So you love the melodic sound of your acoustic guitar, but want to be heard all the way to the back by your audience? An acoustic-electric guitar, also known as an electro-acoustic, might just be the compromise you need. But finding the best acoustic electric guitar under $500 is an arduous journey cause there are too many options available for consideration in this price range.
Essentially, this is a hybrid of an electric and acoustic guitar. While it looks fairly similar to a typical acoustic guitar, it’s installed with pickup and onboard controls for volume tone tuning and equalization. Also, it can be played unplugged.
Here’s our list of top electro-acoustic guitars under 500:
- Seagull S6 Classic
- Yamaha FGX820C
- Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood
- Takamine GD11MCE-NS
- Fender CD-60SCE
- Breedlove Pursuit Concert
- Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
- Yamaha APX600BL
- Guild Guitars D-240E
- Oscar Schmidt OACEFCS
Our Top 3 Recommendation
Review Of Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Under 500
With advanced characteristics, you might assume that electro-acoustic guitars cost a fortune. But in reality, you can find quality instruments for under 500 bucks. Let’s discover the top acoustic electric guitar under 500 dollars.
1. Seagull S6 Classic: Best Acoustic Electric For The Money
The Seagull S6 Classic is an excellent choice for those whose budget cannot stretch enough for a 4-digit guitar. But despite its inexpensiveness, the S6 classic guitar offers quite a lot.
The build here is quite decent, especially given the price. The top is solid cedar, while the back and sides are non-solid wild cherry. The neck of the guitar is made from silver leaf maple with rosewood fingerboard. The finish of this guitar is not very glossy and premium-feeling, but it’s attractive and certainly eye-catching.
Sound-wise, the solid top is going to deliver darker tones and a distinct character. However, note that it may struggle to maintain clarity when played hard, which is perhaps one of the reasons for the low price.
As for the cherry back and body, they are going to produce balanced mid-range tones with a slight accent on bass frequencies.
- Fairly inexpensive
- Excellent build quality
- Outstanding playability
- Boasts the darker tones of cedar and mid-level tones & bass of cherry
- Nothing to complain about
2. Yamaha FGX820C: Best For Beginners
Here we review one of Yamaha’s popular FG series guitar. The Yamaha FGX820C comes from a long heritage of the incredible FG Folk series of guitars that was introduced back in 1966. Like others before it, this electro-acoustic guitar gives you great value at an entry-level price.
Thanks to its reasonable pricing, the FGX820C is perfect for first-time owners who don’t wish to break the bank for their enthusiasm. But this does not mean that it falls short in any aspect.
In fact, this full-sized guitar is made using genuine and solid Sitka Spruce top. This connects to a neck made of Mahogany wood. The back and sides are also built using Mahogany wood while the fingerboard and bridge are constructed of rosewood.
Performance-wise, the guitar sounds as gracefully as it looks. As you strum its strings, you’ll be able to enjoy a mix of low and mid-range notes. The blend of quality materials in its build leads to warm tones with well-balanced chords.
Also worth pointing out is the Yamaha’s under-saddle piezo pickup known as System-66. This, combined with the preamp electronics guarantee the true sound of your guitar’s nato and spruce tonewoods.
- Solid construction that provides durability
- Produces clear, rich and warm tones
- Available at a decent price with high value
- Comfortable to play, particularly for the experienced
- The sound can be too metallic for some players
- Heavy strings that novice players find uncomfortable
3. Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood: Best Sounding Guitar Under 500
If you are looking for a top acoustic instrument that is traditional yet modern, then the Ibanez Artwood series specially the AW54CEOPN guitar would be worth checking out.
Its open pore finish illustrates woods exotic natural pores that are visually stunning and protects the genuine characteristics of tonewood. Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood dreadnought guitar with its mesmerizing solid top and Mahogany/Okoume body provides an excellent loud and bright tone.
Accurate reproduction of the guitar’s innate tone is assured by the Ibanez’s T-bar undersaddle pickup and AEQ-TP2 preamp. This simple preamp panel includes a tuner, bass, treble, and volume control for easy sound adjustment.
The overall sound projection of this instrument can easily compete with guitars from the $600-$700 price range. This is the best affordable acoustic electric guitar for both beginners and skilled guitarists.
If you would like to check the best acoustic-electric cutaway guitar then we also have a detailed review of the double-cutaway Talman TCY10 guitar.
- Lightweight and comfortable to hold
- The Neck feels good
- Onboard Tuner
- Balanced XLR & 1/4″ outputs
- No gigbag offered with the guitar
- May need to replace the stock strings
4. Takamine GD11MCE-NS: Best Budget Acoustic Electric Guitar
This full size guitar with the tongue-breaking name GD11MCE-NS from Takamine is a solid option for those who have very limited budgets. With its wallet-friendly pricing, this instrument is a great pick for more casual guitar players.
The key difference between this guitar from previous picks is that it is made of laminated wood. With that, this guitar will not age and become better with time. However, the mahogany top, back, and sides will still deliver the distinct warm tones of this wood.
The cutaway style makes a comeback here as well, allowing for more comfortable playing while seated. All in all, this guitar from Takamine is excellent for the buck, but don’t expect it to do wonders.
Also Read: Takamine G Series Review
- Really inexpensive
- Dense and warm tones of mahogany
- Cutaway design
- The laminated wood will hold the sound of this instrument back
5. Fender CD-60SCE: Best Starter Acoustic Electric Guitar
If you are looking for one of Fender’s most popular models, look no further. We bring you the Fender CD-60SCE Dreadnought Guitar.
The Fender CD-60SCE is the perfect instrument, to begin with, and to play till one reaches the intermediate level. Not only is the CD-60SCE of high quality, but its dreadnought and cutaway design make it versatile and user-friendly.
Why play guitar if you cannot slide your fingers smoothly along the fretboard and have a good quality of resonance? Don’t you worry because the CD-60SCE guitar, with its lower frets and scalloped “X” bracing, makes it to be yours.
This guitar has a natural finish, with a black and white neck and body binding. Talk about color combinations! It comes in different colors and also for left-handed. To add the cherry on top, it has a “mother of pearl” acrylic design around the soundhole. So with chrome tuning knobs at the ready, what are you waiting for?
It contains a Fishman Isys III System electronics with an active onboard preamp. We also have a detailed Fender Sonoran SCE guitar review, considering its authenticity.
- A Venetian-cutaway body allowing easy fret access
- Solid spruce top with a scalloped “X” bracing
- Easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges
- Left-handed guitars available
- Has built-in tuner
- Comparatively Heavy
- Made in China
- Usually has a lame sticker on it
6. Breedlove Pursuit Concert
The highlight of the Breedlove Pursuit Concert guitar is the combination of Cedar and Mahogany. Tone-wise, the Cedar-Mahogany combination offers brighter highs and a wider dynamic range.
This guitar is fairly pocket-friendly as well. However, as a consequence of the price, you will have to sacrifice material quality in some areas. Particularly, only the top in this guitar is solid wood – the rest is laminated.
We also really like the design of this Breedlove guitar. It gives off a more classical vibe. The amount of detail in the body, sides, and the top is insane as well, and we really like the fuller feel of this instrument.
- Fairly pocket-friendly
- Unique mix of Cedar and Mahogany wood
- Attractive design with a cutout
- Solid cedar top
- A mix of warm tones of mahogany with the detailed mature tones of Cedar
- Nothing to mention
7. Epiphone Hummingbird Pro: Best Value Guitar
This is one of the popular guitars on the market below 500 probably because musicians cannot get enough of the amazing built and performance of the guitar at such an affordable price.
If you are a fan of the big dreadnought body then you will love this model. It is built with square shoulders keeping up to the built that was made famous back in the 1960s and is still preferred by many today.
The back and sides are laminated maple while the top is solid spruce. The mahogany neck features a SlimTaper D-shaped profile which is a signature style of the company.
The rosewood fingerboard consists of 20 frets that are marked with pearloid parallelogram inlays. If you have ever played a Hummingbird before then you will be familiar with this input in the design.
Electrics are inclusive of the Shadow ePerformer preamp and NanoFlex under-saddle pickup. Unfortunately, there isn’t a built-in tuner but you still get a handful in the battery-powered arrangement such as master volume control, dynamics control slider, bass and treble controls and a mute button.
For hardware, the Hummingbird Pro features a rosewood bridge, headstock consisting of Grover tuners and D’Addario light strings among others.
You can expect warm and rich tones, thanks to the smart combination of tonal woods, big body and of course a hi-tech preamp system. With so many great components and top-grade built, it’s a treat for guitarists to be able to purchase the instrument at such an affordable price.
- Maintains the natural acoustic tone even when plugged in
- Big and bold sound
- Rich tone
- Quality built
- Slim playable neck
- Lacks a bit of bass
- A little on the heavier side
8. Yamaha APX600 BL: Best Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar
The Yamaha AP600 BL is an affordable addition to the line of Yamaha guitars. This model comes in the same slim shape and built as its predecessor, the APX500III with a spruce top and layered nato for the back and sides.
The overall size is compact with a scale length of 25 inches which makes it an ideal sized guitar for beginners, small hands and for travel.
The nato neck comes with a satin finish consisting of a rose wood fret board for easy access and playability. There are 22 frets on the fret board which is a standard for most music production.
The strings are rather closely placed, to balance out the slim diagram of the guitar which doesn’t really affect or cause any discomfort during strumming.
Coming to the hardware, it features the patented piezo pickup system and a preamp that is powered by AA batteries. There isn’t anything fancy or too hi-tech here but it still manages to have everything you would need to play good music with quality sound.
You will enjoy tuning your guitar with the in-built digital tuner that works accurately and also ensures that you always play in tune without wasting time or money on buying separate tuners. The 3-band EQ controls and frequency slider along with a simple volume knob completes the electrics.
When you first play the APX600 you will be pleasantly surprised at how a slim guitar like this one can produce such full sound. We were pretty impressed with what it delivered both in the low and high end.
We recommend this guitar mainly to beginners learning to play the acoustic both plugged in and as it is although this really is a great guitar for musicians with any skill level.
- Slim body
- Solid construction
- Good sound quality
- Advanced bracing pattern
- Simple yet effective and quality hardware
- The guitar does a better job when plugged in while its performance is just about average acoustically
- Frets are on the smaller side
9. Guild Guitars D-240E: Best Inexpensive Acoustic Electric Guitar
Now, we have the Guild D-240E guitar – yet another fairly inexpensive option. The D-240E guitar offers a more traditional mix of materials – a solid spruce top along with mahogany back and sides. With that in mind, expect this instrument to deliver spruce’s crisp notes and the warmth of mahogany.
The build quality here is great at the price point, but to be fair, we like the design of the Breedlove guitar more. With that said, this guitar offers a more restrained traditional electro-acoustic guitar model.
- Not too heavy on the pocket.
- Solid spruce top and mahogany body.
- Combines the expressive crisp tones of spruce with the warmth of mahogany.
- Nothing to mention.
All Oscar Schmidt guitars are set up perfectly in the factory. You can play them right out of the box. With a mesmerizing mahogany neck and spruce top, with an active EQ, the Oscar Schmidt is a decent electro-acoustic guitar to begin with.
It’s not the $1000 Taylor, Martin, or Gibson but it gives you acceptable quality within the good value for your money.
- The action is surprisingly good for the price range
- Good quality strings
- Beautiful guitar with excellent price
- Playable straight after unboxing
- Not the best sounding guitars
- Picks up a bit of background noise when plugged in
How Do Acoustic-Electric Guitars Work?
Acoustic-electric guitars produce sound just like acoustic guitars – via vibrations in the guitar body. However, these type guitars are also equipped with electronics – most importantly, a pickup and a preamp.
The purpose of adding electronics to an acoustic-electric guitar is to increase its sound volume. A standard acoustic guitar is loud enough when you are playing alone or for a small audience. But on large stages, the sound will just vanish into space.
Now, let’s talk slightly more in-depth about the pickup and preamp to give you a better idea of how electro-acoustic guitars work.
The purpose of the pickup is to convert mechanical vibrations produced by the guitar into electronic signals. Some guitars use microphones instead of pickups, but these days, pickups are more common.
There are two major types of pickup:
- Magnetic pickups are used on acoustic guitars with metal strings. Essentially, magnetic pickups are capable of sensing the change in magnetic fields and converting them into an electronic signal. However, they cannot pick up the vibrations produced by nylon guitar strings.
- Piezoelectric pickups (also called piezo) are used in guitars with nylon strings. They can capture mechanical vibrations, unlike magnetic pickups, but they can’t sense magnetic fields.
No matter the type, pickups are typically mounted to the guitar bridge. Sometimes, pickups are installed between the bridge feet and the top of the body.
Pickups require power – fortunately, you don’t have to plug modern acoustic-electric into the wall since they have built-in batteries for the pickup’s power needs.
The very purpose of converting mechanical vibrations into electronic signals is to be able to amplify the sound of the guitar. But before the signal is sent to an amp, it is pre-amplified by the guitar’s, well, preamp. This is done to lessen the amount of distortion in the sound.
Aside from amplifying the signal, the preamp allows you to fiddle around with the sound via an equalizer, tuner, or tone controls. With that, a preamp allows you to somewhat alter the character of the produced sound.
The preamp then needs to be connected to an amp. When plugged into an amp, an electro-acoustic guitar essentially becomes an electric guitar.
Why Should You Buy An Acoustic-Electric Guitar?
An acoustic-electric instrument is ideal if you are going to perform live on the stage.
As mentioned earlier, traditional acoustic guitars do not have the oomph to provide enough coverage in large halls. If you connect your electro-acoustic guitar to an amp, then you will be able to deliver your musical art to larger audiences. Not only that, but you’ll be able to record your compositions!
If you just want to get louder sound out of your guitar, then an acoustic-electric could be a good choice as well. However, for out-of-stage use, we think that an acoustic-electric is overkill.
Unless you really want to amplify your sound and play around with effects, you aren’t going to benefit much from an acoustic-electric guitar.
What To Look For When Buying An Acoustic Electric Guitar?
Style: Every guitar player has certain things that are unique to his/her style of playing. For instance, some will feel comfortable playing jumbo guitars while others opt will opt for soft nylon over steel strings. So when you decide you want a new electro-acoustic guitar, first determine your playing style.
Type of Electronics: As would be the case if you were buying an electro-acoustic guitar, you need to make a decision regarding the type of electronics.
- Active electronics- these guitars have a piezo transducer for the prevention of signal loss. They often come with preamp systems that run on batteries and three bands of equalization.
- Piezo saddle transducers- these are lightweight pickups used alongside preamp systems. They enable you to connect to an amplifier.
- Dual-source systems- these guitars will have a piezo transducer as well as a mic integrated into the body. The benefit of these electronics is that they have lots of amplification.
Body: There are two main kinds of acoustic-electric guitars: those with a large body and those with a small body. If you’re looking for one that delivers fuller, louder tones, the big-bodied guitar is your best chance. But if you want one that’s easy to handle and carry around, then a small-body guitar is better.
Are acoustic-electric guitars good for beginners?
Yes, acoustic-electric guitars are a good choice for beginners. However, these guitars may be more expensive than acoustic guitars with comparable sound.
Acoustic-electrics are essentially acoustic guitars that may be hooked to an amp. Other than the electronics, these guitars deliver the same features as regular acoustics, but at a higher price due to the included electronics.
However, given the higher price, we think that an electro-acoustic guitar is the best choice for those who are intending to perform on stage. Otherwise, you will be wasting your guitar’s potential.
Aside from that, if you are not intending to connect your guitar to an amp, then there’s again no point in spending money on an electro-acoustic guitar.
But if you do find a good acoustic guitar for a good price, then go for it – you will be able to digitize your performances in the future!
Different players will consider different things when purchasing acoustic-electric guitars. However, the most essential features that top everyone’s list are budget, sound performance, and experience.
All the guitars which we’ve reviewed strike a good balance between pricing and playability. They are all sorted as the best acoustic electric guitar under $500 due to affordable pricing and they are fitted with advanced features that you’d expect in higher-priced models.
If you’re not able to decide on which one is the best, consider your style of playing, the set of electronics you deem important, and the guitar’s shape.