acoustic guitars. Thankfully, Epiphone has made this iconic guitar more accessible for today's guitar players. See our detailed review below
Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Epiphone EJ-200SCE

The Epiphone EJ-200SCE is another modern recreation of a classic design, based on the popular "Super Jumbo" Gibson J-200 which was first introduced in 1937, and used by the likes of George Harrison, The Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend. See our detailed review below
Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus

Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus

The Celebrity Standard Plus showcases the strengths of Ovation's non-traditional approach to guitar making, with its improved reliability, comfortable playability, less weight, and stylish appearance. See our detailed review below
Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QI

Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QI

The main source of this guitar's voicing is its solid cedar top, which is favored by many for its warmer tone. And it's not just any solid cedar wood, because Seagull employed pressure tested wood to ensure reliability and consistency. See our detailed review below

The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

Ibanez PN12E

Ibanez PN12EVMS
Manufacturer: Ibanez | Retail Price:$199.99

Ibanez continues to be successful in the entry-level to mid-tier acoustic guitar market, thanks to guitars like the PN12EVMS which showcases the company's incredible balance of quality and cost. This particular model has a smaller profile that follows after traditional "parlor" guitars, making it a great couch guitar that you can just grab and play. Contrasting the guitar's classic shape is its modern built-in piezo pickup and preamp system, which makes this guitar ready for the stage.

At the core of the Ibanez PN12E is its all-mahogany body, which gives it a warmer, mid-rangey tone that better reproduces the sound of old parlor guitars. Having said that, note that it will not sound clear and bright as regular size acoustic guitars, but it produces good blues-box style tones when played unplugged. Speaking of unplugged, the guitar's shorter 24.41" scale length lets you tune the guitar with less string tension, adding to its gnarly tone and making the instrument easier on the fretting hand. More than just a traditional blues box, the PN12E comes with Ibanez' AEQ-2T preamp, which gives you clear full-size like acoustic tones. It also comes with an onboard tuner, adding to the guitar's already impressive overall value.

It also helps that this guitar looks really nice for the price, and the consistency of its production quality seems to be good based on the reviews it is getting. If you are looking for an affordable parlor acoustic-electric guitar, this should be at the top of your list.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Ibanez PF15ECE

Ibanez PF15ECE
Manufacturer: Ibanez | Retail Price:$199.99

Ibanez has made it possible to own good quality acoustic-electric guitars in the entry-level market, as exemplified by the Ibanez PF15ECE. This guitar gives you full-size profile, Ibanez' fast playability, standard dreadnought shape, and modern built-in electronics - all in a very affordable package. But it's not just easy on the pocket, because it is also easy on the eyes, thanks to its gloss finish and aesthetic details.

To get the price this low, Ibanez designed the PF15ECE to be as streamlined as possible, starting off with a dreadnought body that comprises of a laminate spruce top and laminate mahogany back/sides.

Aiding the guitar's acoustic projection is its X-bracing, which supports the spruce top structurally and sonically. Playability wise, you can expect the neck to sport Ibanez' brand of fast action, with a scale length of 24.96" and nut width of 1.65". The guitar's cut-away shape lets you reach higher frets better, and adds to the instrument's appeal. Finally, Ibanez equipped the PF15ECE with their AEQ-2T pickup and preamp system which comes with a built-in tuner.

If you are looking for a quality budget workhorse acoustic-electric that's easy on the pocket and on the hands, then check this one out.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com



The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $300

Yamaha APX500III

Yamaha APX500III
Manufacturer: Yamaha | Retail Price:$299.99

Yamaha combines student-friendly and stage-ready features in the APX500III, a reliable workhorse guitar that's accessibly priced. And since Yamaha is known for their entry-level guitars, they certainly made the APX500III beginner friendly, with its thin body profile that's easier to play, even for younger guitarists. But it's not just about being easy to play because it houses Yamaha's System 66 preamp system that includes an undersaddle pickup, an onboard tuner and a 3-band EQ for tone shaping.

At this price point, we can't really expect premium wood specifications, but Yamaha was able to make this instrument sing with its laminate spruce, and nato back, sides and neck. As expected, the guitar's thinner body has less emphasis on the low end compared to full-size acoustics, but it does provide more emphasis on the upper mids, which results in improve clarity when unplugged. Plugging in the guitar will result in a natural acoustic tone that's expected of Yamaha's acoustic-electric line, but what sets the APX500III apart is its feedback rejection, thanks to its thin body profile. As such, this guitar is ideal when you're playing on stage with a loud band.

With its 25" scale length, you get standard playability, just note that the nut width is a bit wider at 1.6875", but still within conventional size. If you're looking for an affordable workhorse acoustic-electric guitar for use with your band, then get the Yamaha APX500III

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Ibanez Talman TCM50

Ibanez Talman TCM50
Manufacturer: Ibanez | Retail Price:$299.99

The Ibanez Talman TCM50 is an interesting entry in this list because it is the only one that takes the acoustic-electric guitar label literally, with its combination of electric guitar profile and genuine hollow acoustic body. It easily stands out from traditional acoustic guitars, with its distinct double cutaway shape, magnetic pickup, and 16th fret neck joint. But it does all this while still being able to produce acoustic tones when unplugged.

Giving this guitar its acoustic tone is a figured ash top, which is supported by mahogany back and sides. As expected, the tones coming out from its thin profile body lack bottom end, but the overall sound is still viable enough to impress many. For those who prefer the convenience of electric guitar playability, the unplugged tone of the Talman TCM50 becomes a secondary consideration, especially when you consider its good amplified tones, courtesy of the Ibanez AP2 Magnetic pickup and AEQ200M preamp system. Scale length is pretty much standard at 25.5", while nut width is 1.69". Adding to its playability is its 11.8" radius rosewood fingerboard.

Acoustic guitars don't get any more electric than the Ibanez Talman TCM50, it is highly recommended for electric guitar players that want to try acoustic guitars.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $500

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
Manufacturer: Epiphone | Retail Price:$349

Used by the likes of Keith Richards, U2, Sheryl Crow and Chris Cornell to name a few, the Hummingbird design is an enduring classic in the world of acoustic guitars. As such, it was only natural for Epiphone to produce a more affordable version which they call the Hummingbird Pro, making its iconic design accessible for more guitarists.

This affordable reproduction is true to form, with its dreadnought shape, faded cherry burst finish, split pearloid parallelogram inlays and distinct ornate hummingbird pickguard.

But it's not just about looks because the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro comes with an X-braced solid spruce top, and mahogany back and sides, all of which combine to give the instrument its balanced acoustic tone. Giving this instrument its onstage voice is Epiphone's Shadow ePerformer preamp, which has enamored many guitar players, including experienced musicians.

The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro has a mahogany neck with a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard. Scale length is 24.75", following the size of Gibson/Epiphone's popular electric guitars, and it has a nut width of 1.68". This traditional neck configuration translates to familiar playability, especially when you're transitioning from Gibson/Epiphone electrics. If your'e looking for an affordable yet stylish workhorse instrument then get the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Epiphone EJ-200SCE

Epiphone EJ-200SCE
Manufacturer: Epiphone | Retail Price:$459

The Epiphone EJ-200SCE is another modern recreation of a classic design, based on the popular Gibson J-200 which was first introduced in 1937. George Harrison, The Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend are just a few of the many big name artists who made the J-200 their own, so it's not a coincidence when you feel familiar with the EJ-200SCE's peculiar super jumbo shape, moustache profile bridge, and ornate tortoise pickguard.

The Super Jumbo shape was originally designed to increase sound projection, enabling acoustic guitars to compete with banjos and mandolins in terms of acoustic projection. This loud acoustic sound is retained in the Epiphone EJ-200SCE, with its combination of solid spruce top and maple back and sides. In case you want to amplify its sound, this guitar is fitted with eSonic2 electronics, that feature premium components which include NanoMag and NanoFlex pickups. The preamp itself is just as exemplary, with its stereo output, phase switch, built-in tuner and dedicated EQ for each of the two pickups.

The neck follows traditional Gibson specs, with a scale length of 25.5" and nut width of 1.68", so you can expect familiar playability, just remember that the body is bulkier than standard size acoustics. If you are looking for a reasonably priced workhorse acoustic-electric guitar that can double as a museum piece in terms of its aesthetics, then definitely get the Epiphone EJ-200SCE.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus

Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus
Manufacturer: Ovation | Retail Price:$469

There was a time when so many guitarists were playing Ovation acoustics, including Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Brian May, Jimmy Page and many more. And even now when traditional acoustic guitars are trendy, the brand is still alive and kicking, thanks to their innovative Lyrachord bowl back design. The Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus showcases the strengths of their non-traditional approach to guitar making, with its improved reliability, comfortable playability, less weight, and stylish appeal.

Lyrachord is a special material that Ovation implements on most of their acoustics, forming the brand's iconic "bowl back" profile. It is meant to be a good alternative to wood, thanks to its increased durability and lower weight. This particular model has a mid-depth cut-away body which has just enough thickness for good acoustic resonance, and enough thinness to reduce feedback. Being one of the first companies to mass produce guitars with built-in pickups and preamplifiers, Ovation knows how to get your sound amplified. For the Celebrity Standard Plus, they opted for an OP-4BT preamp with its 3-band EQ and onboard tuner. Other features of this guitar include Burled maple top, 25.5" scale length nato neck, and a rosewood fingerboard that's 1.6875" wide at the nut.

The Ovation Celebrity Standard Plus is highly recommended for those who want a feedback resistant and reliable acoustic-electric guitar.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QI

Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QI
Manufacturer: Seagull | Retail Price:$499

Seagull is a sub-brand of Godin that builds more traditional looking acoustic guitars. While they don't have the unique designs of premium Godin acoustics, they have the same build quality - since both are handcrafted in the Godin's Canada based facility. The Entourage Rustic CW QI is a great example of how they can balance affordability with consistent build and material quality.

The main source of this guitar's voicing is its solid cedar top, which is favored by many for its warmer tone.

And it's not just any solid cedar wood, because Seagull only uses pressure tested wood slabs for their production, ensuring reliability and consistency among their production. Supporting its top are back and sides crafted from 3-layer wild cherry, a favorite tonewood of choice by the company. The body has a modified dreadnought shape that is designed to reduce unwanted low frequencies that are usually associated to traditional dreadnought guitars. Other features include an integrated set silver leaf maple neck, 24.84" scale length rosewood fingerboard, and it has a narrow 1.72" nut width that pairs well with younger players and smaller hands.

There's simply a lot to like about the Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QI, including its Quantum I electronics and its elegant appearance. The only thing that I'm not a fan of is their compact headstock shape, but they claim that it is designed to improve tuning stability and accuracy. Do check it out if you have the budget.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Hopefully one of the guitars above is just what you're looking for, but if you're still a little unsure then you might find this article helpful: Expert Advice on Choosing Your First Guitar.

Things to Consider When Buying an Acoustic Electric Guitar

  • Built-in Pickup

    What sets acoustic-electric guitars apart from regular acoustics is their built-in electronics, which usually include a pickup and preamp system. In the sub $500 price range, most manufacturers outfit their guitars with a piezo pickup, because it is relatively cheaper and is discretely installed under the saddle. The piezo pickup is normally paired with a built-in active preamp that provides volume control and tone shaping via EQ, some even come bundled with a tuner that can be accessed directly on the preamp interface.

    While the piezo pickup system works really well for live performance, some are not entirely pleased with its bright tone and quirky dynamic response. This is why some prefer magnetic pickups, because of their balanced sound, but they tend to sound more like an electric guitar than an acoustic. More premium guitar models come with microphonic or transducer pickups, which behave like a mic capturing the sound of the guitar. This is the most natural sounding but it is prone to feedback and background noise.

    Some manufacturers go the extra mile and equip their acoustic-electric guitars with multiple pickup types to cover all the bases, but these instruments are usually priced much higher. Thankfully, there are now a number of aftermarket pickups that you can choose from in case you want to expand your guitar's pickup options.

  • Guitar Body Profile

    The shape and size of an acoustic guitar's body greatly affects the resulting sound quality and projection, as such it should be a top consideration. While the dreadnought is still the most popular acoustic guitar shape, there are now many variants to choose from. Naming all the various shape variants can be daunting, so just remember that bigger bodied acoustics tend to have more projection and emphasis on the bass response, resulting in a fuller sound. Smaller and thinner ones produce more of the upper middle frequencies, resulting in a clearer and brighter sound.

    But it's not just about tone, because your playing comfort is directly affected by the body size and shape. It's best to get one that lets you play comfortably. Also, most acoustic-electric guitar models have single-cutaway body designs that allow for easier access to upper frets, but there are some that stick to traditional aesthetics.

  • Tonewood

    In addition to their aesthetic and structural support role, wood used on an acoustic guitar dictates much of its resulting sound. For this reason you ought to look at this specification closely. Acoustic guitars with solid tops are often preferred because of their increased response and projection, but they are usually priced higher because of the extra cost the material requires. On the other hand, those with laminate tops are budget friendly because they are more affordable and more resilient to temperature and humidity changes. If you're looking for an acoustic-electric guitar with solid back and sides, you'll have to stretch your budget above the $500 range.

    Spruce and its many variants are commonly used on acoustic guitar tops for their bright tonality. But there are others who prefer the warmer sound of cedar and mahogany, they also complement the more common spruce acoustic sound nicely when playing in a guitar ensemble.

  • Playability (Neck specifications)

    If you want an enjoyable instrument, you must pay closer attention to neck specifications. For smaller hands, you want a guitar with a narrower nut width, while those with bigger hands ought to get ones that are wider. Scale length dictates the length of the string that is stretched on the guitar, from the nut to the bridge saddle. Shorter scale lengths mean less string tension, which are easier to pay at the cost of some loss in tone. On the flip side, longer scale lengths have increased string tension, which is generally harder to play but are considered to be better sounding. You also need to check string action, or the height that separates the strings from the fretboard. Too high an action can be a pain to play, while too low will result in the dreaded fret buzz sound.

  • Aesthetics

  • Last but not the least, you want a guitar that looks good to you, even better if it inspires you to practice and play and this is where color and finish comes to play. Some of the guitars listed here come with decorated pickguards and bodies, while others have a more streamlined look.

If you need to get an amplifier for your acoustic-electric then check out the Gearank Guide to The Best Acoustic Guitar Amplifiers.

If you're looking for a smaller sized acoustic-electric then check out this roundup on Parlor.Guitars.

Sweetwater Thank you to Sweetwater for their sponsorship and providing the full specifications for the guitars above where possible. You can see more acoustic-electric guitars at www.sweetwater.com/c602--Acoustic_Electric_Guitars

Related:

Sub $1000 acoustic electric guitars Here are the Acoustic-Electric Guitars up to $1000 that we recommend.
 

acoustic guitar If you're looking for acoustic guitars in the sub $1000 price range, then take a look at our further recommendations here.
 

acoustic guitar We present the best brands in Acoustic Guitars as well as the top models across a wide price range from beginner instruments though to professional ones.

acoustic guitar amp Check out these great Acoustic Guitar Amps!
 

acoustic pickups Report on Pickup Systems for Acoustic Guitars.
 

tuners Our Roundup of Tuners Specifically Designed for Use With Acoustic Guitars.
 

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Love this list. However, why

Love this list. However, why not consider Breedlove, Fender or Ibanez? They also have some good options at this price range, right?

How about a follow up post with few more options?

Thank you!

Carlo Robelli electric/accoustic guitars

Does anyone have any information on Carlo Robelli electric accoustic guitars, model cfmc10mrd? I'm looking for cost,reviews,and years of production

That is not a picture of the

That is not a picture of the epiphone aj-220sce.

The Epiphone AJ-220SCE comes in 3 finishes

Actually, it is.

The Epiphone AJ-220SCE comes in 3 finishes: Natural, Vintage Sunburst (pictured) and Ebony.

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